Lit. “A barrier or anything similar by which these things are separated.” The name al-Hijaz is given to that tract of a country which separates Najd from Tahamah, and is an irregular parallelogram about 250 miles long and 150 miles wide. It may be considered the holy land of Muslims, for within its limits are the sacred cities of al-Madinah and Makkah, and most of its places are someway connected with the history of Muhammad. It is a barren district consisting of sandy plains towards the shore and rocky hills in the interior; and so destitute of provisions as to depend, even for the necessaries of life, on the supplies of other countries. Among the fertile spots is Wadi Fatimah, which is well watered, and produces grain and vegetables. Sajrah abounds in date trees. At-Ta’if, seventy-two miles from Makkah, is celebrated for its gardens, and the neighborhood of al-Madinah has cultivated fields. The towns on the coast are Jiddah and Yambu’, the former being considered the port of Makkah, from which it is distant about fifty-five miles, and the latter that of al-Madinah. Al-Hijaz is bounded eastward by a lofty range of mountains, which, near at-Ta’if, take the name of Jabalu ‘l-Qura. The scenery there is occasionally beautiful and picturesque; the small rivulets that descend from the rocks afford nourishment to the plains below, which are clothed with verdure and shady trees. The vicinity of Makkah is bleak and bare; for several miles it is surrounded with thousands of hills all nearly of one height; their dark and naked peaks rise one behing another, appearing at a distance like cocks of hay. The most celebrated of these are as-Safa, ‘Arafah, and al-Marwah, which have always been connected with the religious rites of the Muslim pilgrimage.
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam