Persian Heritage Series
Book of Travels
Center tor Iranian Studies
Columbia University, New York
Persian Heritage Series
The Persian Heritage Series aims at making Persian literary, historical
and scientific texts available in translation. The translations in the series
are intended not only to satisfy the needs of the students of Persian his-
tory and culture, but also to respond to the demands of the intelligent
reader who seeks to broaden his intellectual and artistic horizons
through an acquaintance with major world literatures.
Ehsan Yarshater (Columbia University)
I. Gershevitch (Cambridge University)
G. Lazard (University of Paris)
B. Spuler (University of Hamburg)
R. N. Frye (Harvard University)
A. J. Arberry (Cambridge University)
W. B. Henning (University of California)
H. Massé (University of Paris)
T. C. Young (Princeton University)
G. Morgenstierne (University of Oslo)
G. Tucci (University of Rome)
The volumes in the Persian Heritage Series form part of the
UNESCO COLLECTION OF REPRESENTATIVE WORKS.
A current list of the published titles in the Persian
Heritage and related series appears at the end of this volume.
7 Persian Heritage Series
Edited by Ehsan Yarshater
Book of Travels
Translated from Persian,
with introduction and annotation by
W. M. Thackston, Jr.
Senior Preceptor in Persian
5. NT CR ay
The Persian Heritage Foundation under
the imprint of Bibliotheca Persica
© 1986 The Persian Heritage Foundation
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Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Naser-e Khosraw, 1004-ca. 1088.
The book of travels = (Safarnama)
(Persian heritage series; no. 36)
Translation of: Safarnamah.
1. Near East—Description and travel. 1. Thackston,
W. M. (Wheeler McIntosh), 1944-— _ IL. Title.
III. Title: Safarnama. IV. Series.
DS46.N313 1985 915.6'044 85-4657
ISBN 0-88706-066-8 (pbk.)
1098765 432 1
PREFACE by Ehsan Yarshater
TEXT OF TRANSLATION
Azerbaijan and Beyond
The Region of Diyar Bakr
Description of Tripoli
Beirut, Sidon, and Tyre
From Acre to Jerusalem
A General Description of Jerusalem
The Sanctuary of Jerusalem
A Description of the Dome of the Rock
A Description of the Gangways Leading to the Platform
A Description of the Shrine of Abraham at Hebron
Journey to Egypt
A Description of Cairo and the Provinces
A Description of the City of Cairo
A Description of the City of New Cairo
A Description of the “Opening of the Canal”
A Description of the City of Old Cairo
A Description of the Sultan’s Banquet
The Conduct of the Sultan
The Voyage to Mecca
A Description of the City of Jidda
A Description of the City of Mecca
A Description of Arabia and the Yemen
A Description of the Haram Mosque and the Ka‘ba
The Shape of the Stone
A Description of the Ka‘ba Door
A Description of the Interior of the Ka‘ba
A Description of the Opening of the Ka‘ba Door
The Minor Pilgrimage from Je‘rana
A Description of Ta’ef
Book of Travels
A Description of Lahsa’
A Description of the City of Basra .
A Description of the Ebb and Flow of the Tide at Basra
GLOSSARY OF PERSONS
GLOSSARY OF PLACES
GLOSSARY OF TERMS
APPENDIX A CALENDRICAL SYSTEMS
APPENDIX B WEIGHTS AND MEASURES
APPENDIX C NASER’S ITINERARY
BIBLIOGRAPHY OF WORKS CITED
A BIBLIOGRAPHY OF NASER-E KHOSRAW
Naser-e Khosraw, the well-known Persian poet, moralist and
theologian was a mundane, prosperous and wine-loving bureau-
crat in the Saljugq administration, until 1045, when a visionary
dream brought to a head his latent tendencies and transformed
him overnight into a devoted man of faith. The following year
he planned a pilgrimage to Mecca which was eventually ex-
tended into a seven year journey. It took him from Marv in
northeastern Persia to Nishabur, Rayy, and Azerbaijan and
then through Armenia and eastern Anatolia to Syria and Pale-
stine and finally to Mecca. He returned, however, to Jerusalem
and took the route by land and sea to Egypt, where he became
fascinated by the country’s prosperity and its orderly adminis-
tration under the Fatimids. It was here apparently that he em-
braced the Isma‘ili doctrine. :
After visiting Mecca three more times and returning to Egypt
twice, he finally headed for his home country by going to south
Yemen, crossing the arabian desert to Basra in southern Iraq,
and then by way of Isfahan to Balkh in modern Afghanistan.
The Safarnama or Book of Travels is a record of this journey.
Naser soon, however, found himself harrassed by the Sunni
authorities and took refuge in the nearby village of Yomgan,
where he lived in forced retirement at least for 15 years, de-
voting his time to writing and to intense Isma‘ili missionary
A man of considerable culture and curiosity, Naser-e Khosraw
met in the course of his travels with many people, wondered
at many monuments and public buildings, and set down his ob-
servations in his travel book. Written in a concise style some-
time resembling an abridgement, and enlivened from time to
time by Naser’s dry sense of humor, the Safarndma contains
many keen and valuable observations on peoples and places,
as well as on the economic and social conditions of countries
that he visited. In his lively descriptions, Cairo, Jerusalem, and
Mecca and their monuments stand out. His account of a small
“communistic” Carmathian city-state in al-Ahsa’s near Bahrain is
of special interest.
Despite its reputation, the Safarndma, had never been translated
Book of Travels
into English in its entirety, Guy LeStrange’s translation of the
sections on Syria and Palestine (Pilgrim’s Text Society, volume
IV, London: 1883) having remained a partial rendering. The
present complete translation by Dr. Wheeler Thackston is ac-
companied by a glossary of proper names, places, and terms,
all in vigorous transliteration for the benefit of specialists, and
an appendix listing the places visited by Naser, together with a
map of the route followed by him, as well as explanatory notes,
which are designed to help those interested in philological, his-
torical, and geographical aspects of the text.
While on an official trip in the autumn of 1045, Naser, son of
Khosraw of Qobadiyan (Marv District in northeastern Khora-
san), by his own account, experienced a dream-vision that jolted
him out of a “forty-year sleep of heedlessness” and awakened in
him a desire to abandon the life of a civil administrator for a
“quest for truth.” Several months after this experience Naser
obtained a leave of absence from his post and, ostensibly intend-
ing to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, settled his debts and set out
from Marv toward Nishapur, the cultural capital of Khorasan.
However, instead of joining a caravan bound for the Hejaz, he
began a peregrination that took him across the Caspian coast of
Iran, into eastern Anatolia and down into Syria and Palestine.
Although he did make a pilgrimage from Jerusalem, he did not
return to his native Khorasan but rather retraced his steps to
Jerusalem and thence made his way to Egypt and Cairo, the seat
of the Fatimid caliphate. From Egypt he made his way to the
Hejaz, across the Arabian peninsula and through Iran to return,
some seven years after his departure, to his home in Balkh. The
record of his adventures, observations and experiences is con-
tained in his travelogue, the Safarndma.
Of Naser’s life we have little information, and of his early
years practically nothing is known. From the fact that both he
and his brother Abu’l-Fath ‘Abd al-Jalil were employed in gov-
ernmental service (the brother is mentioned in the Safarndma as
a member of the entourage of Abu Nasr, vizier to the prince of
Khorasan), it may be inferred that the family belonged to the
clerical/administrative class that regularly supplied the bureaux
of state with those of its young men who had attained through
rudimentary schooling a competence in the “three R’s.” That
Naser was not rigorously trained in the religious and theological
“Arabic” sciences of a systematic Islamic education is evident in
his philosophical works. '
It is known of Naser that at some point in his life he embraced
'See V. A. Ivanow, Nasir-i Khusraw and Ismailism (Leiden: Brill, 1948). For an
evaluation of Naser-e Khosraw’s contribution to Ismaili thought, see Henry Cor-
bin, “Nasir-i Khusraw and Iranian Isma’ilism,” in The Cambridge History of Iran,
vol. 4, Ed. R. N. Frye, pp. 520-542.
u2,2H = S®FFL .
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Ismailism, which cause he served actively as missionary in the
Caspian region of Iran and later as exile in Yomgan (Badakh-
shan), writing treatises and poetry, where he is last known to
have been in 1061. Although it cannot be proved, it makes good
sense to assume that his conversion to Ismailism took place be-
fore he set out on the journeys described in the Safarndma, for
he made in effect a tour of every important center of Ismailism
west of Transoxania, and the only places upon which he ex-
pends favorable comment throughout his travels are those ruled
by Ismailis. If he was not being sent from one Ismaili stronghold
to another, there is little to justify his eccentric skirting of
the central Islamic world. And he makes no attempt to explain
himself. He was not a rich man who could indulge himself in
Wanderlust: he mentions once or twice in passing that he was ac-
companied only by a brother and one Indian servant. His obser-
vations of all he saw constantly betray the civil administrator: he
admires fortifications, waterworks, strategic situations of towns,
prices, etc. He was obviously captivated by monumental archi-
tecture and pomp and circumstance: the Dome of the Rock
shrine complex at Jerusalem and the mosque precincts at Mecca
are meticulously described, as are the public displays of Fatimid
ceremony in Cairo. He mentions rare and delightful fruits and
vegetables he encounters, he converses with unusual persons in
out-of-the-way places, and he never misses an opportunity to
visit a saint or prophet’s shrine. Yet there is little in his narrative
that would characterize him as a professional traveler or a par-
ticularly interested observer of the people he met or the places
The Ismaili sect, to which Naser belonged from at least middle
age and for which he worked and wrote in his later years, was at
this period in its history actively engaged in propaganda and
conversion. The movement had originated as a schism from
Shi‘ism, the branch of Islam that recognized as the only legiti-
mate successors to the Prophet Muhammad and interpreters of
the revealed law the lineal descendants of the Prophet through
his daughter Fatema and her husband ‘Ali b. Abi Taleb. Because
of a difference of opinion over the seventh imam, the Ismailis
split from the majority of the Shi‘a, whose line of imams contin-
ued down to the twelfth and who are consequently known as
“Twelvers,” whereas the Ismaili line continued on. In Naser’s
Book of Travels
time the twelver branch of Shi‘ism had recently entered into its
eschatological phase with the Greater Occulation of the repre-
sentatives of the Twelfth Imam in 940, and the Twelver Shi‘ites
had no capital or power base of their own from which to direct
propaganda. There were, however, numerous Shr‘ite pockets
scattered throughout the Islamic world, notably in Daylam and
Tabarestan (through which Naser passed) and in Transoxania,
of which Naser makes no mention whatsoever.
The Sevener, or Ismaili, branch of Shi‘ism, by contrast, had
ruled Egypt since the Fatimid conquest in 969 and ran its covert
and overt propaganda machine from Cairo, where Naser spent
a goodly portion of his seven-year absence from his homeland.
There he was most likely being trained in missionary techniques.
In Transoxania and eastern Iran, at precisely the time that
Naser left his administrative post and began his travels, the
power of the Seljuk Turks was rapidly spreading: Marv had ca-
pitulated to them in 1037, and Herat and Nishapur in 1038, and
Balkh and Tokharestan were taken in 1040. Unlike their prede-
cessors the Ghaznavids, the Seljuks, who were adamant Sunnis,
were actively opposed to all forms of Shi‘ism and were deter-
mined to rid their territory of all Shi‘ite opposition. If he was al-
ready an Ismaili, it is not at all unlikely that the advent of the Sel-
juks into Khorasan had something to do with Naser’s decision to
absent himself from the province.
In his travelogue Naser does not touch upon theological or
sectarian debates, and he makes scant mention of the political
turmoils of the time. Yet his observations on the places he visited
give us an interesting, if superficial, view into the eleventh-cen-
tury Islamic world. More importantly they provide us with an in-
sight into a personality of that time. Generally speaking, aside
from the facts and figures Naser records, most of which are eas-
ily found elsewhere, what he chooses to convey to his reader tells
us more about himself than it does about what he saw and gives
us a rare glimpse into the attitudes of a man from an age very
different from our own.
The Travelogue of Naser-e Khosraw
Thus writes Abu Mo‘in Hamid al-din Naser son of Khosraw of
Qobadiyan in the district of Marv:
I was a clerk by profession and one of those in charge of the
sultan’s revenue service. In my administrative position I had ap-
plied myself for a period of time and acquired no small reputa-
tion among my peers.
In the month of Rabi‘ II in the year 437 [October 1045],'
when the prince of Khorasan was Abu Solayman Chaghri Beg
Daud son of Mika’il son of Saljuq, I set out from Marv on offi-
cial business to the district of Panj Deh in Marv Rud, where I
stopped off on the very day there happened to be a conjunction
of Jupiter and the lunar node. As it is said that on that day God
will grant any request made of him, I therefore withdrew into a
corner and prayed two rak‘ats, asking God to grant me true
wealth. When I rejoined my friends and companions, one of
them was reciting a poem in Persian. A particular line of poetry
came into my head, and I wrote it down on a piece of paper for
him to recite. I had not yet handed him the paper when he be-
gan to recite that very line! I took this to be a good omen and
said to myself that God had granted my behest.
From there I went to Juzjanan, where I stayed nearly a month
and was constantly drunk on wine. (The Prophet says, “Tell the
truth, even if on your own selves.”) One night in a dream I saw
someone saying to me, “How long will you continue to drink of
this wine, which destroys man’s intellect? If you were to stay so-
ber, it would be better for you.”
In reply I said, “The wise have not been able to come up with
anything other than this to lessen the sorrow of this world.”
“To be without one’s senses is no repose,” he answered me.
“He cannot be called wise who leads men to senselessness.
Rather, one should seek out that which increases reason and
“Where can I find such a thing?” I asked.
“Seek and ye shall find,” he said, and then he pointed toward
the gebla and said nothing more. When I awoke, I remembered
'See Appendix A on Islamic dates.
Book of Travels
everything, which had truly made a great impression on me.
“You have waked from last night’s sleep,” I said to myself.
“When are you going to wake from that of forty years?” And I
reflected that until I changed all my ways I would never find
On Thursday the 6th of Jomada II of the year 437 [19 Decem-
ber 1045], which was by Persian reckoning the middle of the
month of Day, the last month before the year 414 of the Yazd-
gerdi era,’ I cleansed myself from head to foot, went to the
mosque, and prayed to God for help both in accomplishing what
I had to do and in abstaining from what he had forbidden.
Afterwards I went to Shoburghan and spent the night in a vil-
lage in Faryab. From there I went via Samangan and Talaqan to
Marv Rud and thence to Marv. Taking leave from my job, I an-
nounced that I was setting out for the Pilgrimage to Mecca. I set-
tled what debts I owed and renounced everything worldly, ex-
cept for a few necessities.
On the 23rd of Sha‘ban [5 March 1046] I set out for Nishapur,
traveling from Marv to Sarakhs, which 1s a distance of thirty par-
asangs. From there to Nishapur is forty parasangs.
On Saturday the 11th of Shawwal [21 April] I came to Nisha-
pur. On Wednesday, the last day of the month, there was a lunar
eclipse. The prince at this time was Toghrel Bég Mohammad,
brother to Chaghri Bég. He had ordered a school built near the
Saddlers’ Bazaar, which was being constructed then. He himself
had gone to Isfahan for his first conquest of that city.
On the 2nd of Dhu’l-Qa‘da I left Nishapur and, in the com-
pany of Khwaja Mowaffaq, the sultan’s agent, came to Qumes
via Gavan. There I paid a visit to the tomb of Shaikh Bayazid of
On Friday the 8th of Dhu’l-Qa‘da [17 May] I went out to
Damghan. The first of Dhu’l-Hejja 437 [9 June 1046] I came to
Semnan by way of Abkhwari and Chashtkhwaran, and there I
stayed for a period of time, seeking out the learned. I was told of
a man called Master ‘Ali Nasa’i, whom I went to see. He was a
young man who spoke Persian with a Daylamite accent and wore
his hair uncovered. He had a group of people about him read-
ing Euclid, while another group read medicine and yet another
The Persian Yazdgerdi era was calculated from the beginning of the reign of
Yazdgerd III, the last Sasanian shah of Iran (A.D. 632). See Appendix A.
The Travelogue of Ndser-e Khosraw
mathematics. During our conversation he kept saying, “I read
this with Avicenna,” and “I heard this from Avicenna.” His ob-
ject of this was, of course, for me to know that he had been a stu-
dent of Avicenna. When I became engaged in discourse with
some of these people, he said, “I know nothing of arithmetic
[styaqg] and would like to learn something of the arithmetic art.” I
came away wondering how, if he himself knew nothing, he could
From Balkh to Rayy I reckoned the distance to be 350 para-
sangs. From Rayy to Sava is said to be thirty parasangs, from
Sava to Hamadan thirty, from Rayy to Isfahan fifty, and to Amol
thirty. Between Rayy and Amol is Mount Damavand, which is
shaped like a dome and is called Lavasan. They say that on the
top of the mountain is a pit from which ammonia is extracted,
and also sulphur. Leather skins are hauled up and filled with
ammonia, and when full they are rolled down the mountainside,
there being no road over which they can be transported.
On the 5th of Moharram 438 [12 July 1046], corresponding to
the 10th of Mordad 415 of the Persian calendar, I set out for
Qazvin and came to the village of Quha, where there was a
drought. A maund of barley bread was being sold for two dir-
hems. [Displeased,] I left.
On the 9th of Moharram [16 July] I arrived in Qazvin, which
has many orchards with neither walls nor hedges, so that there is
nothing to prevent access to the gardens. I thought Qazvin a
nice city: its walls were well fortified and furnished with crenel-
lations, and the bazaars were well kept, only water was scarce
and limited to subterranean channels.’ The head of the city was
an Alid. Of all the trades practiced in the city, shoemaking had
the largest number of craftsmen.
On the 12th of Moharram 438 [19 July 1046] I left Qazvin
along the road to Bil and Qapan, village dependencies of Qaz-
vin. From there my brother, a Hindu slave-boy we had with us,
and I came to a village called Kharzavil. As we had few provi-
°The “subterranean channels” of which Naser speaks were formerly called
karéz (today called gandat) and are still in use for bringing water for irrigation
from distant sources. Many of these channels have been maintained from an-
cient times, such as the one mentioned on page 101; see Mohammad al-Karagi,
La Civilisation des eaux cachées, ed. and trans. with commentary by Aly Mazaheri,
Université de Nice, Institut d’Etudes et de Recherches Interethniques et Inter-
culturelles, Etudes Preliminaires 6 (Nice: I.D.E.R.I.C., 1973).
Book of Travels
sions, my brother went into the village to buy some things from
the grocer. Someone asked him, “What do you want? I’m the
“Whatever you have will be all right with us,” said my brother,
“for we are strangers passing through.” Yet whatever edibles he
mentioned, the man only said, “We don’t have any.” From then
on, wherever we saw anyone like this man, we would say, “He’s
the grocer from Kharzavil!”
Passing on from there, we encountered a steep descent. Three
parasangs farther was a village belonging to Taram called Baraz-
al-Khayr [?]. It was tropical and had many pomegranate and fig
trees, most of which grew untended. Passing on, we came to a
river called Shahrud, on the banks of which was a village called
Khandan, where a toll was levied for the duke, who was one of
the Daylamite kings. As this river passes through this village, it
joins with another river called Sapidrud. When these two rivers
have united, the water flows down into a valley to the east of the
mountains of Gilan, then on to Gilan itself and finally empties
into the Caspian Sea. They say that fourteen hundred rivers spill
into the Caspian, the circumference of which is said to be twelve
hundred parasangs. In the midst of the sea there are islands
with many inhabitants, as I heard from many people.
But let me return to my own story. From Khandan to Shami-
ran there are three parasangs of desert that is quite rocky. The
latter is the metropolis of Taram. Beside the city is a high for-
tress, the foundation of which is laid on solid granite. It is sur-
rounded by three walls, and in the middle of the fortress is a
water channel connected to the river, the water of which is
drawn up into the fortress. There are a thousand sons of the ar-
istocracy kept inside that fortress so that no one can rise up in re-
bellion. It is said that the prince has many such fortresses in
Daylam and that he rules with such complete justice and order
that no one is able to take anything from anyone else. When the
men go to the mosque on Fridays, they all leave their shoes out-
side, and no one steals them. The prince signs himself thus on
paper: “Ward of the march of Daylam, the gil of Gilan, Abu
Saleh, client to the Prince of the Faithful.” His name is Jostan
In Shamiran I saw a good man from Darband whose name
was Abu Fad! Khalifa, son of ‘Ali the Philosopher, He was a wor-
Azerbayan and Beyond
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Naser’s route of travel through northern Iran
thy fellow and displayed much generosity and nobility of charac-
ter to us. We discoursed together, and a friendship sprang up
“Where do you intend to go from here?” he asked me.
“My intention is to make the Pilgrimage,” I said.
“What I desire,” he replied, “is that on your return journey
you pass through here so I may see you again.”
Azerbayan and Beyond
On the 26th of Moharram [2 August] I left Shamiran. On the
14th of Safar [20 August] I arrived in Sarab. On the 16th of
Safar [22 August] I parted from Sarab and, passing through
Sa‘idabad, arrived in Tabriz on the 20th of Safar 438 [26 August
Book of Travels
1046]. That was the 25th of the month of Shahrivar by the old
reckoning. This city is the principal town of Azerbaijan and is in
a flourishing state. I paced off the length and breadth, each of
which was fourteen hundred paces. In the sermon they name
the padshah of Azerbaijan in this manner: Exalted Prince Sayf
al-Dawla Sharaf al-Mella Abu Mansur Vahsudan son of Moham-
mad, client to the Prince of the Faithful. I was told that an earth-
quake had occurred in this city on Wednesday night the 17th of
Rabi‘ I 434 [4 November 1042], which was during the interca-
lary days. After the night prayer, part of the city was totally de-
stroyed while other parts were unharmed. They said that forty
thousand people lost their lives.
In Tabriz I saw a poet named Qatran, who wrote decent po-
etry, but he could not speak Persian very well. He came to me
and brought the works of Manjik and Daqiqi, which read aloud
to me. Whenever he came across a meaning too subtle for him,
he asked me. I explained it to him and he wrote it down. He also
recited his own poetry to me.
On the 14th of Rabi® I [18 September] I parted from Tabriz
on the Marand road and, accompanied by one of Prince Vahsu-
dan’s soldiers, came to Khoy. From there also I traveled with a
courier up to Bargri. From Khoy to Bargri is thirty parasangs.
We arrived on the 12th of Jomada I [14 November]. From there
we came to Van and Vastan, where they sell pork in the bazaar
as well as lamb. Men and women sit drinking wine in the shops
without the slightest inhibition. From there we arrived in the city
of Akhlat on the 18th of Jomada I [20 November]. This city is
the border town between the Muslims and the Armenians, and
from Bargri it is nineteen parasangs. The prince, Nasr al-Dawla,
was over a hundred years old and had many sons, to each of
whom he had given a district. In the city of Akhlat they speak
three languages, Arabic, Persian, and Armenian. It is my suppo-
sition that this is why they named the town Akhlat.* Their com-
mercial transactions are carried on in cash money, and their rotl
is equivalent to three hundred dirhems.
On the 20th of Jomada [22 November] I left there and came
to an outpost. It was snowing and extremely cold. On the plain
4Naser thinks the name of the town is derived from the Arabic root khalata “to
mix”; it is called Khlat‘ in Armenian and was formerly known as Khelat in Ara-
bic. The derivation Naser supposes is unlikely
The Region of Diydr Bakr
up to the town there is a section of the road with planks laid on
the ground so that on snowy and blizzardy days people can find
their way over the wood. From there I went on to Betlis, which
lies in a valley. We bought some honey, a hundred maunds for
one dinar, at the rate they sold to us. We were told that in this
town there were men who produced three to four hundred jars
of honey a year.
Leaving that place, I saw a fortress called Qef Onzor, which
means “stop and look.” Passing on, I came to a place where there
was a mosque said to have been built by Oways Qarani.
There I saw men who roamed about the mountainsides and
cut a wood something like cypress. I asked what they did with it,
and they explained that when one end of this wood is placed in
fire, pitch comes out the other end. It is then collected in pits,
put into containers, and sent all over for sale.
The regions that I have briefly mentioned after Akhlat are de-
pendencies of Mayyafareqin. We went to the town of Arzan,
which is a flourishing place with running water and orchards,
gardens, and good bazaars. During the Persian month of Adhar
they were selling two hundred maunds of grapes, which they
call raz-e armanush, for one dinar.
The Region of Diyar Bakr
From there we went to Mayyafareqin, which is 28 parasangs
distant. From Balkh to Mayyafareqin by the way we came was
552 parasangs. It was Friday the 26th of Jomada I 438 [28 No-
vember 1046]. At the time the leaves on the trees were still
green. The place has an enormous fortification made of white
stone, each slab of which weighs five hundred maunds, and
every fifty ells is a huge tower of this same white stone. The top
of the rampart is all crenellated and looks as though the master
builder had just finished working on it. The city has one gate on
the west side set in a large gateway with a masonry arch and an
iron door with no wood in it. It has a Friday mosque that would
take too long to describe. Briefly, the ablution pool faces forty
chambers, through each of which run two large canals, one of
which is visible and is for use, while the other is concealed be-
Book of Travels
neath the earth and is for carrying away refuse and flushing the
cisterns. Outside of the city are caravanserais and bazaars, baths,
and another congregational mosque used on Fridays. To the
north is another town called Mohdatha, and it too has bazaars, a
congregational mosque, and baths, all of which are well laid out.
In the sermon they style the sultan of the district thus: the Great
Prince ‘Ezz al-Eslam Sa‘d al-Din Nasr al-Dawla Sharaf al-Mella
Abu Nasr Ahmad, and he is said to be a hundred years old. The
rotl there is equal to 480 stone dirhems. That same prince has
built a city at a distance of four parasangs from Mayyafareqin
and called it Nasriyya. From Amed to Mayyafaregin is nine par-
On the 6th of Day, old reckoning, we arrived in Amed, the
foundation of which is laid on a monolith rock. The length of
the city is two thousand paces, and the breadth the same. There
is a wall all around made of black rock, each slab weighing be-
tween a hundred and a thousand maunds. The facing of these
stones is so expert that they fit together exactly, needing no mud
or plaster in between. The height of the wall is twenty cubits,
and the width ten. Every hundred ells there is a tower, the half
circumference of which is eighty ells. The crenellations are also
of this same black stone. Inside the city are many stone stairs by
means of which one can go up onto the ramparts, and atop every
tower is an embrasure. The city has four gates, all of iron with
no wood, and each gate faces one of the four cardinal directions.
The east gate is called the Tigris Gate, the west gate the Byzan-
tine Gate, the north the Armenian Gate, and the south the Tell
Gate. Outside this wall just described is yet another wall, made of
that same stone, the height of which is ten ells and the top of
which is completely covered with crenellations. Inside the cren-
ellation is a passageway wide enough for a totally armed man to
pass and to stop and fight with ease. The outside wall also has
iron gates, placed directly opposite the gates in the inside wall so
that when one passes from a gate in the first wall one must trav-
erse a space of fifteen ells before reaching the gate in the second
wall. Inside the city is a spring that flows from a granite rock
about the size of five millstones. The water is extremely pleasant,
but no one knows where the source is. The city has many or-
chards and trees thanks to that water. The ruling prince of the
city is a son of that Nasr al-Dawla who has been mentioned.
The Region of Diyar Bakr
I have seen many a city and fortress around the world in the
lands of the Arabs, Persians, Hindus, and Turks, but never have
I seen the likes of Amed on the face of the earth or have I heard
anyone else say that he had seen its equal. The congregational
mosque too is of black stone, and a more perfect, stronger con-
struction cannot be imagined. Inside the mosque stand two-hun-
dred-odd stone columns, all of which are monolithic. Above the
columns are stone arches, and above the arches is another colon-
nade shorter than the first. Above that is yet another row of
arches. All the roofs are peaked, and all the masonry is carved
and painted with designs. In the courtyard of the mosque is
placed a large stone atop which is a large, round pool of stone. It
is as high as a man, and the circumference is ten ells. From the
middle of the pool protrudes a brass waterspout from which
shoots clean water; it is constructed so that the entrance and the
drain for the water are not visible. The enormous ablution pool
is the most beautiful thing imaginable—only the stone from
which Amed is built is all black, while that of Mayyafareqin is
white. Near the mosque is a large church, elaborately made of
the same stone, and the floor is laid in marble designs. Beneath
the dome, which is the Christians’ place of worship, I saw a lat-
ticed iron door, the likes of which I had never seen before.
From Amed to Harran there are two roads: along one of them
are no settlements, and this one is forty parasangs long; along
the other road are many villages, most of the inhabitants of
which are Christian, and that way is sixty parasangs long. We
went by caravan along the settled route. The plain is extremely
level except for a few places so rocky that the animals could
hardly go a pace without stepping on a rock.
On Friday the 25th of Jomada II 438 [27 December 1046], or
the 22nd of Day, old reckoning, we arrived in Harran. The
weather at that time was like the weather in Khorasan at Naw-
ruz. From there we went to a town named Qarul,’? where a
young man invited us into his home. When we had come into the
house, a bedouin Arab sixty years old came in and sat down next
“Teach me the Koran,” he said. I recited him the chapter be-
*“Qarul” is probably the modern Urfa, medieval Edessa. Qarul is not men-
tioned by the Arab geographers, however.
Book of Travels
ginning “Qol a‘udho be-rabbe’l-nds.” He recited it back to me.
When I had said the part that goes “mena’l-jennate wa'l-nas,” he
said, “Should I say ‘a-ra’ayta’l-nas’ too?” “There is no more to this
chapter,” I replied. Then he asked, “Which chapter has the part
in it about the naggalat al-hatab?” He did not even know that in
the chapter called Tabbat the words hammalat al-hatab occur, not
nagqgalat al-hatab!’ That night, no matter how many times I re-
cited the chapter beginning “Qol a‘udho be-rabbe’l-nas,” he could
not learn it. A sixty-year-old Arab!
Saturday the 3rd of Rajab 438 [3 January 1047] we came to
Saruj. The next day we crossed the Euphrates and arrived in
Manbej, the first town you come to in Syria. It was the first of the
month of Bahman in the old reckoning, and the weather was ex-
tremely pleasant. There were no buildings outside of the town.
From there I went to the city of Aleppo.
From Mayyafareqin to Aleppo is one hundred parasangs. I
found Aleppo to be a nice city. It has a huge rampart, twenty-
five cubits high, I estimated, and an enormous fortress, as large
as the one at Balkh, set on rock. The whole place is populous,
and the buildings are built one atop another. This city is a place
where tolls are levied on the merchants and traders who come
and go among the lands of Syria, Anatolia, Diyar Bakr, Egypt,
The city has four gates: the Gates of the Jews, the Gate of
God, the Garden Gate, and the Antioch Gate. The standard
weight used in the bazaar there is the Zaheri rotl, which is 480
dirhems. Twenty parasangs to the south is Hama, and after that
Homs. Damascus Is fifty parasangs from Aleppo; from Aleppo
to Antioch is twelve parasangs, and the same to Tripoli. They
say it is two hundred parasangs to Constantinople.
°In the first instance, the Koranic verse Naser is trying to teach the man ends
with the words men al-jennate wa’l-nas (“from the djinn and people”). The Arab
asks, “A-ra’ayta’'l-nds?” (“Did you see the people?”), a non sequitur that indicates
he has understood nothing but the last word. In the second instance the Arab
asks Naser for the chapter that speaks of the “wood-carrier,” but he uses a word
for “carrier” other than the one used in the Koranic text.
On the 11th of Rajab [11 January] we left the city of Aleppo.
Three parasangs distant was a village called Jond Qennasrin.
The next day, after traveling six parasangs, we arrived in the
town of Sarmin, which has no fortification walls.
Six parasangs farther on was Ma‘arrat al-No‘man, which is
quite populous. It has a stone wall. Beside the city gate I saw a
cylindrical column of stone, which had something written on it
in a script that was not Arabic. I asked someone what it was, and
he said that it was a talisman against scorpions. If ever a scorpion
were brought in from outside and turned loose, it would run
away and not stay in the town. I estimated that column to be
about ten ells high. I found the bazaars to be flourishing, and
the Friday mosque built on a rise in the middle of town so that
from whatever place one wants to go up to the mosque, one has
to ascend thirteen steps. Their whole agriculture consists of
wheat, which is plentiful. Figs, olives, pistachios, almonds, and
grapes also abound. The city water comes from both rain and
In the city was a man named Abu’-‘Ala’ of Ma‘arra. Although
blind, he was the head of the city and very wealthy, with many
slaves and servants. Everyone in the city, in fact, was like a slave
to him, but he himself had chosen the ascetic life. He wore
coarse garments and stayed at home. Half a maund of barley
bread he would divide into nine pieces and content himself with
only one piece throughout the entire day and night. Besides
that, he ate nothing. I heard it said that the door to his house was
always open and that his agents and deputies did all the work of
the city, except for the overall supervision, which he saw to him-
self. He denied his wealth to no one, although he himself was
constantly fasting and vigilant at night, taking no part in the af-
fairs of the world. This man has attained such a rank in poetry
and literature that all the learned of Syria, the Maghreb, and
Iraq confess that in this age there is no one of comparable stat-
ure. He has composed a book called al-Fosul wa’l-ghayat, in which
he speaks in enigmatic parables. Although eloquent and amaz-
ing, the book can be understood only by a very few and by those
who have read it with him. He has even been accused of trying
to rival the Koran. There are always more than two hundred
persons from all over gathered about him reading literature and
poetry. I have heard that he himself has composed more than a
Book of Travels
hundred thousand lines of poetry. Someone once asked him
why, since God had given him all this wealth and property, he
gave it away to the people and hardly ate anything himself. His
answer was, “I own nothing more than what I eat.” When I
passed through that place he was still alive.
On the 15th of Rajab 438 [15 January 1047] we went to Kafr
Tab and thence to Hama, a fine, populous city on the banks of
the Orontes. The reason this river is called ‘Asi [“rebellious” in
Arabic] is because it runs into Byzantium, that is, when it goes
from the lands of Islam to the lands of the infidels it becomes
“rebellious.” On the river are many water wheels. From there
the road forks, one way leading along the coast through western
Syria and the other to the south and Damascus. We took the
In the mountains we saw a spring that they say flows every
year after the middle of Sha‘ban.’ For three days it flows, after
which there is not a drop of water until the next year. Many peo-
ple go there on pilgrimage and seek propitiation of God. They
have built edifices and pools there. Passing on from that place,
we came to a field covered with narcissus in bloom, and the en-
tire place looked white because of all the flowers. Afterwards, we
arrived in a town called ‘Erqa. Two parassangs past ‘Erga we
came to the seashore. Five parasangs to the south along the
shore we came to Tripoli. From Aleppo to Tripoli is forty para-
sangs the way we came.
Description of Tripoli
On Tuesday the 5th of Sha‘ban [4 February] we arrived. The
outskirts of the city are all agricultural, with orchards and gar-
dens, with lots of sugar cane and many groves of oranges, citron,
bananas, lemons, and dates. Just at that time they were making
molasses. The city of Tripoli is so situated that three sides face
the water, and when the water is rough, some of the waves lap
against the city walls. On the eastern side of the city, which faces
‘Since Islamic months are lunar (see Appendix A), the spring would begin ap-
proximately eleven days earlier each year, a fact that may have occasioned Na-
Description of Tripoli
dry land, they have made a large moat with a strong iron gate.
The walls are of hewn stone and have battlements and embra-
sures, and there are balistae on top of the walls, as they live in
constant dread of naval attack by the Byzantines. The area of the
city is one thousand cubits square. The buildings are four and
five stories tall, and there are even some of six. The lanes and
bazaars are so nice and clean you would think each was a king’s
palace. Every type of food, fruit, and other edible I ever saw in
Persia was to be found here, but a hundred times more plenti-
ful. In the midst of the city is a well-kept, beautifully adorned,
and solidly constructed mosque. In the yard is a large dome, be-
neath which is a marble pool with a brass fountain. In one of the
bazaar streets, water spills out from five spouts for people to
draw water. The excess runs down over the ground and down
into the sea. There are said to be twenty thousand people in this
city, and it has many villages and dependencies. ‘They make very
good paper there, like the paper of Samarqand, only better.
This city belongs to the sultan of Egypt because, as it is said,
once an infidel Byzantine army came and attacked the city. The
sultan of Egypt defeated that army and lifted the land tax.
There are now always soldiers garrisoned there and a comman-
der over the soldiers to protect the city from its enemies. It is
also a customs station, as ships from Byzantium, Europe, Anda-
lusia, and the Maghreb dock there. They pay ten percent to the
sultan, which income provides for the soldiers’ maintenance.
The sultan keeps ships there that go to Byzantium, Sicily, and
the Maghreb to trade. The people of this city are all Shi‘ites, and
the Shi‘ites have built nice mosques in every land. They have edi-
fices there like caravanserais, which they call mashhads, but no
one lives in them. Outside the city of Tripoli there is not a single
structure except for a couple of mashhads.
We continued south along the shore. One parasang away |
saw a fort called Qalamtn, which had a spring inside. From
there I went to Taraborzon, which is five parasangs from Trip-
oli. Thence we went to Byblos, which is a triangular city with one
angle to the sea. Surrounding it is a very high, fortified wall. All
around the city are date palms and other tropical trees. I saw a
child holding both a red and a white rose, both in bloom, and
that was on the 5th of the last Persian month, Esfandarmadh,
old reckoning, of the year 415 of the Persian calendar.
oaiane i hoy
Betrut, Sidon, and Tyre
Beirut, Sidon, and Tyre
From Byblos we went to Beirut, where I saw a stone arch situ-
ated so that the road ran right through it. I estimated the arch to
be fifty ells high, and on all sides were slabs of white stone, each
of which weighed over a thousand maunds. This edifice was
made of bricks up to a height of twenty ells, and on top were set
up marble cylinders, each eight ells tall and so thick that two
men could scarcely reach around. On top of these columns were
more arches on both sides, of such exactly fitted masonry that
there was neither plaster nor mud in between. Above this was a
great arch right in the middle, fifty cubits high. I estimated that
each stone in that arch was eight cubits long and four wide, so
that each one must have weighed approximately seven thousand
maunds. All these stones had designs carved in relief —better in
fact than one usually sees executed in wood. Except for this
arch, no other edifice remains in that area. I asked what place
this had been and was told that it is said to have been the gate to
Pharaoh’s garden and was extremely old. The whole plain there-
abouts abounds with marble columns, capitals, and bases, all of
carved marble—round, square, hexagonal, and octagonal
—and of a kind of stone so hard that iron makes no impression
on it. Yet there is no mountainous terrain nearby from which
the stone might have been quarried, and all other stone there is
soft enough to be hewn with iron. In the outlying regions of
Syria there are more than five hundred thousand of these fallen
columns, capitals, and bases, and no one knows what they were
or from where they were brought.
From there we went to Sidon, which is also on the edge of the
sea. Much sugarcane is planted there, and the city has a strong
stone wall with three gates and a Friday mosque with a very
pleasant atmosphere. It is covered completely with multicolored
mats. The bazaar is so nicely arrayed that when I saw it I
thought the city had been decorated either for the arrival of the
sultan or because of the proclamation of some good news. When
I inquired, they said that the city was customarily kept that way.
The gardens and orchards were such that one would think an
emperor had laid out a pleasure garden with belvederes, and
most of the trees were laden with fruit.
Book of Travels
Five parasangs away we came to the city of Tyre, which is lo-
cated beside the sea. From the shore runs a spit on which the city
is built. It is such that the walls are not more than a hundred
yards on dry land, the rest being in the sea. The ramparts are all
masonry, and the joints are plugged with pitch so that the sea-
water cannot seep through. I estimated the city to be a thousand
cubits square, with buildings of five to six stories and many
fountains. The bazaars are nice, and prosperity abounds. The
city of Tyre is renowned among the cities of the Syrian coast for
its wealth and riches. The inhabitants are mostly Shi‘i. There was
a judge there, however, who was Sunni by sect, named Ebn Abi
‘Aqil; he was of a pleasant countenance and rich. By the city gate
is a shrine furnished with many carpets, mats, and gold and sil-
ver lamps and lanterns. The town is situated on a high spot, and
its water comes from the mountains. Up to the city gate are stone
arches atop which water is brought into the city. Opposite the
city in the mountains is a valley, and if one goes eighteen para-
sangs to the east, one comes to Damascus.
When we had gone seven parasangs we came to the city of
Acre, which there they write ‘Akka. The city is situated on a rise,
and some of the ground is uneven and sloping while other parts
are level. Along the coast, they only build towns where there is
elevated ground for fear of being inundated by seawater when
the waves strike the shore. The Friday mosque is in the middle
of the town and is on the highest spot. All the columns are mar-
ble. To the right of the gebla, outside the mosque, is the prophet
Saleh’s tomb. The courtyard of the mosque is partially paved in
stone and partially planted with grass. They say that Adam culti-
vated that very spot. I measured the city, the length of which was
two thousand cubits and the breadth five hundred. The walls
are extremely strong, and the southwestern portion is on the
sea. To the south is a mind. Most of these coastal towns have a
mina, which is like a stable for ships. Built right against the town,
it has walls out into the water and an open space of fifty ells with-
out a wall but with a chain stretched from one wall to the other.
When a ship is about to enter the mind, they loosen the chain so
that it goes beneath the surface of the water, allowing the ship to
pass over; afterwards the chain is raised again lest strangers
make untoward attempts on the ships. To the left of the eastern
gate is a spring, to get to which one must descend twenty-six
steps. This spring is called the Cow Spring, and they say that
Adam discovered it and watered his own cattle from it, whence it
derives its name.
To the east of Acre is a mountain where various prophets’
shrines are located, but this place is off the main road to Ramla.
I had an intention to see these holy pilgrimage sites and to gain
God’s blessings from them, but the people of Acre told me that
there were evil people along the way who would set upon a
stranger and take whatever he might have. What valuables I had
I deposited therefore in the Acre mosque and set out from town
by the eastern gate. Early on Saturday the 23rd of Sha‘ban 438
[22 February 1047] I visited the tomb of ‘Akk, the founder of
Acre, who had been a great and pious man. Since I had no guide
with me to show me the way, I had become confused, when sud-
denly, thanks to God’s great goodness, I chanced upon a Persian
man from Azerbaijan who had visited those holy sites before and
had returned a second time. I prayed two rak‘ats in thanks to
God and rendered thanks to Him for giving me a companion so
that I could fulfill the intention I had made.
Then I came to a village called al-Berwa, where I visited the
tombs of Esau and Simeon. Next I came to a small cave they
called Dammun, which I visited too, since they say it is the tomb
of Dhu’l-Kefl. Then I came to a village named E‘bellin, where
they claim is the tomb of Hud. I made a visit. Inside the enclo-
sure is a mulberry tree. The tomb of the prophet Ezra, which I
visited, is there also.
Heading south, I came to another village called Hazira, to the
west of which is a valley where there is a freshwater spring flow-
ing from a rock. Next to the spring was a mosque built on a rock,
and inside were two stone chambers with stone roofs and a door
so small that it was difficult to enter. Inside are two adjacent
tombs, one of Jethro and the other of his daughter, Moses’ wife.
The people of this village keep up the mosque and shrine very
well, cleaning them and maintaining the lamps. Next I came toa
village called Irbid, to the south of which was a hill with an en-
Book of Travels
closure containing the tombs of four of Jacob’s sons, brothers of
Joseph. Proceeding farther, I saw a hill in which was a cave con-
taining the tomb of Moses’ mother. I made a visit and then went
on through a valley, which ends at a small sea, along the shore of
which is located the city of Tiberias. The sea is about six para-
sangs long and three wide, and the water is fresh and potable.
The city is on the western side of the sea, and all the bath and
sewage water empties into the sea, yet the people of the town
and shore district all drink from the water of the sea.
I heard that once a prince of this city ordered the sewage
drains that emptied into the sea stopped up. When they did this,
the water turned so foul it wasn’t fit to drink. He then ordered
the drains reopened, and the water became good again. This
town has a fortified wall extending from the shoreline all
around the town; there is no wall on the water side. There are
many buildings in the water, and the bed of the lake is rock.
They have made belvederes on the top of the marble columns
that are in the water. The lake is full of fish.
The town has a Friday mosque; by its gate is a spring with a
bathhouse over it. The water is so hot that unless it is mixed with
cold water you cannot stand it. They say that it was built by Solo-
mon, and I went inside to try it out.
On the west side of the city of Tiberias is a mosque called the
Jasmine Mosque, which is exceptionally fine. Right in the middle
of the mosque is a large platform containing several niches;
around the platform are jasmine bushes, which is why it is so
called. On the east side is a colonnade containing the tomb of
Joshua son of Nun. Beneath the platform are the tombs of the
Seventy Prophets who were slain by the children of Israel. To
the south of the city is the Dead Sea, the water of which is salty,
although it is south of Tiberias and the fresh water of the Sea of
Galilee flows into it. Lot’s city was on the shore of this sea, but no
trace of it remains. I heard from someone that in the bitter
waters of the Dead Sea is something shaped like a cow that grows
up from the bottom and resembles stone, but not so hard.* It is
gathered, broken into pieces, and peddled around in the towns
because one piece of it planted at the base of a tree will keep
*A type of water moss known in Persian as gavab (“water-ox”), called tohlob and
thawr al-ma’ in Arabic. See Mohammad Hosayn b. Khalaf Tabrizi, Borhan-e gate’,
ed. Mohammad Mo'‘in (Tehran: Ebn-e Sina, 1330-42/195 1-63), vol. 3, p. 1766.
From Acre to Jerusalem
worms from attacking the roots and will repel underground ver-
min from a whole orchard. This, at any rate, is what I was told.
Druggists also buy it because a worm called nogra that gets into
medicines is repelled by this substance. In the town of Tiberias
they make reed prayer mats sold there for five dinars.
To the west of Tiberias is a mountain where there is a piece of
granite inscribed in Hebrew to the effect that at the date of in-
scription the Pleiades were on the edge of Aries. The tomb of
Abu Horayra is there also, outside the city to the south, but no
one can go there because the people are Shi‘i and whenever any-
one does go, the children make a racket, attack, and harass and
throw stones. For this reason I was unable to visit that place.
Upon returning I came to a village called Kafr Kanna; on the
top of a hill to the south there is a cell with an immovable door,
said to be the tomb of the prophet Jonah. By the door to the cell
is a freshwater well. Having made my visit, I returned to Acre, a
distance of four parasangs. We remained in Acre for one day
more and then left.
From Acre to Jerusalem
We came to a village called Haifa. Along the village road is
much sand of the type used by Persian goldsmiths, which they
call makki [Meccan]. The village of Haifa is on the coast and has
many palm groves and orchards. The shipbuilders there make
large seagoing vessels they call judz.
One parasang from there is another village called Kanisa,
where the road turns away from the coast toward the hills. To
the east are desert plains called the Valley of Crocodiles. After a
parasang or two, the road again joins the coast. Here we saw the
bones of many sea animals that had been fossilized because of
constant pounding by waves. Seven parasangs from Acre, we
came to a town called Caesarea, a nice place with running water,
palm groves, orange and citron groves, and a fortified rampart
with an iron gate. There are springs inside the town and a Fri-
day mosque so situated that when seated inside one can look out
over the sea. There is a marble vase there as thin as Chinese por-
celain, although it holds a hundred maunds of water.
Book of Travels
Saturday the last of Sha‘ban [28 February 1047] I left there.
For one parasang there was that Meccan sand, then once again
we saw many fig and olive trees. All along the way the hills and
plain were planted with trees. Having gone a few parasangs, we
arrived in a town called Kafr Saba and Kafr Sallam. From here
to Ramla is three parasangs, the whole way orchards, as I have
Sunday the first of Ramadan [1 March] we arrived in Ramla,
which is eight parasangs from Caesarea. It is a large town witha
fortified rampart of stone and mortar, tall and strong, with iron
gates. From the city to the shore is three parasangs. Their water
supply is rainwater, and inside every building are pools to collect
it so that there will be a constant supply. In the Friday mosque
there are large pools from which anyone can draw water when
they are full. I measured the courtyard and found it to be three
hundred paces by two hundred. Across a porch was an inscrip-
tion to the effect that on the 15th of Moharram 425 [10 Decem-
ber 1033] there was a violent earthquake that destroyed many
buildings, but no people were injured.
There is much marble here, and most of the buildings and
houses are made of sculpted marble. They cut the marble with
toothless saws and Meccan sand. The saw is drawn along the
length of the shaft, not across the grain, as with wood. From the
stone they make slabs. I saw all colors of marble—speckled,
green, red, black, white, and multicolored. There is a kind of
grape there that is better than grapes elsewhere and is exported
all over. The city of Ramla is said to belong to Syria and western
On the 3rd of Ramadan [3 March] we left Ramla and came to
a village called Latrun.° Farther on we came to a village called
Qaryat al-‘Enab. All along the way I noticed great quantities of
rue growing wild. We saw a spring with very good fresh water
flowing out of rock; it was made with troughs all around and
had several outbuildings about. From there we started up a hill
as though ascending a mountain, on the other side of which one
would expect to come down to a city. Once we had gone up a
way, however, a vast plain came into view, partially rocky and
partially soil. Atop the hill is the city of Jerusalem. From Tripoli,
All manuscripts give Khatun; Schefer observes that it should be Latrun.
Description of Jerusalem
which is on the coast, to Jerusalem is 56 parasangs. From Balkh
to Jerusalem is 876 parasangs.
The 5th of Ramadan 438 [5 March 1047] we entered Jerusa-
lem. It had been one solar year from the time we left home, and
throughout our travels we had not stopped anywhere long
enough to have rested completely.
Jerusalem, which the people of Syria and that region call
“Qods,” is visited during the season by people of the area who
are unable to make the Pilgrimage to Mecca. They perform the
requisite rituals and offer a sacrifice on the customary holiday.
Some years more than twenty thousand people come during the
first days of Dhu 1-hejja bringing their children to celebrate their
circumcision. From the Byzantine realm and other places too
come Christians and Jews to visit the churches and synagogues
located there. The large church will be described later.
The outlying villages and dependencies of Jerusalem are all in
the hills, and all cultivation, olives, figs, and so on, is totally with-
out irrigation, yet prosperity is widespread and prices cheap.
There are villagers who collect each up to five thousand maunds
of olive oil in pits and tanks to be exported all over the world.
They say there has never been a faminine in the land of Syria,
and I heard from reliable sources that a great man once saw the
Prophet in a dream and said, “O Prophet of God, assist us in our
livelihood!” In response the Prophet said, “The bread and olives
of Syria are with me.”
A General Description of Jerusalem
Now I will describe the city of Jerusalem. It is situated on top
of a hill and has no source of water save rain. The villages, on
the other hand, have springs, but there are none inside the city.
Around the city is a fortified rampart of stone and mortar with
iron gates. Near the city there are no trees, since it is built on
Book of Travels
rock. It is a large city, there being some twenty thousand men
there when I saw it. The bazaars are nice, the buildings tall, and
the ground paved with stone. Wherever there was a rise or hill it
has been graded down level so that when it rains the whole
ground is washed clean. There are many artisans in the city,
each group having its own separate quarter. The eastern wall is
attached to the congregational mosque.
Passing out of the mosque you come out onto a large, expan-
sive, and flat plain called Sahera. They say that this is where the
Resurrection will take place, where all men will be gathered to-
gether. For this reason many people have come there from all
over the world and taken up residence in order to die in that
city. When God’s appointed time comes, they will already be in
the stipulated place. O God! on that day wilt Thou be Thine own
servants’ protector and Thy mercy. Amen. O Lord of the uni-
On the edge of the plain is a large cemetery, where there are
many spots in which men pray and make special requests, which
are granted by God. O God, receive our supplications and for-
give our sins and evil deeds. Have mercy upon us, O Most Mer-
Between the cathedral mosque and the Plain of Sahera is a
large, deep valley shaped like a trench. Therein are large edi-
fices laid out by the ancients. I saw over the door of one house a
carved stone dome, and a thing more amazing than this could
scarcely exist: I could not figure out how it had been raised. Ev-
erybody said it was Pharaoh’s House and that this was the Valley
of Gehenna."° I asked how it came to be called thus and was
told that, in the days of the caliphate of Omar, the Plain of
Sahera had been the site of an army camp. When Omar looked
at that valley, he said, “This is the Valley of Gehenna.” The com-
mon people say that anyone who goes to the edge of the valley
can hear the voices of the people in hell. I went there but heard
Half a parasang south of the city, one goes down a hill to a
spring, called ‘Ayn Selwan [the Spring of Siloam], that flows
from rock. They have built many buildings around it, and it
'°The Valley of Gehenna is known in Judeo-Christian sources as the Valley of
Jehoshaphat. “Gehenna” (Arabic jahannam) is the Islamic proper name for Hell.
The Sanctuary of Jerusalem
waters the gardens. They say that whoever washes in that water
will be cured of chronic illness. Much has gone into pious en-
dowment for that spring.
Jerusalem has a fine, heavily endowed hospital. People are
given potions and draughts, and the physicians who are there
draw their salaries from the endowment.
The Sanctuary of Jerusalem
The hospital and Friday mosque are on the eastern side of the
city, and one wall of the mosque" is on the Valley of Gehenna.
Looking at the wall from outside the mosque, one can see that it
is one hundred cubits high and made of large, unmortared
stones. Inside the mosque [area] the top of the wall is level. The
mosque was built in that place because it is the site of the very
rock which God commanded Moses to make the direction of
prayer. When this commandment came, Moses did make it the
direction of prayer; not long thereafter he died. Then, in the
time of Solomon, as that rock was still the direction of prayer,
the mosque was built around the rock, with the rock in the mid-
dle. This rock remained the direction people faced for prayer
until the time of the Prophet Mohammad, when God com-
manded the direction to be toward the Ka‘ba [in Mecca], a de-
scription of which will come in its proper place.
I wanted to measure the dimensions of this sanctuary, but I
thought that first I should get a general idea of the plan and lay-
out, after which I could make my measurements. For a long time
I wandered about the area, looking at it from different vantages.
Then, on the northern side, near the Dome of Jacob, I discov-
ered an inscription in stone over an arch to the effect that the
length of this sanctuary is 704 cubits and the width 455 cubits in
royal ells (the royal ell being what is called the gaz-e shayegan in
Khorasan, and equivalent to slightly less than 1% ells). The
ground of the area is paved with stone and the joints are filled
''Throughtout this section Naser refers to the entire precincts of the Haram
al-Sharif, the sanctuary of the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque, as “the
TOT VENT? Pree ror et Pe renee ome wrereETT TTT TS GT gy
Book of Travels
The sanctuary is located to the east of the city and bazaar, so
that to get to it from the bazaar one goes east. It has a splendid
gateway, thirty ells high and twenty wide, from which two
“wings” open out on each side. The gateway, the facing of the
wings, and the open hall of the gateway are adorned with de-
signs and patterned with colored tiles set in plaster. The whole
produces an effect dazzling to the eye. There is an inscription on
the tiles of the gateway with the titles of the sultan of Egypt.
When the sun strikes this, the rays play so that the mind of the
beholder is absolutely stunned. Over the gateway is a huge dome
made of stone, with two ornate doors set therein. The facing on
these doors is of Damascene brass and looks like gold. They are
covered with designs and are fifteen ells high and eight wide.
These doors are called the Bab Daud [Gate of David].” Inside
and to the right of these doors you find two great colonnades,
each of which has twenty-nine marble pillars with capitals and
bases of colored marble, with lead-caulked joints. Over the col-
umns are masonry arches placed one atop the other, without
mortar, such that each arch contains no more than four or five
blocks of stone. These colonnades run to near the magqsiira. To
the left of the doors, that is, to the north, is a long colonnade
with sixty-four arches atop marble columns and another gate
called Bab al-Saqar [Gate of Hell]. The length of the mosque ex-
tends from north to south, to where the magqstra opens out, but
the shape of the court is square, with the qgebla to the south.
On the north side are two more adjacent doors, each of which
is seven ells wide and twelve high. These doors are called Bab al-
Asbat [Gate of the Tribes]. Beyond these doors, which are along
the breadth of the sanctuary leading eastward, there is another
'?The following correlation between the gates of the sanctuary mentioned by
Naser and gates as they are today has been made by Sir C. W. Wilson (Appendix
C in Le Strange’s translation of the Palestine section of the Safarndma, pp.
67-72): Naser’s Bab Daud is the Bab al-Selsela; the gate called al-Saqar by Naser
is thought to be the modern Bab al-Nazer; Naser’s Bab al-Asbat is now known as
Bab al-Hetta; the Bab al-Abwab of Naser’s text is the modern Bab al-Asbat; the
gate leading to the Sufis’ Cloisters should be the modern Bab al-‘ Atm; the double
gates of Bab al-Rahma and Bab al-Tawba are the modern Golden Gate; Naser’s
Bab al-Nabi should be the Gate of the Old Aqsa; the Bab al-‘Ayn may be the
modern Single Gate or Triple Gate, now closed; the Bab al-Hetta, so called by
Naser, should be the now closed Bab al-Nabi, also known as Bab al-Boraq; and
what Naser refers to as the Bab al-Sakina is known as the Bab al-Salam and ad-
joins the Bab al-Selsela.
The Sanctuary of Jerusalem
huge gateway containing three adjacent doors of the same di-
mensions as the Gates of the Tribes. All are ornately done in
iron and brass of the best workmanship imaginable. This gate is
called Bab al-Abwab [Gate of Gates] because in all other places
the gateways come in pairs, and this gate alone is triple.
Between these two gateways, on the northern side, in a colon-
nade in which the arches rest on solid pillars, is a dome sup-
ported by tall columns and decorated with lamps. It is called Ja-
cob’s Dome, as it is supposed to have been his place of prayer.
On the broad side of the mosque is another colonnade, and in
the wall is a doorway. Outside that are the cloisters of the Sufis,
for that is their place of prayer and contains fine mehrabs. There
are always many Sufis in residence at prayer, except on Fridays
when they go inside the mosque to hear the exaltation.
At the north corner of the sanctuary is a fine colonnade and a
large, beautiful dome on which is inscribed: “This is the mehrab
of Zechariah the prophet.” They say that he used to pray con-
stantly in this place.
Along the eastern wall, in the middle of the sanctuary, is a
large gateway of stone so finely hewn that one would say it has
been made of a single block. It is fifty ells high and thirty wide, is
carved in designs, and has two beautiful doors leading into it.
Between the two doors is not more than one foot of wall space.
These doors are elaborately made of iron and Damascene brass
with rings and studs. They say these doors were made by Solo-
mon son of David for his father.
Going inside through these two doors, and facing east, you
find to your right two doors, one called Bab al-Rahma [Gate of
Mercy] and the other, Bab al-Tawba [Gate of Repentance]. It is
said that it was at these very doors that God accepted David’s re-
pentance. On this spot is a beautiful mosque that was once a hall
but has now been made into a mosque and decorated with all
sorts of carpets. It has an independent staff. Men often go there
to pray and seek communion with God. For the very reason that
David’s repentance was accepted in that place, all people are
hopeful to be forgiven their sins as well. They say that David had
scarcely crossed the threshold when an inspiration came to him
to the effect that God had accepted his repentance. There he re-
mained, occupying himself with acts of obedience. I, Naser,
prayed there and asked God for grace in piety and to be
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Book of Travels
cleansed of the sin of disobedience. May God the Exalted grant
grace to all his servants in accordance with his pleasure and
grant repentance of sin, through the sanctity of Mohammad and
his pure offspring!
In the south corner of the east wall is an underground
mosque, to reach which you must descend many steps. It is
twenty by fifteen ells and has a stone roof supported by marble
columns. It contains Jesus’s cradle, which is made of stone and is
large enough for men to pray in. I too prayed there. It is firmly
fastened to the floor so that it cannot be moved. This is the cra-
dle the Child Jesus was placed in when he spoke to people.” In
this mosque the cradle takes the place of the mehrab. On the east
side is the mehrab of Mary and another said to be that of Zacha-
riah. The Koranic verses concerning Zachariah and Mary are in-
scribed in these niches, and it is said that this was Jesus’ birth-
place. One of the columns has the imprint of two fingers and
looks as though someone had grasped it. They say that when
Mary was in labor, she held onto this very column. This mosque
is known as Mahd ‘Isa [Jesus’ Cradle], and many brass and silver
lamps are hung here and kept burning throughout the night.
Passing out through the door, again on the east wall at a cor-
ner of the large sanctuary area, you see another very beautiful
mosque, twice as large as Jesus’ Cradle Mosque, called al-Aqsa
Mosque. This marks the spot to which God transported Moham-
mad from Mecca on the night of his heavenly ascent, and thence
to heaven, as is mentioned in the Koran: “Praise be unto him,
who transported his servant by night, from the sacred temple of
Mecca to the farther temples of Jerusalem” [Koran 17:1].
In that place is a skillfully constructed edifice with magnificent
carpets and an independent staff who are always attendant. On
the outside again, along the southern wall and beyond the cor-
ner, there is an uncovered courtyard about 200 ells long. The
length of the mosque along the west wall is 420 ells, with the
maqsura to the right along the south wall; it [the mosque] is 150
ells wide. It has 280 marble columns supporting a stone arcade,
the tops and bottoms of which are decorated and the joints filled
with lead so that the construction is extremely tight. Between
every two columns is a distance of six ells, and the ground 1s
'*Jesus is mentioned in the Koran (19:29f.) as having spoken from the cradle.
The Sanctuary of Jerusalem
flagged in colored marble tile, the joints again caulked in lead.
The magsura, in the middle of the south wall, is large enough for
sixteen columns and an enormous dome inlaid in tile, as has
been described. It is filled with Maghrebi carpets, lamps, and
lanterns each hung by a separate chain. There is a large mehrab
inlaid with tile; on either side of the niche are two marble pillars
the color of red carnelian, and the whole low wall of the magqsura
is of colored marble. To the right is Mo‘awiya’s mehrab, and that
of Omar to the left. The ceiling is covered with wood carved in
elaborate designs. Along the wall of the magsura toward the
courtyard are 15 gateways and ornate doors, each of which is 10
ells tall and 6 wide, 10 of them on the wall that is 420 ells long
and 5 on the wall that is 150 ells long. One of these gates in par-
ticular is done in such beautifully ornate brass that one would
think it was made of gold burnished with silver. It has the name
of the Caliph Ma’mun on it and is said to have been sent by him
When all the gates are opened, the inside of the mosque is as
light as an open courtyard. However, when the wind is blowing
or it is raining, the gates are closed, and then light comes from
skylights. On each side of the covered portion are chests from
each of the principal cities of Syria and Iraq, and mojdawers sit
there just as they do in the Haram Mosque in Mecca.
Along the great outer wall, already described, is an arcade
with forty-two arches, all the columns of which are of colored
marble. This arcade joins the western one. Inside the covered
portion [of the mosque] is a tank sunk into the earth such that,
when covered, it is level with the floor; this is for collecting rain-
water. In the south wall is a gate at the ablution pool. When any-
one needs water for making ablutions, he goes there and renews
his ablutions, for the mosque is so large that if you had to leave
it, you would certainly miss your prayer.
The roofs are all covered with lead, and there are many tanks
and cisterns sunk into the ground, since the mosque rests en-
tirely on rock. However much it rains, no water is allowed to es-
cape and go to waste, since it all drains into cisterns from which
it can be drawn later. There are lead conduits through which the
water flows. Beneath the drains are stone troughs, and in the
bottom of each of these is a hole leading to a channel through
which the water flows uncontaminated into the tanks. Three
Book of Travels
parasangs outside the city I saw a large reservoir in which moun-
tain water is kept. There is a canal from there into the city
mosque. Of all the city, the greatest abundance of water is found
in the Friday mosque; however, in all the houses there are pools
for rainwater, wherein each person collects the water from his
own roof. The baths and everything else operate on rainwater as
well. The cisterns in the mosque never need repair because they
are made of granite, but even should there have been a crack or
chink, the rock is so solidly reinforced that it never breaks. They
say Solomon made all this. The tops of the cisterns look like
ovens; and the well-covers, which are placed on top of every cis-
tern lest anything fall in, are stone. The water of this city is the
best and cleanest imaginable. Even when only a little rain falls,
the water runs for two or three days. Even when no trace of a
cloud remains in the sky, drops of rainwater continue to trickle.
I have already said that Jerusalem is built on top of a hill and
that the ground is not level. The site of the mosque alone is level
and even; outside the mosque, wherever the ground goes down,
the wall becomes correspondingly somewhat taller, rather than
having the top of the wall follow the rising and falling of the
ground. At every place in the city lower than the mosque, a door
has been cut to lead up to the courtyard through a tunnel. One
of these doors is called Bab al-Nabi [Prophet’s Gate]. This pas-
sageway is on the gebla side, that is, the south, and is built so that
it is ten ells wide; the height, depending on the number of steps,
varies from five to twenty ells. The roof of this passageway lies
under the pavement of the mosque and is strong enough for a
building of such enormity to be built on top of it with no trace of
strain. There are stones so enormous that the mind of man can-
not comprehend how human strength could have moved them.
They say this structure was made by Solomon son of David and
that our Prophet Mohammad, on the night of his heavenly as-
cent, entered the mosque by this passage; this door indeed faces
the road to Mecca. On the wall nearby is a large shield carved in
stone. It is said that Hamza son of ‘Abd al-Mottaleb, the uncle of
the Prophet, sat there with his shield on his back and that this is
an impression of that shield.
At this gateway to the mosque, where this passageway has
been constructed, is hung a double-leafed door. The outside
wall at this point is nearly fifty ells high. The reason for this gate
The Sanctuary of Jerusalem
is so that the people of the quarter adjoining this end of the
mosque should not have to go to another quarter when they
want to enter. In the wall to the right of the door is a stone fif-
teen cubits high and four wide; there is no stone larger in the
mosque, where there are many stones four to five ells long set at
a height of thirty to forty ells in the walls.
Along the breadth of the mosque is a gate facing east called
Bab al-‘Ayn [Gate of the Spring], outside of which is a hill lead-
ing down to the Spring of Siloam. There is also another gate at
ground level called Bab al-Hetta [Gate of Forgiveness]; it is said
that it was through this gate that God commanded the children
of Israel to enter the mosque, as he said: “Enter into this city,
and eat of the provisions thereof plentifully as ye will; and enter
the gate worshiping, and say, Forgiveness! [hetta] we will pardon
you your sins and give increase unto the well-doers” [Koran
Yet another gate is called Bab al-Sakina [Gate of the Divine
Presence]'* and in the adjacent vestibule is a mosque with many
mehrabs; the first door is kept closed so that no one can enter.
They say that the Ark of the Covenant mentioned by God in the
Koran was once placed there but was later borne away by the
All the gates to the Jerusalem sanctuary number nine, as de-
Now I will describe the platform in the middle of the mosque
courtyard, and the Rock located inside, which was the gebla be-
fore the emergence of Islam. The platform had to be con-
structed because the rock was too high to be enclosed under a
roof; therefore the platform was built with the Rock as its foun-
dation. The width is 330 cubits, the length 300 cubits, and the
height 12 ells. The court is level and nicely paved with marble,
and the walls, the joints of which are caulked with lead, are all
four faced with marble so as to form an enclosure. The platform
is so constructed that access can be gained only by specially built
gangways. Going up onto the platform, you can look out over
the roof of al-Aqsa Mosque. There is a cistern built below the
ground to store rainwater, which runs through niches into the
'4The name of this gate is taken from the post-Biblical concept of the shékinah,
the “aura of the presence of God” that surrounded the Ark of the Covenant.
The term occurs in Koran 2:248.
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Book of Travels
cistern, and this the cleanest and best water in the entire sanctu-
ary complex. There are four domes on the platform, the largest
of which is the Qobbat al-Sakhra [Dome of the Rock], which
used to be the gebla.
A Description of the Dome of the Rock
The mosque complex has been designed so that the platform
is in the middle of the court, and the Dome of the Rock in the
middle of the platform. It is an octagonal edifice, and each of
the eight sides is thirty-three cubits long. There are four doors
facing the cardinal points of the compass with one blank wall be-
tween each two doors. The whole wall is of masonry twenty cu-
bits in measure. The Rock itself is one hundred ells in circumfer-
ence, although it is not a perfect shape; that is, it is neither
circular nor square, but a rock of irregular form like any moun-
tain stone. On each of the four sides of the Rock is a square pier
the height of the wall. Between each two square piers stands a
pair of cylindrical marble pillars the same height as the piers.
Resting on these twelve piers and pillars is the base of the dome,
beneath which lies the Rock itself; the circumference is 120 cu-
bits. Between the wall and these piers (as I call the square ones)
and pillars (as I call the round ones hewn from one piece of
stone) are six more piers of hewn stone; between each two of
these are three columns of colored marble. They are equally
spaced so that in the outer row there are two columns between
each two piers, whereas in the inner row there are three columns
between each two piers. On the capital of each pier are set four
volutes, from each of which springs an arch; on the capital of
each column are set two volutes so that from each column there
spring two arches, whereas the capital of every pier is the spring
of four arches.
The great dome rests on the twelve piers around the Rock and
is so shaped that from one good parasang away the dome ap-
pears like a mountain. From the base of the dome to the top is
thirty cubits. The dome sits atop the octagonal structure’s
straight walls twenty ells high with buttresses forming the angles
of the supporting walls on top of the platform, which is itself
The Dome of the Rock of Jerusalem, viewed from the south (gebla) side,
showing the Maqam-e Ghori. Note that the triple stairway described by
Naser has been replaced. (Photographed by Felix Bonfils. From the
Collections of the Harvard Semitic Museum, HSM 372.)
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Book of Travels
twelve ells high. Thus, from the ground of the sanctuary court
to the summit of the dome is a total of sixty-two ells. The roof
and ceiling of this structure are covered with geometric designs,
and the column capitals and walls are ornate beyond descrip-
The Rock itself rises to the height of a man above the floor
and is surrounded by a marble balustrade to keep people away.
It is a bluish rock that no one has ever set foot on. On the gebla
side is a depression that looks as though someone’s foot had
sunk in, as into soft clay, for even the imprint of the toes re-
mains; there are seven such marks. What I heard is that Abra-
ham was here, and that when Isaac was a small child he walked
there and these are his footprints.
There are always people in the Dome of the Rock as mojdwers
and devotees. The place is nicely furnished with carpets of silk,
and in the middle of the building is a silver lamp suspended over
the Rock by a silver chain. There are many silver lamps here,
and on each one is written its weight. They were donated by the
sultan of Egypt. As I figured, there were a thousand maunds of
silver. I saw one enormous candle, seven cubits long and three
spans thick; it was as white as camphor and mixed with amber-
gris. They said that every year the sultan of Egypt sends many
candles, one of which was this one, for it had the sultan’s name
written in gold letters around the bottom.
This place is the third most holy place of God, and it is well
known among those learned in religion that prayer made in
Jerusalem is worth twenty-five thousand ordinary prayers.
Every prayer said in Medina is worth fifty thousand, and every
prayer said Mecca is worth one hundred thousand. May God
grant to all his servants success in attaining this!
I have already stated that all the roofs and domes are covered
with lead and that on each of the four sides of the structure is a
large double door made of teak. These doors are always kept
Next to this structure is another dome called Qobbat al-Selsela
[the Dome of the Chain], which is where David hung the chain
that could not be reached by anyone other than the innocent,
for the guilty and unjust could never pull it. This is well known
to the learned.'? That dome rests on eight marble columns and
'°For the legend of David's chain of justice, see al-Kesa’i, Tales of the Prophets of
al-Kisa’t, tr. W. M. Thackston, Jr. (Boston: Twayne, 1978), pp. 286-288.
The Gangways Leading to the Platform
six stone piers, and it is open on all sides except the gebla direc-
tion, which is walled up and has a beautiful mehrab.
Also on the platform is another dome, which rests on four
marble columns; it too is walled on the gebla side and has a fine
mehrab. This is called Gabriel’s Dome. There are no carpets in
this dome, the ground being paved with flat slabs of rock. They
say that on the night of the Prophet’s heavenly ascent, the Boraq
was brought here for the Prophet to mount.!®
Twenty cubits away from Gabriel’s Dome is another dome
called the Prophet’s Dome. This too rests on four marble piers.
They say that on the night of the heavenly ascent, the Prophet
first prayed in the Dome of the Rock and placed his hand on the
Rock. When he had come out, the Rock rose up because of his
majesty. He put his hand on the Rock, and it froze in its place,
half of it being still suspended in the air. From there the Prophet
came to the dome that is attributed to him and mounted the
Boraq, for which reason that dome is so venerated. Beneath the
Rock is a large cave where candles are kept burning. They say
that when the Rock moved to rise up, this space was left, and,
when it froze, this cave remained.
A Description of the Stairways
Leading to the Platform
There are six stairways up to the platform, each of which has a
name. From the gebla side are two ways up the platform. Stand-
ing at a point along one side of the platform, one sees a set of
stairs to the right and another to the left. The one to the right is
called Maqam al-Nabi [the Prophet’s Station]; the one to the left,
Maqam-e Ghori [the Ghorid Station]. The Prophet’s Station is so
called because the Prophet mounted the platform by these stairs
and thence into the Dome of the Rock. The road to the Hejaz is
indeed on that side. Now these stairs are twenty cubits broad and
are made of hewn stone, each step being one or two slabs of
square-hewn stone. They are so arranged that they can be scaled
on horseback. At the top of the stairs are four piers of a green
marble that resembles emerald, except that the marble has many
'°The Boraq is the heavenly animal upon which the Prophet ascended into
heaven. In late medieval iconography the Borag is a winged horse with a human
cn er ee Eee
Book of Travels
different colored flecks in it. Each column is ten cubits tall and
so thick that only with difficulty could two men reach around it.
Atop these four columns rise three arches placed so that the
middle one is directly opposite the steps. The top of the arcade is
flat, with a gallery and crenellations above so that the whole
looks squared off. The pillars and arches are covered with gold
and enamel designs and are too beautiful to describe. The balus-
trades around the platform are all of a flecked green marble that
looks like a meadow with flowers in bloom.
The Ghorid Station stairway consists of a triple flight, that is, a
middle stairway directly opposite the platform flanked on either
side by stairways, so that people can go up by any one of three
different ways. Here too are similar columns, arches, and a gal-
lery made, as I have already said, of hewn stone. Each step is of
two or three long slabs. Across the arcade is inscribed in gold
and fine calligraphy, “By the order of Prince Layth al-Dawla
Nushtakin the Ghorid.” They say that this Layth al-Dawla was a
slave of the sultan of Egypt and that he had these stairs and
On the west side of the platform there are also two stairways
all as elaborately constructed as what I have already described.
On the east side is only one stair, likewise elaborate, with col-
umns, arches, and crenellations. This is called Maqam Sharqi
[Eastern Station]. On the north side is another approach, higher
and broader than the others, but also with columns and arches.
It is called Maqam Shami [Syrian Station]. I reckoned that a
hundred thousand dinars must have been spent on these six
stairways and approaches.
Toward the north side of the courtyard of the Sanctuary, but
not on the platform, is something like a small mosque sur-
rounded by a masonry enclosure. Its walls are no!’ higher than
a man, and it is called Mehrab Da’ud [David’s Oratory]. Nearby
the enclosure is a rock about as tall as a man, the top of which is
no larger than what could be covered by a small rug. It is a
rough stone and is said to have been Solomon’s footstool. They
say that Solomon sat there while the Sanctuary was being built.
This much I saw and sketched myself inside the Jerusalem
Sanctuary, and I made notes in a diary I had with me right
'7Read, with Tehran edition, nabdshad for Dabir-Siyaqi’s bashad.
The Shrine of Abraham at Hebron
there. Among the strange things I saw in the Jerusalem Sanctu-
ary was a walnut tree. |
I then decided to make a visit to the tomb of Abraham, the
Friend of God. On Wednesday the first of Dhu’l-Qa‘da 438 [29
April 1047] I set out for my destination. From Jerusalem to the
shrine is six parasangs to the south. Along the way are many vil-
lages and much cultivation and orchards of trees that need no ir-
rigation, such as grapes, figs, olives, wild'® sumac, and so forth.
Two parasangs outside the city is a cluster of four villages where
there is a spring and also many gardens and orchards. It is called
“Paradise” because it is such a nice spot. One parasang outside
Jerusalem the Christians have a place they hold in great venera-
tion, and there are always many pilgrims and people holding re-
treat there. It is called Bethlehem, and the Christians, many
from Byzantium, make sacrifices there. I spent my first night
out from the city in that place.
A Description of the Shrine
of Abraham at Hebron
The people of Syria and Jerusalem call this shrine Khalil [He-
bron],'? whereas the proper name of the village, which they do
not use, is Matlun. The shrine is endowed with many villages in
addition to this one. The village has a spring that flows from
rock. Not much water comes from it, and it is a long way off, but
a channel has been dug to bring the water to just outside the vil-
lage, where a covered cistern has been constructed to store the
water lest it go to waste and so that there will be enough for the
people of the village and also for the pilgrims who come there.
The shrine itself is on the south side of the village, to the south-
east. There are four masonry walls eighty cubits long, forty cu-
bits wide, and twenty cubits high. The top of each wall is two cu-
bits thick. There is a mehrab and a maqsura along the width of the
structure, and in the magqsura are fine mehrabs and two tombs
placed so that the heads are toward the gebla. Each one is carved
'®Read, with Tehran and Berlin editions, khwadréy for Dabir-Siyaqi’s khwad.
‘Hebron, where the Shrine of Abraham is located, is known in Arabic as al-
Khalil, after Abraham’s epithet, Khalil Allah (“Friend of God”); see 2 Chronicles
Book of Travels
from stone and is about as long as a man. The one to the right is
the tomb of Isaac, son of Abraham, and the other is his wife’s.
The distance between the two is ten ells. Inside this shrine the
floor and walls are decorated with costly rugs and Maghrebi car-
pets even finer than brocade. I saw a prayer carpet said to have
been sent by a prince of the army who was a slave of the sultan of
Egypt. He was supposed to have bought it in Egypt for thirty
gold dinars, which is more than he would have paid for Byzan-
tine brocade. I never saw its equal anywhere. Coming out of the
maqsura into the shrine courtyard, you see two structures oppo-
site the gebla: the one to the right is a large building that contains
the tomb of Abraham, the Friend of God. Inside there is an-
other structure that you cannot walk all the way around, but it
has four small windows through which visitors can look and see
the tomb as they walk about. The whole structure is covered with
brocade hangings from floor to ceiling, and the tomb 1s three ells
long. Many lamps and silver lampholders are suspended
therein. The other monument, to the left of the gebla, contains
the tomb of Sarah, Abraham’s wife. Between these two struc-
tures is a vestibule-like passageway containing the doors to the
two small monuments. Here also are hung many lamps and
lampholders. Coming out of these two houses, you see two more
mausolea: the one on the right contains the remains of the
Prophet Jacob, and the one to the left, those of his wife. Next to
these are buildings that were Abraham’s guesthouses. Alto-
gether there are six tombs in this shrine.
Outside these four walls is a hill where the tomb of Joseph son
of Jacob is located under a nicely built dome with a stone tomb.
On the side where the ground is level, beyond Joseph’s Dome
and the shrine, is a large cemetery to which bodies have been
brought for interment from all parts. On the roof of the maqsura
inside the shrine are cells to house guests who stop there. The
place is heavily endowed with villages and freeholding in Jerusa-
lem. Most of the crop is barley, wheat being less cultivated; there
are, of course, many olives. Visitors, guests, and travelers are
given bread and olives. There are also many gristmills where
oxen and mules grind flour all day long. There are also young
girls who bake bread every day, each loaf weighing one maund.
Everyone who goes there is given a daily ration of one loaf of
bread, a bowl of lentils cooked with olive oil, and raisins, a cus-
tom that has been maintained from the time of Abraham him-
The Shrine of Abraham at Hebron
self down to the present. On some days there are five hundred
people present, all of whom receive this hospitality. They say
that a long time ago, before this shrine was built, no one could
enter and that the visit had to be made from outside. Then,
when the Mahdi was established in the land of Egypt, he or-
dered the structure opened up. Many utensils, hangings, and
carpets were placed therein and major reparations were made
inside the shrine. The entrance is in the middle of the north wall
and is four ells above the ground. On either side are stone steps
leading up on one side and down on the other. There is a small
iron door mounted there.
From there I returned to Jerusalem and then set out on foot
with a group of people heading for the Hejaz. Our guide was a
strong, pleasant-featured man who went on foot and was called
Abu Bakr Hamadani. The middle of Dhu ’l-Qa‘da 438 [May
1047] I departed from Jerusalem. After three days we came to a
place called ‘Ar‘ar, where there were gardens with running
water. We then came to another stopping place called Wadi al-
Qora. After that we stopped in one more place and in ten days
That year there were no caravans from anywhere, and food-
stuffs were not to be found. We stopped in the Druggists’ Lane
just opposite the Prophet’s Gate. On Monday we were at ‘Arafat,
although the people were in danger of marauding Arabs. Re-
turning from ‘Arafat, we stayed two days in Mecca and then set
out again for Syria and Jerusalem.
On the 5th of Moharram 439 [2 July 1047] we arrived in Jeru-
salem. I have not detailed anything of Mecca and the Pilgrimage
here because I will describe it all under my last Pilgrimage.
The Christians have a church in Jerusalem called Bay‘at al-
Qomama [Church of the Resurrection], which they hold in par-
ticular veneration. Every year many people come from Byzan-
tium to visit it, and the Byzantine king himself comes in disguise
so that no one will recognize him. In the days when the ruler of
Egypt was al-Hakem be-Amr Allah, the Byzantine emperor
came. al-Hakem found out about it and said to one of his equer-
ries, “In the mosque of Jerusalem a man of such-and-such a de-
scription wearing such-and-such clothes will be seated. Go to
him and say that al-Hakem has sent you. Tell him not to imagine
that I have no knowledge of his presence and not to fear, for I
have no ill intent with regard to him.” It was this very al-Hakem
Book of Travels
who ordered this church plundered and pulled down, and it re-
mained in this state of ruination for a time. Afterwards the em-
peror sent emissaries with many gifts to seek a reconciliation and
to intercede for permission to rebuild the church. It is large
enough to hold eight thousand people inside and is extremely
ornate, with colored marble and designs and pictures. It is ar-
rayed with Byzantine brocades and is painted. Much gold has
been used, and in several places there are pictures of Jesus rid-
ing on an ass and also pictures of other prophets such as Abra-
ham, Ishmael, Isaac, and Jacob and his sons, which are var-
nished in oil of sandarac and covered with fine, transparent
glass that does not block any of the painting. This they have
done so that dust and dirt cannot harm the pictures, and every
day servants clean the glass. There are several other places just
as elaborate, but it would take too long to describe them. There
is one place in this church painted in two parts to represent
heaven and hell and their inhabitants; in all the world there is
nothing to equal it. Many priests and monks remain here to read
the Gospel, pray, and occupy themselves with acts of devotion all
day and night.
Journey to Egypt
After Jerusalem I decided to voyage to Egypt by sea and
thence again to Mecca. As there was such an adverse wind that
the ship could not set out to sea, I therefore proceeded by land.
Passing through Ramla, I came to a town on the edge of the sea
called Ascalon, which had a fine bazaar and cathedral mosque. I
saw an old arch said to have been at one time [part of] a mosque.
It was of stone and so huge that it would have cost a great deal to
pull it down. Beyond there I saw many villages and towns that
would take too long to describe fully.
Shortly, I arrived at a port called Tina, from which you pro-
ceed to Tennis. I boarded a boat and sailed over to Tennis,
which is on an island. It is a pleasant city and so far from the
mainland that you cannot even see the shore from rooftops. The
city is populous and has good bazaars and two cathedral
mosques. I estimated there were ten thousand shops, a hundred
Journey to Egypt
of which were pharmacies. In the summer they sell kashkab in the
market, since it is a tropical climate and people suffer so from
They weave multicolored linen for turbans, bandages, and
women’s clothing. The colored linen of Tennis is unequaled
anywhere except by the white linen woven in Damietta. That
which is woven in the royal workshop is not sold to anyone. I
heard that the king of Fars once sent twenty thousand dinars to
Tennis to buy one suit of clothing of their special material. [His
agents] stayed there for several years but were unsuccessful in
obtaining any. What the weavers are most famous for is their
“special” material. I heard that someone there had woven a tur-
ban for the sultan of Egypt that cost five hundred gold dinars. I
saw the turban myself and was told it was worth four thousand
dinars. In this city of Tennis they weave [a type of cloth called]
bugalamun, which is found nowhere else in the world. It is an iri-
descent cloth that appears of different hues at different times of
the day. It is exported east and west from Tennis. I heard that
the ruler of Byzantium once sent a message to the sultan of
Egypt that he would exchange a hundred cities of his realm of
Tennis alone. The sultan did not accept, of course, knowing that
what he wanted with this city was its linen and bugalamun.
When the water of the Nile rises, it pushes the salt water of the
sea away from Tennis so that the water is fresh for ten para-
sangs. For that time of the year large, reinforced, underground
cisterns called masna‘as have been constructed on the island.
When the Nile water forces the salty seawater back, they fill
these cisterns by opening a watercourse from the sea into them,
and the city exists for a whole year on this supply. When anyone
has an excess of water, he will sell to others, and there are also
endowed masna‘as from which water is given out to foreigners.
The population of this city is fifty thousand, and there are at
any given time at least a thousand ships at anchor belonging
both to private merchants and to the sultan; since nothing is
there, everything that is consumed must be brought in from the
outside. All external transactions with the island are made there-
fore by ship, and there is a fully armed garrison stationed there
as a precaution against attack by Franks and Byzantines. I heard
from reliable sources that one thousand dinars a day go from
there into the sultan’s treasury. Everyday the people of the city
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Book of Travels
turn that amount over to the tax collector, and he in turn remits
it to the treasury before it shows a deficit. Nothing is taken from
anyone by force. The full price is paid for all the linen and buqa-
lamun woven for the sultan, so that the people work will-
ingly—not as in some other countries, where the artisans are
forced to labor for the vizier and sultan! They weave covers for
camel litters and striped saddle-cloths for the aristocrats; in re-
turn, they import fruits and foodstuffs from the Egyptian coun-
They also make superior iron tools such as shears, knives, and
so on. I saw a pair of shears imported from there to Egypt and
selling for five dinars. They were made so that when the pin was
taken out, the shears came apart, and when the pin was replaced
they worked again.
In that locale women are afflicted at times with a peculiar ill-
ness that causes them to cry out two or three times like an epilep-
tic, after which they regain their senses. In Khorasan I had
heard that there was an island where the women cry like cats,
which is similar to what I have just described. From Tennis to
Constantinople it is a twenty-day voyage by ship.
We set out for Egypt. When we reached the seashore, we
found a boat going up the Nile. As the Nile nears the coast, it
splits into many branches and flows fragmented into the sea.
The branch we were on is called Rumesh. The boat sailed along
until we came to a town called Salehiyya, which is very fertile.
Many ships capable of carrying up to two hundred kharvars of
commodities for sale in the groceries of Cairo are made there.
Were it not done in that manner, it would be impossible to bring
provisions into the city by animal with such efficiency. We dis-
embarked at Salehiyya and proceeded that very night to the city.
On Sunday the 7th of Safar 439 [3 August 1047], which was
Ormozd Day of Shahrivar, old reckoning, we were in Cairo.
A Description of Cairo and the Provinces
The River Nile flows from the southwest, through the city of
Cairo, and on into the Mediterranean Sea. When the Nile
floods, it swells to twice the size of the Oxus at Termedh. The
Cairo and the Provinces
water flows through Nubia before reaching Egypt. The province
of Nubia is mountainous, while Egypt lies on the plain. The first
place one comes to in Egypt from Nubia is Aswan, three hun-
dred parasangs from Cairo. All the town and provincial seats are
on the banks of the river, and that region is called Upper Egypt.
When ships reach Aswan, they can go no further because the
water passes through narrow defiles and turns into rapids.
Farther upriver to the south is the province of Nubia, which is
ruled by another king. ‘The people there are black, and their re-
ligion is Christianity. Traders go there taking beads, combs, and
trinkets and bring back slaves to Egypt, where the slaves are ei-
ther Nubian or Greek. I saw wheat and millet from Nubia, both
of which were black.
They say that no one has been able to ascertain the source of
the Nile, and I heard that the sultan of Egypt sent some people
who went along the Nile banks for a year investigating but were
unable to discover the source. It is said, however, that it comes
from a mountain in the south called Jabal al-Qamar [Mountain
of the Moon].
When the sun enters Cancer, the Nile begins its increase and
gradually rises day by day to twenty cubits above its winter level.
In the city of Old Cairo measuring devices have been con-
structed, and there is an agent who receives a salary of one thou-
sand dinars to watch and see how much the level rises. From the
day it begins its increase, criers are sent through the city to pro-
claim how many “fingers” God has increased the Nile that day.
When it has risen one ell, the good news is heralded and public
rejoicing proclaimed until it reaches eighteen cubits, the normal
increase. Less than this is considered a deficiency, and alms are
distributed, holy intentions vowed, and general sorrow ensues.
More is a cause for celebration and rejoicing. Unless the level
goes above eighteen cubits, the sultan’s land tax is not levied on
Water channels with smaller canals branching off have been
dug from the Nile in all directions, and the villages of the coun-
tryside are situated along them. There are so many waterwheels
that it would be difficult to count them. All country villages in
Egypt are built on high places and hills because when the Nile
floods the whole land is inundated. So that they will be flooded,
the villages are thus placed on higher ground. People normally
Book of Travels
travel from village to village by boat, and from one end of the
realm to the other they have constructed earthen dikes, along
the top of which you can walk beside the river. That structure is
repaired yearly by an expert at a cost of ten thousand dinars to
the sultan’s treasury. The people of the countryside make all
necessary preparations for the four months their land is beneath
the water, and everyone bakes and dries enough bread to last
these four months without spoiling.
The water usually rises for forty days until it has risen eight-
een cubits. Then it remains at that level for another forty days,
neither increasing nor decreasing. Thereupon it gradually de-
creases for another forty days until it reaches the winter level.
When the water begins to recede, the people follow it down,
planting as the land is left dry. All their agriculture, both winter
and summer, follows this pattern. They need no other source of
The city of Cairo lies between the Nile and the sea, the Nile
flowing from south to north into the sea. From Cairo to Alexan-
dria is thirty parasangs, and Alexandria is on the shore of the
Mediterranean and the banks of the Nile. From there much
fruit is brought to Cairo by boat. There is a lighthouse that I saw
in Alexandria, on top of which used to be an incendiary mirror.
Whenever a ship came from Istanbul and approached opposite
the mirror, fire would fall from the mirror and burn the ship
up. The Byzantines exerted great effort and employed all man-
ner of subterfuge, until they finally sent someone who broke the
mirror. In the days of al-Hakem, the sultan of Egypt, a man ap-
peared who was willing to fix the mirror as it had once been, but
al-Hakem said it was not necessary, that the situation was well
under control, since at that time the Greeks sent gold and goods
in tribute and were content for the armies of Egypt not to go
Alexandria’s drinking water comes from rain, and all over the
plain of Alexandria are those fallen stone columns previously
described. The sea extends to Qayrawan, which is 150 parasangs
from Egypt. The largest city of the Qayrawan region is Sejel-
masa, which is 4 parasangs from the sea. It is a large city, situ-
ated in the desert, with strong walls. Next to it is al-Mahdiyya,
which was built by al-Mahdi, a descendant of Prince of the Faith-
ful Hosayn son of ‘Ali, after he took the Maghreb and Anda-
Journey to Egypt
lusia, which, as of this date, are in the hands of the sultan of
Egypt. It snows there but never enough to cover the feet. To the
right of Andalusia the sea opens out to the north. From Egypt to
Andalusia is one thousand parasangs, and it is all Muslim. Anda-
lusia is a large and mountainous province where it snows and
freezes; the people have white skin and red hair. Most of them
have cat-eyes like the Slavs. It is “under” the Mediterranean,
since from their point of view the sea is to the east. Turning
right at Andalusia and going north, the shore eventually joins
Byzantium. Many go on raids to Byzantium; if they like they can
go by ship to Constantinople, but there are many gulfs, each of
which is two to three hundred parasangs wide and cannot be
crossed except by ship or ferry. I heard repeatedly from reliable
men that the circumference of this sea is four thousand para-
sangs and that one branch of the sea leads to the Darkness, for
they say that the head of that inlet is perpetually frozen because
the sun never reaches there. One of the islands in this sea is
Sicily, which can be reached from Egypt in twenty days. There
are also many other islands. It is said that Sicily is eighty para-
sangs square and belongs to the sultan of Egypt. Every year a
ship goes and brings tribute to Egypt. They bring very fine linen
and striped stuff from there, one piece of which is worth ten di-
nars in Egypt.
Going east from Egypt, you reach the Red Sea. The city of
Qolzom is located on the shore of this sea and is thirty parasangs
from Cairo. This sea is a gulf of the ocean that splits off at Aden
to the north and ends at Qolzom. The width of this gulf is said to
be two hundred parasangs. Between Cairo and the gulf is moun-
tain and desert where there is neither water nor growth. Who-
ever wants to go to Mecca from Egypt must go east. From Qol-
zom there are two ways, one by land and one by sea. The land
route can be traversed in fifteen days, but it is all desert and
three hundred parasangs long. Most of the caravans from Egypt
take that way. By sea it takes twenty days to reach al-Jar, a small
town in the Hejaz on the sea. From al-Jar to Medina it takes
three days. From Medina to Mecca is one hundred parasangs.
Following the coastline from al-Jar, you will come to the Yemen
and the coast of Aden; continuing in that direction, you will
eventually wind up in India and China. Continuing southward
from Aden and slightly westward, you will come to Zanzibar and
SS Sen awe me ee.
Book of Travels
Ethiopia, which will be described presently. Going south from
Egypt through Nubia, you come to the province of the Masmu-
dis, which is a land of broad pasture lands, many animals, and
heavyset, strong-limbed, squat, black-skinned men; there are
many soldiers of this sort in Egypt, with hideous faces and huge
bodies. They are called Masmudis and fight as infantry with
swords and spears, as they are incapable of wielding any other
A Description of the City of Cairo
Coming south from Syria, the first city one encounters is
(New) Cairo, Old Cairo being situated farther south. Cairo is
called al-Qahera al-Mo‘ezziyya, and the garrison town is called
Fostat. This came about because al-Mo‘ezz le-Din Allah, one of
the descendents of the Prince of the Faithful Hosayn son of ‘Ali,
having conquered the Maghreb up to Andalusia, sent his army
from the Maghreb in the direction of Egypt. To reach there,
they had to cross the Nile, which is impassable for two reasons:
first, the river is too broad, and second, there are so many croco-
diles that any animal falling into the water is immediately de-
voured. Then, on the outskirts of the city of Cairo, they puta tal-
isman on the road so that no men or animals would be harmed,
but no one dares to enter the water any place other than there
within an arrowshot of the city. Then al-Mo‘ezz le-Din Allah sent
his armies to the spot where Cairo is today, ordering them to
send a black dog into the water ahead of them so they could fol-
low without fear. It is said there were on that day thirty thou-
sand cavalrymen, all his slaves. And the black dog went in ahead
of the army, which followed behind across the water without a
single creature harmed. There is no indication that anyone had
crossed the Nile on horseback before this incident, which
occurred in 358 [A.D. 969]. The sultan himself came by ship,
and the boats in which he arrived were emptied near Cairo,
brought out of the water, and left abandoned on the dry land.
The man who told me this tale saw these boats himself, seven of
them, each 150 cubits long and 70 cubits wide. They had re-
mained there untouched for eighty years, as it was the year 441
[A.D. 1049] when he reached the spot.
The City of Cairo
When al-Mo‘ezz le-Din Allah came to Egypt, the commander-
in-chief from the caliph in Baghdad surrendered to him, and al-
Mo‘ezz came with his forces to the place that is now New Cairo.
He named his army camp al-Qahera (“Victoria”) since his army
had gained victory there. He ordered that none of his soldiers
should enter the city or go into anyone’s house. In the desert he
ordered a garrison built, and he commanded his retinue to lay
the foundations for houses and buildings, which in time became
a city whose equal is hardly to be found.
I estimated that there were no less than twenty thousand
shops in Cairo, all of which belong to the sultan. Many shops are
rented for as much as ten dinars a month, and none for less than
two. There is no end of caravanserais, bathhouses and other
public buildings—all property of the sultan, for no one owns
any property except houses and what he himself builds. I heard
that in Cairo and Old Cairo there are eight thousand buildings
belonging to the sultan that are leased out, with the rent col-
lected monthly. These are leased and rented to people on
tenancy-at-will, and no sort of coercion is employed.
The sultan’s palace is in the middle of Cairo and is encom-
passed by an open space so that no building abuts it. Engineers
who have measured it have found it to be the size of Mayyafare-
qin. As the ground is open all around it, every night there are a
thousand watchmen, five hundred mounted and five hundred
on foot, who blow trumpets and beat drums at the time of eve-
ning prayer and then patrol until daybreak. Viewed from out-
side the city, the sultan’s palace looks like a mountain because of
all the different buildings and the great height. From inside the
city, however, one can see nothing at all because the walls are so
high. They say that twelve thousand hired servants work in this
palace, in addition to the women and slavegirls, whose number
no one knows. It is said, nonetheless, that there are thirty thou-
sand individuals in the palace, which consists of twelve buildings.
The harem has ten gates on the ground level, each with a name,
as follows (excluding the subterranean ones): Bab al-Dhahab,
Bab al-Bahr, Bab al-Rih, Bab al-Zahuma, Bab al-Salam, Bab al-
Zabarjad, Bab al-‘Id, Bab al-Fotuh, Bab al-Zallaga, and Bab al-
Sariyya[?].2° There is a subterranean entrance through which
?°Of these gates, the following are in conformity with the palace gates as they
are known from other medieval and modern sources: Bab al-Dhahab [Golden
Gate], Bab al-Bahr [River Gate], Bab al-Rih [Wind Gate, reading mh for Dabir-
Book of Travels
the sultan may pass on horseback. Outside the city he has built
another palace connected to the harem palace by a passageway
with a reinforced ceiling. The walls of this palace are of rocks
hewn to look like one piece of stone, and there are belvederes
and tall porticos. Inside the vestibule are platforms for the min-
isters of state; servants are blacks and Greeks. The grand vizier
is a personnage exceptional in his asceticism, piety, trustworthi-
ness, truthfulness, learning, and intellect. The custom of wine-
drinking has never been permitted there, that is, in the days of
al-Hakem, under whose reign also no woman was allowed out-
side her own house and no one made raisins, as a precaution
against making intoxicating beverages. No one dares to drink
wine. Beer is not drunk either since it is said to be intoxicating,
and thus forbidden.
A Description of the City of New Cairo
The city of New Cairo has five gates, Bab al-Nasr. Bab al-
Fotuh, Bab al-Qantara, Bab al-Zowayla, and Bab al-Khalij.
There is no wall, but the buildings are even stronger and higher
than ramparts, and every house and building is itself a fortress.
Most of the buildings are five stories tall, although some are six.
Drinking water is from the Nile, and water carriers transport
water by camel. The closer the well is to the river, the sweeter the
well water; it becomes more brackish the farther you get from
the Nile. Old and New Cairo are said to have fifty thousand cam-
els belonging to water carriers. The water carriers who port
water on their backs are separate: they have brass cups and jugs
and go into the narrow lanes where a camel cannot pass.
Siyaqi’s edition sari], Bab al-Zahuma, Bab al-Zabarjad [Emerald Gate] (usually
known as Bab al-Zomorrod; apparently Naser or a later scribe has inserted the
Persian word zabarjad for the Arabic zomorrod, both of which mean “emerald”),
Bab al-‘Id [Festival Gate]. Bab al-Fotuh [Fate of Conquest] is one of the city
gates; the Bab al-Zallaqa was named for a ramp leading up to the gate. Bab al-
Salam [Gate of Peace] and Bab al-Sariyya (?, perhaps a scribal error for Bab al-
Torba [Tomb Gate]) have not been identified. See K. A. C. Creswell, The Muslim
Architecture of Egypt (New York: Hacket Art Books, 1978), pp. 33ff. and Paul
ee “Essai sur l'histoire et sur la topographie du Caire,” MMAFC, vol. 1, pp.
The City of New Cairo
In the midst of the houses in the city are gardens and orchards
watered by wells. In the sultan’s harem are the most beautiful
gardens imaginable. Waterwheels have been constructed to irri-
gate these gardens. There are trees planted and pleasure parks
built even on the roofs. At the time I was there, a house on a lot
twenty by twelve ells was being rented for fifteen dinars a
month. The house was four stories tall, three of which were
rented out. The tenant wanted to take the topmost floor also for
[an additional] five dinars, but the landlord would not give it to
him, saying that he might want to go there sometimes, although,
during the year we were there, he did not come twice. These
houses are so magnificent and fine that you would think they
were made of jewels, not of plaster, tile, and stone! All the
houses of Cairo are built separate one from another, so that no
one’s trees or outbuildings are against anyone else’s walls. Thus,
whenever anyone needs to, he can open the walls of his house
and add on, since it causes no detriment to anyone else.
Going west outside the city, you find a large canal called al-
Khalij [Canal], which was built by the father of the present sul-
tan, who has three hundred villages on his private property
along the canal. The canal was cut from Old to New Cairo,
where it turns and runs past the sultan’s palace. Two kiosks are
built at the head of the canal, one called Lulu [Pearl] and the
other Jawhara [Jewel].
Cairo has four cathedral mosques where men pray on Fridays.
One of these is called al-Azhar, another al-Nur, another the
Mosque of al-Hakem, and the fourth the Mosque of al-Mo‘ezz.
This last mosque is outside the city on the banks of the Nile.
When you face the gebla in Egypt, you have to turn toward the
ascent of Aries. The distance between Old and New Cairo is less
than a mile, Old Cairo being to the south and New Cairo to the
north. The Nile flows through Old Cairo and reaches New
Cairo, and the orchards and outbuildings of the two cities over-
lap. During the summer, when the plain and lowlands are inun-
dated, only the sultan’s garden, which is on a promontory and
consequently not flooded, remains dry.
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Book of Travels
A Description of the Opening of the Canal
When the Nile is increasing, that is, from the tenth of Shahri-
var until the thirtieth of Aban, with its level rising eighteen ells
above the winter level, the heads of the canals and channels are
closed throughout the land. Then the canal called al-Khalij,
which begins in Old Cairo and passes through New Cairo, and
which is the sultan’s personal property, is opened with the sultan
in attendance. Afterwards, all the other canals and channels are
opened throughout the countryside. This day is one of the big-
gest festivals of the year and is called Rokub Fath al-Khalij (“rid-
ing forth to open the canal”). When the season approaches, a
large pavilion of Byzantine brocade spun with gold and set with
gems, large enough for a hundred horsemen to stand in its
shade, is elaborately assembled at the head of the canal for the
sultan. In front of this canopy are set up a striped tent and an-
other large pavilion. Three days before the Rokub, drums are
beat and trumpets sounded in the royal stables so that the horses
will get accustomed to the sound. When the sultan mounts, ten
thousand horses with gold saddles and bridles and jewel-
studded reins stand at rest all of them with saddle-cloths of Byz-
antine brocade and bugalamun woven seamless to order. In the
borders of the cloth are woven inscriptions bearing the name of
the sultan of Egypt. On each horse is a spear or coat of armor
and a helmet on the pommel, along with every other type of
weapon. There are also many camels and mules with handsome
panniers and howdahs, all studded with gold and jewels. Their
coverings are sewn with pearls.
Were I to describe everything about this day of [the opening
of] the canal, it would take too long.
The sultan’s soldiers stand in groups and battalions, and each
ethnic group has a name.*' One group is called the Kotamis,
?!The Kotamis were Berbers of the Kotama tribe who were successfully con-
verted to Ismailism by the missionary activity of Abu ‘Abd Allah al-Shi‘i, who
paved the way for the declaration of ‘Obayd Allah as mahdi and caliph (see El’,
II, 852). The Batelis were also of North African origin and had a quarter near
the Bab al-Zowayla. The Masmudis were of the al-Masmuda, a North African
tribe (see Yaqut, 1V, 544); after “Masameda” in the text, read, with the Tehran
edition, sepahiyan “infantry soldiers” for Dabir-Siyaqi’s edition siyahan “blacks’).
The Masharegqa, or mashreqis (“easterners”), were mainly Daylamite soldiery. The
The “Opening of the Canal”
and they came from Qayrawan under al-Mo‘ezz le-Din Allah
and are said to number twenty thousand horsemen. Another
group called the Batelis came from the Maghreb before the sul-
tan came to Egypt; they are said to be fifteen thousand horse-
men in number. Another group, the Masameda, are infantry
soldiers from the lands of the Masmtdis and number twenty
thousand. Another group, called the Masharega [Easterners],
are Turks and Persians, non-Arab by origin; although most of
them were born in Egypt, their name derives from their place of
origin, and they number ten thousand powefully built men. An-
other group is called ‘Abid al-Shera, slaves who have been pur-
chased; they are said to be thirty thousand in number. Yet an-
other group are called the “Bedouins,” originating from the
Hejaz, and all fifty thousand of them carry spears. Another
group, called Ostadhs, are servants, both white and black, and
were bought for service; they number thirty thousand horse-
men. Another group numbering ten thousand, who originate
from all over the world and are just foot soldiers, are called Sa-
ra’is: they have a separate commander-in-chief, and each ethnic
group uses its own type of weaponry. Another group are called
Zanjis, thirty thousand in number; they fight with swords only.
All of these soldiers are on the sultan’s pay, and each receives a
fixed salary and/or wage according to his rank. Never has a draft
been written against any tax collector or peasant; rather, the tax
collectors annually remit the taxes of each province to the cen-
tral treasury, and at stipulated intervals the army’s pay is dis-
bursed. Hence, no governmental agent or peasant is ever troub-
led by demands from the army.
There is also a contingent of princes from all over the
world—the Maghreb, the Yemen, Byzantium, Slavia, Nubia,
and Abyssinia—who have come here but who are not reckoned
in the ranks of the regular army. The sons of the Chosroes of
Daylam and their mother have also come here, and the sons of
Georgian kings, Daylamite princes, the sons of the khagan of
Turkistan, and people of other ranks and stations, such as schol-
‘Abid al-shera were Nubians who had been purchased as slaves, as their name in-
dicates. Ostadhs (“masters”), as Naser notes, were purchased military slaves. “Sa-
rai’, if the term is correct, derives from sara (“palace, royal building”). The
Zanjis (plural zonw) were Blacks.
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Book of Travels
ars, literati, poets, and jurisprudents, all of whom have fixed sti-
pends. No aristocrat receives less than five hundred dinars,
some drawing stipends of up to two thousand dinars. The only
function they have to perform is to make a salaam to the grand
vizier, when he sits in state, and then withdraw to their places.
But let us return to our account of the opening of the canal.
On the morning when the sultan is going out for the ceremony,
ten thousand men are hired to hold the steeds we have already
described. These parade by the hundred, preceded by bugles,
drums, and clarions and followed by army battalions, from the
Harem Gate up to the head of the canal. Each of these hirelings
who holds a horse is given three dirhems. Next come horses and
camels fitted with litters and caparisons, and following these
come camels bearing howdahs. At some distance behind all of
these comes the sultan, a well-built, clean-shaven youth with
cropped hair, a descendant of Hosayn son of ‘Ali. He is
mounted on a camel with plain saddle and bridle with no gold or
silver and wears a white shirt, as is the custom in Arab countries,
with a wide cummerbund, which is called dorra‘ in Persia but
dabigi in Egypt. The value of this alone is said to be ten thousand
dinars. On his head he has a turban of the same color, and in his
hand he holds a large, very costly whip. Before him walk three
hundred Daylamites wearing Byzantine goldspun cloth with
cummerbunds and wide sleeves, as is the fashion in Egypt. They
all carry spears and arrows and wear leggings. At the sultan’s
side rides a parasol-bearer with a bejewelled, gold turban and a
suit of clothing worth ten thousand dinars. The parasol he holds
is extremely ornate and studded with jewels and pearls. No
other rider accompanies the sultan, but he is preceded by
Daylamites. To his left and right are thurifers burning amber-
gris and aloe. The custom here is for the people to prostrate
themselves and say a prayer as the sultan passes. After the sultan
comes the grand vizier with the chief justice and a large contin-
gent of religious and governmental officials.
The sultan proceeds to the head of the canal, where court has
been set up, and remains mounted beneath the pavilion for a
time. He is then handed a spear, which he throws at the dam.
Men quickly set to work with picks and shovels to demolish the
dam, and the water, which has built up on the other side, breaks
through and floods the canal.
On this day the whole population of Old and New Cairo
The “Opening of the Canal”
comes to witness the spectacle of the opening of the canal and to
see all sorts of wonderful sporting events. The first ship that sails
into the canal is filled with deaf-mutes, whom they must con-
sider auspicious. On that day the sultan distributes alms to these
There are twenty-one boats belonging to the sultan, which are
usually kept tied up like animals in a stable, in an artificial lake
the size of two or three playing fields next to the sultan’s palace;
each boat is fifty yards long and twenty wide and is so ornate
with gold, silver, jewels, and brocade that were I to describe
them I could fill many pages.
The sultan also has a garden called ‘Ayn al-Shams two para-
sangs outside the city: there is a freshwater spring after which
the garden, said to have been Pharaoh’s, was named. Near the
garden I saw an ancient edifice made of four large stones, each
of which was thirty ells tall and shaped like a minaret. From the
top of each of these water trickles, but no one knew what it used
There is a balsam tree in the garden, and it is said that the an-
cestors of the present sultan brought the seeds of this tree from
the Maghreb and planted them and that in all the world there is
no other like it, not even in the Maghreb. Although many seeds
are produced, they will not grow just anywhere, and even when
a tree does grow elsewhere, it does not produce oil. The tree it-
self looks like a myrtle tree. When it reaches maturity, the
branches are scored, and cups are attached to catch the sap-like
oil that comes out. When the oil is completely drained, the tree
dries up, and the gardeners take the wood to town to sell. It has
a thick bark that, when stripped, tastes like almond. The next
year branches again sprout from the roots, and the process can
There are in the city of Cairo ten quarters, which they call as
follows: Barjawan, Zowayla, al-Jawdariyya, al-Omara, al-Day-
alema, al-Rum, al-Bateliyya, Qasr-al-Shawk, “Abid al-Shera, and
?The quarter names that have special significance are: al-Omara [Emirs, or
Commanders], al-Dayalema [the Daylamites], al-Rum [the Greeks], al-Bateliyya
[the Bateli soldiers, see previous note], ‘Abid al-shera [purchased slaves], and
Masameda [the Masmudis, see previous note]. Some of these quarters survived
as quarters until later times; see al-Maqrizi, Ketab al-khetat al magriziyya (al-Shiyah:
Ehya’ al-‘Olum, n.d.), vol. 2, pp. 194ff. and Ravaisse, “Essai,” I, 425.
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Book of Travels
A Description of the City of Old Cairo
The city of Old Cairo is situated on a promontory. To the east
of the city is a hill, not too high, of rock and stone. On one side
of the city is the Ebn Tulun Mosque, built on a rise with two re-
inforced walls. With the exception of the walls of Amed and
Mavyafareqin, I never saw the likes of this mosque. It was built
by one of the Abbasid emirs who was governor of Egypt. During
the reign of al-Hakem be-Amr Allah, the grandfather of the
present sultan, the descendants of Ebn Tulun sold the mosque
to al-Hakem for thirty thousand dinars. Later, they were about
to have the minaret torn down when al-Hakem sent word to
them to inquire what they were doing, since they had sold him
the mosque. They replied that they had not sold the minaret, so
he gave them another five thousand dinars for it. During the
month of Ramadan the sultan prays there, and also on Fridays.
The city of Old Cairo was built on a hill for fear of the Nile
waters. Once the site was just large boulders, but they have all
been broken up and the ground leveled. Now they call such a
place ‘agaba. Looking at Old Cairo from a distance, because of
the way it is situated, you would think it’s a mountain. There are
places where the houses are fourteen stories tall and others
seven. I heard from a reliable source that one person has on top
of a seven-story house a garden where he raised a calf. He also
has a waterwheel up there turned by this ox to lift water from a
well down below. He has orange trees and also bananas and
other fruit-bearing trees, flowers, and herbs planted on the roof.
I was told by a credible merchant that there are many houses
in Old Cairo where chambers can be hired. These chambers are
thirty cubits square and can hold 350 people. There are also ba-
zaars and lanes there where lamps always must be kept lit be-
cause no light ever falls upon the ground where people pass to
In Old Cairo alone, not counting New Cairo, there are seven
cathedral mosques built one next to the other. In the two cities
there are fifteen Friday mosques, so that on Fridays there is a
sermon and congregation everywhere.
In the midst of the bazaar is the Bab al-Jawame‘ Mosque, built
by ‘Amr son of al-‘As when he was appointed governor of Egypt
The City of Old Cairo
by Mo‘awiya. The mosque is held aloft by four hundred marble
columns, and the wall that contains the mehrab is all slabs of white
marble on which the entire Koran is written in beautiful script.
Outside, on all four sides, are bazaars into which the mosque
gates open. Inside there are always teachers and Koran- readers,
and this mosque is the promenade of the city, as there are never
less than five thousand people—students, the indigent, scribes
who write checks and money drafts, and others. Al-Hakem
bought this mosque from the descendants of ‘Amr son of al-‘As.
As they were in financial distress, they had asked the sultan to
give permission for them to tear down the mosque their ancestor
had built in order to sell the stones and bricks. Al-Hakem gave
them one hundred thousand dinars for the mosque with all the
people of Old Cairo as witnesses. Then he built many amazing
things there, one of which is a silver lampholder with sixteen
branches, each of which is 1% cubits long. Its circumference is
24 cubits, and it holds seven hundred-odd lamps on holiday eve-
nings. The weight is said to be 25 kantars of silver, a kantar be-
ing 100 rotls, a rotl being 144 silver dirhems. After it had been
made, it was too large to get in through any of the existing
doors, so they removed one of the doors and got it inside, after
which the door was replaced. There are always ten layers of col-
ored carpets spread one on top of the other in this mosque, and
every night more than one hundred lamps are kept burning.
The court of the chief justice is located here.
On the north side of the mosque is a bazaar called Suq al-
Qanadil [Lamp Market], and no one ever saw such a bazaar any-
where else. Every sort of rare goods from all over the world can
be had there: I saw tortoise-shell implements such as small
boxes, combs, knife handles, and so on. I also saw extremely fine
crystal, which the master craftsmen etch most beautifully. [This
crystal] had been imported from the Maghreb, although they
say that near the Red Sea, crystal even finer and more translu-
cent than the Maghrebi variety had been found. I saw elephant
tusks from Zanzibar, many of which weighed more than two
hundred maunds. There was a type of skin from Abyssinia that
resembled leopard, from which they make sandals. Also from
Abyssinia was a domesticated bird, large with white spots and a
crown like a peacock’s.
Throughout Egypt is much honey and sugarcane. On the
eo 8S ees = ae & «
Book of Travels
third of the month of Day of the Persian year 416 I saw the fol-
lowing fruits and herbs, all in one day: red roses, lilies, narcissi,
oranges, citrons, apples, jasmine, basil, quince, pomegranates,
pears, melons, bananas, olives, myrobalan, fresh dates, grapes,
sugarcane, eggplants, squash, turnips, radishes, cabbage, fresh
beans, cucumbers, green onions, fresh garlic, carrots, and beets.
No one would think that all of these fruits and vegetables could
be had at one time, some usually growing in autumn, some in
spring, some in summar, and some in fall. I myself have no ulte-
rior motive in reporting all this, and I have recorded what I saw
with my own eyes, although I am not responsible for some of the
things I only heard, since Egypt is quite expansive and has all
kinds of climate, from the tropical to the cold; and produce is
brought to the city from everywhere and sold in the markets.
In Old Cairo they make all types of porcelain, so fine and
translucent that one can see one’s hand behind it when held up
to the light. From this porcelain they make cups, bowls, plates,
and so forth and paint them to resemble the bugalamun so that
different colors show depending on how the article is held. They
also produce a glass so pure and flawless that it resembles chrys-
olite, and it is sold by weight.
I heard from a reputable draper that they buy a stone-dir-
hem’s weight of thread for 3 Maghrebi dinars, which is equal to
3% Nishapuri dinars. In Nishapur I priced the very best thread
available there and was told that one dirhem-weight of the finest
was sold for 5 dirhems.
The city of Old Cairo is situated laterally along the Nile and
has many kiosks and belvederes so that the people could draw
water in buckets directly from the river; however, all water for
the city is handled by water carriers, some by camel and some on
their backs. I saw brass pitchers, each of which held three
maunds of water, and one would think they were made of gold.
I was told that there is a woman who leases out no less than five
thousand of these pitchers for one dirhem a month each. When
returned, the pitchers must be in perfect condition.
Opposite the city of Old Cairo is an island in the Nile that at
one time was turned into a city. It is to the west of Old Cairo and
has a Friday mosque and gardens. The island is a rock in the
middle of the river, and I estimated each branch of the river to
be the size of the Oxus, but the water flows gently and slowly.
The City of Old Cairo
Between the city and the island is a bridge made of thirty-six
pontoons. Part of the city is on the other side of the river and is
called Giza. There is also a Friday mosque there but no bridge,
so you have to cross by ferry or canoe. There are more ships and
boats in Old Cairo than in Baghdad and Basra combined.
The merchants of Old Cairo are honest in their dealings, and
if one of them is caught cheating a customer, he is mounted ona
camel with a bell in his hand and paraded about the city, ringing
the bell and crying out, “I have committed a misdemeanor and
am suffering reproach. Whosoever tells a lie is rewarded with
public disgrace.” The grocers, druggists, and peddlers furnish
sacks for everything they sell, whether glass, pottery, or paper;
therefore, there is no need for shoppers to take their own bags
with them. Lamp oil is derived from turnip seed and radish seed
and is called “zayt harr.” Sesame is scarce, and the oil derived
from it is expensive, while olive oil is cheap. Pistachios are more
expensive than almonds, and marzipan is not more than one di-
nar for ten maunds. Merchants and shopkeepers ride on sad-
dled donkeys, both coming and going to and from the bazaar.
Everywhere, at the heads of lanes, donkeys are kept saddled and
ready, and anyone may ride them for a small fee. It is said that
every day fifty thousand beasts are saddled for hire. No one
other than soldiers and militiamen rides a horse, while mer-
chants, peasants, and craftsmen ride donkeys. I saw many a dap-
pled donkey, much like horses, but more delicate. The people of
the city were extremely wealthy when I was there.
In the year 439 [A.D. 1047] the sultan ordered general rejoic-
ing for the birth of a son: the city and bazaars were so arrayed
that, were they to be described, some would not believe that dra-
pers’ and moneychangers’ shops could be so decorated with
gold, jewels, coins, goldspun cloth, and embroidery that there
was no room to sit down!
The people are so secure under the sultan’s reign that no one
fears his agents, and they rely on him neither to inflict injustice
nor to have designs on anyone’s property. I saw such personal
wealth there that were I to describe it, the people of Persia
would never believe it. I could discover no end or limit to their
wealth, and I never saw such ease and comfort anywhere.
I saw one man, a Christian and one of the most propertied
men in all Egypt, who was said to possess untold ships, wealth,
&® See ome & me &
Book of Travels
and property. In short, one year the Nile failed and the price of
grain rose so high that the sultan’s grand vizier summoned this
Christian and said, “It has not been a good year. The sultan is
burdened with the care of his subjects. How much grain can you
give, either for sale or as a loan?” The Christian replied, “For the
happiness of the sultan and the vizier, I have enough grain in
readiness to guarantee Egypt’s bread for six years.” At that time
there were easily five times the population of Nishapur in Cairo,
so that anyone who knows how to estimate can figure out just
how much grain he must have had. What a happy citizenry anda
just ruler to have such conditions in their days! What wealth
must there be for the ruler not to inflict injustice and for the
peasantry not to hide anything!
I saw a caravanserai there called Dar al-Wazir where nothing
but flax was sold, and on the lower floor there were tailors while
above were specialists in clothing repair. I asked the keeper how
much the fee for this caravanserai was. He told me that it was
twenty thousand dinars per year but that just then one corner
had been demolished for reconstruction so that only one thou-
sand a month, or twelve thousand per year, was being collected.
They said that there were two hundred caravanserais in the city
the size of this one and even larger.
A Description of the Sultan’s Banquet
It is customary for the sultan to give a banquet twice a year, on
the two great holidays, and to hold court for both the elite and
the common people, the elite in his presence and the common-
ers in other halls and places. Having heard a great deal about
these banquets, I was very anxious to see one with my own eyes,
so I told one of the sultan’s clerks with whom I had struck up a
friendship that I had seen the courts of the Persian sultans, such
as Sultan Mahmud of Ghazna and his son Mas‘ud, who were
great potentates enjoying much prosperity and luxury, and now
I wanted to see the court of the Prince of the Faithful. He there-
fore spoke a word to the chamberlain, who was called the Saheb
The last of Ramadan 440 [8 March 1049] the hall was deco-
The Sultan’s Banquet
rated for the next day, which was the festival, when the sultan
was to come after prayer and preside over the feast. Taken by
my friend, as I entered the door to the hall, I saw constructions,
galleries, and porticos that would take too long to describe ade-
quately. There were twelve square structures, built one next to
the other, each more dazzling than the last. Each measured one
hundred cubits square, and one was a thing sixty cubits square
with a dais placed the entire length of the building at a height of
four ells, on three sides all of gold, with hunting and sporting
scenes depicted thereon and also an inscription in marvelous cal-
ligraphy. All the carpets and pillows were of Byzantine brocade
and bugalamun, each woven exactly to the measurements of its
place. There was an indescribable latticework balustrade of gold
along the sides. Behind the dais and next to the wall were silver
steps. The dais itself was such that if this book were nothing
from beginning to end but a description of it, words would still
not suffice. They said that fifty thousand maunds of sugar were
appropriated for this day for the sultan’s feast. For decoration
on the banquet table I saw a confection like an orange tree,
every branch and leaf of which had been executed in sugar, and
thousands of images and statuettes in sugar. The sultan’s
kitchen is outside the palace, and there are always fifty slaves at-
tached to it. There is a subterranean passageway between the
building and the kitchen, and the provisioning is such that every
day fourteen camel-loads of ice are used in the royal sherbet-
kitchen. Most of the emirs and the sultan’s entourage received
emoluments there, and, if the people of the city make requests
on behalf of the suffering, they are given something. Whatever
medication is needed in the city is given out from the harem,
and there is also no problem in the distribution of other oint-
ments, such as balsam.
The Conduct of the Sultan
The security and welfare of the people of Egypt have reached
a point that the drapers, moneychangers, and jewelers do not
even lock their shops—they only lower a net across the front,
and no one tampers with anything.
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Ss ern es BM CES
Book of Travels
There was once a Jewish jeweler who was close to the sultan
and who was very rich, having been entrusted with buying all
the sultan’s jewels. One day soldiers rose up against this Jew and
killed him. After this act was committed, and fearing the sultan’s
wrath, twenty thousand mounted horsemen appeared in the
public square. When the army appeared thus in the field, the
populace was in great fear. Until the middle of the day the
horseman remained in the square, when finally a servant of the
sultan came out of the palace, stood by the gate, and addressed
them as follows: “The sultan asks whether you are in obeisance
or not.” They all cried out at once, saying, “We are his slaves and
obedient, but we have committed a crime.” “The sultan com-
mands you to disperse immediately,” said the servant, and they
departed. The murdered Jew was named Abu Sa‘id, and he had
a son and a brother. They say that God only knows how much
money he had. They also say that he had on the roof of his
house three hundred silver pots with fruit trees planted in them
so as to form a garden. The brother then wrote a note to the sul-
tan to the effect that he was prepared to offer the treasury two
hundred thousand dinars immediately for protection. The sul-
tan sent the note outside to be torn up in public and said, “You
rest secure and return to your home. No one will harm you, and
we have no need of anyone’s money.” And they were compen-
sated [for their loss].
From Syria to Qayrawan, which is as far as I went, in all towns
and villages, mosque expenses, such as lamp oil, carpets, mats
and rugs, salaries for custodians, janitors, muezzins, and so on,
are handled by the sultan’s agents. One year the governor of
Syria wrote to ask if, since oil was scarce, if would be permissible
to use zayt harr in the mosque. In reply, he was told that he was to
obey orders, that he was not a vizier, and that furthermore it was
not licit to institute change in things pertaining to the House of
The chief justice receives a monthly stipend of two thousand
dinars, and thus every judge down the scale so that the people
need not fear venality from the bench.
It is customary for a representative of the sultan to appear in
the mosques in the middle of the month of Rajab and proclaim
the following: “O company of Muslims! The Pilgrimage season
is at hand, and the sultan, as usual, has undertaken the outfitting
Conduct of the Sultan
of soldiers, horses and camels, and provisions.” During Rama-
dan this proclamation is repeated, and from the first of Dhu’]-
Qa‘da people set out for the appointed meeting place. At the
middle of Dhu’l-Qa‘da the caravan moves out. The daily dis-
bursement to the soldiers for fodder is one thousand dinars,
over and above the twenty dinars each man receives per diem
for the twenty-five days until they reach Mecca, where they stay
for ten days. Thus, with the twenty-five days it takes them to re-
turn, they are gone for two months, and sixty thousand dinars
are spent for provisions, not counting miscellaneous disburse-
ments for rents, bonuses, stipends, and camels that die.
In the year 439 [A.D. 1048] an edict of the sultan to this effect
was read to the people: “The Prince of the Faithful proclaims
that in this year, owing to drought and the resulting scarcity of
goods, which has caused the deaths of many, it is unwise for pil-
grims to undertake the journey to the Hejaz. This we say in Mus-
lim commiseration.” Therefore, the pilgrims were held in abey-
ance until the next year, although the sultan did send the
covering for the Ka‘ba as usual, which he does twice a year. This
very year, since the covering was being sent via the Red Sea, I
On the first of Dhu’l-Qa‘da [18 April 1048] I left Egypt, and
we reached the Red Sea on the 8th. From there we traveled for
fifteen days by boat until we arrived at the town called al-Jar. It
was the 22nd of the month. From there it is a four-day journey
to Medina, which is a town on the edge of a salty, barren desert.
It has running water, although not much, and is a palm grove.
In that locale the gebla is directly south. The Prophet’s Mosque is
as large as the Haram Mosque in Mecca, and the grating around
the Prophet’s tomb is next to the pulpit. It is to the left when fac-
ing the gebla; and so, when the preacher mentions the Prophet
from the pulpit, he turns to his right and points to the tomb.
The tomb is pentagonal, and there are walls all around the five
piers. Around the tomb is a balustrade so that no one can go in.
There is also a net stretched across the top so that birds cannot
enter. Between the tomb and the pulpit is a grating of marble
that is called al-Rawda [The Garden], and it is said to be one of
the gardens of Paradise, since the Prophet said, “Between my
grave and my pulpit is one of the gardens of Paradise.” The
Shi‘ites say that the tomb of Fatema Zahra is there also. The
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mosque has a gate. Outside the city to the south is a plain and
cemetery called Qobur al-Shohada’ [Tombs of the Martyrs],
where Hamza son of ‘Abd al-Mottaleb 1s buried.
We stayed in Medina for two days; then, as time was short, we
left. The road leads to the east. Two stations outside of Medina
is a mountain and a defile called Johfa, which is the migdt for
Syria, the Maghreb, and Egypt (a miqat being the place where the
pilgrims put on the ehram [pilgrimage garb]). They say that one
year many pilgrims had stopped there when suddenly a flash-
flood swept down and killed them all, which is why it is called
“Johfa” [“sweeping away”]. From Medina to Mecca is one hun-
dred parasangs, but the whole way is easy and took us eight days.
On Sunday the 6th of Dhu’l-Hejja [23 May 1048] we arrived
in Mecca and entered through the al-Safa Gate. As there had
been a drought in Mecca that year, four maunds of bread cost
one Nishapuri dinar. The moja@wers were leaving the city, and no
pilgrims had come from anywhere at all. On Wednesday, with
the help of God, we completed the pilgrimage rites at ‘Arafat.
Afterwards we stayed on in Mecca for only two days.
Because of hunger and misery people were fleeing the Hejaz
in every direction. At this juncture I will not explain the Pilgrim-
age or describe Mecca. I will describe what I saw the next time I
went to Mecca, when I remained as a mojawer for six months.
When I returned to Egypt, it had been seventy-five days [from
the time I left]. This year thirty-five thousand people came to
Egypt from the Hejaz; and, since they were all hungry and na-
ked, they received clothing and a pension from the sultan until
the next year, when the rains came and food was once again
plentiful enough in the Hejaz to support these people. The sul-
tan gave them all clothing and gifts and sent them back home.
During Rajab 440 [January 1049] the sultan’s representative
announced once again that there was famine in the Hejaz and
that, since it was unwise to go on the Pilgrimage, the people
should excuse themselves from this obligation and adhere to
God’s commandment.”* This year also no pilgrims went, al-
though there was no shirking the sultan’s duty, and therefore
*°That is, the Koranic injunction of pilgrimage (3:97) is interpreted to mean
that the Pilgrimage is not incumbent upon those who are unable to attend be-
cause of poverty, illness, or some other pressing cause (such as the famine spo-
ken of here). Alternative rites to attendance at Mecca are given in Koran 2:196.
Conduct of the Sultan
the covering for the the Ka‘ba, servants, retinue for the emirs of
Mecca and Medina, the gift for the emir of Mecca (the stipend
for each being three thousand dinars a month), a horse, and a
robe of honor, which are sent twice yearly, were duly expedited.
This year a man called Qadi ‘Abd Allah, a judge from Syria, was
entrusted with these duties. I went in his company via Qolzom.
This time the boat reached al-Jar on the 25th of Dhu’l-Qa‘da [1
May]. The season of the Pilgrimage being near, a camel could
not be hired for less than five dinars. We traveled in haste and
arrived in Mecca on the 8th of Dhu’l-Hejja [14 May]. With the
help of God, we performed the Pilgrimage.
A large caravan from the Maghreb had come to Medina, and
at the gates of Medina some Arabs had demanded protection
money from them on the way back from the Pilgrimage. A fight
broke out, leaving more than two thousand Maghrebis killed,
and not many ever returned home. On this same Pilgrimage a
group from Khorasan had come by land by way of Syria and
Egypt and then by boat to Medina. On the 6th of Dhu’l-Heyja, as
they still had 104 parasangs to go to ‘Arafat, they had said that
they would give forty dinars each to anyone who could get them
to Mecca within the three remaining days in order for them to
perform the Pilgrimage. Some Arabs came forth and got them
to ‘Arafat in two and a half days: they took their money, tied
them each to a fast camel, and drove them from Medina. When
they arrived at ‘Arafat, two of them had died still tied to the
camels; the other four were more dead than alive. At the after-
noon prayer as we were standing there, they arrived unable to
stand up or to speak. They finally told us that they had pleaded
with the Arabs to keep the money they had given but to release
them, as they had no more strength to continue. The Arabs
however, heedless of their entreaties, kept driving the camels
forward. In the end the four of them made the Pilgrimage and
returned via Syria.
Having performed the Pilgrimage, I returned to Egypt, since
I had my books there and had no intention of returning.
The emir of Medina came that year to Egypt, since the sultan
customarily gave him a yearly stipend because he was a descen-
dant of Hosayn son of ‘Ali. I was with him on the boat up to
Qolzom. From there we continued in each other’s company to
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In the year 441, while I was in Egypt, news arrived that the
king of Aleppo, whose ancestors had been kings of Aleppo, had
rebelled against the sultan his overlord. The sultan had a ser-
vant called ‘Omdat al-Dawla, who was the emir of the matalebis
and enormously rich and propertied. (Matdlebi is what they call
the people who dig for buried treasure in the graves of Egypt.
From the Maghreb and the lands of Egypt and Syria come peo-
ple who endure many hardships and spend a lot of money in
those graves and rock piles. Many a time buried treasure is dis-
covered, although often much outlay is made without anything
being found. They say that in those places the wealth of the pha-
raohs is buried. Whenever anyone does find something, one-
fifth is given to the sultan and the rest belongs to the finder.) At
any rate, the sultan dispatched this ‘Omdat al-Dawla to that prov-
ince with great pomp and circumstance, outfitting him with all
the trappings of kings, such as canopies, pavilions, and so on.
When he reached Aleppo he waged war and was killed. He had
so much wealth that it took two months for it to be transferred
from his treasury to the sultan’s. He had three hundred slave-
girls, most of them beauties, a few of whom were of the type
taken to concubinage. The sultan ordered them to be given their
choice of taking a husband or, if such was not their choice, hav-
ing the remainder of the man’s unencumbered estate so that
they might remain in their own house, no command or force be-
ing exerted upon any of them. When the man was killed in
Aleppo, the king was afraid the sultan would dispatch his army,
so he sent the sultan his seven-year-old son along with his wife
and many gifts and presents. He also offered apologies for his
past conduct. When they arrived they were kept waiting outside
the city for nearly two months. Neither were they admitted into
the city nor were the presents accepted until finally, when all the
judges of the city interceded on their behalf at court, they were
admitted with honors.
Among other things, if any one wants to make a garden in
Egypt it can be done during any season at all, since any tree,
fruit-bearing or other, can be obtained and planted. There are
special people, called dallals, who can obtain immediately any
kind of fruit you desire, because they have trees planted in tubs
on rooftops. Many roofs are gardens and most of what is grown
is fruit-producing, such as oranges, pomegranates, apples,
Voyage to Mecca
quince, roses, herbs, and vegetables. When a customer wishes,
porters will go and tie the tubs to poles and carry the trees wher-
ever desired. They will also make a hole in the ground and sink
the tubs if wished. Then, when someone so desires, they will dig
the tubs up and carry their fragments away, and the trees will
not know the difference. I have never seen or heard of such a
thing anywhere else in the world, and it is truly clever!
The Voyage to Mecca
Now I will describe my return voyage to Mecca from Egypt. I
performed the prayer of the Feast [of Sacrifice] in Cairo and de-
parted by boat on Tuesday, the 14th of Dhu’l-Hejja 441 [9 May
1050], bound for Upper Egypt, which is to the south and is the
province through which the Nile flows before reaching Cairo. It
is part of the realm of Egypt, and most of Egypt’s prosperity de-
rives from there. All along the banks of the Nile are too many
towns and villages to describe. Finally, we reached a city called
Asyut, an opium-producing region.
Opium is derived from a poppy with a black seed. When the
seed grows and forms a pod, it is crushed and a molasses-like
syrup comes out. This is collected and preserved, for it is opium.
The poppy seed is small and like cumin.
In Asyut they weave turbans from sheep’s wool unequaled
anywhere in the world. The fine woolens imported into Persia
and called “Egyptian” are all from Upper Egypt, since wool is
not woven in Egypt proper. In Asyut I saw a shawl of sheep’s
wool the likes of which I saw neither in Lahore nor in Multan. It
was so fine you would think it was silk.
From there we went on to a town called Akhmim, where I saw
huge stone edifices that would amaze anyone who saw them.
There is an ancient town with a stone wall. Most buildings there
are made of twenty-thousand-maund and_ thirty-thousand-
maund stones. What is really amazing is that there is no moun-
tain or quarry within ten or fifteen parasangs of this place, so
you wonder from where and how they were brought there.
Next we came to a town called Qus, which is a crowded and
prosperous place. There are, in addition to a fortified wall,
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many date groves and orchards. We remained there for twenty
days because there were two routes from here, one through arid
desert and the other by river, and we could not decide which
way to take. In the end we proceeded by river and reached
Aswan. To the south of this city is a mountain, and the river Nile
comes out of a defile in the mountain. It is said that boats can
proceed no farther up the river because the water flows through
narrow defiles and also because of large rocks coming down.
Four parasangs from this city is the province of Nubia, the pop-
ulation of which is all Christian. The king of this province con-
tinually sends gifts to the sultan of Egypt and makes treaties so
that Egyptian soldiers will not enter his land and molest the pop-
ulace. The city of Aswan is very strong lest anyone attack from
the direction of Nubia. There is a permanent garrison stationed
there to defend the city and province. Opposite the city in the
middle of the Nile is an island, which is like a garden, with date
groves, olives, and other trees and crops irrigated by
waterwheels. There I remained for twenty-one days because
there was a large desert before us to cross and two hundred par-
asangs to the shore. It was the time for returning pilgrims to be
arriving by camel. We were waiting until the camels were re-
turned to hire one and then set off. While in Aswan I came to
know a man called Abu ‘Abd Allah Mohammad son of Falij. He
was a pious and righteous man and knew something about logic.
He helped me to inspect and hire a camel, which I got for one
and a half dinars.
On the 5th of Rabi‘ I 442 [28 July 1050], having gone eight
parasangs southeast, we came to a station called Dayga, which is
in a valley in the desert and surrounded on two sides by wall-like
mountains. Between the two is an open space one hundred cu-
bits wide where a well had been dug; the water was plentiful but
not very good. Past this place there are five days of desert with
no water whatsoever, so each person had to draw a jar of water.
Next we came to a station called Hawd, which is a stone moun-
tain with two holes from which water flows. The water stays in a
pool and is fresh, but someone has to go inside one of the holes
to bring out water for the camels. It had been seven days since
the camels had been watered or fed, since there had been no
[water or pasturage]. The camels stopped once every twenty-
Voyage to Mecca
four hours, from the time the sun got hot in the day until the af-
ternoon prayer, and they proceeded the rest of the day and
night. The stopping-places are all known, because you cannot
stop just anywhere, since there might not be anything to burn,
and only in stopping-places can camel dung be found to burn
for cooking. It was almost as though the camels themselves knew
that if they poked along they would die of thirst; they did not
need to be driven and, setting their own direction, went of their
own accord, although there was no trace whatsoever of a road.
Always headed east, there were stretches of fifteen parasangs
with little water, only brackish, and stretches of thirty and forty
parasangs with no water at all. On the 20th of Rabi‘ I 442 [12
August 1050] we reached the town of ‘Aydhab, having traveled
from Aswan about two hundred parasangs in fifteen days.
The town of ‘Aydhab is situated by the sea and has a Friday
mosque and a population of five hundred. It belongs to the sul-
tan of Egypt and is a customs station for ships coming from
Abyssinia, Zanzibar, and the Yemen. From there goods are
transported by camel across the desert, the same way we had
come, to Aswan and thence by boat to Cairo. To the right of this
town, facing the qebla, is a mountain beyond which is a large des-
ert with many herbivorous animals and people called the Ba-
jawis. This nation has no religion and has had no prophet or
spiritual leader because they are so far from civilization. They
inhabit a desert more than one thousand parasangs long and
three hundred wide. In all this expanse there are not more than
two small hamlets, one called Bahr al-Na‘am and the other “Ay-
dhab. The desert runs lengthwise from Egypt to Abyssinia,
which is from north to south, and across from the Nubian River
to the Red Sea, from west to east. This nation, the Bajawis, who
live in this desert, are not a bad people and do not steal or make
raids but tend their flocks. Muslims and others, however, kidnap
their children and take them to sell in the cities of Islam.
The Red Sea is a gulf that splits off from the ocean at Aden
and goes northward to the hamlet of Qolzom. Every place on the
- coast of this gulf where there is a town is called baz, for example,
there is a place in Qolzom, ‘Aydhab, and Bahr al-Na‘am that is
so called. More than three hundred islands are said to be in the
Red Sea, and ships bring oil and dried curds from there. There
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are said to be many cows and sheep on these islands, and the in-
habitants are said to be Muslims, some belonging to Egypt and
others to the Yemen.
In the hamlet of ‘Aydhab there is no water from wells or
springs, only rainwater. When rain fails, the Bajawis bring water
to sell. During the three months we were there, we bought water
at the rate of one or two dirhems a Jug.
As the wind was northerly and we needed a southerly wind,
the ship could not sail. When the people saw me, they asked me
to preach to them. I obliged and acted as preacher until the
winds changed and the boats could sail north and thence on to
Jidda. They said that nowhere were such good camels to be had
as in that desert, and they are exported even to Egypt and the
In the town of ‘Aydhab a man whose word I trust told me that
once a ship set out from that town for the Hejaz carrying camels
for the emir of Mecca. One of the camels died so it was thrown
overboard. Immediately a fish swallowed it whole, except for
one leg that stuck out of the fish’s mouth. Then another fish
came and swallowed whole the fish that had swallowed the
camel. That fish is called garsh. I saw in that town a fish skin that
in Khorasan is called safan. We in Khorasan had thought it was a
kind of lizard, but here I saw that it was a fish because it had fins
like a fish.
While in Aswan I had a friend, as I have said before, named
Abu ‘Abd Allah Mohammad son of Falij. For my arrival in “Ay-
dhab he had written a letter to an agent he had there to the ef-
fect that the agent should give me whatever I required and write
him to that effect so that he could settle the account. As I had
been in ‘Aydhab for three months, and everything I had was
spent, of necessity I presented myself to that person with the let-
ter. He acted very politely and said, “Oh yes, I am holding a
great deal of his money. You may just sign for any amount you
require.” I was surprised at Mohammad Falij’s generosity, that,
with no prior dealings [with me], he should be so kind. Had I
been a rogue and of a mind to do such a thing, I could have
taken a great sum of money from him by means of that letter.
Anyhow, I took one hundred maunds of flour, which was ex-
tremely valuable there, and gave him a chit in that amount. He
then sent the paper I had signed to Aswan, and before I de-
The City of Jidda
parted from ‘Aydhab, a reply came from Mohammad Falij that
he should give me whatever I might require from his funds
there, and, even if he should give me out of his own pocket, it
would be made good, for the Prince of the Faithful ‘Ali son of
Abu Taleb had commanded, “The believer does not hold back
or take advantage.” I have included this little vignette so that my
readers may know that people can rely on others, that generosity
exists everywhere, and that there have been and still are noble
A Description of the City of Jidda
Jidda is a large city and has a strong wall on the edge of the
sea. The population is five thousand. The city is situated to the
north of the sea, has good bazaars, and the gebla of the Friday
mosque faces east. Outside the city there are no buildings except
a mosque known as the Mosque of the Prophet of God. The city
has two gates, one toward the east and Mecca and the other to-
ward the west and the sea. Going south along the coast from
Jidda, you reach the Yemen via the city of Sa‘da, which is fifty
parasangs away. To the north is the town of al-Jar, which is in
the Hejaz. There are no trees or cultivation in Jidda, and all pro-
duce is brought from the outlying countryside. It is twelve para-
sangs to Mecca, and the emir of Jidda, a vassal to the emir of
Mecca, is Taj al-Ma‘ali son of Abu’l-Fotuh, who is also the emir
of Medina. I went to see the emir of Jidda, and he was generous
enough to exempt me from the customs duties that would have
applied to me. When I passed through the Muslim Gate, he
wrote to Mecca saying that I was a scholar and nothing was to be
taken from me.
I left Jidda on Friday at the time of the afternoon prayer. On
Sunday, the last of Jomada II, I arrived at the gate to the city of
Mecca. There were many people from the Hejaz and the Yemen
for the minor pilgrimage (‘omra) on the first of Rajab, which is a
great season, like the Ramadan feast and the Pilgrimage time. As
they are nearby and the way is easy, they come three times a
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A Description of the City of Mecca
The city of Mecca is situated low in the midst of mountains
such that from whatever direction you approach, the city cannot
be seen until you are there. The tallest mountain near Mecca is
Abu Qobays, which is round like a dome, so that if you shoot an
arrow from the foot of the mountain it reaches its top. Abu
Qobays is to the east of the city, so that if you should be in the
Haram Mosque in the month of Day you see the sun rise from
behind the top of the mountain. On top of the mountain Is a
stone stele said to have been erected by Abraham. The city lies
on a plain between the mountains and measures only two arrow-
shots square. The Haram Mosque is in the middle of the plain,
and the city lanes and bazaars are built all around it. Wherever
there is an opening in the mountain a rampart wall has been
made with a gate. The only trees in the city are at the western
gate to the Haram Mosque, called Bab Ebrahim [Abraham’s
Gate], where there are several tall trees around a well. On the
eastern side of the Haram Mosque a large bazaar extends from
south to north. At the south end is Abu Qobays. At the foot of
Abu Qobays is Mount Safa’, which is like a staircase, as rocks
have been set in such a fashion that people can go up to pray,
which is what is meant by [the expression] “to do Safa’ and
Marwa.” At the other, the north end of the bazaar, is Mount
Marwa, which is less tall and has many edifices built on it, as it
lies in the midst of the city. In running between Safa’ and Marwa
the people run inside this bazaar.
For people who have come from faraway places to perform
the minor pilgrimage, there are milestones and mosques set up
half a parasang away from Mecca, where they bind their ehram.
“To bind the ehram” means to take off all sewn garments and to
wrap an ezdr, or seamless garment, about the waist and another
about the body. Then, in loud voice, you say, “Labbayk, alla-
homma, labbayk,”** and approach Mecca. When anyone already
inside Mecca wants to perform the minor pilgrimage, he goes
out to one of the markets, binds his ehram, says the Labbayk and
comes back into Mecca with an intention to perform the minor
*4The words of the labbayk mean approximately “(thy servant] has answered
thy call, O God.”
The City of Mecca
pilgrimage. Having come into the city, you enter the Haram
Mosque, approach the Ka‘ba, and circumambulate to the right,
always keeping the Ka‘ba to your left. Then you go to the corner
containing the Black Stone, kiss it, and pass on. When the Stone
is kissed once again in the same manner, one tawf, or circumam-
bulation, has been completed. This continues for seven taufs,
three times quickly and four slowly. When the circumambula-
tion is finished, you go to Maqam Ebrahim [Station of Abraham]
opposite the Ka‘ba and stand behind the Station. There you per-
form two rak‘ats called the “circumambulation prayer.” After-
wards you go to the Well of Zamzam, drink some water, or rub
some on the face, and leave the Haram Mosque by the Safa’
Gate. Just outside this gate are the steps up Mount Safa’, and
here you face the Ka‘ba and say the prescribed prayer, which is
well known. When the prayer has been said, you come down
from Safa’ and go from south to north through the bazaar to
Marwa. Passing through the bazaar, you go past the gates to the
Haram Mosque where the Prophet ran and commanded others
to run also. The length is about fifty paces, and on either side
are two minarets. When the people coming from Safa’ reach the
first two minarets, they break into a run until they pass the other
two at the other end of the bazaar. Then they proceed slowly to
Marwa. Upon reaching the end they go up Marwa and recite the
prescribed prayer. Then they return through the bazaar and re-
peat the run until they have gone four times from Safa’ to
Marwa and three times from Marwa to Safa’, making seven runs
the length of the bazaar. Coming down from Marwa the last
time, you find a bazaar with about twenty barber-shops facing
each other. You have your head shaven and, with the minor pil-
grimage completed, come out of the Sanctuary. The large ba-
zaar on the east side is called Sug al-‘Attarin [Druggists’ Market].
It has nice buildings, and all the shopkeepers are druggists. In
Mecca there are two baths paved with a green stone from which
flints are made.
I reckoned that there were not more than two thousand citi-
zens of Mecca, the rest, about five hundred, being foreigners
and mojdwers. Just at this time there was a famine, with sixteen
maunds of wheat costing one dinar, for which reason a number
of people had left.
Inside the city of Mecca are hospices for the natives of every
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region— Khorasan, Transoxiana, the Iraq, and so on. Most of
them, however, had fallen into ruination. The Baghdad caliphs
had built many beautiful structures, but when we arrived some
had fallen to ruin and others had been expropriated. All the well
water in Mecca is too brackish and bitter to drink, but there are
many large pools and masna‘as, costing up to ten thousand di-
nars each, that catch the rainwater from the hills. When we were
there, however, they were empty. A certain prince of Aden,
known as Pesar-e [son of] Shaddel, had brought water under-
ground to Mecca at great personal expense. This water was used
to irrigate crops at ‘Arafat and was limited to there, although
conduits had been constructed and a little water reached Mecca,
but not inside the city; therefore, a pool had been made to col-
lect the water, and water carriers drew the water and brought it
to the city to sell. Half a parasang out on the Borga road is a well
called Bir al-Zahed [the Ascetic’s Well]. A nice mosque is located
there, and the water is good. The water carriers also bring water
from that place for sale.
The climate of Mecca is extremely hot. I saw fresh cucumbers
and eggplants and end of the month of Bahman. This was the
fourth time I had been to Mecca.
For the first of Rajab 442 [19 November 1050] until the 20th
of Dhu’l-Hejja [5 May 1051] I was a mojdwer in Mecca. On the
15th of Farvardin the grapes were ripe and were brought to
town from the villages to be sold in the market. On the first of
Ordibehesht melons were plentiful. All kinds of fruit are avail-
able in winter, and [the markets] are never empty.
A Description of Arabia and the Yemen
One station south of Mecca is the province of the Yemen,
which stretches along the coast. The Yemen and the Hejaz are
contiguous, and both are Arabic-speaking. In local parlance the
Yemen is called Hemyar and the Hejaz, Arabia. This land is
bounded on three sides by water and is a peninsula. To the east
is the Sea of Basra (Persian Gulf), to the west the Red Sea,
which, as has already been mentioned, is a gulf, and to the south
is the (Arabian) Ocean. The length of the peninsula that is the
The Haram M osque &F the Ka‘ba
Yemen and the Hejaz, from Kufa in the north to Aden in the
south, is approximately five hundred parasangs. From Oman in
the east to al-Jar in the west, the width is four hundred para-
sangs. Arabia extends from Kufa to Mecca, and Hemyar from
Mecca to Aden. There is little civilization in Arabia, its people
being desert nomads, herdsmen, and tent-dwellers.
Hemyar is divided into three sections. The first is Tehama,
which is bounded on the west by the Red Sea and has many
towns and cities, such as Sa‘da, Zabid, San‘a, and others. These
towns are on the plain. The king of this area is an Ethiopian vas-
sal to Pesar-e Shaddel. The second section of Hemyar is a moun-
tainous region called Najd, which has uncultivated regions and
is cold, with narrow passes and strong fortresses. The third sec-
tion lies to the east and contains many cities such as Najran,
‘Athr, Bisha, and others. This section is divided into many areas,
each of which has a king or chieftain. There is no absolute po-
tentate or ruler there. The people are rebellious, and most of
them are thieves, murderers, and bandits. This area is 200 by
250 parasangs and contains many people of all sorts.
Ghomdan Castle is in the Yemen, in a city called San‘a. Now,
however, nothing much remains of the castle but a mound in the
middle of the city. They say the lord of this castle used to rule
the whole world and that there is much treasure buried in this
mound; but no one, neither sultan nor peasant, has ever discov-
ered anything. In the city of San‘a they do work in agate, which
is a stone mined in the mountains, then heated in sand over a
stove and cured in sand in the sun. It is then ground against
stone. In Egypt I saw a sword sent to the sultan from the Yemen
that had a handle and pommel made of one solid piece of red
agate; it looked like ruby!
A Description of the Haram Mosque
and the Ka‘ba
As I have already stated, the Ka‘ba is situated in the middle of
the Haram Mosque, which is in the middle of the city of Mecca.
It runs lengthwise from east to west, and the breadth is on a
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north-south axis. The walls, however, do not meet at right an-
gles, for the corners are rounded so that the whole is an oval
shape, because when the people pray in this mosque they must
face the Ka‘ba from all directions. Where the mosque is longest,
that is, from Abraham’s Gate to the Bani Hashem Gate, it mea-
sures 424 cubits. The width, from Bab al-Nadwa [Council Gate]
on the north to the Safa’ Gate on the south, the widest point, is
304 cubits. Because of its oval shape, it is narrower in places and
wider in others. Around the mosque are three vaulted colon-
nades with marble columns. In the middle of the structure a
square area has been made. The long side of the vaulting, which
faces the mosque courtyard, has forty-five arches, with twenty-
three arches across the breadth. The marble columns number
184 in all and are said to have been ordered by the Baghdad ca-
liphs and to have been brought by sea from Syria. The story goes
that when these columns arrived in Mecca, the ropes that had
been used to secure the columns on board ship and onto carts
were cut and sold for sixty thousand dinars. One of the columns,
a shaft of red marble, stands at the spot called al-Nadwa Gate; it
is said to have been bought for its weight in dinars and is esti-
mated at three thousand maunds.
There are eighteen doors in the Haram Mosque, all built with
arches supported by marble columns, but none is set with a door
that can be closed.*” On the eastern side are four doors. Set in
*°This passage presents a good deal of difficulty on the names of the gates
around the sanctuary. Naser says that the east wall has four gates (he names
three), the south wall seven gates (he names six), the west wall three (he gives
two), and the north wall four (he names five). Since the gates have changed their
names over the centuries with the various repairs made to the sanctuary walls, as
well as with topographical changes outside the sanctuary (not to mention the cor-
rupt state of the Safarnama text itself), it is almost impossible to say for certain
which of Naser’s gates correspond to which gates as they were known earlier
and/or later. A tentative correlation is given as follows:
On the east wall, (1) the first gate named by Naser is the Bab al-Nabi [The
Prophet's Gate], also known as Bab al-Jana’ez [Funeral Gate]. (2) The next gate
on this wall is known as Bab al-‘Abbas [‘Abbas’s Gate] but is not named by Naser.
(3) The next gate is Bab ‘Ali [‘Ali’s Gate], also known as Bab Bani Hashem [The
Bani Hashem Gate], in conformity with Naser’s report. I do not know what to
make of Naser’s second gate at the southeastern corner, which, as he says, is also
known as Bab al-Nabi: he may mean Bab al-‘Abbas, which was known, along with
Bab al-Nabi, as Bab al-Jana’ez. (4) The fourth gate on this wall, at the northeast-
ern corner, would be the Bab Bani Shayba [The Bani Shayba Gate], which Naser
lists with the gates of the north wall at the end of his report.
The moft facred and antient ‘TEMPLE
of the MAHOME'TANS at MECCA.
OOOO OL O6 04 OLE
: 5 ‘ A as APA IR SE P ope ig
CRMGGR ER eMC EC IE Tae ae
cor as he
An engraving included in the 1731 edition of Joseph Pitts, A True and
Faithful Account of the Religion and Manners of the Mahometans.
Legend (note that the engraving has been reversed):
A. The black stone, which the Arabians, long before Mahomet’s time, had in great veneration. When
the Carmathians after the taking of Mecca carried off this stone, they refused 5 thousand deniers
[dinars] which were offered for restoring it. But after 22 years it was again reposited in its
former place in the Caba [Ka‘ba].
B. The white stone thought to have been Ishmael’s Sepulchre; which is called by others the green
C. Abraham's place [Maqam Ebrahim] where they pretend to shew the marks of his feet.
D. The building in which is the well Zemzem [Zamzam], whose water is accounted salutary both to
the Souls & bodies of those who drink it. [In Naser’s description the well had a much smaller
E. The gate of the Caba, consisting of two folding doors; to kiss this they ascend the stairs at G. & so
are conveyed thither.
F. The pulpit in which they make harangues to the people.
G. The rolling stairs by which they ascend to the gate of the Caba.
H. The old gate.
I. The place for the Hanbelitae (Halbalites], one of the four chief Sects among the Mahometans.
K. ‘The place of the Malekitae [Malikites], who are another of the Sects.
L. The place of the Hanifaei [Hanafites]. The Schafaei [Schafi‘ites], meet in the place called
M. The golden fascia [keswa] fastened to a black silk veil of Damask, by which the external parts
of the Caba are so closely covered, as no part of the walls is to be seen.
N. Pieces of tapestry spread on the floor to perform their devotions on.
O. The canal through which the water floweth from the top of the Caba on the stone called
P. The place where vessels filled with the water of the well Zemzem are given to travellers to
carry home with them.
Q. The inner boundary next the Caba which is illuminated in the night time with lamps [mashd‘el].
[The two buildings above P., known as the Qobbatayn, “the two domes,” are located approximately
where Naser describes the Seqayat al- Hajj and Khezanat al- Zayt. Pitts was in Mecca in 1680.)
Book of Travels
the north corner is the Bab al-Nabi [Prophet’s Gate] with three
arches. On this same wall in the southern corner Is another door
also called Bab al-Nabi. There are more than one hundred cu-
bits between these two doors, and the latter has two arches. Exit-
ing by this door, one is in the Druggist’s Market, where the
Prophet’s house was. He used to come into the mosque to pray
by this door. Passing by this: door, still on the east wall, one
comes to ‘Ali’s Gate, through which “Ali, the Prince of the Faith-
ful, used to enter for prayer. This gate has three arches. Past this
is another minaret, to which one runs during the sa‘y from the
On the south wall Naser states that there are seven gates: (1) the gate he calls
Bab al-Daqqaqin [Fullers’ Gate] should be the gate known as Bab Bazan. Ebn
Jobayr, who was there in the 1180s, says that two of the south gates were known
as Bab al-Daqqaqin. (2) Naser’s “Bab al-Fassanin” (?) should be the gate normally
called Bab al-Baghla [The Mule Gate], originally the Bab Bani Sofyan b. ‘Abd al-
Asad. (3) This is Bab al-Safa’ [The Safa’ Gate], as all are agreed. (4—6) Naser
gives two names, Bab al-Towa [The Towa Gate, after a valley in Mecca] and Bab
al-Tammarin [The Dateseller’s Gate]: it is difficult to say which of these corre-
sponds to the gates normally known as (4) Bab Bani Makhzum [The Bani
Makhzum Gate], also known as Bab Ajyad al-Saghir [The Small Ajyad Gate, af-
ter a hill in Mecca called Ajyad and Jayad], (5) Bab al-Mojahediyya, also known
as Bab al-Rahma [The Mercy Gate] and Bab Ajyad, and (6) Bab Bani Taym [The
Bani Taym Gate], later known as Bab Madrasat al-Sharif ‘Ajlan. (7) Naser’s “Bab
al-Ma‘amel” [Workshop Gate], outside of which was located Abu Jahl’s house, is
the Bab Omm Hani, also known as Bab Abi Jahl and Bab Ajyad al-Kabir [The
Great Ajyad Gate].
On the west wall, Naser says that there are three gates; however, he gives only
two names: (1) his “Bab “Orwa” is certainly a textual corruption of Bab al-Haz-
wara, named for a marketplace that was incorporated into the sanctuary, and
Bab al-Weda‘ [The Farewell Gate]. (2) His Bab Ebrahim [Abraham's Gate] is in
conformity with other sources and is also known as Bab al-Khayyatin [Tailors’
Gate]. (3) This is unnamed by Naser but must be the Bab Bani Sahm, also known
as Bab al-‘Omra [Minor Pilgrimage Gate] and Bab Bani Jomah.
On the north wall, according to Naser, are four gates: (1) his Bab al-Wasit
should be the gate known as Bab al-Sodda and Bab al-“Atig [Ancient Gate]. (2)
This is Bab al-“Ajala, as all sources are agreed, later known as Bab al-Basetiyya
after the madrasa of ‘Abd al-Baset. (3) Bab al-Nadwa [Council Gate] is also known
as Bab al-Ziyada [Projection Gate]. Naser does not mention the small gate into
the Ziyada known as Bab al-Qotbi [Qotbi’s Gate]. (4) Naser’s “Bab al- Moshawara”
[Advisement Gate] must be the single gate usually known as Bab al-Dorayba [Lit-
tle Lane Gate]. The last gate named by Naser, the Bab Bani Shayba, has been
reckoned in the east wall, above. See Abu’l-Walid Mohammad b. ‘Abd Allah al-
Azraqi, Akhbar Makka, ed. Roshdi al-Saleh Malhas (Mecca: Dar al-Thagqafa,
1385/1965), vol. 2, pp. 87ff.; Abu’l-Hosayn Mohammad b. Jobayr, Rehlat Ebn
Jobayr (Beirut: Dar Sader, 1384/1964), p. 82f.; Qotb al-Din Mohammad
Nahrwali, al-E‘lam be-a‘lam bayt allah al-haram (Mecca: ‘Elmiyya, 1370/1950), pp.
348ff.; R. F. Burton, Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to al-Madinah & Meccah
(New York: Dover, 1964), vol. 2, p. 314.
The Haram Mosque & the Ka‘ba
Bani Hashem Gate, and which is one of the four minarets previ-
In the south wall, which forms the length of the mosque, are
seven gates. The first, at the corner and semicircular in shape, is
Bab al-Daqqaqin [Fullers’ Gate] and has two arches. Slightly to
the west is another two-arched gate called Bab al-Fassanin [?]. At
an equal distance is the al-Safa’ Gate which has five arches. This
middle gate is the largest of all and has two small arches on ei-
ther side. It was by this gate that the Apostle of God went out to
Safa’ to pray. The threshold of this middle gate is of a large
white stone, although it once was black. The Apostle placed his
holy foot there and left an imprint. This footprint was later cut
out of the black stone and set into the white stone so that the toes
face inside the mosque. For a blessing, some pilgrims place their
foreheads on this print and others, their feet. I thought it more
fitting to place my head thereupon. A bit to the west of the al-
Safa’ Gate is the Bab al-Towa, which has two arches. A little far-
ther on is the Bab al-T'ammarin, again with two arches. Past this
is the Bab al-Ma‘amel, with two arches. Directly facing this gate
is Abu Jahl’s house, which is now used as a privy.
In the western wall, the width of the mosque, there are three
gates, the first of which is in the south corner and is called Bab
‘Orwa. It has two arches. In the middle of this side is the Abra-
ham’s Gate, which has three arches.
In the north or long wall there are four gates: in the west cor-
ner is Bab al-Wasit with one arch; to the east is the Bab al-‘Ajala
with one arch; in the middle of the side is the Bab al-Nadwa with
two arches; past that is the Bab al-Moshawara with one arch, and
finally at the northeast corner is the Bab Bani-Shayba.
The Ka‘ba stands in the middle of the courtyard and is rectan-
gular, with the length on a north-south axis. It is seventeen cu-
bits long, thirty [high], and sixteen wide. The door is toward the
east. Entering the Ka‘ba, you find the Iraqi corner on the right,
the Black Stone corner on the left, the Yemen corner at the
southwest, and the Syrian corner at the northwest. The Black
Stone is set in a large stone in one corner of the Ka‘ba at about
the height of a man’s chest.
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The Shape of the Stone
The Black Stone is oval in shape, one hand, four fingers long
and eight fingers wide. From the Black Stone to the door of the
Ka‘ba is four cubits. The space between the Stone and the Ka‘ba
door is called the Moltazem.”° The door is four cubits off the
ground so that when standing on tiptoe you can reach the
threshold, although a wooden staircase wide enough for ten
men abreast has been constructed so that you can get inside
when necessary. The floor is raised as high as the door.
A Description of the Ka‘ba Door
The door to the Ka‘ba is made of teak and is a double door 62
cubits tall. Each half is 1% ells wide so that the whole door is 31%
ells wide. The face of the door contains inscriptions and silver
circles. The inscriptions are done in gold burnished with silver
and contain the following Koranic verse: “Verily the first house
appointed unto men to worship in was that which was in
Becca.”*’ Two large silver rings sent from Ghazna are attached
to the door too high for anyone to reach. Two other silver rings,
smaller than the first two, are attached to the doors such that
anyone could reach them. To these lower rings is fitted a large
silver lock, and the doors cannot be opened without removing it.
A Description of the Interior of the Ka‘ba
The walls are six spans thick, and the floor is paved with white
marble. Inside the structure are three small cabinets like plat-
forms, one opposite the door, and the other two on the north
*°al-Moltazem is the name given, as Naser says, to the area of the Ka‘ba wall
between the Black Stone and the door into the interior. According to al-Azraqi it
measures four cubits and is considered a particularly appropriate place to ren-
der special votive prayers, in continuation of pre-Islamic custom. See Yaqut, IV,
?7Koran 3:96. “Becca” is a variant of “Mecca”.
The Interior of the Ka‘ba
side. The interior columns, which are attached to the ceiling, are
made of teak wood and, except for one round one, are carved
on all four sides. On the north side is a long, red marble slab set
into the floor. It is said that the Apostle prayed on this slab,
hence anyone who knows this tries to pray there also. The walls
are faced with multicolored marble. On the western side are six
silver mehrabs nailed to the wall. Each one is a man’s height and
elaborately worked in gold and burnished in silver. These niches
are raised off the floor. From the floor to a height of four cubits
the walls are plain; above that height they are covered with mar-
ble up to the ceiling, elaborately decorated and mostly plated
with gold. The tops to the three cabinets already mentioned, one
each in the Iraq, Syria, and Yemen corners, are two wooden
planks nailed to the walls with silver nails. These planks are from
Noah’s ark. Each one is five yards long and one yard wide. The
top of the cabinet behind the Black Stone is draped with red
Inside the door, in the corner to the right, is a square struc-
ture three yards by three, in which there is a small door leading
to the roof. A silver door is placed there and is called the Bab al-
Rahma [Gate of Mercy], and there is a silver lock affixed to the
door. On the roof is another door, like a trap door, both sides of
which are plated in silver. The ceiling is wooden, but it is all cov-
ered with brocade so that no wood 1s visible. Over the front wall
is an inscription in gold with the name of the sultan of Egypt
who took Mecca from the caliphs of the house of “Abbas, al-
Mo‘ezz le-Din Allah. There are four other large silver plaques
nailed to the wall with silver nails, on each of which is the name
of a sultan of Egypt who sent a plaque during his reign. Between
the columns are hung three silver lamps. The roof of the Ka‘ba
is covered with Yemenite marble and looks like crystal. There
are four skylights in the corners, and over each of these is a piece
of glass, so that the light can come in but not the rain. The rain-
spout is in the middle of the north side; it is three yards long and
is covered with gold writing.
The covering of the Ka‘ba is white and has embroidery in two
places. The embroidery bands are one ell wide and are sepa-
rated by a distance of about ten ells. The spaces above and below
the embroidery are equal, so that by means of the bands, the
height is divided into three segments ten ells each. On four sides
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of the covering are woven colored medallions geometrically dec-
orated with gold thread. On each side are three medallions, a
large one in the middle and a smaller one on either side. Thus
the four sides contain a total of twelve medallions. On the north
side, outside the building, is constructed a wall, about one and
one-half ells high. Each end of this wall curves in toward a cor-
ner of the Ka‘ba so that the wall is bowed and semicircular. The
midpoint of this wall is fifteen yards away from the Ka‘ba wall.
The wall and ground of this place are paved in colored marble
in designs. This place is called Hejr, and the water from the
rainspout pours into this Hejr.*° Beneath the rainspout is
placed a green stone slab in the shape of a medallion, into which
the water falls from the spout. The stone is large enough for a
man to pray on.
Abraham’s Station is to the east of the Ka‘ba. It is a rock that
has two imprints of Abraham’s feet. It is placed in another stone
and covered on all four sides up to a man’s height by wood
worked as finely as can be imagined, with silver drums affixed.
On two sides the covering is bound with chains to the large rocks
and with two locks so that no one can tamper with it. Between
the Station and the Ka’ba is a space of thirty cubits.
The Well of Zamzam is forty-six cubits east of the Black Stone
corner of the Ka‘ba. The top of the well is 3% ells square, and
the water is brackish but can be drunk. The enclosure over the
top is made of slabs of white marble two cubits tall, and all
around the well are basins so that water may be poured for ablu-
tions. The ground is covered with a latticed wooden grill be-
neath which the water flows away. The door to the structure is
toward the east.
Opposite the Well of Zamzam, also to the east, is another
square edifice with a dome. It is called Seqayat al-Hajj [Pilgrims’
Drinking Place] and holds water vats from which pilgrims drink.
To the east of the Seqayat al-Hajj is another, rectangular
28The Hejr is the area between the north wall of the Ka‘ba and the semicircu-
lar wall known as al-Hatim. The Hejr area contains the tombs of Ishmael and his
mother Hagar and is supposed to have been part of the original Ka‘ba of Abra-
ham. When the Qoraysh rebuilt the Ka‘ba ca. 595, the Hejr was left uncovered
for lack of funds. The area was included in the rebuilding of ‘Abd Allah b.
Zobayr in 64/683 but was subsequently returned to the form in which the
Qoraysh had left it by order of the caliph ‘Abd al-Malek in 74/693. See Yaqit, II,
208; Burton, Personal Narrative, I1, 306 and 322ff.
The Opening of the Ka‘ba Door
structure with three domes. It is called Khezanat al-Zayt [Oil
Storage]; and candles, oil, and lamps are kept there.
All around the Ka‘ba are columns, each pair of which are
spanned with wooden beams carved in decorative designs.
These beams have rings and hooks for suspending lamps and
candleholders at night, and they are called mashd‘el. Between the
Ka‘ba and the mashd‘el is a space 150 ells across, which is where
the circumambulation is performed.
The buildings in the courtyard of the Haram Mosque, not
counting the magnificent Ka’ba, are three: the well of Zamzam,
the Seqayat al-Hajj, and the Khezanat al-Zayt.
Beneath the arcade next to the mosque wall are chests, one for
each of the principal cities of the Maghreb, Egypt, Syria, Anato-
lia, the two Iraqs,*” Khorasan, Transoxiana, and so on.
Four parasangs to the north of Mecca is a place called Borga
with running water and trees and two parasangs square in area,
where the emir of Mecca and his army stay.
This year I remained as a mojdwer in Mecca from the first of
Rajab. During that month it is customary to open the door to the
Ka‘ba every day at sunup.
A Description of the Opening
of the Ka‘ba Door
An Arab clan called the Banu Shayba holds the key to the
Ka‘ba. They function as servants to the House and receive a sti-
pend and robes of honor from the sultan of Egypt. Their chief
keeps possession of the key, and when he comes to the mosque,
five or six persons accompany him. As they approach the build-
ing, ten or so pilgrims bring the stairs we have previously men-
tioned and place them at the door. The old man mounts and
stands at the threshold, and to open the door, a man on either
side of him holds back the brocade covering as though holding a
great robe with which he has been vested. He opens the lock and
removes it from the rings. A great number of pilgrims will have
assembled at the door, and when it is opened, they raise their
*°The “two Iraqs” are “Persian Iraq,” or western Iran north of Khuzestan and
south of Azerbaijan (also called Jebal), and “Arab Iraq,” or lower Mesopotamia.
Book of Travels
hands and shout in prayer. Since the voices of the pilgrims can
be heard throughout Mecca, all know that the Ka‘ba door has
been opened and, all at once, shout in prayer so that a great tu-
mult fills the city. Then the old man goes inside, with the other
two men holding back the covering, and prays two rak‘ats. Both
wings of the door are then opened and the chief, standing at the
threshold, delivers a sermon in a loud voice and invokes bless-
ings upon the Messenger of God and his family. Then the old
man and his two assistants stand aside from the door, and the
pilgrims begin to pour in. Everyone prays two rak‘ats and then
leaves. This continues until nearly noon. When praying inside
the Ka‘ba, you turn your face toward the door, although any
other direction is also licit. | counted the number of people in-
side when the building was filled to capacity and reckoned 720.
The common people of the Yemen who come on the Pilgrim-
age look generally like Hindus: they wear lungis, have long hair
and plaited beards, and carry Qatifi daggers called kattara at
their waists, like Hindus. They say that the Hindus originated
from the Yemen, and that katara is originally from the Arabic
During the months of Sha‘ban, Ramadan, and Shawwal, the
door the the Ka‘ba is opened on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fri-
days. When Dhu’l-Qa‘da comes, it is not opened again.
The Minor Pilgrimage from Je‘rana
Four parasangs north of Mecca is a place called Je‘rana, where
Mohammad was with his army. On the 16th of Dhu’l-Qa‘da, he
donned the ehrdm and came from there to Mecca to make a mi-
nor pilgrimage. There are two wells there, one called Bir al-
Rasul [the Well of the Apostle] and the other Bir ‘Ali ebn Abi-
Taleb [‘Ali’s Well]. The water of both is extremely good. They
are ten yards apart. The custom [of the Prophet] is still main-
tained, and at the same time people make a minor pilgrimage.
Nearby is a small hill with bowl-like depressions in the rock. It is
*°’The Indian double-pronged dagger is called katér in Hindi (from the San-
skrit kattdrah) and is a loanword in Persian as kattdra. Naser erroneously specu-
lates that the word is derived from the Arabic gattala (“killer”).
Minor Pilgrimage from Je‘vana
said that the Prophet kneaded dough with his own hands in
those depressions. For this reason people go there and knead
dough with water from those wells. Kindling is gathered from
the many trees about, and bread is baked to be taken back home
as a blessing. In that same area is a high hill where Belal the Ab-
yssinian is said to have called out for prayer; hence people still
g0 there to give the call to prayer. When I went, there was an
enormous crowd, with more than a thousand camel litters
stretching clear to the next well.
The route I took this time from Egypt to Mecca was three
hundred parasangs. From Mecca to the Yemen is twelve para-
The Plain of ‘Arafat lies in the midst of small, hump-backed
mountains and is two parasangs square. There was once a
mosque there built by Abraham, but now only a ruined brick
pulpit remains. At the midday prayer, the preacher mounts this
pulpit and delivers the sermon. Then the call to prayer is given
and two rak‘ats are accomplished in congregation, after the
custom of travelers. After this, a prayer is made standing, and
two more congregational prayers are done. Afterwards, the
preacher mounts a camel and [everyone] goes off toward the
One parasang from there is a small stone mountain called
Jabal al-Rahma [the Mount of Mercy], and here people stand
and pray until the sun sets. Pesar-e Shaddel, who was the emir of
Aden, had water brought some distance and at great expense
from this mountain to the Plain of ‘Arafat, where he had cis-
terns constructed that are filled during the Pilgrimage season.
This same Shaddel built a dome with four large arches on top of
the Mount of Mercy so that during the day and night when peo-
ple are at ‘Arafat, lamps visible for two parasangs can be lit atop
the dome. It is said that the emir of Mecca took one thousand di-
nars before giving permission to build this structure.
On the 9th of Dhu’l-Hejja 442 [24 April 1051], with God’s
help, I completed my fourth Pilgrimage. After the sun had set
and the pilgrims and preacher had left ‘Arafat, everyone trav-
eled one parasang to Mash‘ar al-Haram [Sacred Shrine], which
is called Mozdalefa. Here a nice structure like a maqsura has been
built for people to pray in. The stones that are cast in Mina are
gathered up here. It is customary to spend the holiday eve in this
B SS2TI NEW
Book of Travels
spot and then to proceed to Mina early the next morning after
the dawn prayer for making the sacrifice. A large mosque called
Khayf is there, although it is not customary to deliver the ser-
mon or to perform the holiday prayer at Mina, as the Prophet
did not establish a precedent.
The tenth day is spent at Mina, and stones are cast, which
practice is explained as a supererogatory act connected with the
On the twelfth, everyone who intends to leave departs directly
from Mina, and those who intend to remain a while in Mecca go
there. Hiring a camel from an Arab for the thirteen-day journey
to Lahsa, I bade farewell to God’s House.
On Friday the 19th of Dhu’l-Hejja 442 [4 May 1051], the first
of the old month of Khordad, I traveled seven parasangs from
Mecca. There was an open plain with a mountain visible in the
distance. Heading toward that mountain, we passed by fields
and villages. There was a well called Bir al-Hosayn ebn Salama
[the Well of Hosayn son of Salama]. The weather was cold. We
continued eastward, and on Monday the 22nd of Dhu’l-Heyjja [7
May] arrived in Ta’ef, which is twelve parasangs from Mecca.
A Description of Ta ef
Ta’ef is situated on top of a mountain, and in the month of
Khordad it was so cold that you had to sit in the sun, whereas in
Mecca melons had been plentiful. The entire district of Ta’ef
consists of a wretched little town with a strong fortress. It has a
small bazaar and a pitiful little mosque. There is running water,
and pomegranate and fig trees abound. The tomb of ‘Abd Allah
son of ‘Abbas is there near the town. On this spot the Baghdad
caliphs had constructed a large mosque which had incorporated
the tomb into one corner, to the right of the mehrab and pulpit.
Now, however, people have built houses and live there. We left
All along the way were mountains and rubble, and there were
small fortresses and villages everywhere. In the midst of some
rubble, they showed me a small, ruined fortress, which the
A Description of Ta’ef
Arabs said had been Layla’s house, although they tell many such
strange tales.°! Further on, we came to a fortress called Motar,
which is twelve parasangs from Ta’ef. From there, we pro-
ceeded to a district called Thorayya, where there were many
date-palm groves in which agriculture was maintained by means
of irrigation from wells with waterwheels. There is said to be no
ruler or sultan in that area: each place has an independent chief-
tain or headman. The people are robbers and murderers and
constantly fight among themselves. This place is twenty-five par-
asangs from Ta’ef.
We continued on past that place and saw a fortress called Jaz‘.
Within half a parasang we passed four fortresses, the largest of
which, where we stopped, was called the Bani-Nosayr Fortress,
and it had a few date palms.
As the man from whom I had hired my camel was from Jaz’, I
stayed there for fifteen days, there being no khaftr [safe-
conduct] to take us on farther. The Arab tribes of that region
each have a particular territory in which they graze their flocks,
and no stranger can enter one of these territories, since anyone
who does not have a khafir will be captured and plundered.
Therefore, from each tribe there is a khafir, who can pass
through a given territory. The khafir is also called galavoz.
By chance, the leader of the Arabs with whom we had trav-
eled, the Banu Sawad, came to Jaz‘, and we took him as our
khafir. His name was Abu Ghanem ‘Abs son of al-Ba‘ir, and we
set out under his protection. A group of Arabs, thinking they
had found “prey” (as they call all strangers), came headed to-
ward us; but since their leader was with us, they passed without
saying anything. Had he not been with us, they most certainly
would have destroyed us.
We had to remain among these people for a while because
there was no khafir to take us further. Finally, we found two men
to act as khafirs and paid them ten dinars each to take us to the
Among one tribe, some seventy-year-old men told me that in
their whole lives they had drunk nothing but camels’ milk, since
*'Layla was the beloved of Qays, who, forbidden to marry her, roamed like a
madman among the animals of the desert; hence he was called “Majnun”
(“mad”). This story was well known among the Arabs and has also inspired sev-
eral famous Persian romances on the subject.
eo S&S =e oem me wee
BF OELEES MEW
Book of Travels
in the desert there is nothing but bitter scrub eaten by the cam-
els. They actually imagined that the whole world was like this!
Thus I was taken and handed over from tribe to tribe, the en-
tire time in constant mortal danger. God, however, willed that
we come out of there alive.
In the midst of an expanse of rubble, we reached a place
called Sarba, where there were mountains shaped like domes. |
have never seen anything like them anywhere. They were not so
high that an arrow could not have been shot to the top, and they
were as bald and smooth as an egg, not the slightest crack or flaw
Along the way, whenever my companions saw a lizard they
killed and ate it. The Arabs, wherever they are, milk their camels
for drink. I could neither eat the lizard nor drink camels’ milk;
therefore, wherever I saw a kind of bush that yielded small ber-
ries the size of a pea, I picked a few and subsisted on that.
After enduring much hardship and suffering great discom-
fort, on the 23rd of Safar [6 July] we came to Falaj, a distance of
180 parasangs from Mecca. Falaj lies in the middle of the desert
and had once been an important region, but internal strife had
destroyed it. The only part left inhabited when we arrived was a
strip half a parasang long and a mile wide. Inside this area there
were fourteen fortresses inhabited by a bunch of filthy, ignorant
bandits. These fourteen fortresses had been divided up between
two rival factions who were constantly engaged in hostilities.
They claimed to be the “Lords of al-Raqim” mentioned in the
Koran.** They had four irrigation canals for their palm grove,
and their fields were on higher ground and watered from wells.
They plow with camels, not cows. As a matter of fact, I never saw
a cow there. They produce very little in the way of agriculture,
and each man has to ration himself with two seers of grain a day.
This is baked as bread and suffices from the evening prayer un-
**Reading with Tehran edition, raqim, for Dabir-Siyaqi’s edition, rasim. The
“Lords of al-Raqim” are mentioned in passing in Koran 18:9.
til the next evening, as in the month of Ramadan, although they
do eat dates during the day. I saw excellent dates there, much
better than in Basra and other places. These people are ex-
tremely poverty stricken and destitute; nonetheless, they spend
the whole day fighting and killing each other. They have a kind
of date called maydun that weighs ten dirhems, the pit weighing
not more than 2 danaks. They claimed that this particular date
could be kept for twenty years without spoilage. Their currency
is Nishapuri gold.
I stayed four months in this Falaj under the worst possible
conditions: nothing of this world remained in my possession ex-
cept two satchels of books, and they were a hungry, naked, and
ignorant people. Everyone who came to pray brought his sword
and shield with him as a matter of course. They had no reason to
There was a mosque in which we stayed. I had a little red and
blue paint with me, so I wrote a line of poetry on the wall and
drew a branch with leaves up through the writing. When they
saw it, they were amazed, and everybody in the compound gath-
ered around to look at what I had done. They told me that if
I would paint the mehrab they would give me one hundred
maunds of dates. Now a hundred maunds of dates was a fortune
for them. Once while I was there, a company of Arab soldiers
came and demanded five hundred maunds of dates. They re-
fused to give it and fought, which resulted in the death of ten
people from the compound. A thousand palms were cut down,
but they did not give up even ten maunds of dates. Therefore,
when they offered me that much, I painted the mehrab, and that
hundred maunds of dates was an answer to our prayers, since
we had not been able to obtain any food.
We had almost given up hope of ever being able to get out of
that desert, the nearest trace of civilization in any direction being
two hundred parasangs away through fearful, devastating des-
ert. In all those four months, I never saw five maunds of wheat
in one place. Finally, however, a caravan came from Yamama to
take goat’s leather to Lahsa. Goat’s leather is brought from the
Yemen via Falaj and sold to merchants. An Arab offered to take
me to Basra, but I had no money to pay the fare. It is only two
hundred parasangs to Basra from there, and the hire for a
camel was one dinar, whereas a good camel can be bought out-
ee 2 Fe ee
Book of Travels
right for two or three dinars. Since I had no cash with me, they
took me on credit on condition that I pay thirty dinars in Basra.
I was forced to agree to these terms, although I had never in my
life so much as set foot in Basra!
The Arabs packed my books and seated my brother on a
camel, and thus, with me on foot, we set out, headed toward the
ascent of the Pleiades. The ground was flat, without so much asa
mountain or hill, and wherever the earth was a bit harder, there
was rainwater standing in pools. As these people travel night
and day, without the slightest trace of a road visible, they must
go by instinct. What is amazing is that with no indication or
warning, suddenly they come upon a well.
To make a long story short, in four days and nights we came
to Yamama, which has inside a large, old fortress, and outside a
town with a bazaar containing all sorts of artisans and a fine
mosque. The emirs there are Alids of old, and no one has ever
been able to wrest the region from their control, since, in the
first place there is not, nor has there been, a conquering sultan
or king anywhere near, and, in the second, those Alids possess
such might that they can mount three to four hundred horse-
men. They are of the Zaydi sect, and when they stand in prayer
they say, “Mohammad and ‘Ali are the best of mankind,” and,
“Come to the best deed!”** The inhabitants of this town are
Sharifis, and they have running water, irrigation canals, and
many palm groves in the district. They told me that when dates
are plentiful, a thousand maunds are only one dinar.
It is forty parasangs from Yamama to Lahsa. During the win-
ter it is possible to travel because potable rainwater collects in
pools, but not in summer.
A Description of Lahsa
To reach the town of Lahsa from any direction, you have to
cross vast expanses of desert. The nearest Muslim city to Lahsa
*°These words characterize the Shi‘ite (including the Zaydi) call to prayer.
The Sunni call to prayer includes neither phrase. In Naser’s terminology “Alid”
(‘alawt) refers to any of the Shi‘a, including (1) the Zaydis, followers of Zayd, son
of the Fourth Imam ‘Ali Zayn al-‘Abedin (d. 94/712): members of this sect ruled
A Description of Lahsa’
that has a ruler is Basra, and that is one hundred and fifty para-
sangs away. There has never been a ruler of Basra, however,
who has attempted an attack on Lahsa.
All of the town’s outlying villages and dependencies are en-
closed by four strong, concentric walls made of reinforced mud
brick. The distance between these walls is about a parasang, and
there are enormous wells inside the town, each the size of five
millstones around. All the water of the district is put to use so
that none goes outside the walls. A really splendid town is situ-
ated inside these fortifications, with all the appurtenances of a
large city, and there are more than twenty thousand soldiers.
They said that the ruler had been a sharif who prevented the
people from practicing Islam and relieved them of the obliga-
tions of prayer and the fast by claiming that he was the ultimate
authority on such matters. His name was Abu Sa‘id and when
you ask the townspeople what sect they belong to, they say they
are Busa‘idis. They neither pray nor fast, but they do believe in
Mohammad and his mission. Abu Sa‘id told them that he would
come among them again after his death, and his tomb, a fine
shrine, is located inside the city. He directed that six of his [spiri-
tual] sons** should maintain his rule with justice and equity and
without dispute among themselves until he should come again.
Now they have a palace that is the seat of state and a throne that
accommodates all six kings in one place, and they rule in com-
plete accord and harmony. They have also six viziers, and when
the kings are all seated on their throne, the six viziers are seated
opposite on another bench. Thus all affairs are handled in mu-
tual consultation. At the time I was there they had thirty thou-
sand Zanzibari and Abyssinian slaves working in the fields and
They take no tax from the peasantry, and whenever anyone is
stricken by poverty or contracts a debt they take care of his
needs until the debtor’s affairs should be cleared up. And if any-
in Gilan, Daylam and Tabarestan in Iran from 864 to 1126 and founded a dy-
nasty in the Yemen in 901; (2) Ismailis, who followed Esma‘il, son of the Sixth
Imam Ja‘far al-Sadeq (d. 148/765): to this sect belonged the Fatimids of Egypt;
and (3) Twelvers (ethna‘ashari), who followed the lineal descent of imams from
‘Ali until the Twelfth Imam Mohammad al-Montazar (ca. 264/878).
*4Cf. Bernard Lewis, ana Origins of Isma‘ilism (Cambr idge: Cambr idge Univer-
sity Press, 1944), p. 99, n. 5, who translates “disciples” for “sons.’
Book of Travels
one is in debt to another, the creditor cannot claim more than
the amount of the debt. Any stranger to the city who possesses a
craft by which to earn his livelihood is given enough money to
buy the tools of his trade and establish himself, when he repays
however much he was given. If anyone’s property or imple-
ments suffer loss and the owner is unable to undertake neces-
sary repairs, they appoint their own slaves to make the repairs
and charge the owner nothing. The rulers have several gristmills
in Lahsa where the citizenry can have their meal ground into
flour for free, and the maintenance of the buildings and the
wages of the miller are paid by the rulers. The rulers are called
simply “lord” and the viziers, “counsel.”
There was once no Friday mosque in Lahsa, and the sermon
and congregational prayer were not held. A Persian man, how-
ever, named ‘Ali son of Ahmad, who was a Muslim, a pilgrim
and very wealthy, did build a mosque in order to provide for pil-
grims who arrived in the city.
Their commercial transactions are carried out in lead [to-
kens], which are kept in wrappers, each of which is equivalent to
six thousand dirhem-weights. When paying for something, they
do not even count out the wrappers but take them as they are.
No one takes this currency outside, however. They also weave
fine scarves that are exported to Basra and other places.
They do not prevent anyone from performing prayers, al-
though they themselves do not pray. The ruler answers most po-
litely and humbly anyone who speaks to him, and wine is not in-
A horse outfitted with collar and crown is kept always tied
close by the tomb of Abu Sa‘id, and a watch is continually main-
tained day and night for such time as he should rise again and
mount the horse. Abu Sa‘id said to his sons, “When I come again
among you, you will not recognize me. The sign will be that you
strike my neck with my sword. If it be me, I will immediately
come back to life.” He made this stipulation so that no one else
could claim to be him.
In the time of the Baghdad caliphs one of the rulers attacked
Mecca and killed a number of people who were circumambulat-
ing the Ka‘ba at the time. They removed the Black Stone from
its corner and took it to Lahsa. They said that the stone was a
A Description of Lahsa’
“human magnet” that attracted people, not knowing that it was
the nobility and magnificence of Mohammad that drew people
there, for the Stone had lain there for long ages without anyone
paying any particular attention to it. In the end, the Black Stone
was bought back and returned to its place.
In the city of Lahsa they sell all kinds of animals for meat,
such as dog, cat, donkey, cow, sheep, and so on, and the head
and skin of whatever animal it is is placed next to the meat so
that the customer will know what he is buying. They fatten up
dogs, just like grazed sheep, until they are too heavy to walk, af-
ter which they are slaughtered and eaten.
Seven parasangs east of Lahsa is the sea. In this sea is the is-
land of Bahrain, which is fifteen parasangs long. There is a large
city there and many palm groves. Pearls are found in the sea
thereabouts, and half of the divers’ take belongs to the sultan of
Lahsa. South of Lahsa is Oman, which is on the Arabian penin-
sula, but three sides face desert that is impossible to cross. The
region of Oman is eighty parasangs square and tropical; there
they grow coconuts, which they call ndrgil. Directly east of Oman
across the sea are Kish and Mokran. South of Oman is Aden,
while in the other direction is the province of Fars.
There are so many dates in Lahsa that animals are fattened on
them and at times more than one thousand maunds are sold for
one dinar. Seven parasangs north of Lahsa is a region called
Qatif, where there is also a large town and many date-palms. An
Arab emir from there once attacked Lahsa, where he main-
tained seige for a year. One of those fortification walls he cap-
tured and wrought much havoc, although he did not obtain
much of anything. When he saw me, he asked whether or not it
was in the stars for him to take Lahsa, as they were irreligious. I
told him what was expedient [for me to say], since, in my opin-
ion also, the bedouins and people of Lahsa were as close as any-
one could be to irreligiosity, there being people there who, from
one year to the next, never perform ritual ablutions. This that I
record is told from my own experience and not from false ru-
mors, since I was there among them for nine consecutive
months, and not at intervals.
I was unable to drink their milk, and whenever I asked for
water to drink they offered me milk instead. As I did not take
Book of Travels
the proffered milk and asked for water, they would say, “Wher-
ever you see water, ask for it there!” In all their lives they had
never seen a bath or running water.
Now let me return to my story. Having set out for Basra from
Yamama, we encountered some way stations with water and oth-
ers with no water. On the 20th of Sha‘ban 443 [27 December
1051] we arrived in Basra.
A Description of the City of Basra
The city has a large wall, except for the portion that faces the
water, where there is no wall. The water here is all marsh, the
Tigris and Euphrates coming together at the beginning of the
Basra district, and when the water of the Hawiza®? joins the
confluence, it is called Shatt al-‘Arab. From this Shatt al-‘Arab,
two large channels have been cut, between the mouths of which
is a distance of one parasang, running in the direction of the
gebla for four parasangs, after which they converge and run an-
other one parasang to the south. From these channels numerous
canals have been dug in all directions among palm groves and
orchards. Of these two channels, the higher one, which is north-
east, is called Nahr Ma‘gel, whereas the southwestern one is
called Nahr Obolla. These two channels form an enormous rec-
tangular “island,” on the shortest side of which Basra is situated.
To the southwest of Basra is open plain that supports neither
settlement nor agriculture.
When I arrived, most of the city lay in ruins, the inhabited
parts being greatly dispersed, with up to half a parasang from
one quarter to another. Nonetheless, the walls were strong and
well kept, the populace numerous, and the ruler with plenty of
income. At that time, the emir of Basra was the son of Aba
Kalijar the Daylamite, king of Fars. His vizier was a Persian,
Abu Mansur Shahmardan by name.
Every day there are three bazaars in Basra: in the morning
transactions are held at a place called Sug al-Khoza‘a [Market of
the Khoza‘a Tribe]; in the middle of the day at Sug ‘Othman
*° Hawiza with Berlin edition for Tehran and Dabir-Siyaqi’s edition’s Jubara.
The City of Basra
(Othman’s Market]; and at the end of the day at Sug al-Qad-
dahin [Flintmakers Market]. The procedure at the bazaar is as
follows: you turn over whatever you have to a moneychanger
and get in return a draft; then you buy whatever you need, de-
ducting the price from the moneychanger’s draft. No matter
how long one might stay in the city, one would never need any-
thing more than a moneychanger’s draft.
When we arrived we were as naked and destitute as madmen,
for it had been three months since we had unloosed our hair. I
wanted to enter a bath in order to get warm, the weather being
chilly and our clothing scant. My brother and I were clad only in
old lungis with a piece of coarse fabric on our backs to keep out
the cold. “In this state who would let us into a bath?” I asked.
Therefore, I sold a small satchel in which I kept my books and
wrapped the few rusty dirhems I had received in a piece of pa-
per to give the bath attendant, thinking that he might give us a
little while longer in the bath in order for us to remove the grime
from our bodies. When I handed him the change, he looked at
us as though we were madmen and said, “Get away from here!
People are coming out of the bath.” As he would not allow us in,
we came away humiliated and in haste. Even the children who
were playing at the bathhouse door thought we were madmen
and, throwing stones and yelling, chased after us. We retired
into a corner and reflected in amazement on the state of the
Now, as we were in debt to the camel driver for thirty dinars,
we had no recourse save the vizier of the king of Ahwaz, Abu’l-
Fath “Ali son of Ahmad, a worthy man, learned in poetry and
belles-lettres, and very generous, who had come to Basra with his
sons and retinue and taken up residence but who, at present,
had no administrative position. Therefore, I got in touch with a
Persian, also a man of learning, with whom I had some acquain-
tance and who had entree to the vizier but who was also in
straightened circumstances and totally without means to be of
assistance to me. He mentioned my situation to the vizier, who,
as soon as he heard, sent a man with a horse for me to come to
him just as I was. Too ashamed of my destitution and nakedness,
I hardly thought it fitting to appear before him, so I wrote a
note of regret, saying that I would come to him later. I had two
reasons for doing this: one was my poverty, and the other was,
Persian Gulf area
a“ “S An
a nN nN
The City of Basra
as I said to myself, that he now imagines that I have some claim
to being learned, but when he sees my note he will figure out just
what my worth is so that when I go before him I need not be
Immediately he sent me thirty dinars to have a suit of clothing
made. With that amount I bought two fine suits and on the third
day appeared at the vizier’s assembly. I found him to be a wor-
thy, polite, and scholarly man of pleasant appearance, humble,
religious, and well spoken. He had four sons, the eldest of whom
was an eloquent, polite, and reasonable youth called Ra’is Abu
‘Abd Allah Ahmad son of ‘Ali son of Ahmad. Not only a poet
and administrator, he was wise and devout beyond his youthful
age. We were taken in and stayed there from the first of Sha‘ban
until the middle of Ramadan. The thirty dinars due the Arab
for our camel were paid by the vizier, and I was relieved of that
burden. (May God thus deliver all His servants from the torment
When I desired to depart he sent me off by sea with gifts and
bounteous good things so that I reached Fars in ease and com-
fort, thanks to the generosity of that noble man. (May God de-
light in such noble men!)
In Basra there are thirteen shrines in the name of the Prince
of the Faithful ‘Ali son of Abu Taleb, one of which is called the
Banu Mazen Shrine. The Prince of the Faithful “Ali came to
Basra during Rabi‘ I in the year 36 [September 655], while
‘A’esha was waging war against him, and married Layla, the
daughter of Mas‘ud Nahshali. This shrine was the house of that
lady, and the Prince of the Faithful stayed there for seventy-two
days, after which he returned to Kufa. There is another shrine
next to the cathedral mosque called the Bab al-Tib Shrine.
Inside the cathedral mosque, I saw a wooden post thirty cubits
long and five spans, four fingers thick, although it is somewhat
thicker at one end. This post is from India and the Prince of the
Faithful is said to have picked it up and brought it there. The
other eleven shrines are in different places, and I visited them
After our worldly condition had taken a turn for the better
and we each had on decent clothing, we went back one day to
the bathhouse we had not been allowed to enter. As soon as we
came through the door the attendant and everyone there stood
= eae cquevoneny Gurpweng=n cen sorenere” ywpeemyrengreteee het ysenpaasnry oun gh yn npr rebity Saeehe dy F104 Hehe memnterey ty OY PgeeegeeNenveny ery ten » 6g behy De THRNOUNEN OFVENTT /TTTTT
Book of Travels
up respectfully. We went inside, and the scrubber and servant
came to attend to us. When we emerged from the bath all who
were in the dressing room rose and remained standing until we
had put on our clothes and departed. During that time the at-
tendant had said to a friend of his, “These are those very young
men whom we refused admission one day.” They imagined that
we did not know their language, but I said in Arabic, “You are
perfectly correct. We are the very ones who had old sacks tied to
our backs.” The man was ashamed and most apologetic. Now
these two events transpired within twenty days, and I have in-
cluded the story so that men may know not to lament adversity
brought on by fate and not to despair of the Creator’s mercy, for
He is merciful indeed.
A Description of the Ebb and Flow
of the Tide at Basra
Every twenty-four hours the Sea of Oman flows twice, rising
approximately ten ells. When high tide has been achieved it
gradually ebbs, receding ten to twelve ells. The ten ells just men-
tioned can be seen either on a post erected at Basra or against
the city walls. Where the ground is flat the tide covers an enor-
mous area inland. The Tigris and Euphrates indeed flow so
calmly that in places it cannot be determined which direction the
water is flowing, and when the tide floods the river water rises
for nearly forty parasangs, and one would think the flow had re-
versed itself and the water was backing up. In other places along
the coast, however, the shore is relatively steep. Wherever the
land is flat the water covers a large area, but wherever it is steep
less ground is taken by the tide. They say that the ebb and flow
of the tide are connected in some way to the moon because when
the moon is at one of the nodes, which occurs on the tenth and
[twenty] fourth [of the month], the flow is more; when the moon
is on the east or west horizon, the ebb is maximum, and when
the moon is in conjunction with or directly opposite the sun the
flow is greatest and highest. During the quadratures it is the
least, that is, the flow is not so great as during alignment with the
sun, and the ebb is not so low as during alignment. For these rea-
The Ebb and Flow of Tide at Basra
sons they say that the tides have something to do with the moon,
but God knows best.
I found the town of Obolla, located by the channel named for
it, to be populous, with more palaces, bazaars, mosques, and car-
avanserais than can be described. The original part of the town
is to the north of the channel, although there are also quarters,
mosques, caravanserais, and bazaars to the north. There are
such pleasant edifices there as are to be found nowhere else in
the world, and this section is called Shate’ ‘Othman.
The large marsh formed by the Tigris and Euphrates and
called Shatt al-‘Arab lies to the east of Obolla, the channel cut-
ting across the south. The Obolla and Ma‘qel Rivers join at
Basra, as has already been stated.
Basra has twenty districts, each of which is comprised of vil-
lages and farms. The districts of Basra are as follows: Heshshan,
Sharabba, Balas, ‘Aqr [al-Sadan ?], Maysan, Nahr Harb, Shatt al-
‘Arab, Sa‘d [?], Salm [?], Jorayr, al-Mashan, al-Samd [?], al-Jaw-
with, Jazirat al-"Ozma [?], Masroganan, al-Sharir [?], Jazirat al-
‘Orsh al-Hamida [?], al-Howayza, al-Mofradat [?].°°
They say that once, at the mouth of the Obolla channel, there
was a huge whirlpool that prevented boats from passing, but a
wealthy lady of Basra had four hundred boats constructed and
filled with date pits. The boats were then tightly sealed and sunk
in the whirlpool, and now ships can sail through.
In short, the middle of Shawwal 443 [February 1052] we left
Basra by boat. For four parasangs out of Obolla there was on
both sides of the channel an uninterrupted series of gardens, or-
chards, kiosks, and belvederes. Tributaries of the channel, each
the size of a river, opened up on each side. When we reached
Shate’ ‘Othman we disembarked just opposite the city of Obolla
and stayed a while.
*°Some of these names have been verified in Yaqiit, Mo‘jam al-boldan, ed.
Ferdinand Wiistenfeld (Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1866-1870). They are as follows:
Heshshan (II, 272), Sharabba (III, 272), Balas (1, 708), ‘Agr (a ‘Aqr al-Sadan is
given in III, 697), Maysan (IV, 714), Maftah (IV, 586), Nahr Harb (IV, 838),
Shatt al-‘Arab (not given in Yaqut but sufficiently well known), Jorayr (II, 68), al-
Mashan (IV, 536), al-Jawwith (II, 163, with this reading for Dabir-Siyaqi’s edi-
tion, al-Juna), Masroqanan (IV, 528, with this reading as suggested by Dabir-
Siyaqi for his edition’s Masarfal), al-Howayza (II, 371f.). The others (Sa‘d, Salm,
al-Samd, Jazirat al-‘Ozma, al-Sharir, Jazirat al-‘Orsh [perhaps al-Fors] al-Ha-
mida [perhaps a separate name], and al-Mofradat) have not been identified.
Book of Travels
On the 17th we boarded a type of boat called busi, and great
multitudes of people on either side called out, “O busi, may God
speed you in safety!”
When we reached ‘Abbadan everyone got out of the boat.
‘Abbadan is a coastal town something like an island because the
marsh splits in two there, and the only way to reach the town is
by water. To the south is the sea itself, which, during high tide,
reaches right up to the city walls; at low tide, however, the sea re-
cedes a little less than two parasangs. Some of our party bought
carpets in ‘Abbadan and others something to eat. The next
morning the ship set out again toward the north. For ten para-
sangs the sea water was drinkable and good, since it was marsh
water, the marsh flowing like a tongue out into the sea.
At dawn something like a small bird could be seen on the sea.
The closer we approached the larger it appeared. When it was
about one parasang to our left, an adverse wind came up so they
dropped anchor and took down the sail. I asked what that thing
was and was told that it was called a “khashshab.” It consisted of
four enormous wooden posts made of teak and was shaped
something like a war machine, squarish, wide at the base and
narrow at the top. It was about forty ells above the surface of the
water and had tile and stone on top held together by wood so as
to form a kind of ceiling. On top of that were four arched open-
ings where a sentinel could be stationed. Some said this khashshab
had been constructed by a rich merchant, others that a king had
had it made. It served two functions: first, that area was being
silted in and the sea consequently becoming shallow so that if a
large ship chanced to pass, it would strike bottom. At night
lamps encased in glass (so that the wind would not blow them
out) were lit for people to see from afar and take precaution,
since there was no possibility of rescue. Second, one could know
the extent of the land and, if there were thieves, steer a ship
away. When the khashshab was no longer visible, another one of
the same shape came into view; but this one did not have the
watchtower on top, as though it had not been finished.>’
*7In his geography Abu’l-Feda says: “To the south and east of ‘Abbadan are
wooden [piles] (khashabat), which are markers in the sea for boats to tie up to and
not to go beyond lest the tide be low and they strike ground. At night fire is
placed on these markers as a beacon for ships.” Abu’l-Feda, Taqwim al-boldan, ed.
by Reinaud and MacGuckin de Slane (Paris: L’Imprimerie Royale, 1840), p. 309.
The Ebb and Flow of Tide at Basra
Next we came to Mahruban, a large coastal town with a bazaar
and fine mosque. Their only water is from rain, there being no
freshwater wells or canals, although they have enough tanks and
cisterns to insure an adequate supply. Three large caravanserais
have been built there, each one as strong and as tall as a fortress.
I saw the name of Ya‘qub son of Layth written on the pulpit of
the Friday mosque and asked how this had come to be. They
told me that Ya‘qub son of Layth had conquered up to this town
but that no other emir of Khorasan had had the might to do it.
When I was there, the town was in the hands of the sons of Aba
Kalijar, the king of Fars. Foodstuffs and commodities all have to
be brought in from outside since there is nothing but fish in the
town, which serves as a customs station and port.
South along the coast are Tavva and Kazarun, but I remained
in Mahruban because they said the way was not safe, since the
sons of Aba Kalijar had each rebelled against the other and had
put the countryside into confusion. I was told that in Arrajan
there was a great and learned man called Shaikh Sadid Moham-
mad son of ‘Abd al-Malek. When I heard this, since I was so
weary of staying in that town, I wrote him a note explaining my
situation and pleaded with him to get me out of there and into a
safe place. Three days later thirty armed foot soldiers ap-
proached me and told me they had been sent by the shaikh to
take me to Arrajan. Thus we were hospitably taken to Arrajan, a
large town with a population of twenty thousand, to the east of
which is a river that comes from the mountains. North of this
river four large canals have been cut at great expense to bring
water through the town and out the other side to where there
are gardens and orchards of dates, oranges, citrons, and olives
in abundance. The city is so constructed that for every house
above ground there is also one below. Water flows through these
basements and cellars so that during the summer they can be
comfortable. The people there are of most every sect, and the
Mu'tazilites have an imam called Abu Sa‘id of Basra, an eloquent
man with some claim to knowledge of geometry and mathemat-
ics. We held discussions together on dialectic theology and
We left on the first of Moharram and headed for Isfahan via
the mountains. Along the way we came to a mountain with a nar-
row pass, said by the common people to have been cut by Bah-
Book of Travels
ram Gor with his sword. They call it Shamshir-borid [“Cut-by-
Sword”]. There we saw a great stream that emerged on our right
from a hole and then tumbled down a great height. The com-
mon people said that this water flows continuously during the
summer but stops and freezes over during the winter months.
We reached Lurdajan, which is forty parasangs from Arrajan
and which is the border of Fars. From there we continued on to
Khan Lanjan, where I noticed the name of Toghrel Beg in-
scribed over the gate. It was only seven parasangs from there to
Isfahan, and the people of Khan Lanjan were remarkably safe
and secure, everyone occupied with his own business.
On the 8th of Safar 444 [9 June 1052] we reached Isfahan. It
is one hundred and eighty parasangs from Basra to Isfahan, a
city located on a flat plain and with a delightful climate. Wher-
ever one sinks a well ten ells into the ground, refreshing cold
water comes out. The city has a high, strong wall with gates, em-
brasures, and battlements all around. Inside the city are courses
for running water, fine tall buildings, and a beautiful and large
Friday mosque. The city wall is said to be three and a half para-
sangs long, and everything inside is in a flourishing state, as |
saw nothing in ruins. There were many bazaars; one that I saw
was only for money changers and contained two hundred stalls.
Every bazaar has doors and gates, as do all quarters and lanes.
The caravanserais are exceptionally clean, and in one lane,
called Ku-Taraz, there were fifty fine caravanserais, in each of
which were retail merchants and shopkeepers. The caravan we
entered with had 1,300 kharvars of goods, yet there was no diffi-
culty in finding space since there seemed to be no lack of room
When Sultan Toghrel Beg Abu Taleb Mohammad son of Mi-
ka’il son of Saljuq took the city, he appointed as governor a
young Nishapuri, a good administrator with a fine hand, com-
posed, well met, a patron of learning, well spoken, and gener-
ous, called Khwaja ‘Amid. The sultan ordered him not to levy
taxes on the people for three years, and, as he followed this or-
der, the peasantry that had fled returned home. He had been
one of the bureaucrats serving under Suri.°®
38Suri b. al-Mo‘tazz, the chief of Khorasan under the Ghaznavid Mas‘ud, ac-
cording to M. Dabir-Siyaqi in his second edition of the Safarndma (Tehran,
1335/1957), p. 124, n. 1.
The Ebb and Flow of Tide at Basra
Before our arrival there had been a great famine, but by the
time we came they were harvesting barley, and 1% maunds of
bread were selling for one dirhem, as were 3 maunds of barley
bread. The people, however, were still complaining that never in
this city had less than 8 maunds of bread been more than one
dirhem. Of all the Persian-speaking cities, I never saw a finer,
more commodious, or more flourishing city than Isfahan. They
claimed that wheat, barley, and other grains could be left for
twenty years without spoiling, although some said that before
the walls had been built the air was even better than now and
that it had changed with the construction of the wall so that
some things would spoil. The villages, however, were said to be
as good as ever.
As the caravan was not going to leave for some time, I re-
mained in Isfahan for twenty days. On the 28th of Safar [29
June 1052] we departed and came to the village of Haythama-
bad. From there we reached Na’in via the desert and mountains
of Maskinan, a distance of thirty parasangs. From Na’in we trav-
eled forty-three parasangs to the village of Garma in the Biya-
ban district, which comprises some ten or twelve villages. It is
warm there, and there are date trees. This region was formerly
held by the Kufjan,°? but when we passed through, the prince
Gilaki had seized the region from them and had stationed a dep-
uty in a small fortress in a village called Piyada in order to con-
trol the area and keep the roads safe. Whenever the Kufjan at-
tempted banditry, Prince Gilaki’s cavalry were sent to capture
and kill them. It was due to the maintenance of that prince the
road was safe and the people secure. (May God keep just princes
and have mercy on the souls of the departed!)
Every two parasangs along this Biyaban road, small towers
with water tanks have been built to collect rainwater in places
that are not brackish so that people will not lose their way and
also so that travelers may stop off and rest for a while out of the
heat and cold.
We saw great areas of shifting sands along the way. If anyone
were to stray from the markers and wander into these shifting
sands, there is no way he could come out again and he would
surely perish. We continued past there, when brackish earth
**The “Kufjan” have been identified with certain Baluch tribes.
Book of Travels
came into view, all pocked and pitted; this lasted for six para-
sangs. If anyone went off the path, he would sink in.
From there we went via the caravanserai of Zobayda, which is
called Rebat-e Marami. In that caravanserai are five wells. If it
were not for that caravanserai and water no one would be able to
cross this desert. After that we came to four villages in the dis-
trict of Tabas, one of which is called Rostabad.
On the 9th of Rabi‘ I [9 July] we reached Tabas, which is one
hundred and ten parasangs from Isfahan. Although it looks like
a village, Tabas is actually large, but water is scarce and agricul-
ture minimal, with the exception of date palms and orchards.
Nishapur lies forty parasangs north, and a like distance south
across the desert is Khabis, while there are forbidding moun-
tains to the east. At that time, the prince of the city was Gilaki
son of Mohammad, who had taken it by the sword. The people
were so secure that at night they did not lock their doors and
even left their animals in the streets, despite the fact that there
was no city wall. No woman dared speak to a stranger, for if she
did they would both be killed. On account of this prince’s pro-
tection and justice there was neither thief nor murderer.
Among the Arabs and Persians I saw four places remarkable
for their security and justice: one, the region of Dasht during
the reign of Lashkar Khan; two, in Daylamestan under the
Amir-Amiran Jostan son of Ebrahim; three, Egypt during the
reign of al Mostanser be’llah, Prince of the Faithful, and four, in
Tabas during the reign of Prince Abu’! Hasan Gilaki son of Mo-
hammad. In all my travels I never saw or heard of any place so
secure as these four.
[The prince] kept us in Tabas for seventeen days and showed
us much hospitality. When we left he bestowed presents and
apologized for any shortcomings. (May God rejoice in him!) He
sent one of his equerries along with me as far as Zuzan, which is
seventy-two parasangs away. Twelve parasangs from Tabas we
came upon a town called Raqqa, which had running water,
farms, gardens, trees, walls, a Friday mosque, and villages and
On the 9th of Rabi‘ II [8 August] we left Raqga and on the
12th arrived in Tun, twenty parasangs distant. The city of Tun
had once been large, but when I passed through, most of it had
fallen to ruin. Although it is on the edge of the desert, it has run-
The Ebb and Flow of Tide at Basra
KHORASAN * Shoburghin
+ Bestaim Sarakhs
* Dimghin * Nishapur
* Tabas * Qiven
Eastern Iran and northern Afghanistan
ning water, canals, and many gardens on the eastern side. It has
also a strong fortress, and there are said to have been four hun-
dred workshops where rugs were woven. There were many pis-
tachio trees inside the houses, although the people of Balkh and
Tokharestan imagine that pistachios grow only on mountains.
After leaving Tun, [Prince] Gilaki’s man told me that once
they had been traveling between Tun and Gonabedh when a
band of thieves attacked. Out of fear, several people threw
themselves down a canal well. One of them had a kindly father
who came and hired someone to go down into the well and bring
out the body of his son. They collected all the rope they had
while lots of others gathered around to watch. Seven hundred
ells of rope went down before that fellow reached the bottom.
He tied the rope around the son’s dead body and they hauled
him out. When he came back up he said that a great amount of
water was flowing through the canal, which goes for four para-
sangs and is said to have been built by Kay Khosraw.
Book of Travels
On the 23rd of Rabi‘ II [22 August] we came to Qa’en, said to
be a distance of eighteen parasangs from Tun, although a cara-
van can make it in four days, so the estimate must be too great.
Qa’en is a large fortified town, and all around the main city is
a trench. The Friday mosque is also in the main city and has a
huge arch where the magqsura is located. This arch is much larger
than any I have seen in Khorasan, but it is not in proportion to
the mosque. All buildings in the city are domed.
Eighteen parasangs northeast of Qa’en is Zuzan. South to
Herat is thirty parasangs.
In Qa’en I saw a man named Abu Mansur Mohammad son of
Dost, who knew something of medicine, astronomy, and logic.
“Outside the celestial spheres and stars, what is there?” he
“Things that are inside the spheres have names,” I said, “but
not anything outside them.”
“What say you then?” he asked, “Is there substance outside the
spheres or not?”
“The universe must of necessity be finite,” I said. “And its
limit is the last sphere. Indeed, it is called ‘limit’ precisely be-
cause there is nothing on the other side. When this limit has
been realized, it then becomes necessary that what is outside the
spheres not be like what is inside them.”
“Therefore,” he continued, “that substance, which reason
must hold to be existent, is finite and ends at that limit. If it then
be finite, up to what point does it exist? If it is infinite and with-
out end, how then can it ever pass out of existence?” He went on
in this manner and finally said, “I have suffered much perplex-
ity over all this.”
“Who hasn’t?” I replied.
In short, because of the disturbances in Zuzan occasioned by
‘Obayd of Nishapur and the rebellion of the head of Zuzan, I
stayed one month in Qa’en after I had sent Prince Gilaki’s eq-
uerry back to him.
From Qa’en we came to Sarakhs on the 2nd of Jomada II [29
September 1052]. From Basra to Sarakhs I reckoned the dis-
tance to be 390 parasangs. From Sarakhs we went via the cara-
vanserais of Ja‘fari, ‘Amravi, and Ne‘mati, all three of which are
close together on the road. On the 12th of Jomada II [19 Octo-
The Ebb and Flow of Tide at Basra
ber] we reached Marv Rud. Two days later we left and passed
through Abgarm. On the 19th we came to Baryab, a distance of
The prince of Khorasan, Chaghri Bég Abu Solayman Daud
son of Mika’il son of Saljuq was in Shoburghan, headed for
Marv, his capital. Because of the unsafe road, we went toward
Samangan and thence by way of Seh Darra toward Balkh. When
we reached the caravanserai of Seh Darra, we heard that my
brother Khwaja Abu ’l-Fath “Abd al-Jalil was in the entourage of
the prince of Khorasan’s vizier, Abu Nasr. Now it had been
seven years since I had left Khorasan. When we reached Dast-
gerd, I saw loads being taken toward Shoburghan. My brother,
who was with me, asked who these goods belonged to and was
told that they were the vizier’s.
“Do you know Abu’l-Fath ‘Abd al-Jalil?” he asked.
“One of his men is with us,” they said. And immediately a man
came to us and asked where we were coming from.
“From the Pilgrimage,” we answered.
“My master, Abu’l-Fath ‘Abd al-Jalil, had two brothers,” he
said, “who went on the Pilgrimage many years ago, and he still
longs to see them, but no one he has questioned has had any
news of them.”
“We have a letter from Naser,” my brother said. “When your
master comes, we will give it to him.” A moment later, however,
the caravan began to move, and we started to join it.
“My master is coming just now,” said the fellow, “and if he
misses you, he will be disappointed. Why don’t you give me the
letter so I can give it to him and make him happy?”
“Would you rather have Naser’s letter,” asked my brother, “or
Naser himself—for here he is!” And the fellow was so overjoyed
he did not know what to do. Thereupon we set out for Balkh by
way of Miyan Rusta. Meanwhile, my brother Khwaja Abu’l-Fath
had gone to Dastgerd by way of Dasht and was accompanying
the prince of Khorasan’s vizier. When he heard of us he re-
turned from Dastgerd and waited for us at the Jomukian
On Tuesday the 26th of Jomada II 444 [23 October 1052], af-
ter having had little or no hope and having at times fallen into
perilous circumstances and having even despaired of our lives,
Book of Travels
we were all together again and joyful to see each other. We
thanked God for that, and on that same day we arrived in Balkh,
wherefore I composed these lines of poetry:
‘Though the toil and travail of the world be long
An end will doubtless come to good and bad.
The spheres travel for us day and night:
Whatever has once gone, another comes on its heels.
We are traveling through what can be passed
Until there comes that journey that cannot be bypassed.
The distance we traversed from Balkh to Egypt and thence to
Mecca and then via Basra to Fars and finally back to Balkh, not
counting excursions for visiting shrines and so on was 2,220 par-
asangs. I have recorded my adventures as I saw them. If some of
what I heard narrated by others does not conform to the truth, I
beg my readers to forgive me and not to reproach me. If God
grants me success in making a journey to the East, what I may
see will be appended hereto, if God the One wills.
Praise be to God, the Lord of the Universe, and prayers be
upon Mohammad and his House and Companions all!
Glossary of Persons
Aba Kalijar ‘Emad al-Din Marzoban (r. 415—40/1024-28). Buwayhid
prince, ruled Fars and Khuzestan from Shiraz. See EJ’, I, 131f.
‘Abd Allah b. ‘Abbas (d. 68/686): known as the father of Koranic exege-
sis, one of the first to begin scholarly collections of Prophetic oral
material and to engage in Koranic interpretation.
Abu Fadl Khalifa: a native of Darband whom Naser met in Shamiran.
Abu Hurayra (d. ca. 58/678): originally from the Yemen, a contempo-
rary of the Prophet who narrated copious hadith. He is especially
renowned for his piety.
Abu Jahl: one of the Prophet’s most notorious rivals in Mecca, he was
alleged even to have plotted an assassination attempt against the
Prophet and later became proverbial as a godless opponent of righ-
Abu’l-‘Ala’ al-Ma‘arri (363—449/973— 1057): Syrian poet and litterateur
noted for his asceticism and pessimistic view of humanity. He re-
mains one of the finest Arabic poets and thinkers.
Abu'l-Fath ‘Ali b. Ahmad: vizier to the king of Ahwaz according to
Naser, who met him in retirement in Basra in 443/1051. He may
have been a vizier to Aba Kalijar or to one of his sons, Abu Man-
sur Fuladsotun or al-Malek al-Rahim Khosrawfér6z.
Abu’l-Hasan Gilaki b. Mohammad: ruler of Tabas in 444/1052 when
Naser passed through. His son, ‘Ala’ al-Molk Esma‘il b. Gilaki, was
a well-known Ismaili prince in Qohestan.
Abu Mansur Vahsudan b. Mamlan (r. 416—51/1025-—29): Ravvadid
ruler of Azerbaijan at Tabriz.
Abu Sa‘id al-Hasan al-Jannabi al-Lahsawi (d. 301/913): Ismaili da% (mis-
sionary) of Hamdan Qarmat in eastern Arabia; he built up the
Qarmati (Carmathian) state in Bahrain, 281—300/894-913.
Abu Solayman Chaghri Bég Daud (ca. 380—452/990— 1060): brother of
the Seljuk Toghrel Bég, in charge of the Seljuk forces that took
Marv in 423/1036 and, for a time, ruler of Khorasan. See EI’, II,
‘Ali Nasa’i, Abu’l-Hasan, known as al-Hakim al-Mokhtass: philosopher,
mathematician and astronomer who was acquainted with both
Avicenna and al-Biruni.
‘Amr b, al-‘As al-Sahmi (ca. 570—42/663): military commander under
whom the Muslim forces conquered Egypt.
Bahram Gor: historically the Sasanian emperor Varahran V (r.
421-39), his feats of prowess connect him with the ancient cult of
Book of Travels
Heracles. In legendary guise he is the hero of Nezami of Ganja’s
romance Haft paykar.
Bayazid Bestami, Tayfur b. ‘Isa (d. 261/874 or 264/877): great mystic
noted especially for his ecstatic utterances.
Belal the Abyssinian, Abu ‘Abd Allah b. Rehah (d. 25/645): a Compan-
ion to the Prophet and known for being the first muezzin in Islam.
Daqiqi, Abu Mansur Mohammad b. Ahmad (d. ca. 980): early Persian
poet at the Samanid and Chaghanian courts.
Dhu'l-Kefl: said variously to have been the name of Job’s son or of a pi-
ous Israelite who resisted Satan’s temptations. He is mentioned in
the Koran, 21:85 and 38:48.
Ebn Abi ‘Agil: a Sunni gad (judge) whom Naser met in Tyre.
Fatema Zahra: sole surviving daughter of the Prophet and wife of ‘Ali
b. Abi Taleb, venerated by Shi‘ites as the mother of the imams, the
lineal descendants of the Prophet through her. The Fatimid dy-
nasty was named after her.
al-Hakem be-Amr Allah (r. 386—411/996—1021): Fatimid sultan of
Hamza b. ‘Abd al-Mottaleb (d. 625): paternal uncle of the Prophet who
became a legendary figure renowned for fantastic exploits and
great prowess. His adventures, which bear no relation to the histor-
ical person, are recorded in the popular Arabic Sirat Amir Hamza
and in Persian romances under the name Hamzandma.
Hud: a South Arabian prophet who was sent as an apostle to the tribe of
‘Ad (see Koran 7:63).
Jostan II b. Ebrahim, Abu Saleh: the sixth Mosaferid/Kangarid ruler of
Daylam and Azerbaijan. He was reigning in 437/1045.
Lashkar Khan: according to Naser, ruler of Dasht. Neither the person
nor the place has been identified.
Mahdi, al-, ‘Obayd Allah (r. 297—322/909~—34 from North Africa): the
first Fatimid caliph.
Mahmud (r. 388—421/998-— 1030): Ghaznavid sultan.
Ma’mun, al- (r. 198—218/813—33): Abbasid caliph.
Manjik, Abu’l-Hasan ‘Ali Termedhi: 10th-century poet at the Cha-
Mas‘ud (r. 421 —32/1030—42): Ghaznavid sultan.
Glossary of Persons
Mas‘ud Nahshali: father of Layla, a wife of ‘Ali b. Abi Taleb.
Mo‘awiya b. Abi Sofyan (r. 41—60/661-—80): the first Umayyad caliph.
Mo‘ezz le-Din Allah, al- (r. 341—65/953—75): Fatimid sultan of Egypt.
Mostanser be'llah, al- (r. 427—87/1036—94): Fatimid sultan of Egypt.
Mowaffaq, Khwaja, Hebat Allah b. Mohammad b. Hosayn: a mem-
ber of the elite of Nishapur. It was he who handed the city over to
Toghrel Bég’s brother Yanal at the Seljuk conquest. He was ex-
pelled from the city when it was reconquered by the Ghaznavids.
Nasr al-Dawla Ahmad, Abu Nasr (r. 401—53/1011-—61): Marwanid
prince of eastern Anatolia at Diyar Bakr.
‘Obayd Nishapuri: according to Naser, the ruler of Zuzan at the time he
passed through in 444/1052.
Oways Qarani: a contemporary of the Prophet and native of the
Yemen. A model of ascetic piety for later generations, he is said to
have pulled out all his teeth in commemoration of a tooth lost by
the Prophet at the Battle of Ohod.
Pesar-e Shaddel: according to Naser, a prince of Aden.
Qatran, Abu Mansur, ‘Adodi Tabrizi (d. 465/1072): said to have been
the first poet of Azerbaijan to compose in Dari Persian.
Saleh: a pre-Islamic prophet to the South Arabian tribe of Thamud. He
is mentioned in the Koran, 7:71.
Suri, Abu’l-Fadl, b. al-Mo‘tazz: governor of Khorasan from Nishapur
under the Ghaznavids Mahmud and Mas‘ud.
Toghrel Bég, Rokn al-Din Mohammad b. Mika’il (r. 429—55/1038-63):
Seljuk ruler and conqueror.
Ya‘qub b. Layth (r. 253—65/867—79): Saffarid ruler of Sistan.
Glossary of Places
Anglicized names are given in italics; others are transliterated. The pro-
vinces in which the towns and cities are placed by medieval geographers
are given in parentheses. Variants, mainly arabizations, are also given.
‘Abbadan (Iraq): the modern Iranian town of Abadan. See Yaqut, III,
597; Abu'l-Feda, 308.
Abgarm: said by Naser to be a village between Marv Rud and Faryab;
not located in the geographies.
Abkhwari: said by Naser to be a village between Damghan and Semnan.
There is today a ruined village east of Damghan called Abkhwaran,
undoubtedly the same. See Dabir-Siyaqi, p. 193.
Acre, ‘Akka (Syria): see Yaqut, III, 704; Abu’l-Feda, 242.
Aden, ‘Adan (Yemen): the modern town and region on the southwest-
ern coast of the Arabian peninsula. See Yaqut, III, 616; Abu'l-
Ahwaz (Khuzestan): the modern Iranian town. See Yagut, I, 410;
Akhlat (Armenia): the Ahlat of modern Turkey. See Yaqut, III, 457;
Akhmim, Ekhmim (Upper Egypt): the ancient Panopolis. See Yaqut, I,
165; Abu’l-Feda, 110.
Aleppo, Halab (Syria): the modern city. See Yaqut, II, 304; Abu’l-Feda,
Amed (Mesopotamia, dependency of Diyar Bakr): ancient Amida. See
Yaqut, I, 66; Abu’l-Feda, 286. Amed is the modern city of Diyarbe-
kir in Turkey.
Amol (Tabarestan): the modern Iranian city on the Caspian. See Yaqut,
I, 68; Abu’l-Feda, 434.
Antioch, Antakya (Syria): see Yaqut, I, 382; Abu’l-Feda, 256.
“Arafat: the mountain near Mecca. See Yaqut, III, 645.
‘Arar: a village said by Naser to be three days distant from Jerusalem in
the direction of Wadi al-Qora. Yaqut, III, 645, says that there are
several places named ‘Ar‘ar and ‘Ura‘ir but does not locate them
precisely. LeStrange, p. 58, suggests that this is probably Aroer
(‘Aro‘er) on the Arnon. Hiitteroth and Abdulfattah, 159, give a vil-
lage named ‘Ar‘ara, but it is in the wrong direction from
Arragan, Arrajan (Khuzestan, on the Fars border): see Yaqut, I, 193;
Arzan (Armenia): a town three days distant from Akhlat. See Yaqut, I,
205; Abu’l-Feda, 394.
Glossary of Places
Ascalon, ‘Asqalan (Palestine): a major town on the Mediterranean, not
far from Gaza. See Yaqut, III, 673; Abu’l-Feda, 238.
Aswan (Upper Egypt): same as modern town. See Yaqut, I, 269; Abu’l-
Asyut (Upper Egypt, ancient Lycopolis): same as modern town. See
Yaqut, I, 272; Abu’l-Feda, 112.
‘Athr (Yemen): see Yaqut, III, 615.
‘Aydhab (Upper Egypt, Baja region): see Yaqut, III, 751; Abu’l-Feda,
Bahr al-Na‘am (Upper Egypt, Red Sea coast): not mentioned in the
Balkh (Khorasan): see Yaqut, I, 713; Abu’l-Feda, 460.
Baraz al-Khayr (?): no such name listed by geographers. Dabir-Siyaqi
suggests that it is perhaps a scribal corruption of Borz-anjir or
Bard-anjir. The town of Barzanj (Yaqut, I, 562), twelve parasangs
from Bardha‘a en route to Bab al-Abwab (Darband), is a likely pos-
sibility since Naser mentions it as being between Qazvin and Sha-
Bargri, Bagri, Bergri (Armenia, modern Muradiye): see Abu’l-Feda,
Baryab, same as Faryab, q.v.
Basra (Iraq, West Tigris and East Obolla): same as the modern Iraqi
town. See Yaqut, I, 636; Abu’l-Feda, 308.
Beirut, Bayrut (Syria): same as the modern Lebanese city. See Yaqut, I,
785; Abu’l-Feda, 246.
Berwa, al- (Palestine): text has Barda, in error. The tombs of Esau and
Simon are located here by Naser. See Hiitteroth and Abdulfattah,
Bestam, Bastam (Tabarestan, Qumes): see Yaqut, I, 623: Abul’l-Feda,
Bethlehem, Bayt Lahm (Palestine): see Yaqut, I, 779; Abu’l-Feda, 241.
Betlis, Bedlis (Armenia): between Mayyafareqin and Akhlat. See Yaqut,
I, 526; Abu’l-Feda, 394.
Bil: Yaqut, I, 798, gives two villages by this name, one near Rayy and
the other near Sarakhs. Naser lists it near Qazvin.
Bisha (Yemen): see Yaqut, I, 791.
Borga (Arabia): area near Medina. See Yaqut, I, 575.
Byblos, Jobayl (Syria): the modern Lebanese town of Jubeil. See Yaqut,
Caesarea, Qaysariyya (Palestine): see Yaqut, IV, 214; Abu’l-Feda, 238.
Cairo, al-Qahera (Egypt): Old Cairo (Fostat, see Yaqut, III, 893) was the
site of the earliest Muslim garrison, dating from the Muslim con-
Book of Travels
quest of Egypt; New Cairo (al-Qahera, see Yaqut, IV, 22) was
founded in 358/969 when the Fatimids conquered Egypt and es-
tablished their capital there.
Chashtkhwaran (Qumes): a village between Damghan and Semnan; to-
day it is a field in Semnan, seven miles from Ahuan. See Dabir-
Damascus, Demashgq al-Sham (Syria): the modern Syrian city. See Yaqut,
II, 587; Abu’l-Feda, 252.
Damghan (Tabarestan): chief town in the Qumes region. See Yaqut, II,
539; Abu’l-Feda, 436.
Dammun (Palestine): Naser gives this as the name of a village between
Tyre and Irbid. Hiitteroth and Abdulfattah, 193, give a village
named Damun in the Acre region. See also Le Strange, 14, where it
is also called Damun.
Darband, Bab al-Abwab (Azerbaijan): a town on the Caspian. See Abu'l-
Dasht: Naser mentions Dasht twice, once as a village near Dastgerd and
again as a place remarkable for security under the rule of Lashkar
Khan. Yaqut, II, 575f., gives several places named Dasht: (1) a vil-
lage near Isfahan, (2) a small town in Jebal between Erbel (near
Mosul) and Tabriz, (3) Dasht al-Arzan in Fars, and (4) Dasht Barin,
a city in Fars.
Dastgerd, Dastajerd (Khorasan): also known as Dastgerd Jomukiyan.
See Yaqut, II, 573.
Dayga, al- (Upper Egypt): a station ten parasangs from ‘Aydhab. See
Yaqut, III, 484.
Diyar Bakr (Eastern Anatolia): the upper Tigris region. See Yaqut, II,
E‘bellin (?, Palestine): Naser says it is a village between Acre and Irbid.
No further identification has been made.
‘Erga (Syria): a small town four parasangs east of Tripoli. See Yaqut,
III, 653; Abu’l-Feda, 254.
Falaj, Falj, Aflaj (Arabia): a place on the road between Basra and Ya-
mama. See Yaqut, III, 910.
Faryab, Baryab (Khorasan, Juzjan): a district and town near Balkh. See
Yaqut, III, 840; Abu’l-Feda, 460.
Gavan, Jovayn (Khorasan): a district between Bestam and Nishapur.
See Yaqut, II, 162; Abu’l-Feda, 442.
Gonabedh, Jonabedh (Khorasan): a dependency of Nishapur, the mod-
ern Gonabad in Khorasan. See Yaqut, II, 120.
Glossary of Places
Haifa, Hayfa (Palestine): see Yaqut, II, 381.
Hama (Syria): ancient Hamath, Epiphania. Same as the modern Syrian
"town. See Yaqut, II, 330; Abu’l-Feda, 262.
Hamadan, Hamadhan (Jabal): the modern Iranian city. See Yaqut, IV,
981; Abu’l-Feda, 416.
Harran (Mesopotamia, Diyar Bakr): same as the modern Turkish town
"of Harran. See Yaqut, II, 231; Abu’l-Feda, 276.
Hawd: Naser names this as a place in Upper Egypt. It has not been
identified in the geographies.
Haythamabad: a village outside of Isfahan. See Yaqut, IV, 998.
Hazira: Naser places it between Tyre and Irbid; not further identified.
Hebron, Bayt Habrun, al-Khalil (Palestine): see Yaqut, II, 194 and 468;
Homs, Hems (Syria): the modern Syrian town. See Yaqut, II, 334; Abu’l-
Irbid, Erbed, Arbad (Syria, Jordan): the ancient Arbela. The text has
Erbel, perhaps an alternative form. The modern town of Irbid is in
Jordan near Tiberias. See Yaqut, I, 184, where Irbid is said to con-
tain the tombs of Moses’s mother and four of Jacob’s sons, Dan,
Issachar, Zebulun, and Gad. See also Hiitteroth and Abdulfattah,
Jar, al- (Arabia, dependency of Medina): see Yaqut, II, 5; Abu’l-Feda,
Jaz‘ (Arabia, east of Ta‘ef): see Yaqut, II, 71.
Jidda, Jodda (Arabia, Hejaz): see Abu’l-Feda, 92.
Je‘rana, al- (Arabia): see Yaqut, II, 85.
Johfa, al-: the migat for Egyptian pilgrims. See Yaqut, II, 35; Abu’l-
Juzjanan (Khorasan): see Yaqut, II, 149; Abu’l-Feda, 446.
Kafr Kanna (Palestine): a village near Tiberias. See Yaqut, IV, 290;
Hiitteroth and Abdulfattah, 187.
Kafr Saba (Palestine): a village in the Nablus district. See Yaqut, IV,
288; Hiitteroth and Abdulfattah, 140.
Kafr Sallam (Palestine): a village between Caesarea and Nablus. See
Yaqut, IV, 288.
Kafr Tab (Syria, Jond Hems): a town between Aleppo and Ma‘arrat al-
Noman. See Yaqut, IV, 289; Abu’l-Feda, 262. Text has “Koway-
mat,” a scribal error.
Kanisa (?, Palestine): Naser places this village between Haifa and Cae-
sarea; it has not been located in the Arabic geographies. Le
fens Lee Ee D Se OE dma goeme LO lies OF mr at men os oO ee nt he RO I OG Rte FOF Rm
Book of Travels
Strange, 20, says it is Konaysa or Tell Kanisa, a few miles north of
Athlit, which the Crusaders considered the site of Copernaum.
Kazarun (Fars): a town between Shiraz and the coast. See Yaqut, IV,
225; Abu’l-Feda, 324.
Khabis (Kerman): see Yaqut, II, 401; Abu’l-Feda, 442.
Khan Lanjan (Isfahan): see Yaqut, II, 394; Abu'l-Feda, 410.
Khandan: as described by Naser, this place corresponds to the modern
Kharzavil. See Dabir-Siyaqi, 236.
Kharzavil: the place mentioned by Naser corresponds to the modern
Kharzan, of which his “Khandan” may be a corruption. See Dabir-
Khayf (Arabia): see Yaqut, II, 508; Abu’l-Feda, 81.
Khoy, Khway, Khowayy (Azerbaijan): see Yaqut, II, 502; Abu’l-Feda,
Kish, Kis, Qis: an island in the Indian Ocean. See Abu’l-Feda, 372.
Lahsa, al-Ahsa’ (Arabia, dependency of Bahrain): see Abu'l-Feda, 98.
Lavasan: name given to Damavand according to Naser.
Lurdajan, Lurdaghan (Ahwaz): see Yaqut, IV, 369.
Ma‘arrat al-No‘man (Syria, Jond Hems): see Yaqut, IV, 574; Abu’l-
Mahdiyya, al- (Maghreb, Efrigiyya): see Yaqut, IV, 693; Abu’l-Feda,
Mahruban (Khuzestan on the Fars border): see Yaqut, IV, 699; Abu’l-
Manbej (Syria, Jond Qennasrin): ancient Hieropolis. Same as the mod-
ern Syrian town of Membijj. See Yaqut, IV, 654; Abu’l-Feda, 270.
Marand (Azerbaijan): see Abu’l-Feda, 400.
Marv Rud, Marw al-Rudh (Khorasan): see Yaqut, IV, 506; Abu’l-Feda,
Marv, Marw al-Shahejan (Khorasan): see Yaqut, IV, 507; Abu’l-Feda,
Marwa: a mountain in Mecca. See Yaqut, IV, 513.
Mayyafareqin (Mesopotamia, Diyar Bakr): see Yaqut, IV, 703; Abu’l-
Mina, Mena (Arabia, Hejaz): a small town one farsang from Mecca. See
Yaqut, IV, 642; Abu’l-Feda, 81.
Mohdatha (Mesopotamia, Diyar Bakr): a town north of Mayyafaregqin,
as described by Naser. It is not mentioned in the geographies.
Mokran (Sind): the coastal region bounded by Kerman and Sejestan.
See Yaqut, IV, 612; Abu’l-Feda, 348.
Mozdalefa, al- (Arabia, Hejaz): a place one farsang from Mina. See
Yaqut, IV, 519.
Glossary of Places
Multan, Moltan (Hind): same as the modern town in Pakistan. See
yaqut, 1V, 629; Abu'l-Feda, 351.
Na’in (Fars): the modern Iranian town near Isfahan. See Yaqut, IV,
Najran (Arabia): see Yaqut, IV, 751; Abu’l-Feda, 92.
Nishapur, Naysabur (Khorasan): see Yaqut, IV, 857; Abu’l-Feda, 450.
Obolla (Iraq): see Yaqut, I, 96.
Panj Déh: a collection of five villages near Marv Rud. See Yaqut, I, 743.
Piyada, Biyadhaq: one of three villages, known as Seh Déh, on the road
between Isfahan and Nishapur; the other two are Jarmaq and
Araba. See Yaqut, II, 64.
Qa’en (Khorasan, Qohestan): see Yaqut, IV, 22; Abu’l-Feda, 452.
Qapan: according to Yaqut, IV, 26, a village near Tabriz. The one de-
scribed by Naser is likely to be another of the same name between
Qazvin and Taram.
Qarul: no such name occurs in the geographies. From Naser’s descrip-
tion that it lies between Mayyafareqin and Manbej, this town
should be Edessa (modern Urfa, in Turkey).
Qaryat al-‘Enab (Palestine): Naser describes this as a village between
Latrun and Jerusalem. It has not been identified in the
Qatif (Arabia, dependency of Bahrein): see Yaqut, IV, 143; Abu’l-Feda,
Qayrawan (Maghreb, Efrigiyya): the modern Tunisian city and the area
around it. See Yaqut, IV, 212; Abu’l-Feda, 144.
Qazvin (Jabal): same as the modern Iranian city. See Yaqut, IV, 88;
Qef Onzor: the name of a fort near Betlis.
Qennasrin, Qennesrin (Syria): see Yaqut, IV, 184; Abu’l-Feda, 266.
Qobadiyan, Qobadhiyan (Balkh): see Yaqut, IV, 26; Abu'l-Feda, 445.
Qods, al-: the Arabic name for Jerusalem.
Qolzom (Egypt): the ancient Clysma. See Yaqut, IV, 158; Abu’l-Feda,
Quha, Quhadh: the name of two large villages one stage from Rayy in
the direction of Qazvin. See Yaqut, IV, 205.
Qumes, Kumash: the region extending from Bestém to Semnan be-
tween Khorasan and Jebal. See Yaqut, IV, 203; Abu’l-Feda, 432.
Qus (Upper Egypt): see Yaqut, IV, 201; Abu'l-Feda, 110.
SL TL LT TTT LT it I
Book of Travels
Ramla (Palestine): see Yaqut, II, 817; Abu’l-Feda, 240.
Raqqa (Qohestan): see Yaqut, II, 804.
Rostabad: according to Naser, a village near Tabas. Dabir-Siyaqi sug-
gests it may be the modern Dawlatabad east of Tabas.
Rumesh (?): the reading of this name is highly uncertain. The manu-
scripts seem to have “Rumesh” or “Hermes”. According to Abu'l-
Feda, 39, the eastern branch of the Nile above the Tennis and
Damietta lakes was known as Oshmun.
Sa‘da (Yemen): see Yaqut, III, 388.
Sa‘idabad (Tabarestan): see Yaqut, III, 93.
Salehiyya (Egypt): several towns by this name are given in Yaqut, III,
363, but none is in Egypt.
Samangan, Semenjan (Tokharestan): a small town near Balkh. See
Yaqut, III, 142; Abu’l-Feda, 472.
San‘a (Yemen): same as the modern Yemeni city. See Yaqut, III, 420.
Sarab, Sarav (Azerbaijan): a city between Ardabil and Tabriz. See
Yaqut, III, 64.
Sarakhs (Khorasan): a town between Nishapur and Marv. Same as the
modern Iranian town. See Yaqut, III, 71; Abu’l-Feda, 454.
Sarba (Arabia): Naser locates this place between Jaz‘ and Falaj. It is not
listed in the geographies.
Sarmin (Syria, dependency of Aleppo): see Yaqut, III, 83; Abu’l-Feda,
Saruj (Mesopotamia, Jazira): the modern Turkish town of Sirtic. See
Yaqut, III, 85; Abu’l-Feda, 276.
Sava (Jabal): same as the modern Iranian town of Saveh. See Yaqut,
III, 24; Abu’l-Feda, 418.
Sejelmasa (Maghreb): same as the modern town. See Yaqut, III, 45;
Semnan (Tabarestan, Qumes): town between Rayy and Damghan. See
Yaqut, III, 141; Abu’l-Feda, 436.
Shamiran (Taram): see Yaqut, III, 148.
Shoburghan, Shobrugan (Balkh): see Yaqut, III, 254; Abu’l-Feda, 446.
Sidon, Sayda (Syria): same as the modern Lebanese town. See Yaqut,
III, 439; Abu’l-Feda, 248.
Tabas (Khorasan, Qohestan): same as the modern Iranian town. See
Yaqut, III, 514; Abu’l-Feda, 449.
Tabriz, Tebriz (Azerbaijan): same as the modern Iranian city. See
Yaqut, II, 822; Abu’l-Feda, 400.
Ta’ef (Arabia, Hejaz): same as the modern town. See Yaqut, III, 494;
Glossary of Places
Talaqan (Khorasan): see Yaqut, III, 491; Abu’l-Feda, 458.
Taraborzon (Syria): Naser names this town as being between Tripoli
and Byblos, the site of the modern Batrun. The name appears to
be a corruption of the Greek name for the site, @eou Iledowxov.
See Dussaud, 71.
Taram, Tarom: the region between Qazvin and Gildan. See Yaqut, I,
Tavva, Tawwaj, Tawwaz (Fars): a town near Kazarun. See Yaqut, I,
890; Abu'l-Feda, 326.
Tehama (southern Hejaz): see Yaqut, I, 901; Abu’l-Feda, 78.
Tennis: an island off the coast of Egypt in the Mediterranean. See
Yaqut, I, 882; Abu’l-Feda, 118.
Tiberias, Tabariyya (Syria, Jordan): see Yaqut, II, 509; Abu’l-Feda, 242.
Tina, al- (Egypt): see Yaqut, III, 572; Abu’l:Feda, 103.
Thorayya (Arabia): Naser places it between Ta’ef and Falaj. Not identi-
fied in other sources.
Tripoli, Tarabolos al-Sham (Syria): same as the modern Lebanese city.
See Yaqut, III, 521; Abu’l-Feda, 252.
Tun (Khorasan, Quhestan): same as the modern Iranian town. See
Tyre, Sur (Syria): the ancient city and modern Lebanese town. See
Yaqut, III, 433; Abu’l-Feda, 242.
Van (Armenia): see Yaqut, IV, 895; Abu'l-Feda, 389.
Vastan, Wostan (Armenia): see Abu’l-Feda, 396.
Wadi al-Qora (Arabia): see Yaqut, IV, 878; Abu’l-Feda, 89, 80.
Yamama (Arabia, Hejaz): see Abu’l-Feda, 96.
Zabid (Yemen): see Yaqut, II, 915; Abu’l-Feda, 88.
Zuzan (Khorasan, Qohestan): see Yaqut, I], 958; Abu’l-Feda, 452.
Glossary of Terms
Baz: Naser explains that towns on the Red Sea are called baz. The
Borhan-e gate‘, 1, 218, gives as one meaning of bdz “the course of a
flood,” which would be wédi in Arabic. The word may have some
connection with the Persian bdj or bazh( gah), a toll or customs sta-
Kharvar: a donkey-load. See Appendix B.
Kashkab: reconstituted dried milk curd, used for refreshment and me-
Khan: a caravanserai.
Magsura: an enclosed portion of a mosque generally reserved for the
ruler. The enclosures are normally surrounded by latticed screens
and were originally designed to protect the ruler from assassina-
tion while in attendance at the mosque.
Mashhad: A shrine to commemorate the martyrdom of Hosayn b. ‘Alib.
Abi Taleb, grandson of the Prophet; also used loosely for any
shrine devoted to a martyr.
Mehrab: a niche in a mosque to indicate the gebla, q.v.; also, especially in
the Dome of the Rock area in Jerusalem, used for oratory.
Mojdwer: a person who resides, temporarily or permanently, near a holy
place or shrine in order to receive the blessing attendant upon the
Nawréz (modern Persian nowruz): the Persian New Year’s Day, which
occurs on the vernal equinox, from which the new year is reck-
Qebla: the direction of the Ka‘ba in Mecca, toward which Muslims orient
themselves when they pray. Naser often gives directions in terms of
the gebla, which could be any direction, depending upon where he
Rak‘at: a “cycle” of liturgical prayer consisting of recitation, bowing,
kneeling and prostration. The canonical daily prayers have varying
numbers of rak‘ats prescribed for them.
Rebdat: a type of frontier post cum caravanserai.
Sa‘y: a portion of the Pilgrimage ritual wherein the pilgrim runs be-
tween Mount Safa’ and Mount Marwa seven times in order to com-
memorate Hagar’s frantic search for water in the desert for her son
Sharif: “noble,” loosely used to designate any descendant of the Prophet
Zayt harr: oil derived from vegetable seed and used for lamps.
APPENDIX A. Calendrical Systems
THE CALENDRICAL SYSTEMS USED
BY NASER-E KHOSRAW
The calendar adopted by Islam and by which daily life and all reli-
gious occasions were reckoned is the Arabian lunar calendar, which
consists of twelve lunar months of 29% days each. Since the months are
based on the cycles of the moon, no easily calculable correspondence
exists between the lunar and the solar calendar, and the lunar year re-
cedes approximately eleven days every solar year. The names of the Is-
lamic lunar months, beginning with the first, are as follows:
1. Moharram 5. Jomada I 9. Ramadan
2. Safar 6. Jomada II 10. Shawwal
3. Rabi‘ I 7. Rajab 11. Dhu’l-Qa‘da
4. Rabi‘ II 8. Sha‘ban 12. Dhu’l-Hejja
Since a lunar calendar is impractical for fiscal purposes, the Old Per-
sian solar calendar was retained by the bureaucracy in the eastern Is-
lamic realms, as was the Syrian calendar in the eastern Mediterranean
lands. By the time of Naser-e Khosraw, the Old Persian months, which
originally corresponded to the signs of the Zodiac, had “slipped” for-
ward by precession of the equinoxes almost twenty days. As later re-
formed by ‘Omar Khayyam, the modern Persian months are:
Farvardin = Aries (21 March—20 April)
Ordibehesht = Taurus (20 April—21 May)
Khordad = Gemini (22 May—21 June)
Tir = Cancer (22 June—22 July)
Mordad = Leo (23 July—22 August)
Shahrivar = Virgo (23 August—22 September)
Mehr = Libra (23 September—22 October)
Aban = Scorpio (23 October—21 November)
Adhar = Sagittarius (22 November—21 December)
Day = Capricorn (22 December—20 January)
Bahman = Aquarius (21 January—19 February)
Esfand = Pisces (20 February—20 March)
Since Naser quotes from the unreformed Old Calendar, his dates are
approximately twenty days ahead of the reformed calendar.
In Islamic reckoning the day begins at sunset; therefore, what we
would call “Monday night” would be “Tuesday eve” to Naser. Even tak-
ing into consideration the confusion that arises from this fact, it has not
Book of Travels
been possible to reconcile all the days of the week as given in the Safar.
nama. Although the best conversion tables have been consulted and
variant readings in the extant manuscripts have been reviewed, quit
often his “Saturday the 5th” converts into a Wednesday when eles
ted in the Christian calendar. The days of the week have therefore bee ;
left as they stand in the Persian text; only the Islamic date has been ions
verted into its Christian equivalent and added between square brackets
APPENDIX B. Weights and Measures
UNITS OF LINEAR MEASURE
The “cubit” (arash, also arsh) is defined as the distance from the tip of
the middle finger to the elbow, which would be about 1% feet, In prac-
tice, on the basis of measurements still available from the Dome of the
Rock in Jerusalem, the “cubit” would appear to be roughly equal to 2
feet. The “legal cubit” (dherd‘ shar’2) is usually defined as 49.875 cm.
The “ell” (gaz) is defined as 24 fingers, or 1% feet, but it seems to be
used interchangeably by Naser as equivalent to the “cubit” and should
therefore be reckoned from 1% to 2 feet.
The “parasang” (farsang, farsakh) is the distance traveled by a caravan
in one hour; it is 3 miles of 4000 gaz each, or 12,000 gaz, equal to a little
less than 3% modern miles (6 km).
UNITS OF WEIGHT
Units of weight have been so varied in different locales and at differ-
ent periods of time in the Islamic world that it is only with trepidation
that the following approximations are offered. See Walther Hinz,
Islamische Masse und Gewichte (Leiden, 1955).
1 dang (daneq, danak) = 8 grains
4 dangs = | dirhem
6 dangs = 1 mithqal (approximately 1 % dram)
15 mithqals = 1 seer
40 seers = 1 maund (roughly 3% lbs.)
100 maunds = | kharvar (roughly 350 lbs.)
Naser quotes prices in dinars, which, unless explicitly stated as the
Nishapur gold dinar, means the Fatimid “Maghrebi dinar” struck in
Egypt. He gives the relative value of the two as 1 Maghrebi dinar equal
to 1 % Nishapuri dinar.
APPENDIX C. Naser’s Itinerary
First Administrative Trip DIYAR BAKR Mayyafareqin
Panj Deh, Marv Rud
Qarul (Edessa ?)
[Forst Hajj] Mecca
[Second Hay] Mecca
[Third Hajj] Mecca
[Fourth Hay] Mecca
Appendix C Naser’s Itinerary
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A Bibliography of Naser-e Khosraw
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Divan. Editions: (1) Tabriz, 1280/1864. (2) Edited by Zayn al-‘Abedin al-
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124—52. (3) Pdnzdah qasida az Hakim Naser-e Khosraw-e Qobadiyani.
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Universitario Orientali, 1959.
Jame al-hekmatayn. Edited by Henry Corbin and Mohammad Mo‘in.
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University of Chicago Press, 1966 (Reprint 1973)
Nezami, Chosroés et Chirine (No. 2), tr. Henri Massé
Maisonneuve et Larose, Paris, 1970
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Nezami, Le Setie Principesse (No. 6), tr. A. Bausani
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University of Chicago Press, 1967 (Reprint 1973)
Aruzi, Les quatre discours (No. 8), tr. I. de Gastines
Maisonneuve et Larose, Paris, 1968
Anon., The Letter of Tansar (No. 9), tr. M. Boyce
IsMEO, Rose, 1968
Rashid al-Din, The Successors of Genghis Khan (No. 10)
tr. J. A. Boyle, Columbia University Press, 1971
Mohammad ibn Ibrahim, The Ship of Sulaiman (No. 11)
tr. J. O'Kane, Columbia University Press, 1972
Faramarz, Samak-e Ayyar (No. 12), tr. F. Razavi
Maisonneuve et Larose, Paris, 1972
Avicenna, Metaphysica (No. 13), tr. P. Morewedge
Columbia University Press, 1973
Gurgani, Vis and Ramin (No. 14), tr. G. Morrison
Columbia University Press, 1972
Fasai, History of Persia Under Qajar Rule (No. 15)
tr. H. Busse, Columbia University Press, 1972
Aturpat-e Emetan, Dénkart III (No. 16), tr. J. De Menasce
Libraire Klincksieck, Paris, 1974
Book of Travels
Sa‘di, Bustan (No. 17), tr. G. M. Wickens
University of Toronto Press, 1974
Anon., Folk Tales of Ancient Persia (No. 18)
tr. F. Hekmat & Y. Lovelock, Caravan Books, Delmar, N.Y., 1974
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Anon., The History of Sistan (No. 20), tr. M. Gold
| IsMEO, Rome, 1977
Manichaean Literature (An Anthology) (No. 22), tr. J. Asmussen
| Scholars’ Facsimiles & Reprints, Delmar, N.Y., 1974
Mystical Poems of Riimi, 2nd Selection (No. 23), tr. A. J. Arberry
Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, 1979
Rumi, Le Livre du Dedans (No. 25), tr. E. de Vitray-Meyerovitch
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Pa Rumi, Licht und Reigen (No. 26), tr. J. Ch. Bargel
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' Samarkandi, Le Livre des sept vizirs (No. 27), tr. D. Bogdanovic
if Edition Sinbad, Paris, 1975
| Fe Monshi, History of Shah ‘Abbas (No. 28), tr. R. M. Savory
| a Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado 1979
Attar, [lahiname (No. 29), tr. J. A. Boyle
(s Manchester University Press, 1977
Hafez, Divan (Hafizu-Shishu) (No. 30), tr. T. Kuriyanagi
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Anon., /skandarnamah (No. 31), tr. M. Southgate
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| George Allen and Unwin, London, 1971
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Mansell Information and Publishing, London, 1975
Christopher J. Brunner, A Syntax of Western Middle Iranian (No. 3)
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| Caravan Books, Delmar, New York 1977
J. Ch. Biirgel, Drei Hafis Studien (No. 5)
Herbert Lang Verlag, Bern, 1975
M. H. Tabataba’i, Shi‘ite Islam (No. 6), tr. S. H. Nasr
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Book of Travels
Biruni: A Symposium, ed. E. Yarshater and D. Bishop (No. 10)
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Modern Persian Literature Series
Karimi-Hakkak, An Anthology of Modern Persian Poetry
(No. 1) 1978
Sadeq Hedayat: An Anthology (No. 2) tr. B. Spooner, H. Darke,
G. Kapucinski, et al. Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, 1979
Al-e Ahmad, Plaqued by the West (No. 4)
tr. Paul Sprachman
Farrokhzad, Bride of Acacias (No. 5)
tr. J. Kessler and A. Banani
Jamalzadeh, Once Upon a Time (No. 6)
tr. Professor H. Moayyad and Paul Sprachman
Sholevar, The Night’s Journey and The Coming of the Messiah (No. 7)
tr. by the author Concourse Press, Philadelphia (1984)
An Anthology of Modern Persian Drama, tr. G. Kapucinski
Alavi, Her Eyes, tr. J. O’Kane
Persian Art Series
Highlights of Persian Art, ed. R. Ettinghausen and E. Yarshater
Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado, 1979 (No. 1)
Sasanan Art, V. Lukonin, P. Harper, D. Huff, G. Azarpay.
Aba Kalijar, 90, 97
‘Abd Allah, Qadi, 61
‘Abd Allah b. ‘Abbas, 82
Abraham, 32, 35, 38, 68
Abu ‘Abd Allah Mohammad, 64, 66
Abu Fadl Khalifa, 4
Abu Horayra, 19
Abu Mansur Mohammad, 102
Abu Mansur Shahmardan, 90
Abu Nasr Ahmad, 7
Abu Qobays, Mount, 68
Abu Sa‘id, 87, 88, 97
Abu’l-A‘la al-Ma‘arri, 11
Abu’l-Fath ‘Abd al-Jalil, 103
Abu’l-Fath ‘Ali, 91
Adam, 16, 17
Agriculture, 11, 12, 15, 21, 36, 54,
“Ali Nasa’i, 2
‘Ali b. Abi Taleb, 93
Amed, 7, 8
‘Amid, Khwaja, 98
‘Amr b. al-‘As, 52
Aqsa Mosque, al-, 23, 26, 29
‘Arafat, 37, 60, 81
Ark of the Covenant, 29
Aswan, 41, 64
“Aydhab, 65, 66
“Ayn Selwan, 22, 29
‘Ayn al-Shams, 51
Azhar, al-, 47
Bahr al-Na‘am, 65
Bahram Gor, 97
Banu Sawad, 83
Banu Shayba, 79
Bayazid, Shaykh, 2
Bazaars, 11, 13, 15, 22, 53, 86
Berwa, al-, 17
Borga, 70, 79
Buqalamun, 39, 48, 54, 57
Byzantines, 12, 13, 37, 42, 43
Cairo, New, 46
Cairo, Old, 52
Book of Travels
Caspian Sea, 4
Chaghri Beg, 1, 103
Cisterns, 27, 39
Constantinople, 10, 43
Damascus, 10, 12
Dead Sea, 18
Diyar Bakr, 7
Dome of the Rock, 23, 30
Ebn Abi ‘Aqil, 16
Ebn Tulun Mosque, 52
Euphrates, 10, 94
Faryab, 2, 103
Fatema Zahra, 59
Galilee, Sea of, 18
Gehenna, 22, 23
Ghomdan Castle, 71
Gilaki, Prince, 99, 100, 102
Hakem, al-, 37, 42, 46, 52
Hakem, Mosque of al-, 47
Hama, 10, 12
Hamza b. ‘Abd al-Mottaleb, 28, 60
Haram Mosque, 59, 68, 71 ff.
Isaac, 32, 36, 38
Isfahan, 3, 9, 97, 98
Jabal al-Qamar, 41
Jabal al-Rahma, 81
Jacob, 18, 38
Jar, al-, 43, 59
Jond Qennesrin, 11
Joseph, 18, 36
Jostan Ebrahim, 4, 100
Ka‘ba, 61, 71ff.
Kafr Kanna, 19
Kafr Saba, 20
Kafr Sallam, 20
Kafr Tab, 12
Kay Khosraw, 101
Khalij, al-, 47, 48
Khan Lanjan, 98
Lahsa, 82, 85, 86ff.
Lashkar Khan, 100
Layth al-Dawla Nushtakin, 34
Ma‘arrat al-No‘man, 1]
Mahdi, al-, 37, 42
Mahdiyya, al-, 42
Ma‘gel River, 95
Magqsura, 24, 26, 35, 36, 81, 102
Marv, 1, 2
Marv Rud, 1, 2, 103
Marwa, 68, 69
Mash‘ar al-Haram, 81
Mashhads, 13, 93
Masmudis, 44, 49
Masna‘as, 39, 70
Mas‘ud Nahshali, 93
Mayyafaregqin, 7, 9
Mecca, Emir of, 61
Mecca, 37, 60, 67—80
Mina, 81, 82
Miyan Rusta, 103
Mo‘awiya, 27, 53
Mo‘ezz, al-, 44, 49, 77
Mo‘ezz, Mosque of al-, 47
Moses, 17, 18
Mosques, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18, 19,
20, 23, 38, 47, 52, 59, 93, 98
Mostanser be’llah, 100
Mowaffaq, Khwaja, 2
Mut tazilites, 97
Book of Travels
Nasr al-Dawla, 6, 7
Nile River, 40
Noah’s Ark, 77
Nubia, 41, 64
‘Obayd of Nishapur, 102
‘Omar, 22, 27
‘Omdat al-Dawla, 62
Oways Qarani, 7
Panj Deh, |
Pesar-e Shaddel, 70, 71, 81
Porcelain, Chinese, 19
Prophet’s Mosque, 59
Qaryat al-‘Enab, 20
Qayrawan, 42, 58
Qef Onzor, 7
Qolzom, 43, 61
Ramla, 17, 20, 38
Rebat-e Marami, 100
Red Sea, 65
Resurrection, Church of the, 37
Rotl, Zaheri, 10
Sadid Mohammad, Shaykh, 97
Sarakhs, 2, 102
Seh Darra, 103
Shate’ ‘Othman, 95
Shatt al-‘Arab, 95
Shi‘ites, 13, 16, 19
Shoburghan, 2, 103
Shrines, 13, 93
Siloam, 22, 29
Solomon, 18, 23, 25, 28, 34
Sultan of Egypt, 13, 32, 77
Suri b. al-Mo‘tazz, 98
Taj al-Ma‘ali, 67
Toghrel Beg, 2, 98
Tripoli, 10, 12
Tun, 100, 101
Valley of Crocodiles, 19
Wadi al-Qora, 37
Ya‘qub b. Layth, 97
Zamzam, Well of, 78
Zayt harr, 55, 58