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

Part 1 out of 9

Scanned and proofread by William Thierens and Robert Sinton




K.C.M.G., F.R.G.S., &c., &c., &c.


“Our notions of Mecca must be drawn from the Arabians; as no unbeliever
is permitted to enter the city, our travellers are silent.”—Gibbon, chap.




Dark and the Desert and Destriers me ken,
And the Glaive and the Joust, and Paper and Pen.








AL-MADINAH contains but few families descended from the Prophet’s
Auxiliaries. I heard only of four whose genealogy is undoubted. These

1. The Bayt al-Ansari, or descendants of Abu Ayyub, a most noble race
whose tree ramifies through a space of fifteen hundred years. They keep
the keys of the Kuba Mosque, and are Imams in the Harim, but the family
is no longer wealthy or powerful.

2. The Bayt Abu Jud: they supply the Harim with Imams and
Mu’ezzins.[FN#l] I was told that there are now but two surviving members
of this family, a boy and a girl.

3. The Bayt al-Sha’ab, a numerous race. Some of the members travel
professionally, others trade, and others are employed in the Harim.

4. The Bayt al-Karrani, who are mostly engaged in commerce.

There is also a race called Al-Nakhawilah,[FN#2] who,

[p.2]according to some, are descendants of the Ansar, whilst others
derive them from Yazid, the son of Mu’awiyah: the latter opinion is
improbable, as the Caliph in question was a mortal foe to Ali’s family,
which is inordinately venerated by these people. As far as I could
ascertain, they abuse the Shaykhayn (Abu Bakr and Omar): all my
informants agreed upon this point, but none could tell me why they
neglected to bedevil Osman, the third object of hatred to the Shi’ah
persuasion. They are numerous and warlike, yet they are despised by the
townspeople, because they openly profess heresy, and are moreover of
humble degree. They have their own priests and instructors, although
subject to the orthodox Kazi; marry in their own sect, are confined to
low offices, such as slaughtering animals, sweeping, and gardening, and
are not allowed to enter the Harim during life, or to be carried to it
after death. Their corpses are taken down an outer street called the
Darb al-Janazah—Road of Biers—to their own cemetery near Al-Bakia. They
dress and speak Arabic, like the townspeople; but the Arabs pretend to
distinguish them by a peculiar look denoting their degradation: it is
doubtless the mistake of effect for cause, about all such

“Tribes of the wandering foot and weary breast.”
number of reports are current about the horrid

[p.3]customs of these people, and their community of women[FN#3] with
the Persian pilgrims who pass through the town. It need scarcely be
said that such tales coming from the mouths of fanatic foes are not to
be credited. I regret not having had an opportunity to become intimate
with any of the Nakhawilah, from whom curious information might be
elicited. Orthodox Moslems do not like to be questioned about such
hateful subjects; when I attempted to learn something from one of my
acquaintance, Shaykh Ula al-Din, of a Kurd family, settled at
Al-Madinah, a man who had travelled over the East, and who spoke five
languages to perfection, he coldly replied that he had never consorted
with these heretics. Sayyids and Sharifs,[FN#4] the descendants of the
Prophet, here abound. The Benu Hosayn of Al-Madinah have their
head-quarters at Suwayrkiyah:[FN#5] the former place contains six or
seven families; the latter, ninety-three or ninety-four. Anciently they
were much more numerous, and such was their power, that for centuries
they retained charge of the Prophet’s tomb. They

[p.4]subsist principally upon their Amlak, property in land, for which
they have title-deeds extending back to Mohammed’s day, and Aukaf,
religious bequests; popular rumour accuses them of frequent murders for
the sake of succession. At Al-Madinah they live chiefly at the Hosh Ibn
Sa’ad, a settlement outside the town and south of the Darb al-Janazah.
There is, however, no objection to their dwelling within the walls; and
they are taken to the Harim after death, if there be no evil report
against the individual. Their burial-place is the Bakia cemetery. The
reason of this toleration is, that some are supposed to be Sunni, or
orthodox, and even the most heretical keep their “Rafz[FN#6]” (heresy) a
profound secret. Most learned Arabs believe that they belong, like the
Persians, to the sect of Ali: the truth, however, is so vaguely known,
that I could find out none of the peculiarities of their faith, till I
met a Shirazi friend at Bombay. The Benu Hosayn are spare dark men of
Badawi appearance, and they dress in the old Arab style still affected
by the Sharifs,—a Kufiyah (kerchief) on the head,[FN#7] and a Banish, a
long and wide-sleeved garment resembling our magicians’ gown, thrown over
the white cotton Kamis (shirt): in public they always carry swords,
even when others leave weapons at home. There are about two hundred
families of Sayyid Alawiyah,—descendants of Ali by any of his wives but
Fatimah, they bear no distinctive mark in dress or appearance, and are
either employed at the

[p.5]temple or engage at trade. Of the Khalifiyah, or descendants of
Abbas, there is, I am told, but one household, the Bayt Al-Khalifah,
who act as Imams in the Harim, and have charge of Hamzah’s tomb. Some
declare that there are a few of the Siddikiyah, or descendants from Abu
Bakr; others ignore them, and none could give me any information about
the Benu Najjar.

The rest of the population of Al-Madinah is a motley race composed of
offshoots from every nation in Al-Islam. The sanctity of the city
attracts strangers, who, purposing to stay but a short time, become
residents; after finding some employment, they marry, have families,
die, and are buried there with an eye to the spiritual advantages of
the place. I was much importuned to stay at Al-Madinah. The only known
physician was one Shaykh Abdullah Sahib, an Indian, a learned man, but
of so melancholic a temperament, and so ascetic in his habits, that his
knowledge was entirely lost to the public. “Why dost thou not,” said my
friends, “hire a shop somewhere near the Prophet’s Mosque? There thou wilt
eat bread by thy skill, and thy soul will have the blessing of being on
holy ground.” Shaykh Nur also opined after a short residence at
Al-Madinah that it was bara jannati Shahr, a “very heavenly City,” and
little would have induced him to make it his home. The present ruling
race at Al-Madinah, in consequence of political vicissitudes, is the
“Sufat,[FN#8]” sons of Turkish fathers by Arab mothers. These half-castes
are now numerous, and have managed to secure the highest and most
lucrative offices. Besides Turks, there are families originally from
the Maghrib, Takruris, Egyptians in considerable numbers, settlers from
Al-Yaman and other parts of Arabia, Syrians, Kurds, Afghans,
Daghistanis from the Caucasus, and a few Jawis—Java Moslems. The Sindis,
I was told, reckon about one hundred families, who are exceedingly
despised for their

[p.6]cowardice and want of manliness, whilst the Baluch and the Afghan
are respected. The Indians are not so numerous in proportion here as at
Meccah; still Hindustani is by no means uncommonly heard in the
streets. They preserve their peculiar costume, the women persisting in
showing their faces, and in wearing tight, exceedingly tight,
pantaloons. This, together with other reasons, secures for them the
contempt of the Arabs. At Al-Madinah they are generally small
shopkeepers, especially druggists and sellers of Kumash (cloth), and
they form a society of their own. The terrible cases of misery and
starvation which so commonly occur among the improvident Indians at
Jeddah and Meccah are here rare.

The Hanafi school holds the first rank at Al-Madinah, as in most parts
of Al-Islam, although many of the citizens, and almost all the Badawin,
are Shafe’is. The reader will have remarked with astonishment that at one
of the fountain-heads of the faith, there are several races of
schismatics, the Benu Hosayn, the Benu Ali, and the Nakhawilah. At the
town of Safra there are said to be a number of the Zuyud
schismatics,[FN#9] who visit Al-Madinah, and have settled in force at
Meccah, and some declare that the Bayazi sect[FN#10] also exists.

The citizens of Al-Madinah are a favoured race, although the city is
not, like Meccah, the grand mart of the Moslem world or the
meeting-place of nations. They pay no taxes, and reject the idea of a
“Miri,” or land-cess, with extreme disdain. “Are we, the children of the
Prophet,” they exclaim, “to support or to be supported?” The Wahhabis, not
understanding the argument, taxed them,

[p.7]as was their wont, in specie and in materials, for which reason
the very name of those Puritans is an abomination. As has before been
shown, all the numerous attendants at the Mosque are paid partly by the
Sultan, partly by Aukaf, the rents of houses and lands bequeathed to
the shrine, and scattered over every part of the Moslem world. When a
Madani is inclined to travel, he applies to the Mudir al-Harim, and
receives from him a paper which entitles him to the receipt of a
considerable sum at Constantinople. “The “Ikram” (honorarium), as it is
called, varies with the rank of the recipient, the citizens being
divided into these four orders, viz.

First and highest, the Sadat (Sayyids),[FN#11] and Ima[m]s, who are
entitled to twelve purses, or about £60. Of these there are said to be
three hundred families.

The Khanahdan, who keep open house and receive poor strangers gratis.
Their Ikram amounts to eight purses, and they number from a hundred to
a hundred and fifty families.

The Ahali[FN#12] (burghers) or Madani properly speaking, who have homes
and families, and were born in Al-Madinah. They claim six purses.

The Mujawirin, strangers, as Egyptians or Indians, settled at, though
not born in, Al-Madinah. Their honorarium is four purses.

The Madani traveller, on arrival at Constantinople, reports his arrival
to his Consul, the Wakil al-Haramayn. This “Agent of the two Holy Places”
applies to the Nazir al-Aukaf, or “Intendant of Bequests”; the latter,

[p.8]after transmitting the demand to the different officers of the
treasury, sends the money to the Wakil, who delivers it to the
applicant. This gift is sometimes squandered in pleasure, more often
profitably invested either in merchandise or in articles of home-use,
presents of dress and jewellery for the women, handsome arms,
especially pistols and Balas[FN#13] (yataghans), silk tassels, amber
pipe-pieces, slippers, and embroidered purses. They are packed up in
one or two large Sahharahs, and then commences the labour of returning
home gratis. Besides the Ikram, most of the Madani, when upon these
begging trips, are received as guests by great men at Constantinople.
The citizens whose turn it is not to travel, await the Aukaf and
Sadakat (bequests and alms),[FN#14] forwarded every year by the
Damascus Caravan; besides which, as has been before explained, the
Harim supplies even those not officially employed in it with many

Without these advantages Al-Madinah would soon be abandoned to
cultivators and Badawin. Though commerce is here honourable, as
everywhere in the East, business is “slack,[FN#15]” because the higher
classes prefer the idleness of administering their landed estates, and
being servants to the Mosque. I heard of only four respectable houses,
Al-Isawi, Al-Sha’ab, Abd al-Jawwad, and a family from Al-Shark (the
Eastern Region).[FN#16] They all deal in grain, cloth, and provisions,
and perhaps the richest have a capital of twenty thousand dollars.
Caravans in

[p.9]the cold weather are constantly passing between Al-Madinah and
Egypt, but they are rather bodies of visitors to Constantinople than
traders travelling for gain. Corn is brought from Jeddah by land, and
imported into Yambu’ or via Al-Rais, a port on the Red Sea, one day and a
half’s journey from Safra. There is an active provision trade with the
neighbouring Badawin, and the Syrian Hajj supplies the citizens with
apparel and articles of luxury—tobacco, dried fruits, sweetmeats, knives,
and all that is included under the word “notions.” There are few
store-keepers, and their dealings are petty, because articles of every
kind are brought from Egypt, Syria, and Constantinople. As a general
rule, labour is exceedingly expensive,[FN#17] and at the Visitation
time a man will demand fifteen or twenty piastres from a stranger for
such a trifling job as mending an umbrella. Handicraftsmen and
artisans—carpenters, masons, locksmiths, potters, and others—are either
slaves or foreigners, mostly Egyptians.[FN#18] This proceeds partly
from the pride of the people. They are taught from their childhood that
the Madani is a favoured being, to be respected however vile or
schismatic; and that the vengeance of Allah will fall upon any one who
ventures to abuse, much more to strike him.[FN#19] They receive a
stranger at the shop window with the haughtiness of Pashas, and take
pains to show him, by words as well as by looks, that they consider
themselves as

[p.10]“good gentlemen as the king, only not so rich.” Added to this pride
are indolence, and the true Arab prejudice, which, even in the present
day, prevents a Badawi from marrying the daughter of an artisan. Like
Castilians, they consider labour humiliating to any but a slave; nor is
this, as a clever French author remarks, by any means an unreasonable
idea, since Heaven, to punish man for disobedience, caused him to eat
daily bread by the sweat of his brow. Besides, there is degradation,
moral and physical, in handiwork compared with the freedom of the
Desert. The loom and the file do not conserve courtesy and chivalry
like the sword and spear; man “extends his tongue,” to use an Arab phrase,
when a cuff and not a stab is to be the consequence of an injurious
expression. Even the ruffian becomes polite in California, where his
brother-ruffian carries his revolver, and those European nations who
were most polished when every gentleman wore a rapier, have become the
rudest since Civilisation disarmed them.

By the tariff quoted below it will be evident that Al-Madinah is not a
cheap place.[FN#20] Yet the citizens,

[p.11]despite their being generally in debt, manage to live well. Their
cookery, like that of Meccah, has borrowed something from Egypt,
Turkey, Syria, Persia, and India: as all Orientals, they are
exceedingly fond of clarified butter.[FN#21]

[p.12]I have seen the boy Mohammed drink off nearly a tumbler-full,
although his friends warned him that it would make him as fat as an
elephant. When a man cannot enjoy clarified butter in these countries,
it is considered a sign that his stomach is out of order, and all my
excuses of a melancholic temperament were required to be in full play
to prevent the infliction of fried meat swimming in grease, or that
guest-dish,[FN#22] rice saturated with melted—perhaps I should say—rancid
butter. The “Samn” of Al-Hijaz, however, is often fresh, being brought in
by the Badawin; it has not therefore the foul flavour derived from the
old and impregnated skin-bag which distinguishes the “ghi” of India.[FN#23]
The house of a Madani in good circumstances is comfortable, for the
building is substantial, and the attendance respectable. Black
slave-girls here perform the complicated duties of servant-maids in
England; they are taught to sew, to cook, and to wash, besides sweeping
the house and drawing water for domestic use. Hasinah (the “Charmer,” a
decided misnomer) costs from $40 to $50; if she be a mother, her value
is less; but neat-handedness, propriety of demeanour, and skill in
feminine accomplishments, raise her to $100=£25. A little black boy,
perfect in all his points, and tolerably intelligent, costs about a
thousand piastres; girls are dearer, and eunuchs fetch double that sum.
The older the children become, the

[p.13]more their value diminishes; and no one would purchase[,] save
under exceptional circumstances, an adult slave, because he is never
parted with but for some incurable vice. The Abyssinian, mostly Galla,
girls, so much prized because their skins are always cool in the
hottest weather, are here rare; they seldom sell for less than £20, and
they often fetch £60. I never heard of a Jariyah Bayza, a white slave
girl, being in the market at Al-Madinah: in Circassia they fetch from
£100 to £400 prime cost, and few men in Al-Hijaz could afford so expensive
a luxury. The Bazar at Al-Madinah is poor, and as almost all the slaves
are brought from Meccah by the Jallabs, or drivers, after exporting the
best to Egypt, the town receives only the refuse.[FN#24]

The personal appearance of the Madani makes the stranger wonder how
this mongrel population of settlers has acquired a peculiar and almost
an Arab physiognomy. They are remarkably fair, the effect of a cold
climate; sometimes the cheeks are lighted up with red, and the hair is
a dark chestnut—at Al-Madinah I was not stared at as a white man. The
cheeks and different parts of the children’s bodies are sometimes marked
with Mashali or Tashrih, not the three long stripes of the
Meccans,[FN#25] but little scars generally in threes. In some points
they approach very near the true Arab type, that is to say, the Badawi
of ancient and noble family. The cheek-bones are high and saillant, the
eye small, more round than long,

[p.14] piercing, fiery, deep-set, and brown rather than black. The head
is small, the ears well-cut, the face long and oval, though not
unfrequently disfigured by what is popularly called the “lantern-jaw”; the
forehead high, bony, broad, and slightly retreating, and the beard and
mustachios scanty, consisting of two tufts upon the chin, with,
generally speaking, little or no whisker. These are the points of
resemblance between the city and the country Arab. The difference is
equally remarkable. The temperament of the Madani is not purely
nervous, like that of the Badawi, but admits a large admixture of the
bilious, and, though rarely, the lymphatic. The cheeks are fuller, the
jaws project more than in the pure race, the lips are more fleshy, more
sensual and ill-fitting; the features are broader, and the limbs are
stouter and more bony. The beard is a little thicker, and the young
Arabs of the towns are beginning to imitate the Turks in that
abomination to their ancestors—shaving. Personal vanity, always a ruling
passion among Orientals, and a hopeless wish to emulate the flowing
beards of the Turks and the Persians—perhaps the only nations in the
world who ought not to shave the chin—have overruled even the religious
objections to such innovation. I was more frequently appealed to at
Al-Madinah than anywhere else, for some means of removing the
opprobrium “Kusah,” or scant-bearded man. They blacken the beard with
gall-nuts, henna, and other preparations, especially the Egyptian
mixture, composed of sulphate of iron one part, ammoniure of iron one
part, and gall-nuts two parts, infused in eight parts of distilled
water. It is a very bad dye. Much refinement of dress is now found at
Al-Madinah,—Constantinople, the Paris of the East, supplying it with the
newest fashions. Respectable men wear either a Benish or a Jubbah; the
latter, as at Meccah, is generally of some light and flashy colour,
gamboge, yellow, tender green, or bright pink.

[p.15]This is the sign of a “dressy” man. If you have a single coat, it
should be of some modest colour, as a dark violet; to appear always in
the same tender green, or bright pink, would excite derision. But the
Hijazis, poor and rich, always prefer these tulip tints. The proper
Badan, or long coat without sleeves, still worn in truly Arab
countries, is here confined to the lowest classes. That ugliest of
head-dresses, the red Tunisian cap, called “Tarbush,[FN#26]” is much used,
only the Arabs have too much regard for their eyes and faces to wear
it, as the Turks do, without a turband. It is with regret that one sees
the most graceful head-gear imaginable, the Kufiyah and the Aakal,
proscribed except amongst the Sharifs and the Badawin. The women dress,
like the men, handsomely. Indoors they wear, I am told, a Sudayriyah,
or boddice of calico and other stuffs, like the Choli of India, which
supports the bosom without the evils of European stays. Over this is a
Saub, or white shirt, of the white stuff called Halaili or Burunjuk,
with enormous sleeves, and flowing down to the feet; the Sarwal or
pantaloons are not wide, like the Egyptians’, but rather tight,
approaching to the Indian cut, without its exaggeration.[FN#27] Abroad,
they throw over the head a silk or a cotton Milayah, generally
chequered white and blue. The Burka (face-veil), all over Al-Hijaz is
white, a decided improvement in point of cleanliness upon that of
Egypt. Women of all ranks die the soles of the feet and the palms of
the hands black; and trace thin lines down the inside of the

[p.16]fingers, by first applying a plaster of henna and then a mixture,
called “Shadar,” of gall-nuts, alum, and lime. The hair[,] parted in the
centre, is plaited into about twenty little twists called
Jadilah.[FN#28] Of ornaments, as usual among Orientals, they have a
vast variety, ranging from brass and spangles to gold and precious
stones; and they delight in strong perfumes, musk, civet, ambergris,
attar of rose, oil of jasmine, aloe-wood, and extract of cinnamon. Both
sexes wear Constantinople slippers. The women draw on Khuff, inner
slippers, of bright yellow leather, serving for socks, and covering the
ankle, with Papush of the same material, sometimes lined with velvet
and embroidered with a gold sprig under the hollow of the foot. In
mourning the men show no difference of dress, like good Moslems, to
whom such display of grief is forbidden. But the women, who cannot
dissociate the heart and the toilette, evince their sorrow by wearing
white clothes and by doffing their ornaments. This is a modern custom:
the accurate Burckhardt informs us that in his day the women of
Al-Madinah did not wear mourning.

The Madani generally appear abroad on foot. Few animals are kept here,
on account, I suppose, of the expense of feeding them. The Cavalry are
mounted on poor Egyptian nags. The horses generally ridden by rich men
are generally Nijdi, costing from $200 to $300. Camels are numerous,
but those bred in Al-Hijaz are small, weak, and consequently little
prized. Dromedaries of good breed, called Ahrar[FN#29] (the noble) and
Namani, from the place of that name, are to be had for any sum between
$10 and $400; they are diminutive, but exceedingly swift, surefooted,
sagacious, thoroughbred, with eyes like the

[p.17]antelope’s, and muzzles that would almost enter a tumbler. Mules
are not found at Al-Madinah, although popular prejudice does not now
forbid the people to mount them. Asses come from Egypt and Meccah: I am
told that some good animals are to be found in the town, and that
certain ignoble Badawi clans have a fine breed, but I never saw any. Of
beasts intended for food, the sheep is the only common one in this part
of Al-Hijaz. There are three distinct breeds. The larger animal comes
from Nijd and the Anizah Badawin, who drive a flourishing trade; the
smaller is a native of the country. Both are the common Arab species,
of a tawny colour, with a long fat tail. Occasionally one meets with
what at Aden is called the Berberah sheep, a totally different
beast,—white, with a black broad face, a dew-lap, and a short fat tail,
that looks as if twisted up into a knot: it was doubtless introduced by
the Persians. Cows are rare at Al-Madinah. Beef throughout the East is
considered an unwholesome food, and the Badawi will not drink cow’s milk,
preferring that of the camel, the ewe, and the goat. The flesh of the
latter animal is scarcely ever eaten in the city, except by the poorest

The manners of the Madani are graver and somewhat more pompous than
those of any Arabs with whom I ever mixed. This they appear to have
borrowed from their rulers, the Turks. But their austerity and
ceremoniousness are skin-deep. In intimacy or in anger the garb of
politeness is thrown off, and the screaming Arab voice, the voluble,
copious, and emphatic abuse, and the mania for gesticulation, return in
all their deformity. They are great talkers as the following little
trait shows. When a man is opposed to more than his match in disputing
or bargaining, instead of patiently saying to himself, S’il crache il est
mort, he interrupts the adversary with a Sall’ ala Mohammed,—Bless the
Prophet. Every good Moslem is obliged to obey such requisition by
responding, Allahumma

[p.18] salli alayh,—O Allah bless him! But the Madani curtails the phrase
to “A’n,[FN#30]” supposing it to be an equivalent, and proceeds in his
loquacity. Then perhaps the baffled opponent will shout out Wahhid,
i.e., “Attest the unity of the Deity”; when, instead of employing the usual
religious phrases to assert that dogma, he will briefly ejaculate “Al,” and
hurry on with the course of conversation. As it may be supposed, these
wars of words frequently end in violent quarrels; for, to do the Madani
justice, they are always ready to fight. The desperate old feud between
the “Juwwa,” and the “Barra,”—the town and the suburbs—has been put down with the
greatest difficulty. The boys, indeed, still keep it up, turning out in
bodies and making determined onslaughts with sticks and stones.[FN#31]

It is not to be believed that in a town garrisoned by Turkish troops,
full of travelled traders, and which supports itself by plundering
Hajis, the primitive virtues of the Arab could exist. The Meccans, a
dark people, say of the Madani, that their hearts are black as their
skins are white.[FN#32] This is, of course, exaggerated; but it is not

[p.19] much to assert that pride, pugnacity, a peculiar point of honour
and a vindictiveness of wonderful force and patience, are the only
characteristic traits of Arab character which the citizens of
Al-Madinah habitually display. Here you meet with scant remains of the
chivalry of the Desert. A man will abuse his guest, even though he will
not dine without him, and would protect him bravely against an enemy.
And words often pass lightly between individuals which suffice to cause
a blood feud amongst Badawin. The outward appearance of decorum is
conspicuous amongst the Madani. There are no places where Corinthians
dwell, as at Meccah, Cairo, and Jeddah. Adultery, if detected, would be
punished by lapidation according to the rigour of the Koranic
law[FN#33]; and simple immorality by religious stripes, or, if of
repeated occurrence, by expulsion from the city. But scandals seldom
occur, and the women, I am told, behave with great decency.[FN#34]
Abroad, they have the usual Moslem

[p.20]pleasures of marriage, lyings-in, circumcision feasts, holy
isitations, and funerals. At home, they employ themselves with domestic
matters, and especially in scolding “Hasinah” and “Za’afaran.” In this occupation
they surpass even the notable English housekeeper of the middle orders
of society—the latter being confined to “knagging” at her slavey, whereas the
Arab lady is allowed an unbounded extent of vocabulary. At Shaykh Hamid’s
house, however, I cannot accuse the women of

“Swearing into strong shudders
The immortal gods who heard them.”

They abused the black girls with unction, but without any violent
expletives. At Meccah, however, the old lady in whose house I was
living would, when excited by the melancholy temperament of her eldest
son and his irregular hours of eating, scold him in the grossest terms,
not unfrequently ridiculous in the extreme. For instance, one of her
assertions was that he—the son—was the offspring of an immoral mother;
which assertion, one might suppose, reflected not indirectly upon
herself. So in Egypt I have frequently heard a father, when reproving
his boy, address him by “O dog, son of a dog!” and “O spawn of an Infidel—of a
Jew—of a Christian!” Amongst the men of Al-Madinah I remarked a
considerable share of hypocrisy. Their mouths were as full of religious
salutations, exclamations, and hackneyed quotations from the Koran, as
of indecency and vile abuse—a point in which they resemble the Persians.
As before

[p.21] observed, they preserve their reputation as the sons of a holy
city by praying only in public. At Constantinople they are by no means
remarkable for sobriety. Intoxicating liquors, especially Araki, are
made in Al-Madinah, only by the Turks: the citizens seldom indulge in
this way at home, as detection by smell is imminent among a people of
water-bibbers. During the whole time of my stay I had to content myself
with a single bottle of Cognac, coloured and scented to resemble
medicine. The Madani are, like the Meccans, a curious mixture of
generosity and meanness, of profuseness and penuriousness. But the
former quality is the result of ostentation, the latter is a
characteristic of the Semitic race, long ago made familiar to Europe by
the Jew. The citizens will run deeply in debt, expecting a good season
of devotees to pay off their liabilities, or relying upon the next
begging trip to Turkey; and such a proceeding, contrary to the custom
of the Moslem world, is not condemned by public opinion. Above all
their qualities, personal conceit is remarkable: they show it in their
strut, in their looks, and almost in every word. “I am such an one, the
son of such an one,” is a common expletive, especially in times of
danger; and this spirit is not wholly to be condemned, as it certainly
acts as an incentive to gallant actions. But it often excites them to
vie with one another in expensive entertainments and similar vanities.
The expression, so offensive to English ears, Inshallah Bukra—Please God,
tomorrow—always said about what should be done to-day, is here common as
in Egypt or in India. This procrastination belongs more or less to all
Orientals. But Arabia especially abounds in the Tawakkal al’ Allah, ya
Shaykh!—Place thy reliance upon Allah, O Shaykh!—enjoined when a man should
depend upon his own exertions. Upon the whole, however, though alive to
the infirmities of the Madani character, I thought favourably of it,
finding among this people more of the redeeming point, manliness,

[p.22]than in most Eastern nations with whom I am acquainted.

The Arabs, like the Egyptians, all marry. Yet, as usual, they are hard
and facetious upon that ill-treated subject—matrimony. It has exercised
the brain of their wits and sages, who have not failed to indite
notable things concerning it. Saith “Harikar al-Hakim” [(]Dominie Do-All)
to his nephew Nadan (Sir Witless), whom he would dissuade from taking
to himself a wife, “Marriage is joy for a month and sorrow for a life,
and the paying of settlements and the breaking of back (i.e. under the
load of misery), and the listening to a woman's tongue!” And again we
have in verse:—

“They said ‘marry!’ I replied, ‘far be it from me
To take to my bosom a sackful of snakes.
I am free—why then become a slave?
May Allah never bless womankind!’”

And the following lines are generally quoted, as affording a kind of
bird’s-eye view of female existence:—

“From 10 (years of age) unto 20,
A repose to the eyes of beholders.[FN#35]
From 20 unto 30,
Still fair and full of flesh.
From 30 unto 40,
A mother of many boys and girls.
From 40 unto 50,
An old woman of the deceitful.
From 50 unto 60,
Slay her with a knife.
From 60 unto 70,
The curse of Allah upon them, one and all!”

Another popular couplet makes a most unsupported assertion:—

“They declare womankind to be heaven to man,
I say, ‘Allah, give me Jahannam, and not this heaven.’”

Yet the fair sex has the laugh on its side, for these railers at
Al-Madinah as at other places, invariably marry. The

[p.23]marriage ceremony is tedious and expensive. It begins with a
Khitbah or betrothal: the father of the young man repairs to the parent
or guardian of the girl, and at the end of his visit exclaims, “The
Fatihah! we beg of your kindness your daughter for our son.” Should the
other be favourable to the proposal, his reply is, “Welcome and
congratulation to you: but we must perform Istikharah[FN#36] (religious
lot casting)”; and, when consent is given, both pledge themselves to the
agreement by reciting the Fatihah. Then commence negotiations about the
Mahr or sum settled upon the bride[FN#37]; and after the smoothing of
this difficulty follow feastings of friends and relatives, male and
female. The marriage itself is called Akd al-Nikah or Ziwaj. A Walimah
or banquet is prepared by the father of the Aris (groom), at his own
house, and the Kazi attends to perform the nuptial ceremony, the girl’s
consent being obtained through her Wakil, any male relation whom she
commissions to act for her. Then, with great pomp and circumstance, the
Aris visits his Arusah (bride) at her father’s house; and finally, with a
Zuffah or procession and sundry ceremonies at the Harim, she is brought
to her new home. Arab funerals are as simple as their marriages are
complicated. Neither Naddabah (myriologist or hired keener), nor indeed
any female, even a relation, is present at burials as in other parts of
the Moslem world,[FN#38] and it is esteemed disgraceful

[p.24]for a man to weep aloud. The Prophet, ho doubtless had heard of
those pagan mournings, where an effeminate and unlimited display of woe
was often terminated by licentious excesses, like the Christian’s
half-heathen “wakes,” forbad [a]ught beyond a decent demonstration of
grief. And his strong good sense enabled him to see through the vanity
of professional mourners. At Al-Madinah the corpse is interred shortly
after decease. The bier is carried though the streets at a moderate
pace, by friends and relatives,[FN#39] these bringing up the rear.
Every man who passes lends his shoulder for a minute, a mark of respect
to the dead, and also considered a pious and a prayerful act. Arrived
at the Harim, they carry the corpse in visitation to the Prophet’s
window, and pray over it at Osman’s niche. Finally, it is interred after
the usual Moslem fashion in the cemetery Al-Bakia.

Al-Madinah, though pillaged by the Wahhabis, still abounds in books.
Near the Harim are two Madrasah or colleges, the Mahmudiyah, so called
from Sultan Mahmud, and that of Bashir Agha: both have large stores of
theological and other works. I also heard of extensive private
collections, particularly of one belonging to the Najib al-Ashraf, or
chief of the Sharifs, a certain Mohammed Jamal al-Layl, whose father is
well-known in India. Besides which, there is a large Wakf or bequest of
books, presented to the Mosque or entailed upon particular
families.[FN#40] The celebrated Mohammed Ibn Abdillah al-Sannusi[FN#41]
has removed

[p.25] his collection, amounting, it is said, to eight thousand
volumes, from Al-Madinah to his house in Jabal Kubays at Meccah. The
burial-place of the Prophet, therefore, no longer lies open to the
charge of utter ignorance brought against it by my predecessor.[FN#42]
The people now praise their Olema for learning, and boast a superiority
in respect of science over Meccah. Yet many students leave the place
for Damascus and Cairo, where the Riwak al-Haramayn (College of the Two
Shrines) in the Azhar Mosque University, is always crowded; and though
Omar Effendi boasted to me that his city was full of lore, he did not
appear the less anxious to attend the lectures of Egyptian professors.
But none of my informants claimed for Al-Madinah any facilities of
studying other than the purely religious sciences.[FN#43] Philosophy,
medicine, arithmetic, mathematics, and algebra cannot be learnt here. I
was careful to inquire about the occult sciences, remembering that
Paracelsus had travelled in Arabia, and that the Count Cagliostro
(Giuseppe Balsamo), who claimed the Meccan Sharif as his father,
asserted that about A.D. 1765 he had studied alchemy at Al-Madinah. The
only trace I could find was a superficial knowledge of the Magic
Mirror. But after denying the Madani the praise of varied learning, it
must be owned that their quick observation and retentive memories have
stored up for

[p.26]them an abundance of superficial knowledge, culled from
conversations in the market and in the camp. I found it impossible here
to display those feats which in Sind, Southern Persia, Eastern Arabia,
and many parts of India, would be looked upon as miraculous. Most
probably one of the company had witnessed the performance of some
Italian conjuror at Constantinople or Alexandria, and retained a lively
recollection of every manœuvre. As linguists they are not equal to the
Meccans, who surpass all Orientals excepting only the Armenians; the
Madani seldom know Turkish, and more rarely still Persian and Indian.
Those only who have studied in Egypt chaunt the Koran well. The
citizens speak and pronounce[FN#44] their language purely; they are not
equal to the people of the southern Hijaz, still their Arabic is
refreshing after the horrors of Cairo and Maskat.

The classical Arabic, be it observed, in consequence of an extended
empire, soon split up into various dialects, as the Latin under similar
circumstances separated into the Neo-Roman patois of Italy, Sicily,
Provence, and Languedoc. And though Niebuhr has been deservedly

[p.27]censured for comparing the Koranic language to Latin and the
vulgar tongue to Italian, still there is a great difference between
them, almost every word having undergone some alteration in addition to
the manifold changes and simplifications of grammar and syntax. The
traveller will hear in every part of Arabia that some distant tribe
preserves the linguistic purity of its ancestors, uses final vowels
with the noun, and rejects the addition of the pronoun which apocope in
the verb now renders necessary.[FN#45] But I greatly doubt the
existence of such a race of philologists. In Al-Hijaz, however, it is
considered graceful in an old man, especially when conversing publicly,
to lean towards classical Arabic. On the contrary, in a youth this
would be treated as pedantic affectation, and condemned in some such
satiric quotation as

“There are two things colder than ice,
A young old man, and an old young man.”

[FN#1] Ibn Jubayr relates that in his day a descendant of Belal, the
original Mu’ezzin of the Prophet, practised his ancestral profession at
[FN#2] This word is said to be the plural of Nakhwali,—one who cultivates
the date tree, a gardener or farmer. No one could tell me whether these
heretics had not a peculiar name for themselves. I hazard a conjecture
that they may be identical with the Mutawalli (also written Mutawilah,
Mutaalis, Metoualis, &c., &c.), the hardy, courageous, and hospitable
mountaineers of Syria, and Cœlesyria Proper. This race of sectarians,
about 35,000 in number, holds to the Imamship or supreme pontificate of
Ali and his descendants. They differ, however, in doctrine from the
Persians, believing in a transmigration of the soul, which, gradually
purified, is at last “orbed into a perfect star.” They are scrupulous of
caste, and will not allow a Jew or a Frank to touch a piece of their
furniture: yet they erect guest-houses for Infidels. In this they
resemble the Shi’ahs, who are far more particular about ceremonial purity
than the Sunnis. They use ablutions before each meal, and herein remind
us of the Hindus.
[FN#3] The communist principles of Mazdak the Persian (sixth century)
have given his nation a permanent bad fame in this particular among the
[FN#4] In Arabia the Sharif is the descendant of Hasan through his two
sons, Zaid and Hasan al-Musanna: the Sayyid is the descendant of Hosayn
through Zayn al-Abidin, the sole of twelve children who survived the
fatal field of Kerbela. The former devotes himself to government and
war; the latter, to learning and religion. In Persia and India, the
Sharif is the son of a Sayyid woman and a common Moslem. The Sayyid
“Nejib al-Taraf” (noble on one side) is the son of a Sayyid father and a
common Moslemah. The Sayyid “Nejib al-Tarafayn” (noble on both sides) is
one whose parents are both Sayyids.
[FN#5] Burckhardt alludes to this settlement when he says, “In the
Eastern Desert, at three or four days’ journey from Medinah, lives a
whole Bedouin tribe, called Beni Aly, who are all of this Persian creed.”
I travelled to Suwayrkiyah, and found it inhabited by Benu Hosayn. The
Benu Ali are Badawin settled at the Awali, near the Kuba Mosque: they
were originally slaves of the great house of Auf, and are still
heretical in their opinions.
[FN#6] “Refusing, rejecting.” Hence the origin of Rafizi,—“a rejector, a
heretic.” “Inna rafaznahum,”—“verily we have rejected them,” (Abu Bakr, Omar, and
Osman,) exclaim the Persians, glorying in the opprobrious epithet.
[FN#7] Sayyids in Al-Hijaz, as a general rule, do not denote their
descent by the green turband. In fact, most of them wear a red Kashmir
shawl round the head, when able to afford the luxury. The green turband
is an innovation in Al-Islam. In some countries it is confined to the
Sayyids; in others it is worn as a mark of distinction by pilgrims.
Khudabakhsh, the Indian, at Cairo generally dressed in a tender green
suit like a Mantis.
[FN#8] Plural of Suftah—a half-caste Turk.
[FN#9] Plural of Zaydi. These are well-known schismatics of the Shi’ah
persuasion, who abound in Southern Arabia.
[FN#10] The Bayazi sect flourishes near Maskat, whose Imam or Prince,
it is said, belongs to the heretical persuasion. It rejects Osman, and
advocates the superiority of Omar over the other two Caliphs.
[FN#11] Sadat is the plural of Sayyid. This word in the Northern Hijaz
is applied indifferently to the posterity of Hasan and Hosayn.
[FN#12] The plural of Ahl, an inhabitant (of a particular place). The
reader will excuse my troubling him with these terms. As they are
almost all local in their application, and therefore are not explained
in such restricted sense by lexicographers, the specification may not
be useless to the Oriental student.
[FN#13] The Turkish “yataghan.” It is a long dagger, intended for thrusting
rather than cutting, and has a curve, which, methinks, has been wisely
copied by the Duke of Orleans, in the bayonet of the Chasseurs de
[FN#14] See chapter xvii.
[FN#15] Omar Effendi’s brothers, grandsons of the principal Mufti of
Al-Madinah, were both shopkeepers, and were always exhorting him to do
some useful work, rather than muddle his brains and waste his time on
[FN#16] See chapter xiv.
[FN#17] To a townsman, even during the dead season, the pay of a
gardener would be 2 piastres, a carpenter 8 piastres per diem, and a
common servant (a Bawwab or porter, for instance), 25 piastres per
mensem, or £3 per annum, besides board and dress. Considering the value
of money in the country, these are very high rates.
[FN#18] Who alone sell milk, curds, or butter. The reason of their
monopoly has been given in Chapter xiii.
[FN#19] History informs us that the sanctity of their birth-place has
not always preserved the people of Al-Madinah. But the memory of their
misfortunes is soon washed away by the overwhelming pride of the race.
[FN#20] The market is under the charge of an Arab Muhtasib or
Bazar-master, who again is subject to the Muhafiz or Pasha governing
the place. The following was the current price of provisions at
Al-Madinah early in August, 1853: during the Visitation season
everything is doubled:—
1 lb. mutton, 2 piastres, (beef is half-price, but seldom eaten; there
is no buffalo meat, and only Badawin will touch the camel).
A fowl, 5 piastres.
Eggs, in summer 8, in winter 4, for the piastre.
1 lb. clarified butter, 4 piastres, (when cheap it falls to 2 1/2
Butter is made at home by those who eat it, and sometimes by the
Egyptians for sale).
1 lb. milk, 1 piastre.
1 lb. cheese, 2 piastres, (when cheap it is 1, when dear 3 piastres per
A Wheaten loaf weighing 12 dirhams, 10 parahs. (There are loaves of 24
dirhams, costing 1/2 piastre.)
1 lb. dry biscuits, (imported), 3 piastres.
1 lb. of vegetables, 1/2 piastre.
1 Mudd dates, varies according to quality from 4 piastres to 100.
1 lb. grapes, 1 1/2} piastre.
A lime, 1 parah.
A pomegranate, from 20 parahs to 1 piastre.
A water-melon, from 3 to 6 piastres each.
1 lb. peaches, 2 piastres.
1 lb. coffee, 4 piastres, (the Yamani is the only kind drunk here).
1 lb. tea, 15 piastres, (black tea, imported from India).
1 lb. European loaf-sugar, 6 piastres, (white Egyptian, 5 piastres
brown Egyptian, 3 piastres; brown Indian, for cooking and conserves, 3
1 lb. spermaceti candles, 7 piastres, (called wax, and imported from
1 lb. tallow candles, 3 piastres.
1 Ardeb wheat, 295 piastres.
1 Ardeb onions, 33 piastres, (when cheap 20, when dear 40).
1 Ardeb barley, 120 piastres, (minimum 90, maximum 180).
1 Ardeb rice, Indian, 302 piastres, (it varies from 260 to 350
piastres, according to quality).
Durrah or maize is generally given to animals, and is very cheap.
Barsim (clover, a bundle of) 3 Wakkiyahs, (36 Dirhams), costs 1 parah.
Adas or Lentil is the same price as rice.
1 lb. Latakia tobacco, 16 piastres.
1 lb. Syrian tobacco, 8 piastres.
1 lb. Tumbak (Persian), 6 piastres.
1 lb. olive oil, 6 piastres, (when cheap it is 4).
A skin of water, 1/2 piastre.
Bag of charcoal, containing 100 Wukkah, 10 piastres. The best kind is
made from an Acacia called “Samur.”
The Parah (Turkish), Faddah (Egyptian), or Diwani (Hijazi word), is the
40th part of a piastre, or nearly the quarter of a farthing. The
piastre is about 2 and two-fifths pence. Throughout Al-Hijaz there is
no want of small change, as in Egypt, where the deficiency calls for
the attention of the Government.
[FN#21] Physiologists have remarked that fat and greasy food,
containing a quantity of carbon, is peculiar to cold countries; whereas
the inhabitants of the tropics delight in fruits, vegetables, and
articles of diet which do not increase caloric. This must be taken cum
grano. In Italy, Spain, and Greece, the general use of olive oil
begins. In Africa and Asia—especially in the hottest parts—the people
habitually eat enough clarified butter to satisfy an Esquimaux.
[FN#22] In Persia, you jocosely say to a man, when he is threatened
with a sudden inroad of guests, “Go and swamp the rice with Raughan
(clarified butter).”
[FN#23] Among the Indians, ghi, placed in pots carefully stopped up and
kept for years till a hard black mass only remains, is considered a
panacea for diseases and wounds.
[FN#24] Some of these slaves come from Abyssinia: the greater part are
driven from the Galla country, and exported at the harbours of the
Somali coast, Berberah, Tajurrah, and Zayla. As many as 2000 slaves
from the former place, and 4000 from the latter, are annually shipped
off to Mocha, Jeddah, Suez, and Maskat. It is strange that the Imam of
the latter place should voluntarily have made a treaty with us for the
suppression of this vile trade, and yet should allow so extensive an
importation to his dominions.
[FN#25] More will be said concerning the origin of this strange custom,
when speaking of Meccah and the Meccans.
[FN#26] The word Tarbush is a corruption from the Persian
Sarpush,—“head-covering,” “head-dress.” The Anglo-Saxon further debases it to
“Tarbush.” The other name for the Tarbush, “Fez,” denotes the place where the
best were made. Some Egyptians distinguish between the two, calling the
large high crimson cap “Fez,” the small one “Tarbush.”
[FN#27] In India, as in Sind, a lady of fashion will sometimes be
occupied a quarter of an hour in persuading her “bloomers” to pass over the
region of the ankle.
[FN#28] In the plural called Jadail. It is a most becoming head-dress
when the hair is thick, and when—which I regret to say is rare in
Arabia—the twists are undone for ablution once a day.
[FN#29] Plural of “Hurrah,” the free, the noble.
[FN#30] See vol. i., p. 436, ante.
[FN#31] This appears to be, and to have been, a favourite weapon with
the Arabs. At the battle of Ohod, we read that the combatants amused
themselves with throwing stones. On our road to Meccah, the Badawi
attacked a party of city Arabs, and the fight was determined with these
harmless weapons. At Meccah, the men, as well as the boys, use them
with as much skill as the Somalis at Aden. As regards these feuds
between different quarters of the Arab towns, the reader will bear in
mind that such things can co-exist with considerable amount of
civilization. In my time, the different villages in the Sorrentine
plain were always at war. The Irish still fight in bodies at
Birkenhead. And in the days of our fathers, the gamins of London amused
themselves every Sunday by pitched battles on Primrose Hill, and the
fields about Marylebone and St. Pancras.
[FN#32] Alluding especially to their revengefulness, and their habit of
storing up an injury, and of forgetting old friendships or benefits,
when a trivial cause of quarrel arises.
[FN#33] The sentence is passed by the Kazi: in cases of murder, he
tries the criminal, and, after finding him guilty, sends him to the
Pasha, who orders a Kawwas, or policeman, to strike off his head with a
sword. Thieves are punished by mutilation of the hand. In fact, justice
at Al-Madinah is administered in perfect conformity with the Shariat or
Holy Law.
[FN#34] Circumcisio utriusque sexus apud Arabos mos est vetustissimus.
Aiunt theologi mutilationis hujus religiosae inventricem esse Saram,
Abrahami uxorem quae, zelotypia incitata, Hagaris amorem minuendi
gratia, somnientis puellae clitoridem exstirpavit. Deinde, Allaho
jubente, Sara et Abrahamus ambo pudendorum partem cultello abscissere.
Causa autem moris in viro mundities salusque, in puella impudicitiae
prophylactica esse videntur. Gentes Asiaticae sinistra tantum manu
abluentes utuntur; omnes quoque feminarem decies magis quam virorum
libidinem aestimant. (Clitoridem amputant, quia, ut monet Aristoteles,
pars illa sedes est et scaturigo veneris—rem plane profanam cum Sonninio
exclamemus!) Nec excogitare potuit philosophus quanti et quam
portentosi sunt talis mutilationis effectus. Mulierum minuuntur
affectus, amor, voluptas. Crescunt tamen feminini doli, crudelitas,
vitia et insatiabilis luxuria. (Ita in Eunuchis nonnunquam, teste
Abelardo, suberstat cerebelli potestas, quum cupidinis satiandi
facultas plane discessit.) Virilis quoque circumcisio lentam venerem et
difficilem efficit. Glandis enim mollities frictione induratur, dehinc
coitus tristis, tardus parumque vehemens. Forsitan in quibusdam populis
localis quoque causa existit; caruncula immoderate crescente,
amputationis necessitas exurgit. Deinde apud Somalos, gentem Africanam,
excisio nympharum abscissioni clitoridis adjungitur. “Feminina
circumcisio in Kahira Egyptiana et El Hejazio mos est universalis. Gens
Bedouina uxorem salvam ducere nolit.”—Shaykh al-Nawawi “de Uxore ducenda,” &c.,
[FN#35] A phrase corresponding with our “beaute du diable.”
[FN#36] This means consulting the will of the Deity, by praying for a
dream in sleep, by the rosary, by opening the Koran, and other such
devices, which bear blame if a negative be deemed necessary. It is a
custom throughout the Moslem world, a relic, doubtless, of the Azlam or
Kidah (seven divining-arrows) of the Pagan times. At Al-Madinah it is
generally called Khirah.
[FN#37] Among respectable citizens 400 dollars would be considered a
fair average sum; the expense of the ceremony would be about half. This
amount of ready money (£150) not being always procurable, many of the
Madani marry late in life.
[FN#38] Boys are allowed to be present, but they are not permitted to
cry. Of their so misdemeaning themselves there is little danger; the
Arab in these matters is a man from his cradle.
[FN#39] They are called the Asdikah; in the singular, Sadik.
[FN#40] From what I saw at Al-Madinah, the people are not so
unprejudiced on this point as the Cairenes, who think little of selling
a book in Wakf. The subject of Wakf, however, is an extensive one, and
does not wholly exclude the legality of sale.
[FN#41] This Shaykh is a Maliki Moslem from Algiers, celebrated as an
Alim (sage), especially in the mystic study Al-Jafr. He is a Wali or
saint; but opinions differ as regards his Kiramat (saint’s miracles):
some disciples look upon him as the Mahdi (the forerunner of the
Prophet), others consider him a clever impostor. His peculiar dogma is
the superiority of live over dead saints, whose tombs are therefore not
to be visited—a new doctrine in a Maliki! Abbas Pasha loved and respected
him, and, as he refused all presents, built him a new Zawiyah (oratory)
at Bulak; and when the Egyptian ruler’s mother was at Al-Madinah, she
called upon him three times, it is said, before he would receive her.
His followers and disciples are scattered in numbers about Tripoli and,
amongst other oases of the Fezzan, at Siwah, where they saved the Abbe
Hamilton’s life in A.D[.] 1843.
[FN#42] Burckhardt’s Travels in Arabia, vol. ii. p. 174.
[FN#43] Of which I have given an account in chapter xvi.
[FN#44] The only abnormal sound amongst the consonants heard here and
in Al-Hijaz generally is the pronouncing of k (A[rabic]) a hard g—for
instance, “Gur’an” for “Kur’an” (a Koran), and Haggi or Hakki (my right). This g,
however, is pronounced deep in the throat, and does not resemble the
corrupt Egyptian pronunciation of the jim (j, [Arabic]), a letter which
the Copts knew not, and which their modern descendants cannot
articulate. In Al-Hijaz, the only abnormal sounds amongst the vowels
are o for u, as Khokh, a peach, and [Arabic] for [Arabic], as Ohod for
Uhud. The two short vowels fath and kasr are correctly pronounced, the
former never becoming a short e, as in Egypt (El for Al and Yemen for
Yaman), or a short i, as in Syria (“min” for “man” who? &c.) These vowels,
however, are differently articulated in every part of the Arab world.
So says St. Jerome of the Hebrew: “Nec refert atrum Salem aut Salim
nominetur; cum vocalibus in medio literis perraro utantur Hebraei; et
pro voluntate lectorum, ac varietate regionum, eadem verba diversis
sonis atque accentibus proferantur.”
[FN#45] e.g., Ant Zarabt—thou struckedst—for Zarabta. The final vowel,
suffering apocope, would leave “Zarabt” equally applicable to the first
person singular and the second person singular masculine.



A splendid comet, blazing in the western sky, had aroused the
apprehensions of the Madani. They all fell to predicting the usual
disasters—war, famine, and pestilence,—it being still an article of Moslem
belief that the Dread Star foreshows all manner of calamities. Men
discussed the probability of Abd al-Majid’s immediate decease; for here
as in Rome,

“When beggars die, there are no comets seen:
The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes:”

and in every strange atmospheric appearance about the time of the Hajj,
the Hijazis are accustomed to read tidings of the dreaded Rih

Whether the event is attributable to the Zu Zuwabah—the “Lord of the
Forelock,”—or whether it was a case of post hoc, ergò, propter hoc, I would
not commit myself by deciding; but, influenced by some cause or other,
the Hawazim and the Hawamid, sub-families of the Benu-Harb, began to
fight about this time with prodigious fury. These tribes are generally
at feud, and the least provocation fans their smouldering wrath into a
flame. The Hawamid number, it is said, between three and four thousand
fighting men, and the Hawazim not more than seven hundred: the latter
however, are considered a race of desperadoes who pride themselves upon
never retreating,

[p.29]and under their fiery Shaykhs, Abbas and Abu Ali, they are a
thorn in the sides of their disproportionate foe. On the present
occasion a Hamidah[FN#2] happened to strike the camel of a Hazimi which
had trespassed; upon which the Hazimi smote the Hamidah, and called him
a rough name. The Hamidah instantly shot the Hazimi, the tribes were
called out, and they fought with asperity for some days. During the
whole of the afternoon of Tuesday, the 30th of August, the sound of
firing amongst the mountains was distinctly heard in the city. Through
the streets parties of Badawin, sword and matchlock in hand, or merely
carrying quarterstaves on their shoulders, might be seen hurrying
along, frantic at the chance of missing the fray. The townspeople
cursed them privily, expressing a hope that the whole race of vermin
might consume itself. And the pilgrims were in no small trepidation,
fearing the desertion of their camel-men, and knowing what a blaze is
kindled in this inflammable land by an ounce of gunpowder. I afterwards
heard that the Badawin fought till night, and separated after losing on
both sides ten men.

This quarrel put an end to any lingering possibility of my prosecuting
my journey to Maskat,[FN#3] as originally intended. I had on the way
from Yambu’ to Al-Madinah privily made a friendship with one Mujrim of
the Benu-Harb. The “Sinful,” as his name, ancient and classical amongst the
Arabs, means, understood that I had some motive of secret interest to
undertake the perilous journey. He could not promise at first to guide
me, as his beat lay between Yambu’, Al-Madinah, Mec[c]ah, and Jeddah. But
he offered to make all inquiries about the route, and to

[p.30] bring me the result at noonday, a time when the household was
asleep. He had almost consented at last to travel with me about the end
of August, in which case I should have slipped out of Hamid’s house and
started like a Badawi towards the Indian Ocean. But when the war
commenced, Mujrim, who doubtless wished to stand by his brethren the
Hawazim, began to show signs of recusancy in putting off the day of
departure to the end of September. At last, when pressed, he frankly
told me that no traveller—nay, not a Badawi—could leave the city in that
direction, even as far as historic Khaybar,[FN#4] which information I
afterwards ascertained to be correct. It was impossible to start alone,
and when in despair I had recourse to Shaykh Hamid, he seemed to think
me mad for wishing to wend Northwards when all the world was hurrying
towards the South. My disappointment was bitter at first, but
consolation soon suggested itself. Under the most favourable
circumstances, a Badawi-trip from Al-Madinah to Maskat, fifteen or
sixteen hundred miles, would require at least ten months; whereas,
under pain of losing my commission,[FN#5] I was ordered to be at Bombay
before the end of March. Moreover, entering Arabia by Al-Hijaz, as has
before been said, I was obliged to leave behind all my instruments
except a watch and a pocket-compass, so the benefit rendered to
geography by my trip would have been scanty. Still remained

[p.31] to me the comfort of reflecting that possibly at Meccah some
opportunity of crossing the Peninsula might present itself. At any rate
I had the certainty of seeing the strange wild country of the Hijaz,
and of being present at the ceremonies of the Holy City. I must request
the reader to bear with a Visitation once more: we shall conclude it
with a ride to Al-Bakia.[FN#6] This venerable spot is frequented by the
pious every day after the prayer at the Prophet’s Tomb, and especially on

Our party started one morning,—on donkeys, as usual, for my foot was not
yet strong,—along the Darb al-Janazah round the Southern wall of the
town. The locomotion was decidedly slow, principally in consequence of
the tent-ropes which the Hajis had pinned down literally all over the
plain, and falls were by no means unfrequent. At last we arrived at the
end of the Darb, where I committed myself by mistaking the decaying
place of those miserable schismatics the Nakhawilah[FN#7] for Al-Bakia,
the glorious cemetery of the Saints. Hamid corrected my blunder with
tartness, to which I replied as tartly, that in our country—Afghanistan—we
burned the body of every heretic upon whom we could lay our hands. This
truly Islamitic custom was heard with general applause, and as the
little dispute ended, we stood at the open gate of Al-Bakia. Then
having dismounted I sat down on a low Dakkah or stone bench within the
walls, to obtain a general view and to prepare for the most fatiguing
of the Visitations.

There is a tradition that seventy thousand, or according to others a
hundred thousand saints, all with faces like full moons, shall cleave
on the last day the yawning bosom

[p.32] of Al-Bakia.[FN#8] About ten thousand of the Ashab (Companions
of the Prophet) and innumerable Sadat are here buried: their graves are
forgotten, because, in the olden time, tombstones were not placed over
the last resting-places of mankind. The first of flesh who shall arise
is Mohammed, the second Abu Bakr, the third Omar, then the people of
Al-Bakia (amongst whom is Osman, the fourth Caliph), and then the
incol[ae] of the Jannat al-Ma’ala, the Meccan cemetery. The Hadis, “whoever
dies at the two Harims shall rise with the Sure on the Day of judgment,”
has made these spots priceless in value. And even upon earth they might
be made a mine of wealth. Like the catacombs at Rome, Al-Bakia is
literally full of the odour of sanctity, and a single item of the great
aggregate here would render any other Moslem town famous. It is a pity
that this people refuses to exhume its relics.

The first person buried in Al-Bakia was Osman bin Maz’un, the first of
the Muhajirs, who died at Al-Madinah. In the month of Sha’aban, A.H. 3,
the Prophet kissed the forehead of the corpse and ordered it to be
interred within sight of his abode.[FN#9] In those days the field was
covered with the tree Gharkad; the vegetation was cut down, the ground
was levelled, and Osman was placed in the centre of the new cemetery.
With his own hands Mohammed planted two large upright stones at the
head and the feet of his faithful follower[FN#10]; and in process of
time a dome covered the spot. Ibrahim, the Prophet’s infant second

[p.33] son, was laid by Osman’s side, after which Al-Bakia became a
celebrated cemetery.

The Burial-place of the Saints is an irregular oblong surrounded by
walls which are connected with the suburb at their south-west angle.
The Darb al-Janazah separates it from the enceinte of the town, and the
eastern Desert Road beginning from the Bab al-Jumah bounds it on the
North. Around it palm plantations seem to flourish. It is small,
considering the extensive use made of it: all that die at Al-Madinah,
strangers as well as natives, except only heretics and schismatics,
expect to be interred in it. It must be choked with corpses, which it
could never contain did not the Moslem style of burial greatly favour
rapid decomposition; and it has all the inconveniences of “intramural
sepulture.” The gate is small and ignoble; a mere doorway in the wall.
Inside there are no flower-plots, no tall trees, in fact none of the
refinements which lightens the gloom of a Christian burial-place: the
buildings are simple, they might even be called mean. Almost all are
the common Arab Mosque, cleanly whitewashed, and looking quite new. The
ancient monuments were levelled to the ground by Sa’ad the Wahhabi and
his puritan followers, who waged pitiless warfare against what must
have appeared to them magnificent mausolea, deeming as they did a loose
heap of stones sufficient for a grave. In Burckhardt’s time the whole
place was a “confused accumulation of heaps of earth, wide pits, and
rubbish, without a singular regular tomb-stone.” The present erections
owe their existence, I was told, to the liberality of the Sultans Abd
al-Hamid and Mahmud.

A poor pilgrim has lately started on his last journey, and his corpse,
unattended by friends or mourners, is carried upon the shoulders of
hired buriers into the cemetery. Suddenly they stay their rapid steps,
and throw the body upon the ground. There is a life-like pliability

[p.34] about it as it falls, and the tight cerements so define the
outlines that the action makes me shudder. It looks almost as if the
dead were conscious of what is about to occur. They have forgotten
their tools; one man starts to fetch them, and three sit down to smoke.
After a time a shallow grave is hastily scooped out.[FN#11] The corpse
is packed in it with such unseemly haste that earth touches it in all
directions,—cruel carelessness among Moslems, who believe this to torture
the sentient frame.[FN#12] One comfort suggests itself. The poor man
being a pilgrim has died “Shahid”—in martyrdom. Ere long his spirit shall
leave Al-Bakia,

“And he on honey-dew shall feed,
And drink the milk of Paradise.”

I entered the holy cemetery right foot forwards, as if it were a
Mosque, and barefooted, to avoid suspicion of being a heretic. For
though the citizens wear their shoes in the Bakia, they are much
offended at seeing the Persians follow their example. We began by the
general benediction[FN#13]: “Peace be upon Ye, O People of Al-Bakia!
Peace be upon Ye, O Admitted to the Presence of the

[p.35] Most High! Receive Ye what Ye have been promised! Peace be upon
Ye, Martyrs of Al-Bakia, One and All! We verily, if Allah please, are
about to join You! O Allah, pardon us and Them, and the Mercy of God,
and His Blessings!” After which we recited the Chapter Al-Ikhlas and the
Testification, then raised our hands, mumbled the Fatihah, passed our
palms down our faces, and went on.

Walking down a rough narrow path, which leads from the western to the
eastern extremity of Al-Bakia, we entered the humble mausoleum of the
Caliph Osman—Osman “Al-Mazlum,” or the “ill-treated,” he is called by some
Moslems. When he was slain,[FN#14] his friends wished to bury him by
the Prophet in the Hujrah, and Ayishah made no objection to the
measure. But the people of Egypt became violent; swore that the corpse
should neither be buried nor be prayed over, and only permitted it to
be removed upon the threat of Habibah (one of the “Mothers of the Moslems,”
and daughter of Abu Sufiyan) to expose her countenance. During the
night that followed his death, Osman was carried out by several of his
friends to Al-Bakia, from which, however, they were driven away, and
obliged to deposit their burden in a garden, eastward of and outside
the saints’ cemetery. It was called Hisn Kaukab, and was looked upon as
an inauspicious place of sepulture, till Marwan included it in
Al-Bakia. We stood before Osman’s monument, repeating, “Peace be upon Thee,
O our Lord Osman, Son of Affan![FN#15] Peace be upon

[p.36] Thee, O Caliph of Allah’s Apostle! Peace be upon Thee, O Writer of
Allah’s Book! Peace be upon Thee, in whose Presence the Angels are
ashamed![FN#16] Peace be upon Thee, O Collector of the Koran! Peace be
upon Thee, O Son-in-Law of the Prophet! Peace be upon Thee, O Lord of
the Two Lights (the two daughters of Mohammed)![FN#17] Peace be upon
Thee, who fought the Battle of the Faith! Allah be satisfied with Thee,
and cause Thee to be satisfied, and render Heaven thy Habitation! Peace
be upon Thee, and the Mercy of Allah and His Blessing, and Praise be to
Allah, Lord of the (three) Worlds!” This supplication concluded in the
usual manner. After which we gave alms, and settled with ten piastres
the demands of the Khadim[FN#18] who takes charge of the tomb: this
double-disbursing process had to be repeated at each station.

Then moving a few paces to the North, we faced Eastwards, and performed
the Visitation of Abu Sa’id al-Khazari, a Sahib or Companion of the
Prophet, whose sepulchre lies outside Al-Bakia. The third place visited
was a dome containing the tomb of our lady Halimah, the Badawi
wet-nurse who took charge of Mohammed[FN#19]:

[p.37] she is addressed hus; “Peace be upon Thee, O Halimah the
Auspicious![FN#20] Peace be upon Thee, who performed thy Trust in
suckling the Best of Mankind! Peace be upon Thee, O Wet-nurse of
Al-Mustafa (the chosen)! Peace be upon Thee, O Wet-nurse of Al-Mujtaba
(the (accepted)![FN#21] May Allah be satisfied with Thee, and cause
Thee to be satisfied, and render Heaven thy House and Habitation! and
verily we have come visiting Thee, and by means of Thee drawing near to
Allah’s Prophet, and through Him to God, the Lord of the Heavens and the

After which, fronting the North, we stood before a low enclosure,
containing ovals of loose stones, disposed side by side. These are the
Martyrs of Al-Bakia, who received the crown of glory at the hands of
Al-Muslim,[FN#23] the general of the arch-heretic Yazid[FN#24] The
prayer here recited differs so little from that addressed to the
martyrs of Ohod, that I will not transcribe it. The fifth station is
near the centre of the cemetery at the tomb of Ibrahim, who died, to
the eternal regret of Al-Islam, some say six months old, others in his
second year. He was the son

[p.38] of Mariyah, the Coptic girl, sent as a present to Mohammed by
Jarih, the Mukaukas or governor of Alexandria. The Prophet with his own
hand piled earth upon the grave, and sprinkled it with water,—a ceremony
then first performed,—disposed small stones upon it, and pronounced the
final salutation. For which reason many holy men were buried in this
part of the cemetery, every one being ambitious to lie in ground which
has been honored by the Apostle’s hands. Then we visited Al-Nafi Maula,
son of Omar, generally called Imam Nafi al-Kari, or the Koran chaunter;
and near him the great doctor Imam Malik ibn Anas, a native of
Al-Madinah, and one of the most dutiful of her sons. The eighth station
is at the tomb of Ukayl bin Abi Talib, brother of Ali.[FN#25] Then we
visited the spot where lie interred all the Prophet’s wives, Khadijah,
who lies at Meccah, alone excepted. Mohammed married fifteen wives of
whom nine survived him. After the “Mothers of the Moslems,” we prayed at
the tombs of Mohammed’s daughters, said to be ten in number.

In compliment probably to the Hajj, the beggars mustered strong that
morning at Al-Bakia. Along the walls and at the entrance of each
building squatted ancient dames, all engaged in anxious contemplation
of every approaching face, and in pointing to dirty cotton napkins
spread upon the ground before them, and studded with a few coins, gold,
silver, or copper, according to the expectations of the proprietress.
They raised their voices to demand largesse: some promised to recite
Fatihahs, and the most audacious seized visitors by the skirts of their

[p.39] garments. Fakihs, ready to write “Y.S.,” or anything else demanded
of them, covered the little heaps and eminences of the cemetery, all
begging lustily, and looking as though they would murder you, when told
how beneficent is Allah—polite form of declining to be charitable. At the
doors of the tombs old housewives, and some young ones also, struggled
with you for your slippers as you doffed them, and not unfrequently the
charge of the pair was divided between two. Inside, when the boys were
not loud enough or importunate enough for presents, they were urged on
by the adults and seniors, the relatives of the “Khadims” and hangers-on.
Unfortunately for me, Shaykh Hamid was renowned for taking charge of
wealthy pilgrims: the result was, that my purse was lightened of three
dollars. I must add that although at least fifty female voices loudly
promised that morning, for the sum of ten parahs each, to supplicate
Allah in behalf of my lame foot, no perceptible good came of their

Before leaving Al-Bakia, we went to the eleventh station, [FN#26] the
Kubbat al-Abbasiyah, or Dome of Abbas. Originally built by the Abbaside
Caliphs in A.H. 519, it is a larger and a handsomer building than its
fellows, and it is situated on the right-hand side of the gate as you
enter. The crowd of beggars at the door testified to its importance:
they were attracted by the Persians who assemble here in force to weep
and to pray. Crossing the threshold with some difficulty, I walked
round a mass of tombs which occupies the centre of the building,
leaving but a narrow passage between it and the walls. It is railed
round, and covered over with several “Kiswahs” of green cloth worked with
white letters: it looked like a confused

[p.40] heap, but it might have appeared irregular to me by the reason
of the mob around. The Eastern portion contains the body of Al-Hasan,
the son of Ali and grandson of the Prophet[FN#27]; the Imam Zayn
al-Abidin, son of Al-Hosayn, and great-grandson to the Prophet; the
Imam Mohammed al-Bakir (fifth Imam), son to Zayn al-Abidin; and his son
the Imam a’afar al-Sadik—all four descendants of the Prophet, and buried in
the same grave with Abbas ibn Abd al-Muttalib, uncle to Mohammed. It is
almost needless to say that these names are subjects of great
controversy. Al-Musudi mentions that here was found an inscribed stone
declaring it to be the tomb of the Lady Fatimah, of Hasan her brother,
of Ali bin Hosayn, of Mohammed bin Ali, and of Ja’afar bin Mohammed. Ibn
Jubayr, describing Al-Bakia, mentions only two in this tomb, Abbas and
Hasan; the head of the latter, he says, in the direction of the former’s
feet. Other authors

[p.41] relate that in it, about the ninth century of the Hijrah, was
found a wooden box covered with fresh-looking red felt cloth, with
bright brass nails, and they believe it to have contained the corpse of
Ali, placed here by his own son Hasan.

Standing opposite this mysterious tomb, we repeated, with difficulty by
reason of the Persians weeping, the following supplication:—“Peace be upon
Ye, O Family of the Prophet! O Lord Abbas, the free from Impurity and
Uncleanness, and Father’s Brother to the Best of Men! And Thou too O Lord
Hasan, Grandson of the Prophet! And thou also O Lord Zayn
al-Abidin[FN#28]! Peace be upon Ye, One and All, for verily God hath
been pleased to deliver You from all Guile, and to purify You with all
Purity. The Mercy of Allah and His Blessings be upon Ye, and verily He
is the Praised, the Mighty!” After which, freeing ourselves from the
hands of greedy boys, we turned round and faced the southern wall,
close to which is a tomb attributed to the Lady Fatimah.[FN#29] I will
not repeat the prayer, it being the same as that recited in the Harim.

[p.42] Issuing from the hot and crowded dome, we recovered our slippers
after much trouble, and found that our garments had suffered from the
frantic gesticulations of the Persians. We then walked to the gate of
Al-Bakia, stood facing the cemetery upon an elevated piece of ground,
and delivered the general benediction.

“O Allah! O Allah! O Allah! O full of Mercy! O abounding in Beneficence!
Lord of Length (of days), and Prosperity, and Goodness! O Thou, who
when asked, grantest, and when prayed for aid, aidest! Have Mercy upon
the Companions of thy Prophet, of the Muhajirin, and the Ansar! Have
Mercy upon them, One and All!

[p.43] Have Mercy upon bdullah bin Hantal” (and so on, specifying their
names), “and make Paradise their Resting-place, their Habitation, their
Dwelling, and their Abode! O Allah! accept our Ziyarat, and supply our
Wants, and lighten our Griefs, and restore us to our Homes, and comfort
our Fears, and disappoint not our Hopes, and pardon us, for on no other
do we rely; and let us depart in Thy Faith, and after the Practice of
Thy Prophet, and be Thou satisfied with us! O Allah! forgive our past
Offences, and leave us not to our (evil) Natures during the Glance of
an Eye, or a lesser Time; and pardon us, and pity us, and let us return
to our Houses and Homes safe,” (i.e., spiritually and physically)
“fortunate, abstaining from what is unlawful, re-established after our
Distresses, and belonging to the Good, thy Servants upon whom is no
Fear, nor do they know Distress. Repentance, O Lord! Repentance, O
Merciful! Repentance, O Pitiful! Repentance before Death, and Pardon
after Death! I beg pardon of Allah! Thanks be to Allah! Praise be to
Allah! Amen, O Lord of the (three) Worlds!”

After which, issuing from Al-Bakia,[FN#30] we advanced

[p.44] northwards, leaving the city gate on the left hand, till we came
to a small Kubbah (dome) close to the road. It is visited as containing
the tomb of the Prophet’s paternal aunts, especially of Safiyah, daughter
of Abd al-Muttalib, sister of Hamzah, and one of the many heroines of
early Al-Islam. Hurrying over our devotions here,—for we were tired
indeed,—we applied to a Sakka for water, and entered a little
coffee-house near the gate of the town: after which we rode home.

I have now described, at a wearying length I fear, the spots visited by
every Zair at Al-Madinah. The guide-books mention altogether between
fifty and fifty-five Mosques and other holy places, most of which are
now unknown even by name to the citizens. The most celebrated of these
are the few following, which I describe from hearsay. About three miles
to the North-west of the town, close to the Wady al-Akik, lies the
Mosque called Al-Kiblatayn—“The Two Directions of Prayer.” Some give this
title to the Masjid al-Takwa at Kuba.[FN#31] Others assert that the
Prophet, after visiting and eating

[p.45] at the house of an old woman named Umm Mabshar, went to pray the
mid-day prayer in the Mosque of the Benu Salmah. He had performed the
prostration with his face towards Jerusalem, when suddenly warned by
revelation he turned Southwards and concluded his orisons in that
direction.[FN#32] I am told it is a mean dome without inner walls,
outer enclosures, or minaret.

The Masjid Benu Zafar (some write the word Tifr) is also called Masjid
al-Baghlah—of the She-mule,—because, according to Al-Matari, on the ridge
of stone to the south of this Mosque are the marks where the Prophet
leaned his arm, and where the she-mule, Duldul, sent by the Mukaukas as
a present with Mariyah the Coptic girl and Yafur the donkey, placed its
hoofs. At the Mosque was shown a slab upon which the Prophet sat
hearing recitations from the Koran; and historians declare that by
following his example many women have been blessed with
offspring.[FN#33] This Mosque is to the East of Al-Bakia.

The Masjid al-Jumah—of Friday,—or Al-Anikah—of the Sand-heaps,—is in the valley
near Kuba, where Mohammed prayed and preached on the first Friday after
his flight from Meccah [FN#34]

The Masjid al-Fazikh—of Date-liquor—is so called because when Abu Ayyub and
others of the Ansar were sitting with cups in their hands, they heard
that intoxicating

[p.46] draughts were for the future forbidden, upon which they poured
the liquor upon the ground. Here the Prophet prayed six days whilst he
was engaged in warring down the Benu Nazir Jews. The Mosque derives its
other name, Al-Shams—of the Sun—because, being erected on rising ground
East of and near Kuba, it receives the first rays of morning light.

To the Eastward of the Masjid al-Fazikh lies the Masjid al-Kurayzah,
erected on a spot where the Prophet descended to attack the Jewish
tribe of that name. Returning from the battle of the Moat, wayworn and
tired with fighting, he here sat down to wash and comb his hair, when
suddenly appeared to him the Archangel Gabriel in the figure of a
horseman dressed in a corslet and covered with dust. “The Angels of Allah,”
said the preternatural visitor, “are still in Arms, O Prophet, and it is
Allah’s Will that Thy foot return to the Stirrup. I go before Thee to
prepare a Victory over the Infidels, the Sons of Kurayzah.” The legend
adds that the dust raised by the angelic host was seen in the streets
of Al-Madinah, but that mortal eye fell not upon horseman’s form. The
Prophet ordered his followers to sound the battle-call, gave his flag
to Ali,—the Arab token of appointing a commander-in-chief,—and for
twenty-five days invested the habitations of the enemy. This hapless
tribe was exterminated, sentence of death being passed upon them by Sa’ad
ibn Ma’az, an Ausi whom they constituted their judge because he belonged
to an allied tribe. Six hundred men were beheaded in the Market-place
of Al-Madinah, their property was plundered, and their wives and
children were reduced to slavery.

“Tantane relligio potuit suadere malorum!”

The Masjid Mashrabat Umm Ibrahim, or Mosque of the garden of Ibrahim’s
mother, is a place where Mariyah the Copt had a garden, and became the
mother of

[p.47] Ibrahim, the Prophet’s second son.[FN#35] It is a small building
in what is called the Awali, or highest part of the Al-Madinah plain,
to the North of the Masjid Benu Kurayzah, and near the Eastern Harrah
or ridge.[FN#36]

Northwards of Al-Bakia is, or was, a small building called the Masjid
al-Ijabah—of Granting,—from the following circumstance. One day the Prophet
stopped to perform his devotions at this place, which then belonged to
the Benu Mu’awiyah of the tribe of Aus. He made a long Dua or
supplication, and then turning to his Companions, exclaimed, “I have
asked of Allah three favours, two hath he vouchsafed to me, but the
third was refused!” Those granted were that the Moslems might never be
destroyed by famine or by deluge. The third was that they might not
perish by internecine strife.

The Masjid al-Fath (of Victory), vulgarly called the “Four Mosques,” is
situated in the Wady Al-Sayh,[FN#37] which comes from the direction of
Kuba, and about half a mile to the East of “Al-Kiblatayn.” The largest is
called the Masjid al-Fath, or Al-Ahzab—of the Troops,—and is alluded to in
the Koran. Here it is said the Prophet prayed for three days during the
Battle of the Moat, also called the affair “Al-Ahzab,” the last fought with
the Infidel Kuraysh under Abu Sufiyan. After three days of devotion, a
cold and violent blast arose, with rain

[p.48] and sleet, and discomfited the foe. The Prophet’s prayer having
here been granted, it is supposed by ardent Moslems that no petition
put up at the Mosque Al-Ahzab is ever neglected by Allah. The form of
supplication is differently quoted by different authors. When Al-Shafe’i
was in trouble and fear of Harun al-Rashid, by the virtue of this
formula he escaped all danger: I would willingly offer so valuable a
prophylactory to my readers, only it is of an unmanageable length. The
doctors of Al-Islam also greatly differ about the spot where the
Prophet stood on this occasion; most of them support the claims of the
Masjid al-Fath, the most elevated of the four, to that distinction.
Below, and to the South of the highest ground, is the Masjid Salman
al-Farsi, the Persian, from whose brain emanated the bright idea of the
Moat. At the mature age of two hundred and fifty, some say three
hundred and fifty, after spending his life in search of a religion,
from a Magus (fire-worshipper)[FN#38] becoming successively a Jew and a
Nazarene, he ended with being a Moslem, and a Companion of Mohammed.
During his eventful career he had been ten times sold into slavery.
Below Salman’s Mosque is the Masjid Ali, and the smallest building on the
South of the hill is called Masjid Abu Bakr. All these places owe their
existence to Al-Walid the Caliph: they were repaired at times by his

The Masjid al-Rayah—of the Banner—was originally built by Al-Walid upon a
place where the Prophet pitched his tent during the War of the Moat.
Others call it Al-Zubab, after a hill upon which it stands. Al-Rayah is
separated from the Masjid al-Fath by a rising ground called Jabal Sula
or Jabal Sawab[FN#39]: the former

[p.49] being on the Eastern, whilst the latter lies upon the Western
declivity of the hill. The position of this place is greatly admired,
as commanding the fairest view of the Harim.

About a mile and a half South-east of Al-Bakia is a dome called Kuwwat
Islam, the “Strength of Al-Islam.” Here the Apostle planted a dry
palm-stick, which grew up, blossomed, and bore fruit at once. Moreover,
on one occasion when the Moslems were unable to perform the pilgrimage,
Mohammed here produced the appearance of a Ka’abah, an Arafat, and all
the appurtenances of the Hajj. I must warn my readers not to condemn
the founder of Al-Islam for these puerile inventions.

The Masjid Onayn lies South of Hamzah’s tomb. It is on a hill called
Jabal al-Rumat, the Shooters’ Hill, and here during the battle of Ohod
stood the archers of Al-Islam. According to some, the Prince of Martyrs
here received his death-wound; others place that event at the Masjid
al-Askar or the Masjid al-Wady.[FN#40]

Besides these fourteen, I find the names, and nothing but the names, of
forty Mosques. The reader loses little by my unwillingness to offer him
a detailed list of such appellations as Masjid Benu Abd al-Ashhal,
Masjid Benu Harisah, Masjid Benu Harim, Masjid al-Fash, Masjid
al-Sukiya, Masjid Benu Bayazah, Masjid Benu Hatmah,

“Cum multis aliis quæ nunc perscribere longum est.”

[FN#1] The cholera. See chapter xviii.
[FN#2] The word Hawamid is plural of Hamidah, Hawazin of Hazimi.
[FN#3] Anciently there was a Caravan from Maskat to Al-Madinah. My
friends could not tell me when the line had been given up, but all were
agreed that for years they had not seen an Oman caravan, the pilgrims
preferring to enter Al-Hijaz via Jeddah.
[FN#4] According to Abulfeda, Khaybar is six stations N.E. of
Al-Madinah; it is four according to Al-Idrisi; but my informants
assured me that camels go there easily, as the Tarikh al-Khamisy says,
in three days. I should place it 80 miles N.N.E. of Al-Madinah.
Al-Atwal locates it in 65° 20' E. lon., and 25° 20' N. lat; Al-Kanun in
lon. 67° 30', and lat. 24° 20'; Ibn Sa’id in lon. 64° 56', and lat. 27°; and
D’Anville in lon. 57°, and lat. 25°. In Burckhardt’s map, and those copied from
it, Khaybar is placed about 2° distant from Al-Madinah, which I believe
to be too far.
[FN#5] The Parliamentary limit of an officer’s leave from India is five
years: if he overstay that period, he forfeits his commission.
{to me the comfort of reflecting that possibly at Meccah some
opportunity of crossing the Peninsula might present itself. At any rate
I had the certainty of seeing the strange wild country of the Hijaz,
and of being present at the ceremonies of the Holy City. I must request
the reader to bear with a Visitation once more: we shall conclude it
with a ride to Al-Bakia.[FN#6] This venerable spot is frequented by the
pious every day after the prayer at the Prophet’s Tomb, and especially on
[FN#6] The name means “the place of many roots.” It is also called Bakia
Al-Gharkad—the place of many roots of the tree Rhamnus. Gharkad is
translated in different ways: some term it the lote, others the tree of
the Jews (Forskal, sub voce).
[FN#7] See chapter xxi., ante.
[FN#8] The same is said of the Makbarah Benu Salmah or Salim, a
cemetery to the west of Al-Madinah, below rising ground called Jabal
Sula. It has long ago been deserted. See chapter xiv.
[FN#9] In those days Al-Madinah had no walls, and was clear of houses
on the East of the Harim.
[FN#10] These stones were removed by Al-Marwan, who determined that
Osman’s grave should not be distinguished from his fellows. For this act,
the lieutenant of Mu’awiyah was reproved and blamed by pious Moslems.
[FN#11] It ought to be high enough for the tenant to sit upright when
answering the interrogatory angels.
[FN#12] Because of this superstition, in every part of Al-Islam, some
contrivance is made to prevent the earth pressing upon the body.
[FN#13] This blessing is in Mohammed’s words, as the beauty of the Arabic
shows. Ayishah relates that in the month Safar, A.H. 11, one night the
Prophet, who was beginning to suffer from the headache which caused his
death, arose from his couch, and walked out into the darkness;
whereupon she followed him in a fit of jealousy, thinking he might be
about to visit some other wife. He went to Al-Bakia, delivered the
above benediction (which others give somewhat differently), raised his
hands three times, and turned to go home. Ayishah hurried back, but she
could not conceal her agitation from her husband, who asked her what
she had done. Upon her confessing her suspicions, he sternly informed
her that he had gone forth, by order of the Archangel Gabriel, to bless
and to intercede for the people of Al-Bakia. Some authors relate a more
facetious termination of the colloquy.—M.C. de Perceval (Essai, &c., vol.
iii. p. 314.)
[FN#14] “Limping Osman,” as the Persians contemptuously call him, was slain
by rebels, and therefore became a martyr according to the Sunnis. The
Shi’ahs justify the murder, saying it was the act of an “Ijma al-Muslimin,”
or the general consensus of Al-Islam, which in their opinion ratifies
an act of “lynch law.”
[FN#15] This specifying the father Affan, proves him to have been a
Moslem. Abu Bakr’s father, “Kahafah,” and Omar’s “Al-Khattab,” are not mentioned by
name in the Ceremonies of Visitation.
[FN#16] The Christian reader must remember that the Moslems rank
angelic nature, under certain conditions, below human nature.
[FN#17] Osman married two daughters of the Prophet, a circumstance
which the Sunnis quote as honourable to him: the Shi’ahs, on the
contrary, declare that he killed them both by ill-treatment.
[FN#18] These men are generally descendants of the Saint whose tomb
they own: they receive pensions from the Mudir of the Mosque, and
retain all fees presented to them by visitors. Some families are
respectably supported in this way.
[FN#19] This woman, according to some accounts, also saved Mohammed’s
life, when an Arab Kahin or diviner, foreseeing that the child was
destined to subvert the national faith, urged the bystanders to bury
their swords in his bosom. The Sharifs of Meccah still entrust their
children to the Badawin, that they may be hardened by the discipline of
the Desert. And the late Pasha of Egypt gave one of his sons in charge
of the Anizah tribe, near Akabah. Burckhardt (Travels in Arabia, vol.
i. p. 427) makes some sensible remarks about this custom, which cannot
be too much praised.
[FN#20] Al- “Sadiyah,” a double entendre; it means auspicious, and also
alludes to Halimah’s tribe, the Benu Sa’ad.
[FN#21] Both these words are titles of the Prophet. Al-Mustafa means
the “Chosen”; Al-Mujtaba, the “Accepted.”
[FN#22] There being, according to the Moslems, many heavens and many
[FN#23] See chapter xx.
[FN#24] The Shafe’i school allows its disciples to curse Al-Yazid, the
son of Mu’awiyah, whose cruelties to the descendants of the Prophet, and
crimes and vices, have made him the Judas Iscariot of Al-Islam. I have
heard Hanafi Moslems, especially Sayyids, revile him; but this is not,
strictly speaking, correct. The Shi’ahs, of course, place no limits to
their abuse of him. You first call a man “Omar,” then “Shimr,” (the slayer of
Al-Hosayn), and lastly, “Yazid,” beyond which insult does not extend.
[FN#25] Ukayl or Akil, as many write the name, died at Damascus, during
the Caliphate of Al-Mu’awiyah. Some say he was buried there, others that
his corpse was transplanted to Al-Madinah, and buried in a place where
formerly his house, known as “Dar Ukayl,” stood.
[FN#26] Some are of opinion that the ceremonies of Ziyarat formerly
did, and still should begin here. But the order of visitation differs
infinitely, and no two authors seem to agree. I was led by Shaykh
Hamid, and indulged in no scruples.
[FN#27] Burckhardt makes a series of mistakes upon this subject. “Hassan
ibn Aly, whose trunk only lies buried here (in El Bakia), his head
having been sent to Cairo, where it is preserved in the fine Mosque
called El-Hassanya.” The Mosque Al-Hasanayn (the “two Hasans”) is supposed to
contain only the head of Al-Hosayn, which, when the Crusaders took
Ascalon, was brought from thence by Sultan Salih or Beybars, and
conveyed to Cairo. As I have said before, the Persians in Egypt openly
show their contempt of this tradition. It must be remembered that
Al-Hasan died poisoned at Al-Madinah by his wife Ja’adah. Al-Hosayn, on
the other hand, was slain and decapitated at Kerbela. According to the
Shi’ahs, Zayn al-Abidin obtained from Yazid, after a space of forty days,
his father’s head, and carried it back to Kerbela, for which reason the
event is known to the Persians as “Chilleyeh sar o tan,” the “forty days of
(separation between) the head and trunk.” They vehemently deny that the
body lies at Kerbela, and the head at Cairo. Others, again, declare
that Al-Hosayn’s head was sent by Yazid to Amir bin al-As, the governor
of Al-Madinah, and was by him buried near Fatimah’s Tomb. Nor are they
wanting who declare, that after Yazid’s death the head was found in his
treasury, and was shrouded and buried at Damascus. Such is the
uncertainty which hangs over the early history of Al-Islam[.]
[FN#28] The names of the fifth and sixth Imams, Mohammed al-Bakia and
Ja’afar al-Sadik, were omitted by Hamid, as doubtful whether they are
really buried here or not.
[FN#29] Moslem historians seem to delight in the obscurity which hangs
over the lady’s last resting-place, as if it were an honour even for the
receptacle of her ashes to be concealed from the eyes of men. Some
place her in the Harim, relying upon this tradition: “Fatimah, feeling
about to die, rose up joyfully, performed the greater ablution, dressed
herself in pure garments, spread a mat upon the floor of her house near
the Prophet’s Tomb, lay down fronting the Kiblah, placed her hand under
her cheek, and said to her attendant, “I am pure and in a pure dress; now
let no one uncover my body, but bury me where I lie!” When Ali returned
he found his wife dead, and complied with her last wishes. Omar bin Abd
al-Aziz believed this tradition, when he included the room in the
Mosque; and generally in Al-Islam Fatimah is supposed to be buried in
the Harim. Those who suppose the Prophet’s daughter to be buried in
Al-Bakia rely upon a saying of the Imam Hasan, “If men will not allow me
to sleep beside my grandsire, place me in Al-Bakia, by my mother.” They
give the following account of his death and burial. His body was bathed
and shrouded by Ali and Omar Salmah. Others say that Asma Bint Umays,
the wife of Abu Bakr, was present with Fatimah, who at her last hour
complained of being carried out, as was the custom of those days, to
burial like a man. Asma promised to make her a covered bier, like a
bride’s litter, of palm sticks, in shape like what she had seen in
Abyssinia: whereupon Fatimah smiled for the first time after her father’s
death, and exacted from her a promise to allow no one entrance as long
as her corpse was in the house. Ayishah, shortly afterwards knocking at
the door, was refused admittance by Asma; the former complained of this
to her father, and declared that her stepmother had been making a bride’s
litter to carry out the corpse. Abu Bakr went to the door, and when
informed by his wife that all was the result of Fatimah’s orders, he
returned home making no objection. The death of the Prophet’s daughter
was concealed by her own desire from high and low; she was buried at
night, and none accompanied her bier, or prayed at her grave, except
Ali and a few relatives. The Shi’ahs found a charge of irreverence and
disrespect against Abu Bakr for absence on this occasion. The third
place which claims Fatimah’s honoured remains, is a small Mosque in
Al-Bakia, South of the Sepulchre of Abbas. It was called Bayt
al-Huzn—House of Mourning—because here the lady passed the end of her days,
lamenting the loss of her father. Her tomb appears to have formerly
been shown there. Now visitors pray, and pray only twice,—at the Harim,
and in the Kubbat al-Abbasiyah.
[FN#30] The other celebrities in Al-Bakia are:—

Fatimah bint As’ad, mother of Ali. She was buried with great religious
pomp. The Prophet shrouded her with his own garment (to prevent hell
from touching her), dug her grave, lay down in it (that it might never
squeeze or be narrow to her), assisted in carrying the bier, prayed
over her, and proclaimed her certain of future felicity. Over her tomb
was written, “The grave hath not closed upon one like Fatimah, daughter
of As’ad.” Historians relate that Mohammed lay down in only four graves: 1.
Khadijah’s, at Meccah. 2. Kasim’s, her son by him. 3. That of Umm Ruman,
Ayishah’s mother. 4. That of Abdullah al-Mazni, a friend and companion.

Abd al-Rahman bin Auf was interred near Osman bin Maz’un. Ayishah offered
to bury him in her house near the Prophet, but he replied that he did
not wish to narrow her abode, and that he had promised to sleep by the
side of his friend Maz’un. I have already alluded to the belief that none
has been able to occupy the spare place in the Hujrah.

Ibn Hufazah al-Sahmi, who was one of the Ashab al-Hijratayn (who had
accompanied both flights, the greater and the lesser), here died of a
wound received at Ohod, and was buried in Shawwal, A.H. 3, one month
after Osman bin Maz’un.

Abdullah bin Mas’ud, who, according to others, is buried at Kufah.

Sa’ad ibn Zararah, interred near Osman bin Maz’un.

Sa’ad bin Ma’az, who was buried by the Prophet. He died of a wound received
during the battle of the Moat.

Abd al-Rahman al-Ausat, son of Omar, the Caliph. He was generally known
as Abu Shahmah, the “Father of Fat”: he sickened and died, after receiving
from his father the religious flogging—impudicitiae causa.

Abu Sufiyan bin al-Haris, grandson of Abd al-Muttalib. He was buried
near Abdullah bin Ja’afar al-Tayyar, popularly known as the “most generous
of the Arabs,” and near Ukayl bin Abi Talib, the brother of Ali mentioned

These are the principal names mentioned by popular authors. The curious
reader will find in old histories a multitude of others, whose graves
are now utterly forgotten at Al-Madinah.
[FN#31] See chapter xix.
[FN#32] The story is related in another way. Whilst Mohammed was
praying the Asr or afternoon prayer at the Harim he turned his face
towards Meccah. Some of the Companions ran instantly to all the
Mosques, informing the people of the change. In many places they were
not listened to, but the Benu Salmah who were at prayer instantly faced
Southwards. To commemorate their obedience the Mosque was called
[FN#33] I cannot say whether this valuable stone be still at the Mosque
Benu Tifr. But I perfectly remember that my friend Larking had a
mutilated sphynx in his garden at Alexandria, which was found equally
[FN#34] See chapter xvii.
[FN#35] Mohammed’s eldest son was Kasim, who died in his infancy, and was
buried at Meccah. Hence the Prophet’s pædonymic, Abu Kasim, the sire of
[FB#36] Ayishah used to relate that she was exceedingly jealous of the
Coptic girl’s beauty, and of the Prophet’s love for her. Mohammed seeing
this, removed Mariyah from the house of Harisat bin al-Numan, in which
he had placed her, to the Awali of Al-Madinah, where the Mosque now is.
Oriental authors use this term “Awali,” high-grounds, to denote the plains
to the Eastward and Southward of the City, opposed to Al-Safilah, the
lower ground on the W. and N.W.
[FN#37] I am very doubtful about this location of the Masjid al-Fath.
[FN#38] A magus, a magician, one supposed to worship fire. The other
rival sect of the time was the Sabœan who adored the heavenly bodies.
[FN#39] The Mosque of “reward in heaven.” It is so called because during
the War of the Moat, the Prophet used to live in a cave there, and
afterwards he made it a frequent resort for prayer.
[FN#40] Hamzah’s fall is now placed at the Kubbat al-Masra. See chapter



THE Damascus Caravan was to set out on the 27th Zu’l Ka’adah (1st
September). I had intended to stay at Al-Madinah till the last moment,
and to accompany the Kafilat al-Tayyarah, or the “Flying Caravan,” which
usually leaves on the 2nd Zu’l Hijjah, two days after that of Damascus.

Suddenly arose the rumour that there would be no Tayyarah,[FN#l] and
that all pilgrims must proceed with the Damascus Caravan or await the
Rakb. This is a Dromedary Caravan, in which each person carries only
his saddle-bags. It usually descends by the road called Al-Khabt, and
makes Meccah on the fifth day. The Sharif Zayd, Sa’ad the Robber’s only
friend, had paid him an unsuccessful visit. Schinderhans demanded back
his Shaykh-ship, in return for a safe-conduct through his country:
“Otherwise,” said he, “I will cut the throat of every hen that ventures into
the passes.”

The Sharif Zayd returned to Al-Madinah on the 25th Zu’l Ka’adah (30th
August). Early on the morning of the next day, Shaykh Hamid returned
hurriedly from the bazar, exclaiming, “You must make ready at once,
Effendi!—there will be no Tayyarah—all Hajis start to-morrow—Allah will make
it easy to you!—have you

[p.51] your water-skins in order?—you are to travel down the Darb
al-Sharki, where you will not see water for three days!”

Poor Hamid looked horrorstruck as he concluded this fearful
announcement, which filled me with joy. Burckhardt had visited and had
described the Darb al-Sultani, the road along the coast. But no
European had as yet travelled down by Harun al-Rashid’s and the Lady
Zubaydah’s celebrated route through the Nijd Desert.

Not a moment, however, was to be lost: we expected to start early the
next morning. The boy Mohammed went forth, and bought for eighty
piastres a Shugduf, which lasted us throughout the pilgrimage, and for
fifteen piastres a Shibriyah or cot to be occupied by Shaykh Nur, who
did not relish sleeping on boxes. The youth was employed all day, with
sleeves tucked up, and working like a porter, in covering the litter
with matting and rugs, in mending broken parts, and in providing it
with large pockets for provisions inside and outside, with pouches to
contain the gugglets of cooled water.

Meanwhile Shaykh Nur and I, having inspected the water-skins, found
that the rats had made considerable rents in two of them. There being
no workman procurable at this time for gold, I sat down to patch the
damaged articles; whilst Nur was sent to lay in supplies for fourteen
days. The journey is calculated at eleven days; but provisions are apt
to spoil, and the Badawi camel-men expect to be fed. Besides which,
pilferers abound. By my companion’s advice I took wheat-flour, rice,
turmeric, onions, dates, unleavened bread of two kinds, cheese, limes,
tobacco, sugar, tea and coffee.

Hamid himself started upon the most important part of our business.
Faithful camel-men are required upon a road where robberies are
frequent and stabbings occasional, and where there is no law to prevent
desertion or to limit new and exorbitant demands. After a time he

[p.52] returned, accompanied by a boy and a Badawi, a short, thin,
well-built old man with regular features, a white beard, and a cool
clear eye; his limbs, as usual, were scarred with wounds. Mas’ud of the
Rahlah, a sub-family of the Hamidah family of the Benu-Harb, came in
with a dignified demeanour, applied his dexter palm to ours,[FN#2] sat
down, declined a pipe, accepted coffee, and after drinking it, looked
at us to show that he was ready for nego[t]iation. We opened the
proceedings with “We want men, and not camels,” and the conversation
proceeded in the purest Hijazi.[FN#3] After much discussion, we agreed,
if compelled to travel by the Darb al-Sharki, to pay twenty dollars for
two camels,[FN#4] and to advance Arbun, or earnest-money, to half that
amount.[FN#5] The Shaykh bound himself to provide us with good animals,
which, moreover, were to be changed in case of accidents: he was also
to supply his beasts with water, and to accompany us to Arafat and
back. But, absolutely refusing to carry my large chest, he declared
that the tent under the Shugduf was burden enough for one camel; and
that the green box of drugs, the saddle-bags, and the provision-sacks,
surmounted by Nur’s cot, were amply sufficient for the other. On our
part, we bound ourselves to feed the

[p.53] Shaykh and his son, supplying them either with raw or with
cooked provender, and, upon our return to Meccah from Mount Arafat, to
pay the remaining hire with a discretionary present.

Hamid then addressed to me flowery praises of the old Badawi. After
which, turning to the latter, he exclaimed, “Thou wilt treat these
friends well, O Mas’ud the Harbi!” The ancient replied with a dignity that
had no pomposity in it,—“Even as Abu Shawarib—the Father of
Mustachios[FN#6]—behaveth to us, so will we behave to him!” He then arose,
bade us be prepared when the departure-gun sounded, saluted us, and
stalked out of the room, followed by his son, who, under pretext of
dozing, had mentally made an inventory of every article in the room,
ourselves especially included.

When the Badawin disappeared, Shaykh Hamid shook his head, advising me
to give them plenty to eat, and never to allow twenty-four hours to
elapse without dipping hand in the same dish with them, in order that
the party might always be “Malihin,”—on terms of salt.[FN#7] He concluded

[p.54] with a copious lecture upon the villainy of Badawin, and on
their habit of drinking travellers’ water. I was to place the skins on a
camel in front, and not behind; to hang them with their mouths
carefully tied, and turned upwards, contrary to the general practice;
always to keep a good store of liquid, and at night to place it under
the safeguard of the tent.

In the afternoon, Omar Effendi and others dropped in to take leave.
They found me in the midst of preparations, sewing sacks, fitting up a
pipe, patching water-bags, and packing medicines. My fellow-traveller
had brought me some pencils[FN#8] and a penknife, as “forget-me-nots,” for
we were by no means sure of meeting again. He hinted, however, at
another escape from the paternal abode, and proposed, if possible, to
join the Dromedary-Caravan. Shaykh Hamid said the same, but I saw, by
the expression of his face, that his mother and wife would not give him
leave from home so soon after his return.

Towards evening-time the Barr al-Manakhah became a scene of exceeding
confusion. The town of tents lay upon the ground. Camels were being
laden, and were roaring under the weight of litters and cots, boxes and
baggage. Horses and mules galloped about. Men were rushing wildly in
all directions on worldly errands, or hurrying to pay a farewell visit
to the Prophet’s Tomb. Women and children sat screaming on the ground, or
ran to and fro distracted, or called their vehicles to escape the
danger of being crushed. Every now and then a random shot excited all
into the belief that the departure-gun had sounded. At times we heard a
volley from the robbers’ hills, which elicited a general groan, for the
pilgrims were still, to use their own phrase, “between fear

[p.55] and hope,” and, consequently, still far from “one of the two
comforts.[FN#9]” Then would sound the loud “Jhin-Jhin” of the camels’ bells, as
the stately animals paced away with some grandee’s gilt and emblazoned
litter, the sharp plaint of the dromedary, and the loud neighing of
excited steeds.

About an hour after sunset all our preparations were concluded, save
only the Shugduf, at which the boy Mohammed still worked with untiring
zeal; he wisely remembered that he had to spend in it the best portion
of a week and a half. The evening was hot, we therefore dined outside
the house. I was told to repair to the Harim for the Ziyarat al-Wida’a,
or the “Farewell Visitation”; but my decided objection to this step was
that we were all to part,—how soon!—and when to meet again we knew not. My
companions smiled consent, assuring me that the ceremony could be
performed as well at a distance as in the temple.

Then Shaykh Hamid made me pray a two-bow prayer, and afterwards, facing
towards the Harim, to recite this supplication with raised hands:

“O Apostle of Allah, we beg Thee to entreat Almighty Allah, that He cut
off no Portion of the Good resulting to us, from this Visit to Thee and
to Thy Harim! May He cause us to return safe and prosperous to our
Birth-places; aid then us in the Progeny he hath given us, and continue
to us his Benefits, and make us thankful for our daily Bread! O Allah,
let not this be the last of our Visitations to Thy Apostle's Tomb! Yet
if Thou summon us before such Blessing, verily in my Death I bear
Witness, as in my Life,” (here the forefinger of the right hand is
extended, that the members of the body may take part with the tongue
and the heart) “that there

[p.56] is no god but Allah, One and without Partner, and verily that
our Lord Mohammed is His Servant and His Apostle! O Allah, grant us in
this World Weal, and in the future Weal, and save us from the torments
of Hell-fire! Praise to Thee, O Lord, Lord of Glory, greater than Man
can describe! and Peace be upon the Apostle, and Laud to Allah, the
Lord of the (three) Worlds.” This concludes, as usual, with the
Testification and the Fatihah. Pious men on such an occasion go to the
Rauzah, where they strive, if possible, to shed a tear,—a single drop
being a sign of acceptance,—give alms to the utmost of their ability, vow
piety, repentance, and obedience, and retire overwhelmed with grief, at
separating themselves from their Prophet and Intercessor. It is
customary, too, before leaving Al-Madinah, to pass at least one night
in vigils at the Harim, and for learned men to read through the Koran
once before the tomb.

Then began the uncomfortable process of paying off little bills. The
Eastern creditor always, for divers reasons, waits the last moment
before he claims his debt. Shaykh Hamid had frequently hinted at his
difficulties; the only means of escape from which, he said, was to rely
upon Allah. He had treated me so hospitably, that I could not take back
any part of the £5 lent to him at Suez. His three brothers received a
dollar or two each, and one or two of his cousins hinted to some effect
that such a proceeding would meet with their approbation.

The luggage was then carried down, and disposed in packs upon the
ground before the house, so as to be ready for loading at a moment’s
notice. Many flying parties of travellers had almost started on the
high road, and late in the evening came a new report that the body of
the Caravan would march about midnight. We sat up till about two A.M.,
when, having heard no gun, and having seen no camels, we lay down to
sleep through the sultry remnant of the hours of darkness.

[p.57]Thus, gentle reader, was spent my last night at Al-Madinah.

I had reason to congratulate myself upon having passed through the
first danger. Meccah is so near the coast, that, in case of detection,
the traveller might escape in a few hours to Jeddah, where he would
find an English Vice-Consul, protection from the Turkish authorities,
and possibly a British cruiser in the harbour. But at Al-Madinah
discovery would entail more serious consequences. The next risk to be
run was the journey between the two cities, where it would be easy for
the local officials quietly to dispose of a suspected person by giving
a dollar to a Badawi.

[FN#1] The “Tayyarah,” or “Flying Caravan,” is lightly laden, and travels by
forced marches.
[FN#2] This “Musafahah,” as it is called, is the Arab fashion of shaking
hands. They apply the palms of the right hands flat to each other,
without squeezing the fingers, and then raise the hand to the forehead.
[FN#3] On this occasion I heard three new words: “Kharitah,” used to
signify a single trip to Meccah (without return to Al-Madinah), “Ta’arifah,”
going out from Meccah to Mount Arafat, and “Tanzilah,” return from Mount
Arafat to Meccah.
[FN#4] And part of an extra animal which was to carry water for the
party. Had we travelled by the Darb al-Sultani, we should have paid 6½
dollars, instead of 10, for each beast.
[FN#5] The system of advances, as well as earnest money, is common all
over Arabia. In some places, Aden for instance, I have heard of
two-thirds the price of a cargo of coffee being required from the
purchaser before the seller would undertake to furnish a single bale.
[FN#6] Most men of the Shafe’i school clip their mustachios exceedingly
short; some clean shave the upper lip, the imperial, and the parts of
the beard about the corners of the mouth, and the forepart of the
cheeks. I neglected so to do, which soon won for me the epithet
recorded above. Arabs are vastly given to “nick-naming God’s creatures”;
their habit is the effect of acute observation, and the want of variety
in proper names. Sonnini appears not to like having been called the
“Father of a nose.” But there is nothing disrespectful in these personal
allusions. In Arabia you must be “father” of something, and it is better to
be father of a feature, than father of a cooking pot, or father of a
strong smell (“Abu-Zirt.”)
[FN#7] Salt among the Hindus is considered the essence and preserver of
the seas; it was therefore used in their offerings to the gods. The old
idea in Europe was, that salt is a body composed of various elements,
into which it cannot be resolved by human means: hence, it became the
type of an indissoluble tie between individuals. Homer calls salt
sacred and divine, and whoever ate it with a stranger was supposed to
become his friend. By the Greek authors, as by the Arabs, hospitality
and salt are words expressing a kindred idea. When describing the
Badawin of Al-Hijaz, I shall have occasion to notice their peculiar
notions of the Salt-law.
[FN#8] The import of such articles shows the march of progress in
Al-Hijaz. During the last generation, schoolmasters used for pencils
bits of bar lead beaten to a point.
[FN#9] The “two comforts” are success and despair; the latter, according to
the Arabs, being a more enviable state of feeling than doubt or hope



FOUR roads lead from Al-Madinah to Meccah. The [“]Darb al-Sultani,” or
“Sultan’s Highway,” follows the line of coast: this general passage has been
minutely described by my exact predecessor. The “Tarik al-Ghabir,” a
mountain path, is avoided by the Mahmil and the great Caravans on
account of its rugged passes; water abounds along the whole line, but
there is not a single village and the Sobh Badawin, who own the soil[,]
are inveterate plunderers. The route called “Wady al-Kura” is a favourite
with Dromedary Caravans; on this road are two or three small
settlements, regular wells, and free passage through the Benu Amr
tribe. The Darb al-Sharki, or “Eastern road,” down which I travelled, owes
its existence to the piety of the Lady Zubaydah, wife of Harun
al-Rashid. That munificent princess dug wells from Baghdad to
Al-Madinah, and built, we are told, a wall to direct pilgrims over the
shifting sands.[FN#1] There is a fifth road, or rather mountain path,
concerning which I can give no information.

At eight A.M. on Wednesday, the 26th Zu’l Ka’adah

[p.59] (31st August, 1853), as we were sitting at the window of Hamid’s
house after our early meal, suddenly appeared, in hottest haste, Mas’ud,
our Camel-Shaykh. He was accompanied by his son, a bold boy about
fourteen years of age, who fought sturdily about the weight of each
package as it was thrown over the camel’s back; and his nephew, an ugly
pock-marked lad, too lazy even to quarrel. We were ordered to lose no
time in loading; all started into activity, and at nine A.M. I found
myself standing opposite the Egyptian Gate, surrounded by my friends,
who had accompanied me thus far on foot, to take leave with due honour.
After affectionate embraces and parting mementoes, we mounted, the boy
Mohammed and I in the litter, and Shaykh Nur in his cot. Then in
company with some Turks and Meccans, for Mas’ud owned a string of nine
camels, we passed through the little gate near the castle, and shaped
our course towards the North. On our right lay the palm-groves, which
conceal this part of the city; far to the left rose the domes of Hamzah’s


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