Live always at the edge of poetic possibilty, even in the face of severe prose. - Walter Bruggemann

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Deep into the Muslim Quarter

The Old City is divided into quarters. The Christian Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, the Armenian Quarter and the Muslim Quarter. I wonder why the Armenian's got a quarter of this holy prime property and does that really mean that the Christians have two-quarters or one-half of the Old City?

Since the kingdom of Armenia was the first country to make Christianity its state religion in 301 of the Common Era maybe it does, I'm not sure. I can't believe though that I'm the first person that has come to Jerusalem and thought about this very idea. Let's just say that some people are very touchy about real estate here in the Holy Land so I'm not going to deep here.

But, I did go deep into the Muslim Quarter.

There are many bonuses of taking Sabbatical time. For starters, you don’t need an alarm clock. You just wake up, lay in bed and think, what will I do to fill up the next 14 or so hours of my day. Today my first thought was to head directly to the Muslim Quarter. I brewed my imported Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. I checked my email. I dressed modestly. Of course my hair was flowing in the wind so there was no mistaking me for a Muslim woman – not that they would anyway.

When I am in ‘west’ Jerusalem most of the time I feel like I’m in any cosmopolitan in Europe or even the US. When I’m in ‘east’ Jerusalem or the Muslim quarter the reality hits me that I really AM in the Middle East.
Traditional Palestinian Embroidered Dress
This woman sits outside of Damascus Gate. She begs. She screams. She yells. People look and pass her by mostly.

A little boy offering her some fresh juice. She did not take any.

Boys carry around these trays throughout the Old City. Today it was filled with fresh juice but during the colder months the glasses are filled with hot sweetened tea with fresh sages leaves.

Nothing like fresh pita the way the Arabs make it.

School girls out for the day.
Many Palestinian women sit on the side of the streets sorting and selling greens and herbs.

Muslim women dress hijab, that is, their entire body must be covered except for their face and hands. So, usually they have on full length, long sleeve coats and head coverings. I saw this store in the Muslim Quarter. Not sure where they would wear these little numbers but who knows what lurks underneath the coats.
I know, I thought this was a little spooky too.

Basement bakery. Health regulations....not an issue here.
Happy to see me.

The Cotton Merchants Market or Souk el-Quattanin. There is no natural light but very atmospheric. My friend Samer said that not much was open today..he was right but I still enjoyed seeing it. I did see a Barbie-esqe doll for sale, hijab.

Haram esh-Sharif or the Temple Mount. Some of these photos were taken on another day as you'll be able to tell by the sky! In 691 CE it became a Muslim Shrine. This is the Dome of the Rock.

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