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)
in cisterns 1. But this not being sufficient, several attempts were made to bring water thither from other places by aqueducts; and particularly about Mohammed’s time, Zobair one of the principal men of the tribe of Koreish, endeavoured at a great expence to supply the city with water from mount Arafat, but without success; yet this was effected not many years ago, being begun at the charge of a wife of Solimân the Turkish Emperor 2. But long before this, another aqueduct had been made from a spring at a considerable distance, which was, after several years labour, finished by the Khalîf al Moktader 3.
The soil about Mecca is so very barren as to produce no fruits but what are common in the desarts, tho’ the prince or Sharîf has a garden well planted at his castle of Marbaa, about three miles westward from the city, where he usually resides. Having therefore no corn or grain of their own growth, they are obliged to fetch it from other places 4; and Hashem, Mohammed’s great-grandfather, then prince of his tribe, the more effectually to supply them with provisions, appointed two caravans to set out yearly for that purpose, the one in summer, and the other in winter 5: these caravans of purveyours are mentioned in the Korân. The provisions brought by them were distributed also twice a year, viz. in the month of Rajeb, and at the arrival of the pilgrims. They are supply’d with dates in great plenty from the adjacent country, and with grapes from Tayef, about sixty miles distant, very few growing at Mecca. The inhabitants of this city are generally very rich, being considerable gainers by the prodigious concourse of people of almost all nations at the yearly pilgrimage, at which time there is a great fair or mart for all kinds of merchandize. They have also great numbers of cattle, and particularly of camels: however the poorer sort cannot but live very indifferently, in a place where almost every necessary of life must be purchased with money. Notwithstanding this great sterility near Mecca, yet you are no sooner out of its territory, than you meet on all sides with plenty of good springs and streams of running water, with a great many gardens and cultivated lands 6.
The temple of Mecca, and the reputed holiness of this territory, will be treated of in a more proper place.
Medîna, which till Mohammed’s retreat thither was called Yathreb, is a walled city about half as big as Mecca 7, built in a plain, salt in
1 Gol. ad Alfrag. 99.
3 Sharif al Edrifi ubi fupr.
4 Idem ib.
5 Poc. Spec. 51.
6 Sharif al Edrisi ubi supr. 125.
7 Id. Vulgò Geogr. Nubiensis. 5.