Maʻarrat al-Nuʻman
637 CE /AH 16 [Capitulation to Muslim armies]
Ma'arrat al-Nu'man, also known as Ma'arra, is a small town of great antiquity in the Idlib Governorate of northwestern Syria, located between Hama and Aleppo, which lies about 75 kilometers to the north. The town is built in the stony hills that run north to south between the Orontes valley in the west and the fertile agricultural plains of Syria to the east. This position afforded the town access to numerous agricultural products, as well as direct links to Latakia, Hims, and Aleppo.

The oldest written record we have of the town's existence comes from a Roman route itinerary most likely made for Antoninus Caracalla (r. 198-217 CE), where a town called Arra is listed as a station along the route from Emesa (Hims) to Kyros (Cyrrus). Arra's position on this itinerary identifies it positively with Ma'arrat al-Nu'man. This evidence would indicate that the town was already inhabited in the early 3rd century CE. 

Ma'arrat al-Nu'man entered the nascent Muslim Empire when Abū 'Ubayda took the city in 637 CE/AH 16. During the early Islamic period, the city remained an economic center since it was located at the crossroads of several trade routes. Although it fell under the hands of several rulers, the only political event that negatively affected the town during this time was its capture by the Byzantine Emperor Nikephoros II Phokas in 968/357 AH, whose troops destroyed the town's great mosque. Byzantine occupation did not last long before the town was recaptured for Islam. In the middle of the eleventh/fifth century AH, the Iranian geographer Nasir-i Khusraw described the town as flourishing regional center.

In 1098/492 AH the city was taken by the Crusaders and although it's authority shifted back and forth, Zangī finally was able to reconquer it in 1135/529 AH. After passing out of Frankish into Zangid, then Ayyubid hands, the town was incorporated into the Mamluk Empire in 1341/742 AH. The town remained part of the Mamluk Empire for nearly 200 years until the battle of Marj Dabik in 1516/922 AH, when it was annexed into the Ottoman Empire, where it remained until the empire's dismemberment after the First World War.  

Maʻārrat al-Nuʻmān was a walled city and had seven historical gates and a citadel. The Great Mosque of Maʻārrat al-Nuʻmān was built on the site of a church, which had previously been a temple. Its minaret was built in the 12th/6th century AH by Qāhir b. ʻAlī al-Sarmānī. Scholars have pointed out its similarity with that of the medieval minaret of the Jāmiʻ al-Kabīr in Aleppo. Among other sites is a Shafi'i Madrasa, an Ottoman Khan, and several pilgrimage sites of Biblical prophets, including the Maqam of the prophet Joshua (Yusha' ibn Nun).  


Elisséeff, Nikita. "Ma'arrat al-Nu'man," Encyclopedia of Islam, Second Edition, 2012.

Todt, Klaus-Peter, and Bernd Andreas Vest. Syria (Syria Prōtē, Syria Deutera, Syria Euphratēsia), 879-888. Tabula Imperii Byzantini 15. Vienna: Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2014.
Associated Sites
Variant Names
معرة النعمان
Ma'arrat an Nu'man
Alternate transliteration