Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

history and virtues of the well, the reader may wonder for what reason the Mogrebins should caution Ali Bey against drinking its waters when offered them by the chief of the well. That wonder will be increased by perusing his account of this interesting person,' and the functions attached to his office.

• He is a young man, about twenty-two or twenty-four years of age, extremely handsome, with very fine eyes. He dresses remarkably well, and is very polished. He has an air of sweetness, which is seducing, and appears to be endowed with all the qualities which render a person amiable. As he possesses the entire confidence of the scherif, he fills the most important place. His title is, The Poisoner. Take courage, reader, lest I should make you tremble for me. This dangerous man was known to me the first time I went to the well of Zemzem, when be made his court assiduously to me. He gave me a magnificent dinner, and sent me every day two small pitchers of the water of the miraculous well. He even watched the moments when I went to the temple, and ran with the most winning grace and sweetness to present me a handsome cup filled with the same water, which I drank to the last drop, because it would have been considered a sort of crime or impiety to have refused it.

• This wretch observes the same conduct to all the pachas and important personages who come bere. Upon the slightest suspicion, ox the least caprice that may arise in the mind of the scherif, he orders, the other obeys, and the unhappy stranger ceases to exist. As it is reckoned impious not to accept the sacred water presented by the chief of the well, this man is arbiter of the lives of every one, and has already sacrificed many victims.

• From time immemorial the Sultan Scherifs of Mecca have had a poi. soner at their court; and it is remarkable that they do not try to conceal it, since it is well known, in Egypt and Constantinople, that the divan has several times sent to Mecca, pachas, or other persons, to be sacrificed inthis manner.

• This was the reason why the Mogrebins, or Arabs of the west, who are entirely devoted to me, hasted to warn me to be upon my guard upon my arrival in the city. My servants wished this traitor at the devil; but I myself treated him with the greatest marks of confidence. I accepted his water and his entertainments with an unalterable serenity and coolness. I took the precaution, however, to keep three doses of vi-' triolated zinc, a much more active emetic than tartar emetic, always in my pocket, to take the instant I should perceive the least indication of treason.'-vol. ij.

The first duty which the pilgrims perform is to walk seven times round the Kaaba, called also the House of God, and the Prohibited. The building is a four sided tower; the sides and angles are unequal, but being covered with a black cloth, it appears at first sight like a perfect square ; the height is thirty-four feet, (French measure,) the length of the front thirty-one; none of the sides are parallel to the cardinal points. An eastern author of whose work

pp. 56, 57.

there is an abstract in the Notices des MSS. de la Bibliothèque Nationale, says that no house in Mecca may be made so high as the Kaaba. This law, however, if it ever existed, is not observed at present, the houses being three or four stories high, and even sometimes more, and as the rooms are described as large and lofty, the elevation must necessarily be very considerable. The Kaaba is as famous as the House of Loretto, and as miraculous, though it has not had the advantage of travelling. It was built, according to the Mahomínedan legend, by Abraham, who, as every prophet exercised some trade, was a mason. His labour was not very great, for one account says that the stones came of themselves from the neighbouring Mount Arafat to the spot where they were to be used. Another tradition says that every mountain in the world contributed something to the building, that it might thus represent them all. Simple as the plan of this edifice is, it is said to have been designed and laid out by no less a personage than the Archangel Gabriel, who on this account might be installed as Patron Saint of the Free Masons; and when he had marked out the ground he taught Abraham to pronounce four words, by virtue of which the Kaaba built itself. Ali Bey prefers a different tradition, and a less convenient miracle, which facilitates Abraham's work, but leaves him much to do; the stone which he used as a footstool grew under him as the building increased in height, and it may reasonably be supposed moved with him also; and the stones for the edifice came out miraculously squared from the quarry, and placed themselves in Ishmael's hands, who transmitted them to his father. When the work was completed, Gabriel told him that the building was made after the model of seven others in Heaven, and that it surpassed them all in excellence, being designed for the station and residence of the Seal of Pardon and Remission of Sins; the seat and mansion of the most elect lineage that ever had been or should be created, who were to publish and propagate the law of God.' The Black Stone is in one of the angles : one tradition affirms that of all the materials which had assembled (for we must use the active verb) this stone was the only one which was not employed, being, it is to be presumed, slow in looking for its places that upon this it began to speak and lament its misfortunes, whereat Abraham was moved to compassion, and to console it declared that it should one day be held in greater veneration than all the rest. It is not impossible that this tale may have been invented, with its appendant ceremony, to fit a well known text of scripture, in the same spirit that so ingeniously substituted a reading for Paraclete which should suit the Arabian impostor. The privilege which Abraham conferred upon the corner stone was that all pilgrims should kiss it; and it has been kissed, they say, so often, that from

having been white it is now black. Ali Bey tells a different tale. • We believe,' he says, “that this miraculous stone was a transparent hyacinth, brought from Heaven to Abraham by the angel Gabriel as a pledge of his divinity, and that being touched by an impure woman, it became black and opaque. À wilder fiction makes it the pledge of the belief which all orders of spiritual beings confessed to their Creator, when he demanded of them if he was not their God, at the moment of their creation. They answered · Yes; and the answerin some substantial form was deposited in the centre of this stone, that its testimony at the last Judgment might confound those who have apostatized from their faith. Verily,' says Mahommed, it shall be called upon at the last day; it shall see, it shall speak, and bear witness of those who shall have touched it in truth and sincerity of heart. Our traveller measured and drew this celebrated stone, and has given a print of it: the kisses and touches of the pilgrims have worn away about twelve lines of its thickness, and indented its surface, so as to give it a sort of muscular ap. pearance. Ali Bey kissed the stone as a pilgrim, but he observed it as a mineralogist. It is a fragment of volcanic basalt, sprinkled throughout its circumference with small pointed coloured crystals, and varied with red feldspath, upon a dark black ground like coal, except one of its protuberances, which is a little reddish. As we hear of no volcanic substances in that country, and as this was an object of idolatrous veneration which Mahommed adopted, because he could not triumph over an old and rooted superstition, is it not likely that it may have been an aërolithe, or sky-stone ?

As acts of faith are meritorious in proportion to the difficulty of performing them, the merit of the pilgrimage round the Kaaba is infinitely enhanced if it be performed alone, but it seems animals as well as men perform it. Kotbeddin relates that a holy man watched night and day for forty years in persevering hope of this opportunity; at last he thought the happy moment was found, but on the way he met a serpent upon

upon the same business, who as: sured him that he had been waiting, in like manner, a hundred years longer than himself. The Kaaba is the only place in the world where a Mussulman may worship with his face toward any point of the compass, every

where else he must turn his face toward this spot. Happy are they on whom the rain falls which runs from the sacred building_happier they who can collect and drink it!

Having seven times circumambulated the Kaaba, and kissed the heavenly stone, the pilgrims drink as much as they can swallow of the well Zemzem, the water of which is warm, heavy, and in a slight degree brackish, but very limpid. The source is so abundant, that the immense consumption which is made at the time of the pil. grimage occasions no sensible diminution of its level. All the

wells in the city are of the same depth, temperature, taste, and clearness, supplied, as the traveller is persuaded from his observations, from one sheet fifty-five feet below the surface. The quantity, he says, is owing to the filtration of rain-water; the brackish taste of the saline particles mixed with the soil,' from which it results, in the clearest manner, that as they have the same qualities, and spring from the same source as the water of Zemzem, they have the same virtue in drawing down the divine favours and blessings as the miraculous well. God be praised for it! From the well the pilgrims proceed to make the seven walks between the two hills of Saffa and Meroua,“the number seven being in as much repute at Mecca as it was with Dr. Slop. Their heads are then shaved, the operator and the patient praying aloud during the whole operation: the shaving is now performed after the fashion of the Wahabees, who have proscribed the long tuft usually worn by Mussulmen upon the crown of the head, as an abomination.

There are but three days in the year on which the Kaaba is opened; on the first all the men may enter and say their prayers, the next day it is open for the women, whose general exclusion from places of worship arises not from any part of the law, but from the jealousy of the men, and that corruption of heart which_sensuality produces. The notion that they are excluded from Paradise, though it may, perhaps, be entertained by many of the Mahommedans, is a vulgar error, in direct opposition to the Koran, which, when it promises Paradise to the believers, expressly tells them that their parents, their wives, and their children, who shall have been righteous, shall enjoy the same advantage. In Lancelot Addison's time the women in Barbary received religious instructions on their Sabbath from the wife of the alfaqui, whose house was devoted to this purpose, while he officiated to the more worthy gender at the mosque. Ali Bey writes as if they participated in no religious ceremonies at any time, except on this occasion at Mecca. Five days after their visit to the Kaaba it is opened a third time that it may be washed and purified. This ceremony is thus described by the traveller.

• Two hours after sun-rise, the Sultan Scherif went to the temple, accompanied by about thirty persons, and twelve Negro and Arabian guards. The door of the Kaaba was already open, and surrounded with an immense number of people. The staircase was not placed. The Sultan Scherif got upon the shoulders and heads of the multitude, and entered with the principal scheiks of the tribes. Those below wished to do the same ; but the guards prevented them, by beating them with their sticks. I staid at a distance from the door, to avoid the crowd, and in a short time received an order from the scherif of the well to ad vance to the door, where he stood, making signs to me. But how could I get through the crowd that stood between us?

* All the water carriers in Mecca were advancing with their vessels full of water, whịch they passed from hand to hand, until they reached the guards at the door. They also passed a great number of very small brooms, 'made of the leaves of palm trees, in the same manner. The negroes began to throw the water upon the marble pavement of the Kaaba : they also cast rose water upon it, which, flowing out at a hole under the door, was caught with great avidity by the faithful. But as it did not run out fast enough to satisfy the wants of those at a distance, who were desirous to obtain it, they cried out for some of it to drink, and to wash themselves with: the negroes, with cups, and with their hands, threw it in quantities over them. They were civil enough to pass a small pitcher and a cup full of it to me, of which I drank as much as possible, and poured the rest over myself; for although this water is very dirty, it is the benediction of God, and is besides much perfumed with rose water.

• I at last made an effort to approach ; several persons raised me up ; and, after walking upon the heads of several others, I arrived at the door, where the negro guards helped me to get in.

• I was prepared for the operations ; for I had on only my shirt, a caschaba, or a shirt of white wool without sleeves, my turban, and the hhaik that covered me.

· The Sultan Scherif swept the ball himself. Immediately after I entered, the guards took off my bhaik, and presented me a bundle of small brooms, some of which I took in each hand ; and at the instant they threw a great deal of water upon the pavement, I began my duty by sweeping with both hands, with an ardent faith, although the floor was quite clean, and polished like glass. During this operation, the scherif, who bad finished, began to pray.

They gave me afterwards a silver cup, filled with a paste made of the saw dust of sandal wood, kneaded with the essence of roses; and I spread it upon the lower part of the wall, that was incrusted with marble, under the tapestry which covered the walls and the roof; and also a large piece of aloe wood, which I burned in a large chafing dish, to perfume the hall.

• After I had finished all these things, the Sultan Scherif proclaimed me Hhaddem Beit Allah el Haram, or Servant of the forbidden House of God ; and I received the congratulations of all the assistants.

• I recited my prayers in the three first corners, as 'upon my first entering; and thus entirely completed my duties, whilst I attended to this pious work.

The sultan withdrew a short time after. A great number of women, who were in the court at some distance: fom the door of the Kaaba, uttered from time to time shrill cries of rejoicing.

They gave me a small quantity of the sandal wood paste, and two the small brooms, as interesting relics, which I kept most carefully.

• The negroes helped me down upon the people, who also assisted me to reach the ground, and addressed compliments of felicitation to me. I then went to the Makam Ibrahim to say a prayer. They re

« AnteriorContinuar »