Dar al-Ifta' (Aleppo)
Aleppo, Syria

Aleppo’s Dar al-Ifta’ is the office of the Grand Mufti, or chief jurist of Islamic law, for Aleppo Governorate. It is situated below the citadel, directly across from the moat on its southeastern side. The building’s founder was Abu al-Huda al-Sayyadi, a Shafi’i religious scholar and significant intellectual figure of the late nineteenth century who filled the post of Naqib al-Ashraf (supervisor of the ashraf or descendants of the prophet) for the Syrian and Mesopotamian provinces of the Ottoman Empire. Construction on the building began in 1878/1295 AH, and constructed lasted some thirty years. It originally served as a residence for his father Hasan Wadi, a revered sheikh, and a zawiyya for the local community. It is also known as al-Zawiyya al-Sayadiyya. The Sayadi family donated the house to the City of Aleppo, and the building eventually became the office of the Grand Mufti.

The Dar al-Ifta’ is significant as the oldest structure in the European style built within the old city of Aleppo. The building is irregular in shape. One enters on its western side through a trapezoidal forecourt. This court is open on the west to the street that encircles the Citadel known as Hawl al-Qal’a. A wall closes off the north side of the court, two buildings, each two stories high, connect to enclose the east and south sides of the court. These buildings are separate wings and do not connect to one another internally. 

The building occupying the south side of the forecourt is a shallow rectangular block. It has an entrance on the second story reached via a grand staircase that branches into two parallel flights half way down. Under the stairs, another entrance gives access to the ground floor. Both floors have a similar plan: the entrance leads onto a central hall flanked on two sides by rooms of similar sizes.

The building occupying the east side of the forecourt serves as the entrance block to the main part of the house. The is shallow, with a row of four rooms facing onto the forecourt on the ground floor and three on the upper story. On the southern end of its façade, a double arcade opens from the forecourt onto a porch on the ground floor. Surmounting this porch, a triple arcade opens onto a veranda on the second floor.

Adjoining the entrance building on its east side by the first of two interior courtyards. This courtyard is rectangular in shape. Its short west side is occupied by the façade of the entrance building, which features a grand staircase giving access to the second story. The long south side of this court is occupied by a domed mosque, square in plan, flanked by two rectangular spaces: one a burial ground and the other a two story service building. The long north side of the court is closed off by a wall. The eastern side of the first interior courtyard is occupied by the end of a rectangular building oriented toward the south that opens onto the second interior courtyard.

The second interior courtyard, accessed from the rest of the complex is trapezoidal. The rectangular building on its north side communicating between it and the first courtyard is two stories high, and each story has a central hall and two side rooms. The west side of the second court is occupied by the service building adjoining the mosque. The east side is bordered by an arcade that opens onto two small rooms. On the south side of the second interior court is a large iwan.

During the Syrian Civil War, the building suffered significant damage.1


Notes

  1. Syrian Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums, Interactive Map of Conflicted Archaeological Sites. http://www.dgam.gov.sy [Accessed 2 February 2018]

Sources:

Jāsir, Lamyā’ al-. Dūr al-mutaṣawwifa fī madīnat Ḥalab. al-khānqāhāt wa’l-rubuṭ wa’l-zawāyā wa’l-takāyā, 388-397. Aleppo: L. al-Jāsir, 2008.

Location
Aleppo, Syria
Images & Videos
Events
1878/1295 AH
Style Periods
1299-1922
Variant Names
(دار الافتاء (حلب
Original
Dar al-Ifta' (Aleppo)
Translated
Dar al-Iftaa
Alternate transliteration
(دار الفتوى (حلب
Alternate
Dar al-Fatwa (Aleppo)
Translated
Building Usages
courthouse
government
zawiya
religious