George Sale, The Koran, commonly called the Alcoran of Mohammed, translated into English immediately from the original Arabic; with Explanatory Notes, taken from the most approved Commentators. To which is prefixed A Preliminary Discource (1734)
for all that part which lies along the Red sea, is a dry, barren desart, in some places 10 or 12 leagues over, but in return bounded by those mountains, which being well watered, enjoy an almost continual spring, and besides coffee, the peculiar produce of this country, yield great plenty and variety of fruits, and in particular excellent corn, grapes, and spices. There are no rivers of note in this country, for the streams which at certain times of the year descend from the mountains, seldom reach the sea, being for the most part drunk up and lost in the burning sands of that coast 1.
The soil of the other provinces is much more barren than that of Yaman; the greater part of their territories being covered with dry sands, or rising into rocks, interspersed here and there with some fruitful spots, which receive their greatest advantages from their water and palm trees.
The province of Hejâz.
The province of Hejâz, so named because it divides Najd from Tehâma, is bounded on the south by Yaman and Tehâma, on the west by the Red sea, on the north by the desarts of Syria, and on the east by the province of Najd 2. This province is famous for its two chief cities Mecca and Medina, one of which is celebrated for its temple, and having given birth to Mohammed; and the other for being the place of his residence, for the last ten years of his life, and of his interment.
Mecca, sometimes also called Becca, which words are synonymous, and signify a place of great concourse, is certainly one of the most ancient cities in the world: it is by some 3 thought to be the Mesa of the scripture 4, a name not unknown to the Arabians, and supposed to be taken from one of Ismael’s sons 5. It is seated in a stony and barren valley, surrounded on all sides with mountains 6. The length of Mecca from south to north is about two miles, and its breadth from the foot of the mountain Ajyad, to the top of another called Koaikaân, about a mile 7. In the midst of this space stands the city, built of stone cut from the neighbouring mountains 8. There being no springs at Mecca 9, at least none but what are bitter and unfit to drink 10, except only the well Zemzem, the water of which, tho’ far the best, yet cannot be drank for any continuance, being brackish, and causing eruptions in those who drink plentifully of it 11, the inhabitants are obliged to use rain water which they catch
1 Voy. de l’Arab. heur. 121. 123. 153.
2 V. Gol. ad Alfrag. 98. Abulfeda Descr. Arab. p. 5.
3 R. Saadias in version. Arab. Pentat. Sefer Juchasin, 135. b.
4 Gen x. 30.
5 Gol. ad Al-frag. 82. See Gen. xxv. 15.
6 Gol. ib. 98. See Pitts’s Account of the religion and manners of the Mohammedans. p. 96.
7 Sharif al Edrifi apud Poc. Specim. 122.
9 Gol. ad Alfragan. 99.
10 Sharif al Edrisi ubi supra, 124.
11 Ibid. & Pitts ubi supra. p. 107.