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Then said the Khalif, And I am very willing to be mad with God's inspiration : therefore no one shall demolish it before me. Then he ascended the western tower, which had two spires, and called “the Almonries,” which was a monastic cell. Here he found a monk, whom he ordered to descend. The monk making difficulties, and lingering, Al Walid took him by the back of his neck, and ceased not pushing him until he had thrown him down stairs. Then he ascended to the most lofty spot in the church, above the great altar, called “ the Altar of the Martyrs.” Here he seized the ends of his sash, which was of a bright yellow colour, and fixed them into his belt. Taking then an axe into his hand, he struck against the very topmost stone, and brought it down. Then he called the Emirs, and desired them to pull down the building as quickly as possible. Hereupon all the Moslems shouted, “God is great!” three times; also the Christians loudly cried out with their wailing and wo upon the steps of Jírún, where they had assembled. Al Walid therefore desired the commander of his guard, whose name was Abú-Nábal-Ríah-AlFasálí, to inflict blows upon them until they should depart; which he did. The Moslems then demolished all that the Christians had built in the great square here--altars and buildings and
cloisters—until the whole square was one flat surface. He then resolved to build a splendid pile, unrivalled for beauty of architecture, which none could hereafter surpass. Al Walíd therefore commissioned the most eminent architects and mathematicians to build the mosque according to the model they most preferred. His brother chiefly moved and stirred him up to this undertaking; and next to him presided Sulaimán Abdul-Málik. It is said, that Al Walid sent to the king of Greece, to demand stone-masons and other workmen for the purpose of building this mosque in the way he desired; sending word, that if the king refused, he would overrun his territory with his army, and reduce to utter ruin every church in his dominions, even the church of the Holy City, and the church of Edessa, and utterly destroy every vestige of the Greeks still remaining. The king of Greece sent, therefore, numerous workmen, with a letter, expressing himself thus, “ If thy father* knoweth what thou doest, and permits it, then truly I accuse him of disgraceful conduct, and blame him more than thee. If he understandeth it not, but thou only art conscious, then I blame thee above him." When the letter came to Walid, he wished to
* See Note.
reply unto it, and assembled several persons for
“ I resolved then to remove them, just as did those wise men when they decreed themselves a right to the seed-field and the flocks."
When Al Walid resolved to build the chapel which is in the midst of the cloister, called “the Vulture's Chapel,” (a name given to it by the country people, because the porticos on each side look like two wings,) he dug deep at the four corners of the intended chapel, until they came to sweet and limpid water. Here they first placed the foundation of the wall of the vineyard. Upon this they built with stone; and when the four corners were of sufficient height, they then built thereon the chapel; but it fell down again. Then said Al Walíd to some one of the mathematicians, who well knew the plan of the Vulture's Chapel, I wish you to build this chapel; for the injunction of God hath been given me, and I am confident that no one but thyself máy build it. He therefore built the four corners, and covered them with wicker, and disappeared for a whole year; Walid not knowing where he was.
After a year Walid dug down to the four corner foundations. Then he (i. e. the architect) said, Do not be in a hurry, 0 Commander of the Faithful! Then he found the mathematician, who had a man's head with him. He came to the four corners, and uncovered the wicker-work; and, lo!
all that had been built above the earth had fallen down, until they were on a level with the earth. So he said, From this (work have I come). Then he proceeded to build, and firmly fixed and supported a beautiful fabric.
Some person also said, Al Walíd wished to construct a brilliant chapel of pure gold, whereby the rank of the mosque might be magnified. Hereupon the superintendent said unto him, You cannot effect this. Upon which Al Walid struck him fifty blows with a whip, saying, Am I then incapable of effecting this? The man replied, Certainly. Then he said, I will, then, find out a way to know the truth. Bring forth all the gold thou hast; which he did; and Al Walíd melted it, and formed it into one large brick, which contained one thousand pieces of gold. But the man said, 0 Commander of the Faithful! we shall require so many thousand bricks of this sort, if thou dost possess them ; nor will this suffice for our work. Al Walíd, seeing that he was true and just, presented him with fifty dinárs; and when Al Walíd roofed the great precinct, he adorned the roof, as well as the whole extent of the pavement, with a surface of gold. Some of Al Walid's family also said unto him, They who come after thee will emulate thee in rendering the outer roof of this mosque more commodious every year.