Sabil Qasim Pasha is unique in its design and different from other Jerusalem and al-Aqsa Mosque Sabils. It is the first monument built during the Ottoman era in al-Aqsa Mosque. Hence, it came before Sultan Suleiman al-qanuni’s (Suleiman I) famous projects, which included restoration project of al-Aqsa Mosque, the Sabils (drinking water fountains), Qanat (canal) Sabil , and the Jerusalem Wall.
Sabil Description and Water Source
The Sabil was known by many names, including Sabil Bab al-Mahkama (court) and the Naranj Pool. The Sabil has an eight-sided elevation, including an eight-sided closed trough covered by a hemispherical pointed dome. The building was erected over an eight-sided stone base one meter below the ground level of al Aqsa Mosque. This depression is related to supplying water to the Sabil and the way the system works. Until the end of the fourth decade of the last century, the Sabil was supplied with water from Qanat(canal) Sabil, and water seeped through openings in the marble slabs to the hands of those drinking or performing ablution. The Sabil is still operational until today, but its water is connected to al-Aqsa Mosque water supply through modern pipes, from which water flows without having to preserve it in the Sabil cistern.
The importance of this Sabil stems from a unique design which cannot be found in water structures in Jerusalem. It resembles, to a certain extent, ablution facilities built in the courtyards of the open mosques during the Ottoman period. With a certain level of specificity, the ablution facility in al-Jazzar Mosque in Akko (Acre) resembles the design of this Sabil, in terms of the sides and the water reservoir. Al-Nabulsi, who visited al-Aqsa Mosque in 1690 - 1693 AD (1101 - 1105 H) described the Sabil as follows: ‘Close to the Naranj pool is a small dome surrounded by water pipes in which water flows for anyone seeking purity, who can twist its taps and the water will flow.’
Founder and Date Built
The date the Sabil t and the name of its builder were documented in a foundation inscription, which gains great importance because it dates not only the first Ottoman structure in al-Aqsa Mosque, but also the first one established in the city of Jerusalem. Ottoman works and projects carried out before building this Sabil were restricted to renovating the Citadel, preparing it for the Ottoman Janissary garrison, and changing the Last Supper Hall into a mosque, in what is now known as the Prophet David’s Tomb.
The inscription reads:
1. This blessed Sabil has been constructed for the benefit and countenance of the Extolled Allah (God) in the days of ourmaster the the greaestt Sultan.
2. the Second Sulaiman to rule the world the Sultan Sulaimen, son of Sultan Selim Khan,the prince of the Arab and non-Arab princes, by our master our patron Qasim Pasha, may Allah facilitate what he (qasim) intended.
3. By the hands of the slave who is in need of Allah (God) ‘Abed Rabbihi Mustafa in the lastten days of the extolledSha’aban the year 933.