An English In Kentucky


















Friday May 30th 2014  Tim Candler


    There's eight hundred and twenty miles of railway track from Damascus to Medina. Or at least there was on September the 1st 1908. The Hejaz Railway Line was built by the Ottoman's to facilitate the journey of pilgrims to Mecca. It only ever reached Medina because of war and stuff,  but there were plans to take the railway on to Mecca, which would have made the railway a total of one thousand and seventy miles in length.  It's kind of nice to think about that railway because it was the only railway the Ottoman's funded from charitable donations, and it's the only railway of the many railways in the Ottoman Empire, the Ottoman's built themselves, with just a few opinions from the Germans. And its Steam Locomotives where fired with Jordanian Oil Shale, which is interesting.  The railway was to be a gift, or more correctly it was to be a Waqf. "When a person dies, only three things survive, continuing alms, profitable knowledge, and a child praying for him," or something like that is attributed to Muhammad.  Contributing to a Waqf is a good way to be remembered as an upright and solid citizen. As well the word Waqf, all though it might not appear in regular game of scrabble, as it can cause quibbling, is an extraordinarily useful word to have around  because it can also be used as a sound that has nothing whatsoever to do with charity and I have found it discourages Chipmunk.

    Then in 1920 the Ottoman Empire was gone and the railway as a route for pilgrims no longer functioned. The diligent Hajji from somewhere like Syria was back to a forty day tromp across some very unpleasant desert if he wanted to do right by his God. Many agree that some kind of miracle happened for Abraham in Mecca. His wife Sarah was slow to produce offspring, and in the interest of his passing along seed at the age of something like ninety he made a child with his wife's indentured servant. Which of course resulted in that sort of trouble only angels could put right. And some of us agree that the child Abraham bore with Sarah's indentured servant would have died had not an angel caused there to be water. The child was called Ishmael. Abraham did eventually free Ishmael and Sarah's indentured servant, but Abraham never acknowledged him in the will and testament, because Sarah eventually did bare fruit and she was kind of powerful in Abraham's life. The water the angel caused, is  the Zamzam well. The Government of Saudi Arabia, the state which controls Mecca, doesn't allow the export of Zamzam well water, so you'll not see the genuine stuff in shops. Pretty sure I've talked about the Hejaz Region before, but always a good reason to test my spelling of angel. And Ishmael is kind of an important figure because he's an ancestor of Muhammad.


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