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

Part 4 out of 9

blood-revenge, in hopes of finding the victim unprepared. Nothing can
be more sinful in Al-Islam than such deed—it is murder, “made sicker” by
sacrilege; yet the prevalence of the practice proves how feeble is the
religion’s hold upon the race. The women are as unscrupulous: I remarked
many of them emulating the men in reckless riding, and striking with
their sticks every animal in the way.

Travelling Eastward up the Arafat Fiumara, after about half an hour we
came to a narrow pass called Al-Akhshabayn[FN#11] or the “Two Rugged
Hills.” Here the spurs of the rock limited the road to about a hundred
paces, and it is generally a scene of great confusion. After this we
arrived at Al-Bazan (the Basin),[FN#12] a widening of the plain; and
another half-hour brought us to the Alamayn (the “Two Signs”), whitewashed
pillars, or rather thin, narrow walls, surmounted with pinnacles, which
denote the precincts of the Arafat plain. Here, in full sight of the
Holy Hill, standing boldly out from the deep blue sky, the host of
pilgrims broke into loud Labbayks. A little beyond, and to our right,
was the simple enclosure called the Masjid Nimrah.[FN#13] We then

[p.183] turned from our eastern course northwards, and began threading
our way down the main street of the town of tents which clustered about
the southern foot of Arafat. At last, about three P.M., we found a
vacant space near the Matbakh, or kitchen, formerly belonging to a
Sharif’s palace, but now a ruin with a few shells of arches.

Arafat is about six hours’ very slow march, or twelve miles,[FN#14] on
the Taif road, due east of Meccah. We arrived there in a shorter time,
but our weary camels, during the last third of the way, frequently
threw themselves upon the ground. Human beings suffered more. Between
Muna and Arafat I saw no fewer than five men fall down and die upon the
highway: exhausted and moribund, they had dragged themselves out to
give up the ghost where it departs to instant beatitude.[FN#15] The
spectacle showed how easy it is to die in these latitudes[FN#16]; each
man suddenly staggered, fell as if shot; and, after a brief convulsion,
lay still as marble. The corpses were carefully taken up, and
carelessly buried that same evening, in a vacant space amongst the
crowds encamped upon the Arafat plain.[FN#17]

The boy Mohammed, who had long chafed at my pertinacious
[p.184] claim to Darwaysh-hood, resolved on this occasion to be grand.
To swell the party he had invited Omar Effendi, whom we accidentally
met in the streets of Meccah, to join us[;] but failing therein, he
brought with him two cousins, fat youths of sixteen and seventeen, and
his mother’s ground-floor servants. These were four Indians: an old man;
his wife, a middle-aged woman of the most ordinary appearance; their
son, a sharp boy, who spoke excellent Arabic[FN#18]; and a family
friend, a stout fellow about thirty years old. They were Panjabis, and
the bachelor’s history was instructive. He was gaining an honest
livelihood in his own country, when suddenly one night Hazrat Ali,
dressed in green, and mounted upon his charger Duldul[FN#19]—at least, so
said the narrator—appeared, crying in a terrible voice, “How long wilt thou
toil for this world, and be idle about the life to come?” From that
moment, like an English murderer, he knew no peace; Conscience and
Hazrat Ali haunted him.[FN#20] Finding

[p.185] life unendurable at home, he sold everything; raised the sum of
twenty pounds, and started for the Holy Land. He reached Jeddah with a
few rupees in his pocket[;] and came to Meccah, where, everything being
exorbitantly dear and charity all but unknown, he might have starved,
had he not been received by his old friend. The married pair and their
son had been taken as house-servants by the boy Mohammed’s mother, who
generously allowed them shelter and a pound of rice per diem to each,
but not a farthing of pay. They were even expected to provide their own
turmeric and onions. Yet these poor people were anxiously awaiting the
opportunity to visit Al-Madinah, without which their pilgrimage would
not, they believed, be complete. They would beg their way through the
terrible Desert and its Badawin—an old man, a boy, and a woman! What were
their chances of returning to their homes? Such, I believe, is too
often the history of those wretches whom a fit of religious enthusiasm,
likest to insanity, hurries away to the Holy Land. I strongly recommend
the subject to the consideration of our Indian Government as one that
calls loudly for their interference. No Eastern ruler parts, as we do,
with his subjects; all object to lose productive power. To an “Empire of
Opinion” this emigration is fraught with evils. It sends forth a horde of
malcontents that ripen into bigots; it teaches foreign nations to
despise our rule; and it unveils the present nakedness of once wealthy
India. And we have both prevention and cure in our own hands.

As no Moslem, except the Maliki, is bound to pilgrimage without a sum
sufficient to support himself and his family, all who embark at the
different ports of India should be obliged to prove their solvency
before being provided with a permit. Arrived at Jeddah, they should
present the certificate at the British Vice-Consulate, where they would
become entitled to assistance in case of necessity. The Vice-Consul at
Jeddah ought also to be instructed

[p.186] to assist our Indian pilgrims. Mr. Cole, when holding that
appointment, informed me that, though men die of starvation in the
streets, he was unable to relieve them. The highways of Meccah abound
in pathetic Indian beggars, who affect lank bodies, shrinking frames,
whining voices, and all the circumstance of misery, because it supports
them in idleness.

There are no fewer than fifteen hundred Indians at Meccah and Jeddah,
besides seven or eight hundred in Al-Yaman. Such a body requires a
Consul.[FN#21] By the representation of a Vice-Consul when other powers
send an officer of superior rank to Al-Hijaz, we voluntarily place
ourselves in an inferior position. And although the Meccan Sharif might
for a time object to establishing a Moslem agent at the Holy City with
orders to report to the Consul at Jeddah, his opposition would soon
fall to the ground.

With the Indians’ assistance the boy Mohammed removed the handsome
Persian rugs with which he had covered the Shugduf, pitched the tent,
carpeted the ground, disposed a Diwan of silk and satin cushions round
the interior, and strewed the centre with new Chibuks, and highly
polished Shishahs. At the doorway was placed a large copper fire-pan,
with coffee-pots singing a welcome to visitors. In front of us were the
litters, and by divers similar arrangements our establishment was made
to look fine. The youth also insisted upon my removing the Rida, or
upper cotton cloth, which had become way-soiled, and he supplied its
place by a rich cashmere, left with him, some years before, by a son of
the King of Delhi. Little thought I that this bravery of attire would
lose me every word of the Arafat sermon next day.

Arafat, anciently called Jabal Ilal ([Arabic]), “the Mount

[p.187] of Wrestling in Prayer,” and now Jabal al-Rahmah, the “Mount of
Mercy,” is a mass of coarse granite split into large blocks, with a thin
coat of withered thorns. About one mile in circumference, it rises
abruptly to the height of a hundred and eighty or two hundred feet,
from the low gravelly plain—a dwarf wall at the Southern base forming the
line of demarcation. It is separated by Batn Arnah ([Arabic]), a sandy
vale,[FN#22] from the spurs of the Taif hills. Nothing can be more
picturesque than the view it affords of the azure peaks behind, and the
vast encampment scattered over the barren yellow plain below.[FN#23] On
the North lay the regularly pitched camp of the guards that defend the
unarmed pilgrims. To the Eastward was the Sharif’s encampment, with the
bright Mahmils and

[p.188] the gilt knobs of the grandees’ pavilions; whilst on the Southern
and Western sides the tents of the vulgar crowded the ground, disposed
in Dowar, or circles. After many calculations, I estimated the number
to be not fewer than 50,000 of all ages and sexes; a sad falling off,
it is true, but still considerable.

Ali Bey (A.D. 1807) calculates 83,000 pilgrims; Burckhardt (1814),
70,000. I reduce it, in 1853, to 50,000; and in A.D. 1854, owing to
political causes, it fell to about 25,000. Of these at fewest 10,000
are Meccans, as every one who can leave the city does so at
pilgrimage-time. The Arabs have a superstition that the numbers at
Arafat cannot be counted, and that if fewer than 600,000 mortals stand
upon the hill to hear the sermon, the angels descend and complete the
number. Even this year my Arab friends declared that 150,000 spirits
were present in human shape. It may be observed that when the good old
Bertrand de la Brocquiere, esquire-carver to Philip of Burgundy,
declares that the yearly Caravan from Damascus to Al-Madinah must
always be composed of 700,000 persons, and that this number being
incomplete, Allah sends some of his angels to make it up, he probably
confounds the Caravan with the Arafat multitude.

The Holy Hill owes its name[FN#24] and honours to a well-known legend.
When our first parents forfeited Heaven by eating wheat, which deprived
them of their primeval purity, they were cast down upon earth. The
serpent descended at Ispahan, the peacock at Kabul, Satan at Bilbays
(others say Semnan and Seistan), Eve upon Arafat, and Adam at Ceylon.
The latter, determining to seek his wife, began a journey, to which
earth owes its present mottled appearance. Wherever our first father
[p.189] placed his foot—which was large—a town afterwards arose; between
the strides will always be “country.” Wandering for many years, he came to
the Mountain of Mercy, where our common mother was continually calling
upon his name, and their recognition gave the place the name of Arafat.
Upon its summit, Adam, instructed by the archangel Gabriel, erected a
Mada’a, or place of prayer: and between this spot and the Nimrah Mosque
the couple abode till death. Others declare that after recognition, the
first pair returned to India, whence for 44 years in succession they
visited the Sacred City at pilgrimage-time.

From the Holy Hill I walked down to look at the camp arrangements. The
main street of tents and booths, huts and shops, was bright with
lanterns, and the bazars were crowded with people and stocked with all
manner of Eastern delicacies. Some anomalous spectacles met the eye.
Many pilgrims, especially the soldiers, were in laical costume. In one
place a half-drunken Arnaut stalked down the road, elbowing peaceful
passengers and frowning fiercely in hopes of a quarrel. In another
part, a huge dimly-lit tent, reeking hot, and garnished with cane
seats, contained knots of Egyptians, as their red Tarbushes, white
turbands, and black Za’abuts showed, noisily intoxicating themselves with
forbidden hemp. There were frequent brawls and great confusion; many
men had lost their parties, and, mixed with loud Labbayks, rose the
shouted names of women as well as of men. I was surprised at the
disproportion of female nomenclature—the missing number of fair ones
seemed to double that of the other sex—and at a practice so opposed to
the customs of the Moslem world. At length the boy Mohammed enlightened
me. Egyptian and other bold women, when unable to join the pilgrimage,
will pay or persuade a friend to shout their names

[p.190] in hearing of the Holy Hill, with a view of ensuring a real
presence at the desired spot next year. So the welkin rang with the
indecent sounds of O Fatimah! O Zaynab! O Khayz’ran![FN#25] Plunderers,
too, were abroad. As we returned to the tent we found a crowd assembled
near it; a woman had seized a thief as he was beginning operations, and
had the courage to hold his beard till men ran to her assistance. And
we were obliged to defend by force our position against a knot of
grave-diggers, who would bury a little heap of bodies within a yard or
two of our tent.

One point struck me at once—the difference in point of cleanliness
between an encampment of citizens and of Badawin. Poor Mas’ud sat holding
his nose in ineffable disgust, for which he was derided by the Meccans.
I consoled him with quoting the celebrated song of Maysunah, the
beautiful Badawi wife of the Caliph Mu’awiyah. Nothing can be more
charming in its own Arabic than this little song; the Badawin never
hear it without screams of joy.

“O take these purple robes away,
Give back my cloak of camel’s hair,
And bear me from this tow’ring pile
To where the Black Tents flap i’ the air.
The camel’s colt with falt’ring tread,
The dog that bays at all but me,
Delight me more than ambling mules—
Than every art of minstrelsy;
And any cousin, poor but free,
Might take me, fatted ass! from thee.[FN#26]”

[p.191] The old man, delighted, clapped my shoulder, and exclaimed,
“Verily, O Father of Mustachios, I will show thee the black tents of my
tribe this year!”

At length night came, and we threw ourselves upon our rugs, but not to
sleep. Close by, to our bane, was a prayerful old gentleman, who began
his devotions at a late hour and concluded them not before dawn. He
reminded me of the undergraduate my neighbour at Trinity College,
Oxford, who would spout Aeschylus at two A.M. Sometimes the chant would
grow drowsy, and my ears would hear a dull retreating sound; presently,
as if in self-reproach, it would rise to a sharp treble, and proceed at
a rate perfectly appalling. The coffee-houses, too, were by no means
silent; deep into the night I heard the clapping of hands accompanying
merry Arab songs, and the loud shouts of laughter of the Egyptian
hemp-drinkers. And the guards and protectors of the camp were not
“Charleys” or night-nurses.

[FN#1] Pilgrims who would win the heavenly reward promised to those who
walk, start at an early hour.
[FN#2] The true Badawi, when in the tainted atmosphere of towns, is
always known by bits of cotton in his nostrils, or by his kerchief
tightly drawn over his nose, a heavy frown marking extreme disgust.
[FN#3] Anciently called Hira. It is still visited as the place of the
Prophet’s early lucubrations, and because here the first verse of the
Koran descended. As I did not ascend the hill, I must refer readers for
a description of it to Burckhardt, vol. i. p. 320.
[FN#4] Al-Abtah, “low ground”; Al Khayf, “the declivity”; Fina Makkah, the “court
of Meccah”; Al-Muhassib (from Hasba, a shining white pebble), corrupted
by our authors to Mihsab and Mohsab.
[FN#5] The spot where Kusay fought and where Mohammed made his covenant.
[FN#6] If Ptolemy’s “Minœi” be rightly located in this valley, the present name
and derivation “Muna” (desire), because Adam here desired Paradise of
Allah, must be modern. Sale, following Pococke, makes “Mina” (from Mana)
allude to the flowing of victims’ blood. Possibly it may be the plural of
Minyat, which in many Arabic dialects means a village. This basin was
doubtless thickly populated in ancient times, and Moslem historians
mention its seven idols, representing the seven planets.
[FN#7] According to Mohammed the pebbles of the accepted are removed by
angels; as, however, each man and woman must throw 49 or 70 stones, it
is fair to suspect the intervention of something more material. Animals
are frightened away by the bustling crowd, and flies are found in
[FN#8] This demoniacal practice is still as firmly believed in Arabia
as it formerly was in Europe.
[FN#9] Probably because here Satan appeared to tempt Adam, Abraham, and
Ishmael. The Qanoon e Islam erroneously calls it the “Valley of Muhasurah,”
and corrupts Mashar al-Haram into “Muzar al-Haram” (the holy shrine).
[FN#10] Many, even since Sale corrected the error, have confounded this
Mashar al-Haram with Masjid al-H?r?m of Meccah. According to Al-Fasi,
quoted by Burckhardt, it is the name of a little eminence at the end of
the Muzdalifah valley, and anciently called Jabal Kuzah; it is also, he
says, applied to “an elevated platform inclosing the mosque of Muzdalifah.”
Ibn Jubayr makes Mashar al-Haram synonymous with Muzdalifah, to which
he gives a third name, “Jami.”
[FN#11] Buckhardt calls it “Mazoumeyn,” or Al-Mazik, the pass. “Akeshab” may
mean wooded or rugged; in which latter sense it is frequently applied
to hills. Kayka’an and Abu Kubays at Meccah are called Al-Akshshabayn in
some books. The left hill, in Ibn Jubayr’s time, was celebrated as a
meeting-place for brigands.
[FN#12] Kutb al-Din makes another Bazan the Southern limit of Meccah.
[FN#13] Burckhardt calls this building, which he confounds with the “Jami
Ibrahim,” the Jami Nimre; others Namirah, Nimrah, Namrah, and Namurah. It
was erected, he says, by Kait Bey of Egypt, and had fallen into decay.
It has now been repaired, and is generally considered neutral, and not
Sanctuary ground, between the Harim of Meccah and the Holy Hill.
[FN#14] Mr. W. Muir, in his valuable Life of Mahomet, vol. i, p. ccv.,
remarks upon this passage that at p. 180 ante, I made Muna three miles
from Meccah, and Muzdalifah about three miles from Muna, and Arafat
three miles from Muzdalifah,—a total of nine. But the lesser estimate
does not include the outskirts of Meccah on the breadth of the Arafat
Plain. The Calcutta Review (art. 1, Sept. 1853) notably errs in making
Arafat eighteen miles east of Meccah. Ibn Jubayr reckons five miles
from Meccah to Muzdalifah, and five from this to Arafat.
[FN#15] Those who die on a pilgrimage become martyrs.
[FN#16] I cannot help believing that some unknown cause renders death
easier to man in hot than in cold climates; certain it is that in
Europe rare are the quiet and painless deathbeds so common in the East.
[FN#17] We bury our dead, to preserve them as it were; the Moslem tries
to secure rapid decomposition, and makes the graveyard a dangerous as
well as a disagreeable place.
[FN#18] Arabs observe that Indians, unless brought young into the
country, never learn its language well. They have a word to express the
vicious pronunciation of a slave or an Indian, “Barbaret al-Hunud.” This
root Barbara ([Arabic]), like the Greek “Barbaros,” appears to be derived
from the Sanscrit Varvvaraha, an outcast, a barbarian, a man with curly
[FN#19] Ali’s charger was named Maymun, or, according to others, Zu’l Janah
(the winged). Indians generally confound it with “Duldul,” Mohammed’s mule.
[FN#20] These visions are common in history. Ali appeared to the Imam
Shafe’i, saluted him,—an omen of eternal felicity,—placed a ring upon his
finger, as a sign that his fame should extend wide as the donor’s, and
sent him to the Holy Land. Ibrahim bin Adham, the saint-poet hearing,
when hunting, a voice exclaim, “Man! it is not for this that Allah made
thee!” answered, “It is Allah who speaks, his servant will obey!” He changed
clothes with an attendant, and wandered forth upon a pilgrimage,
celebrated in Al-Islam. He performed it alone, and making 1100
genuflexions each mile, prolonged it to twelve years. The history of
Colonel Gardiner, and of many others amongst ourselves, prove that
these visions are not confined to the Arabs.
[FN#21] There is a Consul for Jeddah now, 1879, but till lately he was
an unpaid.
[FN#22] This vale is not considered “standing-ground,” because Satan once
appeared to the Prophet as he was traversing it.
[FN#23] According to Kutb al-Din, the Arafat plain was once highly
cultivated. Stone-lined cisterns abound, and ruins of buildings are
frequent. At the Eastern foot of the mountain was a broad canal,
beginning at a spur of the Taif hills, and conveying water to Meccah;
it is now destroyed beyond Arafat. The plain is cut with torrents,
which at times sweep with desolating violence into the Holy City, and a
thick desert vegetation shows that water is not deep below the surface.
[FN#24] The word is explained in many ways. One derivation has already
been mentioned. Others assert that when Gabriel taught Abraham the
ceremonies, he ended by saying “A’arafata manasik’ak?”—hast thou learned thy
pilgrim rites? To which the Friend of Allah replied, “Araftu!”—I have learned
[FN#25] The latter name, “Ratan,” is servile. Respectable women are never
publicly addressed by Moslems except as “daughter,” “female pilgrim,” after
some male relation, “O mother of Mohammed,” “O sister of Omar,” or, tout
bonnement, by a man’s name. It would be ill-omened and dangerous were the
true name known. So most women, when travelling, adopt an alias.
Whoever knew an Afghan fair who was not “Nur Jan,” or “Sahib Jan”?
[FN#26] The British reader will be shocked to hear that by the term
“fatted ass” the intellectual lady alluded to her husband. The story is
that Mu’awiyah, overhearing the song, sent back the singer to her cousin
and beloved wilds. Maysunah departed with her son Yazid, and did not
return to Damascus till the “fatted ass” had joined his forefathers. Yazid
inherited, with his mother’s talents, all her contempt for his father; at
least the following quatrain, addressed to Mu’awiyah, and generally known
in Al-Islam, would appear to argue anything but reverence:—

“I drank the water of the vine: that draught had power to rouse
Thy wrath, grim father! now, indeed, ’tis joyous to carouse!
I’ll drink!—Be wroth!—I reck not!—Ah! dear to this heart of mine
It is to scoff a sire’s command, to quaff forbidden wine.”



THE morning of the ninth Zu’l Hijjah (Tuesday, 13th Sept.) was ushered in
by military sounds: a loud discharge of cannon warned us to arise and
to prepare for the ceremonies of this eventful day.

After ablution and prayer, I proceeded with the boy Mohammed to inspect
the numerous consecrated sites on the “Mountain of Mercy.” In the first
place, we repaired to a spot on rising ground to the south-east, and
within a hundred yards of the hill. It is called “Jami al-Sakhrah[FN#1]”—the
Assembling Place of the Rock—from two granite boulders upon which the
Prophet stood to perform “Talbiyat.” There is nothing but a small enclosure
of dwarf and whitewashed stone walls, divided into halves for men and
women by a similar partition, and provided with a niche to direct
prayer towards Meccah. Entering by steps, we found crowds of devotees
and guardians, who for a consideration offered mats and carpets. After
a two-bow prayer and a long supplication opposite the niche, we retired
to the inner compartment, stood upon a boulder and shouted the “Labbayk.”

Thence, threading our way through many obstacles

[p.193] of tent and stone, we ascended the broad flight of rugged steps
which winds up the southern face of the rocky hill. Even at this early
hour it was crowded with pilgrims, principally Badawin and Wahhabis,
who had secured favourable positions for hearing the sermon. Already
their green flag was planted upon the summit close to Adam’s Place of
Prayer. The wilder Arabs insist that “Wukuf” (standing) should take place
upon the Hill. This is not done by the more civilised, who hold that
all the plain within the Alamayn ranks as Arafat. According to Ali Bey,
the Maliki school is not allowed to stand upon the mountain. About half
way up I counted sixty-six steps, and remarked that they became
narrower and steeper. Crowds of beggars instantly seized the pilgrims’
robes, and strove to prevent our entering a second enclosure. This
place, which resembles the former, except that it has but one
compartment and no boulders, is that whence Mohammed used to address
his followers; and here, to the present day, the Khatib, or preacher,
in imitation of the “Last of the Prophets,” sitting upon a dromedary,
recites the Arafat sermon. Here, also, we prayed a two-bow prayer, and
gave a small sum to the guardian.

Thence ascending with increased difficulty to the hill-top, we arrived
at a large stuccoed platform,[FN#2] with prayer-niche and a kind of
obelisk, mean and badly built of lime and granite stone, whitewashed,
and conspicuous from afar. It is called the Makam, or Mada’a Sayyidna
Adam.[FN#3] Here we performed the customary ceremonies amongst a crowd
of pilgrims, and then we walked down the little hill.

[p.194] Close to the plain we saw the place where the Egyptian and
Damascus Mahmils stand during the sermon; and, descending the wall that
surrounds Arafat by a steep and narrow flight of coarse stone steps, we
found on our right the fountain which supplies the place with water. It
bubbles from the rock, and is exceedingly pure, as such water generally
is in Al-Hijaz.

Our excursion employed us longer than the description requires—nine o’clock
had struck before we reached the plain. All were in a state of
excitement. Guns fired incessantly. Horsemen and camel-riders galloped
about without apparent object. Even the women and the children stood
and walked, too restless even to sleep. Arrived at the tent, I was
unpleasantly surprised to find a new visitor in an old acquaintance,
Ali ibn Ya Sin the Zemzemi. He had lost his mule, and, wandering in
search of its keepers, he unfortunately fell in with our party. I had
solid reasons to regret the mishap—he was far too curious and too
observant to suit my tastes. On the present occasion, he, being
uncomfortable, made us equally so. Accustomed to all the terrible
“neatness” of an elderly damsel in Great Britain, a few specks of dirt upon
the rugs, and half a dozen bits of cinder upon the ground, sufficed to
give him attacks of “nerves.”

That day we breakfasted late, for night must come before we could eat
again. After mid-day prayer we performed ablutions; some the greater,
others the less, in preparation for the “Wukuf,” or Standing. From noon
onwards the hum and murmur of the multitude increased, and people were
seen swarming about in all directions.

A second discharge of cannon (at about 3.15 P.M.) announced the
approach of Al-Asr, the afternoon prayer, and almost immediately we
heard the Naubat, or band preceding the Sharif’s procession, as he wended
his way towards the mountain. Fortunately my tent was pitched close to
the road, so that without trouble I had a perfect

[p.195] view of the scene. First swept a cloud of mace-bearers, who, as
usual on such occasions, cleared the path with scant ceremony. They
were followed by the horsemen of the Desert, wielding long and tufted
spears. Immediately behind them came the Sharif’s led horses, upon which
I fixed a curious eye. All were highly bred, and one, a brown Nijdi
with black points, struck me as the perfection of an Arab. They were
small, and all were apparently of the northern race.[FN#4] Of their old

[p.196] caparisons the less said the better; no little Indian Nawab
would show aught so shabby on state occasions.

After the chargers paraded a band of black slaves on foot bearing huge
matchlocks; and immediately preceded by three green and two red flags,
came the Sharif, riding in front of his family and courtiers. The
prince, habited in a simple white Ihram, and bare-headed, mounted a
mule; the only sign of his rank was a large green and gold embroidered
umbrella, held over him by a slave. The rear was brought up by another
troop of Badawin on horses and camels. Behind this procession were the
tents, whose doors and walls were scarcely visible for the crowd; and
the picturesque background was the granite hill, covered, wherever
standing-room was to be found, with white-robed pilgrims shouting
“Labbayk,” and waving the skirts of their glistening garments violently
over their heads.

Slowly and solemnly the procession advanced towards the hill. Exactly
at the hour Al-Asr, the two Mahmils had taken their station side by
side on a platform in the lower slope. That of Damascus could be
distinguished as the narrower and the more ornamented of the pair. The
Sharif placed himself with his standard-bearers and his retinue a
little above the Mahmils, within hearing of the preacher. The pilgrims
crowded up to the foot of the mountain: the loud “Labbayk” of the Badawin

[p.197] Wahhabis[FN#5] fell to a solemn silence, and the waving of
white robes ceased—a sign that the preacher had begun the Khutbat
al-Wakfah, or Sermon of the Standing (upon Arafat). From my tent I
could distinguish the form of the old man upon his camel, but the
distance was too great for ear to reach.

But how came I to be at the tent?

A short confession will explain. They will shrive me who believe in
inspired Spenser’s lines—

“And every spirit, as it is more pure,
And hath in it the more of heavenly light,
So it the fairer body doth procure
To habit in.”—

The evil came of a “fairer body.” I had prepared en cachette a slip of
paper, and had hid in my Ihram a pencil destined to put down the heads
of this rarely heard discourse. But unhappily that red cashmere shawl
was upon my shoulders. Close to us sat a party of fair Meccans,
apparently belonging to the higher classes, and one of these I had
already several times remarked. She was a tall girl, about eighteen
years old, with regular features, a skin somewhat citrine-coloured, but
soft and clear, symmetrical eyebrows, the most beautiful eyes, and a
figure all grace. There was no head thrown back, no straightened neck,
no flat shoulders, nor toes turned out—in fact, no “elegant” barbarisms: the
shape was what the Arabs love, soft, bending, and relaxed, as a woman’s

[p.198] figure ought to be. Unhappily she wore, instead of the usual
veil, a “Yashmak” of transparent muslin, bound round the face; and the
chaperone, mother, or duenna, by whose side she stood, was apparently a
very unsuspicious or complaisant old person. Flirtilla fixed a glance
of admiration upon my cashmere. I directed a reply with interest at her
eyes. She then by the usual coquettish gesture, threw back an inch or
two of head-veil, disclosing broad bands of jetty hair, crowning a
lovely oval. My palpable admiration of the new charm was rewarded by a
partial removal of the Yashmak, when a dimpled mouth and a rounded chin
stood out from the envious muslin. Seeing that my companions were
safely employed, I entered upon the dangerous ground of raising hand to
forehead. She smiled almost imperceptibly, and turned away. The pilgrim
was in ecstasy.

The sermon was then half over. I was resolved to stay upon the plain
and see what Flirtilla would do. Grace to the cashmere, we came to a
good understanding. The next page will record my disappointment—that
evening the pilgrim resumed his soiled cotton cloth, and testily
returned the red shawl to the boy Mohammed.

The sermon always lasts till near sunset, or about three hours. At
first it was spoken amid profound silence. Then loud, scattered “Amins”
(Amens) and volleys of “Labbayk” exploded at uncertain intervals[.] At last
the breeze brought to our ears a purgatorial chorus of cries, sobs, and
shrieks. Even my party thought proper to be affected: old Ali rubbed
his eyes, which in no case unconnected with dollars could by any amount
of straining be made to shed even a crocodile’s tear; and the boy
Mohammed wisely hid his face in the skirt of his Rida. Presently the
people, exhausted by emotion, began to descend the hill in small
parties; and those below struck their tents and commenced loading their
camels, although at least an hour’s sermon remained. On this occassion,
[p.199] however, all hurry to be foremost, as the “race from Arafat” is
enjoyed by none but the Badawin.

Although we worked with a will, our animals were not ready to move
before sunset, when the preacher gave the signal of “Israf,” or permission
to depart. The pilgrims,

“—swaying to and fro,
Like waves of a great sea, that in mid shock
Confound each other, white with foam and fear,”

rushed down the hill with a “Labbayk” sounding like a blast, and took the
road to Muna. Then I saw the scene which has given to this part of the
ceremonies the name of Al-Daf’a min Arafat,—the “Hurry from Arafat.” Every man
urged his beast with might and main: it was sunset; the plain bristled
with tent-pegs, litters were crushed, pedestrians were trampled, camels
were overthrown: single combats with sticks and other weapons took
place; here a woman, there a child, and there an animal were lost;
briefly, it was a chaotic confusion.

To my disgust, old Ali insisted upon bestowing his company upon me. He
gave over his newly found mule to the boy Mohammed, bidding him take
care of the beast, and mounted with me in the Shugduf. I had persuaded
Shaykh Mas’ud, with a dollar, to keep close in rear of the pretty Meccan;
and I wanted to sketch the Holy Hill. The senior began to give orders
about the camel—I, counter-orders. The camel was halted. I urged it on:
old Ali directed it to be stopped. Meanwhile the charming face that
smiled at me from the litter grew dimmer and dimmer; the more I
stormed, the less I was listened to—a string of camels crossed our path—I
lost sight of the beauty. Then we began to advance. Again, my
determination to sketch seemed likely to fail before the Zemzemi’s little
snake’s eye. After a few minutes’ angry search for expedients, one
suggested itself. “Effendi!” said old Ali, “sit quiet; there is danger here.” I
tossed about like one suffering from evil conscience or from the

[p.200] colic. “Effendi!” shrieked the senior, “what art thou doing? Thou
wilt be the death of us.” “Wallah!” I replied with a violent plunge, “it is all
thy fault! There!” (another plunge)—“put thy beard out of the other opening,
and Allah will make it easy to us.” In the ecstasy of fear my tormentor
turned his face, as he was bidden, towards the camel’s head. A second
halt ensued, when I looked out of the aperture in rear, and made a
rough drawing of the Mountain of Mercy.

At the Akhshabayn, double lines of camels, bristling with litters,
clashed with a shock more noisy than the meeting of torrents. It was
already dark: no man knew what he was doing. The guns roared their
brazen notes, re-echoed far and wide by the harsh voices of the stony
hills. A shower of rockets bursting in the air threw into still greater
confusion the timorous mob of women and children. At the same time
martial music rose from the masses of Nizam and the stouter-hearted
pilgrims were not sparing of their Labbayk[FN#6] and “id kum
Mubarak[FN#7]”—“May your Festival be happy!”

After the pass of the Two Rugged Hills, the road widened, and old Ali,
who, during the bumping, had been in a silent convulsion of terror,
recovered speech and spirits. This change he evidenced by beginning to
be troublesome once more. Again I resolved to be his equal. Exclaiming,
“My eyes are yellow with hunger!” I seized a pot full of savoury meat which
the old man had previously stored for supper, and, without further
preamble, began to eat it greedily, at the same time ready to shout
with laughter at the mumbling and grumbling sounds that proceeded from
the darkness of the litter. We were at least three hours on the road
before reaching

[p.201] Muzdalifah, and being fatigued, we resolved to pass the night
there.[FN#8] The Mosque was brilliantly illuminated, but my hungry
companions[FN#9] apparently thought more of supper and of sleep than of
devotion.[FN#10] Whilst the tent was being raised, the Indians prepared
our food, boiled our coffee, filled our pipes, and spread our rugs.
Before sleeping each man collected for himself seven “Jamrah”—bits of granite
the size of a small bean.[FN#11] Then, weary with emotion and exertion,
all lay down except the boy Mohammed, who preceded us to find encamping
ground at Muna. Old Ali, in lending his mule, made the most stringent
arrangements with the youth about the exact place and the exact hour of
meeting—an act of simplicity at which I could not but smile. The night
was by no means peaceful or silent. Lines of camels passed us every ten
minutes, and the shouting of travellers continued till near dawn.
Pilgrims ought to have nighted at the Mosque, but, as in Burckhardt’s
time, so in mine, baggage was considered to be in danger thereabouts,
and consequently most of the devotees spent the sermon-hours in
brooding over their boxes.

[FN#1] Ali Bey calls it “Jami al-Rahmah”—of mercy.
[FN#2] Here was a small chapel, which the Wahhabis were demolishing
when Ali Bey was at Meccah. It has not been rebuilt. Upon this spot the
Prophet, according to Burckhardt, used to stand during the ceremonies.
[FN#3] Burckhardt gives this name to a place a little way on the left
and about forty steps up the mountain.
[FN#4] In Solomon’s time the Egyptian horse cost 150 silver shekels,
which, if the greater shekel be meant, would still be about the average
price, £18. Abbas, the late Pasha, did his best to buy first-rate Arab
stallions: on one occasion he sent a mission to Al-Madinah for the sole
purpose of fetching a rare work on farriery. Yet it is doubted whether
he ever had a first-rate Nijdi. A Badawi sent to Cairo by one of the
chiefs of Nijd, being shown by the viceroy’s order over the stables, on
being asked his opinion of the blood, replied bluntly, to the great man’s
disgust, that they did not contain a single thoroughbred[.] He added an
apology on the part of his laird for the animals he had brought from
Arabia, saying, that neither Sultan nor Shaykh could procure colts of
the best strain. For none of these horses would a staunch admirer of
the long-legged monster called in England a thoroughbred give twenty
pounds. They are mere “rats,” short and stunted, ragged and fleshless, with
rough coats and a slouching walk. But the experienced glance notes at
once the fine snake-like head, ears like reeds, wide and projecting
nostrils, large eyes, fiery and soft alternately, broad brow, deep base
of skull, wide chest, crooked tail, limbs padded with muscle, and long
elastic pasterns. And the animal put out to speed soon displays the
wondrous force of blood. In fact, when buying Arabs, there are only
three things to be considered,—blood, blood, and again blood. In Marco
Polo’s time, Aden supplied the Indian market. The state of the tribes
round the “Eye of Yaman” has effectually closed the road against
horse-caravans for many years past. It is said that the Zu Mohammed and
the Zu Hosayn, sub-families of the Benu Yam, a large tribe living
around and north of Sana’a, in Al-Yaman, have a fine large breed called
Al-Jaufi, and the clan Al-Aulaki, ([Arabic]), rear animals celebrated
for swiftness and endurance. The other races are stunted, and some
Arabs declare that the air of Al-Yaman causes a degeneracy in the first
generation. The Badawin, on the contrary, uphold their superiority, and
talk with the utmost contempt of the African horse. In India we now
depend for Arab blood upon the Persian Gulf, and the consequences of
monopoly display themselves in an increased price for inferior animals.
Our studs are generally believed to be sinks for rupees. The
Governments of India now object, it is said, to rearing, at a great
cost, animals distinguished by nothing but ferocity. It is evident that
Al-Hijaz never can stock the Indian market. Whether Al-Nijd will supply
us when the transit becomes safer, is a consideration which time only
can decide. Meanwhile it would be highly advisable to take steps for
restoring the Aden trade by entering into closer relations with the
Imam of Sana’a and the Badawi chiefs in the North of Al-Yaman.
[FN#5] I obtained the following note upon the ceremonies of Wahhabi
pilgrimage from one of their princes, Khalid Bey:—The Wahhabi (who, it
must be borne in mind, calls himself a Muwahhid, or Unitarian, in
opposition to Mushrik—Polytheist—any other sect but his own) at Meccah
follows out his two principal tenets, public prayer for men daily, for
women on Fridays, and rejection of the Prophet’s mediation. Imitating
Mohammed, he spends the first night of pilgrimage at Muna, stands upon
the hill Arafat, and, returning to Muna, passes three whole days there.
He derides other Moslems, abridges and simplifies the Ka’abah ceremonies,
and, if possible, is guided in his devotions by one of his own sect.
[FN#6] This cry is repeated till the pilgrim reaches Muna; not
[FN#7] Another phrase is “Antum min al-aidin”—“May you be of the keepers of
[FN#8] Hanafis usually follow the Prophet’s example in nighting at
Muzdalifah; in the evening after prayers they attend at the Mosque,
listen to the discourse, and shed plentiful tears. Most Shafe’is spend
only a few hours at Muzdalifah.
[FN#9] We failed to buy meat at Arafat, after noon, although the bazar
was large and well stocked; it is usual to eat flesh there,
consequently it is greedily bought up at an exorbitant price.
[FN#10] Some sects consider the prayer at Muzdalifah a matter of vital
[FN#11] Jamrah is a “small pebble;” it is also called “Hasa,” in the plural,

[p.202] CHAPTER XXX.


AT dawn on the id al-Kurban (10th Zu’l Hijjah, Wednesday, 14th September)
a gun warned us to lose no time; we arose hurriedly, and started up the
Batn Muhassir to Muna. By this means we lost at Muzdalifah the “Salat
al-id,” or “Festival Prayers,” the great solemnity of the Moslem year,
performed by all the community at daybreak. My companion was so anxious
to reach Meccah, that he would not hear of devotions. About eight A.M.
we entered the village, and looked for the boy Mohammed in vain. Old
Ali was dreadfully perplexed; a host of high-born Turkish pilgrims
were, he said, expecting him; his mule was missing—could never appear—he
must be late—should probably never reach Meccah—what would become of him? I
began by administering admonition to the mind diseased; but signally
failing in a cure, I amused myself with contemplating the world from my
Shugduf, leaving the office of directing it to the old Zemzemi. Now he
stopped, then he pressed forward; here he thought he saw Mohammed,
there he discovered our tent; at one time he would “nakh” the camel to
await, in patience, his supreme hour; at another, half mad with
nervousness, he would urge the excellent Mas’ud to hopeless inquiries.
Finally, by good fortune, we found one of the boy Mohammed’s cousins, who
led us to an enclosure
[p.203] called Hosh al-Uzam, in the Southern portion of the Muna Basin,
at the base of Mount Sabir.[FN#1] There we pitched the tent, refreshed
ourselves, and awaited the truant’s return. Old Ali, failing to disturb
my equanimity, attempted, as those who consort with philosophers often
will do, to quarrel with me. But, finding no material wherewith to
build a dispute in such fragments as “Ah!”—“Hem!”—“Wallah!” he hinted desperate
intentions against the boy Mohammed. When, however, the youth appeared,
with even more jauntiness of mien than usual, Ali bin Ya Sin lost
heart, brushed by him, mounted his mule, and, doubtless cursing us “under
the tongue,” rode away, frowning viciously, with his heels playing upon
the beast’s ribs.

Mohammed had been delayed, he said, by the difficulty of finding asses.
We were now to mount for “the Throwing,[FN#2]” as a preliminary to which we
washed “with seven waters” the seven pebbles brought from Muzdalifah, and
bound them in our Ihrams. Our first destination was the entrance to the
western end of the long line which composes the Muna village. We found
a swarming crowd in the narrow road opposite the “Jamrat al-Akabah,[FN#3]”
or, as it is vulgarly called, the Shaytan al-Kabir—the “Great Devil.” These
names distinguish it from another pillar, the “Wusta,” or “Central Place,” (of
stoning,) built in the middle of Muna, and a third at the eastern end,
“Al-Aula,” or the “First Place.[FN#4]” The “Shaytan al-Kabir” is a dwarf buttress
of rude

[p.204] masonry, about eight feet high by two and a half broad, placed
against a rough wall of stones at the Meccan entrance to Muna. As the
ceremony of “Ramy,” or Lapidation, must be performed on the first day by
all pilgrims between sunrise and sunset, and as the fiend was malicious
enough to appear in a rugged Pass,[FN#5] the crowd makes the place
dangerous. On one side of the road, which is not forty feet broad,
stood a row of shops belonging principally to barbers. On the other
side is the rugged wall against which the pillar stands, with a chevaux
de frise of Badawin and naked boys. The narrow space was crowded with
pilgrims, all struggling like drowning men to approach as near as
possible to the Devil; it would have been easy to run over the heads of
the mass. Amongst them were horsemen with rearing chargers. Badawin on
wild camels, and grandees on mules and asses, with outrunners, were
breaking a way by assault and battery. I had read Ali Bey’s
self-felicitations upon escaping this place with “only two wounds in the
left leg,” and I had duly provided myself with a hidden dagger. The
precaution was not useless. Scarcely had my donkey entered the crowd
than he was overthrown by a dromedary, and I found myself under the
stamping and roaring beast’s stomach. Avoiding being trampled upon by a
judicious use of the knife, I lost no time in escaping from a place so
ignobly dangerous. Some Moslem travellers assert, in proof of the
sanctity of the spot, that no Moslem is ever killed here: Meccans
assured me that accidents are by no means rare.

Presently the boy Mohammed fought his way out of the crowd with a
bleeding nose. We both sat down upon a bench before a barber’s booth,
and, schooled by adversity,

[p.205] awaited with patience an opportunity. Finding an opening, we
approached within about five cubits of the place, and holding each
stone between the thumb and the forefinger[FN#6] of the right hand, we
cast it at the pillar, exclaiming, “In the name of Allah, and Allah is
Almighty! (I do this) in Hatred of the Fiend and to his Shame.” After
which came the Tahlil and the “Sana,” or praise to Allah. The seven stones
being duly thrown, we retired, and entering the barber’s booth, took our
places upon one of the earthern benches around it. This was the time to
remove the Ihram or pilgrim’s garb, and to return to Ihlal, the normal
state of Al-Islam. The barber shaved our heads,[FN#7] and, after
trimming our beards and cutting our nails, made us repeat these words: “I
purpose loosening my Ihram according to the Practice of the Prophet,
Whom may Allah bless and preserve! O Allah, make unto me in every Hair,
a Light, a Purity, and a generous Reward! In the name of Allah, and
Allah is Almighty!” At the conclusion of his labour, the barber politely
addressed to us a “Na’iman—Pleasure to you!” To which we as ceremoniously
replied, “Allah give thee pleasure!” We had no clothes with us, but we
could use our cloths to cover our heads, and slippers to defend our
feet from the fiery sun; and we now could safely twirl our mustachios
and stroke our beards—placid enjoyments of which we had been deprived by

[p.206] Laws of Pilgrimage. After resting about an hour in the booth,
which, though crowded with sitting customers, was delightfully cool
compared with the burning glare of the road, we mounted our asses, and
at eleven A.M. we started Meccah-wards.

This return from Muna to Meccah is called Al-Nafr, or the Flight[FN#8]:
we did not fail to keep our asses at speed, with a few halts to refresh
ourselves with gugglets of water. There was nothing remarkable in the
scene: our ride in was a repetition of our ride out. In about half an
hour we entered the city, passing through that classical locality
called “Batn Kuraysh,” which was crowded with people, and then we repaired
to the boy Mohammed’s house for the purpose of bathing and preparing to
visit the Ka’abah.

Shortly after our arrival, the youth returned home in a state of
excitement, exclaiming, “Rise, Effendi! dress and follow me!” The Ka’abah,
though open, would for a time be empty, so that we should escape the
crowd. My pilgrim’s garb, which had not been removed, was made to look
neat and somewhat Indian, and we sallied forth together without loss of

A crowd had gathered round the Ka’abah, and I had no wish to stand
bareheaded and barefooted in the midday September sun. At the cry of
“Open a path for the Haji who would enter the House,” the gazers made way.
Two stout Meccans, who stood below the door, raised me in their arms,
whilst a third drew me from above into the building. At the entrance I
was accosted by several officials, dark-looking Meccans, of whom the
blackest and plainest was a youth of the Benu Shaybah family,[FN#9]

[p.207] the sangre-azul of Al-Hijaz. He held in his hand the huge
silver-gilt padlock of the Ka’abah,[FN#10] and presently taking his seat
upon a kind of wooden press in the left corner of the hall, he
officially inquired my name, nation, and other particulars. The replies
were satisfactory, and the boy Mohammed was authoritatively ordered to
conduct me round the building, and to recite the prayers. I will not
deny that, looking at the windowless walls, the officials at the door,
and the crowd of excited fanatics below—

“And the place death, considering who I was,”[FN#11] my feelings were of
the trapped-rat description, acknowledged by the immortal nephew of his
uncle Perez. This did not, however, prevent my carefully observing the
scene during our long prayers, and making a rough plan with a pencil
upon my white Ihram.

Nothing is more simple than the interior of this celebrated building.
The pavement, which is level with the ground, is composed of slabs of
fine and various coloured marbles, mostly, however, white, disposed
chequerwise. The walls, as far as they can be seen, are of the same
material, but the pieces are irregularly shaped, and many of them are
engraved with long inscriptions in the Suls and other modern
characters. The upper part of the walls, together with the ceiling, at
which it is considered disrespectful to look,[FN#12] are covered with

[p.208] red damask, flowered over with gold,[FN#13] and tucked up about
six feet high, so as to be removed from pilgrims’ hands. The flat roof is
upheld by three cross-beams, whose shapes appear under the arras; they
rest upon the eastern and western walls, and are supported in the
centre by three columns[FN#14] about twenty inches in diameter, covered
with carved and ornamented aloes wood.[FN#15] At the Iraki corner there
is a dwarf door, called Bab al-Taubah (of Repentance).[FN#16] It leads
into a narrow passage and to the staircase by which the servants ascend
to the roof: it is never opened except for working purposes. The “Aswad” or

[p.209] “As’ad[FN#17]” corner is occupied by a flat-topped and
quadrant-shaped press or safe,[FN#18] in which at times is placed the
key of the Ka’abah.[FN#19] Both door and safe are of aloes wood. Between
the columns, and about nine feet from the ground, ran bars of a metal
which I could not distinguish, and hanging to them were many lamps,
said to be of gold.

Although there were in the Ka’abah but a few attendants engaged in
preparing it for the entrance of pilgrims,[FN#20] the windowless stone
walls and the choked-up door made it worse than the Piombi of Venice;
perspiration trickled in large drops, and I thought with horror what it
must be when filled with a mass of furiously jostling and crushing
fanatics. Our devotions consisted of a two-bow prayer,[FN#21] followed
by long supplications at the Shami (West) corner, the Iraki (north)
angle, the Yamani (south), and, lastly, opposite the southern third of
the back wall.[FN#22] These concluded, I returned to the door, where
payment is made. The boy Mohammed told me that the total expense would
be seven dollars. At the same time he had been indulging aloud in his
favourite rhodomontade, boasting of my greatness, and had declared me
to be an Indian pilgrim, a race still supposed at

[p.210] Meccah to be made of gold.[FN#23] When seven dollars were
tendered, they were rejected with instance. Expecting something of the
kind, I had been careful to bring no more than eight. Being pulled and
interpellated by half a dozen attendants, my course was to look stupid,
and to pretend ignorance of the language. Presently the Shaybah youth
bethought him of a contrivance. Drawing forth from the press the key of
the Ka’abah, he partly bared it of its green-silk gold-lettered
etui,[FN#24] and rubbed a golden knob quartrefoil-shaped upon my eyes,
in order to brighten them. I submitted to the operation with a good
grace, and added a dollar—my last—to the former offering. The Sharif
received it with a hopeless glance, and, to my satisfaction, would not
put forth his hand to be kissed. Then the attendants began to demand
vails I replied by opening my empty pouch. When let down from the door
by the two brawny Meccans, I was expected to pay them, and accordingly
appointed to meet them at the boy Mohammed’s house; an arrangement to
which they grumblingly assented. When delivered from these troubles, I
was congratulated by my sharp companion thus: “Wallah, Effendi! thou hast
escaped well! some men have left their skins behind.[FN#25]”

[p.211] All pilgrims do not enter the Ka’abah[FN#26]; and many refuse to
do so for religious reasons. Omar Effendi, for instance, who never
missed a pilgrimage, had never seen the interior.[FN#27] Those who
tread the hallowed floor are bound, among many other things, never
again to walk barefooted, to take up fire with the fingers, or to tell
lies. Most really conscientious men cannot afford the luxuries of
slippers, tongs, and truth. So thought Thomas, when offered the apple
which would give him the tongue which cannot lie:—

“‘My tongue is mine ain,’ true Thomas said.
‘A gudely gift ye wad gie to me!
I neither dought to buy nor sell
At fair or tryst, where I may be,
I dought neither speak to prince or peer,
Nor ask of grace from fair ladye!’”

Amongst the Hindus I have met with men who have proceeded upon a
pilgrimage to Dwarka, and yet who would not receive the brand of the
god, because lying would then be forbidden to them. A confidential
servant of a friend in Bombay naïvely declared that he had not been
marked, as the act would have ruined him. There is a sad truth in what
he said: Lying to the Oriental is meat and drink, and the roof that
shelters him.

The Ka’abah had been dressed in her new attire when we entered.[FN#28]
The covering, however, instead of being

[p.212] secured at the bottom to the metal rings in the basement, was
tucked up by ropes from the roof, and depended over each face in two
long tongues. It was of a brilliant black, and the Hizam—the zone or
golden band running round the upper portion of the building—as well as
the Burka (face-veil), were of dazzling brightness.[FN#29]
The origin of this custom must be sought in the ancient
practice of typifying the church visible by a virgin or bride. The poet
Abd al-Rahim al Bura’i, in one of his Gnostic effusions, has embodied the
“And Meccah’s bride (i.e. the Ka’abah) is displayed
with (miraculous) signs.”

This idea doubtless led to the face-veil, the covering, and the
guardianship of eunuchs.

The Meccan temple was first dressed as a mark of

[p.213] honour by Tobba the Himyarite when he Judaized.[FN#30] If we
accept this fact, which is vouched for by Oriental history, we are led
to the conclusion that the children of Israel settled at Meccah had
connected the temple with their own faith, and, as a corollary, that
the prophet of Al-Islam introduced their apocryphal traditions into his
creed. The pagan Arabs did not remove the coverings: the old and torn
Kiswah was covered with a new cloth, and the weight threatened to crush
the building.[FN#31] From the time of Kusay, the Ka’abah was veiled by
subscription, till Abu Rabi’at al-Mughayrah bin Abdullah, who, having
acquired great wealth by commerce, offered to provide the Kiswah on
alternate years, and thereby gained the name of Al-adil. The Prophet
preferred a covering of fine Yaman cloth, and directed the expense to
be defrayed by the Bayt al-Mal, or public treasury. Omar chose Egyptian
linen, ordering the Kiswah to be renewed every year, and the old
covering to be distributed among the pilgrims. In the reign of Osman,
the Ka’abah was twice clothed, in winter and summer. For the former
season, it received a Kamis, or Tobe (shirt) of brocade; with an Izar,
or veil: for the latter a suit of fine linen. Mu’awiyah at first supplied
linen and brocade; he afterwards exchanged the former for striped Yaman
stuff, and ordered Shaybah bin Osman to strip the Ka’abah and to perfume
the walls with Khaluk. Shaybah divided the old Kiswah among the
pilgrims, and Abdullah bin Abbas did not object to this
distribution.[FN#32] The Caliph Ma’amun (9th century) ordered

[p.214] the dress to be changed three times a year. In his day it was
red brocade on the 10th Muharram; fine linen on the 1st Rajab; and
white brocade on the 1st Shawwal. At last he was informed that the veil
applied on the 10th of Muharram was too closely followed by the red
brocade in the next month, and that it required renewing on the 1st of
Shawwal. This he ordered to be done. Al-Mutawakkil (ninth century),
when informed that the dress was spoiled by pilgrims, at first ordered
two to be given and the brocade shirt to be let down as far as the
pavement: at last he sent a new veil every two months. During the
Caliphat of the Abbasides this investiture came to signify sovereignty
in Al-Hijaz, which passed alternately from Baghdad to Egypt and
Al-Yaman. In Al-Idrisi’s time (twel[f]th century A.D.) the Kiswah was
composed of black silk, and renewed every year by the Caliph of
Baghdad. Ibn Jubayr writes that it was green and gold. The Kiswah
remained with Egypt when Sultan Kalaun[FN#33] (thirteenth century A.D.)
conveyed the rents of two villages, “Baysus” and “Sindbus,[FN#34]” to the
expense of providing an outer black and an inner red curtain for the
Ka’abah, with hangings for the Prophet’s tomb at Al-Madinah. When the Holy
Land fell under the power of Osmanli, Sultan Salim ordered the Kiswah
to be black; and his son Sultan Sulayman the Magnificent (sixteenth

[p.215] century A.D.), devoted considerable sums to the purpose. The
Kiswah was afterwards renewed at the accession of each Sultan. And the
Wahhabis, during the first year of their conquest, covered the Ka’abah
with a red Kiswah of the same stuff as the fine Arabian Aba or cloak,
and made at Al-Hasa.

The Kiswah is now worked at a cotton manufactory called Al-Khurunfish,
of the Tumn Bab al-Sha’ariyah, Cairo. It is made by a hereditary family,
called the Bayt al-Sadi, and, as the specimen in my possession proves,
it is a coarse tissue of silk and cotton mixed. The Kiswah is composed
of eight pieces—two for each face of the Ka’abah—the seams being concealed by
the Hizam, a broad band, which at a distance looks like gold; it is
lined with white calico, and is supplied with cotton ropes. Anciently
it is said all the Koran was interwoven into it. Now, it is inscribed
“Verily, the First of Houses founded for Mankind (to worship in) is that
at Bekkah[FN#35]; blessed and a Direction to all Creatures”; together
with seven chapters, namely, the Cave, Mariam, the Family of Amran,
Repentance, T.H. with Y.S. and Tabarak. The character is that called
Tumar, the largest style of Eastern calligraphy, legible from a
considerable distance.[FN#36] The Hizam is a band about two feet broad,
and surrounding the Ka’abah at two-thirds of its height. It is divided
into four pieces, which are sewn together. On the first and second is
inscribed the “Throne verslet,” and on the third and fourth the titles of
the reigning Sultan. These inscriptions are, like the Burka, or door
curtain, gold worked into red silk, by the Bayt al-Sadi. When the
Kiswah is ready at Khurunfish, it is carried in

[p.216] procession to the Mosque Al-Hasanayn, where it is lined, sewn,
and prepared for the journey.[FN#37]

After quitting the Ka’abah, I returned home exhausted, and washed with
henna and warm water, to mitigate the pain of the sun-scalds upon my
arms, shoulders, and breast. The house was empty, all the Turkish
pilgrims being still at Muna; and the Kabirah—the old lady—received me with
peculiar attention. I was ushered into an upper room, whose teak
wainscotings, covered with Cufic and other inscriptions, large carpets,
and ample Diwans, still showed a sort of ragged splendour. The family
had “seen better days,” the Sharif Ghalib having confiscated three of its
houses; but it is still proud, and cannot merge the past into the
present. In the “drawing-room,” which the Turkish colonel occupied when at
Meccah, the Kabirah supplied me with a pipe, coffee, cold water, and
breakfast. I won her heart by praising the graceless boy Mohammed; like
all mothers, she dearly loved the scamp of the family. When he entered,
and saw his maternal parent standing near me, with only the end of her
veil drawn over her mouth, he began to scold her with divers
insinuations. “Soon thou wilt sit amongst the men in the hall!” he
exclaimed. “O, my son,” rejoined the Kabirah, “fear Allah: thy mother is in
years!”—and truly she was so, being at least fifty. “A-a-h” sneered the youth,
who had formed, as boys of the world must do, or appear to do, a very
low estimate of the sex. The old lady understood the drift of the
exclamation, and departed with a half-laughing “May Allah disappoint thee!”
She soon, however, returned, bringing me water for ablution; and having
heard that I had not yet sacrificed a sheep at Muna, enjoined me to
return and perform without delay that important rite.

[p.217]After resuming our laical toilette, and dressing gaily for the
great festival, we mounted our asses about the cool of the afternoon,
and, returning to Muna, we found the tent full of visitors. Ali ibn Ya
Sin, the Zemzemi, had sent me an amphora of holy water, and the carrier
was awaiting the customary dollar. With him were several Meccans, one
of whom spoke excellent Persian. We sat down, and chatted together for
an hour; and I afterwards learned from the boy Mohammed, that all had
pronounced me to be an ’Ajami.

After their departure we debated about the victim, which is only a
Sunnat, or practice of the Prophet.[FN#38] It is generally sacrificed
immediately after the first lapidation, and we had already been guilty
of delay. Under these circumstances, and considering the meagre
condition of my purse, I would not buy a sheep, but contented myself
with watching my neighbours. They gave themselves great trouble,
especially a large party of Indians pitched near us, to buy the victim
cheap; but the Badawin were not less acute, and he was happy who paid
less than a dollar and a quarter. Some preferred contributing to buy a
lean ox. None but the Sharif and the principal dignitaries slaughtered
camels. The pilgrims dragged their victims to a smooth rock near the
Akabah, above which stands a small open pavilion, whose sides, red with
fresh blood, showed that the prince and his attendants had been busy at
sacrifice. [FN#39] Others stood before their tents, and, directing the
victim’s face towards the Ka’abah, cut its throat, ejaculating, “Bismillah!
Allaho Akbar[FN#40]”

[p.218] The boy Mohammed sneeringly directed my attention to the
Indians, who, being a mild race, had hired an Arab butcher to do the
deed of blood; and he aroused all Shaykh Nur’s ire by his taunting
comments upon the chicken-heartedness of the men of Hind. It is
considered a meritorious act to give away the victim without eating any
portion of its flesh. Parties of Takruri might be seen sitting
vulture-like, contemplating the sheep and goats; and no sooner was the
signal given, than they fell upon the bodies, and cut them up without
removing them. The surface of the valley soon came to resemble the
dirtiest slaughter-house, and my prescient soul drew bad auguries for
the future.

We had spent a sultry afternoon in the basin of Muna, which is not
unlike a volcanic crater, an Aden closed up at the seaside. Towards
night the occasional puffs of Samum ceased, and through the air of
deadly stillness a mass of purple nimbus, bisected by a thin grey line
of mist-cloud, rolled down upon us from the Taif hills. When darkness
gave the signal, most of the pilgrims pressed towards the square in
front of the Muna Mosque, to enjoy the pyrotechnics and the discharge
of cannon. But during the spectacle came on a windy storm, whose
lightnings, flashing their fire from pole to pole paled the rockets;
and whose thunderings, re-echoed by the rocky hills, dumbed the puny
artillery of man. We were disappointed in our hopes of rain. A few huge
drops pattered upon the plain and sank into its thirsty entrails; all
the rest was thunder and lightning, dust-clouds and whirlwind.

[FN#1] Even pitching ground here is charged to pilgrims.
[FN#2] Some authorities advise that this rite of “Ramy” be performed on
[FN#3] The word “Jamrah” is applied to the place of stoning, as well as to
the stones.
[FN#4] These numbers mark the successive spots where the Devil, in the
shape of an old Shaykh, appeared to Adam, Abraham, and Ishmael, and was
driven back by the simple process taught by Gabriel, of throwing stones
about the size of a bean.
[FN#5] I borrow this phrase from Ali Bey, who, however, speaks more
like an ignorant Catalonian than a learned Abbaside, when he calls the
pillar “La Maison du Diable,” and facetiously asserts that “le diable a eu la
malice de placer sa maison dans un lieu fort etroit qui n’a peut-etre pas
34 pieds de large.”
[FN#6] Some hold the pebble as a schoolboy does a marble, others
between the thumb and forefinger extended, others shoot them from the
thumb knuckle, and most men consult their own convenience.
[FN#7] The barber removed all my hair. Hanifis shave at least a quarter
of the head, Shafe’is a few hairs on the right side. The prayer is, as
usual, differently worded, some saying, “O Allah this my Forelock is in
Thy Hand, then grant me for every Hair a Light on Resurrection-day, by
Thy Mercy O most Merciful of the Merciful!” I remarked that the hair was
allowed to lie upon the ground, whereas strict Moslems, with that
reverence for man’s body—the Temple of the Supreme—which characterizes their
creed, carefully bury it in the earth.
[FN#8] This word is confounded with “Dafa” by many Moslem authors. Some
speak of the Nafr from Arafat to Muzdalifah and the Dafa from
Muzdalifah to Muna. I have used the words as my Mutawwif used them.
[FN#9] They keep the keys of the House. In my day the head of the
family was “Shaykh Ahmad.”
[FN#10] In Ibn Jubayr’s time this large padlock was of gold. It is said
popularly that none but the Benu Shaybah can open it; a minor miracle,
doubtless proceeding from the art of some Eastern Hobbs or Bramah.
[FN#11] However safe a Christian might be at Meccah, nothing could
preserve him from the ready knives of enraged fanatics if detected in
the House. The very idea is pollution to a Moslem.
[FN#12] I do not known the origin of this superstition; but it would be
unsafe for a pilgrim to look fixedly at the Ka’abah ceiling. Under the
arras I was told is a strong planking of Saj, or Indian teak, and above
it a stuccoed Sath, or flat roof.
[FN#13] Exactly realising the description of our English bard:—
“Goodly arras of great majesty,
Woven with gold and silk so close and nere,
That the rich metal lurked privily,
As feigning to be hid from envious eye.”
[FN#14] Ibn Jubayr mentions three columns of teak. Burckhardt and Ali
Bey, two. In Al-Fasi’s day there were four. The Kuraysh erected six
columns in double row. Generally the pillars have been three in number.
[FN#15] This wood, which has been used of old to ornament sacred
buildings in the East, is brought to Meccah in great quantities by
Malay and Java pilgrims. The best kind is known by its oily appearance
and a “fizzing” sound in fire; the cunning vendors easily supply it with
these desiderata.
[FN#16] Ibn Jubayr calls it Bab al-Rahmah.
[FN#17] The Hajar al-Aswad is also called Al-As’ad, or the Propitious.
[FN#18] Here, in Ibn Jubayr’s time, stood two boxes full of Korans.
[FN#19] The key is sometimes placed in the hands of a child of the
house of Shaybah, who sits in state, with black slaves on both sides.
[FN#20] In Ibn Jubayr’s day the Ka’abah was opened with more ceremony. The
ladder was rolled up to the door, and the chief of the Benu Shaybah,
ascending it, was covered by attendants with a black veil from head to
foot, whilst he opened the padlock. Then, having kissed the threshold,
he entered, shut the door behind him, and prayed two Rukats; after
which, all the Benu Shaybah, and, lastly, the vulgar were admitted. In
these day the veil is obsolete. The Shaykh enters the Ka’abah alone,
perfumes it and prays; the pilgrims are then admitted en masse; and the
style in which the eunuchs handle their quarter-staves forms a scene
more animated than decorous.
[FN#21] Some pray four instead of two bows.
[FN#22] Burckhardt erroneously says, “in every corner.”
[FN#23] These Indians are ever in extremes, paupers or millionaires,
and, like all Moslems, the more they pay at Meccah the higher becomes
their character and religious titles. A Turkish Pasha seldom squanders
as much money as does a Moslem merchant from the far East. Khudabakhsh,
the Lahore shawl-dealer, owned to having spent 800l. in feastings and
presents. He appeared to consider that sum a trifle, although, had a
debtor carried off one tithe of it, his health would have been
seriously affected.
[FN#24] The cover of the key is made, like Abraham’s veil, of three
colours, red, black or green. It is of silk, embroidered with golden
letters, and upon it are written the Bismillah, the name of the
reigning Sultan, “Bag of the key of the holy Ka’abah,” and a verselet from
the “Family of Amran” (Koran, ch. 3). It is made, like the Kiswah, at
Khurunfish, a place that will be noticed below.
[FN#25] “Ecorches”—“pelati;” the idea is common to most imaginative nations.
[FN#26] The same is the case at Al-Madinah; many religious men object
on conscientious grounds to enter the Prophet’s mosque. The poet quoted
below made many visitations to Al-Madinah, but never could persuade
himself to approach the tomb. The Esquire Carver saw two young Turks
who had voluntarily had their eyes thrust out at Meccah as soon as they
had seen the glory and visible sanctity of the tomb of Mohammed. I “doubt
the fact,” which thus appears ushered in by a fiction.
[FN#27] I have not thought it necessary to go deep into the list of
“Muharramat,” or actions forbidden to the pilgrim who has entered the
Ka’abah. They are numerous and meaningless.
[FN#28] The use of the feminine pronoun is explained below. When
unclothed, the Ka’abah is called Uryanah (naked), in opposition to its
normal state, “Muhramah,” or clad in Ihram. In Burckhardt’s time the house
remained naked for fifteen days; now the investiture is effected in a
few hours.
[FN#29] The gold-embroidered curtain covering the Ka’abah door is called
by the learned “Burka al-Ka’abah” (the Ka’abah’s face-veil), by the vulgar Burka
Fatimah; they connect it in idea with the Prophet’s daughter.
[FN#30] The pyramids, it is said, were covered from base to summit with
yellow silk or satin.
[FN#31] At present the Kiswah, it need scarcely be said, does not cover
the flat roof.
[FN#32] Ayishah also, when Shaybah proposed to bury the old Kiswah,
that it might not be worn by the impure, directed him to sell it, and
to distribute the proceeds to the poor. The Meccans still follow the
first half, but neglect the other part of the order given by the “Mother
of the Moslems.” Kazi Khan advises the proceeds of the sale being devoted
to the repairs of the temple. The “Siraj al-Wahhaj” positively forbids, as
sinful, the cutting, transporting, selling, buying, and placing it
between the leaves of the Koran. Kutb al-Din (from whom I borrow these
particulars) introduces some fine and casuistic distinctions. In his
day, however, the Benu Shaybah claimed the old, after the arrival of
the new Kiswah; and their right to it was admitted. To the present day
they continue to sell it.
[FN#33] Some authors also mention a green Kiswah, applied by this
monarch. Embroidered on it were certain verselets of the Koran, the
formula of the Moslem faith, and the names of the Prophet’s Companions.
[FN#34] Burckhardt says “Bysous” and “Sandabeir.”
[FN#35] From the “Family of Amran” (chap. 3). “Bekkah” is “a place of crowding”;
hence applied to Meccah generally. Some writers, however, limit it to
the part of the city round the Harim.
[FN#36] It is larger than the suls. Admirers of Eastern calligraphy may
see a “Bismillah,” beautifully written in Tumar, on the wall of Sultan
Mu’ayyad’s Mosque at Cairo.
[FN#37] Mr. Lane (Mod. Egypt. vol. iii. chap. 25) has given an ample
and accurate description of the Kiswah. I have added a few details,
derived from “Khalil Effendi” of Cairo, a professor of Arabic, and an
excellent French scholar.
[FN#38] Those who omit the rite fast ten days; three during the
pilgrimage season, and the remaining seven at some other time.
[FN#39] The camel is sacrificed by thrusting a pointed instrument into
the interval between the sternum and the neck. This anomaly may be
accounted for by the thickness and hardness of the muscles of the
[FN#40] It is strange that the accurate Burckhardt should make the
Moslem say, when slaughtering or sacrificing, “In the name of the most
Merciful God!” As Mr. Lane justly observes, the attribute of mercy is
omitted on these occasions.



ALL was dull after the excitement of the Great Festival. The heat of
the succeeding night rendered every effort to sleep abortive; and as
our little camp required a guard in a place so celebrated for
plunderers, I spent the greater part of the time sitting in the clear
pure moon-light.[FN#1]

After midnight we again repaired to the Devils, and, beginning with the
Ula, or first pillar, at the Eastern extremity of Muna, threw at each,
seven stones (making a total of twenty-one), with the ceremonies before

On Thursday (Sept. 15th, 1853), we arose before dawn, and prepared with
a light breakfast for the fatigues of a climbing walk. After half an
hour spent in hopping from boulder to boulder, we arrived at a place
situated on the lower declivity of the Jabal Sabir, the northern wall
of the Muna basin. Here is the Majarr al-Kabsh, “the Dragging-place of
the Ram,” a small, whitewashed square, divided

[p.220] into two compartments. The first is entered by a few ragged
steps in the south-east angle, which lead to an enclosure thirty feet
by fifteen. In the north-east corner is a block of granite (A), in
which a huge gash, several inches broad, some feet deep, and completely
splitting the stone in knife-shape, notes the spot where Ibrahim’s blade
fell when the archangel Gabriel forbade him to slay Ismail his son. The
second compartment contains a diminutive hypogaeum (B). In this cave
the patriarch sacrificed the victim, which gives the place a name. We
descended by a flight of steps, and under the stifling ledge of rock
found mats and praying-rugs, which, at this early hour, were not
overcrowded. We followed the example of the patriarchs, and prayed a
two-bow prayer in each of the enclosures. After distributing the usual
gratification, we left the place, and proceeded to mount the hill, in
hope of seeing some of the apes said still to haunt the heights. These
animals are supposed by the Meccans to have been Jews, thus transformed
for having broken the Sabbath by hunting.[FN#2] They abound in the
elevated regions about Arafat and Taif, where they are caught by mixing
the juice of the Asclepias and narcotics with dates and other sweet
bait.[FN#3] The Hijazi ape is a hideous cynocephalus, with small eyes
placed close together, and almost hidden by a disproportionate snout; a
greenish-brown coat, long arms, and a stern of lively pink, like fresh
meat. They

[p.221] are docile, and are said to be fond of spirituous liquors, and
to display an inordinate affection for women. Al-Mas’udi tells about them
a variety of anecdotes. According to him their principal use in Hind
and Chin was to protect kings from poison, by eating suspected dishes.
The Badawin have many tales concerning them. It is universally believed
that they catch and kill kites, by exposing the rosy portion of their
persons and concealing the rest; the bird pounces upon what appears to
be raw meat, and presently finds himself viciously plucked alive.
Throughout Arabia an old story is told of them. A merchant was once
plundered during his absence by a troop of these apes; they tore open
his bales, and, charmed with the scarlet hue of the Tarbushes, began
applying those articles of dress to uses quite opposite to their normal
purpose. The merchant was in despair, when his slave offered for a
consideration to recover the goods. Placing himself in the front, like
a fugleman to the ape-company, he went through a variety of manœuvres
with a Tarbush, and concluded with throwing it far away. The recruits
carefully imitated him, and the drill concluded with his firing a shot;
the plunderers decamped and the caps were recovered.

Failing to see any apes, we retired to the tent ere the sun waxed hot,
in anticipation of a terrible day. Nor were we far wrong. In addition
to the heat, we had swarms of flies, and the blood-stained earth began
to reek with noisome vapours. Nought moved in the air except kites and
vultures, speckling the deep blue sky: the denizens of earth seemed
paralysed by the fire from above. I spent the time between breakfast
and nightfall lying half-dressed upon a mat, moving round the tent-pole
to escape the glare, and watching my numerous neighbours, male and
female. The Indians were particularly kind, filling my pipe, offering
cooled water, and performing similar little offices. I repaid them with
a supply of provisions,

[p.222] which, at the Muna market-prices, these unfortunates could ill

When the moon arose the boy Mohammed and I walked out into the town,
performed our second lapidation,[FN#4] and visited the coffee-houses.
The shops were closed early, but business was transacted in places of
public resort till midnight. We entered the houses of numerous
acquaintances, who accosted my companion, and were hospitably welcomed
with pipes and coffee. The first question always was, “Who is this
pilgrim?” and more than once the reply, “An Afghan,” elicited the language of
my own country, which I could no longer speak. Of this phenomenon,
however, nothing was thought: many Afghans settled in India know not a
word of Pushtu, and even above the Passes many of the townspeople are

[p.223] acquainted with it. The Meccans in consequence of their
extensive intercourse with strangers and habits of travelling, are
admirable conversational linguists. They speak Arabic remarkably well,
and with a volubility surpassing the most lively of our continental
nations. Persian, Turkish, and Hindustani are generally known: and the
Mutawwifs, who devote themselves to various races of pilgrims, soon
become masters of many languages.

Returning homewards, we were called to a spot by the clapping of
hands[FN#5] and the loud sound of song. We found a crowd of Badawin
surrounding a group engaged in their favourite occupation of dancing.
The performance is wild in the extreme, resembling rather the hopping
of bears than the inspirations of Terpischore. The bystanders joined in
the song; an interminable recitative, as usual, in the minor key,
and—Orientals are admirable timists—it sounded like one voice. The refrain
appeared to be—
“La Yayha! La Yayha!”
to which no one could assign a meaning. At other times they sang
something intelligible. For instance:—
That is to say,—

“On the Great Festival-day at Muna I saw my lord.
I am a stranger amongst you, therefore pity me!”

This couplet may have, like the puerilities of certain modern and
European poets, an abstruse and mystical

[p.224] meaning, to be discovered when the Arabs learn to write erudite
essays upon nursery rhymes. The style of saltation, called Rufayah,
rivalled the song. The dancers raised both arms above their heads,
brandishing a dagger, pistol, or some other small weapon. They followed
each other by hops, on one or both feet, sometimes indulging in the
most demented leaps; whilst the bystanders clapped with their palms a
more enlivening measure. This I was told is especially their war-dance.
They have other forms, which my eyes were not fated to see. Amongst the
Badawin of Al-Hijaz, unlike the Somali and other African races, the
sexes never mingle: the girls may dance together, but it would be
disgraceful to perform in the company of men.

After so much excitement we retired to rest, and slept soundly.

On Friday, the 12th Zu’l Hijjah, the camels appeared, according to order,
at early dawn, and they were loaded with little delay. We were anxious
to enter Meccah in time for the sermon, and I for one was eager to
escape the now pestilential air of Muna.

Literally, the land stank. Five or six thousand animals had been slain
and cut up in this Devil’s Punch-bowl. I leave the reader to imagine the
rest. The evil might be avoided by building abattoirs, or, more easily
still, by digging long trenches, and by ordering all pilgrims, under
pain of mulct, to sacrifice in the same place. Unhappily, the spirit of
Al-Islam is opposed to these precautions of common sense,—“Inshallah” and
“Kismat” must take the place of prevention and of cure. And at Meccah, the
head-quarters of the faith, a desolating attack of cholera is preferred
to the impiety of “flying in the face of Providence,” and the folly of
endeavouring to avert inevitable decrees.[FN#6]

[p.225] Mounting our camels, and led by Mas’ud, we entered Muna by the
eastern end, and from the litter threw the remaining twenty-one stones.
I could now see the principal lines of shops, and, having been led to
expect a grand display of merchandise, was surprised to find only
mat-booths and sheds, stocked chiefly with provisions. The exit from
Muna was crowded, for many, like ourselves, were flying from the
revolting scene. I could not think without pity of those whom religious
scruples detained another day and a half in this foul spot.

After entering Meccah we bathed, and when the noon drew nigh we
repaired to the Harim for the purpose of hearing the sermon. Descending
to the cloisters below the Bab al-Ziyadah, I stood wonder-struck by the
scene before me. The vast quadrangle was crowded with worshippers
sitting in long rows, and everywhere facing the central black tower:
the showy colours of their dresses were not to be surpassed by a garden
of the most brilliant flowers, and such diversity of detail would
probably not be seen massed together in any other building upon earth.
The women, a dull and sombre-looking group, sat apart in their peculiar
place. The Pasha stood on the roof of Zemzem, surrounded by guards in
Nizam uniform. Where the principal Olema stationed themselves, the
crowd was thicker; and in the more auspicious spots nought was to be
seen but a pavement of heads and shoulders. Nothing seemed to move but
a few Darwayshes, who, censer in hand, sidled through the rows and
received the unsolicited alms of the Faithful. Apparently in the midst,
and raised above the crowd by the tall, pointed pulpit, whose gilt
spire flamed in the sun, sat the preacher, an old man with snowy beard.
The style of head-dress

[p.226] called Taylasan[FN#7] covered his turband, which was white as
his robes,[FN#8] and a short staff supported his left hand.[FN#9]
Presently he arose, took the staff in his right hand, pronounced a few
inaudible words,[FN#10] and sat down again on one of the lower steps,
whilst a Mu’ezzin, at the foot of the pulpit, recited the call to sermon.
Then the old man stood up and began to preach. As the majestic figure
began to exert itself there was a deep silence. Presently a general “Amin”
was intoned by the crowd at the conclusion of some long sentence. And
at last, towards the end of the sermon, every third or fourth word was
followed by the simultaneous rise and fall of thousands of voices.

I have seen the religious ceremonies of many lands, but never—nowhere—aught
so solemn, so impressive as this.

[FN#1] It is not safe to perform this ceremony at an early hour,
although the ritual forbids it being deferred after sunset. A crowd of
women, however, assembled at the Devils in the earlier part of the 11th
night (our 10th); and these dames, despite the oriental modesty of
face-veils, attack a stranger with hands and stones as heartily as
English hop-gatherers hasten to duck the Acteon who falls in their way.
Hence, popular usage allows stones to be thrown by men until the
morning prayers of the 11th Zu’l Hijjah.
[FN#2] Traditions about these animals vary in the different parts of
Arabia. At Aden, for instance, they are supposed to be a remnant of the
rebellious tribe of ’ad. It is curious that the popular Arabic, like the
Persian names, Sa’adan, Maymun, Shadi, &c., &c., are all expressive of (a
probably euphuistic) “propitiousness.”
[FN#3] The Egyptians generally catch, train, and take them to the banks
of the Nile, where the “Kurayeati” (ape-leader) is a popular character.
[FN#4] This ceremony, as the reader will have perceived, is performed
by the Shafe’is on the 10th, the 11th, and the 12th of Zu’l Hijjah. The
Hanafis conclude their stoning on the 13th. The times vary with each
day, and differ considerably in religious efficacy. On the night of the
10th (our 9th), for instance, lapidation, according to some
authorities, cannot take place; others permit it, with a sufficient
reason. Between the dawn and sunrise it is Makruh, or disapproved of.
Between sunrise and the declination is the Sunnat-time, and therefore
the best. From noon to sunset it is Mubah, or permissible: the same is
the case with the night, if a cause exist. On the 11th and 12th of Zu’l
Hijjah lapidation is disapproved of from sunset to sunrise. The Sunnat
is from noon to sunset, and it is permissible at all other hours. The
number of stones thrown by the Shafe’is, is 49, viz., 7 on the 10th day,
7 at each pillar (total 21) on the 11th day, and the same on the 12th
Zu’l Hijjah. The Hanafis also throw 21 stones on the 13th, which raises
their number to 70. The first 7 bits of granite must be collected at
Muzdalifah; the rest may be taken from the Muna valley; and all must be
washed 7 times before being thrown. In throwing, the Hanafis attempt to
approach the pillar, if possible, standing within reach of it. Shafe’is
may stand at a greater distance, which should not, however, pass the
limits of 5 cubits.
[FN#5] Here called Safk. It is mentioned by Herodotus, and known to
almost every oriental people. The Badawin sometimes, though rarely, use
a table or kettledrum. Yet, amongst the “Pardah,” or miuscal modes of the
East, we find the Hijazi ranking with the Isfahani and the Iraki.
Southern Arabia has never been celebrated for producing musicians, like
the banks of the Tigris to which we owe, besides castanets and cymbals,
the guitar, the drum, and the lute, father of the modern harp. The name
of this instrument is a corruption of the Arabic “Al-’ud” ([Arabic text]),
through liuto and luth, into lute.
[FN#6] NOTE TO THIRD EDITION.—Since this was written there have been two
deadly epidemics, which began, it is reported, at Muna. The victims,
however, have never numbered 700,000, nor is “each pilgrim required to
sacrifice one animal at the shrine of Mohammed,”(!) as we find it in
“Cholera Prospects,” by Tilbury Fox, M.D. (Hardwicke).
[FN#7] A scarf thrown over the head, with one end brought round under
the chin and passed over the left shoulder composes the “Taylasan.”
[FN#8] As late as Ibn Jubayr’s time the preacher was habited from head to
foot in black; and two Mu’ezzins held black flags fixed in rings on both
sides of the pulpit, with the staves propped upon the first step.
[FN#9] Mr. Lane remarks, that the wooden sword is never held by the
preacher but in a country that has been won from infidels by Moslems.
Burckhardt more correctly traces the origin of the custom to the early
days of Al-Islam, when the preachers found it necessary to be prepared
for surprises. And all authors who, like Ibn Jubayr, described the
Meccan ceremonies, mention the sword or staff. The curious reader will
consult this most accurate of Moslem travellers; and a perusal of the
pages will show that anciently the sermon differed considerably from,
and was far more ceremonious than, the present Khutbah.
[FN#10] The words were “Peace be upon ye! and the Mercy of Allah and His



MY few remaining days at Meccah sped pleasantly enough. Omar Effendi
visited me regularly, and arranged to accompany me furtively to Cairo.
I had already consulted Mohammed Shiklibha—who suddenly appeared at Muna,
having dropped down from Suez to Jeddah, and having reached Meccah in
time for pilgrimage—about the possibility of proceeding Eastward. The
honest fellow’s eyebrows rose till they almost touched his turband, and
he exclaimed in a roaring voice, “Wallah! Effendi! thou art surely mad.”
Every day he brought me news of the different Caravans. The Badawin of
Al-Hijaz were, he said, in a ferment caused by the reports of the Holy
War, want of money, and rumours of quarrels between the Sharif and the
Pasha: already they spoke of an attack upon Jeddah. Shaykh Mas’ud, the
camel man, from whom I parted on the best of terms, seriously advised
my remaining at Meccah for some months even before proceeding to Sana’a.
Others gave the same counsel. Briefly I saw that my star was not then
in the ascendant, and resolved to reserve myself for a more propitious
conjuncture by returning to Egypt.

The Turkish colonel and I had become as friendly as two men ignoring
each other’s speech could be. He had derived benefit from some
prescription; but, like all his countrymen, he was pining to leave
Meccah.[FN#1] Whilst the

[p.228] pilgrimage lasted, said they, no mal de pays came to trouble
them; but, its excitement over, they could think of nothing but their
wives and children. Long-drawn faces and continual sighs evidenced
nostalgia. At last the house became a scene of preparation. Blue
chinaware and basketed bottles of Zemzem water appeared standing in
solid columns, and pilgrims occupied themselves in hunting for
mementoes of Meccah; ground-plans; combs, balm, henna, tooth-sticks;
aloes-wood, turquoises, coral, and mother-o’-pearl rosaries; shreds of
Kiswah-cloth and fine Abas, or cloaks of camels’-wool. It was not safe to
mount the stairs without shouting “Tarik” (Out of the way!) at every step,
on peril of meeting face to face some excited fair.[FN#2] The lower
floor was crowded with provision-vendors; and the staple article of
conversation seemed to be the chance of a steamer from Jeddah to Suez.

Weary of the wrangling and chaffering of the hall below, I had
persuaded my kind hostess, in spite of the surly skeleton her brother,
partially to clear out a small store-room in the first floor, and to
abandon it to me between the hours of ten and four. During the heat of
the day clothing is unendurable at Meccah. The city is so “compacted
together” by hills, that even the Samum can scarcely sweep it; the heat
reverberated by the bare rocks is intense, and the normal atmosphere of
an Eastern town communicates a faint lassitude to the body and
irritability to the mind. The houses being unusually strong and
well-built, might by some art of thermantidote be rendered cool enough
in the hottest weather:

[p.229] they are now ovens.[FN#3] It was my habit to retire immediately
after the late breakfast to the little room upstairs, to sprinkle it
with water, and to lie down on a mat. In the few precious moments of
privacy notes were committed to paper, but one eye was ever fixed on
the door. Sometimes a patient would interrupt me, but a doctor is far
less popular in Al-Hijaz than in Egypt. The people, being more healthy,
have less faith in physic: Shaykh Mas’ud and his son had never tasted in
their lives aught more medicinal than green dates and camel’s milk.
Occasionally the black slave-girls came into the room, asking if the
pilgrim wanted a pipe or a cup of coffee: they generally retired in a
state of delight, attempting vainly to conceal with a corner of
tattered veil a grand display of ivory consequent upon some small and
innocent facetiousness. The most frequent of my visitors was Abdullah,
the Kabirah’s eldest son. This melancholy Jacques had joined our caravan
at Al-Hamra, on the

[p.230] Yambu’ road, accompanied us to Al-Madinah, lived there, and
journeyed to Meccah with the Syrian pilgrimage; yet he had not once
come to visit me or to see his brother, the boy Mohammed. When gently
reproached for this omission, he declared it to be his way—that he never
called upon strangers until sent for. He was a perfect Saudawi
(melancholist) in mind, manners, and personal appearance, and this
class of humanity in the East is almost as uncomfortable to the
household as the idiot of Europe. I was frequently obliged to share my
meals with him, as his mother—though most filially and reverentially
entreated—would not supply him with breakfast two hours after the proper
time, or with a dinner served up forty minutes before the rest of the
household. Often, too, I had to curb, by polite deprecation, the
impetuosity of the fiery old Kabirah’s tongue. Thus Abdullah and I became
friends, after a fashion. He purchased several little articles
required, and never failed to pass hours in my closet, giving me much
information about the country; deploring the laxity of Meccan morals,
and lamenting that in these evil days his countrymen had forfeited
their name at Cairo and at Constantinople. His curiosity about the
English in India was great, and I satisfied it by praising, as a Moslem
would, their politike, their evenhanded justice, and their good star.
Then he would inquire into the truth of a fable extensively known on
the shores of the Mediterranean and of the Red Sea. The English, it is
said, sent a mission to Mohammed, inquiring into his doctrines, and
begging that the heroic Khalid bin Walid[FN#4] might be sent to
proselytise them. Unfortunately,

[p.231] the envoys arrived too late—the Prophet’s soul had winged its way
to Paradise. An abstract of the Moslem scheme was, however, sent to the
“Ingreez,” who declined, as the Founder of the New Faith was no more, to
abandon their own religion; but the refusal was accompanied with
expressions of regard. For this reason many Moslems in Barbary and
other countries hold the English to be of all “People of the Books” the
best inclined towards them. As regards the Prophet’s tradition concerning
the fall of his birthplace, “and the thin-calved from the Habash
(Abyssinians) shall destroy the Ka’abah,” I was informed that towards the
end of time a host will pass from Africa in such multitudes that a
stone shall be conveyed from hand to hand between Jeddah and Meccah.
This latter condition might easily be accomplished by sixty thousand
men, the distance being only forty-four miles, but the citizens
consider it to express a countless horde. Some pious Moslems have hoped
that in Abdullah bin Zubayr’s re-erection of the Ka’abah the prophecy was
fulfilled[FN#5]: the popular belief, however, remains that the fatal
event is still in the womb of time. In a previous part of this volume I
have alluded to similar evil presentiments which haunt the mind of
Al-Islam; and the Christian, zealous for the propagation of his faith,
may see in them an earnest of its still wider diffusion in future ages.

Late in the afternoon I used to rise, perform ablution, and repair to
the Harim, or wander about the bazars till sunset. After this it was
necessary to return home and prepare for supper—dinner it would be called
in the West.

[p.232] The meal concluded, I used to sit for a time outside the
street-door in great dignity, upon a broken-backed black-wood chair,
traditionally said to have been left in the house by one of the princes
of Delhi, smoking a Shishah, and drinking sundry cups of strong green
tea with a slice of lime, a fair substitute for milk. At this hour the
seat was as in a theatre, but the words of the actors were of a nature
somewhat too Fescennine for a respectable public. After nightfall we
either returned to the Harim or retired to rest. Our common dormitory
was the flat roof of the house; under each cot stood a water-gugglet;
and all slept, as must be done in the torrid lands, on and not in bed.

I sojourned at Meccah but a short time, and, as usual with travellers,
did not see the best specimens of the population. The citizens appeared
to me more civilised and more vicious than those of Al-Madinah. They
often leave

“Home, where small experience grows,”

and—qui multum peregrinatur, raro sanctificatur—become a worldly-wise,
God-forgetting, and Mammonish sort of folk. Tuf w’ asaa, w’ aamil
al-saba—“Circumambulate and run (i.e. between Safa and Marwah) and commit
the Seven (deadly sins)”—is a satire popularly levelled against them.
Hence, too, the proverb Al-haram f’ il Haramayn—“Evil (dwelleth) in the two
Holy Cities”; and no wonder, since plenary indulgence is so easily
secured.[FN#7] The pilgrim is forbidden, or rather dissuaded, from
abiding at Meccah after the rites, and wisely. Great emotions must be
followed by a re-action. And he who stands struck by the first aspect
of Allah’s house, after a few months, the marvel waxing stale, sweeps
past with indifference or something worse.

[p.233] There is, however, little at Meccah to offend the eye. As among
certain nations further West, a layer of ashes overspreads the fire:
the mine is concealed by a green turf fair to look upon. It is only
when wandering by starlight through the northern outskirts of the town
that citizens may be seen with light complexions and delicate limbs,
coarse turbands, and Egyptian woollen robes, speaking disguise and the
purpose of disguise. No one within the memory of man has suffered the
penalty of immorality. Spirituous liquors are no longer sold, as in
Burckhardt’s day,[FN#8] in shops; and some Arnaut officers assured me
that they found considerable difficulty in smuggling flasks of Araki
from Jeddah.

The Meccan is a darker man than the Madinite. The people explain this
by the heat of the climate. I rather believe it to be caused by the
number of female slaves that find their way into the market. Gallas,
Sawahilis, a few Somalis, and Abyssinians are embarked at Suakin,
Zayla, Tajurrah, and Berberah, carried in thousands to Jeddah, and the
Holy City has the pick of every batch. Thence the stream sets
Northwards, a small current towards Al-Madinah, and the main line to
Egypt and Turkey.[FN#9]

Most Meccans have black concubines, and, as has been said, the
appearance of the Sharif is almost that of a negro. I did not see one
handsome man in the Holy City, although some of the women appeared to
me beautiful. The male profile is high and bony, the forehead recedes,
and the head rises unpleasantly towards the region of firmness. In most
families male children, when forty days old, are taken to the Ka’abah,
prayed over, and carried home, where the barber draws with a razor
three parallel gashes

[p.234] down the fleshy portion of each cheek, from the exterior angles
of the eyes almost to the corners of the mouth. These Mashali, as they
are called,[FN#10] may be of modern date: the citizens declare that the
custom was unknown to their ancestors. I am tempted to assign to it a
high antiquity, and cannot but attribute a pagan origin to a custom
still prevailing, despite all the interdictions of the Olema. In point
of figure the Meccan is somewhat coarse and lymphatic. The ludicrous
leanness of the outward man, as described by Ali Bey, survives only in
the remnants of themselves belonging to a bygone century. The young men
are rather stout and athletic, but in middle age—when man “swills and
swells”—they are apt to degenerate into corpulence.

The Meccan is a covetous spendthrift. His wealth, lightly won, is
lightly prized. Pay, pension, stipends, presents, and the Ikram, here,
as at Al-Madinah, supply the citizen with the means of idleness. With
him everything is on the most expensive scale, his marriage, his
religious ceremonies, and his household expenses. His

[p.235] house is luxuriously furnished; entertainments are frequent,
and the junketings of his women make up a heavy bill at the end of the
year. It is a common practice for the citizen to anticipate the
pilgrimage season by falling into the hands of the usurer. If he be in
luck, he catches and “skins” one or more of the richest Hajis. On the other
hand, should fortune fail him, he will feel for life the effect of
interest running on at the rate of at least fifty per cent., the simple
and the compound forms of which are equally familiar to the wily

The most unpleasant peculiarities of the Meccan[s][FN#12] are their
pride and coarseness of language. Looking upon themselves as the cream
of earth’s sons, they resent with extreme asperity the least slighting
word concerning the Holy City and its denizens. They plume themselves
upon their holy descent, their exclusion of Infidels,[FN#13] their
strict fastings, their learned men, and their purity of
language.[FN#14] In fact, their pride shows itself at every moment;

[p.236] but it is not the pride which makes a man too proud to do “dirty
work.” My predecessor did not remark their scurrility: he seems, on the
contrary, rather to commend them for respectability in this point. If
he be correct, the present generation has degenerated. The Meccans
appeared to me distinguished, even in this foul-mouthed East, by the
superior licentiousness of their language. Abuse was bad enough in the
streets, but in the house it became intolerable. The Turkish pilgrims
remarked, but they were too proud to notice it. The boy Mohammed and
one of his tall cousins at last transgressed the limits of my
endurance. They had been reviling each other vilely one day at the
house-door about dawn, when I administered the most open reprimand: “In
my country (Afghanistan) we hold this to be the hour of prayer, the
season of good thoughts, when men remember Allah; even the Kafir doth
not begin the day with curses and abuse.” The people around approved, and
the offenders could not refrain from saying, “Thou hast spoken truth, O
Effendi!” Then the bystanders began, as usual, to “improve the occasion.” “See,”
they exclaimed, “this Sulaymani gentleman, he is not the Son of a Holy
City, and yet he teacheth you—ye, the children of the Prophet!—repent and
fear Allah!” They replied, “Verily we do repent, and Allah is a Pardoner
and the Merciful!”—were silent for an hour, and then abused each other more
foully than before. Yet it is a good point in the Meccan character,
that it is open to reason, it can confess itself

[p.237] in error, and it displays none of that doggedness of vice which
distinguishes the sinner of a more stolid race. Like the people of
Southern Europe, the Semite is easily managed by a jest: though grave
and thoughtful, he is by no means deficient in the sly wit which we
call humour, and the solemn gravity of his words contrasts amusingly
with his ideas. He particularly excels in the Cervantic art, the spirit
of which, says Sterne, is to clothe low subjects in sublime language.
In Mohammed’s life we find that he by no means disdained a joke,
sometimes a little hasarde, as in the case of the Paradise-coveting old
woman. The redeeming qualities of the Meccan are his courage, his
bonhommie, his manly suavity of manners, his fiery sense of honour, his
strong family affections, his near approach to what we call patriotism,
and his general knowledge: the reproach of extreme ignorance which
Burckhardt directs against the Holy City has long ago sped to the Limbo
of things that were. The dark half of the picture is formed by pride,
bigotry, irreligion, greed of gain, immorality, and prodigal
ostentation. Of the pilgrimage ceremonies I cannot speak harshly. It
may be true that “the rites of the Ka’abah, emasculated of every idolatrous
tendency, still hang a strange unmeaning shroud around the living
theism of Islam.” But what nation, either in the West or in the East, has
been able to cast out from its ceremonies every suspicion of its old
idolatry? What are the English mistletoe, the Irish wake, the Pardon of
Brittany, the Carnival, and the Worship at Iserna? Better far to
consider the Meccan pilgrimage rites in the light of Evil-worship
turned into lessons of Good than to philosophize about their
strangeness, and to blunder in asserting them to be insignificant. Even
the Badawi circumambulating the Ka’abah fortifies his wild belief by the
fond thought that he treads the path of “Allah’s friend.”

At Arafat the good Moslem worships in imitation of

[p.238] the “Pure of Allah[FN#15]”; and when hurling stones and curses at
three senseless little buttresses which commemorate the appearance of
the fiend, the materialism of the action gives to its sentiment all the
strength and endurance of reality. The supernatural agencies of
pilgrimage are carefully and sparingly distributed. The angels who
restore the stones from Muna to Muzdalifah; the heavenly host whose
pinions cause the Ka’abah’s veil to rise and to wave, and the mysterious
complement of the pilgrim’s total at the Arafat sermon, all belong to the
category of spiritual creatures walking earth unseen,—a poetical tenet,
not condemned by Christianity. The Meccans are, it is true, to be
reproached with their open Mammon-worship, at times and at places the
most sacred and venerable; but this has no other effect upon the
pilgrims than to excite disgust and open reprehension. Here, however,
we see no such silly frauds as heavenly fire drawn from a
phosphor-match; nor do two rival churches fight in the flesh with teeth
and nails, requiring the contemptuous interference of an infidel power
to keep around order. Here we see no fair dames staring with their
glasses, braques at the Head of the Church; or supporting exhausted
nature with the furtive sandwich; or carrying pampered curs who, too
often, will not be silent; or scrambling and squeezing to hear
theatrical music, reckless of the fate of the old lady who—on such
occasions there is always one—has been “thrown down and cruelly trampled
upon by the crowd.” If the Meccan citizens are disposed to scoff at the
wild Takruri, they do it not so publicly or shamelessly as the Roman
jeering with ribald jest at the fanaticism of strangers from the bogs
of Ireland. Finally, at Meccah there is nothing theatrical, nothing
that suggests the opera; but all is simple and impressive, filling the
mind with

“A weight of awe not easy to be borne,”

and tending, I believe, after its fashion, to good.

[p.239] As regards the Meccan and Moslem belief that Abraham and his
son built the Ka’abah, it may be observed the Genesitic account of the
Great Patriarch has suggested to learned men the idea of two Abrahams,
one the son of Terah, another the son of Azar (fire), a Prometheus who
imported civilisation and knowledge into Arabia from Harran, the sacred
centre of Sabaean learning.[FN#16] Moslem historians all agree in
representing Abraham as a star-worshipper in youth, and Eusebius calls
the patriarch son of Athar; his father’s name, therefore, is no Arab
invention. Whether Ishmael or his sire ever visited Meccah to build the
Ka’abah is, in my humble opinion, an open question. The Jewish Scripture
informs us only that the patriarch dwelt at Beersheba and Gerar, in the
south-west of Palestine, without any allusion to the annual visit which
Moslems declare he paid to their Holy City. At the same time Arab
tradition speaks clearly and consistently upon the subject, and
generally omits those miraculous and superstitious adjuncts which cast
shadows of sore doubt upon the philosophic mind.

The amount of risk which a stranger must encounter at the pilgrimage
rites is still considerable. A learned Orientalist and divine intimated
his intention, in a work

[p.240] published but a few years ago, of visiting Meccah without
disguise. He was assured that the Turkish governor would now offer no
obstacle to a European traveller. I would strongly dissuade a friend
from making the attempt. It is true that the Frank is no longer, as in
Captain Head’s day,[FN#17] insulted when he ventures out of the Meccan
Gate of Jeddah; and that our Vice-Consuls and travellers are allowed,
on condition that their glance do not pollute the shrine, to visit Taif
and the regions lying Eastward of the Holy City. Neither the Pasha nor
the Sharif would, in these days, dare to enforce, in the case of an
Englishman, the old law, a choice thrice offered between circumcision
and death. But the first Badawi who caught sight of the Frank’s hat would
not deem himself a man if he did not drive a bullet through the wearer’s
head. At the pilgrimage season disguise is easy on account of the vast
and varied multitudes which visit Meccah exposing the traveller only to
“stand the buffet with knaves who smell of sweat.” But woe to the
unfortunate who happens to be recognised in public as an Infidel—unless
at least he could throw himself at once upon the protection of the
government.[FN#18] Amidst, however, a crowd of pilgrims, whose
fanaticism is worked up to the highest pitch, detection would probably
ensure his dismissal at once al numero de’ piu. Those who find danger the
salt of pleasure may visit Meccah; but if asked whether the results
justify the risk, I should reply in the negative. And the Vice-Consul
at Jeddah would only do his duty in peremptorily forbidding European
travellers to attempt Meccah without disguise, until the day comes when
such steps can be taken in the certainty of not causing a mishap;

[p.241] an accident would not redound to our reputation, as we could
not in justice revenge it.[FN#19]

On the 14th Zu’l Hijjah we started to perform the rite of Umrah, or
Little Pilgrimage. After performing ablution, and resuming the Ihram
with the usual ceremonies, I set out, accompanied by the boy Mohammed
and his brother Abdullah. Mounting asses which resembled mules in size
and speed,[FN#20] we rode to the Harim, and prayed there. Again
remounting, we issued through the Bab al-Safa towards the open country
north-east of the city. The way was crowded with pilgrims, on foot as
well as mounted, and their loud Labbayk distinguished those engaged in
the Umrah rite from the many whose business was with the camp of the
Damascus Caravan. At about half a mile from the city we passed on the
left a huge heap of stones, where my companions stood and cursed. This
grim-looking cairn is popularly believed to note the place of the well
where Abu Lahab laid an ambuscade for the Prophet. This wicked uncle
stationed there a slave, with orders to throw headlong into the pit the
first person who

[p.242] approached him, and privily persuaded his nephew to visit the
spot at night: after a time, anxiously hoping to hear that the deed had
been done, Abu Lahab incautiously drew nigh, and was precipitated by
his own bravo into the place of destruction.[FN#21] Hence the
well-known saying in Islam, “Whoso diggeth a well for his brother shall
fall into it himself.” We added our quota of stones,[FN#22] and
proceeding, saw the Jeddah road spanning the plain like a white ribbon.
In front of us the highway was now lined with coffee-tents, before
which effeminate dancing-boys performed to admiring Syrians; a small
whitewashed “Bungalow,” the palace of the Emir al-Hajj, lay on the left,
and all around it clustered the motley encampment of his pilgrims.
After cantering about three miles from the city, we reached the
Alamayn, or two pillars that limit the Sanctuary; and a little beyond
it is the small settlement popularly called Al-Umrah.[FN#23]
Dismounting here, we

[p.243] sat down on rugs outside a coffee-tent to enjoy the beauty of
the moonlit night, and an hour of Kayf, in the sweet air of the Desert.

Presently the coffee-tent keeper, after receiving payment, brought us
water for ablution. This preamble over, we entered the principal
chapel; an unpretending building, badly lighted, spread with dirty
rugs, full of pilgrims, and offensively close. Here we prayed the Isha,
or night devotions, and then a two-bow prayer in honour of the
Ihram,[FN#24] after which we distributed gratuities to the guardians,
and alms to the importunate beggars. And now I perceived the object of
Abdullah’s companionship. The melancholy man assured me that he had
ridden out for love of me, and in order to perform as Wakil
(substitute) a vicarious pilgrimage for my parents. Vainly I assured
him that they had been strict in the exercises of their faith. He would
take no denial, and I perceived that love of me meant love of my
dollars. With a surly assent, he was at last permitted to act for the
“pious pilgrim Yusuf (Joseph) bin Ahmad and Fatimah bint Yunus,”—my
progenitors. It was impossible to prevent smiling at contrasts, as
Abdullah, gravely raising his hands, and directing his face to the
Ka’abah, intoned, “I do vow this Ihram of Umrah in the name of Yusuf Son of
Ahmad, and Fatimah Daughter of Yunus; then render it attainable unto
them, and accept it of them! Bismillah! Allaho Akbar!”

[p.244] Remounting, we galloped towards Meccah, shouting Labbayk, and
halting at every half-mile to smoke and drink coffee. In a short time
we entered the city, and repairing to the Harim by the Safa Gate,
performed the Tawaf, or circumambulation of Umrah. After this dull
round and necessary repose we left the temple by the same exit, and
mounting once more, turned towards Al-Safa, which stands about a
hundred yards South-East of the Mosque, and as little deserves its name
of “Mountain” as do those that undulate the face of modern Rome. The Safa
end is closed by a mean-looking building, composed of three round
arches, with a dwarf flight of stairs leading up to them out of a
narrow road. Without dismounting, we wheeled our donkeys[FN#25] round,
“left shoulders forward,” no easy task in the crowd, and, vainly striving
to sight the Ka’abah through the Bab al-Safa, performed the Niyat, or vow
of the rite Al-Sai, or the running.[FN#26] After Tahlil, Takbir, and
Talbiyat, we raised our hands in the supplicatory position, and twice
repeated,[FN#27] “There is no god but Allah, Alone, without Partner; His
is the Kingdom, unto Him be Praise; He giveth Life and Death, He is
alive and perisheth not; in His Hand is Good, and He over all Things is
Omnipotent.” Then, with the donkey-boys leading our animals and a stout
fellow preceding us with lantern and a quarter-staff to keep off the
running Badawin, camel-men, and riders of asses, we descended Safa, and
walked slowly down the street Al-Massa, towards Marwah.[FN#28]

[p.245] During our descent we recited aloud, “O Allah, cause me to act
according to the Sunnat of Thy Prophet, and to die in His faith, and
defend me from errors and disobedience by Thy Mercy, O most Merciful of
the Merciful!” Arrived at what is called the Batn al-Wady (Belly of the
Vale), a place now denoted by the Milayn al-Akhzarayn (the two green
pillars[FN#29]), one fixed in the Eastern course of the Harim, the
other in a house on the right side,[FN#30] we began the running by
urging on our beasts. Here the prayer was, “O Lord, pardon and pity, and
pass over what Thou knowest, for Thou art the most dear and the most
generous! Save us from Hell-fire safely, and cause us safely to enter
Paradise! O Lord, give us Happiness here and Happiness hereafter, and
spare us the Torture of the Flames!” At the end of this supplication we
had passed the Batn, or lowest ground, whose farthest limits were
marked by two other pillars.[FN#31] Again we began to ascend,
repeating, as we went, “Verily, Safa and Marwah are two of the Monuments
of Allah. Whoso, therefore, pilgrimeth to the Temple of Meccah, or
performeth Umrah, it shall be no Crime in him (to run between them
both). And as for him who voluntarily doeth a good Deed, verily Allah
is Grateful and Omniscient[FN#32]!” At length we reached Marwah, a little
rise like Safa in the lower slope of Abu Kubays. The houses cluster in
amphitheatre shape above it, and from the Masa’a, or street below, a
short flight of steps to a platform, bounded on three sides like a
tennis-court, by tall walls without arches. The

[p.246] street, seen from above, has a bowstring curve: it is between
eight and nine hundred feet long,[FN#33] with high houses on both
sides, and small lanes branching off from it. At the foot of the
platform we brought “right shoulders forward,” so as to face the Ka’abah, and
raising hands to ears, thrice exclaimed, “Allaho Akbar.” This concluded the
first course, and, of these, seven compose the ceremony Al-Sai, or the
running. There was a startling contrast with the origin of this

“When the poor outcast on the cheerless wild,
Arabia’s parent, clasped her fainting child,”—

as the Turkish infantry marched, in European dress, with sloped arms,
down the Masa’a to relieve guard. By the side of the half-naked, running
Badawin, they look as if Epochs, disconnected by long centuries, had
met. A laxity, too, there was in the frequent appearance of dogs upon
this holy and most memorial ground, which said little in favour of the
religious strictness of the administration.[FN#34]

Our Sai ended at Mount Marwah. There we dismounted, and sat outside a
barber’s shop, on the right-hand of the street. He operated upon our
heads, causing us to repeat, “O Allah, this my Forelock is in Thy Hand,
then grant me for every Hair a light on the Resurrection-day, O Most
Merciful of the Merciful!” This, and the paying for it, constituted the
fourth portion of the Umrah, or Little Pilgrimage.
Throwing the skirts of our garments over our heads, to show
that our “Ihram” was now exchanged for the normal state, “Ihlal,” we cantered
to the Harim, prayed there a two-bow prayer, and returned home not a
little fatigued.

[FN#1] Not more than one-quarter of the pilgrims who appear at Arafat
go on to Al-Madinah: the expense, the hardships, and the dangers of the
journey account for the smallness of the number. In theology it is “Jaiz,”
or admissible, to begin with the Prophet’s place of burial. But those
performing the “Hajjat al-Islam” are enjoined to commence at Meccah.
[FN#2] When respectable married men live together in the same house, a
rare occurrence, except on journeys, this most ungallant practice of
clearing the way is and must be kept up in the East.
[FN#3] I offer no lengthened description of the town of Meccah: Ali Bey
and Burckhardt have already said all that requires saying. Although the
origin of the Bayt Ullah be lost in the glooms of past time, the city
is a comparatively modern place, built about A.D. 450, by Kusay and the
Kuraysh. It contains about 30,000 to 45,000 inhabitants, with lodging
room for at least treble that number; and the material of the houses is
brick, granite, and sandstone from the neighbouring hills. The site is
a winding valley, on a small plateau, half-way “below the Ghauts.” Its
utmost length is two miles and a half from the Mab’dah (North) to the
Southern mount Jiyad; and three-quarters of a mile would be the extreme
breadth between Abu Kubays Eastward,—upon whose Western slope the most
solid mass of the town clusters,—and Jabal Hindi Westward of the city. In
the centre of this line stands the Ka’abah. I regret being unable to
offer the reader a sketch of Meccah, or of the Great Temple. The
stranger who would do this should visit the city out of the pilgrimage
season, and hire a room looking into the quadrangle of the Harim. This
addition to our knowledge is the more required, as our popular sketches
(generally taken from D’Ohsson) are utterly incorrect. The Ka’abah is
always a recognisable building; but the “View of Meccah” known to Europe is
not more like Meccah than like Cairo or Bombay.
[FN#4] It is curious that the Afghans should claim this Kuraysh noble
as their compatriot. “On one occasion, when Khalid bin Walid was saying
something in his native tongue (the Pushtu or Afghani), Mohammed


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