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Descriptive Geography and Brief Historical Sketch of Palestine

By Rabbi Joseph Schwarz, 1850

The Grave of Moses in Muslim Tradition.

The Mahomedans make annually a pilgrimage in the spring to the grave of Moses, which is about 20 English miles to the east of Jerusalem, and nearly 7 from the western shore of the Dead Sea. A highly respected and learned Mahomedan, the Sheich, or rather preacher in the great mosque on the Temple Mount, is in the habit of visiting me constantly, and gives me many an explanation concerning Mahomedanism. I asked him one day, how it were possible that the grave of Nebi Muse could be on the spot indicated, since it is explicitly said in Holy Writ, that the true grave is on the east side of Jordan, whilst the monument of Nebi Muse is to the west of the same. He thereupon told me: “I will make thee acquainted with a tradition which many of our own learned men and many of the faithful do not know. Listen—it is now about eighty years ago [1770], when there lived here a distinguished and pious dervish, i. e. a simple devotee, who spends his time in spiritual and religious contemplations and acts; this saint was continually grieved concerning the great fatigue and danger to which the faithful were exposed in going over the Jordan, to make their pilgrimage to the grave of Musé, which is on the eastern side. He therefore thought on means to avert this necessity, midst fasting, bathing, and prayers; but he could not succeed; and it lasted a long while before he was answered by Alla. At length, however, Mahomed appeared to him in a dream, and said to him, that his prayer had been accepted, and that he (Mahomed) had obtained from Alla the favour to be permitted to transport the whole grave to the western shore of the Jordan, in the vicinity of Jerusalem, in order to save the pious pilgrims of the Holy City and its environs the great fatigue and danger of travelling over the Jordan. He showed him also in this dream the exact spot whither the holy grave was to be transferred. Soon after a monument was erected on the spot indicated by the dervish by the pious faithful, and this is the now well-known Nebi Muse on this side of the Jordan. Art thou now satisfied, asked my credulous Mussulman informer, to find the grave of Musé on this side of the river ?”*

* If Mahomed has the power to transport graves, it would be advisable for him to transpose himself his own grave from Mekka, in Southern Arabia, to some more convenient northern Mahomedan possession, in order to spare his followers so long and dangerous a journey.

Jews and Muslims in Palestine