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Travels In Arabia by John Lewis Burckhardt

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A wooden partition about eight feet high, and richly painted with
arabesques, runs from the western side of the railing across the mosque,
parallel with the south wall, and about twenty-five feet distant from
it, and terminating near the gate called Bab-es-Salam, thus extending
from the Hedjra nearly across the whole breadth of the mosque. It

[p.337] has several small doors, and is made to separate the holy place
called El Rodha from the common passage of the visiters, who, on
entering through Bab-es'-Salam, pass forward towards the Hedjra, along
the columns standing between this partition and the south wall. Next to
the Hedjra, that part of the southern colonnade north of the partition
is considered the most holy place in the mosque, and called Rodha, i. e.
a garden, or the Garden of the Faithful; a name bestowed upon it by
Mohammed, who said: "Between my tomb and my pulpit is a garden of the
gardens of Paradise." The pulpit of the mosque stands close to this
partition, about midway between the Hedjra and the west wall of the
mosque, and the name Rodha strictly belongs to that space only which is
between the pulpit and the Hedjra, though the whole southern colonnade
of the temple to the north of the partition is often comprised under
that appellation. It is on account of this name of Rodha, or garden,
that the columns within its limits are painted to the height of five or
six feet with flowers and arabesques, to assist the imagination, which
otherwise might not readily discover any resemblance between this place
and the Garden of Eden. Two mahrabs, or niches, towards which the people
turn when praying, as they indicate the exact bearing of the Kaaba, [The
Mahrab was turned S. 11 W. (variation not computed), which is therefore
taken here as the exact bearing of Mekka.] are placed on both sides of
the pulpit, and are, together with it, of exquisite workmanship, being
the finest mosaic. One niche was sent from Egypt as a present to the
mosque, by Kait Beg, and the other from Constantinople by Sultan
Soleyman ibn Selym. The floor of the Rodha is covered with a number of
handsome carpets, sent hither from Constantinople; and, as at Mekka,
they are the only articles of real value that I saw in the mosque, and
may be worth, altogether, about a thousand pounds. The upper part of the
colonnades is covered with mats.

The congregation assembles upon the carpets of the Rodha, this being the
favourite spot for prayers. No ceremony is observed in the seats; every
one may place himself where he likes: it is however understood, that the
first row nearest to the partition, and those especially

[p.338] in the immediate neighbourhood of the Imam, are destined for
people of rank, and no one who does not belong to that class intrudes
himself there. The entrance to the Rodha, near Bab-es'-Salam, has a
splendid appearance: the gaudy colours displayed on every side, the
glazed columns, fine carpets, rich pavement, the gilt inscriptions on
the wall to the south, and the glittering railing of the Hedjra in the
back-ground, dazzle the sight at first; but, after a short pause, it
becomes evident that this is a display of tinsel decoration, and not of
real riches. When we recollect that this spot is one of the holiest of
the Mohammedan world, and celebrated for its splendour, magnificence,
and costly ornaments, and that it is decorated with the united pious
donations of all the devotees of that religion, we are still more
forcibly struck with its paltry appearance. It will bear no comparison
with the shrine of the most insignificant saint in any Catholic church
in Europe, and may serve as a convincing proof, that in pious gifts the
Mohammedan have at no period equalled the Catholic devotees; without
noticing many other circumstances, which help to strengthen the belief,
that, whatever may be their superstition and fanaticism, Mohammedans are
never inclined to make as many pecuniary sacrifices for their religious
establishments, as Catholic, and even Protestant Christians do for

The ceremonies on visiting the mosque are the following:--At first the
pilgrim, before he enters the town, is to purify himself by a total
ablution, and, if possible, to perfume his body with sweet odours. When
he arrives in sight of the dome, he is to utter some pious ejaculations.
When he intends to visit the temple, the cicerone, or, as he is here
called, Mezowar, leads him into the gate called Bab-es'-Salam, passing
his right foot first over the threshold, which is the general custom in
all mosques, and particularly insisted upon here. While reciting some
prayers, he steps forward into the Rodha, where he performs a short
prayer, with four prostrations, as a salutation to the mosque, during
which he is enjoined to recite the two short chapters (109th and 112th)
of the Koran. He then passes through one of the small doors of the
partition of the Rodha, and walks slowly towards the railing of the
Hedjra, before the western window of which, on its

[p.339] south side, he takes his stand; with arms half raised he
addresses his invocations to Mohammed, in the words "Salam aleyka ya
Mohammed, Salam ya Rasoul illah," &c. recapitulating about twenty of the
different surnames or honorable titles of Mohammed, and prefixing to
each of them "Salam aleyk." He next invokes his intercession in heaven,
and distinctly mentions the names of all those of his relations and
friends whom he is desirous to include in his prayers: it is for this
reason, that an inhabitant of Medina never receives a letter from
abroad, without being entreated, at the end of it, to mention the
writer's name at the tomb of the Prophet. If the pilgrim is delegated on
the pilgrimage for another, he is bound here to mention the name of his
principal. In this prayer an expression is used, as at all the places
visited for their sanctity about the town, but which appeared to me
little calculated to inspire the visiter with humane or charitable
feelings; among other favours supplicated in prayer to the Deity, the
following request is made: "Destroy our enemies, and may the torments of
hell-fire be their lot."

After these prayers are said, the visiter is desired to remain a few
minutes with his bead pressed close against the window, in silent
adoration; he then steps back, and performs a prayer of four
prostrations, under the neighbouring colonnade, opposite the railing;
after which he approaches the second window, on this same side, said to
face the tomb of Abou Beker, and goes through prayers similar to those
said at the former window, (called Shobak-en'-Neby,) which are recited
in honour of Abou Beker. Stepping back a second time to the colonnade,
he again performs a short prayer, and then advances to the third window
on this side of the railing, which is opposite that part of the curtain
behind which the tomb of Omar is said to lie: similar prayers are said
here. When this ceremony is finished, the visiter walks round the S.E.
corner of the Hedjra, and presents himself before the tomb of Setna
Fatme, where, after four prostrations, a prayer is addressed to Fatme-
e'-Zohera, or the bright blooming Fatme, as she is called. He then
returns to the Rodha, where a prayer is said as a salutation to the
Deity on leaving the mosque, which completes this ceremony, the
performance of which occupies at most twenty minutes.

[p.340]On every spot where prayers are to be said, people sit with hand-
kerchiefs spread out to receive the gifts of the visiters, which appear
to be considered less as alms, than as a sort of toll; at least, a well-
dressed visiter would find it difficult to make his way without paying
these taxes. Before the window of Setna Fatme sits a party of women,
(Fatme being herself a female saint,) who likewise receive gifts in
their handkerchiefs. In the Rodha stand the eunuchs, or the guardians of
the temple, waiting till the visiter has finished his last prayer of
salutation, to wish him joy on having successfully completed the zyara
or visit, and to receive their fees; and the great gate of Bab-es'-Salam
is constantly crowded with poor, who closely beset the visiter, on his
leaving the mosque: the porter also expects his compliment, as a matter
of right. The whole visit cost me about fifteen piastres, and I gave ten
piastres to my cicerone; but I might, perhaps, have got through for half
that sum.

The ceremonies may be repeated as often as the visiter wishes: but few
perform them all, except on arriving at Medina, and when on the point of
departing. It is a general practice, however, to go every day, at least
once, to the window opposite Mohammed's tomb, and recite there a short
prayer: many persons do it whenever they enter the mosque. It is also a
rule never to sit down in the mosque, for any of the usual daily
prayers, without having previously addressed an invocation to the
Prophet, with uplifted hands, and the face turned towards his tomb. A
similar practice is prevalent in many other mosques in the East, which
contain the tomb of a saint. The Moslim divines affirm, that prayers
recited in the mosque of Medina are peculiarly acceptable to the Deity;
and invite the faithful to perform this pilgrimage, by telling them that
one prayer said in sight of the Hedjra is as efficacious as a thousand
said in any other mosque except that of Mekka.

I have already stated, that the north and east sides, and part of the
west side, of the mosque are by no means so well built as the south
side, where are the Hedjra and Rodha. The columns in those parts are
more slender, and less carefully painted; the pavement is coarse, and no
kind of ornament is seen on the white plastered walls,

[p.341] except on the east side, where the coarsely painted
representations of the mosque of St. Sophia, of Sultan Ahmed, of Bayazed
Waly, and of Scutari, celebrated temples in the capital, attract some
notice: they are painted in water-colours, upon the white wall, without
the smallest attention to perspective. The whole north side was at
present under repair; and the old pavement had been removed, to be
replaced by a better one.

The open court enclosed between the colonnades is unpaved, and covered
with sand and gravel. In the midst of it stands a small building, with a
vaulted roof, where the lamps of the mosque are kept. Near it is a small
enclosure of low wooden railing, which contains some palm-trees, held
sacred by the Moslims, because they are said to have been planted by
Fatme, and another tree, of which the stem only now remains, and which I
believe to have been a nebek, or lotus-tree. By it is a well, called
Bir-en-Neby, the water of which is brackish, and for this reason,
probably, enjoys no reputation for holiness. Samhoudy says that it is
called Es-Shame.

In the evening lamps are lighted round the colonnades; but principally
on the south side, where they are in greater numbers than on the others;
they are suspended from iron bars, extending from column to column. The
eunuchs and the servants of the mosque are employed in lighting them;
for a small donation to the latter, the visiters to the tomb are
permitted to assist, and many foreign hadjys are anxious to perform that
office, which is thought meritorious, and for which they are
particularly praised by the eunuchs: but they are never allowed to light
the lamps in the interior of the Hedjra. On the sides of the Mambar, or
the pulpit, and of both the Mahrabs, large wax candles are placed, as
thick as a man's body, and twelve feet high, which are lighted in the
evening by means of a ladder placed near them. They are sent from
Constantinople. The lady of Mohammed Aly, who was now at Medina, had
brought several of these candles as a present to the mosque, which had
been transported with great difficulty from Yembo to this place.

The mosque has four gates: 1. Bab-es-Salam, formerly called Bab Merouan,
(according to Samhoudy), on the south-west corner, is the

[p.342] principal one, by which the pilgrim is obliged to enter the
mosque at his first visit. It is a beautiful arched gateway, much
superior to any of those of the great mosque at Mekka, though inferior
in size to several of them, and handsomer than any gate of a mosque I
had before seen in the East. Its sides are inlaid with marble and glazed
tiles of various colours; and a number of inscriptions in relief, in
large gilt characters, above and on the sides of the arch, give it a
very dazzling appearance. Just before this gate is a small fountain,
filled by the water of the canal, where people usually perform their
ablutions, if they do not choose to do it in the mosque itself, where
jars are kept for the purpose.

2. Bab Errhame, formerly called Bab Atake, in the west wall, by which
the dead are carried into the mosque, when prayers are to be read over

3. Bab Ed' Djeber, called often likewise Bab Djybrail; and

4. Bab el. Nesa, on the east wall, the first close to the tomb of Setna
Fatme, the other a little farther on.

A few steps lead from the neighbouring streets up to the gates, the area
of the mosque being on a somewhat higher level, contrary to what is seen
at Mekka. About three hours after sun-set the gates are regularly shut,
by means of folding-doors coated with iron, and not opened till about an
hour before dawn; but those who wish to pray all night in the mosque,
can easily obtain permission from the eunuch in guard, who sleeps near
the Hedjra. During Ramadhan, the mosque is kept open the whole night.

On the north-west and north sides are several small doors opening into
the mosque, belonging to public schools or medreses originally annexed
to it, but which have now forfeited their ancient distinction. On this
side the schoolmasters sit with the boys in a circle round them, and
teach them the rudiments of reading.

The police of the mosque, the office of washing the Hedjra and the whole
of the building, of lighting the lamps, &c. &c. is entrusted to the care
of forty or fifty eunuchs, who have an establishment similar to that of
the eunuchs of the Beitullah at Mekka; but they are persons of greater
consequence here; they are more richly dressed, though in the

[p.343] same costume; usually wear fine Cashmere shawls, and gowns of
the best Indian silk stuffs, and assume airs of great importance. When
they pass through the Bazar, every body hastens to kiss their hands; and
they exercise considerable influence in the internal affairs of the
town. They have large stipends, which are sent annually from
Constantinople by the Syrian Hadj caravan; they share also in all
donations made to the mosque, and they expect presents from every rich
hadjy, besides what they take as fees from the visiters of the Hedjra.
They live together in one of the best quarters of Medina, to the
eastward of the mosque, and their houses are said to be furnished in a
more costly manner than any others in the town. The adults are all
married to black or Abyssinian slaves.

The black eunuchs, unlike those of Europe, become emaciated; their
features are extremely coarse, nothing but the bones being
distinguishable; their hands are those of a skeleton, and their whole
appearance is extremely disgusting. By the help of thick clothing they
hide their leanness; but their bony features are so prominent, that they
can be distinguished at first sight. Their voice, however, undergoes
little, if any change, and is far from being reduced to that fine
feminine tone so much admired in the Italian Singers.

The chief of the eunuchs is called Sheikh el Haram; he is also the chief
of the mosque, and the principal person in the town; being consequently
of much higher rank than the Aga, or chief of the eunuchs at Mekka. He
is himself a eunuch, sent from Constantinople, and usually belonging to
the court of the Grand Signor, who sends him hither by way of punishment
or exile, in the same manner as Pashas are sent to Djidda. The present
Sheikh el Haram had been formerly Kislar Agassi, or prefect of the women
of the Emperor Selym, which is one of the first charges in the court.
Whether it was the dignity of his former employ, of which the eastern
grandees usually retain the rank through life, even if they are
dispossessed of it, or his new dignity of Sheikh el Haram, that gave him
his importance, I am unable to say; but he took, on every occasion,
precedence of Tousoun Pasha, whose rank was that of Pasha of Djidda, and
of three tails; and the latter, whenever they met, kissed the Sheikh's
hands, which I have

[p.344] seen him do in the mosque. He has a court composed in a manner
similar to that of a Pasha, but much less numerous. His dress is given
with the most minute accuracy in D'Ohhson's work: it consists of a fine
pelisse, over a rich embroidered silk gown, made in the fashion of the
capital; a khandjar, or dagger, set with diamonds, stuck in his belt;
and a kaouk, or high bonnet, on his head. The present Sheikh kept about
a dozen horses: whenever he walked out, a number of servants, or
Ferrashyn of the mosque, armed with large sticks, walked before him.

The person of the Sheikh el Haram was respected by the Wahabys: when
Saoud took Medina, he permitted the Sheikh, with several other eunuchs,
to retire to Yembo, with his wives, and all his baggage and valuables;
but would not receive another into the town; and the eunuchs themselves
then appointed one of their number to preside over them, till after an
interval of eight years, when the present chief was sent from
Constantinople; but his influence over the affairs of the town is
reduced to a mere shadow of what it was.

A eunuch of the mosque would be highly affronted if he were so termed by
any person. Their usual title is Aga. Their chief takes the title of
Highness, or Sadetkom, like a Pasha, or the Sherif of Mekka.

Besides those eunuchs, the mosque reckons among its servants a number of
the inhabitants of the town; these are called Ferrashyn, a name implying
that their duty consists in keeping the mosque clean, and spreading the
carpets. Some of them attend at the mosque to light the lamps, and to
clean the floor, together with the eunuchs; with others it is a mere
sinecure, and some of the first people of the town belong to this body.
I am unacquainted how the office is obtained, but believe that it is
purchased from the Sheikh el Haram. The name of each Ferrash is put down
in the lists which are yearly sent to Constantinople, and they all share
in the stipends which the town receives from that capital, and the whole
Turkish empire, in which there is always a considerable portion for the
Ferrashyn. It would appear that the office is hereditary; at least often
transmitted from father to son. The number is fixed at five hundred; but

[p.345] increase it, an expedient has, according to D'Ohhson, been
adopted, of dividing each number into half, and third, and eighth
shares; and any fractional part may be bestowed upon an individual, who
thus becomes an inferior member of the corps. Many of these Ferrashyn
are in partibus, the title having been given to great foreign hadjys,
dispersed over the whole empire, who think themselves honoured in
possessing it.

Many of these Ferrashyn are, at the same time ciceroni, or Mezowars, and
exercise also, the very lucrative profession of saying prayers for the
absent. Most hadjys of any consequence who pass here, form an
acquaintance with some of these men, their guides over the holy places.
On their return home, they often make it a pious rule to send annually
some money, one or two zecchins, to their ancient cicerone, who is thus
bound in honour to recite some prayers, in the name of the donor, before
the window of the Hedjra. These remittances, wrapped up in small sealed
papers, with the address upon them, are collected in every province or
principal town of Anatolia, or Turkey in Europe, from whence they are
principally sent, and brought to Medina by the Surra writer of
Constantinople, who accompanies the pilgrim caravan, and is at the head
of its financial department. Some of the principal Ferrashyns have
monopolized whole towns and provinces; the natives of those parts, who
pass through Medina, being introduced to them by their countrymen. The
correspondents of others are dispersed over the whole empire. The
profits which they derive from this profession, which resemble those
accruing to Roman Catholic priests for the reading of masses, are very
considerable: I have heard that some of the principal Ferrashyn have
from four to five hundred correspondents dispersed over Turkey, from
each of whom they receive yearly stipends, the smallest of which is one
Venetian zecchin.

The number of Ferrashyn, as well as of Mezowars, is very great. The
duties of their office can be so easily performed, that they are for the
greater part a very idle class. During the time of the Wahabys, however,
their perquisites ceased; and, as few pilgrims then arrived, they were
reduced to great extremities, from which they are now beginning slowly
to recover. They complain, that the long cessation of the yearly
stipends has accustomed so many original correspondents

[p.346] to withhold their gifts, that, although the caravan intercourse
is re-established, little inclination appears to renew them.

The Wahabys are forbidden by their law to visit the tomb of the Prophet,
or to stand before the Hedjra and pray for his intercession in heaven.
As Mohammed is considered by them a mere mortal, his tomb is thought
unworthy of any particular notice. It was as much a strict religious
principle, as a love of plunder, that induced Saoud to carry off the
treasures of the Hedjra, which were thought little adapted in decency
and humility to adorn a grave. The tomb itself he left untouched; and,
for once, gave way to the national feelings of the Arabians, and perhaps
to the compunctions of his own conscience, which could not entirely
divest itself of earlier impressions; he neither removed the brocade
from the tomb, nor the curtain which encloses it. Dreams, it is said,
terrified him, or withheld his sacrilegious hand; and he in like manner
respected that of Fatme: but, on the other hand, he ruined, without
exception, all the buildings of the public burial-ground, where many
great saints repose, and destroyed even the sculptured and ornamented
stones of those tombs, a simple block being thought by him quite
sufficient to cover the remains of the dead.

In prohibiting any visit to the tomb, the Wahabys never entertained the
idea of discontinuing the visit to the mosque. That edifice having been
built by the Prophet, at the remarkable epoch of his flight from Mekka,
which laid the first foundations of Islam, it is considered by them as
the most holy spot upon earth, next to the Beitullah of Mekka. Saoud had
indeed once given orders, that none of these Turkish pilgrims, who still
flocked from Yembo to this tomb, even after the interruption of the
regular pilgrim-caravans, should any more be permitted to enter Medina:
and this he did to prevent what he called their idolatrous praying; a
practice which it was impossible to abolish without excluding them at
once from the mosque; this prohibition Saoud did not think proper to
enforce: he therefore preferred keeping them from the city, under
pretence that their improper behaviour rendered such a proceeding
necessary. He himself, with all his adherents, often paid a devout visit
to the holy mosque; and in the treaty of peace which his son Abdallah,
concluded with

[p.347] Tousoun Pasha in 1815, it is expressly stipulated that the
Wahabys should be permitted to visit the Mesdjed-e'-Neby, or the mosque
of the Prophet, (not his tomb,) without molestation.

Even with the orthodox Moslims, the visit to this tomb and mosque is
merely a meritorious action, which has nothing to do with the
obligations to perform the Hadj, incumbent upon the faithful; but which,
like the visit to the mosque at Jerusalem, and the tomb of Abraham at
Hebron, is thought to be an act highly acceptable to the Deity, and to
expiate many sins, while it entitles the visiter, at the same time, to
the pratronage of the Prophet and the Patriarch in heaven: and it is
said, that he who recites forty prayers in this mosque, will be
delivered from hell-fire and torments after death. As saints, however,
are often more venerated than the Deity himself, who it is well known
accepts of no other offerings than a pure conscience or sincere
repentance, and is therefore not so easily appeased; so the visit to
Medina is nearly as much esteemed as that to the house of God, the
Beitullah at Mekka; and the visiters crowd with more zeal and eagerness
to this shrine, than they do even to the Kaaba. Throughout the year,
swarms of pilgrims arrive from all parts of the Mohammedan world,
usually by the way of Yembo. The Moggrebyns especially seem the most
fervent in their visits: they are, however, brought here by another
object, for in this town is situated the tomb of the Imam Malek ibn
Anes, the founder of the orthodox sect of the Malekites, to which belong
the Moggrebyns.

The mosque at Mekka is visited daily by female hadjys, who have their
own station assigned to them. At Medina, on the contrary, it is thought
very indecorous in women to enter the mosque. Those who come here from
foreign parts, visit the tomb during the night, after the last prayers,
while the women resident in the town hardly ever venture to pass the
threshold: my old landlady, who had lived close to it for fifty years,
assured me that she had been only once in her life within its precincts,
and that females of a loose character only are daring enough to perform
their prayers there. In general, women are seldom seen in the mosques in
the East, although free access is not forbidden. A few are sometimes met
in the most holy temples, as that

[p.348] of the Azhar at Cairo, where they offer up their thanks to
Providence, for any favour which they may have taken a vow thus to
acknowledge. Even in their houses the women seldom pray, except devout
old ladies; and it is remarked as an extraordinary accomplishment in a
woman, if she knows her prayers well, and has got by heart some chapters
of the Koran. Women being considered in the East as inferior creatures,
to whom some learned commentators on the Koran deny even the entrance
into Paradise, their husbands care little about their strict observance
of religious rites, and many of them even dislike it, because it raises
them to a nearer level with themselves; and it is remarked, that the
woman makes a bad wife, who can once claim the respect to which she is
entitled by the regular reading of prayers.

There are no sacred pigeons in this mosque, as in that at Mekka; but the
quantity of woollen carpets spread in it, where the most dirty Arabs sit
down by the side of the best dressed hadjys, have rendered it the
favourite abode of millions of other animals less harmless than pigeons,
and a great plague to all visiters, who transfer them to their private
lodgings, which thus swarm with vermin.

This mosque being much smaller than that of Mekka, and a strict police
kept up in it by the eunuchs, it is less infested with beggars and idle
characters than the former. It should seem also, that the tomb of
Mohammed inspires the people of Medina with much greater awe, and
religious respect, than the Kaaba does those of Mekka; which sentiment
deters them from approaching it with idle thoughts, or as a mere
pastime: much more decorum is therefore observed within its precincts
than within those of the Beitullah.

As at Mekka, a number of Khatybs, Imams, Mueddins, and other persons
belonging to the body of Olemas, are attached to the mosque. The olemas
here are said to be more learned than their brethren of Mekka; and those
of former days have produced many valuable writings. At present,
however, there is less appearance of learning here than at Mekka. During
my visits to the mosque I never saw a native Arab teaching knowledge of
any kind, and only a few Turkish hadjys explaining some religious books
in their own language, to a very few auditors, from whom they collected
trifling sums, to defray

[p.349] the expenses of their journey home. Tousoun Pasha, the only one
of his family who is not an avowed atheist, frequently attended those
lectures, and sat in the same circle with the other persons present. I
was told, that in the medrese called El Hamdye some public lectures are
delivered; but I had no opportunity of ascertaining the fact. I believe
that there is not in the whole Mohammedan empire a town so large as
Medina where lectures are not held in the mosques; that this was
formerly the case also in this town, is proved by the many pious
foundations established exclusively for this purpose, the emoluments of
which many olemas still enjoy without performing the duties.

The haram or mosque of Medina, like that at Mekka, possesses
considerable property and annuities in every part of the empire. Its
yearly income is divided among the eunuchs, the olemas, and the
Ferrashyn. The daily expenses of lighting and repairing the building are
made to account for the expenditure of the whole. As, excepting the
precious articles contained in the Hedjra, no money-treasure has ever
been kept in the mosque, a double advantage accrues to the inhabitants
of the town, numbers of whom gain a comfortable livelihood, while all
are exempted from the danger and the internal broils which would, no
doubt, occur, were it known that a large sum of money might be obtained
by seizing the mosque. The days are past, in the East, when a public
treasure can be deposited in a place sufficiently sacred to guard it
from the hands of plunderers. The smallest part of the income of all
public foundations is spent in the relief of the poor, or the pious
purpose to which it was destined: it serves merely to pamper a swarm of
idle hypocrites, who have no other motives for acquiring a smattering of
learning, than the hope of sharing in the illegal profits that accrue to
the guardians or agents of these institutions.

Like most of the public buildings in the East, the approach to the
mosque is choked on all sides by private habitations, so as to leave, in
some parts, only an open street between them and the walls of the
mosque; while in others the houses are built against the walls, and
conceal them. Either three or five minarets (I forget

[p.350] which) are erected on different sides of the building; and one
of them is said to stand on the spot where Bellal, the Abyssinian, the
Mueddin of Mohammed, and one of his great favourites, used to call the
faithful to prayers.

The following brief history of the mosque is taken from Samhoudy, the
historian of Medina:

"The mosque of Medina was founded by Mohammed himself, and is therefore
called his mosque, or Mesdjed-e'-Neby. When he reached the city, at that
time an open settlement of Arabs, called Yathreb, (subsequently Medina)
after his flight from Mekka, and was sure of being now among friends, he
erected a small chapel on the spot where his camel had first rested in
the town, having bought the ground from the Arabs; and he enclosed it
with mud walls, upon which he placed a roof of palm-leaves, supported by
the stems of palm-trees for pillars: this edifice he soon after
enlarged, having laid the foundations with stone. Instead of the Mahrab,
or niche, which is placed in mosques to show the direction in which the
faithful ought to turn in their prayers, Mohammed placed a large stone,
which was at first turned to the north, towards Jerusalem, and placed in
the direction of the Kaaba of Mekka, in the second year of the Hedjra,
when the ancient Kebly was changed.

"Omar ibn el Khatab widened the mosque with mud walls and palm-branches,
and, instead of the stems of palms, he made pillars of mud. He first
carried a wall round the Hedjra, or the place where the body of Mohammed
had been deposited at his death, and which was at first enclosed only by
palm-branches. The square enclosed by the walls of the mosque was
increased to one hundred and forty pikes in length, and one hundred and
twenty in breadth, A.H. 17.

"Othman built the walls of hewn stone: in A.H. 29, he renewed the
earthen pillars, strengthening the new ones with hoops of iron, and made
the roof of the precious Indian wood called Sadj. The square was
enlarged to one hundred and sixty pikes by one hundred and fifty; and
six gates were opened into it.

"Wolyd, he to whom Damascus owes its beautiful mosque, called Djama el
Ammouy, further enlarged the Mesdjed-e'-Neby in A.H. 91.

[p.351] Till then, the houses where the wives and daughter and female
relations of Mohammed had resided, stood close to the Hedjra, beyond the
precincts of the mosque, into which they had private gates.
Notwithstanding the great opposition he encountered, Wolyd compelled the
women to leave their houses, and to accept a fair price for them; he
then razed them, and extended the wall of the mosque on that side. The
Greek Emperor, with whom he happened to be at peace, sent him workmen
from Constantinople, who assisted in the new building; [Makrisi, in his
account of various sovereigns who performed the pilgrimage, says that
the Greek Emperor (whom he does not name) sent one hundred workmen to
Wolyd, and a present of a hundred thousand methkal of gold, together
with forty loads of small cut stones, for a mosaic pavement.] several of
whom, being Christians, behaved, as it is related, with great indecency;
one of them, in particular, when in the act of defiling the very tomb
of the Prophet, was killed by a stone which fell from the roof. New
stone pillars were now placed in the mosque, with gilt capitals. The
walls were cased with marble variously adorned, and parts of them
likewise gilt, and the whole building thus completely renewed.

"About A.H. 160, the Khalife El Mohdy still further enlarged the
enclosure, and made it two hundred and forty pikes in length; and in
this state the mosque remained for several centuries.

"Hakem b'amr Illah, the mad King of Egypt, who sent one of his
emissaries to destroy the black stone of the Kaaba, also made an
unsuccessful attempt to take from the mosque of Medina Mohammed's tomb,
and transport it to Cairo. In A.H. 557, in the time of El Melek el Adel
Noureddyn, king of Egypt, two Christians in disguise were discovered at
Medina, who had made a subterraneous passage from a neighbouring house
into the Hedjra, and stolen from thence articles of great value. Being
put to the torture, they confessed having been sent by the King of Spain
for that purpose; and they paid for their temerity with their lives.
Sultan Noureddyn, after this, carried a trench round the Hedjra, and
filled it with lead, to prevent similar attempts.

"In A.H. 654, a few months after the eruption of a volcano near the

[p.352] town, the mosque caught fire, and was burnt to the ground; but
the Korans deposited in the Hedjra were saved. This accident was
ascribed to the Persian sectaries of Beni Hosseyn, who were then the
guardians of the tomb. In the following year its restoration was
undertaken at the expense of the Khalife Mostasem Billah, Ibn el
Montaser Billah, and the lord of Yemen, El Mothaffer Shams eddyn Yousef,
and completed by El Dhaher Bybars, Sultan of Egypt, in A.H. 657. The
dome over the tomb was erected in 678. Several kings of Egypt
successively improved and enlarged the building, till A.H. 886, when it
was again destroyed by fire occasioned by lightning. The destruction was
complete; all the walls of the mosque, and part of those of the Hedjra,
the roof, and one hundred and twenty columns fell: all the books in the
mosque were destroyed; but the fire appears to have spared the interior
of the tomb in the Hedjra. Kayd Beg, then king of Egypt, to whom that
country and the Hedjaz owe a number of public works, completely rebuilt
the mosque, as it now stands, in A.H. 892. He sent three hundred workmen
from Cairo for that purpose. The interior of the Hedjra was cleared, and
three deep graves were found in the inside, full of rubbish; but the
author of this history, who himself entered it, saw no traces of tombs.
The original place of Mohammed's tomb was ascertained with great
difficulty. The walls of the Hedjra were then rebuilt, and the iron
railing placed round it which is now there. The dome was again raised
over it; the gates were distributed as they now are; a new mambar, or
pulpit, was sent as a present from Cairo, and the whole mosque assumed
its present form. Since the above period, a few immaterial improvements
have been made by the Othman Emperors of Constantinople."

[p.353]GARDENS and plantations, as I have already said, surround the
town of Medina, with its suburbs, on three sides, and to the eastward
and southward extend to the distance of six or eight miles. They consist
principally of date-groves and wheat and barley fields; the latter
usually enclosed with mud walls, and containing small habitations for
the cultivators. Their houses in the immediate neighbourhood of the town
are well built, often with a vestibule supported by columns, and a
vaulted sitting-room adjoining, and a tank cased with stone in front of
them. They are the summer residence of many families of the town, who
make it a custom to pass there a couple of months in the hottest season.
Few of the date-groves, unless those dispersed over the fields, are at
all enclosed; and most of them are irrigated only by the torrents and
winter rains. The gardens themselves are very low, the earth being taken
from the middle parts of them, and heaped up round the walls, so as to
leave the space destined for agriculture, like a pit, ten or twelve feet
below the surface of the plain: this is done to get at a better soil,
experience having shown that the upper stratum is much more impregnated
with salt, and less fit for cultivation, than the lower. No great
industry is any where applied; much ground continues waste; and even
where the fields are laid out, no economy whatever is shown in the
culture of them. Many spots are wholly barren; and the saline nature of
the soil prevents the seed from growing. The ground towards the village
of Koba, and beyond it, in a south and east direction, is said to
consist of good earth, without any saline mixture; and in value it is
consequently much higher than that near the town, which, after rains, I
have seen completely covered for several days with a saline crust,
partly deposited from the waters, and partly evaporated from the soil
itself, in the more elevated spots which the waters do not reach.

Most of the gardens and plantations belong to the people of the

[p.354] town; and the Arabs who cultivate them (called nowakhele) are
mostly farmers. The property of the gardens is either mulk or wakf; the
former, if they belong to an individual; the latter, if they belong to
the mosque, or any of the medreses or pious foundations, from which they
are farmed, at very long leases, by the people of Medina themselves, who
re-let them on shorter terms to the cultivators. They pay no duties
whatever. Not the smallest land-tax, or miri, is levied; an immunity
which, I believe, all the fertile oases of the Hedjaz enjoyed previous
to the invasion by the Wahabys: these, however, had no sooner taken
possession of the town, than they taxed the soil, according to their
established rule. The fields were assessed, not by their produce in
corn, but in dates, the number of date-trees in every field being
usually proportionate to the fertility of the soil, and also to its crop
of grain. From every erdeb of dates the Wahaby tax-gatherers took their
quota either in kind or in money, according to the market-price they
then bore. These regulations caused the Wahabys to be disliked here much
more than they were at Mekka, where the inhabitants had no fields to be
taxed; and where the tax which the Wahabys had imposed was dispensed
with, or rather given up to the Sherif, the ancient governor of the
town, as I have already remarked. The Mekkans, besides, carried on
commerce, from which they could at all times derive some profit,
independent of the advantages accruing to them from the foreign hadjys.
The people of Medina, on the contrary, are very petty merchants; and
their main support depends upon the pilgrims, the yearly stipends from
Turkey, or their landed property. As they were obliged entirely to
renounce the former, and were curtailed in the profits from the latter;
and as the Wahabys showed much less respect for their venerated tomb
than they did for the Beitullah at Mekka, we cannot wonder that their
name is execrated by the people of Medina, and loaded with the most
opprobrious epithets.

The principal produce of the fields [They are here called Beled, (plur.
Boldan): the beled of such a one.] about Medina, is wheat and barley,
some clover, and garden-fruits, but chiefly dates. Barley is

[p.355] grown in much larger quantity than wheat; and barley-bread forms
a principal article of food with the lower classes. Its harvest is in
the middle of March. The crops are very thin; but the produce is of a
good quality, and sells in the market of Medina at about fifteen per
cent higher than the Egyptian. After harvest, the fields are left fallow
till the next year; for though there is sufficient water in the
wells [Every garden or field has its well, from whence the water is drawn
up by asses, cows, or camels, in large leathern buckets. I believe there
are no fields that are not regularly watered, and the seed of none is
left merely to the chance of the winter-rains.] to produce a second
irrigation, the soil is too poor to suffer it, without becoming entirely
exhausted. No oats are sown here, nor any where else in the Hedjaz. The
fruit-trees are found principally on the side of the village of Koba.
Pomegranates and grapes are said to be excellent, especially the former:
there are likewise some peaches, bananas, and, in the gardens of Koba, a
few water-melons, and vegetables, as spinach, turnips, leeks, onions,
carrots, and beans, but in very small quantities. The nebek-tree,
producing the lotus, is extremely common in the plain of Medina, as well
as in the neighbouring mountains; and incredible quantities of its fruit
are brought to market in March, when the lower classes make it a prime
article of food. But the staple produce of Medina is dates, for the
excellence of which fruit this neighbourhood is celebrated throughout
Arabia. The date-trees stand either in the enclosed fields, where they
are irrigated together with the seeds in the ground, or in the open
plain, where they are watered by the rains only: the fruit of the
latter, though less abundant, is more esteemed. Numbers of them grow
wild on the plain, but every tree has its owner. Their size is, in
general, inferior to that of the Egyptian palm-tree, fed by the rich
soil of the country, and the waters of the Nile; but their fruit is much
sweeter, and has a more fragrant smell.

The many different uses to which almost every part of the date-tree is
applied, have already been mentioned by several travellers; they render
it as dear to the settled Arab, as the camel is to the Bedouin.

[p.356] Mohammed, in one of the sayings recorded of him, compares the
virtuous and generous man to this noble tree. "He stands erect before
his Lord; in his every action he follows the impulse received from
above, and his whole life is devoted to the welfare of his fellow-
creatures." [See also the 1st Psalm, v. 3.--"And he shall be like a tree
planted by the rivers of water," &c.] The people of the Hedjaz, like the
Egyptians, make use of the leaves, the outer and inner bark of the
trunk, and the fleshy substance at the root of the leaves where they
spring from the trunk; and, besides this, they use the kernels of the
fruit, as food for their cattle: they soak them for two days in water,
when they become softened, and then give them to camels, cows, and
sheep, instead of barley; and they are said to be much more nutritive
than that grain. There are shops at Medina in which nothing else is sold
but date-kernels; and the beggars are continually employed, in all the
main streets, in picking up those that are thrown away. In the province
of Nedjed the Arabs grind the kernels for the same purpose; but this is
not done in the Hedjaz.

Various kinds of dates are found at Medina, as well as in all other
fruitful vallies of this country; and every place, almost, has its own
species, which grows no where else. I have heard that upwards of one
hundred different sorts of dates grow in the immediate neighbourhood of
the town; the author of the description of Medina mentions one hundred
and thirty. Of the most common sorts are the Djebely, the cheapest, and
I believe the most universally spread in the Hedjaz; the Heloua; the
Heleya, a very small date, not larger than a mulberry; it has its name
from its extraordinary sweetness, in which it does not yield to the
finest figs from Smyrna, and like them is covered, when dried, by a
saccharine crust. The inhabitants relate, that Mohammed performed a
great miracle with this date: he put a stone of it into the earth, which
immediately took root, grew up, and within five minutes a full-grown
tree, covered with fruit, stood before him. Another miracle is related
of the species called El Syhany, a tree of

[p.357] which addressed a loud "Salam Aleykum" to the Prophet, as he
passed under it. The Birny is esteemed the most wholesome, as it is
certainly the easiest of digestion: it was the favourite of Mohammed,
who advised the Arabs to eat seven of its fruit every morning before
breakfast. The Djeleby is the scarcest of them all: it is about three
inches in length, and one in breadth, and has a peculiarly agreeable
taste, although not so sweet as the Heleya. It seems that it grows with
great difficulty; for there are, at most, not more than one hundred
trees of this species, and they are less fertile than any of the other.
They grow in no part of the Hedjaz, but here and in the groves of Yembo
el Nakhel. The price of the Birny is twenty paras per keile, a measure,
containing at least one hundred and twenty dates, while the Djeleby is
sold at eight dates for twenty paras: they are in great request with the
hadjys, who usually carry some of these dates home, to present to their
friends, as coming from the city of the Prophet; and small boxes,
holding about one hundred of them, are made at Medina, for their

Dates form an article of food by far the most essential to the lower
classes of Medina: their harvest is expected with as much anxiety, and
attended with as much general rejoicings, as the vintage in the south of
Europe; and if the crop fails, which often happens, as these trees are
seldom known to produce abundantly for three or four successive years,
or is eaten up by the locusts, universal gloom overspreads the
population, as if a famine were apprehended.

One species of the Medina dates, the name of which I have forgotten,
remains perfectly green although ripe, and dried; another retains a
bright saffron colour: these dates are threaded on strings, and sold all
over the Hedjaz, where they go by the name of Kalayd es' Sham, or
necklaces of the North; and the young children frequently wear them
round the neck. The first dates are eaten in the begining of June, and
at that period of their growth are called Rotab; but the general date-
harvest is at the end of that month. In Egypt it is a month later. Dates
are dressed in many different ways by the Arabs; boiled in milk, broiled
with butter; or reduced to a thick pulp

[p.358] by boiling in water, over which honey is poured; and the Arabs
say that a good housewife will daily furnish her lord, for a month, a
dish of dates differently dressed.

In these gardens a very common tree is the Ithel, a species of tamarisk,
cultivated for its hard wood, of which the Arabs make their camels'
saddles, and every utensil that requires strong handles.

In the gardens we seldom find the ground perfectly level, and the
cultivation is often interrupted by heaps of rocks. On the N.W. and W.
sides of the town, the whole plain is so rocky as to defeat all attempts
at improvement. The cultivable soil is clay, mixed with a good deal of
chalk and sand, and is of a grayish white colour: in other parts it
consists of a yellow loam, and also of a substance very similar to bole-
earth; small conical pieces of the latter, about an inch and a half
long, and dried in the sun, are sold, suspended on a piece of riband, to
the visiters of Medina. It is related that Mohammed cured a Bedouin of
Beni Hareth, and several others, of a fever by washing their bodies with
water in which this earth had been dissolved; and the pilgrims are eager
to carry home a memorial of this miracle. The earth is taken from a
ditch at a place called El Medshounye, in the neighbourhood of the town.

All the rocky places, as well as the lower ridge of the northern
mountainous chain, are covered by a layer of volcanic rock: it is of a
bluish black colour, very porous, yet heavy, and, hard, not glazed, like
schlacken, and contains frequently small white substances in its pores
of the size of a pin's head, which I never found crystallised. The plain
has a completely black colour from this rock, and the small pieces with
which it is overspread. I met with no lava, although the nature of the
ground seemed strongly to indicate the neighbourhood of a volcano. Had I
enjoyed better health, I should have made some excursions to the more
distant parts of the gardens of Medina, to look for specimens of
minerals; but the first days of my stay were taken up in making out a
plan of the town, and gaining information on its inhabitants; and I was
not afterwards capable of the slightest bodily exertion. It was not till
my return to Cairo, that, in reading the description of Medina, which I
had purchased at the former place, (and of

[p.259] which, and of the descriptions of Mekka, I could never find
copies in the Hedjaz, notwithstanding all my endeavours,) I met with the
account of an earthquake and a volcanic eruption which took place in the
immediate neighbourhood of Medina about the middle of the thirteenth
century; and upon inquiry I learnt from a man of Medina, established at
Cairo, that the place of the stream of lava is still shown, at about one
hour E. of the town. During my stay, I remember to have once made the
observation to my cicerone, in going with him to Djebel Ohod, that the
country appeared as if all burnt by fire; but I received an unmeaning
reply; no hint or information afterwards in the town which could lead me
to suppose that I was near so interesting, a phenomenon of nature.

Some extracts from the work to which I have alluded, describing this
eruption, may be thought worthy of the reader's attention, and are given
in the subjoined note. ["On the first of the month Djomad el Akhyr, in
A.H. 654, a slight earthquake was felt in the town; on the third,
another stronger shock took place, during the day; about two o'clock in
the ensuing morning, repeated violent shocks awakened the inhabitants,
increasing in force during the rest of the morning, and continuing at
intervals till Friday the sixth of the month. Many houses and walls
tumbled down. On Friday morning a thundering noise was heard, and at
mid-day the fire burst forth. On the spot where it issued from the earth
a smoke first arose, which completely darkened the sky. To the eastward
of the town, towards the close of day, the flames were visible, a fiery
mass of immense size, which bore the appearance of a large town, with
walls, battlements, and minarets, ascending to heaven. Out of this flame
issued a river of red and blue fire, accompanied with the noise of
thunder. The burning waves carried whole rocks before them, and farther
on heaped them up like high mounds. The river was approaching nearer to
the town, when Providence sent a cool breeze, which arrested its further
progress on this side. All the inhabitants of Medina passed that night
in the great mosque; and the reflection of the fire changed that night
into day-light. The fiery river took a northern direction, and
terminated at the mountain called Djebel Wayra, standing in the valley
called Wady el Shathat, which is a little to the eastward of Djebel Ohod
[two miles and a half from Medina]. For five days the flame was seen
ascending, and the river remained burning for three months. Nobody could
approach it on account of its heat. It destroyed all rocks; but, (says
the historian,) this being the sacred territory of Medina, where
Mohammed had ordained that no trees should be cut within a certain
space, it spared all the trees it met with in its course. The entire
length of the river was four farsakh, or twelve miles; the breadth of it
four miles; and its depth, eight or nine feet. The valley of Shathat was
quite choked up; and the place where it is thus choked, called from this
circumstance El Sedd, is still to be seen. The flame was seen at Yembo
and at Mekka. An Arab of Teyma (a small town in the N.E. Desert from six
to eight days' journey from Medina) wrote a letter during night by the
light reflected from it to that distance.
"In the same year, a great inundation of the Tigris happened, by
which half the town of Baghdad was destroyed; and at the close of this
same year the temple of Medina itself was burnt to the ground.
"The Arabs were prepared to witness such a conflagration; for they
remembered the saying of Mohammed, that 'the day of judgment will not
happen until a fire shall appear in the Hedjaz, which shall cause the
necks of the camels at Basra to shine.'"]

From this account the stream of lava must be sought at about one

[p.360] hour distant to the E. of the town. The volcanic productions
which cover the immediate neighbourhood of the town and the plain to the
west of it, are probably owing to former eruptions of the same volcano;
for nothing is said, in the relation, of stones having been cast out of
the crater to any considerable distance, and the whole plain to the
westward, as far as Wady Akyk, three miles distant, is covered with the
above-described volcanic productions. I have little doubt that on many
other points of that great chain of mountains, similar volcanoes have
existed. The great number of warm springs found at almost every station
of the road to Mekka, authorises such a conjecture.

I am here induced, by a passage in the extract contained in the last
note, to offer the following remark. According to the strict precept of
Mohammed, that part of the territory of Medina which encompassed the
town in a circle of twelve miles, having on the S. side Djebel Ayre, and
on the N. side Djebel Thor, (a small mountain just behind Djebel Ohod,)
as the boundary, should be considered sacred; no person should be slain
therein, except aggressors, and enemies, in self-defence, or infidels
who polluted it; and neither game should be killed nor trees cut in such
a holy territory. This interdiction, however, is at present completely
set aside; trees are cut, game is killed, bloody affrays happen in the
town itself and

[p.361] in its immediate vicinity ; and though an avowed follower of any
other religion than the Mohammedan is not permitted to enter the gates
of the town, yet several instances occurred, during my stay there, (and
while I resided at Yembo,) of Greek Christians employed in the
commissariat of the army of Tousoun Pasha encamping within gun-shot of
Medina, previous to their departure for the head-quarters of the Pasha,
then in the province of Kasym.



ON the day after the pilgrim has performed his first duties at the
mosque and the tomb, he usually visits the burial-ground of the town, in
memory of the many saints who lie buried there. It is just beyond the
town-walls, near the gate of Bab Djoma, and bears the name of El Bekya.
A square of several hundred paces is enclosed by a wall which, on the
southern side, joins the suburb, and on the others is surrounded with
date-groves. Considering the sanctity of the persons whose bodies it
contains, it is a very mean place; and perhaps the most dirty and
miserable burial-ground in any eastern town of the size of Medina. It
does not contain a single good tomb, nor even any large inscribed blocks
of stone covering tombs; but instead, mere rude heaps of earth, with low
borders of loose stones placed about them. The Wahabys are accused of
having defaced the tombs; and in proof of this, the ruins of small domes
and buildings are pointed out, which formerly covered the tombs of
Othman, Abbas, Setna Fatme, and the aunts of Mohammed, which owed their
destruction to those sectaries: but they would certainly not have
annihilated every other simple tomb built of stone here, which they did
neither at Mekka nor any other place. The miserable state of this
cemetery must have existed prior to the Wahaby conquest, and is to be
ascribed to the niggardly minds of the towns-people, who are little
disposed to

[p.363] incur any expense in honouring the remains of their celebrated
countrymen. The whole place is a confused accumulation of heaps of
earth, wide pits, rubbish, without a single regular tomb-stone. The
pilgrim is made to visit a number of graves, and, while standing before
them, to repeat prayers for the dead. Many persons make it their
exclusive profession to watch the whole day near each of the principal
tombs, with a handkerchief spread out, in expectation of the pilgrims
who come to visit them; and this is the exclusive privilege of certain
Ferrashyns and their families, who have divided the tombs among
themselves, where each takes his post, or sends his servant in his

The most conspicuous personages that lie buried here are Ibrahim, the
son of Mohammed, who died in his youth; Fatme, his daughter, according
to the opinion of many, who say that she was buried here and not in the
mosque; several of the wives of Mohammed; some of his daughters; his
foster-mother; Fatme, the daughter of Asad, and mother of Aly; Abbas ibn
Abd el Motalleb; Othman ibn Affan, one of the immediate successors of
Mohammed, who collected the scattered leaves of the Koran into one
volume; the Martyrs, or Shohada, as they are called, who were slain here
by the army of the heretics under Yezyd ibn Mawya, whose commander,
Moslim, in A.H. 60, (others say 62,) came from Syria and sacked the
town, the inhabitants of which had acknowledged the rebel Abdallah ibn
Hantala as their chief; Hassan ibn Aly, whose trunk only lies buried
here, his head having been sent to Cairo, where it is preserved in the
fine mosque called El Hassamya; the Imam Malek ibn Anes, the founder of
the sect of the Malekites. Indeed so rich is Medina in the remains of
great saints that they have almost lost their individual importance,
while the relics of one of the persons just mentioned would be
sufficient to render celebrated any other Moslim town. As a formula of
the invocation addressed here to the manes of the saint, I shall
transcribe that which is said with uplifted hands, after having
performed a short prayer of two rikats, over the tomb of Othman ibn
Affan: "Peace be with thee, O Othman! Peace be with thee, O friend of
the chosen! Peace be with

[p.364] thee, O collector of the Koran! Mayest thou deserve the
contentment of God! May God ordain Paradise as thy dwelling, thy
resting-place, thy habitation, and thy abode! I deposit on this spot,
and near thee, O Othman, the profession everlasting, from this day to
the day of judgment, that there is no God but God, and that Mohammed is
his servant and his prophet."

The inhabitants of Medina bury all their dead on this ground, in the
same homely tombs as those of the saints. Branches of palm-trees are
stuck upon the graves, and changed once a year, at the feast of
Ramadhan, when the family visits the grave of its relations, where it
sometimes remains for several days.

VISIT TO DJEBEL OHOD.--One of the principal Zyara or places of sacred
visitation of Medina, is Ohod, with the tomb of Hamze, the uncle of
Mohammed. The mountain of Ohod forms part of the great chain, branching
out from it into the eastern plain, so as to stand almost insulated. It
is three quarters of an hour's walk from the town. In the fourth year of
the Hedjra, when Mohammed had fixed his residence at Medina, the
idolatrous Koreysh, headed by Abou Sofyan, invaded these parts, and took
post at this mountain. Mohammed issued from the town, and there fought,
with great disparity of force, the most arduous battle in which he was
ever engaged. His uncle Hamze was killed, together with seventy-five of
his followers: he himself was wounded, but he killed with his own lance
one of the bravest men of the opposite party, and gained at last a
complete victory. The tomb of Hamze and of the seventy-five martyrs, as
they are called, form the object of the visit to Djebel Ohod.

I started on foot, with my cicerone, by the Syrian gate, in the company
of several other visiters; for it was thought unsafe to go there alone,
from fear of Bedouin robbers. The visit is generally performed on
Thursdays. We passed the place where the Syrian Hadj encamp, and where
several wells and half-ruined tanks, cased with stone, supply the
pilgrims with water during their three days' stay at this place, in
their way to and from Mekka. A little further on is a pretty kiosk, with
a dome, now likewise half-ruined, called El Goreyn, where

[p.365] the chief of that caravan usually takes up his temporary abode.
The road further on is completely level; date-trees stand here and
there, and several spots are seen which the people only cultivate when
the rains are copious. About one mile from the town stands a ruined
edifice of stones and bricks, where a short prayer is recited in
remembrance of Mohammed having here put on his coat of mail, when he
went to engage the enemy. Farther on is a large stone, upon which it is
said that Mohammed leaned for a few minutes on his way to Ohod; the
visiter is enjoined to press his back against this stone, and to recite
the Fateha, or opening chapter of the Koran.

In approaching the mountain, we passed a torrent, coming from E. or S.E.
with water to the depth of two feet, the remains of the rain that had
fallen five days ago. It swells sometimes so high as to become
impassable, and inundates the whole surrounding country. To the east of
this torrent, the ground leading towards the mountain is barren, stony,
with a slight ascent, on the slope of which stands a mosque, surrounded
by about a dozen ruined houses, once the pleasure villas of wealthy
towns-people; near them is a cistern, filled by the torrent-water. The
mosque is a square solid-built edifice of small dimensions. Its dome was
thrown down by the Wahabys, but they spared the tomb. The mosque
encloses the tomb of Hamze, and those of his principal men who were
slain in the battle; namely, Mesab ibn Omeyr, Djafar ibn Shemmas, and
Abdallah ibn Djahsh. The tombs are in a small open yard, and, like those
of the Bekya, mere heaps of earth, with a few loose stones placed around
them. Beside them is a small portico, which serves as a mosque: a short
prayer is said here, and the pilgrims then advance to the tombs, where
they recite the chapter of Yasein (from the Koran), or the short chapter
of El Khalas forty times; after which Hamze and his friends are invoked
to intercede with the Almighty, and obtain for the pilgrim and all his
family, faith, health, wealth, and the utter destruction of all their
enemies. Money is given, as usual, at every corner, to the guardians of
the mosque, of the tombs, to the Mueddin, Imam, &c. &c.

A little further on, towards the mountain, which is only at a gun-shot
distance, a small cupola marks the place where Mohammed was

[p.366] struck in battle by a stone, which knocked out four of his front
teeth, and felled him to the ground. [This story is related here,
though the historians of the Prophet do not agree on the subject.] His
party thought he was killed; but the angel Gabriel immediately appeared,
and exclaimed that he was still alive. At a short distance from this
cupola, which like all the rest has been demolished, are the tombs of
twelve other partisans of the Prophet, who were killed in the battle.
They form together several mounds of rubbish and stones, in which their
respective tombs can no longer be distinguished. Prayers are again
recited, with that passage of the Koran which says, in speaking of the
slain: "Do not think that those who were killed in war with the infidels
are dead; no, they are living, and their reward is with their Lord:" a
sentence still used to encourage, even in our days, the Turkish soldiers
in their battles with Europeans.

The mountain of Ohod consists of different coloured granite; on its
sides I likewise found flint, but no lava. The entire mountain is almost
four miles in length, from west to east. Having been the scene of the
famous battle, which so much contributed to strengthen the party of
Mohammed and his new religion, it is not surprising that Djebel Ohod
should be the object of peculiar veneration. The people of Medina
believe that on the day of resurrection it will be transported into
Paradise; and that when mankind shall appear before the Almighty for
judgment, they will be assembled upon it, as the most favoured station.
The mountain of Ayra, mentioned above as situated to the S.W. of the
town, (about the same distance from it as Ohod is, on the other side,)
will on that day experience a much less enviable fate. Having denied
water to the Prophet, who once lost his way in its valleys, and became
thirsty, it will be punished for inhospitality, by being cast at once
into hell.

The people of Medina frequently visit Ohod, pitching their tents in the
ruined houses, where they remain a few days, especially convalescents,
who during their illness had made a vow to slaughter a sheep in honour
of Hamze, if they recovered. Once a year, (in July, I

[p.367] believe,) the inhabitants flock thither in crowds, and remain
for three days, as if it were during the feast days of the saint.
Regular markets are then kept there: and this visit forms one of the
principal public amusements of the town.

KOBA.--In this neighbouring village all the pilgrims visit the spot where
Mohammed first alighted on coming from Mekka: it lies to the south of
the town, distant about three quarters of an hour. The road to it passes
through a plain, overgrown with date-trees, and covered in many spots
with white sand. At half an hour from the town begin gardens, which
spread over a space of four or five miles in circuit, and form, perhaps,
the most fertile and agreeable spot in the Northern Hedjaz. All kinds of
fruit-trees (with the exception of apple and pear, none of which I
believe grow in Arabia,) are seen in the gardens, which are all enclosed
by walls, and irrigated by numerous wells. It is from hence that Medina
is supplied with fruits: lemon and orange trees, pomegranates, bananas,
vines, peach, apricot, and fig trees, are planted amidst the date and
nebek trees, and form as thick groves as in Syria and Egypt, while their
shade renders Koba a delightful residence. The kheroa (Ricinus, or Palma
Christi,) is likewise very common here. The village is frequently
visited by the people of Medina; parties are continually made to spend
the day, and many sick people are carried to enjoy the benefits of a
cooler atmosphere.

In the midst of these groves stands the Mesdjed of Koba, with about
thirty or forty houses. It is a mean building, and much decayed. In the
interior of it several holy spots are visited, at each of which a short
prayer of two rikats is performed, and some additional invocations
recited in honour of the place. We first see here the Mobrak el Naka,
the very spot on the floor of the mosque where the she-camel which
Mohammed rode, in his flight from Mekka, crouched down, and would not
rise again, thus advising her master to stop here, which he did for a
few days, previous to his entering Medina. It was to consecrate this
spot, that the mosque was founded by Mohammed himself with loose stones,
which were changed into a regular building the year after, by Benou
Ammer ibn Owf; but the present building is of modern construction.
Further on is shown the spot

[p.368] upon which Mohammed once stood, after his prayers, and
distinctly saw from thence Mekka, and all that the Koreysh were doing
there; and, thirdly, the spot where the Koranic passage relating to the
inhabitants of Koba was revealed to Mohammed: "A temple, from its first
day founded in piety; there thou best standest up to prayers. There men
live who like to be purified: and God loves the clean." In this passage
an allusion is discovered to the extraordinary personal cleanliness of
those who inhabited Koba, more especially in certain acts of ablution.

I saw no inscriptions in this mosque, except those of hadjys who had
written their names on the white-washed walls; a practice in which
Eastern travellers indulge as frequently as European tourists, adding
often to the names some verses of favourite poets, or sentences of the
Koran. The mosque forms a narrow colonnade round a small open courtyard,
in which the Mobrak el Naka stands, with a small cupola over it, rising
to the height of about six feet. On issuing from the mosque, we were
assailed by a crowd of beggars. At a short distance from it, among the
cluster of houses, stands a small chapel, called Mesdjed Aly, in honour
of Aly, the cousin of Mohammed. Close to it, in a garden, a deep well is
shown, called Ayn Ezzerka, with a small chapel, built at its mouth. This
was a favourite spot with Mohammed, who used often to sit among the
trees with his disciples, enjoying the pleasure of seeing the water
issuing in a limpid stream; an object which at the present day
powerfully attracts the natives of the East, and, with the addition of a
shady tree, is perhaps the only feature of landscape which they admire.
When he once was sitting here, the Prophet's seal-ring dropped into the
well, and could never be again found; and the supposition that the ring
is still there, renders the well famous. The water is tepid at its
source, with a slight sulphureous taste, which it loses in its course.
It is collected together with that of several other springs into the
canal which supplies Medina, and which is kept constantly flowing by the
supply of various channels of well-water. Omar el Khatab first carried
the spring to Medina; but the present canal was built at the expense of
the Sultan Soleyman, son of Selim I., about A.H. 973: it is a very solid
subterranean work.

[p.369] This canal, and that of Mekka, are the greatest architectural
curiosities in the Hedjaz. Near to the mosque of Koba stands a building
erected by Sultan Morad, for dervishes. A little beyond the village, on
the road towards the town, stands a small chapel, called Mesdjed Djoma,
in remembrance of the spot where the people of Medina met Mohammed upon
his arrival.

EL KEBLETYN.--Towards the N.W. of the town, about one hour distant, a
place is visited bearing this name. It is said to consist of two rude
pillars (for I did not see it myself,) and was the spot where Mohammed
first changed the Kebly, or the direction in which prayers are said, in
the seventeenth month after the Hedjra, or his flight to Medina.
Together with the Jewish Bedouins, his own adherents had till then
Jerusalem as their Kebly; but Mohammed now turned it towards the Kaaba,
to which that fine passage of the Koran alludes: "Say, to God belong the
east and the west; he directs whomsoever he pleases in the road of
piety:"--a sentence written to convince the Moslims, that wherever they
turned, in their prayers, God stood before them. Near this spot stands a
small ruined chapel.

The above are the only places visited by pilgrims. The country round
Koba, and towards the S.E. of the town, presents many spots of nearly
equal beauty with Koba, which in summer are places of recreation to the
people of Medina; but I believe there are no villages any where to be
seen, only insulated houses, or small groupes of buildings, scattered
amongst the date-trees.


LIKE the Mekkans, the people of Medina are for the greater part
strangers, whom the Prophet's tomb, and the gains which it insures to
its neighbours, have drawn to this place. But few original Arabs,
descendants of those families who lived at Medina when Mohammed came
from Mekka, now remain in the town; on the contrary, we find in it
colonies from almost every quarter of the Muselman empire, east and
west. I was informed, that of the original Arab residents, to whom the
Mohammedan writers apply the name of El Ansar, and who at Mohammed's
entrance were principally composed of the tribes of Ows and Khezredj,
only about ten families remain who can prove their descent by pedigrees,
or well-ascertained traditions: they are poor people, and live as
peasants in the suburbs and gardens. The number of Sherifs descended of
Hassan, the grandson of Mohammed, is considerable; but most of them are
not originally from this place, their ancestors having come hither from
Mekka, during the wars waged by the Sherifs for the possession of that
town. They almost all belong to the class of olemas, very few military
sherifs, like those of Mekka, being found here. Among them is a small
tribe of Beni Hosseyn, descended from Hosseyn, the brother of Hassan.
They are said to have been formerly very powerful at Medina, and had
appropriated to themselves the chief part of the income of the mosque:
in the thirteenth century, (according to Samhoudy,) they were the

[p.371] guardians of the Prophet's tomb; but at present they are reduced
to about a dozen families, who still rank among the grandees of the town
and its most wealthy inhabitants. They occupy a quarter by themselves,
and obtain very large profits, particularly from the Persian pilgrims
who pass here. They are universally stated to be heretics, of the
Persian sect of Aly, and to perform secretly the rites of that creed,
although they publicly profess the doctrines of the Sunnys. This report
is too general, and confirmed by too many people of respectability, to
be doubted: but the Beni Hosseyn have powerful influence in the town, in
appearance strictly comply with the orthodox principles, and are
therefore not molested.

It is publicly said that the remnants of the Ansars, and great numbers
of the peasant Arabs who cultivate the gardens and fields in the
neighbourhood of the town, are addicted to the same heresy. The latter,
called Nowakhele, (a name implying that they live among date-trees,) are
numerous, and very warlike. They had offered determined resistance to
the Wahabys, and in civil contests have proved always superior to the
town's-people. They are said to be descendants of the partisans of
Yezid, the son of Mawya, who took and sacked the town sixty years after
the Hedjra. They marry only among themselves; and exhibit on all
occasions a great esprit de corps. Many of them publicly profess the
creed of Aly when in their date-groves, but are Sunnys whenever they
come to town. Some of them are established in the suburbs, and they have
monopolised the occupation of butchers. In quarrels I have heard
individuals among them publicly called sectaries and rowafedh, without
their ever denying it. In the Eastern Desert, at three or four days'
journey from Medina, lives a whole Bedouin tribe, called Beni Aly, who
are all of this Persian creed; and it is matter of astonishment to find
the two most holy spots of the orthodox Muselman religion surrounded,
one by the sectaries of Zeyd, and the other by those of Aly, without an
attempt having been made to dislodge them.

Among the ancient families of Medina are likewise reckoned a few
descendants of the Abassides, now reduced to great poverty: they

[p.372] go by the name of Khalifye, implying that they are descended
from the Khalifes.

Most of the inhabitants are of foreign origin, and present as motley a
race as those of Mekka. No year passes without some new settlers being
added to their number; and no pilgrim caravan crosses the town without
leaving here a few of its travellers, who stop at first with the
intention of remaining for a year or two only, but generally continue to
reside here permanently. Descendants of people from northern Turkey are
very numerous; but the greater part trace their origin to settlers of
the southern countries of Arabia, Yemen and Hadramaut, and from Syria,
and Egypt, and many also from Barbary. My cicerone was called Sheikh
Sad-eddyn el Kurdy, because his grandfather was a Kurd who had settled
here: the proprietor of the house in which I lived was Seyd Omar, a
Sherif of the Yafay tribe of Yemen, whose ancestors had come hither
several hundred years since. Indians are likewise found, but in less
number than at Mekka. As there, they are druggists, and petty
shopkeepers; but I believe that no Indian wholesale dealers in their
native products are to be found at Medina. They adhere to their national
dress and manners, forming a small colony, and rarely intermarry or mix
with the other inhabitants.

The individuals of different nations settled here have in their second
and third generations all become Arabs as to features and character; but
are, nevertheless, distinguishable from the Mekkans; they are not nearly
so brown as the latter, thus forming an intermediate link between the
Hedjaz people and the northern Syrians. Their features are somewhat
broader, their beards thicker, and their body stouter, than those of the
Mekkans; but the Arab face, the expression, and cast of features are in
both places the same.

The Medinans in their dress resemble more the Turkish than their
southern neighbours: very few of them wear the beden, or the national
Arab cloak without sleeves; but even the poorer people dress in long
gowns, with a cloth djobbe, or upper cloak, or, instead of it, an abba,
of the same brown and white stripe as is common in Syria and all over
the Desert. Red Tunis bonnets and Turkish shoes are

[p.373] more used here than at Mekka, where the lower classes wear white
bonnets, and sandals. People in easy circumstances dress well, wearing
good cloth cloaks, fine gowns, and, in winter, good pelisses, brought
from Constantinople by way of Cairo; which I found a very common article
of dress in January and February, a season when it is much colder here
than Europeans would expect it to be in Arabian deserts. Generally
speaking, we may say that the Medinans dress better than the Mekkans,
though with much less cleanliness: but no national costume is observed
here; and, particularly in the cold of winter, the lower classes cover
themselves with whatever articles of dress they can obtain at low prices
in the public auctions; so that it is not uncommon to see a man fitted
out in the dress of three or four different countries-like an Arab as
high as his waist, and like a Turkish soldier over his breast and
shoulders. The richer people make a great display of dress, and vie with
each other in finery. I saw more new suits of clothes here, even when
the yearly feasts were terminated, than I had seen before in any other
part of the East. As at Mekka, the Sherifs wear no green, but simple
white muslin turbans, excepting those from the northern part of Turkey,
who have recently settled here, and who continue to wear the badge of
their noble extraction.

Prior to the Wahaby conquest, when the inhabitants were often exposed to
bloody affrays among themselves, they always went armed with the
djombye, or crooked Arabian knife: at present few of these are seen; but
every body, from the highest to the lowest, carries in his hand a long
heavy stick. The rich have their sticks headed with silver; others fix
iron spikes to them; and thus make a formidable weapon, which the Arabs
handle with much dexterity. The women dress like those of Mekka; blue
gowns being worn by the lower classes, and silk mellayes by the higher.

The Bedouins settled in and near the suburbs, use exactly the same
costume as those of the Syrian Desert: a shirt, abba, a kessye on the
head, a leathern girdle in which the knife is stuck, and sandals on the
feet. Even those who have become settlers, form a distinct race, and do
not intermix with the rest of the town's-people. They preserve their
national dress, language, and customs, and live in their

[p.374] houses as they would under tents in the Desert. Of all Eastern
nations, the Arabian Bedouins perhaps are those who abandon their
national habits with most reluctance. In Syria, in Egypt, and in the
Hedjaz, settlements are seen, the members of which have become
cultivators for several centuries back; yet they have adopted only few
of the habits of peasants, and still pride themselves on their Bedouin
origin and manners.

The Medinans have not the same means of gaining a living, as the
Mekkans. Although this town is never free from foreign pilgrims, there
is never that immense influx of hadjys which renders Mekka so populous
for several months in the year, and which makes it a market for all
parts of the East. The hadjys who come to Medina are seldom merchants,
or at least do not go there for mercantile pursuits, and therefore leave
on the coast their heavy baggage. Even the Syrian merchants who pass
with the great caravan seldom engage in trade, unless it be for some
camel-loads of tobacco and dried fruits. The Medina trade is therefore
merely for home consumption, and to supply the neighbouring Bedouins
with articles of dress and provisions. These are received by way of
Yembo, and come almost exclusively from Egypt. No great merchants are
settled in Medina: the trade is merely retail; and those who possess
capital, generally invest it in goods, as usual throughout Syria and
Egypt, there not being any public institution like banks, or trading
societies, or national funds, from which the capitalist might derive
interest for his money. The Turkish law rigorously forbids the taking of
interest; and even if it were otherwise, there is not any government nor
any class of men to which the people would intrust considerable sums.
The investment of capital in landed property is also liable to great
risk. [By a decree of Mohammed Aly in 1813, the purchase of land in Egypt
is rendered impracticable; for it orders all the Moltezims (or landed
proprietors who shared in the possession of villages and grounds, and
who formed a class living on their rents in the country towns,) to
receive their yearly revenue from the Pasha's treasury, where they
suffered every kind of humiliation and injustice; and the whole of the
soil was declared to be the property of government, or in other words of
Mohammed Aly himself, who leaves the cultivation of it to the fellahs on
his own terms. It happened lately that the Fellahs, who farmed five
thousand acres belonging to the village of Damkour near Cairo, were
deprived of their leases on the land being declared public property,
because the Pasha wished to sow clover for his cavalry upon the soil
that the Fellahs had possessed. Landed property in Syria also subjects
the owner to great inconveniences: he is oppressed by every governor of
a district, and by every soldier who passes; he suffers in his receipts
from the extortions of the Pashas, which generally fall more heavily
upon the cultivator than upon the monied man: and if he do not
constantly watch his peasants, he is most probably cheated out of all
his profits.] The usual

[p.375] method is to enter into partnership with different petty
merchants or retail dealers, and obtain a share of their profits; but it
is subject to almost as much anxiety as an active trade, from the
necessity of keeping a constant account with the partners, and
incessantly watching them. Usury is practised, and an annual interest
from thirty to fifty per cent is paid at Cairo for money: but few of the
Turkish merchants descend to this practice, which is reckoned
dishonorable. Usury is wholly in the hands of Jews, and Christians the
outcasts of Europe. There is, perhaps, nothing in the present deplorable
state of eastern society that has a more baneful effect upon the minds
and happiness of the people, than the necessity of continuing during
their whole lives in business full of intrigues and chances. The
cheering hopes which animate an European, the prospect of enjoying in
old age the profits of early exertions, are unknown to the native of the
East, whose retirement would bring nothing but danger, by marking him as
wealthy in the eyes of his rapacious governor. The double influence of
the Turkish government and Muselman religion have produced such an
universal hypocrisy, that there is scarcely a Mohammedan (whose tranquil
air, as he smokes his pipe reclining on the sofa, gives one an idea of
the most perfect contentment and apathy,) that does not suffer under all
the agonies of envy, unsatisfied avarice, ambition, or the fear of
losing his ill-gotten property.

Travellers who pass rapidly through the East, without a knowledge of the
language, and rarely mixing with any but persons interested in
misrepresenting their true character, are continually deceived by the
dignified deportment of the Turks, their patriarchal manners and solemn
speeches,--although they would ridicule a Frenchman who,

[p.376] after a few months' residence in England, and ignorant of the
English language, should pretend to a competent knowledge of the British
character and constitution; not recollecting that it is much easier for
a Frenchman to judge of a neighbouring European nation, than for any
European to judge of Oriental nations, whose manners, ideas, and notions
are so different from his own. For my own part, a long residence among
Turks, Syrians, and Egyptians, justifies me in declaring that they are
wholly deficient in virtue, honour, and justice; that they have little
true piety, and still less charity or forbearance; and that honesty is
only to be found in their paupers or idiots. Like the Athenians of old,
a Turk may perhaps know what is right and praiseworthy, but he leaves
the practice to others; though, with fine maxims on his lips, he
endeavours to persuade himself that he acts as they direct. Thus he
believes himself to be a good Muselman, because he does not omit the
performance of certain prayers and ablutions, and frequently invokes the
forgiveness of God.

At Medina several persons engage in small commercial transactions,
chiefly concerning provisions; a lucrative branch of traffic, as the
town depends for its support upon the caravans from Yembo, which are
seldom regular, and this circumstance causes the prices of provisions
continually to fluctuate. The evil consequence of this is, that the
richer corn-dealers sometimes succeed in establishing a monopoly, no
grain remaining but in their warehouses, the petty traders having been
obliged to sell off. Whenever the caravans are delayed for any
considerable time, corn rises to an enormous price; and as the chiefs of
the town are thus interested, it can scarcely be supposed that the
magistrates would interfere.

Next to the provision-trade, that with the neighbouring Bedouins is the
most considerable: they provide the town with butter, honey, (a very
essential article in Hedjaz cookery,) sheep, and charcoal; for which
they take, in return, corn and clothing. Their arrival at Medina is
likewise subject to great irregularity; and if two tribes happen to be
at war, the town is kept for a month at the mercy of the few substantial
merchants who happen to have a stock of those articles in hand. When I
first reached Medina, no butter was to be had in

[p.377] the market, and corn was fifty per cent dearer than at Yembo;
soon after, it was not to be had at all in the market: at another time
salt failed; the same happened with charcoal; and in general the
provision-market was very badly regulated. In other eastern towns, as at
Mekka and Djidda, a public officer, called Mohteseb, is appointed to
watch over the sale of provisions; to take care that they do not rise to
immoderate prices, and fix a maximum to all the victualling traders, so
that they may have a fair but not exorbitant profit. But this is not the
case at Medina, because the Mohteseb is there without any authority.
Corn is sold twenty per cent dearer in one part of the town than in
another, and the same with every other article, so that foreigners
unacquainted with the ways of the place are made to suffer materially.
During my stay, the communication with Yembo was kept up by a caravan of
about one hundred and fifty camels, which arrived at Medina every
fortnight, and by small parties of Bedouin traders with from five to ten
camels, which arrived every five or six days. The far greater part of
the loads was destined for the army of Tousoun Pasha; the rest consisted
of merchandize and provisions; but the latter were very inadequate to
the wants of the town. I heard from a well-informed person, that the
daily consumption of Medina was from thirty to forty erdebs, or twenty-
five to thirty-five Hedjaz camel-loads. The produce of the fields which
surround the town, is said to be barely sufficient for four months'
consumption; for the rest, therefore, it must depend upon Yembo, or
imports from Egypt. In time of peace there is plenty: but lately, since
the Turkish army has been stationed here, the Bedouins fear to trust
their camels in the hands of the Turks, and the supply has fallen much
below the wants of the town. The inhabitants were put to great
inconvenience on that account, and had greatly reduced their consumption
of corn, and eaten up the last of their stock on hand. Tousoun Pasha had
very imprudently seized a great number of the Bedouins' camels, and
obliged them to accompany his army, which had so terrified them, that,
previous to Mohammed Aly's arrival, famine was apprehended from the want
of beasts of transport. The Pasha endeavoured to restore confidence, and
some of the Bedouins began to return with their beasts.

[p.378] In time of peace, corn caravans arrive also from Nedjed,
principally from that district of it called Kasym; but these were
altogether interrupted. I was informed that the transport trade in
provisions from Yembo had been shut up for several years after the
conquest of Medina by the Wahabys, whose chief, Saoud, wished to favour
his own subjects of Nedjed; and that Medina in the mean time drew all
its supplies from Nedjed, and its own fields. Provisions were now
excessively dear: the lower class lived almost entirely upon dates, and
very coarse barley bread; few could afford a little butter, much fewer
meat. The fruit of the lotus, or Nebek, which ripened in the beginning
of March, induced them to quit the dates, and became almost their sole
nourishment for several months; large heaps of it were seen in the
market, and a person might procure enough to satisfy himself for a
pennyworth of corn, which was usually taken in exchange instead of
money, by the Bedouins, who brought the fruit to the town. The
vegetables cultivated in the gardens are chiefly for the use of
foreigners, and are of very indifferent flavour. Arabs dislike them, and
they are only used by those who have acquired the relish in foreign
countries. Fresh onions, leeks, and garlic, are the only vegetables of
which the Arabs are fond.

The prime article of food at Medina, as I have already stated, is dates.
During the two or three months of the date-harvest, (for this fruit is
not all ripe at the same time, each species having its season), from
July till September, the lower classes feed on nothing else; and during
the rest of the year dried dates continue to be their main nourishment.
The date-harvest is here of the same importance as that of wheat in
Europe, and its failure causes general distress. "What is the price of
dates at Mekka or Medina?" is always the first question asked by a
Bedouin who meets a passenger on the road. Of these dates a considerable
part is brought to Medina from distant quarters, and especially from
Fera, a fertile valley in the possession of the Beni Aamer tribe, where
there are numerous date-groves: it is three or four days' journey from
Medina, and as many from Rabegh in the mountains. The dates are brought
from thence in large baskets, in which they are pressed together into a
paste, as I have already mentioned.

[p.379]Although commercial dealings are pretty universal, yet few of the
inhabitants ostensibly follow them. Most of the people are either
cultivators, or, in the higher classes, landed proprietors, and servants
of the mosque. The possession of fields and gardens is much desired; to
be a land-owner is considered honorable; and the rents of the fields, if
the date-harvest be good, is very considerable. If I may judge from two
instances reported to me, the fields are sold at such a rate, as to
leave to the owner, in ordinary years, an income of from twelve to
sixteen per cent upon his capital, after giving up, as is generally
done, half the produce to the actual cultivators. Last year, however, it
was calculated that their money yielded forty per cent. The middling
classes cannot afford to lay out their small capital in gardens, because
to them sixteen or twenty per cent would be an insufficient return; and,
in the Hedjaz, no person who trades with a trifling fund is contented
with less than fifty per cent annually; and in general they contrive, by
cheating foreigners, to double their capital. Those, therefore, only are
land-owners, who by trade, or by their income from the mosque, and from
hadjys, have already acquired considerable wealth.

The chief support of Medina is from the mosque and the hadjys. I have
already mentioned the Ferrashyn, or servants of the mosque, and their
profits; to them must be added a vast number of people attached to the
temple, whose offices are mere sinecures, and who share in the income of
the Haram; a train of ciceroni or mezowars; and almost every
householder, who lets out apartments to the pilgrims Besides the share
in the income of the mosque, the servants of every class have their
surra or annuity, which is brought from Constantinople and Cairo; and
all the inhabitants besides enjoy similar yearly gifts, which also go by
the name of surra. These stipends, it is true, are not always regularly
distributed, and many of the poorest class, for whom they were
originally destined, are now deprived of them; the sums, however, reach
the town, and are brought into circulation. [Kayd Beg, Sultan of Egypt,
after having, in A.H. 881, rebuilt the mosque, appropriated a yearly
income of seven thousand five hundred erdebs for the inhabitants of the
town, to be sent from Egypt; and Sultan Soleyman ibn Selim allowed five
thousand erdebs for the same purpose. (See Kotobeddyn and Samhoudy.)]

[p.380] families are, in this manner, wholly supported by the surra, and
receive as much as 100l. and 200l sterling per annum, without performing
any duty whatever. The Medinans say, that without these surras the town
would soon be abandoned to the land-owners and cultivators; and this
consideration was certainly the original motive for establishing them,
and the numerous wakfs, or pious foundations, which in all parts of the
Turkish empire are annexed to the towns or mosques. At present the surra
is misapplied, and serves only to feed a swarm of persons in a state of
complete idleness, while the poor are left destitute, and not the
smallest encouragement is given to industry. As to want of industry,
Medina is still more remarkable than Mekka. It wants even the most
indispensable mechanics; and the few that live here are foreigners, and
only settle for a time. There is a single upholsterer, and only one
locksmith in the town; carpenters and masons are so scarce, that to
repair a house, they must be brought from Yembo. Whenever the mosque
requires workmen, they are sent from Cairo, or even from Constantinople,
as was the case during my stay, when a master-mason from the latter
place was occupied in repairing the roof of the building. All the wants
of the town, down to the most trifling articles, are supplied by Egypt.
When I was here, not even earthen water jars were made. Some years ago a
native of Damascus established a manufacture of this most indispensable
article; but he had left the town, and the inhabitants were reduced to
the necessity of drinking out of the half-broken jars yet left, or of
importing others, at a great expense, from Mekka No dying, no woollen
manufactures, no looms, no tanneries nor works in leather, no iron-works
of any kind are seen; even nails and horse-shoes are brought from Egypt
and Yembo. In my account of Mekka, I attributed the general aversion of
the people of the Hedjaz from handicrafts, to their indolence and
dislike of all manual labour. But the same remark is not applicable to
Medina, where the cultivators and gardeners, though not very industrious
in improving their land, are nevertheless a hard-working people, and

[p.381] might apply themselves to occupations in town, without
undergoing greater bodily labour than they endure in their fields. I am
inclined to think that the want of artisans here is to be attributed to
the very low estimation in which they are held by the Arabians, whose
pride often proves stronger than their cupidity, and prevents a father
from educating his sons in any craft. This aversion they probably
inherit from the ancient inhabitants, the Bedouins, who, as I have
remarked, exclude, to this day, all handicraftsmen from their tribes,
and consider those who settle in their encampment as of an inferior
cast, with whom they neither associate nor intermarry. They are
differently esteemed in other parts of the East, in Syria, and in Egypt,
where the corporations of artisans are almost as much respected as they
were in France and Germany during the middle ages. A master craftsman is
fully equal in rank and consideration to a merchant of the second class;
he can intermarry with the respectable families of the town, and is
usually a man of more influence in his quarter, than a merchant who
possesses three times more wealth than himself. The first Turkish
emperors did every thing in their power to favour industry and the arts;
and fifty years ago they still flourished in Syria and Egypt: in the
former country they are now upon the decline, except, perhaps, at
Damascus; in Egypt they are reduced to the lowest state: for, while
Mohammed Aly entices English and Italian workmen into his service, who
labour on his sole account, and none of whom prosper, he oppresses
native industry, by monopolizing its produce, and by employing the
greater part of the workmen himself, at a daily salary thirty per cent
less than they might get, if they were permitted to work on their own
account, or for private individuals.

The only industrious persons found in Medina are the destitute pilgrims,
especially those from Syria, who abound here, and who endeavour by hard
labour, during a few months, to earn money sufficient for the expenses
of their journey homewards. They work only at intervals, and on their
departure the town is often without any artisans for a considerable
time. Whilst I resided in Medina, there was but one man who washed
linen; when he went away, as the Arabian women will rarely condescend to
be so employed, the foreign hadjys

[p.382] were all obliged to wash for themselves. Under these
circumstances a traveller cannot expect to find here the most trifling
comforts; and even money cannot supply his wants. Here is, however, one
class of men, to whom I have already referred in describing Mekka, and
who render themselves equally useful at Medina. I mean the black
pilgrims from Soudan. Few negroes, or Tekayrne, as they are called, come
to Mekka, without visiting Medina also, a town even more venerable in
their estimation than Mekka. The orthodox sect of Malekites, to which
they belong, carry, in general, their respect for Mohammed further than
any of the three other sects; and the negroes, little instructed as they
usually are, may be said to adore the Prophet, placing him, if not on a
level with the Deity, at least very little below him. They approach his
tomb with a terrified and appalled conscience, and with more intense
feelings than when they visit the Kaaba; and they are fully persuaded,
that the prayers which they utter while standing before the window of
the Hedjra, will sooner or later obtain their object. A negro hadjy once
asked me, after a short conversation with him in the mosque, if I knew
what prayers he should recite to make Mohammed appear to him in his
sleep, as he wished to ask him a particular question; and when I
expressed my ignorance, he told me that the Prophet had here appeared to
a great many of his countrymen. These people furnish Medina with fire-
wood, which they collect in the neighbouring mountains, and sell to
great advantage. If none, or only few of them, happen to be at Medina,
no wood can be got even for money. They likewise serve as carriers or
porters; and such of them as are not strong enough for hard work, make
small mats and baskets of date-leaves. They usually live together in
some of the huts of the public place called El Menakh, and remain till
they have earned money enough for their journey home. Very few of them
are beggars; of forty or fifty whom I saw here, only two or three
resorted to mendicity, being unfit for any other vocation. In general
beggars are much less numerous at Medina than at Mekka; and most of the
foreign beggars, as at Mekka, are Indians. Few hadjys come here without
either bringing the necessary funds, or being certain of gaining their
livelihood by labour, the distance of Medina from the sea being much

[p.383] greater than that of Mekka, and the road through the Desert
being dreaded by absolute paupers. It may be calculated that only one-
third of the pilgrims who visit Mekka go also to Medina. The Egyptian
caravan of pilgrims seldom passes by the town. [Whenever the Egyptian
caravan passes by Medina, it is always on its return from Mekka, and
then remains, like the Syrian, for three days only. In going from Cairo
to Mekka, this caravan never visits Medina.] Medina has pilgrims during
the whole year, there being no prescribed season for visiting the tomb;
and they usually stay here about a fortnight or a month. They are in the
greatest number during the months following the pilgrimage to Arafat,
and likewise during the month of Rabya el Thany, on the 12th of which,
the birth-day of Mohammed, or Mouled el Naby, is celebrated.

The Medinans make up for the paucity of beggars in their own town by
going elsewhere to beg. It is a custom with those inhabitants of the
town who have received some education, and can read and write, to make a
mendicant journey in Turkey once or twice in their lives. They generally
repair to Constantinople, where, by means of Turkish hadjys, whom they
have known in their own town, they introduce themselves among the
grandees, plead poverty, and receive considerable presents in clothes
and money, being held in esteem as natives of Medina, and neighbours of
the Prophet's tomb. Some of these mendicants serve as Imams in the
houses of the great. After a residence of a couple of years, they invest
the alms they have collected in merchandize, and thus return with a
considerable capital. There are very few individuals of the above
description at Medina, who have not once made the grand tour of Turkey:
I have seen several of them at Cairo, where they quartered themselves
upon people with whom their acquaintance at Medina had been very slight,
and became extremely disagreeable by their incessant craving and
impudence. There are few large cities in Syria, Anatolia, and European
Turkey, where some of these people are not to be found. For their
travelling purposes, and for the duties incumbent upon them as ciceroni
in their own town, many individuals learn a little Turkish; and it is
their pride to

[p.384] persuade the Turkish pilgrims, that they are Turks, and not
Arabians, however little they may like the former.

The Medinans generally are of a less cheerful and lively disposition
than the Mekkans. They display more gravity and austerity in their
manners, but much less than the northern Turks. They outwardly appear
more religious than their southern neighbours. They are much more rigid
in the observance of their sacred rites, and public decorum is much more
observed at Medina than at Mekka: the morals, however, of the
inhabitants appear to be much upon the same level with those of the
Mekkans; all means are adopted to cheat the hadjys. The vices which
disgrace the Mekkans are also prevalent here; and their religious
austerity has not been able to exclude the use of intoxicating liquors.
These are prepared by the negroes, as well as date-wine, which is made
by pouring water over dates, and leaving it to ferment. On the whole, I
believe the Medinans to be as worthless as the Mekkans, and greater
hypocrites. They, however, wish to approach nearer to the northern
Turkish character; and, for that reason, abandon the few good qualities
for which the Mekkans may be commended. In giving this general character
of the Medinans, I do not found it merely on the short experience I had
of them in their own town, but upon information acquired from many
individuals, natives of Medina, whom I met in every part of the Hedjaz.
They appear to be as expensive as the Mekkans. There were only two or
three people in Medina reputed to be worth ten or twelve thousand pounds
sterling, half of which might be invested in landed property, and the
other half in trade. The family of Abd el Shekour was reckoned the
richest. The other merchants have generally very small capitals, from
four to five hundred pounds only; and most of the people attached to the
mosque, or who derive their livelihood from stipends, and from pilgrims,
spend, to the last farthing, their yearly income. They outwardly appear
much richer than the Mekkans, because they dress better; but, not the
slightest comparison can be made between the mass of property in this
town and that in Mekka.

In their own houses, the people of Medina are said to live poorly, with
regard to food; but their houses are well furnished, and their

[p.385] expense in dress is very considerable. Slaves are not so
numerous here as at Mekka; many, however, from Abyssinia are found here,
and some females are settled, as married women. The women of the
cultivators, and of the inhabitants of the suburbs, serve in the
families of the town's-people, as domestics, principally to grind corn
in the hand-mills. The Medina women behave with great decency, and have
the general reputation of being much more virtuous than those of Mekka
and Djidda.

The families that possess gardens go to great expense in entertaining
their friends, by turns, at their country houses, where all the members,
men and women, of the families invited assemble together. It is said
that this fashion is carried to great excess in spring-time, and that
the Medinans vie with each other in this respect, so that it becomes a
matter of public notoriety, whether such a person has given more or less
country parties, during the season, than his neighbours. A few families
pass the whole year at their gardens; among these was the large family
of a saint, established in a delightful little garden to the south of
the town. This man is greatly renowned for his sanctity, so much so,
that Tousoun Pasha himself once kissed his hands. I paid him a visit,
like many other pilgrims, in the first days of my arrival, and found him
seated in an arched recess or large niche adjoining the house, from
whence he never moved. He was more polite than any saint I had ever
seen, and was not averse to talk of worldly matters. I had heard that he
possessed some historical books, which he would perhaps sell; but upon
inquiry, I learnt from him that he did not trouble himself with any
learning except that of the Law, the Koran, and his language. He gave me
a nargyle to smoke, and treated me with a dish of dates, the produce of
his own garden; and after I had put, on taking leave, a dollar under the
carpet upon which I sat, (an act usual, as it was said, on such an
occasion,) he accompanied me to the garden-gate, and begged me to repeat
my visit.

Smoking nargyles, or the Persian pipe, is as general here as at Mekka;
common pipes are more in use here than in other parts of the Hedjaz, the
climate being colder. The use of coffee is immoderate. In the gardens
fruit can be bought with coffee-beans as well as with

[p.386] money; and the fondness for tea in England and Holland is not
equal to that of the Arabians for coffee.

The people of Medina keep no horses. Except those of the Sheikh el
Haram, and a few of his suite, I believe there is not one horse kept in
this town. In general, these parts of Arabia are poor in horses, because
there is no fine pasture for them: the Bedouins to the N. and E. of the
town, in the Desert, have, on the contrary, large breeds. The gardens of
Medina might afford pasturage; and formerly, when there were warlike
individuals in the town, horses were kept by them, and expeditions
planned against Bedouins with whom they happened to be at war. At
present the spirit of the Medinans is more pacific; and the few horses
yet kept when the Wahabys captured the town, were immediately sold by
their owners, to escape the military conscription to which principally
the horsemen in the Wahaby dominions were subjected. Some of the richer
families kept mules, and also dromedaries. Asses are very common,
especially among the cultivators, who bring to town upon them the
produce of their fields. They are of a smaller breed than those of Mekka
and the Hedjaz. The wants of the Turkish army had caused a great
diminution in the number of camels formerly kept by the cultivators, who
sold them, under the apprehension of their being placed in requisition.
The Bedouins of the eastern Desert, at three or four days' journey from
the town, are rich in camels; a strolling party of the horsemen of
Tousoun Pasha sent in, during my stay, seven hundred of them, which they
had taken from a single encampment of the Beni Hetym tribe.

It is not unworthy of remark, that Medina, as far as I know, is the only
town in the East from which dogs are excluded: they are never permitted
to pass the gate into the interior, but must remain in the suburbs. I
was told that the watchmen of the different quarters assemble once a
year to drive out any of those animals that might have crept unperceived
into the town. The apprehension of a dog entering the mosque, and
polluting its sanctity, probably gave rise to their exclusion; they are,
however, tolerated at Mekka.

Among the sheep of this neighbourhood, a small species is noticed with a
white and brown spotted skin; the same species is likewise

[p.387] known about Mekka. It is of a diminutive size: they are bought
up by foreigners, and carried home with them as rarities from the Holy
Land. At Cairo they are kept in the houses of the grandees, who cause
them to be painted red, with henna, and hang a collar with little bells
round their necks, to amuse the children.

I believe the people of Medina have no other times of public rejoicing
than the regular feast-days, except the Mouled el Naby or Prophet's
birth-day, on the twelfth of the month of Rabya el Thany. This is
considered a national festival: all the shops are shut during the day,
and every one appears in his best dress. Early in the morning the olemas
and a number of well-dressed people assemble in the mosque, where one of
the Khatybs, after a short sermon, reads an account of Mohammed's
actions, from his birth to his death; after which the company, at least
the chief people present, are treated with lemonade, or liquorice-water.
The zealous Muselmans pass the night preceding this day in prayer. The
lady of Mohammed Aly Pasha, who, having performed the pilgrimage to
Mekka, came here to visit the tomb, and see her son Tousoun Pasha,
passed the greater part of the night in devotion at the mosque: when she
returned to a house she had taken for that purpose, close by the gate of
the mosque, her son paid her a short visit, and then left her to repose,
while he himself ordered a carpet to be spread in the middle of the
street, and there slept, at the threshold of his mother's dwelling;
offering a testimony of respect and humility which does as much honour
to the son, as to the character of the mother who could inspire him with
such sentiments. The wife of Mohammed Aly is a highly respectable woman,
and very charitable without ostentation. Her son Tousoun I believe to be
the only one of the family, whose breast harbours any noble feeling; the
rest are corrupted by the numerous vices inseparable from a Turkish
grandee: but he has given, in many instances, proofs of elevated
sentiment; and even his enemies cannot deny his valour, generosity,
filial love, and good-nature. We must regret, that he is as much
inferior in intellect to his father and his brother Ibrahim, as he is
superior to them in moral character. His mother had appeared here with
all the pomp of an eastern queen: from her donations to the temple, and

[p.388] the poor, she was regarded by the people as an angel sent from
heaven. She brought to her son presents to the value of about twenty-
five thousand pounds sterling, among which were remarked twelve complete
suits, including every article of dress, from the finest Cashmere shawl
down to the slippers; a diamond ring worth five thousand pounds; and two
beautiful Georgian slaves. In her retinue there was also a Georgian
slave of great beauty and rare accomplishments, whom Mohammed Aly had
lately married at Mekka; but as she had not yet borne any children, she
was considered much inferior in rank to Tousoun's mother, who counted
three Pashas as her own sons. [Ismayl Pasha is the younger brother of the
two mentioned above. It is reported that Ibrahim Pasha is not the son of
Mohammed Aly, but was adopted by him when he married his mother, then
the widow of an Aga of Karala, on the Hellespont, the native town of the
present Pasha of Egypt.] This slave had belonged to the Kadhy of Mekka,
who brought her from Constantinople. Mohammed Aly, who had heard his own
women praise her beauty and accomplishments, obliged the Kadhy, much
against his will, to part with her for the sum of fifty thousand
piastres, and soon after presented her with the marriage contract.

I can say little of any customs peculiar to the Medinans, having had so
few opportunities of mixing with them. I may, however, mention, that in
the honours they pay to the dead, they do not comply with the general
rules observed in the Fast. I believe this to be the only town where
women do not howl and cry on the death of a member of the family. The
contrary practice is too generally known to need repetition here; or
that, in other parts of the Levant, a particular class of women is
called in, on that occasion, whose sole profession is that of howling,
in the most heart-rending accents, for a small sum paid to them by the
hour. There is no such practice here, (though it is known in other parts
of the Hedjaz) and it is even considered disgraceful. The father of a
family died in a house next to that where I lived, and which
communicated with it. His death happened at midnight, and his only boy,
moved by natural feelings, burst into loud lamentations. I then heard
his mother exclaiming, "For God's sake,

[p.389] do not cry: what a shame to cry! You will expose us before the
whole neighbourhood;" and after some time she contrived to quiet her
child. There is also a national custom observed at funerals: the bier,
on issuing from the house of the deceased, is carried upon the shoulders
of some of his relations or friends, the rest of whom follow behind; but
when the procession advances into the street, every by-stander, or
passenger, hastens to relieve the bearers for a moment; some giving way
to others, who press forward to take in their turn the charge, which is
done without stopping. The bier, thus unceasingly passes from shoulders
to shoulders, till it is finally deposited near the tomb. If we could
suppose for a moment, that this simple and affecting custom was the
offspring of true feeling, it would prove much more sensibility than
what is displayed in the funeral pomp with which Europeans accompany
their dead to the grave. But in the East every thing is done according
to ancient custom: it originated, no doubt, in the impulse of feeling,
or a sense of duty and piety in those who introduced it; but has become,
in these days, a mere matter of form.

The women of Medina never wear mourning; in which respect they differ
from those of Egypt. It has been often stated by travellers, that the
people of the East have no mourning dresses; but this is erroneous, as
to Egypt at least, and part of Syria. The men, it is true, never indulge
in this practice, which is prohibited by the spirit of the law; but the
women, in the interior of the house, wear mourning in every part of
Egypt: for this purpose, they first dye their hands blue, with indigo;
they put on a black borko, or face-veil, and thus follow the funeral
through the streets; and if they can afford it, they put on a black
gown, and. even a black shift. They continue to wear their mourning for
seven, or fifteen, or sometimes for forty days.

As to the state of learning, I shall add that the Medinans are regarded
as more accomplished olemas than the Mekkans; though, as I have
mentioned above, there are few, if any, public schools. Several
individuals study the Muselman sciences at Damascus, and Cairo, in both
of which cities there are pious foundations for the purpose. As at Mekka
there is no public book-market, the only books I saw exposed

[p.390] for sale were in some retail clothes-shops near the Bab es'
Salam. There are said to be some fine private libraries; I saw one in
the house of a Sheikh, where at least three thousand volumes were heaped
up; but I could not examine them. As it often happens in the East, these
libraries are all wakf, that is, have been presented to some mosque by
its founder, or entailed upon some private family, so that the books
cannot be alienated. The Wahabys are said to have carried off many loads
of books.

Notwithstanding my repeated inquiries here, as well as at Mekka, I could
never hear of a single person who had composed, or even made short notes
of, the history of his own times, or of the Wahabys. It appeared to me,
on the whole, that literature flourished as little at Medina as in other
parts of the Hedjaz; and that the sole occupation of all was getting
money, and spending it in sensual gratifications.

The language of the Medinans is not so pure as that of the Mekkans; it
approaches much nearer to that of Egypt; and the Syrians established
here continue for several generations to retain a tinge of their native
dialect. It is common to hear natives talk, or at least utter a few
words of Turkish. The gardeners and husbandmen in the neighbourhood have
a dialect and certain phrases of their own, which often afford subject
for ridicule to the inhabitants of the town.


MEDINA, since the commencement of Islam, has always been considered as a
separate principality. When the Hedjaz came under subjection to the
Khalifes, Medina was governed by persons appointed by them, and
independent of the governors of Mekka. When the power of the Khalifes
declined, the chiefs of Medina made themselves independent, and
exercised the same influence in the northern Hedjaz that those of Mekka
did in the southern. Sometimes the chiefs of Mekka succeeded in
extending a temporary authority over Medina; and in the fifteenth and
sixteenth centuries this power seems to have been well established; but
it often became dependent on the mighty Sultans of Egypt, whenever they
assumed the sovereignty over Mekka. When the family of Othman mounted
the Turkish throne, the Emperor Selym I., and his son Soleyman, (who
paid, in general, more attention to the welfare of the Hedjaz than any
of their predecessors,) thought it necessary to acquire a firmer footing
in this town, which is the key of the Hedjaz, and became of so much
importance to the great pilgrim caravans. They sent hither a garrison of
Turkish soldiers, composed of Janissaries and Spahies, under the command
of an Aga, who was to be the military commander of the town; while the
civil government was placed in the hands of the Sheikh el Haram, or Aga
el Haram, the prefect of the temple, who was to correspond regularly

[p.392] with the capital, and to have the same rank as Pashas in other
towns. With the exception of a short period towards the end of the
seventeenth century, when the Sheikh el Haram and the whole town fell
under the jurisdiction of the Sherif of Mekka, this mode of government
continued until the period of the Wahaby invasion. An Aga was at the
head of a few soldiers, some of whom were in possession of the castle;
and the Aga el Haram, who also had a small train of soldiers, was the
nominal chief of the town. But great abuses had prevailed for the last
century: the military commander was no longer chosen by the Sultans, but
by his own people, and there were no longer any Turkish soldiers, but
only the descendants of those originally sent hither, who had
intermarried with the natives. This Aga had become the real master of
the town, and his party was spread over all the first families. He had
no other soldiers than the rabble of the town itself, and was chosen by
the first officers of the garrison, whose employments were still kept up
by their descendants, as they had been settled in former times, although
the greater part of them had renounced the military profession. This
tribe of soldiers, called Merabetein, had been enlarged to strengthen
the Aga's party, and its privileges extended to many other inhabitants
of the town, and foreigners who settled here. They were entitled to
share in the yearly salaries originally fixed by the Sultan, for the pay
of the garrison, and regularly transmitted from Constantinople; and had,
besides, usurped a share of the surra or stipends sent to the mosque and
to the whole town.

The Aga el Haram, together with the Kadhy, who was sent hither annually
from Constantinople, to preside over the tribunal of justice, became,
under the above circumstances, mere ciphers. The former was usually a
eunuch, who knew nothing of Arabic, and who received the appointment
rather in the way of exile, than as a preferment. His income, which he
received from Constantinople, although handsome, did not enable him to
keep up any military guard sufficient to cope with his rival, the Aga of
the town; and he soon found himself only left in the charge of the
temple, and the command of the eunuchs and

[p.393] Ferrashyn. But the Aga of the town himself was not complete
master; several of the chiefs of the different quarters had great
authority; the Sherifs settled here had their own chief, called Sheikh-
es'-Sadat, a man of great power; and thus, much disorder prevailed. The
people of the town, and the gardeners and inhabitants of the suburbs,
were often contending for months together: in the interior of the town
itself bloody affrays often occurred between the inhabitants of the
different quarters, on which occasions they sometimes barricadoed the
streets, and kept up a firing upon each other from the tops of their
houses. Instances are related of people firing even into the mosque upon
their enemies, while engaged in prayer.

Within the last twenty years a man named Hassan had been appointed Aga
of the castle, which gave him the surname of Hassan el Kalay. Born among
the dregs of the people, his great skill and cunning, and determined
hardihood, had raised him to this office. He was a man of a very short
stature and a limping gait, but notwithstanding of great bodily
strength; and his voice, when he was in anger, is said to have terrified
even the boldest. After several years' hard struggle, this man succeeded
in becoming complete master and tyrant of the town: he kept a guard of
town's-people, of Bedouins, and Moggrebyns in his service, and had all
the rabble on his side. He was guilty of the most flagrant acts of
injustice; he oppressed the pilgrims, extorted money from them,

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