Al-Ghawanimah Minaret (Bani Ghanim Minaret)
It is a square-shaped minaret located near Bani Ghanim’s Gate which is considered the most decorated of Al-Aqsa’s minarets. With a height of 38.5 meters, it is the highest minaret inside Al-Aqsa with a staircase of 120 steps. The western tunnel which was dug by the Israeli Occupation Forces has weakened the minaret’s foundations which called for its renovation in 2001.
History of the Minaret Abd al-Malik bin Marwan built Al-Ghawanimah (Bani Ghanim) Minaret according to travelers and early historians. Ibn al-Faqih al-Hamadani (3-4 AH/9-10th century AD) in his Mukhtasar Kitab al-Buldan and Shihab al-Din Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn 'Abd Rabbihi (3-4 AH/9-10th century AD) in his Kitab al-Iqd al-Farid describe the Bait al-Maqdis before Crusaders with four minarets (Al-Smadi, 2001, p.41). It can be inferred that the Ayyubids rebuilt the minaret after crusaders destroyed it. The Ayoubi judge Sharaf AdDin bin Abdul Rahman Bin AsSahib rebuilt the Bani Ghanim Gate Minaret in 677 AH/1278 AC during the reign of Sultan Hussam Ad-Din Lajeen. It is named after Shaykh Ghanim ibn Ali ibn Husayn, who was appointed the Shaykh of the Salahiyyah Madrasah by Salahuddin Ayyubi.
Structure of the Minaret The Ghawanima minaret, almost entirely built of stone, apart from a timber canopy over the muezzin's gallery, is one of the sturdiest and highest constructions in the old city of Bayt al-Maqdis. Its firm structure has left it nearly untouched by earthquakes, while its varied decoration had lent it a certain elegance as a counterpoint to its solidity (Hadi, 2013, TIKA).
The minaret is excavated into the naturally occurring layer of bedrock in the northwest corner of the Haram. It is partitioned into several 'stories' by stone molding and muqarnas (stalactite) galleries. The first two stories are wider and directly about the rock, forming the base of the tower. Additional four stories, including the muezzin's gallery, are surmounted by a circular drum and bulbous dome. The stairway is external on the first two floors but becomes an internal spiral structure until it reaches the muezzin's gallery, from which the call for prayer was performed (Burgoyne, 1987).
Al-Smadi, Dr. Taleb Abdallah, 2001. “Bait Al-Maqdis Within a Historical and Archaeological Until the End of Umayyad Period”, Department of Archaeology and Tourism, Faculty of Arts, Mu'tah University, Jordan.
Hadi, Mahdi Abdul, 2013. “Al-Aqsa Mosque Al-Haram Ash-Sharif.” Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, PASSIA. Supported by TİKA.
Burgoyne, Michael Hamilton, 1987. Mamluk Jerusalem: An Architectural Study, 178. Jerusalem: British School of Archeology in Jerusalem.