JEDDAH: The claim that the tomb of Eve, mother of mankind, is in the Cemetery of Eve in central Jeddah has sparked a controversy.
During a tour to the graveyard, Arab News learned that it is difficult to locate the tomb of Eve and to determine the exact date of her death. Some accounts claim that Eve was buried in this cemetery, while many academics stress that there is no reliable evidence to back this claim.
The cemetery is in Ammaria neighborhood in the center of Jeddah. According to elderly residents, it dates back thousands of years. But Mohammed Youssef Trabulsi, who authored a book on Jeddah and its history, explained that all historical references do agree to Eve’s presence in this part of the world at some point in the ancient past but they differ over the exact location of her tomb. However, the cemetery is undeniably ancient, and a number of historians and travelers said that it dates back to the 9th century AH.
Adnan Al-Harthi, professor of civilization at Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah, said the scientific opinion on the issue of the tomb’s existence in Jeddah remains neutral. Al-Harthi said Ibn Jubair, an Arab geographer and traveler from the 6th century AH, said that, during his visit to Jeddah, he saw an old dome said to be the home of Eve. Ibn Battuta, another Arab traveler, also pointed to the presence of the dome during his journey to Jeddah in the 7th century AH.
Al-Harthi said scientific sources confirm that the habitat of Adam and Eve was Makkah, but there is no evidence that Eve was buried in Jeddah.
A number of historians and travelers told many stories indicating that the site of the tomb of Eve is in the same cemetery. Some sources even identified the dimensions of the tomb, and there are drawings of it in books.
Muhammad Al-Makki, a historian, wrote in his book “The True History of Makkah and the Noble House of God” that the Cemetery of Eve used to receive a large number of visitors during the Hajj season. Pilgrims used to go there after Hajj rituals and were exploited by fraudsters who used to sell them some of the cemetery’s soil to take back home.
Despite these tales, some historians doubted the existence of the tomb of Eve in the same cemetery. The contemporary Saudi writer, Muhammad Sadiq Diab, author of “Jeddah: History and Social Life,” said: “There is no legitimate evidence to confirm the existence of the tomb in the cemetery. I think it is just a myth.”
Another old story says there used to be three domes built on one of the large tombs inside the cemetery, and it was believed to be the tomb of Eve. But now there are no domes in the cemetery, all graves are similar, and there is nothing to indicate the tomb’s existence.
Legend has it that Eve, the first woman created on Earth (peace be upon her), also known as Hawa, was buried in old Jeddah. While there is no absolute archaeological evidence to support this, the legend still remains alive and passed on by generations. Here are some interesting stories related to it.
1. It is estimated that her tomb was around 120 meters long and three meters wide, before its condition began to deteriorate.
2. Even though there is a sign written by the cemetery gate that reads “Eve’s grave,” there are no headstones or names that mark the exact spot that Eve is buried.
3. This was done to prevent people from venerating the site.
4. According to a tale, Jeddah was named after our universal grandmother Eve, since Jeddah means (grandmother) in Arabic.
5. However others argue that Jeddah got its name from its location, and it was originally pronounced “Juddah” which means seashore in Arabic.
What do Westerners of different religious following know about Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)? What do atheists know about him? What do new Muslims know about him and what do the Arabs who were born Muslim know about him, may Allah be pleased with him?
Does the average person know that when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) laughed, his molars showed, or that a scent of musk emanated from his body, or that he walked at a fast pace, or that he loved sweets? We could never imagine who he really was until after a thorough study of the verses of the Holy Qur’an that describe him, and the authentic Hadith that have been transmitted over generations.
It is not easy to find a book that describes the details of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in all of his roles; as a husband, father, friend, preacher, ruler, and military commander. Most available books about the Prophet (peace be upon him) are limited to a series of events: his birth, marriage, the Revelation, battles, and his death.
Realizing the pressing need for a book with a much broader scope and unique perspective, Dr. Nasir Al-Qurashy Al-Zahrani made it his mission in life to author an all-encompassing book and present it to the world. With a PhD in Arabic language, extensive background knowledge in the history of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and close contact with learned scholars, Al-Zahrani is a good candidate for this noble task.
Al-Zahrani immersed himself in his writings. What started out as a book expanded into an encyclopedia with 500 volumes.
“The encyclopedia is a comprehensive description of the radiant biography and excellent manners of the Prophet (peace be upon him); his physical and moral characteristics, so that you can almost picture him in your mind. It portrays his etiquette, life at home, his relationship with his family, his dress, home, possessions, and weapons. It is about the Prophet (peace be upon him) in all situations; in worship, prayer, travel, while fasting, standing, sleeping, giving sermons, in the pilgrimage, and battles. It shows the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in all of his emotions, his triumphs and tribulations; while joking, laughing, crying, and showing mercy and compassion,” said Al-Zahrani.
Before ink was put to paper for the making of this encyclopedia, Al-Zahrani consulted with over 80 scholars to be certain that all information contained within the covers of the encyclopedia is accurate. The book received the approval of the Union of Arab Archeologists in Cairo.
You may be surprised to learn that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in his lifetime wore 85 different types of attire, as he received gifts from afar; India, Persia, Syria. He wore several colors, including yellow and red. He tasted 92 different types of dishes.
The encyclopedia fueled Al-Zahrani’s passion for Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him); it gained a momentum of its own until the project led to a full-fledged museum to honor the best of mankind.
A picturesque and outstanding museum has been founded in Makkah for the sole purpose of telling the true and full story of the Prophet’s life (peace be upon him). The museum is currently situated in Makkah and welcomes group visitors through reservations only, free of charge.
The special items encased in the museum are meant to be educational tools that help us understand the details of our Prophet’s life and aim to bridge the gap between us and the people who were closest to him, may Allah be pleased with him. All the items in the museum are designed by a team of historians and scientists to identically resemble the possessions of the Prophet (peace be upon him). The museum’s founder clearly specified that they are not original old, historic relics.
Even fluent Arabic speakers have difficulty imagining exactly what the qasa’a is. It is the bowl that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to eat from; a bowl similar to it was designed and is on display at the museum. Seeing with one’s own eyes the exact size of the cup that the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to perform ablution out of teaches several lessons; in water conservation, cleanliness, living a humble lifestyle, and moderation.
“The contents designed for the museum are all derived from accurate information. This part of the project is innovative and unprecedented in history; regarding the idea and contents of the museum. The items that are manufactured were mentioned in the Holy Qur’an and in the Hadith; possessions of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Our team created furniture, weaponry, helmet, clothes, coins, a scale, and eating utensils like that of the Prophet (peace be upon him). We even made the Prophet’s ring that he (peace be upon him) used as a seal. The goal is to facilitate the spread of knowledge and to present practical illustrations, utilizing the latest technologies to satisfy the visitor’s curiosity and interest in learning,” said Al-Zahrani.
Architects and engineers built models or miniature cities of the old Makkah and Madinah. Visitors can see where the houses of the wives and companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to be. It is interactive, so a visitor can press the search button for let’s say the house of Khadijah, the Prophet’s wife, may Allah be pleased with them, and her house in the model will light up.
Hands-on learning is far more effective and long-lasting than more traditional methods of teaching, especially when it comes to children.
The largest library ever compiled that is dedicated only to the biography of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is found in the museum. The library will include all that was ever written about the Prophet (peace be upon him); books, sources, references, essays, research papers, and any publications by any author in any language. Archives will be connected to a digital database in which all items will be stored and indexed.
There is also a virtual garden that has more than 50 trees which include the names of all people in the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who were related to him through blood, marriage, or breastfeeding.
A second branch of the museum recently opened in Dubai and was inaugurated by His Royal Highness Sheikh Muhammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Dr. Nasir Al-Zahrani. Work is underway to open branches in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Qatar, Kuwait, Yemen, Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Germany, United Kingdom, United States, France, and Spain.
Exploring a museum is one of the most enriching and enlightening forms of entertainment for families, students, tourists, and history buffs.
All scholars, Haj and Umrah pilgrims, dignitaries, school and university students, and diplomats who visited the museum in Makkah were mesmerized by it and they commended everyone who took part in making it possible.
We need more museums in the Kingdom.
This one is more meaningful and valuable because it is entirely about Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The museum is a gift to people to come and enjoy, but it is also a humble gift and tribute to the Prophet, which is why its founder called it Peace Be Upon You, O Prophet; Assalamu Alaika Ayyuha Annabi.
Mosque of Bones: Evidence of Prophet Muhammad’s era
May 25, 2018
JEDDAH: Masjid Al-Izam (Mosque of the Bones) is a historic mosque in Al-Ula governorate, located 300 km north of Madinah.
In the ninth year after Hijrah (the emigration of Makkah’s Muslims to Madinah), as the Prophet Muhammad was on his way to battle, he marked the Qibla (the direction in which Muslims should pray) using bones because he could not find rocks or blocks.
To mark the occasion, the area’s residents built a mosque on that spot and named it Masjid Al-Izam.
It was made of stone, and mud was used to cover its walls, but it has undergone several restorations.
“Mention of the mosque can be found in many renowned scientific sources,” Abdullah Kaber, a researcher in Madinah’s development authority, told the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
He said Masjid Al-Izam has attracted the attention of King Salman, who is focused on restoring a number of historic mosques across the Kingdom. The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) is planning to develop tourism in Al-Ula since it houses many historical sites and relics.
The Black Stone, thought to be a whole, is actually comprised of eight small rocks but molded together using Arabic frankincense.
Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Every year, Muslim pilgrims from around the globe visit the Kaaba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, to perform Hajj or Umra.
During a pilgrim’s ritual, many tend to seek the Black Stone situated in the eastern corner of the Kaaba.
While the Black Stone is thought to be a whole, which can be seen placed in a silver encasement, it is actually comprised of eight small rocks but molded together using Arabic frankincense.
The smallest stone is no bigger than 1 cm, while the biggest does not exceed 2 cm. The encasement, made out of pure silver, only serves as a protection mechanism for the stone.
Hand drawn picture by painter and calligrapher Mohammed al-Kurdi shows the Black Stone of the Kaaba to scale. (Supplied)
History books on the Black Stone recall how it was placed in the Kaaba by Prophet Abraham, after it was presented to him by the angel Gabriel. The stone is recognized as to have come from heaven.
It is permissible for a pilgrim to begin their tawaaf, or circumambulation around the Kaaba, by kissing the black stone or pointing to it if they are not able to reach it. It has been noted in several prophetic testaments that the black stone was commonly kissed.
The fracturing and small size of the black stone is attributed to when the Qarmatians took it off in 339 AH. The stone was then transferred to al-Ahsa and Iraq where it ultimately broke. The fractured pieces where then moved back to their original place in the Kaaba.
Assessed measurements indicate that the black stone as a whole measured 110cm before it was crushed by the Qarmatians. The estimated measures reflect the condition the stone was in when placed by Prophet Mohammed himself in the Kaaba incident prior to the dawn of Islam.
Painter and calligrapher Mohammed al-Kurdi described the black stone in the mid-14th century AH as saying: “What we can learn from the Black Stone in our time, it is comprised of eight small pieces each of a different size. The biggest piece of the stone is no larger than a single date. The small stones are as a result of the aggressions on the stone by ignorant individuals years ago. Fifty years ago, it appears that the stone was comprised of 12 pieces, but the numbers went down after the reforms made to Black Stone’s frame.”
When extremism began: 40 years since the Grand Mosque in Makkah was seized
(Image removed) Smoke rises during fighting on Nov. 20, 1979, after a group seized the Holy Mosque. Right: The mastermind of the attack, Juhayman Al-Otaibi.
September 13, 2018 / 3 Muharram 1440
It has been 40 years since Saudi Arabia first experienced a terror attack, which shocked all Muslims worldwide. It took place at their most sacred place where the Kaaba has been located for centuries. The rise of extremism in the Kingdom began on Muharram 1, 1400 — corresponding to Nov. 20, 1979 — when a deviant group stormed the Holy Mosque of Makkah. The incident, which lasted two weeks, claimed the lives of more than 100 people.
It was the 1st of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar. Hundreds of worshippers were circling the Holy Kaaba, in spirituality and peace, performing the dawn prayer. It was nearly 5:25 a.m. All of a sudden, the attendants started to hear sounds of bullets that turned the most peaceful place into a stage for killers, who targeted ordinary, innocent people and rescuers.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has said that extremism started after 1979. He has pledged a return to a moderate past.
“We are returning to what we were before — a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world,” he told the Future Investment Initiative conference in Riyadh last year.
“We will not spend the next 30 years of our lives dealing with destructive ideas. We will destroy them today,” he added.
The Saudi authorities had to either immediately crush the aggressors or call on them to lay down their arms. The government sent the attackers a warning through a megaphone stressing that what the deviant group inside the Holy Mosque was doing was in complete contradiction to the teachings of Islam. The warning, in the name of government of the late King Khaled, also included the following Qur’anic verse to remind the attackers of their heinous acts: “Whoever intends a deviant deed at the Holy Mosque, in religion, or wrongdoing, We will make him taste a painful punishment,” and “Do they not then see that We have made a sanctuary secure, and that men are being snatched away from all around them? Then, do they believe in that which is vain, and reject the Grace of Allah?”
However, all calls on the attackers to surrender were fruitless. From the high minarets of the sacred mosque, snipers started gunning down innocent people outside the Grand Mosque.
King Khaled gathered the country’s senior ulema (scholars) to discuss the matter with them. They all agreed that the aggressors were, from an Islamic point of view, considered apostates, as a Muslim never kills innocent people. Doing that inside the holy mosque was even more atrocious. The ulema issued a fatwa (religious edict) to kill them in accordance with the instructions of the Islamic Shariah. The king ordered an assault. However, he said the lives of the innocent people seized by the attackers should be preserved. He also demanded that the Holy Kaaba and the soldiers be unharmed. And he directed the forces to arrest the offenders alive if possible.
Filled with enthusiasm to liberate their sacred mosque, the Saudi soldiers received the orders to free it from the criminals’ control. The attack to free the mosque began with the Saudi soldiers showing skills in hunting the offenders according to a well-studied plan until they succeeded in taking control of the whole mosque.
Smoke rising from the Grand Mosque during the assault on the Marwa-Safa gallery, 1979.
When captured, the members of the group were treated mercifully and gently. In this regard, the former head of the Special Security Forces, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Al-Nufaie, told a satellite TV channel that when the mastermind of the attack, Juhayman Al-Otaibi, was caught, a security member grabbed him by his beard. “When a royal saw that, he angrily ordered the soldier to remove his hand from the man’s beard,” Al-Nufaie remembered.
Al-Nufaie said Prince Saud Al-Faisal approached Juhayman and asked him why he had committed these acts. “Juhayman replied: ‘It was Satan.’ The prince also humanely asked him if he was complaining about anything or if he wanted anything. Juhayman pointed to a little wound on his leg and asked for water,” the retired major-general, who was present, said.
Al-Nufaie added that they were all very happy with the liberation of the Grand Mosque: “It was a true rejoicing after a two-week period of professional work. We were thrilled to bring the atmosphere of the mosque back to its normal serenity and tranquility.”
A witness, Hizam Al-Mastouri, 75, told Arab News that he was a soldier who participated in the operation against the attackers.
“We entered the Grand Mosque in a military vehicle to transport our colleagues inside the Masa’a area, near the Mount Al-Marwa. The shooting was extensive, coming from everywhere toward us,” he said.
He added that the companions of Juhayman were hiding in the many corners of the Masa’a. “They could see us, while we were not able to see them. With time, the security leadership made changes in their plans in a way that suited the situation,” Al-Mastouri said.
The former Editor in Chief of Arab News, Khaled Almaeena, pointed out that it was a cool morning and he had gone to Makkah to visit a cousin when he was told there was a disturbance around the Grand Mosque. “I did not pay any attention at that time because what I came to know later was unimaginable,” he said.
Crowds of people had gathered and there was a lot of commotion. “Rumors were flying of the Holy Kaaba being seized by ‘foreigners’. Some were telling different stories. I came back to Jeddah and watched the Saudi Television channel, the only one we could see in those days,” he said.
“I was working in Saudia (Saudi Arabian Airlines) but in the evening would go to work part-time at the English station of Radio Jeddah. Even there, reports were sketchy. We had to use the transistor radio to get news from outside stations like the BBC, VOA and Monte Carlo.”
He added that he decided to see for himself and “on the fourth, fifth and sixth morning I would go in my car and off to Makkah. I parked my car at a distance and observed the Holy Mosque,” he said.
“It was a sad sight to see the holiest place in Islam empty. There were no visitors streaming toward the gates. In fact, there was firing from the minarets and I could see the puff of smoke from the different minarets. There was a smell of gunpowder and smoke.”
Almaeena said that an occasional helicopter would hover high in the sky, keeping far away from the perimeter of the Grand Mosque. “The attack and seizure of the mosque took everyone by surprise. And it took time for all of us, including the security forces, to take stock of what was truly an alarming situation,” he said.
Days passed and no calls for prayers were heard, he continued. “However, after days this band of zealots was overpowered and their leader Juhayman Al-Otaibi was captured. Around the world, there was more satisfaction in the Muslim world,” he said.
The veteran journalist said he had to report on the incident for the radio, which he did by recording on an old tape recorder and then broadcasting it from Jeddah.
“The capture of the zealots and their leaders was filmed and we had to broadcast it ‘live.’ The available technology did not help. Three people were entrusted with the task. The late Badr Kurayem, one of Saudi Arabia’s leading radio and television broadcasters; Dr. Hashem Abdo Hashem, who later became editor in chief of Okaz; and myself,” he said.
“So here was Dr. Abdo writing the script in his long, flowing handwriting, Badr Kurayem reading the Arabic script and me doing an impromptu live translation, struggling with some of the adjectives that Dr. Abdo was using.” He noted that it was not an easy task but they were able to do it. “Those were dark days but luckily the siege ended,” he added.
Almaeena said that although there was no social media or instant reporting and journalism was a slow process in those days, the coverage by the Saudi press was professional.
Another prominent journalist, Mohammed Al-Nawsani, said that he was the first media personality to circle the Kaaba after the offenders were arrested.
“You can’t imagine how difficult those days were, as the Kaaba is Qibla of all Muslims. Much though I was shocked to know that the Grand Mosque was captured, I was even much more overjoyed and proud of our security men and their professionalism in dealing with the incident,” he said.
Like father is not like son
Hathal bin Juhayman Al-Otaibi, the son of the extremist who seized the Holy Mosque in 1979, has overshadowed his father’s radical legacy and was recently promoted to the position of colonel in Saudi Arabia’s National Guards. Hathal was only one year old when his father attacked the Grand Mosque.
Many Saudis on social media described the news of the promotion as an example of “fairness” by Saudi Arabia. They lauded the fact that the son of someone who initiated extremism in the country has now become an integral part of the security apparatus.
Son of extremist behind 1979 siege of Makkah is Colonel in Saudi National Guards
(Image removed) Juhayman al-Otaybi - Hathal bin Juhayman al-Otaybi
September 4, 2018
Jeddah: Hathal bin Juhayman al-Otaybi, the son of an extremist who seized Makkah and the Grand Mosque in 1979, has overshadowed his father’s radical legacy and was recently promoted to the position of colonel in Saudi Arabia’s National Guards.
The rise of extremism in Saudi Arabia began with Hathal’s father on November 20, 1979, when a group of 200 to 300 young men led by Juhayman al-Otaybi stormed the Great Mosque of Makkah. The incident lasted two weeks, and hundreds were killed as a result.
Hathal was only one-year-old when his father attacked Makkah.
Many Saudis on social media have been sharing the news of the promotion, some of whom say this is only possible in a “moderate and just” Saudi Arabia.
They lauded the fact that the son of someone who initiated so much extremism in the country has now an integral part of the security apparatus.
“His father, Jahayman, was the leader of the terrorist group that attacked the Grand Mosque in Makkah in 1979. Now this is the son Hathal, who has ascended to the rank of Col. Had he been the son of another country, they would have gotten rid of him,” one Twitter user wrote.
The short history of the Hijaz Railway in Saudi Arabia
Hijaz Railway station in Al-Ula.
01 April 2019
JEDDAH: The line that was built from Damascus, Syria, to Madinah, Saudi Arabia, is a fascinating part of Hijazi history.
Sultan Abdul Hamid II put great effort into modernizing transportation and communication during the Ottoman Empire. He laid telegraph lines and railways to connect Ottoman villages and built the Hijaz Railway to connect Damascus with Madinah.
The line was built to meet the needs of pilgrims traveling to Makkah. Its construction took eight years. The first stage of the project from Damascus to Daraa began in September, 1900, and the first train reached Madinah in August 1908. The work was carried out by German and Turkish engineers and local workers recruited from the areas along the route.
The sultan planned to extend the railway on to Makkah and down the Red Sea coast to Yemen, but plans to extend the Hijaz Railway were disrupted by World War One (1914-1918).
The terrain between Tabuk and Madinah presented many challenges. One portion of Al-Akhdar valley required the building of both a tunnel and a 143-meter long bridge, the longest bridge in Saudi Arabia. In Al-Muazzam area high rubble landfills were used to lessen the steep angle of the track.
Small stations, all of the same design, were built along the line between Al-Ula and Hadiyya, where a mid-sized station was built and supplied with water. As the line approached Madinah the stations grew larger, such as at Istabl Antar.
Volcanic rock was used as building materials for the stations and bridges between Al-Ula and Madinah.
On Sept. 1, 1906, a ceremony was held in Tabuk to mark the arrival of the railway line. It was attended by an official delegation from Damascus, as well as sheikhs of tribes, nobles and merchants. One year later, a ceremony was held to mark the line reaching Al-Ula.
On August 22, 1908, the first train arrived in Madinah. The official ceremony was postponed until Dec. 1st to coincide with the anniversary of the accession of the sultan, and a grand ceremony was held to mark both events.
The railway station in Al-Madinah was also illuminated on this occasion, the first use of electricity in Madinah.
After 1918, the Arabs attempted to reopen the railway.
The train arrived in Madinah twice, once in 1919 and again in 1925. A lack of material and technical skills stopped the railway in Hijaz from working again. The Hijazi portion of the line is defunct, but the Syrian, Palestinian and Jordanian sections have remained in service locally.
Celebrations centered on the Mahmal convoy began in Egypt about a month before Hajj.
July 31, 2019
CAIRO, JEDDAH: For centuries, every year during Hajj the Kiswa for the Kaaba arrived on a camel’s back all the way from Cairo to Makkah, following a precarious journey inside a ceremonial litter known as the Mahmal.
From the reign of Al-Zahir Bebrus until the era of King Fuad of Egypt in the 1920s, the passage of the Mahmal through hundreds of miles of barren desert was an integral part of Hajj.
Residents of Cairo would be dazzled by the celebrations marking the Mahmal’s departure. Egyptians knew that the production and transportation of the Kiswa was an honor given only to them by a succession of sultans and caliphs. Research conducted by Doris Behrens-Aboseif of the University of Munich has traced the origin of the Mahmal to Shajarat Al-Durr, wife of As-Salih Ayyub, the last Egyptian sultan of the Ayyub dynasty (13th century).
Other researchers say the tradition of the Mahmal began in the 14th century during Fatimid rule.
According to Dr. Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, professor of Islamic history at Cairo University, during the era of Ottoman Gov. Muhammad Ali Pasha and his children, celebrations centered on the Mahmal convoy began about a month before Hajj.
Dar Al-Khoronfosh, a workshop set up in the early 19th century in Cairo’s Al-Gamaleya district, had been selected for the task of making the Kiswa. That role lasted until 1962.
A triangular dome embroidered in gold, silver or silver gilt wires and colorful silk appliques preserved the Mahmal’s precious cargo. It was adorned with the name of the caliphate, sultan or pasha on the side, and a verse from the Qur’an on the front of the Mahmal’s cover.
Before the start of the journey, streets and shops were ceremonially decorated as the Mahmal convoy toured Cairo for three days.
The camel carrying the Kiswa was accompanied by a caravan of camels lugging supplies and pilgrims’ luggage, alongside soldiers who guarded the procession all the way to Hijaz.
Sufi worshippers would walk just behind the Mahmal, beating drums and holding aloft banners, accompanied by clowns known as Afarit Al-Mahmal. The occasion was a major annual event, with Cairo’s governor and his deputy or their representative in attendance.
In Cairo’s Castle Square, soldiers would line up with their weapons on the arrival of the invitees: Renowned scientists, royals, dignitaries, merchants, and senior officials of the khedive’s office.
The official ceremony was followed by the firing of 21 rounds of artillery and the playing of the anthem of the khedive, who would stand and salute.
After that, the convoy’s leader followed behind the Mahmal in his horse along with his successor.
According to Ibrahim, the Kiswa procession toured Mohammed Ali Street and the Selah market, then headed to Bab Zuwailah Road and parts of old Cairo, and ended at Al-Hussain Mosque.
The actual journey to Makkah began with the Mahmal convoy’s departure from Cairo in the direction of the Red Sea and onward to the city of Suez, where ships docked at the port welcomed the cavalcade of pilgrims, soldiers and camels.
Once Hajj had been completed, the Mahmal returned to Cairo bearing the Kaaba’s used Kiswa.
The fabric was typically cut into pieces and distributed to nobles and princes. Some of these pieces can still be found in the tombs of royal family members, where their presence is regarded as a form of blessing.
Is it Mecca or Makkah? There’s a royal decree to help you decide
August 09, 2019
DUBAI: Translations of names from Arabic to English are always contentious – there are countless ways to spell “Quran” and “Mohammad,” but few might be aware that when it comes to the name of the holy city this spelling was decided by royal decree.
While most western authorities spell the city’s name “Mecca,” it was decided by the then Crown Prince, King Fahed bin Abdulaziz that this was wrong.
It was in the 1980s, when he ordered that the spelling “Makkah” be used in all government and private sector correspondences in the Kingdom when writing in Latin text.
And the Muslim World League, an NGO with several offices around the world, has since argued it is important to use what it defined as the correct spelling, as a “sign of respect to the holy site and the Muslim population.”
This cannot be undone and I am sure it will be greatly appreciated.
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