Hajj Routs from Egypt to Hijaz through the Eastern Desert and port city of Aydhab in the ninth–fifteenth centuries

Alexei Krol

Vostok/Oriens '2018, №2

DOI: 10.7868/S0869190818020024

In 640, Egypt became a part of the Caliphate. It raised a question of the ways to Hedjaz for the pilgrims going to Mecca in order to accomplish one of the mandatory religious duties for a Muslim. The most frequently mentioned in the Arabic sources way laid through al-Qulzum, Sinai Peninsula, port city Aila and further along the Red sea coast to Hedjaz. However, I suppose that the alternative road to the holly cities of Islam did exist already since the ninth century. It was going from the Upper Egyptian frontier city Asuan, through the Eastern desert to the port Aydhab situated on the Red Sea shore on the opposite side of Jidda. This road was taken in 1050 by the Persian traveler Nasir Khusraw. The way to Hedjaz through Aydhab became the main after 1116 when the crusaders took Aila. The road was used by Muslims from Arab Spain, Maghreb, Egypt and Sudan. Aydhab could be reached from the upper Egyptian cities Qus and Edfu. The first way was described by the Andalusian poet ant geographer Ibn Jubair; the second – by the famous traveler Ibn Battuta. The way to Mecca through Aydhab was still in use by the pilgrims even after 1260 when the Sinai road was opened again under the Sultan Baibars. I suppose that the pilgrims from Egypt and Sudan made use of Aydhab till the fifteenth century when the port eventually fell into decline.

Keywords: Egypt, hajj, pilgrims, Aydhab, Eastern desert

Pages: С. 20–31

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