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The Marriage of the Parents of General Khaled Al-Zahawi


At a friend's house I recently came across a few back copies of The Scribe, which I read with great interest, especially your answers to readers' enquiries.

I would be very grateful if you could help me, too, by providing more detail about the persons in the following piece of oral history:

In order to escape from an unwanted marriage, a girl from a well-known Jewish family sought refuge in the house of Muhammed Faidhi Al-Zahawi (1803?-1891?), Mufti of Baghdad. Since the Mufti did not consider it proper to have an unmarried girl living under his roof, he married her to his son Mahmood. A son from this marriage was General Khaled Al-Zahawi, director of the military academy in Baghdad in the 1930's.

Since I do not have regular access to The Scribe, I would appreciate it if you could send an answer to my address. I am enclosing a self-addressed envelope and two international reply coupons for this purpose.

Brisbane, Australia

Ms Z Zahawi

Reply: We give you below the story as we know it.

The parents of a Jewish girl wanted to marry her to an elderly Jew, but she was friendly with a young Moslem neighbour and decided to elope with him. So she went to the Mufti Muhammed Faidhi Al-Zahawi for the marriage formalities. According to the arrangement between the Moslem and Jewish communities the girl had to stay a week at the Mufti's house who was required to persuade her to return to her parents and would only marry her if she refused at the end of the week to return to her parents.

When the Mufti was satisfied that the girl had no intention to return to her parents, he advised her that instead of marrying her poor Muslim friend, she would be better off marrying his own (the Mufti's) son. In fact this is what happened and that's how the girl married the father of Khaled Al-Zahawi.

We are informed that Khaled was born in 1889 and if that is the case the marriage of his parents would have taken place around 1888, but certainly not in 1803.

Khaled Pasha was Governor (Mutasarrif) of the Baghdad district at the time of the Farhood in 1941. He came to our house on the morning of the rioting at which over 200 Jews were killed, and informed us that although he asked permission from the British military authorities and Nouri Al-Said to disperse the rioters by firing into the air, they refused to give him permission.


Reply from Lisbeth Zahawi

Thank you very much for your detailed answer to my letter concerning the marriage of Mufti Al-Zahawi's son. What a lucky coincidence that this story can now be verified from another source.

Since I am going to be in London in August, I am planning to contact you then in order to find out whether it would be possible for me to look at some back copies of your publication and maybe have a look at your reference library.

As to any photographs that might be of interest to you, I am afraid there is nothing earlier than the 1930's. I'll bring some group photos with me and you can have a look at them. I, on the other hand, am very hopeful that you might have a portrait of the Mufti in your picture archive!



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