20 Facts About Zahir al-Umar


At the peak of his power in 1774, Zahir al-Umar's rule extended from Beirut to Gaza and included the Jabal Amil and Jabal Ajlun regions.


Zahir al-Umar's father, Umar, was a sheikh of the Banu Zaydan, a small family of Bedouin origin which had abandoned nomadism under Zahir's grandfather, Salih, and settled as cultivators in the Tiberias area in the late 17th century.


Zahir al-Umar's mother was a member of the Sardiyya, a Bedouin tribe based in the Hauran.


Zahir al-Umar's killing of a man from Tiberias during a brawl in 1707 prompted Sa'd to move the family from the Tiberias area.


The dominant clans of Jabal Nablus, especially the Jarrar family, challenged Zahir al-Umar's advance, recruiting the Saqr as allies.


Zahir al-Umar's forces pursued the Jarrars to their throne village of Sanur, but withdrew after failing to capture its fortress.


Zahir al-Umar's rise coincided with that of the Azm family, whose members governed Damascus Eyalet for over a quarter century, beginning with Isma'il Pasha al-Azm in 1725.


The rebellions by Zahir al-Umar's sons were nearly always backed by the governor of Damascus, Uthman Pasha, in a bid to sustain the internal dissent and weaken Zahir al-Umar.


The Battle of Lake Hula marked a decisive victory for Zahir al-Umar, who entered Acre triumphantly with the spoils of Uthman Pasha's camp.


Zahir al-Umar's victory encouraged Ali Bey to relaunch his Syrian campaign.


Sabbagh argued that Zahir al-Umar's treasury lacked the funds and that Zahir al-Umar's forces were capable of defeating Hasan Pasha.


Also arrested with Zahir al-Umar's sons was their physician, who was known to be skilled.


Zahir al-Umar's fortified villages and towns were equipped with artillery installments and his army's arsenal consisted of cannons, matchlock rifles, pistols and lances.


Zahir al-Umar's territory became a haven for Melkites and Greek Orthodox from other parts of Ottoman Syria, who migrated there for better trade and employment opportunities.


Zahir al-Umar's marriages were politically advantageous, helping to seal his rule over areas he captured and consolidate relationships with Bedouin tribes, local clans, or urban notables.


Zahir al-Umar's daughter Nijma was married to Karim al-Ayyubi, who was a cousin of Zahir.


Besides support from elements of the Zaydani clan, Zahir al-Umar's sons maintained their own power bases, largely derived from their mothers' clans, and made their own alliances with other powerful actors in the region.


Part of Zahir al-Umar's contributions are extant, mainly a section of the northeastern wall, and are characterized by small stone blocks.


Zahir al-Umar built the Seraya government house in Nazareth, which served as the city's municipal headquarters until 1991.


The original great mosque in new Haifa was probably built by Zahir al-Umar, but most of the present building is a later construction.