THE time has passed (and, probably for ever,) when hadjys or pilgrims, from all regions of the Muselman world, came every year in multitudes, that they might visit devotionally the sacred places of the Hedjaz. An increasing indifference to their religion, and an increase of expense attending the journey, now deter the greater part of the Mohammedans from complying with that law of the Koran, which enjoins to every Moslim who can afford it, the performance of a pilgrimage to Mekka, once at least in his life. To those whom indispensable occupations confine to their homes, the law permits a substitution of prayers; but even with this injunction few people now comply, or it is evaded by giving a few dollars to some hadjy, who, taking from several persons commissions of the same kind, includes all their names in the addition consequently made to the prayers recited by him at the places of holy visit. When Muselman zeal was more ardent, the difficulties of the journey being held to increase the merit of it, became with many an additional incitement to join the caravans, and to perform the whole journey by land; but at present, most of the pilgrims do not join any regular Hadj caravan, but reach Djidda by sea from Egypt, or the Persian Gulf; commercial and lucrative speculations being the chief inducements to this journey.
In 1814, many hadjys had arrived at Mekka, three or four months previous to the prescribed time of the pilgrimage. To pass the Ramadhan in this holy city, is a great inducement with such as can afford the expense, to hasten their arrival, and prolong their residence in it.
About the time when the regular caravans were expected, at least four thousand pilgrims from Turkey, who had come by sea, were already assembled at Mekka, and perhaps half that number from other distant quarters of the Mohammedan world. Of the five or six regular caravans which, formerly, always arrived at Mekka a few days before the Hadj, two only made their appearance this year; these were from Syria and Egypt; the latter composed entirely of people belonging to the retinue of the commander of the Hadj, and his troops; no pilgrims having come by land from Cairo, though the road was safe.
The Syrian caravan has always been the strongest, since the time when the Khalifes, in person, accompanied the pilgrims from Baghdad. It. sets out from Constantinople, and collects the pilgrims of Northern Asia in its passage through Anatolia and Syria, until it reaches Damascus, where it remains for several weeks. During the whole of the route from Constantinople to Damascus, every care is taken for the safety and convenience of the caravan; it is accompanied from town to town by the armed forces of the governors; at every station caravansaries and public fountains have been constructed by former Sultans, to accommodate it on its passage, which is attended so far with continual festivities and rejoicings. At Damascus, it is necessary to prepare for a journey of thirty days, across the Desert to Medina; and the camels which had transported it thus far, must be changed, the Anatolian camel not being able to bear the fatigues of such a journey. Almost every town in the eastern part of Syria furnishes its beasts for the purpose; and the great Bedouin Sheikhs of the frontiers of that country contract largely for camels with the government of Damascus. Their number must be supposed very great, even if the caravan be but thinly attended, when it is considered that besides those carrying water and provisions for the hadjys and soldiers, their horses, and the spare camels brought to supply such as may fail on the road, daily food for the camels themselves must be similarly transported; as well as provisions, which are deposited in castles on the Hadj route, to form a supply for the return. The Bedouins take good care that the camels shall not be overloaded, that the numbers wanted may thus be increased. In 1814, though the caravan consisted of not more than four or five thousand persons, including soldiers and servants, it had fifteen thousand camels. [El Fasy relates that, when the mother of Motasem b’Illah, the last of the Abassides, performed the pilgrimage in A.H. 631, her caravan was composed of one hundred and twenty thousand camels. When Solyman Ibn Abd el Melek performed the pilgrimage in A.H. 97, nine hundred camels were employed in the transport of his wardrobe only. It is observable that none of the Othman Emperors of Constantinople ever performed the pilgrimage in person. The Khalife El Mohdy Abou Abdallah Mohammed expended on his pilgrimage in A.H. 160, thirty millions of dirhems. He carried with him an immense number of gowns to distribute as presents. He built fine houses at every station from Baghdad to Mekka, and caused them to be splendidly furnished; he also erected mile-stones along the whole route, and was the first Khalife who carried snow with him, to cool sherbet on the road, in which he was imitated by many of his successors. Haroun el Rasheid, who performed the pilgrimage nine times, spent, in one of his visits, one million and fifty thousand dynars in presents to the Mekkawys and the poor hadjys. El Melek Nasir eddyn Abou el Maaly, Sultan of Egypt, carried with him, on his pilgrimage in A.H. 719, five hundred camels, for the transport of sweetmeats and confectionary only; and two hundred and eighty for pomegranates, almonds, and other fruits: in his travelling larder were one thousand geese, and three thousand fowls. Vide Makrisi’s Treatise Man Hadj myn el Kholafa.]
The Syrian caravan is very well regulated, though, as in all matters of oriental government, the abuses and exceptions are numerous. The Pasha of Damascus, or one of his principal officers, always accompanies this caravan, and gives the signal for encamping and starting, by firing a musket. On the route, a troop of horsemen ride in front, and another in the rear, to bring up the stragglers. The different parties of hadjys, distinguished by their provinces or towns, keep close together; and each knows its never-varying station in the caravan, which is determined by the geographical proximity of the place from whence it comes. When they encamp, the same order is constantly observed; thus the people from Aleppo always encamp close by those of Homs, &c. This regulation is very necessary to prevent disorder in night-marches. [In our author’s Syrian Travels, (p. 242.) the reader will find some further remarks on this Hadj-caravan, and in the Appendix to that volume (No. 3.) an account of the route between Damascus and Mekka. — ED.]
The hadjys usually contract for the journey with a Mekowem, one who speculates in the furnishing of camels and provisions to the Hadj.
From twenty to thirty pilgrims are under the care of the same Mekowem, who has his tents and servants, and saves the hadjys from all fatigue and trouble on the road: their tent, coffee, water, breakfast, and dinner are prepared for them, and they need not take the slightest trouble about packing and loading. If a camel should die, the Mekowem must find another; and, however great may be the want of provisions on the road, he must furnish his passengers with their daily meals. In 1814, the hire of one Mekowem, and the boarding at his table, was one hundred and fifty dollars from Damascus to Medina, and fifty dollars more from Medina to Mekka. Out of these two hundred dollars, sixty were given by the Mekowem to a man who led the camel by the halter during the night-marches; a precaution necessary in so great a caravan, when the rider usually sleeps, and the animal might otherwise easily wander from the path. In addition to the stipulated hire, the Mekowem always receives some presents from his pilgrims. On the return to Syria, the sum is something less, as many camels then go unloaded.
Few travellers choose to perform the journey at their own risk, or upon their own camels; for if they are not particularly protected by the soldiery, or the chief of the caravan, they find it difficult to escape the ill-treatment of the Mekowem at watering-places, as well as on the march; the latter endeavouring to check, by every means in their power, the practice of traveling independent of them, so that it is rarely done except by rich hadjys, who have the means of forming a party of their own amounting to forty or fifty individuals.
At night, torches are lighted, and the daily distance is usually performed between three o’clock in the afternoon, and an hour or two after sun-rise on the following day. The Bedouins who carry provisions for the troops, travel by day only, and in advance of the caravan, the encampment of which they pass in the morning, and are overtaken in turn, and passed by the caravan on the following night, at their own resting-place. The journey with these Bedouins is less fatiguing than with the great body of the caravan, as a regular night’s rest is obtained; but their bad character deters most pilgrims from joining them.
At every watering-place on the route are a small castle and a large tank, at which the camels water. The castles are garrisoned by a few persons, who remain during the whole year to guard the provisions deposited there. It is at these watering-places, which belong to the Bedouins, that the Sheikhs of the tribes meet the caravan, and receive the accustomed tribute. Water is plentiful on the route: the stations are no where more distant than eleven or twelve hours’ march; and in winter, pools of rain-water are frequently found. Those pilgrims who can travel with a litter, or on commodious camel-saddles, may sleep at night, and perform the journey with little inconvenience; but of those whom poverty, or the desire of soon acquiring a large sum of money, induces to follow the caravan on foot, or to hire themselves as servants, many die on the road from fatigue.
The Egyptian caravan, which starts from Cairo, is under the same regulations as the Syrian, but seldom equals the latter in numbers, being composed of Egyptians only, besides the military escort. Its route is more dangerous and fatiguing than that of the Syrian caravan; the road along the shore of the Red Sea leading through the territories of wild and warlike tribes of Bedouins, who frequently endeavour to cut off a part of the caravan by open force. The watering-places too are much fewer on this route than on the other; three days frequently intervening between the wells, which are, besides, seldom copious, and, with the exception of two or three, are of bad brackish water. In 1814, this caravan was composed of soldiers only with the retinue of the sacred camel, and some public officers; all the Egyptian pilgrims having preferred taking the route by Suez. In 1816, several grandees of Cairo joined the Hadj, one of whom had one hundred and ten camels for the transport of his baggage and retinue, and eight tents: his travelling expenses in going and coming must have amounted to ten thousand pounds. There were also about five hundred peasants, with their women, from upper and lower Egypt, who were less afraid of the fatigues and dangers of the Desert than of the Sea. I saw with them a party of public women and dancing-girls, whose tents and equipage were among the most splendid in the caravan. Female hadjys of a similar class accompany the Syrian caravan also.
The Persian Hadj, which used to set out from Baghdad, and come through Nedjed to Mekka, was discontinued about the time when the Wahabys stopped the Syrian Hadj. After Abdullah ibn Saoud had made peace with Tousoun Pasha in 1815, it ventured to cross the Desert, and passed by Derayeh unmolested; but within four days’ journey of Mekka, it was attacked by the Beni Shammar, a tribe which had remained neuter during the war between Tousoun and the Wahabys. The caravan then returned to Derayeh; through the intercession of Saoud, the goods of which it had been plundered were restored; and he sent a party of his own people to escort it to the holy city.
The Persian caravan is usually escorted by the Ageyl Arabs, of Baghdad. As its pilgrims are known to be sectaries, they are exposed to great extortions on the road: Saoud exacted a heavy capitation-tax from them, as did Sherif Ghaleb at Mekka, amounting in latter times to thirty sequins per head. Persian hadjys are all persons of property, and no pilgrims suffer so much imposition as they during the whole route. Great numbers of them come by sea: they embark at Bassora for Mokha, and if they fall in with the trade-wind, run straight to Djidda; if not, they form themselves into a caravan, and come by land along the coast of Yemen. In 1814, when I was present at the Hadj, the few Persians who came by land, had passed through Baghdad to Syria, and had followed the Syrian caravan, accompanied by Baghdad camel-drivers.
It deserves notice here, that the Persians were not always permitted to come to the holy city; being notorious heretics, who conceal their doctrines only during the Hadj, that they may not give offence to the Sunnys. In 1634, a few years after the temple of Mekka had been rebuilt, Sultan Murad IV. commanded that no Persian of the sect of Aly should be allowed to perform the pilgrimage, or enter the Beittullah. This prohibition was complied with for several years; but the money expended by the Persians soon re-opened the way to Arafat and the Kaaba. We learn from Asamy, that, in 1625, a sectary of Aly was impaled alive at Mekka, because he would not abjure his creed.
The Moggrebyn Hadj caravan has for many years ceased to be regular. It is usually accompanied by a relative of the King of Morocco, and proceeds from his residence by slow marches towards Tunis and Tripoly, collecting additional pilgrims in every district through which it passes. Its route from Tripoly is along the shores of the Syrtis to Derne, and from thence along the coast of Egypt, passing either by Alexandria, or taking the direction of the Natron lakes straight for Cairo, from whence it follows the common pilgrim-route. This caravan returning from Mekka always visits Medina, which the Egyptian Hadj never does, and sometimes extends its route by land as far as Jerusalem. Few troops accompany it; but its pilgrims are well armed, and ready to defend themselves: of the two other great caravans, no body fights but the escort.
The last Moggrebyn caravan passed through Egypt in 1811; the Wahabys permitted them to visit Mekka, as they saw that they were free from those scandalous practices with which they upbraided the Egyptians and Syrians; but the caravan experienced many misfortunes on its return, from enemies, and from a want of guides, and provisions, in consequence of which many of its people died. The pilgrims from Barbary arrive now usually by sea at Alexandria, and re-embark at Suez, in parties of fifty or a hundred at a time. Although poorly dressed, they have generally sufficient money to defray their expenses, and few of them are beggars; of this class, however, I saw a small party, Arabs from Draa, on the S.E. side of Mount Atlas, who had set out with the Egyptian caravan by land in September, 1816. They told me that they had obtained a. free passage by sea from Tunis to Alexandria. One of them was a Bedouin of the Shilouh nation, whose encampment, when he left it, was at twenty days’ journey from Tombuctou.
In the Moggrebyn caravan also are generally found some natives of the island of Djerba, or Girba, who are strongly suspected of being sectaries of Aly; and some of whom are often stationary at Cairo, inhabiting the quarter called Teyloun, and keeping themselves wholly separate from all other Moggrebyns established in the town. But the far greater part of the caravan is from the kingdom of Marocco.
I believe that two thousand is the largest yearly number of Barbary pilgrims. The last caravans comprised altogether from six to eight thousand men.
Two Yemen pilgrim caravans used to arrive at Mekka, in former times, by land. The one called Hadj el Kebsy, started from Sada, in Yemen, and took its course along the mountains to Tayf and to Mekka. Two itineraries of this caravan, with some notices on it, will be found in the Appendix. The other, which was formed of natives of Yemen, and of Persians and Indians who had arrived in the harbours of that country, came along the coast. This caravan was discontinued about 1803, and has not yet been re-established. It was once considerable, and rich in merchandize and coffee; and sometimes enjoyed the honour of being accompanied by the Imams of Yemen. Like the Syrian and Egyptian caravans, it had a particular place assigned for its camp near Mekka, where a large stone tank was built to supply it with water.
I have seen the route of an Indian pilgrim caravan, laid down in several maps as starting from Maskat, and coming by Nedjed to Mekka; but I could obtain no information respecting it; that such, however, existed formerly, appears from the frequent mention of it made by the historian Asamy. Those persons whom I questioned assured me that no such caravan had arrived within their memory; but I believe that, in the time of peace, Indian, Persian, and Arab beggars, in small parties, sometimes arrive in the Hedjaz by the above route.
Before the power of the Sherifs was broken by the chief Sherif Serour, the former extorted from every caravan that came to Mekka considerable sums, besides the surra to which they were entitled. As soon as they heard of the near approach of a caravan, they issued from Mekka with all their armed retinue and their Bedouin friends, and often disputed with the leaders of the caravan for several days before the amount of the tribute was settled.
To the regular caravans above mentioned, must be added large bodies of Bedouins, which resort to Mekka, during peace, from every part of the Desert; for even among the least religious Bedouins, the title of hadjy is respected: Nedjed sends its pilgrims, as do also the Southern Bedouins. When the Wahabys were in possession of Mekka, hosts of these sectaries came to Arafat, as much, perhaps, for the purpose of paying their court to the chief, who, it was known, liked to see his Arabs collected there, as from religious motives. The last time the Wahabys performed the Hadj was in 1811, shortly after the first defeat of Tousoun Pasha at Djedeyde: they were accompanied by large bodies of Bedouins of Kahtan, Asyr, with others from the most interior part of the Desert. The plunder taken from the Turkish army was sold to the Mekkawys in the market at Arafat. I shall here observe that Aly Bey el Abassy has made a strange mistake with respect to the host of Wahabys, whom he saw entering Mekka at the time of the pilgrimage; for he fancied that they came to take possession of the town, and flattered himself that he was present at the first conquest of Mekka by the Wahabys, while every child in the place could have informed him that this event happened three years before his arrival in the Hedjaz.
At present, as I have already mentioned, most of the hadjys arrive by sea at Djidda: those who come from the north embark at Suez or Cosseir, and among them are a large proportion of the Barbary pilgrims, many Turks from Anatolia and European Turkey, Syrians, and numerous dervishes from Persia, Tartary, and the realms watered by the Indus. The want of shipping on the Red Sea, occasioned by the increased demand for ships to accommodate the Turkish army of the Hedjaz, renders the passage precarious; and they sometimes lose the opportunity, and arrive too late for the pilgrimage, as happened to a party in 1814, who reached Mekka three days after the Hadj, having been long detained at Suez. From the bad quality of the vessels, and their crowded state, the passage is very disagreeable, and often dangerous. Nothing has yet been done by Mohammed Aly Pasha to make this voyage more commodious to the pilgrims; but, on the contrary, be has laid a tax upon them, by forcing a contract for their passage to Djidda at a high price, (it was eighteen dollars a head in 1814), with his governor at Suez, who distributed them on board the Arab ships, and paid to the masters of the vessels only six dollars per head. Formerly hadjys were permitted to carry with them from Suez as great a quantity of provisions as they chose, part of which they afterwards sold in the Hedjaz to some profit; but at present none can embark with more than what is barely sufficient for his own consumption during the pilgrimage. The advantage of carrying along with them their provisions, chiefly butter, flour, biscuits, and dried flesh, purchased at cheap prices in Egypt, for the whole journey, was a principal reason for preferring a sea voyage; for those who go by land must purchase all their provisions at Mekka, where the prices are high.
If the foreign pilgrims, on their arrival at Cairo, cannot hear of any ships lying in the harbour of Suez, they often pursue their way up the Nile as far as Genne, and from thence cross the Desert to Cosseir, from whence it is but a short voyage to Djidda. In returning from the Hedjaz, this Cosseir route is preferred by the greater part of the Turkish hadjys. The natives of Upper Egypt go by Cosseir; likewise many negro pilgrims, after having followed the banks of the Nile from Sennar down to Genne. The usual fare for hadjys from Cosseir to Djidda, is from six to eight dollars.
In the last days of the Mamelouks, when they held possession of Upper Egypt, while the lower was conquered by Mohammed Aly, many Turkish hadjys who repaired to the Hedjaz in small parties, though it was then in the hands of the Wahabys, suffered much illtreatment from the Mamelouks, on their return to Egypt; many of them were stripped and slain in their passage down the Nile. The sanguinary Greek, Hassan Beg el Yahoudy, boasted of having himself killed five hundred of them. These massacres of inoffensive pilgrims furnished Mohammed Aly with an excuse for his treachery in putting the Mamelouks to death at the castle of Cairo.
Other pilgrims arrive by sea from Yemen and the East India, namely, Mohammedan Hindous, and Malays; Cashmerians, and people from Guzerat; Persians, from the Persian Gulf; Arabians, from Bassora, Maskat, Oman, Hadramaut; and those from the coasts of Melinda and Mombaza, who are comprised under the generic name of the people of the Sowahel, i.e. the level coast; Abyssinian Moslims, and many negro pilgrims, who come by the same route. All Moslims dwelling on the coasts of the ocean are certain of finding, towards the period of the Hadj, some ship departing from a neighbouring harbour for the Red Sea; but the greater number arrive with the regular Indian fleet in May, and remain at Mekka or Medina till the time of the Hadj; soon after which, they embark on board country ships at Djidda for Yemen, where they wait till the period of the trade-winds to pass the Bab el Mandeb. Multitudes of beggars come to Mekka from the above-mentioned countries; they get a free passage from charitable individuals in their own country, or the cost of it is defrayed by those who employ them as their proxies in performing the Hadj; but when they land, they are thrown entirely upon the charity of other hadjys; and the alms they collect, must serve to carry them back to their homes.
Few pilgrims, except the mendicants, arrive without bringing some productions of their respective countries for sale; and this remark is applicable as well to the merchants, with whom commercial pursuits are the main object, as to those who are actuated by religious zeal for to the latter, the profits derived from selling a few native articles at Mekka, diminish, in some degree, the heavy expenses of the journey. The Moggrebyns, for example, bring their red bonnets and woollen cloaks; the European Turks, shoes and slippers, hardware, embroidered stuffs, sweetmeats, amber, trinkets of European manufacture, knit silk purses, &c.; the Turks of Anatolia bring carpets, silks, and Angora shawls; the Persians, cashmere shawls and large silk handkerchiefs; the Afghans, tooth-brushes, called Mesouak Kattary, made of the spongy boughs of a tree growing in Bokhara, beads of a yellow soap-stone, and plain, coarse shawls, manufactured in their own country; the Indians, the numerous productions of their rich and extensive region; the people of Yemen, snakes for the Persian pipes, sandals, and various other works in leather; and the Africans bring various articles adapted to the slave-trade. The hadjys are, however, often disappointed in their expectations of gain; want of money makes them hastily sell their little adventures at the public auctions, and often obliges them to accept very low prices.
Of all the poor pilgrims who arrive in the Hedjaz, none bear a more respectable character for industry than the Negroes, or Tekrourys, as they are called here. All the poorer class of Indians turn beggars as soon as they are landed at Djidda. Many Syrians and Egyptians follow the same trade; but not so the Negroes. I have already stated in a former journal, that the latter reach the Hedjaz by the three harbours of Massouah, Souakin, and Cosseir. Those who come by Sennar and Abyssinia to Massoua, are all paupers. The small sum of one dollar carries them from Massoua to the opposite coast of Yemen; and they usually land at Hodeyda. Here they wait for the arrival of a sufficient number of their countrymen, to form a small caravan, and then ascend the mountains of Yemen, along the fertile valleys of which, inhabited by hospitable Arabs, they beg their way to Djidda or to Mekka. [In 1813, a party of Tekrourys, about sixty in number, having taken that road, the Arabs of those mountains, who are Wahabys, and who had often seen black slaves among the Turkish soldiers, conceived that the negro hadjys were in the habit of entering into the service of the Turks. To prevent the party then passing from being ever opposed to them, they waylaid the poor Tekrourys on the road, and killed many of them.] If rich enough to spare two dollars, they obtain, perhaps, a passage from Massoua direct to Djidda, where they meet with such of their countrymen as may have landed there from Souakin or Cosseir. Immediately on their arrival at Djidda or Mekka, they apply themselves to labour: some serve as porters, for the transport of goods and corn from the ships to the warehouses; others hire themselves to clean the court-yards, fetch wood from the neighbouring mountains, for the supply of which the inhabitants of Djidda and Mekka are exclusively indebted to them, as none of their own lazy poor will undertake that labour, although four piastres a day may be gained by it. At Mekka, they make small hearths of clay, (kanoun,) which they paint with yellow and red; these are bought by the hadjys, who boil their coffee-pots upon them. Some manufacture small baskets and mats of date-leaves, or prepare the intoxicating drink called bouza; and others serve as water-carriers: in short, when any occasion requires manual labour, a Tekroury from the market is always employed. If any of them is attacked by disease, his companions attend upon him, and defray his expenses. I have seen very few of them ask for charity, except on the first days after their arrival, before they have been able to obtain employment. From Mekka, they either travel by land, or sometimes make a sea voyage by way of Yembo to Medina, where they again supply the town with fire-wood. Indeed, the hadjys would be much at a loss in the Hedjaz, if they could not command the laborious services of these blacks. During the Wahaby conquest, they continued to perform the pilgrimage; and it is said that Saoud expressed a particular esteem for them. [Makrisi states, in his treatise on the Khalifes who performed the Hadj, that in A.H. 724, a negro king called Mousa arrived at Cairo on his way to Mekka, and was splendidly entertained by Kalaoun, then Sultan of Egypt. He had with him, according to Makrisi, fourteen thousand chosen female slaves.]
When these negroes have completed the Hadj, and the visit to Mekka, they repair to Djidda, where they continue to work till an opportunity offers of sailing to Souakin; for very few, if any, return by way of Abyssinia. On leaving the Hedjaz, they all possess a sufficient sum of money, saved from the profits of their industry, to purchase some small adventure, or, at least, to provide, on their reaching Souakin, for a more comfortable passage through the Desert than that which they experienced on their outward journey, and then proceed homewards by Shendy and Cordofan. Many of them, however, instead of returning on the completion of the pilgrimage, disperse over Arabia, visit the mosque at Jerusalem, or Ibrahim’s (Abraham’ s) tomb at Hebron, and thus remain absent from their home for many years, subsisting always upon the product of their own labour.
The benefactors to the Kaaba have enriched the temple of Mekka, and the idle persons employed in it; but no one has thought of forming any establishment for facilitating the pilgrimage of the poor negroes and Indians, or of procuring for them a free passage across the gulf to the Hedjaz; the expense of which, amounting to a dollar or two, is that which they feel most heavily. They often arrive in the harbours of the African side of the gulf, after having spent the little they had taken with them from home, or having been robbed of it on the journey; and finding, perhaps, no means there of earning as much as will pay their passage across the Red Sea, are obliged to wait till the return of their richer companions from the Hedjaz, who charitably pay for their passage.
The poor Indians afford a complete contrast, both in appearance and character, to the negroes: more wretched countenances can hardly be imagined; they seem to have lost not only all energy, but even hope. With bodies which appear scarcely capable of withstanding a gust of wind, and voices equally feeble, they would be worthy objects of commiseration, did not daily experience prove that they delight to appear in this plight, because it secures to them the alms of the charitable, and exempts them from labour. The streets of Mekka are crowded with them; the most decrepid make their doleful appeals to the passenger, lying at full length on their backs in the middle of the street; the gates of the mosque are always beset with them; every coffee-house and water-stand is a station for some of them; and no hadjy can purchase provisions in the markets, without being importuned by Indians soliciting a portion of them. I saw among them one of those devotees who are so common in the north of India and in Persia: one of his arms was held up straight over his head, and so fixed by long habit, that it could not be placed in any other situation. From the curiosity which he excited, I was led to suppose that such characters seldom find their way to the Hedjaz.
Dervishes of every sect and order in the Turkish empire are found among the pilgrims; many of them madmen, or at least assuming the appearance of insanity, which causes them to be much respected by the hadjys, and fills their pockets with money. The behaviour of some of them is so violent, and at the same time so cunning, that even the least charitably disposed hadjys give willingly something to escape from them. They mostly come from other countries; for among the Arabians themselves there are fewer crazy of these people than in other parts of the east. Egypt chiefly abounds with them; and almost every village in the valley of the Nile furnishes some Masloub, or reputed madman, whom the inhabitants regard as an inspired being, and a blessing sent to them from heaven. [In 1813, the Christian community of Gous, in Upper Egypt, had the honour of possessing an insane youth, who walked about the bazars quite naked. But the Moslims of the place growing jealous, seized him one night, and converted him by circumcision into a Mohammedan saint.]
The arrival of strangers from all parts of the Mohammedan world, from Tombuctou to Samarkand, and from Georgia to Borneo, would render Djidda a most desirable residence for an inquisitive European traveller, who, by affording assistance to poor hadjys, and spending a small sum in provisions for them, would attract large numbers to his house, and might thus collect much information respecting the most distant and unknown parts of Africa and Asia. All, except the higher classes of Mekkawys, let out their houses during the Hadj, and demand from their under-tenants as much for a few weeks or months as they pay to the proprietor for a whole year. I paid for one room with a small kitchen and a by-place for my slave, fifteen dollars for six weeks, which equalled the annual rent of the whole house received by the landlord; and I should have been obliged to pay the same price if I had taken it only during the fortnight preceding and following the Hadj. The house in which I hired these rooms was divided into several lodgings, and was let altogether to different hadjys at one hundred and twenty dollars, the owners having retired into apartments so mean that strangers would not occupy them.
Of the numerous pilgrims who arrive at Mekka before the caravan, some are professed merchants; many others bring a few articles for sale, which they dispose of without trouble. They then pass the interval of time before the Hadj very pleasantly; free from cares and apprehensions, and enjoying that supreme happiness of an Asiatic, the dolce far niente[.] Except those of a very high rank, the pilgrims live together in a state of freedom and equality. They keep but few servants: many, indeed, have none, and divide among themselves the various duties of house-keeping, such as bringing the provisions from market and cooking them, although accustomed at home to the services of an attendant. The freedom and oblivion of care which accompany travelling, render it a period of enjoyment among the people of the East as among Europeans; and the same kind of happiness results from their residence at Mekka, where reading the Koran, smoking in the streets or coffee-houses, praying or conversing in the mosque, are added to the indulgence of their pride in being near the holy house, and to the anticipation of the honours attached to the title of hadjy for the remainder of their lives; besides the gratification of religious feelings, and the hopes of futurity, which influence many of the pilgrims. The hadjys who come by the caravans pass their time very differently. As soon as they have finished their tedious journey, they must undergo the fatiguing ceremonies of visiting the Kaaba and Omra; immediately after which, they are hurried away to Arafat and Mekka, and, still heated from the effects of the journey, are exposed to the keen air of the Hedjaz mountains under the slight and inadequate covering of the ihram: then returning to Mekka, they have only a few days left to recruit their strength, and to make their repeated visits to the Beitullah, when the caravan sets off on its return; and thus the whole pilgrimage is a severe trial of bodily strength, and a continual series of fatigues and privations. This mode of visiting the holy city is, however, in accordance with the opinions of many most learned Moslim divines, who thought that a long residence in the Hedjaz, however meritorious the intention, is little conducive to true belief, since the daily sight of the holy places weakened the first impressions made by them. Notwithstanding the general decline of Muselman zeal, there are still found Mohammedans whose devotion induces them to visit repeatedly the holy places. I knew Turks established at Cairo, who, even while the Wahaby faith predominated in the Hedjaz, went every year by way of Cosseir to Mekka; and there are a few individuals who reside constantly in that city, that they may pass the remainder of their days in pious duties and abstraction from the world. During my stay, a Turkish grandee arrived from Constantinople; he had been Kahwadjy Bashy to Sultan Selym; and the present Grand Signior had permitted him to go, that he might die in the sacred territory, where his arrival was announced by princely donations to the mosque.
The Syrian and Egyptian caravans always arrive at fixed periods; generally a day or two before the departure of the Hadj for Arafat. Both caravans usually pass by Beder, on the same day, or with an interval of one day only. The Syrian caravan coming from Medina, and the Egyptian from Yembo el Nakhel, prosecute their route from Beder to Mekka, at a short distance from each other. On the 5th of the month of Zul Hadj, A.H. 1229, or the 21st of November, 1814, the approach of the Syrian caravan was announced by one of its Mekowem, who came galloping into the town, to win the prize which is always awarded to the Sabbák, or him who brings the first tidings of the safe arrival of that caravan. The loud acclamations of the mob followed him to the governor’s house, where his horse expired the moment he dismounted. The news was the more important, as nothing had been heard of this Hadj, and rumours had even been circulated of the Bedouins having plundered it on the road to the north of Medina. Two hours after, many other persons belonging to it arrived; and in the night the whole body came up, and encamped, with the Pasha of Damascus at their head, in the plain of Sheikh Mahmoud.
Early the next morning, the Egyptian caravan also arrived. The heavy baggage and the camels were sent to the usual place of encampment of the Egyptian Hadj, in the Moabede; but the Mahmal, or holy camel, remained at Sheikh Mahmoud, that it might pass from thence in procession next day through the town. Mohammed Aly Pasha arrived unexpectedly this morning from Tayf, to be present at the Hadj, and to inspect the cavalry which had come with the Egyptian caravan, a reinforcement that strongly excited his hopes of success against the Wahabys. He was dressed in a very handsome ihram, having two large entirely white cashmirene shawls wrapped round his loins and shoulders: his head was bare; but an officer held over it an umbrella to protect him from the sun, while riding through the streets. On the same morning, all the hadjys resident at Mekka took the ihram at their own lodgings, with the usual ceremonies, preparatory to their setting out for Arafat; and at mid-day they assembled in the mosque, where a short sermon was preached on the occasion. The hadjys who had come with the caravan had already taken the ihram at Asfan, two stations in advance of Mekka; but a great number of them, especially the servants and camel-drivers, did not throw off their ordinary dresses, and even appeared in them at Arafat, without causing either surprise or indignation. There is no religious police or inquisition here; and every body is left to the dictates of his conscience, either to observe or neglect the precepts of the canonical law.
Great bustle prevailed this evening in the town. Every body was preparing for his journey to Arafat; Syrian hadjys came to engage lodgings, to inquire about the state of the markets, and to pay their first visits to the Kaaba. A number of pedlars and petty shopkeepers left the town to establish themselves at Arafat, and to be ready there for the accommodation of the pilgrims. A number of camel-drivers from Syria and Egypt led their unloaded camels through the streets, offering to let them out to the hadjys going to Arafat. The rate of hire this year was very moderate, on account of the great number of beasts of burden: I engaged two of these camels, for the journey of four days to Arafat and back again, for three dollars.
On the 8th of Zul Hadj, early in the morning, the Syrian Hadj passed in procession through the town, accompanied by all its soldiers, and carrying the Mahmal in front. All its baggage was left at Sheikh Mahmoud, excepting the tents that were to be pitched at Arafat. Most of the hadjys were mounted in the Shebrye, a sort of palankeen placed upon the camel. The great people, and the Pasha of Damascus himself, rode in takhtrouans, a kind of closed [l]itter or box carried by two camels, one before and the other behind, and forming a very commodious conveyance, except that it is necessary always to have a ladder, by means of which one may mount or descend. The camels’ heads were decorated with feathers, tassels, and bells; but their heads, bent down towards the ground, showed how much they were fatigued by their journey. While these passed, the streets were lined by people of all classes, who greeted the caravan with loud acclamations and praise. The martial music of the Pasha of Damascus, a dozen of fine caparisoned horses led in front of his litter, and the rich takhtrouans in which his women rode, particularly attracted attention.
Soon after the Syrians had passed, the Egyptian procession followed, consisting of its Mahmal or sacred camel, (for each of the caravans carries one,) and the Shebryes of the public officers, who always accompany the Hadj; but not a single private pilgrim was to be seen in its suite. The good appearance of the soldiers who were with them, the splendour of the Mahmal, and of the equipage of the Emir el Hadj, who was a commander of the Turkish horsemen called Delhis, drew from the Mekkawys many signs of approbation, such as had been given to those who immediately preceded them. Both caravans continued their route to Arafat without stopping.
Before mid-day, all the hadjys who had resided for some time at Mekka, likewise mounted their camels, and crowded the streets as they pressed forward to follow the Hadj. They were joined by the far greater part of the population of Mekka, who make it a rule to go every year to Arafat; and by a similar portion of the population of Djidda, who had been assembled here for some time. During five or six days, the gates of Djidda, thus deserted by so many people, remain shut.
I left my lodgings on foot, after mid-day, with a companion and a slave-boy mounted on two camels, which I had hired from a Syrian driver, a native of Homs. It is thought meritorious to make the six hours’ journey to Arafat on foot, particularly if the pilgrim goes barefooted. Many hadjys did so; and I preferred this mode, because I had led a very sedentary life for some months. We were several hours before we could reach the outskirts of the town beyond the Moabede, so great was the crowd of camels; and many accidents happened. Of the half-naked hadjys, all dressed in the white ihram, some sat reading the Koran upon their camels; some ejaculated loud prayers; whilst others cursed their drivers, and quarrelled with those near them, who were choking up the passage. Beyond the town the road widens, and we passed on through the valleys, at a very slow march, for two hours, to Wady Muna, in the narrow entrance of which great confusion again occurred. The law enjoins that the hadjys shall recite five prayers at Muna, Mohammed having always done so; that is to say, that they shall arrive there at noon, in time for the mid-day prayer, and remaining until the next morning, shall perform the prayers of the Aszer, of Mogreb, and of Ashe, and that of the dawn on the ensuing day. The inconvenience, however, arising from a delay on the route has led to the neglect of this precept for some time past; and the Hadj now passes Muna, on its way to Arafat, without halting.
In advance of Muna, we had the mosque of Mozdelife to our right, whither many pilgrims went to recite the Salat el Aszer and Salat el Mogreb; but the caravan continued its march. Beyond Mozdelife, we again entered the mountains by the pass called El Mazoumeyn, on the eastern side of which we issued towards the plain of Arafat. Here the pilgrims passed between the two pillars called Alameyn, and, on approaching the vicinity of Djebel Arafat, dispersed over the plain in search of their place of encampment. I reached the camp about three hours after sun-set; but the last stragglers did not arrive till midnight. Numberless fires were seen lighted on an extent of ground of three or four miles in length; and high and brilliant clusters of lamps marked the different places of encampment of Mohammed Aly, Soleyman Pasha, and the Emir el Hadj of the Egyptian caravan. Hadjys were seen in every direction wandering among the tents in search of their companions, whom they had lost in the confusion on the road; and it was several hours before the noise and clamour had subsided. Few persons slept during that night: the devotees sat up praying, and their loud chants were particularly distinguished on the side of the Syrian encampment; the merry Mekkawys formed themselves into parties, singing the jovial songs called djok, accompanied by clapping of hands; and the coffee-houses scattered over the plain were crowded the whole night with customers.
The night was dark and cold, and a few drops of rain fell. I had formed a resting-place for myself by means of a large carpet tied to the back part of a Mekkawy’s tent; and having walked about for the greater part of the night, I had just disposed myself to sleep, when two guns, fired by the Syrian and Egyptian Hadj, announced the approaching dawn of the day of pilgrimage, and summoned the faithful to prepare for their morning prayers.
To illustrate the following account, a plan of Arafat is annexed; and the figures and marks of reference which it contains are explained below. [not included]
At sun-rise on the 9th of Zul Hadj, every pilgrim issued from his tent, to walk over the plains, and take a view of the busy crowds assembled there. Long streets of tents, fitted up as bazars, furnished all kinds of provisions. The Syrian and Egyptian cavalry were exercised by their chiefs early in the morning, while thousands of camels were seen feeding upon the dry shrubs of the plain all round the camp. I walked to Mount Arafat, to enjoy from its summit a more distinct view of the whole. This granite hill, which is also called Djebel er’ Rahme, or the Mountain of Mercy, rises on the north-east side of the plain, close to the mountains which encompass it, but separated from them by a rocky valley; it is about a mile, or a mile and a half in circuit; its sides are sloping, and its summit is nearly two hundred feet above the level of the plain. On the eastern side broad stone steps lead up to the top, and a broad unpaved path, on the western, over rude masses of granite, with which its declivity is covered. After mounting about forty steps, we find a spot a little on the left, called Modaa Seydna Adam, or the place of prayer of our Lord Adam, where, it is related, that the father of mankind used to stand while praying; for here it was, according to Mohammedan tradition, that the angel Gabriel first instructed Adam how to adore his Creator. A marble slab, bearing an inscription in modern characters, is fixed in the side of the mountain. On reaching about the sixtieth step, we come to a small paved platform to our right, on a level spot of the hill, where the preacher stands who admonishes the pilgrims on the afternoon of this day, as I shall hereafter mention. Thus high, the steps are so broad and easy that a horse or camel may ascend, but higher up they become more steep and uneven. On the summit the place is shown where Mohammed used to take his station during the Hadj; a small chapel formerly stood over it; but this was destroyed by the Wahabys: here the pilgrims usually pray two rikats, in salutation of Arafat. The steps and the summit are covered with handkerchiefs to receive their pious gifts, and each family of the Mekkawys or Bedouins of the tribe of Koreysh, in whose territory Arafat lies, has its particular spot assigned to it for this purpose. The summit commands a very extensive and singular prospect. I brought my compass to take a circle of bearings; but the crowd was so great, that I could not use it. Towards the western extremity of the plain are seen Bir Bazan and the Aalameyn; somewhat nearer, southwards, the mosque called Djama Nimre, or Djama Seydna Ibrahim; and on the south-east, a small house where the Sherif used to lodge during the pilgrimage. From thence an elevated rocky ground in the plain extends towards Arafat. On the eastern side of the mountain, and close to its foot, are the ruins of a small mosque, built on rocky ground, called Djama el Szakhrat, where Mohammed was accustomed to pray, and where the pilgrims make four prostrations in memory of the prophet. Several large reservoirs lined with stone are dispersed over the plain; two or three are close to the foot of Arafat, and there are some near the house of the Sherifs: they are filled from the same fine aqueduct which supplies Mekka, and the head of which is about one hour and a half distant, in the eastern mountains. The canal is left open here for the convenience of pilgrims, and is conducted round the three sides of the mountains, passing by Modaa Seydna Adam. [At the close of the sixteenth century, according to Kotobeddyn, the whole plain of Arafat was cultivated.]
From the summit of Arafat, I counted about three thousand tents dispersed over the plain, of which two thirds belonged to the two Hadj caravans, and to the suite and soldiers of Mohammed Aly; the rest to the Arabs of the Sherif, the Bedouin hadjys, and the people of Mekka and Djidda. These assembled multitudes were for the greater number, like myself, without tents. The two caravans were encamped without much order, each party of pilgrims or soldiers having pitched its tents in large circles or dowars, in the midst of which many of their camels were reposing. The plain contained, dispersed in different parts, from twenty to twenty-five thousand camels, twelve thousand of which belonged to the Syrian Hadj, and from five to six thousand to the Egyptian; besides about three thousand, purchased by Mohammed Aly from the Bedouins in the Syrian Deserts, and brought to Mekka with the Hadj, to convey the pilgrims to this place, previously to being used for the transport of army-provisions to Tayf.
The Syrian Hadj was encamped on the south and south-west side of the mountain; the Egyptian on the south-east. Around the house of the Sherif, Yahya himself was encamped with his Bedouin troops, and in its neighbourhood were all the Hedjaz people. Here it was that the two Yemen caravans used formerly to take their station. Mohammed Aly, and Soleyman Pasha of Damascus, as well as several of their officers, had very handsome tents; but the most magnificent of all was that of the wife of Mohammed Aly, the mother of Tousoun Pasha, and Ibrahim Pasha, who had lately arrived from Cairo for the Hadj, with a truly royal equipage, five hundred camels being necessary to transport her baggage from Djidda to Mekka. Her tent was in fact an encampment consisting of a dozen tents of different sizes, inhabited by her women; the whole enclosed by a wall of linen cloth, eight hundred paces in circuit, the single entrance to which was guarded by eunuchs in splendid dresses. Around this enclosure were pitched the tents of the men who formed her numerous suite. The beautiful embroidery on the exterior of this linen palace, with the various colours displayed in every part of it, constituted an object which reminded me of some descriptions in the Arabian Tales of the Thousand and One Nights. Among the rich equipages of the other hadjys, or of the Mekka people, none were so conspicuous as that belonging to the family of Djeylany, the merchant, whose tents, pitched in a semicircle, rivalled in beauty those of the two Pashas, and far exceeded those of Sherif Yahya. In other parts of the East, a merchant would as soon think of buying a rope for his own neck, as of displaying his wealth in the presence of a Pasha; but Djeylany has not yet laid aside the customs which the Mekkawys learned under their old government, particularly that of Sherif Ghaleb, who seldom exercised extortion upon single individuals; and they now rely on the promises of Mohammed Aly, that he will respect their property.
During the whole morning, there were repeated discharges of the artillery which both Pashas had brought with them. A few pilgrims had taken up their quarters on Djebel Arafat itself, where some small cavern, or impending block of granite, afforded them shelter from the sun. It is a belief generally entertained in the East, and strengthened by many boasting hadjys on their return home, that all the pilgrims, on this day, encamp upon Mount Arafat; and that the mountain possesses the miraculous property of expansion, so as to admit an indefinite number of the faithful upon its summit. The law ordains that the wakfe, or position of the Hadj, should be on Djebel Arafat; but it wisely provides against any impossibility, by declaring that the plain in the immediate neighbourhood of the mountain may be regarded as comprised under the term “mountain,” or Djebel Arafat.
I estimated the number of persons assembled here at about seventy thousand. The camp was from three to four miles long, and between one and two in breadth. There is, perhaps, no spot on earth where, in so small a place, such a diversity of languages are heard; I reckoned about forty, and have no doubt that there were many more. It appeared to me as if I were here placed in a holy temple of travellers only; and never did I at any time feel a more ardent wish to be able to penetrate once into the inmost recesses of the countries of many of those persons whom I now saw before me, fondly imagining that I might have no more difficulty in reaching their homes, than what they had experienced in their journey to this spot.
When the attention is engrossed by such a multitude of new objects, time passes rapidly away. I had only descended from Mount Arafat, and had walked for some time about the camp, here and there entering into conversation with pilgrims; inquiring at the Syrian camp after some of my friends; and among the Syrian Bedouins, for news from their deserts, when mid-day had already passed. The prayers of this period of the day ought to be performed either within, or in the immediate neighbourhood of, the mosque of Nimre, whither the two Pashas had repaired for that purpose. The far greater number of hadjys, however, dispense with this observance, and many of them with the mid-day prayers altogether; for no one concerns himself whether his neighbour is punctual or not in the performance of the prescribed rites. After mid-day, the pilgrims are to wash and purify the body, by means of the entire ablution prescribed by the law, and called Ghossel, for which purpose chiefly, the numerous tents in the plain have been constructed; but the weather was cloudy, and rather cold, which induced nine-tenths of the pilgrims, shivering as they were already under the thin covering of the ihram, to omit the rite also, and to content themselves with the ordinary ablution. The time of Aszer (or about three o’clock, P.M.) approached, when that ceremony of the Hadj takes place, for which the whole assembly had come hither. The pilgrims now pressed forward towards the mountain of Arafat, and covered its sides from top to bottom. At the precise time of Aszer, the preacher took his stand upon the platform on the mountain, and began to address the multitude. This sermon, which lasts till sun-set, constitutes the holy ceremony of the Hadj called Khotbet el Wakfe; and no pilgrim, although he may have visited all the holy places of Mekka, is entitled to the name of hadjy, unless he has been present on this occasion. As Aszer approached, therefore, all the tents were struck, every thing was packed up, the caravans began to load, and the pilgrims belonging to them mounted their camels, and crowded round the mountain, to be within sight of the preacher, which is sufficient, as the greater part of the multitude is necessarily too distant to hear him. The two Pashas, with their whole cavalry drawn up in two squadrons behind them, took their post in the rear of the deep lines of camels of the hadjys, to which those of the people of the Hedjaz were also joined; and here they waited in solemn and respectful silence the conclusion of the sermon. Further removed from the preacher, was the Sherif Yahya, with his small body of soldiers, distinguished by several green standards carried before him. The two Mahmals, or holy camels, which carry on their back the high structure that serves as the banner of their respective caravans, made way with difficulty through the ranks of camels that encircled the southern and eastern sides of the hill, opposite to the preacher, and took their station, surrounded by their guards, directly under the platform in front of him. [The Mahmal (an exact representation of which is given by D’Ohsson,) is a high, hollow, wooden frame, in the form of a cone, with a pyramidal top, covered with a fine silk brocade adorned with ostrich feathers, and having a small book of prayers and charms placed in the midst of it, wrapped up in a piece of silk. (My description is taken from the Egyptian Mahmal.) When on the road, it serves as a holy banner to the caravan; and on the return of the Egyptian caravan, the book of prayers is exposed in the mosque El Hassaneyn, at Cairo, where men and women of the lower classes go to kiss it, and obtain a blessing by rubbing their foreheads upon it. No copy of the Koran, nor any thing but the book of prayers, is placed in the Cairo Mahmal. The Wahabys declared this ceremony of the Hadj to be a vain pomp, of idolatrous origin, and contrary to the spirit of true religion; and its use was one of the principal reasons which they assigned for interdicting the caravans from repairing to Mekka. In the first centuries of Islam, neither the Omeyades nor the Abassides ever had a Mahmal. Makrisi, in his treatise “On those Khalifes and Sultans who performed the pilgrimage in person,” says that Dhaher Bybars el Bondokdary, Sultan of Egypt, was the first who introduced the Mahmal, about A.H. 670. Since his time, all the Sultans who sent their caravans to Mekka, have considered it as a privilege to send one with each, as a sign of their own royalty. The first Mahmal from Yemen came in A.H. 960; and in A.H.1049, El Moayed Billah, king, and Imam of Yemen, who publicly professed the creed of Zeyd, came with one to Arafat; and the caravans of Baghdad, Damascus, and Cairo, have always carried it with them. In A.H. 730, the Baghdad caravan brought it to Arafat upon an elephant (vide Asamy). I believe the custom to have arisen in the battle-banner of the Bedouins, called Merkeb and Otfe, which I have mentioned in my remarks on the Bedouins, and which resemble the Mahmal, inasmuch as they are high wooden frames placed upon camels.]
The preacher, or Khatyb, who is usually the Kadhy of Mekka, was mounted upon a finely-caparisoned camel, which had been led up the steps; it being traditionally said that Mohammed was always seated when he here addressed his followers, a practice in which he was imitated by all the Khalifes who came to the Hadj, and who from hence addressed their subjects in person. The Turkish gentleman of Constantinople, however, unused to camel-riding, could not keep his seat so well as the hardy Bedouin prophet; and the camel becoming unruly, he was soon obliged to alight from it. He read his sermon from a book in Arabic, which he held in his hands. At intervals of every four or five minutes he paused, and stretched forth his arms to implore blessings from above; while the assembled multitudes around and before him, waved the skirts of their ihrams over their heads, and rent the air with shouts of “Lebeyk, Allahuma Lebeyk,” (i.e. Here we are, at thy commands, O God!) During the wavings of the ihrams, the side of the mountain, thickly crowded as it was by the people in their white garments, had the appearance, of a cataract of water; while the green umbrellas, with which several thousand hadjys, sitting on their camels below, were provided, bore some resemblance to a verdant plain.
During his sermon, which lasted almost three hours, the Kadhy was seen constantly to wipe his eyes with a handkerchief; for the law enjoins the Khatyb or preacher to be moved with feeling and compunction; and adds that, whenever tears appear on his face, it is a sign that the Almighty enlightens him, and is ready to listen to his prayers. The pilgrims who stood near me, upon the large blocks of granite which cover the sides of Arafat, appeared under various aspects. Some of them, mostly foreigners, were crying loudly and weeping, beating their breasts, and denouncing themselves to be great sinners before the Lord; others (but by far the smaller number,) stood in silent reflexion and adoration, with tears in their eyes. Many natives of the Hedjaz, and many soldiers of the Turkish army, were meanwhile conversing and joking; and whenever the others were waving the ihram, made violent gesticulations, as if to ridicule that ceremony. Behind, on the hill, I observed several parties of Arabs and soldiers, who were quietly smoking their nargyles; and in a cavern just by sat a common woman, who sold coffee, and whose visiters, by their loud laughter and riotous conduct, often interrupted the fervent devotions of the hadjys near them. Numbers of people were present in their ordinary clothes. Towards the conclusion of the sermon, the far greater part of the assembly seemed to be wearied, and many descended the mountain before the preacher had finished his discourse. It must be observed, however, that the crowds assembled on the mountain were, for the greater part, of the lower classes; the pilgrims of respectability being mounted upon their camels or horses in the plain.
At length the sun began to descend behind the western mountains; upon which the Kadhy, having shut his book, received a last greeting of “Lebeyk;” and the crowds rushed down the mountain, in order to quit Arafat. It is thought meritorious to accelerate the pace on this occasion; and many persons make it a complete race, called by the Arabs, Ad’dafa min Arafat. In former times, when the strength of the Syrian and Egyptian caravans happened to be nearly balanced, bloody affrays took place here almost every year between them, each party endeavouring to out-run and to carry its mahmal in advance of the other. The same happened when the mahmals approached the platform at the commencement of the sermon; and two hundred lives have on some occasions been lost in supporting what was thought the honour of the respective caravans. At present the power of Mohammed Aly preponderates, and the Syrian hadjys display great humility.
The united caravans and the whole mass of pilgrims now moved forward over the plain; every tent had been previously packed up, to be ready for the occasion. The pilgrims pressed through the Aalameyn, which they must repass on their return; and night came on before they reached the defile called El Mazoumeyn. Innumerable torches were now lighted, twenty-four being carried before each Pasha; and the sparks of fire from them flew far over the plain. There were continual discharges of artillery; the soldiers fired their muskets; the martial bands of both the Pashas played; sky-rockets were thrown as well by the Pashas’ officers, as by many private pilgrims; while the Hadj passed at a quick pace in the greatest disorder, amidst a deafening clamour, through the pass of Mazoumeyn, leading towards Mezdelfe, where all alighted, after a two hours’ march. No order was observed here in encamping; and every one lay down on the spot that first presented itself, no tents being pitched except those of the Pashas and their suites; before which was an illumination of lamps in the form of high arches, which continued to blaze the whole night, while the firing of the artillery was kept up without intermission.
In the indescribable confusion attending the departure of the Hadj from Arafat, many pilgrims had lost their camels, and were now heard calling loudly for their drivers, as they sought them over the plain: I myself was among their number. When I went to the mountain of Arafat, I ordered my camel-driver and my slave to remain in readiness upon the spot where they then were, till I should return to them after sun-set; but seeing, soon after I quitted them, that the other loaded camels pressed forward towards the mountain, they followed the example; and when I returned to the place where I left them, they were not to be found. I was therefore obliged to walk to Mezdelfe, where I slept on the sand, covered only by my ihram, after having searched for my people during several hours[.]
On the 10th of the month of Zul Hadj, or the day of the feast called Nehar el Dhahye, or Nehar el Nahher, the morning gun awoke the pilgrims before dawn. At the first appearance of day-break, the Kadhy took his station upon the elevated platform which encloses the mosque of Mezdelfe, usually called Moshar el Harám, and began a sermon similar to that which he had preached the day before. The Hadj surrounded the mosque on all sides with lighted torches, and accompanied the sermon with the same exclamations of “Lebeyk Allah huma Lebeyk;” but though this sermon forms one of the principal duties of the pilgrimage, by far the greater number of the hadjys remained with their baggage, and did not attend it. The sermon is not very long, lasting only from the first dawn till sun-rise; a space of time much shorter of course in this latitude, than in our northern countries. The Salat el Ayd, or the prayer of the feast, is performed at the same time by the whole community according to its rites. When the first rays of the sun shot athwart the cloudy sky, the pilgrims moved on at a slow march towards Wady Muna, one hour distant from hence.
On arriving at Wady Muna, each nation encamped upon the spot which custom has assigned to it, at every returning Hadj. After disposing of the baggage, the hadjys hastened to the ceremony of throwing stones at the devil. It is said that, when Abraham or Ibrahim returned from the pilgrimage to Arafat, and arrived at Wady Muna, the devil Eblys presented himself before him at the entrance of the valley, to obstruct his passage; when the angel Gabriel, who accompanied the Patriarch, advised him to throw stones at him, which he did, and after pelting him seven times, Eblys retired. When Abraham reached the middle of the valley, he again appeared before him, and, for the last time, at its western extremity, and was both times repulsed by the same number of stones. According to Azraky, the Pagan Arabs, in commemoration of this tradition, used to cast stones in this valley as they returned from the pilgrimage; and set up seven idols at Muna, of which there was one in each of the three spots where the devil appeared, at each of which they cast three stones. Mohammed, who made this ceremony one of the chief duties of the hadjys, increased the number of stones to seven. At the entrance of the valley, towards Mezdelfe, stands a rude stone pillar, or rather altar, between six and seven feet high, in the midst of the street, against which the first seven stones are thrown, as the place where the devil made his first stand: towards the middle of the valley is a similar pillar, and at its western end a wall of stones, which is made to serve the same purpose. The hadjys crowded in rapid succession round the first pillar, called “Djamrat el Awla;” and every one threw seven small stones successively upon it: they then passed to the second and third spots, (called “Djamrat el Owsat,” and “Djamrat el Sofaly,” or “el Akaba,” or “el Aksa,”) where the same ceremony was repeated. In throwing the stones, they are to exclaim, “In the name of God; God is great (we do this) to secure ourselves from the devil and his troops.” The stones used for this purpose are to be of the size of a horse-bean, or thereabouts; and the pilgrims are advised to collect them in the plain of Mezdelfe, but they may likewise take them from Muna; and many people, contrary to the law, collect those that have already been thrown.
Having performed the ceremony of casting stones, the pilgrims kill the animals which they bring with them for sacrifice; and all Mohammedans, in whatever part of the world they may be, are bound, at this time, to perform the same rite. Between six and eight thousand sheep and goats, under the care of Bedouins, (who demanded high prices for them,) were ready on this occasion. The act of sacrifice itself is subject to no other ceremonies than that of turning the victim’s face towards the Kebly or the Kaaba, and to say, during the act of cutting its throat, “In the name of the most merciful God! O supreme God!” (Bismillah! irrahman irrahhym, Allahou akbar!) Any place may be chosen for these sacrifices, which are performed in every corner of Wady Muna; but the favourite spot is a smooth rock on its western extremity, where several thousand sheep were killed in the space of a quarter of an hour. [Kotobeddyn relates that, when the Khalife Mokteder performed the pilgrimage about A.H. 350, he sacrificed on this day forty thousand camels and cows, and fifty thousand sheep. Even now, persons of wealth kill camels. The slaughtering may be performed by proxy.]
As soon as the sacrifices were completed, the pilgrims sent for barbers, or repaired to their shops, of which a row of thirty or forty had been set up near the favourite place of sacrifice. They had their heads shaved, except those who were of the Shafey sect, who shave only one-fourth of the head here, reserving the other three-fourths till they have visited the Kaaba, after returning to Mekka. They threw off the ihram, and resumed their ordinary clothes; those who could afford it putting on new dresses, this being now the day of the feast. So far the Hadj was completed, and all the pilgrims joined in mutual congratulations, and wishes that the performance of this Hadj might be acceptable to the Deity. “Tekabbel Allah!” was heard on all sides, and everybody appeared contented. But this was not quite the case with myself; for all endeavours to find my camels had hitherto proved vain, such were the immense crowds that filled the valley; and while the other hadjys were dressed in their clothes, I was obliged to walk about in my ihram. Fortunately, my purse, which I had hung about my neck according to the pilgrim custom, (the ihram having no pockets,) enabled me to buy a sheep for sacrifice, and pay a barber. It was not till after sun-set that I found out my people, who had encamped on the northern mountain, and had been all the while under great anxiety about me.
The pilgrims remain two days more at Muna. Exactly at mid-day, on the 11th of Zul Hadj, seven small stones are again thrown against each of the three places where the devil appeared; and the same is done on the 12th of Zul Hadj, so that by the three repeated throwings, each time of twenty-one stones, the number of sixty-three is cast during the three days. Many pilgrims are ignorant of the precise tenor of the law in this respect, as they are of several other points in the ceremonies of the pilgrimage, and either throw early in the morning the stones they should throw at mid-day, or do not throw the number enjoined. After the last throwing on the 12th, the Hadj returns to Mekka in the afternoon.
Muna [This name is said to be derived from Adam, who, during his stay in the valley, when God told him to ask a favour, replied, “I ask (ytemuna) for paradise;” and this place received its appellation from the answer. Others say it derived its name from the flowing of blood in the day of sacrifice.] is a narrow valley, extending in a right line from west to east, about fifteen hundred paces in length, and varying in breadth, enclosed on both sides by steep and barren cliffs of granite. Along the middle, on both sides of the way, is a row of buildings, the far greater part in ruins: they belong to Mekkans or Bedouins of the Koreysh, by whom they are either let out, or occupied during the three days of the Hadj, and left empty the rest of the year, when Muna is never inhabited. Some of these are tolerable stone buildings, two stories high; but not more than a dozen of them are kept in complete repair. On the farthest eastern extremity of the valley, stands a good house, belonging to the reigning Sherif of Mekka, in which he usually lives during those days. It was now occupied by the ladies of Mohammed Aly; Sherif Yahya, after throwing off the ihram, having returned to Mekka, where many hadjys also repair immediately after that ceremony; but it is their duty to revisit Muna at noon on the 11th or 12th of this month, in order to throw the stones, as the neglect of this ceremony would render their pilgrimage imperfect. The remainder of those two days they may spend where they please. In the evening of the day of sacrifice, the merchant hadjys usually go to Mekka, that they may unpack whatever merchandize they have brought there.
In the open space between the Sherif’s house and the habitations of the Mekkans, is situated the mosque called Mesdjed el Kheyf; it is a good solid building, the open square of which is surrounded by a high and strong wall. In the midst of it is a public fountain, with a small dome; and the west side, where the pulpit is placed, is occupied by a colonnade with a triple row of pillars. The mosque is very ancient; it was newly constructed in A.H. 559, by the celebrated Salaheddyn; but it was rebuilt in its present form by Kayd Beg, Sultan of Egypt, in A.H. 874. It is reported, according to Fasy, that at the foot of the mountain behind it, Mohammed received many revelations from heaven, and that Adam was buried in the mosque. Close by it is a reservoir of water, also founded, according to Kotobeddyn, by Kayd Beg; it was now completely dry, as was a similar one where the Syrian Hadj encamped. The want of water at Muna subjected the poorer hadjys to great hardships. Some was brought either from Mezdelife, or from the tank situated beyond Muna, on the road to Mekka, and the skin-full was sold for four piastres. In Fasy’s time, there were fifteen wells of brackish water at Muna: it seems that water may be found at a certain depth in all the country round Mekka.
The annexed ground-plan [not included] shows whatever is worthy of notice in the town or village of Muna. [not included] The house of Djeylany, the best that it contained, was constantly crowded by visitors, whom he treated sumptuously. The houses of the Kadhy and the rich families of Sakkat, were next to it; and, on the same side of the way, a long, narrow hall had been lately repaired and fitted up, where about fifty Mekkan and Turkish shopkeepers exhibited their wares. The houses of the northern row are almost totally in ruins: the row of shops (No. 16.) on that side were open without any doors. There were, besides, many sheds constructed in the midst of the street, where victuals might be purchased in great abundance, but at exorbitant prices.
On the declivity of the mountain to the north, called Djebel Thebeyr, a place is visited by the hadjys, where Abraham, as some accounts inform us, requested permission to offer up his son as a sacrifice. A granite block, cleft in two, is shown here, upon which the knife of Abraham fell, at the moment when the angel Gabriel showed him the ram close by. At the touch of the knife the stone separated in two. It is in commemoration of this sacrifice that the faithful, after the Hadj is completed, slaughter their victims. The commentators on the law, however, do not agree about the person whom Abraham intended to sacrifice. Some state him to have been Yakoub (Jacob), but the far greater number Ismayl. In the immediate neighbourhood of the block is a small cavern, capable of holding four or five persons, where Hadjer (or Hagar) is said to have given birth to Ismayl; this, however, directly contradicts even Mohammedan tradition, which says that Ismayl was born in Syria, and that his mother Hadjer carried him into the Hedjaz, when an infant at her breast; but the small cavern offering itself so conveniently, justified the substitution of Muna for Syria, as a fit birth-place for the father of the Bedouins, more especially as it attracts so many pious donations to the Mekkans, who sit around with outspread handkerchiefs. Where the valley terminates towards Mekka, is a small house of the Sherif, in which he makes his sacrifice, and throws off the ihram. It was mentioned, that in a side-valley leading from this place towards Djebel Nour, stands a mosque called Mesdjed el Ashra, where the followers of Mohammed used to pray; but I did not visit it. According to Azraky, another mosque, called Mesdjed el Kabsh, stood near the cavern; and Fasy says there was one between the first and second of the devil’s pillars, which is probably that marked 20 in the plan.
To every division of the hadjys, its place of encampment is appointed in Wady Muna, or at Arafat; but the space is here much narrower. The Egyptian Hadj alights near the house of the Sherif, where Mohammed Aly had pitched his tent, in the vicinity of his cavalry. Two large leathern vessels, constantly kept filled with water, were placed in front of his tent, for the use of the hadjys. At a short distance from it, towards the Mesdjed el Kheyf, stood the tent of Soleyman Pasha of Damascus, whose caravan was encamped on the opposite side of the way; before his tent was placed a row of ten field-pieces, which he had brought with him from Damascus. His ammunition had exploded on the way, while the caravan halted at Beder, and fifty people had been killed by the accident; but Mohammed Aly had furnished him with a fresh supply; and the guns were frequently discharged, as were twelve others which stood near Mohammed Aly’s tent. The greatest number of hadjys had encamped without any order, on the rocky and uneven plain behind the village to the north. The tents of the Mekkans were very neatly fitted up; and this being now the feast, men, women, and children were dressed in their best apparel. At night, few people ventured to sleep, on account of thieves, who abound at Muna. A hadjy had been robbed, on the preceding night, of three hundred dollars; and at Arafat several dozen of camels were stolen by the Bedouins: two of the thieves had been pursued and seized, and carried before Mohammed Aly at Muna, who ordered them to be beheaded. Their mutilated bodies lay before his tent the whole of the three days, with a guard, to prevent their friends from taking them away. Such exhibitions create neither horror nor disgust in the breast of an Osmanly; their continual recurrence hardens his feelings, and renders him insensible to the emotions of pity. I heard a Bedouin, probably a friend of the slain, who stood near the bodies, exclaim, “God have mercy upon them; but no mercy upon him who killed them!”
The street, which extends the whole length of Muna, was now converted into a market and fair: every inch of ground not built upon, was occupied by sheds or booths, made of mats; or by small tents, fitted up as shops. Provisions, and merchandize of every kind, had been brought here from Mekka; and, contrary to the custom in other Mohammedan countries, where all commerce is laid aside during the feast-days, all the merchants, shopkeepers, and brokers, were busily employed in traffic. The merchants who had arrived with the Syrian caravan, began their bargains for Indian goods, and exhibited samples of the articles which they had themselves brought, and which were lying in the warehouses at Mekka. A number of poor hadjys were crying their small adventures, which they carried along the street on their heads; and as all business was confined to this single street, the mixture of nations, costumes, and merchandize, was still more striking than at Mekka. [This pilgrimage among the Pagan Arabs was, at all times, connected with a large fair held at Mekka. In the month before the pilgrimage, they visited some other neighbouring fairs, namely, those of Okath, the market of the tribe of Kenane; of Medjna and Zou el Medjaz; the markets of the tribe of Hodeyl; and of Hasha, that of the Beni Lazed. After having spent their time in amusements at those fairs, they repaired to the Hadj at Arafat, and then returned to Mekka, where another large fair was held (see Azraky). At Arafat and Muna, on the contrary, they scrupulously abstained from any traffic during the days of their sojourning there, and the performance of the holy rites; but the Koran abrogated this observance, and by a passage in chap. ii. permitted trafficking even in the days of the Hadj; at least it has been so explained. (See El Fasy.)]
In the afternoon of the first day of Muna, the two Pashas paid mutual visits; and their cavalry manœuvred before their tents. Among the troops of Soleyman Pasha, about sixty Sambarek (Zembourek) attracted notice: these are artillerymen, mounted on camels, having a. small swivel before them, which turned on a pivot fixed to the pommel of the camel’s saddle. They fire while at a trot, and the animal bears the shock of the discharge with great tranquillity. The Syrian cavalry consisted of about fifteen hundred men, principally delhys; no infantry whatever being with the caravan. Soleyman Pasha appeared today with a very brilliant equipage; all his body-guards were dressed in richly-embroidered stuffs glittering with gold, and were well mounted, though the Pasha’s own stud was very indifferent. After the two Pashas had interchanged visits, their officers followed the example, and were admitted to kiss the hands of the Pashas, when each of them received presents in money, according to his rank. The Kadhy, the rich merchants of Mekka, and the grandees among the hadjys, likewise paid their respects to the Pashas, and each of their visits lasted about five minutes. An immense crowd was, at the same time, assembled in a wide semicircle round their open tents, to witness this brilliant sight. In the afternoon, a body of negro pilgrims, under a leader, made their way through this crowd, and, walking up to Soleyman Pasha, (who sat quite alone, smoking upon a sofa in the recess of his tent,) boldly saluted him, and wished him joy on the accomplishment of the pilgrimage; in return they received some gold coins. They afterwards tried the same experiment with Mohammed Aly Pasha; but received only blows on the back from his officers, in return for their compliments. Among the curiosities which attracted the notice of the crowd, was a curricle belonging to the wife of Mohammed Aly, which stood in the gateway of the Sherif’s house. This lady had carried it on board her ship to Djidda, from whence she rode in it to Mekka and Arafat, her person being, of course, completely concealed; it was drawn by two fine horses, and was seen frequently afterwards parading the streets of Mekka.
At night, the whole valley blazed; every house and tent was lighted up; before the tents of the Pashas were fine illuminations; and the Bedouins made large bonfires upon the summits of the mountains. The noise of guns continued throughout the night; fire-works were exhibited; and several of the Mekkans let off rockets.
The second day of the feast at Muna was passed in the same manner as the first; but the putrefying carcases of the sheep became excessively offensive in some parts of the valley, as very few of the richer hadjys can consume the victims which they kill. The Hanefys are not even allowed by the laws of their sect to eat more than one-eighth of a sheep. The greater part of the flesh falls to the lot of the poorer hadjys, and the entrails are thrown about the valley and the street. The negroes and Indians were employed in cutting some of the meat into slices, and drying it for their travelling provision. [Until the sixteenth century, it was an established rule with the Sultans of Egypt, and afterwards with those of Constantinople, to furnish, at Muna, all the poor hadjys with food at the expense of the royal treasury. The Pagan Arabs distinguished themselves more particularly during the Hadj for their hospitality; and such of them as went on the pilgrimage, were gratuitously entertained by all those whose tents they passed on the road; they having previously prepared for that purpose large supplies of food. (See Kotobeddyn.)— Among the wonders which distinguish Muna from other valleys, El Fasy relates that it occasionally extends its dimensions to accommodate any number of pilgrims; that on the day of sacrifice, no vultures ever carry off the slaughtered lambs, thus leaving them for the poor hadjys; and that, notwithstanding the quantity of raw flesh, no flies ever molest the visiters at this place. That the last remark is false, I can declare from my own experience.]
To-day many hadjys performed their prayers in the Mesdjed el Kheyf, which I found crowded with poor Indians, who had taken up their quarters in it. The pavement was thickly spread with carrion; and on cords extended between the columns were suspended slices of meat, for the purpose of being dried. The sight and smell were very disgusting; and many hadjys seemed surprised that such indecencies should be allowed. In general, foreign hadjys see many practices at Mekka, which are not calculated to inspire them with great veneration for the holy places of their religion; and although some may, nevertheless, retain all their religious zeal undiminished, others, we may be assured, lose much of it in consequence of what they witness during the Hadj. It is to this loss of respect for religion, and to the nefarious and shameful practices in some measure legitimatised by their frequent occurrence in the holy city, that we must attribute those proverbs which reflect upon the hadjys as less religious and less trustworthy than any other persons. But our Christian holy-land is liable to some censure, for practices of the same kind. The most devout and rigid Mohammedans acknowledge and deplore the existence of this evil; and prove that they are either more clear-sighted or more sincere than the Christian pilgrim Chateaubriand. [Mons. C. may have had very statesman-like motives for giving in his Itinerary so highly coloured a picture of Palestine and its priesthood; but, as a traveller, he cannot escape blame for having departed from the truth, and often totally misrepresented the facts that fell under his observation.]
At mid-day on the 12th of Zul Hadj, immediately after having thrown the last twenty-one stones, the hadjys left Muna, and returned along the valley to Mekka, evincing their high spirits by songs, loud talking, and laughter; a contrast to the gloom which affected every body in proceeding here four days ago. On arriving at Mekka, the pilgrims must visit the Kaaba, which in the mean time has been covered with the new black clothing brought from Cairo, walk seven times round it, and perform the ceremony of the Say: this is called the Towaf el Ifadhe. He then takes the ihram once more, in order to visit the Omra; and on returning from the Omra, again performs the Towaf and Say, and with this the ceremony of the Hadj is finally terminated.
The principal duties incumbent upon the hadjy are, therefore:— 1. that he should take the ihram; 2. be present, on the 9th of Zul Hadj, from afternoon till sun-set, at the sermon preached at Arafat; 3. attend a similar sermon at Mezdelfe, at sun-rise of the 10th of Zul Hadj; 4. on the 10th, 11th, and 12th of Zul Hadj, throw on each day twenty-one stones against the devil’s pillars at Muna; 5. perform the sacrifice at Muna; or, if he is too poor, substitute for it a fast at some future time; and, 6. upon his return to Mekka, visit the Kaaba and the Omra. The law makes so many nice distinctions, and increases so greatly the number of rules which are to guide the pilgrim at every step, that very few can flatter themselves with being quite regular hadjys; but as no ritual police is kept up during the ceremony, every one is completely his own master, and assumes the title of hadjy, whether he has strictly performed all the duties or not. It is enough for such that they have been at Arafat on the proper day — this is the least distinction: but a mere visit to Mekka does not authorise a man to style himself hadjy; and the assumption of this title without some further pretensions, exposes him to ridicule. There is not any formal certificate given to hadjys at Mekka, as at Jerusalem; but many of the great people purchase a few drawings of the town, &c.; annexed to which is an attestation of four witnesses, that the purchasers were regular hadjys. If the 9th of Zul Hadj, or the day of El Wakfe, falls upon a Friday, it is held to be particularly fortunate.
Some hadjys are anxious to acquire the title of “Khadem el Mesdjed,” or servant of the mosque, which may be obtained at the expense of about thirty dollars; for this sum, a paper, bestowing that appellation upon him, is delivered to the purchaser, signed by the Sherif and Kadhy. It is not uncommon to permit even Christians to obtain the privilege of calling themselves servants of the Mesdjed, and the honour is particularly sought for by the Greek inhabitants of the islands and shores of the Archipelago; as, in case of their being captured by the Barbary pirates, such a certificate is often respected by the most rigid Moggrebyns. I saw a Greek captain who obtained one for two hundred dollars; he had commanded one of Mohammed Aly’s dows, and was now on his way home; and he felt satisfied that, whatever ship he might hereafter take under his charge in the Archipelago, would be secured by this certificate from the pirates. In former times, this title of Khadem appears to have been of more importance than it is now; for I find, in the historians of Mekka, many great people mentioned, who annexed it to their names.
After the return of the Hadj from Muna, the principal street of Mekka becomes almost impassable from the crowds assembled there. The Syrian hadjy merchants hire shops, and make the best use of the short time which is granted to them for their commercial transactions. Every body purchases provisions for his journey home; and the pursuit of gain now engrosses all minds, from the highest to the lowest. The two caravans usually leave Mekka about the 23d of Zul Hadj, after ten days’ stay in the town. Sometimes the leaders of them are prevailed upon by the merchants, who pay highly for the favour, to grant a respite of a few days; but this year they did not require it, as the caravan was detained by Mohammed Aly, who, preparing to open his campaign against the Wahabys, thought proper to employ about twelve thousand camels of the Syrian Hadj in two journies to Djidda, and one to Tayf, for the transport of provisions. As to the Egyptian caravan, which, as I have already mentioned, contained no private hadjys, it was wholly detained by Mohammed Aly, who ordered all the horsemen and camels that had accompanied it, to assist him in his campaign. The Mahmal, or sacred camel, was sent back by sea to Suez, a circumstance which had never before occurred. The Syrian caravan did not leave Mekka till the 29th of Zul Hadj; and the incessant labour to which its camels had been subjected, weakened them so much, that numbers of them died on their return through the Desert. The caravans of unloaded camels which were hourly leaving Mekka for Djidda, to take up provisions there, facilitated the short journey to that place of those hadjys who wished to return home by sea.
Having heard that the supply of money for which I had written to Cairo on my first reaching Djidda, had been received there, I rode over in the night of the 1st of December, and remained in that town six or seven days. The hadjys who had, in the mean while, daily flocked into it on their return from Mekka, were seen encamped in every quarter, and thus it soon became as crowded as Mekka had just been. Among the ships in the harbour, ready to take hadjy passengers on board, was a merchant-vessel lately arrived from Bombay, belonging to a Persian house at that presidency, and commanded by an English captain, who had beat up to Djidda against the trade-winds, at this late season. I passed many agreeable hours in the company of Captain Boag, on board his ship, and regretted that my pursuits should call me away so soon. Two other Europeans had arrived at Djidda about the same time, by way of Cairo; the one an Englishman, who was going to India; the other a German physician. This gentleman was a Hanoverian by birth, and a baron: misfortunes of a very distressing nature had driven him from his home, and he had thought of practising his profession at Djidda, or of proceeding to Mokha; but his mind was too unsettled to determine upon any thing; and he was of too independent a character to receive either counsel or assistance. I left him at Djidda when I returned to Mekka, and learnt afterwards that he died there in the month of March, of the plague, and that he was buried by the Greeks of Djidda upon an island in the harbour.
When I returned to Mekka, about the 8th or 9th of December, I found no longer the same multitudes of people; but the beggars had become so numerous and troublesome, that many of the hadjys preferred staying all day at home, to escape at once the importunities, the expense of acceding to them, or the scandal of wanting charity. These beggars were soliciting alms to carry them home; and their numbers were increased by many pilgrims of respectable appearance, whose money had been spent during the Hadj. It was my intention, in returning to Mekka, to join the Syrian caravan, and travel with it as far as Medina; I therefore, in imitation of some other Syrian pilgrims who had arrived at Mekka before the caravan, engaged with a Bedouin of the Harb tribe for two of his camels; although most of the hadjys, who, after the pilgrimage, visit Mohammed’s tomb at Medina, accompany the Syrian caravan, agreeing with some Mekowem to defray all expenses on the road; but it is better, for many reasons, to travel with Bedouins than with towns-people, especially on a route across the Bedouin territory. An accident, however, prevented me from availing myself of this opportunity.
The caravan being ready for departure on the 15th of December, I packed up my effects in the morning, and at noon a gun was fired, to announce that Soleyman Pasha had quitted the plain of Sheikh Mahmoud, where the caravan had been encamped; but still my Bedouin had not arrived. I ran out towards Sheikh Mahmoud, when I understood that a rumour, whether false or true, having been spread, that Mohammed Aly was only waiting to see the camels all assembled in the morning upon the plain, that he might seize and send them to Tayf, several Bedouins had made their escape during the night: it was evident that those with whom I had bargained were among the number. In the hurry and bustle of departure no other camels could possibly be found; and I was therefore obliged to return to the town, together with several Mekkans, who had been disappointed in the same manner.
At the moment of starting, the leader of the Damascus caravan always distributes a certain quantity of provision to the poor. Soleyman Pasha had, for this purpose, heaped up two hundred camel-loads near his tent; and when he mounted his horse, at a given signal it was seized upon by those who were waiting, in the most outrageous and disorderly manner: a party of about forty negro pilgrims, armed with sticks, secured a considerable part of the heap to themselves.
It is usual for the Syrian Hadj to stop two or three days, on its return, in Wady Fatme, the first station from Mekka, to allow the camels some fine pasturage in that neighbourhood; but Soleyman Pasha, who entertained a great distrust of Mohammed Aly, and was particularly fearful lest he should make some further demand upon his caravan for camels, performed an uninterrupted march for two stations, and passed Wady Fatme; thus disappointing many Mekkan shopkeepers, who had repaired thither in hopes of establishing a market for the time. The Pasha became delirious during the journey, and, before he reached Damascus, was put under restraint by his own officers: he recovered his senses at Damascus, but died there soon after.
I was obliged to remain at Mekka a whole month after the departure of the Hadj, waiting for another opportunity of proceeding to Medina. I might have easily gone from Djidda, by sea, to Yembo; but I preferred the journey by land. At this time the people of the Hedjaz were kept in anxious suspense, on account of Mohammed Aly, who was preparing to set out from Mekka, in person, against the Wahabys. They knew that, if his expedition should fail, the Bedouins of the Hedjaz would immediately resort to their wonted practices, and cut off the route to the interior from all travellers; and experience had also taught them, that if the Wahabys obtained possession of the country a second time, the town of Mekka alone could indulge in any hope of escaping from being plundered. These considerations retarded the departure of caravans for Medina. A strong caravan usually leaves Mekka on the 11th of Moharrem, (corresponding this year with the 2nd of January, 1815,) the day after the opening of the Kaaba, which always takes place on the 10th of Moharrem, or the day called Ashour.
Towards the end of December, the inhabitants were alarmed by a false report of the arrival of a Wahaby force, by the way of the seacoast, from the south: soon after, in the first days of January, 1815, Mohammed Aly set out from Mekka. He met the Wahaby army, four days after, at Byssel, in the neighbourhood of Tayf, where he gained the complete victory of which I have elsewhere given the details; this was no sooner known at Mekka, than the caravan for Medina, which had long been prepared, set out, on the 15th of January.
After the Syrian Hadj had departed, and the greater part of the other pilgrims retired to Djidda, waiting for an opportunity to embark, Mekka appeared like a deserted town. Of its brilliant shops, one-fourth only remained; and in the streets, where a few weeks before it was necessary to force one’s way through the crowd, not a single hadjy was seen, except solitary beggars, who raised their plaintive voices towards the windows of the houses which they supposed to be still inhabited. Rubbish and filth covered all the streets, and nobody appeared disposed to remove it. The skirts of the town were crowded with the dead carcases of camels, the smell from which rendered the air, even in the midst of the town, offensive, and certainly contributed to the many diseases now prevalent. Several hundreds of these carcases lay near the reservoirs of the Hadj, and the Arabs inhabiting that part of Mekka never walked out without stuffing into their nostrils small pieces of cotton, which they carried suspended by a thread round the neck. [The Arabs in general, even the Bedouins, are much more sensitive than the Europeans concerning the slightest offensive smell. This is one of the principal reasons why the Bedouins never enter a town without repugnance. They entertain a belief that bad smells affect the health by entering through the nostrils into the lungs; and it is for this reason, more than for the disagreeable sensation itself arising from the smell, that Arabs and Bedouins are often seen covering their noses with the skirts of their turbans, in walking through the streets.] But this was not all. At this time the Mekkans are in the habit of emptying the privies of their houses; and, too lazy to carry the contents beyond the precincts of the town, they merely dig a hole in the street, before the door of the dwelling, and there deposit them, covering the spot only with a layer of earth. The consequences of such a practice may easily be imagined.
The feasts of nuptials and circumcision now take place, being always celebrated immediately after the Hadj, as soon as the Mekkans are left to themselves, and before the people have had time to spend the sums gained during the residence of the pilgrims; but I saw many more funerals than nuptial processions. Numbers of hadjys, already ill from the fatigues of the road, or from cold caught while wearing the ihram, are unable to proceed on their journey homewards; they remain in the hope of recovering strength, but often terminate their existence here. If they have some companion or relative with them, he carries off the dead man’s property, on paying a fee to the Kadhy; if he is alone, the Kadhy and Sherif are his heirs, and these inheritances are no inconsiderable source of income. When I quitted Mekka, there were still remaining there perhaps a thousand hadjys, many of whom intended to pass a whole year in the holy city, and to be present at another Hadj; others to protract their residence only for a few months.
On the day of quitting Mekka, it is thought becoming to pay a parting visit to the Kaaba, called Towaf el Wodaa, and to perform the Towaf and Say. The hadjys generally do it when every thing is ready for departure, and mount their camels the moment they have finished the ceremony.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:48