The Author leaves Baghdad, and proceeds
to Kerbela.

AFTER having visited all the prin­cipal shrines in Baghdad and its neigh­bourhood, we set out for Kerbela. Our first stage was to the caravanserai of Shoor, so called from the water of its wells being brackish. Fresh water is brought here for sale. The second stage is the town of Musseeb, on the banks of the Euphrates; and on the same river, at the distance of a farsang, are the tombs of the two sons of Moslem Ben Akeer, who were martyred by Harith. They are both buried under one dome, situated in the midst of a jungle. The third day, we arrived at Ker­bela, fifteen farsangs from Baghdad.

Kerbela is a very populous city, partly owing to the late oppressive govern­ment of Persia, which occasioned great desertions from thence to this place; as well as its convenient situation for trade, since the forming of the canal from the Euphrates. Hassan Pasha, governor of Baghdad, began this noble work, and expended upon it 10,000 Tomans, or near two lacks of rupees, but died before it was finished. It was completed by Mirza Ashreff, one of the nobles of Shah Thamas, king of Persia. The environs of the city are finely diversified with groves of palm-trees and delightful gar­dens. The tomb of Hussein, son of Aly, is within the city, together with that of his son Abdullah; and the vault wherein are buried the other martyrs who fell with them. At the distance of twenty paces from the south window of the tomb of Hussein, is a level spot where he was killed: and on the place where he fell, is an excavation about the size of a grave, which is filled up with earth brought from the place where his tents were pitched; this is covered with boards, and whoever comes to visit the shrine pays something to one of the Kadems, for permission to carry away some of the earth, which is univer­sally known by the name of Khâk Ker­bela, (Kerbela earth) and has wonderful properties ascribed to it; and amongst others, it is said to have the power of quelling a storm at sea, upon flinging it against the wind. In the city are also the tomb and mosque of Abbass Aly, another son of Aly, but not by Fatemah; and the people here believe, that who­ever swears falsely at this tomb, is imme­diately afflicted with some dire misfor­tune. At the distance of a farsang from the city is the tomb of Hour the martyr. Close to him lies the body of his mother, who having endeavoured to dissuade him from joining Hussein, it is the custom for every one who visits his tomb, to throw a stone at that of his mother, by which means the tomb has been entirely destroyed, and nothing remains but the pile of stones, which is daily increasing. From Kerbela to Nejeff Ashreff through the desert, where there is no water, is twelve farsangs; and by the city of Huh­leh, the route which we pursued is six­teen farsangs, viz.

From Kerbela to Huhleh, 7
to Zulkefel, 5
to Nejeff, 4

Huhleh is a populous city on the banks of the Euphrates. On the same river, at the distance of half a farsang from Huh­leh, are the tombs of Job and his faithful wife, who attended him during all his misfortunes. Near to the tombs is the spring in which he cleansed himself; the water of which is remarkably fine, and it is said to be a sure remedy for the most obstinate disorders. The tomb of Job is small, and now very much neglected for want of a proper endowment. After crossing two plains from this city, you come to the tomb of Shoaib (Jethro). Near the altar in the mosque of Jethro, as well as in many other mosques that I have seen in the Turkish empire, there are tombs, which is expressly contrary to the Hadis*; “You shall not bury your dead in the mosques.” And moreover as these mosques have not the true Keblah, but look towards Jerusalem, I conjecture that they were originally Christian churches or monasteries, which after the Mohammedan conquest were converted into mosques. This is how­ever merely a supposition of mine own, not supported by any authority. Before we arrived at Huhleh, we had heard from the country people of the shaking Mina­reh at the mosque of Jethro, and when we arrived there were greatly astonished to find the report true. This Minareh is situated in the court yard of the mosque, and is of such a breadth, as to allow of a stair-case above two yards wide. When you arrive at the summit of the Minareh, you are to place the ball on the top under your arm, and cry out aloud, “Oh Minareh, for the love of Abbass Aly, shake.” As I am always inquisitive after every thing that is curious, I ascended the Minareh with several others, and we all did as above directed, but the Minareh, stood as firm as a rock. I then desired the Kadem of the mosque to try his skill, and upon his laying hold of it and crying out, the top of the Mina­reh shook in such a manner that we all clung fast for fear of being thrown off. The Hakeem Bashy, who was standing below, was highly diverted with the sight. We were utterly at a loss to detect the trick, although we made the Kadem repeat it several times.

From Huhleh we went to Zulkefel, where is the tomb of that prophet, and those of his four successors, magnificient monuments, well worth seeing. You descend to the tombs by four flights of steps, and it is there so dark, that you can scarcely distinguish objects.

From Huhleh we proceeded to Nejeff Ashreff. This city is not now so popu­lous as Kerbela, on account of its distance from the river; and the country about it is ill cultivated. It is very unsafe to dwell withoutside the city, because the wild Arabs frequently infest the country to the very walls of Nejeff. The mauso­leum of Aly, in the middle of the city, is a most magnificient structure, and the shrine is inlaid with precious stones. Whilst we were here, Nadir Shah sent his Zirgir Bashy, or chief goldsmith, to cover the domes of the mausoleums of Hussein, at Kerbela, and this of Aly, with copper spread with gold, like that of Imam Mousa Reza at Meshed. In the city of Dehly, the dome of the mosque of Mozuffer Khan Rosheneddowlah is gilt, but in a more superficial manner than these; for I had frequent opportu­nities of observing the work, and saw that the plates of gold were of a considerable degree of thickness. Great sums of money have been expended in digging a canal from Nejeff to the Euphrates; and they had actually cut to the distance of three farsangs from Nejeff, when the death of Nadir Shah put an end to the undertaking. The length of the canal from the city to the Euphrates would have been thirty-five farsangs, and it was intended that those parts of the banks which were rocky, should have been strengthened with stone and mortar; and where the soil was sandy, with copper and lead. The people of this city say, that the bones of Adam and Noah are intered by the side of the tomb of Aly, but there is no vestage of such monu­ments. When Cufah was the capital of the Khalifat, Nejeff was one of its dependencies. The grandeur of ancient Cufah is celebrated by historians; but as a punishment for the wickedness of its inhabitants, there is not at present the smallest remains of magnificence, excepting the mosque wherein Aly received the wound of which he died. From this mosque to his tomb is the distance of a farsang. Over the altar of the mosque is written in broad characters, in the Arabick language, “This is the place where Aly, the son of Abu­taleb, was murdered; may the peace of God be upon him.” They pretend that this mosque was founded by the patriarch Noah; but it appears to me to have been originally an idolatrous temple. The west wall, which the Mohammedans had covered with mortar, has, through length of time, and by being exposed to the inclemency of the weather, become bare in several places, where you may plainly discover figures cut in stone, and by close examination others may be traced under the plaister. This is the only wall of the old building remaining, the others being of modern construction. Besides the wickedness of the inhabitants of Cufah, which was one cause of the decay of their city, the Khalif Mansoor having built Baghdad, made it his capital, and Cufah and Madain were deserted; and to this day Baghdad is the largest city in the Arabian Irak.

From Baghdad to Medina is 180 far­sangs through the desert, which Zobiedeh, the wife of Harun al Rashid, made pass­able, by ordering a wall to be built all the way, and wells to be dug at proper dis­tances. To Mecca by the same route is 230 farsangs.