Burton’s decision to enter Medina disguised as a muslim was a bold one- if he were caught it would mean certain death, and a painful one at that.
“… neither Koran or Sultan enjoin the death of Jew or Christian intruding within the columns that note the sanctuary limits, nothing could save a European detected by the populace, or one who after pilgrimage declared himself an unbeliever.
He decided to go dressed as a muslim from Sindh, as he was familiar with their customs, and because they were so many layers of language and ethnicity, it would help obscure any anomalies that might arise. He even went as far as to get circumcised.
However, he was almost caught when a young boy in his traveling group saw him lift his garments to urinate (Arabs squat). He managed to convince the doubters that the boy was imagining things.
Along the way, they were attacked by bandits, along the usual perils of travel at the time. He eventually entered Mecca. He describes the famous “black stone” :
The colour appeared to me black and metallic, and the centre of the stone was sunk about two inches below the metallic circle. Round the sides was a reddish brown cement, almost level with the metal, and sloping down to the middle of the stone. The band is now a massive arch of gold or silver gilt. I found the aperture in which the stone is, one span and three fingers broad.
On his return the England, he published “A Personal Narrative of a Pilgramage to _Al-Medinah and Meccah” which brought him widespread recognition.
But Burton did not rest on his laurels, he began preparation for his greatest challenge yet – an expedition to discover the source of the Nile.