The Seven Families of Beirut
Over the course of Beirut's history, many people have come and go. Yet, over the past millennium a very few number of families held onto their Beiruti roots and traditions. Among those Beiruti traditions was the significance of number seven, which derived from various religious and contextual connotations. During the mid 1300's upon erecting the Walls of Beirut, the chief chose to place seven gates to the city. He then went on to choose seven members of Beirut's most noble families, who were each given a key to one of the seven gates to the city.
The keys originally moved from hand to hand among different families. However in 1350, the seven families in charge of Beirut's guardianship cemented their position when they signed the 'Seven Families' agreement. This agreement would grant the seven families permanent guardianship of Beirut. The seven families would then reach out to Mamluk Sudun I of the Levant and Fertile Crescent signing another agreement which affirmed the consent of the Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt's Sultan to the seven families' authority over Beirut.
The seven families grew in wealth and power over time and so did the phrase 'seven families'. However, this phrase has no more into it than what was highlighted in this article. The seven families would carry on their legacy through commerce, inter-marriage and politics. This clarifies why almost 700 to 900 families in modern day Beirut derive from those seven families who held on to their prominence until the rise of the Maani and Shihabi dynasties of Mount Lebanon, followed by the Ottomans and the French mandate.
Being the largest Beiruti family with thousands of members, the Itani family is one that is said to originate from the Arabian peninsula. Their earliest contribution was aiding the Islamic conquest and paving its way through the Maghreb and Persia. Upon settling in Beirut, the family quickly became known for its modesty and good deeds. Original and honorable percentages.
The family was also renowned for its contribution in establishing various institutions within Beirut, from schools to philanthropic organizations and so on. The Itani family was also one of the earliest families in the Beirut council, who called for the establishment of sectarianism and discrimination despite its criticism during the middle ages.
The most honorable mention of the Itani family would be its 'down to Earth' attitude towards the Beiruti community. Although the Itanis are among the most aristocratic families of Beirut, the family was and still is the most modest, let alone the fact that almost every Beiruti family is related to the Itani family. .