Personal narrative of a pilgrimage to el Medinah and Meccah - PDF by Richard Francis Burton

Personal narrative of a pilgrimage to el Medinah and Meccah



There is also a race called el Nakhawilah, who, according to some, are descendants of the Ansar, whilst others derive them from Yezid, the son of Muawiyah: the latter opinion is improbable, as the Caliph in question was a mortal foe to All's family, which is inordinately venerated by these people. As far as I could ascertain, they abuse the Shaykhayn: all my informants agreed upon this point, but none could tell me why they neglected to bedevil Osman, the third object of hatred to the Shiah persuasion. They are numerous and warlike, yet they are despised by the townspeople, because they openly profess heresy, and are moreover of humble degree. 

They have their own priests and instructors, although subject to the orthodox Kazi, marry in their own sect, are confined to low offices, such as slaughtering animals, sweeping, and gardening, and are not allowed to enter the Haram during life, or to be carried to it after death. 

Their corpses are taken down an outer street called the Darb el Jenazah — Road of Biers — to their own cemetery near El Bakia. They dress and speak Arabic, as the townspeople; but the Arabs pre- tend to distinguish them by a peculiar look denoting their degradation, — doubtless, the mistake of effect for cause, made about all such " Tribes of the wandering foot and weary breast."

A number of reports are current about the horrid customs of these people, and their community of women* with the Persian pilgrims who pass through the town. It need scarcely be said that such tales coming from the mouths of fanatic foes are not to be credited. I regret not having had an opportunity to become intimate with any of the Nakhawilah, from whom curious information might be elicited. Orthodox Moslems do not like to be questioned about such hateful subjects; when I attempted to learn something from one of my acquaintances, Shaykh Ala el-Din, of a Kurd family, settled at El Medinah, a man who had travelled over the East, and who spoke five languages to perfection, he coldly replied that he had never consorted with these heretics

The rest of the population of El Medinah is a motley race composed of offshoots from every nation in El Islam. The sanctity of the city attracts strangers, who, purposing to stay but a short time, become residents: after finding some employment, they marry, have families, die, and are buried there with an eye to the spiritual advantages of the place. I was much important to stay at El Medinah. The only known physician was one Shaykh Abdullah Sahib, an Indian, a learned man, but of so melancholic a temperament, and so ascetic in his habits, that his knowledge was entirely lost to the public.

The book details :
  • Author: Richard Francis Burton
  • Publication date: 1857
  • Company: London, Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts

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