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Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah and Mecca - Volume 2

Sir Richard Francis Burton

Book Overview: 

Sir Richard Francis Burton was an English explorer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, ethnologist, linguist, poet, hypnotist, fencer and diplomat. He was known for his travels and explorations within Asia and Africa as well as his extraordinary knowledge of languages and cultures. According to one count, he spoke 29 European, Asian, and African languages.

Burton's best-known achievements include traveling in disguise to Mecca, his seven years in India gave Burton a familiarity with the customs and behavior of Muslims and prepared him to attempt a Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca and, in this case, Medina). It was this journey, undertaken in 1853, which first made Burton famous. He had planned it whilst traveling disguised among the Muslims of Sindh, and had laboriously prepared for the adventure by study and practice. Burton's own account of his journey is given in A Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to Al-Medinah and Meccah.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .d up to the neck, remains in the sun fasting all day; in the evening he is allowed a little food. This rude course of “packing” lasts for about a month. It suits some constitutions; but others, especially Europeans, have tried the sand-bath and died of fever. Mules’ teeth, roasted and imperfectly pounded, remove cataract. Teeth are extracted by the farrier’s pincers, and the worm which throughout the East is supposed to produce toothache, falls by fumigation. And, finally, after great fatigue, or when suffering from cold, the body is copiously greased with clarified butter and exposed to a blazing fire.

Mohammed and his followers conquered only the more civilised Badawin; and there is even to this day little or no religion amongst the wild people, except those on the coast or in the vicinity of cities. The faith of the Badawi comes from Al-Islam, whose hold is weak. But his customs and institutions, the growth of his climate, his nature, and . . . Read More

Community Reviews

Informative journey. Great appendices.

If you are a Muslim who has been on a pilgrimage to Mecca, this book will evoke interesting insight of the extremely harsh conditions of mid 19th century Arabia by comparison to the relative "ease" of today's "pilgrimage". An amazing travelogue by an orientalist, schooled in Arabic and Islamic re...more

Ironically, for this second volume describes the achievement of Burton's quest--that is, his entry into Medina and Mecca--I found it not as stirring as Volume 1. This from the perspective of someone seeking sprightly travel writing and insight into past cultures. A lot of this volume is dogma and...more

As a huge fan of Sir Richard Burton, I've snapped up every book of his I can get my hands on. The two volumes detailing his 1853 pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina is the perfect place to start. Burton is most famous for this pilgrimage and his account does not disappoint if you are interested in Ara...more

Fantastic old school travelogue. I've been fascinated by Arabic history and culture since reading Karen Armstrong's biography of Mohammed last year. In this book, Burton visits and describes (in great detail) some of the most holy sites in Islam. It's interesting to see the world through his eyes...more