shrine and bring presents to the sheikhs in charge of them. Men of every sect revere these
old tombs—Greeks, Catholics, Muslims, Druses, Turkomans, and Bedawin regard them as
common property, and the sheikh cares nothing for the religion of the pilgrim if he be
propitiated by an offering.
Many Muslim shrines are of doubtful authenticity. The Arabs delight to tell the story
of one, Sheikh Mohammed, who was the keeper of a wely of eminent sanctity, the tomb of a
noted saint. Pilgrims thronged to it from every side, and Mohammed grew rich from their
costly offerings. At length his servant Ali, dissatisfied with his meagre share of the revenue,
ran away to the east of the Jordan, taking his master's donkey. The donkey died on the
road, and Ali having covered his body with a heap of stones, sat down in despair. A passerby asked him why he sat thus in lonely grief? He replied that he had found the tomb of an
AN ARAB SHRINE, SOUTH-WEST OF BA'ALBEK,
Called Kubbet Duris, after the neighbouring village of Duris; it is a modern structure formed of eight ancient granite columns clumsily set up
and surmounted by a heavy architrave. An enormous sarcophagus, standing on end, serves as the mihrab, or Muslim prayer niche.
eminent saint. The man kissed the stones, and giving Ali a present, passed on. The news
of the holy wely spread through the land. Pilgrims thronged to Ali, who soon grew rich,
built a fine kubbeh, or dome, and was the envy of all the sheikhs. Mohammed, hearing of
the new wely, and finding his own shrine eclipsed by its growing popularity, made a pilgrimage
to it, in hopes of ascertaining the source of its great repute. On finding Ali in charge, he
whispered to him, and asked the name of the saint whose tomb he had in charge. Ali said,
" I will tell you, on condition that you tell me the name of your saint." Mohammed
consenting, Ali whispered, " God alone is great! This is the tomb of the donkey I stole from
you." " Mashallah ! " said Mohammed, " and my wely is the tomb of that donkey's father ! "
It is a curious psychological fact, that although the Syrians are generally extremely
credulous, they delight in stories which make credulity ridiculous.