Travels In Syria And The Holy Land By John Lewis Burckhardt


III. El Mezeine [Arabic], who live principally to the eastward of the
convent towards the gulf of Akaba.

IV. Oulad - Page 370
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III. El Mezeine [Arabic], Who Live Principally To The Eastward Of The Convent Towards The Gulf Of Akaba.

IV. Oulad Soleiman [Arabic], or Beni Selman [Arabic], at present reduced to a few families only, who are settled at Tor, and in the neighbouring villages.

V. Beni Waszel [Arabic], about fifteen families, who live with the Mezeine, and are usually found in the neighbourhood of Sherm. They are said to have come originally from Barbary. Some of their brethren are also settled in Upper Egypt.

These five tribes are comprised under the appellation Towara, or the Bedouins of Tor, and form a single body, whenever any foreign tribe of the northern Bedouins attacks any one of them; but sometimes, though not often, they have bloody quarrels among themselves. Their history, according to the reports of the best informed among them, founded upon tradition, is as follows:

At the period of the Mohammedan conquest, or soon after, the peninsula of Mount Sinai was inhabited exclusively by the tribe of Oulad Soleiman, or Beni Selman, together with the monks. The Szowaleha, and Aleygat, the latter originally from the eastern Syrian desert, were then living on the borders of Egypt, and in the Sherkieh or eastern district of the Delta, from whence they were

[p.559] accustomed to make frequent inroads into this territory, in order to carry off the date-harvest, and other fruits.[Some encampments of Szowaleha are still found in the Sherkieh.] Whenever the inundation of the Nile failed, they repaired in great numbers to these mountains, and pastured their herds in the fertile valleys, the vegetation of which is much more nutritious for camels and sheep than the luxuriant but insipid pastures on the banks of the Nile. After long wars the Szowaleha and Aleygat succeeded in reducing the Oulad Soleiman; many of their families were exterminated, others fled, and their feeble remains now live near Tor, where they still pride themselves upon having been the former lords of this peninsula. The Szowaleha and Aleygat, however, did not agree, and had frequent disputes among themselves. At that period there arrived at Sherm four families of the Mezeine, a very potent tribe in the Hedjaz, east of Medina, where they are still found in large numbers, forming part of the great tribe of Beni Harb. They were flying from the effects of blood-revenge, and wishing to settle here, they applied to the Szowaleha, begging to be permitted to join them in their pastures. The Szowaleha consented, on condition of their paying a yearly tribute in sheep, in the same manner as the despised tribe of Heteym, on the opposite coast of the gulf of Akaba, does to all the surrounding Arabs. [Arabic]. The high spirited Mezeine however rejected the offer, as derogatory to their free born condition, and addressed themselves to the Aleygat, who readily admitted them to their brotherhood and all their pastures. Long and obstinate wars between the Szowaleha and Aleygat were the consequence of this compact. The two tribes fought, it is said, for forty years; and in the greatest and the last battle, which took place in Wady Barak, the Mezeine decided the contest in favour of the Aleygat.

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