Skip to item: of 688
Information about this record Back to top
Open in Universal viewer
Open in Mirador IIIF viewer

'Gazetteer of Arabia Vol. II' [‎1213] (262/688)

This item is part of

The record is made up of 1 volume (341 folios). It was created in 1917. It was written in English. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers.


This transcription is created automatically. It may contain errors.

Apply page layout

; stmt
mad purged it of its idols and adopted it as the chief sanctuary of Islam, but the old
form has been preserved except in secondary detail. The Ka'abah of Muhammad's
time was the successor of an older building, said to have been destroyed by fire. It
was constructed with courses of timber between the stones. The roof rested
upon six pillars and the door was raised above the ground and approached by a stair
(probably on account of the floods which often swept the valley) under which the wor
shippers left their shoes before entering During the first siege of Mecca (A. D. 683) the
building was burnt down and Ibn Zubair reconstructed it on an enlarged scale and in
a better style of solid ashlar work. After his death, his most glaring innovations,
namely the introduction of two doors on a level with the ground and the extension of
the building to include the Hijr, were corrected by Hajjaj, under orders from the Khalif,
but the building retained its more solid structure. The roof now rested on three pillars,
and the height was raised one-half. The Ka'abah was again entirely rebuilt after
the flood of A. D. 1626, but since Hajjaj there seem to have been no structural changes.
Thus the "Ancient House " as it is titled, is still essentially a heathen temple adapted
to the worhsip of Islam by the clumsy fiction that it was built by Abraham and
Ishmael by divine revelation as a temple of pure monotheism and the chief object of
veneration is the black stone, which is fixed in the external angle facing the Safa. The
building is not exactly oriented, but it may be cal'ed the south-east corner. Its techni
cal name is the black corner; the others being named the Yemen (south-west), Syrian
(north-west) and 'Iraq (north-east) corners from the larids to which they approximately
point. The black stone is small dark mass a span long, with an aspect suggesting vol
canic or meteoric origin, fixed at such a height that it can be conveniently kissed
by a person of middle size. It was broken by fire in the siege of A. D. 683 (not as
many authors relate, by the Carmathians), and the pieces are kept together by
a silver setting. The history of this heavenly stone, given by Gabriel to Abraham,
does not conceal the fact that it was originally a fetish, the most venerated of a multi
tude of idols and sacred stones which stood all around the sanctuary in the time of
Mahammad. The Prophet destroyed the idols, but he left the characteristic form of
worship the tawdf, or sevenfold circuit of the sanctuary, the worshipper kissing or touch
ing the objects of his veneration, and besides the black stone he recognized the so-called
Southern Stone, the same presumably as that which is still touched in the tawdf at the
Yemen corner. The ceremony of the tawdf and the worship of stone fetishes was
common to Mecca with other ancient Arabian Sanctuaries. It was as it still is, a
frequent religious exercise of the people of Mecca, and the first duty of one who returned
to the city or arrived there under a vow of pilgrimage ; thus the out side of the Ka 'abah
was and is, more important than the inside. Islam did away with the worship
of idols ; what was lost in interst by their suppression has been supplied by the invention
of spots consecrated by recollections of Abraham, Ishmael and Hagar, or held to be
acceptable places of prayer. Thus the space of ten spans between the black stone
and the door, which is on the east side between the black and 'Iraq corners, and a man s
height from the ground, is called the Multazam, and here prayer should be offered after
the tawdf with outstretched arms and breast pressed against the house. On the other
side of the door, agamst the same wall is a shallow trough, which is said to mark the
original site of the stone on which Abraham stood to build the Ka'abah. Here the
growth of the legend can be traced for the place is now called the " Kneading-place
(Majan), where the cement for the Ka'abah was prepared. This name and story do
not appear in the older accounts. Once more in the north side of the Ka abah, there
projects a low semicircular wall of marble, with an opening at each end between it and
the walls of the house. The space within is paved with mosaic, and is called the Hijr.
It is included the tawdf, and two slabs of verde antics within it are called the graves
of Ishmael and Hagar, and are places of acceptable prayer. Even the golden or gilded
mizab (water spout) that projects into the Hijir marks a place where prayer is heard
and another such place is the part of the west wall close to the Yemen corner.
The feeling of religious conservatism, which has preserved the structural rudeness
of the Ka'abah did not prohibit costly surface decoration. In Mahammad s time the
outer walls were covered by a veil (or kiswa) of stripped Yaman cloth. The Caliphs
substituted a covering of figured brocade, and the Egyptian government still sends
with each pilgrim caravan from Cairo a new kiswa of black brocade, adorned with a

About this item


Volume II of III of the Gazetteer of Arabia. The Gazetteer is alphabetically-arranged and this volume contains entries K through to R.

The Gazetteer is an alphabetically-arranged compendium of the tribes, clans and geographical features (including towns, villages, lakes, mountains and wells) of Arabia that is contained within three seperate bound volumes. The entries range from short descriptions of one or two sentences to longer entries of several pages for places such as Iraq and Yemen.

A brief introduction states that the gazetteer was originally intended to deal with the whole of Arabia, "south of a line drawn from the head of the Gulf of 'Aqabah, through Ma'an, to Abu Kamal on the Euphrates, and to include Baghdad and Basrah Wilayats" and notes that before the gazetteer could be completed its publication was postponed and that therefore the three volumes that now form this file simply contain "as much of the MSS. [manuscript] as was ready at the time". It further notes that the contents have not been checked.

Extent and format
1 volume (341 folios)
Physical characteristics

Foliation: This volume's foliation system is circled in pencil, in the top right corner of the recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. of each folio.

Written in
English in Latin script
View the complete information for this record

Use and share this item

Share this item
Cite this item in your research

'Gazetteer of Arabia Vol. II' [‎1213] (262/688), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/L/MIL/17/16/2/2, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 23 February 2020]

Link to this item
Embed this item

Copy and paste the code below into your web page where you would like to embed the image.

<meta charset="utf-8"><a href="">'Gazetteer of Arabia Vol. II' [&lrm;1213] (262/688)</a>
<a href="">
	<img src="!280,240/0/default.jpg" alt="" />
IIIF details

This record has a IIIF manifest available as follows. If you have a compatible viewer you can drag the icon to load it. in Universal viewerOpen in Mirador viewerMore options for embedding images

Use and reuse
Download this image