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slave of Abraham, who was an Abyssinian, given unto Abraham by Nimrod. His name was Dimashk, after which he named the city Dimashk.
It appears also that in the time of Al Moáwiyah, there was in Damascus a pious man, who was visited by St. George, * at the season of the Pilgrimage, (not the Hajja.) This coming to Al Moáwiyah's ears, he came unto the pious man on foot, and said that he was very desirous of meeting with St. George, and communicating with him. The pious man, accordingly, informed St. George of Moawiyah's wish ; which the latter refused to gratify, saying, There is no reason for this. The pious man informed Moáwiyah of St. George's refusal; who replied, Say to him, We have sat down with and communed with one who is better than thee and than ourselves, who is Muhammad. But ask him about the origin of Damascus-how it was. The pious man then asked St. George, who said, Once I passed by, and saw the site of this city all covered by the sea, wherein was an abundance of water collected. After this, I was absent five hundred years, and then, returning, beheld a city commenced therein, where many were walking about. The Gate of Jírún was built, by order of Solo
* See Note.
mon, as it is said, by a certain devil of that
Some say, that Damascus was built by a slave belonging to Alexander the Great, whose name was Dimashk. This Dimashk built three gates ;-—the gate Jírún, the gate Al Barid, and the Iron Gate, (this is outside, near the Gate of Paradise, hard by the “Bucket of Ancyra”).
This city, then, Dimashk built; and here all the servants joined, and built a church to worship God in. Some say, however, that this church was built by the Greeks; for Abdalláh-IbnAbbás, having marched against Damascus, and besieged it, demolished the walls, after he had entered the city by storm. Then there fell down a stone, having certain letters inscribed thereon in the Greek language. They therefore sent to bring a certain monk who could. read Greek : but he said, Bring me, in pitch, the impression of the letters on the stone; which he found to be as follows: “ Wo unto thee, mother of shame! Pious is he who inflicts upon thee with usury the ill which God designs for thee in retribution. Wo unto thee from five eyes, who shall destroy thy wall after four thousand years.” Now, Abdalláh's entire name was Abdallah-Ibn-Ali-Ibn-Abdallah Ibn-Abbás-Ibn-Abdul Mukallib.
Again, the historian Ibn Isakir says, When God had granted unto the Moslems the possession,
as conquerors, of the whole of Syria, he granted them, among the other cities, that of Damascus, with its dependencies. Thus God sent down his mercy upon them; and the commander-in-chief of the army, (besieging Damascus,) who was either Abu Ubaidah, or, as some say, Khalid-Ibn-AlWalid, wrote a treaty of capitulation, and articles of surrender. By these he settled and appointed fourteen churches to remain in the hands of the Moslems. The church of which we have spoken above was left open, and free for future consideration. This was on the plea that Khalíd had entered the city at the sword's point by the eastern gate ; but that the Christians at the same time were allowed to surrender by Abu Ubaidah, who entered at the western gate, opened under articles. This caused dissension; but at length it was agreed that half the place should be regarded as having capitulated, and half as stormed. The Moslems therefore took this church, and Abú Ubaídah made it into a mosque. He was afterwards appointed Emir of Syria, and was the first who prayed here; all the company of Companions praying after him in the open area, now called the Companions' Tower ; but the wall must then have been cut through, hard by the leaning tower, if the Companions really prayed in the “ Blessed Precinct.” At first, the Christians and
Moslems entered by the same gate, which was “the Gate of Adoration and Prayer,” over against the Kiblah, where the great tower now stands. Afterwards the Christians changed, and went into their church by the gate facing the west ; the Moslems taking the right-hand mosque ; but the Christians were not suffered to chant aloud, or recite their books, or (strike) their bells (or clappers), in order to honour the Companions with reverence and fear. Also, Moáwiyah built, in his days, a house for the Emir, right opposite the mosque. Here he built a green chapel. This palace was noted for its perfection. Here Moáwiyah dwelt forty years: nor did this state of things change from A.H. 14 to A.H. 86; but AlWalíd-Ibn-Abdul-Málik, began to think of destroying the churches, and of adding some to those already in the hands of the Moslems, so as to construct one great mosque; and this, because some of the Moslems were sore troubled by hearing the recitations of the Christians from the gospel, and their uplifted voices in
He designed, therefore, to remove them from the Moslems, and to annex this spot to the other, so as to make one great mosque. Therefore he called for the Christians, and asked them, whether they would depart from those places which were in their hands, receiving in exchange greater por
tions in lieu thereof; and also retaining four churches not mentioned in the treaty;—the church of Maria; the church of the Crucified, just within the eastern gate ; the church TallaAl-Habn (hill of the dropsical); and the church of the Glorious Mother (B. V. M.), occupied previously by the burnishers. This, however, they vehemently refused to do. Thereupon the Khalíf said, Bring me, then, the treaty which you possess since the time of the Companions. They brought it therefore, and it was read in Walíd's presence; when, lo! the church of Thomas, outside the gate of Thomas, hard by the river, did not enter into the treaty, and was one of those called, “the greater of churches left open ” (for future disposal). Therefore he said, This will I destroy, and convert it into a mosque. They said, Nay, let it alone, 0 Commander of the Faithful! even although not mentioned among the churches; for we are content that you take the chapel of the church. To this agreement then he held them, and received from them the Kubbat (or chapel vault, dome) of the church. Then he summoned workmen able to pull down; and assembled all the Emirs, chiefs, and great men. But the Christian bishops and priests, coming, said, O Commander of the Faithful, we find in our books, that whosoever shall demolish this church will go mad.