Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah and Meccah
Sir Richard Francis Burton

Part 8 out of 8

prostrations at the Bayt al-Mukuddas (Jerusalem). Moreover, sundry
miracles took place here, and a verset of the Koran descended from
heaven. For which reasons the Mosque was much respected by Omar, who,
once finding it empty, swept it himself with a broom of thorns, and
expressed his wonder at the lukewarmness of Moslem piety. It was
originally a square building of very small size; Osman enlarged it in
the direction of the minaret, making it sixty-six cubits each way. It
is no longer "mean and decayed" as in Burckhardt's time: the Sultan Abd
al-Hamid, father of

[p.409]the Sultan Mahmud, erected a minaret of Turkish shape and a neat
structure of cut stone, whose crenelles make it look more like a place
of defence than of prayer. It has, however, no preten[s]ions to
grandeur. To the South a small and narrow Riwak (porch), with
unpretending columns, looks out Northwards upon a little open area
simply sanded over; and this is the whole building.

The large Mastabah or stone bench at the entrance of the Mosque was
crowded with sitting people: we therefore lost no time, after ablution
and the Niyat ("the Intention") peculiar to this Visitation, in
ascending the steps, in pulling off our slippers, and in entering the
sacred building. We stood upon the Musalla al-Nabi (the Prophet's place
of Prayer)[FN22]: after Shaykh Nur and Hamid had forcibly cleared that
auspicious spot of a devout Indian, and had spread a rug upon the dirty
matting, we performed a two-bow prayer, in font of a pillar into which
a diminutive marble Mihrab or niche had been inserted by way of
memento. Then came the Dua, or supplication, which was as follows:

"O Allah! bless and preserve, and increase, and perpetuate, and
benefit, and be propit[i]ous to, our Lord Mohammed, and to his Family,
and to his Companions, and be Thou their Preserver! O Allah! this is
the Mosque Kuba, and the Place of the Prophet's Prayers. O Allah!
pardon our Sins, and veil our Faults, and place not over us one who
feareth not Thee, and who pitieth not us, and pardon us, and the true
Believers, Men and Women, the Quick of them and the Dead: for verily
Thou, O Lord, art the Hearer, the near to us, the Answerer of our
Supplications." After which we recited the Testification and the
Fatihah, and we drew our palms as usual down our faces.

We then moved away to the South-Eastern corner of the edifice, and
stood before a Mihrab in the Southern wall.

[p.410]It is called "Takat al-Kashf" or "Niche of Disclosure," by those
who believe that as the Prophet was standing undecided about the
direction of Meccah, the Archangel Gabriel removed all obstructions to
his vision. There again we went through the two-bow prayer, the
Supplication, the Testification, and the Fatihah, under difficulties,
for people mobbed us excessively. During our devotions, I vainly
attempted to decipher a Cufic inscription fixed in the wall above and
on the right of the Mihrab,-my regret however, at this failure was
transitory, the character not being of an ancient date. Then we left
the Riwak, and despite the morning sun which shone fiercely with a
sickly heat, we went to the open area where stands the "Mabrak
al-Nakah," or the "Place of kneeling of the she-Dromedary.[FB#23]"
This, the exact spot where Al-Kaswa sat down, is covered with a
diminutive dome of cut stone, supported by four stone pillars: the
building is about eight feet high and a little less in length and in
breadth. It has the appearance of being modern. On the floor, which was
raised by steps above the level of the ground, lay, as usual, a bit of
dirty matting, upon which we again went through, the ceremonies above

Then issuing from the canopy into the sun, a little outside the Riwak
and close to the Mabrak, we prayed upon the "Makan al-Ayat,[FN#24]" or
the "Place of Signs." Here was revealed to Mohammed a passage in the
Koran especially alluding to the purity of the place and of the people
of Kuba, "a Temple founded in Purity from its first Day;" and again:
"there live Men who love to be

[p.411]cleansed, and verily Allah delights in the Clean." The Prophet
exclaimed in admiration, "O ye Sons of Amr! what have ye done to
deserve all this Praise and Beneficence?" when the people offered him
an explanation of their personal cleanliness which I do not care to
repeat. The temple of Kuba from that day took a fresh title-Masjid
al-Takwa, or the "Mosque of Piety."

Having finished our prayers and ceremonies at the Mosque of Piety, we
fought our way out through a crowd of importunate beggars, and turning
a few paces to the left, halted near a small chapel adjoining the
South-West angle of the larger temple. We there stood at a grated
window in the Western wall, and recited a Supplication, looking the
while reverently at a dark dwarf archway under which the Lady Fatimah
used to sit grinding grain in a hand-mill. The Mosque in consequence
bears the name of Sittna Fatimah. A surly-looking Khadim, or guardian
stood at the door demanding a dollar in the most authoritative Arab
tone-we therefore did not enter.

At Al-Madinah and at Meccah the traveller's hand must be perpetually in
his pouch: no stranger in Paris or in London is more surely or more
severely taken in. Already I began to fear that my eighty pounds would
not suffice for all the expenses of sight-seeing, and the apprehension
was justified by the sequel. My only friend was the boy Mohammed, who
displayed a fiery economy that brought him into considerable disrepute
with his countrymen. They saw with emotion that he was preaching
parsimony to me solely that I might have more money to spend at Meccah
under his auspices. This being palpably the case, I threw all the blame
of penuriousness upon the young Machiavel's shoulders, and resolved, as
he had taken charge of my finances at Al-Madinah, so at Meccah to
administer them myself.

After praying at the window, to the great disgust of the Khadim, who
openly asserted that we were "low

[p.412]fellows," we passed through some lanes lined with beggars and
Badawi children, till we came to a third little Mosque situated due
South of the larger one. This is called the Masjid Arafat, and is
erected upon a mound also named Tall Arafat, because on one occasion
the Prophet, being unable to visit the Holy Mountain at the pilgrimage
season, stood there, saw through the intervening space, and in spirit
performed the ceremony. Here also we looked into a window instead of
opening the door with a silver key, and the mesquin appearance of all
within prevented my regretting the necessity of economy. In India or in
Sind every village would have a better Mosque. Our last visit was to a
fourth chapel, the Masjid Ali, so termed because the Apostle's
son-in-law had a house upon this spot.[FN#25] After praying there-and
terribly hot the little hole was!-we repaired to the last place of
visitation at Kuba-a large deep well called the Bir al-Aris, in a
garden to the West of the Mosque of Piety, with a little oratory
adjoining it. A Persian wheel was going drowsily round, and the cool
water fell into a tiny pool, whence it whirled and bubbled away in
childish mimicry of a river. The music sounded sweet in my ears; I
stubbornly refused to do any more praying-though Shaykh Hamid, for
form's sake, reiterated with parental emphasis, "how very wrong it
was,"-and I sat down, as the Prophet himself did not disdain to do,
with the resolution of enjoying on the brink of the well a few moments
of unwonted "Kayf." The heat was overpowering, though it was only nine
o'clock, the sound of the stream was soothing, that water-wheel was
creaking a lullaby, and the limes and pomegranates, gently rustling,
shed voluptuous fragrance through the morning air. I fell asleep,
and-wondrous the contrast!-dreamed that I was once more standing

"By the wall whereon hangeth the crucified vine,"

[p.413]looking upon the valley of the Lianne, with its glaucous seas
and grey skies, and banks here and there white with snow.

The Bir al-Aris,[FN#26] so called after a Jew of Al-Madinah, is one
which the Apostle delighted to visit. He would sit upon its brink with
his bare legs hanging over the side, and his companions used to imitate
his example. This practice caused a sad disaster. In the sixth year of
his caliphate, Osman, according to Abulfeda and Yakut, dropped from his
finger the propheti[c] ring which, engraved in three lines with
"Mohammed-Apostle-(of) Allah," had served to seal the letters sent to
neighbouring kings, and had descended to the first three
successors.[FN#27] The precious article was not recovered after three
days' search, and the well was thenceforward called Bir al-Khatim-of
the Seal Ring. It is also called the Bir al-Taflat-of
Saliva[FN#28]-because the Prophet honoured it by expectoration, as,
by-the-bye, he seems to have done to almost all the wells in
Al-Madinah. The effect of the operation upon the Bir al-Aris, says the
historians, was to sweeten the water, which before was salt. Their
testimony, however, did not prevent my detecting a pronounced medicinal
taste in the lukewarm draught drawn for me by Shaykh Hamid. In
Mohammed's days the total number of wells is recorded to

[p.414] have been twenty: most of them have long since disappeared; but
there still remain seven, whose waters were drunk by the Prophet, and
which, in consequence, the Zair is directed to visit.[FN#29] They are
known by the classical title of Saba Abar, or the seven wells, and
their names are included in this couplet:

"Aris and Ghars, and Rumah and Buza'at
And Busat, with Bayruha and Ihn."[FN#30]

[p.415]After my sleep, which was allowed to last until a pipe or two of
Latakia had gone round the party, we remounted our animals. Returning
towards Al-Madinah, my companions pointed out to me, on the left of the
village, a garden called Al-Madshuniyah. It contains a quarry of the
yellow loam or bole-earth, called by the Arabs, Tafl, by the Persians,
Gil-i-Sarshui, and by the Sindians, Metu. It is used as soap in many
parts of the East, and, mixed with oil, it is supposed to cool the
body, and to render the skin fresh and supple. It is related that the
Prophet cured a Badawi of the Benu Haris tribe, of fever, by washing
him with a pot of Tafl dissolved in water, and hence the earth of
Al-Madinah derived its healing fame. As far as I could learn from the
Madani, this clay is no longer valued by them, either medicinally or
cosmetically: the only use they could mention was its being eaten by
the fair sex, when in the peculiar state described by "chlorosis."

[FN#1] The Baradiyah or gugglets of Al-Madinah are large and heavy, of
a reddish-grey colour, and celebrated for cooling water, a property not
possessed by those of Meccan fabric.
[FN#2] I afterwards found reason to doubt this location. Ibn Jubayr
(12th century), places it an arrow-shot from the Westward wall of
Al-Madinah, and seems to have seen it. M.C. de Perceval states, I know
not upon whose authority, that it was dug to protect the North-west,
the North, and the North-eastern sides of the town: this is rendered
highly improbable by the features of the ground. The learned are
generally agreed that all traces of the moat had disappeared before our
15th century.
[FN#3] In Egypt, the lower branches of the date are lopped off about
Christmas time to increase the flavour of the fruit; and the people
believe that without this "Taklim," as it is called, the tree would
die. In Upper Egypt, however, as at Al-Madinah, the fronds are left
[FN#4] The visitor from Al-Madinah would be badly received by the women
of his family, if he did not present them on his return with a few
boxes of dates, some strings of the same fruit, and skins full of henna
powder. Even the Olema allow such articles to be carried away, although
they strictly forbid keepsakes of earth or stone.
[FN#5] This fruit must not be confounded with the enucleated conserve
of dates, which in Arabia, as in Egypt, is known by the name of Ajwah.
The Arabs infinitely despise the stuff sold at Alexandria and Cairo,
declaring that it is fit only for cows. The Ajwah of the Oases,
particularly of Siwah, is of excellent quality.
[FN#6] So in A.D. 1272 the Crucifix spoke to St. Thomas Aquinas.
Superstitions are of no age or country.
[FN#7] At Al-Madinah-
12 Dirhams--------------(drams)------------------make 1 Wukkiyah
20 Wukkiyah-------------------------------------------1 Ratl (pound).
33 Wukkiyah and 3-------(drams)-----------------------1 Wukkah (less
than 2 lbs).
4 Wukkah---------------------------------------------1 Mudd.
24 Mudd-----------------------------------------------1 Ardeb.
This Ratl, or pound, is the larger one applied to particular articles
of commerce-such as meat, vegetables, and clarified butter; coffee,
rice, soap, &c., are sold by the smaller Ratl of Meccah, equal to 140
dirhams. In Egypt, the Ratl is 144 Dirhams or 12 Wukkiyahs,-about 1 lb.
2 oz. and 8 dwts. troy.
[FN#8] "Necklace of Syria." I was told they derive this name from the
place where they are made. "Al-Safra" (on the Meccah road) being also
called Al-Sham (Damascus).
[FN#9] This is a translation of the Arab word "Tazkir," which is
certainly more appropriate than our "caprification" applied to dates.
[FN#10] The male tree is known by its sterility. In some countries only
the fecundating pollen is scattered over the female flower, and this
doubtless must have been Nature's method of impregnating the date.
[FN#11] The resemblance is probably produced by the similarity of
treatment. At Al-Madinah, as in Italy, the vine is "married" to some
tall tree, which, selfish as a husband, appropriates to itself the best
of everything,-sun, breeze, and rain.
[FN#12] This thorn (the Rhamnus Nabeca, or Zizyphus Spina Christi) is
supposed to be that which crowned the Saviour's head. There are Mimosas
in Syria; but no tree, save the fabled Zakhum, could produce the
terrible apparatus with which certain French painters of the modern
school have attempted to heighten the terrors of the scene.
[FN#13] For what reason I am entirely unable to guess, our dictionaries
translate the word Sidr (the literary name of the tree that bears the
Nebek) "Lote-tree." No wonder that believers in "Homeric writ" feel
their anger aroused by so poor a realisation of the beautiful myth.
[FN#14] The only pears in Al-Hijaz, I believe, are to be found at Taif,
to which place they were transplanted from Egypt.
[FN#15] Travellers always remark the curious pot-bellied children on
the banks of the Nile. This conformation is admired by the Egyptians,
who consider it a sign of strength and a promise of fine growth.
[FN#16] I believe Kuba to be about three miles S.S.E. of Al-Madinah;
but Al-Idrisi, Ibn Haukal, and Ibn Jubayr all agree in saying two miles.
[FN#17] Osman, the fourth Companion, was absent at this time, not
having returned from the first or Little Flight to Abyssinia.
[FN#18] Some believe that in this Mosque the direction of prayer was
altered from Jerusalem to Meccah, and they declare, as will presently
be seen, that the Archangel Gabriel himself pointed out the new line.
M.C. de Perceval forgets his usual accuracy when he asserts "le Mihrab
de la Mosquee de Medine, qui fut d'abord place au Nord, fut transfere
au Midi: et la Mosquee prit le nom de ‘Masjid-el-Kiblatayn,' Mosquee
des deux Kiblah. In the first place, the Mihrab is the invention of a
later date, about ninety years; and, secondly, the title of Al-Kiblatyn
is never now given to the Mosque of Al-Madinah.
[FN#19] This degrading report caused certain hypocrites to build a kind
of rival chapel called the Mosque Zarar. It was burnt to the ground
shortly after its erection, and all known of it is, that it stood near
[FN#20] Some say on Monday, probably because on that day Mohammed
alighted at Kuba. But the present practice of Al-Islam, handed down
from generation to generation, is to visit it on the Saturday.
[FN#21] There is on this day at Kuba a regular Ziyarat or visitation.
The people pray in the Harim of Al-Madinah, after which they repair to
the Kuba Mosque, and go through the ceremonies which in religious
efficacy equal an Umrah or Lesser pilgrimage. In books I have read that
the 15th of Ramazan is the proper day.
[FN#22] This is believed to be the spot where the Prophet performed his
first Rukat, or prayer-bow.
[FN#23] "Mabrak" is the locative noun from the triliteral root
"Baraka-he blessed, or he (the camel) knelt upon the ground." Perhaps
this philological connection may have determined Mohammed to consider
the kneeling of the dromedary a sign that Allah had blessed the spot.
[FN#24] "Ayat" here means a verset of the Koran. Some authors apply the
above quoted lines to the Prophet's Mosque at Al-Madinah exclusively,
others to both buildings.
[FN#25] Ibn Jubayr informs us that Abu Bakr, Ayishah, and Omar had
habitations at Kuba.
[FN#26] Some authors mention a second Bir al-Aris, belonging in part to
the Caliph Osman. According to Yakut, "Aris" is the Hebrew or Syriac
word for a peasant; he quotes the plural form Arisun and Ararisah.
[FN#27] Others assert, with less probability, that the article in
question was lost by one Ma'akah, a favourite of Osman. As that
ill-fated Caliph's troubles began at the time of this accident, the
ring is generally compared to Solomon's. Our popular authors, who
assert that Mohammed himself lost the ring, are greatly in error.
[FN#28] According to some authors, Mohammed drew a bucket of water,
drank part of the contents, spat into the rest, and poured it back into
the well, which instantly became sweet. Ibn Jubayr applies the epithet
Bir Al-Taflat peculiarly to the Aris well: many other authors are not
so exact.
[FN#29] The pious perform the Lesser Ablution upon the brink of the
seven wells, and drink of the remnant of the water in "Tabarruk" or to
secure the blessings of God.
[FN#30] Some alter the 3rd, the 5th, and the 7th names to Bir al-Nabi,
a well in the Kuba gardens, Bir al-Ghurbal, and Bir al-Fukayyir, where
the Prophet, together with Salman the Persian and others of his
companions, planted date trees. The Bir al-Aris has already been
described. The Bir al-Ghars, Gharas or Ghurs, so called, it is said,
from the place where it was sunk, about half a mile N.E. of the Kuba
Mosque, is a large well with an abundance of water. Mohammed used to
perform ablution on its brink, and directed Ali to wash his corpse with
seven skins full of the water. The Bir Rumah is a large well with a
spring at the bottom, dug in the Wady al-Akik, to the north of the
Mosque Al-Kiblatayn. It is called "Kalib Mazni" (the old well of
Mazni), in this tradition; "the best of old wells is the old well of
Mazni." And ancient it must be if the legend say true, that when Abu
Karb besieged Al-Madinah (A.D. 495), he was relieved of sickness by
drinking its produce. Some assert that it afforded the only sweet water
in Al-Madinah when the Prophet arrived there. The town becoming crowded
by an influx of visitors, this water was sold by its owner, a man of
the Benu Ghaffar tribe, or according to others, by one Mazni, a Jew.
Osman at last bought it by paying upwards of 100 camels. The Bir
Buza'at, or Biza'at, or Bisa'at, is in the Nakhil or palm plantations,
outside the Bab al-Shami or North-western gate of Al-Madinah on the
right of the road leading to Ohod. Whoever washes in its waters three
times shall be healed. The Bir Busat is near the Bakia cemetery, on the
left of the road leading to Kuba. The Prophet used to bathe in the
water, and he declared it healthy to the skin. The Bir Bayruha, under
whose trees the Prophet was fond of sitting, lies outside the Bab Dar
al-Ziyafah, leading to Mount Ohod. The Kamus gives the word "Bayruha
upon the measure of Fayluha." Some authorities upon the subject of
Ziyarat, write Bayruha, "Bir Ha,"-the well of Ha, and variously suppose
"Ha" to be the name of a man, a woman, or a place. Yahut mentions other
pronunciations: "Bariha," "Bariha," "Bayriha," &c. The Bir Ihn is in a
large garden E. of Kuba. Little is said in books about this well, and
the people of Al-Madinah do not know the name.

[p.416]CHAPTER XX.


ON the morning of Sunday, the twenty-third Zu'l Ka'adah (28th August,
1853), arrived from Al-Sham, or Damascus,[FN#1] the great Caravan
popularly called Hajj al-Shami, the "Damascus pilgrimage," as the
Egyptian Cafila is Al-Misri,[FN#2] or the Cairo pilgrimage. It is the
main stream which carries off all the small currents that, at this
season of general movement, flow from Central Asia towards the great
centre of the Islamitic world, and in 1853 it amounted to about seven
thousand souls. The arrival was anxiously expected by the people for
several reasons. In the first place, it brought with it a new curtain
for the Prophet's Hujrah, the old one being in a tattered condition;
secondly, it had charge of the annual stipends and pensions of the
citizens; and thirdly, many families expected members returning under
its escort to their homes. The popular anxiety was greatly increased by
the disordered state of the country round about; and, moreover, the
great caravan had been one day late, generally arriving on the morning
of the twenty-second Zu'l Ka'adah.[FN#3]

[p.417]During the night three of Shaykh Hamid's brothers, who had
entered as Muzawwirs with the Hajj, came suddenly to the house: they
leaped off their camels, and lost not a moment in going through the
usual scene of kissing, embracing, and weeping bitterly for joy. I
arose in the morning, and looked out from the windows of the Majlis.
The Barr al-Manakhah, from a dusty waste dotted with a few Badawi
hair-tents, had assumed all the various shapes and the colours of a
kaleidoscope. The eye was bewildered by the shifting of innumerable
details, in all parts totally different from one another, thrown
confusedly together in one small field; and, however jaded with
sight-seeing, it dwelt with delight upon the variety, the vivacity, and
the intense picturesqueness of the scene. In one night had sprung up a
town of tents of every size, colour, and shape; round, square, and
oblong; open and closed,-from the shawl-lined and gilt-topped pavilion
of the Pasha, with all the luxurious appurtenances of the Harim, to its
neighbour the little dirty green "rowtie" of the tobacco-seller. They
were pitched in admirable order: here ranged in a long line,

[p.418]where a street was required; there packed in dense masses, where
thoroughfares were unnecessary. But how describe the utter confusion in
the crowding, the bustling, and the vast variety and volume of sound?
Huge white Syrian dromedaries, compared with which those of Al-Hijaz
appeared mere pony-camels, jingling large bells, and bearing
Shugdufs[FN#4] (litters) like miniature green tents, swaying and
tossing upon their backs; gorgeous Takht-rawan, or litters carried
between camels or mules with scarlet and brass trappings; Badawin
bestriding naked-backed "Daluls[FN#5]" (dromedaries), and clinging like
apes to the hairy humps; Arnaut, Kurd, and Turkish Irregular Cavalry,
fiercer looking in their mirth than Roman peasants in their rage;
fainting Persian pilgrims, forcing their stubborn camels to kneel, or
dismounted grumbling from jaded donkeys; Kahwajis, sherbet sellers, and
ambulant tobacconists crying their goods; country-people driving flocks
of sheep and goats with infinite clamour through lines of horses
fiercely snorting and biting and kicking and rearing; townspeople
seeking their friends; returned travellers exchanging affectionate
salutes; devout Hajis jostling one another, running under the legs of
camels, and tumbling over the tents' ropes in their hurry to reach the
Harim; cannon roaring from the citadel; shopmen, water-carriers, and
fruit vendors fighting over their bargains; boys with loud screams
bullying heretics; a well-mounted

[p.419]party of fine old Arab Shaykhs of the Hamidah clan, preceded by
their varlets, performing the Arzah or war dance,-compared with which
the Pyrenean bear's performance is grace itself,-firing their duck-guns
upwards, or blowing the powder into the calves of those before them,
brandishing their swords, leaping frantically the while, with their
bright coloured rags floating in the wind, tossing their long spears
tufted with ostrich feathers high in the air, reckless where they fall;
servants seeking their masters, and masters their tents, with vain
cries of Ya Mohammed[FN#6]; grandees riding mules or stalking on foot,
preceded by their crowd-beaters, shouting to clear the way; here the
loud shrieks of women and children, whose litters are bumping and
rasping against one another; there the low moaning of some poor wretch
that is seeking a shady corner to die in: add a thick dust which blurs
the outlines like a London fog, with a flaming sun that draws sparkles
of fire from the burnished weapons of the crowd, and the brass balls of
tent and litter; and-I doubt, gentle reader, that even the length, the
jar, and the confusion of this description is adequate to its subject,
or that any "word-painting" of mine can convey a just idea of the scene.

This was the day appointed for our visiting the martyrs of Ohod. After
praying the dawn prayers as directed at the Harim, we mounted our
donkeys; and, armed with pistols and knives, we set out from the city.
Our party was large. Sa'ad the Demon had offered to accompany us, and
the bustle around kept him in the best of humours; Omar Effendi was
also there, quiet-looking and humble as usual, leading his ass to avoid
the trouble of dismounting every second minute.[FN#7] I had the boy

[p.420]Mohammed and my "slave," and Shaykh Hamid was attended by half a
dozen relations. To avoid the crush of the Barr al-Manakhah, we made a
detour Westwards, over the bridge and down the course of the
torrent-bed "Al-Sayh." We then passed along the Southern wall of the
castle, traversed its Eastern outwork, and issued from the Bab
al-Shami. During the greater part of the time we were struggling
through a living tide; and among dromedaries and chargers a donkey is
by no means a pleasant monture. With some difficulty, but without any
more serious accident than a fall or two, we found ourselves in the
space beyond and northward of the city. This also was covered with
travellers and tents, amongst which on an eminence to the left of the
road, rose conspicuous the bright green pavilion of the Emir Al-Hajj,
the commandant of the Caravan.[FN#8] Hard by, half its height
surrounded by a Kanat or tent wall, stood the Syrian or Sultan's Mahmil
(litter), all glittering with green and gilding and gold, and around it
were pitched the handsome habitations of the principal officers and
grandees of the pilgrimage. On the right hand lay extensive palm
plantations, and on the left, strewed over the plain, were signs of
wells and tanks, built to supply the Hajj with water. We pass two small
buildings, one the Kubbat Al-Sabak, or Dome of Precedence, where the
Prophet's warrior friends used to display their horsemanship;

[p.421]the second the Makan, or burial-place of Sayyidna Zaki al-Din,
one of Mohammed's multitudinous descendants. Then we fall into a plain,
resembling that of Kuba, but less fertile. While we are jogging over
it, a few words concerning Mount Ohod may not be misplaced. A popular
distich says,

"Verily there is healing to the eye that looks
Unto Ohod and the two Harrahs[FN#9] (ridges) near."

And of this holy hill the Apostle declared, "Ohod is a Mountain which
loves Us and which We love: it is upon the Gate of Heaven[FN#10];"

[p.422]"And Ayr[FN#11] is a Place which hates Us and which We hate: it
is upon the Gate of Hell." The former sheltered Mohammed in the time of
danger; therefore, on Resurrection Day it will be raised to Paradise:
whereas Jabal Ayr, its neighbour, having been so ill-judged as to
refuse the Prophet water on an occasion while he thirsted, will be cast
incontinently into Jahannam. Moslem divines, be it observed, ascribe to
Mohammed miraculous authority over animals, vegetables, and minerals,
as well as over men, angels, and jinnis. Hence the speaking wolf, the
weeping post, the oil-stone, and the love and hate of these two
mountains. It is probably one of the many remains of ancient paganism
pulled down and afterwards used to build up the edifice of Al-Islam.
According to the old Persians, the sphere has an active soul. Some
sects of Hindus believe "mother earth," upon whose bosom we little
parasites crawl, to be a living being. This was a dogma also amongst
the ancient Egyptians, who denoted it by a peculiar symbol,-the globe
with human legs. Hence the "Makrokosmos" of the plagiaristic Greeks,
the animal on a large scale, whose diminutive was the
"Mikrokosmos"-man. Tota natura, repeats Malpighi, existit in minimis.
Amongst the Romans, Tellus or Terra was a female deity,
anthropomorphised according to their syncretic system, which furnished
with strange gods their Pantheon, but forgot to append the scroll
explaining the inner sense of

[p.423]the symbol. And some modern philosophers, Kepler, Blackmore, and
others, have not scrupled to own their belief in a doctrine which as
long as "Life" is a mere word on man's tongue, can neither be proved
nor disproved. The Mohammedans, as usual, exaggerate the dogma,-a Hadis
related by Abu Hurayrah casts on the day of judgment the sun and the
moon into hell fire.

Jabal Ohod owes its present reputation to a cave which sheltered the
Apostle when pursued by his enemies[FN#12]; to certain springs of which
he drank,[FN#13] and especially to its being the scene of a battle
celebrated in Al-Islam. On Saturday, the 11th Shawwal, in the third
year of the Hijrah (26th January, A.D. 625), Mohammed with seven
hundred men engaged three thousand Infidels under the command of Abu
Sufiyan; ran great personal danger, and lost his uncle Hamzah, the
"Lord of Martyrs." On the topmost pinnacle, also, is the Kubbat Harun,
the dome erected over Aaron's remains. It is now, I was told, in a
ruinous condition, and is placed upon the "pinnacle of seven
hills[FN#14]" in a position somewhat like that of certain buildings on
St. Angelo in the Bay of Naples. Alluding to the toil of reaching it,
the Madani quote a facetious rhyme inscribed upon the wall by one of
their number who had wasted his breath:-

"Malun ibn Malun
Man tala'a Kubbat Harun!"

Anglice, "The man must be a ruffian who climbs up to Aaron's dome."
Devout Moslems visit Ohod every Thursday morning after the dawn
devotions in the

[p.424]Harim; pray for the Martyrs; and, after going through the
ceremonies, return to the Harim in time for mid-day worship. On the
12th of Rajab, Zairs come out in large bodies from the city, encamp on
the plain for three or four days, and pass the time in feasting,
jollity, and devotion, as is usual at pilgrimages and at saints'
festivals in general.

After half an hour's ride we came to the Mustarah or resting-place, so
called because the Prophet sat here for a few minutes on his way to the
battle of Ohod. It is a newly-built square enclosure of dwarf
whitewashed walls, within which devotees pray. On the outside fronting
Al-Madinah is a seat like a chair of rough stones. Here I was placed by
my Muzawwir, who recited an insignificant supplication to be repeated
after him. At its end with the Fatihah and accompaniments, we remounted
our asses and resumed our way. Travelling onwards, we came in sight of
the second Harrah or ridge. It lies to the right and left of the road,
and resembles lines of lava, but I had not an opportunity to examine it
narrowly.[FN#15] Then we reached the gardens of Ohod, which reflect in
miniature those of Kuba; and presently we arrived at what explained the
presence of verdure and vegetable life,-a deep Fiumara full of loose
sand and large stones denoting an impetuous stream. It flows along the
Southern base of Ohod, said to be part of the plain of Al-Madinah, and
it collects the drainage of the high lands lying to the South and
South-east. The bed becomes impassable after rain, and sometimes the
torrents overflow the neighbouring gardens. By the direction of this
Fiumara I judged that it must supply the Ghabbah or "basin" in the
hills north of the plain. Good authorities,

[p.425]however, informed me that a large volume of water will not stand
there, but flows down the beds that wind through the Ghats westward of
Al-Madinah, and falls into the sea near the harbour of Wijh. To the
south of the Fiumara is a village on an eminence, containing some large
brick houses now in a ruinous state; these are the villas of opulent
and religious citizens who visited the place for change of air,
recreation, and worship at Hamzah's tomb. Our donkeys presently sank
fetlock-deep in the loose sand of the torrent-bed. Then reaching the
Northern side, and ascending a gentle slope, we found ourselves upon
the battle-field.

This spot, so celebrated in the annals of Al-Islam, is a shelving strip
of land, close to the Southern base of Mount Ohod. The army of the
Infidels advanced from the Fiumara in crescent shape, with Abu Sufiyan,
the general, and his idols in the centre. It is distant about three
miles from Al-Madinah, in a Northerly direction.[FN#16] All the visitor
sees is hard gravelly ground, covered with little heaps of various
coloured granite, red sandstone, and bits of porphyry, to denote the
different places where the martyrs fell, and were buried.[FN#17] Seen
from this point, there is something appalling in the look of the Holy
Mountain. Its seared and jagged flanks rise like masses of iron from
the plain, and the crevice into which the Moslem host retired, when the
disobedience of the archers in hastening to plunder enabled Khalid bin
Walid to fall upon Mohammed's rear, is the only break in the grim wall.
Reeking with heat, its surface produces

[p.426]not one green shrub or stunted tree; neither bird nor beast
appeared upon its inhospitable sides, and the bright blue sky glaring
above its bald and sullen brow, made it look only the more repulsive. I
was glad to turn away my eyes from it.

To the left of the road North of the Fiumara, and leading to the
mountains, stands Hamzah's Mosque, which, like the Harim of Al-Madinah,
is a Mausoleum as well as a fane. It is a small strongly built square
of hewn stone, with a dome covering the solitary hypostyle to the
South, and the usual minaret. The Westward wing is a Zawiyah or
oratory,[FN#18] frequented by the celebrated Sufi and Saint, Mohammed
al-Samman, the "Clarified Butter-Seller," one of whose blood, the
reader will remember, stood by my side in the person of Shaykh Hamid.
On the Eastern side of the building a half wing projects; and a small
door opens to the South, upon a Mastabah or stone bench five or six
feet high: this completes the square of the edifice. On the right of
the road opposite Hamzah's Mosque, is a large erection, now in ruins,
containing a deep hole leading to a well, with huge platforms for the
accommodation of travellers. Beyond, towards the mountains, are the
small edifices presently to be described.

Some Turkish women were sitting veiled upon the shady platform opposite
the Martyrs' Mosque. At a little distance their husbands, and the
servants holding horses and asses, lay upon the ground, and a large
crowd of Badawin, boys, girls, and old women, had gathered around to
beg, draw water, and sell dry dates. They

[p.427]were awaiting the guardian, who had not yet acknowledged the
summons. After half an hour's vain patience, we determined to proceed
with the ceremonies. Ascending by its steps the Mastabah subtending
half the Eastern wall, Shaykh Hamid placed me so as to front the tomb.
There standing in the burning sun, we repeated the following prayer:
"Peace be upon Thee, O our Lord Hamzah! O Paternal Uncle of Allah's
Apostle! O Paternal Uncle of Allah's Prophet! Peace be upon Thee, O
Paternal Uncle of Mustafa! Peace be upon Thee, O Prince of the Martyrs!
O Prince of the Happy! Peace be upon Thee, O Lion of Allah! O Lion of
His Prophet!" After which, we asked Hamzah and his companions to lend
us their aid in obtaining for us and ours pardon, worldly prosperity
and future happiness. Scarcely had we finished, when, mounted on a
high-trotting dromedary, appeared the emissary of Mohammed Kalifah,
descendant of Al-Abbas, who keeps the key of the Mosque, and who
receives the fees and donations of the devout. It was to be opened for
the Turkish pilgrims. I waited to see the interior. The Arab drew forth
from his pouch, with abundant solemnity, a bunch of curiously made
keys, and sharply directed me to stand away from and out of sight of
the door. When I obeyed, grumblingly, he began to rattle the locks, and
to snap the padlocks, opening them slowly, shaking them, and making as
much noise as possible. The reason of the precaution-it sounded like
poetry if not sense-is this. It is believed that the souls of martyrs,
leaving the habitations of their senseless clay,
[FN#19] are fond of sitting together in spiritual

[p.428]converse, and profane eye must not fall upon the scene. What
grand pictures these imaginative Arabs see! Conceive the majestic
figures of the saints-for the soul with Mohammedans is like the old
European spirit, a something immaterial in the shape of the body-with
long grey beards, earnest faces, and solemn eyes, reposing beneath the
palms, and discussing events now buried in the gloom of a thousand
years. I would fain be hard upon this superstition, but shame prevents.
When in Nottingham, eggs may not be carried out after sunset; when
Ireland hears Banshees, or apparitional old women, with streaming hair,
and dressed in blue mantles; when Scotland sees a shroud about a
person, showing his approaching death; when France has her loup-garous,
revenants, and poules du Vendredi Saint (i.e. hens hatched on Good
Friday supposed to change colour every year): as long as the Holy Coat
cures devotees at Treves, Madonnas wink at Rimini, San Januario melts
at Naples, and Addolorate and Estatiche make converts to hysteria at
Rome: whilst the Virgin manifests herself to children on the Alps and
in France, whilst Germany sends forth Psychography, whilst Europe, the
civilised, the enlightened, the sceptical, dotes over clairvoyance and
table-turning, and whilst even hard-headed America believes in
"mediums," in "snail-telegraphs," and "spirit-rappings,"[FN#20]-I must
hold the men of Al-Madinah to be as wise, and their superstition to be
as respectable, as that of others. But the realities of Hamzah's Mosque
have little to recommend them. The building is like that of Kuba, only
smaller: and the hypostyle is hung with oil lamps and ostrich eggs, the
usual paltry furniture of an Arab

[p.429]mausoleum. On the walls are a few modern inscriptions and framed
poetry, written in a calligraphic hand. Beneath the Riwak lies Hamzah,
under a mass of black basaltic stone,[FN#21] resembling that of Aden,
only more porous and scoriaceous, convex at the top, like a heap of
earth, without the Kiswah,[FN#22] or cover of a saint's tomb, and
railed round with wooden bars. At his head, or westward, lies Abdullah
bin Jaysh, a name little known to fame, under a plain whitewashed tomb,
also convex; and in the courtyard is a similar pile, erected over the
remains of Shammas bin Osman, another obscure Companion.[FN#23] We then
passed through a door in the Northern part of the Western wall, and saw
a diminutive palm plantation and a well. After which we left the
Mosque, and I was under the "fatal necessity" of paying a dollar for
the honour of entering it. But the guardian promised that the chapters
Y.S. and Al-Ikhlas should be recited for my benefit, the latter forty
times; and if their efficacy be one-twentieth part of what men say it
is, the reader cannot quote against me a certain popular proverb
concerning an order of men easily parted from their money.

Issuing from the Mosque, we advanced a few paces towards the mountain.
On our left we passed by-at a respectful distance, for the Turkish
Hajis cried out that their women were engaged in ablution-a large
Sahrij or tank, built of cut stone with steps, and intended to detain

[p.430] the overflowing waters of the torrent. The next place we prayed
at was a small square, enclosed with dwarf whitewashed walls,
containing a few graves denoted by ovals of loose stones thinly spread
upon the ground. This is primitive Arab simplicity. The Badawin still
mark the places of their dead with four stones planted at the head, the
feet, and the sides; in the centre the earth is either heaped up
Musannam (i.e. like the hump of a camel), or more generally left
Musattah (level). I therefore suppose that the latter was the original
shape of the Prophet's tomb. Within the enclosure certain martyrs of
the holy army were buried. After praying there, we repaired to a small
building still nearer to the foot of the mountain. It is the usual
cupola springing from four square walls, not in the best preservation.
Here the Prophet prayed, and it is called the Kubbat al-Sanaya, "Dome
of the Front Teeth," from the following circumstance. Five Infidels
were bound by oath to slay Mohammed at the battle of Ohod: one of
these, Ibn Kumayyah, threw so many stones, and with such goodwill, that
two rings of the Prophet's helmet were driven into his cheek, and blood
poured from his brow down his mustachios, which he wiped with a cloak
to prevent the drops falling to the ground. Then Utbah bin Abi Wakkas
hurled a stone at him, which, splitting his lower lip, knocked out one
of his front teeth.[FN#24] On the left of the Mihrab, inserted low down
in the wall, is a square stone, upon which Shaykh Hamid showed me the
impression of a tooth[FN#25]: he kissed it with peculiar reverence, and
so did I. But the boy Mohammed being by me objurgated-for I

[p.431]remarked in him a jaunty demeanour combined with neglectfulness
of ceremonies-saluted it sulkily, muttering the while hints about the
holiness of his birthplace exempting him from the trouble of stooping.
Already he had appeared at the Harim without his Jubbah, and with
ungirt loins-in waistcoat and shirt-sleeves. Moreover, he had conducted
himself indecorously by nudging Shaykh Hamid's sides during divine
service. Feeling that the youth's "moral man" was, like his physical,
under my charge, and determined to arrest a course of conduct which
must have ended in obtaining for me, the master, the reputation of a
"son of Belial," I insisted upon his joining us in the customary
two-bow prayers. And Sa'ad the Demon, taking my side of the question
with his usual alacrity when a disturbance was in prospect, the youth
found it necessary to yield. After this little scene, Shaykh Hamid
pointed out a sprawling inscription blessing the Companions of the
Prophet. The unhappy Abu Bakr's name had been half effaced by some
fanatic Shi'ah, a circumstance which seemed to arouse all the evil in
my companion's nature; and, looking close at the wall I found a line of
Persian verse to this effect:

"I am weary of my life (Umr), because it bears the name of

We English wanderers are beginning to be shamed out of our "vulgar"
habit of scribbling names and nonsense in noted spots. Yet the practice
is both classical and oriental. The Greeks and Persians left their
marks everywhere, as Egypt shows; and the paws of the Sphinx bears
scratches which, being interpreted, are found to be the same manner of
trash as that written upon the remains of Thebes in A.D. 1879. And
Easterns appear never to

[p.432]enter a building with a white wall without inditing upon it
platitudes in verse and prose. Influenced by these considerations, I
drew forth a pencil and inscribed in the Kubbat al-Sanaya,

[Arabic text]

"Abdullah, the servant of Allah." (A.H.) 1269.

Issuing from the dome, we turned a few paces to the left, passed
northwards, and thus blessed the Martyrs of Ohod:

"Peace be upon Ye, O Martyrs! Peace be upon Ye, O Blessed! ye Pious! ye
Pure! who fought upon Allah's Path the good Fight, who worshipped your
Lord until He brought you to Certainty.[FN#27] Peace be upon You of
whom Allah said (viz., in the Koran), ‘Verily repute not them slain on
God's Path (i.e., warring with Infidels); nay, rather they are alive,
and there is no Fear upon them, nor are they sorrowful!' Peace be upon
Ye, O Martyrs of Ohod! One and All, and the Mercy of Allah and His

Then again we moved a few paces forward and went through a similar
ceremony, supposing ourselves to be in the cave that sheltered the
Apostle. After which, returning towards the torrent-bed by the way we
came, we stood a small distance from a cupola called Kubbat al-Masra.
It resembles that of the "Front-teeth," and notes, as its name proves,
the place where the gallant

[p.433]Hamzah fell by the spear of Wahshi the slave.[FN#28] We faced
towards it and finished the ceremonies of this Ziyarat by a
Supplication, the Testification, and the Fatihah.

In the evening I went with my friends to the Harim. The minaret
galleries were hung with lamps, and the inside of the temple was
illuminated. It was

[p.434]crowded with Hajis, amongst whom were many women, a circumstance
which struck me from its being unusual.[FN#29] Some pious pilgrims, who
had duly paid for the privilege, were perched upon ladders trimming wax
candles of vast dimensions, others were laying up for themselves
rewards in Paradise, by performing the same office to the lamps; many
were going through the ceremonies of Ziyarat, and not a few were
sitting in different parts of the Mosque apparently overwhelmed with
emotion. The boys and the beggars were inspired with fresh energy, the
Aghawat were gruffer and surlier than I had ever seen them, and the
young men about town walked and talked with a freer and an easier
demeanour than usual. My old friends the Persians-there were about 1200
of them in the Hajj Caravan-attracted my attention. The doorkeepers
stopped them with curses as they were about to enter, and all claimed
from each the sum of five piastres, whilst other Moslems were allowed
to enter the Mosque free. Unhappy men! they had lost all the Shiraz
swagger, their mustachios dropped pitiably, their eyes would not look
any one in the face, and not a head bore a cap stuck upon it crookedly.
Whenever an "'Ajami," whatever might be his rank, stood in the way of
an Arab or a Turk, he was rudely thrust aside, with abuse muttered loud
enough to be heard by all around. All eyes followed them as they went
through the ceremonies of Ziyarat, especially as they approached the
tombs of Abu Bakr and Omar,-which every man is bound to defile if he
can,-and the supposed place of Fatimah's burial. Here they stood in
parties, after praying before the Prophet's window: one read from a
book the pathetic tale of the Lady's life, sorrows, and

[p.435]mourning death, whilst the others listened to him with
breathless attention. Sometimes their emotion was too strong to be
repressed. "Ay Fatimah! Ay Muzlumah! Way! way!-O Fatimah! O thou
injured one! Alas! alas!" burst involuntarily from their lips, despite
the danger of such exclamations; tears trickled down their hairy
cheeks, and their brawny bosoms heaved with sobs. A strange sight it
was to see rugged fellows, mountaineers perhaps, or the fierce Iliyat
of the plains, sometimes weeping silently like children, sometimes
shrieking like hysteric girls, and utterly careless to conceal a grief
so coarse and grisly, at the same time so true and real, that I knew
not how to behold it. Then the Satanic scowls with which they passed
by, or pretended to pray at, the hated Omar's tomb! With what curses
their hearts are belying those mouths full of blessings! How they are
internally canonising Fayruz-the Persian slave who stabbed Omar in the
Mosque-and praying for his eternal happiness in the presence of the
murdered man! Sticks and stones, however, and not unfrequently the
knife and the sabre, have taught them the hard lesson of disciplining
their feelings; and nothing but a furious contraction of the brow, a
roll of the eye, intensely vicious, and a twitching of the muscles
about the region of the mouth, denote the wild storm of wrath within.
They generally, too, manage to discharge some part of their passion in
words. "Hail Omar, thou hog!" exclaims some fanatic Madani as he passes
by the heretic-a demand more outraging than requiring a red-hot,
black-north Protestant to bless the Pope. "O Allah! hell him!" meekly
responds the Persian, changing the benediction to a curse most
intelligible to, and most delicious in, his fellows' ears.[FN#30]

[p.436]An evening hour in the steamy heat of the Harim was equal to
half a dozen afternoons; and I left it resolved never to revisit it
till the Hajj departed from Al-Madinah. It was only prudent not to see
much of the 'Ajamis; and as I did so somewhat ostentatiously, my
companions discovered that the Shaykh Abdullah, having slain many of
those heretics in some war or other, was avoiding them to escape
retaliation. In proof of my generalistic qualities, the rolling down of
the water jar upon the heads of the Maghribi Pilgrims in the "Golden
Thread" was quoted, and all offered to fight for me a l'outrance. I
took care not to contradict the report.

[FN#1] This city derives its names, the "Great Gate of Pilgrimage," and
the "Key of the Prophet's Tomb" from its being the gathering-place of
this caravan.
[FN#2] The Egyptians corruptly pronounce "Al-Misr," i.e. Cairo, as
[FN#3] NOTE TO FOURTH EDITION.-I reprint the following from the
Illustrated News in proof that the literati of England have still
something to learn:-"On the 1st instant the annual ceremony of the
departure of the Sure-emini with the Imperial gifts for the Prophet's
tomb at Mecca took place in front of the palace at Constantinople. The
Levant Herald states that the presents, which consist, beside the large
money donation, of rich shawls and gold-woven stuffs, were brought out
of the Imperial apartments and packed in presence of the Sultan, on two
beautiful camels, which, after the delivery of the usual prayers, were
then led in grand procession, accompanied by all the high officers of
state, to the landing-place at Cabatash, where the Sure-emini and
camels were embarked on a Government steamer and ferried over to
Scutari. There the holy functionary will remain some days, till the
‘faithful' of the capital and those who have come from the interior
have joined him, when the caravan will start for Damascus. At this
latter city the grand rendezvous takes place, and, that accomplished,
the great caravan sets out for Mecca under the Emir-el-Hadj of the
year. The Imperial presents on this occasion cost more than L20,000."
[FN#4] The Syrian Shugduf differs entirely from that of Al-Hijaz. It is
composed of two solid wooden cots about four feet in length, slung
along the camel's sides and covered over with cloth, in the shape of a
tent. They are nearly twice as heavy as the Hijazi litter, and yet a
Syrian camel-man would as surely refuse to put one of the latter upon
his beast's back, as the Hijazi to carry a Syrian litter. See p. 223,
[FN#5] This is the Arabic modern word, synonymous with the Egyptian
Hajin, namely, a she-dromedary. The word "Nakah," at present popular in
Al-Hijaz, means a she-dromedary kept for breeding as well as for riding.
[FN#6] One might as sensibly cry out "John" in an English theatre.
[FN#7] Respectable men in Al-Hijaz, when they meet friends,
acquaintances, or superiors, consider it only polite to dismount from a
[FN#8] The title of the Pasha who has the privilege of conducting the
Caravan. It is a lucrative as well as an honourable employment, for the
Emir enjoys the droit d'aubaine, becoming heir to the personal property
of all pilgrims who die in the Holy Cities or on the line of march. And
no Persian, even of the poorest, would think of undertaking a
pilgrimage by this line of country, without having at least L80 in
ready money with him. The first person who bore the title of Emir
Al-Hajj was Abu Bakr, who, in the ninth year of the Hijrah, led 300
Moslems from Al-Madinah to the Meccah pilgrimage. On this occasion
idolaters and infidels were for the first time expelled the Holy City.
[FN#9] "Harrah" from Harr (heat) is the generic name of lava, porous
basalt, scoriae, greenstone, schiste, and others supposed to be of
igneous origin. It is also used to denote a ridge or hill of such
formation. One Harrah has already been mentioned in Chapter XV. The
second is on the road to Ohod. There is a third Harrah, called Al-Wakin
or Al-Zahrah, about one mile Eastward of Al-Madinah. Here the Prophet
wept, predicting that the last men of his faith would be foully slain.
The prophecy was fulfilled in the days of Yazid, when the people of
Al-Madinah filled their assembly with slippers and turbands to show
that on account of his abominations they had cast off their allegiance
as a garment. The "Accursed" sent an aged sinner, Muslim bin Akbah
al-Marai, who, though a cripple, defeated the Madani in a battle called
the "Affair of the Ridge," slaying of them 10,000 citizens, 1700
learned and great men, 700 teachers of the Koran, and 97 Karashi
nobles. This happened in the month of Zu'l Hijjah, A.H. 63. For three
days the city was plundered, the streets ran blood, dogs ate human
flesh in the Mosque, and no fewer than 1000 women were insulted. It was
long before Al-Madinah recovered from this fatal blow, which old Muslim
declared would open to him the gates of Paradise. The occurrence is now
forgotten at Al-Madinah, though it will live in history. The people
know not the place, and even the books are doubtful whether this Harrah
be not upon the spot where the Khandak or moat was.
[FN#10] Meaning that on the Day of Resurrection it shall be so treated.
Many, however, suppose Ohod to be one of the four hills of Paradise.
The other three, according to Al-Tabrani from Amr bin Auf, are Sinai,
Lebanon, and Mount Warkan on the Meccan road. Others suppose Ohod to be
one of the six mountains which afforded materials for the Kaabah, viz.,
Abu Kubays, Sinai, Kuds (at Jerusalem), Warkan and Radhwah near Yambu'.
Also it is said that when the Lord conversed with Moses on Sinai, the
mountain burst into six pieces, three of which flew to Al-Madinah,
Ohod, Warkan and Radhwah, and three to Meccah, Hira (now popularly
called Jabal Nur), Sabir, (the old name for Jabal Muna), and Saur.
[FN#11] "Ayr" means a "wild ass," whereas Ohod is derived from Ahad,
"one,"-so called because fated to be the place of victory to those who
worship one God. The very names, say Moslem divines, make it abundantly
evident that even as the men of Al-Madinah were of two parties,
friendly and hostile to the Prophet, so were these mountains.
[FN#12] This Cave is a Place of Visitation, but I did not go there, as
it is on the Northern flank of the hill, and all assured me that it
contained nothing worth seeing. Many ignore it altogether.
[FN#13] Ohod, it is said, sent forth in the Prophet's day 360 springs,
of which ten or twelve now remain.
[FN#14] Meaning that the visitor must ascend several smaller eminences.
The time occupied is from eight to nine hours, but I should not advise
my successor to attempt it in the hot weather.
[FN#15] When engaged in such a holy errand as this, to have ridden away
for the purpose of inspecting a line of black stone, would have been
certain to arouse the suspicions of an Arab. Either, he would argue,
you recognise the place of some treasure described in your books, or
you are a magician seeking a talisman.
[FN#16] Most Arab authors place Ohod about two miles N. of Al-Madinah.
Al-Idrisi calls it the nearest hill, and calculates the distance at
6000 paces. Golius gives two leagues to Ohod and Ayr, which is much too
far. In our popular accounts, "Mohammed posted himself upon the hill of
Ohod, about six miles from Al-Madinah," two mistakes.
[FN#17] They are said to be seventy, but the heaps appeared to me at
least three times more numerous.
[FN#18] A Zawiyah in Northern Africa resembles the Takiyah of India,
Persia, and Egypt, being a monastery for Darwayshes who reside there
singly or in numbers. A Mosque, and sometimes, according to the
excellent practice of Al-Islam, a school, are attached to it.
[FN#19] Some historians relate that forty-six years after the battle of
Ohod, the tombs were laid bare by a torrent, when the corpses appeared
in their winding-sheets as if buried the day before. Some had their
hands upon their death wounds, from which fresh blood trickled when the
pressure was forcibly removed. In opposition to this Moslem theory, we
have that of the modern Greeks, namely, that if the body be not
decomposed within a year, it shows that the soul is not where it should
[FN#20] In fairness I must confess to believing in the reality of these
phenomena, but not in their "spiritual" origin.
[FN#21] In Ibn Jubayr's time the tomb was red.
[FN#22] In the common tombs of martyrs, saints, and holy men, this
covering is usually of green cloth, with long white letters sewn upon
it. I forgot to ask whether it was temporarily absent from Hamzah's
[FN#23] All these erections are new. In Burckhardt's time they were
mere heaps of earth, with a few loose stones placed around them. I do
not know what has become of the third martyr, said to have been
interred near Hamzah. Possibly some day he may reappear: meanwhile the
people of Al-Madinah are so wealthy in saints, that they can well
afford to lose sight of one.
[FN#24] Formerly in this place was shown a slab with the mark of a
man's head-like St. Peter's at Rome-where the Prophet had rested. Now
it seems to have disappeared, and the tooth has succeeded to its
[FN#25] Some historians say that four teeth were knocked out by this
stone. This appears an exaggeration.
[FN#26] In Persian characters the word Umr, life, and Umar, the name of
the hated caliph, are written in the same way; which explains the pun.
[FN#27] That is to say, "to the hour of death."
[FN#28] When Jubayr bin Mutim was marching to Ohod, according to the
Rauzat al-Safa, in revenge for the death of his uncle Taymah, he
offered manumission to his slave Wahshi, who was noted for the use of
the Abyssinian spear, if he slew Hamzah. The slave sat in ambush behind
a rock, and when the hero had despatched one Siba'a bin Abd al-Ayiz, of
Meccah, he threw a javelin which pierced his navel and came out of his
back. The wounded man advanced towards his assassin, who escaped.
Hamzah then fell, and his friends coming up, found him dead. Wahshi
waited till he saw an opportunity, drew the javelin from the body, and
mutilated it, in order to present trophies to the ferocious Hinda
(mother of Mu'awiyah), whose father Utbah had been slain by Hamzah. The
amazon insisted upon seeing the corpse: having presented her necklace
and bracelets to Wahshi, she supplied their place with the nose, the
ears, and other parts of the dead hero. After mangling the body in a
disgusting manner, she ended by tearing open the stomach and biting the
liver, whence she was called "Akkalat al-Akbad." When Mohammed saw the
state of his father's brother, he was sadly moved. Presently comforted
by the inspirations brought by Gabriel, he cried, "It is written among
the people of the seven Heavens, Hamzah, son of Muttalib, is the Lion
of Allah, and the Lion of his Prophet," and ordered him to be shrouded
and prayed over him, beginning, says the Jazb al-Kulub, with seventy
repetitions of "Allah Akbar." Ali had brought in his shield some water
for Mohammed, from a Mahras or stone trough, which stood near the scene
of action (M.C. de Perceval translates it "un creux de rocher formant
un bassin naturel"). But the Prophet refused to drink it, and washed
with it the blood from the face of him "martyred by the side of the
Mahras." It was of the Moslems slain at Ohod, according to Abu Da'ud,
that the Prophet declared that their souls should be carried in the
crops of green birds, that they might drink of the waters and taste the
fruits of Paradise, and nestle beneath the golden lamps that hang from
the celestial ceiling. He also forbade, on this occasion, the still
popular practice of mutilating an enemy's corpse.
[FN#29] The Prophet preferred women and young boys to pray privately,
and in some parts of Al-Islam they are not allowed to join a
congregation. At Al-Madinah, however, it is no longer, as in
Burckhardt's time, "thought very indecorous in women to enter the
[FN#30] I have heard of a Persian being beaten to death, because
instead of saying "Peace be with thee, Ya Omar," he insisted upon
saying "Peace be with thee, Ya Humar (O ass!)" A favourite trick is to
change "Razi Allahu anhu-may Allah be satisfied with him!"-to "Razi
Allahu Aan." This last word is not to be found in Richardson, but any
"Luti" from Shiraz or Isfahan can make it intelligible to the curious



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