Mecca is considered the holiest city in the world. And why? Because the false prophet Mahomed was born there. On that account Mahomedans come from all parts of the world to worship in the great temple there. Sometimes Mecca is as full of people as a hive is full of bees.
Of all the cities in the East, Mecca is the gayest, because the houses have windows looking into the streets. In these houses are lodgings for the pilgrims.
And what is it the pilgrims worship?
A great black stone, which they say the angel Gabriel brought down from heaven as a foundation for Mahomed’s house. They kiss it seven times, and after each kiss they walk round it.
Then they bathe in a well, which they say is the well the angel showed to Hagar in the desert, and they think the waters of this well can wash away all their sins. Alas! they know not of the blood which can wash away all sin.
Medina contains the tomb of Mahomed; yet it is not thought so much of as Mecca. Perhaps the Mahomedans do not like to be reminded that Mahomed died like any other man, and never rose again.
Mocha.—This is a part whence very fine coffee is sent to Europe.
TRAVELS IN THE DESERT.
Of all places in Arabia, which would you desire most to see? Would it not be Mount Sinai? Our great and glorious God once spoke from the top of that mountain.
I will tell you of an English clergyman who travelled to see that mountain. As he knew there were many robbers on the way, he hired an Arab sheikh to take care of him. A sheikh is a chief, or captain. Suleiman was a fine-looking man, dressed in a red shirt, with a shawl twisted round his waist, a purple cloak, and a red cap. His feet and legs were bare. His eyes were bright, his skin was brown, and his beard black. To his girdle were fastened a huge knife and pistols, and by his side hung a sword. This man brought a band of Arabs with him to defend the travellers from the robbers in the desert.
One day the whole party set out mounted on camels. After going some distance, a number of children were seen scampering among the rocks, and looking like brown monkeys. These were the children of the Arabs who accompanied the Englishman. The wild little creatures ran to their fathers, and saluted them in the respectful manner that Arab children are taught to do.
At last a herd of goats was seen with a fine boy of twelve years old leading them. He was the son of Suleiman. The father seemed to take great delight in this boy, and introduced him to the traveller. The kind gentleman riding on a camel, put down his hand to the boy. The little fellow, after touching the traveller’s hand, kissed his own, according to the Arabian manner.
The way to Mount Sinai was very rough; indeed, the traveller was sometimes obliged to get off his camel, and to climb among the crags on hands and knees. How glad he was when the Arabs pointed to a mountain, and said, “That is Mount Sinai.” With what fear and reverence he gazed upon it! Here it was that the voice of the great God was once heard speaking out of the midst of the smoke, and clouds, and darkness!