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الرئيسية / English / Summary of Mosul History From Start to 1930

Summary of Mosul History From Start to 1930

Summary of Mosul History From Start to 1930

         Introduction 

وصلتنا من الاعلامية شميم رسام للمؤلف الدكتور مساعد الحسيني

          Like any great city, Mosul has passed through cycles of advancement followed by periods of disappointment and decline.  Yet in each cycle it resumed its place as a beacon of progress and enlightenment in Iraq.  The city continued to progress because of its hard-working, intelligent, and progressive men and women.  Mosul is one of the unique cities which kept the glow of civilization shining from the first millennium BC to the present time. It is located in northern Iraq (36.35 North, 43.16 East) on a plateau that descends gently from the west toward the Tigris River in the east. From the east it is surrounded by rolling hills extended to the mountainous region in the northeast.  Mosul Plateau is bound in the east by the Upper Zab, a tributaty of the Tigris River, and in the west by the Sinjar mountain range, which rises up to 500 m above sea level. Its weather is mild most of the year, except for July and August where it becomes hot, and during December and January the temperature usually falls below freezing.  Mosul depends mainly on rainwater for irrigation, and also on the Tigris River and its tributary the Khoser Rives.

Brief History of Mosul

            The history of Mosul region goes back to the early stone age, when ancient people lived in caves located close to river banks during the Paleolithic ( more than 50,000 years ago), Mesolithic (50,000 to 30,000 ago), and Neolithic periods (30,000 to 3000 BC), the end of which coincided with the end of the last Ice Age, a time when the Neanderthal was gradually replaced by modern man.    During the Neolithic period, humans began to live outside their caves, established small colonies and started practicing agriculture (10,000-8,700 BC), then began domesticating certain animals (8,700-6,800 BC) which was accompanied by invention of sophisticated tools for his daily use.    Other settlements started to develop in southern Iraq and paved the way for the emergence of the Sumerians (3100-2900 BC) and the Akkadian (2350-2100 BC).  The most outstanding achievement of the Sumerians was the development of writing, which was deciphered during the 20th century and continued to the present time. The Sumerians were followed by the Dynastic Period in Uruk, Kish and Ur, where huge structures were built for worship and conducting business.    The Akkadians reached the peak of their power during the rule of Sargon I (1920-1881 BC), who built an empire extending from the Zagros Mountain in the east to the Mediterinean coasts, which include Iraq, Syria, and Elam. Both Uruk and Ur later fell and were abandoned.  In northern Iraq and particularly in Mosul region the great Assyrian Period started before Sargon I.   

Mosul Under the Assyrian Period (2300-612 BC)

            Assyrian history may be divided into three periods: ancient, middle, and late. During the first period the Assyrians were semi-nomadic people ruled by fifteen kings, whose rules extended from 2300 BC until they became urbanized to build their capital Ashur and control the surrounding regions in 1894 BC.  Between 1894 BC to 1366 BC the Assyrians resisted enormous pressure from their rival the Babylonians, but were conquered by Mitanni until 1366 BC, which was followed by the second Assyrian Period (1813-1366 BC).  During this period, powerful kings ruled the country and transformed Assyria into a formidable empire rivaled only by Egypt.  Since 1076 BC the Assyrians entered a dark period which lasted until 911BC. After that period, the Assyrians witnessed the emergence of many great kings who established Ninawa (to the east of Mosul) as their imperial capital.  Ninawa was surrounded by splendid palaces, temples, a fortress, and a great library.  In 612 BC, the Babylonians, the Meads, and the Scythians were united and destroyed Ninawa and the Assyrian empire.  There is still a remnant of an Assyrian castle located at Tal Iglayat in Mosul.

Since the fall of the Assyrian Empire, up to 651 CE, several groups of Persian and Greek ruled the region, they were the Achaemenid (550-330 BC), Seleucid (312-245 BC), Parthian (246 BC-224 CE), and The Sassanids (224-651).  The Sassanid emperor, Yazdegerd III (632-651), lost control of the empire to Arab Muslim armies during the rule of the second Caliph Omar Ibn Al-Khattab (634-644) who defeated the Persians at the Battle of Qadisiya in 636. This was followed by the Arab army under the command of Rubie Ibn Al-Afkal, who entered Mosul without a fight to establish the Rashidun rule in the region.  Since that event, Mosul became a significant part of the Arab and the Muslim world.

Mosul Under Rashidun and Umayyad Rule

            During the Rashidun rule, the most capable men were chosen to govern the city. The first governor, Rubie Ibn Al-Afkal, began his official duties by building Dar Al-Emara (house of government) and the city mosque, which symbolized the civic and religious authority of the government. The Rashidun rule could be characterized by fairness, equality, justice among people, reduced taxes, economic development, and a peaceful coexistence among all communities. It also witnessed resettlement of Arab tribes in and around the city.  Mosul supported Caliph Uthman Ibn Afan in the dispute of who should be Caliph, and it took a neutral position in the dispute between Caliph Ali Ibn Abi Talib and Muawiya Ibn Abi Sufyan.  When the arbitration failed, the residents did not object to Umayyad caliphates

Mosul Under the Umayyad Caliphate

            The Umayyad Caliphs in Damascus sent their best men to govern Mosul, such as Mohammad Ibn Marwan, Said Ibn Abd Al-Malik, Al-Hur Ibn Yusuf, and Marwan Ibn Mohammad.  These men enlarged Dar Al-Emara and the city mosque several times, built a market place with many shops to sell various items, paved streets, diverted the flow of the Tigris river to be close to the city, built Khans to accommodate travelers and merchants, and built bridges to improve east-west travel and trade. Their efforts transformed Mosul from a small city to great metropolis.  The city tried to stay away from revolts and uprisings that took place in the rest of Iraq. The mildness of the weather, plentiful water, and the richness of the land attracted many Arab tribes from the rest of Iraq to settle in and around the city.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Mosul During Abbasid Rule

            The first Abbasid Caliph Abu Al-Abba Al-Saffah considered Mosul an Umayyad city, therefore it should be abused and ignored, and he sent his uncle Abdulla to rule the city.    Abdulla emptied the treasury of the city and appointed a mamluk, Mohammad Ibn Sawal, to be its governor.  The residents of the city felt insulted and kicked Ibn Sawal out of the city.  Ibn Sawal complained to Caliph Abu Al-Abbas and the Caliph sent his brother Yahya governor to the city. Ibn Sawal accompanied Yahya and went to Mosul. Both men were filled with feeling of revenge and allowed their soldiers to destroy the city and massacre its inhabitance.  When the news reached Abu Abbas Al-Saffah, he replaced Yahya with Ismail Ibn Ali, who remained until Abu Jafar Al-Mansoor became Caliph.  At that time, Mosul’s economy was shattered, and the city was in a sad shape, thus Al-Mansur ordered Ismail to spend all collected revenue to improve the city.  After the death of Caliph Al-Mansur no improvements were made to the city.  No developments took place under Caliphs Al-Mahdi, Al-Hadi, Harun Al-Rashid and Al-Amin, they all sent governors who only helped themselves but not the city.  Caliph Al-Ma’mun, the champion of enlightenment, science, and scholarly activities in Baghdad, sent nine governors who did nothing beyond collecting taxes, and Al-Mamun’s enlightenment period bypassed Mosul.  No improvements took place in Mosul during the rule of Caliphs Al-Mutasim, Al-Wathiq or Al-Mutawakkil.  Caliph Al-Mutawakkil murdered by his Turkish commander in 861, and since that time the Arabs lost their grip on the government.  Caliph Al-Muntasir, Al-Mustain, Al-Mutaz, and Al-Mutadhid were no more than figureheads, who were ordered around by their Turkish commanders.  During their rule not only was Mosul deteriorating, the whole Abbasid Empire was deteriorated as well.

 While the Abbasid Empire was in decline several semi-independent or independent states were formed in Mosul.  It started during the rule of Caliph Al-Muktafi (902-908), when Bani Hamdan established the Hamdanids state, followed by Uqayliads, then then the Zankis who were Atabeg of the Seljuqs. These states ruled Mosul until the fall of Baghdad at the hands of Hulgo in 1258.

Mosul under the Hamdanids, and the Uqayliads

Mosul was ruled by the Hamdanids off and on from 906 until 991, until they were replaced by Uqayliads who ruled the city until 1094.  From the early appearance of the Hamdanids on the Abbasid political stage, they stood by the side of the Abbasids in their struggle against their enemies, especially the Persian Bowheads.  Mosul became a safe haven for caliphs who escaped for their lives from Baghdad.  The most important Hamdanids were Abdulla known as Abulhayja (906-929), and his son Naser al-Dawla (929-969).  The Hamdanids improved the city’s infrastructure and institutions, fixed the currency, and built many villages around Mosul.  They planted great number of new fruit trees, built schools, and maintained the purity of the Arabic language which began to be corrupted by influx to Baghdad of non-Arab.

In 946, under Caliph Al-Muti a Persian clan called Bauyids controlled Baghdad, but they were met with strong resistance from the Hamdanids under Naser al-Dawla.  In the end, the Hamdanids lost the war but were not defeated, and they continued paying money to the Bauyids for the Hamdanids’ survival. The Bauyids invaded Mosul in 947, 949, 957, 964 and 978 and they destroyed its infrastructure, economy, and educational establishments.  They ruled the region until 1061, when the Seljuqs dismantled their empire.  Under the Uqayliads the city started to revive, however, they were semi nomadic tribe while the leading elites were urban dwellers, but the majority of Bani Aqeel lived a tribal life, their system of government was temporary in nature.  Mohammad Ibn Al-Musayab (991-996) was credited with establishing the Uqayliads in Mosul, his son Al-Muqalad Ibn Al-Musayab (996-1001) laid the foundation of the Uqayliads state in the city.  Qurwash Ibn Al-Muqalad (1001-1050) fought the Bauyids to control Baghdad and establish a good relationship with both the Abbasids and the Fatimids, and in 1055 the Seljuj eliminated the rule of Bani Bauyids in Iraq.

  • Mosul Under the Seljuq and the Zangis

The most important leaders of the Seljuq empire were Toghrul Beg (1038-1064), Alp Arslan (1064-1072), and Malik Shah (1072-1092).  After the death of Malik Shah came several rulers, but in 1157 the empire went into irreversible decline. The Seljuqs had no direct impact on Mosul but the Zangis Atabegs, who used to educate and train the Seljuq princes seized the weakness of the Seljuqs and began to establish their state in the city.  In the beginning the Zangis ruled Mosul and Syria on behalf of the Seljuq Sultans during the early part of the 12th century.  The dynasty started with Imad al-Din Zangi, who was a good administrator, and became governor of Mosul and controlled Aleppo in 1128.  He ruled Mosul well and continued fighting the Crusaders until his assassination in 1146.   He was followed by several of his descendants in ruling Mosul.  The Zangis built excellent mosque (such Al-Nuri Mosque), schools and developed the city to the point that it became the center of knowledge, attracting many scholars to teach in its institutions. Mosul grew into a regional trading, commercial, and economic center.  The Zangis continued to rule Mosul until the Mongol army of Hulago captured the city and killed Al-Salih Ismail, the son of Badr al-Din Lulu, in 1262 and Iraq became under the Mogols Ilkhan group.

Mosul Under the Rule of Ilkhan, Jalayirids, and Aq Qoyunlu

After the peaceful Zangis period the city was destroyed by Hulago’s troops.   His descendants the Ilkhan were fierce fighters with no civility, they ruled the region from 1262 to 1335. The Ilkhan governed primarily from Azerbaijan, they appointed governors to represent them in Baghdad, Mosul, and other cities.  Mosul had a shattered economy, poor in security, health, and education.   They institutionalized bribes and destroyed the uplifting spirit of the people.  The Jalayirids (1336-1411) were just a continuation of the Ilkhan in their primitive nature and savagery, and they spent most of their time fighting among themselves or the Qara Qoyunlu and Timurids.  The Qara Qoyunlu (1411-1469) and the Aq Qoyunlu (1469-1508) who ruled Mosul were similar in many respects, except that the former considered themselves Shiis while the later consider themselves Sunni, but neither groups was known to be religious. Those nomadic people ruled Mosul until 1508 when Shah Ismail Safawi of Persia was able to end the Aq Qoyunlu rule.  He later was able to annex Mosul until 1535, when the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman I (1520-1566) passed through Mosul and continued to defeat the Persians and conquer Baghdad.  Since that time, Mosul became part of the Ottoman Empire.

Mosul Under the Ottoman Rule

The 16th century brought a peaceful and secure period to Mosul, it was marked by population expansion due to migration and resettlement of herdsmen, and due to the high birth rate. The city’s prosperity was due to an increase of cultivated land, the development of a trade network and the great demand for Mosul agricultural and industrial products throughout the region.  At the end of the 16th century, the economy began to deteriorate due to uprisings and wars between the Ottomans and the Safawis and their supporters.  During the 17th century Mosul was relatively peaceful with improved commerce and transit. However, the development of guns and their availability disrupted the trade pattern and caused rural populations to abandon their fields.  At the end of the century, the wealthy urban gentry gained access to the land and their wealth continue to increase during the 18th century.  This process was accelerated because of the demands of the war economy which allowed the city elites to dominate the countryside. Great tax farmers such as the Jalilis became a wealthy and powerful and Mosul became storage place for many agricultural products.

Mosul During the Jalili rule

The Jalilis began to rule Mosul in 1726 and remained for about ninety years, they were known for their good management and character.  Mosul experienced a revival in economic, social, and intellectual activities, which was helped by increasing the number of schools and other institution of learning to reflect the character of the city.  In addition, they made Mosul independent from the Ottoman government in everything, except for supporting the Ottoman’s war efforts.  The Jalilis were able to defeat Nader Shah aggression in 1743, which stopped the Persian expansion in the region.  One of great achievements of the Jalilis was to maintain Arabic as the official language in Mosul. The last Jalili governor was Yahya Pasha who served until 1834 to bring close to the Jalili era.  The end of the Jalilis rule was also accompanied by the Ottomans Tanzimat (Reforms) of Sultan Mahmud II (1808-1839) which was associated with the Ottomans constitution and continued during the rule of Sultan Abd Al-Aziz (1861-1876).  Yahya Pasha Jalili was replaced by a Turkish commander Injah Biraqdar (1834-1843) to begin the direct Turkish rule of the city. Biraqdar was able to maintain peace with the Kurds and Yazidi and made several improvements to the city.   From 1843 to 1869, Mosul received 23 governors, their average stay was about one year, which was not enough to plan and execute project useful to the city.  Therefore, the city was neglected with lack of security and spread of diseases, until 1869, when Medhat Pasha Ruled Iraq.

The Rule of Medhat Pasha

During the rule of Medhat Pasha to Iraq in 1869, Mosul was politically attached to Baghdad for a short period, it retained its independence in 1879, and Kirkuk and Sulaymaniya were part of it. Medhat Pasha was famous for his land reforms and other improvements.  Mosul’s leading families such as the Jalili, the Umari, and Al-Mufti and others strong families in the city were reduced from political leaders to property owners.  In the meantime, the city attracted European for many reasons, as diplomats, Christian mercenaries, travelers, and archeologists, who were involved in many activities within and outside the city. In 1885 and during the rule of Faiq Pasha, Mosul had its newspaper called ‘Al-Mosul’, it was published in support of the government and it continued to publish until 1918.

Mosul administration was difficult after the rue of Medhat Pasha.  It had the highest turnover of Turkish governors, more than Baghdad or Basra. Mosul had significant Kurdish tribal populations, they were well-armed, subordinate only to the tribal chiefs, and ready to defy any local administration. At the same time, the wilaya administration was plagued by accusations of corruptions and abusive employees, especially at the lower level of the government. Turkish governors of Mosul had little power, they lacked the means to control tribes, or even their own subordinates.  Sultan Abd Al-Hamid II (1876-1909) was reluctant to confront defiant Kurdish tribal leaders, he preferred the policy of conciliation to keep the region quiet. When major trouble started, he followed the easiest course of action, by replacing the governor.

Era of Ottoman Modernization in Mosul

            Sultan Abd Al-Hamid II (1876-1909) tried to modernize the Ottoman Empire, but because of the negative propaganda and bad publicity against him he was forced suspend the constitution. The Ottoman Empire was challenged by Russians and other European forces which caused it to lose its influence in the Moro Land in the Philippine to the US, Egypt, Sudan, and Cyprus to the British. Wars in Europe, especially on the Caucasus front caused the uprooting of millions of Muslims from Europe and forced them to go to Asia.  Election of the Ottoman’s parliament was conducted in 1877, and five individuals from Mosul wilaya were elected. The city suffered a severe hunger in 1879 and faced challenges from Arab tribes seeking independence and refusing to pay taxes.  In 1892, the Ottoman government sent General Omar Wahbi to Mosul, his mission was to improve conditions of soldiers, collect taxes for the central government, rehabilitate Arab tribes, and convert Yazidi of Mosul to Islam.  He was able to collect money by forcing even poor people to pay.  General Omar Wahbi forced Shamar to pay money and about 2500 rifles, but he was not able to make them settle down, and they maintained their nomadic life.  He reduced the value of currency and caused merchants to lose great amount of their assets.  He continued attacking Yazidi in Sinjar and Shikhan, causing great loss of lives and damage to their villages. The atrocities of Omar Wahbi reached Istanbul and Sultan Abd Al-Hamid ordered his removal in 1893.  The moment the government eased the pressure on the Yazidi, they start attacking villages and caused great damage to them. The Ottoman government sent a significant force and forced the Yazidi fighters to surrender.  The Yazidi rebelled against government conscription, however their rebellion subsided when the government accepted money for not serving in the army.

Mosul Under the Unionists 

A number of Ottomans officers under the command of Shamsi Pasha rebelled against the central government in Salonica, they marched to Istanbul and controlled the government.  Kamal Pasha became the Prime Minister and declared the restoration of the constitution.  In 1908, the Young Turks with the Itihad and Taraqi (Union and Progress) society moved their headquarters to Istanbul, held grip on the government, and were able to control Iraq.  Its members used the policy of Turkification to melt all groups in the Turkish mold using the centralization policy under the banner of equality, justice, freedom, and Parliamentary system. The policy of Turkification offended all minorities including Arabs within the Ottoman Empire.  Some people abuse the provided freedom in Mosul and started opening all sort of entertainment clubs for dancing and other socially unaccepted habits to Mosul conservative society.  Mosul was saddened by the removal of sultan Abd Al-Hamid, they admired him and considered any action against him is a violation to Islam,  and that the modernization attitude of the Ithad and Taraqi Society was aimed to weaken Islam.  On 13 October 1908, they arranged a great demonstration led by religious leaders, shouted Islamic Sharia was stolen from us by the Ithad and Tagadum society.  However, university educated men and those graduate from military schools supported the Ithad and Taraqi Society by words and deeds.  Mosul moved from being a stagnant lazy society to a more active society, but the struggle between the conservative religious elements and the progressive continued.

Mosul, the Constitution, and the Election of 1908

            The Constitution was not received warmly by Mosul society in 1908, the Ithad and Taraqi Society which established office in Mosul was highly active.  Election was the most important event in 1908, the Itihad and Taraqi Society observed the election very carefully to make sure that its supporters will win the election.  Five people from Mosul willaya won the election, three from Mosul, one from Kirkuk and one from Sulaymaniya. Because of election violations, it was more of an appointment than an election.  The Itihad wa Taraqi Society opened a school in Mosul called ‘Itihad Taraqi Maktabi’, it was provided with best furniture and teachers.  Delegates from Salonica were sent to Mosul on 10 October to arrange celebration for the declaration of the constitution, they talk to the people about the advantage of the constitution and showed government employees how to apply it.  They even allowed the freedom of press and released political prisoners. The disadvantage was that few people from Mosul were able to participate in the government because the official language was Turkish not Arabic, however, people were allowed to write petitions in Arabic.  Elections were held in 1912 and 1913 and the Union and Progress society manipulated the process so that its supporters won in both elections. The Parliament was dissolved at the beginning of World War I.

National Awakening in Mosul

            Some educated Arabs began to think of their own nationalism and started publishing newspapers and articles in Arabic about Arabs contribution to civilization.  During Sultan Abd Al-Hamid Mosul schools was made to graduate teachers, it consisted of two levels first and second, each class had maximum of ten students. After the revolt of 1908, such schools added a third level, teaching was expanded, and schools began to accept about 150 students.  Among the teachers was Mawlood Mukhlis who taught Islamic and Ottomans history, and he used Arab contribution in his teaching, and encouraged students to study sciences.  Qasim Al-Sha’ar taught Islamic religion, Arabic grammar and called student attention to Arab contributions to civilization. Those modest efforts started Arab nationalism, which continued until the end of WWI.

            On 27 April 1909, the parliament decided to remove Sultan Abd Al-Hamid II and replace him with his brother Mohammad Rashad.  Mosul received the news of his removal with great sadness.  It had been said that Mosul was the only city were men cried for the removal of Sultan Abd Al-Hamid.  The highly respected people such as the Naqib of Mosul and other religious leaders refused to cooperate with the Ithad and Taraqi Society and gave speeches in Mosques on why the Sultan should be restores to his position.

Mosul During WW I

The assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo triggered WW I in 1914.  The Allies, especially England, wanted the Ottoman Empire to enter the war so that they could gain from its noticeable weakness.  On 2 August of the same year, the Ottoman government declared war against the Allies, it started to enlist young men between 20 and 40 years of age from Mosul and send them either to Caucasus and the Russia fronts or to southern Iraq to fight the British. Most of the men lost their lives because of neglect by the ottoman government and died from severe weather or starvation.  Although the British suffered some setbacks in southern Iraq, but they were able overwhelm the Turkish army.  They entered Basra without fighting and pushed north to reach Salman Pak south of Baghdad.  On 11 March 1917, General Maude entered Baghdad without a fight, but eight months later he died of cholera and was replaced by General William Marshal.  the British continue pushing north to defeat the Ottoman forces until they reached Qayara 60 miles south of Mosul, and WW I ended on 31 October 1918. The British government felt that Mosul too important to be in the hands of Turks. They entered Mosul on 2 November despite the Armistice Agreement of Mudros to end the war two days earlier.   On 10 November 1918, the British occupied Mosul and the Turks left the city.

Mosul After WWI

            The British completed their occupation of Mosul on 12 November 1918, Arnold Wilson was the Assistance High Commissioner in Baghdad and Gerard Leachman became High Political Officer in Mosul, a position which is equivalent to Military Governor.  In 1920, the League of Nations granted Great Britain a mandate to govern Iraq, to help the country to have elections, institutions, and constitution.  Percy Cox appointed High Commissioner to Iraq in October 1920, and he started a temporary government headed by Abd Al-Rahman Al-Gaylani, with the real power was in the hands of Percy Cox.  Winston Churchill, the British Colonial Secretary, arranged a meeting in Cairo, Egypt, he invited many British official in the Middle East including Percy Cox as well as Amir Faisal.  The purpose of the meeting was to reduce British expenditures in the region and decide on who to rule Iraq.  It was decided at the meeting that Amir Faisal was the most suitable candidate to rule Iraq.  A referendum was arranged by Percy Cox and about 97 percent of those who voted accepted Amir Faisal to be King of Iraq.  Mosul did not participate in the nomination, because the wishes of the minorities were not considered.  Amir Faisal became the King of Iraq on 23 August 1921, and asked Abd Al-Rahman Al-Gaylani to form his second government.

            During the British rule of Iraq, Mosul suffered significantly.  Iraq was used to be three provinces, Basra, Baghdad, its area equivalent of 25 % of the total area of Iraq (Figure 1-11).  It included cities of Arbil, Kirkuk, and Sulaymaniya.  However, under the British rule, Iraq was divided into 14 Liwas to be easily controlled.  Arbil, Kirkuk and Sulaymaniya were sliced from Mosul to be independent liwas. Consequently, Mosul was reduced from province which used to be counted upon for its strength, prestige and authority within the Ottoman Empire and reduced to mere liwa out of 14 liwa in Iraq (Figure 3-8).  Mosul forced to be subservient to the central government in Baghdad, where its Mutasarif, head of the police, and the army were appointed by the central government in Baghdad.  People lost their say in the affairs of their city, and the city lost its unique qualities and talents within the Middle East.                          

Relationship Between Turks and Arabs in Mosul

            With the exception of collecting taxes, and matters related to wars against enemies, the Ottoman government was nominally ruled Mosul.  Turks lived in Mosul with Arabs for more three centuries, they defended borders together, they fought their enemies together, they shared the same religion and pray together, have the same culture, tradition, and even had significant intermarriages.  However, when the Ithad and Taraqi society joined the Young Turks political movement and controlled the government in Istanbul in an effort to modernize the society, they also started the racist policy of forced Turkification.  A policy that denied rights of other minorities in the Ottoman Empire.  The Turkish army had a great number of Arab officers who were proud of their heritage, history, civilization, and resented the policy of Turkification.   

Mosul Geography

Until the end of WWI, Iraq consisted of there willayas, Basra, Baghdad, and Mosul as shown in Figure 1-11. At that time Mosul wilaya contained all regions of Iraq north of a line extending from Ana on the Euphrates passing Tikrit on the Tigris River, to the Persian borders.   Its area was about 70,00 Sq. Km.   The city of Mosul is located in northern Iraq at the crossing of longitude 43-16 east and 36.35 north, raised above 223 m above sea level, and it is considered in a region of tempered weather.  The city is an area of rolling hills descending from the desert plateau in the west gradually to the Tigris River.  Mosul wilaya occupied a region extending from the mountainous region in the northeast to the desert in the southwest.  The average yearly rainfall is above 400 mm, the average in January is about 3 degree salsas in January and about 43 degree in July.   

Figure 1-11 Iraq wilayas before 1921

 Mosul as Describe by Travelers

            From ancient time Mosul was visited by travelers, from 1834 to 1918 it was visited by at least 20 Foreign and Arab Travelers. may of them put their observation in writing.  Their observations related to all aspects of life in the city including administration, social life, people education, economy, and others. Some of their impression is presented below:

  • Administration

The administration of Mosul during the 20th century was more or less similar to previous centuries described in Vol. 6.  Where the Ottomans divide Iraq into three provinces Mosul, Baghdad, and Basra, and each province was ruled by wali (governor) appointed by the central government in Istanbul.  Mosul seldom receive good Walis, Istanbul sent the least qualified man to govern the city.  Most of Mosul walis were appointed for a short time averaging about a year, which was too short to plan, and execute projects to improve the city, but they were usually active in collecting taxes and maintaining peace and justice, but the city was neglected, became poor and filled with problems.

 Population

No one knows exactly the population of Mosul; all we know that its population increased in the 19th century. Many rural dwellers moved to the city, they were Muslims Arab, Turks, and Kurds, as well as Christians families of surrounding villages. The population was estimate from as low as 40,00 to as high as 300,000 people.  These numbers were just an estimate and the real number might be close to 150,000.  Mosul was characterized by the multitude of ethnic and religious groups who lived for long time under the same administration and political system to form a homogeneous society.  Muslims formed the majority of the population they were Arab, Kurds and Turkmans. Christian come second and Jews were third.  Mosul did not witness a religious war, because most of the Muslims and Christians were Arbs descending from similar tribes.

  • Women and Dresses

Women of aristocratic families had more privileges than others. They spent money on charity and some of them built mosques. Rabia Khatun the daughter of Ismail Al-Jalili built a mosque and school attached to it.  A’isha Khatun the mother of Mahmoud Al-Jalili built a mosque and donated a huge Waqf to support it financially. Fathiya Khatun Al-Jalili also contributed to a Mosque and school in 1780.  They continued their charitable contribution during the 19th century.

It is exceedingly difficult to know about Mosul’s women more than they worked hard to in raising families, but they were less conservative than women in Baghdad. Women usually ware long protective dresses mostly blue in color, and when they go out they were a complete cover called ‘Abaya’ and cover their faces with black square piece made of animal hair called ‘Poshi’ so that they did not attract attention. However, outside the city, in places such as Talkaif, Bashiqa and other places, women ware less conservative and more colorful dresses (Figure 2-11).  At home, especially young girls, they ware colorful dresses, they also ware golden decorated chain with precious stones around their necks and hairs, and the well to do women ware golden braces on their wrists and golden ring on their feet.

             Men used to ware Turkish dresses or long dressed, with the exception of the head gear where they were Amama Iqal or Fez. They also were wide trousers made of wool rather than cotton. 

Figure 2-11 Young women from countryside Telkaif 

  • Education

            From early time, Mosul is known for its high level of Education in comparison the surrounding regions, and they excel in all kinds of subjects. In those days, education was related to social standing, and most of the educated people came from aristocratic families such as Al-Jalili, Al- Omari, Al-Ghulami, Al-Mufti, Al-Fakhri and other well to do families who had the means and access to books.  The majority of people were uneducated. There were many kinds of books dealing with different subject as religion, which include tafseer (explanation of Quran), and hadith (Saying of the Prophet), history, Arabic language and grammar, math, science, and astronomy.  Many schools were built during the 18th century and 19th centuries and mostly attached to Mosque (Figure 3-11).   The Dominican Father (figure 4-11) who came to Mosul in1750 played an important role in spreading knowledge and good health within the Christian and other communities in Mosul.  They built a church and a monastery in 1862 to live and work in it, it has famous clock (Al-Sa’a) that can be heard from far distance (Figure 5-11).

Figure 3-11 The Al-Nuri Mosque and school

Figure 4-11 The Dominican Fathers

Figure 5-11 The Dominican Catholic Church (Al-Sa’a) and School

  • Economic Conditions

The economic condition of Mosul depended on agriculture, Industry, and trad.  Mosul was the place where agriculture first started. Agriculture in Mosul so abundant that the rest of Iraq depended on its grain, its agriculture mostly depended on rainwater and little on irrigation.  Beside grain, it produced great amount of fruits, and other variety of vegetables in winter. In summer it produced plenty of melons, watermelons, cucumbers, tomato, various fruits, and also it produced a variety of vegetables in winter.  For those reason foods was plentiful in the city and cheaper than any other places in the region.  In good years, its agriculture produce could feed all of Iraq and still have plenty left over for export.  It exported wheat and other grain items to the mountain region of Kurdistan, to Baghdad, and Basra.  Mosul produced cotton for its local manufacturing textile and for export.

As to the Industry, Mosul is known for the manufacturing of textiles and metals which involved a great sector of the society. They were also involved in leather goods such as hose saddles, all kind of belts and shoes.  Mosul also manufactured regular and decorative carpets, they also manufactured tents for nomads.  The city was famous for metal manufacturing such as cupper to make pots pans, spoons, and other items.

As for trade, Mosul enjoy a good geographical location, Arabs from desert and Kurds from the mountain region buy what they need from many Mosul shops (Figure 5-11). Trade with Kurdistan was strong, where Mosul import gallnuts, almond, chestnut, walnuts, pistachio, dry fruits, animal oil and wool. Trade still suffered from outlaws and highway rubbers. Most of merchandise from India, Europe or Persia passed through Mosul.  In addition, Mosul exported wool, gallnuts and similar products to Aleppo and Damascus before they were shipped to Europe.  Mosul also used to import from India Persia and Europe.  From Europe it imported special textiles, papers (white and colored), rifles, copper, steel wires, nails, glass, and mirrors.   Mosul had a bridge floating on boats across the Tigris River (Figure 7-11) it connected east and west of the city.  The River was also used to transport goods by kalaks (figure 8-11), which is basically a boat made of tree trunks floating on goat skins.

Figure 6-11 Typical shopping places in the city.

Figure 7-11 The old boat bridge cross the Tigris River

Figure 8-11 Loading of kalak at the river shore before sailing.

  • Building and Materials

After the Mongol invasion of the city, Mosul deteriorated and reduced in size and in number.  During the Ottoman rule half of the city became runes, and the rest of the houses were weak and poorly built.  It had been estimated that the number of houses in the city were in excess of 30,000 houses. The city had various sectors (mahalas); they were a narrow winding roads connected to each other’s like a web. Most of the allies were paved with brick or large flat stones, but some allies were unpaved, they were usually dusty in summer and muddy in winter.  The average house had similar design, they were built from stone or bricks with mortar, rich people use marble for decorative columns, paving floors and for wall siding.  Rooms had covered dome ceilings. Typical house was built of solid wall adjacent to the street or ally with large main entrance.  The entrance leads to a cover space, on the right usually there is a large reception room and on the left there is most likely kitchen wit food storage area.  In the middle of the house there is an open paved yard, which it may or may not have trees in the middle. Opposite to the front door on the other side of the yard, there is usually an ewan with open front.  The ewan surrounded with two rooms one on the left and the other on the right. Housed own by well to do people might have rooms at upper level.  Most houses have basement below the ground. People sleep on the roof of the house for about five months to avoid the hot summer nights, and spend significant amount of the daytime in cool basements.  Drinking water was carried in large leather bags made of goat or cow skins and transported by animals, usually donkeys to individual houses. Many women wash clothes for themselves or for other families along the Tigris River (figure 9-11).

Figure 9-11 Women washing cloths along the river

  • Market Places, Khans, and Public baths

 Mosul marketplaces during the 19th and 20th centuries were relatively nice, some were covered and crowded, each covered market had many shops with great variety of items included food items, leather goods, textiles, and other items, and their prices were relatively cheap.  Items included were brought from abroad as far as Europe and India. The city had many Khans (sleeping and resting places for travelers and their animals), the most famous one were Khan Al-Mufti and Khan Al-A’lwa, each had about 26 rooms.  Mosul had many coffeeshops served as gathering places to relax, discussing current events, conducting business, and sometimes listening to poetry or professional storyteller.  The city had about 30 public baths for men and women and they were usually owned by relatives of high officials.

           

عن Maher

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