Back on the trail of the now truly obscure - even the Ministry of Awqaf (Islamic Endowments) had no idea where the last of Ibn Battuta’s ‘list of the late illustrious’ were to be found - I am finding out that some have moved...... is this something peculiar to denizens of Syria’s cemeteries? “Oh, yes, he moved - he’s not here now,” I have been told on more than one occasion. Quite why they have moved remains a complete mystery.....did someone else want their spot?
In an area between the Old City and Ath-Thawra street called Sarouja, is the Najmiya madrasa which was not in fact a madrasa but a convent. Ibn Battuta mentions it as one of the many in the city,
“The Hanbalites have many colleges, the largest of them being the Najmiya college.”
Now it is a small mosque with two large, dusky pink-domed, white-washed tombs in the corner, but that day we could not find anyone who knew who they were - perhaps they house some of my ‘lost’ cemetery occupants.