Growing diversity: the Khazin sheiks and the clergy in the first decades of the 18th century
Written by Malek el Khazen
SOURCE: Notables and Clergy in Mount Lebanon by Richard Van Leewen,
 
Growing diversity: the Khazin sheiks and the clergy in the first decades of the 18th century
 
It seems that the Khazin family succeeded in preserving their unity during the whole of the 17th century, under the guidance of the head of the family, who combined his administrative responsibilities with the function of French consul. After the dispersion of the various branches over Kisrawan at the turn of the 18th century, however, political inte­rests began to diverge, and the first signs of discord appeared. The terri­torial distribution of the family meant that individual branches acquired the supervision over separate monasteries and established relations with their own prot
 
Another factor complicating the relations between the church and the notables was the foundation of the first Maronite monastic organiza­tion, the Lebanese Order (al-Rahbaniyya al-Lubnaniyya), which occur­red around 1700. In 1693, three men from Aleppo obtained permission from Patriarch al-Duwayhi to found a monastic brotherhood, and sub­sequently succeeded in establishing small monastic communities in labbat Bsharri. The Order witnessed considerable growth in the first decades of the 18th century, both in membership and in the acquisition of monastic possessions. As the Order had to be integrated into the existing structure of the church, notably in the fields of finance and clerical possessions, conflicts were unavoidable, and from the beginning of the century fierce tensions occurred between the patriarch and the protagonists of the Lebanese Order. These tensions became even more manifest when several members of the Order became mutrans and the frictions were thus incorporated into the clerical hierarchy. The first members of the Order who attained the rank of mutrdn were Abdallah al-Qara'ali (1716; Beimt), Jirmanus Farhat (1725; Aleppo), Ighnatiyus al-Sharabiyya (1732; Damascus) and Tubiya al-Khazin (1733).
 
Patriarch Istifan al-Duwayhi, who died in 1704, was succeeded by Jibra'il al-Bluzani, a protege of Abu Nawfal and Husn al-Khazin. How­ever, al-Bluzam died before he received the pallium, and subsequently Ya'qub Awwad was elected patriarch, although not unanimously. In the years following his election. Patriarch Ya'qub 'Awwad was accused of financial misconduct and indecent behaviour, and in 1710 he was depo­sed by a conclave of mutrans in Dayr Mar Sarkis wa-Bakhus in Rayfun (Kisrawan). At the instigation of the Khazin sheiks of Ajaltun and Ghusta, the mutran of Baalbek, Yusuf Mubarak, who was from Rayfun and a protege of the awlad Abi Qansawh al-Khazin, was elected "anti-patriarch". The head of the Khazin family, Nawfal, who had succeeded his father as consul of France in 1708, declared that Mubarak was fit for the task of patriarch but eventually supported Awwad.19 The con­flict, which threatened the unity of the Maronite community, drew the intervention of the Vatican and of the French consuls of Sidon and Tri­poli. According to Nawfal, the people were on Awwad's side, and were only outwardly professing support for Mubarak. In 1714 Awwad was reinstated as patriarch. Although the mutrans, who had not acted unani­mously, resigned themselves to the instructions of Rome in this instance, the sheiks of Kisrawan refused to comply. They sent a letter to the French consul of Sidon expressing their dissatisfaction with his interfe­rence, and threatening to call in the support of the Ottoman authorities, as they would not accept any French authority over their affairs. Only after Awwad had solemnly visited Kisrawan in 1714 did the sheiks formally acquiesce to his restoration, but in 1719 and 1721 they again complained. For his part, Awwad repeatedly accused the Khazin sheiks of preventing him from collecting the "ushur, leaving him in deplorable financial circumstances. According to Patriarch Awwad himself, the frictions around his person were instigated by the Khazin sheiks of Ajaltoin and Ghosta, who wanted to depose him, a measure that, according to him, was the pre­rogative of the Sultan only. Whatever the true causes of the discord may have been, it revealed for the first time a significant clash of interests in church affairs between the different branches of the Khazin family, affecting their control of the patriarchate. For the first time, too, the conflict brought about the active intervention of external forces, viz. the French consuls and the Vatican, accentuating the split between the Kha­zin consul (Nawfal) and the other family branches. This outside inter­vention, partly induced by the Khazins, would henceforth become a regular phenomenon.
 
One of the main concerns of the Khazin sheiks regarding Ya’qub Awwad may have been his willingness to accommodate to the de­mands of the Hamada muqaddams of Jabbat Bsharri, concerning the taxation of the estate of Qannubm. The Khazins accused 'Awwad of giving away possessions of the estate to the Hamadas and of entrusting the estate to "Turks and Greeks". Significantly, Yiisuf Mubarak in­tended to move the patriarchal residence to Kisrawan. After his rein­statement, the awlad Abi Nasif al-Khazin invited 'Awwad to come and live in Kisrawan, an offer that was declined by "Awwad. However, although in 1717 'Awwad signed an agreement with the Hamadas to settle their financial differences, the Khazin sheiks did not defini­tively lose their control over the patriarch or the patriarchal see, as in 1726 the patriarch nominated an administrator (wakil) for the estate of Qannubin with the explicit consent of some of the Khazin sheiks. The document which was drafted for this purpose was signed by mutrdn Dargham al-Khazin, sheik Nawfal and some sheiks of the branches awlad Abi Qansawh and awlad Abi Nawfal. In addition, a document was drafted in which the Khazins pledged to provide for the liveli­hood of the wakil, and was signed by Nawfal and sheiks of the awlad Abi Nawfal and awlad Abi Nasif. This arrangement can clearly be seen as a means of counterbalancing the influence of the Hamada muqad­dams on the patriarchate and, accordingly, on the ecclesiastical domains in Bsharii. Again, regional spheres of influence appeared to be inter­twined with the Khazin's wish to control the clergy The clergy, how­ever, would never be as cohesive as before.