A Travel Account of The Hijaz, Palestine and Egypt

سفرنامہ حجاز شام و مصر Translated by: Daniel Majchrowicz. Original language: Urdu

Translated by: Daniel Majchrowicz

Saturday, 6 Zi Qadah 1327h, or, November 20th, 1909

We arrived at the station in Hyderabad for our journey to Bombay at eight. Many friends had gathered there to see us off. The mail train began to move, gathered speed and whisked us out of sight in the blink of an eye. Our friends bid us farewell and returned to their homes.

Traveling with me are my grandmother, my brother Abd al-Shakur, my dear husband Murtaza Husain, my son Burhan al-Din Husain, two female cousins from my paternal uncle and two valued servants. We left one daughter and an infant son with my mother in Hyderabad. On the way to Bombay we passed the hills of Khandala, which are worth seeing, but because we were traveling by night we were not able to see them.


Sunday, 7 Zi Qadah

Thanks be to god, we reached Bombay in the morning. We disembarked at Victoria Terminus and went to our lodgings on the third floor of a building in Bangar Bazaar. Readers of this account are very familiar with Bombay. If I were to describe it here my narrative would require a second volume. As this work is dedicated to foreign travel I will omit a description of Bombay.


Thursday, 11 Zi Qadah

We remained in Bombay from the seventh until the eleventh. My uncle Nasir al-Din Muhammad sahib had come to Bombay earlier to buy our tickets and make other necessary arrangements for the voyage. I feel that I should mention the prices of these tickets so that the reader may know the going rates. A first class cabin costs 175 rupees, second class is one hundred rupees, and third class costs seventy-five.

On the day of our departure we left our lodgings and took a carriage to the medical inspection office. We left the office at five in the evening for the harbor. While in the medical office we and our luggage were cleaned, steamed and fumigated. At the harbor we boarded a ship belonging to the German transport company Mai Graff. At half past eight in the evening we weighed anchor for Aden.

در این دریائے بے پایان، در این طوفان شور افزا

دل افگندیم بسم اللہ مجرہا و مرسہا

In the fathomless sea, in this raging storm

We fortify our hearts, for ‘in the name of Allah is its journey and its mooring.’[1]

Our party is spread out across all three classes, but everyone easily comes and goes from first class, where my cabin is located. We all fell asleep quickly because we were exhausted from the day’s trials.


Friday, 12 Zi Qadah

The rocking of the ship has made my grandmother, my cousin and the servants very ill. My other cousin and I only have headaches. For this reason, we slept throughout the day. Sahib,[2] Nur-i Chashm[3] and my brother don’t have headaches or any other complaints. Among us, only sahib has performed the Hajj before. The ship has over a thousand passengers from various places: Bengal, Afghanistan, the Deccan, Madras, etc. The ship is very swift and very well-appointed. There are even taps for fresh water. It travels at fourteen knots an hour. We have seen ducks and seagulls. In some places the seawater is green, in others blue, in others red, and in still other black. We have seen many different types of fish. By Sunday, everyone was back in the pink of health. The Navab of Arcot is staying in a room near ours. He is a very dignified man.


Monday, 15 Zi Qadah

For the last two days there’s been nothing worth mentioning. Today, Monday, we saw two ships that had left for Aden before us. There are lots of potatoes and other items available onboard. Clothes become very dirty on the ship. One must remember to bring lots of clothes for the journey. One thing worth mentioning is that the call to prayer is sounded and communal prayers are performed daily.


Tuesday, 16 Zi Qadah

Today, we saw the shore to the north. We also saw the mountains of Oman.


Wednesday, 17 Zi Qadah

The shore and hills of Aden have been visible since morning. The ship dropped anchor in the port around four o’clock. This is the sixth day since we set sail from Bombay. The ship is about a half of a mile from the shore. Aden Fort is situated on a hill. The army was on parade when we arrived. We also saw a naval cruiser. Vehicles in Aden are drawn by horses and camels. The roads are very wide. The city is located on the backside of a hill. Instructions for those intending to perform the Hajj were announced. After the ship had cast anchor the doctor captain [??] went ashore. Then small boats selling fruit, specifically apples, meat, fish, eggs and so on came out to the ship. Meat costs twelve anas a ser. The apples are tiny but delicious, with a fragrance of rose. Cargo was being loaded and unloaded all night long. I wrote a letter home.


Thursday, 18 Zi Qadah

Today there was a headcount of the passengers on board. The Aden police wear a white uniform with a Turkish hat that looks particularly becoming on Africans. The ship departed for Kamran at twelve. We saw hills and other ships during the journey. In the evening, around six, we saw a lighthouse on the starboard side. We also saw a large grouping of lights that indicated the town of Perim.


Friday, 19 Zi Qadah

The shore remained visible all night. At one in the afternoon the ship entered Kamran and smaller boats came out to carry passengers ashore. They worked until six in the evening, but some passengers are still on the ship.


Saturday, 20 Zi Qadah

In the morning we and the remaining passengers were carried ashore. There are railway tracks with small carts for luggage that run from the shore to the quarantine office. We were all taken to a broad courtyard with many connecting rooms. The men and women were separated and another headcount was taken. Each of us was given a lungi and the men were led into one room, the women into another. This room had showerheads installed in the ceiling so that everyone would be cleaned, but we and a few others were able to skip this step by giving a rupee. Before the shower, everyone’s clothes were steamed. The steamed clothes were returned at the end of the shower and everyone got dressed again and went with their luggage to another area where we were to stay for the duration of the quarantine. Most of the people doing business here were either German or Arab; there were few Turks. The residential area was located in a compound filled with small huts. Although our time in the quarantine at Kamran was very unpleasant, it nothing compared to what we went through in Bombay. I will record our experience there for the benefit of the reader.

First, the women were separated out and locked in a small room; the men were put in another. You were only allowed out of the room after the doctor had determined you were fit to travel. After some time, two English women doctors came, gave us our certificates and then stamped our hands and burkas with red ink. One woman was not passed because she had a fever. Can you imagine the cruelty of rejecting someone after having forced them to stand for hours in the harshest sunlight, where you’re likely to fall sick from the heat even if you weren’t ill when you arrived? This cruelty can only be fully understood by those who have come here out of a deep desire to perform the Hajj but who were prevented from doing so because they fell sick while sitting in the hot sun, or perhaps just because their bodies were excessively warm from the sunlight. My own son fell ill while we were in Bombay, but he got better by the grace of god. If you make the journey you should definitely remember to bring lemon sherbet and other such salubrious items.

But to resume: those passengers who came to the compound in Kamran before us had already occupied all the available space in the huts. Each hut could accommodate thirty or forty people. We and a few others were not able to find space and had to string up curtains for ourselves. One woman soldier gave us a tent to use. There is a mosque in the compound which is made of palm fronds. There’s also a store where you can buy vegetables, fish, bread and ice. The facilities are outside the compound. The taps there dispense seawater. I don’t know where fresh water comes from. Each person is given a small vessel. When you show your vessel you are given a measure of water. They also provide twigs. You are allowed to go to the sea to do your business. Goat and sheep meat are sold here. You can also rent cots. Turkish soldiers are posted on the island to provide protection and perform other necessary functions.


Sunday, 21 Zi Qadah

The ship Shah Jehan, which departed the day before us, arrived here at three in the afternoon.


Tuesday, 23 Zi Qadah

Today the ship City, in which the Hyderabad caravan is traveling, left for Jeddah.


Wednesday, 24 Zi Qadah

Today the ship Badri arrived from Bombay. Haji Muhammad Ghaus sahib was aboard.


Thurdsay, 25 Zi Qadah

Today Haji Muhammad Ghaus sahib got permission from the doctor at his camp to come and visit us but our doctor did not allow him to enter the compound.


Friday, 26 Zi Qadah

Today the head doctor came to take a final count of the passengers on our ship. By the grace of god no one died during the quarantine. Everyone was given back their passports and allowed to return to the ship. Our group returned today but there are many others who have not yet come aboard. This ship has been painted.


Saturday, 27 Zi Qadah

People continued to board the ship until eleven o’clock. We set sail for Jeddah at eleven. We saw a lighthouse in the afternoon, and some mountains too. Aside from Sahib, my son and I, everyone else was feeling nauseous. By sunset everyone had recovered.


Sunday, 28 Zi Qadah

Today all of the men put on their ahrams,[4] but grandmother and I did not.


Monday, 29 Zi Qadah

Today hills and trees began to appear on the shore. At nine o’clock the ship stopped to be guided into the harbor. The sea is very rocky all the way into Jeddah, for which reason large ships cannot pass without the aid of a guide. At some point in the past, two ships carrying medicine from Constantinople passed through here. Their sunken wrecks can be seen in the water.

We arrived at Port Jeddah at around ten o’clock. First, a Turkish doctor came aboard, collected our bills of health and checked our pulses. Then a great number of boats came to carry passengers to the shore. We were the last to leave the ship. The shore is very far away. How wonderful it would be if the Turkish government would construct a proper port here. It would be very profitable. Each person is allowed to pass after paying one rupee, but married couples are charged as though they were one. The satuf took us to a house here in Jeddah.


Tuesday, 30 Zi Qadah

Today Sahib and my brother went to visit the bazaar and other places in the city. The Hyderabad caravan left for Mecca today. Abd al-Rahim sahib, deputy of Pawancha in Madras, is the caravan leader. We shifted houses today because the one we were originally in was not good. The moon was sighted today but we didn’t see it.


Wednesday, 1 Zi al-Hijja

We set off for Mecca today. On the way we saw many camels, she-camels, mules, donkeys, and other animals. When I use the word “donkey” the reader should not think that I am referring to the types of donkeys that we have in Hyderabad. They aren’t like that at all. Rather, they stand as tall as ponies, have white hair and are fleet of foot. As this was our first time riding camels we were all frightened at first.

We stopped our march that evening at Bahra. There are many shops here selling dates and other things. There’s nothing on the path but hills, sand, and more sand, but it is clean and well-maintained. There are Turkish army detachments posted up on the hills. Abbas Hilmi, the Khedive of Egypt, is also going to Mecca. His carriages, carts and Arab horses are very beautiful.


Thursday, 2 Zi al-Hijja

We left Bahra in the morning after our prayers. We reached Hadda a short while later. There are shops here too. Around noon hills began to come into view. Later in the day, houses and buildings began to appear as well. After the afternoon prayers, Ibrahim sahib and others came out from the city to meet us. We reached our destination by the time of the sunset prayers. A thousand thanks to god for bringing us to this place. And oh, what a city it is! It is impossible to describe the happiness that filled my heart when we arrived.

At this point, I am compelled to note that it was our grandmother who brought us on this journey with her. May god give her just recompense for her noble actions.

To resume: we went directly to the home of Ibrahim sahib, which is located in the Misfalah neighborhood near the birthplace of Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq. We all went to the noble Sanctuary, the Haram, to circumambulate the Ka’ba that very night. I was so overtaken by awe that I am unable to describe it. May god allow everyone to visit this place. Amen. We stayed at the Ka’ba until half the night had passed and then returned to our lodgings.


Friday, 3 Zi al-Hijja

Today is the first Friday. Thousands have gathered. In the afternoon we went to the home of Ibrahim sahib’s grandfather, Sayyid Muhammad sahib. We will stay here from now on. It began to rain after Friday prayers. People were falling over one another to drink the water dripping from the eaves of the Haram. We too were blessed to drink this water. We also drank from the well Zamzam. How sweet its water is! It is so sweet that your lips stick together when you drink it. It is as though you are drinking hot milk. There is a water house located just across from where we are staying. From our house we can see the fort, which is located on a hill. Though the city is not very large the crowds number in the thousands.


Tuesday, 8 Zi al-Hijja

We left the house late in the evening, after the night prayers. We arrived in Mina two hours later. There are many buildings in Mina that can be rented for a fee. A short distance from Mina is Muzdalifa. There are no buildings here, only a flat, sandy plain. From Muzdalifa we went on to Arafat. There is a sandy plain in Arafat too, as well as some hills. We arrived there at three in the morning.


Wednesday, 9 Zi al-Hijja

Today is the day of the Hajj. Thousands of god’s creatures are gathered here; it is a wonderful sight. Thousands upon thousands of white tents have been put up. All around are the sounds of camels calling and donkeys and mules braying. Ceremonial cannons are being fired. A delightful Turkish drum is being sounded. There are Arabs, Turks, Egyptians, Iranians, Hindustanis, Levantines, Central Asians, Chinese, Afghanis, in short, people from every country and region of the world. All are wearing the same dress. Who is rich, who is poor? – all wear the same two pieces of cloth. May god grant everyone a visit to this place.

The people of Europe go on and on raising cries of “Unity!” Can they present any sight such as this? Any instance where so many different people have come together as one? In fact, unity is the very inheritance of the Muslim. The bitter truth is that if Muslims could demonstrate this unity at all times they would not be in the unfortunate situation they are today.

We remained at Arafat for the rest of the day. Some read the Qur’an, some were engaged in reciting the holy names of god, while still others took rest. Everyone was doing something or other. We collected small stones and pebbles here because when we return to Mina we must perform the stoning of the devil (rami al-jamarat).


Thursday, 10 Zi al-Hijja

We returned to Mina today. Everyone stoned the devil after the noonday prayers. My Brother Abd al-Shakur is ill, which is why he did not come. Eid prayers are not performed here. Today many people went to see the coverings on the Ka’ba changed.


Friday, 11 Zi al-Hijja

Today camels were slaughtered and sheep were sacrificed. We all removed our ahrams. Cannons are fired after every prayer.


Saturday, 12 Zi al-Hijja

Today everyone returned to Mecca except for those who follow the Shafi’i school.[5] The Khedive of Egypt[6] is here too, as he is also a Shafi’i. The Egyptian soldiers wear a white uniform. On Eid the Sharif of Mecca and the Khedive of Egypt went with their armies to stone the devil. The Sharif of Mecca set off with great pomp and circumstance. He was accompanied by an Arab army riding horses and she-camels. The Sharif is very old. All his hair has gone white. But despite this, he too was astride a horse. It is pleasing to watch the Arabian horses dance and prance.


Monday, 13 Zi al-Hijja

We spent the day performing pilgrimages at local sites. My brother, because of his illness, was unable to come. We visited the following places: Hanif Mosque, where the Prophet used to pray. Second, the place where the Quranic Surah Wal-Mursalat was revealed. Third, the place where the Surah that begins “Ana” was revealed.[7] Fourth, The site where Ishmael was sacrificed. We also visited the place where the Prophet rested his head against the mountain where Surah Wal-Mursalat was revealed.

After the afternoon prayers all of the Shafi’i followers returned to Mecca from Mina. We were among them.


Thursday, 17 Zi al-Hijja

Today we all went to Mount Safa. There is a mosque on top of the hill where Hazrat Mahbub-i Subhani (Sheikh ‘Abd al-Qadir Jilani) stayed for eleven years. There is another mosque on the hill. They say that the Black Stone of the Ka’ba used to be located there. There is a small enclosure below the mosque. They say that this was once the place where Hujjaj bin Yusuf was imprisoned. There is another enclosure where the moon fell after it was split in two. This miracle occurred when the Prophet was inside the Haram. Several non-believers came up to him and said: if you are a prophet then prove it by breaking the moon into two pieces. The Exalted One made a gesture in the direction of the moon and it immediately broke in two. The unbelievers said that they would make their inquiries after the next caravan arrived in Mecca. When a caravan came from Syria its members attested that the moon had indeed been broken in two, but the unbelievers still refused to believe. In the 9th century a.d., a group of Muslims went to the Malabar Coast and visited the ruler there. They related to him the miracle of the splitting of the moon. The raja immediately called for the ancient books to be brought. He consulted them and found the splitting of the moon recorded there. When the ruler saw this he became a Muslim.

We performed these pilgrimages and then returned home.


Friday, 18 Zi al-Hijja

The following fruits are available in Mecca now: pomegranates, melons, mosambi and carrots. Today there were fewer people at Friday prayers than there were a week ago. It rained during Friday prayers. People were tumbling over one another to drink the water that fell from the eaves.


Sunday, 20 Zi al-Hijja

Today we visited the birthplace of the Prophet and the birthplace of Fatima. We also climbed Mount Abu Qais. From this vantage, the sight of the city below was very pleasant. There are hills all around, and the city is located in their center.


Monday, 21 Zi Hijja

In the morning we performed the Umra. Carts pulled by mules are available for rent here. We went in one of these.

The following vegetables are available in Mecca now: red eggplant, cabbage, turnips, radish, and sweet pumpkin. There are shops all around the Haram. There are prayer spaces for the four schools of law ranged around the Ka’ba. The Shafi’i space is in front of Maqam Ibrahim (Abraham’s footprint). This maqam is located in front of the door to the Ka’ba. The Zamzam well is inside a large stone. The Shafi’i takbir (Allahu Akbar) caller stands on this rock. The door to the Ka’ba Sharif is as large as a man is tall. The door is to the right of the Black Stone. If you stand immediately in front of the stone, the corner to the right is called the Yemeni Corner. Candles placed in golden holders are lit by the door to the Ka’ba, by the Maqam Ibrahim and by the prayer spaces of the other three schools. The Haram has seven minarets. The mosque is square in shape. Gravel has been spread in the open courtyard that lies between the mosque and the Ka’ba. There is a stone path that runs between the two. In order to enter the Ka’ba from the main walkway you must ascend two or three steps before stepping down again. The Haram has forty doors, the most famous of which are the following: Bab Salam, Bab Ibrahim, Bab Majidi or Amarhani, Bab al-Vida’, Bab Nabi, Bab Abbas, Bab Ali, Bab Shiba. Among these, the two largest are Bab Salam and Bab Ibrahim.

On your way to perform the Umra you pass a number of buildings and bazaars. There is a mosque located at the place where the Umra is performed. There is a large pool inside in which rain water collects. The people bathe in it. Some of the people in our party rode to it on donkeys. My brother Abd al-Shakur rode well because he knows how to ride horses. Most of the shops and buildings in Mecca are three or four stories’ high. Government offices are located immediately opposite the Haram.


Wednesday, 23 Zi al-Hijja

Today the streets are filled with mud because of the rain. The rain also caused potholes to appear. There was flooding, and a lot of it. The water went as high as the stairs. Everyone used tins of ghee to remove the water. No one was able to enter the Haram because of the water, though a few people did circle the Ka’ba by swimming around it. The elderly of Mecca say that a flood such as this has not occurred for a very long time. They also said that the last time such a flood occurred was when Haji Abd al-Wahhab, the pre-eminent among rulers, the Divan of Arcot, came here. It’s quite a coincidence that the aforementioned divan was my great-grandfather. So there been no major flood here since my great-grandfather’s generation. The water receded somewhat by evening.


Thursday, 24 Zi al-Hijja

Today the water disappeared all on its own. Who knows where it all went. It is a sign of god’s divine power. The covering of the Ka’ba was neither soiled nor ruined. Just like in Bombay, there are baths in Mecca. There are illuminated globes on the hills of Safa and Marwa.


Friday, 25 Zi al-Hijja

Grandmother has gone to the birthplace of Hazrat Abu Bakr. Abd al-Shakur went to the Haram wearing an old Turkish army uniform.


Saturday, 26 Zi al-Hijja

Today we all went to the Jannat al-Mu’alla.[8] We were blessed to visit the graves of Hazrat Umm al-Mu’minin Khadija, Bibi Aminah, the respected mother of the prophet, Abd al-Mutallib, and Abd al-Manaf, among others. We also saw the graves of the our grandfather’s mother and of the grandfather Ahmed’s brother. Jannat al-Mu’alla is a little distance away from the Haram. We saw an Egyptian litter that was departing for Medina Munavvara. The camel was adorned with a cloth embroidered with gold thread. The litter was escorted by Egyptian soldiers.

After the noon prayer we entered the Ka’ba. The general public may only enter it on the tenth of Muharram, but one may also enter on other days of the year by paying a fee of two rupees. Twenty or twenty-five other people entered along with us.

On entering the Ka’ba, who would be so bold as to raise their gaze? A person is so overcome with awe at this moment that the feeling cannot be described. To one side is a path that leads to the roof of the Ka’ba. This is called the Door of Repentance. Prayers in the Ka’ba are performed in every direction. There is a red stone inside the Ka’ba which only grandmother was blessed to pray on. While in the Ka’ba I said prayers for everyone: my brother, my mother, my sister, and more. May the lord accept my prayers. In the Ka’ba there are three pillars made of agarwood. The floor is of marble. The prayer spaces are marked out with ornate artistry.


Tuesday, 29 Zi al-Hijja

Sahib went to perform an Umra today. There is still some mud in the Haram; Turkish soldiers are at work removing it. The army is seen reading prayers every day after their meal.


Wednesday, 30 Zi al-Hijja

Today a great many people went to Jeddah with the intention of continuing on to Medina. Haji Muhammad Ghaus Sahib went too. We had put down a deposit on some camels with the intention of going to Medina via the land route but the amount was returned to us as there were no camels available. If god wills it, we will leave here on the tenth of Muharram.


Thursday, 1 Muharram 1328h

The year 1328 began today. It was very windy.


Friday, 2 Muharram

Brother Abd al-Shakur was able to find a space to pray in the courtyard around the Ka’ba for Friday prayers. He said that two eunuchs entered bearing green flags. After the preacher took his seat on the pulpit these flags were affixed to it. Foreigners visited Zamzam and the Haram regularly until now. The people of Mecca fill these spaces now that the foreigners have all left.


Saturday, 3 Muharram

A caravan left for Medina today. For a long time now, the imams of the four schools have lead their congregations in prayers near the Ka’ba. Now they have resumed praying from their own designated areas. The morning prayer is first read by the Shafi’is. The Hanafis come last. During the other prayers of the day the Hanafis go first.


Sunday, 4 Muharram

Today we all went to the cave at Mount Hira. It is also called the Mountain of Light. We walked as far as the Jannat al-Mu’alla. From there we hired donkeys to take us up the mountain. There are two pilgrimage sites there. The first is at the place where the chest of the Exalted One was split open. The second is the place where Surah Iqra was revealed. In the place where Surah Iqra was revealed there are large stones sitting in three different directions. These give the impression that you are in a small chamber. The mountain is rent at the point where the blessed chest was split open. There is a dome over the spot. To get to the place where Surah Iqra was revealed you must pass between two hills. A single man passes easily. There is a pool on the mountain in which rain water collects. Acacias and other wild trees and grasses grow on these mountains.

We returned home around the time of the sunset prayer. The following words of Sheikh Sa’di[9] were proven correct by the donkeys here:

اسپ تازی شدہ [مجروح بہ زیرپالان]

طوق زرین ہمہ در گردن خر می بینم

The Arab horses were wounded by the loads they bore

And yet I only see golden bridles being worn by the donkeys

Instead of horses, all the rewards are reaped by the donkeys [khachar ke nabDiyon ko bandhte hain]. Every Friday the Sharif of Mecca makes a ceremonial appearance while riding on a horse. By god, the horses he rides are very fine.

Pilgrims intending to visit the Mount of Light must remember to bring sufficient provisions along with them. Otherwise, they will experience great difficulties.


Tuesday, 6 Muharram

Another caravan left for Medina today. Fruit is very cheap here.


Wednesday, 7 Muharram

Today a letter came from home after endless waiting. There was trouble with the mail because of the huge number of pilgrims in Mecca. If only the Turkish government would make proper arrangements so that god’s creatures could find ease. The Sharif of Mecca is hosting a party tonight.


Thursday, 8 Muharram

Sahib and I performed the Umra today. We returned after noon.



Saturday, 10 Muharram

Today men are permitted to enter the Ka’ba.


Sunday, 11 Muharram

Today women are permitted to enter the Ka’ba.


Tuesday, 13 Muharram

After long days of waiting, a letter has finally come from home.


Sunday, 18 Muharram

Today we visited the birthplace of Hazrat Ali and the home of Arqam bin Abi al-Arqam. There is a school dedicated to arts and handicrafts here in Mecca but it is not run by the government. It is supported by donations. It is useful to the Turkish army for photography and other things.

The following verse is an accurate summary of my current state:

طواف کعبہ میں رہا کرتے ہیں

اس کے کوچہ میں پھرا کرتے ہیں

خوب کرتے ہیں بجا کرتے ہیں

They are always engaged in circling the Ka’ba

They are always busy wandering through its lanes

What they do they do rightly, what they do is correct


Wednesday, 27 Muharram

Yesterday the mosque of the Haram was washed, but it was our bad luck that we were not aware of it.

Thursday, 6 Safar

Two letters came from home today. There is no caravan planning to go to Medina via the Sultan’s Road, that is, the land route. For this reason, we will go to Jeddah and then continue on to Medina. One surprising fact about this place is that at prayer time shopkeepers go to the mosque in the Haram without locking up their shops, yet nothing is ever stolen.

We will be leaving here soon. When I think about this I become dejected.


Tuesday, 11 Safar

It has been two months and seven days since we first came to Mecca. We are leaving now after such a long time. We all circled the Ka’ba for the last time and then departed for Jeddah …


Translator’s note: the group remained in Jeddah for a few days before continuing on to Medina by sea and then land. After a five month residence they left Medina by train for Damascus and, soon thereafter, for Beirut.[10] These sections are left untranslated.


Saturday, 10 Shaban

This morning we went to the Jami’ Mosque to visit the shrine of Yahya [John the Baptist]. The mosque is large. It also contains relics relating to the Lord of the Worlds (the Prophet Muhammad). The holy head of John the Baptist is buried here. The buildings in Beirut are very large. The roads are very wide.

Shortly before noon we boarded a ship traveling from Beirut to Jaffa. There were many Christians, Jews and others aboard, in all four classes of the ship. We set sail around sundown. We traveled through the night and arrived at Jaffa the following morning.


17 Shaban

Today we are going to Jaffa. On the way we stopped at Ramla. Hazrat Salih is buried here.


18 Shaban

We arrived in Jaffa today. In the afternoon we boarded the ship for Egypt.

24 Shaban

Today my brother went to … He said that the buildings and parks there are wonderful.


Friday, 21 Shaban

Today we went to visit Husain Mosque [in Cairo] and the mausoleum of Imam Shafi’i. Inside Imam Shafi’i mausoleum is a large mosque which itself contains the shrine, surrounded by screens of latticed woodwork. Two or three of Imam Shafi’i’s disciples are also buried here. Thousands of Egyptians come to this place every day. A great many Egyptians are Shafi’is.

We also visited the tombs of Bibi Zainab, Bibi Nafisa and Bibi Aisha. Husain Mosque was built in the year 1360.


Saturday, 22 Shaban

Today Sahib and my brother went to Al-Azhar University. They say that a huge number of students study there. The instructors teach from the pulpit while students sit in groups down below. We all went to the museum. We saw objects and bodies which were thousands of years old, plus pictures, stone idols, objects made out of stone and out of clay – in short, many thousands of things. We saw all sorts of grains, etc. From here we went to another place where live animals are kept. It is a large park. There are even mango trees there. We saw many different types of animals and birds: big, red parrots, wild asses, musk cats, white bears, zebras, etc.

From there we went to see the pyramids. There are three towers. The height of the largest one and the general quality and sturdiness of its construction make it worth of praise. It covers eleven acres and is called the Pyramid of Giza (Jiza). The Greek historian Herodotus (who lived 2,300 years ago) wrote that the largest tower was built by the Egyptian king Cheops three thousand years before Christ. The door to the tower was discovered in the time of Rashid Abbasi. It is located forty-seven feet up on the northern face. In the second place comes the tower Chephren (Sifran). From here we went to see the fort. There is an excellent mosque here that was constructed by Muhammad Ali Shah. There is a well in this fort that the people here call Joseph’s Well. It is said that Joseph was imprisoned in this well for seven years, but this is not true. The fort was built in the year 1166 during the reign of Sultan Saladin. The prison was also constructed by him. Because his name was also Joseph this well is now commonly known as Joseph’s Well.

5 Ramzan

We passed the Bab al-Mandab in the afternoon. These are two mountains with a sea lane between them.


6 Ramzan

Today we arrived at Aden at nine o’clock. The town of Aden is situated at the foot of a hill. Some of Sultan Navaz Jang’s people joined the ship at Aden. When Sultan Navaz Jang wants to visit the country of the Sultan of Mecca he first travels to Aden. We left Aden at twelve.


8 Ramzan

Today we encountered the mail ship; it sailed past us. The seas were very stormy today. The waves were higher than the deck of the ship. The Sultan was pacing back and forth.


9 Ramzan

The storm lessened today.


10 Ramzan

The storm is the same today as it was yesterday.


12 Ramzan

The Storm has relented.


13 Ramzan

We saw small boats in the ocean around sundown, a sign that we were now close to Bombay. We reached Bombay in the middle of the night.


14 Ramzan

We entered the harbor at nine o’clock. We finished at customs after half an hour.


17 Ramzan

We boarded the train for Hyderabad.


[1] Quran 11:41.

[2] The author’s husband.

[3] Literally, ‘the light of my eye.’ Likely refers to the author’s son.

[4] An unstitched garment that is worn while performing the Hajj.

[5] Ummat al-Ghani and her family were proud to follow the Shafi’i school of law, as was typical of those who had a connection to the coastal regions of Southern India. This distinguished them from other Sunnis in Hyderabad, who were more likely to have followed the Hanafi school. These distinctions are frequently mentioned in this account.

[6] The title of the ruler of Egypt, who was at the time under (increasingly nominal) control of the Ottoman Empire. The Khedive mentioned here was Abbas II Hilmi Bey.

[7] This could refer to one of two Suras, either Surah Kauthar and Surah al-Qadr. It likely refers to the former.

[8] A large and historically important cemetery in Mecca.

[9] The Persian verse is in fact by Hafiz. The Urdu text is missing the portion of the verse given in brackets.

[10] By chance, the group decided to stay in the same hotel in Damascus as the one visited by Begum Sarbuland Jang and her husband only a few months earlier. Ummat al-Ghani’s account of the hotel is more charitable: “We arrived at the Medina Hotel. The owner of the hotel is Sayyid Darvish Shami. It is a large hotel with many rooms. The floors are of marble. There are also canals of flowing water. Sayyid Darvish is a young man, and very polite and considerate. There is no food available in the hotel; they only provide rooms. Each guest is given their own bed. Fresh towels are given daily. The bedsheets are changed every day. Despite all this they daily rate is only eight anas a person.”