On Friday, January 27, 2023, Syria’s oldest woman, Noura Himish, died at the age of 136. Born when Syria was part of the Ottoman Empire, there was no civil registration in the countryside under Ottoman rule but her estimated date of birth was eventually recorded in 1901 when she was in her teens.
Born in the village of Um al-Rish, on the Wastani Mountain, 20 kilometers west of Idlib city, this woman witnessed the horrors of Seferberlik in the latter days of the Ottoman Empire from 1913- 1918, which included the forced conscription of Lebanese, Palestinian, Syrian, and Kurdish men to fight with the Ottoman Empire during World War I, the deportation of an estimated 5,000 Lebanese, Syrian and Kurdish families to Anatolia, and the execution of Lebanese, Syrians, and Kurds arbitrarily accused of desertion.
this woman witnessed a number of military coups that had alternated at the time, the last of which was that of the Baathist regime, which spread injustice and corruptionGeorge Tuma
After the demise of the Ottoman Caliphate, she lived for a short period of time under the rule of Faisal bin Al-Hussein, during which Syria was a kingdom.
After the French occupation of Syria which began in 1920, this lady and her peers were a national incubator for revolutionaries who stood up to the French colonialism, under the leadership of Ibrahim Hanano, a native of her region and the most prominent leader of the revolution in the area.
After the end of the French colonial era in 1946, this woman witnessed a number of military coups that had alternated at the time, the last of which was that of the Baathist regime, which spread injustice and corruption, stifled freedoms and undermined the dignity of citizens.
It is unfortunate that her final memories were of relatives lost and homes in ruins after an exceptionally long life journey that was crowded with great blessings and joyGeorge Tuma
What a pity for the unjust dark days that befell this lady and her generation under the current brutal regime. Her long years culminated with the last decade during which she mourned the deaths of a million fellow Syrians, most of whom were young, and a large number of detainees. She herself raised a number of the brave young revolutionaries that rose up in her region and survived the loss of many loved ones who were never to return after bidding them farewell.
It is unfortunate that her final memories were of relatives lost and homes in ruins after an exceptionally long life journey that was crowded with great blessings and joy that were all too often eclipsed by great tragedies. But in the end, Noura Himish leaves behind a legacy of virtue and motherhood that were the masters of all the situations she experienced in her life, and through it all, she was like a mountain standing in front of the storm.
After the death of her husband about sixty years ago, she remained active in the lives of her children, the boys, and the girls, and supervised the raising of her grandchildren until the number of these exceeded 300 during her lifetime.
Noura did not hesitate to give back to her community and was always ready to help the poor and people in needGeorge Tuma
Her wisdom set an example for many generations as she managed her time between raising children, working in farming, and delivering the babies of other women in the region for over 40 years.
Noura did not hesitate to give back to her community and was always ready to help the poor and people in need. Saddened by the lack of a mosque in her village, she undertook a project to build one from the proceeds of her work in agriculture, herding sheep, and raising poultry on a small scale. When she was eighty-year-old, she was able to perform the pilgrimage to Mecca.
May God’s mercy and abundant blessing shower the soul of Noura Himish, a Syrian icon, the mother of five generations, and hundreds of olive, pomegranate, and cherry trees.