The Keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Pieces of paper, covered in Arabic writing, are scattered on a table. A pair of keys sits near the center
Photo © by Yousef Khanfar

For over 850 years, two Palestinian Muslim families have been entrusted with the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, the holiest shrine for Christianity. The keys were created on July 15, 1149. The leader Salah Al-Din (Saladin) assigned the keys to the Joudeh Al-Husseini family on February 10, 1187, as the sole legitimate custodian of the keys and for the Nuseibeh family to open and close the doors of the church. These two Palestinian Muslim families have been performing this duty of honor every single day in a spirit of goodwill and respect for both faiths.

An award-winning Palestinian author, Yousef Khanfar has published three books, is featured globally in many publications, and is listed as one of the world’s top photographers. He has received appreciation from the White House, US Supreme Court, the UK’s House of Lords, and beyond. The Fulbright Center for Peace in Washington, DC, selected his book to help celebrate the Global Symposium of Peaceful Nations. He was selected as Artist of the Year to promote literacy with UNICEF, and the Palestine mission to the United Nations honored him for “appreciation of his extraordinary service to promoting peace and justice in Palestine through art.”