Blunt have visited and illustrated the district of Nejd, and described the waning glories of the Wahabi empire.
In the steppe-land and in the southern trans-Jordanic districts are numbers of true Arabs, mostly belonging to the great Anazeh family, which has been coming northwards from Nejd in detachments since the 13th century.
The Wahhabi movement in Nejd now began to assume serious proportions.
By Nejd, S.
Towards the Nejd steppes.
Three or four days' journey east and southeast of Besha are the encampments of the Bani Kahtan, one of the most ancient tribes of Arabia; their pastures extend into the adjoining district of Nejd, where they breed camels in large numbers, as well as a few horses.
Since the beginning of the 19th century they have been bigoted Wahhabis, though previously regarded by their neighbours as very lax Mahommedans; during Mehemet Ali's occupation of Nejd their constant raids on the Egyptian communications compelled him to send several punitive expeditions into the district, which, however, met with little success.
The central zone includes Hejaz (or Hijaz), Nejd and El Hasa; much of it is a dry, stony or sandy steppe, with few wells or watering-places, and only occupied by nomad tribes; but the great wadis which intersect it contain many fertile stretches of alluvial soil, where cultivation is possible and which support a considerable settled population, with several large towns and numerous villages.
Owing to the disturbed state of the country, due to the presence of raiding parties from Nejd, Wellsted was unable to carry out his original intention of exploring the country to the west, and after an excursion along the Batina coast to Sohar he returned to India.
Burckhardt had hoped in 1815 that the advance of the Egyptian expedition would have given him the opportunity to see something of Nejd, but he had already left Arabia before the overthrow of the Wahhabi power by Ibrahim Pasha had opened Nejd to travellers from Hejaz, and though several European officers accompanied the expedition, none of them left any record of his experience.
It is, however, to the Egyptian conquest that the first visit of a British traveller to Nejd is due.
The Indian government, wishing to enter into relations with Ibrahim Pasha, as de facto ruler of Nejd and El Hasa, with a view to putting down piracy in the Persian Gulf, which was seriously affecting Indian trade, sent a small mission under Captain G.
On his arrival at Hofuf, Sadlier found that Ibrahim had already left Deraiya, but still hoping to intercept him before quitting Nejd, he followed up the retreating Egyptians through Yemama, and Wushm to Ras in Kasim, where he caught up the main body of Ibrahim's army, though the pasha himself had gone on to Medina.
If the political results of the mission were nil, the value to geographical science was immense; for though no geographer himself, Sadlier's route across Arabia made it possible for the first time to locate the principal places in something like their proper relative positions; incidentally, too, it showed the practicability of a considerable body of regular troops crossing the deserts of Nejd even in the months of July and August.
Commissioned by Mehemet Ali to inform him about the situation in Nejd brought about by the rising power of Abdallah Ibn Rashid, Wallin left Cairo in April 1845, and crossing the pilgrim road at Ma`an, pushed on across the Syrian desert to the Wadi Sirhan and the Jauf oasis, where he halted during the hot summer months.
Palgrave made his adventurous journey through Nejd, and published the remarkable narrative which has taken itslace as the classic of Arabian P Nejd.
Palgrave says little of the desert part of the journey or of its Bedouin inhabitants, but much of the fertility of the oases and of the civility of the townsmen; and like other travellers in Nejd he speaks with enthusiasm of its bright, exhilarating climate.
In their previous travels in Syria they had gained the confidence and friendship of a young sheikh whose family, though long settled at Tadmur, came originally from Nejd, and who was anxious to renew the connexion with his kinsmen by seeking a bride among them.
From Hail Huber followed nearly in Doughty's track to Aneza and thence across central Nejd to Mecca and Jidda, where he despatched his notes and copies of inscriptions.
Nolde - who arrived there in 1893, not long after the amir had by his victory over the combined forces of Riad and Kasim brought the whole of Nejd under his dominion.
The great central province of Nejd occupies all inner Arabia.
Khaibar harra, runs north-eastward across the whole width of Nejd, till it is lost in the sands of the eastern Nafud, north of Aneza.
Jebel Shammar, from which the northern district of Nejd takes its name, is a double range of mountains some 20 m.
The town, which has risen with the fortunes of the Ibn Rashid family to be the capital of Upper Nejd, is at the mouth of the valley between the twin ranges, about 2 m.
Tuwek in any case forms an important geographical feature in eastern Nejd, interrupting by a transverse barrier 200 m.
Dawasir; the whole of this hilly region of eastern Nejd is, perhaps, rather a rolling down country than truly mountainous, in which high pastures alternate with deep fertile valleys, supporting numerous villages with a large agricultural population.
In width that forms the eastern boundary of Nejd, to reappear in the copious springs that fertilize El Hasa and the Bahrein littoral.
Whether there be any second line of drainage in southern Nejd skirting the edge of the great desert and following the depression of the W.
East of Nejd a strip of sandy desert 50 m.
Of Aden, and an inner plateau falling gradually to the north-east till it merges in the Nejd steppes or the sands of the great desert.
Its northern fringe is no doubt frequented by the Bedouin tribes of southern Nejd after the rains, when its sands, like those of the northern desert, produce herbage; but towards the east, according to Burckhardt's information, it is quite without vegetation even in the winter and spring.
The farthest habitable spot to the south of Nejd is the Wadi Yabrin.
The midday temperatures recorded by Huber at Hail during January and the first half of February average about 65° F., and water froze on several nights; at Medina the winters are cold and night frosts of frequent occurrence, and these conditions prevail over all the western part of the Nejd plateau.
Doughty adds that the Nejd highlands between Kasim and Mecca are watered yearly by seasonable rains, which at Taif are expected about the end of August and last commonly from four to six weeks.
In Nejd the number of horses is, comparatively speaking, very small; the want of water in the Nafud where alone forage is obtainable, and the absence of forage in the neighbourhood of the towns makes horse-breeding on a large scale impracticable there.
Horses are in fact only kept by the principal sheiks, and by far the larger proportion of those now in Nejd are the property of the amir and his family.
The great majority of the horses that come into the market as Arabs, are bred in the northern desert and in Mesopotamia, by the various sections of the Aneza and Shammar tribes, who emigrated from Nejd generations ago, taking with them the original Nejd stock.
Among fruit trees the vine, apricot, peach, apple, quince, fig and banana are cultivated in the highlands, and in the lower country the date palm flourishes, particularly throughout the central zone of Arabia, in Hejaz, Nejd and El Hasa, where it is the prime article of food.
This distinction between the characteristics of the two races is only true in a general sense, for a considerable population of true Bedouin origin has settled down to agricultural life in the oases of Hejaz and Nejd, while in southern Arabia the tribes dwelling on the fringe of the great desert have to a certain extent adopted the nomad life.
Another important route is that taken by the Persian or Shia pilgrims from Bagdad and Kerbela across the desert, by the wells of aina, to Bureda in Kasim; thence across the steppes of western Nejd till it crosses the Hejaz border at the Ria Mecca, 50 m.
Other important routes leading to Nejd are those from Kuwet to Hail, and from El Hasa to Riad respectively.
The inhabitants of this land are said in Tabari's history to have been of three classes: - (s) The Tanukh (Tnuhs), who lived in tents and were made up of Arabs from the Tehama and Nejd, who had united in Bahrein to form a new tribe, and who migrated from there to Hira, probably at the beginning or middle of the 3rd century A.D., when the Arsacid power was growing weak.
Its originator, Mahommed Ibn Abdul Wahhab, was born (1691) at Ayana in Nejd, and after studying in Basra and Damascus, and making the pilgrimage to Mecca returned to his native country and settled down at Huremala near Deraiya.
In May 1814 Saud died, and his son,Abdallah, attempted to negotiate, but Mehemet Ali refused all overtures, and in January 1815 advanced into Nejd, defeated the Wahhabi army and occupied Ras, then the chief town in Kasim.
Ibrahim Pasha replaced Tusun in command, and on reaching Arabia in September 1816 his first aim was to gain over the great Bedouin tribes holding the roads between Hejaz and his objective in Nejd; having thus secured his line of advance he pushed on boldly and defeated Abdallah at Wiya, where he put to death all prisoners taken; thence rapidly advancing, with contingents of the friendly Harb and Muter tribes in support of his regular troops, he laid siege to Ras; this place, however, held out and after a four months' siege he was compelled to give up the attack.
Deraiya was razed to the ground and the principal towns of Nejd were compelled to admit Egyptian garrisons; but though the Arabs saw themselves powerless to stand before disciplined troops, the Egyptians, on the other hand, had to confess that without useless sacrifices they could not retain their hold on the interior.
Warned by a hurried sign by Hamud that his life was in danger, Mahommed at once attacked Bandar, stabbed him and took possession of the citadel; a general massacre of all members of the house of Ibn Rashid followed, and next day Mahommed appeared with his cousin Hamud in the market-place of Hail, and announced his assumption of the amirship. A strong and capable ruler, he soon established his authority over all northern and western Nejd, and in 1872 the opportunity arrived for his intervention in the east.
Midhat Pasha, then governor-general, seized the occasion of asserting Turkish dominion on the Persian Gulf coast, and in 1875, in spite of British protests, occupied El Hasa and established a new province under the title of Nejd, with its headquarters at Hofuf, of which Abdallah was appointed governor.
This was an event of some importance, as it consituted the first Turkish claim to the sovereignty over Nejd abandoned by Egypt thirty-three years earlier.
The Turks did not support their client by advancing into Nejd itself, and he and his rivals were left to fight out their battles among themselves.