, a peninsula in the south-west of Asia, lying between 34º 30′ and 12º 45′ N., and 32º 30′ and 60º E., is bounded W. by the Red Sea, S. by the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, and E. by the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf. Its northern or land boundary is more difficult to define; most authorities, however, agree in taking it from El Arish on the Mediterranean, along the southern border of Palestine, between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Akaba, then bending northwards along the Syrian border nearly to Tadmur, thence eastwards to the edge of the Euphrates valley near Anah, and thence south-east to the mouth of the Shat el Arab at the head of the Persian Gulf,—the boundary so defined includes the northern desert, which belongs geographically to Arabia rather than to Syria; while on the same grounds lower Mesopotamia and Irak, although occupied by an Arab population, are excluded.
In shape, the peninsula forms a rough trapezium, with its greatest length from north-west to south-east. The length of its western side from Port Said to Aden is 1500 m.; its base from the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb (or Bab al Mandab) to Ras el Had is 1300 m., its northern side from Port Said to the Euphrates 600 m.; its total area approximately 1,200,000 sq. m.
General Features.—In general terms Arabia may be described as a plateau sloping gently from south-west to north-east, and attaining its greatest elevation in the extreme south-west. The western escarpment of the plateau rises steeply from the Red Sea littoral to a height of from 4000 to 8000 ft., leaving a narrow belt of lowland rarely exceeding 30 m. in width between the shore and the foot-hills. On the north-east and east the plateau shelves gradually to the Euphrates and the Persian Gulf; only in the extreme east is this general easterly slope arrested by the lofty range of Jebel Akhdar, which from Ras Musandan to Ras el Had borders the coast of Oman.
Its chief characteristic is the bareness and aridity of its surface; one-third of the whole desert, and of the remainder only a small proportion is suited to settled life, owing to its scanty water-supply and uncertain rainfall. Its mountains are insufficient in elevation and extent to attract their full share of the monsoon rains, which fall so abundantly on the Abyssinian highlands on the other side of the Red Sea; for this reason Arabia has neither lakes nor forests to control the water-supply and prevent its too rapid dissipation, and the rivers are mere torrent beds sweeping down occasionally in heavy floods, but otherwise dry.
The country falls naturally into three main divisions, a northern, a central and a southern; the first includes the area between the Midian coast on the west and the head of the Persian Gulf on the east, a desert tract throughout, stony in the north, sandy in the south, but furnishing at certain seasons excellent pasturage; its population is almost entirely nomad and pastoral. The central zone includes Hejaz (or Hijaz), Nejd and El Hasa; much of it is a dry, stony or sandy steppe, with few wells or watering-places, and only occupied by nomad tribes; but the great wadis which intersect it contain many fertile stretches of alluvial soil, where cultivation is possible and which support a considerable settled population, with several large towns and numerous villages.
The third or southern division contains the highland plateaus of Asir and Yemen in the west, and J. Akhdar in the east, which with a temperate climate, due to their great elevation and their proximity to the sea, deserve, if any part of Arabia does, the name of Arabia Felix—the population is settled and agricultural, and the soil, wherever the rainfall is sufficient, is productive. The Batina coast of Oman, irrigated by the mountain streams of J. Akhdar, is perhaps the most fertile district in the peninsula; Hadramut, too, contains many large and prosperous villages, and the torrents from the Yemen highlands fertilize several oases in the Tehama (or Tihama) or lowlands of the western and southern coast. These favourable conditions of soil and climate, however, extend only a comparatively short distance into the interior, by far the larger part of which is covered by the great southern desert, the Dahna, or Ruba el Khali, empty as its name implies, and uninhabitable.
Exploration.—Before entering on a detailed description of the several provinces of Arabia, our sources of information will be briefly indicated. Except in the neighbourhood of Aden, no regular surveys exist, and professional work is limited to the marine surveys of the Indian government and the admiralty, which, while laying down the coast line with fair accuracy, give little or no topographical information inland. For the mapping of the whole vast interior, except in rare cases, no data exist beyond the itineraries of explorers, travelling as a rule under conditions which precluded the use of even the simplest surveying instruments. These journeys, naturally following the most frequented routes, often cover the same ground, while immense tracts, owing to their difficulty of access, remain unvisited by any European.
The region most thoroughly explored is Yemen, in the south-west corner of the peninsula, where the labours of a succession of travellers from Niebuhr in 1761 to E. Glaser and R. Manzoni in 1887 have led to a fairly complete knowledge of all that part of the province west of the capital Sana; while in 1902-1904 the operations of the Anglo-Turkish boundary commission permitted the execution of a systematic topographical survey of the British protectorate from the Red Sea to the Wadi Bana, 30 m. east of Aden. North of Yemen up to the Hejaz border the only authority is that of E. F. Jomard’s map, published in 1839, based on the information given by the French officers employed with Ibrahim Pasha’s army in Asir from 1824 to 1827, and of J. Halévy in Nejran. On the south coast expeditions have penetrated but a short distance, the most notable exceptions being those of L. Hirsch and J. T. Bent in 1887 to the Hadramut valley. S. B. Miles, J. R. Wellsted, and S. M. Zwemer have explored Oman in the extreme east; but the interior south of a line drawn from Taif to El Katr on the Persian Gulf is still virgin ground. In northern Arabia the Syrian desert and the great Nafud (Nefud) have been crossed by several travellers, though a large area remains unexplored in the north-east between Kasim and the gulf. In the centre, the journeys of W. Palgrave, C. Doughty, W. Blunt and C. Huber have done much to elucidate the main physical features of the country. Lastly, in the north-west the Sinai peninsula has been thoroughly explored, and the list of travellers who have visited the Holy Cities and traversed the main pilgrim routes through Hejaz is a fairly long one, though, owing to the difficulties peculiar to that region, the hydrography of southern Hejaz is still incompletely known.
The story of modern exploration begins with the despatch of C. Niebuhr’s mission by the Danish government in 1761. After a year spent in Egypt and the Sinai peninsula the party reached Jidda towards the end of 1762, and
Modern Exploration in Yemen.
after a short stay sailed on to Lohaia in the north of Yemen, the exploration of which formed the principal object of the expedition; thence, travelling through the Tehama or lowlands, Niebuhr and his companions visited the towns of Bet el Fakih, Zubed and Mokha, then the great port for the coffee trade of Yemen. Continuing eastward they crossed the mountainous region and reached the highlands of Yemen at Uden, a small town and the centre of a district celebrated for its coffee. Thence proceeding eastwards to higher altitudes where coffee plantations give way to fields of wheat and barley, they reached the town of Jibla situated among a group of mountains exceeding 10,000 ft. above sea-level; and turning southwards to Taiz descended again to the Tehama via Hes and Zubed to Mokha. The mission, reduced in numbers by the death of its archaeologist, von Haven, again visited Taiz in June 1763, where after some delay permission was obtained to visit Sana, the capital of the province and the residence of the ruling sovereign or imam. The route lay by Jibla, passing the foot of the lofty Jebel Sorak, where, in spite of illness, Forskal, the botanist of the party, was able to make a last excursion; a few days later he died at Yarim. The mission continued its march, passing Dhamar, the seat of a university of the Zedi sect, then frequented by 500 students. Thence four marches, generally over a stony plateau dominated by bare, sterile mountains, brought them to Sana, where they received a cordial welcome from the imam, el Mahdi Abbas.
The aspect of the city must have been nearly the same as at present; Niebuhr describes the enceinte flanked by towers, the citadel at the foot of J. Nukum which rises 1000 ft. above the valley, the fortress and palace of the imams, now replaced by the Turkish military hospital, the suburb of Bir el Azab with its scattered houses and gardens, the Jews’ quarter and the village of Rauda, a few miles to the north in a fertile, irrigated plain which Niebuhr compares to that of Damascus. After a stay of ten days at Sana the mission set out again for Mokha, travelling by what is now the main route from the capital to Hodeda, through the rich coffee-bearing district of J. Haraz, and thence southward to Mokha, where they embarked for India. During the next year three other members of the party died, leaving Niebuhr the sole survivor. Returning to Arabia a year later, he visited Oman and the shores of the Persian Gulf, and travelling from Basra through Syria and Palestine he reached Denmark in 1764 after four years’ absence.
The period was perhaps specially favourable for a scientific mission of the sort. The outburst of fanaticism which convulsed Arabia twenty years later had not then reached Yemen, and Europeans, as such, were not exposed to any special danger. The travellers were thus able to move freely and to pursue their scientific enquiries without hindrance from either people or ruler. The results published in 1772 gave for the first time a comprehensive description not only of Yemen but of all Arabia; while the parts actually visited by Niebuhr were described with a fulness and accuracy of detail which left little or nothing for his successors to discover.
C. G. Ehrenberg and W. F. Hemprich in 1825 visited the Tehama and the islands off the coast, and in 1836 P. E. Botta made an important journey in southern Yemen with a view to botanical research, but the next advance
in geographical knowledge in south Arabia was due to the French officers, M. O. Tamisier, Chedufau and Mary, belonging to the Egyptian army in Asir; another Frenchman, L. Arnaud, formerly in the Egyptian service, was the first to visit the southern Jauf and to report on the rock-cut inscriptions and ruins of Marib, though it was not till 1869 that a competent
Jauf and Marib.
archaeologist, J. Halévy, was able to carry out any complete exploration there. Starting from Sana, Halévy went north-eastward to El Madid, a town of 5000 inhabitants and the capital of the small district of Nihm; thence crossing a plateau, where he saw the ruins of numerous crenellated towers, he reached the village of Mijzar at the foot of J. Yam, on the borders of Jauf, a vast sandy plain, extending eastwards to El Jail and El Hazm, where Halévy made his most important discoveries of Sabaean inscriptions: here he explored Main, the ancient capital of the Minaeans, Kamna on the banks of the W. Kharid, the ancient Caminacum, and Kharibat el Beda, the Nesca of Pliny, where the Sabaean army was defeated by the Romans under Aelius Gallus in 24 B.C.
From El Jail Halévy travelled northward, passing the oasis of Khab, and skirting the great desert, reached the fertile district of Nejran, where he found a colony of Jews, with whom he spent several weeks in the oasis of Makhlaf. An hour’s march to the east he discovered at the village of Medinat el Mahud the ruins of the Nagra metropolis of Ptolemy. In June 1870 he at last reached the goal of his journey, Marib; here he explored the ruins of Medinat an Nahas (so called from its numerous inscriptions engraved on brass plates), and two hours to the east he found the famous dam constructed by the Himyarites across the W. Shibwan, on which the water-supply of their capital depended.
One other explorer has since visited Marib, the Austrian archaeologist, E. Glaser (1855-1908), who achieved more for science in Yemen than any traveller since Niebuhr. Under Turkish protection, he visited the territory of the Hashid and Bakil tribes north-east of Sana, and though their hostile attitude compelled him to return after reaching their first important town, Khamr, he had time to reconnoitre the plateau lying between the two great wadis Kharid and Hirran, formerly covered with Himyaritic towns and villages; and to trace the course of these wadis to their junction at El Ish in the Dhu Husen country, and thence onward to the Jauf. In 1889 he succeeded, again under Turkish escort, in reaching Marib, where he obtained, during a stay of thirty days, a large number of new Himyaritic inscriptions. He was unable, however, to proceed farther east than his predecessors, and the problem of the Jauf drainage and its possible connexion with the upper part of the Hadramut valley still remains unsolved.
The earliest attempt to penetrate into the interior from the south coast was made in 1835 when Lieuts. C. Cruttenden and J. R. Wellsted of the “Palinurus,” employed on the marine survey of the Arabian coast, visited the ruins
Exploration in Hadramut.
of Nakb (el Hajar) in the W. Mefat. The Himyaritic inscriptions found there and at Husn Ghurab near Mukalla, were the first records discovered of ancient Arabian civilization in Hadramut. Neither of these officers was able to follow up their discoveries, but in 1843 Adolph von Wrede landed at Mukalla and, adopting the character of a pilgrim to the shrine of the prophet Hud, made his way northward across the high plateau into the W. Duwan, one of the main southern tributaries of the Hadramut valley, and pushed on to the edge of the great southern desert; on his return to the W. Duwan his disguise was detected and he was obliged to return to Mukalla. Though he did not actually enter the main Hadramut valley, which lay to the east of his track, his journey established the existence of this populous and fertile district which had been reported to the officers of the “Palinurus” as lying between the coast range and the great desert to the north. This was at last visited in 1893 by L. Hirsch under the protection of the sultan of Mukalla, the head of the Kaiti family, and practically ruler of all Hadramut, with the exception of the towns of Saiyun and Tarim, which belong to the Kathiri tribe. Starting like von Wrede from Mukalla, Hirsch first visited the W. Duwan and found ancient ruins and inscriptions near the village of Hajren; thence he proceeded north-eastward to Hauta in the main valley, where he was hospitably received by the Kaiti sultan, and sent on to his deputy at Shibam. Here he procured a Kathiri escort and pushed on through Saiyun to Tarim, the former capital. After a very brief stay, however, he was compelled by the hostility of the people to return in haste to Shibam, from which he travelled by the W. bin Ali and W. Adim back to Mukalla. J. Theodore Bent and his wife followed in the same track a few months later with a well-equipped party including a surveyor, Imam Sharif, lent by the Indian government, who made a very valuable survey of the country passed through. Both parties visited many sites where Himyaritic remains and inscriptions were found, but the hostile attitude of the natives, more particularly of the Seyyids, the religious hierarchy of Hadramut, prevented any adequate examination, and much of archaeological interest undoubtedly remains for future travellers to discover.
In Oman, where the conditions are more favourable, explorers have penetrated only a short distance from the coast. Niebuhr did not go inland from Muscat; the operations by a British Indian force on the Pirate coast in 1810 gave
Exploration in Oman.
no opportunities for visiting the interior, and it was not till 1835 that J. R. Wellsted, who had already tried to penetrate into Hadramut from the south, landed at Muscat with the idea of reaching it from the north-east. Sailing thence to Sur near Ras el Had, he travelled southward through the country of the Bani bu Ali to the borders of the desert, then turning north-west up the Wadi Betha through a fertile, well-watered country, running up to the southern slopes of J. Akhdar, inhabited by a friendly people who seem to have welcomed him everywhere, he visited Ibra, Semed and Nizwa at the southern foot of the mountains. Owing to the disturbed state of the country, due to the presence of raiding parties from Nejd, Wellsted was unable to carry out his original intention of exploring the country to the west, and after an excursion along the Batina coast to Sohar he returned to India.
In 1876 Colonel S. B. Miles, who had already done much to advance geographical interests in south Arabia, continued Wellsted’s work in Oman; starting from Sohar on the Batina coast he crossed the dividing range into the Dhahira, and reached Birema, one of its principal oases. His investigations show that the Dhahira contains many settlements, with an industrious agricultural population, and that the unexplored tract extending 250 m. west to the peninsula of El Katr is a desolate gravelly steppe, shelving gradually down to the salt marshes which border the shores of the gulf.
Leaving southern Arabia, we now come to the centre and north. The first explorer to enter the sacred Hejaz with a definite scientific object was the Spaniard, Badia y Leblich, who, under the name of Ali Bey and claiming
Exploration in Hejaz.
to be the last representative of the Abbasid Caliphs, arrived at Jidda in 1807, and performed the pilgrimage to Mecca. Besides giving to the world the first accurate description of the holy city and the Haj ceremonies, he was the first to fix the position of Mecca by astronomical observations, and to describe the physical character of its surroundings. But the true pioneer of exploration in Hejaz was J. L. Burckhardt, who had already won a reputation as the discoverer of Petra, and whose experience of travel in Arab lands and knowledge of Arab life qualified him to pass as a Moslem, even in the headquarters of Islam. Burckhardt landed in Jidda in July 1814, when Mehemet Ali had already driven the Wahhābi invaders out of Hejaz, and was preparing for his farther advance against their stronghold in Nejd. He first visited Taif at the invitation of the pasha, thence he proceeded to Mecca, where he spent three months studying every detail of the topography of the holy places, and going through all the ceremonies incumbent on a Moslem pilgrim. In January 1815 he travelled to Medina by the western or coast route, and arrived there safely but broken in health by the hardships of the journey. His illness did not, however, prevent his seeing and recording everything of interest in Medina with the same care as at Mecca, though it compelled him to cut short the further journey he had proposed to himself, and to return by Yambu and the sea to Cairo, where he died only two years later.
His striking successor, Sir Richard Burton, covered nearly the same ground thirty-eight years afterwards. He, too, travelling as a Moslem pilgrim, noted the whole ritual of the pilgrimage with the same keen observation as Burckhardt, and while amplifying somewhat the latter’s description of Medina, confirms the accuracy of his work there and at Mecca in almost every detail. Burton’s topographical descriptions are fuller, and his march to Mecca from Medina by the eastern route led him over ground not traversed by any other explorer in Hejaz: this route leads at first south-east from Medina, and then south across the lava beds of the Harra, keeping throughout its length on the high plateau which forms the borderland between Hejaz and Nejd. His original intention had been after visiting Mecca to find his way across the peninsula to Oman, but the time at his disposal (as an Indian officer on leave) was insufficient for so extended a journey; and his further contributions to Arabian geography were not made until twenty-five years later, when he was deputed by the Egyptian government to examine the reported gold deposits of Midian. Traces of ancient workings were found in several places, but the ores did not contain gold in paying quantities. Interesting archaeological discoveries were made, and a valuable topographical survey was carried out, covering the whole Midian coast from the head of the Gulf of Akaba to the mouth of the Wadi Hamd, and including both the Tehama range and the Hisma valley behind it; while the importance of the W. Hamd and the extent of the area drained by its tributaries was for the first time brought to light.
Burckhardt had hoped in 1815 that the advance of the Egyptian expedition would have given him the opportunity to see something of Nejd, but he had already left Arabia before the overthrow of the Wahhābi power
Exploration in Nejd.
by Ibrahim Pasha had opened Nejd to travellers from Hejaz, and though several European officers accompanied the expedition, none of them left any record of his experience. It is, however, to the Egyptian conquest that the first visit of a British traveller to Nejd is due. The Indian government, wishing to enter into relations with Ibrahim Pasha, as de facto
ruler of Nejd and El Hasa, with a view to putting down piracy in the Persian Gulf, which was seriously affecting Indian trade, sent a small mission under Captain G. F. Sadlier to congratulate the pasha on the success of the Egyptian arms, and no doubt with the ulterior object of obtaining a first-hand report on the real situation. On his arrival at Hofuf, Sadlier found that Ibrahim had already left Deraiya, but still hoping to intercept him before quitting Nejd, he followed up the retreating Egyptians through Yemama, and Wushm to Ras in Kasim, where he caught up the main body of Ibrahim’s army, though the pasha himself had gone on to Medina. Sadlier hesitated about going farther, but he was unable to obtain a safe conduct to Basra, or to return by the way he had come, and was compelled reluctantly to accompany the army to Medina. Here he at last met Ibrahim, but though courteously received, the interview had no results, and Sadlier soon after left for Yambu, whence he embarked for Jidda, and after another fruitless attempt to treat with Ibrahim, sailed for India. If the political results of the mission were nil
, the value to geographical science was immense; for though no geographer himself, Sadlier’s route across Arabia made it possible for the first time to locate the principal places in something like their proper relative positions; incidentally, too, it showed the practicability of a considerable body of regular troops crossing the deserts of Nejd even in the months of July and August.
Sadlier’s route had left Jebel Shammar to one side; his successor, G. A. Wallin, was to make that the objective of his journey. Commissioned by Mehemet Ali to inform him about the situation in Nejd brought about by the rising power of Abdallah Ibn Rashid, Wallin left Cairo in April 1845, and crossing the pilgrim road at Ma’an, pushed on across the Syrian desert to the Wadi Sirhan and the Jauf oasis, where he halted during the hot summer months. From the wells of Shakik he crossed the waterless Nafud in four days to Jubba, and after a halt there in the nomad camps, he moved on to Hail, already a thriving town, and the capital of the Shammar state whose limits included all northern Arabia from Kasim to the Syrian border. After a stay in Hail, where he had every opportunity of observing the character of the country and its inhabitants, and the hospitality and patriarchal, if sometimes stern, justice of its chief, he travelled on to Medina and Mecca, and returned thence to Cairo to report to his patron. Early in 1848 he again returned to Arabia, avoiding the long desert journey by landing at Muwela, thence striking inland to Tebuk on the pilgrim road, and re-entering Shammar territory at the oasis of Tema, he again visited Hail; and after spending a month there travelled northwards to Kerbela and Bagdad.
The effects of the Egyptian invasion had passed away, and central Arabia had settled down again under its native rulers when W. G. Palgrave made his adventurous journey through Nejd, and published the remarkable narrative
Palgrave’s journey to Nejd.
which has taken its place as the classic of Arabian exploration. Like Burton he was once an officer in the Indian army, but for some time before his journey he had been connected with the Jesuit mission in Syria. By training and temperament he was better qualified to appreciate and describe the social life of the people than their physical surroundings, and if the results of his great journey are disappointing to the geographer, his account of the society of the oasis towns, and of the remarkable men who were then ruling in Hail and Riad, must always possess an absorbing interest as a portrait of Arab life in its freest development.
Following Wallin’s route across the desert by Ma’an and Jauf, Palgrave and his companion, a Syrian Christian, reached Hail in July 1862; here they were hospitably entertained by the amir Talāl, nephew of the founder of the Ibn Rashid dynasty, and after some stay passed on with his countenance through Kasim to southern Nejd. Palgrave says little of the desert part of the journey or of its Bedouin inhabitants, but much of the fertility of the oases and of the civility of the townsmen; and like other travellers in Nejd he speaks with enthusiasm of its bright, exhilarating climate. At Riad, Fēsal, who had been in power since the Egyptian retirement, was still reigning; and the religious tyranny of Wahhābism prevailed, in marked contrast to the liberal régime of Talal in Jebel Shammar. Still, Palgrave and his companions, though known as Christians, spent nearly two months in the capital without molestation, making short excursions in the neighbourhood, the most important of which was to El Kharfa in Aflaj, the most southerly district of Nejd. Leaving Riad, they passed through Yemama, and across a strip of sandy desert to El Hasa where Palgrave found himself in more congenial surroundings. Finally, a voyage to the Oman coast and a brief stay there brought his adventures in Arabia to a successful ending.
Charles Doughty, the next Englishman to visit northern Arabia, though he covered little new ground, saw more of the desert life, and has described it more minutely and faithfully than any other explorer. Travelling down
from Damascus in 1875 with the Haj caravan, he stopped at El Hajr, one of the pilgrim stations, with the intention of awaiting the return of the caravan and in the meantime of exploring the rock-cut tombs of Medain Salih and El Ala. Having successfully completed his investigations and sent copies of inscriptions and drawings of the tombs to Renan in Paris, he determined to push on farther into the desert. Under the protection of a sheikh of the Fukara Bedouin he wandered over the whole of the borderland between Hejaz and Nejd. Visiting Tema, where among other ancient remains he discovered the famous inscribed stone, afterwards acquired by Huber for the Louvre. Next summer he went on to Hail and thence back to Khaibar, where the negro governor and townsmen, less tolerant than his former Bedouin hosts, ill-treated him and even threatened his life. Returning to Hail in the absence of the amir, he was expelled by the governor; he succeeded, however, in finding protection at Aneza, where he spent several months, and eventually after many hardships and perils found his way to the coast at Jidda.
Three years later Mr Wilfrid and Lady Anne Blunt made their expedition to J. Shammar. In their previous travels in Syria they had gained the confidence and friendship of a young sheikh whose family, though long settled at Tadmur, came originally from Nejd, and who was anxious to renew the connexion with his kinsmen by seeking a bride among them. In his company the Blunts set out from Damascus, and travelled across the Syrian desert by the Wadi Sirhan to Jauf. Here the sheikh found some of his relations and the matrimonial alliance was soon arranged; but though the object of the journey had been attained, the Blunts were anxious to visit Hail and make the acquaintance of the amir Ibn Rashid, of whose might and generosity they daily heard from their hosts in Jauf. The long stretch of waterless desert between Jauf and J. Shammar was crossed without difficulty, and the party was welcomed by the amir and hospitably entertained for a month, after which they travelled northwards in company with the Persian pilgrim caravan returning to Kerbela and Bagdad.
In 1883 the French traveller, C. Huber, accompanied by the archaeologist, J. Euting, followed the same route from Damascus to Hail. The narrative of the last named forms a valuable supplement to that published by the Blunts,
and together with Doughty’s, furnishes as complete a picture as could be wished for of the social and political life of J. Shammar, and of the general nature of the country. Huber’s journal, published after his death from his original notes, contains a mass of topographical and archaeological detail of the greatest scientific value: his routes and observations form, in fact, the first and only scientific data for the construction of the map of northern Arabia. To archaeology also his services were of equal importance, for, besides copying numerous inscriptions in the district between Hail and Tema, he succeeded in gaining possession of the since famous Tema stone, which ranks with the Moabite stone among the most valuable of Semitic inscriptions. From Hail Huber followed nearly in Doughty’s track to Aneza and thence across central Nejd to Mecca and Jidda, where he despatched his notes and copies of inscriptions. A month later, in July 1884, he was murdered by his guides a few marches north of Jidda, on his way back to Hail.
One other traveller visited Hail during the lifetime of the amir Mahommed—Baron E. Nolde—who arrived there in 1893, not long after the amir had by his victory over the combined forces of Riad and Kasim brought the whole of Nejd under his dominion. Nolde crossed the Nafud to Haiyania by a more direct track than that from Shakik to Jubba. The amir was away from his capital settling the affairs of his newly acquired territory; Nolde therefore, after a short halt at Hail, journeyed on to Ibn Rashid’s camp somewhere in the neighbourhood of Shakra. Here he was on new ground, but unfortunately he gives little or no description of his route thither, or of his journey northwards by the Persian pilgrim road, already traversed by Huber in 1881. His narrative thus, while containing much of general interest on the climate and on the animal life of northern Arabia, its horses and camels in particular, adds little to those of his predecessors as regards topographical detail.
If the journeys detailed above be traced on the map they will be found to cover the northern half of the peninsula above the line Mecca-Hofuf, with a network of routes, which, though sometimes separated by wide intervals,
General results of exploration.
are still close enough to ensure that no important geographical feature can have been overlooked, especially in a country whose general character varies so little over wide areas. In the southern half, on the other hand, except in Nejran and Jauf, no European traveller has penetrated 100 m. in a direct line from the coast. The vast extent of the Dahna, or great southern desert, covering perhaps 250,000 sq. m., accounts for about a third of this area, but some of the most favoured districts in Arabia—Asir and northern Yemen—remain unexplored, and the hydrography of the Dawasir basin offers some interesting problems, while a great field remains for the archaeologist in the seat of the old Sabaean kingdom from Jauf to the Hadramut valley.
.—Beginning from the north-west, the Sinai peninsula belongs to Egypt, though geographically part of Arabia. It is bounded on the E. by a line drawn from Ar Rafa, a few miles E. of El Arish on the Mediterranean, to the head
of the Gulf of Akaba; and on the W. by the Suez Canal; its length from El Arish to its most southern point is 240 m., and its breadth from Suez to Akaba is nearly 160 m. The greater part drains to the Mediterranean, from which the land rises gradually to the summit of the Tih plateau. The deep depression of Wadi Feran separates the Tih from the higher mass of Sinai
), in which J. Katherine attains a height of 8500 ft.; except in W. Feran there is little cultivable land, the greater part consisting of bare, rocky hills and sandy valleys, sparsely covered with tamarisk and acacia bushes. The Egyptian pilgrim road crosses the peninsula from Suez to Akaba, passing the post of An Nakhl, with a reservoir and a little cultivation, about half way; a steep descent leads down from the edge of the Tih plateau to Akaba.
The rest of the northern borderland is covered by the Syrian desert, extending from the borders of Palestine to the edge of the Euphrates valley. This tract, known as the Hamad, is a gravelly plain unbroken by any considerable range of hills
or any continuous watercourse except the Wadi Hauran, which in rainy seasons forms a succession of pools from J. Hauran to the Euphrates. Its general slope is to the north-east from the volcanic plateau of the Harra south of J. Hauran to the edge of the Euphrates valley. The Wadi Sirhan, a broad depression some 500 ft. below the average level of the Hamad, crosses it from north-east to south-west between Hauran and Jauf; it has a nearly uniform height above sea-level of 1850 ft., and appears to be the bed of an inland sea rather than a true watercourse. Water is found in it a few feet below the surface, and a little cultivation is carried on at the small oases of Kaf and Ithri, whence salt produced in the neighbouring salt lakes is exported. The W. Sirhan is continuous with the depression known as the Jauf, situated on the northern edge of the Nefud or Nafud, and the halfway station between Damascus and Hail; and it is possible that this depression continues eastward towards the Euphrates along a line a little north of the thirtieth parallel, where wells and pasturages are known to exist. Jauf is a small town consisting, at the time of the Blunts’ visit in 1879, of not more than 500 houses. The town with its gardens, surrounded by a mud wall, covers a space of 2 m. in length by half a mile in width; the basin in which it lies is barely 3 m. across, and except for the palm gardens and a few patches of corn, it is a dead flat of white sand, closed in by high sandstone cliffs, beyond which lies the open desert. The oases of Sakaka and Kara are situated in a similar basin 15 m. to the east; the former a town of 10,000 inhabitants and somewhat larger than Jauf according to Huber.
A short distance south of Jauf the character of the desert changes abruptly from a level black expanse of gravel to the red sands of the Nafud. The northern edge of this great desert follows very nearly the line of the thirtieth parallel, along which
it extends east and west for a length of some 400 m.; its breadth from north to south is 200 m. Though almost waterless, it is in fact better wooded and richer in pasture than any part of the Hamad; the sand-hills are dotted with ghada
, a species of tamarisk, and other bushes, and several grasses and succulent plants—among them the adar
, on which sheep are said to feed for a month without requiring water—are found in abundance in good seasons. In the spring months, when their camels are in milk, the Bedouins care nothing for water, and wander far into the Nafud with their flocks in search of the green pasture which springs up everywhere after the winter rains. A few wells exist actually in the Nafud in the district called El Hajra, near its north-eastern border, and along its southern border, between J. Shammar and Tema, there are numerous wells and artificial as well as natural reservoirs resorted to by the nomad tribes.
Owing to the great extent of the Nafud desert, the formation of sand-dunes is exemplified on a proportionate scale. In many places longitudinal dunes are found exceeding a day’s journey in length, the valleys between which take three or four hours to cross; but the most striking feature of the Nafud are the high crescent-shaped sand-hills, known locally as falk or falj, described by Blunt and Huber, who devoted some time to their investigation. The falks enclose a deep hollow (known as ka‘r), the floor of which is often hard soil bare of sand, and from which the inner slopes of the falk rise as steeply as the sand will lie (about 50°). On the summit of the falk there is generally a mound known as tas or barkhus composed of white sand which stands out conspicuously against the deep red of the surrounding deserts; the exterior slopes are comparatively gentle. The falks are singularly uniform in shape, but vary greatly in size; the largest were estimated by Huber and Euting at 1¼ m. across and 330 ft. deep. They run in strings irregularly from east to west, corresponding in this with their individual direction, the convex face of the falk being towards the west, i.e. the direction of the prevailing wind, and the cusps to leeward. In the south of the Nafud, where Huber found the prevailing wind to be from the south, the falks are turned in that direction. Though perhaps subject to slight changes in the course of years, there is no doubt that these dunes are practically permanent features; the more prominent ones serve as landmarks and have well-known distinctive names. The character of the vegetation which clothes their slopes shows that even superficial changes must be slight. The general level of the Nafud was found by Huber’s observations to be about 3000 ft. above sea-level; the highest point on the Jauf-Hail route is at Falk Alam, the rocky peaks of which rise 200 or 300 ft. above the surface of the sand. Other peaks cropping out of the Nafud are Jebel Tawil, near the wells of Shakik, and J. Abrak Rada, a long black ridge in the middle of the desert.
The high plateau which from. J. Hauran southward forms the main watershed of the peninsula is covered in places by deep beds of lava, which from their hardness have preserved the underlying sandstones from degradation, and now stand up considerably
above the general level. These tracts are known as harra
; the most remarkable is the Harrat El Awerid, west of the Haj route from Tebuk to El Ala, a mountain mass 100 m. in length with an average height of over 5000 ft., and the highest summit of which, J. Anaz, exceeds 7000 ft. The harra east of Khaibar is also of considerable extent, and the same formation is found all along the Hejaz border from Medina to the Jebel el Kura, east of Mecca. The surface of the harra is extremely broken, forming a labyrinth of lava crags and blocks of every size; the whole region is sterile and almost waterless, and compared with the Nafud it produces little vegetation; but it is resorted to by the Bedouin in the spring and summer months when the air is always fresh and cool. In winter it is cold and snow often lies for some time.
Hejaz, if we except the Taif district in the south, which is properly a part of the Yemen plateau, forms a well-marked physical division, lying on the western slope of the peninsula, where that slope is at its widest, between the Harra and the Red Sea.
A high range of granite hills, known as the Tehama range, the highest point of which, J. Shar, in Midian, exceeds 6500 ft., divides it longitudinally into a narrow littoral and a broader upland zone 2000 or 3000 ft. above the sea. Both are generally bare and unproductive, the uplands, however, contain the fertile valleys of Khaibar and Medina, draining to the Wadi Hamd, the principal river system of western Arabia; and the Wadi Jadid or Es Safra, rising in the Harra between Medina and Es Safina, which contain several settlements, of which the principal produce is dates. The quartz reefs which crop out in the granite ranges of the Tehama contain traces of gold. These and the ancient copper workings were investigated by Burton in 1877. The richer veins had evidently been long ago worked out, and nothing of sufficient value to justify further outlay was discovered. The coast-line is fringed with small islets and shoals and reefs, which make navigation dangerous. The only ports of importance are Yambu and Jidda, which serve respectively Medina and Mecca; they depend entirely on the pilgrim traffic to the holy cities, without which they could not exist.
The great central province of Nejd occupies all inner Arabia between the Nafud and the southern desert. Its northern part forms the basin of the Wadi Rumma, which, rising in the Khaibar harra, runs north-eastward across the whole
width of Nejd, till it is lost in the sands of the eastern Nafud, north of Aneza. The greater portion of this region is an open steppe, sandy in places and in others dotted with low volcanic hills, but with occasional ground water and in favourable seasons furnishing support for a considerable pastoral population. Its elevation varies from about 5000 ft. in the west to 2500 ft. in the east. In Jebel Shammar, Kasim and Wushm, where the water in the wadi beds rises nearly to the ground level, numerous fertile oases are found with thriving villages and towns.
Jebel Shammar, from which the northern district of Nejd takes its name, is a double range of mountains some 20 m. apart, rising sharply out of the desert in bare, granite cliffs. J. Aja, the western and higher of the two ranges, has a length of about 100 m. from north-east to south-west, where it merges into the high plateau extending from and continuous with the Khaibar harra. The highest point, J. Fara, near its north-eastern extremity, is about 4600 ft. above sea-level, or 1600 ft. above the town of Hail, which, like most of the larger villages, lies along the wadi bed at the foot of J. Aja. The town, which has risen with the fortunes of the Ibn Rashid family to be the capital of Upper Nejd, is at the mouth of the valley between the twin ranges, about 2 m. from the foot of J. Aja, and contained at the time of Nolde’s visit in 1893 about 12,000 inhabitants.
The principal tributaries of the W. Rumma converge in lower Kasim, and at Aneza Doughty says its bed is 3 m. wide from bank to bank. Forty years before his visit a flood is said to have occurred, which passed down the river till it was blocked by sand-drifts at Thuwerat, 50 m. lower down, and for two years a lake stood nearly 100 m. long, crowded by waterfowl not known before in that desert country. Below this its course has not been followed by any European traveller, but it may be inferred from the line of watering-places on the road to Kuwet, that it runs out to the Persian Gulf in that neighbourhood.
East of Kasim the land rises gradually to the high plateau culminating in the ranges of Jebel Tuwek and J. Arid. The general direction of these hills is from north-west to south-east. On the west they rise somewhat steeply, exposing high cliffs of white limestone, which perhaps gave Palgrave the impression that the range is of greater absolute height than is actually the case. J. Tuwek in any case forms an important geographical feature in eastern Nejd, interrupting by a transverse barrier 200 m. in length the general north-easterly slope of the peninusla, and separating the basin of the W. Rumma from that of the other great river system of central Arabia, the Wadi Dawasir. The districts of Sudēr and Wushm lie on its northern side, Arid in the centre, and Aflaj, Harik and Yemama on its south, in the basin of the W. Dawasir; the whole of this hilly region of eastern Nejd is, perhaps, rather a rolling down country than truly mountainous, in which high pastures alternate with deep fertile valleys, supporting numerous villages with a large agricultural population. The W. Hanifa is its principal watercourse; its course is marked by an almost continuous series of palm groves and settlements, among which Deraiya the former, and Riad the present, capital of the Ibn Saūd kingdom are the most extensive. Its lower course is uncertain, but it probably continues in a south-east direction to the districts of El Harik and Yemama when, joined by the drainage from Aflaj and the W. Dawasir, it runs eastward till it disappears in the belt of sandy desert 100 m. in width that forms the eastern boundary of Nejd, to reappear in the copious springs that fertilize El Hasa and the Bahrein littoral.
As regards the unexplored southern region, Palgrave’s informants in Aflaj, the most southerly district visited by him, stated that a day’s march south of that place the Yemen road enters the W. Dawasir, up which it runs for ten days, perhaps
Unexplored region of S. Nejd.
200 m., to El Kura, a thinly peopled district on the borders of Asir; this accords with the information of the French officers of the Egyptian army in that district, and with that of Halévy, who makes all the drainage from Nejran northward run to the same great wadi. Whether there be any second line of drainage in southern Nejd skirting the edge of the great desert and following the depression of the W. Yabrin must remain a matter of conjecture. Colonel Miles concluded, from his enquiries, that the low salt swamp, extending inland for some distance from Khor ed Duwan, in the bay east of El Katr, was the outlet of an extensive drainage system which may well be continuous with the W. Yabrin and extend far into the interior, if not to Nejran itself.
East of Nejd a strip of sandy desert 50 m. in width extends almost continuously from the great Nafud to the Dahna. East of this again a succession of stony ridges running parallel to the coast has to be crossed before
El Hasa is reached. This province, which skirts the Persian Gulf from the mouth of the Euphrates to the frontiers of Oman, is low and hot; its shores are flat, and with the exception of Kuwet at the north-west corner of the gulf, it possesses no deep water port. North of Katif it is desert and only inhabited by nomads; at Katif, however, and throughout the district to the south bordering on the Gulf of Bahrein there are ample supplies of underground water, welling up in abundant springs often at a high temperature, and bringing fertility to an extensive district of which El Hofuf, a town of 15,000 to 20,000 inhabitants, is the most important centre.
South-western Arabia, from the twenty-first parallel down to the Gulf of Aden, including the Taif district of Hejaz, Asir and Yemen, forms one province geographically. Throughout its length it consists of three zones, a narrow coastal strip, rarely
exceeding 20 m. in width, a central mountainous tract, embracing the great chain which runs parallel to the coast from near Taif to within 50 m. of Aden, and an inner plateau falling gradually to the north-east till it merges in the Nejd steppes or the sands of the great desert.
The lowland strip or Tehama consists partly of a gravelly plain, the Khabt, covered sparsely with acacia and other desert shrubs and trees, and furnishing pasturage for large flocks of goats and camels; and partly of sterile wastes of sand like the Ramla, which extends on either side of Aden almost from the seashore to the foot of the hills. The Tehama is, however, by no means all desert, the mountain torrents where they debouch into the plain have formed considerable tracts of alluvial soil of the highest degree of fertility producing in that warm equable climate two and even three crops in the year. The flood-water is controlled by a system of dams and channels constructed so as to utilize every drop, and the extent of cultivation is limited more by the supply of water available than by the amount of suitable soil. These districts support a large settled population and several considerable towns, of which Bet el Fakih and Zubed in the western and Lahej in the southern Tehama, with 4000 to 6000 inhabitants, are the most important. There are signs that this coastal strip was until a geologically recent period below sea-level; and that the coast-line is still receding is evidenced by the history of the town of Muza, once a flourishing port, now 20 m. inland; while Bet el Fakih and Zubed, once important centres of the coffee trade, have lost their position through the silting up of the ports which formerly served them.
The jebel or mountain-land is, however, the typical Yemen, the Arabia Felix of the ancients. Deep valleys winding through the barren foothills lead gradually up to the higher mountains, and as the track ascends the scenery and vegetation change their character; the trees which line the banks of the wadi are overgrown with creepers, and the running stream is dammed at frequent intervals, and led off in artificial channels to irrigate the fields on either side; the steeper parts of the road are paved with large stones, substantially built villages, with their masonry towers or dars, crowning every height, replace the collection of mud walls and brushwood huts of the low country; while tier above tier, terraced fields cover the hill slopes and attest the industry of the inhabitants and the fertility of their mountains. On the main route from Hodeda to Sana the first coffee plantations are reached at Usil, at an altitude of 4300 ft., and throughout the western slopes of the range up to an altitude of 7000 ft. it is the most important crop. Jebel Haraz, of which Manakha, a small town of 3000 inhabitants is the chief place, is described by Glaser as one vast coffee garden. Here the traveller ascending from the coast sees the first example of the jebel or highland towns, with their high three-storeyed houses, built of quarried stone, their narrow façades pierced with small windows with whitewashed borders and ornamented with varied arabesque patterns; each dar has the appearance of a small castle complete in itself, and the general effect is rather that of a cluster of separate forts than of a town occupied by a united community.
The scenery in this mountain region is of the most varied description; bare precipitous hill-sides seamed with dry, rocky watercourses give place with almost startling rapidity to fertile slopes, terraced literally for thousands of feet. General Haig in describing them says: “One can hardly realize the enormous labour, toil and perseverance that these represent; the terrace walls are usually 5 to 8 ft. in height, but towards the top of the mountains they are sometimes as much as 15 or 18 ft.; they are built entirely of rough stone without mortar, and I reckon that on an average each wall retains not more than twice its own height in breadth, and I do not think I saw a single break in them unrepaired.”
The highest summits as determined by actual survey are between 10,000 and 11,000 ft. above sea-level. J. Sabur, a conspicuous mass in the extreme south, is 9900 ft., with a fall to the Taiz valley of 5000 ft.; farther north several points in the mountains above Ibb and Yarim attain a height of 10,500 ft., and J. Hadur, near the Sana-Hodeda road, exceeds 10,000 ft. From the crest of the range there is a short drop of 2000 or 3000 ft. to the broad open valleys which form the principal feature of the inner plateau. The town of Yarim lies near its southern extremity at an altitude of about 8000 ft.; within a short distance are the sources of the W. Yakla, W. Bana and W. Zubed, running respectively east and south and west. The first named is a dry watercourse ultimately joining the basin of the W. Hadramut; the two others run for a long distance through fertile valleys and, like many of the wadis on the seaward side of the range, have perennial streams down to within a few miles of the sea. Sana, the capital of Yemen, lies in a broad valley 7300 ft. above sea-level, sloping northwards to the W. Kharid which, with the Ghail Hirran, the sources of which are on the eastern slopes of J. Hadur, run north-eastward to the Jauf depression. The Arhab district, through which these two great wadis run, was formerly the centre of the Himyar kingdom; cultivation is now only to be found in the lower parts on the borders of the watercourses, all above being naked rock from which every particle of soil has been denuded. In the higher parts there are fine plains where Glaser found numerous Himyaritic remains, and which he considers were undoubtedly cultivated formerly, but they have long fallen out of cultivation owing to denudation and desiccation—the impoverishment of the country from these causes is increasing. Eastward the plateau becomes still more sterile, and its elevation probably falls more rapidly till it reaches the level of the Jauf and Nejran valleys on the borders of the desert. The water-parting between central and southern Arabia seems to be somewhere to the south of Nejran, which, according to Halévy, drains northward to the W. Dawasir, while the Jauf is either an isolated depression, or perhaps forms part of the Hadramut basin.
Farther north, in Asir, the plateau is more mountainous and contains many fertile valleys. Of these may be mentioned Khamis Mishet and the Wadi Shahran rising among the high summits of the maritime chain, and the principal affluents
of the Wadi Besha; the latter is a broad well-watered valley, with numerous scattered hamlets, four days’ journey (perhaps 80 m.) from the crest of the range. Still farther north is the Wadi Taraba and its branches running down from the highland district of Zahran. The lower valleys produce dates in abundance, and at higher elevations wheat, barley, millets and excellent fruit are grown, while juniper forests are said to cover the mountain slopes. In Yemen this tree was probably more common formerly; the place-name Arar, signifying juniper, is still often found where the tree no longer exists.
The western coast of Yemen, like that of Hejaz, is studded with shoals and islands, of which Perim in the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb, Kamaran, the Turkish quarantine post, 40 m. north of Hodeda, and the Farsan group, off the Abu Arish coast,
Coast of Yemen.
are the principal. Hodeda is the only port of any importance since the days of steamships began; the other ports, Mokha, Lohaia and Kanfuda merely share in the coasting trade. The south coast is free from the shoals that imperil the navigation of the Red Sea, and in Aden it possesses the only safe natural harbour on the route between Suez and India. Several isolated volcanic hills crop out on the shore line between Aden and the straits; the most remarkable are J. Kharaz, 2500 ft., and J. Shamshan, 1700 ft., at the base of which Aden itself is built. In both of these the crater form is very clearly marked. A low maritime plain, similar to the Tehama of the western coast, extends for some 200 m. east of the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb, backed by mountains rising to 7000 ft. or more; farther east the elevation of the highland decreases steadily, and in
the Hadramut, north of Mukalla, does not much exceed 4000 ft. The mountain chain, too, is less distinctly marked, and becomes little more than the seaward escarpment of the plateau which intervenes between the coast and the Hadramut valley. This valley runs nearly east and west for a distance of 500 m. from the eastern slopes of the Yemen highlands to its mouth on the Mahra coast near Sihut. The greater part of it is desert, but a short stretch lying between the 48th and 50th meridians is well watered and exceptionally fertile. This begins a little to the east of Shabwa, the ancient capital, now half buried in the advancing sand, and for a distance of over 70 m. a succession of villages and towns surrounded by fields and date groves extends along the main valley and into the tributaries which join it from the south. Shibam, Saiyun and Tarim are towns of 6000 or more inhabitants, and Hajren and Haura in the W. Duwan are among the larger villages. Himyaritic remains have been found here and in the W. Mefat which enters the Gulf of Aden near Balhaf. A few small fishing villages or ports are scattered along the coast, but except Mukalla and Shihr none is of any importance.
The Gara coast was visited by the Bents, who went inland from Dhafar, one of the centres of the old frankincense trade, to the crest of the plateau. The narrow coastal strip seems to be moderately fertile, and the hills which in places come down to the seashore are covered with trees, among which the frankincense and other gum-bearing trees are found. On the plateau, which has an altitude of 4000 ft., there is good pasturage; inland the country slopes gently to a broad valley beyond which the view was bounded by the level horizon of the desert.
) includes all the south-eastern corner of the peninsula. Its chief feature is the lofty range of J. Akhdar, 10,000 ft. above sea-level. Like the great range of western Arabia, it runs parallel to the coast; it differs, however, from the western
range in that its fall on the landward side is as abrupt and nearly as great as on its seaward side. Its northern extremity, Ras Musandan, rises precipitously from the straits of Hormuz; farther south the range curves inland somewhat, leaving a narrow but fertile strip, known as the Batina coast, between it and the sea, and containing several populous towns and villages of which Sohar, Barka and Sib are the chief. Muscat, the capital of the province and the principal port on the coast, is surrounded on three sides by bare, rocky hills, and has the reputation of being the hottest place in Arabia. Zwemer says the fertility of the highland region of J. Akhdar is wonderful and is in striking contrast to the barrenness of so much of the coast; water issues in perennial springs from many rocky clefts, and is carefully husbanded by the ingenuity of the people; underground channels, known here as faluj
, precisely similar to the kanat
of Persia and Afghanistan, are also largely used. The principal villages on the eastern slopes are Rustak, Nakhl and Semail in the well-watered valley of the same name; on the western slopes are Tanuf and Nizwa, lying immediately below the highest summit of the range; Semed, Ibra and Bidiya in the W. Betha are all well-built villages with palm-groves and irrigated fields. In the north-west the Dhahira district sloping towards the Jewasimi coast is more steppe-like in character; but there two oases of great fertility are found, of which Birema, visited by both Miles and Zwemer, supports a population of 15,000. West of Abu Dhabi a low flat steppe with no settled inhabitants extends up to the Katr peninsula, merging on the north into the saline marshes which border the Persian Gulf, and on the south into the desert.
The great desert known as the Dahna or the Rub’a el Khali (“the empty quarter”) is believed to cover all the interior of southern Arabia from the borders of Yemen in the west to those of Oman in the east. Halévy in Nejran, Von Wrede in
The southern desert.
Hadramut, and Wellsted in Oman reached its edge, though none of them actually entered it, and the guides accompanying them all concurred in describing it as uninhabitable and uncrossed by any track. Its northern fringe is no doubt frequented by the Bedouin tribes of southern Nejd after the rains, when its sands, like those of the northern desert, produce herbage; but towards the east, according to Burckhardt’s information, it is quite without vegetation even in the winter and spring. The farthest habitable spot to the south of Nejd is the Wadi Yabrin, which L. Pelly heard of from the Ahl Murra Bedouins as once a fertile district, and which still produces dates, though, owing to malaria, it is now deserted; thence southward to the Hadramut valley no communication is known to exist.
[Geology.—The geological structure of Arabia is very similar to that of Egypt. The oldest rocks consist of granite and schist, penetrated by intrusive dykes, and upon this foundation rest the flat-lying sedimentary deposits, beginning with a sandstone like the Nubian sandstone of Egypt. In the northern part of Arabia the crystalline rocks form a broad area extending from the peninsula of Sinai eastwards to Hail and southwards at least as far as Mecca. Towards the north the crystalline floor is overlaid by the great sandstone series which covers nearly the whole of the country north of Hail. Upon the sandstone rest a few scattered outliers of limestone, probably of Cretaceous age, the largest of which occur near Jauf and east of Bureda. Over both sandstone and granite great sheets of lava have been poured, and these, protecting the softer beds beneath from further denudation, now stand up as the high plateaus and hills called harra. Volcanic cones still exist in large numbers, and the sheets of lava appear as fresh as any recent flows of Etna or Vesuvius. Arabian manuscripts describe an eruption on the harra near Medina in A.D. 1256. In the south of Arabia the crystalline floor appears at intervals along the southern coast and on the shores of the Gulf of Oman. At Marbat the granite is overlaid by sandstone, presumably the Nubian sandstone: this is followed by marls containing Cenomanian fossils; and these are overlaid by Upper Cretaceous limestones, upon which rest isolated patches of Alveolina limestone. Generally, however, the Cretaceous beds do not appear, and the greater part of southern Arabia seems to be formed of Alveolina and nummulite limestones of Tertiary age. An extinct volcano occurs at Aden, and volcanic rocks are found at other places near the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb. Throughout the whole of Arabia, so far as is known, the sedimentary beds show no signs of any but the most gentle folding. Faulting, however, is by no means absent, and some of the faults are of considerable magnitude. The Gulf of Akaba is a strip of country which has been let down between two parallel faults, and several similar faulted troughs occur in the Sinai peninsula. The Red Sea itself is a great trough bounded by faults along each side.]
Climate.—Owing to its low latitude and generally arid surface, Arabia is on the whole one of the hottest regions of the earth; this is especially the case along the coasts of the Persian Gulf and the southern half of the Red Sea, where the moist heat throughout the year is almost intolerable to Europeans. In the interior of northern and central Arabia, however, where the average level of the country exceeds 3000 ft., the fiery heat of the summer days is followed by cool nights, and the winter climate is fresh and invigorating; while in the highlands of Asir and Yemen in the south-west, and of Oman in the east, the summer heat is never excessive, and the winters are, comparatively speaking, cold.
In the northern desert the temperature is subject to extreme variations. Nolde states that on the 1st of February 1893 in the desert north of Hail the thermometer fell from 78° a little before sunset to 18° a quarter of an hour after. The midday temperatures recorded by Huber at Hail during January and the first half of February average about 65° F., and water froze on several nights; at Medina the winters are cold and night frosts of frequent occurrence, and these conditions prevail over all the western part of the Nejd plateau. In the east where the elevation is lower the climate is warmer. In the elevated highland district which extends from Taif to within 50 m. of Aden, the summer heat is tempered by the monsoon winds, and the seasonal variation of temperature is less marked. From observations made at Sana by Manzoni, Deflers and Glaser, the mean temperature for the year of that city at an altitude of 7300 ft. and in 15° 22′ N. appears to be 60° F.; for July the mean maximum was 77°, mean minimum 54°; for January the figures were 62° and 40° respectively, the lowest recorded temperature in 1878 was 26.6° on the 26th of January. At Aden at the sea-level the mean temperature for the year is 83°; the highest observed temperature in 1904 was 97.3°, the lowest 67.4°.
The rainfall throughout northern and central Arabia is chiefly in the winter months between October and April, and is scanty and irregular. Doughty states that in 1876 rain to wet the ground had not fallen for three years at Medain Salih; in that year showers fell on the 29th of December and on two days in January and again in March. After a very hot summer the bright weather changed to clouded skies on the 2nd of October, rain fell tempestuously the same evening, and there were showery days and nights till the 14th. The autumn rains fell that year abundantly in the Nafud towards Jauf, but very little in the basin of the W. Hamd (on the western slope). Doughty adds that the Nejd highlands between Kasim and Mecca are watered yearly by seasonable rains, which at Taif are expected about the end of August and last commonly from four to six weeks. This appears to be about the northern limit reached by the south-west monsoon, which from June to September brings a fairly abundant rainfall to the Yemen highlands, though the Tehama remains almost entirely rainless. The rainfall is heaviest along the western fringe of the plateau, and penetrates inland in decreasing quantity over a zone which perhaps extends to 100 m. in width. In good seasons it is sufficient for the cultivation of the summer crop of millet, and for the supply of the perennial streams and springs, on which the irrigation of the winter crops of wheat and barley depend. The amount measured at Dhala at the extreme south of the plateau at an elevation of 4800 ft. was in 1902 as follows:—June, 4.0 in.; July, 5.5; August, 5.8; September, 1.9. Only slight showers were recorded in the other months of the year. At higher elevations the rainfall is no doubt heavier; Manzoni mentions that at Sana there was constant rain throughout August and September 1878, and that the thermometer during August did not reach 65°. In the Tehama occasional showers fall during the winter months; at Aden the average rainfall for the year is 2.97 in., but during 1904 only 0.5 in. was recorded. Snow falls on the Harra and on the Tehama range in northern Arabia, and Nolde records a fall of snow which lay on the Nafud on the 1st of February 1893. It also falls on J. Akhdar in Oman, but is very rarely known on the Yemen mountains, probably because the precipitation during the winter months is so slight.
The prevailing winds in northern Arabia as far as is known are from the west; along the southern coast they are from the east; at Sana there is generally a light breeze from the north-north-west from 9 to 11 a.m., from noon till 4 p.m. a steady and often strong wind blows from the south-south-east, which dies away later. The climate is extremely dry, but this is compensated for by the heavy mists which sweep up from the plains during the rainless months and exercise a most beneficial effect in the coffee-growing districts. This phenomenon is known as the sukhemani or amama. In the morning the Tehama, as seen from the mountain tops, appears buried in a sea of white cloud; towards noon the clouds drift up the mountain slopes and cover the summits with wreaths of light mist charged with moisture which condenses on the trees and vegetation; in the afternoon they disappear, and the evenings are generally clear and still.
Fauna.—The wild animals of Arabia are all of the desert-loving type: antelopes and gazelles are found in small numbers throughout the peninsula; the latter are similar to the chikara or ravine deer of India. The larger antelopes, so common on the African side of the Gulf of Aden, are not found, except one variety, the Oryx beatrix (called by the Arabs, wild cow), which is an inhabitant of the Nafud between Tema and Hail; it is about the size of a donkey, white, and with long straight horns. Hares are numerous both in the desert and in cultivated tracts. In the Yemen mountains the wal, a wild goat with massive horns, similar to the Kashmir ibex, is found; monkeys also abound. Among smaller animals the jerboa and other descriptions of rat, and the wabar or cony are common; lizards and snakes are numerous, most of the latter being venomous. Hyenas, wolves and panthers are found in most parts of the country, and in the mountains the leopard and wild cat. Of birds the ostrich is found in the Nafud and in the W. Dawasir. Among game birds the bustard, guinea fowl, sand grouse (kata), blue rock, green pigeon, partridge, including a large chikor (akb) and a small species similar to the Punjab sisi; quail and several kinds of duck and snipe are met with. In the cultivated parts of Yemen and Tehama small birds are very numerous, so also are birds of prey, vultures, kites and hawks.
Insects of all sorts abound; scorpions, centipedes, spiders, and an ugly but harmless millipede known in Yemen as hablub
are very common in summer. Ants and beetles too are very numerous, and anthills are prominent features in many places. Locusts appear in great swarms and do much damage; fires are lighted at night to attract them, and large quantities are caught and eaten by the poorer people. Bees are kept, and in Yemen and Hadramut the honey is exceptionally good.
Of domesticated animals the camel is far the most useful to the Arab. Owing to its endurance of thirst the long desert journeys which separate the populous centres are made practicable, and in the spring months, when green forage is plentiful
in the desert, the Bedouins pitch their camps for long periods far from any water, and not only men but horses subsist on camel’s milk. The Arabian camel belongs to the one-humped species, though there are many varieties differing in appearance as much as the thoroughbred race-horse from the English cart-horse. The ordinary load for a pack camel is about 400 ℔, and in hot weather good camels will march 20 to 25 m. daily and only require water every third or fourth day: in cool weather, with ample green fodder they can go twenty-five days or more without drinking. A good dalul
or riding camel will carry his rider 100 m. a day for a week on end. Nolde gives an instance from his own experience of a camel rider covering 62 m. in seven hours. The pure-bred riding camel is only found in perfection in inner Arabia; for some unexplained reason when taken out of their own country or north of the 30th degree they rapidly degenerate.
The horse does not occupy the important position in the Bedouin economy that is popularly supposed. In Nejd the number of horses is, comparatively speaking, very small; the want of water in the Nafud where alone forage is obtainable,
and the absence of forage in the neighbourhood of the towns makes horse-breeding on a large scale impracticable there. Horses are in fact only kept by the principal sheiks, and by far the larger proportion of those now in Nejd are the property of the amir and his family. These are kept most of the year in the Nafud, five or ten days’ march from Hail, where they find their own food on the desert herbage. When a raid is in contemplation, they are brought in and given a little barley for a few weeks. Reared in this way they are capable of marvellous endurance, marching during a raid twenty hours a day for eight or ten days together. As a rule, they are only mounted at the moment of attack, or in pursuit. Water and forage have to be carried for them on camels.
The great majority of the horses that come into the market as Arabs, are bred in the northern desert and in Mesopotamia, by the various sections of the Aneza and Shammar tribes, who emigrated from Nejd generations ago, taking with them the original Nejd stock. In size and appearance, and in everything but endurance, these northern horses are admittedly superior to the true Nejdi. A few of the latter are collected by dealers in the nomad camps and exported chiefly from Kuwet. The amir Mahommed Ibn Rashid used to send down about one hundred young horses yearly.
Asses of excellent quality are bred all over the country; they are much used as mounts by the richer townsmen. Except in the settled districts horned cattle are not numerous; they are similar to the Indian humped cattle, but are greatly superior in milking qualities. The great wealth of the Arabs is in their flocks of sheep and goats; they are led out to pasture soon after sunrise, and in the hotter months drink every second day. In the spring when the succulent ashub and adar grow plentifully in the desert, they go for weeks without drinking. They are milked once a day about sunset by the women (the men milk the camels), and a large proportion of the milk is made into samn, clarified butter, or marisi, dried curd. The wool is not of much value, and is spun by the women and woven into rugs, and made up into saddlebags or into the black Bedouin tents.
Flora.—The flora of Arabia has been investigated by P. Forskal, the botanist of Niebuhr’s mission, P. E. Botta, G. Schweinfurth and A. Deflers, to whose publications the technical reader is referred. Its general type approaches more closely to the African than to that of southern Asia. In the higher regions the principal trees are various species of fig, tamarind, carob and numerous kinds of cactiform Euphorbia, of which one, the Euphorbia arborea, grows to a height of 20 ft. Of Coniferae the juniper is found on the higher slopes of J. Sabur near Taiz, where Botta describes it as forming an extensive forest and growing to a large size; it is also found in the range overlooking the W. Madin, 50 m. W. of Aden. Considerable forests are said to exist in Asir, and Burton found a few fine specimens which he regarded as the remains of an old forest, on the Tehama range in Midian. On the rocky hill-sides in Yemen the Adenium Obesum is worthy of notice, with its enormous bulb-like stems and brilliant red flowers. Some fine aloes or agaves are also found. In the cultivated upland valleys all over Arabia the Zizyphus jujuba, called by some travellers lotus, grows to a large tree; its thorny branches are clipped yearly and used to fence the cornfields among which it grows. In the broad sandy wadi beds the tamarisk (athl) is everywhere found; its wood is used for making domestic implements of all sorts. Among fruit trees the vine, apricot, peach, apple, quince, fig and banana are cultivated in the highlands, and in the lower country the date palm flourishes, particularly throughout the central zone of Arabia, in Hejaz, Nejd and El Hasa, where it is the prime article of food. A hundred kinds of date are said to grow at Medina, of which the birni is considered the most wholesome; the halwa and the jalebi are the most delicately flavoured and sell at very high rates; the khulas of El Hasa is also much esteemed.
Of cereals the common millets, dhura and dukhn, are grown in all parts of the country as the summer crop, and in the hot irrigated Tehama districts three crops are reaped in the year; in the highlands maize, wheat and barley are grown to a limited extent as the winter crop, ripening at the end of March or in April. Among vegetables the common kinds grown include radishes, pumpkins, cucumbers, melons, potatoes, onions and leeks. Roses are grown in some places for the manufacture of atr, or attar of roses; mignonette, jasmine, thyme, lavender and other aromatic plants are favourites in Yemen, when the Arabs often stick a bunch in their head-dress.
Of the products special to Arabia coffee comes first; it is nowhere found wild, and is believed to have been introduced from Abyssinia in the 6th century A.D.
It thrives on the seaward slopes of the western range in the zone of the tropical rains, at
altitudes between 4000 and 7000 ft. The principal centres of production are the upper valleys of the W. Surdad, between Kaukaban and Manakha, and particularly on J. Haraz; in the Wadi Zubed west of Uden; in Hajaria on the slopes of J. Sabur, and in the Yafa district north-east of Aden. It is planted in terraces on the mountain slopes; shady trees, such as tamarind and fig, are planted in the border as a protection from the sun, and the terraces are irrigated by channels led from a neighbouring rivulet or spring. The plants are raised from seedlings, and when six or seven weeks old they are transplanted in rows 4 to 6 ft. apart; they require watering twice a month, and bear in two to four years. The berries are dried in the sun and sent down to Hodeda or Aden, where they are subjected to a process for separating the husk from the bean; the result is about 50% of cleaned berries, bun safi
, which is exported, and a residue of husk or kishr
, from which the Yemenis make their favourite beverage.
Another plant universally used as a stimulant in Southern Arabia is khat (Catha edulis). The best is grown on J. Sabur and the mountainous country round Taiz. It is a small bush propagated from cuttings which are left to grow for three years; the leaves are then stripped, except a few buds which develop next year into young shoots, these being cut and sold in bunches under the name of khat mubarak; next year on the branches cut back new shoots grow; these are sold as khat malhani, or second-year kat, which commands the highest price. The bush is then left for three years, when the process is repeated. The leaves and young shoots are chewed; they have stimulating properties, comparable with those of the coca of Peru.
The aromatic gums for which Arabia was famed in ancient times are still produced, though the trade is a very small one. The tree from which myrrh is extracted grows in many places, but the industry is chiefly carried on at Suda, 60 m. north-north-east of Sana. Longitudinal slits are made in the bark, and the gum is caught in cups fixed beneath. The balsam of Mecca is produced in the same way, chiefly in the mountains near the W. Safra between Yambu and Medina.
The stony plains which cover so large a part of the country are often covered with acacia jungle, and in the dry water-courses a kind of wild palm, the dom, abounds, from the leaves of which baskets and mats are woven. Brushwood and rough pasturage of some sort is found almost everywhere, except in the neighbourhood of the larger settlements, where forage and firewood have to be brought in from long distances. The Nafud sands, too, are tufted in many places with bushes or small trees, and after the winter rains they produce excellent pasture.
.—The people, according to their own traditions, are derived from two stocks, the pure Arabs, descended from Kahtan or Joktan, fourth in descent from Shem; and the Mustarab or naturalized Arabs, from Ishmael. The former are represented at the present day by the inhabitants of Yemen, Hadramut and Oman, in general a settled agricultural population; the latter by those of Hejaz, Nejd, El Hasa, the Syrian desert and Mesopotamia, consisting of the Bedouin or pastoral tribes (see Arabs
). This distinction between the characteristics of the two races is only true in a general sense, for a considerable population of true Bedouin origin has settled down to agricultural life in the oases of Hejaz and Nejd, while in southern Arabia the tribes dwelling on the fringe of the great desert have to a certain extent adopted the nomad life.
Both among the nomad and settled Arabs the organization is essentially tribal. The affairs of the tribe are administered by the sheiks, or heads of clans and families; the position of sheik in itself gives no real governing power, his word and counsel carry weight, but his influence depends on his own personal qualities. All matters affecting the community are discussed in the majlis
or assembly, to which any tribesman has access; here, too, are brought the tribesmen’s causes; both sides plead and judgment is given impartially, the loser is fined so many head of small cattle or camels, which he must pay or go into exile. Murder can be expiated by the payment of diya
or blood-money, if the kinsmen of the murdered man consent; they may, however, claim the life of the murderer, and long and troublesome blood feuds often ensue, involving the relatives of both sides for generations.
Apart from the tribesmen there is in Hejaz and south Arabia a privileged, religious class, the Sharifs or Seyyids, who claim descent from Mahomet through his daughter Fatima. Until the Egyptian invasion in 1814 the Sharifs of Mecca were the recognized rulers of Hejaz, and though the Turks have attempted to suppress their importance, the Sharif still executes justice according to the Mahommedan law in the holy cities, though, nominally, as a Turkish official. In Yemen and Hadramut many villages are occupied exclusively by this religious hierarchy, who are known as Ashraf, Sada or Kudha (i.e. Sharifs, Seyyids or Kadhis); the religious affairs of the tribes are left in their hands; they do not, however, interfere in tribal matters generally, or join in fighting.
Below these two classes, which may be looked on as the priestly and the military castes, there is, especially in the settled districts, a large population of artisans and labourers, besides negro slaves and their descendants, slave or free. The population of Khaibar consists almost entirely of the latter, and in Hail Huber estimates the pure Arab inhabitants at only one-third of the whole. In the desert, too, there is a widely scattered tribe, the Salubi, which from its name (Salib, cross) is conjectured to be of early Christian origin; they are great hunters, killing ostriches and gazelles; the Arabs despise them as an inferior race, but do not harm them; they pay a small tax to the tribe under whose protection they live, and render service as labourers, for which they receive in the spring milk and cheese; at the date harvest they get wages in kind; with this, and the produce of the chase, they manage to exist in the desert without agriculture or flocks.
In southern Arabia the Jews form a large element in the town population. According to one authority their presence in Yemen dates from the time of Solomon, others say from the capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadrezzar. Manzoni
The Jews in Arabia.
estimated their number in Sana in 1878 at 1700 out of a total population of 20,000; at Aden they are a numerous and wealthy community, with agents in most of the towns of Yemen. Even in remote Nejran, Halévy, himself a Jew, found a considerable colony of his co-religionists. They wear a distinctive garb and are not allowed to carry arms or live in the same quarter as Moslems. Another foreign element of considerable strength in the coast towns of Muscat, Aden and Jidda, is the British Indian trading class; many families of Indian origin also have settled at Mecca, having originally come as pilgrims.
Estimates of the population of Arabia vary enormously, and the figures given in the following table can only be regarded as a very rough approximation:—
Communications.—The principal land routes in Arabia are those leading to the holy cities. In the present day the Syrian pilgrim route, or Darb el Haj, from Damascus to Medina and Mecca is the most used. The annual pilgrim caravan or haj, numbering some 6000 people with 10,000 pack animals, is escorted by a few Turkish irregulars known as agel; small fortified posts have been established at the regular halting-places some 30 m. apart, each furnished with a well and reservoir, and for the further protection of the haj, payments are made to the Bedouin tribes through whose territories the route passes. The road is a mere camel track across the desert, the chief places passed are Ma’an on the Syrian border, a station on the old Sabaean trade route to Petra, and Medain Salih, the site of the rock-cut tombs and inscriptions first brought to notice by Doughty. From Medina the route usually followed descends the W. Safra to Badr Hunen, whence it keeps near the coast passing Rabigh and Khulesa to Mecca. The total distance, 1300 m., is covered in forty days.
The Egyptian pilgrim route from Cairo, across the Sinai peninsula and down the Midian coast to El Wijh, joins the Syrian route at Badr Hunen. It also was formerly provided with stations and reservoirs, but owing to the greater facilities of the sea journey from Suez to Jidda it is now little used. Another important route is that taken by the Persian or Shia pilgrims from Bagdad and Kerbela across the desert, by the wells of Lina, to Bureda in Kasim; thence across the steppes of western Nejd till it crosses the Hejaz border at the Ria Mecca, 50 m. north-east of the city. It lies almost entirely in the territory of the amir Ibn Rashid of J. Shammar, who derives a considerable revenue from the pilgrimage. The old reservoirs on this route attributed to Zubeda, wife of Harun al Rashid, were destroyed during the Wahhābi raids early in the 19th century, and have not been repaired. The Yemen pilgrim route, known as the Haj el Kabsi, led from Sada through Asir to Taif and Mecca, but it is no longer used.
The principal trade routes are those leading from Damascus to Jauf and across the Nafud to Hail. Other important routes leading to Nejd are those from Kuwet to Hail, and from El Hasa to Riad respectively. In the west and south the principal routes, other than those already mentioned, are from Yambu to Medina, from Jidda to Mecca, Hodeda to Sana, Aden to Sana, and from Mukalla to the Hadramut valley. Railway construction has begun in Arabia, and in 1908 the Hejaz line, intended to connect Damascus with Mecca, had reached Medina, 500 m. south of Ma’an. This line is of great strategical importance, as strengthening the Turkish hold on the Red Sea provinces. But the principal means of commercial communication for a country like Arabia must always be by sea. Bahrein, Kuwet and Muscat are in steam communication with India, and the Persian Gulf ports; all the great lines of steamships call at Aden on their way between Suez and the East, and regular services are maintained between Suez, Jidda, Hodeda and Aden, as well as to the ports on the African coast, while native coasting craft trade to the smaller ports on the Red Sea and Indian Ocean.
Commerce.—The total value of the trade of Aden for 1904 amounted to over £6,000,000. The imports to Jidda in the same year were £1,405,000, largely consisting of rice, wheat and other food stuffs from India; the exports, which have dwindled away in late years, amounted in 1904 to only £25,000. To balance the exports and imports specie was exported in the three years 1902-1904 amounting to £2,319,000; a large proportion of this was perhaps provided by cash brought into the country by pilgrims.
The pilgrim traffic increased largely in 1904 as compared with previous years; 74,600 persons landed at Jidda, 18,000 of whom were from British India, 13,000 from Java and the Straits Settlements, and the remainder from Turkish territory, Egypt and other countries: 235 out of a total of 334 steamships engaged in this traffic were British.
The trade of Hodeda, which contributes by far the largest share to that of Turkish Yemen, fell off considerably during the period from 1901-1905, chiefly owing to the disturbed state of the country. In the latter year the imports amounted to £467,000, and the exports to £451,000; coffee, the mainstay of Yemen trade, shows a serious decline from £302,000 in 1902 to £229,000 in 1904; this is attributable partly to the great increase of production in other countries, but mainly to the insecurity of the trade routes and the exorbitant transit dues levied by the Turkish administration.
Oman, through its chief port Muscat, had a total trade of about £550,000, two-thirds of which is due to imports and one-third to exports. The chief items of imports are arms and ammunition, rice, coffee and piece goods; the staple export is dates, which in a good year accounts for nearly half the total; much of the trade is in the hands of British Indians, and of the shipping 92% is British.
The principal trade centre of the Arabian side of the Persian Gulf is Bahrein; the total volume of trade of which amounted in 1904 to £1,900,000, nearly equally divided between imports and exports; rice, piece goods, &c., form the bulk of the former, while pearls are the most valuable part of the latter.
(R. A. W.
Arabia cannot be said to be “destitute of antiquities,” but the material for the study of these is still very incomplete. The difficulties in the way of travelling in Arabia with a view to scientific investigation are such that little or nothing is being done, and the systematic work which has given such good results in Egypt, Palestine and Babylonia-Assyria is unknown in Arabia. Yet the passing notes of travellers from the time of Carsten Niebuhr show that antiquities are to be found.
Prehistoric Remains.—Since prehistoric remains must be studied where they are found, the difficulty in the way of exploration makes itself severely felt. That such remains exist seems clear from the casual remarks of travellers. Thus Palgrave (Central and Eastern Arabia, vol. i. ch. 6) speaks of part of a circle of roughly shaped stones taken from the adjacent limestone mountains in the Nejd. Eight or nine of these stones still exist, some of them 15 ft. high. Two of them, 10 to 12 ft. apart, still bear their horizontal lintel. They are all without ornament. Palgrave compares them with the remains at Stonehenge and Karnak. Doughty (Arabia Deserta, vol. ii.), travelling in north-west Arabia, saw stones of granite in a row and “flagstones set edgewise” (though he does not regard these as religious), also “round heaps, perhaps barrows,” and “dry-built round chambers,” which may be ancient tombs. J. T. Bent (Southern Arabia, pp. 24 ff.) explored one of several mounds in Bahrein. It proved to be a tomb, and the remains in it are said to be Phoenician.
Castles and Walls.—In the south of Arabia, where an advanced civilization existed for centuries before the Christian era, the ruins of castles and city-walls are still in existence, and have been mentioned, though not examined carefully, by several travellers. In Yemen and Hadramut especially these ruins abound, and in some cases inscriptions seem to be still in situ. Great castles are often mentioned in early Arabian literature. One in the neighbourhood of San‛a was described as one of the wonders of the world by Qazwīnī (Athār ul-Bilād, p. 33, ed. Wüstenfeld, Göttingen, 1847, cf. Journal of the German Oriental Society, vol. 7, pp. 472, 476, and for other castles vol. 10, pp. 20 ff.). The ruins of the city of Ma’rib, the old Sabaean capital, have been visited by Arnaud, Halévy and Glaser, but call for further description, as Arnaud confined himself to a description of the dike (see below), while Halévy and Glaser were interested chiefly in the inscriptions.
Wells and Dikes.—From the earliest times the conservation of water has been one of the serious cares of the Arabs. All over the country wells are to be found, and the masonry of some of them is undoubtedly ancient. Inscriptions are still found in some of these in the south. The famous well Zemzem at Mecca is said to belong to the early times, when the eastern traffic passed from the south to the north-west of Arabia through the Hejaz, and to have been rediscovered shortly before the time of Mahomet. Among the most famous remains of Ma’rib are those of a great dike reminding one of the restored tanks familiar to visitors at Aden. These remains were first described by Arnaud (Journal asiatique, January 1874, with plan). Their importance was afterwards emphasized by Glaser’s publication of two long inscriptions concerning their restoration in the 5th and 6th centuries A.D. (“Zwei Inschriften über den Dammbruch von Mārib,” in the Mitteilungen der Vorderasiatischen Gesellschaft, Berlin, 1897). Another dike about 150 yds. long was seen by W. B. Harris at Hirran in Yemen. Above it was a series of three tanks (A Journey through the Yemen, p. 279, London, 1893).
Stones and Bronzes.—The 19th century has brought to the museums of Europe (especially to London, Paris, Berlin and Vienna) a number of inscriptions in the languages of Minea and Saba, and a few in those of Hadramut and Katabania (Qattabania). These inscriptions are generally on limestone or marble or on tablets of bronze, and vary from a few inches to some feet in length and height. In some cases the originals have been brought to Europe, in other cases only squeezes of the inscriptions. The characters employed are apparently derived from the Phoenician (cf. Lidzbarski’s Ephemeris, vol. i. pp. 109 ff.). The languages employed have been the subject of much study (cf. F. Hommel’s Süd-arabische Chrestomathie, Munich, 1893), but the archaeological value of these remains has not been so fully treated. Very many of them are votive inscriptions and contain little more than the names of gods and princes or private men. A few are historical, but being (with few and late exceptions) undated, have given rise to much controversy among scholars. Their range seems to be from about 800 B.C. (or 1500 B.C. according to E. Glaser) to the 6th century A.D. Few are still in situ, the majority having been taken from their original positions and built into houses, mosques or wells of more recent date. Among these remains are altars, and bases for statues of gods or for golden images of animals dedicated to gods. The earlier stones are devoid of ornamentation, but the later stones and bronzes are sometimes ornamented with designs of leaves, flowers, ox-heads, men and women. Some bear figures of the conventionalized sacred tree with worshippers, similar to Babylonian designs. Besides these there are gravestones, stelae with human heads, fragments of limestone, architectural designs as well as bronze castings of camels, horses, mice, serpents, &c. (cf. D. H. Müller’s Südarabische Alterthümer im Kunsthistorischen Museum, Vienna, 1899, with plates).
Seals, Weights and Coins.—The Vienna Museum possesses a small number of seals and gems. The seals are inscribed with Sabaean writing and are of bronze, copper, silver and stone. The gems of onyx, carnelian and agate are later and bear various figures, and in some cases Arabic inscriptions. One or two weights are also in existence. A number of coins have been brought to the British Museum from Aden, San‛a and Ma’rib. Others were purchased by G. Schlumberger in Constantinople; others have been brought to Europe by Glaser, and are now in the Vienna Museum. These are imitations of Greek models, while the inscriptions are in Sabaean characters (cf. B. V. Head, in the Numismatic Chronicle, 1878, pp. 273–284; G. Schlumberger, Le Trésor de San‛a, Paris, 1880; D. H. Müller, op. cit. pp. 65 ff. and plates).
Introduction.—Arabia is a land of Semites, and is supposed by some scholars to have been the original home of the Semitic peoples. Although this cannot be said to be proved, the studies, linguistic and archaeological, of Semitic scholars have shown it to be probable. The dispersion from Arabia is easy to imagine. The migration into Babylonia was simple, as there are no natural boundaries to separate it from north-east Arabia, and similar migrations have taken place in historic times. That of the Aramaeans at an early period is likewise free from any natural hindrance. The connexion with Palestine has always been close; and the Abyssinian settlement is probably as late as the beginning of the Christian era. Of these migrations, however, history knows nothing, nor are they expressed in literature. Arabian literature has its own version of prehistoric times, but it is entirely legendary and apocryphal. It was, and still is, the custom of Arabian historians to begin with the creation of the world and tell the history from then to the time of which they are writing. Consequently even the more sober histories contain a mass of fables about early days. Many of these, taken in part from Jewish and Christian sources, find a place in the Koran. Of all these stories current at the time of Mahomet, the only ones of any value are the accounts of the “days of the Arabs,” i.e. accounts of some famous inter-tribal battles in Arabia.
.—Until recently the Arab traditions were practically the only source for the pre-Islamic history of Arabia. The Old Testament references to Arabs were obscure. The classical accounts of the invasion of Aelius Gallus in 26 B.C.
threw little light on the state of Arabia at the time, still less on its past history. The Greek writers from Theophrastus in the 4th century B.C.
to Ptolemy in the 2nd century A.D.
mention many names of Arabian peoples and describe the situation of their cities, but contribute little to their history, and that little could not be controlled. The same applies to the information of Pliny in his Natural History
. In the 19th century the discovery and decipherment of the Assyrian inscriptions gave a slight glance into the relations between Arabs and Assyrians from the 8th century B.C.
But the great contribution of the century to the early history of Arabia was the collecting and translating of numerous early Arabian inscriptions (cf. section Antiquities
above), which have done service both by their own indication of a great civilization in Arabia for nearly (or more than) a thousand years before the Christian era, and by the new stimulus which they gave to the study and appreciation of the materials in the Assyrian inscriptions, the Old Testament, and the Greek and Roman writers. At the same time the facts that the inscriptions are undated until a late period, that few are historical in their contents, and for the most part yield only names of gods and rulers and domestic and religious details, and that our collection is still very incomplete, have led to much serious disagreement among scholars as to the reconstruction of the history of Arabia in the pre-Christian centuries.
All scholars, however, are agreed that the inscriptions reach as far back as the 9th century B.C. (some say to the 16th) and prove the existence of at least four civilized kingdoms during these centuries. These are the kingdoms of Ma‛īn (Minaean), of Saba (Sabaean), of Hadramaut (Hadramut) and of Katabania (Katabanū). Of the two latter little is known. That of Hadramut had kings from the time of the Minaeans to about A.D. 300, when it was conquered by Ethiopia. The limits of the kingdom of Katabania are not known, but it has its own inscriptions.
As to the Sabaean kingdom there is fair agreement among scholars. The inscriptions go back to 800 B.C.
or earlier, and the same applies to the kingdom. A queen of this people (the “Queen of Sheba”) is said (1 Kings x.) to have visited Solomon about 950 B.C.
There is, however, no mention of such a queen in the inscriptions. An Assyrian inscription mentions Ith‛amara the Sabaean who paid tribute to Sargon in 715 B.C.
At this time the Sabaeans must have been in north Arabia unless the inscription refers to a northern colony of the southern Sabaeans. The former opinion is held by E. Glaser, who thinks that in the 9th and 8th centuries they moved down along the west coast to the south, where they conquered the Minaeans (see below). The Sabaean rule is generally divided into periods indicated by the titles given to their rulers. In the first of these ruled the Makārib, who seem to have been priest-kings. Their first capital was at Ṣirwāḥ. Ten such rulers are mentioned in the inscriptions. Their rule extended from the 9th to the 6th century. The second period begins about 550 B.C.
The rulers are known as “kings of Saba.” Their capital was Ma’rib. The names of seventeen of these kings are known from the inscriptions. Their sway lasted until about 115 B.C.
, when they were succeeded by the Himyarites. During this period they were engaged in constant strife with the neighbouring kingdoms of Hadramut and Katabania. The great prosperity of south-west Arabia at this time was due in large measure to the fact that the trade from India with Egypt came there by sea and then went by land up the west coast. This trade, however, was lost during this period, as the Ptolemies established an overland route from India to Alexandria. The connexion of Saba with the north, where the Nabataeans
) had existed from about 200 B.C.
, was now broken. The decay that followed caused a number of Sabaeans to migrate to other parts of Arabia.
The Minaean kingdom extended over the south Arabian Jauf, its chief cities being Karnau, Ma‛īn and Yathil. Some twenty-five kings are known from the inscriptions; of these twenty are known to be related to one another. Their history must thus cover several centuries. As inscriptions in the Minaean language are found in al-’Ulā in north Arabia, it is probable that they had colonies in that district. With regard to their date opinion is very much divided; some, with E. Glaser and F. Hommel, maintaining that their kingdom existed prior to that of Saba, probably from about 1500 B.C. or earlier until the Sabaeans came from their home in the north and conquered them in the 9th century. Other scholars think, with D. H. Müller, partly on palaeographical grounds (cf. M. Lidzbarski’s Ephemeris, vol. i. pp. 109 seq., Giessen, 1902), that none of the inscriptions are earlier than about 800 B.C. and that the Minaean kingdom existed side by side with the Sabaean. It is curious that the Sabaean inscriptions contain no mention of the Minaeans, though this may be due to the fact that very few of the inscriptions are historical in content.
About 115 B.C.
the power over south Arabia passed from the Sabaeans to the Himyarites, a people from the extreme south-west of Arabia; and about this time the kingdom of Katabania came to an end. The title taken by the new rulers was “king of Saba and Raidān.” Twenty-six kings of this period are known from the inscriptions, some of which are dated. In this period the Romans made their one attempt at direct interference in the affairs of Arabia. The invasion under Aelius Gallus was an absolute failure, the expedition being betrayed by the guides and lost in the sands of the desert. During the latter part of this time the Abyssinians, who had earlier migrated from Arabia to the opposite coast of Africa, began to flow back to the south of Arabia, where they seem to have settled gradually and increased in importance until about A.D.
300, when they became strong enough to overturn the Himyarite kings and establish a dynasty of their own. The title assumed by them was “king of Saba, Raidān, Hadramut and Yemen.” The Himyarites were, however, still active, and after a struggle succeeded in establishing a Jewish Sabaean kingdom, having previously accepted Judaism as their religion. Their best-known king was Dhu Nuwās. The struggle between them and the Abyssinians now became one of Judaism against Christianity. The persecution of the Christians was very severe (see E. Glaser’s Die Abyssinier in Arabien und Afrika
, Munich, 1895, and F. M. E. Pereira’s Historia dos Martyres de Nagran
, Lisbon, 1899). Apparently for this reason Christian Abyssinia was supported from Byzantium in its attempts to regain power. These attempts were crowned with success in 525. Of the Christian Abyssinian kings in Arabia tradition tells of four, one only of whom is mentioned in inscriptions. The famous expedition of Abraha, the Abyssinian viceroy, against Mecca, took place in 570. Five years later the Persians, who had been called in by the opponents of Christianity, succeeded in taking over the rule and in appointing governors over Yemen. (See further Ethiopia
: The Axumite Kingdom
Hīra, Ghassān and Kinda.—Before passing to the time of Mahomet it is necessary to take account of three other Arabian powers, those of Hīra, Ghassān and Kinda.
The kingdom of Hira (Ḥīra) was established in the boundary land between the Euphrates and the Arabian desert, a district renowned for its good air and extraordinary fertility. The chief town was Hīra, a few miles south of the site
of the later town of Kufa. The inhabitants of this land are said in Ṭabari’s history to have been of three classes:—(1) The Tanukh (Tnuhs), who lived in tents and were made up of Arabs from the Tehama and Nejd, who had united in Bahrein to form a new tribe, and who migrated from there to Hīra, probably at the beginning or middle of the 3rd century A.D.
, when the Arsacid power was growing weak. The Arabian historians relate their conflict with Zenobia. (2) The ‛Ibād or ‛Ibādites, who dwelt in the town of Hīra in houses and so led a settled life. These were Christians, whose ecclesiastical language was Syriac, though the language of intercourse was Arabic. A Christian bishop of Hīra is known to have attended a synod in 410. In the 5th century they became Nestorians. (3) Refugees of various tribes, who came into the land but did not belong to the Tanukh or the ‛Ibād. There is no trustworthy information as to the earlier chiefs of this people. The dynasty of the Lakhmids, famed in Arabian history and literature, arose towards the end of the 3rd century and lasted until about 602. The names of twenty kings are given by Hishām al-Kalbī in Ṭabari’s history. Although so many of their subjects were Christian, the Lakhmids remained heathen until Nu’mān, the last of the dynasty. The kingdom of Hīra was never really independent, but always stood in a relation of dependence on Persia, probably receiving pay from it and employing Persian soldiers. At the height of its power it was able to render valuable aid to its suzerain. Much of its time was spent in wars with Rome and Ghassān. Its revenues were derived from the Bedouins of the surrounding lands as well as from its own subjects at home. About 602 the Lakhmid dynasty fell, and the Persian Chosroes (Khosrau) II. appointed as governor an Arab of the tribe of Tāi. Shortly after it came into relation with Islam.
See G. Rothstein’s Die Dynastie der Lakhmiden in al-Hira
(Berlin, 1899); Th. Nöldeke’s Geschichte der Perser und Araber zur Zeit der Sassaniden
In the beginning of the 6th century A.D. a dynasty known as the Jafnids, enter into the history alike of the Roman and Persian empires. They ruled over the tribe of Ghassān in the extreme north-west of Arabia, east of the
Jordan, from near Petra in the south to the neighbourhood of Rosāfa in the north-east. Of their origin little is known except that they came from the south. A part of the same tribe inhabited Yathrib (Medina) at the time of Mahomet. The first certain prince of the Jafnid house was Hārith ibn Jabala, who, according to the chronicle of John Malalas, conquered Mondhir (Mundhir) of Hīra in 528. In the following year, according to Procopius, Justinian perceived the value of the Ghassānids as an outpost of the Roman empire, and as opponents of the Persian dependants of Hīra, and recognized Hārith as king of the Arabs and patrician of the Roman empire. He was thus constantly engaged in battles against Hīra. In 541 he fought under Belisarius in Mesopotamia. After his death about 569 or 570 the friendly relations with the West continued, but about 583 there was a breach. The Ghassānid kingdom split into sections each with its own prince. Some passed under the sway of Persia, others preserved their freedom at the expense of their neighbours. At this point their history ceases to be mentioned in the Western chronicles. There are references to the Ghassānid Nu’mān in the poems of Nābigha. Arabian tradition tells of their prince Jabala ibn Aiham who accepted Islam, after fighting against it, but finding it too democratic, returned to Christianity and exile in the Roman empire. As Islam advanced, some of the Ghassānids retreated to Cappadocia, others accepted the new faith.
See Th. Nöldeke, Die ghassanischen Fürsten aus dem Hause Gafna’s (Berlin, 1887).
In the last decade of the 5th century a new power arose in central Arabia. This was the tribe of Kinda under the sway of the family of Āqil ul Murār, who came from the south. They seem to have stood in much the same relation to
the rulers of Yemen, as the people of Hīra to the Persians and the Ghassānids to Rome. Abraha in his invasion of the Hejaz was accompanied by chiefs of Kinda. Details of their history are not known, but they seem to have gained power at one time even over the Lakhmids of Hīra; and to have ruled over Bahrein as well as Yemama until the battle of Shi‛b ul Jabala, when they lost this province to Hīra. The poet Amru‛ul Qais was a member of the princely family of Kinda.
Outside the territory of the powers mentioned above, Arabia in the 6th century was in a state of political chaos. Bahrein, inhabited chiefly by the Bani‛Abd Qais and the Bani Bakr, was largely subject to Persian influence near
Other parts of Arabia.
its coast, and a Persian governor, Sebocht, resided in Hajar, its chief town. In Oman the Arabs, who were chiefly engaged in fishing and seafaring, were Azdites mixed with Persians. The ruling dynasty of Julanda in their capital Suhār lasted on till the Abbasid period. No Persian officials are mentioned in this country; whether Persians exercised authority over it is doubtful. On the west coast of Arabia the influence of the kingdom of Yemen was felt in varying degree according to the strength of the rulers of that land. Apart from this influence the Hejaz was simply a collection of cities each with its own government, while outside the cities the various tribes governed themselves and fought continual battles with one another.
Time of Mahomet
.—Thus at the time of Mahomet’s advent the country was peopled by various tribes, some more or less settled under the governments of south Arabia, Kinda, Hīra and Ghassān, these in turn depending on Abyssinia, Persia and Rome (i.e.
Byzantium); others as in the Hejaz were ruled in smaller communities by members of leading families, while in various parts of the peninsula were wandering Arabs still maintaining the traditions of old family and tribal rule, forming no state, sometimes passing, as suited them, under the influence and protection of one or another of the greater powers. To these may be added a certain number of Jewish tribes and families deriving their origin partly from migrations from Palestine, partly from converts among the Arabs themselves. Mahomet appealed at once to religion and patriotism, or rather created a feeling for both. For Mahomet as a religious teacher and for the details of his career see Mahomet
. It is enough here to outline his actions in so far as he attempted to create a united, and then a conquering, Arabia. Though the external conquests of the Arabs belong more properly to the period of the caliphate, yet they were the natural outcome of the prophet’s ideas. His idea of Arabia for the Arabians could only be realized by summoning the great kings of the surrounding nations to recognize Islam; otherwise Abyssinia, Persia and Rome (Byzantium) would continue their former endeavours to influence and control the affairs of the peninsula. Tradition tells that a few years before his death he did actually send letters to the emperor Heraclius, to the negus of Abyssinia, the king of Persia, and Cyrus, patriarch of Alexandria, the “Mukaukis” of Egypt, summoning them to accept Islam and threatening them with punishment in case of refusal. But the task of carrying out these threats fell to the lot of his successors; the work of the prophet was to be the subjugating and uniting of Arabia. This work, scarcely begun in Mecca, was really started after the migration to Medina by the formation of a party of men—the Muhājirun
(Refugees or Emigrants) and the Ansār
(Helpers or Defenders)—who accepted Mahomet as their religious leader. As the necessity of overcoming his enemies became urgent, this party became military. A few successes in battle attracted to him men who were interested in fighting and who were willing to accept his religion as a condition of membership of his party, which soon began to assume a national form. Mahomet early found an excuse for attacking the Jews, who were naturally in the way of his schemes. The Bani Nadīr were expelled, the Bani Quraiza slaughtered. By the time he had successfully stormed the rich Jewish town of Khaibar, he had found that it was better to allow industrious Jews to remain in Arabia as payers of tribute than to expel or kill them: this policy he followed afterwards. The capture of Mecca (630) was not only an evidence of his growing power, which induced Arabs throughout the peninsula to join him, but gave him a valuable centre of pilgrimage, in which he was able by a politic adoption of some of the heathen Arabian ceremonies into his own rites to win men over the more easily to his own cause. At his death in 623 Mahomet left Arabia practically unified. It is true that rival prophets were leading rebellions in various parts of Arabia, that the tax-collectors were not always paid, and that the warriors of the land were much distressed for want of work owing to the brotherhood of Arabs proclaimed by Mahomet. The tribes were a seething mass of restlessness, their old feuds ready to break out again. But they had realized that they had common interests. The power of the foreigner in Arabia was broken. Islam promised rich booty for those who fought and won, paradise for those who fell.
.—One task of the early caliphs was to find an outlet for the restless fighting spirit. Abu Bekr (632-634), the first of these caliphs, was a man of simple life and profound faith. He understood the intention of Mahomet as to foreign nations, and set himself resolutely to carry it out in the face of much difficulty. Hence as soon as he assumed office he sent out the army already chosen to advance against the Romans in the north. The successful reduction of the rebels in Arabia enabled him in his first year to send his great general Khālid with his Arab warriors first against Persians, then against Romans. His early death prevented him from seeing the fruits of his policy. Under the second caliph Omar (634-644) the Persians were defeated at Kadesiya (Kadessia), and Irak was completely subdued and the new cities of Kufa and Basra were founded (635). In the same year Damascus fell into the hands of the Arabs under Abu ‛Ubaida. In 636 Jerusalem fell and received a visit from the caliph. Three years later the fateful step was taken of appointing Moawiya (Mu’awīyya) governor of Syria. In 640 ‛Amr-ibn-el-Ass (Amr ibn al-‛Ās) invaded Egypt and the following year took Alexandria and founded Fostat (which later became Cairo). The victory at Nehavend in 641 over the Persians, the flight of the last Sassanid king and the capture of Rei or Rai (class. Rhagae) in 643 meant the entire subjugation of Persia and crowned the conquests of Omar’s caliphate. The reign of the third caliph Othman (644-656) was marked by the beginning of that internal strife which was to ruin Arabia; but the foreign conquests continued. In the north the Moslem arms reached Armenia and Asia Minor; on the west they were successful as far as Carthage on the north coast of Africa. After the murder of Othman, ‛Ali (656-661) became caliph, but Moawiya, governor of Syria, soon rebelled on the pretext of avenging the death of Othman. After the battle of Siffin (657) arbitration was resorted to for the settlement of the rival claims. By a trick ‛Ali was deposed (658), and the Omayyad dynasty was established with its capital at Damascus.
During these early years the Arabs had not only made conquests by land, but had found an outlet for their energy at sea. In 640 Omar sent a fleet of boats across the Red Sea to protect the Moslems on the Abyssinian coast.
Institution of navy.
The boats were wrecked. Omar was so terrified by this that when Moawiya applied to him for permission to use ships for an attack on the islands of the Levant, he resolutely refused. Othman was less careful, and allowed a fleet from Africa to help in the conquests of the Levant and Asia Minor. In 649 he sanctioned the establishment of a maritime service, on condition that it should be voluntary. Abu Qais, appointed admiral, showed its usefulness by the capture of Cyprus. In 652 Abu Sarh with a fleet from Egypt won a naval battle over the Byzantine fleet near Alexandria.
2. Internal Affairs
.—In the meantime what had become of Arabia and its unification? The first task of Abu Bekr had been to reduce those rebels who threatened to destroy that unity even before it was fully established. This he did by the aid of the great general Khālid. First he swept down on the Bani Hanīfa in Yemāma, who with their rival prophet Mosailama (Mosailima) and 40,000 men were in arms. The battle of Yemāma (633) was fierce and decisive. Mosailama was slain. The Bani Hanīfa returned to Islam. Bahrein was influenced by this battle, and the rebellion there, which was threatening, was crushed. Oman was reconquered by Huddhaifa, who became its governor. Ikrima settled Māhra. Muhājir, with the help of Ikrima, succeeded with difficulty, but thoroughly, in defeating Amr ibn Ma’dikārib and Qais ibn ‛Abd Yaghūth in Yemen and Ashath ibn Qais in Hadramut. The Hejaz and Tehama were cleared of the plundering nomads by ‛Attāb and Ṭāhir. At the end of the first year of his caliphate Abu Bekr saw Arabia united under Islam. The new national feeling demanded that all Arabs should be free men, so the caliph ordained that all Arab slaves should be freed on easy terms. The solidarity of Arabia survived the first foreign conquests. It was not intended that Arabs should settle in the conquered lands except as armies of occupation. Thus it was at first forbidden that Arabs should buy or possess land in these countries. Kūfa was to be only a military camp, as was Fostat in Egypt. The taxes with the booty from conquests were to be sent to Arabia for distribution among the Moslems. Omar tried to prevent the advance of conquests lest Arabia should suffer. “I would rather the safety of my people than thousands of spoil and further conquest.” But men could not be prevented from pouring out from their homes in search of new conquests and more booty. Many of those who went forth did not return. They acquired property and rank in the new lands. Kūfa attracted chiefly men of south Arabia, Basra those of the north. Both became great cities, each with a population of 150,000 to 200,000 Arabians. Yet so long as the caliphs lived in Medina, the capital of Arabia was the capital of the expanding Arabian empire. To it was brought a large share of the booty. The caliphs were chosen there, and there the rules for the administration were framed. Thence went out the governors to their provinces. Omar was the great organizer of Arabian affairs. He compiled the Koran, instituted the civil list, regulated the military organization. He, too, desired that Mahomet’s wish should be carried out and that Arabia should be purely Moslem. To this end he expelled the Christians from Nejrān and gave them lands in Syria and Irak, where they were allowed to live in peace on payment of tribute. The Jews, too, were shortly after expelled from Khaibar. The secondary position that Arabia was beginning to assume in the Arabian empire is clearly marked in the progress of events during the caliphate of Othmān. In his appointments to governorships and other offices, as well as in his distribution of spoil, Othmān showed a marked preference for the members of his own tribe the Koreish (Quraish) and the members of his own family the Bani Omayya (Umayya). The other Arab tribes became increasingly jealous of the Koreish, while among the Koreish themselves the Hāshimite family came to hate the Omayyad, which now had much power, although it had been among the last to accept Islam and never was very strict in its religious duties. But the quarrels which led to the murder of Othmān were fomented not so much in Arabia as in Kūfa and Baṣra and Fostat. In these cities the rival parties were composed of the most energetic fighting men, who were brought into the most intimate contact with one another, and who kept up their quarrels from the home land. In Kūfa a number of the Koreish had settled, and their arrogance became insupportable. The governors of all these towns were of Othmān’s own family. After some years of growing dissatisfaction deputies from these places came to Medina, and the result was the murder of the caliph. Syria alone remained loyal to the house of Omayya, and Othmān had been advised to take refuge there, but had refused. Arabia itself counted for little in the strife. Yet its prestige was not altogether lost. After the murder the rebels were unwilling to return home until a new caliph had been chosen in the capital. The Egyptian rebels managed to gain most influence, and, in accordance with their desire, ‛Alī was appointed caliph by the citizens of Medina. But Medina itself was being corrupted by the constant influx of captives, who, employed at first as servants, soon became powerful enough to dictate to their masters. In the struggle that ensued upon the election of ‛Alī, Arabia was involved. Ayesha, Ṭalḥa and Zobair, who were strong in Mecca, succeeded in obtaining possession of Baṣra, but were defeated in 656 at the battle of the Camel (see Ali
). In the south of Arabia ‛Alī succeeded in establishing his own governor in Yemen, though the government treasure was carried off to Mecca. But the centre of strife was not to be Arabia. When ‛Alī left Medina to secure Baṣra, he abandoned it as the capital of the Arabian empire. With the success of Moawiya Damascus became the capital of the caliphate (658) and Arabia became a mere province, though always of importance because of its possession of the two sacred cities Mecca and Medina. Both these cities were secured by Moawiya in 660, and at the same time Yemen was punished for its adherence to ‛Alī. The final blow to any political pretensions of Medina was dealt by the caliph when he had his son Yazīd declared as his successor, thus taking away any claim on the part of the citizens of Medina to elect to the caliphate.
.—The early years of the Omayyads were years of constant strife in Arabia. The Khārijites who had opposed ‛Alī on the ground that he had no right to allow the appeal to arbitration, were defeated at Nahrawān or Nahrwān (658), but those who escaped became fierce propagandists against the Koreish, some claiming that the caliph should be chosen by the Faithful from any tribe of the Arabs, some that there should be no caliph at all, that God alone was their ruler and that the government should be carried on by a council. They broke up into many sects, and were long a disturbing political force in Arabia as elsewhere. On the death of ‛Alī his house was represented by his two sons Ḥasan and Ḥosain (Ḥusain). Ḥasan soon made peace with Moawiya. On the accession of Yazid, Ḥosain refused homage and raised an army, but was slain at Kerbela (680). ‛Ābdallah ibn Zobair (of the house of Hāshim) immediately stepped forward in Mecca as the avenger of ‛Alī’s family and the champion of religion. The two sacred cities supported him. Medina was besieged and sacked by the troops of Yazīd (682) and Mecca was besieged the following year. The siege was raised in the third month on the news of the death of Yazīd, but not before the Ka‛ba had been destroyed. ‛Ābdallah remained in Mecca recognized as caliph in Arabia, and soon after in Egypt and even a part of Syria. He defeated the troops of Merwān I., but could not win the support of the Khārijites. In 691 Abdalmalik (‛Abdul-Malik) determined to crush his rival and sent his general Hajjāj against Mecca. The siege was begun in March 692, and in October the city was taken and ‛Ābdallah slain. Abdalmalik was now supreme in Arabia and throughout the Moslem world. During the remaining years of the Omayyad dynasty (i.e.
until 750) little is heard of Arabia in history. The conquests of Islam in Spain on the one side and India on the other had little or no effect on it. It was merely a province.
The ‛Abbāsids.—The accession of Abul ‛Abbās (of the house of Hāshim) and the transference of the capital of the caliphate from Damascus to Kūfa, then Anbar and soon after (in 760) to Bagdad meant still further degradation to Arabia and Arabs. From the beginning the ‛Abbāsids depended for help on Persians and Turks, and the chief offices of state were frequently filled with foreigners. In one thing only the Arabs conquered to the end; that was in their language. The study of Arabic was taken up by lexicographers, grammarians and poets (mostly of foreign origin) with a zeal rarely shown elsewhere. The old Arabian war spirit was dying. Although the Arabians, as a rule, were in favour of the Omayyad family, they could not affect the succession of the ‛Abbāsids. They returned more and more to their old inter-tribal disputes. They formed now not only a mere branch of the empire of the caliphate, but a branch deriving little life from and giving less to the main stock. In 762 there was a rebellion in favour of a descendant of ‛Alī, but it was put down with great severity by the army of the caliph Manṣūr. A more local ‛Alyite revolt in Mecca and Medina was crushed in 785. In the contest between the two sons of Harūn al Rashīd all Arabia sided with Mamūn (812). In 845-846 the lawless raids of Bedouin tribes compelled the caliph Wāthiq to send his Turkish general Bogha, who was more successful in the north than in the centre and south of Arabia in restoring peace.
.—Towards the close of the 9th century Arabia was disturbed by the rise of a new movement which during the next hundred years dominated the peninsula, and at its close left it shattered never to be united again. In the year 880 Yemen was listening to the propaganda of the new sect of the Carmathians
) or followers of Hamdān Qarmaṭ. Four years later these had become a public force. In 900 ‛Abū Sa‛id al-Jannābi, who had been sent to Bahrein by Hamdān, had secured a large part of this province and had won the city of Kaṭif (Ketif) which contained many Jews and Persians. The Arabs who lived more inland were mostly Bedouin who found the obligations of Islam irksome, and do not seem to have made a very vigorous opposition to the Carmathians who took Hajar the capital of Bahrein in 903. From this they made successful attacks on Yemāma (Yamama), and attempts only partially successful at first at Oman. In 906 the court at Bagdad learned that these sectaries had gained almost all Yemen and were threatening Mecca and Medina. Abū Sa‛īd was assassinated (913) in his palace at Laḥsa (which in 926 was fortified and became the Carmathian capital of Bahrein). His son Sa‛īd succeeded him, but proved too weak and was deposed and succeeded by his brother Abu Ṭāhir. His success was constant and the caliphate was brought very low by him. In Arabia he subjugated Oman, and swooping down on the west in 929 he horrified the Moslem world by capturing Mecca and carrying off the sacred black stone to Bahrein. The Fatimite caliph ‛Obaidallah (see Fatimites
), to whom Abu Ṭāhir professed allegiance, publicly wrote to him to restore the stone, but there is some reason to believe that he secretly encouraged him to retain it. In 939, however, the stone was restored and pilgrimages to the holy cities were allowed to pass unmolested on payment of a tax. So long as Abū Ṭāhir lived the Carmathians controlled Arabia. After his death, however, they quarrelled with the Fatimite rulers of Egypt (969) and began to lose their influence. In 985 they were completely defeated in Irak, and soon after lost control of the pilgrimages. Oman recovered its independence. Three years later Kaṭīf, at that time their chief city, was besieged and taken by a Bedouin sheik, and subsequently their political power in Arabia came to an end. It was significant that their power fell into the hands of Bedouins. Arabia was now completely disorganized, and was only nominally subject to the caliphate. The attempt of Mahomet to unify Arabia had failed. The country was once more split up into small governments, more or less independent, and groups of wandering tribes carrying on their petty feuds. Of the history of these during the next few centuries little is known, except in the case of the Hejaz. Here the presence of the sacred cities led writers to record their annals (cf. F. Wüstenfeld’s Die Chroniken der Stadt Mekka
, 4 vols., Leipzig, 1857-1861). The two cities were governed by Arabian nobles (sherīfs
), often at feud with one another, recognizing formally the overlordship of the caliph at Bagdad or the caliph of Egypt. Thus in 966 the name of the caliph Moti was banished from the prayers at Mecca, and an ‛Alyite took possession of the government of the city and recognized the Egyptian caliph as his master. About a century later (1075-1094) the ‛Abbāsid caliph was again recognized as spiritual head owing to the success in arms of his protector, the Seljuk Malik-Shah. With the fall of the Bagdad caliphate all attempts at control from that quarter came to an end. After the visit of the Sultan Bibars (1269) Mecca was governed by an amir dependent on Egypt. Outside the two cities anarchy prevailed, and the pilgrimage was frequently unsafe owing to marauding Bedouins. In 1517 the Osmānlī Turkish sultan Selīm conquered Egypt, and having received the right of succession to the caliphate was solemnly presented by the sherīf of Mecca with the keys of the city, and recognized as the spiritual head of Islam and ruler of the Hejaz. At the same time Yemen, which since the 9th century had been in the power of a number of small dynasties ruling in Zubed, San‛ā, Sa‛da and Aden, passed into the hands of the Turk.
For the history of Yemen during this period cf. H. C. Kay, Omarah’s History of Yaman (London, 1892), and S. Lane-Poole, The Mahommedan Dynasties, pp. 87-103 (Westminster, 1894). Little more than a century later (1630), a Yemen noble Khāṣim succeeded in expelling the Turk and establishing a native imāmate, which lasted until 1871. For descriptions of it in the 18th century cf. C. Niebuhr’s accounts of his travels in Arabia in 1761.
Oman.—Since the separation from the caliphate (before 1000 A.D.) Oman had remained independent. For more than a century it was governed by five elected imāms, who were chosen from the tribe of al-Azd and generally lived at Nizwa. After them the Bani Nebhān gained the upper hand and established a succession of kings (māliks) who governed from 1154 to 1406. During this time the country was twice invaded by Persians. The “kings of Hormūz” claimed authority over the coast land until the beginning of the 16th century. In 1435 the people rose against the tyranny of the Bani Nebhān and restored the imāmate of the tribe al-Azd. In 1508 the Portuguese under Albuquerque seized most of the east coast of Oman. In 1624 a new dynasty arose in the interior, when Nāṣir ibn Murshid of the Yariba (Ya‛aruba) tribe (originally from Yemen) was elected imām and established his capital at Rustak. He was able to subdue the petty princes of the country, and the Portuguese were compelled to give up several towns and pay tribute for their residence at Muscat. About 1651 the Portuguese were finally expelled from this city, and about 1698 from the Omanite settlements on the east coast of Africa.
For the history of Oman from 661 to 1856 cf. G. P. Badger, History of the Imāms and Seyyids of Oman by Salil-ibn-Razik (London, Hakluyt Society, 1871).
.—Modern Arabian history begins with that of the Wahhābi movement in the middle of the 18th century. Its originator, Mahommed Ibn Abdul Wahhāb, was born (1691) at Ayana in Nejd, and after studying in Basra and Damascus, and making the pilgrimage to Mecca returned to his native country and settled down at Huremala near Deraiya. The abuses and corruptions which had overgrown the practice of orthodox Islam had deeply impressed him, and he set to work to combat them, and to inculcate on all good Moslems a return to the pure simplicity of their original faith. In 1742 Mahommed Ibn Saūd, sheik of Deraiya, accepted his doctrines, and enforced them by his sword with such effect that before his death in 1765 the whole of eastern Nejd and El Hasa was converted to the faith of Abdul Wahhāb, and accepted the political supremacy of Ibn Saūd. His son and successor, Abdul Aziz, in a rapid series of successful campaigns, extended his dominion and that of the reformed faith far beyond the limits of Nejd. His attacks on the pilgrim caravans, begun in 1783 and constantly repeated, startled the Mahommedan world,
and compelled the attention of the sultan, as the nominal protector of the faithful. In 1798 a Turkish force was sent from Bagdad into El Hasa, but was compelled to retreat without accomplishing anything, and its discomfiture added much to the renown of the Wahhābi power. In 1801 Saūd, son of the amir Abdul Aziz, led an expedition to the Euphrates, and on the festival of Bairam, the 20th of April, stormed Kerbela, put the defenders to the sword, destroyed the sacred tomb, scattered the sacred relics and returned laden with the treasures, accumulated during centuries in the sanctuary of the Shiā faith. Mecca itself was taken; plundering was forbidden, but the tombs of the saints and all objects of veneration were ruthlessly destroyed, and all ceremonies which seemed in the eye of the stern puritan conqueror to suggest the taint of idolatry were forbidden.
On the 14th of October 1802 the amir Abdul Aziz, at the age of eighty-two years, was murdered by a Shiā fanatic when at prayers in the mosque of Deraiya, and Saūd, who had for many years led the Wahhābi armies, became the reigning amir. In 1804 Medina was taken and with its fall all resistance ceased. The Wahhābi empire had now attained its zenith, a settled government was established able to enforce law and order in the desert and in the towns, and a spirit of Arabian nationality had grown up which bade fair to extend the Wahhābi dominion over all the Arab race. It already, however, bore within it the germ of decay; the accumulation of treasure in the capital had led to a corruption of the simple manners of the earlier times; the exhaustion of the tribes through the heavy blood tax had roused discontent among them; the plundering of the holy places, the attacks on the pilgrim caravans under the escort of Turkish soldiers, and finally, in 1810, the desecration of the tomb of Mahomet and the removal of its costly treasures, raised a cry of dismay throughout the Mahommedan world, and made it clear even to the Turkish sultan that unless the Wahhābi power were crushed his claims to the caliphate were at an end.
But Turkey was herself fully occupied by affairs in Europe, and to Mehemet Ali, then pasha of Egypt, was deputed the task of bringing the Wahhābis into subjection. In October 1811 an expedition consisting of 10,000 men under Tusun Pasha, the pasha’s son, a youth of sixteen, landed in Hejaz without opposition. Saūd with his main forces had started northwards to attack Bagdad, but returning at once he met and defeated Tusun with great loss and compelled him to retire. Medina and subsequently Mecca were eventually taken by the Egyptians, but in spite of continual reinforcements they could do little more than hold their own in Hejaz. In 1813 Mehemet Ali was compelled to take the field himself with fresh troops, but was unable to achieve any decisive success, and in 1814 Tusun was again defeated beyond Taif. In May 1814 Saūd died, and his son, Ābdallah, attempted to negotiate, but Mehemet Ali refused all overtures, and in January 1815 advanced into Nejd, defeated the Wahhābi army and occupied Ras, then the chief town in Kasim. Terms of peace were made, but on the retirement of the Egyptians Ābdallah refused to carry out the conditions agreed on, which included the return of the jewels plundered by his father, and another campaign had to be fought before his submission was obtained. Ibrahim Pasha replaced Tusun in command, and on reaching Arabia in September 1816 his first aim was to gain over the great Bedouin tribes holding the roads between Hejaz and his objective in Nejd; having thus secured his line of advance he pushed on boldly and defeated Ābdallah at Wiya, where he put to death all prisoners taken; thence rapidly advancing, with contingents of the friendly Harb and Mutēr tribes in support of his regular troops, he laid siege to Ras; this place, however, held out and after a four months’ siege he was compelled to give up the attack. Leaving it on one side he pushed on eastwards, took Aneza after six days’ bombardment and occupied Bureda. Here he waited two months for reinforcements, and with his Bedouin contingent, strengthened by the adhesion of the Āteba and Bani Khālid tribes, advanced on Shakra in Wushm, which fell in January 1818 after a regular siege. After destroying Huremala and massacring its inhabitants, he arrived before Deraiya on the 14th of April 1818. For six months the siege went on with varying fortune, but at last the courage and determination of Ibrahim triumphed, and on the 9th of September, after a heroic resistance, Ābdallah, with a remnant of four hundred men, was compelled to surrender. The Wahhābi leader was soon after sent to Constantinople, where, in spite of Mehemet Ali’s intercession, he and the companions who had followed him in his captivity were condemned to death, and after being paraded through the city with ignominy for three days were finally beheaded.
Deraiya was razed to the ground and the principal towns of Nejd were compelled to admit Egyptian garrisons; but though the Arabs saw themselves powerless to stand before disciplined troops, the Egyptians, on the other hand, had to confess that without useless sacrifices they could not retain their hold on the interior.
In 1824 Turki, son of the unfortunate Ābdallah, headed a rising which resulted in the re-establishment of the Wahhābi state with Riad as its new capital; and during the next ten years he consolidated his power, paying tribute to and under the nominal suzerainty of Egypt till his murder in 1834. His son, Fēsal, succeeded him, but in 1836 on his refusal to pay tribute an Egyptian force was sent to depose him and he was taken prisoner and sent to Cairo, while a rival claimant, Khalid, was established as amir in Riad. Mehemet Ali and his son Ibrahim Pasha were, however, now committed to their conflict with Turkey for Syria and Asia Minor, and had no troops to spare for the thankless task of holding the Arabian deserts; the garrisons were gradually withdrawn, and in 1842 Fēsal, who had escaped from his prison at Cairo reappeared and was everywhere recognized as amir. The few remaining Egyptian troops were ejected from Riad, and with them all semblance of Egyptian or Turkish rule disappeared from central Arabia.
For a time it looked as if the supremacy of the Wahhābi empire was to be renewed; El Hasa, Harik, Kasim and Asir returned to their allegiance, but over Oman and Yemen Fēsal never re-established his dominion, and the Bahrein sheiks with British support kept their independence.
A rival state had, however, arisen, under Ābdallah Ibn Rashid in Jebel Shammar. Driven into exile owing to a feud between his family and the Ibn Āli, the leading family of the Shammar, Ābdallah came to Riad in 1830, and was
favourably received by the amir Turki. In 1834 he was with Fēsal on an expedition against El Hasa when news came of the amir’s murder by his cousin Mashārah. By Ābdallah’s advice the expedition was abandoned; Fēsal hastened back with all his forces to Riad, and invested the citadel where Mashārah had taken refuge, but failed to gain possession of it, until Ābdallah with two companions found his way into the palace, killed Mashārah, and placed Fēsal on the throne of his father. As a reward for his services Ābdallah was appointed governor of Jebel Shammar, and had already established himself in Hail when the Egyptian expedition of 1836 removed Fēsal temporarily from Nejd. During the exile of the latter he steadily consolidated his power, extending his influence more especially over the desert tribes, till on Fēsal’s return in 1842 he had created a state subject only in name to that of which Riad was the capital.
On the death of Ābdallah in 1843, his son Talāl succeeded. He set himself to work to establish law and order throughout the state, to arrange its finances, and to encourage the settlement in Hail of artificers and merchants from abroad; the building of the citadel and palace commenced by Mehemet Ali, and continued by Ābdallah Ibn Rashid, was completed by Talāl. The town walls were strengthened, new wells dug, gardens planted, mosques and schools built. His uncle Obed, to whom equally with Ābdallah is due the foundation of the Ibn Rashid dynasty, laboured to extend the Shammar boundaries. Khaibar, Tema and Jauf became tributary to Hail.
Though tolerant in religion Talāl was careful to avoid the suspicion of lukewarmness towards the Wahhābi formulas. Luxury in clothing and the use of tobacco were prohibited; attendance at the mosque was enforced: any doubt as to his orthodoxy was silenced by the amount and regularity of the tribute sent by him to Riad. Equally guarded was his attitude to the Turkish authorities; it is not improbable that Talāl had also entered into relations with the viceroy of Egypt to ensure his position in case of a collision with the Porte. During his twenty years’ reign Jebel Shammar became a model state, where justice and security ruled in a manner before unheard of. Fēsal may well have watched with jealous anxiety the growing strength of his neighbour’s state as compared with his own, where all progress was arrested by the deadening tyranny of religious fanaticism.
On the 11th of March 1868 Talāl, smitten with an incurable malady, fell by his own hand and was succeeded by his brother Matāb; after a brief reign he was murdered by his nephews, the elder of whom, Bandar, became amir.
The amir Mahommed.
Mahommed, the third son of the amir Ābdallah, was at the time absent; with a view of getting his uncle into his power, Bandar invited him to return to Hail, and on his arrival went out to meet him accompanied by Hamud, son of Obed, and a small following. Warned by a hurried sign by Hamud that his life was in danger, Mahommed at once attacked Bandar, stabbed him and took possession of the citadel; a general massacre of all members of the house of Ibn Rashid followed, and next day Mahommed appeared with his cousin Hamud in the market-place of Hail, and announced his assumption of the amirship. A strong and capable ruler, he soon established his authority over all northern and western Nejd, and in 1872 the opportunity arrived for his intervention in the east. In that year Ābdallah, who had succeeded Fēsal in Riad in 1867, was deposed, but with the assistance of Mahommed was reinstated; two years later, however, he was again deposed and forced to seek refuge at Hail, from which place he appealed for assistance to the Turkish authorities at Bagdad. Midhat Pasha, then governor-general, seized the occasion of asserting Turkish dominion on the Persian Gulf coast, and in 1875, in spite of British protests, occupied El Hasa and established a new province under the title of Nejd, with its headquarters at Hofuf, of which Ābdallah was appointed governor. This was an event of some importance, as it constituted the first Turkish claim to the sovereignty over Nejd abandoned by Egypt thirty-three years earlier. The Turks did not support their client by advancing into Nejd itself, and he and his rivals were left to fight out their battles among themselves. Turkey was indeed too much occupied by the war with Russia to pay much attention to Arab affairs, though a few years later she attempted to occupy Bahrein by a coup de main
, which was only frustrated by the action of a British gunboat.
Owing to the dissensions among the ruling family of Riad, the towns of eastern Nejd gradually reverted to their former condition of independence, but menaced in turn by the growing power of Hail, they formed a coalition under the leadership of Zāmil, sheik of Aneza, and in the spring of 1891, Aneza, Bureda, Shakra, Ras and Riad assembled their contingents to contest with Ibn Rashid the supremacy in Nejd. The latter had besides 20,000 of his own south Shammar tribesmen, the whole strength of the Harb Bedouins, some 10,000 men, and an additional support of 1000 mounted men from his kinsmen, the northern Shammar from the Euphrates, while the Muter and Āteba tribes took part with the allies. The total strength of each side amounted to about 30,000 men. Zāmil’s forces held a strong position between Aneza and Bureda, and for over a month desultory fighting went on; finally an attack was made against the defenders’ centre, covered by 20,000 camel riders; the men of Aneza broke and the whole allied forces fled in disorder; Zamil and his eldest son were killed, as were also two of the Ibn Saūd family, while the remainder were taken prisoners. Aneza and Bureda surrendered the same day, and shortly after Ras, Shakra and Riad tendered their submission.
This victory placed the whole of northern and central Arabia under the supremacy of Mahommed Ibn Rashid, which he held undisputed during the rest of his life.
On his death in 1897 his nephew Abdul-Aziz, son of the murdered amir Matāb, succeeded; during his reign a new element has been introduced into Nejd politics by the rising importance of Kuwet (Koweit) and the attempts
of Turkey to obtain possession of its important harbour. In 1901 a quarrel arose between Sheik Mubārak of Kuwet and the amir of Hail whose cause was supported by Turkey. A force was equipped at Basra under Ahmad Feizi Pasha with the intention of occupying Kuwet; Mubārak thereupon appealed to Great Britain and action was taken which prevented the Turkish designs from being carried out. Kuwet was not formally placed under British protection, but it was officially announced by the government on the 5th of May 1903 “that the establishment of a naval base or fortified port in the Persian Gulf by any other power would be regarded as a very grave menace to British interests which would certainly be resisted with all the means at its disposal.”
In the meantime Sheik Mubārak had found useful allies in the Muntafik Arabs from the lower Euphrates, and the Wahhābis of Riad; the latter under the amir Ibn Saūd marched against Ibn Rashid, who at the instigation of the Porte had again threatened Kuwet (Koweit), compelled him to retire to his own territory and took possession of the towns of Bureda and Aneza. Sheik Mubārak and his allies continued their advance, defeated Ibn Rashid in two engagements on the 22nd of July and the 26th of September 1904, and drove him back on his capital, Hail. The Porte now made another effort to assist its protégé; two columns were despatched from Medina and Basra respectively, to relieve Hail, and drive out the Wahhābis. Ahmad Feizi Pasha, in command of the Basra column, 4200 strong, crossed the desert and reached the wells of Lina, 200 m. from Hail, on the 5th of March 1905; here, however, he received orders to halt and negotiate before proceeding farther. The Turkish government realized by this time the strength of the hostile combination, and in view of the serious state of affairs in Yemen, hesitated to undertake another campaign in the deserts of Nejd. Arrangements were accordingly made with the Wahhābis, and on the 10th of April Ahmad Feizi Pasha left Lina, ostensibly with the object of protecting the pilgrim road, and joined the Medina column by the end of the month. Bureda and Aneza were occupied without opposition, the rebellious sheiks amnestied by the sultan and loaded with gifts, and formal peace was made between the rival factions.
European influence was not felt in Arabia until the arrival of the Portuguese in the eastern seas, following on the discovery of the Cape route. In 1506 Hormuz was taken by Albuquerque, and Muscat and the coast of Oman
History of European influence.
were occupied by the Portuguese till 1650. In 1516 their fleets appeared in the Red Sea and an unsuccessful attempt was made against Jidda; but the effective occupation of Yemen by the Turks in the next few years frustrated any designs the Portuguese may have had in S.W. Arabia. Even in Oman their hold on the country was limited to Muscat and the adjacent ports, while the interior was ruled by the old Yāriba (Ya-‛aruba) dynasty from their capital at Rustak. The Persian occupation, which followed that of the Portuguese, came to an end in the middle of the 18th century, when Ahmad Ibn Sāid expelled the invaders and in 1759 established the Ghafari dynasty which still reigns in Oman. He was succeeded by his son, who in 1798 made a treaty with the East India Company with the object of excluding the French from Oman, and the connexion
British intervention in Oman.
with Great Britain was further strengthened during the long reign of his grandson Sultan Sāid, 1804-1856. During the earlier years of his reign he was constantly at war with the Wahhābi empire, to which Oman became for a time tributary. The piracies committed by the Jawāsimi Arabs in the gulf compelled the intervention of England, and in 1810 their strongholds were destroyed by a British-Indian expedition. The overthrow of the Wahhābis in 1817 restored Sultan Sāid to independence; he equipped and armed on Western models a fleet built in Indian ports, and took possession of Sokotra and Zanzibar, as well as the Persian coast north of the straits of Hormuz as far east as Gwadur, while by his liberal policy at home Sohar, Barka and Muscat became prosperous commercial ports.
On his death in 1856 the kingdom was divided, Majīd, a younger son, taking Zanzibar, while the two elder sons contested the succession to Oman. The eldest, Thuwēni, with British support, finally obtained the throne, and in 1862 an engagement was entered into by the French and English governments respecting the independence of the sultans of Oman. He was assassinated in 1866, and his successor, Seyyid Turki, reigned till 1888. On his death several claimants disputed the succession; ultimately his son Fēsal was recognized by the British government, and was granted a subsidy from British-Indian revenues, in consideration of which he engaged not to cede any of his territory without the consent of the British government; similar engagements have been entered into by the tribes who occupy the south coast from the borders of Oman westward to the straits of Bab-el-Mandeb.
The opening of the overland route to India again brought the west coast of Arabia into importance. Aden was occupied by the British in 1839. The Hejaz coast and some of the Yemen ports were still held by Mehemet Ali,
British sphere of influence.
as viceroy of Egypt, but on his final withdrawal from Arabia in 1845, Hejaz came under direct Turkish rule, and the conquest of Yemen in 1872 placed the whole Red Sea littoral (with the exception of the Midian coast, ceded by Egypt on the accession of Abbas Hilmi Pasha) under Ottoman administration. The island of Perim at the southern entrance of the Red Sea has been a British possession since 1857, while the promontory of Shekh Said on the Arabian side of the strait is in Turkish occupation. In order to define the limits between Turkish territory and that of the independent Arab tribes in political relations with Great Britain, a joint commission of British and Turkish officers in 1902-1905 laid down a boundary line from Shekh Said to a point on the river Bana, 12 m. north-east of the small town of Kataba, from which it is continued in a north-easterly direction up to the great desert. This delimitation places the whole of southern Arabia, east of this line, within the British sphere of influence, which thus includes the district surrounding Aden
), the Hadramut and Oman with its dependencies.
The provinces of Hejaz and Yemen are each administered by a Turkish governor-general, with headquarters at Taif and Sana respectively; the country is nominally divided up into divisions and districts under minor officials, but
Turkish rule has never been acquiesced in by the inhabitants, and beyond the larger towns, all of which are held by strong garrisons, Turkish authority hardly exists. The powerful Bedouin tribes of Hejaz have always asserted their independence, and are only kept quiet by the large money payments made them by the sultan on the occasion of the annual pilgrimage to the holy cities. A large part of Asir and northern Yemen has never been visited by Turkish troops, and such revenues as are collected, mainly from vexatious customs and transit duties, are quite insufficient to meet the salaries of the officials, while the troops, ill-fed and their pay indefinitely in arrears, live on the country as best they can.
A serious revolt broke out in Yemen in 1892. A Turkish detachment collecting taxes in the Bani Merwan lands north of Hodeda was destroyed by a body of Arabs. This reverse set all Yemen aflame; under the leadership
of the imām, who had, since the Turkish occupation, lived in retirement at Sada, 120 m. north of the capital, the powerful tribes between Asir and Sana advanced southwards, occupied the principal towns and besieged the few Turkish fortified posts that still held out. In many cases the garrisons, Arab troops from Syria, went over to the insurgents. Meanwhile, reinforcements under General Ahmad Feizi Pasha reached Hodeda, Manakha was retaken, Sana relieved, and by the end of January 1893 the country with the exception of the northern mountainous districts was reconquered.
A state of intermittent rebellion, however, continued, and in 1904 a general revolt took place with which the normal garrison of Yemen, the 7th army corps, was quite unable to cope. The military posts were everywhere besieged, and Sana, the capital, was cut off from all communication with the coast. During February 1905 reinforcements were sent up which raised the garrison of Sana to a strength of eight battalions, and in March a further reinforcement of about the same strength arrived, and fought its way into the capital with the loss of almost all its guns and train. The position was then desperate, wholesale desertion and starvation had decimated the garrison, and three weeks later Ali Riza Pasha, the Turkish commander, was compelled to surrender. The fall of Sana made a deep impression at Constantinople, every effort was made to hasten out reinforcements, the veteran Ahmad Feizi Pasha was nominated to the supreme command, and Anatolian troops in place of the unreliable Syrian element were detailed. The scale of the operations may be judged from the fact that the total number of troops mobilized up to the beginning of July 1905 amounted to 126 battalions, 8 squadrons and 15 batteries; the rebel leader Mahommed Yahiya had at this time a following of 50,000.
By the end of June, Ahmad Feizi Pasha was in a position to advance on Manakha, where he organized an efficient transport, rallied the scattered remnants of Ali Riza’s army, and with the newly arrived troops had by the middle of July a force of some 40 battalions available for the advance on Sana. He left Manakha on the 17th of July, and after almost daily fighting reached Sana on the 30th of August; on the 31st he entered the city without serious opposition, the insurgents having retreated northward.
Authorities.—D. G. Hogarth, Penetration of Arabia (London, 1904); C. Niebuhr, Travels and Description of Arabia (Amsterdam, 1774); A. Zehme, Arabien und die Araber seit Hundert Jahren (Halle, 1875); J. L. Burckhardt, Travels in Arabia (London, 1829); R. F. Burton, Pilgrimage to El Medinah and Meccah (London, 1855), Midian revisited (1879); W. G. Palgrave, Central and Eastern Arabia (London, 1865); C. Doughty, Arabia Deserta (Cambridge, 1888), and an abridgment, containing mainly the personal narrative, under the title of Wanderings in Arabia (London, 1908); L. van den Berg, Le Hadramut et les colonies arabes, &c. (Batavia, 1885); C. Huber, Journal d’un voyage en Arabie (Paris, 1891); J. Euting, Reise in inner Arabien (Leiden, 1896); E. Nolde, Reise nach inner Arabien (Brunswick, 1895); L. Hirsch, Reise in Sud Arabien (Leiden, 1897); J. T. Bent, Southern Arabia (1895); R. Manzoni, Il Yemen (Rome, 1884); A. Deflers, Voyage en Yémen (Paris, 1889); J. Halévy, Journal Asiatique (1872); Lady Anne Blunt, Pilgrimage to Nejd (London, 1881); E. Glaser, Petermann’s Mitt. (1886, 1888 and 1889); W. B. Harris, Journey through Yemen (Edinburgh, 1893); J. R. Wellsted, Travels in Arabia (London, 1838); Capt. F. M. Hunter, Aden (London, 1877). Consult also Proc. R.G.S. and Geogr. Journal. For geology see H. J. Carter, “Memoir on the Geology of the South-East Coast of Arabia,” Journ. Bombay Branch Roy. Asiat. Soc. vol. iv. pp. 21-96 (1852); Doughty’s Arabia Deserta; W. F. Hume, The Rift Valleys and Geology of Eastern Sinai (London, 1901). For ancient geography of Arabia:—A. Sprenger, Alte Geographie Arabiens (Berne, 1875); E. H. Bunbury, History of Ancient Geography (London, 1883); D. H. Müller, Hamdani’s Geographie (Leiden, 1884); E. Glaser, Geschichte und Geographie Arabiens (Berlin, 1890).
The literature of Arabia has its origin in the songs, improvisations, recitations and stories of the pre-Mahommedan Arabs. Of written literature in those days there was, so far as we know, none. But where books failed memory was strong and the power of retaining things heard was not confined to a professional class. At every festive meeting many could contribute a poem or a story, many could even improvise the one or the other. When members of different tribes met in peace (as at the fair of ‛Ukāẓ) the most skilful reciters strove to maintain the honour of their own people, and a ready improviser was held in high esteem. The smartest epigrams, the fairest similes, the keenest satires, spoken or sung on such occasions, were treasured in the memory of the hearers and carried by them to their homes. But the experience of all peoples in that memory requires to be helped by form. Sentences became balanced and were made clear by some sort of definite ending. The simplest form of this in Arabian literature is the saj‛ or rhymed prose, in which the sentences are usually (though not always) short and end in a rhyme or assonance. Mahomet used this form in many parts of the Koran (e.g. Sura, 81). The next step was the introduction of metre into the body of the sentence and the restriction of the passages to a definite length. This in its simplest form gave rise to the rajaz verses, where each half-line ends in the same rhyme and consists of three feet of the measure . Other metres were introduced later until sixteen altogether were recognized. In all forms the rhyme is the same throughout the poem, and is confined to the second half of the line except in the first line where the two halves rhyme. While, however, these measures were in early use, they were not systematically analysed or their rules enunciated until the time of Khalīl ibn Ahmad in the 8th century. Two other features of Arabian poetry are probably connected with the necessity for aiding the memory. The first of these is the requirement that each line should have a complete sense in itself; this produces a certain jerkiness, and often led among the Arabs to displacement in the order of the lines in a long poem. The other feature, peculiar to the long poem (qasīda, elegy), is that, whatever its real object, whatever its metre, it has a regular scheme in the arrangement of its material. It begins with a description of the old camping-ground, before which the poet calls on his companion to stop, while he bewails the traces of those who have left for other places. Then he tells of his love and how he had suffered from it, how he had journeyed through the desert (this part often contains some of the most famous descriptions and praises of animals) until his beast became thin and worn-out. Then at last comes the real subject of the poem, usually the panegyric of some man of influence or wealth to whom the poet has come in hope of reward and before whom he recites the poem.
Poetry.—The influence of the poet in pre-Mahommedan days was very great. As his name, ash-Shā‛ir, “the knowing man,” indicates, he was supposed to have more than natural knowledge and power. Panegyric and satire (hijā‛) were his chief instruments. The praise of the tribe in well-chosen verses ennobled it throughout the land, a biting satire was enough to destroy its reputation (cf. I. Goldziher’s Abhandlungen zur arabischen Philologie, i. pp. 1-105). Before Mahomet the ethics of the Arabs were summed up in muruwwa (custom). Hospitality, generosity, personal bravery were the subjects of praise; meanness and cowardice those of satire. The existence of poetry among the northern Arabs was known to the Greeks even in the 4th century (cf. St Nilos in Migne’s Patrologia Graeca, vol. 79, col. 648, and Sozomen’s Ecclesiastical History, bk. 6, ch. 38). Women as well as men composed and recited poems before the days of the Prophet (cf. L. Cheikho’s Poetesses of the Jāhiliyya, in Arabic, Beirut, 1897).
The transmission of early Arabic poetry has been very imperfect. Many of the reciters were slain in battle, and it was not till the 8th to the 10th centuries and even later that the earliest collections of these poems were made. Many have to be recovered from grammars, dictionaries, &c., where single lines or groups of lines are quoted to illustrate the proper use of words, phrases or idioms. Moreover, many a reciter was not content to declaim the genuine verses of ancient poets, but interpolated some of his own composition, and the change of religion introduced by Islam led to the mutilation of many verses to suit the doctrines of the new creed.
The language of the poems, as of all the best Arabian literature, was that of the desert Arabs of central Arabia; and to use it aright was the ambition of poets and scholars even in the Abbasid period. For the man of the towns its vocabulary was too copious to be easily understood, and in the age of linguistic studies many commentaries were written to explain words and idioms.
Of the pre-Mahommedan poets the most famous were the six whose poems were collected by Asma‛ī about the beginning of the 9th century (ed. W. Ahlwardt, The Diwans of the Six Ancient Arabic Poets
, London, 1870). Single poems of four of these—Amru-ul-Qais, Ṭarafa, Zuhair and ‛Antara—appear in the Mo’allakat
). The other two were Nābigha
) and ‛Alqama
). But besides these there were many others whose names were famous; such as Ta‛abbata Sharran, a popular hero who recites his own adventures with great gusto; his companion Shanfarā, whose fame rests on a fine poem which has been translated into French by de Sacy (in his Chrestomathie Arabe
) and into English by G. Hughes (London, 1896); Aus ibn Hajar of the Bani Tamīn, famous for his descriptions of weapons and hunting scenes (ed. R. Geyer, Vienna, 1892); Ḥātim Tā’i, renowned for his open-handed generosity as well as for his poetry (ed. F. Schulthess, Leipzig, 1897, with German translation); and ‛Urwa ibn ul-Ward of the tribe of ‛Abs, rival of Ḥātim in generosity as well as in poetry (ed. Th. Nöldeke, Göttingen, 1863). Among these early poets are found one Jew of repute, Samau’al (Samuel) ibn Adiyā (cf. Th. Nöldeke’s Beiträge
, pp. 52-86; art. s.v.
“Samuel ibn Adiya” in Jewish Encyc.
and authorities there quoted), and some Christians such as ‛Adī‛ibn Zaid of Hira, who sang alike of the pleasures of drink and of death (ed. by Louis Cheikho in his Les Poètes arabes chrétiens
, pp. 439-474, Beirut, 1890; in this work many Arabian poets are considered to be Christian without sufficient reason). One poet, a younger contemporary of Mahomet, has attracted much attention because his poems were religious and he was a monotheist. This is Umayya ibn Abi-ṣ-Ṣalt, a Meccan who did not accept Islam and died in 630. His poems are discussed by F. Schulthess in the Orientalische Studien
dedicated by Th. Nöldeke, Giessen, 1906, and his relation to Mahomet by E. Power (in the Mélanges de la faculté orientale de l’université Saint-Joseph
, Beirut, 1906). Mahomet’s relation to the poets generally was one of antagonism because of their influence over the Arabs and their devotion to the old religion and customs. Ka‛b ibn Zuhair, however, first condemned to death, then pardoned, later won great favour for himself by writing a panegyric of the Prophet (ed. G. Freytag, Halle, 1823). Another poet, A‛sha
), followed his example. Labīd
) and Hassān ibn Thābit
) were also contemporary. Among the poetesses of the time Khansa
) is supreme. In the scarcity of poets at this time two others deserve mention; Abū Mihjan, who made peace with Islam in 630 but was exiled for his love of wine, which he celebrated in his verse (ed. L. Abel, Leiden, 1887; cf. C. Landberg’s Primeurs arabes
, 1, Leiden, 1886), and Jarwal ibn Aus, known as al-Ḥuṭai‛a, a wandering poet whose keen satires led to his imprisonment by Omar (Poems, ed. by I. Goldziher in the Journal of the German Oriental Society
, vols. 46 and 47).
Had the simplicity and religious severity of the first four caliphs continued in their successors, the fate of poetry would have been hard. Probably little but religious poetry would have been allowed. But the Omayyads (with one exception) were not religious men and, while preserving the outward forms of Islam, allowed full liberty to the pre-Islamic customs of the Arabs and the beliefs and practices of Christians. At the same time the circumstances of the poet’s life were altered. Poetry depended on patronage, and that was to be had now chiefly in the court of the caliph and the residences of his governors. Hence the centre of attraction was now the city with its interests, not the desert. Yet the old forms of poetry were kept. The qasīda
still required the long introduction (see above), which was entirely occupied with the affairs of the desert. Thus poetry became more and more artificial, until in the Abbasid period poets arose who felt themselves strong enough to give up the worn-out forms and adopt others more suitable. The names of three great poets adorn the Omayyad period: Akhtal, Farazdaq and Jarīr were contemporaries (see separate articles). The first was a Christian of the tribe of Taghlib, whose Christianity enabled him to write many verses which would have been impossible to a professing Moslem. Protected by the caliph he employed the old weapons of satire to support them against the “Helpers” and to exalt his own tribe against the Qaisites. Farazdaq of the Bani Tamīm, a good Moslem but loose in morals, lived chiefly in Medina and Kufa, and was renowned for his command of language. Jarīr of another branch of the Bani Tamīm lived in Irak and courted the favour of Hajjāj, its governor. His satires were so effective that he is said to have crushed forty-three rivals. His great efforts were against Farazdaq, who was supported by Akhtal (cf. The Naka’id of Jarīr and al-Farazdaq
, ed. A. A. Bevan, Leiden, 1906 foll.). Among many minor poets one woman is conspicuous. Laila ul-Akhyalīyya (d. 706) was married to a stranger. On the death of her lover in battle, she wrote numerous elegies bewailing him, and so became famous and devoted the rest of her life to the writing of verse. Two poets of the Koreish attained celebrity in Arabia itself at this time. Qais ur-Ruqayyāt was the poet of ‛Abdallah ibn uz-Zubair (Abdallah ibn Zobair) and helped him until circumstances went against him, when he made his peace with the caliph. His poems are chiefly panegyrics and love songs (ed. N. Rhodonakis, Vienna, 1902). ‛Umar ibn Abī Rabī‛a (c.
643-719) was a wealthy man, who lived a life of ease in his native town of Mecca, and devoted himself to intrigues and writing love songs (ed. P. Schwarz, Leipzig, 1901-1902). His poems were very popular throughout Arabia. As a dweller in the town he was independent of the old forms of poetry, which controlled all others, but his influence among poets was not great enough to perpetuate the new style. One other short-lived movement of the Omayyad period should be mentioned. The rajaz
poems (see above) had been a subordinate class generally used for improvisations in pre-Mahommedan times. In the 7th and 8th centuries, however, a group of poets employed them more seriously. The most celebrated of these were ‛Ajjāj and his son Ru’ba of the Bani Tamīm (editions by W. Ahlwardt, Berlin, 1903; German trans. of Ru’ba’s poems by Ahlwardt, Berlin, 1904).
With the establishment of the Abbasid dynasty, a new epoch in Arabian poetry began. The stereotyped beginning of the qasīda
had been recognized as antiquated and out of place in city life even in the Omayyad period (cf. Goldziher, Abhandlungen
, i. 144 ff). This form had been ridiculed but now it lost its hold altogether, and was only employed occasionally by way of direct imitation of the antique. The rise of Persian influence made itself felt in much the same way as the Norman influence in England by bringing a newer refinement into poetry. Tribal feuds are no longer the main incentives to verse. Individual experiences of life and matters of human interest become more usual subjects. Cynicism, often followed by religion in a poet’s later life, is common. The tumultuous mixture of interests and passions to be found in a city like Bagdad are the subjects of a poet’s verse. One of the earliest of these poets, Muti‛ ibn Ayās, shows the new depth of personal feeling and refinement of expression. Bashshār ibn Burd (d. 783), a blind poet of Persian descent, shows the ascendancy of Persian influence as he openly rails at the Arabs and makes clear his own leaning to the Persian religion. In the 8th century Abu Nuwās
) is the greatest poet of his time. His language has the purity of the desert, his morals are those of the city, his universalism is that of the man of the world. Abū-l-‛Atāhiya
), his contemporary, is fluent, simple and often didactic. Muslim ibn ul-Walīd (ed. de Goeje, Leiden, 1875), also contemporary, is more conservative of old forms and given to panegyric and satire. In the 9th century two of the best-known poets—Abū Tammām
) and Buḥturī
)—were renowned for their knowledge of old poetry (see Hamasa
) and were influenced by it in their own verse. On the other hand Ibn ul-Mo‛tazz (son of the caliph) was the writer of brilliant occasional verse, free of all imitation. In the 10th century the centre of interest is in the court of Saif ud-Daula (addaula) at Aleppo. Here in Motanabbī
) the claims of modern poetry not only to equal but to excel the ancient were put forward and in part at any rate recognized. Abū Firās (932-968) was a member of the family of Saif ud-Daula, a soldier whose poems have all the charm that comes from the fact that the writer has lived through the events he narrates (ed. by R. Dvořák, Leiden, 1895). Many Arabian writers count Motanabbï the last of the great poets. Yet Abū-l-‛Alā ul-Ma‛arrī
) was original alike in his use of rhymes and in the philosophical nature of his poems. Ibn Fārid
) is the greatest of the mystic poets, and Busīri
) wrote the most famous poem extant in praise of the Prophet. In the provinces of the caliphate there were many poets, who, however, seldom produced original work. Spain, however, produced Ibn ‛Abdūn (d. 1126), famous for the grace and finish of his style (ed. with commentary of Ibn Badrun by R. P. A. Dozy, Leiden, 1846). The Sicilian Ibn Hamdīs (1048-1132) spent the last fifty years of his life in Spain (Diwān
, ed. Moaçada, Palermo, 1883; Canzoniere
, ed. Schiaparelli, Rome, 1897). It was also apparently in this country that the strophe form was first used in Arabic poems (cf. M. Hartmann’s Das arabische Strophengedicht
, Weimar, 1897), and Ibn Quzmān (12th century), a wandering singer, here first used the language of everyday life in the form of verse known as Zajal
.—As supplemental to the account of poetry may be mentioned here some of the chief collections of ancient verse, sometimes made for the sake of the poems themselves, sometimes to give a locus classicus
for usages of grammar or lexicography, sometimes to illustrate ancient manners and customs. The earliest of these is the Mo‛allakat
). In the 8th century Ibn Mofaddal compiled the collection named after him the Mofaddalīyāt
. From the 9th century we have the Hamasas of Abū Tammām and Buḥturī, and a collection of poems of the tribe Hudhail (second half ed. in part by J. G. L. Kosegarten, London, 1854; completed by J. Wellhausen in Skizzen und Vorarbeiten
, i. Berlin, 1884). The numerous quotations of Ibn Qutaiba
) in the ‛Uyūn ul-Akhbār
(ed. C. Brockelmann, Strassburg, 1900 ff.) and the Book of Poetry and Poets
(ed. M. J. de Goeje, Leiden, 1904) bring these works into this class. In the 10th century were compiled the Jamharat ash‛ar al Arab
, containing forty-nine poems (ed. Būlāq, 1890), the work al-‛Iqd ul-Farīd
of Ibn‛ Abdi-r-Rabbihi (ed. Cairo, various years), and the greatest work of all this class, the Kītāb ul-Aghāni
(“Book of Songs”) (cf. Abulfaraj
). The 12th century contributes the Diwān Mukhtarāt ush-Shu‛arā’i
with fifty qasīdas
. The Khizānat ul-Adab
of Abdulqādir, written in the 17th century in the form of a commentary on verses cited in a grammar, contains much old verse (ed. 4 vols., Būlāq, 1882).
Belles-Lettres and Romances
.—Mahomet in the Koran had made extensive use of saj’
or rhymed prose (see above). This form then dropped out of use almost entirely for some time. In the 10th century, however, it was revived, occurring almost simultaneously in the Sermons
of Ibn Nubāta (946-984) and the Letters
of Abū Bakr ul-Khwārizmī. Both have been published several times in the East. The epistolary style was further cultivated by Hamadhāni
) and carried to perfection by Abū-l‛Alā ul-Ma‛arrī. Hamadhīni was also the first to write in this rhymed prose a new form of work, the Maqāma
(“assembly”). The name arose from the fact that scholars were accustomed to assemble for the purpose of rivalling one another in orations showing their knowledge of Arabic language, proverb and verse. In the Maqāmas
of Hamadhāni a narrator describes how in various places he met a wandering scholar who in these assemblies puts all his rivals to shame by his eloquence. Each oration forms the substance of a Maqāma
, while the Maqāmas
themselves are united to one another by the constant meetings of narrator and scholar. Harīrī
) quite eclipsed the fame of his predecessor in this department, and his Maqāmas
retain their influence over Arabian literature to the present day. As late as the 19th century the sheik Nāṣīf ul Yāzījī (1800-1871) distinguished himself by writing sixty clever Maqāmas
in the style of Harīrī (ed. Beirut, 1856, 1872). While this class of literature had devoted itself chiefly to the finesses of the language, another set of works was given to meeting the requirements of moral education and the training of a gentleman. This, which is known as “Adab literature,” is anecdotic in style with much quotation of early poetry and proverb. Thus government, war, friendship, morality, piety, eloquence, are some of the titles under which Ibn Qutaiba groups his stories and verses in the ‛Uyūn ul Akhbār
) in the 9th century and Baihaqī (The Kitāb al-Maḥāsin val-Masāwi
, ed. F. Schwally, Giessen, 1900-1902) early in the 10th, wrote works of this class. A little later a Spaniard, Ibn ‛Abdrabbihi (Abdi-r-Rabbihi), wrote his ‛Iqd ul-Farīd
(see section Anthologies
). The growth of city life in the Abbasid capital led to the desire for a new form of story, differing from the old tales of desert life. This was met in the first place by borrowing. In the 8th century Ibn Muqaffa‛, a convert from Mazdaism to Islam, translated the Pahlavi version of Bidpai’s fables (itself a version of the Indian Panchatantra
) into Arabic with the title Kalīla wa Dimna
(ed. Beirūt, various years). Owing to the purity of its language and style it has remained a classic work. The Book of the 1001 Nights
) also has its basis in translations from the Indian through the Persian, made as early as the 9th century. To these stories have been added others originating in Bagdad and Egypt and a few others, which were at first in independent circulation. The whole work seems to have taken its present form (with local variations) about the 13th century. Several other romances of considerable length are extant, such as the Story of ‛Antar
(ed. 32 vols., Cairo, 1869, &c., translated in part by Terrick Hamilton, 4 vols., London, 1820), and the Story of Saif ibn Dhī Yezen
(ed. Cairo, 1892).
Historical Literature.—Arabian historians differ from all others in the unique form of their compositions. Each event is related in the words of eye-witnesses or contemporaries transmitted to the final narrator through a chain of intermediate reporters (rāwīs), each of whom passed on the original report to his successor. Often the same account is given in two or more slightly divergent forms, which have come down through different chains of reporters. Often, too, one event or one important detail is told in several ways on the basis of several contemporary statements transmitted to the final narrator through distinct lines of tradition. The writer, therefore, exercises no independent criticism except as regards the choice of authorities; for he rejects accounts of which the first author or one of the intermediate links seems to him unworthy of credit, and sometimes he states which of several accounts seems to him the best.
A second type of Arabian historiography is that in which an author combines the different traditions about one occurrence into one continuous narrative, but prefixes a statement as to the lines of authorities used and states which of them he mainly follows. In this case the writer recurs to the first method, already described, only when the different traditions are greatly at variance with one another. In yet a third type of history the old method is entirely forsaken and we have a continuous narrative only occasionally interrupted by citation of the authority for some particular point. But the principle still is that what has been well said once need not be told again in other words. The writer, therefore, keeps as close as he can to the letter of his sources, so that quite a late writer often reproduces the very words of the first narrator.
From very early times story-tellers and singers found their subjects in the doughty deeds of the tribe on its forays, and sometimes in contests with foreign powers and in the impression produced by the wealth and might of the sovereigns of Persia and Constantinople. The appearance of the Prophet with the great changes that ensued, the conquests that made the Arabs lords of half the civilized world, supplied a vast store of new matter for relations which men were never weary of hearing and recounting. They wished to know everything about the apostle of God. Every one who had known or seen him was questioned and was eager to answer. Moreover, the word of God in the Koran left many practical points undecided, and therefore it was of the highest importance to know exactly how the Prophet had spoken and acted in various circumstances. Where could this be better learned than at Medina, where he had lived so long and where the majority of his companions continued to live? So at Medina a school was gradually formed, where the chief part of the traditions about Mahomet and his first successors took a form more or less fixed. Soon men began to assist memory by making notes, and pupils sought to take written jottings of what they had heard from their teachers. Thus by the close of the 1st century many dictata were already in circulation. For example, Ḥasan of Baṣra (d. 728 A.D.) had a great mass of such notes, and he was accused of sometimes passing off as oral tradition things he had really drawn from books; for oral tradition was still the one recognized authority, and it is related of more than one old scholar, and even of Ḥasan of Baṣra himself, that he directed his books to be burned at his death. The books were mere helps. Long after this date, when all scholars drew mainly from books, the old forms were still kept up. Ṭabarī, for example, when he cites a book expresses himself as if he had heard what he quotes from the master with whom he read the passage or from whose copy he transcribed it. He even expresses himself in this wise: “‛Omar b. Shabba has related to me in his book on the history of Baṣra.” No independent book of the 1st century from the Flight (i.e. 622-719) has come down to us. It is told, however, that Moawiya summoned an old man named ‛Abid ibn Sharya from Yemen to Damascus to tell him all he knew about ancient history and that he induced him to write down his information. This very likely formed the nucleus of a book which bore the name of that sheik and was much read in the 3rd century from the Flight. It seems to be lost now. But in the 2nd century (719-816) real books began to be composed. The materials were supplied in the first place by oral tradition, in the second by the dictata of older scholars, and finally by various kinds of documents, such as treaties, letters, collections of poetry and genealogical lists. Genealogical studies had become necessary through Omar’s system of assigning state pensions to certain classes of persons according to their kinship with the Prophet, or their deserts during his lifetime. This subject received much attention even in the 1st century, but books about it were first written in the 2nd, the most famous being those of Ibn al-Kalbī (d. 763), of his son Hishām (d. 819), and of Al-Sharqī ibn al-Quṭāmī. Genealogy, which often called for elucidations, led on to history. Baladhuri’s excellent Ansāb al-Ashrāf (Genealogies of the Nobles) is a history of the Arabs on a genealogical plan.
The oldest extant history is the biography of the Prophet by Ibn Isḥāq (d. 767). This work is generally trustworthy. Mahomet’s life before he appeared as a prophet and the story of his ancestors are indeed mixed with many fables illustrated by spurious verses. But in Ibn Isḥāq’s day these fables were generally accepted as history—for many of them had been first related by contemporaries of Mahomet—and no one certainly thought it blameworthy to put pious verses in the mouth of the Prophet’s forefathers, though, according to the Fihrist (p. 92), Ibn Isḥāq was duped by others with regard to the poems he quotes. The original work of Ibn Isḥāq seems to be lost. That which we possess is an edition of it by Ibn Hishām (d. 834) with additions and omissions (text ed. by F. Wüstenfeld, Göttingen, 1858-1860; German translation by Weil, Stuttgart, 1864).
of the Prophet by Ibn Oqba (d. 758), based on the statements of two very trustworthy men, ‛Urwa ibn az-Zubair (d. 713) and Az-zuhri (d. 742), was still much read in Syria in the 14th century. Fragments of this have been edited by E. Sachau, Berlin, 1904. We fortunately possess the Book of the Campaigns
of the Prophet by al-Wāqidī (d. 822) and the important Book of Classes
of his disciple Ibn Sa‛d
). Wāqidī had much more copious materials than Ibn Isḥāq, but gives way much more to a popular and sometimes romancing style of treatment. Nevertheless he sometimes helps us to recognize in Ibn Isḥāq’s narrative modifications of the genuine tradition made for a purpose, and the additional details he supplies set various events before us in a clearer light. Apart from this his chief merits lie in his studies on the subject of the traditional authorities, the results of which are given by Ibn Sa‛d, and in his chronology, which is often excellent. A special study of the traditions about the conquest of Syria made by M. J. de Goeje in 1864 (Mémoires sur la conquête de la Syrie
, 2nd ed., Leiden, 1900), led to the conclusion that Wāqidī’s chronology is sound as regards the main events, and that later historians have gone astray by forsaking his guidance. This result has been confirmed by certain contemporary notices found by Th. Nöldeke in 1874 in a Syriac MS. of the British Museum. And that Ibn Isḥāq agrees with Wāqidī in certain main dates is important evidence for the trustworthiness of the former also. For the chronology before the year 10 of the Flight Wāqidī did his best, but here, the material being defective, many of his conclusions are precarious. Wāqidī had already a great library at his disposal. He is said to have had 600 chests of books, chiefly dictata
written by or for himself, but in part real books by Abū Mikhnaf (d. 748), Ibn Isḥāq (whom he uses but does not name), ‛Awāna (d. 764), Abū Mashar (d. 791) and other authors. Abū Mikhnaf left a great number of monographs on the chief events from the death of the Prophet to the caliphate of Walīd II. These were much used by later writers, and we have many extracts from them, but none of the works themselves except a sort of romance based on his account of the death of Hosain (Ḥusain) of which Wüstenfeld has given a translation. With regard to the history of Irak in particular he was deemed to have the best information, and for this subject he is Ṭabarī’s chief source, just as Madāinī, a younger contemporary of Wāqidī, is followed by preference in all that relates to Khorasan. Madāinī’s History of the Caliphs
is the best, if not the oldest, published before Ṭabarī; but this book is known only by the excerpts given by later writers, particularly Balādhurī and Ṭabarī. From these we judge that he had great narrative power, with much clear and exact learning, and must be placed high as a critical historian. His plan was to record the various traditions about an event, choosing them with critical skill; sometimes, however, he fused the several traditions into a continuous narrative. A just estimate of the relative value of the historians can only be reached by careful comparison in detail. This has been essayed by Brünnow in his study on the Khārijites (Leiden, 1884), in which the narrative of Mubarrad in the Kāmil
is compared with the excerpts of Mādainī given by Balādhurī and those of Abū Mikhnaf given by Ṭabarī. The conclusion reached is that Abū Mikhnaf and Mādainī are both well informed and impartial.
Among the contemporaries of Wāqidī and Mādainī were Ibn Khidāsh (d. 838), the historian of the family Muhallab, whose work was one of Mubarrad’s sources for the History of the Khārijites
; Haitham ibn ‛Adī (d. 822), whose works, though now lost, are often cited; and Saif ibn ‛Omar at-Tamīmī, whose book on the revolt of the tribes under Abu-Bekr and on the Mahommedan conquests was much used by Ṭabarī. His narratives are detailed and often tinged with romance, and he is certainly much inferior to Wāqidī in accuracy. Wellhausen has thoroughly examined the work of Saif in Skizzen und Vorarbeiten
, vi. Besides these are to be mentioned Abū ‛Ubaida (d. 825), who was celebrated as a philologist and wrote several historical monographs that are often cited, and Azraqī, whose excellent History of Mecca
was published after his death by his grandson (d. 858). With these writers we pass into the 3rd century of Islam. But we have still an important point to notice in the 2nd century; for in it learned Persians began to take part in the creation of Arabic historical literature. Ibn Muqaffa‛ translated the great Book of Persian Kings
, and others followed his example. Ṭabarī and his contemporaries, senior and junior, such as Ibn Qutaiba, Ya‛qūbī, Dīnawarī, preserve to us a good part of the information about Persian history made known through such translations.
But even more important than the knowledge conveyed by these works was their influence on literary style and composition. Half a century later began versions from the Greek either direct or through the Syriac. The pieces translated were mostly philosophical; but the Arabs also learned something, however superficially, of ancient history.
The 3rd century (816-913) was far more productive than the 2nd. Abū ‛Ubaida was succeeded by Ibn al-A‛rābī (d. 846), who in like manner was chiefly famous as a philologist, and who wrote about ancient poems and battles. Much that he wrote is quoted in Tabrīzī’s commentary on the Ḥamāsa
, which is still richer in extracts from the historical elucidations of early poems given by ar-Riyāshī (d. 871). Of special fame as a genealogist was Ibn Ḥabīb (d. 859), of whom we have a booklet on Arabian tribal names (ed. Wüstenfeld, 1850). Azraqī again was followed by Fākihī, who wrote a History of Mecca
and ‛Omar b. Shabba (d. 876), who composed an excellent history of Baṣra, known to us only by excerpts. Of the works of Zubair b. Bakkār (d. 870), one of Ṭabarī’s teachers, a learned historian and genealogist much consulted by later writers, there is a fragment in the Köprülü library at Constantinople, and another in Göttingen, part of which has been made known by Wüstenfeld (Die Familie Al-Zobair
, Göttingen, 1878). Ya‛qūbī (Ibn Wāḍiḥ) wrote a short general history of much value (published by Houtsma, Leiden, 1883). About India he knows more than his predecessors and more than his successors down to Berūnī. Ibn Khordādhbeh’s historical works are lost. Ibn ‛Abdalḥakam (d. 871) wrote of the conquest of Egypt and the West. Extracts from this book are given by M‛G. de Slane in his Histoire des Berbères
, from which we gather that it was a medley of true tradition and romance, and must be reckoned, with the book of his slightly senior contemporary, the Spaniard Ibn Ḥābīb, in the class of historical romances. A high place must be assigned to the historian Ibn Qutaiba or Kotaiba (d. 889), who wrote a very useful Handbook of History
(ed. Wüstenfeld, Göttingen, 1850). Much more eminent is Balādhurī (d. 893), whose book on the Arab conquest (ed. M. J. de Goeje, Leiden, 1865-1866) merits the special praise given to it by Mas‛ūdī, and who also wrote a large work, the Ansāb al-Ashrāf
. A contemporary, Ibn abī Tāhir Taifūr (d. 894), wrote on the Abbasid caliphs and was drawn on by Ṭabarī. The sixth part of his work is in the British Museum. The universal history of Dīnawarī (d. 896), entitled The Long Narratives
, has been edited by Girgas (1887).
All these histories are more or less thrown into the shade by the great work of Ṭabarī
), whose fame has never faded from his own day to ours. The Annals
(ed. M. de Goeje, Leiden, 1879-1901) are a general history from the creation to 302 A.H.
915). As a literary composition they do not rank very high, which may be due partly to the author’s years, partly to the inequality of his sources, sometimes superabundant, sometimes defective, partly perhaps to the somewhat hasty condensation of his original draft. Nevertheless the value of the book is very great: the author’s selection of traditions is usually happy, and the episodes of most importance are treated with most fulness of detail, so that it deserves the high reputation it has enjoyed from the first. This reputation rose steadily; there were twenty copies (one of them written by Ṭabarī’s own hand) in the library of the Fatimite caliph ‛Aziz (latter half of the 4th century), whereas, when Saladin became lord of Egypt, the princely library contained 1200 copies (Maqrīzī, i. 408 seq.).
soon came to be dealt with in various ways. They were published in shorter form with the omission of the names of authorities and of most of the poems cited; some passages quoted by later writers are not found even in the Leiden edition. On the other hand, some interpolations took place, one in the author’s lifetime and perhaps by his own hand. Then many supplements were written, e.g.
by Ferghānī (not extant) and by Hamadhānī (partly preserved in Paris). ‛Arīb of Cordova made an abridgment, adding the history of the West and continuing the story to about 975.
Ibn Mashkawaih wrote a history from the creation to 980, with the purpose of drawing the lessons of the story, following Ṭabarī closely, as far as his book is known, and seldom recurring to other sources before the reign of Moqtadir; what follows is his own composition and shows him to be a writer of talent.
In 963 an abridgment of the Annals
was translated into Persian by Bal‛amī, who, however, interwove many fables. Ibn al-Athīr (d. 1234) abridged the whole work, usually with judgment, but sometimes too hastily. Though he sometimes glided lightly over difficulties, his work is of service in fixing the text of Ṭabarī. He also furnished a continuation to the year 1224. Later writers took Ṭabarī as their main authority, but sometimes consulted other sources, and so add to our knowledge—especially Ibn al-Jauzī (d. 1201), who adds many important details. These later historians had valuable help from the biographies of famous men and special histories of countries and cities, dynasties and princes, on which much labour was spent from the 4th century from the Flight onwards.
The chief historians after Ṭabarī may be briefly mentioned in chronological order. Rāzī (d. A.D.
932) wrote a History of Spain
; Eutychius (d. 940) wrote Annals
(ed. L. Cheikho, Paris, 1906), which are very important because he gives the Christian tradition; Sūlī (d. 946) wrote on the Abbasid caliphs, their viziers and court poets; Mas‛udi
) composed various historical and geographical works (d. 956). Of Ṭabarī’s contemporary Hamza Ispahānī (c.
940) we have the Annals
(ed. Gottwaldt, St Petersburg, 1844); Ibn al-Qūṭīya wrote a History of Spain
; Ibn Zūlāq (d. 997) a History of Egypt
; ‛Otbi wrote the History of Mahmud of Ghazna
, at whose court he lived (printed on the margin of the Egyptian edition of Ibn al-Athīr); Tha‛labī (d. 1036) wrote a well-known History of the Old Prophets
; Abu Nu‛aim al-Ispahānī (d. 1039) wrote a History of Ispahan
, chiefly of the scholars of that city; Tha‛ālibī (d. c.
1038) wrote, inter alia
, a well-known History of the Poets of his Time
, published at Damascus, 1887; Birūnī
) (d. 1048) takes a high place among historians; Kodā‛ī (d. 1062) wrote a Description of Egypt
and also various historical pieces, of which some are extant; Ibn Sā‛id of Cordova (d. 1070) wrote a View of the History of the Various Nations
. Bagdad and its learned men found an excellent historian in al-Khātib al-Baghdādī (d. 1071), and Spain in Ibn Hayān (d. 1076), and half a century later in Ibn Khaqān (d. 1135) and Ibn Bassām (d. 1147). Sam‛ani (d. 1167) wrote an excellent book on genealogies; ‛Umāra (d. 1175) wrote a History of Yemen
(ed. H. C. Kay, London, 1892); Ibn ‛Asaqir (d. 1176) a History of Damascus and her Scholars
, which is of great value, and exists in whole or in part in several libraries. The Biographical Dictionary
of the Spaniard Ibn Pascual (d. 1182) and that of Dabbi, a somewhat junior contemporary, are edited in Codera’s Bibliotheca Arab. Hisp.
(1883-1885); Saladin found his historian in the famous ‛Imād uddīn (d. 1201) (Arabic text, ed. C. Landberg, Leiden, 1888). Ibn ul-Jauzī, who died in the same year, has been already mentioned. Abdulwahid’s History of the Almohades
, written in 1224, was published by Dozy (2nd ed., 1881). Abdullatīf or Abdallatīf (d. 1232) is known by his writings about Egypt (trans. de Sacy, 1810); Ibn al-Athīr (d. 1233) wrote, in addition to the Chronicle
already mentioned, a Biographical Dictionary of Contemporaries of the Prophet
. Qiftī (d. 1248) is especially known by his History of Arabic Philologists
. Sibt ibn al-Jauzi (d. 1256), grandson of the Ibn al-Jauzī already mentioned, wrote a great Chronicle
, of which much the larger part still exists. Codera has edited (Madrid, 1886) Ibn al-‛Abbar’s (d. 1260) Biographical Lexicon
, already known by Dozy’s excerpts from it. Ibn al-‛Adīm (d. 1262) is famed for his History of Aleppo
, and Abu Shama (d. 1267) wrote a well-known History of Saladin and Nureddin
, taking a great deal from ‛Imad uddin. Ibn abī Usaibia (d. 1269) wrote a History of Physicians
, ed. A. Müller. The History
of Ibn al-‛Amīd (d. 1276), better known as Elmacin, was printed by Erpenius in 1625. Ibn Sa‛īd al-Maghribī (d. 1274 or 1286) is famous for his histories, but still more for his geographical writings. The noted theologian Nawāwī
; d. 1278) wrote a Biographical Dictionary of the Worthies of the First Ages of Islam
. Pre-eminent as a biographer is Ibn Khallikān
; d. 1282), whose much-used work was partly edited by de Slane and completely by Wüstenfeld (1835-1840), and translated into English by the former scholar (4 vols., 1843-1871).
Abu ‛l-Faraj, better known as Bar-Hebraeus (d. 1286), wrote, besides his Syriac Chronicle
, an Arabic History of Dynasties
(ed. E. Pocock, Oxford, 1663, Beirūt, 1890). Ibn ‛Adharī’s History of Africa and Spain
has been published by Dozy (2 vols., Leiden, 1848-1851), and the Qartās
of Ibn abī Zar‛ by Tornberg (1843). One of the best-known of Arab writers is Abulfeda
(d. 1331) (q.v.
). Not less famous is the great Encyclopaedia
of his contemporary Nuwairī (d. 1332), but only extracts from it have been printed. Ibn Sayyid an-Nās (d. 1334) wrote a full biography of the Prophet; Mizzī (d. 1341) an extensive work on the men from whom traditions have been derived. We still possess, nearly complete, the great Chronicle
of Dhahabī (d. 1347), a very learned biographer and historian. The geographical and historical Masālik al-Absār
of Ibn Fadlallāh (d. 1348) is known at present by extracts given by Quatremère and Amari. Ibn al-Wardī (d. c.
1349), best known by his Cosmography
, wrote a Chronicle
which has been printed in Egypt. Ṣafadī (d. 1363) got a great name as a biographer. Yafi‛ī (d. 1367) wrote a Chronicle of Islam and Lives of Saints
. Subkī (d. 1369) published Lives of the Theologians of the Shāfi’ite School
. Of Ibn Kathīr’s History
the greatest part is extant. For the history of Spain and the Maghrib the writings of Ibn al-Khatīb (d. 1374) are of acknowledged value. Another history, of which we possess the greater part, is the large work of Ibn al-Furāt (d. 1404). Far superior to all these, however, is the famous Ibn Khaldūn
) (d. 1406). Of the historical works of the famous lexicographer Fairūzabādī
) (d. 1414) only a Life of the Prophet
remains. Maqrizī (d. 1442) is the subject of a separate article; Ibn Hajar (d. 1448) is best known by his Biographical Dictionary of Contemporaries of the Prophet
, published in the Bibliotheca Indica
. Ibn ‛Arabshāh (d. 1450) is known by his History of Timur
(Leeuwarden, 1767). ‛Ainī (d. 1451) wrote a General History
, still extant. Abu‛l-Mahāsin ibn Taghrībirdī (d. 1469) wrote at length on the history of Egypt; the first two parts have been published by Juynboll and Matthes, Leiden, 1855-1861. Flügel has published Ibn Kotlubogha’s Biographies of the Hanifite Jurists
. Ibn Shihna (d. 1485) wrote a History of Aleppo
. Of Sakhāwī we possess a bibliographical work on the historians. The polymath Suyūtī
) (d. 1505) contributed a History of the Caliphs
and many biographical pieces. Samhūdī’s History of Medina
is known through the excerpts of Wüstenfeld (1861). Ibn Iyās (d. 1524) wrote a History of Egypt
, and Diarbekri (d. 1559) a Life of Mahomet
. To these names must be added Maqqari (Makkari)
) and Hajji Khalīfa
) (d. 1658). He made use of European sources, and with him Arabic historiography may be said to cease, though he had some unimportant successors.
A word must be said of the historical romances, the beginnings of which go back to the first centuries of Islam. The interest in all that concerned Mahomet and in the allusions of the Koran to old prophets and races led many professional narrators to choose these subjects. The increasing veneration paid to the Prophet and love for the marvellous soon gave rise to fables about his childhood, his visit to heaven, &c., which have found their way even into sober histories, just as many Jewish legends told by the converted Jew Ka‛b al-Aḥbār and by Wahb ibn Monabbih, and many fables about the old princes of Yemen told by ‛Abīd, are taken as genuine history (see, however, Mas‛ūdī, iv. 88 seq.). A fresh field for romantic legend was found in the history of the victories of Islam, the exploits of the first heroes of the faith, the fortunes of ‛Alī and his house. Then, too, history was often expressly forged for party ends. The people accepted all this, and so a romantic tradition sprang up side by side with the historical, and had a literature of its own, the beginnings of which must be placed as early as the 2nd century of the Flight. The oldest specimens still extant are the fables about the conquest of Spain ascribed to Ibn Ḥabīb (d. 852), and those about the conquest of Egypt and the West by Ibn ‛Abd al-Hakam (d. 871). In these truth and falsehood are mingled. But most of the extant literature of this kind is, in its present form, much more recent; e.g.
the Story of the Death of Hosain
by the pseudo-Abū Mikhnaf (translated by Wüstenfeld); the Conquest of Syria
by Abū Ismā‛īl al-Basrī (edited by Nassau Lees, Calcutta, 1854, and discussed by de Goeje, 1864); the pseudo-Wāqidī (see Hamaker, De Expugnatione Memphidis et Alexandriae
, Leiden, 1835); the pseudo-Ibn Qutaiba (see Dozy, Recherches
); the book ascribed to A‛ṣam Kūfī, &c. Further inquiry into the origin of these works is called for, but some of them were plainly directed to stirring up fresh zeal against the Christians. In the 6th century of the Flight some of these books had gained so much authority that they were used as sources, and thus many untruths crept into accepted history.
.—The writing of geographical books naturally began with the description of the Moslem world, and that for practical purposes. Ibn Khordādhbeh, in the middle of the 9th century, wrote a Book of Roads and Provinces
to give an account of the highways, the posting-stations and the revenues of the provinces. In the same century Ya‛qūbī wrote his Book of Countries
, describing specially the great cities of the empire. A similar work describing the provinces in some detail was that of Qudāma or Kodāma (d. 922). Hamdāni
) was led to write his great geography of Arabia by his love for the ancient history of his land. Muqaddasi (Mokaddasi) at the end of the 10th century was one of the early travellers whose works were founded on their own observation. The study of Ptolemy’s geography led to a wider outlook, and the writing of works on geography
) in general. A third class of Arabian geographical works were those written to explain the names of places which occur in the older poets. Such books were written by Bakrī
) and Yāqūt
Grammar and Lexicography
.—Arab tradition ascribes the first grammatical treatment of the language to Abū-l-Aswad ud-Du‛alī (latter half of the 7th century), but the certain beginnings of Arabic grammar are found a hundred years later. The Arabs from early times have always been proud of their language, but its systematic study seems to have arisen from contact with Persian and from the respect for the language of the Koran. In Irāk the two towns of Basra and Kūfa produced two rival schools of philologists. Bagdad soon had one of its own (cf. G. Flügel’s Die grammatischen Schulen der Araber
, Leipzig, 1862). Khalīl ibn Aḥmad (718-791), an Arab from Omān, of the school of Basra, was the first to enunciate the laws of Arabic metre and the first to write a dictionary. His pupil Sibawaihi
), a Persian, wrote the grammar known simply as The Book
, which is generally regarded in the East as authoritative and almost above criticism. Other members of the school of Basra were Abū ‛Ubaida
) and Ibn Duraid
). The school of Kūfa claimed to pay more attention to the living language (spoken among the Bedouins) than to written laws of grammar. Among its teachers were Kisā‛ī, the tutor of Harūn al-Rashīd’s sons, Ibn A‛rābi, Ibn as-Sikkīt (d. 857) and Ibn ul-Anbāri (885-939). In the fourth century of Islam the two schools of Kūfa and Basra declined in importance before the increasing power of Bagdad, where Ibn Qutaiba, Ibn Jinnī (941-1002) and others carried on the work, but without the former rivalry of the older schools. Persia from the beginning of the 10th century produced some outstanding students of Arabic. Hamadhāni (d. 932) wrote a book of synonyms (ed. L. Cheikho, Beirūt, 1885). Jauharī
) wrote his great dictionary the Sahāh
) and Jurjānī
) were almost contemporary, and a little later came Zamakhsharī
), whose philological works are almost as famous as his commentary on the Koran. The most important dictionaries of Arabic are late in origin. The immense work, Lisān ul Arab
(ed. 20 vols, Būlāq, 1883-1889), was compiled by Ibn Manzūr (1232-1311), the Qāmūs
by Fairūzābādī, the Taj ul‛Arūs
(ed. 10 vols., Būlāq, 1890), founded on the Qāmūs
, by Murtadā uz-Zabīdī (1732-1790).
.—The literature of the various sciences is dealt with elsewhere. It is enough here to mention that such existed, and that it was not indigenous. It was in the early Abbasid period that the scientific works of Greece were translated into Arabic, often through the Syriac, and at the same time the influence of Sanskrit works made itself felt. Astronomy seems in this way to have come chiefly from India. The study of mathematics learned from Greece and India was developed by Arabian writers, who in turn became the teachers of Europe in the 16th century. Medical literature was indebted for its origin to the works of Galen and the medical school of Gondesapur. Many of the Arabian philosophers were also physicians and wrote on medicine. Chemistry proper was not understood, but Arabian writings on alchemy led Europe to it later. So also the literature of the animal world (cf. Damīrī) is not zoological but legendary, and the works on minerals are practical and not scientific. See Arabian Philosophy
and historical sections of such scientific articles as Astronomy
(G. W. T.