accidentally found themselves in Brazil in 1866 ends
with this final episode of İmam Abdurrahman's tale.//
The Moslems of Marnempugo (Pernambuco/Recife)
The Moslems of Marnempugo were smarter and better informed than Moslems
living in other cities. They took their lead from two people living here. One was
named Yusuf, a young and very intelligent man. The other, quite the opposite,
was a moron named Süleyman, who did not accept the pronouncements I made
about Ramazan in Rio, who fasted during the month of Şaban and who was
followed by a few ignorant people.
Their situation with regard to fasting and praying was like that of the Moslems
I described earlier. Their interest in geomancy and charms is quite pronounced.
The Moslems of Marnempugo are freer than those elsewhere because the
Christians here are very attached to geomancy and charms themselves.
Consequently, whatever the Moslems say is immediately accepted by the
Christians, who therefore show considerable respect towards the Moslems, try
to avoid insulting or inciting them and provide them with financial assistance.
People dealing in geomancy and magic are essentially liars and ignorant of most
everything. But by chance, some of their predictions came true and this was
enough to earn them praise.
Some Strange Situations
I listened to some strange stories about Africa from the blacks. Now I can’t
help but write about them. According to what they said, there are potatoes on the
African continent that are as big as people. Since in Marnempugo I saw a potato
that was as big as a two-year-old child, I have no doubt about the reality of the
potato they referred to.
There was a powerful leader in the country of Sudan. Each year he held a meeting
on the anniversary of his father’s death. Many people attended from near and far.
During the meeting the leader said “Whoever goes to my father’s side to serve will
make me happy!” When he said this, those in important positions were brought
forward and the leader, in order to test them, would raise his sword as if to strike
them with it. As the sword came down he would kill those who flinched even a little
bit. On the contrary, those who proved their courage by exhibiting no fear
whatsoever would be rewarded generously.
On that day the leader put 1,000 people to the sword with this horrific behavior and
he believed that he had honored their souls by sending them to the service of his late
father. So thhis cruel action, considered to be blessed, has continued since ancient
times. When this same leader wanted to go to war with another leader he would have
his soldiers pass over the hide of an ox. If the the ox hide broke into pieces then he
would go to war. If not, he would do the opposite, thinking that the number of
soldiers was insufficient.
The leader fed his soldiers corn boiled in water. His officers were segregated from
the soldiers by getting one more spoonful each. The people of this country go to battle
on top of elephants. Most of them ride ostriches and giraffes in order to go from one
place to another. In one place of worship there is one large idol surrounded by 12
small idols. On every hour one of the idols lies down and another rises up. Most of
the people worship this idol. Moslems live there. According to what the teller of
these stories said, the leader respected and valued Moslems because they understood
magic and soothsaying.
Luğabiryanti, The City of Diamonds
Luğabiryanti is situated on the fourth degree of latitude. Because there are diamonds
here, the place has been built up recently by traders. Most of the populace is made
up of black prisoners. The government has the land excavated by selling it for
diamond extraction. The diamonds are recovered from veins in deep and sandy
ground that are like salt veins. Although some diamonds are found in stream beds
and rocks, the best and most valued ones come from the sandy places.
Sunday is a holiday and any diamonds workers find on a Sunday they can keep for
themselves. One worker found an incomparable diamond while working on a Sunday.
When one of the traders saw the diamond he got the worker drunk and bought the
diamond from him for a very cheap price. The trader sold the diamond in Rio de
Janeiro for 100,000 liras. The man who bought it sold it to someone else for twice
as much. When the owner of the black who found the diamond heard about this he
killed the black mercilessly. As a result, the government decreed that blacks who
find diamonds on Sunday can only sell the diamond to their owner.
There is essentially no water in Luğabiryanti so it has to be brought here by ships
from far away and is sold at a high price. On the contrary, though, whiskey is very
cheap to buy.
I Return to My Homeland
In the few years that I stayed in Brazil, because of the distressing state of the
Moslems as I described above, I was thoroughly worn out and bored. When my
longing for my friends was added to this, I knew I had to return home. With the
permission of the Moslems there, I set out to return here. During my voyage
home, though, I encountered some interesting things that I feel I must pass on.
Lisbon is the capital of the Portuguese state. The gate to the city that was built
30 years ago is quite ornate. In front of the gate there is large bronze statue of the
leader who had the gate built, on a horse. A while ago the French seized the city
during a war but then a peace agreement was signed stipulating war reparations and
the soldiers withdrew from the city. As the soldiers withdrew they wanted to take the
statue I mentioned with them but the Portuguese would not agree to this.
The industrial products, fruits and similar things one sees in Lisbon are like those
that can be seen anywhere else.
I went to Cordoba overland. It is the most beautiful city of Andalusia and was at
one time the center of the Moslem sultanate here. The famous Cami-i Kebir, which
has 400 marble columns, is still standing but the Spanish have turned it into a church.
The palace of the Moslem sultans is still standing, too. The verse from the Kur’an
“Mülk, bir ve kahhar olan Allah’ındır” (Property belongs to the one and
overpowering God) is written in kûfî style on the door of the palace, and there are
some poems written in Arabic on the walls, as well. The Spanish take great pains
to preserve and clean the palace. No one is allowed inside other than watchmen.
This palace was built on the top of a mountain. It looks so new it seems as if the
workers finished it and left just a little while ago. There are two underground rooms
of the palace that were carved from stone and one of them opens on to the plain. The
other one’s end point is unknown. These underground rooms are astonishingly
beautiful and artistic. They are proof of the great efforts the old sultans went to to
protect their country. The weather and water in Cordoba are quite lovely.
The mountain has the name of its first Moslem owner Târık bin Ziyad, whose
grave is there and can still be visited. The English state has fortified Gibraltar with
a great and sturdy fortress and walls. The city is on the slopes of the mountain.
Besides and isthmus-like piece of land that ends at the Spanish border, Gibraltar
is completely surrounded by water. The English have layed in an explosive mine
on the isthmus that they can blow it up when necessary. Within the mine are
7-year’s worth of provisions for the people of Gibraltar.
The population of Gibraltar is made up of rich traders who have come from other
places. Since the English government has lifted customs taxes on imports and
exports, the city has become a great commercial center. The consul of Moroccan
Sultan Muhammed, el-Hac Seyyid el-Cüsusi, is in Gibraltar. I met with him and
we had a friendly chat. In his residence there is a mosque where prayers are
said five times each day.
Tangier is a very inexpensive city. There are many orchards and gardens here.
The weather is nice but the structures are ordinary. There is no fortress or
fortification-like place in the city. There is only a small fortress on the shore
and within it are some old-model cannons.
Most of the people of Tangier are Moslems. They are quite interested in
mosques and in learning but because they have no relations with foreigners they
still remain Bedouins. There is no praiseworthy art or culture here. The imam
of the Cami-i Kebir is both imam and judge. Since he is both upright and
God-fearing, he is well-liked by the people. Wherever people who have a
complaint encounter him, even on the road, he sits down without making a fuss
and hears their cases, unlike our judges.
The people of Tangier are very poor and a third of them are Jews. When Jews
pass in front of mosques, those who do not take off their shoes and pass to the
right of Moslems, in accordance with old customs, are beaten.
Most of the populace goes to Gibraltar for commerce. The irregular silver
and copper money call Meskukat that is used by the people has the statement
“Printed in Morocco” on it. But because the writing is quite indistinct it is
easily counterfeited. The bath is Tangier is terribly dirty. The common people
use this bath without any regard for the rules of modesty. There are some
ambassadors from foreign states in Tangier but there are absolutely no
Christians in Morocco.
From Tangier I returned to Gibraltar and from there to Algiers, which has been
fortified and strengthened with great effort by the French. From Algiers I went
to Malta, which is surrounded by fortifications. It is an island like no other.
The uniforms and weapons models of former rulers and soldiers are on display.
From Malta I went to Egypt and from there to Cidde and Mecca. After I made
the hajj, I went to Damascus and then I came to Istanbul