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Travels In Arabia by John Lewis Burckhardt

Part 4 out of 9

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situation, surrounded with a rim of silver; this rim was renewed and
strengthened by Haroun er Rasheid.

The Carmates carried the stone to Hedjer, [Asamy says that the stone was
carried to El Hassa, near the Persian Gulf, a town which had been
recently built by Abou Dhaher. I find, in the Travels of Ibn Batouta, a
town in the province of El Hassa, called Hedjer.] a fertile spot in the
Desert, on the route of the Syrian caravan, north of Medina, which they
had chosen as one of their abodes. They hoped that all the moslems would
come to visit the stone, and that they should thus succeed to the riches
which the pilgrims from every part of the world had brought to Mekka.
Under this impression, Abou Dhaher refused an offer of fifty thousand
dinars as a ransom for the stone; but after his death, the Carmates, in
A.H. 339, voluntarily sent it back, having been convinced by experience
that their expectations of wealth, from the possession of it, were ill
founded, and that very few moslems came to Hedjer for the purpose of
kissing it. At this time it was in two pieces, having been split by a
blow from a Carmate during the plunder of Mekka.

Seventy years after its restoration to its ancient seat, the stone

[p.168] suffered another indignity: Hakem b'amr Illah, the mad king of
Egypt, who had some intentions of claiming divine honours for himself,
sent in A.H. 413, an Egyptian with the pilgrim caravan to Mekka, to
destroy the stone. With an iron club concealed beneath his clothes, the
man approached it, and exclaimed, "How long shall this stone be adored
and kissed? There is neither Mohammed nor Aly to prevent me from doing
this, and to-day I shall destroy this building!" He then struck it three
times with his club. A party of horsemen, belonging to the caravan in
which he had travelled from Egypt, were ready at the gates of the mosque
to assist the lithoclast, as soon as he should have executed his task;
but they were not able to protect him from the fury of the populace. He
was slain by the dagger of a native of Yemen; the horsemen were pursued;
and the whole Egyptian caravan was plundered on the occasion.

Upon inspection, it was found that three small pieces, of the size of a
man's nail, had been knocked off by the blows; these were pulverised,
and their dust kneaded into a cement, with which the fractures were
filled up. Since that time, the stone has sustained no further
misfortune, except in the year 1674, when it was found, one morning,
besmeared with dirt, together with the door of the Kaaba; so that every
one who kissed it, retired with a sullied face. The author of this
sacrilegious joke was sought in vain; suspicion fell upon some Persians,
but the fact could not be proved against them. [See Asamy for these

The sanctity of the stone appears to have been greatly questioned by one
of the very pillars of Islam. El Azraky gives the testimony of several
witnesses, who heard Omar Ibn Khatab exclaim, while standing before it:--
"I know thou art a mere stone, that can neither hurt nor help me; nor
should I kiss thee, had I not seen Mohammed do the same."

In A.H. 354, the Khalife El Mokteder built the vestibule near the gate
of the mosque, called Bab Ibrahim, which projects beyond the straight
line of the columns, and united in it two ancient gates, called

[p.169] Bab Beni Djomah and Bab el Khayatein. From that time no further
improvements were made for several centuries.

In A.H. 802, a fire completely destroyed the north and west sides of the
mosque: two years after, it was rebuilt at the expense of El Naszer
Feradj Ibn Dhaher Berkouk, Sultan of Egypt. The wood necessary for that
purpose was transported partly from Egypt and partly from Tayf, where
the tree Arar, a species of cypress or juniper, furnished good timber.

In A.H. 906, Kansour el Ghoury, Sultan of Egypt, rebuilt the greater
part of the side of Bab Ibrahim; and to him the Hedjaz owes several
other public edifices.

In A.H. 959, in the reign of Solyman Ibn Selim I., Sultan of
Constantinople, the roof of the Kaaba was renewed.

In A.H. 980, the same Sultan rebuilt the side of the mosque towards the
street Mosaa, and caused all the domes to be raised which cover the roof
of the colonnades. He also placed the fine pavement, which is now round
the Kaaba, and a new pavement all around the colonnades.

In A.H. 984, his son Murad repaired and partly rebuilt the three other
sides, that had not been touched by him.

In the year 1039, (or 1626 of our era,) a torrent from Djebel Nour
rushed into the town, and filled the mosque so rapidly, that all the
persons then within it were drowned; whatever books, fine copies of the
Koran, &c. &c. were left in the apartments round the walls of the
building, were destroyed; and a part of the wall before the Kaaba,
called Hedjer, and three sides of the Kaaba itself, were carried away.
Five hundred souls perished in the town. In the following year the
damage was repaired, and the Kaaba rebuilt, after the side which had
escaped the fury of the torrent had been pulled down.

In 1072, the building over the well Zemzem was erected, as it now
stands; and in 1079, the four Makams were built anew.

After this time, the historians mention no other material repairs or
changes in the mosque; and I believe none took place in the eighteenth
century. We may, therefore, ascribe the building, as it now appears,
almost wholly to the munificence of the last Sultans of Egypt, and

[p.170] their successors, the Osmanly Sultans of Constantinople, since
the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

In the autumn of 1816, several artists and workmen, sent from
Constantinople, were employed in the Hedjaz to repair all the damage
caused by the Wahabys in the chapels of the saints of that country, as
well as to make all the repairs necessary in the mosques at Mekka and



DURING the time of the Wahabys, no person dared to visit these places
without exposing himself to their hostility; and all the buildings which
had been erected on these spots were ruined by them, or their domes
were, at least, destroyed.

In the town are shown:--

Mouled el Neby, the birth-place of Mohammed, in the quarter named from
it. In the time of Fasy a mosque stood near it, called Mesdjed el
Mokhtaba. During my stay, workmen were busily employed in re-
constructing the building over the Mouled upon its former plan. It
consists of a rotunda, the floor of which is about twenty-five feet
below the level of the street, with a staircase leading down to it. A
small hole is shown in the floor, in which Mohammed's mother sat when
she was delivered of him. This is said to have been the house of
Abdillah, Mohammed's father.

Mouled Setna Fatme, or the birth-place of Fatme, the daughter of
Mohammed, is shown in a good stone building, said to have been the house
of her mother Khadidje, in the street called Zogag el Hadjar. A
staircase leads down to the floor of this building, which, like that of
the former, is considerably below the street. This small edifice
includes two holy places: in one is a hole, similar to that in the
Mouled el Neby, to mark the place where Fatme was born; and just by is

[p.172] of smaller depth, where she is said to have turned her hand-
mill, or rahha, after she was grown up. In an apartment near this, a
narrow cell is shown, where Mohammed used to sit, and receive from the
angel Gabriel the leaves of the Koran brought from heaven. This place is
called Kobbet el Wahy.

Mouled el Imam Aly, in the quarter called Shab Aly. This is a small
chapel, in the floor of which a hole marks the spot where Aly, the
cousin of Mohammed, is said to have been born.

Mouled Seydna Abou Beker, a small chapel, just opposite to the stone
which gave a salutation, "Salam Aleykum," to Mohammed whenever he passed
it. No sacred spot is here shown; but its floor is covered with very
fine Persian carpets.

All these Mouleds had undergone complete repair since the retreat of the
Wahabys, except that of Mohammed, on which the workmen were still
employed. The guardianship of these places is shared by several
families, principally Sherifs, who attend by turns, with a train of
servants. At every corner of the buildings are spread white handker-
chiefs, or small carpets, upon which visitors are expected to throw some
money; and the gates are lined with women, who occupy their seats by
right, and expect a contribution from the pilgrim's purse. The value of
a shilling, distributed in paras at each of the Mouleds, fully answers
the expectation of the greedy and the indigent.

Mouled Abou Taleb, in the Mala, is completely destroyed, as I have
already said; and will, probably, not be rebuilt.

Kaber Setna Khadidje: the tomb of Khadidje, the wife of Mohammed, the
dome of which was broken down by the Wahabys, and is not yet rebuilt; it
is regularly visited by hadjys, especially on Friday mornings. It lies
in the large burial-ground of the Mala, at the declivity of the western
chain; is enclosed by a square wall, and presents no objects of
curiosity except the tomb-stone, which has a fine inscription in Cufic
characters, containing a passage of the Koran from the chapter entitled,
Souret el Kursy. As the character is not the ancient Cufic, I suspect
that the stone was not intended originally to cover this grave: there is
no date in the inscription. The Sherif Serour, predecessor of Ghaleb,
had the vanity, on his death-bed, to order his family

[p.173] to bury his body close to the tomb of Khadidje, in the same
enclosure where it still remains. At a short distance from hence, the
tomb of Umna, the mother of Mohammed, is shown. It was covered with a
slab of fine marble, bearing a Cufic inscription, in an older character
than the former. The Wahabys broke it, and removed the two pieces, to
show their indignation at the visits paid to the receptacles of the
bones of mortals, which was, in their estimation, a species of idolatry.
Even at these tombs I found women, to whom permission was granted to
spread their handkerchiefs, and ask alms of every visitor.

In walking about these extensive cemeteries, I found many other tomb-
stones with Cufic inscriptions, but not in a very ancient character. I
could decipher no date prior to the sixth century of the Hedjra (the
twelfth of our era); but the greater part of them contain mere prayers,
without either the name of the deceased, or a date. The tombs, in
general, are formed of four large stones placed in an oblong square,
with a broad stone set upright at one end, bearing the inscription. I
saw no massive tomb or turban cut in stone, or any such ornament as is
used in other parts of Asia. A few small buildings have been raised by
the first families of Mekka, to enclose the tombs of their relations;
they are paved inside, but have no roof, and are of the most simple
construction. In two or three of them I found trees planted, which are
irrigated from cisterns built within the enclosure for the reception of
rain-water: here, the families to whom they belong sometimes pass the
day. Of several buildings, surmounted with domes, in which men
celebrated for their learning had been interred, the domes were
invariably broken down by the Wahabys: these fanatics, however, never
touched the tombs themselves, and every where respected the remains of
the dead. Among the tombs are those of several Pashas of Syria and of
Egypt, constructed with little ornament.

At the extremity of almost every tomb, opposite to the epitaph, I found
the low shrub saber, a species of aloe, planted in the ground: it is an
evergreen, and requires very little water, as its Arabic name, saber,
(patience) implies: it is chosen for this purpose from an allusion to
the patience necessary in waiting for the resurrection. On the whole,
this burial-ground is in a state of ruin, caused, it is said, by the

[p.174] of the Wahabys; but, I believe, still more by the little care
which the Mekkawys take of the graves containing the bodies of their
relations and friends.

The places visited out of the town are:--

Djebel Abou Kobeys. This mountain is one of the highest in the immediate
neighbourhood of the town, and commands it from the east. Muselman
tradition says that it was the first mountain created upon earth; its
name is found in almost every Arabic historian and poet. Two different
spots upon its summit are visited by the pilgrims. The one is called
Mekan el Hedjar (the spot of the stone), where Omar, who afterwards
succeeded to the Khalifat, used to call the people to prayers, in the
first years of Islam, when the Koreysh or inhabitants of Mekka were, for
the greater part, idolaters. Here is shown a cavity cut in the rock,
resembling a small tomb, in which it is said that God, at the deluge,
ordered the guardian angels to place the black stone, revered by them
long before Abraham built the Kaaba, and to make the rock unite over it,
that the waters might not touch it; and that, after the deluge, the
angel Gabriel split the rock, and conveyed the stone back to the site of
the Kaaba. The other place of visit, or Zyara, is across a narrow
valley, at a short distance from the former, on the summit of the
mountain; it is called Mekan Shak el Kamr, or place where the moon was
split-one of Mohammed's greatest miracles. The story, however, is now
differently related by the Mekkawys, who say that, when he was praying
here at mid-day, the first people among the incredulous Koreysh came and
desired him to convince them at once, by some miracles, [It is recorded
by historians, that at the desire of some unbelieving Koreysh, he caused
the full moon to appear as if cleft asunder, so that one half was
visible behind Djebel Abou Kobeys, and the other at the opposite side of
the hemisphere, above Djebel Kaykaan.] that he was really the prophet of
the Almighty. "What shall I do," he replied, "to make you true
believers?" "Let the sun retire," said they, "and the moon and stars
appear; let the moon descend upon earth, come to this mountain, enter
into one of the sleeves of your gown, issue by the other, return to the
firmament, and then let day-light shine again upon us." Mohammed
retired, addressed a short prayer to the Deity, and the whole miracle
was forthwith

[p.175] performed; after which the Koreysh were converted. These and
similar tales, applied to different places by the Mekkawys, for the
purpose of extorting money from the pilgrims, are quite unsupported by
the authenticated traditions of the prophet. To this spot the people of
Mekka resort, that they may enjoy a view of the new moon of Ramadhan,
and of the month following it. Between these two places, and a little to
the east of them, are the ruins of a solid building, some walls only
remaining. It is said to have formerly been a state prison of the
sherifs of Mekka. In it are several dungeon-like towers, and it was
probably a castle built upon Djebel Kobeys by Mekether el Hashemy, a
chief of Mekka, about the year 530 or 540 of the Hedjra; or it may have
been a mosque called Mesdjid Ibrahim, which, according to Azraky, stood
here in the seventh century of our era. It is vulgarly believed at
Mekka that whoever eats a roasted sheep's head upon Djebel Kobeys, will
be for ever cured of all head-aches.

Djebel Nour, the mountain of light. This lies to the north of the town.
Passing the Sherif's garden-house on the road towards Arafat, a little
further on, we enter a valley, which extends in a direction N.E. by N.
and is terminated by the mountain, which is conical. Steps were formerly
cut in the steep ascent, but they are now ruined; and it required three
quarters of an hour, and much fatiguing exertion, to reach the top. In
the rocky floor of a small building, ruined by the Wahabys, a cleft is
shown, about the size of a man in length and breadth. It is said that
Mohammed, wearied, and grieved at the assertions of his enemies and
dubious adherents at Mekka, who had given out that God had entirely
abandoned him, retired to this mountain, and stretched himself out in
the cleft, imploring help from above. The angel Gabriel was despatched
to him with that short chapter of the Koran, which we call the ninety-
fourth, beginning with the words "Have we not gladdened thy breast?"--the
previous chapter alludes also to his state of grief. A little below this
place is a small cavern in the red granite rock, which forms the upper
stratum of this mountain; it is called Mogharat el Hira. [In the time of
the Pagan Arabs this mountain was called Djebel Hira. I may here add,
that a great many mountains and valleys in the Hedjaz have lost their
ancient names. This is amply proved by the topographical notices of
Azraky, of the historians of Medina, and of Zamakhshary, in his valuable
work entitled El Myat o' el djebal.] Here several other passages

[p.176] of the Koran are said to have been revealed to the prophet, who
often repaired to this elevated spot; but none of those present could
tell me what those passages were. The guardians of these two places are
Bedouins of the tribe of Lahyan (or Laha-yn).

I had left Mekka on foot, at night, with a large party of hadjys, to
visit this place, which is usually done on Saturdays. We were on the
summit before dawn; and when the sun rose, a very extensive view
presented itself to the north and west, the other points being bounded
by mountains. The country before us had a dreary aspect, not a single
green spot being visible: barren black and grey hills, and white sandy
valleys, were the only objects in sight. On the declivity of the
mountain, a little way from the top, is a small stone reservoir, built
to supply the visitors with water. It was dry when I saw it, and in bad

Djebel Thor. About an hour and a half south of Mekka, to the left of the
road to the village of Hosseynye, is a lofty mountain of this name,
higher, it is said, than Djebel Nour. On the summit of it is a cavern in
which Mohammed and his friend Abou Beker took refuge from the Mekkawys
before he fled to Medina. A spider had spun its web before the entrance,
and his pursuers seeing this, supposed, of course, that the fugitives
could not be within. To this circumstance an allusion is made in the
Koran (chap. ix.) I did not visit the spot.

El Omra. Of this building I have already spoken: it is a small chapel
with a single row of columns, on the road to Wady Fatme. Every pilgrim
is required to visit it; but he is left to his own discretion respecting
the places before mentioned. The Omra is surrounded by ruins of several
habitations: there is a copious well near it, and traces of cultivation
are seen in the valley. I believe the well to be that called by the
historians of Mekka "Bir Tenaym." According to Fasy, a mosque, called
Mesdjed Ahlyledje, stood here in the earliest times of Islam. I shall
conclude my description of Mekka with that of

[p.177] the opening of the Kaaba, which I deferred, that the description
of the mosque might not be interrupted.

The Kaaba is opened only three times in the year: on the 20th of the
month of Ramadhan, on the 15th of Zulkade, and on the 10th of Moharram
(or Ashour, as the Arabs call it). The opening takes place one hour
after sun-rise, when the steps are wheeled up to the gate of the
building: as soon as they touch the wall, immense crowds rush upon them,
and in a moment fill the whole interior of the Kaaba. The steps are
lined by the eunuchs of the mosque, who endeavour in vain to keep order,
and whose sticks fall heavy upon those who do not drop a fee into their
hands; many of the crowd, however, are often unmercifully crushed. In
the interior every visitor is to pray eight rikats, or make sixteen
prostrations; in every corner of it two rikats: but it may easily be
conceived how these prayers are performed, and that while one is bowing
down, another walks over him. After the prayers are finished, the
visitor is to lean with extended arms against any part of the wall, with
his face pressed against it, and thus to recite two pious ejaculations.
Sobbing and moaning fill the room; and I thought I perceived most
heartfelt emotions and sincere repentance in many of the visitors: the
following, and other similar ejaculations, are heard, and many faces are
bedewed with tears: "O God of the house, O God forgive me, and forgive
my parents, and my children! O God, admit me into paradise! O God,
deliver our necks from hell-fire, O thou God of the old house!" I could
not stay longer than five minutes; the heat was so great that I almost
fainted, and several persons were carried out with great difficulty,
quite senseless.

At the entrance sits a Sherif, holding the silver key of the Kaaba in
his hand, which he presents to be kissed by the pilgrim, who for this
pays a fee, on coming out; money is also given to a eunuch, who sits by
that Sherif. Some eunuchs on the steps, and several menial officers and
servants on the pavement below, which surrounds the Kaaba, expect also
to be paid. I heard many hadjys animadvert severely upon this shameful
practice, saying that the most holy spot upon earth should not be made
the scene of human avarice and greediness; but the Mekkawys are
invulnerable to such reproaches.

[p.178] The Kaaba remains open till about eleven o'clock. On the
following day it is opened exclusively for women. After visiting the
Kaaba it is thought necessary to perform the towaf round it.

The interior of the Kaaba consists of a single room, the roof of which
is supported by two columns, and it has no other light than what is
received by the door. The ceiling, the upper half of the two columns,
and the side walls, to within about five feet of the floor, are hung
with a thick stuff of red silk, richly interwoven with flowers and
inscriptions in large characters of silver; the lower part of each
column is lined with carved aloe-wood; and that part of the walls below
the silk hangings is lined with fine white marble, ornamented with
inscriptions cut in relief, and with elegant arabesques; the whole being
of exquisite workmanship. The floor, which is upon a level with the
door, and therefore about seven feet above the level of the area of the
mosque, is laid with marble of different colours. Between the pillars
numerous lamps are suspended, donations of the faithful, and said to be
of solid gold; they were not touched by the Wahabys. [Kotobeddyn relates,
that the Sheikhs of Mekka stole the golden lamps suspended in the Kaaba,
and conveyed them away in the wide sleeves of their gowns. Many golden
lamps were sent here by Sultan Soleyman.] In the north-west corner of
the chamber is a small gate, which leads up to the flat roof of the
building. I observed nothing else worthy of remark; but the room is so
dark, that it requires some time before any thing can be seen in it. The
interior ornaments are coeval with the restoration of the Kaaba, which
took place A.D. 1627. I am unacquainted with any holy ceremony observed
in washing the floor of the Kaaba, as mentioned in the Travels of Aly
Bey el Abasy: I have seen the Towasheys perform that duty, in the same
manner as on the pavement around it; although it appears from the
history of Asamy, that the floor of the Kaaba is sometimes washed by
great personages.

The visit to the interior of the Kaaba forms no part of the religious
duty of the pilgrim, and many of them quit Mekka without seeing it. I
saw it twice; on the 15th of Zulkade, and the 10th of Moharram. At the
latter period the new hangings, brought from Cairo by Mohammed Aly, had
been put up: they were of very rich stuff, much finer and

[p.179] closer in texture than the black exterior cover. The old
hangings, which had been up for more than twenty years, were now
publicly sold to devotees at the rate of about one dollar for a
piece of six inches square. The right of offering these hangings
was in the person who gave the exterior kessoua, though exceptions
sometimes occurred, as in A.H. 865, when Shah Rokh, king of Persia,
sent a magnificent covering for the interior. [See Kotobeddyn.]

Before the gate called Bab-es-Salam is a shop where pieces both of the
exterior and interior coverings are constantly for sale: those of the
latter are most esteemed. I have seen waistcoats made of them, which, of
course, are reckoned the safest coat of mail that one of the faithful
can wear. In the same shop are sold drawings of Mekka and Medina, done
in a coarse and most gaudy style upon paper or linen, and small
impressions of prayers, &c. from engravings on wood. I bought some of
these, for the same purpose as the Zemzem bottles which I took front


MEKKA and Djidda are inhabited by the same class of people; and their
character and customs are the same. I have already remarked that all the
rich Mekkawys have houses at Djidda, and that the commercial employments
of the two cities are alike.

The inhabitants of Mekka may be all styled foreigners, or the offspring
of foreigners, except a few Hedjaz Bedouins, or their descendants, who
have settled here. The ancient tribe of Koreysh, which was divided into
a wandering and a settled branch, is almost extinct. There are some
Bedouins of Koreysh still in the neighbourhood; but the settled Koreysh,
who were the inhabitants of Mekka in the time of Mohammed, have either
been destroyed, or have migrated, in consequence of the frequent
intestine wars. At this moment three Koreysh families only, descendants
of the ancient tribe of that name, are found at Mekka, the head of one
of which is the Nayb, or keeper of the mosque; and the two others are
poor people, also attached to its service. The neighbourhood of the
great mart of Djidda, the yearly arrival of immense caravans, and the
holy house, have attracted, however, a sufficient number of strangers to
supply the place of the Koreysh. In every hadj some of the pilgrims
remain behind: the Mohammedan, whenever resident for any time in a town,
takes a wife, and is thus often induced to settle permanently on the
spot. Hence most of the Mekkawys are descendants of foreigners from
distant parts of the

[p.181] globe, who have adopted Arabian manners, and, by intermarrying,
have produced a race which can no longer be distinguished from the
indigenous Arabians. On questioning shopkeepers, merchants, olemas,
metowafs, and indeed people of every description, they are found to be
the sons, grandsons, or descendants of foreigners. The most numerous are
those whose fathers came from Yemen and Hadramaut; next to them in
numbers are the descendants of Indians, Egyptians, Syrians, Mogrebyns,
and Turks. There are also Mekkawys of Persian origin; Tatars, Bokhars,
Kurds, Afghans; in short, of almost every Mohammedan country in the
world. The Mekkawy is careful in preserving, by tradition, the knowledge
of his original country. My metowaf or guide traced his descent to an
Usbek Tatar, from the neighbourhood of Bokhara, and whenever any hadjys
arrived from that quarter, he never failed to recommend himself as their
guide, though entirely ignorant of their language.

There is, however, one branch of the ancient Arabians remaining in
Mekka; these are the native Sherifs, (as distinguished from the
descendants of foreign Sherifs who have settled here:) they derive their
pedigree from Hassan and Hosseyn, the sons of Fatme, the daughter of
Mohammed; a descent claimed equally by the other Sherifs, but whose
genealogies are supposed to be less authentic. The Mekka Sherifs form a
large class, into which no foreigners are admitted, and it is spreading
over many other parts of Arabia. I am not thoroughly acquainted with
their history, or the period at which they began to branch out into
particular tribes; and I can only state that they acknowledge many, but
not all Sherifs of Yemen, and other parts of the Hedjaz, as their
distant relations: at present they are divided into several tribes, out
of one of which the reigning Sherif must be chosen, as I shall mention
below. At Mekka a difference is observed in the name given to the
Sherifs, according to their profession. Those who are employed in study
and the law, and occupied more or less about the temple and its
dependencies are called Seyd, while those who become soldiers, and mix
in state affairs, are known exclusively by the term Sherif. The Seyds
are followers of religion (say the Mekkawys), the Sherifs are soldiers.
The son usually follows the vocation of the

[p.182] father. These native Sherifs are the head men of the town, or
at least were so before their pride was broken by the Turkish conquest.

Though a mixed population, the inhabitants of Mekka wear the same sort
of dress, and have the same customs; and although of different origin,
they seem to be much less tenacious of their national costume and
manners in this holy city than any where else. In Syria and Egypt,
strangers from all parts of Asia retain with the greatest strictness the
dress and mode of living of their native countries, though established
for life in their new abodes; a circumstance which renders the view of
an eastern bazar infinitely more interesting than any large assemblage
of people in Europe. In the Hedjaz, on the contrary, most of the foreign
visitors change their native costume for that of the people of the
country; and their children born there are brought up and clothed in the
fashion of the Mekkawys. The Indians, as I have already remarked in
speaking of Djidda, offer an exception to this general rule; they form a
distinct colony, and retain their native language, which the children of
other strangers usually forget, their mothers being in many instances
Arabs, natives of Mekka.

The colour of the Mekkawy and Djiddawy is a yellowish sickly brown,
lighter or darker according to the origin of the mother, who is very
often an Abyssinian slave. Their features approach much nearer to those
of Bedouins than I have observed in any townsmen of the East; this is
particularly observable in the Sherifs, who are gifted with very
handsome countenances; they have the eye, face, and aquiline nose of the
Bedouin, but are more fleshy. The lower class of Mekkawys are generally
stout, with muscular limbs, while the higher orders are distinguishable
by their meagre emaciated forms, as are also all those inhabitants who
draw their origin from India or Yemen. The Bedouins who surround Mekka,
though poor, are much stronger-bodied than the wealthier Bedouins of the
interior of the Desert, probably because their habits are less roving,
and because they are less exposed to the hardships of long journies. The
Mekkawy, it may be generally said, is inferior in strength and size to
the Syrian or Egyptian, but far exceeds him in expressive features, and
especially in the vivacity and brilliancy of the eye.

[p.183] All the male natives of Mekka and Djidda are tattooed with a
particular mark, which is performed by their parents when they are forty
days of age. It consists of three long cuts down both cheeks; and two on
the right temple, the scars of which, sometimes three or four lines in
breadth, remain through life. It is called Meshale. The Bedouins do not
follow this practice; but the Mekkawys pride themselves in the
distinction, which precludes the other inhabitants of the Hedjaz from
claiming, in foreign countries, the honour of being born in the holy
cities. This tattooing is sometimes, though very seldom, applied to
female children. The people of Bornou, in the interior of Africa, have a
similar, though much slighter, mark on both cheeks.

The dress of the higher classes, in winter, is a cloth benish, or upper
cloak; and a djubbe, or under cloak, likewise of cloth, and such as is
worn in all parts of Turkey. A showy silk gown, tied with a thin
cashmere sash, a white muslin turban, and yellow slippers, constitute
the rest of the dress. In summer, instead of the cloth benish, they wear
one of very slight silk stuff, of Indian manufacture, called Moktar

The highest classes, who affect the Turkish fashion in their dress, wear
red Barbary caps under the turban; those of the other classes are of
linen richly embroidered with silk, the work of the women of Mekka, and
a common present from a woman to her lover: on the top sometimes are
embroidered in large characters sentences of the Koran.

The gowns of well-dressed people of the middle class are generally of
white India muslin, without any lining; they are called beden, and
differ from the common Levantine antery, in being very short, and
without sleeves, and in being of course much cooler: over the beden a
djubbe of light cloth, or Indian silk stuff, is worn, which, in time of
great heat, a man throws over his shoulders; the gown and under-shirt
are then his only covering. The shirts are of Indian silk or Egyptian or
Anatolian linen, and as fine as the wearer can afford to purchase.

The lower classes usually wear, at least in summer, nothing but a shirt,
and instead of trowsers a piece of yellow Indian nankin, or

[p.184] striped Egyptian linen round their loins; over this, in winter,
they have a beden of striped Indian calico, but without a belt to tie it
round the body.

The lower and middle classes wear sandals instead of shoes, a custom
very agreeable in this hot climate, as it contributes to the coolness of
the feet. The best sandals come from Yemen, where all kinds of leather
manufacture seem to flourish.

In summer, many people, and all the lower Indians, wear the cap only,
without the turban. The usual turban is of Indian cambric, or muslin,
which each class ties round the head in a particular kind of fold. Those
who style themselves Olemas, or learned doctors, allow the extremity to
fall down in a narrow stripe to the middle of their back. The Mekkawys
are cleaner in their dress than any Eastern people I have seen. As white
muslin, or white cambric, forms the principal part of their clothing, it
requires frequent washing; and this is regularly done, so that even the
poorest orders endeavour to change their linen at least once a week.
With the higher and middle classes, the change is, of course, more
frequent. The rich wear every day a different dress; and it is no
uncommon thing with many to possess thirty or forty suits. The people of
the Hedjaz delight in dress much more than the northern Mohammedans; and
the earnings of the lower classes are mostly spent in clothes. When a
Mekkawy returns home from his shop, or even after a short walk into the
town, he immediately undresses, hangs up his clothes over a cord tied
across his sitting-room, takes off his turban, changes his shirt, and
then seats himself upon his carpet, with a thin under-cap upon his head.
In this dishabille they receive visitors; and to delineate a Mekkawy, he
should be represented sitting in his undress, near a projecting latticed
window, having in one hand a sort of fan, generally of this form, [not
included] made of chippings of date-leaves, with which he drives away
the flies; and in the other, the long snake of his Persian pipe.

[p.185] On feast-days they display their love of dress in a still higher
degree; from the richest to the poorest, every one must then be dressed
in a new suit of clothes; and if he cannot afford to buy, he hires one
from the dealers for two or three days. On these occasions, as much as
one hundred piastres are sometimes given for the hire of a dress, worth
altogether, perhaps, fifteen hundred or two thousand piastres. No one is
then content with a dress suited to his station in life, but assumes
that of the class above him. The common shopkeeper, who walks about the
whole year in his short gown, with a napkin round his loins, appears in
a pink-coloured benish, lined with satin, a gold-embroidered turban, a
rich silk sash, worked with silver thread, and a djombye, or crooked
knife, stuck in his sash, the scabbard of which is covered with coins of
silver and gold. The children are dressed out in the same expensive
manner; and a person would submit to be called a thief, rather than
allow those of equal rank to exceed him in finery. In general, the most
gaudy colours are preferred; and the upper cloak must always be a
contrast in colour to the garment worn beneath it. During festivals,
cashmere shawls are also worn, though seldom seen at other times, except
on women, and the warlike Sherifs; but every Mekkawy in easy
circumstances has an assortment of them in his wardrobe. After the
feast, the fine suit is laid aside, and every one returns to his wonted
station. Every grown-up Mekkawy carries a long stick; among the lower
orders, they may rather be called bludgeons. An olema is never seen
without his stick. Few persons go armed, except among the lower classes,
or the Sherifs, who carry crooked knives in their belts.

The women of Mekka and Djidda dress in Indian silk gowns, and very large
blue striped trowsers, reaching down to the ankles, and embroidered
below with silver thread; over these they wear the wide gown called
habra, of black silk stuff, used in Egypt and Syria; or a blue and white
striped silk mellaye of Indian manufacture. The face is concealed by a
white, or light blue borko; on the head, covered by the mellaye, they
wear a cap like the men's, around which a piece of coloured muslin is
tightly twisted in folds. The head-dress is said to

[p.186] be less ornamented with gold coins, pearls, and jewels, than
that of the ladies of Egypt and Syria; but they have, at least, one
string of sequins tied round it: many have gold necklaces, bracelets,
and silver ankle-rings. The poorer women wear the blue Egyptian shirt,
and large trowsers, like those already mentioned; and bracelets of horn,
glass, or amber.

The children of Mekka are not so spoiled by their parents as they are in
other countries of the East; as soon as they can walk freely, they are
allowed to play in the street before the house, clad in very light
clothes, or rather half-naked. On this account, probably, they are
stouter and healthier than the bandaged children of Syria and Egypt; of
whom it may be truly said that they are often nursed to death.

There are few families at Mekka, in moderate circumstances, that do not
keep slaves. Mohammed found the African slave-trade so firmly
established in Arabia, that he made no effort to abolish it; and thus he
has confirmed, and extended throughout Northern Africa, this traffic,
with all its attendant cruelties, besides those which have followed the
propagation of Islam. The male and female servants are negroes, or
noubas, usually brought from Sowakin: the concubines are always
Abyssinian slaves. No wealthy Mekkawy prefers domestic peace to the
gratification of his passions; they all keep mistresses in common with
their lawful wives: but if a slave gives birth to a child, the master
generally marries her, or, if he fails to do so, is censured by the
community. The keeping of Abyssinian concubines is still more prevalent
at Djidda. Many Mekkawys have no other than Abyssinian wives, finding
the Arabians more expensive, and less disposed to yield to the will of
the husband. The same practice is adopted by many foreigners, who reside
in the Hedjaz for a short time. Upon their arrival, they buy a female
companion, with the design of selling her at their departure; but
sometimes their stay is protracted; the slave bears a child; they marry
her, and become stationary in the town. There are very few men
unmarried, or without a slave. This, indeed, is general in the East, and
no where more so than at Mekka. The

[p.187] mixture of Abyssinian blood has, no doubt, given to the Mekkawys
that yellow tinge of the skin which distinguishes them from the natives
of the Desert.

Among the richer classes, it is considered shameful to sell a concubine
slave. If she bears a child, and the master has not already four legally
married wives, he takes her in matrimony; if not, she remains in his
house for life; and in some instances the number of concubines is
increased to several dozen, old and young. The middling and lower
classes in Mekka are not so scrupulous as their superiors: they buy up
young Abyssinians on speculation; educate them in the family; teach them
cooking, sewing, &c.; and then sell them at a profit to foreigners, at
least such as prove barren. I have been informed by physicians, barbers,
and druggists, that the practice of causing abortion is frequent here.
The seed of the tree which produces the balsam of Mekka, is the drug
commonly used for this purpose. The Mekkawys make no distinction
whatever between sons born of Abyssinian slaves and those of free
Arabian women.

The inhabitants of Mekka have but two kinds of employment,--trade, and
the service of the Beitullah, or Temple; but the former has the
preference, and there are very few olemas, or persons employed in the
mosque, who are not engaged in some commercial affairs, though they are
too proud to pursue them openly. The reader has probably remarked, in
the foregoing description of Mekka, how few artisans inhabit its
streets; such as masons, carpenters, tailors, shoemakers, smiths, &c.,
and these are far inferior, in skill, to the same class in Egypt. With
the exception of a few potteries and dying-houses, the Mekkawys have not
a single manufactory; but, like the people of Djidda, are dependent upon
other countries for a supply of their wants. Mekka, therefore, has
necessarily a considerable degree of foreign commerce, which is chiefly
carried on, during the pilgrimage, and some months preceding it, by the
wealthy hadjys, who bring from every Muselman country its native
productions to Djidda, either by sea or across the Desert from Damascus,
exchanging them amongst each other; or receiving from the merchants of
Mekka the goods of India and Arabia, which the latter have accumulated
the whole year in

[p.188] their warehouses. At this period, Mekka becomes one of the
largest fairs of the East, and certainly the most interesting, from the
variety of nations which frequent it. The value of the exports from
Mekka is, however, greatly superior to that of the imports, and a
considerable sum of money, in dollars and sequins, required to balance
them. Of these, some part finds its way to Yemen and India; and about
one-fourth remains in the hands of the Mekkawys. So profitable is this
trade, that the goods bought at Djidda from the merchants, who purchase
them out of the ships which arrive there from India, yield, when sold
wholesale at Mekka, during the Hadj, a clear gain of twenty to thirty
per cent., and of fifty per cent. when sold in retail. It is not
surprising, therefore, that all the people of Mekka are merchants.
Whoever can make up a sum of a few hundred dollars, repairs to Djidda,
and lays it out on goods, which he exposes for sale during the
pilgrimage. Much profit is also fraudulently made: great numbers of
hadjys are ignorant of the Arabic language, and are consequently placed
in the hands of brokers or interpreters, who never fail to make them pay
dearly for their services; indeed, all Mekka seems united in the design
of cheating the pilgrims.

Formerly, when the caravans enjoyed perfect security on the road, goods
were chiefly transported by land to. Mekka: at present, few merchants
trust their property to the hazards of a passage across the Desert; they
rather forego the advantage of importing them into Mekka duty-free, the
great privilege possessed by the caravans, and carry them by sea to
Djidda, on which road all the hadjys of Africa and Turkey pay a double
duty; once in Egypt, and again at Djidda both duties are received by
Mohammed Aly. At present, therefore, the smaller traffic only is carried
on by the caravans, which remain but a few days at Mekka. The
shopkeepers and retail dealers of the city derive greater profits from
them than the wholesale merchants. The principal business of the latter
occurs during the months previous to the pilgrimage, when foreign
merchants arrive by the way of Djidda, and have full leisure to settle
their affairs before the Hadj takes place.

In time of peace with the interior, there is a considerable trade

[p.189] with the Bedouins, and especially with the inhabitants of the
towns of Nedjed, who are in want of India goods, drugs, and articles of
dress, which they procure either from Medina, or at a cheaper rate from
Mekka. Coffee, so much used in the Desert, is imported by the people of
Nedjed themselves, who send their own caravans to the coffee country of

The Mekkawys, especially those who are not sufficiently opulent to trade
in India goods, (which require a good deal of ready cash, and lie
sometimes long on hand,) employ their capital during the interval of the
Hadj, in the traffic of corn and provisions. This was much more
profitable formerly than it is at present; for Mohammed Aly having made
these articles a monopoly, the people are now obliged to purchase the
grain in Djidda, at the Pasha's own price, and to be contented with a
moderate gain on re-selling it at Mekka. After paying freight, however,
it still leaves a profit of fifteen or twenty per cent.; and it is a
species of traffic peculiarly attractive to the smaller capitals, as,
the prices being very variable, it is a lottery by which money may
sometimes be doubled in a short time.

At the approach of the pilgrimage, every kind of provision rises in
value; and, in a smaller proportion, every other article of trade. Those
who have warehouses filled with corn, rice, and biscuits, are sure to
obtain considerable profits. To provide food, during their stay, for an
influx of population amounting to sixty thousand human beings, and for
twenty thousand camels, together with provisions for their return
homewards, is a matter of no small moment, and Mohammed Aly has not yet
ventured to take the whole of it into his hands. Every Mekkawy
possessing a few dollars, lays them out in the purchase of some kind of
provision, which, when the Hadj approaches, he transports upon his ass
from Djidda to Mekka.

Whenever the interior of Arabia is open to caravans, Bedouins from all
the surrounding parts purchase their yearly provision of corn at Mekka;
which itself also, in time of peace, receives a considerable quantity of
corn from Yemen, especially Mokhowa, a town which is ten days' journey
distant, at the western foot of the great chain, and the mart of the
Arabs who cultivate those mountains. I heard that

[p.190] the imports from Mokhowa amounted to half the demand of Mekka;
but this seems doubtful, though I have no means of forming a correct
estimate, as the route is at present unfrequented, and Mekka receives
its provisions wholly from Djidda. The consumption of grain, it may be
observed, is much greater in Arabia than in any of the surrounding
countries; the great mass of the population living almost entirely upon
wheat, barley, lentils, or rice; using no vegetables, but a great deal
of butter.

Unless a person is himself engaged in commercial concerns, or has an
intelligent friend among the wholesale merchants, it is difficult, if
not impossible, for him to obtain any accurate details of so extensive a
trade as that carried on by Mekka. I shall, therefore, abstain from
making any partial, and, on that account, probably erroneous remarks, on
its different branches, with which I am not well acquainted, and which I
could find no one at Mekka to explain to me.

It will naturally be supposed that Mekka is a rich town: it would be
still more so, if the lower classes did not so rapidly spend their gains
in personal indulgences. The wholesale merchants are rich; and as the
whole of their business is carried on with ready money, they are less
exposed to losses than other Eastern merchants. Most of them have an
establishment at Djidda, and the trade of both towns is closely
connected. During the time of the Wahabys, the interior of Arabia was
opened to Mekka; but the foreign imports, by sea and land, were reduced
to what was wanted for the use of the inhabitants. The great fair of the
pilgrimage no longer took place; and although some foreign hadjys still
visited the holy city, they did not trust their goods to the chance of
being seized by the Wahabys. Under these circumstances, the principal
inducement with the Mekkawys to remain in the town, namely, their
unceasing gains, no longer existed. The rich waited for a renewal of the
Hadj caravans; but many of the poor, unable longer to find subsistence,
retired from Mekka, and settled at Djidda, or other harbours on the Red
Sea; whither they have been followed by many of the more respectable

Trade is carried on by means of brokers, many of whom are Indians: in
general, the community of Indians is the wealthiest in

[p.191] Mekka. They are in direct intercourse with all the harbours of
Hindostan, and can often afford to undersell their competitors.

Many of them, as has been already observed, are stationary here, while
others are constantly travelling backward and forward between India and
the Hedjaz. They all retain their native language, which they teach
their children, and also many merchants of Mekka superficially, so that
most of the latter understand, at least, the Hindostanee numerals, and
the most ordinary phrases employed in buying and selling. The Indians
labour under great difficulties in learning Arabic; I never heard any of
them, however long resident in the Hedjaz, speak it with a tolerable
accent: in this respect they are inferior to the Turks, whose
pronunciation of Arabic so often affords subject of ridicule to the
Arabian mob. The children of Indians, born at Mekka, of course speak
Arabic as their native language. The Indians have the custom of writing
Arabic with Hindostanee characters.

They are said to be extremely parsimonious; and, from what I saw of them
in the houses of some of their first merchants, they seem to deserve the
character. They are shrewd traders, and an overmatch, sometimes, even
for the Arabians. They are despicable, from their want of charity; but
they display among themselves a spirited manner, which makes them
respected, and even sometimes dreaded, at Mekka. Many of them have
partners in India; consequently they receive their goods cheaper than
they can be bought from the Indian ships at Djidda: hence the inferior
dealers and shopkeepers at Mekka often find it more convenient to
purchase from them at short credit, than to go to Djidda, where every
thing must be paid for in ready money. With the exception of one or two
houses, no Arabian merchants of Mekka receive their goods direct from
India, but purchase them from the India fleet. Of all the people at
Mekka none are more strict in the performance of their religious rites
than the Indians.

Dealers, when bargaining in the presence of others from whom they wish
to conceal their business, join their right hands under the corner of
the gown or sleeve of one of the parties; by touching the different
joints of the fingers they note the numerals, and thus silently conclude
their bargain.

[p.192] The Mekkawys who do not ostensibly follow commerce, are attached
to the government, or to the establishment of the mosque; but as I have
already said, they all engage, more or less, in some branch of traffic,
and the whole population looks forward to the period of the Hadj as the
source of their income.

The persons attached to the mosque have regular salaries, partake in the
general presents made to it, expect many private donations from
charitable devotees, and share in the stipends which are brought by the
Syrian and Egyptian caravans. These stipends, called Surra, (of which I
have already given an account,) derive their origin principally from the
Sultans of Constantinople, who, upon their accession to the throne,
generally fix a certain yearly sum for the maintenance of the poor, and
the worthiest individuals of Mekka and Medina. They are distributed in
both towns by the Kadhy, as he thinks proper; but if a person has been
once presented with a stipend, he enjoys it for life, and it descends to
his children. He receives a ticket signed by the Kadhy, the Sherif, and
the Surra-writer, and his name is entered in a register at Mekka, of
which a duplicate is sent annually by the returning Hadj to
Constantinople, where the name is enrolled in the general Surra-book.
The Surra is made up at Constantinople in a great number of small
packets, each containing the stipulated sum, and indorsed with the name
of the individual to whom it is destined. If any fresh sum is sent to be
distributed, the Kadhy divides it, informs the inspector of the Surra at
Constantinople to whom the money has been given, and in the following
year the additional packages, addressed to the new pensioners, are added
to the former number. Some of the Surras are brought from Egypt, but the
far greater part from Constantinople, by way of Syria: this part is very
regularly received. Each caravan has its own Surra-writer, whose duty
also it is to distribute all the other money or tribute which the
caravan pays to Bedouins and Arabs, on its road to Mekka.

The Surra for Mekka is distributed in the mosque, under the windows of
the Kadhy's house, after the departure of the Hadj. There are persons
who receive so small a sum as one piastre; the greater number from ten
to twenty piastres; but there are a few

[p.193] families who receive as much as two thousand piastres annually.
Although not always given to the most worthy, many poor families derive
support from this allowance. The tickets are transferable; the Kadhy and
the Sherif must sign the transfer; and the new name, a small compliment
being given to the Kadhy's scribe, is registered and sent to
Constantinople. In former times a Mekkawy could scarcely be induced to
sell his Surra, which he considered an honour as well as the most
certain provision for his family. The value, however, of the Surra has
much changed. During the time of the Wahabys the tickets had almost
entirely lost their value, as for eight years their holders had received
no pay. They have now recovered a little; but some were lately sold at
two years and a half purchase, which may afford an idea of the opinion
current at Mekka as to the stability of the Turkish government, or the
probability of the return of the Wahabys.

The idlest, most impudent, and vilest individuals of Mekka adopt the
profession of guides (metowaf or delyl); and as there is no want of
those qualities, and a sufficient demand for guides during the Hadj,
they are very numerous. Besides the places which I have described in the
town, the metowafs accompany the hadjys to all the other places of
resort in the sacred district, and are ready to perform every kind of
service in the city. But their utility is more than counterbalanced by
their importunity and knavery. They besiege the room of the hadjy from
sun-rise to sun-set; and will not allow him to do any thing without
obtruding their advice: they sit down with him to breakfast, dinner, and
supper; lead him into all possible expenses, that they may pocket a
share of them; suffer no opportunity to pass of asking him for money;
and woe to the poor ignorant Turk who employs them as his interpreter in
any mercantile concern. My first delyl was the man of Medina at whose
house I lodged during the last days of Ramadhan. On returning to Mekka a
second time, I unfortunately met him in the street; and though I was far
from giving him a hearty welcome, having sufficient reason to suspect
his honesty, he eagerly embraced me, and forthwith made my new lodgings
his home. At first he accompanied me every day in my walks round the
Kaaba, to recite the prayers used on that occasion: these, however, I
soon learned

[p.194] by heart, and therefore dispensed with his services on the
occasion. He sat down regularly at dinner with me, and often brought a
small basket, which he ordered my slave to fill with biscuits, meat
vegetables or fruit, and carried away with him. Every third or fourth
day he asked for money: "It is not you who give it," he said; "it is God
who sends it to me." Finding there was no polite mode of getting rid of
him, I told him plainly, that I no longer wanted his services; language
to which a Mekka delyl is not accustomed. After three days, however, he
returned, as if nothing had happened, and asked me for a dollar. "God
does not move me to give you any thing," I replied; "if he judged it
right, he would soften my heart, and cause me to give you my whole
purse." "Pull my beard," he exclaimed, "if God does not send you ten
times more hereafter than what I beg at present." "Pull out every hair
of mine," I replied, "if I give you one para, until I am convinced that
God will consider it a meritorious act." On hearing this he jumped up,
and walked away, saying, "We fly for refuge to God, from the hearts of
the proud and the hands of the avaricious." These people never speak ten
words without pronouncing the name of God or Mohammed; they are
constantly seen with the rosary in their hands, and mumble prayers even
during conversation. This character of the metowafs is so applicable to
the people of Mekka in general, that at Cairo they use the following
proverb, to repress the importunity of an insolent beggar: "Thou art
like the Mekkawy, thou sayest 'Give me,' and 'I am thy master.'"

As I was obliged to have a delyl, I next engaged an old man of Tatar
origin, with whom having made a sort of treaty at the outset, I had
reason to be tolerably satisfied. What I paid at Mekka to the delyls,
and at the places of holy visit, amounted, perhaps, altogether to three
hundred and fifty piastres, or thirty dollars; but I gave no presents,
either to the mosque, or to any of its officers, which is done only by
great hadjys, or by those who wish to be publicly noticed. Some of the
delyls are constantly stationed near the Kaaba, waiting to be hired for
the walks round it; and if they see a pilgrim walking alone, they often,
unasked, take hold of his hand, and begin to recite the prayers. The
charge for this service is about half a piastre; and I

[p.195] have observed them bargaining with the hadjy at the very gate of
the Kaaba, in the hearing of every body. The poorer delyls are contented
with the fourth of a piastre. Many shopkeepers, and people of the third
class, send their sons who know the prayers by heart, to this station,
to learn the profession of delyl. Those who understand the Turkish
language earn great wages. As the Turkish hadjys usually arrive by way
of Djidda, in parties of from eight to twelve, who have quitted their
homes in company, and live together at Mekka, one delyl generally takes
charge of the whole party, and expects a fee in proportion to their
number. It often happens that the hadjys, on returning home, recommend
him to some other party of their countrymen, who, on reaching Djidda,
send him orders to provide lodgings for them in Mekka, to meet them at
Djidda, to superintend their short journey to the holy city, and to
guide them in the prayers that must be recited on first entering it.
Some of these delyls are constantly found at Djidda during the three
months immediately preceding the Hadj: I have seen them on the road to
Mekka, riding at the head of their party, and treated by them with great
respect and politeness. A Turk from Europe, or Asia Minor, who knows not
a word of Arabic, is overjoyed to find a smooth-tongued Arab who speaks
his language, and who promises all kinds of comforts in Mekka, which he
had been taught to consider as a place where nothing awaited him but
danger and fatigue. A delyl who has twelve Turkish hadjys under his care
for a month, generally gains as much as suffices for the expenses of his
house during the whole year, besides new clothing for himself and all
his children.

Some of these delyls have a very singular office. The Mohammedan law
prescribes that no unmarried woman shall perform the pilgrimage; and
that even every married woman must be accompanied by her husband, or at
least a very near relation (the Shafay sect does not even allow the
latter). Female hadjys sometimes arrive from Turkey for the Hadj; rich
old widows, who wish to see Mekka before they die; or women who set out
with their husbands, and lose them on the road by disease. In such
cases, the female finds at Djidda, delyls (or, as this class is called,
Muhallil) ready to facilitate their progress through the sacred
territory in the character of husbands.

[p.196] The marriage contract is written out before the Kadhy; and the
ladt, accompanied by her delyl, performs the pilgrimage to Mekka,
Arafat, and all the sacred places. This, however, is understood to be
merely a nominal marriage; and the delyl must divorce the woman on his
return to Djidda: if he were to refuse a divorce, the law cannot compel
him to it, and the marriage would be considered binding; but he could no
longer exercise the lucrative profession of delyl; and my informant
could only recollect two examples of the delyl continuing to be the
woman's husband. I believe there is not any exaggeration of the number,
in stating that there are eight hundred full-grown delyls, besides boys
who are learning the profession. Whenever a shopkeeper loses his
customers, or a poor man of letters wishes to gain as much money as will
purchase an Abyssinian slave, he turns delyl. The profession is one of
little repute; but many a prosperous Mekkawy has, at some period of his
life, been a member of it.

From trade, stipends, and the profits afforded by hadjys, the riches
which annually flow into Mekka are very considerable, and might have
rendered it one of the richest cities in the East, were it not for the
dissolute habits of its inhabitants. With the exception of the first
class of merchants, who, though they keep splendid establishments,
generally live below their income, and a great part of the second class,
who hoard up money with the view of attaining the first rank, the
generality of Mekkawys, of all descriptions and professions, are loose
and disorderly spendthrifts. The great gains which they make during
three or four months, are squandered in good living, dress, and the
grossest gratifications; and in proportion as they feel assured of the
profits of the following year, they care little about saving any part of
those of the present. In the month of Moharram, as soon as the Hadj is
over, and the greater part of the pilgrims have departed, it is
customary to celebrate marriage and circumcision feasts. These are
celebrated at Mekka in a very splendid style; and a man that has not
more than three hundred dollars to spend in the year, will then throw
away half that sum in the marriage or the circumcision of his child.
Neither the sanctity of the holy city, nor the solemn injunctions of the
Koran, are able to deter the inhabitants of Mekka from the using of

[p.197] spirituous liquors, and indulging in all the excesses which are
the usual consequences of drunkenness. The Indian fleet imports large
quantities of raky in barrels. This spirit, mixed with sugar, and an
extract of cinnamon, is sold under the name of cinnamon-water. The
Sherifs in Mekka and Djidda, great merchants, olemas, and all the chief
people are in the habit of drinking this liquor, which they persuade
themselves is neither wine nor brandy, and therefore not prohibited by
the law. The less wealthy inhabitants cannot purchase so dear a
commodity; but they use a fermented liquor made from raisins, and
imported from Tayf, while the lower classes drink bouza. During my stay
at Tayf, a Turk belonging to the suite of Mohammed Aly Pasha distilled
brandy from grapes, and publicly sold it at forty piastres the bottle.

The Mekkawys are very expensive in their houses: the rooms are
embellished with fine carpets, and an abundance of cushions and sofas
covered with brocade: amidst the furniture is seen much beautiful china-
ware, and several nargiles adorned with silver. A petty shopkeeper would
be ashamed to receive his acquaintances in a house less splendidly
fitted up. Their tables also are better supplied than in any other
country of the East, where even respectable families live economically
in this respect. A Mekkawy, even of the lower class, must have daily on
his table meat which costs from one and a half to two piastres the
pound; his coffee-pot is never removed from the fire; and himself, his
women and children are almost constantly using the nargile, and the
tobacco which supplies it cannot be a very trifling expense.

The women have introduced the fashion, not uncommon in Turkey, of
visiting each other at least once a week with all their children; the
visit lasts the whole day, and an abundant entertainment is provided on
the occasion: the vanity of each mistress of a house makes her endeavour
to surpass her acquaintances in show and magnificence; thus a continual
expense is entailed on every family. Among the sources of expenditure
must be enumerated the purchasing of Abyssinian female slaves who are
kept by the men, or money bestowed on the public women whom several of
them frequent. Considerable sums are also lavished in sensual
gratification still more vicious and degrading, but

[p.198] unfortunately as prevalent in the towns of the Hedjaz as in some
other parts of Asia, or in Egypt under the Mamelouks. It has been
already observed that the temple of Mekka itself, the very sanctuary of
the Mohammedan religion, is almost publicly and daily contaminated by
practices of the grossest depravity: to these no disgrace is here
attached; the young of all classes are encouraged in them by the old,
and even parents have been so base as to connive at them for the sake of
money. From such pollution, however, the encampments of the Arabian
Bedouins are exempt; although their ancestors were not, in this respect,
immaculate, if we may credit some scandalous anecdotes recorded by
Eastern historians.

But my account of the public women (who are very numerous) must here be
resumed. I have already observed that the quarter called Shab Aamer was
the residence of the poorer class; those of the higher order are
dispersed over the town. Their outward behaviour is more decent than
that of any public women in the East, and it requires the experienced
eye of a Mekkawy to ascertain by a particular movement in her gait, that
the veiled female passing before him belongs to the venal tribe. I shall
not venture to speak of the married women of the Hedjaz: I have heard
anecdotes related, little to their credit; but in the East, as in other
countries, the young men sometimes boast of favours which they never
have enjoyed. The exterior demeanour of the women of Djidda and Mekka is
very decorous: few of them are ever seen walking or riding in the
street; a practice so common at Cairo, though contrary to Oriental ideas
of propriety: and I lived in three different houses at Mekka without
having seen the unveiled faces of the female inmates.

The great merchants of Mekka live very splendidly: in the houses of
Djeylany, Sakkat, Ageyl, and El Nour, are establishments of fifty or
sixty persons. These merchants obtained their riches principally during
the reign of Ghaleb, to whom Djeylany and Sakkat served as spies upon
the other merchants. Their tables are furnished daily in abundance with
every native delicacy, as well as with those which India and Egypt
afford. About twenty persons sit down to dinner with them; the favourite
Abyssinian slaves, who serve often as writers or

[p.199] cashiers, are admitted to the table of their master; but the
inferior slaves and the servants are fed only upon flour and butter. The
china and glass ware, in which the dishes are served up, is of the best
quality; rose-water is sprinkled on the beards of the guests after
dinner, and the room is filled with the odours of aloe-wood, burnt upon
the nargiles. There is great politeness without formality; and no men
appear in a more amiable light, than the great Mekkawys dispensing
hospitality to their guests. Whoever happens to be sitting in the outer
hall, when dinner is served up, is requested to join at table, which he
does without conceiving himself at all obliged by the invitation, while
the host, on his part, appears to think compliance a favour conferred
upon him.

The rich Mekkawys make two meals daily, one before mid-day, the other
after sun-set; the lower classes breakfast at sun-rise, and eat nothing
more till near sun-set. As in the negro countries, it is very indecorous
for a man to be seen eating in the streets: the Turkish soldiers, who
retain their native manners, are daily reprehended by the people of
Mekka for their ill-breeding in this respect.

Before the Turkish conquest, and the wars of the Sherif with the Wahabys
which preceded it, the merchants of Mekka led a very happy life. During
the months of May and June they went to attend the sale of India goods
at Djidda. In July and August (unless the Hadj happened in these months)
they retired to their houses at Tayf, where they passed the hottest
season, leaving their acting partners or writers at Djidda and Mekka.
During the months of the pilgrimage, they were of course always at
Mekka; and every wealthy Mekkawy family followed the Hadj to Arafat as a
tour of pleasure, and encamped for three days at Wady Muna.

In the month of Radjeb, which is the seventh after the month of the
Hadj, a caravan used always to set out from Mekka for Medina, composed
of several hundred merchants, mounted upon dromedaries. At that time a
large fair was held at Medina, and frequented by many of the surrounding
Bedouins, and people of the Hedjaz and Nedjed.

The merchandize for its supply was sent from Mekka by a heavy caravan of
camels, which set out immediately after the merchants, and

[p.200] was called Rukub el Medina. [In general, the Arabs of the Hedjaz
call the caravans Rukub; speaking of the Baghdad caravan, they say Rukub
es' Sham, or Rukub el Erak.] They remained about twenty days at Medina,
and then returned to Mekka. This frequent, yet regular change of abode,
must have been very agreeable to the merchants, particularly in those
times, when they could calculate with certainty that the next pilgrimage
would be a source of new riches to them. Tayf and Medina being now half-
ruined, the merchants of Mekka resort to Djidda, as their only place of
recreation: but even those who have wives and houses there, talk of
their establishments at Mekka as their only real homes, and in it they
spend the greater part of the year.

The inhabitants of Mekka, Djidda, and (in a less degree) of Medina, are
generally of a more lively disposition than either the Syrians or
Egyptians. None of those silent, grave automatons are seen here, so
common in other parts of the Levant, whose insensibility, or stupidity
is commonly regarded among themselves as a proof of feeling, shrewdness,
and wisdom.

The character of the Mekkawy resembles, in this respect, that of the
Bedouin; and did not greediness of gain often distort their features,
the smile of mirth would always be on their lips. In the streets and
bazars, in the house, and even in the mosque, the Mekkawy loves to laugh
and joke. In dealing with each other, or in talking on grave subjects, a
proverb, a pun, or some witty allusion, is often introduced, and
produces laughter. As the Mekkawys possess, with this vivacity of
temper, much intellect, sagacity, and great suavity of manners, which
they well know how to reconcile with their innate pride, their
conversation is very agreeable; and whoever cultivates a mere
superficial acquaintance with them, seldom fails to be delighted with
their character. They are more polite towards each other, as well as
towards strangers, than the inhabitants of Syria and Egypt, and retain
something of the good-natured disposition of the Bedouins, from whom
they derive their origin. When they accost each other in

[p.201] the streets for the first time in the course of the day, the
young man kisses the elder's hand, or the inferior that of his superior
in rank, while the latter returns the salute by a kiss upon the
forehead. Individuals of equal rank and age, not of the first class,
mutually kiss each other's hands. [In shaking hands, the people of the
Hedjaz lay hold of each other's thumbs with the whole hand, pressing it,
and again opening the hand three or four times. This is called Mesafeha,
and is said to have been a habit of Mohammed.] They say to a stranger,
"O faithful," or "brother;" and the saying of the prophet, "that all
faithful are brethren," is constantly upon their lips. "Welcome, a
thousand times welcome," says a shopkeeper to his foreign customer; "you
are the stranger of God, the guest of the holy city; my whole property
is at your disposal." When the service of any one is wanted, the
applicant says, "Our whole subsistence, after God, is owing to you
pilgrims; can we do less than be grateful?" If in the mosque a foreigner
is exposed to the sun, the Mekkawy will make room for him in a shady
place; if he passes a coffee-shop, he will hear voices calling him to
enter and take a cup of coffee; if a Mekkawy takes a jar to drink from
any public water-seller, he will offer it, before he sets it to his
mouth, to any passenger; and upon the slightest acquaintance, he will
say to his new friend, "When will you honour me at home, and take your
supper with me?" When they quarrel among themselves, none of those
scurrilous names or vile language is heard, so frequently used in Egypt
and Syria; blows are only given on very extraordinary occasions, and the
arrival of a respectable person puts an immediate stop to any dispute,
on his recommending peace: "God has made us great sinners," they will
then say, "but he has bestowed upon us, likewise, the virtue of easy

To these amiable qualities the Mekkawys add another, for which they must
also be commended: they are a proud race, and though their pride is not
founded upon innate worth, it is infinitely preferable to the cringing
servility of the other Levantines, who redeem their slavish deference to
superiors by the most overbearing haughtiness towards those below them.
The Mekkawys are proud of being

[p.202] natives of the holy city, of being the countrymen of their
prophet; of having preserved, in some degree, his manners; of speaking
his pure language; of enjoying, in expectation, all the honours in the
next world, which are promised to the neighbours of the Kaaba; and of
being much freer men than any of the foreigners whom they see crowding
to their city. They exhibit this pride to their own superiors, whom they
have taught to treat them with great forbearance and circumspection; and
they look upon all other Mohammedan nations as people of an inferior
order, to whom their kindness and politeness are the effect of their
condescension. Many good consequences might result from this pride,
without which a people cannot expect to sustain its rank among nations.
It has prevented the people of Mekka from sinking so deep into slavery
as some of their neighbours; but it excites them to nothing laudable,
while its more immediate effects are seen in the contempt which they
entertain for foreigners. This contempt, as I have already remarked, in
speaking of Djidda, is chiefly displayed towards the Turks, whose
ignorance of the Arabic language, whose dress and manners, the meanness
of their conduct whenever they cannot talk as masters; their cowardice
exhibited whenever the Hadj has been assailed in its route across the
Desert, and the little respect that was shown to them by the Governors
of Mekka, as long as the Sherif's power was unbroken, have lowered them
so much in the estimation of the Arabians, that they are held in the
Hedjaz as little better than infidels; and although many of the Mekkawys
are of Turkish origin, they heartily join the rest of their townsmen in
vilifying the stock from which they sprang. The word Turky has become a
term of insult towards each other among the children. Noszrany
(Christians), or Yahoudy (Jews), are often applied to the Turks by the
people of Mekka; and their manners and language afford a perpetual
source of ridicule or reproach. The Syrians and Egyptians experience
similar effects from the pride of the people of the Hedjaz, but
especially the former, as the Egyptians, of all foreigners, approach
nearest to the people of Arabia in customs and language, and keep up the
most intimate intercourse with them. But the haughty Syrian Moslim, who
calls Aleppo or Damascus "Om el Donia," (the mother of the

[p.203] world,) and believes no race of men equal to his own, nor any
language so pure as the Syrian, though it is undoubtedly the worst
dialect of the Arabic next to the Moggrebyn, is obliged to behave here
with great modesty and circumspection, and at least to affect
politeness. Although an Arab, he is reproached with dressing and living
like a Turk; and to the epithet Shamy (Syrian) the idea is attached of a
heavy, untutored clown. If the Arabians were to see the Turks in the
countries where they are masters, their dislike towards them would be
still greater; for it must be said, that their behaviour in the holy
city is, in general, much more decent and conformable to the precepts of
their religion, than in the countries from which they come.

The Mekkawys believe that their city, with all the inhabitants, is under
the especial care of Providence, and that they are so far favoured above
all other nations. "This is Mekka! this is the city of God!" they
exclaim, when any surprise is expressed at the greater part of them
having remained in the town during the stagnation of trade and the
absence of pilgrims: "None ever wants his daily bread [h]ere; none fears
here the incursion of enemies." That Saoud saved the town from pillage;
that no plundering took place when the Turkish cavalry, under Mostafa
Bey, recaptured it from the Wahabys; that the capture of Sherif Ghaleb
led to no massacres within the precincts of Mekka, are to them so many
visible miracles of the Almighty, to prove the truth of that passage of
the Koran, (chap. 106.) in which it is said, "Let them adore the God of
the house (the Kaaba), who feeds them in hunger, and secures them from
all fear." But they forget to look back to their own history, which
mentions many terrible famines and sanguinary battles, that have
happened in this sacred asylum. Indeed, the Hedjaz has suffered more
from famine than, perhaps, any other Eastern country. The historians
abound with descriptions of such lamentable events: I shall only mention
one that happened in 1664, when, as Asamy relates, many people sold
their own children at Mekka for a single measure of corn; and when, at
Djidda, the populace fed publicly on human flesh.

A Mekkawy related to me, that having once resolved to abandon the city,
in consequence of the non-arrival of Turkish hadjys, who supplied

[p.204] his means of subsistence, an angel appeared to him in his sleep
on the night previous to his intended departure. The angel had a flaming
sword in his hand, and stood upon the gate of Mekka, through which the
dreamer was about to leave the town, and exclaimed, "Unbeliever, remain!
the Mekkawys shall eat honey, while all the other people of the earth
shall be content with barley bread!" In consequence of this vision he
abandoned his project, and continued to live in the town.

The exterior politeness of the people of Mekka is in the same proportion
to their sincerity, as are their professions of zealous faith and
adherence to their religion, with the observance of its precepts. Many
of them, especially those who have no particular interest in imposing
upon the hadjys by an appearance of extreme strictness, are very relaxed
in observing the forms of their religion, thinking it quite sufficient
to be Mekkawys and to utter pious ejaculations in public, or supposing
that the rigid practice of its precepts is more particularly incumbent
upon foreign visitors, who see Mekka only once in their life. Like the
Bedouins, many of them are either very irregular in their prayers, or do
not pray at all. During the Friday's prayers, which every Moslim
resident in a town is bound to attend, the mosque is filled chiefly with
strangers, while many of the people of Mekka are seen smoking in their
shops. After the pilgrims have left the town, the service in the mosque
is very thinly attended. They never distribute alms, excusing themselves
by saying that they were placed by Providence in this town to receive
charity, and not to bestow it. They ape the manners recorded of
Mohammed, but in his most trifling habits only: their mustachios are cut
short, and their beard kept regularly under the scissors, because it was
the prophet's custom to do so. In like manner they allow the end of the
turban to fall loosely over the cap; every other day they put kohhel or
antimony on their eye-lids, and have always in their hands a messouak or
tooth-brush made of a thin branch of the shrub Arak, or one imported by
the Persian hadjys. They know by heart many passages of the Koran and
Hadyth, (or sacred traditions,) and allude to, or quote them every
moment; but they forget that these precepts were given for rules of
conduct, and not for mere repetition. Intoxicating liquors are sold at

[p.205] the very gates of the mosque: the delyls themselves act in
direct contradiction of the law by loudly reciting prayers in the mosque
to their pupils the hadjys, in order to allure by their sonorous voices
other pilgrims to their guidance, carrying at the same time the common
large stick of the Mekkawys. It is also a transgression against the law,
when the intoxicating hashysh is openly smoked: cards are played in
almost every Arab coffee-house, (they use small Chinese cards,) though
the Koran directly forbids games of hazard. The open protection afforded
by the government to persons both male and female of the most profligate
character, is a further encouragement to daily transgressions against
the rigid principles of the Mohammedan law. Cheating and false swearing
have ceased to be crimes among them. They are fully conscious of the
scandal of these vices: every delyl exclaims against the corruption of
manners, but none set an example of reformation; and while acting
constantly on principles quite opposite to those which they profess,
they unanimously declare that times are such, as to justify the saying,
"In el Haram fi belad el Harameyn," "that the cities forbidden to
infidels abound with forbidden things."

In a place where there is no variety of creeds, persecution cannot show
itself; but it is probable that the Mekkawys might easily be incited to
excesses against those whom they call infidels: for I have always
remarked in the East, that the Muselmans most negligent in performing
the duties of their religion are the most violent in urging its precepts
against unbelievers; and that the grossest superstition is generally
found among those who trifle with their duties, or who, like many
Osmanlys, even deride them, and lay claim to free-thinking. There is no
class of Turks more inveterate in their hatred against Christians than
those who, coming frequently into intercourse with them, find it
convenient to throw off for a while the appearance of their prejudices.
In all the European harbours of the Mediterranean, the Moggrebyns live
like unbelievers; but when at home, nothing but fear can induce them to
set bounds to their fanaticism. It is the same with the Turks in the
Archipelago, and I might adduce many examples from Syria and Egypt in
corroboration of this assertion. If fanaticism has somewhat decreased
within the last twenty years throughout the

[p.206] Turkish empire, the circumstance, I think, may be ascribed
solely to the decreasing energy of the inhabitants, and the growing
indifference for their own religion, and certainly not to a diffusion of
more philanthropic or charitable principles. The text of the Mohammedan
law is precise in inciting its followers to unceasing hatred and
contempt of all those who profess a different creed. This contempt has
not decreased; but animosity gives way to an exterior politeness,
whenever the interest of the Mohammedan is concerned. The degree of
toleration enjoyed by the Christians, depends upon the interest of the
provincial government under which they live: and if they happen to be
favoured by it, the Turkish subject bows to the Christian. In all the
eastern countries which I have visited, more privileges are allowed to
Christians in general than the Moslim code prescribes; but their
condition depends upon the fiat of the governor of the town or district;
as they experienced about seven years since at Damascus, under Yousef
Pasha, when they were suddenly reduced to their former abject state.
Twenty years ago, a Copt of Egypt was in much the same situation as a
Jew is now in Barbary; but at present, when the free-thinking, though
certainly not liberal, Mohammed Aly finds it his interest to conciliate
the Christians, a Greek beats a Turk without much fear of consequences
from the mob; and I know an instance of an Armenian having murdered his
own Muselman servant, and escaped punishment, on paying a fine to
government, although the fact was publicly known. Convinced as the Turks
must now be, in many parts of the East, of the superiority of these
Europeans, whom they cannot but consider as the brethren of their
Christian subjects, their behaviour towards the latter will,
nevertheless, be strictly regulated by the avowed sentiments of their
governors; and it would be as easy for Mohammed Aly by a single word to
degrade the Christians in Egypt, as he found it to raise them to their
present consideration, superior, I believe, to what they enjoy in any
other part of Turkey.

The hatred against Christians is nearly equal in every part of the
Ottoman empire; and if the Moslims sacrifice that feeling, it is not to
the principles of charity or humanity, but to the frown of those who
happen to be in power; and their baseness is such, that they will kiss

[p.207] to-day the hands of him whom they have trodden under foot
yesterday. In examining into the fanatical riots, many of which are
recorded in the chanceries of the European consuls in the Levant, it
will generally be found that government had a share in the affrays, and
easily succeeded in quelling them. The late Sultan Selim, in his
regenerating system, which led him to favour the Christians, found no
opposition from the mass of his people, but from the jealous
Janissaries; and when the latter had prevailed, the demi-Gallicized
grandees of Constantinople easily sunk again into Sunnys. Sometimes,
indeed, a rash devotee, or mad Sheikh or Dervish at the head of a few
partisans, affords an exception to these general statements; and will
insult a Christian placed in the highest favour with the public
authorities, as happened at Damascus in 1811, to the Greek Patriarch,
after Yousef Pasha had been repulsed: but his countrymen, although
cherishing the same principles, and full of the same uncharitableness,
seldom have the courage to give vent to their feelings, and to follow
the example of the Saint. None of those genuine popular commotions,
which were once so frequent in Europe, when the members of the reigning
church saw individuals of a rival persuasion extending their influence,
are now witnessed in the East. Whatever may be thought of it in a moral
point of view, we must respect the energy of a man who enters headlong
into a contention, of at least uncertain issue, and generally
detrimental to his own worldly interests, merely because he fancies or
believes that his religious duty commands his exertions. The Moslim of
the Turkish empire, as far as I have had an opportunity of remarking,
easily suppresses his feelings, his passions, the dictates of his
conscience, and what he supposes agreeable to the will of the Almighty,
at the dictates of his interest, or according to the wish or example of
the ruling power.

In the time of the Sherif, Christians were often ill treated at Djidda;
they could not wear the European dress, or approach the quarter of the
town situated towards the gate of Mekka. But since the arrival of
Mohammed Aly's army, they walk about, and dress as they like. In
December 1814, when two Englishmen passed the gate of Mekka on a walk
round the town, (the first persons, probably, in a

[p.208] European dress, who had ever passed the holy boundary,) a woman
was heard to exclaim, "Truly the world must be near its end, if Kafirs
(or infidels) dare to tread upon this ground!" Even now, if a Christian
dies there, it is not permitted that he should be interred on shore; the
body is carried to a small desert island in the harbour. When, in 1815,
the plague raged in the Hedjaz, an event which had never before been
known, the Kadhy of Djidda, with the whole body of olemas, waited upon
the Turkish governor of the city, to desire him to demolish a windmill
which some Greek Christians from Cairo had built withoutside one of the
gates, by order of Mohammed Aly. They were certain, they said, that the
hand of God had visited them on account of this violation of the sacred
territory by Christians. Some years ago an English ship was wrecked near
Djidda, and among various spoils obtained from the wreck by Sherif
Ghaleb was a large hog, an animal probably never before seen at Djidda:
this hog, turned loose in the town with two ostriches, became the terror
of all the sellers of bread and vegetables; for the mere touching of so
unclean an animal as the hog, even with the edge of the gown, renders
the Moslim impure, and unable to perform his prayers without previous
ablution. The animal was kept for six months, when it was offered by the
Sherif to an American captain for fifty dollars; but such a price being
of course refused, it soon after died of a surfeit, to the great
satisfaction of the inhabitants.

The Mekkawys, however, tolerate within their walls notorious heretics. I
have already mentioned the Ismaylys, an idolatrous sect from India, who
appear here in the garb of Moslims. The Persian hadjys, well known as
sectaries of Aly, and revilers of Mohammed and his immediate followers,
are not subjected to any particular inconveniences. The Sherif tolerated
them, but levied a capitation-tax on each. The Sherifs, however,
themselves, as I shall presently explain, are mostly of the sect of
Zyoud, Muselmans who dispute with the orthodox Sunnyes (the great
opponents of the Persian sectaries,) several of their principal dogmas.

Whenever the word Christian or European is mentioned by the

[p.209] Mekkawys, it is coupled with the most opprobrious and
contemptuous epithets. They include them all in the appellation of
Kafer, without having any clear ideas of the different nations of which
they are composed. The English, however, being more in contact with
them, from their Indian possessions, are often called exclusively "El
Kafer," or "the Infidels;" and whenever this appellation is so used, the
English are to be understood. Thus, they say "El Kafer fy'l Hind," the
Kafer in India; or "Merkeb el Kafer fy Djidda," the Kafer's ship at
Djidda, always meaning the English.

When the French invaded Egypt, a Moggrebyn saint at Mekka, called Sheikh
el Djeylany, a distant relation of a wealthy merchant at Mekka, and who
had for some time been in the habit of delivering lectures in the great
mosque, mounted the pulpit, and preached a crusade against the infidels,
who had seized upon the gate of the Kaaba, as Egypt is styled. Being a
very eloquent speaker, and held in much veneration, many Arabs flocked
to his standard, others gave him money; and it is said that even many
women brought him their gold and silver trinkets, to assist him in his
holy enterprise. He embarked at Djidda with his zealous followers, on
board a small fleet, and landed at Cosseir. The governments of Mekka and
Djidda seem to have had little share in the enterprise, though they
threw no obstacles in its way. The fate of these Arabs (many of whom
were of the same Wahaby tribes who afterwards offered so much resistance
to Mohammed Aly), and the fury with which they encountered the French in
Upper Egypt, are already known to the reader by Denon's animated
description. Sheikh Djeylany was killed, and very few of his followers
returned. I believe their number is rather over-rated by Denon; for I
never heard it stated at more than fifteen hundred.

The Mekkawys, like the inhabitants of Turkey, are in general free from
the vices of pilfering and thieving; and robberies are seldom heard of,
although, during the Hadj, and in the months which precede and follow
it, Mekka abounds with rogues, who are tempted by the facility of
opening the locks of this country.

Formerly the slaves of the Sherif were noted for their disorderly
behaviour; Ghaleb, however, established good order among them; and

[p.210] during his reign, a burglary was never committed without the
discovery and punishment of the perpetrator.

The streets of Mekka abound with beggars and poor hadjys, who are
supported by the charity of strangers; for the Mekkawys think themselves
privileged to dispense with this duty. Of them, however, many adopt
mendicity as a profession, especially during the Hadj, when the pilgrims
are bound to exercise that virtue which is so particularly enjoined by
the precepts of Mohammed. The greater part of the beggars are Indians,
others Syrians, Moggrebyns, and Egyptians: the Negroes are but few, as
these generally prefer labour to begging; but a large proportion comes
from Yemen. It is generally said in the East, that Mekka is the paradise
of beggars: some perhaps may save a little money, but the wretched
aspect of others plainly shows how much their expectations must have
been disappointed. The Indians are the most modest among them; they
accost the passenger with the words "Ya allah'ya kerim!" "O God, O
bounteous God!" and if alms are refused, they walk away, without a word
except the repetition of "Ya allah, ya kerim." Not so the Yemeny or
Mekkawy; "Think of your duty as a pilgrim," he cries; "God does not like
the cold-hearted; will you reject the blessings of the faithful? Give,
and it shall be given unto thee; and with these and many other pious
sentences they address the passenger, and when they have the alms safe
in their hand, they often say, as my delyl did, "It is God, and not you,
who gives it to me." Some of these beggars are extremely importunate,
and seem to ask for alms as if they were legally entitled to it. While I
was at Djidda, a Yemen beggar mounted the minaret daily, after mid-day
prayer, and exclaimed loud enough to be heard through the whole bazar,
"I ask from God fifty dollars, a suit of clothes, and a copy of the
Koran; O faithful, hear me, I ask of you fifty dollars," &c. &c. This he
repeated for several weeks, when at last a Turkish pilgrim, struck by
the singularity of the beggar's appeal, desired him to take thirty
dollars, and discontinue his cries, which reflected shame upon the
charity of all the hadjys present. "No," said the beggar, "I will not
take them, because I am convinced that God will send me the whole of
what I beg of him so earnestly." After repeating his public

[p.211] supplication for some days more, the same hadjy gave him the
whole sum that he asked for; but without being thanked. I have heard
people exclaim in the mosques at Mekka, immediately after prayers, "O
brethren, O faithful, hear me! I ask twenty dollars from God, to pay for
my passage home; twenty dollars only. You know that God is all-
bountiful, and may send me a hundred dollars; but it is twenty dollars
only that I ask. Remember that charity is the sure road to paradise."
There can be no doubt that this practice is sometimes attended with

But learning and science cannot be expected to flourish in a place where
every mind is occupied in the search of gain, or of paradise; and I
think I have sufficient reason for affirming that Mekka is at present
much inferior even in Mohammedan learning to any town of equal
population in Syria or Egypt. It probably was not so when the many
public schools or Medreses were built, which are now converted into
private lodgings for pilgrims. El Fasy says, that in his time there were
eleven medreses in Mekka, besides a number of rebats, or less richly
endowed schools, which contained also lodgings for poor hadjys; many of
the Rebats in the vicinity of the mosque still remain, but are used only
as lodging-houses. There is not a single public school in the town where
lectures are given, as in other parts of Turkey; and the great mosque is
the only place where teachers of Eastern learning are found. The schools
in which boys are taught to read and write, are, as I have already
mentioned, held in the mosque, where, after prayers, chiefly in the
afternoon, some learned olemas explain a few religious books to a very
thin audience, consisting principally of Indians, Malays, Negroes, and a
few natives of Hadramaut and Yemen, who, attracted by the great name of
Mekka, remain here a few years, until they think themselves sufficiently
instructed to pass at home for learned men. The Mekkawys themselves, who
wish to improve in science, go to Damascus or to Cairo. At the latter
many of them are constantly found, studying in the mosque El Azhar.

The lectures delivered in the mosque at Mekka resemble those of other
Eastern towns. They are delivered gratis; each lecture occupies one hour
or two; and any person may lecture who thinks himself competent

[p.212] to the task, whether he belongs to the mosque or not. This
happens also in the Azhar at Cairo, where I have seen more than forty
different persons occupied at the same time in delivering their
lectures. The subjects of the lectures in the Beitullah of Mokka, are,
as usual, dissertations on the law, commentaries on the Koran, and
traditions of the Prophet. There were none, during my residence, on
grammar, logic, rhetoric, or the sciences, nor even on the Towhyd, or
explanation of the essence or unity of God, which forms a principal
branch of the learning of Moslim divines. I understood, however, that
sometimes the Arabic syntax is explained, and the Elfye Ibn Malek on
grammar. But the Mekkawys who have acquired an intimate knowledge of the
whole structure of their language, owe it to their residence at Cairo.

There is no public library attached to the mosque; the ancient
libraries, of which I have already spoken, have all disappeared. The
Nayb el Haram has a small collection of books which belonged originally
to the mosque; but it is now considered as his private property, and the
books cannot be hired without difficulty. The Azhar at Cairo is on a
very different footing. To each of the Rowak, or private establishments
for the different Mohammedan nations, which it contains, (and which are
now twenty-six in number,) a large library is annexed, and all the
members of the Rowak are at liberty to take books from it to assist them
in their studies. Mekka is equally destitute of private libraries, with
the exception of those of the rich merchants, who exhibit a few books to
distinguish them from the vulgar; or of the olemas, of whom some possess
such as are necessary for their daily reference in matters of law.

The Wahabys, according to report, carried off many loads of books; but
they were also said to have paid for every thing they took: it is not
likely that they carried away all the libraries of Mekka, and I
endeavoured in vain to discover even a single collection of books. Not a
book-shop or a book-binder is found in Mekka. After the return of the
Hadj from Arafat, a few of the poorer olemas expose some books for sale
in the mosque, near Bab-es'-Salam: all those which I saw were on the
law, korans with commentaries, and similar works, together with a few on
grammar. No work on history, or on any other branch

[p.213] of knowledge, could be found; and, notwithstanding all my pains,
I could never obtain a sight of any history of Mekka, although the names
of the authors were not unknown to the Mekkawys. They told me that book-
dealers used formerly to come here with the Hadj from Yemen, and sell
valuable books, brought principally from Szanaa and Loheya. The only
good work I saw at Mekka was a fine copy of the Arabic Dictionary called
Kamous; it was purchased by a Malay for six hundred and twenty piastres;
at Cairo it might be worth half that sum. Many pilgrims inquired for
books, and were inclined to pay good prices for them; and it was matter
of surprise to me that the speculating Mekkawys did not avail themselves
of this branch of trade, not so lucrative certainly as that of coffee
and India goods. I much regretted my total want of books, and especially
the copies of the historians of Mekka, which I had left at Cairo; they
would have led me to many inquiries on topography, which by Azraky in
particular is treated with great industry.

The Persian hadjys and the Malays are those who chiefly search for
books: the Wahabys, it is said, were particularly inquisitive after
historical works; a remark I heard repeated at Medina. During my stay at
Damascus, which is the richest book-market in the East, and the
cheapest, from being very little frequented by Europeans, I heard that
several Arabs of Baghdad, secretly commissioned for that purpose by
Saoud, the Wahaby chief, had purchased there many historical works. When
Abou Nokta plundered the harbours of Yemen, he carried off a great
number of books, and sent them to Derayeh.

The scarcity of valuable books at Mekka may, perhaps, be ascribed to the
continual purchases made by pilgrims; for there are no copyists at Mekka
to replace the books which have been exported. [At Cairo, I saw many
books in the Hedjaz character, some of which I purchased.] The want of
copyists is, indeed, a general complaint also in Syria and Egypt, and
must, in the end, lead to a total deficiency of books in those
countries, if the exportation to Europe continues. There are at Cairo,
at this time, not more than three professed copyists, who write a good
hand, or who possess sufficient knowledge to enable them to avoid the

[p.214] errors. At Mekka, there was a man of Lahor, who wrote Arabic
most beautifully, though he spoke it very indifferently. He sat in a
shop near Bab-es'-Salam, and copied for the hadjys such prayers as it
was necessary to recite during the pilgrimage. The hand-writing of the
Hedjaz is different from that used in Egypt or Syria; but a little
practice makes it easily read. In general, not only every country, but
every province, even, of the East, has its peculiar mode of writing,
which practice alone can enable one to distinguish. There are shades of
difference in the writing of the Aleppines, of the people of Damascus,
and of Acre; and, in Egypt, the writing of a Cahirein is easily
distinguished from that of a native of Upper Egypt. That of the Moslims
is different every where from that of the Christians, who are taught to
write by their priests, and not by Turkish schoolmasters. The Copts of
Egypt have also a character differing from that of the other Christians
established in the country. An experienced person knows, from the
address of a letter, the province and the race to which the writer
belongs. The dialects, and the style of letter-writing are not less
distinguishable than the hand-writing; and this remark is particularly
applicable to the complimentary expressions with which the letters
always abound. The style of Syria is the most flowery; yet even in
letters of mere business we find it used. That of Egypt is less
complimentary; that of the Hedjaz is simple and manly, and approaches to
Bedouin frankness, containing, before the immediate purport of the
letter, only a few words of inquiry after the health and welfare of the
person addressed. Each country has also its peculiar manner of folding a
letter. In the Hedjaz, letters are sealed with gum-Aabic; and a small
vessel full of the diluted gum is suspended near the gate of every large
house or khan.

Whatever may be the indifference of the Mekkawys for learning, [I may
mention, as a strong proof of the neglect of learning at Mekka, that of
a dozen persons, respectable from their situations in life, of whom I
inquired respecting the place Okath, not one of them knew where it was,
or if it still existed. The Okath was the place where the ancient
Arabian poets, as late even as the time of Mohammed, used to recite
their works to crowds assembled there at a great fair. The prize poems
were afterwards suspended at the Kaaba. It is to this custom that we owe
the celebrated poems called the Seba Moallakat. A Bedouin of Hodheyl
told me that the Okath was now a ruined place in the country of Beni
Naszera, between two and three days' journey south of Tayf. But in El
Fasy's history, I find it stated to be one day's journey from Tayf; and
that it ceased to be frequented as a fair in A.H. 1229. El Azraky says
that it was at that distance from Tayf, on the road to Szanaa in Yemen,
and belonged to the tribe of Beni Kanane.]

[p.215] the language of their city is still more pure and elegant, both
in phraseology and pronunciation, than that of any other town where
Arabic is spoken. It approaches more nearly than any other dialect to
the old written Arabic, and is free from those affectations and
perversions of the original sense, which abound in other provinces. I do
not consider the Arabic language as on the decline: it is true, there
are no longer any poets who write like Motanebbi, Abol' Ola, or Ibn el
Faredh; and a fine flowing prose the Arabs never possessed. The modern
poets content themselves with imitating their ancient masters, humbly
borrowing the sublime metaphors and exalted sentiments produced from
nobler and freer breasts than those of the olemas of the present day.
But even now, the language is deeply studied by all the learned men; it
is the only science with which the orthodox Moslim can beguile his
leisure hours, after he has explored the labyrinth of the law; and every
where in the East it is thought an indispensable requisite of a good
education, not only to write the language with purity, but to have read
and studied the classic poets, and to know their finest passages by
heart. The admiration with which Arabic scholars regard their best
writers, is the same as that esteem in which Europeans hold their own
classics. The far greater part of the Eastern population, it is true,
neither write nor read; but of those who have been instructed in
letters, a much larger proportion write elegantly, and are well read in
the native authors, than among the same class in Europe.

The Mekkawys study little besides the language and the law. Some boys
learn at least as much Turkish as will enable them to cheat the Osmanly
pilgrims to whom their knowledge of that tongue may recommend them as
guides. The astronomer of the mosque learns to know the exact time of
the Sun's passing the meridian, and occupies himself occasionally with
astrology and horoscopes. A Persian doctor, the only avowed medical
professor I saw at Mekka, deals in nothing

[p.216] but miraculous balsams and infallible elixirs; his potions are
all sweet and agreeable; and the musk and aloe-wood which he burns,
diffuse through his shop a delicious odour, which has contributed to
establish his reputation. Music, in general so passionately loved among
the Arabs, is less practised at Mekka than in Syria and Egypt. Of
instruments they possess only the rababa, (a kind of guitar,) the nay,
(a species of clarinet,) and the tambour, or tambourine. Few songs are
heard in the evenings, except among the Bedouins in the skirts of the
town. The choral song called Djok, is sometimes sung by the young men at
night in the coffee-houses, its measure being accompanied with the
clapping of hands. In general, the voices of the Hedjazys are harsh, and
not clear: I heard none of those sonorous and harmonious voices which
are so remarkable in Egypt, and still more in Syria, whether giving
utterance to love songs, or chanting the praises of Mohammed from the
minarets, which in the depth of night has a peculiarly grand effect.
Even the Imams of the mosque, and those who chant the anthems, in
repeating the last words of the introductory prayers of the Imam, men
who in other places are chosen for their fine voices, can here be
distinguished only by their hoarseness and dissonance.

The Sherif has a band of martial music, similar to that kept by Pashas,
composed of kettle-drums, trumpets, fifes, &c.: it plays twice a day
before his door, and for about an hour on every evening of the new moon.

Weddings are attended by professional females, who sing and dance: they
have, it is said, good voices, and are not of that dissolute class to
which the public singers and dancers belong in Syria and Egypt. The
Mekkawys say, that before the Wahaby invasion, singers might be heard
during the evening in every street, but that the austerity of the
Wahabys, who, though passionately fond of their own Bedouin songs,
disapproved of the public singing of females, occasioned the ruin of all
musical pursuits:--this, however, may be only an idle notion, to be
ranked with that which is as prevalent in the East as it is in Europe,
that old times were always better in every respect than the present.

[p.217] The sakas or water-carriers of Mekka, many of whom are
foreigners, having a song which is very affecting from its simplicity
and the purpose for which it is used, the wealthier pilgrims frequently
purchase the whole contents of a saka's water-skin, on quitting the
mosque, especially at night, and order him to distribute it gratis among
the poor. While pouring out the water into the wooden bowls, with which
every beggar is provided, they exclaim "Sebyl Allah, ya atshan, Sebyl!"
"hasten, O thirsty, to the ways of God!" and then break out in the
following short song of three notes only, which I never heard without

Ed-djene wa el moy fezata ly Saheb es-sabyl "Paradise and forgiveness be
the lot of him who gave you this water!"

I cannot describe the marriage-feasts as celebrated at Mekka, not having
attended any; but I have seen the bride carried to the house of her
husband, accompanied by all her female friends. No canopy is used on
this occasion, as in Egypt, nor any music; but rich clothes and
furniture are displayed, and the feasting is sumptuous, and often lasts
for three or four days. On settling a marriage, the money to be paid for
the bride is carried in procession from the house of the bridegroom to
that of the girl's father; it is borne through the streets upon two
tabourets, wrapped up in a rich handkerchief, and covered again with an
embroidered satin stuff. Before the two persons who hold these
tabourets, two others walk, with a flask of rose-water in one hand, and
a censer in the other, upon which all sorts of perfumes and odours are
burning. Behind them follow, in a long train, all the kindred and
friends of the bridegroom, dressed in their best clothes. The price paid
for virgins among the respectable classes, varies at Mekka from forty to
three hundred dollars, and from ten to twenty dollars among the poor
classes. Half the sum only is usually paid down; the other half is left
in possession of the husband, who pays it in case he should divorce his

[p.218] The circumcision feasts are similar to those at Cairo: the
child, after the operation, is dressed in the richest stuffs, set upon a
fine horse highly adorned, and is thus carried in procession through the
town with drums beating before him.

Funerals differ in nothing from those in Egypt and Syria.

The people of Mekka, in general, have very few horses; I believe that
there are not more than sixty kept by private individuals. The Sherif
has about twenty or thirty in his stables; but Sherif Ghaleb had a
larger stud. The military Sherifs keep mares, but the greater part of
these were absent with the army. The Bedouins, who are settled in the
suburb Moabede, and in some other parts of the town, as being concerned
with public affairs, have also their horses; but none of the merchants
or other classes keep any. They are afraid of being deprived by the
Sherif of any fine animal they might possess, and therefore content
themselves with mules or gedishes (geldings of a low breed). Asses are
very common, but no person of quality ever rides upon them. The few
horses kept at Mekka are of noble breed, and purchased from the
Bedouins: in the spring they are usually sent to some Bedouin
encampment, to feed upon the fine nutritious herbage of the Desert.
Sherif Yahya has a gray mare, from the stud of Ghaleb, which was valued
at twenty purses; she was as beautiful a creature as I ever saw, and the
only one perfectly fine that I met with in the Hedjaz. The Bedouins of
that country, and those especially around Mekka, are very poor in
horses; a few Sheikhs only having any, pasture being scarce, and the
expense of a horse's keep being three piastres a day.

In the Eastern plain, behind Tayf, horses are more numerous, although
much less so than in Nedjed and the deserts of Syria, in consequence of
the comparative scarcity of corn, and the uncertainty of the rain; a
deficiency of which often leaves the Bedouin a whole year without
vegetation; a circumstance that rarely happens in the more northern
deserts, where the rains seldom fail in the proper seasons.


The territories of Mekka, Tayf, Gonfade, (which stretches southwards as
far as Haly, on the coast,) and of Yembo, were, previous to the Wahaby
and Egyptian conquests, under the command of the Sherif of Mekka, who
had extended his authority over Djidda also, though this town was
nominally separated from his dominions, and governed by a Pasha, sent
thither by the Porte, to be sole master of the town, and to divide its
revenue with the Sherif. The Sherif, raised to his station by force or
by personal influence, and the consent of the powerful Sherif families
of Mekka, held his authority from the Grand Signor, who invariably
confirmed the individual that had possessed himself of it. [The
government of the Hedjaz has often been a subject of dispute between the
Khalifes of Baghdad, the Sultans of Egypt, and the Imams of Yemen. The
honour attached, even to a nominal authority over the holy cities, was
the only object they had in view, although that authority, instead of
increasing their income, obliged them to incur great expenses. The right
of clothing the Kaaba, and of having their name inserted in the Friday's
prayers in the mosque, was the sole benefit they derived. The supremacy
of Egypt over Mekka, so firmly established from the beginning of the
fifteenth century, was transferred, after the conquest of that country
by Selim I., to the Sultans of Constantinople.] He was invested annually
with a pelisse, brought from Constantinople by the Kaftandji Bashy; and,
in the Turkish ceremonial, he was ranked among the first Pashas of the
empire. When the power of the Pashas of Djidda became merely nominal,
and the Porte was no longer able to send large armies with the Hadj
caravans of the Hedjaz, to secure its command over that country, the
Sherifs of Mekka became independent, and disregarded all the orders of
the Porte, although

[p.220] they still called themselves the servants of the Sultan,
received the annual investiture of the pelisse, acknowledged the Kadhi
sent from Constantinople, and prayed for the Sultan in the great mosque.
Mohammed Aly has restored the authority of the Osmanlys in the Hedjaz,
and usurps all the power of the Sherif; allowing to the present Sherif
Yahya a merely nominal sway.

The Sherif of Mekka was chosen from one of the many tribes of Sherifs,
or descendants of the Prophet, who settled in the Hedjaz; these were
once numerous, but are now reduced to a few families of Mekka. Till the
last century, the right of succession was in the Dwy [Dwy means Ahl, or
family.] Barakat, so called after Barakat, the son of Seyd Hassan
Adjelan, who succeeded his father in A.H. 829; he belonged to the sherif
tribe of Katade, which was originally settled in the valley of Alkamye,
forming part of Yembo el Nakhel, and was related, by the female side, to
the Beni Hashem, whom they had dispossessed of the government of Mekka
in A.H. 600, after the death of the last Hashemy, called Mekether.
During the last century, the Dwy Barakat had to sustain many wars with
their rival tribes, and finally yielded to the most numerous, that of
Dwy Zeyd, to whom the present Sherifs belong, and which, together with
all the Ketade, form part of the great tribe of Abou Nema. Most of the
Barakat emigrated; many of them settling in the fertile valleys of the
Hedjaz, and others in Yemen. Of the Sherifs still existing in and about
Mekka, besides the tribes above mentioned, the following five were named
to me: Abadele, Ahl Serour, Herazy, Dwy Hamoud, Sowamele. [In addition to
these, I find several others mentioned by Asamy, as Dwy Masoud, Dwy
Shambar, Dwy el Hareth, Dwy Thokaba, Dwy Djazan, Dwy Baz. It would
demand more leisure than I enjoy, to compile a history of Mekka from the
above-mentioned sources. D'Ohsson has given an historical notice on the
Sherifs of Mekka, in which are several errors. The long pedigrees that
must be traced, to acquire a clear notion of the rulers of any part of
Arabia, render the history of that country extremely intricate.]

The succession to the government of Mekka, like that of the Bedouin
Sheikhs, was not hereditary; though it remained in the same tribe as
long as the power of that tribe preponderated. After the

[p.221] death of a Sherif, his relative, whether son, brother, or
cousin, &c. who had the strongest party, or the public voice in his
favour, became the successor. There were no ceremonies of installation
or oaths of allegiance. The new Sherif received the complimentary visits
of the Mekkawys; his band played before the door, which seems to be the
sign of royalty here, as it is in the black country; and his name was
henceforth inserted in the public prayers. Though a succession seldom
took place without some contest, there was little bloodshed in general;
and tho[u]gh instances of cruelty sometimes occurred, the principles of
honour and good faith which distinguish the wars of the Desert tribes,
were generally observed. The rivals submitted, and usually remained in
the town, neither attending the levees of their victorious relative, nor
dreading his resentment, after peace had once been settled. During the
war, the rights of hospitality were held as sacred as they are in the
Desert; the dakhyl, or refugee, was always respected: for the blood shed
on both sides, atonement was made by fines paid to the relations of the
slain, and the same laws of retaliation were observed, which prevail
among the Bedouins. There was always a strong party in opposition to the
reigning power; but this opposition was evinced more in the protection
afforded to individuals persecuted by the chief, than in open attempts
against his authority. Wars, however, frequently happened; each party
had its adherents among the neighbouring Bedouins; but these were
carried on according to the system in Bedouin feuds, and were seldom of
long duration.

Though such customs might have a tendency to crush the power of the
reigning Sherif, they were attended with bad consequences to the
community: every individual was obliged to attach himself to one or
other of the parties, and to some protector, who treated his adherents
with the same tyranny and injustice that he experienced from his
superior; laws were little respected; every thing was decided by
personal influence. The power of the Sherifs was considerably diminished
by Serour, who reigned from 1773 to 1786; but even, in later times,
Ghaleb, although possessed of more authority than any of his
predecessors, had often to fight with his own relations.

This continued prevalence of intestine broils, the wars and contentions
[p.222] of the prevailing parties, the vicissitudes of fortune which
attended them, and the arts of popularity which the chiefs were obliged
to employ, gave to the government of the Hedjaz a character different
from that of most of the other governments in the East, and which it
retained, in outward appearance, even after Ghaleb had almost succeeded
in reigning as a despot. None of that ceremony was observed, which draws
a line of distinction between the Eastern sovereigns, or their
vicegerents, and the people. The court of the Sherif was small, and
almost entirely devoid of pomp. His title is neither Sultan, nor Sultan
Sherif, nor "Sire," as Aly Bey Abbas asserts. "Sydna," "our Lord," was
the title which his subjects used in conversing with him; or that of
"Sadetkum," or "your Highness," which is given to all Pashas. The
distance between the subject and the chief was not thought so great as
to prevent the latter, in cases of need, from representing his griefs
personally, and respectfully but boldly demanding redress.
The reigning Sherif did not keep a large body of regular troops;
but he summoned his partisans among the Sherifs, with their adherents,
whenever war was determined upon. These Sherifs he attached to his
person by respecting their rank and influence, and they were accustomed
to consider him in no other light than as the first among equals.
To give a history of the events which have occurred at Mekka since
the period at which the Arabian historians conclude, (about the middle,
I believe, of the seventeenth century,) would be a work of some labour,
as it must be drawn from verbal communications; for nobody, in this
country, thinks of committing to paper the events of his own times. The
circumstances under which I visited the place would have prevented me
from obtaining any very extensive and accurate information on the
political state of the country, even if I had had leisure, as such
inquiries would have obliged me to mix with people of rank, and those
holding offices; a class of society which, for obvious reasons, it was
my constant endeavour to shun. The following is the amount of what
information I was able to collect concerning the recent history of

[p.223] 1750. Sherif Mesaad was appointed to the government of Mekka,
which he held for twenty years. The power of the Sherifs involved him in
frequent wars with them; as he seldom succeeded, their influence
remained undiminished. Having betrayed symptoms of enmity towards Aly
Beg, then governor of Egypt, the latter sent his favourite slave, Abou
Dahab, whom he had made Beg, with a strong body of soldiers, as chief of
the Hadj caravan, to Mekka, in order to expel Mesaad; but the Sherif
died a few days before his arrival.

1769, or 1770. After Mesaad's death, Hosseyn, who, although of the same
tribe, had been his opponent on every occasion, was raised by his own
party to the government, and confirmed therein by the assistance of Abou
Dahab. He continued to rule till the year

1773 or 4, when he was slain in a war with Serour, the son of Mesaad.
The name of Serour, who reigned thirteen or fourteen years, is still
venerated by the Mekkawys: he was the first who humbled the pride and

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