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Descriptive Geography and Brief Historical Sketch of Palestine

By Rabbi Joseph Schwarz, 1850

How Non-Mahomedan Can Work In Al Charim

As the Mislamin [Muslim] now considers himself perfect in every point of view, it is quite natural that he holds it derogatory to his dignity to learn any trade; hence you seldom find among the Mahomedans, and this among the poorest classes, any mechanics; the rarest of all do you find them masons and carpenters, which trades are mostly supplied by Christians, and latterly also by Jews. If it is now the case that something has to be repaired in Al Charim, and the pious faithful are under the deplorable necessity to entrust this work to a Kafr, or unbeliever, in this instance always a Nazrani [Christian], because no Mislamin can be found to execute it properly, and the Jews not being permitted, according to their own Mosaic law, to enter at present the holy place, on account of the want of purification (see Num. 19:13 and 20), and as they are thus compelled to permit a Kafr to enter, they do it in this way: a black African dervish, belonging to the guard of the sanctuary, appears at the gate of the Temple Mount, takes the Nazrani on his shoulders, and bears him, running rapidly, to the spot requiring repair, the whole room in which he has to work being covered and hung round with carpets or coverlets, on which he is set down; and he is prohibited, on pain of death, to touch the bare floor in any manner. When the work is completed, he is again taken up on the shoulders of a dervish, and carried out at a running pace. As may be expected, all the places whither the Kafr has been carried must afterwards be purified by holy incense, scented drugs, and rose-water, of the Misma of the Kafr. Nevertheless, in this respect also the faithful have become more indulgent, and are not so averse as formerly, to come in contact and closer connexion with unbelievers, especially if these are their creditors, or they expect to obtain favours from them.

Jews and Muslims in Palestine