The Persian Hadj, Which Used To Set Out From Baghdad, And Come Through
Nedjed To Mekka, Was Discontinued About The Time When The Wahabys
Stopped The Syrian Hadj.
After Abdullah ibn Saoud had made peace with
Tousoun Pasha in 1815, it ventured to cross the Desert, and
Derayeh unmolested; but within four days' journey of Mekka, it was
attacked by the Beni Shammar, a tribe which had remained neuter during
the war between Tousoun and the Wahabys. The caravan then returned to
Derayeh; through the intercession of Saoud, the goods of which it had
been plundered were restored; and he sent a party of his own people to
escort it to the holy city.
The Persian caravan is usually escorted by the Ageyl Arabs, of Baghdad.
As its pilgrims are known to be sectaries, they are exposed to great
extortions on the road: Saoud exacted a heavy capitation-tax from them,
as did Sherif Ghaleb at Mekka, amounting in latter times to thirty
sequins per head. Persian hadjys are all persons of property, and no
pilgrims suffer so much imposition as they during the whole route. Great
numbers of them come by sea: they embark at Bassora for Mokha, and if
they fall in with the trade-wind, run straight to Djidda; if not, they
form themselves into a caravan, and come by land along the coast of
Yemen. In 1814, when I was present at the Hadj, the few Persians who
came by land, had passed through Baghdad to Syria, and had followed the
Syrian caravan, accompanied by Baghdad camel-drivers.
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