The pilgrimage route linking Egypt to Makkah and Medina had been followed by masses of Muslim pilgrims coming from Egypt, Sudan, Central Africa, Morocco, Andalusia and Sicily. They used to meet in Egypt and travel through Sinai to Aqaba, then march across two trails: the first one is an internal trail moving to Medina passing inland through valleys and villages, and the second is a coastal trail passing through a number of stations and heading to Badr until it reaches Makkah or Medina.
Like all the other Islamic pilgrimage roads it received great interest and attention of Muslim rulers in different Islamic eras and periods, as they established many structures on the path of this road like pools, canals and wells. They also paved obstacles and built barricades, bridges, castles, forts and mosques, and on the road near the camps are numerous Islamic inscriptions and commemorative writings, engraved by pilgrims as they passed through the road.
These towers, forts and khans functioned as places where traders and pilgrims could keep their money safe and where grain that was transferred by the Hajj caravan could be stored. Use of these khans was free since most were established as waqf (pious endowments). They were guarded all year round.
Mehmet Tütüncü is the chairman of Research Centre for Turkish and Arabic world in Netherlands. This centre researches the crossroads and sections between Turkish and Arabic world and especially the Ottoman empires Arab provinces. He is also a specialist of Netherlands and Ottoman Relations. And has worked extensively in the Natıonal archives for an exhibition and book 400 years Turkısh and Dutch relations.
He is the editor of Turkish Islamic Inscriptions series of the research Centre. He works currently on Ottoman Arabia especially on a corpus of Ottoman Inscriptions in the Holy Cities of Mecca and Mediana.
Works on Ottoman Arabia
- “Royal Ottoman Inscriptions on the Istanbul to Mecca Pilgrimage Roiute (Darb al-Hajj al-Shami)” Hajj Congress British Museum, 22-24 March 2012 Published in Hajj Collected Essays, edited by Venetia Porter and Liana Saif, London British Museum 2013, pp. 36-43
- First Century of Ottoman Rule in Arabia INSCRIPTIONS AND BUILDING ACTIVITIES BY OTTOMAN SULTANS IN 10th CENTURY ARABIA, 8th International Symposium on Studies in History of Arabia Riyadh 16-19 April 2014 (In publication)
- The Uppsala Mecca Painting: A New Source for the Cultural Topography and Historiography for Mecca Hajj Global Interactions through Pilgrimage Edited by Luitgard Mols & Marjo Buitelaar, Leiden 2015 pp. 137-162 Procedings Symposium Hajj: Global Interactions through Pilgrimage 28 and 29 November 2013
- Inscriptions from The Hajj Route, in The Archaeology of the Syrian Hajj Route in the Medieval and Ottoman Periods Route, by Andrew Petersen, British Academy/ Oxbow, Oxford (May 2012)
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