Travels In Arabia
John Lewis Burckhardt

Part 3 out of 9

tolerably good houses, inhabited by the eunuchs who guard the mosque,
and who live there with their wives, for they are all married to black
slaves. This is the lowest part of the town; and whenever great floods,
during the rainy season, inundate the valley, the water rushes through
this street, in its way to the open country. Some remains of the
aqueduct are visible here; for when it was kept in good repair, its
water, after supplying the town, was conducted this way into the
southern valley, where it served to irrigate some fields.

The Souk-es'-Sogheyr is sometimes comprehended in the Mesfale, or "low
place," the name of the quarter on the east and south sides of the Souk;
but that name is more commonly applied exclusively to the latter
district. The Mesfale is tolerably well built, and, like the Shebeyka,
contains a few new houses; but that part of it which lies towards the
great castle-hill is now almost entirely in ruins. It is inhabited by
Arab and Bedouin merchants, who travel in time of peace to Yemen,
principally to Mokhowa, from whence they import grain, coffee-beans, and
dried grapes. It is also the residence of many poor Indians, established
at Mekka; these let out their houses to their countrymen, who visit this
city in the time of the Hadj. In the ruined dwellings, Negro pilgrims
take up their temporary abode; some of these are settled in Mekka, and
their wives prepare the intoxicating liquor made from durra, and called
bouza, of which the meaner inhabitants are very fond. It was in the
Mesfale, as I have already mentioned, that I took up my lodging on
returning from Djidda, at first in the house of a Maggrebyn settler,
from which I soon afterwards removed into that of a Yemen merchant close
by. The person, whose apartment I hired, was from Szana in Yemen, a
Metowef or guide by profession, and who occupied the first floor of the
house, from which he removed, during my stay, into a corner on the
ground-floor; the other parts of the dwelling were inhabited by the
Maggrebyn landlord and his family, by a village sheikh from

[p.113] Egypt, who had come to the Hadj, accompanied by several fellahs,
by a poor man from the Afghan country, or territory El Soleymanye, as it
is now usually called; and by a hadjy or pilgrim from one of the Greek
islands. In the house of the Yemen merchant, I found myself among a
party of Maggrebyn pilgrims belonging to the Berber nation, or the
Shilhy, who had come by sea to Egypt. There are few houses in this part
of the town, where the same strange mixture of nations is not to be met

On the southern extremity of the Mesfale is a large ruined khan, which,
even when new, must have been a mean building. It was destined for the
accommodation of the pilgrim-caravan, which formerly arrived by land
from Yemen, along the coast. Another Yemen pilgrim-caravan came along
the mountains.

In issuing from the town on this side, we discover a watch-tower
standing in the plain, similar in construction to those at the Djerouel
entrance. A broad valley leads from hence, in a southern direction, to
the small village of Hosseynye, two or three hours distant, where are
some date-trees. Here the Sherif Ghaleb had a small pleasure-garden and
a country-house; and he kept here a herd of buffaloes, brought from
Egypt; but they did not prosper. From Hosseynye a road leads to Arafat,
passing to the S. and S.E. of Mekka, two or three hours distant from
which, on that road, is the small fertile valley and Arab settlement of
Aabedye. The valley just mentioned is called El Tarafeyn; one mile
beyond the present skirts of the city may be traced the ruins of former
habitations; among them are several large, deep, and well-built
cisterns, which, with little labour, might again be rendered fit for
their original purpose of collecting rain-water. At a mile and a half
from the city is a large stone tank, called Birket Madjen, built for the
supplying of water to the Yemen caravan; I found some water in it, but
it is falling rapidly to decay. Beyond this tank, the people of the
Mesfale cultivate a few fields of cucumbers and different vegetables,
immediately after the fall of the rains, when the ground has been
copiously irrigated. Many Bedouin huts and tents of the tribes of Faham

[p.114] and Djehadele are scattered over this valley: their inhabitants
earn a livelihood by collecting in the mountains grass and wild herbs,
which they sell, when dry, in the Mekka market, twisted into bundles:
they serve to feed horses, camels, and asses; but are so scarce and
dear, that the daily feed for a horse costs from two to three piastres.
These Bedouins also rear a few sheep; but although poor, they keep
themselves quite distinct from the lower classes of the Mekkawys, whom
they scorn to imitate in their habits of mendicity. Some few of them are
water-carriers in the city.

On one summit of the western chain of the valley of Tarafeyn, just in
front of the Mesfale, stood, prior to the invasion of the Wahabys, a
small building with a dome, erected in honour of Omar, one of Mohammed's
immediate successors, and therefore called Mekam Seydna Omar. It was
completely ruined by the Wahabys.

Nearly on the summit of the opposite mountain stands the Great Castle, a
very large and massy structure, surrounded by thick walls and solid
towers. It commands the greatest part of the town, but is commanded by
several higher summits. I heard that this castle owes its origin to the
Sherif Serour, the predecessor of Ghaleb; but I believe it to be of a
more ancient date. It is often mentioned by Asamy, in his history, as
early as the fourteenth century; but he does not say who built it. No
person might enter without per-mission from the governor of Mekka, and I
did not think it either prudent, or worth the trouble, to apply for that
favour. Ghaleb considerably strengthened and thoroughly repaired the
building, and mounted it with heavy guns. It was said that he had made
its principal magazines bomb-proof. It contains a large cistern and a
small mosque; and might accommodate a garrison of about one thousand
men. To Arabs it is an impregnable fortress; and so it is considered by
the Mekkawys; even against Europeans, it might offer some resistance.
The approach is by a steep narrow path.

Below the castle-hill, upon a small plain between the mountain and the
Djebel Kobeys, stands the great palace of the reigning

[p.115] sherif, called Beit es' Sade. This, too, is said to have been
built by Serour; but I find it mentioned by Asamy in the account of
trans-actions that occurred two hundred years ago. Its walls are very
high and solid, and seem to have been intended for an outwork to the
castle above it, with which, according to the reports of the Mekkawys,
there is a subterranean communication. It is an irregular pile of
building, and comprises many spacious courts and gloomy chambers, which
have not been inhabited since Sherif Ghaleb fled before the enemy to
Djidda: he then attempted to destroy it by fire; but it was too strongly
built. The Turks, under Mohammed Aly, have converted it into a magazine
of corn. In the adjacent plain, which was formerly the place of exercise
for the Sherif's troops, I found a herd of camels, with the encampment
of their drivers, who make a journey weekly to Djidda or Tayf. Here also
many poor hadjys, who could not pay for lodgings, had erected their
miserable tents, formed of a few rags spread upon sticks. The soldiers
were busily occupied in destroying all the remaining ceilings of the
palace, in quest of fire-wood.

In a narrow inlet in the mountain, to the north of the palace, and
adjoining the above-mentioned plain, are numerous low huts built of
brush-wood, the former abodes of Sherif Ghaleb's slaves, who served as
soldiers in his guard. The greater part of them fled after the Sherif's
capture; and the huts now form barracks for about two hundred Arab
soldiers, in the service of his successor, Sherif Yahya.

In turning from hence towards the mosque, on the right hand, we come to
a small quarter, built on the declivity of the mountain, in which are
many half-ruined houses: it is called Haret el Djyad, and is inhabited
by poor people, and several of the lower servants of the Sherif's
household. Asamy says that it derives its name from having been the post
occupied by the horsemen who accompanied Toba, King of Yemen, in his
expedition against Mekka; an event celebrated among the Moslim writers,
for the miraculous destruction of the army. This is certainly one of the
most ancient quarters of the town.

[p.116] Close by the mosque, on either side of the entrance to the
above-mentioned plain, stands a palace of the Sherif; the northern
consists of two stately houses, connected together, which are occupied
by Sherif Yahya: his women reside in the opposite southern building,
which was erected by Sherif Ghaleb, who in this favourite residence
spent the greater part of his time, induced by its vicinity to the
mosque, its central situation, and the large open space which it

Continuing from this place, in a northern direction, parallel with the
mosque, we enter the long street called Mesaa. The small by-streets to
the right, in approaching the Mesaa, form the quarter of El Szafa, which
takes its name from the holy place Szafa, already de-scribed. The houses
surrounding this place are handsome buildings, and here the richest
foreigners, in the time of the pilgrimage, take up their abode. In a
large house here resides the Aga of the eunuchs belonging to the temple,
together with all the eunuch boys, who are educated here, till they
attain a sufficient age to allow of their living in private lodgings.

We now turn into the Mesaa, the straightest and longest street in Mekka,
and one of the best built. It receives its name from the ceremony of the
Say, which is performed in it, and which I have already described: from
this circumstance, and its being full of shops, it is the most noisy and
most frequented part of the town. The shops are of the same description
as those enumerated in the account of Djidda, with the addition of a
dozen of tin-men, who make tin bottles of all sizes, in which the
pilgrims, upon their return, carry the water of Zemzem to their homes.
The shops are generally magazines on the ground-floor of the houses,
before which a stone bench is reared. Here the merchant sits, under the
shade of a slight awning of mats fastened to long poles; this custom
prevails throughout the Hedjaz. All the houses of the Mesaa are rented
by Turkish pilgrims. On the arrival of a party of hadjys from Djidda,
which happens almost every morning, for four or five months of the year,
their baggage is usually deposited in this street, after which they pay
their visit to the mosque,

[p.117] and then go in quest of lodgings; and in this manner I found the
street crowded almost every day with new comers, newsmongers, and

About the time of my stay at Mekka, the Mesaa resembled a
Constantinopolitan bazar. Many shops were kept by Turks from Europe or
Asia Minor, who sold various articles of Turkish dress, which had
belonged to deceased hadjys, or to those who, being deficient in cash,
had sold their wardrobe. Fine swords, good English watches, and
beautiful copies of the Koran, the three most valuable articles in a
Turkish pilgrim's baggage, were continually offered for sale.
Constantinopolitan pastry-cooks sold here pies and sweetmeats in the
morning; roasted mutton, or kebabs, in the afternoon; and in the
evening, a kind of jelly called mehalabye. Here, too, are nume-rous
coffee-houses, crowded from three o'clock in the morning until eleven
o'clock at night. The reader will be surprised to learn, that in two
shops intoxicating liquors are publicly sold during the night, though
not in the day-time: one liquor is prepared from fermented raisins, and
although usually mixed with a good deal of water, is still so strong,
that a few glasses of it produce intoxication. The other is a sort of
bouza, mixed with spices, and called soubye. This beverage is known
(although not made so strong) at Cairo.

The Mesaa is the place of punishment: there capital offenders are put to
death. During my stay, a man was beheaded, by sentence of the Kadhy, for
having robbed a Turkish pilgrim of about two hun-dred pounds sterling;
this was the only instance of the kind which came to my knowledge,
though thieves are said to abound in Mekka, while the Hadj continues.
The history of Mekka, however, affords many instances of the most cruel
punishments: in A.D. 1624, two thieves were flayed alive in this street;
in 1629, a military chief of Yemen, who had been made prisoner by the
reigning Sherif, had both his arms and shoulders perforated in many
places, and lighted tapers put into the wounds; one of his feet was
turned up, and fastened to his shoulder by an iron hook, and in this
posture he was suspended two days on a tree in the Mala, till he died.
The destruction

[p.118] of a man's sight, no uncommon punishment in other parts of the
east, seems never to have been inflicted by the Hedjaz governors.

In the Mesaa, and annexed to the mosque, stands a handsome building,
erected in A.H. 882, by Kaid Bey, Sultan of Egypt, in which he
established a large public school, with seventy-two different
apartments; he also furnished it with a valuable library. The historian
Kotobeddyn, who, one hundred years afterwards, was librarian here,
complains that only three hundred volumes remained in his time, the rest
having been stolen by his unprincipled predecessors.

On the northern extremity of the Mesaa is the place called Merowa, the
termination of the Say, as already described; this, as it now stands,
was built in A.H. 801. Behind it is shown a house which was the original
habitation of El Abbas, one of the many uncles of Mohammed. Near the
Merowa are the barbers' shops, in which pilgrims have their heads shaved
after performing the Say. Here, too, public auctions are held every
morning, where wearing-apparel, and goods of every description, are
offered to the highest bidder: for the sake of the Turkish pilgrims,
their language is used on these occasions; and there is scarcely a boy
at Mekka who is not thus acquainted with, at least, the Turkish
numerals. Near this place, too, is a public fountain, the work of the
Othman Emperor Soleyman Ibn Selym: it is supplied from the Mekka
aqueduct, and is crowded the whole day by hadjys, who come to fill their

Eastward of the Mesaa, near its extremity at the Merowa, branches off a
street called Soueyga, or the Little Market, which runs almost parallel
with the east side of the mosque. Though narrow, it is the neatest
street in the town, being regularly cleaned and sprinkled with water,
which is not the case with any of the others. Here the rich India
merchants expose their piece-goods for sale, and fine Cashmere shawls
and muslins. There are upwards of twenty shops, in which are sold
perfumes, sweet oils, Mekka balsam, (in an adulterated state,) aloe-
wood, civet, &c. Few pilgrims return to their homes without

[p.119] carrying some presents for their families and friends; these are
usually beads, perfumes, balm of Mekka, aloe-wood, which last is used
throughout the east, in small pieces, placed upon the lighted tobacco in
the pipe, producing an agreeable odour.

In other shops are sold strings of coral, and false pearls, rosaries
made of aloe, sandal or kalembac wood, brilliant necklaces of cut
cornelians, cornelians for seal-rings, and various kinds of China ware.
These shops are all kept by Indians, and their merchandize is entirely
of Indian production and manufacture. Against these Indians much
prejudice is entertained in Arabia, from a general opinion that they are
idolaters, who comply in outward appearance only with the rites of
Mohammedism: they are supposed to be of the Ismayley sect; those
mysterious devotees, of whom I have given some account in my journey to
Lebanon, [See Travels in Syria, &c.] and whose name is, at Mekka, applied
to those Indians. About a dozen of them reside here; the others arrive
annually at the pilgrimage; they buy up old gold and silver, which they
remit to Surat, from whence most of them come. Some have lived at Mekka
for ten years, scrupulously performing every religious ceremony; they
rent a large house, in which they live together, never allowing other
strangers to occupy any part of it, even should several of the
apartments be untenanted. Contrary to the practice of all other
Mohammedans, these Indians never bring their women to the pilgrimage,
although they could well afford the expense; and those residing, for
however long a period, at Mekka have never been known to marry there;
which is the more remarkable, as other natives of India, who live here
for any length of time, usually take wives, although they may have been
already married at home.

The same stories are prevalent respecting them, which are told of the
Syrian Ismayleys, to my account of whom I must refer the reader. [See
Travels in Syria and the Holy Land.] My endeavours to collect authentic
information on the subject of their secret doctrines were as fruitless
here as they had

[p.120] been in Syria, where it was vaguely reported that the chief seat
of the Ismayleys was in India, and that they kept up regular
correspondence between that country and Syria. A sect of "Light-
-extinguishers" is said to exist in India, as well as in Mesopotamia,
and to them the Ismayleys of Syria and those of Mekka may, perhaps,
belong. Those whom I saw at Mekka have rather the features of Persians
than of Indians, and are taller and stouter men than Indians in
general. [The people here mentioned by our author were probably some
Parsees from Surat or Bombay.]

About the middle of the Soueyga, where the street is only four paces in
breadth, are stone benches on each side. Here Abyssinian male and female
slaves are exposed for sale; and as beauty is an universal attraction,
these benches are always surrounded by hadjys, both old and young, who
often pretend to bargain with the dealers, for the purpose of viewing
the slave-girls, during a few moments, in some adjoining apartment. Many
of these slaves are carried from hence to the northern parts of Turkey.
The price of the handsomest was from one hundred and ten to one hundred
and twenty dollars.

At the extremity of the Soueyga, the street is covered with a high
vaulted roof of stone, supported on each side by several massy
buildings, serving as warehouses to the wealthy merchants; they were the
work of one Mohammed, Pasha of Damascus, who lived several centuries
ago, and now belong to the mosque. This, being the coolest spot in the
town during mid-day, is on that account the most frequented. In the
Soueyga all the gentlemen hadjys take their morning and evening lounge,
and smoke their pipes. I formed an acquaintance with one of the perfume-
sellers, and daily passed an hour in the morning, and another in the
afternoon, seated on the bench before his shop, smoking my nargyle, and
treating my friend with coffee. Here I heard the news:--whether any great
hadjy had arrived the preceding night; what law-suits had been carried

[p.121] the Kadhy; what was going forward in Mohammed Aly's army; or
what great commercial bargains had been concluded. Sometimes European
news would be discussed, such as the last fortunes of Bonaparte; for the
pilgrims who arrived from Constantinople and Greece were continually
bringing news from Europe. I usually spent the early part of each
morning, and the later part of the evening, in walking about the town,
and frequenting the coffee-houses in its extremities, where I might meet
with Bedouins, and, by treating them with a cup of coffee, soon engage
them to talk about their country and their nation. During the mid-day
hours I staid at home: the first part of the night I passed in the great
square of the mosque, where a cooling breeze always reigns; here, seated
upon a carpet, which my slave spread for me, I indulged in recollections
of far distant regions, while the pilgrims were busily engaged in
praying and walking round the Kaaba.

At the eastern extremity of the Soueyga, the street changes its name
into that of Shamye, which is applied also to several by-streets on
either side, those on the right leading towards the mountain, and those
on the left towards the mosque. At the further end the Shamye joins the
quarter of Shebeyka and Bab el Omar. This is a well-built part of the
town, chiefly inhabited by rich merchants, or by olemas attached to the
mosque. There are few shops in the main street except during the
pilgrimage, when many are opened, in which the Syrian merchants display
the produce and manufactures of their country; a circumstance from which
it derives its name. In these shops are found silk stuffs from Damascus
and Aleppo; cambric manufactured in the district of Nablous; gold and
silver thread from Aleppo; Bedouin handkerchiefs, called keffie, of
Baghdad and Damascus fabric; silk from Lebanon; fine carpets from
Anadolia and the Turkman Bedouins; abbas from Hamah; dried fruits and
the kammereddyn from Damascus; pistacios from Aleppo, &c. Among all the
Syrians at Mekka, I could never discover any indi-vidual whom I had
known in his own country, except the son of the chief of Palmyra, who,
however, did not recognise me. He had come

[p.122] with two or three hundred camels, to transport the baggage of
the Pasha of Damascus.

In returning through the Shamye towards the Soueyga, we find, on the
north side of these streets, a quarter called Garara, the most reputable
of the town, and perhaps the best built, where the weal-thiest merchants
have their houses. The two first merchants of the Hedjaz, Djeylany and
Sakkat, live here for the greater part of the year, and only go to
Djidda (where they also have establishments,) when the arrival of the
Indian fleet demands their presence at that place. In the quarter of
Garara, the women of Mohammed Aly Pasha, with a train of eunuchs
attached to them, have now taken up their abode. The houses are all two
or three stories high, many of them gaudily painted, and containing
spacious apartments. Here Sherif Ghaleb built a palace, the finest of
all those he possessed at Mekka, and resided in it principally during
the winter months, when he divided his time between this mansion and
that near the mosque. Some military chiefs have now taken up their
quarters in this palace, which will soon be ruined. It is distinguished
from the other houses of Mekka only by its size, and the number of
windows; having neither a fine portico, nor any other display of

Near the palace, upon a hill which may be described as within the town,
Ghaleb built a fort, flanked by strong towers, but of much smaller size
than the great castle. When the Turkish army advanced towards the
Hedjaz, he mounted it with guns, and stored it well with provisions; but
the garrison, like that of the castle, dis-persed immediately after he
was made prisoner. The hill upon which it stands is known by the name of
Djebel Lala, and is often mentioned by Arabian poets. Opposite to this
hill, in a S.E. direc-tion, upon the summit of a mountain beyond the
precincts of the town, stands another small fort, which was also
repaired by Ghaleb. It is called Djebel Hindy, from the circumstance of
a great sheikh or devotee from Cashmere having been buried there. The
tower is now inhabited by a few Indian families, who enjoy the advantage
of an excellent cistern for rain-water. This mountain is also called by

[p.123] present Mekkawys "Djebel Keykaan"--an appellation more ancient
probably than that of Mekka itself. Azraky, however, places the Djebel
Keykaan more to the north, and says that the name is derived from the
cries and the clashing of arms of the Mekkawy army, which was stationed
there, when the Yemen army, under Toba, had taken possession of the hill
of Djyad. Between the two castle-hills, the space is filled with poor,
half-ruined houses, which are principally inha-bited by the lowest class
of Indians established at Mekka.

In turning eastward from the Garara, and passing the quarter called
Rekoube, which, in point of building, nearly equals the Garara, although
it is not reckoned so genteel a residence, we arrive at the great street
called Modaa, which is a continuation of the Mesaa, and then retrace our
steps through the latter to the vicinity of El Szafa, that we may survey
the eastern quarters of the town.

Near the Szafa branches off a broad street, running almost parallel with
the Modaa, to the east of it, called Geshashye. Here, among many smaller
dwellings, are several well-built, and a few lofty edifices; a number of
coffee-houses; several gunsmiths' shops; and a bath. Here resides the
Hakem, or superintendant of the police, who is the first officer under
the Sherif at Mekka. Part of the street is built on the lower declivity
of the eastern mountain, called Djebel Kobeys, to which narrow, dirty,
and steep lanes lead up on that side. The Geshashye is a favourite
quarter of the pilgrims, being broad, airy, and open to the northerly
winds. I lived here during the last days of Ramadhan, in September,
1814, when I first arrived at Mekka from Tayf.

This street, as it proceeds, adopts the name of Haret Souk el Leyl,
which comprises an extensive quarter on the East, where the Moled e'
Nebby, or Prophet's birth-place, is shown, and which adjoins the
Moamele, or establishment of the potteries. The by-streets close to the
Moled are denominated Shab el Moled, or "Rocks of the Moled," the ground
which rises here being covered with stones.

The Moamele lies on the side of Djebel Kobeys, and comprises about a
dozen furnaces, of which the chief productions are jars, especially

[p.124] those used in carrying the water of the celebrated well Zemzem.
These Moamele jars, although prettily wrought, are too heavy, dif-fering
in this respect from the beautiful pottery of Upper Egypt and Baghdad,
which are so slight that an empty jar may be thrown down by a mere puff
of wind. The Moamele alone supplies all the Hedjaz, at present, with
these water-vessels; and few hadjys return to their homes without some
jars, as specimens of Mekkawy ingenuity.

Farther on, the Souk el Leyl takes the name of El Ghazze, and so are
called both sides of the main street, which still forms a continuation
of the Geshashye. Several deep wells of brackish water are situated in
this street. Here also are found the shops of carpenters, upholsterers
from Turkey, undertakers, who make the seryrs, or stands, upon which the
Mekkawys sleep, as well as those on which they are carried to the grave.
Wholesale dealers in fruits and vegetables, which are brought from Tayf
and Wady Fatme, here dispose of their stock to the retail dealers early
in the morning. At the northern end of the Ghazze, where the street
widens consi-derably, is held a daily market of camels and cows. On the
east side, towards the mountain, and partly on its declivity, stands the
quarter called Shab Aly, adjoining the Shab el Moled: here is shown the
venerated place of Aly's nativity. Both these quarters, called Shab,
(i.e. rock,) are among the most ancient parts of the town, where the
Koreysh formerly lived; they are even now inhabited principally by
sherifs, and do not contain any shops. The houses are spacious, and in
an airy situation.

Beyond the cattle-market in the Ghazze, the dwelling-houses terminate,
and low shops and sheds occupy both sides of the street. This part is
called Souk el Haddadeyn; and here blacksmiths and Turkish locksmiths
have their shops. A little further, the street opens into that called
Mala, which is itself a continuation of the Modaa, and forms the
division between the eastern and western parts of the town, running due
north along the slightly ascending slope of the valley. The Modaa and
the Mala, (which latter means

[p.125] the High Place, in opposition to the Mesfale, or the low
quarter,) are filled with shops on both sides. Here are found grocers,
drug-gists, corn-merchants, tobacconists, haberdashers, sandal-makers,
and a great number of dealers in old clothes. In the Modaa is a large
corn magazine, formerly a public school; and there is another in the
Mala. From these, the provision-caravans for the Turkish army at Tayf
take their departure: public auctions are held in this place every
morning. At the northern end of the Mala is a market, whi-ther Bedouins
from all quarters bring their sheep for sale. Here, also, are the
butchers' shops, in which beef, mutton, and camels' flesh are sold; and
in the same street is a small chapel, or Mesdjed, [I believe this to be
the Mesdjed mentioned by historians under the name of Mesdjed Rayet. El
Azraky speaks of four or five other mosques at Mekka in his time.] for
daily prayers, the great mosque being distant; but the Friday's prayers
are always said in the latter. Towards this northern end of the Mala,
where it joins the Souk el Haddadeyn, the stone houses terminate, and
are succeeded by a single row of low shops and stands on each side,
where provisions are sold to the eastern Bedouins, who come to Mekka for
grain. Here is a coffee-house, called Kahwet el Hashashein, where are
sold the intoxicating preparations of hashysh and bendj, which are mixed
and smoked with tobacco. This house is frequented by all the lowest and
most disorderly persons of the town. Sherif Ghaleb had imposed a heavy
tax on the sale of hashysh, in order to discourage a practice directly
violating the law.

The Mala is known also under the appellation of Haret el Naga, which is
derived from the ancient name of Wady el Naga, given to this part of the
valley of Mekka.

In the by-streets of the Modaa the richest Indian traders have their
houses; here they receive customers, being too proud to open public
shops or warehouses. An Indian of this quarter, originally from Surat,
called El Shamsy, was esteemed the wealthiest man in the Hedjaz; yet his
mercantile concerns were much less extensive than those of Djeylany, and
several others. Though possessing

[p.126] several hundred thousand pounds sterling, this man bargained
with me personally for nearly an hour and a half about a muslin shawl,
not worth more than four dollars!

In the Modaa, a high, broad mole or embankment was thrown across the
valley, with an iron gate, by Omar Ibn el Khatab, to resist the torrents
flowing in this direction towards the mosque, during heavy rains. Some
vestiges of it remained till the fourteenth century. While it existed,
the pilgrims on arriving at Mekka used to enjoy from its summit the
first sight of the Kaaba; there also they recited prayers, from which
circumstance the street takes its name, Modaa meaning " place of

Between the Modaa and Mala, on the one side, and the Ghazze and
Geshashye on the other, are several quarters consisting of tole-rable
buildings, but of extremely dirty and narrow streets, from which the
filth is never removed, and fresh air is always excluded. Here we find
the Zokak e Seiny, or "Chinese street," where gold and silversmiths have
their shops. They work in the coarsest manner, but are very much
employed, principally in making silver rings for men and women--ornaments
very generally used among the Arabs. To the south of this quarter is the
Zokak el Hadjar (called also Zokak el Merfek), or the "street of the
stone," which comprises the birth-place of Fatme, the daughter of
Mohammed; and of Abou Beker, the prophet's successor in the Khalifat.
This street takes its name from the hadjar, or stone, which used
miraculously to greet Mohammed with the salutation of "Salam aleyk,"
whenever he passed this way on his return from the Kaaba. It has been
mute since the days of the prophet, but is still shown, projecting a
little from the wall of a house, which, in honour of it has been white-

We now return towards the Mala, a little beyond the spot where it joins
the Ghazze. The shops terminate, and a broad, sandy plain commences, on
which there are only a few detached coffee-houses. This may be called
the extremity of the town. What lies farther towards the north, must be
considered as forming part of the suburbs. Continuing along the plain,
we find on each side of the

[p.127] road large birkets, or reservoirs of water, for the
accommodation of the pilgrim-caravans: they can be filled from the
aqueduct which passes this way towards the town. Of these birkets, one
is for the Egyptian caravan; another for the Syrian: they were
constructed in A.H. 821, are entirely cased with stone, and continue in
a state of perfect repair. Similar monuments of the munificent Turkish
Sul-tans are found at every station of the Hadj, from Medina as far as
Damascus and Aleppo. Some of those which I saw to the southward of
Damascus, appeared more solid in their construction than the birkets of
Mekka: that appropriated to the Egyptian pilgrims is about one hundred
and sixty feet square, and from thirty to thirty-five feet in depth.
When the birket contains from eight to ten feet of water, the supply is
deemed sufficient for the caravan. These reservoirs are never completely
filled. As the aqueduct furnishes water but scantily, adjoining to the
western birket are some acres, irrigated by means of a well, and
producing vegetables. Near it, also, is a small mosque, called Djama e
Soleymanye, in a state of decay, and no longer used for religious
purposes; but serving, at present, to lodge a few Turkish soldiers. It
belongs to the quarter named El Soleymanye, which extends from Djebel
Lala close to the western mountain, as far as the cemeteries beyond the
birkets. It does not contain any good houses; and I heard that it
derives its name from the Soleymanye, as the Muselmans call the people
of Kandahar, Afghanistan, Cashmere, and several other countries on this
side of the Indus. It is said that some descendants of those people who
were the original settlers, still reside here, mixed with many Indians.
It appears, however, from Kotobeddyn's history, that Sultan Solyman
erected, about A.H. 980, a mosque in this quarter. The mosque at least
may be supposed to have borrowed its name from the founder. The
inhabitants of Soleymanye are Muselmans of the Hanefy sect, the first of
the four orthodox divi-sions, and not disciples of Aly, like the
Persians; many of whom come yearly to the Hadj of Mekka, either by sea
from Bombay or Bassora, or by land, travelling as dervises, along the
southern provinces of

[p.128] Persia to Baghdad, and through Mesopotamia and Syria to Egypt. I
have seen many who had come by that route; they appeared to be men of a
much better and more vigorous character than the gene-rality of Indians.

Opposite to this quarter El Soleymanye, on the eastern mountain, and
adjoining the Ghazze and Shab Aly, is a half-ruined district, called
Shab Aamer, inhabited by Bedouin pedlars of the Thekyf and Koreysh
tribes, and by a few poor sherif families. In this quarter are some
large mills, worked by horses, for the Turkish governor: the town, I
believe, does not contain any others of considerable size. It is the
custom at Mekka to use hand-mills, which are usually turned by the
slaves of the family, or, among the poorer classes, by the women. Here,
also, are the only places in Mekka (or perhaps in the Hedjaz) where
linen and cotton are dyed with indigo and saffron: woollen cloth is not
dyed here.

As numbers of the public women reside at Shab Aamer, this quarter is not
ranked among the most respectable in Mekka. Sherif Ghaleb imposed a
regular tax upon those females, and required an additional payment from
such of them as, in the time of the pilgrim-age, followed the hadjys to
Arafat. A similar tax is levied at Cairo, and in all the great
provincial towns of Egypt. Mekka abounds with the frail sisterhood,
whose numbers are increased during the Hadj by adventurers from foreign
countries. They are somewhat more decorous than the public women in
Egypt, and never appear in the streets without veils. Among them are
many Abyssinian slaves, whose former masters, according to report, share
the profits of their vocation. Some are slaves belonging to Mekkawys.

The Arabian poets make frequent allusions to Shab Aamer; thus Ibn el
Faredh says:--

"Is Shab Aamer, since we left it, still inhabited?
Is it to this day the place of meeting for lovers?" [See Sir William
Jones's Comment de Poes. Asiat., on the subject of a poem by Ibn Faredh,
which abounds with local allusions to Mekka.]

[p.129] Proceeding from the birkets northward over the plain, we come to
an insulated house, of good size and construction, belonging to the
Sherif, in which some of Ghaleb's favourites once resided. Opposite to
this building, a paved causeway leads towards the western hills, through
which is an opening that seems artificial. El Azraky applies the name
Djebel el Hazna to this part of the mountain; and says that the road was
cut through the rock by Yahia Ibn Khold Ibn Barmak. On the other side of
the opening, the road descends into the plain of Sheikh Mahmoud, so
named from the tomb of a saint, round which the Syrian pilgrims
generally encamp. Sherif Ghaleb erected upon the hill, on both sides of
the narrow road, which is formed in rude steps, (whether natural or
artificial, it would be difficult to say,) two watch-towers, similar to
those already described. On both sides of the causeway, in the valley of
Mekka, extend the burying-grounds, where most of the inhabitants of the
city have their family tombs.

A little beyond the Sherif's house just mentioned, and at the
termi-nation of the Mala, stands the tomb of Abou Taleb, an uncle of
Mo-hammed, and father of Aly. The Wahabys reduced the building which
covered the tomb to a mere heap of rubbish; and Mohammed Aly Pasha has
not thought fit to rebuild it. Abou Taleb is the great patron of the
city; and there are many persons at Mekka who, though they would have
little scruple in breaking an oath taken before God, yet would be afraid
of invoking the name of Abou Taleb in confirmation of a falsehood. "I
swear by the Mosque"--"I swear by the Kaaba," are ejaculations constantly
used by the Mekkawys to impose upon strangers; but to swear by Abou
Taleb is a more serious imprecation, and is seldom heard upon such
occasions. Opposite to the ruined tomb stands a public fountain,
consisting of a trough built of stone, fifty or sixty feet in length,
which is daily filled with water from the aqueduct. Near it grow a few

No buildings are seen beyond the fountain, till we come to a large
palace of the Sherif, which is surrounded by high walls flanked with
towers, and contains within the inclosure a spacious court-yard. In the
time of the Sherif it was well garrisoned, and during his wars with the
Wahabys he often resided here, as he could set out from hence upon a

[p.130] secret attack or expedition, without its becoming immediately
known in the city. The building now serves as a barrack for the Turkish

To the north of this palace lies the quarter or suburb called Moabede,
which consists partly of low and ill-built stone houses, and partly of
huts constructed of brushwood; it is wholly inhabited by Bedouins, who
have become settlers here, for the purpose of carrying on a traffic,
principally in corn, dates, and cattle, between the town and their
native tribes. I have seen among them Arabs of the tribes of Koreysh,
Thekyf, Hodheyl, and Ateybe; and it was said that, in time of peace,
individuals of all the great tribes of the Desert, and of Nedjed, are
occasionally found here. They live, as I have already observed in
speaking of those who occupy another part of Mekka, much in the same
manner as they would do in the Desert. Their houses contain no furniture
but such as is to be found under the tent of a wealthy Bedouin. Being at
a distance from the great mosque, they have en-closed a square space
with low walls, where such of them as pretend to any regularity in their
devotions (which seldom happens among Bedouins), recite their prayers
upon the sand, according to the custom of the Desert.

The Turkish governor of Mekka has not thought proper to place here any
of his soldiers, for which the suburb is much indebted to him. The
Moabede is, by its situation, and the pursuits of its inhabitants, so
much separated from the city, that a woman here had not entered the town
for the last three years, as she herself assured me; although the
Bedouin females walk about the valley with freedom.

The valley of Mekka has here two outlets: on the north side is a narrow
passage, defended by two watch-towers: it leads to Wady Fatme. At the
eastern extremity, the Moabede is terminated by a garden and pleasure-
house of the Sherif, where Ghaleb used frequently to pass the hours of
noon. The garden is enclosed by high walls and towers, and forms a
fortified post in advance of the town. It contains date and nebek and a
few other fruit-trees, the verdure and shade of which must be
particularly agreeable. In the time of Ghaleb, the entrance was always
open to the people of Mekka. The house is badly

[p.131] built, and is not one of Ghaleb's works. During his last wars
with the Wahabys, the latter obtained possession of this residence, and
fought for several weeks with the soldiers of Mekka, who were posted at
the neighbouring palace or barrack to the south; and who, having laid a
mine, and blown up a part of the walls, forced the Wahabys to retreat.
Ghaleb subsequently repaired the damage. Some Turkish soldiers now live
in the house, which is already half ruined by them. A public fountain of
sweet water, no longer in use, with a pretty cupola built over it,
stands on one side of the garden; on the other is a large well of
brackish water: many such are dispersed over the Moabede.

The road from Mekka, eastward, towards Arafat and Tayf, passes by this
house; at a short distance beyond it the valley widens, and here the
Egyptian Hadj establishes its encampment, part of which generally
stretches over the plain towards the birket. Formerly, the Syrian
caravan used to encamp at the same place. Between the garden-house and
the palace or barrack just mentioned, the aqueduct of Mekka is conducted
above ground for about one hundred paces, in a channel of stone,
plaistered on the inside, and rising four feet above the surface. This
is the only place in the valley of Mekka where it is visible.

As soon as we pass these extreme precincts of Mekka, the Desert presents
itself; for neither gardens, trees, nor pleasure-houses, line the
avenues to the town, which is surrounded on every side by barren sandy
valleys, and equally barren hills. A stranger placed on the great road
to Tayf, just beyond the turn of the hill, in the immediate
neigh-bourhood of the Sherif's garden-house, would think himself as far
removed from human society as if he were in the midst of the Nubian
Desert. But this may be wholly ascribed to the apathy of the
inhabitants, and their indifference for agricultural pursuits. Numerous
wells, dispersed throughout the town, prove that water may be easily
obtained at about thirty feet below the surface.

In Arabia, wherever the ground can be irrigated by wells, the sands may
be soon made productive. The industry of a very few years might thus
render Mekka and its environs as remarkable for gardens and plantations,
as it now is for absolute sterility. El Azraky speaks

[p.132] of gardens in this valley, and describes different springs and
wells that no longer exist, having probably been choked up by the
violent torrents. El Fasy likewise affirms that in his days the town
contained no less than fifty-eight wells. But, in the earliest times of
Arabian history, this place was certainly barren; and the Koran styles
it accordingly "the valley without seeds." Azraky further says, that
before houses were constructed here by the Kossay, this valley abounded
with acacias and various thorny trees.

Nothing is more difficult than to compute exactly the population of
eastern towns, where registers are never kept, and where even the number
of houses can scarcely be ascertained. To judge from appearances, and by
comparison with European towns, in which the amount of population is
well known, may be very fallacious. The private habitations in the East
are generally (though the Hedjaz forms an exception to this rule) of one
story only, and therefore contain fewer inmates in proportion than
European dwellings. On the other hand, Eastern towns have very narrow
streets, are without public squares or large market-places, and their
miserable suburbs are in general more nurously peopled than their
principal and best streets. Travellers, however, in passing rapidly
through towns, may be easily deceived, for they see only the bazars and
certain streets, in which the greater part of the male population is
usually assembled during the day. Thus it happens that recent and
respectable authorities have stated two hundred thousand souls as the
population of Aleppo; four hundred thousand as that of Damascus; and
three hundred thousand as that of Cairo. My estimate of the population
of the three great Syrian towns is as follows:--Damascus two hundred and
fifty thousand; Hamah (of which, however, I must speak with less
confidence) from sixty to one hundred thousand; and Aleppo, daily
dwindling into decay, between eighty and ninety thousand. To Cairo I
would allow at most two hundred thousand. As to Mekka, which I have seen
both before and after the Hadj, and know, perhaps, more thoroughly than
any other town of the East, the result of my inquiries gives between
twenty-five and thirty thousand stationary inhabitants, for the
population of the city and suburbs; besides from three to four thousand
Abyssinian and

[p.133] black slaves: its habitations are capable of containing three
times this number. In the time of Sultan Selym I. (according to
Kotobeddyn, in A.H. 923) a census was taken of the inhabitants of Mekka,
previous to a gratuitous distribution of corn among them, and the number
was found to be twelve thousand, men, women, and children. The same
author shows that, in earlier times, the population was much more
considerable; for when Abou Dhaher, the chief of the Carmatis, (a
heretic sect of Moslims) sacked Mekka, in A.H. 314, thirty thousand of
the inhabitants were killed by his ferocious soldiers.


WHERE the valley is wider than in other interior parts of the town,
stands the mosque, called Beitullah, or El Haram, a building remarkable
only on account of the Kaaba, which it encloses; for there are several
mosques in other places of the East nearly equal to this in size, and
much superior to it in beauty.

The Kaaba stands in an oblong square, two hundred and fifty paces long,
and two hundred broad, none of the sides of which run quite in a
straight line, though at first sight the whole appears to be of a
regular shape. This open square is enclosed on the eastern side by a
colonnade: the pillars stand in a quadruple row: they are three deep on
the other sides, and united by pointed arches, every four of which
support a small dome, plastered and whitened on the outside. These
domes, according to Kotobeddyn, are one hundred and fifty-two in number.
Along the whole colonnade, on the four sides, lamps are suspended from
the arches. Some are lighted every night, and all during the nights of
Ramadhan. The pillars are above twenty feet in height, and generally
from one foot and a half to one foot and three quarters in diameter; but
little regularity has been observed in regard to them. Some are of white
marble, granite, or porphyry, but the greater number are of common stone
of the Mekka mountains. El Fasy states the whole at five hundred and
eighty-nine, and says they are all of marble, excepting one hundred and
twenty-six, which are of common stone, and three of composition.
Kotobeddyn reckons five hundred and fifty-five, of which, according to
him, three hundred and eleven are of marble, and the rest of stone taken
from the neighbouring mountains; but neither of these authors lived to

[p.135] the latest repairs of the mosque, after the destruction
occasioned by a torrent, in A.D. 1626. Between every three or four
columns stands an octagonal one, about four feet in thickness. On the
east side are two shafts of reddish gray granite, in one piece, and one
fine gray porphyry column with slabs of white feldspath. On the north
side is one red granite column, and one of fine-grained red porphyry:
these are probably the columns which Kotobeddyn states to have been
brought from Egypt, and principally from Akhmim (Panopolis), when the
chief El Mohdy enlarged the mosque, in A.H. 163. Among the four hundred
and fifty or five hundred columns, which form the enclosure, I found not
any two capitals or bases exactly alike: the capitals are of coarse
Saracen workmanship; some of them, which had served for former
buildings, by the ignorance of the workmen have been placed upside down
upon the shafts. I observed about half a dozen marble bases of good
Grecian workmanship. A few of the marble columns bear Arabic or Cufic
inscriptions, in which I read the dates 863 and 762. (A.H). A column on
the east side exhibits a very ancient Cufic inscription, somewhat
defaced, which I could neither read nor copy. Those shafts, formed of
the Mekka stone, cut principally from the side of the mountain near the
Shebeyka quarter, are mostly in three pieces, but the marble shafts are
in one piece. Some of the columns are strengthened with broad iron rings
or bands, as in many other Saracen buildings of the East: they were
first employed here by Ibn Dhaher Berkouk, King of Egypt, in rebuilding
the mosque, which had been destroyed by fire in A. H. 802.

This temple has been so often ruined and repaired, that no traces of
remote antiquity are to be found about it. On the inside of the great
wall which encloses the colonnades, a single Arabic inscription is seen,
in large characters, but containing merely the names of Mohammed and his
immediate successors: Abou Beker, Omar, Othman, and Aly. The name of
Allah, in large characters, occurs also in several places. On the
outside, over the gates, are long inscriptions, in the Solouth
character, commemorating the names of those by whom the gates were
built, long and minute details of which are given by the historians of
Mekka. The inscription on the south side, over Bab

[p.136] Ibrahim, is most conspicuous; all that side was rebuilt by the
Egyptian Sultan El Ghoury, in A.H. 906. Over the Bab Aly and Bab Abbas
is a long inscription, also in the Solouth character, placed there by
Sultan Murad Ibn Soleyman, in A.H. 984, after he had repaired the whole
building. Kotobeddyn has given this inscription at length; it occupies
several pages in his history, and is a monument of the Sultan's vanity.
This side of the mosque having escaped destruction in 1626, the
inscription remains uninjured.

Some parts of the walls and arches are gaudily painted, in stripes of
yellow, red, and blue, as are also the minarets. Paintings of flowers,
in the usual Muselman style, are no where seen; the floors of the
colonnades are paved with large stones badly cemented together.

Seven paved causeways lead from the colonnades towards the Kaaba, or
holy house, in the centre. They are of sufficient breadth to admit four
or five persons to walk abreast, and they are elevated about nine inches
above the ground. Between these causeways, which are covered with fine
gravel or sand, grass appears growing in several places, produced by the
Zemzem water dozing out of the jars, which are placed in the ground in
long rows during the day. The whole area of the mosque is upon a lower
level than any of the streets surrounding it. There is a descent of
eight or ten steps from the gates on the north side into the platform of
the colonnade, and of three or four steps from the gates, on the south

Towards the middle of this area stands the Kaaba; it is one hundred and
fifteen paces from the north colonnade, and eighty-eight from the south.
For this want of symmetry we may readily account, the Kaaba having
existed prior to the mosque, which was built around it, and enlarged at
different periods. The Kaaba is an oblong massive structure, eighteen
paces in length, fourteen in breadth, and from thirty-five to forty feet
in height. I took the bearing of one of its longest sides, and found it
to be N.N.W. 1/2 W. It is constructed of the grey Mekka stone, in large
blocks of different sizes, joined together in a very rough manner, and
with bad cement. It was entirely rebuilt as it now stands in A.D. 1627:
the torrent, in the preceding year, had thrown down three of its sides;
and preparatory to its re-erection, the fourth

[p.137] side was, according to Asamy, pulled down, after the olemas, or
learned divines, had been consulted on the question, whether mortals
might be permitted to destroy any part of the holy edifice without
incurring the charge of sacrilege and infidelity.

The Kaaba stands upon a base two feet in height, which presents a sharp
inclined plane; its roof being flat, it has at a distance the appearance
of a perfect cube. The only door which affords entrance, and which is
opened but two or three times in the year, is on the north side, and
about seven feet above the ground. In entering it, therefore, wooden
steps are used--of them I shall speak hereafter. In the first periods of
Islam, however, when it was rebuilt in A.H. 64, by Ibn Zebeyr, chief of
Mekka, the nephew of Aysha, it had two doors even with the ground-floor
of the mosque. The present door (which, according to Azraky, was brought
hither from Constantinople in 1633) is wholly coated with silver, and
has several gilt ornaments. Upon its threshold are placed every night
various small lighted wax candles, and perfuming-pans, filled with musk,
aloe-wood, &c.

At the North-east corner of the Kaaba, near the door, is the famous
"Black Stone;" it forms a part of the sharp angle of the building, at
four or five feet above the ground. It is an irregular oval, about seven
inches in diameter, with an undulated surface, composed of about a dozen
smaller stones of different sizes and shapes, well joined together with
a small quantity of cement, and perfectly smoothed: it looks as if the
whole had been broken into many pieces by a violent blow, and then
united again. It is very difficult to determine accurately the quality
of this stone, which has been worn to its present surface by the
millions of touches and kisses it has received. It appeared to me like a
lava, containing several small extraneous particles, of a whitish and of
a yellowish substance. Its colour is now a deep reddish brown,
approaching to black: it is surrounded on all sides by a border,
composed of a substance which I took to be a close cement of pitch and
gravel, of a similar, but not quite the same brownish colour. This
border serves to support its detached pieces; it is two or three inches
in breadth, and rises a little above the surface of the stone: Both the
border and the stone itself are encircled by a silver band, broader
below than above

[p.138] and on the two sides, with a considerable swelling below, as if
a part of the stone were hidden under it. The lower part of the border
is studded with silver nails.

In the south-east corner of the Kaaba, or, as the Arabs call it, Roken
el Yemany, there is another stone, about five feet from the ground; it
is one foot and a half in length, and two inches in breadth, placed
upright, and of the common Mekka stone. This the people walking round
the Kaaba touch only with the right hand: they do not kiss it.

On the north side of the Kaaba, just by its door, and close to the wall,
is a slight hollow in the ground, lined with marble, and sufficiently
large to admit of three persons sitting. Here it is thought meritorious
to pray: the spot is called El Madjen, and supposed to be that where
Abraham and his son Ismayl kneaded. the chalk and mud which they used in
building the Kaaba; and near this Madjen, the former is said to have
placed the large stone upon which he stood while working at the masonry.
On the basis of the Kaaba, just over the Madjen, is an ancient Cufic
inscription; but this I was unable to decipher, and had no opportunity
of copying it. I do not find it mentioned by any of the historians.

On the west side of the Kaaba, about two feet below its summit, is the
famous Myzab, or water-spout, through which the rain-water collected on
the roof of the building is discharged, so as to fall upon the ground;
it is about four feet in length, and six inches in breadth, as well as I
could judge from below, with borders equal in height to its breadth. At
the mouth, hangs what is called the beard of the Myzab, a gilt board,
over which the water falls. This spout was sent hither from
Constantinople in A.H. 981, and is reported to be of pure gold. The
pavement round the Kaaba, below the Myzab, was laid down in A.H. 826,
and consists of various coloured stones, forming a very handsome
specimen of mosaic. There are two large slabs of fine verde-antico in
the centre, which, according to Makrizi, [See, in his work, the chapter
"On the Excellencies of Egypt."] were sent thither as

[p.139] presents from Cairo, in A.H. 241. This is the spot where,
according to Mohammedan tradition, Ismayl, the son of Ibrahim, or
Abraham, and his mother Hagar, are buried; and here it is meritorious
for the pilgrim to recite a prayer of two rikats. On this west side is a
semicircular wall, the two extremities of which are in a line with the
sides of the Kaaba, and distant from it three or four feet, leaving an
opening which leads to the burying-place of Ismayl. The wall bears the
name of El Hatym, and the area which it encloses is called Hedjer, or
Hedjer Ismayl, on account of its being separated from the Kaaba: the
wall itself, also, is sometimes so called; and the name Hatym is given
by the historians to the space of ground between the Kaaba and the wall
on one side, and the Bir Zemzem and Makam Ibrahim on the other. The
present Mekkawys, however, apply the name Hatym to the wall only.

Tradition says that the Kaaba once extended as far as the Hatym, and
that this side having fallen down just at the time of the Hadj, the
expenses of repairing it were demanded from the pilgrims, under a
pretence that the revenues of government were not acquired in a manner
sufficiently pure to admit of their application towards a purpose so
sacred, whilst the money of the hadjys would possess the requisite
sanctity. The sum, however, obtained from them, proved very inadequate:
all that could be done, therefore, was to raise a wall, which marked the
space formerly occupied by the Kaaba. This tradition, although current
among the Metowefs, is at variance with history, which declares that the
Hedjer was built by the Beni Koreysh, who contracted the dimensions of
the Kaaba; that it was united to the building by Hadjadj, and again
separated from it by Ibn Zebeyr. It is asserted by Fasy, that a part of
the Hedjer, as it now stands, was never comprehended within the Kaaba.
The law regards it as a portion of the Kaaba, inasmuch as it is esteemed
equally meritorious to pray in the Hadjer as in the Kaaba itself; and
the pilgrims who have not an opportunity of entering the latter, are
permitted to affirm upon oath that they have prayed in the Kaaba,
although they may have only prostrated themselves within the enclosure
of the Hatym.

[p.140] The wall is built of solid stone, about five feet in height, and
four in thickness, cased all over with white marble, and inscribed with
prayers and invocations, neatly sculptured upon the stone in modern
characters. These and the casing are the work of El Ghoury, the Egyptian
Sultan, in A.H. 917, as we learn from Kotobeddyn. The walk round the
Kaaba is performed on the outside of the wall--the nearer to it the

The four sides of the Kaaba are covered with a black silk stuff, hanging
down, and leaving the roof bare. [The Wahabys, during the first year of
their residence at Mekka, covered the Kaaba with a red kesoua, worked at
El Hassa, of the same stuff as the fine Arabian Abbas.] This curtain, or
veil, is called kesoua, and renewed annually at the time of the Hadj,
being brought from Cairo, where it is manufactured at the Grand
Seignior's expense. [During the first century of Islam, the kesoua was
never taken away, the new one being annually put over the old. But the
Mekkawys at length began to fear that the Kaaba might yield under such
an accumulation, and the Khalif El Mohdy Abou Abdallah removed the
coverings in A.H. 160. (See Makrizy.)] On it are various prayers
interwoven in the same colour as the stuff, and it is, therefore,
extremely difficult to read them. A little above the middle, and running
round the whole building, is a line of similar inscriptions, worked in
gold thread. That part of the kesoua which covers the door is richly
embroidered with silver. Openings are left for the Black Stone, and the
other in the south-east corner, which thus remain uncovered. The kesoua
is always of the same form and pattern; that which I saw on my first
visit to the mosque, was in a decayed state, and full of holes. On the
25th of the month Zul' Kade the old one is taken away, and the Kaaba
continues without a cover for fifteen days. It is then said that El
Kaaba Yehrem, "The Kaaba has assumed the ihram," which lasts until the
tenth of Zul Hadje, the day of the return of the pilgrims from Arafat to
Wady Muna, when the new kesoua is put on. During the first days, the new
covering is tucked up by cords fastened to the roof, so as to leave the
lower part of the building exposed: having remained thus for some days,
it is let down, and covers the whole structure, being then tied to
strong brass

[p.141] rings in the basis of the Kaaba. The removal of the old kesoua
was performed in a very indecorous manner; and a contest ensued among
the hadjys and people of Mekka, both young and old, about a few rags of
it. The hadjys even collect the dust which sticks to the walls of the
Kaaba, under the kesoua, and sell it, on their return, as a sacred
relic. At the moment the building is covered, and completely bare,
(uryan, as it is styled,) a crowd of women assemble round it, rejoicing
with cries called "Walwalou."

The black colour of the kesoua, covering a large cube in the midst of a
vast square, gives to the Kaaba, at first sight, a very singular and
imposing appearance; as it is not fastened down tightly, the slightest
breeze causes it to move in slow undulations, which are hailed with
prayers by the congregation assembled around the building, as a sign of
the presence of its guardian angels, whose wings, by their motion, are
supposed to be the cause of the waving of the covering. Seventy thousand
angels have the Kaaba in their holy care, and are ordered to transport
it to Paradise, when the trumpet of the last judgment shall be sounded.

The clothing of the Kaaba was an ancient custom of the Pagan Arabs. The
first kesoua, says El Azraky, was put on by Asad Toba, one of the
Hamyarite kings of Yemen: before Islam it had two coverings, one for
winter and the other for summer. In the early ages of Islam it was
sometimes white and sometimes red, and consisted of the richest brocade.
In subsequent times it was furnished by the different Sultans of
Baghdad, Egypt, or Yemen, according as their respective influence over
Mekka prevailed; for the clothing of the Kaaba appears to have always
been considered as a proof of sovereignty over the Hedjaz. Kalaoun,
Sultan of Egypt, assumed to himself and successors the exclusive right,
and from them the Sultans at Constantinople have inherited it. Kalaoun
appropriated the revenue of the two large villages Bysous and Sandabeir,
in Lower Egypt, to the expense of the kesoua; and Sultan Solyman Ibn
Selym subsequently added several others; but the Kaaba has long been
deprived of this resource. [Vide Kotobeddyn and Asamy]

[p.142] Round the Kaaba is a good pavement of marble, about eight inches
below the level of the great square; it was laid in A.H. 981, by order
of the Sultan, and describes an irregular oval; it is surrounded by
thirty-two slender gilt pillars, or rather poles, between every two of
which are suspended seven glass lamps, always lighted after sun-set.
Beyond the poles is a second pavement, about eight paces broad, somewhat
elevated above the first, but of coarser work; then another, six inches
higher, and eighteen paces broad, upon which stand several small
buildings; beyond this is the gravelled ground, so that two broad steps
may be said to lead from the square down to the Kaaba. The small
buildings just mentioned, which surround the Kaaba, are the five Makams,
with the well of Zemzem, the arch called Bab-es'-Salam, and the Mambar.

Opposite the four sides of the Kaaba stand four other small buildings,
where the Imaums of the orthodox Mohammedan sects, the Hanefy, Shafey,
Hanbaly, and Maleky, take their station, and guide the congregation in
their prayers. The Makam el Maleky, on the south, and that of Hanbaly,
opposite the Black Stone, are small pavilions, open on all sides, and
supported by four slender pillars, with a light sloping roof,
terminating in a point, exactly in the style of Indian pagodas. The
Makam el Hanefy, which is the largest, being fifteen paces by eight, is
open on all sides, and supported by twelve small pillars; it has an
upper story, also open, where the Mueddin who calls to prayers, takes
his stand. This was first built in A.H. 923, by Sultan Selym I.; it was
afterwards rebuilt by Khoshgeldy, governor of Djidda, in 947; but all
the four Makams, as they now stand, were built in A.H. 1074. [Vide
Kotobeddyn and Asamy] The Makam-es-Shafey is over the well Zemzem, to
which it serves as an upper chamber.

Near their respective Makams, the adherents of the four different sects
seat themselves for prayers. During my stay at Mekka, the Hanefys always
began their prayer first; but according to Muselman custom the Shafeys
should pray first in the mosque; then the Hanefys, Malekys, and
Hanbalys. The prayer of the Magreb is an exception, which they are all
enjoined to utter together. [Vide Fasy.] The Makam el Hanbaly

[p.143] is the place where the officers of government, and other great
people, are seated during prayers; here the Pasha and the Sherif are
placed; and, in their absence, the eunuchs of the temple. These fill the
space under this Makam in front, and behind it the female hadjys, who
visit the temple, have their places assigned, to which they repair
principally for the two evening prayers, few of them being seen in the
mosque at the three other daily prayers: they also perform the towaf, or
walk round the Kaaba, but generally at night, though it is not uncommon
to see them walking in the day-time among the men.

The present building which encloses Zemzem, stands close by the Makam
Hanbaly, and was erected in A.H. 1072 [Vide Asamy.]: it is of a square
shape, and of massive construction, with an entrance to the north,
opening into the room which contains the well. This room is beautifully
ornamented with marbles of various colours; and adjoining to it, but
having a separate door, is a small room with a stone reservoir which is
always full of Zemzem water: this the hadjys get to drink by passing
their hand with a cup through an iron grated opening, which serves as a
window, into the reservoir, without entering the room. The mouth of the
well is surrounded by a wall five feet in height, and about ten feet in
diameter. Upon this the people stand, who draw up the water, in leathern
buckets, an iron railing being so placed as to prevent their falling in.
In El Fasy's time there were eight marble basins in this room, for the
purpose of ablution.

From before dawn till near midnight, the well-room is constantly filled
with visitors. Every one is at liberty to draw up the water for himself,
but the labour is generally performed by persons placed there on
purpose, and paid by the mosque: they expect also a trifle from those
who come to drink, though they dare not demand it. I have been more than
once in the room a quarter of an hour before I could get a draught of
water, so great was the crowd. Devout hadjys sometimes mount the wall,
and draw the bucket for several hours, in the hope of thus expiating
their evil deeds.

Before the Wahaby invasion, the well Zemzem belonged to the

[p.144] Sherif; and the water becoming thus a monopoly, was only to be
purchased at a high price; but one of Saoud's first orders, on his
arrival at Mekka, was to abolish this traffic, and the holy water is now
dispensed gratis. The Turks consider it a miracle that the water of this
well never diminishes, notwithstanding the continual draught from: it
there certainly is no diminution in its depth; for by an accurate
inspection of the rope by which the buckets are drawn up, I found that
the same length was required both at morning and evening to reach the
surface of the water. Upon inquiry, I learned from one of the persons
who had descended in the time of the Wahabys to repair the masonry, that
the water was flowing at the bottom, and that the well is therefore
supplied by a subterraneous rivulet. The water is heavy to the taste,
and sometimes in its colour resembles milk; but it is perfectly sweet,
and differs very much from that of the brackish wells dispersed over the
town. When first drawn up, it is slightly tepid, resembling, in this
respect, many other fountains of the Hedjaz.

Zemzem supplies the whole town, and there is scarcely one family that
does not daily fill a jar with the water: this only serves, however, for
drinking or for ablution, as it is thought impious to employ water so
sacred for culinary purposes or on common occasions. Almost every hadjy,
when he repairs to the mosque for evening prayer has a jar of the water
placed before him by those who earn their livelihood by performing this
service. The water is distributed in the mosque to all who are thirsty
for a trifling fee, by water-carriers with large jars upon their backs:
these men are also paid by charitable hadjys for supplying the poorer
pilgrims with this holy beverage immediately before or after prayers.

The water is regarded as an infallible cure for all diseases; and the
devotees believe that the more they drink of it, the better their health
will be, and their prayers the more acceptable to the Deity. I have seen
some of them at the well swallowing such a quantity of it as I should
hardly have thought possible. A man who lived in the same house with me,
and who was ill of an intermittent fever, repaired every evening to
Zemzem, and drank of the water till he was almost fainting,

[p.145] after which he lay for several hours extended upon his back on
the pavement near the Kaaba, and then returned to renew his draught.
When by this practice he was brought to the verge of death, he declared
himself fully convinced that the increase of his illness proceeded
wholly from his being unable to swallow a sufficient quantity of the
water! Many hadjys, not content with drinking it merely, strip
themselves in the room, and have buckets of it thrown over them, by
which they believe that the heart is purified as well as the outer body.
Few pilgrims quit Mekka without carrying away some of this water in
copper or tin bottles, either for the purpose of making presents, or for
their own use in case of illness, when they drink it, or for ablution
after death. I carried away four small bottles, with the intention of
offering them as presents to the Mohammedan kings in the Black
countries. I have seen it sold at Suez by hadjys returning from Mekka at
the rate of one piastre for the quantity that filled a coffee-cup.

The chief of Zemzem is one of the principal olemas of Mekka. I need not
remind the reader that Zemzem is supposed to be the spring found in the
wilderness by Hagar, at the moment when her infant son Ismayl was dying
of thirst. It seems probable that the town of Mekka owes its origin to
this well; for many miles round, no sweet water is found, nor is there
in any part of the adjacent country so copious a supply.

On the north-east side of Zemzem stand two small buildings, one behind
the other, called El Kobbateyn; they are covered by domes painted in the
same manner as the mosque, and in them are kept water jars, lamps,
carpets, mats, brooms, and other articles used in the very mosque. These
two ugly buildings are injurious to the interior appearance of the
building, their heavy forms and structure being disadvantageously
contrasted with the light and airy shape of the Makams. I heard some
hadjys from Greece, men of better taste than the Arabs, express their
regret that the Kobbateyn should be allowed to disfigure the mosque.
Their contents might be deposited in some of the buildings adjoining the
mosque, of which they form no essential part, no religious importance
being attached to them. They were built by Khoshgeldy, governor of
Djidda, A.H. 947: one is called

[p.146] Kobbet el Abbas, from having been placed on the site of a small
tank said to have been formed by Abbas, the uncle of Mohammed.

A few paces west of Zemzem, and directly opposite to the door of the
Kaaba, stands a ladder or staircase, which is moved up to the wall of
the Kaaba, on the days when that building is opened, and by which the
visitors ascend to the door: it is of wood, with some carved ornaments,
moves on low wheels, and is sufficiently broad to admit of four persons
ascending abreast. The first ladder was sent hither from Cairo in A.H.
818, by Moay-ed Abou el Naser, King of Egypt; for in the Hedjaz it seems
there has always been so great a want of artizans, that whenever the
mosque required any work, it was necessary to have mechanics brought
from Cairo, and even sometimes from Constantinople.

In the same line with the ladder, and close by it, stands a lightly-
built, insulated, and circular arch, about fifteen feet wide and
eighteen feet high, called Bab-es'-Salam, which must not be confounded
with the great gate of the mosque bearing the same name. Those who enter
the Beitullah for the first time, are enjoined to do so by the outer and
inner Bab-es'-Salam: in passing under the latter, they are to exclaim,
"O God, may it be a happy entrance!" I do not know by whom this arch was
built, but it appears to be modern.

Nearly in front of the Bab-es'-Salam; and nearer to the Kaaba than any
of the other surrounding buildings, stands the Makam Ibrahim. This is a
small building, supported by six pillars about eight feet high, four of
which are surrounded from top to bottom by a fine iron railing, which
thus leaves the space beyond the two hind pillars open: within the
railing is a frame about five feet square, terminating in a pyramidal
top, and said to contain the sacred stone upon which Ibrahim (Abraham)
stood when he built the Kaaba, and which, with the help of his son
Ismayl, he had removed from hence to the place called Madjen, already
mentioned. The stone is said to have yielded under the weight of the
patriarch, and to preserve the impression of his foot still visible upon
it; but no hadjy has ever seen it, as the frame is always entirely
covered with a brocade of red silk richly embroidered. Persons are
constantly seen before the railing, invoking the good offices of

[p.147] Ibrahim; and a short prayer must be uttered by the side of the
Makam, after the walk round the Kaaba is completed. It is said that many
of the Sahabe, or first adherents of Mohammed, were interred in the open
space between this Makam. and Zemzem, from which circumstance it is one
of the most favourite places of prayer in the mosque. In this part of
the area, the Khalif Soleyman Ibn Abd el Melek, brother of Wolyd, built
a fine reservoir, in A.H. 97, which was filled from a spring east of
Arafat; but the Mekkawys destroyed it after his death, on the pretence
that the water of Zemzem was preferable. [Vide Makrizi's Treatise--
"Manhadj myn el Kholafa."]

On the side of Makam Ibrahim, facing the middle part of the front of the
Kaaba, stands the Mambar or pulpit of the mosque; it is elegantly formed
of fine white marble, with many sculptured ornaments, and was sent as a
present to the mosque in A.H. 969, by Sultan Soleyman Ibn Selym: [The
first Mambar was sent from Cairo in A.H. 818, together with the steps
above mentioned, by Moay-ed, King of Egypt. See Asamy.] a straight
narrow staircase leads up to the post of the Khatyb, or preacher, which
is surmounted by a gilt polygonal pointed steeple, resembling an
obelisk. Here a sermon is preached on Fridays, and on certain festivals;
these, like the Friday sermons of all mosques in the Mohammedan
countries, are usually of the same tenor, with some slight alterations
upon extraordinary occasions. Before the Wahabys invaded Mekka, prayers
were added for the Sultan and the Sherif; but these were forbidden by
Saoud. Since the Turkish conquest, however, the ancient custom has been
restored; and on Fridays, as well as at the end of the first daily
evening prayers, the Sultan, Mohammed Aly Pasha, and Sherif Yahya are
included in the formula. The right of preaching in the Mambar is vested
in several of the first olemas in Mekka; they are always elderly
persons, and officiate in rotation. In ancient times, Mohammed himself,
his successors, and the Khalifes, whenever they came to Mekka, mounted
the pulpit, and preached to the people.

The Khatyb, or preacher, appears in the Mambar wrapped in a white cloak,
which covers his head and body, and with a stick in his

[p.148] hand; a practice observed also in Egypt and Syria, in memory of
the first age of Islam, when the preachers found it necessary to be
armed, from fear of being surprised. As in other mosques, two green
flags are placed on each side of him.

About the Mambar, the visitors of the Kaaba deposit their shoes; as it
is neither permitted to walk round the Kaaba with covered feet, nor
thought decent to carry the shoes in the hand, as is done in other
mosques. Several persons keep watch over the shoes, for which they
expect a small present; but the vicinity of the holy temple does not
intimidate the dishonest, for I lost successively from this spot three
new pairs of shoes; and the same thing happens to many hadjys.

I have now described all the buildings within the enclosure of the
Temple. [The ground-plan of the Temple given by Aly Bey el Abbassi is
perfectly correct. This cannot be said of his plan of Mekka, nor of his
different views in the Hedjaz: a comparison of my description with his
work will show in what points I differ from him, as well in regard to
the temple, as to the town and its inhabitants. His travels came to my
hands after I had returned from Arabia. The view of the mosque given by
d'Ohsson, in his valuable work, is tolerably correct, except that the
Kaaba is too large in proportion to the rest of the building. The view
of the town of Mekka, on the contrary, is very unfaithful. That in
Niebuhr, which was copied from an ancient Arabic drawing, is less
accurate than d'Ohsson's. The original seems to have been taken before
the last alterations made in the buildings of the Temple.]

The gravel-ground, and part of the adjoining outer pavement of the
Kaaba, is covered, at the time of evening prayers, with carpets of from
sixty to eighty feet in length, and four feet in breadth, of Egyptian
manufacture, which are rolled up after prayers. The greater part of the
hadjys bring their own carpets with them. The more distant parts of the
area, and the floor under the colonnade, are spread with mats, brought
from Souakin; the latter situation being the usual place for the
performance of the mid-day and afternoon prayers. Many of these mats are
presented to the mosque by the hadjys, for which they have in return the
satisfaction of seeing their names inscribed on them in large

At sun-set, great numbers assemble for the first evening prayer: they
form themselves into several wide circles, sometimes as many as

[p.149] twenty, around the Kaaba as a common centre before which every
person makes his prostration; and thus, as the Mohammedan doctors
observe, Mekka is the only spot throughout the world in which the true
believer can, with propriety, turn during his prayers towards any point
of the compass. The Imam takes his post near the gate of the Kaaba, and
his genuflexions are imitated by the whole assembled multitude. The
effect of the joint prostrations of six or eight thousand persons, added
to the recollection of the distance and various quarters from whence
they come, and for what purpose, cannot fail to impress the most cool-
minded spectator with some degree of awe. At night, when the lamps are
lighted, and numbers of devotees are performing the Towaf round the
Kaaba, the sight of the busy crowds--the voices of the Metowefs, intent
upon making themselves heard by those to whom they recite their prayers--
the loud conversation of many idle persons--the running, playing, and
laughing of boys, give to the whole a very different appearance, and one
more resembling that of a place of public amusement. The crowd, however,
leaves the mosque about nine o'clock, when it again becomes the place of
silent meditation and prayer, to the few visitors who are led to the
spot by sincere piety, and not worldly motives or fashion.

There is an opinion prevalent at Mekka, founded on holy tradition, that
the mosque will contain any number of the faithful; and that if even the
whole Mohammedan community were to enter at once, they would all find
room in it to pray. The guardian angels, it is said, would invisibly
extend the dimensions of the building, and diminish the size of each
individual. The fact is, that during the most numerous pilgrimages, the
mosque, which can contain, I believe, about thirty-five thousand persons
in the act of prayer, is never half filled. Even on Fridays, the greater
part of the Mekkawys, contrary to the injunctions of the law, pray at
home, if at all, and many hadjys follow their example. I could never
count more than ten thousand individuals in the mosque at one time, even
after the return from Arafat, when the whole body of hadjys were
collected, for a few days, in and about the city.

At every hour of the day persons may be seen under the colonnade,

[p.150] occupied in reading the Koran and other religious books; and
here many poor Indians, or negroes, spread their mats, and pass the
whole period of their residence at Mekka. Here they both eat and sleep;
but cooking is not allowed. During the hours of noon, many persons come
to repose beneath the cool shade of the vaulted roof of the colonnade; a
custom which not only accounts for the mode of construction observed in
the old Mohammedan temples of Egypt and Arabia, but for that also of the
ancient Egyptian temples, the immense porticoes of which were probably
left open to the idolatrous natives, whose mud-built houses could afford
them but an imperfect refuge against the mid-day heats.

It is only during the hours of prayer that the great mosques of these
countries partake of the sanctity of prayer, or in any degree seem to be
regarded as consecrated places. In El Azhar, the first mosque at Cairo,
I have seen boys crying pancakes for sale, barbers shaving their
customers, and many of the lower orders eating their dinners, where,
during prayers, not the slightest motion, nor even whisper, diverts the
attention of the congregation. Not a sound but the voice of the Imam is
heard during prayers in the great mosque at Mekka, which at other times
is the place of meeting for men of business to converse on their
affairs, and is sometimes so full of poor hadjys, or of diseased persons
lying about under the colonnade, in the midst of their miserable
baggage, as to have the appearance of an hospital rather than a temple.
Boys play in the great square, and servants carry luggage across it, to
pass by the nearest route from one part of the town to the other. In
these respects, the temple of Mekka resembles the other great mosques of
the East. But the holy Kaaba is rendered the scene of such indecencies
and criminal acts, as cannot with propriety be more particularly
noticed. They are not only practised here with impunity, but, it may be
said, almost publicly; and my indignation has often been excited, on
witnessing abominations which called forth from other passing spectators
nothing more than a laugh or a slight reprimand.

In several parts of the colonnade, public schools are held, where young
children are taught to spell and read: they form most noisy

[p.151] groups, and the schoolmaster's stick is in constant action. Some
learned men of Mekka deliver lectures on religious subjects every
afternoon under the colonnade, but the auditors are seldom numerous. On
Fridays, after prayer, some Turkish olemas explain to their countrymen
assembled around them a few chapters of the Koran, after which each of
the audience kisses the hand of the expositor, and drops money into his
cap. I particularly admired the fluency of speech of one of these
olemas, although I did not understand him, the lecture being delivered
in the Turkish language. His gesticulations, and the inflexions of his
voice, were most expressive; but like an actor on the stage, he would
laugh and cry in the same minute, and adapt his features to his purpose
in the most skilful manner. He was a native of Brusa, and amassed a
considerable sum of money.

Near the gate of the mosque called Bab-es'-Salam, a few Arab Sheikhs
daily take their seat, with their ink-stand and paper, ready to write,
for any applicant, letters, accounts, contracts, or any similar
document. They also deal in written charms, like those current in the
Black countries, such as amulets, and love-receipts, called "Kotob
muhbat o kuboul." They are principally employed by Bedouins, and demand
an exorbitant remuneration.

Winding-sheets (keffen), and other linen washed in the waters of Zemzem,
are constantly seen hanging to dry between the columns. Many hadjys
purchase at Mekka the shroud in which they wish to be buried, and wash
it themselves at the well of Zemzem, supposing that, if the corpse be
wrapped in linen which has been wetted with this holy water, the peace
of the soul after death will be more effectually secured. Some hadjys
make this linen an article of traffic.

Mekka generally, but the mosque in particular, abounds with flocks of
wild pigeons, which are considered to be the inviolable property of the
temple, and are called the Pigeons of the Beitullah. Nobody dares to
kill any of them, even when they enter the private houses. In the square
of the mosque, several small stone basins are regularly filled with
water for their use; here also Arab women expose to sale, upon small
straw mats, corn and durra, which the pilgrims

[p.152] purchase, and throw to the pigeons. I have seen some of the
public women take this mode of exhibiting themselves, and of bargaining
with the pilgrims, under pretence of selling them corn for the sacred

The gates of the mosque are nineteen in number, and are distributed
about it, without any order or symmetry. I subjoin their names, as they
are usually written upon small cards by the Metowefs: in another column
are the names by which they were known in more ancient times,
principally taken from Azraky and Kotoby.

Modern Names. Ancient Names.

Bab-es'-Salam, composed of 3 Bab beni Sheybe.
smaller gates, or arches.
Bab el Neby 2 Bab el Djenaiz,
The dead being
carried through it
to the mosque,
that prayers may
be said over their
Bab el Abbas. 3 Bab Sertakat.
Opposite to this the house
of Abbas once stood.
Bab Aly 3 Bab Beni Hashem.
Bab el Zeyt
2 Bab Bazan.
Bab el Ashra
Bab el Baghle 2
Bab el Szafa 5 Bab Beni Makhzoum.
Bab Sherif 2 Bab el Djyad.
Bab Medjahed 2 Bab el Dokhmase
Bab Zoleykha 2 Bab Sherif Adjelan
(who built it.)
Bab Om Hany. 2
So called from the daughter
of Aby Taleb.
Bab el Wodaa. 2 Bab el Hazoura
Through which the pilgrim
passes in taking his final
leave of the temple.
Bab Ibrahim 1 Bab el Kheyatyn,
or Bab Djomah.
[So called, not from
Abraham, but from a
tailor who had his
shop near it.]


Bab el Omra 1
Through which the pilgrims
issue to visit the Omra.
Also called Beni Saham.
Bab Ateek 1 Bab Amer Ibn el
Aas, or Bab el
Bab el Bastye 1 Bab el Adjale.
Bab el Kotoby 1 Bab Zyade Dar
el Nedoua.
[Taking its name from the
famous author of a History
of Mekka, who lived in an
adjoining lane, and opened
this small gate into the
Bab Zyade 3
Bab Dereybe 1 Bab Medrese.
Total number of arches 39

The principal of these gates are:--on the north side, Bab-es-Salam, by
which every pilgrim enters the mosque; Bab Abbas; Bab el Neby, by which
Mohammed is said to have always entered the mosque; Bab Aly. On the east
side, Bab el Zeyt, or Bab el Ashra, through which the ten first Sahabe,
or adherents of Mohammed, used to enter; Bab el Szafa; two gates called
Biban el Sherif, opposite the palaces of the Sherif. On the south side,
Bab Ibrahim, where the colonnade projects beyond the straight line of
the columns, and forms a small square; Bab el Omra, through which it is
necessary to pass, on visiting the Omra. On the west side, Bab el Zyade,
forming a projecting square similar to that at Bab Ibrahim, but larger.
Most of these gates have high pointed arches; but a few round arches are
seen among them, which, like all the arches of this kind in the Hedjaz,
are nearly semi-circular. They are without any ornament, except the
inscription on the exterior, which commemorates the name of the builder;
and they are all posterior in date to the fourteenth century. As each
gate consists of two or three arches, or divisions, separated by narrow
walls, these divisions are counted in the enumeration of the gates
leading into the Kaaba, and thus make up the number thirty-nine. There
being no doors to the gates, the mosque is consequently open at all

[p.154] times. I have crossed at every hour of the night, and always
found people there, either at prayers, or walking about.

The outside walls of the mosque are those of the houses which surround
it on all sides. These houses belonged originally to the mosque; the
greater part are now the property of individuals, who have purchased
them; they are let out to the richest hadjys, at very high prices, as
much as five hundred piastres being given, during the pilgrimage, for a
good apartment, with windows opening into the mosque. Windows have, in
consequence, been opened in many parts of the walls, on a level with the
street, and above that of the floor of the colonnades: Hadjys living in
these apartments are allowed to perform the Friday's prayers at home;
because, having the Kaaba in view from the windows, they are supposed to
be in the mosque itself, and to join in prayer those assembled within
the temple. Upon a level with the ground-floor of the colonnades, and
opening into them, are small apartments formed in the walls, having the
appearance of dungeons: these have remained the property of the mosque,
while the houses above them belong to private individuals. They are let
out to watermen, who deposit in them the Zemzem jars; or to less opulent
hadjys, who wish to live in the mosque. Some of the surrounding houses
still belong to the mosque, and were originally intended for public
schools, as their name of Medrese implies: they are now all let out to
hadjys. In one of the largest of them, Mohammed Aly Pasha lived; in
another Hassan Pasha. [One of the finest Medreses in Mekka, built by
order of Kail Beg, Sultan of Egypt, in A.H. 888, in the side of the
mosque fronting the street Masaa, has also become a private building,
after having been deprived of its revenue by the peculation of its
guardians. Besides the Medreses, there were other buildings of less
extent erected by different Sultans of Egypt and Constantinople for
similar purposes, called Rebat, where poor pilgrims might reside, who
chose to study there; but these have shared the fate of the Medreses,
and are now either the private property of Mekkawys, or let to
individuals on long leases by the mosque, and used as common lodging-

Close to Bab Ibrahim is a large Medrese, now the property of Seyd Ageyl,
one of the principal merchants of the town, whose ware-house opens into
the mosque. This person, who is aged, has the reputation

[p.155] of great sanctity; and it is said that the hand of Sherif
Ghaleb, when once in the act of collaring him, for refusing to advance
some money, was momentarily struck with palsy. He has every evening
assemblies in his house, where theological books are read, [The cousin of
this man is the famous pirate Syd Mohammed el Ageyl, who has committed
many outrages upon European ships in the Red Sea, and even insulted the
English flag. In the beginning of 1814 he was called to Djidda, with
offers to enter the service of Mohammed Aly Pasha, who, it was then
thought, had some hostile intentions against Yemen. The Pasha made him
considerable presents, either in the hope of engaging him in his
service, or of securing his friendship; but the pirate declined his
proposals. He has amassed great wealth; has establishments in almost
every harbour of the Red Sea; and is adored by his sailors and soldiers
for his great liberality. Like his cousin at Mekka, he has succeeded in
making people believe that he is endowed with supernatural powers.] and
religious topics discussed.

Among other buildings forming the enclosure of the Mesjed, is the
Mehkam, or house of justice, close by the Bab Zyade: it is a fine,
firmly-built structure, with lofty arches in the interior, and has a row
of high windows looking into the mosque. It is inhabited by the Kadhy.
Adjoining to it stands a large Medrese, inclosing a square, known by the
name of Medrese Soleymanye, built by Sultan Soleyman, and his son Selym
II., in A.H. 973. It is always well filled with Turkish hadjys, the
friends of the Kadhy, who disposes of the lodgings.

The exterior of the mosque is adorned with seven minarets, irregularly
distributed:--1. Minaret of Bab el Omra; 2. of Bab el Salam; 3. of Bab
Aly; 4. of Bab el Wodaa; 5. of Medrese Kail Beg; 6. of Bab el Zyade; 7.
of Medreset Sultan Soleyman. They are quadrangular or round steeples, in
no way differing from other minarets. The entrance to them is from the
different buildings round the mosque, which they adjoin. A beautiful
view of the busy crowd below is obtained by ascending the most northern

It will have been seen by the foregoing description, that the mosque of
Mekka differs little in its construction from many other buildings of
the same nature in Asia. The mosque of Zakaria at Aleppo, the great
mosque called El Amouy at Damascus, and the greater number of the larger
mosques at Cairo, are constructed exactly

[p.156] upon the same plan, with an arched colonnade round an open
square. None is more like it than the mosque of Touloun, at Cairo, built
in A.H. 263; and that of Ammer, situated between Cairo and Old Cairo,
upon the spot where Fostat once stood: it was built by Ammer Ibn el Aas,
in the first years of the conquest of Egypt; it has an arched fountain
in the midst, where at Mekka stands the Kaaba; but is only one-third as
large as the mosque of Mekka. The history of Beitullah (or God's house)
has exercised the industry of many learned Arabians: it is only in
latter times that the mosque has been enlarged; many trees once stood in
the square, and it is to be regretted that others have not succeeded

The service of the mosque occupies a vast number of people. The Khatybs,
Imams, Muftis, those attached to Zemzem, the Mueddins who call to
prayers, numbers of olemas, who deliver lectures, lamp-lighters, and a
crowd of menial servants, are all employed about the Beitullah. They
receive regular pay from the mosque, besides what they share of the
presents made to it by hadjys, for the purpose of distribution; those
not made for such purpose, are reserved for the repairs of the building.
The revenue of the mosque is considerable, although it has been deprived
of the best branches of its income.

There are few towns or districts of the Turkish empire in which it does
not possess property in land or houses; but the annual amount of this
property is often withheld by provincial governors, or at least it is
reduced, by the hands through which it passes, to a small proportion of
its real value. El Is-haaky, in his History of Egypt, states, that in
the time of Sultan Achmed, the son of Sultan Mohammed, (who died in A.H.
1027,) Egypt sent yearly to Mekka two hundred and ninety-five purses,
destined principally for the mosque, and forty-eight thousand and eighty
erdebs of corn. Bayazyd Ibn Sultan Mohammed Khan (in 912) fixed the
income of Mekka and Medina, to be sent from Constantinople, at fourteen
thousand ducats per annum, in addition to what his predecessors had
already ordered; and Sultan Solyman Ibn Selym I. increased the annual
income of Mekka, sent from Constantinople, which his father Selym had
fixed at seven thousand erdebs of corn, to ten thousand erdebs, and five
thousand for the inhabitants of

[p.157] Medina. [See Kotobeddyn.] He likewise fixed the surra from
Constantinople, or, as it is called, the Greek surra, at thirty-one
thousand ducats per annum. [See Assamy. These surras (or purses) were
first instituted by Mohammed Ibn Sultan Yalderem, in A.H. 816.] Almost
all the revenues derived from Egypt were sequestrated by the Mamelouk
Beys; and Mohammed Aly has now seized what remained. Some revenue is yet
drawn from Yemen, called Wakf el Hamam, and a little is brought in
annually by the Hadj caravans. At present, therefore, the mosque of
Mekka may be called poor in comparison with its former state. [The
princes of India have frequently given proofs of great munificence
towards the mosque at Mekka. In A.H. 798, large presents in money and
valuable articles were sent by the sovereigns of Bengal and Cambay;
those of Bengal, especially, are often mentioned as benefactors by
Asamy.] Excepting a few golden lamps in the Kaaba, it possesses no
treasures whatever, notwithstanding the stories prevalent to the
contrary; and I learnt from the Kadhy himself, that the Sultan, in order
to keep up the establishment, sends at present four hundred purses
annually, as a present to the Kaaba; which sum is partly expended in the
service of the mosque, and partly divided among the servants belonging
to it.

The income of the mosque must not be confounded with that of a number of
Mekkawys, including many of the servants, which they derive from other
pious foundations in the Turkish empire, known by the name of Surra, and
of which a great part still remains untouched. The donations of the
hadjys, however, are so ample as to afford abundant subsistence to the
great numbers of idle persons employed about the mosque; and as long as
the pilgrimage exists, there is no reason to apprehend their wanting
either the necessaries or the luxuries of life.

The first officer of the mosque is the Nayb el Haram, or Hares el Haram,
the guardian who keeps the keys of the Kaaba. In his hands are deposited
the sums bestowed as presents to the building, and which he distributes
in conjunction with the Kadhy: under his directions,

[p.158] also, the repairs of the building are carried on. [The honour of
keeping the keys of the Kaaba, and the profits arising from it, were
often subjects of contention among the ancient Arabian tribes.] I have
been assured, but do not know how truly, that the Nayb el Haram's yearly
accounts, which are countersigned by the Sherif and Kadhy, and sent to
Constantinople, amount to three hundred purses, merely for the expenses
of the necessary repairs, lighting, carpets, &c., and the maintenance of
the eunuchs belonging to the temple. This officer happens at present to
be one of the heads of the three only families descended from the
ancient Koreysh who remain resident at Mekka. Next to him, the second
officer of the mosque in rank is the Aga of the eunuchs, or, as he is
called; Agat el Towashye. The eunuchs perform the duty of police
officers in the temple; [The employment of slaves or eunuchs in this
mosque is of very ancient date. Mawya Ibn Aly Sofyan, a short time after
Mohammed, first ordered slaves for the Kaaba.--Vid. Fasy.] they prevent
disorders, and daily wash and sweep, with large brooms, the pavement
round the Kaaba. In time of rain, I have seen the water stand on the
pavement to the height of a foot; on such occasions many of the hadjys
assist the eunuchs in removing it through several holes made in the
pavement, which, it is said, lead to large vaults beneath the Kaaba,
though the historians of Mekka and of the temple make no mention of
them. The eunuchs are dressed in the Constantinopolitan kaouk, with wide
robes, bound by a sash, and carry a long stick in their hands. The
engraving of their dress given by d'Ohsson is strikingly correct; as
are, in general, all the representations of costume in that work, which
I had an opportunity of comparing with the original. [This excellent work
is the only perfect source of information respecting the laws and
constitution of the Turkish empire; but it must not be forgotten that
the practices prevalent in the provinces are, unfortunately, often in
direct contravention of the spirit and letter of the code of law, as
explained by the author.] The number of eunuchs now exceeds forty, and
they are supplied by Pashas and other grandees, who send them, when
young, as presents to the mosque: one hundred dollars are sent with each
as an outfit. Mohammed Aly presented ten young eunuchs to the mosque. At
present there

[p.159] are ten grown-up persons, and twenty boys; the latter live
together in a house, till they are sufficiently instructed to be given
in charge to their elder brethren, with whom they remain a few years,
and then set up their own establishments. Extraordinary as it may
appear, the grown-up eunuchs are all married to black slaves, and
maintain several male and female slaves in their houses as servants.
They affect great importance; and in case of quarrels or riots, lay
freely about them with their sticks. Many of the lower classes of Mekka
kiss their hands on approaching them. Their chief, or Aga, whom they
elect among themselves, is a great personage, and is entitled to sit in
the presence of the Pasha and the Sherif. The eunuchs have a large
income from the revenues of the mosque, and from private donations of
the hadjys; they also receive regular stipends from Constantinople, and
derive profit from trade; for, like almost all the people of Mekka, and
even the first clergy, they are more or less engaged in traffic; and
their ardour in the pursuit of commercial gain is much greater than that
which they evince in the execution of their official duties, being
equalled only by the eagerness with which they court the friendship of
wealthy hadjys.

Most of the eunuchs, or Towashye, are negroes; a few were copper-
coloured Indians. One of the former is sometimes sent to the Soudan
countries, to collect presents for the Kaaba. The fate of a eunuch of
this description is mentioned by Bruce. Some years since a Towashye
obtained permission to return to Soudan, on presenting another person to
the mosque in his stead. He then repaired to Borgo, west of Darfour, and
is now the powerful governor of a province.

Whenever negro hadjys come to Mekka, they never fail to pay assiduous
court to the Towashyes. A Towashye, after having been once attached to
the service of the Kaaba, which confers on him the appellation of
Towashye el Neby (the Prophet's eunuch), can never enter into any other

In the time of Ramadhan, (the last days of which month, in 1814, I
passed at Mekka,) the mosque is particularly brilliant. The hadjys, at
that period, (which happened to be in the hottest time of the year,)
generally performed the three first daily prayers at home, but assembled

[p.160] in large crowds in the mosque, for their evening devotions.
Every one then carried in his handkerchief a few dates, a little bread
and cheese, or some grapes, which he placed before him, waiting for the
moment of the call to evening prayers, to be allowed to break the fast.
During this period of suspense, they would politely offer to their
neighbours a part of their meal, and receive as much in return. Some
hadjys, to gain the reputation of peculiar charitableness, were going
from man to man, and placing before each a few morsels of viands,
followed by beggars, who, in their turn, received these morsels from
those hadjys before whom they had been placed. As soon as the Imam on
the top of Zemzem began his cry of "Allahou Akbar," (God is most great!)
every one hastened to drink of the jar of Zemzem water placed before
him, and to eat something, previous to joining in the prayer; after
which they all returned home to supper, and again revisited the mosque,
for the celebration of the last evening orisons. At this time, the whole
square and colonnades were illuminated by thousands of lamps; and, in
addition to these, most of the hadjys had each his own lantern standing
on the ground before him. The brilliancy of this spectacle, and the cool
breeze pervading the square, caused multitudes to linger here till
midnight. This square, the only wide and open place in the whole town,
admits through all its gates the cooling breeze; but this the Mekkawys
ascribe to the waving wings of those angels who guard the mosque. I
witnessed the enthusiasm of a Darfour pilgrim, who arrived at Mekka on
the last night of Ramadhan. After a long journey across barren and
solitary deserts, on his entering the illuminated temple, he was so much
struck with its appearance, and overawed by the black Kaaba, that he
fell prostrate close by the place where I was sitting, and remained long
in that posture of adoration. He then rose, burst into a flood of tears,
and in the height of his emotion, instead of reciting the usual prayers
of the visitor, only exclaimed, "O God, now take my soul, for this is

The termination of the Hadj gives a very different appearance to the
temple. Disease and mortality, which succeed to the fatigues endured on
the journey, or are caused by the light covering of the

[p.161] ihram, the unhealthy lodgings at Mekka, the bad fare, and
sometimes absolute want, fill the mosque with dead bodies, carried
thither to receive the Imam's prayer, or with sick persons, many of
whom, when their dissolution approaches, are brought to the colonnades,
that they may either be cured by a sight of the Kaaba, or at least have
the satisfaction of expiring within the sacred enclosure. Poor hadjys,
worn out with disease and hunger, are seen dragging their emaciated
bodies along the columns; and when no longer able to stretch forth their
hand to ask the passenger for charity, they place a bowl to receive alms
near the mat on which they lay themselves. When they feel their last
moments approaching, they cover themselves with their tattered garments;
and often a whole day passes before it is discovered that they are dead.
For a month subsequent to the conclusion of the Hadj, I found, almost
every morning, corpses of pilgrims lying in the mosque; myself and a
Greek hadjy, whom accident had brought to the spot, once closed the eyes
of a poor Mogrebyn pilgrim, who had crawled into the neighbourhood of
the Kaaba, to breathe his last, as the Moslems say, "in the arms of the
prophet and of the guardian angels." He intimated by signs his wish that
we should sprinkle Zemzem water over him; and while we were doing so, he
expired: half an hour afterwards he was buried. There are several
persons in the service of the mosque employed to wash carefully the spot
on which those who expire in the mosque have lain, and to bury all the
poor and friendless strangers who die at Mekka.




MOHAMMEDAN mythology affirms that the Kaaba was constructed in heaven,
two thousand years before the creation of this world, and that it was
there adored by the angels, whom the Almighty commanded to perform the
Towaf, or walk round it. Adam, who was the first true believer, erected
the Kaaba upon earth, on its present site, which is directly below the
spot that it occupied in heaven. He collected the stones for the
building from the five holy mountains: Lebanon, Tor Syna (Mount Sinai),
El Djoudy (the name given by Muselmans to the mountain on which the ark
of Noah rested after the deluge), Hirra, or Djebel Nour, and Tor Zeyt
(the mountain to which, as I believe, an allusion is made in the ninety-
fifth chapter of the Koran). Ten thousand angels were appointed to guard
the structure from accidents: but they seem, from the history of the
holy building, to have been often remiss in their duty. The sons of Adam
repaired the Kaaba; and after the deluge, Ibrahim (Abraham), when he had
abandoned the idolatry of his forefathers, was ordered by the Almighty
to reconstruct it. His son Ismayl, who from his infancy resided with his
mother Hadjer (Hagar) near the site of Mekka, assisted his father, who
had come from Syria to obey the commands of Allah: on digging, they
found the foundations which

[p.163] had been laid by Adam. Being in want of a stone to fix into the
corner of the building as a mark from whence the Towaf, or holy walk
round it, was to commence, Ismayl went in search of one. On his way
towards Djebel Kobeys, he met the angel Gabriel, holding in his hand the
famous black stone. It was then of a refulgent bright colour, but became
black, says El Azraky, in consequence of its having suffered repeatedly
by fire, before and after the introduction of Islam. Others say its
colour was changed by the sins of those who touched it. At the day of
judgment, it will bear witness in favour of all those who have touched
it with sincere hearts, and will be endowed with sight and speech.

After the well of Zemzem was miraculously created, and before Ibrahim
began to build the Kaaba, the Arab tribe of Beni Djorham, a branch of
the Amalekites, settled here, with the permission of Ismayl and his
mother, with whom they lived. Ismayl considered the well as his
property; but having intermarried with the Djorham tribe, they usurped,
after his death, the possession both of the well and the Kaaba. During
their abode in this valley, they rebuilt or thoroughly repaired the
Kaaba; but the well was choked up by the violence of torrents, and
remained so for nearly one thousand years. The tribe of Khozaa
afterwards kept possession of the Kaaba for three hundred years; and
their successors, of the tribe of Kossay Ibn Kelab, again rebuilt it;
for being constantly exposed to the devastations of torrents, it was
often in need of repair. It had hitherto been open at the top: they
roofed it; and from this period its history becomes less involved in
fable and uncertainty.

An Arab of Kossay, named Ammer Ibn Lahay, first introduced idolatry
among his countrymen; he brought the idol, called Hobal, from Hyt, in
Mesopotamia, [See El Azraky.] and set it up at the Kaaba. Idolatry then
spread rapidly; and it seems that almost every Arab tribe chose its own
god or tutelar divinity; and that, considering the Kaaba as a Pantheon
common to them all, they frequented it in pilgrimage. The date-tree,
called Ozza, says Azraky, was worshipped by the tribe of

[p.164] Khozaa; and the Beni Thekyf adored the rock called El Lat; a
large tree, called Zat Arowat, was revered by the Koreysh; the holy
places, Muna, Szafa, Meroua, had their respective saints or demi-gods;
and the historians give a long list of other deities. The number of
idols increased so much, that one was to be found in every house and
tent of this valley; and the Kaaba was adorned with three hundred and
sixty of them, corresponding probably to the days of the year.

The tribe of Kossay were the first who built houses round the Kaaba; in
these they lived during the day, but in the evening they always returned
to their tents, pitched upon the neighbouring mountains. The successors
of the Beni Kossay at Mekka, or Bekka, (the name then applied to the
town,) were the Beni Koreysh. About their time the Kaaba was destroyed
by fire; they rebuilt it of wood, of a smaller size than it had been in
the time of the Kossay, but indicating by the wall Hedjer (already
described) its former limits. The roof was supported within by six
pillars; and the statue of Hobal, the Arabian Jupiter, was placed over a
well, then existing within the Kaaba. This happened during the youth of
Mohammed. All the idols were replaced in the new building; and El Azraky
adduces the ocular testimony of several respectable witnesses, to prove
a remarkable fact, (hitherto, I believe, unnoticed,) that the figure of
the Virgin Mary, with the young Aysa (Jesus) in her lap, was likewise
sculptured as a deity upon one of the six pillars nearest to the gate.

The grandfather of Mohammed, Abd el Motalleb Ibn Hesham, had restored
the well of Zemzem by an excavation some time before the burning of the

When the victorious Mohammed entered the town of his fathers, he
destroyed the images in the temple, and abolished the idolatrous worship
of his countrymen; and his Mueddin, the negro Belal, called the Moslems
to prayers from the top of the Kaaba.

The Koreysh had built a small town round the Kaaba, which they venerated
so much that no person was permitted to raise the roof of his house
higher than that of the sacred structure. The pilgrimage to this holy
shrine, which the pagan Arabs had instituted, was confirmed by Islam.

[p.165] Omar Ibn Khatab first built a mosque round the Kaaba. In the
year of the Hedjra 17, having purchased from the Koreysh the small
houses which enclosed it, and carried a wall round the area, Othman Ibn
Affan, in A.H. 27, enlarged the square; and in A.H. 63, when the heretic
and rebel Yezyd was besieged at Mekka by Abdallah Ibn Zebeyr, the nephew
of Aysha, the Kaaba was destroyed by fire, some say accidentally, while
others affirm it to have been done by the slinging machines directed
against it by Yezyd from the top of Djebel Kobeys, where he had taken
post. After his expulsion, Ibn Zebeyr enlarged the enclosure of the wall
by purchasing some more houses of the Mekkawys, and by including their
site, after having levelled them, within the wall. He also rebuilt the
Kaaba upon an enlarged scale, raising it from eighteen pikes (its height
under the Koreysh) to twenty-seven pikes, or nearly equal to what it was
in the time of the Beni Kossay. He opened two doors into it, level with
the surface of the area, and constructed a double roof, supported by
three instead of six pillars, the former number. This new building was
twenty-five pikes in length, twenty in breadth on one side, and twenty-
one on the other. In the interior, the dry well, called Byr Ahsef, still
remained, wherein the treasures were deposited, particularly the golden
vessels that had been presented to the Kaaba. It was at this period
that the structure took the name of Kaaba, which is said to be derived
from kaab, a die or cube, the form which the building now assumed. Its
former title was the House of God, (Beitullah) or the Old House, a name
still often applied to it.

Twenty years after the last-mentioned date, El Hadjadj Ibn Yousef el
Thakafy, then governor of Mekka, disliking the enlarged size of the
Kaaba, reduced it to the proportions it had in the time of the Koreysh,
cutting off six pikes from its length; he also restored the wall called
Hedjer, which Ibn Zebeyr had included within the building. The size then
given to the edifice is the same as that of the present structure, it
having been scrupulously adhered to in all the repairs or re-erections
which subsequently took place.

Towards the end of the first century of the Hedjra, Wolyd Ibn Abd el
Melek was the first who reared columns in the mosque. He

[p.166] caused their capitals to be covered with thin plates of gold,
and incurred a great expense for decorations: it is related that all the
golden ornaments which he gave to the building were sent from Toledo in
Spain, and carried upon mules through Africa and Arabia.

Abou Djafar el Mansour, one of the Abassides, in A.H. 139, enlarged the
north and south sides of the mosque, and made it twice as large as it
had been before, so that it now occupied a space of forty-seven pikes
and a half in length. He also paved the ground adjoining the well of
Zemzem with marble.

The Khalife El Mohdy added to the size of the mosque at two different
periods; the last time, in A.H. 163, he bought the ground required for
these additions from the Mekkawys, paying to them twenty-five dinars for
every square pike. It was this Khalife who brought the columns from
Egypt, as I have already observed. The improvements which he had begun,
were completed by his son El Hady. The roof of the colonnade was then
built of sadj, a precious Indian wood. The columns brought from Egypt by
El Mohdy, were landed at one day's journey north of Djidda; but some
obstacles arising, they were not all transported to Mekka, some of them
having been abandoned on the sands near the shore. I mention this for
the sake of future travellers, who, on discovering them, might perhaps
consider them as the vestiges of some powerful Greek or Egyptian colony.

The historians of Mekka remark, and not without astonishment, that the
munificent Khalife Haroun er Rasheid, although he repeatedly visited the
Kaaba, added nothing to the mosque, except a new pulpit, or mambar.

A.H. 226. During the Khalifat of Motasem b'illah, the well of Zemzem was
covered above: it had before been enclosed all round, but not roofed.

A.H. 241. The space between the Hedjer and the Kaaba was laid out with
fine marbles. At that time there was a gate leading into the space
enclosed within the Hedjer.

The Khalife El Motaded, in A.H. 281, put the whole mosque into a
complete state of repair: he rebuilt its walls; made new gates,
assigning to them new names; and enlarged the building on the west

[p.167] side, by adding to it the space formerly occupied by the
celebrated Dar el Nedowa; an ancient building of Mekka, well known in
the history of the Pagan Arabs, which had always been the common
council-house of the chiefs of Mekka. It is said to have stood near the
spot where the Makam el Hanefy is now placed.

In A.H. 314, or, according to others, 301, Mekka and its temple
experienced great disasters. The army of the heretic sect of the
Carmates, headed by their chief, Abou Dhaher, invaded the Hedjaz, and
seized upon Mekka: fifty thousand of its inhabitants were slain during
the sack of the city, and the temple and the Kaaba were stripped of all
their valuable ornaments. After remaining twenty-one days, the enemy
departed, carrying with them the great jewel of Mekka, the black stone
of the Kaaba. During the fire which injured the Kaaba, in the time of
Ibn Zebeyr, the violent heat had split the stone into three pieces,
which were afterwards joined together again, and replaced in the former


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