Book of Travels - Safarnama
by Nasir-i Khusrau
Translated by Guy Le Strange
Based on Nasir-i Khusrau.
Diary of a Journey Through Syria and Palestine.
Translated and with a preface by Guy Le Strange.
London: Palestine Pilgrims' Text Society, 1893.
Full text at http://chass.colostate-pueblo.edu/history/seminar/khusraw/khusraw2.htm
(I copied the below version with the commentaries included from a site that is still linked to the aforementioned site but does not itself seem to be posted any longer.)
By the wayside I noticed, in quantities, plants of rue (Sadab), which grows here of its own accord on these hills, and in the desert places. In the village of Kariat-al-'Anab there is a fine spring of sweet water gushing out from under a stone, and they have placed all around troughs, with small buildings contiguous (for the shelter of travellers). From this village we proceeded onward, the road leading upward, and I had imagined that we should come to a mountain; and then, going down on the further side, that we should arrive at the Holy City. But after we had continued our upward road some way, a great plain opened out in front of us, part of which was stony, and part of it good soil; and here, as it were, on the summit of the mountain, lay before our view Bait al Mukaddas (the Holy City). From Tripoli, which is by the seashore, to the Holy City is fifty-six leagues; and from Balkh to the Holy City, eight hundred and seventy-six leagues. It was the 5th of Ramadan, of the year 438 (5th March, 1047 A.D.), that I thus came to the Holy City; and the full space of a solar year had elapsed since I set out from home, having all that time never ceased to travel onward, for in no place had I yet sojourned to enjoy repose. Now, the men of Syria, and of the neighbouring parts, call the Holy City (Bait al Mukaddas) by the name of Kuds (the Holy); and the people of these provinces, if they are unable to make the pilgrimage (to Mekkah), will go up at the appointed season to Jerusalem, and there perform their rites, and upon the feast day slay the sacrifice, as is customary to do (at Mekkah on the same day). There are years when as many as twenty thousand people will be present at Jerusalem during the first days of the (pilgrimage) month of Dhu-l Hijjah; for they bring their children also with them in order to celebrate their circumcision.
From all the countries of the Greeks, too, and from other lands, the Christians and the Jews come up to Jerusalem in great numbers in order to make their visitation of the Church (of the Resurrection) and the Synagogue that is there; and this great Church (of the Resurrection) at Jerusalem we shall describe further on in its proper place.
The country and villages round the Holy City are situated upon the hillsides; the land is well cultivated, and they grow corn, olives, and figs; there are also many kinds of trees here. In all the country round there is no spring water for irrigation, and yet the produce is very abundant, and the prices are moderate. Many of the chief men harvest as much as 50,000 Manns weight (or about 16,800 gallons) of olive-oil. It is kept in tanks and in pits, and they export thereof to other countries. It is said that drought never visits the soil of Syria. I heard from a certain person, on whose word I can rely, that the Prophet--peace be upon him, and the benediction of Allah!--was seen in a dream by a saintly man, who addressed him, saying, `O Prophet of God, give me assurance for ever of my daily bread;' and the Prophet--peace be upon him!--replied: `Verily it shall be warranted unto thee, even by the bread and oil of Syria.'
I now purpose to make a description of the Holy City. Jerusalem is a city set on a hill, and there is no water therein, except what falls in rain. The villages round have springs of water, but the Holy City has no springs. The city is enclosed by strong walls of stone, mortared, and there are iron gates. Round about the city there are no trees, for it is all built on the rock. Jerusalem is a very great city, and, at the time of my visit, there were in it twenty thousand men. It has high, well-built, and clean bazaars. All the streets are paved with slabs of stone; and wheresoever there was a hill or a height, they have cut it down and made it level, so that as soon as the rain falls the whole place is washed clean. There are in the city numerous artificers, and each craft has a separate bazaar. The mosque lies at the (south) east quarter of the city, whereby the eastern city wall forms also the wall of the mosque (court). When you have passed out of the mosque, there lies before you a great level plain, called the Sahirah,[The B. M. Epitome is the only MS. that spells this name right. Other MSS. have Samirah. As-Sahirah, `the Plain' is the level space occupying the northern portion of the Mount of Olives] which, it is said, will be the place of the Resurrection, where all mankind shall be gathered together. For this reason men from all parts of the world come hither to make their sojourn in the Holy City till death overtakes them, in order that when the day fixed by God--be He praised and exalted!--shall arrive, they may thus be ready and present at the appointed place.
O God! in that day do Thou vouchsafe to Thy servants both Thy pardon and Thy protection! Amen. O Lord of both worlds!
At the border of this plain (of the Sahirah) there is a great cemetery, where are many places of pious renown, whither men come to pray and offer up petitions in their need. May God--be He praised and glorified!--vouchsafe unto them their desires. Grant unto us also, O God, our needs, and forgive our sins and our trespasses, and have mercy upon us, O most Merciful of the merciful!
Lying between the mosque and this plain of the Sahirah is a great and steep valley, and down in this valley, which is like unto a fosse, are many edifices, built after the fashion of ancient days. I saw here a dome cut out in the stone, and it is set upon the summit of a building. Nothing can be more curious than it is, and one asks how it came to be placed in its present position. In the mouths of the common people it goes by the appellation of Pharaoh's House. [The building alluded to is the so-called Tomb of Absalom, down in the Kedron Valley, just below the S. E. angle of the Haram Area. At the present day also it goes by the name of Tanturah Fira'un, or Pharaoh's Cap.] The valley of which we are speaking is the Wadi Jahannum.[This Valley of Gehenna is not the Jewish valley of that name, but the Valley of Kedron or Jehoshaphat of Mukaddasi.] I inquired how this name came to be applied to the place, and they told me that in the times of the Khalif Omar--may Allah receive him in grace!--the camp (of the Muslims, who had come up to besiege Jerusalem) was pitched here on the plain called Sahirah, and that when Omar looked down and saw this valley, he exclaimed, `Verily this is the Valley of Jahannum.' The common people state that when you stand at the brink of the valley you may hear the cries of those in Hell which come up from below. I myself went there to listen, but heard nothing.
Going southward of the city for half a league, and down the gorge, you come to a fountain of water gushing out from the rock, which they call the 'Ain Sulwan (the Spring of Siloam). There are all round the spring numerous buildings; and the water therefrom flows on down to a village, where there are many houses and gardens. It is said that when anyone washes from head to foot in this water he obtains relief from his pains, and will even recover from chronic maladies. There are at this spring many buildings for charitable purposes, richly endowed; and the Holy City itself possesses an excellent Bimaristan (or hospital), which is provided for by considerable sums that were given for this purpose. Great numbers of (sick) people are here served with potions and lotions; for there are physicians who receive a fixed stipend, and attend at the Bimaristan.[The MS. of the Epitome breaks off here, leaving out the remainder of the description of Jerusalem.]
The Friday Mosque (which is the Aksa) lies on the east side of the city, and (as before noticed) one of the walls of the mosque (Area) is on the Wadi Jahannum. When you examine this wall, which is on the Wadi, from the outside of the mosque, you may see that for the space of a hundred cubits it is built up of huge stones, set without mortar or cement. Inside the mosque (Area) it is level all along the summit of this wall. The (Aksa) mosque occupies the position it does because of the stone of the Sakhrah. This stone of the Sakhrah is that which God--be He exalted and glorified!--commanded Moses to institute as the Kiblah (or direction to be faced at prayer). After this command had come down, and Moses had instituted it as the Kiblah, he himself lived but a brief time, for of a sudden was his life cut short. Then came the days of Solomon--upon him be peace!--who, seeing that the rock (of the Sakhrah) was the Kiblah point, built a mosque round about the rock, whereby the rock stood in the midst of the mosque, which became the oratory of the people. So it remained down to the days of our Prophet Muhammad, the Chosen One--upon him be blessings and peace!--who likewise at first recognised this to be the Kiblah, turning towards it at his prayers; but God--be He exalted and glorified!--afterwards commanded him to institute, as the Kiblah, the House of the Ka'abah (at Mekkah).[In the early days of the Hijrah, when the Prophet had fled to Medinah, and for a time had thoughts of abandoning Mekkah and its Ka'abah, he directed his followers to pray facing in the direction of Jerusalem. It was only in Rajab, A.H. 2, that the Ka'abah was definitely instituted as the Muslim Kiblah.] The description of the rock will be given below, in its proper place. Now, it was my desire to obtain the measurements of the (Haram Area round the) mosque; and I said to myself, First I will come exactly to know the place in all its aspects, and see the whole thereof, and afterwards will I take the measurements. But after passing some time in the Noble Sanctuary, and examining it, I came on an inscription upon a stone of an arch in the north wall (of the Haram Area), not far from the Dome of Jacob (Kubbat Ya'kub)[The small building to the south of the present Bib al 'Atm.]--on whom be peace! In this inscription the length of the Haram Area was set down at seven hundred and four cubits (arsh), and the breadth at four hundred and fifty-five cubits, of the royal measure.[The identical slab with the inscription mentioned by the Pilgrim was discovered by M. Clermont-Ganneau, in 1874, in the north wall of the Area, a little west of the Bab al 'Atm. Part of the inscription, however, has become damaged. It runs as follows: `In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful; the length of the Masjid is seven hundred and four and . .. ty ells, and its breadth is four hundred and five and fifty ells, the ell being the ell of . . .' According to M. Ganneau's view, the space for the Arabic word representing the tens in the enumeration of the length will only allow of the number having been originally `eighty' or `thirty.' M. Schefer (on the authority of M. Alric, Chancelier du Consulat de France a Jerusalem) states that the inscription may still be clearly read--`length 750 ells, breadth 455 ells, of the royal ell.' All the MSS. of our Pilgrim agree in the numbers 704 and 455--for the length and breadth. The author of the `Muthir al Ghiram,' who saw the inscription in A.D. 1351 (and whose text is copied by Loth Suyuti and Mujir ad Din), gives the figures as 784 and 455. For further notices of this inscription see a paper in the journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, April, 1887, p. 270.] The royal ell (gez-i-malik) is the same as that which is known in Khurasan as the Gez-i-Shaigan (the King's Ell), and is equivalent to one and a half of the (common) cubits (arsh), or a fraction the less.[In this passage gez (ell) and arsh (cubit) are used as synonymous.] The area of the Noble Sanctuary is paved with stone, the joints being set in lead.
(As we have said before) the Haram Area lies in the eastern part of the city ; and through the bazaar of this (quarter) you enter the Area by a great and beautiful (Dargah or) gateway, that measures thirty ells in height, by twenty across. This gateway has two wings, in which open halls, and the walls of both gateway and halls are adorned with coloured enamels (Mina), set in plaster, cut into patterns, so beautiful that the eye becomes dazzled in contemplating them. Over the gateway is an inscription, which is set in the enamels, giving the titles of the Sultan (who is the Fatimite Khalif) of Egypt, and when the sun's rays fall on this it shines so that the sight is bewildered at the splendour thereof. There is also a great dome that crowns this gateway, which is built of squared stones.[M. Schefer's text here and in several other places gives Munhadim (`destroyed') for Muhandam (`squared by the rule'), as the word is correctly written in the margin of the B. M. MSS.] Closing the gateway are two carefully-constructed doors. These are faced with Damascene brass-work, which you would take to be gold, for they are gilt, and ornamented with figured designs. Each of these doors is fifteen ells in height, by eight ells across. The gateway we have just described is called the Bab Daud (the Gate of David)[This is the gate which is now called Bab as Silsilah, the Gate of the Chain).] --peace be upon him! After passing this gateway (and entering the Haram Area), you have on the right two great colonnades (riwak),[These colonnades go along the western wall of the Haram Area.] each of which has nine-and-twenty marble pillars, whose capitals and bases are of coloured marbles, and the joints are set in lead. Above the pillars rise arches, that are constructed, of masonry, without mortar or cement, and each arch is constructed of no more than five or six blocks of stone. These colonnades lead down to near the Maksurah (or main building of the Aksa Mosque)[The main building of the Aksa Mosque is often referred to by our Pilgrim under the denomination of the `Maksurah,' which more properly is the name given to the railed oratory for the Sultan which the mosque contains.] On your left hand (as you enter the Gate of David), and towards the north, there is likewise a long colonnade, with sixty-four arches, supported by marble pillars. In this part of the wall there is also a gate called Bab as Sakar (the Gate of Hell).[Bab as Sakar, the Gate of Hell, is probably the present Bab an Nadhir.]
The greater length of the Haram Area extends from north to south, but if the space occupied by the Maksurah (or Aksa Mosque) be deducted, the shape of the court is square, with the Kiblah point lying towards the south.
In the north part (of the Haram Area) is a double gateway, the gates of which are side by side, each being seven ells across by twelve high. This gateway is called the Bab al Asbat (the Gate of the Tribes). When you have passed this gateway, there is still another great gateway in the breadth of the Haram Area (which is the north wall) in the portion running eastward.[From our Pilgrim's description (and the texts of all the MSS, agree in this passage), the gateway he calls `the Gate of the Tribes,' would be that now known as Bab Hittah; while the present Gate of the Tribes at the N. W. angle is named by him `the Gate of Gates.'] There are here three gates side by side, of a like size to the Bab al Asbat, and they are each fashioned in iron, and adorned with brass, than which nothing can be finer. These (three) gates they call the Bab al Abwab (the Gate of Gates), for the reason that, whereas elsewhere the gateways are only double, there is here a triple gateway. Running along the north part of the Haram Area, and between the two gateways just mentioned, is a colonnade, with arches that rest on solid pillars; and adjacent thereto a dome that is supported by tall columns, and adorned with lamps and lanterns. This is called Kubbat Ya'kub (the Dome of Jacob)[This building still exists close to the south of the Bab al 'Atm, which last must be the gate said by our Pilgrim to lead to the cloisters of the Sufis.] --peace be upon him!--for at this spot was his place of prayer.
And further, along the breadth (or northern wall) of the Haram Area is a colonnade, in the wall of which is a gate that leads to two cloisters (daryuzah), belonging to the Sufis, who have their place of prayer here, and have built a fine Mihrab (or oratory). There are always in residence a number of Sufis, who make this (oratory) the place of their daily devotions, except on Friday, when they go into the Noble Sanctuary, in order to attend the service of prayer therein. At the north (west?) angle (rukn) of the Haram Area is a fine colonnade, with a large and beautiful dome. On this dome there is an inscription, stating that this was the oratory (Mihrab) of Zakariyya,[Zachariah's Mihrab is at present shown at a niche in the eastern wall of the Aksa Mosque. It is impossible to identify the place mentioned in the text with any building at present standing.] the prophet--peace be upon him!--for they say that he was wont to continue ceaselessly in prayer at this spot. In the eastern wall of the Haram Area there is a great gateway[This is the so-called Golden Gate.] skilfully built of squared stones, so that one might almost say the whole was carved out of a single block. Its height is fifty ells, and its width thirty; and it is sculptured and ornamented throughout. There are ten beautiful doors (dar) in this gateway (set so close), that between any two of them there is not the space of a foot. These doors are all most skilfully wrought in iron and Damascaii brass work, set in with bolts and rings. They say this gateway was constructed by Solomon, the son of David--peace be upon him!--to please his father. When you enter this gateway facing east, there are on your right-hand two great doors. One of them is called Bab ar Rahmah (the, Gate of Mercy), and the other Bab at Taubah (the Gate of Repentance); and they say of this last that it is the gate where God--be He exalted and glorified!--accepted the repentance of David--upon whom be peace! Near this gateway is a beautiful mosque.[This I understand to refer to a building occupying the position of what is now known as Kursi Sulaiman, the Throne of Solomon.] In former times it was only a hall (dahliz), but they turned the hall into a mosque. It is spread with all manner of beautiful carpets, and there are servants especially appointed thereto. This spot is greatly frequented of the people, who go to pray therein, and seek communion with God--be He exalted and glorified!--for this being the place where David--peace be upon him!--was vouchsafed repentance, other men may hope to be turned likewise from their sinfulness. They relate that David--peace be upon him!--as he crossed the threshold to enter this building, had, through divine revelation, the joyful news that God--glory and praise be to Him!--accepted of his repentance; and thereupon David halted at this spot and worshipped. And I, Nasir, also stationed myself to pray here, and besought of God--be He praised and glorified!--to give me grace to serve Him and repent of my sins.
May God--be He exalted and glorified!--grant grace to all His servants whom He hath received in favour; and for the sake of Muhammad and his family, the Pure Ones, vouchsafe to all repentance of their sins!
Adjacent to the east wall, and when you have reached the south (eastern) angle (of the Haram Area)--the Kiblah point lying before you, south, but somewhat aside--there is an underground mosque, to which you descend by many steps.[These substructures at the S. E. angle of the Noble Sanctuary are on the foundations of what appears to have been an old corner tower, and lie adjacent to what were known to the Crusaders under the name of Solomon's Stables. At the present day they are still shown as the `Cradle of Jesus'.] It is situated immediately to the north of the (south) wall of the Haram Area, covering a space measuring twenty ells by fifteen, and it has a roof of stone, supported on marble columns. Here was the Cradle of Jesus. The cradle is of stone, and large enough for a man to make therein his prayer prostrations. I myself said my prayers there. The cradle is fixed into the ground, so that it cannot be moved. This cradle is where Jesus was laid during his childhood, and where He held converse with the people. The cradle itself, in this mosque, has been made the Mihrab (or oratory); and there is likewise, on the east side of this mosque, the Mihrab Maryam (or Oratory of Mary ; and another Mihrab, which is that of Zakariyya (Zachariah)--peace be upon him! Above these Mihrabs are written the verses revealed in the Kuran that relate respectively to Zachariah and to Mary. They say that Jesus--peace be upon Him!--was born in the place where this mosque stands. On the shaft of one of the columns there is impressed a mark as though a person had gripped the stone with two fingers; and they say that Mary, when taken in the pangs of labour, did thus with one hand seize upon the stone. This mosque is known by the title of Mahd 'Isa (the Cradle of Jesus)--peace be upon Him!--and they have suspended a great number of lamps there, of silver and of brass, that are lighted every night.
After passing the entrance to this mosque, near by the (south-east) angle of the east wall (of the Haram Area), you come to a great and beautiful mosque, which is other than that called the Cradle of Jesus, and is of many times its size. This is called the Masjid al Aksa (or the Further Mosque), and it is that to which Allah--be He exalted and glorified!--brought His chosen (Apostle) in the night journey from Mekkah, and from here caused him to ascend up into Heaven, even as is adverted to in the words of the Kuran, 'I declare the glory of Him who transported His servant by night from the Masjid al Haram' (the Sacred Temple at Mekkah) `to the Masjid al Aksa' (the temple that is more remote at Jerusalem).[`Kuran,' ch. xvii., ver. I.] On this spot they have built, with utmost skill, a mosque. Its floor is spread with beautiful carpets, and special servants are appointed for its service, to serve therein continually.
From the (south-east) angle, and along the south wall (of the Haram Area) for the space of two hundred ells, there is no building, and this is (part of) the court (of the Haram Area). The main building (of the Aksa Mosque)[The Persian word, Pushish, `covered part,' corresponds with the Arabic term, Mughatta, which has the same signification. The `covered part' of a mosque is the main building over the great Mihrab, and the pulpit, in front of which public worship is performed, and is so-called to distinguish this part from the mosque court with its minor chapels and colonnades, all of which, however, are considered to form a necessary part of the mosque (Masjid), and to be included under the general term.] is very large, and contains the Maksurah (or space railed off for the officials), which is built against the south wall (of the Haram Area). The length of the western side of the main building (of the Aksa) measures four hundred and twenty cubits, and the width of it is one hundred and fifty cubits.[These are the figures in the B. M. MS., which are also those of M. Schefer's translation. His text, however, runs as follows, and differs both from his translation and the text of the B. M. MS.: `The main building of the (Aksa) mosque is very large. Its length is four hundred and eight cubits, and the Maksurah.lies to the right hand against the south wall. The western side of the main building measures four hundred and fifty cubits in the width: The figures, however, in both versions are much in excess of the true measure ments.] The Aksa Mosque has two hundred and eighty marble columns, supporting arches that are fashioned of stone, and both, the shafts and the capitals of the columns are sculptured. All joints are riveted with lead, so that nothing can be more firm. Between the columns measures six ells, and the mosque is everywhere flagged with coloured marble, with the joints likewise riveted in lead. The Maksurah is facing the centre of the south wall (of the Mosque and Haram Area), and is of such size as to contain sixteen columns. Above rises a mighty dome[In 425 A.H. (1033), the dome of the Aksa Mosque had been seriously damaged by a shock of earthquake. It was restored next year by order of the Fatimite Khalif of Egypt, Ad' Dhahir, the work, according to the extant inscription in the Dome, having been terminated in the month Dhtu l Ka`adah, 426 A.H. (September, 1035), that is, less than eleven years prior to our Pilgrim's visit.] that is ornamented with enamel work, after the fashion to be seen in other parts of the Noble Sanctuary. In this place there is spread Maghribi matting, and there are lamps and lanterns, each suspended by its separate chain.
The great Mihrab (or prayer niche towards Mekkah) is adorned with enamel work,[The present Mihrab only dates from the time of Saladin, who restored the whole of the Aksa Mosque, after retaking the Holy City from the Crusaders.] and on either side the Mihrab are two columns of marble, of the colour of red carnelian. The whole of the low wall round the Maksurah is built of coloured marble. To the right (of the Great Mihrab) is the Mihrla of (the Khalif) Mu'awiyah, and to the left is the Mihrab of (the Khalit) Omar--may Allah grant him acceptance! The roof of the (Aksa) Mosque is constructed of wood, beautifully sculptured. Outside the doors and walls of the Maksiirah, and in the parts lying towards the court (of the Haram Area) are fifteen gateways (dargah), each of which is closed by a finely-wrought door, measuring ten ells in height by six ells in the breadth. Ten of these doorways open in the (east) wall (of the mosque), which is four hundred and twenty cubits in length, and there are five in the width (or north wall) of the mosque, that measures one hundred and fifty cubits.[The fifteen gates are mentioned by Mukaddasi (Translation, p. 42), who, however, states that these were all on the north side of the mosque, adding that eleven others opened on the east side.] Among these gates there is one of brass, most finely wrought and beautiful, so that one would say it was of gold set in with fired-silver (niello ?) and chased.[This is `the Great Brazen Gate,' mentioned by Mukaddasi loc. cit.] The name of the Khalif Al Mamun is upon it,[M. Schefer is, I believe, incorrect when he states in a note to his Translation (p. 81, note 2), that this inscription of Al Mamun is extant. It is certainly not reproduced by M. de Vogue in his work on Le Temple de Jerusalem (p. 86), which is the reference given by M. Schefer, and I can find no mention of it elsewhere.] and they relate that Al Mamun sent it from Baghdad. When all these gates of the mosque are set open the interior of the building is light, even as though it were a court open to the sky. When there is wind and rain they close these gates, and then the light comes from the windows.
Along all the four sides of the main building (of the Aksa Mosque) are chests (sanduk) that belong each to one of the various cities of Syria and 'Irak, and near these the Mujawiran (or pilgrims who are residing for a time in the Holy City) take their seat, even as is done in the Haram Mosque at Mekkah--may Allah, be He glorified! ennoble the same.
Beyond the main building (of the Aksa), along the great (south) wall (of the Haram Area) afore mentioned, rises a colonnade of two and forty arches, the columns being all of coloured marble. This colonnade joins the one that is along the west (wall of the Area).[See above (p. 30). This is in the place afterwards occupied by the hall erected by the Knights Templars for their armoury, and which at the present opens from the Aksa Mosque, and is called Baka'at al Baidha, or Aksa al Kadimah.] Inside the main building (of the Aksa) there is a tank in the ground which, when the cover is set on, lies level with the floor, and its use is for the rain water, which, as it comes down, drains therein. In the south wall (of the Haram Area) is a gate leading to the places for the ablution, where there is running water.[This gate does not, I believe, exist at the present day. The present Bab al Mutawadda (the Gate of the Place of Ablution) opens on the west side of the Haram Area, and has nothing to do with the one here mentioned, which I take to have been in the souterains of the Aksa. The Ablution-place was just within the northern entrance to the Double Passage close to the `Well of the Leaf;' there are still the remains of water-pipes here, and of chambers. Ibn Batutah, in A.D. 1326, states that, `in the south wall (of the Haram Area) is a single gate, that by which the Imam enters.' (Edition by B. de Meynard, vol. i., p. I2I). (See also below, p. 41, note.)] When a person has need to make the ablution (before prayer), he goes down to this place and accomplishes what is prescribed; for had the place (of ablution) been set without the walls, by reason of the great size of the Haram Area, no one could have returned in time, and before the appointed hour for prayer had gone by.
The roofs of all the buildings in the Haram Area are covered with lead. Below the ground-level are numerous tanks and water-cisterns hewn out of the rock, for the Noble Sanctuary rests everywhere on a foundation of live rock. There are so many of these cisterns that, however much rain falls, no water flows away to waste, but is all caught in the tanks, whence the people come to draw it. They have constructed leaden conduits for carrying down the water, and the rock cisterns lie below these, with covered passages leading down therein, through which the conduits pass to the tanks; whereby any loss of water is saved, and impurities are kept therefrom. At a distance of three leagues from the Holy City I saw a great water-tank, whereinto pour all the streams that flow down from the hills.[Solomon's Pools in Wadi Urtas.] From thence they have brought an aqueduct that comes out into the Noble Sanctuary. Of all parts of the Holy City this is where water is most plentiful. But in every house, also, there is a cistern for collecting the rain water, for other than this water there is none, and each must store the rain which falls upon his roof. The water used in the hot-baths and other places is solely from the storage of the rains.
The tanks that are below the Haram Area never need to be repaired, for they are cut in the live rock. Any place where there may have been originally a fissure or a leakage, has been so solidly built up that the tanks never fall out of order. It is said that these cisterns were constructed by Solomon--peace be upon him! The roofing of them is like that of a baker's oven (tannur). Each opening is covered with a stone, as at a well-mouth, in order .that nothing may fall down therein. The water of the Holy City is sweeter than the water of any other place, and purer; and even when no rain falls for two or three days the conduits still run with water, for though the sky be clear and there be no trace (ef cloud), the dew causes drops to fall.[Mukaddasi (Translation, p. 84) remarks on the plentiful dew-fall in Palestine, and says that 'every night when the south wind blows, the gutters of the Aksa Mosque are set running.']
As I have written above, the Holy City stands on the summit. of a hill, and its site is not on level ground. The place, however, where the Noble Sanctuary stands is flat and on the level; but without the Area the enclosing wall varies in height in different places, by reason that where the fall is abrupt, the Haram wall is the highest, for the foundation of the wall lies at the bottom of the declivity; and where the ground mounts, the wall, on the other hand, has, of need, been built less high. Wherever, in the city itself and in the suburbs, the level is below that in the Haram Area, they have made gateways, like tunnels (nakab), cut through, that lead up into the court (of the Noble Sanctuary). One such as these is called Bab an Nabi (or the Gate of the Prophet)--peace and blessing be upon him!--which opens towards the Kiblah point, that is towards the south.[From its orientation south, this gate cannot be the present `Gateof the Prophet,' otherwise called Bab al Magharibah, or of the Moghrebins, which opens west, at the south extremity of the west wall. Nasir's Gate of the Prophet most probably opened at the place in the south wall originally occupied by either the' Double Gate' or the 'Triple Gate,' both of which at the present day are closed.]
(The passage-way of this gate) is ten ells broad, and the height varies by reason of the steps; in one place it is five ells high, and in others the roof of the passage-way is twenty ells above you. Over this passage-way has been erected the main building of the (Aksa) Mosque, for the masonry is so solidly laid that they have been able to raise the enormous building that is seen here, without any damage arising to what is below. They have made use of stones of such a size, that the mind cannot conceive how, by human power, they were carried up and set in place. It is said, however, that the building was accomplished by Solomon, the son of David--peace be upon him! The Prophet--peace and blessing be upon him!--on the night of his Ascent into Heaven (Mi`raj), passed into the Noble Sanctuary through this passage-way, for the gateway opens on the road from Mekkah. Near it, in the wall, is seen. the imprint on the stone of a great shield. It is said to be that of Hamzah ibn 'Abd al Mutallib, the Prophet's uncle--peace be upon him!--who once seated himself here with his shield on his back, and leaning against the wall, left the mark of the same thereon. This gateway of the Haram leading into the tunnelled passage-way, is closed by a double-leafed door, and the wall of the Haram Area outside it is of a height of near upon fifty ells. The reason for the piercing of this gateway was to enable the inhabitants of the suburb lying obliquely beyond to enter the Haram Area at their pleasure, without having to pass through other quarters of the city. To the right of this gateway there is in the wall a block of stone eleven[M. Schefer's text reads 'fifteen.' Referring apparently to the stones in the `Great Course.'] cubits high and four cubits across, and this is larger than any other of the stones of the wall, although there are many others that measure four and five ells across set in the masonry at a height of thirty and forty ells.
In the width of the Haram Area there is a gate, opening towards the east, called Bab al 'Ain[The `width' (pahna) would seem to imply the south wall of the area, and in this case the walled-up 'Single Gate' is probably the one referred to. But if the Bab al 'Ain was in the east wall it must then be identified with the gate sometimes called Bab al Janaiz (the Gate of the Funerals), long since walled up.] (or the Gate of the Spring); passing out from which you descend a declivity to the Spring of Silwan (Siloam). There is also another gate (the passage-way of which) is excavated in the ground, and it is called Bab al Hittah (the Gate of Remission).[The present Bab an Nabi.] They say that this is the gate by which God-be He exalted and glorified!--commanded the Children of Israel to enter the Noble Sanctuary, according to His word--be He exalted!--(in the Kurran),[Chapter ii. 55.] `Enter ye the gate with prostrations, and say (Hittah), " Remission!" and We will pardon you your sins, and give an increase to the doers of good.'
There is still another gate (to the Haram Area), and it is called Bab as Sakinah (the Gate of the Shechinah, or Divine Presence),[The Gate of the Shechinah (according to Suyuti) stood close beside the Bab as Silsilah, the Gate of the Chain, and both gateways opened apparently into the same street. The present Bab as Salam.] and in the hall (dahliz) adjacent thereto is a mosque that has many Mihrabs (or prayer niches). The door at the entrance thereof is barred, so that no one can pass through. They say that the Ark of the Shechinah, which God--be He exalted and glorified!--has alluded to in the Kuran, was once placed here, but was borne away by Angels. The whole number of gates, both upper and lower, in the Noble Sanctuary of the Holy City, is nine, and we have here above described them.[Ten gates in all have been mentioned, viz.: 1. Al Hittah; 2. An Nabi; 3. Al 'Ain; 4. Ar Rahmah and At Taubah; 5. Bab al Abwab; 6. Al Asbat; 7.To Suffi Cloisters; 8. As Sakar; 9. Daud; 10. As Sakinah.]
In the middle of the court of the Haram Area is the platform (dukkan), and set in the midst thereof is the Sakhrah (or Rock), which before the revelation of Islam was the Kiblah (or point turned to in prayer). The platform was constructed by reason that the Rock, being high, could not be brought within the compass of the mainbuilding (of the Aksa Mosque). Wherefore the foundations of this platform were laid, measuring three hundred and thirty cubits by three hundred,[The dimensions of the width (`300 cubits') are omitted in theB. M. MS., and are inserted from M. Schefer's text. The platform at the present day measures roughly:-North side, 530 feet; south side, 435 feet; east side, 550 feet; west side, 560 feet. Three hundred and thirty cubits for the length north to south gives 660 feet, and three hundred cubits (?) for the breadth east and west gives 600 feet, which, if exact, would show that in our Pilgrim's days the platform was larger than it is at present] and the height thereof twelve ells.
The surface of the same is level and beautifully paved with slabs of marble, with walls the like, all the joints being riveted with lead. Along the edge of its four sides are parapets of marble blocks, that fence it round, so that, except by the openings left for that purpose, you cannot come thereto. From up on the platform you command a view over the roofs of the (Aksa) Mosque. There is an underground tank in the midst of the platform, whereto is collected, by means of conduits, all the rain-water that falls on the platform itself; and the water of this tank is sweeter and purer than is the water of any other of the tanks in the Haram Area.
On the platform rise four domes. The largest of them is the Kubbat as Sakhrah (the Dome of the Rock), which Rock was of old the Kiblah. This dome is so situate as to stand in the middle of the platform, which itself occupies the middle of the Haram Area. The edifice is built in the form of a regular octagon, and each of its eight sides measures three-and-thirty cubits.[Each of the sides of the octagonal building measures rather over sixty-six feet, giving roughly two feet for the size of the cubit.] There are four gates facing the four cardinal points, namely, east, west, north, and south; and between each of these is one of the oblique sides of the octagon. The walls are everywhere constructed of squared stones, and are twenty cubits (in height). The Rock itself measures a hundred ells round; it has no regular form, being neither square nor circular, but is shapeless, like a boulder from the mountains. Beyond the four sides of the Rock rise four piers of masonry that equal in height the walls of the (octagonal) building, and between every two piers, on the four sides, stand a pair of marble pillars, which are like to the height of the piers. Resting on these twelve piers and pillars is the structure of the dome, under which lies the Rock; and the circumference of the dome is one hundred and twenty cubits.[From the very exact plans in M. de Vogue's `Jderusalem,' the full diameter of the drum of the Dome is twenty-three metres or seventy-five and a half feet. This gives a circumference of two hundred and thirty-seven feet, which agrees very well with the hundred and twenty cubits (two hundred and forty feet) of the text.] Between the walls of the (octagonal) building, and the circle of piers and pillars--and by the term `pier' (sutan) I understand a support that is built up, and is square; while the term `pillar' (ustuwanah) denotes a support that is cut from a single block of stone, and is round--between this inner circle of supports, then, and the outer walls of the edifice, are built eight[The B. M. MS. and M. Schefer's text both give `six' as the number of piers in the outer circle, but this neither corresponds with what follows some lines below (where the total number of the piers in outer and inner circles is stated to be twelve, i.e., four plus eight), nor with the actual condition of the Dome of the Rock, which apparently never had more than four piers in the inner, and eight in the outer circle.] other piers of squared stones, and between every two of them are placed, equidistant, three columns in coloured marble. Thus, while in the inner circle between every two piers there are two columns, there are here (in the outer circle) between every two piers, three columns.[Thus in all MSS., but possibly our Pilgrim has made a mistake. To agree with the present arrangement of piers and columns he should have said: `Between each of the four piers of the inner circle are three columns, and between each of the eight outer piers are two columns,' i.e. (4 + 8) twelve piers, and (4 x 3 plus 8 x 2) twenty-eight columns. See however, At Ya`kubi's description (circa 874 A.D.), as given in the Quart. State,, for April, 1887 (p. 95), who says there are twelve piers and thirty columns.] On the capital of each pier are set four volutes (shakh), from each of which springs an arch; and on the capital of each column are set two volutes; so that at every column is the spring of two arches, while at every pier is the spring of four.
The great Dome, which rises above the twelve piers standing round the Rock, can be seen from the distance of a league away, rising like the summit of a mountain. From the base of the Dome to its pinnacle measures thirty cubits, and this rises above the (octagonal) walls that are twenty ells high--for the Dome is supported on the pillars that are like in height to the outer walls--and the whole building rises on a platform that itself is twelve ells high, so that from the level of the Court of the Noble Sanctuary to the summit of the Dome measures a total of sixty-two ells.[I note this as the principal passage for proving that Nasir-i- Khusrau uses the terms `gez' (ell) and `arch' (cubit) synonymously. On a previous page he has said that the platform is twelve arsh high; here he says it measures twelve gez, and this added to twenty gez (walls) and to thirty arsh (dome) makes sixty-two gez. The height of the Dome of the Rock at the present day, measuring from floor to summit of Dome, is, roughly, one hundred and twelve feet. Our Pilgrim estimates it (deducting the height of the platform) at fifty ells or cubits, i.e., one hundred feet.] The roofing and the ceiling of this edifice are in woodwork, that is set above the piers, and the pillars, and the walls, after a fashion not to be seen elsewhere. The Rock itself rises out of the floor to the height of a man, and a balustrade of marble goes round about it in order that none may lay his hand thereon. The Rock inclines on the side that is towards the Kiblah (or south), and there is an appearance as though a person had walked heavily on the stone when it was soft like clay, whereby the imprint of his toes had remained thereon. There are on the rock seven such footmarks, and I heard it stated that Abraham--peace be upon him;--was once here with Isaac--upon him be peace!--when he was a boy, and that he walked over this place, and that the footmarks were his.
In the house of the Dome of the Rock men are always congregated, pilgrims and worshippers. The place is laid with fine carpets of silk and other stuffs. In the middle of the Dome, and over the Rock, there hangs from a silver chain a silver lamp; and there are in other parts of the building great numbers of silver lamps, on each of which is inscribed its weight. These lamps are all the gift of the (Fatimite Khalif, who is) Sultan of Egypt, and according to the calculation I made, there must be here silver utensils of various kinds of the weight of a thousand Manns (or about a ton and a half). I saw there a huge wax taper that was.seven cubits high, and three spans (shibr) in diameter. It was (white) like the camphor of Zibaj,[Zibaj or Zabij--according to the author of the `Marasid al Ittila'-is the name of the country in the further parts of India, on the frontiers of China, i.e., Cochin China (?).] and (the wax) was mixed with ambergris. They told me that the Sultan of Egypt sent hither every year a great number of tapers, and among the rest, the large one just described, on which the name of the Sultan was written in golden letters.
The Noble Sanctuary is the third of the Houses of God--be He exalted and glorified!--and the doctors of religion concur in saying that a single prayer offered up here, in this Holy City, has vouchsafed to it the effect of five-and-twenty thousand prayers said elsewhere; just as in Medinah, the City of the Prophet--peace and benediction be upon him!--every single prayer may count for fifty thousand, while each that is said in Mekkah, the Venerable--God, be He exalted, ennoble the City!--will pass for a hundred thousand. And God--be He exalted and glorified!--give grace to all His servants, that they may one day acquit themselves of such prayers!
As I have said before, all the roof and the exterior parts of the Dome of the Rock is covered with lead, and at each of the four sides of the edifice is set a great gate, with double folding-doors of Saj-wood (or teak). These doors are always kept closed.
Besides the Dome of the Rock there is (on the platform) the dome called Kubbat as Silsilah (or the Dome of the Chain). The `chain' is that which David--peace be upon him!--hung up, and it was so that none who spoke not the truth could grasp it, the unjust and the wicked man could not lay hand on it, which same is a certified fact, and well known to the learned. This Dome is supported on eight marble columns, and six stone piers;[The present Dome of the Chain has six columns in the inner circle supporting the cupola, and eleven columns in the outer circle (counting the two built in on either side the Prayer-niche).] and on all sides it is open, except on the side towards the Kiblah point, which is built up, and forms a beautiful Mihrab.
And again, on the platform, is another Dome, that surmounts four marble columns. This, too, on the Kiblah side, is walled in, forming a fine Mihrab. It is called Kubbat Jibrail (the Dome of Gabriel); and there are no carpets spread here, for its floor is formed by the live rock, that has been here made smooth. They say that on the night of the Mi'raj (the ascent into heaven), the steed Burak was tied up at this spot, until the Prophet--peace and benediction be upon him!--was ready to mount. Lastly, there is yet another Dome, lying twenty cubits distant from the Dome of Gabriel, and it is called Kubbat ar Rasul (or the Dome of the Prophet)--peace and benediction be upon him![Now generally known as the Kubbat al Mi'raj, the Dome of the Ascension.] This Dome, likewise, is set upon four marble piers.
They say that, on the night of his ascent into heaven, the Prophet--peace and benediction be upon him!--prayed first in the Dome of the Rock, laying his hand upon the Rock. And as he came forth, the Rock, to do him honour, rose up, but the Prophet--peace and benediction be upon him!--laid his hand thereon to keep it in its place, and there firmly fixed it. But, by reason of this uprising, even to the present day, it is here partly detached (from the ground below). The Prophet--the peace of Allah be upon him, and His benediction!--went on thence and came to the Dome which is now called after him, and there he mounted (the steed) Burak; and for this reason is the Dome venerated. Underneath the Rock is a large cavern, where they continually burn tapers, and they say that when the Rock moved in order to rise up (in honour o£ the Prophet), this space below was left void, and that the Rock became fixed, and so it has remained; even as may now be seen.
Now, regarding the stairways that lead up on to the platform of the court of the Noble Sanctuary, these are six in number, each with its own name.
On the side (south) towards the Kiblah, there are two flights of steps that go up on to the platform. As you stand by the middle of the retaining wall of the platform (on the south), there is one flight to the right hand and another to the left. That lying on the right is called Makam an Nabi (the Prophet's Station)--peace be upon him!--and that lying on the left is called Makam Ghuri (or the Station of Ghuri). The stairway of the Prophet's Station is so called for that on the night of his ascent the Prophet--upon him be peace and blessing!--went up to the platform thereby, going thence to the Dome of the Rock. And the road hither from the Hijjaz comes by this stair. At the present day this stairway is twenty cubits broad, and each step is a rectangular block of carefully chiselled stone in one piece, or sometimes in two. The steps are laid in such a fashion that it would be possible to ride on horseback up on to the platform thereby. At the top of this stairway are four piers (sutun) of marble, green, like the emerald, only that the marble is variegated with numberless coloured spots ; and these pillars are ten cubits in height, and so thick that it would take two men to encompass them. Above the capitals of these four pillars rise three arches, one opposite the gate, and one on either side; and (the masonry) crowning the arches is flat-topped and rectangular with battlements (kangurah) and a cornice (shurfah) set therein. These pillars and the arches are ornamented in gold and enamel work, than which none can tie finer.
The balustrade (dar-afrin) round the (edge of the) platform is of green marble variegated with spots, so that one would say it was a meadow covered with flowers in bloom.
The stairway of Makam Ghuri consists of a triple flight, and the three lead up together on to the platform, one in the middle and two on either side, so that by three ways can people go up. At the summit of each of the three flights are columns supporting arches with a cornice. Each step is skilfully cut, of squared stone, as noted above, and each may consist of two or three blocks in the length. Over the arcade above is set a beautiful inscription in gold, stating that it was constructed by command of the Amir Laith ad Daulah Nushtakin Ghuri, and they told me that this Laith and Daulah had been a servant of the Sultan of Egypt, and had caused these steps and gangways to be built.[Anushtakfn Amfr al Juyush (Generalissimo), originally .a Turk stave from Khoten, was Governor of Syria, under the Fatimite Khalif Ad Dhahir, from 419 A.H. (1028 A.D.) to 433 (1041). It would appear that this stairway was destroyed during the Frank occupation, or later, for at the present day there is no triple flight of steps leading up on this side of the platform. There are, however, two separate stairways, as of old, but each is of a single flight.]
On the western side pf the platform there are, likewise, two flights of steps leading up thereon, and constructed with the same skill as those I have just described. On the east side there is but one flight. It is built after a like fashion to the foregoing, with columns and an arch with battlements above, and it is named Makam Sharki (or the Eastern Station). On the northern side (of the platform) there is also a single stairway, but it is higher and broader than are any of the others. As with those, there are here columns and arches built (at the top of the flight), and it goes by the name of Makam.Shami (that is the Syrian or Northern Station). According to the estimate I made, these six flights of steps must have had expended upon them one hundred thousand dinars (or £50,000).
In the court of the Haram Area, but not upon the platform, is a building resembling a small mosque. It lies towards the north side, and is a walled enclosure (hadhirah), built of squared stones, with walls of over a man's height. It is called the Mihrab Daud (or David's Oratory)[This Mihrab Daud,which is said to be in the northern portion of the Haram Area, and near the Kursi Sulaimn, can hardly be the place named at present `the Oratory of David,' which is a niche in the great south wall of the Area. It is probably the Kubbat Sulaiman of Mujir ad Din, near the Bab al 'Atm, and lying south-west of that gate.] . Near this enclosure is a rock, standing up about as high as a man, and the summit of it, which is uneven, is rather smaller than would suffice for spreading thereon a (prayer) rug (zilu). This place, they say, was the Throne of Solomon (Kursi Sulaimin), and they relate that Solomon--peace be upon him! --sat thereon while occupied with building the Noble Sanctuary.
Such, then, are the sights I saw in the Noble Sanctuary of the Holy City; and noted down in the diary that I wrote; and, lastly, among other wonders that I saw in the Sanctuary of the Holy City was the Tree of the Houris.[According to Muslim tradition, the Houris appeared to Mohammed under some trees, not far from the Platform of the Rock, when he came hither on the night when he went up to heaven on the steed Burak.]
Now, it was my intention to go down from the Holy City and make my visitation (at Hebron, to the tomb of) Abraham, the Friend of the Merciful--peace and benediction be upon him!--and on Wednesday, the first day of the month of Dhu-1 Ka'adah, of the year of the Flight 438 (29th April, 1047 A.D.), I set out. From the Holy City to Hebron is six leagues, and the road runs towards the south. Along the way are many villages with gardens and cultivated fields. Such trees as need little water, as, for example, the vine and the fig, the olive and the sumach, grow here abundantly, and of their own accord. A couple of leagues from the Holy City is a place where there are four villages; and there is here a spring of water with numerous gardens and orchards, and it is called Faradis (or the Paradises), on account of the beauty of the spot.[These must be in the valley of Urtas, which runs down to Jabal Faradis--the ancient Herodium, and at the present day vulgarly called Frank Mountain. In the name Urtas--where are the so-called `Pools of Solomon'--M. Schefer would see a corruption of the Latin Hortus, with the same meaning as Firdus (Plural, Furadis), which is the original Persian word for a paradise or park.] At the distance of a league from the Holy City is a place belonging to the Christians, which they hold in greatest veneration, and there are always numerous pilgrims of their people who come hither to perform their visitation. The place is called Bait al Lahm (Bethlehem). The Christians hold a festival here, and many will come for it all the way from Rum (or the Greek Empire). The day I myself left the Holy City I passed the night at Bethlehem.
The people of Syria, and the inhabitants of the Holy City, call the Sanctuary (or Mash-had at Hebron) Khalil (that is, `the Friend' of Allah, Abraham)--His blessing be upon him!--and they never make use of the real name of the village, which name is Matlun.[Hebron in the early Arab annals is divided into four quarters or villages--Habran, Marthun, Bait 'Ainun, and Bait Ibraham. Mathlun is doubtless a corruption of the second of these names (see Yakut's `Geographical Dictionary,' text, vol. ii., p. 195).]
This Sanctuary has belonging to it very many villages that provide revenues for pious purposes. At one of these villages is a spring, where water flows out from under a stone, but in no great abundance; and it is conducted by a channel, cut in the ground, to a place outside the town (of Hebron), where they have constructed a covered tank for collecting the water, so that none may run to waste, and that the people of the town, and the pilgrims, may be able to supply their wants. The Sanctuary (Mash-had) stands on the southern border of the town, and extends towards the south-east.[The exact orientation of the quadrangle is fifty degrees true bearing, and consequently the great Mihrab of the Kiblah point lies almost exactly south-east.] The Sanctuary is enclosed by four walls, built of squared masonry, and in its upper part (the area) measures eighty cubits long by forty cubits across.[The exact dimensions externally of the Haram Walls, as measured by T.R.H. Prince Albert Victor and Prince George of Wales during their visit (1882), are one hundred and ninety-seven feet by one hundred and eleven feet. Our Pilgrim's measurement is considerably under the real size. The average outside height of the ancient (or Herodian?) walls is forty feet, or twenty cubits, as in the text.] The height of the (exterior) walls is twenty cubits, and at their summit the width of the walls is two cubits. The Mihrab (or niche) and the Maksurah (or enclosed space for Friday prayers) stand in the width of the building (at the south end). In the Maksurah are many fine Mihrabs. There are two tombs occupying the Maksurah,[The present building, known as the church, is of the time of the Crusaders. The building Nasir saw has disappeared.] laid so that their heads lie towards the Kiblah (point, south). Both these tombs are covered by cenotaphs, built of squared stones as high as a man. That lying on the right hand (to the west) is the grave of Isaac, son of Abraham; and that on the left (or to the east is the grave of his wife (Rebecca)--peace be upon them!
Between the two graves may measure the space of about ten cubits. In this part of the Sanctuary the floor and the walls are adorned with precious carpets and Maghribi matting that is more costly even than brocade stuff (diba). I saw here a piece of matting, serving as a prayer-rug, which they told me the Amir al Juyush (or Captain-General), in the service of the Sultan of Egypt, had sent hither, and, they said that at Cairo (Misr) this prayer-rug had been bought for thirty gold Maghribi dinars (or about £15). Now, the same quantity of Rumi (or Greek) brocade would not have cost so much, and the equal of this mat I never saw elsewhere.
Leaving the Maksurah, you find in the court of the Sanctuary two buildings. Facing the Kiblah (point, south), the one lying on the right hand (or to the west), contains the Tomb of Abraham, the Friend of Allah--His blessing be upon him! This building is of such a size that inside it is another building which you cannot. enter, but which has in it four windows, through which the pilgrims, who stand about it, may look and view the tomb that is within. The walls and the floor of this chamber are covered with brocade stuffs, and the cenotaph is made of stone, measuring three ells (in length), with many silver lamps and lanterns hung above it. The other edifice, lying on the left hand as you face the Kiblah (or on the eastern side), has within it the Tomb of Sarah, the wife of Abraham--peace be upon him! Between the two edifices is the passage-way that leads to both, and this is like a hall (dahliz), and here also are suspended numerous lamps and lanterns.
After passing by these two edifices, you come to two other sepulchral chambers lying close one to another, that to the right (or on the west side) containing the Tomb of the Prophet Jacob--peace be upon him!--and that to the left (or east side) the Tomb of his wife (Leah). Beyond this again are other buildings, where Abraham the blessing of Allah be upon him!--was wont to dispense his hospitality; but within the Sanctuary there are these six tombs only. Outside the four walls (of the Sanctuary) the ground slopes away, and here on the (west) side is the Sepulchre of Joseph, the son of Jacob--peace be upon them both!--over whose gravestone they have built a beautiful dome.
On this side, where the ground is level--that is, beyond the Sepulchre of Joseph and the Sanctuary--lies a great cemetery, whither they bring the dead from many parts to be buried. On the flat roof of the Maksurah, in the (Hebron) Sanctuary, they have built cells for the reception of the pilgrims who come hither; and their revenues for this charity are considerable, being derived from villages fand houses in the Holy City. They grow at Hebron for the most part barley, wheat being rare; but olives are in abundance. The pilgrims, and voyagers, and other guests (of the Sanctuary), are given bread and olives. There are very many mills here, worked by oxen and mules, that all day long grind the flour; and, further, there are slave-girls who, during the whole day, are baking the bread. The loaves they make here are each of them of a Mann weight (or about three pounds), and to every person who arrives they give daily a loaf of bread, and a dish of lentils cooked in olive-oil, also some raisins. This practice has been in usage from the days of (Abraham) the Friend of the Merciful--peace be upon him!--down to the present hour;and there are some days when as many as five hundred pilgrims arrive, to each of whom this hospitality is offered.
It is said that in early times the Sanctuary (at Hebron) had no door into it, and hence that no one could come nearer to (the tombs) than the outer porch (iwan), whence, from outside, they performed their visitation. When, however, the (Fatimite Khalif) Mahdi came to the throne of Egypt,['Ubaid Allah al Mahdi, the founder of the Fatimite dynasty, who, in the year 306 A.H. (918 A.D.), was for some tittle Master of Egypt.] he gave orders that a door should be opened (into the Sanctuary), and he provided utensils and carpet and rugs, besides causing many (convenient) edifices to be built. The entrance door of the Sanctuary is in the middle of the northern wall,[The only doorway that pierces the Haram walls at the present day is at about the centre of the eastern wall. As, however, the Kiblah point is really south-east--though our Pilgrim always speaks of it as south--the long wall of the Haram on the left hand (facing the Kiblah) is in truth the north-east wall, and a door in it might be said to face north, for north-east.] and is four ells high from the ground. On either side of it are stone steps, one stairway for going up, and one for coming down, and the gateway is closed by a small iron door.
From Hebron I came back to the Holy City, and thence set out on foot with a company of people whose intention it was to make the journey to the Hijjaz. Our guide was a certain man, Abu Bakr Hamadani by name, who was of a pleasant countenance and sturdy, and he walked afoot. We started from the Holy City on the 15th of Dhu-l Ka'adah, in the year 438 (14th May, 1047 A.D.); and, after three days, reached a place called Ar'ar,[So in all the MSS., including the Epitome, which begins again at this point. M. Schefer's translation gives `Izra,' but he adds in a note that the reading of the name is uncertain. Ar'ar or Ar'air is probably Aroer, on the Arnon (Wadi Mojib). Wadi-l Kura lies on the limit of the territory of Medinah.] where there is running water and trees. Thence we came on to a further stage,[The B. M. MS. breaks off here and, leaving out a page, continues with the words trantslated at note () on p. 61. My translation is from M. Schefer's text.] called Wadi-l Kura, from which place in ten days' journey we reached Mekkah. No (pilgrim) caravan had arrived there that year from any quarter, and provisions were scarce, for everybody was in fear of the (bedawin) Arabs. At Mekkah we alighted in the street of the perfume-sellers, which is by the Gate of the Prophet--peace be upon him!--and on the Monday were present at 'Arafat. When I had come back from the ceremony, I remained but two days longer at Mekkah; and then took the road towards Syria, returning to (Jerusalem) the Holy City, which I entered again on the 5th of Muharram, of the Lunar year (of the Flight) 439 (2nd July, 1047). I shall not now give a description of Mekkah and the Pilgrimage there, but shall reserve all mention thereof till I come to speak of my subsequent visit.
In the Holy City (of Jerusalem), the Christians possess a church which they call Bai'at-al-Kumamah[Literally, 'the Church of the Dunghill,' for the word Kumamah is a designed corruption on the part of the Muslims of Kayamah, the Arabic name of the church, meaning Anastasis, or Resurrection.] (which is the Church of the Resurrection), and they hold it in great veneration. Every year great multitudes of people from Rum (the Greek Empire) come hither to perform their visitation; and the Emperor of Byzantium himself even comes here, but privily, so that no one should recognise him. In the days when (the Fatimite Khalif) Al Hakim-bi-amr-Allah was ruler of Egypt, the Greek Caesar had come after this manner to Jerusalem. Al Hakim having news of it, sent for one of his cup-bearers, and said to him, `There is a man of so and such a countenance and condition whom thou wilt find seated in the mosque (Jami`) of the Holy City; go thou, therefore, and approach him, and say that Hakim hath sent thee to him, lest he should think that I, Hakim, knew not of his coming; but tell him to be of good cheer, for I have no evil intention against him.'
Hakim at one time ordered the church (of the Resurrection) to be given over to plunder, which was so done, and it was laid in ruins.[The church was laid in ruins in the year 1009A.D. by the mad Khalif Hakim's orders, and was not rebuilt till 1037, under Al Mustansir, who granted this privilege to the Emperor Michael IV., the Paphlagonian, on consideration of his setting free five thousand Muslim captives.] Some time it remained thus; but afterwards the Caesar of Byzantium sent ambassadors with presents and promises of service, and concluded a treaty in which he stipulated for permission to defray the expenses of rebuilding the church, and this was ultimately accomplished.
At the present day the church is a most spacious building, and is capable of containing eight thousand persons. The edifice is built, with the utmost skill, of coloured marbles, with ornamentation and sculptures. Inside, the church is everywhere adorned with Byzantine brocade, worked in gold with pictures. And they have portrayed Jesus-peace be upon Him!--who at times is shown riding upon an ass. There are also pictures representing other of the Prophets, as, for instance, Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob with his sons--peace be upon them all! These pictures they have overlaid with a varnish of the oil of Sandaracha (Sandarus, or red juniper); and for the face of each portrait they have made a plate of thin glass, which is set thereon, and is perfectly transparent. This dispenses with the need of a curtain, and prevents any dust or dirt from settling on the painting, for the glass is cleaned daily by the servants (of the church). Besides this (Church of the Resurrection) there are many others (in Jerusalem), all very skilfully built; but to describe them all would lead into too great length. In the church (of the Resurrection) there is a picture divided into two parts, representing Heaven and Hell. One part shows the people of paradise in Paradise, while the other shows the people of hell in Hell, with all that there is therein; and assuredly there is nowhere else in the world a picture such as this. There are seated in this church great numbers of priests and monks who read the Evangel and say prayers, for both by day and by night they are occupied after this manner.
Now, it was my intention to have left the Holy City, and gone by sea to Egypt--before returning from thence to Mekkah-but the wind was so contrary as to make a sea-voyage impossible. I set out, therefore, by the landroad; and, after passing Ramlah, came to the city called 'Askalan (Ascalon). The bazaar and the mosque are both fine; and I saw here an arch, which they told me was ancient, and had been part of a mosque. The arch was built of such mighty stones that, should any desire to throw it down, he would spend much money before he could accomplish it. On the road beyond Ascalon I saw many villages and towns, to note each of which would be wearisome; so I omit the mention of the places I passed before coming to the town called Tinah, which is a harbour with many ships; and from Tinah I took passage in a ship going to Tinnis (in Egypt).