Maqam Abu Ibrahim – Druze Holy Place
In the western part (the oldest part) of the Druze village of Daliat El-Carmel is Maqam Abu Ibrahim Shrine, a beautiful stone structure with a red dome. The Maqam (a sacred place) was built in memory of Abu Ibrahim, who was among the first emissaries sent out by the Egyptian Fatimid Caliph Al-Hakem in 996 CE to proclaim the Druze faith and the second of the five prophets holy to the Druze. The Druze believe that Abu Ibrahim is a reincarnation of the Jewish Prophet Elijah. Each prophet has his own designated color and all five colors appear on the Druze flag. The color for Abu Ibrahim is red which symbolizes “al nafs” – the soul. Whenever a Druze passes by the entrance to the Maqam, he kisses the door post, much like Jews kiss a mezuzah.
According to a legend, at the end of the 19th century, when Daliat El-Carmel was a small agricultural village, robbers tried to steal grain from the granary. The residents of the village managed to stop them but as revenge the robbers came back with many other people to attack them the next day. The residents of the village defended themselves in the Maqam Abu Ibrahim’s courtyard when all of a sudden a red rider on a red horse appeared and hit the attackers with his flaming sword. The attackers ran away and never came back.
Another legend describe how Druze Daliat El-Carmel was attached by local Muslim villages (Ein Khud, Tira, Um e Zinat and Igzim) and was saved by an old bearded man surrounded by fire – who obviously was Abu Ibrahim.
According to Muslim tradition this holy place refers to a visit by Sidna Abu Ibrahim “Al Khader”. However, the Druze say that the Druze Prophet Abu Ibrahim, persecuted for disseminating the faith, hid here in a small cave 2 x 1.5 meters quarried out of rock, and escaped through a crack in the cave’s ceiling.
The Maqam Abu Ibrahim was built on top of a burial cave from the Roman-Byzantine period. The Maqam which includes five “hilwe” (prayer rooms) and is used for meetings, weddings, funerals, mourning and Druze religious prayers. The cave’s floor is paved, along its walls are built benches and it includes a niche for lighting candles. After removing their shoes, visitors can descend the stone steps to the most sacred spot in the shrine in the burial cave. On their wedding day, brides pass by the Maqam Abu Ibrahim in order to receive a blessing or to have their picture taken before their wedding in front of the arched façade of the spacious new prayer hall attached to the shrine.. This is the second holiest place for the Druze after the Tomb of the prophet Jethro. Local tradition recalls that at times of war, the Druze women and children would descend into the cave to hide while the Druze men went out to defend them.
The date of the construction of the Maqam is unknown. There are three theories:
- 1017-1043 During the spread of the Druze faith
- 1591-1635 During the reign of Fakher el-Din
- 1711 During the Druze civil war (Ma’arakat Ein Dara) in Lebanon and Syria
Abu Ibrahim Pilgrimage
Since 2007 there is an annual pilgrimage and parade on July 6th with participation from all of the Druze villages in honor of Abu Ibrahim. Unfortunately the following movie of the Abu Ibrahim Pilgrimage in 2011 is in Hebrew and Arabic, but it provides an authentic view of the festivities.
Daliat El-Carmel and Isfiya are two adjacent Druze towns on Mount Carmel. Together, their population numbers 21,000, each with a small number of members of other faiths.
The shrine is located off the main market street (road 672) at the end of a narrow lane. At the entrance to the lane is an arch that reads “The Old Village.”