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Travels In Arabia by John Lewis Burckhardt

Part 6 out of 9

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off the ihram. It was mentioned, that in a side-valley leading from this
place towards Djebel Nour, stands a mosque called Mesdjed el Ashra,
where the followers of Mohammed used to pray; but I did not visit it.
According to Azraky, another mosque, called Mesdjed el Kabsh, stood near
the cavern; and Fasy says there was one between

[p.280] the first and second of the devil's pillars, which is probably
that marked 20 in the plan.

To every division of the hadjys, its place of encampment is appointed in
Wady Muna, or at Arafat; but the space is here much narrower. The
Egyptian Hadj alights near the house of the Sherif, where Mohammed Aly
had pitched his tent, in the vicinity of his cavalry. Two large leathern
vessels, constantly kept filled with water, were placed in front of his
tent, for the use of the hadjys. At a short distance from it, towards
the Mesdjed el Kheyf, stood the tent of Soleyman Pasha of Damascus,
whose caravan was encamped on the opposite side of the way; before his
tent was placed a row of ten field-pieces, which he had brought with him
from Damascus. His ammunition had exploded on the way, while the caravan
halted at Beder, and fifty people had been killed by the accident; but
Mohammed Aly had furnished him with a fresh supply; and the guns were
frequently discharged, as were twelve others which stood near Mohammed
Aly's tent. The greatest number of hadjys had encamped without any
order, on the rocky and uneven plain behind the village to the north.
The tents of the Mekkans were very neatly fitted up; and this being now
the feast, men, women, and children were dressed in their best apparel.
At night, few people ventured to sleep, on account of thieves, who
abound at Muna. A hadjy had been robbed, on the preceding night, of
three hundred dollars; and at Arafat several dozen of camels were stolen
by the Bedouins: two of the thieves had been pursued and seized, and
carried before Mohammed Aly at Muna, who ordered them to be beheaded.
Their mutilated bodies lay before his tent the whole of the three days,
with a guard, to prevent their friends from taking them away. Such
exhibitions create neither horror nor disgust in the breast of an
Osmanly; their continual recurrence hardens his feelings, and renders
him insensible to the emotions of pity. I heard a Bedouin, probably a
friend of the slain, who stood near the bodies, exclaim, "God have mercy
upon them; but no mercy upon him who killed them!"

The street, which extends the whole length of Muna, was now converted
into a market and fair: every inch of ground not built upon,

[p.281] was occupied by sheds or booths, made of mats; or by small
tents, fitted up as shops. Provisions, and merchandize of every kind,
had been brought here from Mekka; and, contrary to the custom in other
Mohammedan countries, where all commerce is laid aside during the feast-
days, all the merchants, shopkeepers, and brokers, were busily employed
in traffic. The merchants who had arrived with the Syrian caravan, began
their bargains for Indian goods, and exhibited samples of the articles
which they had themselves brought, and which were lying in the
warehouses at Mekka. A number of poor hadjys were crying their small
adventures, which they carried along the street on their heads; and as
all business was confined to this single street, the mixture of nations,
costumes, and merchandize, was still more striking than at Mekka. [This
pilgrimage among the Pagan Arabs was, at all times, connected with a
large fair held at Mekka. In the month before the pilgrimage, they
visited some other neighbouring fairs, namely, those of Okath, the
market of the tribe of Kenane; of Medjna and Zou el Medjaz; the markets
of the tribe of Hodeyl; and of Hasha, that of the Beni Lazed. After
having spent their time in amusements at those fairs, they repaired to
the Hadj at Arafat, and then returned to Mekka, where another large fair
was held (see Azraky). At Arafat and Muna, on the contrary, they
scrupulously abstained from any traffic during the days of their
sojourning there, and the performance of the holy rites; but the Koran
abrogated this observance, and by a passage in chap. ii. permitted
trafficking even in the days of the Hadj; at least it has been so
explained. (See El Fasy.)]

In the afternoon of the first day of Muna, the two Pashas paid mutual
visits; and their cavalry manoeuvred before their tents. Among the troops
of Soleyman Pasha, about sixty Sambarek (Zembourek) attracted notice:
these are artillerymen, mounted on camels, having a. small swivel before
them, which turned on a pivot fixed to the pommel of the camel's saddle.
They fire while at a trot, and the animal bears the shock of the
discharge with great tranquillity. The Syrian cavalry consisted of about
fifteen hundred men, principally delhys; no infantry whatever being with
the caravan. Soleyman Pasha appeared to-day with a very brilliant
equipage; all his body-guards were dressed in richly-embroidered stuffs
glittering with gold, and were well mounted, though the Pasha's own stud
was very indifferent. After the two

[p.282] Pashas had interchanged visits, their officers followed the
example, and were admitted to kiss the hands of the Pashas, when each of
them received presents in money, according to his rank. The Kadhy, the
rich merchants of Mekka, and the grandees among the hadjys, likewise
paid their respects to the Pashas, and each of their visits lasted about
five minutes. An immense crowd was, at the same time, assembled in a
wide semicircle round their open tents, to witness this brilliant sight.
In the afternoon, a body of negro pilgrims, under a leader, made their
way through this crowd, and, walking up to Soleyman Pasha, (who sat
quite alone, smoking upon a sofa in the recess of his tent,) boldly
saluted him, and wished him joy on the accomplishment of the pilgrimage;
in return they received some gold coins. They afterwards tried the same
experiment with Mohammed Aly Pasha; but received only blows on the back
from his officers, in return for their compliments. Among the
curiosities which attracted the notice of the crowd, was a curricle
belonging to the wife of Mohammed Aly, which stood in the gateway of the
Sherif's house. This lady had carried it on board her ship to Djidda,
from whence she rode in it to Mekka and Arafat, her person being, of
course, completely concealed; it was drawn by two fine horses, and was
seen frequently afterwards parading the streets of Mekka.

At night, the whole valley blazed; every house and tent was lighted up;
before the tents of the Pashas were fine illuminations; and the Bedouins
made large bonfires upon the summits of the mountains. The noise of guns
continued throughout the night; fire-works were exhibited; and several
of the Mekkans let off rockets.

The second day of the feast at Muna was passed in the same manner as the
first; but the putrefying carcases of the sheep became excessively
offensive in some parts of the valley, as very few of the richer hadjys
can consume the victims which they kill. The Hanefys are not even
allowed by the laws of their sect to eat more than one-eighth of a
sheep. The greater part of the flesh falls to the lot of the poorer
hadjys, and the entrails are thrown about the valley

[p.283] and the street. The negroes and Indians were employed in cutting
some of the meat into slices, and drying it for their travelling
provision. [Until the sixteenth century, it was an established rule with
the Sultans of Egypt, and afterwards with those of Constantinople, to
furnish, at Muna, all the poor hadjys with food at the expense of the
royal treasury. The Pagan Arabs distinguished themselves more
particularly during the Hadj for their hospitality; and such of them as
went on the pilgrimage, were gratuitously entertained by all those whose
tents they passed on the road; they having previously prepared for that
purpose large supplies of food. (See Kotobeddyn.)--Among the wonders
which distinguish Muna from other valleys, El Fasy relates that it
occasionally extends its dimensions to accommodate any number of
pilgrims; that on the day of sacrifice, no vultures ever carry off the
slaughtered lambs, thus leaving them for the poor hadjys; and that,
notwithstanding the quantity of raw flesh, no flies ever molest the
visiters at this place. That the last remark is false, I can declare
from my own experience.]

To-day many hadjys performed their prayers in the Mesdjed el Kheyf,
which I found crowded with poor Indians, who had taken up their quarters
in it. The pavement was thickly spread with carrion; and on cords
extended between the columns were suspended slices of meat, for the
purpose of being dried. The sight and smell were very disgusting; and
many hadjys seemed surprised that such indecencies should be allowed. In
general, foreign hadjys see many practices at Mekka, which are not
calculated to inspire them with great veneration for the holy places of
their religion; and although some may, nevertheless, retain all their
religious zeal undiminished, others, we may be assured, lose much of it
in consequence of what they witness during the Hadj. It is to this loss
of respect for religion, and to the nefarious and shameful practices in
some measure legitimatised by their frequent occurrence in the holy
city, that we must attribute those proverbs which reflect upon the
hadjys as less religious and less trustworthy than any other persons.
But our Christian holy-land is liable to some censure, for practices of
the same kind. The most devout and rigid Mohammedans acknowledge and
deplore the existence of this evil; and prove that they are either more
clear-sighted or more sincere than the Christian pilgrim
Chateaubriand. [Mons. C. may have had very statesman-like motives for
giving in his Itinerary so highly coloured a picture of Palestine and
its priesthood; but, as a traveller, he cannot escape blame for having
departed from the truth, and often totally misrepresented the facts that
fell under his observation.]

[p.284]At mid-day on the 12th of Zul Hadj, immediately after having
thrown the last twenty-one stones, the hadjys left Muna, and returned
along the valley to Mekka, evincing their high spirits by songs, loud
talking, and laughter; a contrast to the gloom which affected every body
in proceeding here four days ago. On arriving at Mekka, the pilgrims
must visit the Kaaba, which in the mean time has been covered with the
new black clothing brought from Cairo, walk seven times round it, and
perform the ceremony of the Say: this is called the Towaf el Ifadhe. He
then takes the ihram once more, in order to visit the Omra; and on
returning from the Omra, again performs the Towaf and Say, and with this
the ceremony of the Hadj is finally terminated.

The principal duties incumbent upon the hadjy are, therefore:--1. that he
should take the ihram; 2. be present, on the 9th of Zul Hadj, from
afternoon till sun-set, at the sermon preached at Arafat; 3. attend a
similar sermon at Mezdelfe, at sun-rise of the 10th of Zul Hadj; 4. on
the 10th, 11th, and 12th of Zul Hadj, throw on each day twenty-one
stones against the devil's pillars at Muna; 5. perform the sacrifice at
Muna; or, if he is too poor, substitute for it a fast at some future
time; and, 6. upon his return to Mekka, visit the Kaaba and the Omra.
The law makes so many nice distinctions, and increases so greatly the
number of rules which are to guide the pilgrim at every step, that very
few can flatter themselves with being quite regular hadjys; but as no
ritual police is kept up during the ceremony, every one is completely
his own master, and assumes the title of hadjy, whether he has strictly
performed all the duties or not. It is enough for such that they have
been at Arafat on the proper day--this is the least distinction: but a
mere visit to Mekka does not authorise a man to style himself hadjy; and
the assumption of this title without some further pretensions, exposes
him to ridicule. There is not any formal certificate given to hadjys at
Mekka, as at Jerusalem; but many of the great people purchase a few
drawings of the town, &c.; annexed to which is an attestation of four
witnesses, that the purchasers were

[p.285] regular hadjys. If the 9th of Zul Hadj, or the day of El Wakfe,
falls upon a Friday, it is held to be particularly fortunate.

Some hadjys are anxious to acquire the title of "Khadem el Mesdjed," or
servant of the mosque, which may be obtained at the expense of about
thirty dollars; for this sum, a paper, bestowing that appellation upon
him, is delivered to the purchaser, signed by the Sherif and Kadhy. It
is not uncommon to permit even Christians to obtain the privilege of
calling themselves servants of the Mesdjed, and the honour is
particularly sought for by the Greek inhabitants of the islands and
shores of the Archipelago; as, in case of their being captured by the
Barbary pirates, such a certificate is often respected by the most rigid
Moggrebyns. I saw a Greek captain who obtained one for two hundred
dollars; he had commanded one of Mohammed Aly's dows, and was now on his
way home; and he felt satisfied that, whatever ship he might hereafter
take under his charge in the Archipelago, would be secured by this
certificate from the pirates. In former times, this title of Khadem
appears to have been of more importance than it is now; for I find, in
the historians of Mekka, many great people mentioned, who annexed it to
their names.

After the return of the Hadj from Muna, the principal street of Mekka
becomes almost impassable from the crowds assembled there. The Syrian
hadjy merchants hire shops, and make the best use of the short time
which is granted to them for their commercial transactions. Every body
purchases provisions for his journey home; and the pursuit of gain now
engrosses all minds, from the highest to the lowest. The two caravans
usually leave Mekka about the 23d of Zul Hadj, after ten days' stay in
the town. Sometimes the leaders of them are prevailed upon by the
merchants, who pay highly for the favour, to grant a respite of a few
days; but this year they did not require it, as the caravan was detained
by Mohammed Aly, who, preparing to open his campaign against the
Wahabys, thought proper to employ about twelve thousand camels of the
Syrian Hadj in two journies to Djidda, and one to Tayf, for the
transport of provisions. As to the Egyptian caravan, which, as I have
already mentioned, contained no private hadjys, it was wholly detained
by Mohammed Aly, who ordered all

[p.286] the horsemen and camels that had accompanied it, to assist him
in his campaign. The Mahmal, or sacred camel, was sent back by sea to
Suez, a circumstance which had never before occurred. The Syrian caravan
did not leave Mekka till the 29th of Zul Hadj; and the incessant labour
to which its camels had been subjected, weakened them so much, that
numbers of them died on their return through the Desert. The caravans of
unloaded camels which were hourly leaving Mekka for Djidda, to take up
provisions there, facilitated the short journey to that place of those
hadjys who wished to return home by sea.

Having heard that the supply of money for which I had written to Cairo
on my first reaching Djidda, had been received there, I rode over in the
night of the 1st of December, and remained in that town six or seven
days. The hadjys who had, in the mean while, daily flocked into it on
their return from Mekka, were seen encamped in every quarter, and thus
it soon became as crowded as Mekka had just been. Among the ships in the
harbour, ready to take hadjy passengers on board, was a merchant-vessel
lately arrived from Bombay, belonging to a Persian house at that
presidency, and commanded by an English captain, who had beat up to
Djidda against the trade-winds, at this late season. I passed many
agreeable hours in the company of Captain Boag, on board his ship, and
regretted that my pursuits should call me away so soon. Two other
Europeans had arrived at Djidda about the same time, by way of Cairo;
the one an Englishman, who was going to India; the other a German
physician. This gentleman was a Hanoverian by birth, and a baron:
misfortunes of a very distressing nature had driven him from his home,
and he had thought of practising his profession at Djidda, or of
proceeding to Mokha; but his mind was too unsettled to determine upon
any thing; and he was of too independent a character to receive either
counsel or assistance. I left him at Djidda when I returned to Mekka,
and learnt afterwards that he died there in the month of March, of the
plague, and that he was buried by the Greeks of Djidda upon an island in
the harbour.

When I returned to Mekka, about the 8th or 9th of December, I found no
longer the same multitudes of people; but the beggars had

[p.287] become so numerous and troublesome, that many of the hadjys
preferred staying all day at home, to escape at once the importunities,
the expense of acceding to them, or the scandal of wanting charity.
These beggars were soliciting alms to carry them home; and their numbers
were increased by many pilgrims of respectable appearance, whose money
had been spent during the Hadj. It was my intention, in returning to
Mekka, to join the Syrian caravan, and travel with it as far as Medina;
I therefore, in imitation of some other Syrian pilgrims who had arrived
at Mekka before the caravan, engaged with a Bedouin of the Harb tribe
for two of his camels; although most of the hadjys, who, after the
pilgrimage, visit Mohammed's tomb at Medina, accompany the Syrian
caravan, agreeing with some Mekowem to defray all expenses on the road;
but it is better, for many reasons, to travel with Bedouins than with
towns-people, especially on a route across the Bedouin territory. An
accident, however, prevented me from availing myself of this

The caravan being ready for departure on the 15th of December, I packed
up my effects in the morning, and at noon a gun was fired, to announce
that Soleyman Pasha had quitted the plain of Sheikh Mahmoud, where the
caravan had been encamped; but still my Bedouin had not arrived. I ran
out towards Sheikh Mahmoud, when I understood that a rumour, whether
false or true, having been spread, that Mohammed Aly was only waiting to
see the camels all assembled in the morning upon the plain, that he
might seize and send them to Tayf, several Bedouins had made their
escape during the night: it was evident that those with whom I had
bargained were among the number. In the hurry and bustle of departure no
other camels could possibly be found; and I was therefore obliged to
return to the town, together with several Mekkans, who had been
disappointed in the same manner.

At the moment of starting, the leader of the Damascus caravan always
distributes a certain quantity of provision to the poor. Soleyman Pasha
had, for this purpose, heaped up two hundred camel-loads near his tent;
and when he mounted his horse, at a given signal it was seized upon by
those who were waiting, in the most outrageous and

[p.288] disorderly manner: a party of about forty negro pilgrims, armed
with sticks, secured a considerable part of the heap to themselves.

It is usual for the Syrian Hadj to stop two or three days, on its
return, in Wady Fatme, the first station from Mekka, to allow the camels
some fine pasturage in that neighbourhood; but Soleyman Pasha, who
entertained a great distrust of Mohammed Aly, and was particularly
fearful lest he should make some further demand upon his caravan for
camels, performed an uninterrupted march for two stations, and passed
Wady Fatme; thus disappointing many Mekkan shopkeepers, who had repaired
thither in hopes of establishing a market for the time. The Pasha became
delirious during the journey, and, before he reached Damascus, was put
under restraint by his own officers: he recovered his senses at
Damascus, but died there soon after.

I was obliged to remain at Mekka a whole month after the departure of
the Hadj, waiting for another opportunity of proceeding to Medina. I
might have easily gone from Djidda, by sea, to Yembo; but I preferred
the journey by land. At this time the people of the Hedjaz were kept in
anxious suspense, on account of Mohammed Aly, who was preparing to set
out from Mekka, in person, against the Wahabys. They knew that, if his
expedition should fail, the Bedouins of the Hedjaz would immediately
resort to their wonted practices, and cut off the route to the interior
from all travellers; and experience had also taught them, that if the
Wahabys obtained possession of the country a second time, the town of
Mekka alone could indulge in any hope of escaping from being plundered.
These considerations retarded the departure of caravans for Medina. A
strong caravan usually leaves Mekka on the 11th of Moharrem,
(corresponding this year with the 2nd of January, 1815,) the day after
the opening of the Kaaba, which always takes place on the 10th of
Moharrem, or the day called Ashour. Towards the end of December, the
inhabitants were alarmed by a false report of the arrival of a Wahaby
force, by the way of the seacoast, from the south: soon after, in the
first days of January, 1815, Mohammed Aly set out from Mekka. He met the
Wahaby army, four days after, at Byssel, in the neighbourhood of Tayf,
where he gained

[p.289] the complete victory of which I have elsewhere given the
details; this was no sooner known at Mekka, than the caravan for Medina,
which had long been prepared, set out, on the 15th of January.

After the Syrian Hadj had departed, and the greater part of the other
pilgrims retired to Djidda, waiting for an opportunity to embark, Mekka
appeared like a deserted town. Of its brilliant shops, one-fourth only
remained; and in the streets, where a few weeks before it was necessary
to force one's way through the crowd, not a single hadjy was seen,
except solitary beggars, who raised their plaintive voices towards the
windows of the houses which they supposed to be still inhabited. Rubbish
and filth covered all the streets, and nobody appeared disposed to
remove it. The skirts of the town were crowded with the dead carcases of
camels, the smell from which rendered the air, even in the midst of the
town, offensive, and certainly contributed to the many diseases now
prevalent. Several hundreds of these carcases lay near the reservoirs of
the Hadj, and the Arabs inhabiting that part of Mekka never walked out
without stuffing into their nostrils small pieces of cotton, which they
carried suspended by a thread round the neck. [The Arabs in general, even
the Bedouins, are much more sensitive than the Europeans concerning the
slightest offensive smell. This is one of the principal reasons why the
Bedouins never enter a town without repugnance. They entertain a belief
that bad smells affect the health by entering through the nostrils into
the lungs; and it is for this reason, more than for the disagreeable
sensation itself arising from the smell, that Arabs and Bedouins are
often seen covering their noses with the skirts of their turbans, in
walking through the streets.] But this was not all. At this time the
Mekkans are in the habit of emptying the privies of their houses; and,
too lazy to carry the contents beyond the precincts of the town, they
merely dig a hole in the street, before the door of the dwelling, and
there deposit them, covering the spot only with a layer of earth. The
consequences of such a practice may easily be imagined.

The feasts of nuptials and circumcision now take place, being always
celebrated immediately after the Hadj, as soon as the Mekkans are left
to themselves, and before the people have had time to spend the sums
gained during the residence of the pilgrims; but I saw many

[p.290] more funerals than nuptial processions. Numbers of hadjys,
already ill from the fatigues of the road, or from cold caught while
wearing the ihram, are unable to proceed on their journey homewards;
they remain in the hope of recovering strength, but often terminate
their existence here. If they have some companion or relative with them,
he carries off the dead man's property, on paying a fee to the Kadhy; if
he is alone, the Kadhy and Sherif are his heirs, and these inheritances
are no inconsiderable source of income. When I quitted Mekka, there were
still remaining there perhaps a thousand hadjys, many of whom intended
to pass a whole year in the holy city, and to be present at another
Hadj; others to protract their residence only for a few months.

On the day of quitting Mekka, it is thought becoming to pay a parting
visit to the Kaaba, called Towaf el Wodaa, and to perform the Towaf and
Say. The hadjys generally do it when every thing is ready for departure,
and mount their camels the moment they have finished the ceremony.


ON the 15th of January, 1815, I left Mekka with a small caravan of
hadjys, who were going to visit the tomb of the prophet: it consisted of
about fifty camels, the property of some Bedouins of the Ryshye and
Zebeyde tribes, who either accompanied their beasts themselves, or had
sent slaves with them. I had hired two camels, to carry myself and my
slave and baggage; and, as is customary in the Hedjaz, I had paid the
money in advance, at the rate of one hundred and eighty piastres per
camel. My late cicerone, with whom I had every reason to be satisfied,
though not quite free from those professional vices already mentioned,
accompanied me out of town, as far as the plain of Sheikh Mahmoud, where
the camels had assembled, and from whence the caravan started at nine
o'clock in the evening. The journey to Medina, like that between Mekka
and Djidda, is performed by night, which renders it much less profitable
to the traveller, and, in winter time, much less comfortable than it
would be by day.

Having proceeded an hour and a quarter, [I had bought a watch at Mekka,
and had obtained a good compass from the English ship at Djidda.] we
passed the Omra thus far the road is paved in several parts with large
stones, particularly on the ascents. We passed through valleys of firm
sand, between irregular chains of low hills, where some shrubs and
stunted acacia-trees grow. The road, with few exceptions, was perfectly

[p.292]At five hours from Mekka, we passed a ruined building called El
Meymounye, with the tomb of a saint, the dome of which was demolished by
the Wahabys. Near it is a well of sweet water, and a small birket, or
reservoir, built of stone: a little building annexed to the tomb serves
as a sort of khan for travellers. For the first six hours from Mekka our
road lay N.W., when we turned a steep hill, which caravans cannot cross,
and proceeded N.N.W. to Wady Fatme, which we reached at the end of eight
hours from Mekka, just at the first appearance of dawn.

January 16th. We alighted on the spot where the pilgrim caravans repose
on the day before they reach Mekka, in a part of the valley of Fatme,
called Wady Djemmoum. Wady Fatme is low ground, abounding in springs and
wells; it extends in an E.N.E. direction to the distance of four or five
hours, until it nearly joins Wady Lymoun. To the west of our resting-
place, it terminates at about an hour and a half's distance, being about
six hours in its whole length. The most western point is called Medoua.
On the western side are the principal plantations; to the east it is
cultivated in a few spots only. It presented to the view on that side a
plain of several miles in breadth, covered with shrubs, and flanked on
both sides by low barren hills or elevated ground; but towards its
eastern extremity it is said to be very well cultivated. Wady Fatme has
different appellations in different parts; but the whole is commonly
known to the people of Djidda and Mekka by the name of El Wady, or the
valley. By the Arabian historians it is usually called Wady Merr.
Between Wady Fatme and Hadda, (the station so named on the Djidda road,)
are the two places, called Serouat and Rekany. (See Asamy.)

The cultivated grounds in Wady Fatme contain principally date-trees,
which supply the markets of the two neighbouring towns; and vegetables,
which are carried every night, on small droves of asses, to Mekka and
Djidda. Wheat and barley are also cultivated in small quantities. The
Wady being well supplied with water, might easily be rendered more
productive than it now is; but the Hedjaz people are generally averse to
all manual labour. Near the place where we alighted, runs a small
rivulet, coming from the eastward, about three

[p.293] feet broad, and two feet deep, and flowing in a subterranean
channel cased with stone, which is uncovered for a short space where the
caravans take their supply of water, which is much more tepid than that
of the Zemzem at Mekka, and is much better tasted. Close by are several
ruined Saracen buildings and a large khan; and here also, according to
Fasy, stood formerly a Mesdjed called El Fath. Among the date-groves are
some Arab huts belonging to the cultivators of the soil, chiefly of the
Lahyan tribe; the more wealthy of them belong to the tribe of the
Sherifs of Mekka, called Dwy Barakat, who live here like Bedouins, in
tents and huts. They have a few cattle; their cows, like all those of
the Hedjaz, are small, and have a hump on their shoulders. Wady Fatme is
also distinguished for its numerous henna-trees, with the odoriferous
flowers of which, reduced to powder, the people of the East dye the
palms of the hands, the soles of the feet, or the nails of both. The
henna of this valley is sold at Mekka to the hadjys in small red
leathern bags; and many of them carry some of it home, as a present to
their female relations. I think it probable that the Oaditae of Ptolemy
were the inhabitants of this valley, (Wady, Oadi).

We found at our halting-place a party of about twenty servants and
camel-drivers belonging to the Turkish army at Mekka, who had left that
place secretly to escape the embargo laid by Mohammed Aly upon all
persons of their description. They were without any provisions, and had
very little money; but hearing that there was a caravan to start for
Medina, they thought they should be able to accompany it thither. Some
of them, who were Egyptians, intended to go to Yembo; others, who were
Syrians, had formed the plan of returning home through the Desert by the
Hedjaz route, and of begging their way along the Bedouin encampments,
not having money enough to pay for their passage by sea to Suez.

We left our resting-place at three o'clock P.M., and were one hour in
crossing the Wady to its northern side; from whence the Hadj road, on
which we travelled, rises gently between hills, through valleys full of
acacia-trees, in a direction N. 40 W. The rock is all granite of the

[p.294] gray and red species. At the end of two hours, the country
opens, the trees diminish, and the course changes to N. 55 W. Towards
sun-set I had walked a little way in front of the caravan, and being
tired, sat down under a tree to wait its approach; when five Bedouins
crept along the bushes towards me, and suddenly snatched up my stick,
the only weapon which was lying on the ground behind me. Their leader
said that I was, no doubt, a deserter from the Turkish army, and
therefore their lawful prize. I offered no resistance; but seeing them
much less determined than Bedouin robbers generally are, I concluded
that they were not free from fear. I told them, therefore, that I was a
hadjy, and belonged to a large caravan escorted by Harb Bedouins; that
they might wait a little before they stopped me, to assure themselves of
this fact by the arrival of the caravan; and that they had better not
offer me any violence, as our guides would no doubt know the
perpetrators, and would report it to those who had the power to punish
them. I felt assured that they had no intention of doing me any bodily
harm, and was under no apprehension, especially as I had only a
travelling dress and a few dollars to lose, should the worst happen. One
of them, an old man, advised his comrades to wait a little; for that it
would not be well to incur the consequences of robbing a hadjy. During
our parley, I looked impatiently for the caravan coming in sight; but it
had stopped behind for a quarter of an hour, to allow the travellers
time to perform the evening prayers, a daily practice among them, of
which. I was yet ignorant. This delay was very much against me, and I
expected every moment to be stripped, when, the tread of the camels
being at last heard, the Bedouins retreated as suddenly as they had

Although the road from Mekka to Medina was considered safe even for
caravans unarmed like ours, yet stragglers are always exposed; and had
it not been for the terror with which, a few days before, Mohammed Aly's
victory over the Wahabys had inspired all the neighbouring Bedouins, I
should probably have been punished for my imprudence in walking on
alone. We rode the greater part of the night, over a plain more gravelly
than sandy, where some ashour trees

[p.295] grow among the acacias, the same species (Asclepia gigantea)
which I have so often mentioned in my Nubian Travels. This ground is
called El Barka. After a seven hours' march, we stopped at El Kara.

January 17th. We slept a few hours during the night, a circumstance that
seldom occurred on this journey. El Kara is a black, flinty plain, with
low hills at a great distance to the east: it bears a few thorny trees,
but affords no water. I was struck by its great resemblance to the
Nubian Desert, south of Shigre. Although in the midst of winter, the
heat was intense the whole morning of our stay at Kara. Nobody in the
caravan had a tent, and I was more exposed than any person; all the
others being mounted on a shebrye, or shekdof, a sort of covered camel-
saddle, which affords some shelter from the sun, both while on the
camel, and when placed on the ground: the shebrye serves for one person,
and the shekdof for two-one sitting on each side of the camel. But I had
always preferred the open seat upon a loaded camel, as more commodious,
besides being more Arablike, and affording the advantage of mounting or
dismounting without the aid of the driver, and without stopping the
animal; which it is very difficult to effect with those machines on
their back, especially the shekdof, where both riders must keep
continually balancing each other.

I formed to-day a closer acquaintance with my fellow-travellers; for, in
small caravans, every one endeavours to be upon friendly terms with his
companions. They were Malays, or, as they are called in the Levant,
Jawas; and, with the exception of a few of them, who came from the coast
of Malacca, all British subjects, natives of Sumatra, Java, and the
coast of Malabar. The Malays come regularly to the Hadj, and often bring
their women with them, three of whom were in our caravan. Many remain
for years at Mekka, to study the Koran and the law, and are known among
the Indians in the Hedjaz as scrupulous adherents to the precepts, or at
least to the rites, of their religion. Few of them talk Arabic fluently;
but they all read the Koran, and, even when travelling, are engaged in
studying it. They defray the expenses of their journey by selling aloe-
wood, the best kind of which, called Ma Wardy, they told me, cost, in
their country,

[p.296] between three and four dollars per pound, and sells at Mekka at
between twenty and twenty-five dollars. Their broad, long features, and
prominent forehead, their short but stout stature, and their decayed
teeth, which present a striking contrast to the pearly teeth of the
Arabs, every where distinguish them, although they wear the common
Indian dress. Their women, who all went unveiled, wore robes and
handkerchiefs of striped silk stuff, of Chinese manufacture. They
appeared to be people of very sober habits and quiet demeanour, but
avaricious in the extreme; and their want of charity was sufficiently
proved by their treatment of the destitute fugitives who had joined the
caravan at Wady Fatme. They lived, during the whole journey, upon rice
and salted fish: they boiled the rice in water, without any butter, a
dear article in the Hedjaz, but which they did not dislike; for several
of them begged my slave to give them secretly some of mine, for
seasoning their dish. As they were people of property, avarice alone
could be the motive for this abstemious diet; but they were sufficiently
punished by the curses of the Bedouins, who had, of course, expected to
partake of their dinners, and could not be prevailed upon to swallow the
watery rice. Their copper vessels were all of Chinese manufacture, and
instead of the abrik, or pot, which the Levantines use in washing and
making their ablutions, they carried with them Chinese tea-pots.

During this journey, I had frequent opportunities of learning the
opinion entertained by these Malays of the government and manners of the
English, their present masters; they discovered a determined rancour and
hostile spirit towards them, and greatly reviled their manners, of
which, however, the worst they knew was, that they indulged too freely
in wine, and that the sexes mixed together in social intercourse; none,
however, impeached the justice of the government, which they contrasted
with the oppression of their native princes; and although they bestowed
upon the British the same opprobrious epithets with which the fanatic
Moslims every where revile Europeans, they never failed to add, "but
their government is good." I have overheard many similar conversations
among the Indians at Djidda and Mekka, and also among the Arabian
sailors who

[p.297] trade to Bombay and Surat; the spirit of all which was, that the
Moslims of India hate the English, though they love their government.

We left our resting-place at ten o'clock P.M., and proceeded over the
plain of Kara, in a direction N. 40 W. At the end of three hours we
passed a ruined building called Sebyl el Kara, where a well, now filled
up, formerly supplied the passengers with water. I saw no hills to the
west, as far as my eyes could reach. The plain is here overgrown with
some trees and thick shrubs. We continued to cross it till six hours,
where it closes; and the road begins to ascend slightly through a broad
woody valley: here is situated Bir Asfan, a large, deep well, lined with
stone, with a spring of good water in the bottom. This is a station of
the Hadj. There is another way from Wady Fatme to Asfan, four miles to
the eastward of our route. We passed the well without stopping.
Samhoudy, the historian of Medina, mentions a village at Asfan, with a
spring called Owla; there is now no village here. At seven hours begins
a very narrow ascending passage between rocks, affording room for only
one camel. The torrents which rush down through this passage in winter
have entirely destroyed the road, and filled it with large, sharp blocks
of stone; the Hadj route seemed, in several places, to be cut out of the
rock, but the night was too dark for seeing any thing distinctly. At the
end of eight hours we reached the top of this defile, where a small
building stands, perhaps the tomb of a Sheikh. From hence we rode over a
wide plain, sometimes sandy, and in other parts a mixture of sand and
clay, where trees and shrubs grow. At fourteen hours, near the break of
dawn, we passed a small Bedouin encampment, and alighted, at the end of
fifteen hours, in the neighbourhood of a village called Kholeys. We had
made several short halts during the night, and kindled fires to warm

Kholeys stands upon a wide plain, in several parts of which date-groves
are seen, with fields, where dhourra, bemye, and dokken are cultivated.
Several hamlets appear scattered about, which are comprised in the
general name of Kholeys; the largest is called Es-Souk, or the market-
place, near which the Hadj encamps. A small rivulet, tepid, like that in
Wady Fatme, rises near the Souk, and is collected

[p.298] on the outside of the village in a small birket, now ruined, and
then waters the plain. Near the birket there are also the ruins of a
sebyl. [A sebyl is a small, open building, often found by the side of
fountains; in these sebyls travellers pray, and take their repose.]
According to Kotobeddyn, the birket and sebyl were built by Kayd Beg,
Sultan of Egypt, about A.H. 885. At that time, Kholeys had its own Emir,
who was a very powerful person in the Hedjaz. I saw plenty of cattle,
cows, and sheep; but the Arabs complained that their plantations
suffered from drought, no rain having yet fallen, though the season was
far advanced. The water from the rivulet did not appear sufficient to
irrigate all the cultivated grounds, and the supply was even less than
it might have been, as half of the water was suffered, through
negligence, to escape from the narrow channels.

The village Es-Souk contains about fifty houses, all built of mud, and
very low: its main street is lined with shops, kept by the people of
Kholeys, and frequented by all the neighbouring Bedouins. The principal
article for sale was dates, with which most of the shops were filled; in
the others were sold dhourra, barley, lentils and onions, (both from
Egypt,) rice, and some other articles of provision; but no wheat, that
grain being little used by the Bedouins of this country: there were also
spices, a few drugs, the bark of a tree for tanning the water-skins, and
some butter. Milk was not to be found, for no one likes to be called a
milk-seller. A tolerably well-built mosque stands by the rivulet, near
some gigantic sycamore trees. I found in it two negro hadjys from
Darfour; they had, the night before, been stripped on the road of a few
piastres, earned at Mekka: one of them having attempted to defend
himself, had been severely beaten; and they now intended to go back to
Djidda, and endeavour to retrieve their loss by a few months' labour.
One of the Bedouins who had stripped them, was smoking his pipe in the
village; but they had not the means of proving the robbery against him,
nor of obtaining justice. Kholeys is the chief seat of the Arab tribe of
Zebeyd, a branch of Beni Harb, and the residence of their Sheikh. The
greater part of them are Bedouins; and many even of those who cultivate
the ground, pass some part of the

[p.299] year under tents in the Desert, for the purpose of pasturing
their cattle upon the wild herbage. A few families of Beni Amer, (or
Aamer, [The Beni Aamer must not be confounded with Amer, another tribe of
Harb.]) another branch of Harb, are mixed with this tribe at Kholeys.

Before the Turkish conquest, the usual currency at this market was
dhourra; at present, piastres and paras are taken. Kholeys often sends
small caravans to Djidda, which is two long days' journeys, or three
caravan journeys distant. I was told that the neighbouring mountains
were well peopled with Bedouins. About three hours distant, in a N.E.
direction, is a fertile valley called Wady Khowar, known for its
numerous plantations of bananas, by which the fruit-markets of Mekka and
Djidda are supplied.

January 18th. Having filled our water-skins, we set out at three
o'clock, P.M. Our road lay N. 20 E. over the plain. In two hours we came
to a high hill, called Thenyet Kholeys, the steep side of which was
deeply covered with sand, through which our camels ascended with
difficulty. Some ancient ruins of a large building stand on its top, and
the road on both sides of the hill is lined with walls, to prevent too
great an accumulation of the sand. It was covered with carcases of
camels, the relics of the late Hadj caravans. On descending the other
side, a plain extended before us to the north and east, as far as the
eye could reach. To the E.N.E. high mountains were visible, distant
between twenty and thirty miles. Descending into the plain, we took the
direction N. 10 W. At three hours and a half the plain, which thus far
had been firm gravel, changed into deep sand, with tarfa (or tamarisk)
trees, which delight particularly in sand, and in the driest season,
when all vegetation around them is withered, never lose their verdure.
It is one of the most common productions of the Arabian Desert, from the
Euphrates to Mekka, and is also frequent in the Nubian deserts: its
young leaves form an excellent food for camels. At four hours and a
quarter, we found the road covered with a saline crust, indicating the
neighbourhood of the sea; from hence, our course was in various

According to the usual practice in the Hedjaz, the camels walk in

[p.300] a single row--those behind tied to the tails of those that
precede them. The Arab, riding foremost, was to lead the troop; but he
frequently fell asleep, as well as his companions behind; and his camel
then took its own course, and often led the whole caravan astray. After
a twelve hours' march, we alighted at the Hadj station called Kolleya,
and also Kobeyba. Every spot in the plains of Arabia is known by a
particular name; and it requires the eye and experience of a Bedouin to
distinguish one small district from another: for this purpose, the
different species of shrubs and pasturage produced in them by the rains,
are of great assistance; and whenever they wish to mention a certain
spot to their companions, which happens to have no name, they always
designate it by the herbs that grow there; as, for instance, Abou Shyh,
Abou Agal, &c.

About two hours distant from the spot where we rested, to the north-
east, is water, with a small date-grove. I heard that the sea was from
six to eight hours distant. The mountains continued to be seen between
twenty and thirty miles on the east; their summits sharp, and presenting
steep and insulated peaks. They are inhabited by the tribe of Ateybe,
which in the seventeenth century, according to Asamy, also inhabited
Wady Fatme. In the morning some Bedouin women appeared, with a few
starved herds of sheep and goats, which were searching for the scanty
herbage. No rain had fallen in the plain, and every shrub was withered;
yet these Bedouins did not dare to seek for better pasturage in the
neighbouring mountains, which did not belong to the territory of their
tribe; for, whenever there is a drought, the limits of each territory
are rigorously watched by the shepherds. I went out with several of the
Malays to meet the women, and to ask them for some milk; the Malays had
taken money with them to buy it; and I had filled my pockets with
biscuit, for the same purpose. They refused to take the money, saying
they were not accustomed to sell milk; but when I made them a present of
the biscuits, they filled my wooden bowl in return. During the passage
of the Hadj, these poor Bedouins fly in all directions, knowing the
predatory habits of the soldiers who escort the caravan.

January 19th. We left Kolleya at half-past one o'clock P.M., and

[p.301] proceeded over the plain. In three hours, we came to low hills
of moving sand; at four hours, to a stony plain, with masses of rock
lying across the road: direction N. 25 W. At the end of nine hours, we
halted during the night near the village of Rabegh, our road having been
constantly level. Three or four hamlets, little distant from each other,
are all comprised under this appellation; the principal of which, like
that of Kholeys, is distinguished by the additional name of Es-Souk, or
the market-place. The neighbouring plain is cultivated, and thick
plantations of palm-trees render Rabegh a place of note on this route.
Amongst the palm-trees grow a few tamarinds, or Thamr Hindy, the green
fruit of which was now sufficiently ripe and pleasant. A few of these
trees likewise grow at Mekka. Some rain had fallen here lately, and the
ground was, in many parts, tilled. The ploughs of those Arabs, which are
drawn by oxen or camels, resemble those delineated by Niebuhr, and which
are, I believe, generally used in the Hedjaz and. Yemen. [I cannot
conceive what could have led Ptolemy to place a river in the direction
between Mekka and Yembo, as certainly no river empties itself into the
sea any where in the Hedjaz. In winter time, many torrents rush down
from the mountains.] Rabegh possesses the advantage of a number of
wells, the water of which is, however, but indifferent: its vicinity to
the sea, which, as I heard, was six or seven miles distant, though the
view of it was hid by palm-groves, causes the coast of Rabegh to be
visited by many country ships that are in want of water. The Bedouins of
this coast are active fishermen, and bring hither from the more distant
ports their salted fish; a quantity of which may always be found in the
market, where it is bought up by the Arab ships' crews, who consume a
great part of it, and carry the rest to Egypt or Djidda. The inhabitants
of Rabegh are of the above-mentioned Harb tribes of Aamer and Zebeyd,
principally the latter. In the opposite mountains, to the east, live the
Beni Owf, another tribe of Harb. The hadjys passing by sea from Egypt to
Djidda, are obliged to take the ihram opposite to Rabegh, which they may
do either on shore, or on board snip.

An accident occurred here, which showed in the strongest light the total
want of charity in our companions the Malays. There were several poorer
Malays, who, unable to pay for the hire of a camel, followed

[p.302] their comrades on foot; but as our night journeys were long,
these men came in sometimes an hour or two after we had alighted in the
morning. To-day one of them was brought in under an escort of two
Bedouins of the tribe of Owf, who told us that they had found him
straying in the Desert, and that he had promised them twenty piastres if
they would guide him to the caravan, and that they expected his friends
would make up this sum, the man, as they saw, being himself quite
destitute of money. When they found that none of our party showed any
inclination to pay even the smallest part of this sum, and that all of
them disclaimed any knowledge or acquaintance with the man, who, they
said had joined the caravan at starting from Mekka without his person
being in the least known to them, the Bedouins declared that they should
take the little clothing he had upon him, and keep him a prisoner in
their tents till some other Malays should pass, who might release him.
When the caravan was preparing to start, they seized him, and carried
him off a short distance towards the wood. He was so terrified that he
had lost the power of speech, and permitted himself to be led away,
without making the slightest resistance. Our own guides were no match
for the Owf, a tribe much dreaded for its warlike and savage character;
there was no judge in the village of Rabegh, to whose authority an
appeal might be made; and the two Bedouins had a legitimate claim upon
their prisoner. I should have performed no great act of generosity in
paying his ransom myself; but I thought that this was a duty incumbent
upon his countrymen the Malays, and therefore used all my endeavours to
persuade them to do it. I really never met with such hard-hearted,
unfeeling wretches; they unanimously declared that they did not know the
man, and were not bound to incur any expense on his account. The camels
were loaded; they had all mounted, and the leader was on the point of
starting, when the miserable object of the dispute broke out in loud
lamentations. I had waited for this moment. Relying on the respect I
enjoyed in the caravan from being supposed a hadjy in some measure
attached to Mohammed Aly's army, and the good-will of our guides, which
I had cultivated by distributing victuals liberally amongst them ever
since we left Mekka, I seized the leader's camel, made it couch down,
and exclaimed, that the

[p.303] caravan should not proceed till the man was released. I then
went from load to load, and partly by imprecating curses on the Malays
and their women, and partly by collaring some of them, I took from every
one of their camels twenty paras, (about three pence,) and, after a long
contest, made up the twenty piastres. This sum I carried to the Bedouins
who had remained at a distance with their prisoner, and representing to
them his forlorn state, and appealing to the honour of their tribe,
induced them to take ten piastres. According to true Turkish maxims, I
should have pocketed the other ten, as a compensation for my trouble; I,
however, gave them to the poor Malay, to the infinite mortification of
his countrymen. The consequence was, that, during the rest of the
journey, they entirely discarded him from their party, and he was thrown
upon my hands, till we arrived at Medina, and during his residence
there. I intended to have provided him with the means of returning to
Yembo, but I fell dangerously ill soon after my arrival at Medina, and
know not what afterwards became of him.

Several pilgrims were begging for charity in the market of Rabegh. These
poor people, in starting from Mekka for Medina with the great caravan,
fancy that they are sufficiently strong to bear the fatigues of that
journey, and know that, in travelling with the caravan, charitable
hadjys are to be found who will supply them with food and water; but the
long night-marches soon exhaust their strength, they linger behind on
the road, and, after great privations and delays, are obliged to proceed
on their journey by other opportunities. An Afghan pilgrim here joined
our party; he was an old man, of very extraordinary strength, and had
come the whole way from Kaboul to Mekka on foot, and intended to return
in the same manner. I regretted his slight acquaintance with Arabic, as
he seemed an intelligent man, and could no doubt have given me some
interesting information respecting his country.

January 20th. We left Rabegh at four P.M. Our road lay N. 8 W., in most
parts of black flint, interspersed with some hills of sand, upon which
were a few trees. Having enjoyed no repose whatever for the last two
days, I fell asleep upon my camel, and can only say, that after a ride
of eleven hours, over hilly and sandy ground, we alighted at

[p.304] Mastoura, a station of the Hadj. Two large and deep wells, cased
with stone, afford here a copious supply of good water. Near them stood
the tomb of a saint called Sheikh Madely, which had been demolished by
the Wahabys. About ten miles east of this is a high mountain, called
Djebel Ayoub, "Job's Mountain," overtopping the other summits of the
chain of which it forms a part, and covered in many spots with trees.
It is inhabited by the Owf tribe. The whole road from Kolleya to this
place is dangerous on account of the robberies of these Bedouins; and
the caravan never passes without losing some of its loads or camels. In
the time of the Wahabys it was completely secure; the Sheikhs of the
Harb, and the whole tribe being made responsible for all depredations
committed in their territory. The Wahabys, however, had not been able to
subdue the Owf in their own mountains; and a proof of their independence
appeared in the long hair which this tribe wore, contrary to the Wahaby
precept, which had established it as a universal law to shave the head

We found, at the wells of Mastoura, several flocks of camels and sheep,
which the Owf shepherds and shepherdesses were watering. I bought from
them a lamb for a few piastres and some tobacco, and divided it among
our guides and those who accompanied us on foot. The Malays came to ask
me for their share, giving me to understand that their compliance with
my entreaties in favour of their poor countryman, was deserving of
reward; but the Bedouins who were with us, saved me, by their taunting
reprimands, the trouble of answering them. Several tombs of hadjys were
seen near the wells, which the Wahabys had respected; for they seldom
injured any tombs that pride or bigotry had left unadorned.

January 21st. We set out at three o'clock P.M. The plain we crossed is
either flinty, or presents spots of cultivable clay. The direction was
north. After proceeding over a sandy plain, covered with low brush-wood
for two hours and a half, we had Djebel Ayoub about six miles distant:
then begins a lower ridge of mountains, running parallel to the road.
Here we quitted the great Hadj route, which turns off in a more westerly
direction, and we proceeded towards the mountains N. 15 E. to reach
Szafra by the nearest route. After a

[p.305] march of thirteen hours, over uneven ground and low hills, we
halted near day-break, in a sandy plain, by the well called Bir-es'-
Sheikh. It will have been observed, that our night marches were always
very long; but the rate of the camel's walk was very slow, scarcely more
than two miles an hour, or two and a quarter. Bir-es'-Sheikh is a well
between thirty and forty feet deep, and fifteen feet in diameter,
solidly cased with stone; the work of men who felt more anxiety for the
convenience of travellers to the holy cities, than the present chiefs of
the faithful evince. If pressed for time, the Hadj sometimes takes this
route; but it goes usually by Beder, where the Egyptian and Syrian
caravans, on their road to Mekka, follow each other, at the interval of
one day or two, their time of setting out upon the journey invariably
taking place on fixed days. We were now close to the great chain, which,
since we left Kholeys, had been on our right: a ridge of it, a few miles
north of Bir-es'-Sheikh, takes a westerly direction towards the sea, and
at its extremity lies Beder. We met Bedouins at this well also; they
were of the tribe of Beni Salem, or Sowaleme: our guides bought a sheep
of them, and roasted it in the Medjba, a hole dug in the sand, and
lined with small stones, which are heated; the flesh is laid upon them,
and then covered by cinders and the wet skin of the animal, and closely
shut up with sand and clay. In an hour and a half the meat is cooked,
and, as it loses none of its juices, has an excellent flavour.

January 22nd. We left the well at half-past three P.M. Route N. 10 W.
ascending over uneven ground. In an hour and a half we entered the
mountains, at the angle formed by the great chain on one side, and the
above-mentioned branch, which extends towards Beder, on the other. From
hence we continued N.N.E. in valleys of sandy soil, full of detached
rocks. High mountains with sharp-pointed summits, and entirely barren,
enclosed the road on both sides. The Eastern mountain, which here runs
parallel with it, is called Djebel Sobh; the territory of the powerful
tribe of Beni Sobh, a branch of the Beni Harb. Their mountains contain
many fertile valleys, where date-trees grow, and some dhourra is sown.
It is here that the Mekka balsam-tree is principally found, and the
Senna Mekka, or Arabian

[p.306] senna, which the Syrian caravan exports, is collected
exclusively in this district. The passage into the interior parts of
this mountain is described as very difficult, and could never be forced
by the Wahabys. Numerous families of the other tribes of Harb had
retreated thither, with all their goods and cattle, from the arms of
Saoud; and while all the Hedjaz Bedouins submitted to the Wahaby
dominion, the Sobh was the only tribe which successfully defended their
territory, and boldly asserted their independence.

After a march of six hours and a half, the road began to ascend among
low rocky hills. At seven hours and a half we entered Wady Zogag, a
narrow valley of gentle ascent, full of loose stones, and overgrown with
acacia-trees. In proceeding up, it grew narrower, the path became
steeper, and more difficult for the camels. At the end of thirteen
hours, we came to level ground at its top, and there entered the valley
of Es' Szafra, close by the village of the same name, at which we

January 23d. Our camels being tired, having found very little food on
the road, though they always had the whole morning to pasture, and
several of them threatening to break down, the drivers stopped here the
whole day. Like the before-mentioned Bedouin villages, Szafra is a
market-place for all the surrounding tribes: its houses are built on the
declivity of the mountain, and in the valley, which is narrow, leaving
scarcely room enough for the date-groves which line both sides of it. A
copious rivulet flows down the valley, the water of which is dispersed
among the date-trees, and irrigates some cultivated fields in the wider
parts of the windings of this valley. Wheat, dhourra, barley, and dokhen
are sown here; of vegetables the Badendjan, or egg-plant, Meloukhye
onions and radishes are cultivated; and vines, lemon, and banana-trees
abound. The soil is every where sandy, but rendered fertile by
irrigation: copious rains had fallen three days since in the mountains,
and a torrent twenty feet broad, and three or four feet deep, was still
flowing. The date-groves extend about four miles; they belong to the
inhabitants of Szafra, as well as of neighbouring Bedouins, who keep
some of their own people, or Arab labourers, employed in irrigating the
grounds, and repair hither themselves when

[p.307] the dates are ripe. The date-trees pass from one person to
another in the course of trade, and are sold by the single tree; the
price paid to a girl's father on marrying her, consists often in date-
trees. They all stand in deep sand, which is collected from the middle
parts of the valley, and heaped up round their root, and must be renewed
annually, as the torrents usually wash it away. Every small grove is
enclosed by a mud or stone wall; the cultivators inhabit several
hamlets, or insulated houses, scattered among the trees. The houses are
low, and generally have only two rooms, and there is a small court-yard
for the cattle. Several springs of running water, and many wells, are
found in the gardens; the principal rivulet has its source in a grove
close to the market; a small Mesdjed or mosque is built beside it, and
it is overshadowed by a few large wild chesnut-trees. I saw no others of
that species in the Hedjaz. Here, too, the water of the spring was
tepid, but in a less degree than at Rabegh and Kholeys.

The inhabitants of this valley, the name of which is celebrated in the
Hedjaz for the abundance of its dates, are of the Beni Salem tribe, the
most numerous branch of Harb, and, like most other tribes of the Hedjaz,
partly Bedouins and partly settled inhabitants; the latter remaining in
their houses and gardens the whole year round, though they dress and
live in the same manner as their brethren under tents. The Wahaby chief
had been aware of the importance of this station; and having succeeded,
after a long resistance, in overpowering the Beni Harb, who held the key
of the Northern Hedjaz, [In this enterprise he was assisted by Medheyan,
formerly a chief of Harb, who had been deprived of his post by Djezy, a
fortunate rival. Medheyan was afterwards treacherously seized by the
Turks at Medina, and beheaded at Constantinople; and Djezy, a friend of
Mohammed Aly, was killed by the Turkish governor of Medina, for having
spoken too highly of his services.] thought it necessary to keep a
watchful eye over this valley, and there built several strong block-
houses or towers, in which the collectors of his revenues resided, and
where they deposited the taxes collected from the valley. All these
Bedouins were decidedly hostile to the Wahaby system: even now, though
free from their yoke, they load them with as many reproaches,

[p.308] as the Mekkans bestow praises on them. Before the Wababy
invasion, the Beni Harb had never known a master, nor had the produce of
their fields ever been taxed. The Sherif of Mekka certainly assumed a
nominal supremacy over them; but they were in fact completely
independent, and their Sheikhs seconded the Sherif's views so far only
as they were thought beneficial, or of pecuniary advantage to their own
people. The latter now complained greatly of the heavy taxation imposed
by the Wahabys, and said that, besides the money they were obliged to
pay into Saoud's treasury, the chief of all the Wahaby Sheikhs of the
Hedjaz, Othman el Medheyfe, had extorted from them many additional
sums. I thought the accuracy of this information doubtful; for I knew
that the Wahaby chief had always shown particular care in preventing
such acts of injustice in his officers, and punished those who were
guilty. They also told me that not only had their gardens and
plantations been taxed, but the very water with which they irrigated
them had been assessed at a yearly sum.

The dress of the people of Szafra consists of a shirt, and a short gown
of coarse Indian coloured calico, over which they wear a white abba of
light texture, the same as that worn by the Bedouins of the Euphrates,
near Aleppo, and which is similar to the dress of all the Beni Harb who
have become settlers; while the Bedouins of the tribe wear the brown and
white striped abba. The profits which they derive from the passage of
caravans, and their petty dealings, seem to have had a baneful influence
upon their character, for they cheat as much as they can: they are,
however, not destitute of commiseration and hospitality towards the poor
hadjys, who, in their passage, contrive to collect from the shops as
much as is necessary for their daily food. We here met several poor
pilgrims on their way to Medina, who had nothing to subsist upon but
what they obtained from the generosity of the Bedouins on the road. This
was not the first time that I reflected how ill had been applied the
splendid liberality of many Khalifes and Sultans, who, while they
enriched Mekka and Medina, and spent enormous sums to provide for the
sumptuous passage of the great Hadj caravans through the holy land, yet
entirely neglected to provide for the comfort and security of the
immense number of poor pilgrims

[p.309] who are continually travelling through that country. Half-a-
dozen houses of charity, established between Mekka and Medina, with an
annual endowment of a few thousand dollars, would be of more real
service to the cause of their religion, than all the sums spent in
feeding the idle, or keeping up a vain show. On the whole of this route
between Mekka and Medina, there is not a public khan, nor has any thing
been done for the benefit of travellers, beyond keeping the wells in
repair. The only instance of a truly charitable act in any of the
sovereigns who enriched Mekka, recorded by the historians, is the
building of an hospital at Mekka, in A.H. 816, by order of Moayed,
Sultan of Egypt. No traces of it now remain.

In the market-street of Szafra, which is called Souk-es'-Szafra, dates
are the principal article for sale. The pound, which costs twenty-five
paras at Mekka, was sold here for ten. Honey, preserved in sheep-skins,
forms another article of trade here. The neighbouring mountains are full
of bee-hives. In those districts which are known to be frequented by
bees, the Bedouins place wooden hives upon the ground, and the bees
never fail to take possession of them. The honey is of the best quality;
I saw one sort of it as white, and almost as clear, as water. Drugs and
spices, and some perfumes, of which the Bedouins of those countries are
very fond, may here also be purchased.

Szafra and Beder are the only places in the Hedjaz where the balsam of
Mekka, or Balesan, can be procured in a pure state. The tree from which
it is collected grows in the neighbouring mountains, but principally
upon Djebel Sobh, and is called by the Arabs Beshem. I was informed that
it is from ten to fifteen feet high, with a smooth trunk, and thin bark.
In the middle of summer, small incisions are made in the bark; and the
juice, which immediately issues, is taken off with the thumb-nail, and
put into a vessel. The gum appears to be of two kinds; one of a white,
and the other of a yellowish-white colour: the first is the most
esteemed. I saw here some of the latter sort, in a small sheep-skin,
which the Bedouins use in bringing it to market: it had a strong,
turpentine smell, and its taste was bitter. The people of Szafra usually
adulterate it with sesamum oil, and tar. When they try its purity, they
dip their finger into it and then set fire to it; if it burn

[p.310] without hurting or leaving a mark on the finger, they judge it
to be of good quality; but if it burn the finger as soon as it is set on
fire, they consider it to be adulterated. I remember to have read, in
Bruce's Travels, an account of the mode of trying it, by letting a drop
fall into a cup filled with water; the good Balesan falling coagulated
to the bottom, and the bad dissolving, and swimming on the surface. I
tried this experiment, which was unknown to the people here, and found
the drop swim upon the water; I tried also their test by fire upon the
finger of a Bedouin, who had to regret his temerity: I therefore
regarded the balsam sold here as adulterated; it was of less density
than honey. I wished to purchase some; but neither my own baggage, nor
any of the shops of Szafra, could furnish any thing like a bottle to
hold it: the whole skin was too dear. The Bedouins, who bring it here,
usually demand two or three dollars per pound for it, when quite pure;
and the Szafra Arabs re-sell it to the hadjys of the great caravan, at
between eight and twelve dollars per pound in an adulterated state. It
is bought up principally by Persians.

The Balesan for sale at Djidda and Mekka, from whence it comes to Cairo,
always undergoes several adulterations; and if a hadjy does not casually
meet with some Bedouins, from whom he may purchase it at first hand, no
hopes can be entertained of getting it in a pure state. The richer
classes of the hadjys put a drop of Balesan into the first cup of coffee
they drink in the morning, from a notion that it acts as a tonic. The
seeds of the tree from which it is obtained, are employed in the Hedjaz
to procure abortion.

I must notice here, as a peculiarity in the customs of the Beni Salem
tribe, that, in case of the Dye, or the fine for a man slain, (amounting
here to eight hundred dollars,) being accepted by the deceased's family,
the sum is made up by the murderer and his family, and by his relations;
the former paying one-third, and the kindred two-thirds; a practice
which, as far as my knowledge extends, does not prevail in any other
part of the Desert.

Our Bedouin guides had here a long quarrel with the Malays. The guides
had bargained in the market for two camels, to replace two that were
unfit to continue the journey; but not having money enough to

[p.311] pay for them, they required the assistance of the Malays, and
begged them to lend ten dollars, to be repaid at Medina. The Malays
refused, and being hardly pressed, endeavoured to engage my
interposition in their behalf; but the Bedouins forced the money from
them by the same means which I had employed on a former occasion: the
purse of a Malay, which had been concealed in a bag of rice, now came to
light; it probably contained three hundred dollars. The owner was so
much frightened by this discovery, and the apprehension that the Arabs
would murder him on the road for the sake of his money, that by way of
punishment for his avarice, they contrived to keep him in a constant
state of alarm till we arrived at Medina.

January 24th. We left the Souk-Es'-Szafra [During the night, a Kurd
courier, mounted upon a dromedary, escorted by several Bedouins, passed
through Szafra; he came from the head-quarters of Mohammed Aly, and was
the bearer of the intelligence of the capture of Tarabe to Tousoun
Pasha, at Medina] we passed the Omra thus far the road is paved in
several parts with large stones, particularly on the ascents. We passed
through valleys of firm sand, between irregular chains of low hills,
where some shrubs and stunted acacia-trees grow. The road, with few
exceptions, was perfectly level.] at 3 P.M., and rode along the valley,
which widens a little beyond the market-place. The brilliant verdure of
the date-trees and plantations form a singular contrast with the barren
mountains on each side. Our direction was N. 10 E. I found the rock here
composed throughout of red Thon stone, with transverse strata of the
same substance, but of a green colour; beyond Djedeyde, a little higher
up, I found, in my return from Medina, feldspar rocks. At one hour from
the Souk, we passed a similar village in the valley, called El Kharma,
which is comprised within the Wady Szafra. At the end of two hours, we
came to a public fountain in ruins, on the road, near a well half choked
up. The valley here divides; one branch turns towards the N.W.; the
other, which we followed, N.N.E. Two hours and a half, we passed a
hamlet called Dar el Hamra, with gardens of date-trees, and plantations,
inhabited by the tribe of Howaseb, another branch of Harb. Several small
watch-towers had been built here on the summits of the neighbouring
mountains, on both sides of the valleys, by Othman el Medhayfe, to
secure this passage. Plenty of bananas were offered us for sale, as we
passed this place. At the end of two hours and three quarters, the road
begins to ascend, and the soil of the valley, which thus far from Szafra
is gravel intermixed with sand, now becomes stony.

[p.312] In four hours and a quarter we passed the village called Mokad,
which also produces dates.

We stopped here for a quarter of an hour; where we were surrounded by
many of the inhabitants; and on remounting my camel, I found that
several trifling articles had been pilfered from my baggage. This defile
is particularly dreaded by the Hadj caravans; and stories are related of
daring robberies committed by the Arabs which appear almost incredible.
They dress sometimes like Turkish soldiers, and introduce themselves
into the caravan while on their march during the night; and in this
manner they carried off, the year before, one of the finest led horses
of the Pasha of Damascus, the chief of the Syrian caravan. They jump
from behind upon the camel of the sleeping hadjy, stop his mouth with
their abbas, and throw down to their companions whatever valuables they
find upon him. If discovered, they draw their daggers and cut their way
through; for, if taken, they can expect no mercy. The usual mode of
punishment on such occasions, is to impale them at the moment the
caravan starts from the next station, leaving them to perish on the
stake, or be devoured by wild beasts. The horrors of such a punishment,
however, do not deter others from committing the same crimes; and
individuals among the Bedouins pride themselves in being reckoned expert
Hadj-robbers, because great courage and dexterity are necessary to such
a character. From hence our road lay N. 20 E. A barren valley about
three hundred yards across begins here, which, at the end of six hours
and a half, conducted us with many windings to Djedeyde, situated in a
spot where the road becomes straight and has a steep ascent. I saw a
great many date-trees on both sides of the valley, which takes the
general name of Djedeyde, and is divided into several villages. Near the
southern entrance is the market-place, or Es'-Souk Djedeyde, which
appeared to be of greater extent than that of Szafra; but it is now
almost in ruins. From thence the valley becomes still narrower, running
between steep rocks for about one hour. It was in this spot that
Mohammed Aly's first expedition against the Wahabys, under the command
of his son Tousoun Beg, was defeated in autumn 1811. They had possession
of both mountains, and the discharges of musketry from each side

[p.313] reached across the valley, where the Turkish army attempted in
vain to pass. Most of the Sheikhs of the tribe of Harb, and the two
great southern Wahaby chiefs, Othman el Medheyfe and Tamy, were present,
with two of the sons of Saoud.

At seven hours and a half, we passed El Kheyf, the last village in the
valley of Djedeyde; several insulated groups of houses are also
scattered along the valley. About eighty tents of Turkish soldiers were
pitched here, to guard this pass; one of the most important positions in
the Hedjaz, because it is the only way by which caravans can proceed
from Mekka or Yembo to Medina. The Harb tribe are well fitted, by their
warlike temper, to defend this post. Even before the Wahaby conquest,
they had repeatedly been at war with the Syrian caravan, and Djezzar
Pasha himself had been several times repulsed here, and obliged to take
the eastern Hadj route, at the back of the great chain, rather than
submit to the exorbitant demands of the Beni Harb for permitting the
Hadj to pass through their territories. Abdullah Pasha of Damascus, who
conducted the Hadj eighteen times in person to Mekka, was compelled to
do the same. Whenever the Harb are in amity with the caravan, they have
a right to a considerable passage duty, which is paid at Djedeyde.

Szafra appeared to me better peopled, and to contain more houses, than
are now in Djedeyde. In speaking of this pass, the Arabs generally join
the two names, and say, "the valley of Szafra and Djedeyde." Beyond El
Kheyf the valley widens, and forms many windings. Our caravan was here
in constant fear of robbers, which kept us awake, though the severe cold
during the night would not have suffered us to sleep. Our main direction
from Kheyf was N. 40 E. At twelve hours, gently ascending through the
valley, we entered a plain, situated in the midst of the mountains,
about ten miles in length, called El Nazye, where we alighted.

January 26th. We remained encamped here the whole day, some passengers
having acquainted us that disturbances had broken out on the road before
us, which we did not discover to be a false report till the next day.
The rocks surrounding this plain are partly of granite, and partly of
lime-stone. The plain is thickly covered with acacia-trees.

[p.314] Good water is found on the side of the mountains, but not in the
plain itself. Some Bedouins of Beni Salem, to which tribe the
inhabitants of Djedeyde also belong, pastured their flocks here: they
were chiefly occupied in collecting food for their camels from the
acacia-trees; for this purpose, they spread a straw mat under the tree,
and beat its boughs with long sticks, when the youngest and freshest
leaves, from the extremities of the twigs, fall down: these are esteemed
the best food for camels. I saw them sold in measures, in the market at
Szafra. We exchanged some biscuits for milk with these Bedouins; and
one, to whom I had given a small dose of rhubarb, brought me some fresh
butter in return.

January 26th. We started at two P.M., and an hour and a half's march
over the plain brought us to the mountain. The whole breadth of this
plain is about six miles. We then entered the mountain in the direction
N. 50 E. The mixed rocks of granite and lime-stone present no regular
strata. We next passed through a short defile, and, at the end of two
hours and a half, entered a small plain called Shab el Hal, between the
mountains, where were several encampments of Bedouins. At five hours, we
entered a broad valley, running in a straight line, and covered with
white sand. The night was cold, and the moon shone beautifully; I
therefore walked in front of the caravan, whose pace being slow, I soon
advanced, without perceiving it, to a considerable distance a-head.
Finding that it did not come up, I sat down under a tree, and was going
to light a fire, when I heard the tread of horses advancing towards me.
I kept hidden behind the trees, and presently saw some Bedouins of very
suspicious appearance pass by. After waiting a long time for the
caravan, and unable to account for its delay, I retraced my steps, and
found the camels standing at rest, and taking breath, and every soul
upon them fast asleep, the foot-passengers being still behind. This
happened to us several times during our journey. When the camel hears no
voices about it, and is not urged by the leader, it slackens its pace,
and at last stands still to rest; and if the leading camel once stops,
all the rest do the same. I roused the Arabs, and we proceeded. The next
day, we learnt that some travellers had been plundered this night on the
road--no doubt by the horsemen

[p.315] who passed me, and who probably dispersed when they saw a large
caravan approaching.

The valley in which we were travelling is called Wady es' Shohada, or
the "Valley of Martyrs," where many followers of Mohammed are said to
have been killed in battle: their remains are covered by rude heaps of
stones in different parts of the valley. Here also are seen several
tombs of hadjys; and I observed some walls, much ruined, where a small
chapel or mosque appeared to have stood: no water is found here. This is
a station of the Hadj caravan. At the end of nine hours, we issued from
this wady, which is on a very slight ascent; and then taking a direction
E.N.E. we crossed a rocky ground, and entered a wide plain called El
Fereysh, where two small caravans from Medina bound to Yembo passed us.
At the end of eleven hours and a half we alighted.

The plain of Fereysh, according to the historian Asamy, was the scene of
a sanguinary battle, between the Sherif of Mekka and the Bedouin tribes
of Dhofyr and Aeneze, in A.H. 1063. The Dhofyr, who are now settled in
Mesopotamia, towards Baghdad, were at that time pasturing their herds in
the neighbourhood of Medina.

January 27th. The rocks here are all of red granite. A party of
Bedouins, with their women, children, and tents passed us; they belonged
to the tribe of Harb, called El Hamede, and had left the upper country,
where no rain had yet fallen, to seek better pasturage in the lower
mountains. While we were encamped, a heavy storm, with thunder and
lightning, overtook us, and the rain poured down: as it threatened to be
of long duration, and we had no tents, it was thought advisable to
proceed. We started in the afternoon; and it continued to rain during
the rest of the day and the whole night, which, joined to the cold
climate in these elevated regions, was severely felt by all of us. Our
road ascended through rocky valleys full of thorny trees; it was crossed
by several torrents that had rapidly swollen, and which we passed with
difficulty. After seven hours' march we reached the summit of this chain
of mountains, when the immense eastern plain lay stretched before us: we
passed several insulated hills. The ground is covered with black and
brown flints. In nine hours we passed at

[p.316] some distance to the west of the date-plantations, and the few
houses built round the well called Bir Aly. At the end of ten hours, in
the middle of the night, just as the weather had cleared up, and a
severe frost succeeded the rain, we arrived before the gate of Medina.
It was shut, and we had to wait till day-light before it could be
opened. Being unable to light a fire on the wet ground with wet fuel,
and being all completely soaked with the rain, the sharp frost of the
morning became distressing to us, and was probably the cause of the
fever which confined me so long in this town; for I had enjoyed perfect
health during the whole journey.

We entered Medina at sun-rise on the 28th of January, the thirteenth day
after our leaving Mekka, having halted two days on the road. The Hadj
caravan usually performs the journey in eleven days, and, if pressed for
time, in ten.

The Bedouins apply to the whole country between Mekka and Medina, west
of the mountains, the name of El Djohfe, which, however, is sometimes
understood to mean the country from Mekka to Beder only.


THE caravan alighted in a large court-yard in the suburb, where the
loads were deposited; and all the travellers who had come with it
immediately dispersed in quest of lodgings. With the help of a Mezowar,
a professional class of men, similar to the delyls at Mekka, I procured,
after some trouble, a good apartment in the principal market-street of
the town, about fifty yards from the great mosque. I transported my
baggage to those lodgings, where I was called upon by the Mezowar to
visit the mosque and the holy tomb of Mohammed; it being a law here, as
at Mekka, that a traveller arriving in the town must fulfil this duty,
before he undertakes the most trifling business.

The ceremonies are here much easier and shorter than at Mekka, as will
be presently seen. In a quarter of an hour I had gone through them, when
I was at liberty to return home to arrange my domestic affairs. My
Mezowar assisted me in the purchase of all necessary provisions, which
were not obtained without difficulty; Tousoun Pasha, the governor of the
town, having, by his inconsiderate measures, frightened away the
Bedouins and camel-drivers, who used to bring in provisions. Flour and
butter, however, those prime articles in an Eastern kitchen, were to be
had before sunset, though not found in the public market; but it was
three days before I could procure any coal, the want of which was
sensibly felt at this cold season of the year. Hearing that Yahya
Efendi, the physician of Tousoun Pasha, the same person who

[p.318] in July last had taken my bill upon Djidda, was here. I paid him
a visit next day, and showed him a letter received at Mekka, before I
had left that town, from my Cairo banker, mentioning the payment of the
bill, no news of which had yet reached Yahya himself. Much as this
gentleman's acquaintance had been of service to me on that occasion, a
good deal took place now to detract from it. At a visit which he paid me
soon after, he happened to see my small stock of medicines, the same
that I had in my Nubian journey, during which it never was touched, some
emetics and purges only having been used whilst I staid at Djidda and
Mekka; I had therefore half a pound of good bark in my medicine sack,
untouched. Several persons of the Pasha's court were at this time ill of
fevers; Tousoun Pasha himself was in an indifferent state of health, and
his physician had few medicines fit for such cases. He begged of me the
bark, which I gave him, as I was then in good health, and thought myself
already in the vicinity of Egypt, where I hoped to arrive in about two
months. I owed him, moreover, some obligations, and was glad to testify
my gratitude. Two days after I had cause to repent of my liberality; for
I was attacked by a fever, which soon took a very serious turn. As it
was intermittent, I wished to take bark; but when I asked the physician
for some of it, he assured me that he had already distributed the last
dram, and he brought me, instead of it, some of the powder of the
Gentiana, which had lost all its virtue from age. My fever thus
increased, accompanied by daily and repeated vomiting, and profuse
sweats, being for the whole first month quotidian. The emetics I took
proved of no service; and after having from want of bark gone through
the course of medicines I thought applicable to the case, and being very
seldom favoured with a visit from my friend Yahya Effendi, I left my
disease to nature. After the first month, there was an interval of a
week's repose, of which had I been able to profit by taking bark, my
disorder would, no doubt, have been overcome; but it had abated only to
return with greater violence, and now became a tertian fever, while the
vomiting still continued, accompanied by occasional faintings, and ended
in a total prostration of strength. I was now unable to rise from my
carpet, without the assistance of my slave, a poor fellow, who by habit

[p.319] and nature was more fitted to take care of a camel, than to
nurse his drooping master.

I had by this time lost all hope of returning to Egypt, and had prepared
myself for dying here. Despondency had seized me, from an apprehension
that, if the news of my death should arrive in England, my whole Hedjaz
journey would, perhaps, be condemned as the unauthorised act of an
imprudent, or at least over-zealous missionary; and I had neither books,
nor any society, to divert my mind from such reflections: one book only
was in my possession, a pocket edition of Milton, which Captain Boag, at
Djidda, had kindly permitted me to take from his cabin-library, and this
I must admit was now worth a whole shelf full of others. The mistress of
my lodgings, an old infirm woman, by birth an Egyptian, who during my
stay took up her quarters in an upper story, from which she could speak
to me without being seen, as it opened into my own room below, used to
converse with me for half an hour every evening; and my cicerone, or
Mezowar, paid me occasional visits, in order, as I strongly suspected,
to seize upon part of my baggage in case of my death. Yahya Effendi left
the town in the month of March, with the army of Tousoun Pasha, which
marched against the Wababys.

About the beginning of April, the returning warmth of the spring put a
stop to my illness; but it was nearly a fortnight before I could venture
to walk out, and every breeze made me dread a return of the fever. The
bad climate of the town, its detestable water, and the great number of
diseases now prevalent, made me extremely desirous to leave Medina. My
original intention was, to remain here, at most, one month, then to take
some Bedouin guides, and with them to cross the Desert to Akaba, at the
extremity of the Red Sea, in a straight direction, from whence I might
easily have found my way to Cairo. In this route I wished to visit
Hedjer, on the Syrian Hadj road, where I expected to find some remains
of the remotest antiquity, that had not been described by any other
traveller, while the interior of the country might have offered many
other objects of research and curiosity. It was, however, utterly
impossible for me to perform this journey in my convalescent state; nor
had I any hopes of recovering, in

[p.320] two months, strength sufficient for a journey of such fatigue.
To wait so long, continually exposed to suffer again from the climate,
was highly unadvisable; and I panted for a change of air, being
convinced that, without it, my fever would soon return. With these
feelings I abandoned the long-projected design of my journey, and now
determined on going to Yembo, on the sea-coast, and from thence to
embark for Egypt; a decision in some degree rendered necessary by the
state of my purse, which a long stay at Medina had greatly reduced. When
I found myself strong enough to mount a camel, I looked out for some
conveyance to Yembo, and contracted with a Bedouin, who, together with
his companions, forming a small caravan, started for that place on the
1st of April, within six days of three months after my arrival at
Medina, eight weeks of which time I had been confined to my couch. My
remarks on Medina are but scanty; with good health, I should have added
to them: but as this town is totally unknown to Europeans, they may
contain some acceptable information. The plan of the town was made by me
during the first days of my stay; and I can vouch for the correctness of
its outlines; but I had not the same leisure to trace it in all its
details, as I had that of Mekka.


MEDINA is situated on the edge of the great Arabian Desert, close to the
chain of mountains which traverses that country from north to south, and
is a continuation of Libanon. I have already stated in my Journal
through Arabia Petraea, that the chain on the east of the Dead Sea runs
down towards Akaba. From thence, it extends along the shore of the Red
Sea as far as Yemen, sometimes close to the sea,

[p.322] at others having an intervening plain called by the Arabs
Tahama, a name which, in Yemen, is also bestowed upon a particular part
of it. I have likewise mentioned in that Journal, that the eastern
descent of these mountains, all along the Jordan, the Dead Sea, and the
valley called Araba, down to Akaba, is much less than the western, and
that therefore the great plain of Arabia, which begins eastward of these
mountains, is considerably elevated above the level of the sea. I made
the same remark in going to Tayf, after having crossed the mountain
called Djebel Kura, which forms part of that chain; and the same is to
be observed at Medina. The mountain which we had ascended in coming from
Mekka, when seen from the coast, presents peaks of considerable height;
when we reached the upper plain, in the neighbourhood of Medina, these
summits appeared on our left like mere hills, their elevation above the
eastern plain being not more than one-third of that from the western

The last undulations of these mountains touch the town on the north
side; on its other side, the country is flat, though not always a
completely even plain. A branch of the chain, called Djebel Ohod,
projects a little into the plain, at one hour's distance from the town,
bearing from the latter N.N.E. to N.E. [In these bearings the variation
of the needle is not computed.] At eight or ten hours' distance, (E. 6
N.-E. 6 S.) a chain of low hills rises in an eastern direction, across
which lies the road to Nedjed. Similar hills, at the same distance, are
to the S.E. The country to the south extends on a perfect level as far
as can be seen. On the S.W., about an hour, or an hour and a half
distant, a branch called Djebel Ayra projects, like Djebel Ohod, from
the main chain, into the plain.

The town itself is built on the lowest part of the plain; for it
receives the torrents from the western mountains, as well as the
currents from the S. and S.E. quarters; and they produce in the rainy
season numerous pools of stagnant water, which is left to evaporate
gradually; the gardens, trees, and walls, with which the plain abounds,
interrupting the free current of air. These gardens, and date-
plantations, interspersed with fields, enclose the town on three sides,

[p.323] only that part of the plain open to the view, which is on the
side of the road towards Mekka, where the rocky nature of the ground
renders cultivation impossible.

Medina is divided into the interior town, and the suburbs; the interior
forms an oval, of about two thousand eight hundred paces in total
circuit, ending in a point. The castle is built at the point, upon a
small rocky elevation; and the whole is enclosed by a thick stone wall,
between thirty-five and forty feet high, flanked by about thirty towers,
and surrounded by a ditch, (the work of the Wahabys,) which is in many
places nearly filled up. The wall is in complete repair, forming, in
Arabia, a very respectable defence; so that Medina has always been
considered as the principal fortress of the Hedjaz. The wall was built
A.H. 860; and till that time the town was quite open, and daily exposed
to the incursions of the neighbouring Bedouins. It was subsequently
rebuilt at different times, but principally in A.H. 900, a ditch having
been previously carried round it in 751 (v. S.) According to Asamy, it
was built as it now stands, with its gates, by order of Solyman ibn
Selym, at the close of the sixteenth century of our era. Three fine
gates lead into the town: Bab el Masry, on the south side, (which, next
to Bab el Fatouh, at Cairo, is the finest town-gate I have seen in the
East); Bab es' Shamy, on the north side; and Bab el Ujoma, on the east
side: a smaller by-gate, called Bab es' Soghyr, in the south wall, had
been closed up by the Wahabys. Near the Bab es' Shamy, close to the
castle, is a niche in the town-wall, where, it is related, a small
chapel once stood, called Mesdjed es' Sabak, from whence the warlike
adherents of Mohammed used to start in their exercise of running.

Medina is well built, entirely of stone; its houses are generally two
stories high, with flat roofs. As they are not white-washed, and the
stone is of a dark colour, the streets have rather a gloomy aspect; and
are, for the most part, very narrow, often only two or three paces
across: a few of the principal streets are paved with large blocks of
stone; a comfort which a traveller little expects to find in Arabia. It
is, on the whole, one of the best-built towns I have seen in the East,
ranking, in this respect, next to Aleppo. At present, it has a desolate

[p.324] appearance: the houses are suffered to decay; their owners, who
formerly derived great profits from the crowd of visiters which arrived
here at all times of the year, now find their income diminished, and
decline the heavy expense of building, as they know they cannot be
reimbursed by the letting out of apartments. Ruined houses, and walls
wanting repair, are seen in every part of the town; and Medina presents
the same disheartening view as most of the Eastern towns, which now
afford but faint images of their ancient splendour.

The principal street of Medina is also the broadest, and leads from the
Cairo gate to the great mosque: in this street are most of the shops.
Another considerable street, called El Belat, runs from the mosque to
the Syrian gate; but many of its houses are in ruins: this contains also
a few shops, but none are found in other parts of the town; thus
differing from Mekka, which is one continued market. In general, the
latter is much more like an Arab town than Medina, which resembles more
a Syrian city. I had no time to trace all the different quarters of the
town; but I shall here give the names by which they are at present

The quarter comprised between the two main streets leading from the
Egyptian and Syrian gates to the mosque, are, Es-Saha, Komet Hasheyfe,
El Belat, Zogag el Towal, (here is situated the Mekkam, or house of the
Kadhy, and several pleasant gardens are attached to the larger
buildings;) Zogag el Dhorra, Sakyfet Shakhy, Zogag el Bakar.

The quarters lying to the north of the street El Belat, extending to the
north of the mosque, as far as the gate El Djoma, are:--El Hamata, Zogag
el Habs, Zogag Ankyny, Zogag es' Semahedy, Haret el Meyda, Haret es'
Shershoura, Zogag el Bedour, Haret el Agowat, where the eunuchs of the
mosque live.

The quarters from the gate El Djoma, along the southern parts of the
town, as far as the Egyptian gate, and the great market-street, are:
Derwan, Es-Salehye, Zogag Yahou, Haret Ahmed Heydar, Haret Beni Hosseyn,
the tribe of Beni Hosseyn living here; Haret el Besough, Haret Sakyfet,
Er-Resas, Zogag el Zerendy, Zogag el Kibreit,

[p.325] Zogag el Hadjamyn, Haret Sydy Malek, where Malek ibn Anes, the
founder of the Malekite sect, had his house, and Haret el Kamashyn.

Very few large buildings, or public edifices, are found in the precincts
of the town. The great mosque, containing the tomb of Mohammed, is the
only temple. A fine public school, called Medrese el Hamdye, in the
street El Belat; a similar one, near the mosque, where the Sheikh el
Haram, or its guardian, lives; a large corn-magazine, enclosing a wide
yard, in the southern quarter of the town; a bath, (the only one,) not
far distant from it, built in A.H. 973, by Mohammed Pasha, vizier of
Sultan Soleyman, are all the public buildings which fell under my
observation. [The historian of Medina mentions several Okals, or public
khans, in this town; but I saw none, nor do I believe that they now
exist] This want of splendid monuments was likewise remarked by me at
Mekka. The Arabians, in general, have little taste for architecture; and
even their chiefs content themselves in their mansions with what is
merely necessary. Whatever public edifices are still found in Mekka and
Medina, are the work of the Sultans of Egypt or of Constantinople; and
the necessary expenses incurred annually by these distant sovereigns,
for the sake of the two holy cities, were too great to allow of any
augmentation for mere show. For the want of public buildings, however,
in the town, a compensation is made by the number of pretty private
habitations, having small gardens, with wells, the water of which is
used in irrigation, and fills marble basins, round which, in summer-
time, the owners pass the hours of noon under lofty sheds.

The castle, which I have mentioned above, is surrounded by very strong
walls, and several high and solid towers. I was not permitted to enter
it, on applying at the gate. It contains sufficient space for six or
eight hundred men; has many arched rooms, bomb-proof; and, if well
garrisoned, and furnished with provisions, may be deemed impregnable by
an Arabian force, as it is built upon a rock, and therefore cannot be
undermined. To European artillery, however, it would appear an
insignificant fort. It contains a deep well of good water.

[p.326] Two or three, guns only are at present mounted on its towers;
nor were there more than a dozen serviceable guns to defend the whole

On the west and south of the town extend the suburbs, which cover more
ground than the town itself. They are separated from it by an open
space, narrow on the south side, but widening on the west, before the
Cairo gate, where it forms a large public place, called Monakh; a name
implying that caravans alight there, which is really the case, as it is
always crowded with camels and Bedouins. Several rows of small huts and
sheds are erected here, in which provisions are sold, principally corn,
dates, vegetables, and butter; and a number of coffee-huts, which are
beset the whole day with visiters. The side of the suburbs fronting the
Monakh has no walls; but on the outside, to the west and south, they are
enclosed by a wall, of inferior size and strength to the interior town
wall. In several parts it is completely ruined; on the south side only
it is defended by small towers. Four gates lead from the suburbs into
the open country; they are small wooden doors, of no strength, except
that leading from the Cairo gate, which is larger and better built than
the rest.

The greater part of the suburbs consists in large court-yards, with low
apartments built round them, on the ground-floor, and separated from
each other by gardens and plantations. These are called Hosh, (plur.
Hyshan,) and are inhabited by all the lower classes of the town, many
Bedouins who have become settlers here, and all those who are engaged in
agriculture. Each hosh contains thirty or forty families; thus forming
so many small separate hamlets, which, in times of unsettled government,
are frequently engaged in desperate feuds with each other. The cattle is
kept in the midst of the court-yard, in each of which is a large well;
and the only gate of entrance is regularly shut at night. On the S. and
N.W. sides of the town, within the precincts of the wall, the suburbs
consist entirely of similar court-yards, with extensive gardens between
and behind them. On the west side, directly opposite the Cairo gate and
the Monakh, the suburb consists of regular and well-built streets, with
houses resembling those of the

[p.327] interior of the town. The broad street, called El Ambarye,
crosses this part of the suburb, and has good buildings on both sides.
In this neighbourhood lived Tousoun Pasha, in a private dwelling; and
near it, in the best house of the town, belonging to the rich merchant
Abd el Shekour, lived the Pasha's mother, the wife of Mohammed Aly, and
his own women, who had lately come on a visit.

The principal quarters of the suburbs are Haret el Ambarye, Haret el
Wadjeha, Haret es' Sahh, Haret Abou Aysa, Haret Masr, Haret el Teyar,
Haret Nefyse, Haret el Hamdye, Haret el Shahrye, Haret el Kheybarye,
Haret el Djafar. Many people of the interior town have their summer
houses in these quarters, where they pass a month in the date-harvest.
Every garden is enclosed by mud walls, and several narrow by-lanes, just
broad enough for a loaded camel to cross the suburbs in every direction.

There are two mosques in the Monakh: the one, called Mesdjed Aly, or the
mosque of the Prophet's cousin, is said to be as old as the time of
Mohammed; but the building, as it stands, was rebuilt in A.H. 876.
Mohammed is said to have often prayed here; and, for the convenience of
the inhabitants of the suburbs who are at a distance from the great
mosque, the Khotbe, or Friday's prayer, is likewise performed in it. The
other mosque, called Mesdjed Omar, to which a public medrese, or school,
was attached, serves at present as a magazine, and quarters for many
soldiers. To both these mosques the historian of Mekka applies the name
of Mesdjed el Fath: he calls the one Mesdjed el Aala, from standing on
the highest part of the town. Two other mosques, the one called Mesdjed
Aly Beker, and the other Mesdjed Zobab, stood in this neighbourhood in
the sixteenth century; and the Monakh at that time bore the name of
Djebel Sola, the Arabians applying the name of Djebel (or mountain) to
any slightly elevated spot of ground. In the same author's time there
were fifteen mosques in this town and its neighbourhood, all now ruined;
and he gives the names and history of thirty-seven that were erected in
the former ages of Islam.

I was told, that in the quarter El Ambarye the house where Mohammed
lived is still shown; but many doubt this tradition, and the spot is not
visited as one of the holy places. Here, as in Mekka, no

[p.328] ancient buildings are found. The winter rains, the nitrous, damp
atmosphere during the rainy season, and the intense heat which follows
it, are destructive to buildings; and the cement employed in their
construction being of a very indifferent quality, the stones soon become
loosened and the walls decay.

The town is supplied with sweet water by a fine subterraneous canal,
carried hither from the village of Koba, about three quarters of an hour
distant, in a southern direction, at the expense of Sultan Solyman, the
son of Selym I. The water is abundant, and, in several parts of the
town, steps are made down to the canal, where the inhabitants supply
themselves with water, but are not, like the people of Mekka, obliged to
pay for it. On the skirts of the Monakh, a large reservoir, cased with
stone, has also been made, on a level with the canal, which is
constantly kept full. The water in the canal runs at the depth of
between twenty and twenty-five feet below the surface; it is derived
from several springs at Koba, and, though not disagreeable to the taste,
is nevertheless of bad quality. If left for half an hour in a vessel, it
covers the sides of it with a white nitrous crust; and all foreigners,
who are not accustomed to it from their earliest youth, complain of its
producing indigestion. It is tepid at its source in Koba, and even at
Medina slightly preserves its temperature. There are also many wells
scattered over the town; every garden has one, by which it is irrigated;
and wherever the ground is bored to the depth of twenty-five or thirty
feet, water is found in plenty. Of some wells the water is sweet enough
for drinking; of others quite brackish. The fertility of the fields and
gardens is in proportion to the quality of the well-water; those
irrigated with brackish water, repay badly the labour of their owners;
the date-trees alone thriving equally well in any place.

In addition to the water of the wells and the aqueduct, the town in
winter time receives a supply from the considerable torrent called Seyl
el Medina, or Seyl Bathan, which flows from S. to N. passing across the
suburbs, and losing itself in a stony valley to the N.W. [All the
neighbouring torrents lose themselves in a low ground in the western
mountains, called El Ghaba, and also El Zaghaba. See Samhoudy.] A heavy
rain for one night will fill its bed, though it usually decreases as

[p.329] as it swells. In that part of the suburb, called El Ambarye, we
find a good arched stone bridge thrown across its banks, where it is
about forty feet in breadth. The neighbouring country abounds with
similar torrents, which fill many ponds and low grounds, where the water
often remains till the summer months: these, together with the wells,
contribute to render the environs of this town celebrated for the
abundance of water, surpassing, in this respect, perhaps, any other spot
in northern Arabia, and which had made this a considerable settlement of
Arabs, long before it became sacred among the Moslims, by the flight,
residence, and death of Mohammed, to which it owes its name of Medina,
or Medinet el Neby.

The great abundance of water has made cisterns of little use in the
town; and I do not believe that more than two or three houses have them;
though it would be very desirable to collect the rain-water for
drinking, from the torrents, in preference to the nitrous water of Koba.
During heavy rains the Monakh, between the suburbs and the town, becomes
a complete lake, and the S. and S.E. environs are covered with a sheet
of water. The inhabitants hail these inundations as a sure promise of
plenty, because they not only copiously irrigate their date-trees, but
likewise cause verdure to spread over the more distant plains inhabited
by Bedouins, on whose imports of cattle and butter Medina depends for
its consumption.

The precious jewel of Medina, which sets the town almost upon a level
with Mekka, and has even caused it to be preferred to the latter, by
many Arabic writers, [This is particularly the case with the sect of the
Malekites, who pretend that Medina is more to be honoured than Mekka.]
is the great mosque, containing the tomb of Mohammed. Like the mosque of
Mekka, it bears the name of El Haram, on account of its inviolability; a
name which is constantly given to it by the people of Medina, while, in
foreign parts, it is more generally known under the appellation of
Mesdjed en' Neby, the mosque or temple of the Prophet, who was its
original founder. The ground-plan will show that this mosque is situated
towards the eastern extremity of the town, and not in the midst of it,
as the Arabian historians

[p.330] and geographers often state. Its dimensions are much smaller
than those of the mosque at Mekka, being a hundred and sixty-five paces
in length, and a hundred and thirty in breadth; but it is built much
upon the same plan, forming an open square, surrounded on all sides by
covered colonnades, with a small building in the centre of the
square. [The representations of this mosque, given both by Niebuhr and
D'Ohhson, are very incorrect, being copied, probably, from old Arab
drawings. I had intended to make a correct plan of it, but was prevented
by my illness; and I should not wish to add one from mere recollection.
Samhoudy states its dimensions as quite different, and says that it is
two hundred and forty pikes in length, one hundred and sixty-five pikes
in breadth on the S. side, and one hundred and thirty on the N. side. He
adds that there are two hundred and ninety-six columns. I am not quite
sure whether the building has been materially changed since his time,
and after the fire in A.H. 886; but I believe not, and regard his
account as much exaggerated.] These colonnades are much less regular
than those at Mekka, where the rows of pillars stand at much the same
depth on all sides. On the south side of this mosque, the colonnade is
composed of ten rows of pillars behind each other; and on the west side
are four rows; on the north, and part of the east side, only three rows.
The columns themselves are of different sizes. On the south side, which
contains the Prophet's tomb, and which forms the most holy part of the
building, they are of larger dimensions than in the other parts, and
about two feet and a half in diameter. They have no pediments, the
shafts touching the ground; and the same diversity and bad taste are as
conspicuous in the capitals here as in the mosque at Mekka, no two being
alike. The columns are of stone, but, being all plastered white, it is
difficult to decide of what species. To the height of about six feet
from the ground they are painted with flowers and arabesques, in a
coarse and gaudy style; by which means, probably, it was intended to
remedy the want of pediments. Those standing nearest to that part of the
southern colonnade called El Rodha, are cased for half their height with
bright glazed green tiles or slates, decorated with arabesques of
various colours: the tiles seem to be of Venetian pottery, and are of
the same kind as those used to cover stoves in Germany and Switzerland.

[p.331]The roof of the colonnade consists of a number of small domes,
white-washed on the outside, in the same manner as those of Mekka. The
interior walls are also white-washed all round, except the southern one,
and part of the S.E. corner, which are cased with slabs of marble,
nearly up to the top. Several rows of inscriptions, in large gilt
letters, are conducted along this wall, one above the other, and have a
very brilliant effect upon the white marble. The floor under the
colonnades, on the west and east sides, and part of the north, is laid
out with a coarse pavement; the other part of the N. side being unpaved,
and merely covered with sand; as is likewise the whole open yard. On the
south side, where the builder of the mosque has lavished all this
ornament, the floor is paved with fine marble across the whole
colonnade; and in those parts nearest to the tomb of Mohammed, this
pavement is in mosaic, of excellent workmanship, forming one of the best
specimens of that kind to be seen in the East. Large and high windows,
with glass panes, (of which I know not any other instance in the Hedjaz)
admit the light through the southern wall; some of them are of fine
painted glass. On the other sides, smaller windows are dispersed along
the walls, but not with glass panes. [The art of painting glass with
durable colours seems never to have been lost in the East.]

Near the S.E. corner stands the famous tomb, so detached from the walls
of the mosque, as to leave between it and the S. wall a space of about
twenty-five feet, and fifteen between it and the E. wall. The enclosure,
which defends the tomb from the too near approach of visiters, forms an
irregular square of about twenty paces, in the midst of the colonnade,
several of its pillars being included within it: it is an iron railing,
painted green, about two-thirds the height of the columns, filling up
the intervals between them, so as to leave their upper part projecting
above it, and entirely open. The railing is of good workmanship, in
imitation of filligree, and is interwoven with open-worked inscriptions
of yellow bronze, supposed by the vulgar to be of gold, and of so close
a texture, that no view can be gained into

[p.332] the interior, except by several small windows, about six inches
square, which are placed in the four sides of the railing, about five
feet above the ground. On the south side of the railing, where are the
two principal of these windows, before which the visiters stand when
praying, the railing is thinly plated over with silver, and the often-
repeated inscription of "La Illaha il Allah al hak al Mobyn," ("There is
no God but God, the evident Truth,") is carried in silver letters across
the railing all round these windows. This enclosure is entered by four
gates, three of which are constantly kept shut, and one only is opened,
every morning and .evening, to admit the eunuchs, whose office it is to
clean the floor and light the lamps. Each of these gates has its
particular name: Bab en' Neby, Bab Errahme, Bab et Touba, Bab Setna
Fatme. The permission to enter into this enclosure, which is called El
Hedjra, is granted gratis to people of rank, as Pashas, or chiefs of the
Hadj caravans, and may be purchased by other people from the principal
eunuchs, at the price of about twelve or fifteen dollars, distributed in
presents among them: but few visiters avail themselves of this
privilege, because they well know that, on entering the enclosure,
nothing more is to be seen than what falls under their observation when
peeping in at the windows of the railing, which are constantly kept
open; and I was myself not inclined to attract general notice, by thus
satisfying my curiosity. What appears of the interior is a curtain
carried round, which takes up almost the whole space, having between it
and the railing an open walk, of a few paces only in breadth. The
curtain is equal in height to the railing; but I could not distinguish
from below, whether, like the latter, it is open at the top. There is a
covering, (as the eunuchs affirm,) of the same stuff of which the
curtain is made; this is a rich silk brocade, of various colours,
interwoven with silver flowers and arabesques, with a band of
inscriptions in golden characters, running across the midst of it, like
that of the covering of the Kaaba. This curtain is at least thirty feet
high: it has a small gate to the north, which is always shut; no person
whatever being permitted to enter within its holy precincts, except the
chief eunuchs, who take care of it, and who put on, during the night,
the new curtain sent from

[p.333] Constantinople, whenever the old one is decayed, or when a new
Sultan ascends the throne. The old curtains are sent to Constantinople,
and serve to cover the tombs of the sultans and princes. [See D'Ohhson.
The historian of Medina says, that in his time it was changed every six
years, and that the income from several villages in Egypt was set apart
at Cairo for the manufacturing of those curtains.]

According to the historian of Medina, the curtain covers a square
building of black stones, supported by two pillars, in the interior of
which are the tombs of Mohammed, and his two earliest friends and
immediate successors, Abou Beker and Omar. As far as I could learn here,
these tombs are also covered with precious stuffs, and in the shape of
catafalques, like that of Ibrahim in the great mosque of Mekka. They are
said to be placed in the following order: [not included] The largest
being that of Mohammed, and the one above it Abou Beker's. The historian
says, that these tombs are deep holes; and that the coffin which
contains the dust of Mohammed, is cased with silver, and has on the top
a marble slab, inscribed, "Bismillahi Allahuma Sally aley." ("In the
name of God, bestow thy mercy upon him.") They did not always stand in
their present position: Samhoudy places them at different times thus:
[not included]

The stories once prevalent in Europe, of the prophet's tomb being
suspended in the air, are unknown in the Hedjaz; nor have I ever heard
them in other parts of the East, though the most exaggerated accounts of
the wonders and the riches of this tomb are propagated by those who have
visited Medina, and wish to add to their own importance by relating
fabulous stories of what they pretend to have

[p.334] seen. Round these tombs the treasures of the Hedjaz were
formerly kept, either suspended on silken ropes, drawn across the
interior of the building, or placed in chests on the ground. Among
these, may be particularly mentioned a copy of the Koran, in Cufic
characters, kept there as a precious relic, from having belonged to
Othman ibn Affan. It is said still to exist in Medina; but we may doubt
whether it escaped the conflagration which destroyed the mosque. I have
related, in my history of the Wahabys, that during the siege of Medina
considerable portions of the treasures, more particularly all the golden
vessels, were seized by the chiefs of the town, ostensibly for the
purpose of being distributed among the poor, but that they were,
finally, divided among themselves. When Saoud took the town, he entered
the Hedjra himself, and penetrated behind the curtain, where he seized
upon every thing valuable he found; of this he sold a part to the Sherif
of Mekka, and the rest he carried with him to Derayeh. Among the
precious articles which he took, the most valuable is said to have been
a brilliant star set in diamonds and pearls, which was suspended
directly over the Prophet's tomb. It is often spoken of by the Arabs,
who call it Kokab ed'durry. Here were deposited all sorts of vessels,
set with jewels, ear-rings, bracelets, necklaces, and other ornaments,
sent as presents from all parts of the empire, but brought principally
by great hadjys who passed through Medina. There is no doubt that the
whole formed a. collection of considerable value, but far from being
inestimable, as the people are inclined to fancy. Sherif Ghaleb
estimated that part of it which he bought, at one hundred thousand
dollars. The chiefs of the town are said to have carried. off about one
hundred weight of golden vessels, at most worth forty or fifty thousand
dollars; and what Saoud took with him is said to have consisted chiefly
in pearls and corals, and was certainly not worth more than Ghaleb's
purchase. The total value, therefore, might have amounted to about three
hundred thousand dollars. Money never appears to have been deposited
here; for whatever presents were made to the mosque in cash, were
immediately distributed among its attendants. There is good reason for
supposing, however, that the donations of the faithful, which
accumulated here for ages, amounted to a much greater sun than what

[p.335] is stated above; but it would be strange if the governors of
Medina, who were often independent, or the guardians of the tomb
themselves, should not have made occasional draughts upon this treasure,
in the same manner as the olemas of Mekka, about three hundred years
since, stole the golden lamps of the Kaaba, and carried them out of the
temple, hid under their wide sleeves, according to Kotobeddyn the

Tousoun Pasha, on his arrival at Medina, made search for the golden
vessels, which had been re-sold by the chiefs of the town to some other
of the inhabitants, and not yet melted. He found several of them, which
he bought from the owners for about ten thousand dollars, and replaced
them in their original situation.

The floor between the curtain and the railing, and of all this part of
the mosque, is laid with various coloured marbles in mosaic: here glass
lamps are suspended all round the curtains, which are lighted every
evening, and remain burning all night. The whole of this enclosure, or
Hedjra, is covered with a fine lofty dome, rising far above the domes
which form the roof of the colonnades, and visible at a great distance
from the town; and the visiters coming to Medina, as soon as they catch
the sight of it, repeat certain prayers. The covering is of lead
surmounted with a globe of considerable size, and a crescent, both
glittering with gold. [The globe was gilt, and the crescent sent from
Constantinople, by the Sultan Soleyman ibn Selym. (See Asamy.) The
cupola, and the whole of the temple as it now stands, was built by Kait
Beg, Sultan of Egypt, from A.H. 881 to 892.]

It is reported that they are of massy gold; which can scarcely be
believed, if we consider the little inclination that even the richest
and most powerful of the Sultans have shown, to ornament with splendour
either the mosque of Mekka or Medina. The Wahabys, allured by the
appearance of the globe, and acting upon their invariable practice of
destroying all domes or cupolas erected over the tombs of mortals, among
whom Mohammed was to be reckoned, attempted to destroy the dome, and
throw down the globe and crescent; but their solid construction, and the
lead covering, rendered this a difficult undertaking two of the workmen
slipped from the smooth roof, and were precipitated

[p.336] below, after which the work of destruction was abandoned; a
circumstance which is now cited as a visible miracle worked by the
Prophet in favour of his monument.

Near the curtain of the Hedjra, but separated from it, though within the
precincts of the railing, which here, to admit it, deviates a little
from its square shape, is the tomb of Setna Fatme, the daughter of
Mohammed, and wife of Aly: it consists of a catafalque forming a cube,
covered with a rich embroidered black brocade, and without any other
ornament. But some difference of opinion exists, whether her remains
actually rest here or in the burial-ground called Bakya, beyond the
town. Till this dispute, however, be settled, the pilgrims are conducted
to both places, and made to pay double fees. On the E. wall of the
mosque, nearly opposite to this tomb, a small window is shown, at the
place where the archangel Gabriel is said to have repeatedly descended
from heaven, with messages to Mohammed. It is called Mahbat Djybrail.

Mohammedan tradition says, that when the last trumpet shall sound, Aysa
(Jesus Christ) is to descend from heaven to earth, and to announce to
its inhabitants the great day of judgment: after which he is to die, and
will be buried in this Hedjra, by the side of Mohammed: that, when the
dead shall rise from their graves, they will both rise together, ascend
to heaven, and Aysa, on that day, will be ordered by the Almighty to
separate the faithful from the infidels. In conformity with this
tradition, the spot is pointed at through the curtain of the Hedjra,
where the tomb of Aysa will be placed.

Outside the railing on the north, close by the tomb of Fatme, is a
square bench in the mosque, elevated above the ground about four feet,
and fifteen paces square, called El Meyda, or the table. Here the eunuch
guardians of the mosque sit; and the councils of the primates of the
town, or their principal assemblies, are often held here.

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