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Nablus was the center of Touqan power in Palestine

Touqan (Arabic: طوقان‎, also spelled Tuqan and Toukan) was a prominent Palestinian family based in Nablus. During Ottoman times they were the only household that ever came close to centralizing all of the District of Nablus under their rule, and their members held the post of district chief longer than did any other local family in the 18th and 19th centuries, albeit inconsistently.[1]



Nabulsi soap was the prime industry of the Touqan family

The Touqan family is originally from northern Syria, although their members ruled other parts of the Ottoman Empire at various periods of time. They served in the Ottoman army as officers during a military campaign into Palestine in 1657 which was meant to pacify the Jabal Nablus region. The Touqan settled in the city of Nablus and later in the 18th century contended control of it with the Nimr family, who also served in the 1657 campaign. Their most prominent member at that time was Salih Pasha al-Touqan. Salih Pasha and his descendant intermarried with the Nimrs, but internecine competition, exacerbated by the provincial authorities in Damascus caused a serious rift between the families.[1]

In 1766, Mustafa Bey Touqan maneuvered himself to be appointed the chief of the nahiya (subdistrict) of Bani Sa'b, driving out the powerful Jarrar family from their post. This put the family on a collision course with the Jarrars and Dhaher al-Omar, the ruler of Acre, who rebelled against the Ottoman authorities. This threat was magnified when the governor of Damascus, Muhammad Pasha al-Azm, appointed Mustafa Bey as the sub-district chief of Nablus as well. The Jarrars' fears induced them to let the forces of Dhaher al-Omar pass unimpeded through their territories on their way to lay siege to Nablus. Meanwhile, Mustafa Bey received help from the Nimrs and prepared the city's defenses. This turn of events cast the Touqans as loyal servants of the Ottoman sultan.[2]

Mustafa Bey accelerated the Touqans' drive for internal hegemony in Jabal Nablus through violence and intimidation, eventually embroiling Jabal Nablus in a civil war (1817–1823). With the blessing of the Ottoman government, the Touqans imported mercenary soldiers and stationed them in a hastily built fortress in the village of Junayd, on the outskirts of Nablus. This move increased local opposition and after a series of bloody clashes, some inside the city itself, the Touqans were defeated by the combined forces of the Jarrars and the Qasim family (chiefs of Jamma'in); Mustafa Bey was poisoned on November 20, 1823.[3]

Musa Bey Touqan, who became the most powerful and longest-reigning chief of Nablus since at least the late 17th century, strove for political centralization and to dominate Nabulsi soap production by acquiring soap factories. In September 1798, the Touqan family had arranged the purchase of part of the Rukabiyya soap factory by one of its followers, who then turned it over to them. A few months later, in early January 1799, they consolidated their hold over the Uthmaniyya factory through a waqf exchange with a less wealthy branch of their family. Muhammad ibn Ali Touqan forced a waqf exchange of the entire Shafi'iyya soap factory from Qasim Shafi'i for the low sum of 150 piasters in 1801. In February 1807, Musa Bey gained control of the Ya'ishiyya factory from the Hanbalis after the leading member of that family died indebted. In mid-December 1811, the Touqans endowed two-thirds of the Shaytaniyya as a private family waqf, the implication being that this share was newly acquired. In another instance, Musa Bey "persuaded" Muhammad ibn Isma‘il Qadi-Shwayka to invalidate a previous sale of his right of use of one-quarter of the Bashawiyya soap factory to Muhammad Sa'id Bustami in December 1815-January 1816 and to sell it to him instead. Finally, in April 1817, Musa Bey purchased the allegedly damaged Gharzaniyya after another waqf exchange within his own extended family.[4]

Musa Bey was assassinated by his rivals on December 20, 1823, putting an end to a prolonged period of conflict, during which his family's material base had been seriously eroded. Many of the Touqans' key properties, including those that were endowed as family waqfs, were confiscated after Musa Bey's death. Soon after their occupation of the Levant in 1831, the Egyptians deported the leading figures of the Touqan family to Egypt and promoted the Abd al-Hadi family of Arrabah instead.[4] The only remaining leader of the family, Yusuf ibn Ahmad Touqan continued a small number of factories.

Today, the Touqan family still operates one of the two remaining soap factories in Nablus. The industry has been severely damaged by the circumstances of the Second Intifada.[5]

List of notable Touqan members

Ibrahim Touqan, the author of Mawtini, was an Arab nationalist poet in the early 20th century

See also


  1. ^ a b Doumani, 1995, p.38.
  2. ^ Doumani, 1995, pp.42-43.
  3. ^ Doumani, 1995, p.44.
  4. ^ a b Doumani, 1995, p.186.
  5. ^ Michael Phillips (March 11 2008). "Nablus' olive oil soap: a Palestinian tradition lives on". Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU). Retrieved 2008-03-27.  




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