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THE Arabs, and the country they inhabit, which themselves call Jezîrat al Arab, or the Peninsula of the Arabians, but we Arabia, were so named from Araba, a small territory in the province of Tehâma;' to which Yarab the son of Kahtân, the father of the ancient Arabs, gave his name, and where, some ages after, dwelt Ismael the son of Abraham by Hagar. The Christian writers for several centuries speak of them under the appellation of Saxons; the most certain derivation of which word is from shark, the east, where the descendants of Joctan, the Kahtân of the Arabs, are placed by Moses," and in which quarter they dwelt in respect to the Jews.

The name of Arabia (used in a more extensive sense) sometimes comprehends all that large tract of land bounded by the river Euphrates, the Persian Gulf, the Sindian, Indian, and Red Seas, and part of the Mediterranean: above two-thirds of which country, that is, Arabia properly so called, the Arabs have possessed almost from the flood; and have made themselves masters of the rest, either by settlements, or continual incursions; for which reason the Turks and Persians at this day call the whole Arabistân, or the country of the Arabs.

But the limits of Arabia, in its more usual and proper sense. are much narrower, as reaching no farther northward than the Isthmus, which runs from Aila to the head of the Persian Gulf, and the borders of the territory of Cûfa; which tract of land the Greeks nearly comprehended under the name of Arabia the Happy. The eastern geographers make Arabia Petræa to belong partly to Egypt, and partly to Shâm or Syria, and the Desert Arabia they call the deserts of Syria.1

Proper Arabia is by the oriental writers generally divided into five provinces, viz. Yaman, Hejâz, Tehâma, Najd, and Yamâma; to which some add Bahrein, as a sixth, but this province the more exact make part of

? Gen. x. 30.

See Pocock, Specim. 5 Strabo says Arabia Felix was in his

2 Pocock, Specim. Hist. Arab. 33. 33, 34. Golius ad Alfragan. 78, 79. time divided into five kingdoms, lib. 16, p. 1129.



Irák: others reduce them all to two, Yaman and Hejâz, the last including the three other provinces of Tehâma, Najd, and Yamâma.

The province of Yaman, so called either from its situation to the right hand, or south of the temple of Mecca, or else from the happiness and verdure of its soil, extends itself along the Indian Ocean from Aden to Cape Rasalgat; part of the Red Sea bounds it on the west and south sides, and the province of Hejâz on the north. It is subdivided into several lesser provinces, as Hadramaut, Shihr, Omân, Najrân, &c. of which Shihr alone produces the frankincense. The metropolis of Yaman is Sanaa, a very ancient city, in former times called Ozal, and much celebrated for its delightful situation; but the prince at present resides about five leagues northward from thence, at a place no less pleasant, called Hisn almawâheb, or the Castle of delights. 9

This country has been famous from all antiquity for the happiness of its climate, its fertility and riches,' which induced Alexander the Great, after his return from his Indian expedition, to form a design of conquering it, and fixing there his royal seat; but his death, which happened soon after, prevented the execution of this project. Yet in reality, great part of the riches which the ancients imagined were the produce of Arabia, came really from the Indies, and the coasts of Africa; for the Egyptians, who had engrossed that trade, which was then carried on by way of the Red Sea, to themselves, industriously concealed the truth of the matter, and kept their ports shut, to prevent foreigners penetrating into those countries, or receiving any information thence: and this precaution of theirs on the one side, and the deserts, unpassable to strangers, on the other, were the reason why Arabia was so little known to the Greeks and Romans. The delightfulness and plenty of Yaman are owing to its mountains; for all that part which lies along the Red Sea is a dry, barren desert, in some places ten or twelve leagues over, but in return bounded by those mountains which, being well watered, enjoy an almost continual spring; and, besides coffee, the peculiar produce of this country, yield great plenty and variety of fruits, and in particular excellent corn, grapes, and spices. There are no rivers of note in this country, for the streams which at certain times of the year descend from the mountains, seldom reach the sea, being for the most part drunk up and lost in the burning sands of that coast.3

The soil of the other provinces is much more barren than that of Yaman; the greater part of their territories being covered with dry sands, or rising into rocks, interspersed here and there with some fruitful spots, which receive their greatest advantages from their water and palm trees.

The province of Hejâz, so named because it divides Najd from Tehâma, is bounded on the south by Yaman and Tehâma, on the west by the Red Sea, on the north by the deserts of Syria, and on the east by the province of Najd. This province is famous for its two chief cities, Mecca and Medina, one of which is celebrated for its temple, and having given birth to Mohammed; and the other for being the place of his residence for the last ten years of his life, and of his interment.

Mecca, sometimes also called Becca, which words are synonymous, and signify a place of great concourse, is certainly one of the most ancient cities in the world: it is by some thought to be the Mesa of the scripture, a

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Gol. ad Alfragan. 79. ad Alfragan. 79, 87. cges. v. 927, &c. heur. 121, 123, 153. R. Saadias in version.

8 Gol.

1 Vide Dionys. PeriVoyage de l'Arab.

4 Vide Gol. ad Alfrag. 98. Abulfeda Descr. Arab. p. 5.

Arab. Pentat. Sefer Juchasin. 135 b.

• Gen. x. 30.



name not unknown to the Arabians, and supposed to be taken from one of Ismael's sons. It is seated in a stony and barren valley, surrounded on all sides with mountains. The length of Mecca, from south to north, is about two miles, and its breadth, from the foot of the mountain Ajyad to the top of another called Koaikaân, about a mile. In the midst of this space stands the city, built of stone cut from the neighbouring mountains.' There being no springs at Mecca, at least none but what are bitter and unfit to drink,3 except only the well Zemzem, the water of which, though far the best, yet caunot be drank for any continuance, being brackish, and causing eruptions in those who drink plentifully of it, the inhabitants are obliged to use rainwater which they catch in cisterns. But this not being sufficient, several attempts were made to bring water thither from other places by aqueducts; and particularly about Mohammed's time, Zobair, one of the principal men of the tribe of Koreish, endeavoured at a great expense to supply the city with water from Mount Arafat, but without success; yet this was effected not many years ago, being begun at the charge of a wife of Solimân the Turkish emperor. But, long before this, another aqueduct had been made from a spring at a considerable distance, which was, after several years' labour, finished by the Khalif al Moktader."

The soil about Mecca is so very barren as to produce no fruits but what are common in the deserts, though the prince or Sharif has a garden well planted at his castle of Marbaa, about three miles westward from the city, where he usually resides. Having therefore no corn or grain of their own growth, they are obliged to fetch it from other places; and Hashem, Mohammed's great-grandfather, then prince of his tribe, the more effectually to supply them with provisions, appointed two caravans to set out yearly for that purpose, the one in summer, and the other in winter: these caravans of purveyors are mentioned in the Korân. The provisions brought by them were distributed also twice a year, viz. in the month of Rajeb, and at the arrival of the pilgrims. They are supplied with dates in great plenty from the adjacent country, and with grapes from Tayef, about sixty miles distant, very few growing at Mecca. The inhabitants of this city are generally very rich, being considerable gainers by the prodigious concourse of people of almost all nations at the yearly pilgrimage, at which time there is a great fair or mart for all kinds of merchandise. They have also great numbers of cattle, and particularly of camels: however, the poorer sort cannot but live very indifferently in a place where almost every necessary of life must be purchased with money. Notwithstanding this great sterility near Mecca, yet you are no sooner out of its territory than you meet on all sides with plenty of good springs and streams of running water, with a great many gardens and cultivated lands.1

The temple of Mecca, and the reputed holiness of this territory, will be treated of in a more proper place.

Medina, which till Mohammed's retreat thither was called Yathreb, is a walled city about half as big as Mecca, built in a plain, salt in many places, yet tolerably fruitful, particularly in dates, but more especially near the mountains, two of which, Ohod on the north, and Air on the south, are about two leagues distant. Here lies Mohammed interred3 in a mag8 Gol. ib 98.

Gol. ad Alfrag. 82. See Gen. xxv. 15.

of the religion and manners of the Mohammedans, p. 96.
apud Poc. Specim. 122. 1 Ibid.
Gol. ad Alfragan.
Edrisi ubi supra, 124. Ibid. and Pitts ubi supra, p. 107.
7 Sharif al Edrisi ubi supra. 8 Idem ib.


6 Ibid.

Sce Pitts' account
Sharif al Edrisi


3 Sharif al Gol. ad Alfrag Poc. Specim. 51.

1 Sharif al Edrisi ubi supra, 125. 2 Id. Vulgò Geogr. Nubiensis, 5. • Though the notion of Mohammed's being buried at Mecca has been so long explo

nificent building, covered with a cupola, and adjoining to the east side of the great temple, which is built in the midst of the city.

The province of Tehâma was so named from the vehement heat of its sandy soil, and is also called Gaur from its low situation; it is bounded on the west by the Red Sea, and on the other sides by Hejâz and Yaman, extending almost from Mecca to Aden."

The province of Najd, which word signifies a rising country, lies between those of Yamâma, Yaman, and Hejâz, and is bounded on the east by Irak.

The province of Yamâma, also called Arûd from its oblique situation, in respect of Yaman, is surrounded by the provinces of Najd, Tehâma, Bahrein, Omân, Shihr, Hadramaut, and Saba. The chief city is Yamâma, which gives name to the province: it was anciently called Jaw, and is particularly famous for being the residence of Mohammed's competitor, the false prophet, Moseilama."

The Arabians, the inhabitants of this spacious country, which they have possessed from the most remote antiquity, are distinguished by their own writers into two classes, viz. the old lost Arabians, and the present.

The former were very numerous, and divided into several tribes, which are now all destroyed, or else lost and swallowed up among the other tribes, nor are any certain memoirs or records extant concerning them; though the memory of some very remarkable events and the catastrophe of some tribes have been preserved by tradition, and since confirmed by the authority of the Korân.

The most famous tribes amongst these ancient Arabians were Ad, Thamûd, Tasm, Jadîs, the former Jorham, and Amalek.

The tribe of Ad were descended from Ad, the son of Aws, the son of Aram,' the son of Sem, the son of Noah, who, after the confusion of tongues, settled in al Ahkâf, or the winding sands, in the province of Hadramaut, where his posterity greatly multiplied. Their first king was Shedâd the son of Ad, of whom the eastern writers deliver many fabulous things, particularly that he finished the magnificent city his father had begun, wherein he built a fine palace, adorned with delicious gardens, to embellish which he spared neither cost nor labour, purposing thereby to create in his subjects a superstitious veneration of himself as a God." This garden or paradise was called the garden of Irem, and is mentioned in the Korân, and often alluded to by the oriental writers. The city, they tell us, is still ded, yet several modern writers, whether through ignorance or negligence I will not determine, have fallen into it. I shall here take notice only of two; one is Dr. Smith, who, having lived some time in Turkey, seems to be inexcusable: that gentleman in his Epistles de Moribus ac Institutis Turcarum, no less than thrice mentions the Mohammedans visiting the tomb of their prophet at Mecca, and once his being born at Medina, the reverse of which is true (see Ep. 1. p. 22; Ep. 2. p. 63 and 64). The other is the publisher of the last edition of Sir J. Mandevile's Travels, who, on his author's saying very truly (p. 50.) that the said tomb was at Methone (i. e. Medina), undertakes to correct the name of the town, which is something corrupted, by putting at the bottom of the page, Mecca. The Abbot de Vertot in his History of the order of Malta (vol. i. p. 410. ed. 8vo.), seems also to have confounded these two cities together, though he had before mentioned Mohammed's sepulchre at Medina. However, he is certainly mistaken, when he says that one point of the religion, both of the Christians and Mohammedans, was to visit, at least once in their lives, the tomb of the author of their respective faith. Whatever may be the opinion of some Christians, I am well assured the Mohammedans think themselves under no manner of obligation in this respect. Gol. ad Alfrag. 97. Abulfeda Descr. Arab. p. 40. Gol. ubi supra, 95. Gol. ubi sup. 94. 7 Ib. 95. 8 Abulfarag, p. 159. Or Uz, Gen. x. 22, 23. 1 Vide Kor. c. 89. Some make Ad the son of Amelek, the son of Ham; but the other is the received opinion. See D'Herbel. 51. Vide Eund. 498. * Cap. 89.

standing in the deserts of Aden, being preserved by providence as a monument of divine justice, though it be invisible, unless very rarely, when God permits it to be seen; a favour one Colabah pretended to have received in the reign of the Khalîf Moâwiyah, who sending for him to know the truth of the matter, Colabah related his whole adventure; that as he was seeking a camel he had lost, he found himself on a sudden at the gates of this city, and entering it saw not one inhabitant, at which being terrified, he stayed no longer than to take with him some fine stones which he showed the Khalif.

The descendants of Ad in process of time falling from the worship of the true God into idolatry, God sent the prophet Hûd (who is generally agreed to be Heber) to preach to and reclaim them. But they refusing to acknowledge his mission, or to obey him, God sent a hot and suffocating wind, which blew seven nights and eight days together, and entering at their nostrils passed through their bodies, and destroyed them all, a very few only excepted, who had believed in Hûd, and retired with him to another place. That prophet afterwards returned into Hadramaut, and was buried near Hesec, where there is a small town now standing called Kabr Hûd, or the sepulchre of Hûd. Before the Adites were thus severely punished God, to humble them, and incline them to hearken to the preaching of his prophet, afflicted them with drought for four years, so that all their cattle perished, and themselves were very near it; upon which they sent Lokmân (different from one of the same name who lived in David's time) with sixty others to Mecca to beg rain, which they not obtaining, Lokmân with some of his company stayed at Mecca, and thereby escaped destruction, giving rise to a tribe called the latter Ad, who were afterwards changed into monkeys.8

Some commentators on the Korân tell us these old Adites were of prodigious stature, the largest being a hundred cubits high, and the least sixty; which extraordinary size they pretend to prove by the testimony of the Korân.1

The tribe of Thamûd were the posterity of Thamûd the son of Gather' the son of Aram, who falling into idolatry, the prophet Sâleh was sent to bring them back to the worship of the true God. This prophet lived between the time of Hûd and of Abraham, and therefore cannot be the same with the patriarch Selah, as M. d'Herbelot imagines. The learned Bochart with more probability takes him to be Phaleg.* A small number of the people of Thamûd hearkened to the remonstrances of Saleh, but the rest requiring, as a proof of his mission, that he should cause a she-camel big with young to come out of a rock in their presence, he accordingly obtained it of God, and the camel was immediately delivered of a young one ready weaned; but they, instead of believing, cut the hamstrings of the camel and killed her ; at which act of impiety God being highly displeased, three days after struck them dead in their houses by an earthquake and a terrible noise from heaven, which, some say, was the voice of Gabriel the archangel crying aloud, Die all of you. Sâleh, with those who were reformed by him, were saved from this destruction; the prophet going into Palestine, and from thence to Mecca, where he ended his days. This tribe first dwelt in Yaman, but being expelled thence by Hamyar The Jews acknowledge Heber to have been a great prophet. Seder Olam. p. 2. • Al Beidâwi. 7 Poc. Spec. 35, &c. 8 Ibid. 36. lo'ddin et Zamakhshari. 1 Kor. c. 7. bel. Bibl. Orient. 740.

D'Herbel. 51.

Or Gether. Vide
Bochart, Geogr. Sac.


Gen. x. 23. D'Her-
See D'Herbel. 360.

Ebn Shohnah.

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