ḥabl [Arabic]

An Islamic unit of length used for land. Another meaning of the word is “cord,” that is, this is a cord that serves for measuring land, similar to the English “chain.” Also romanized as habel.


Amery writes of the Sudan A map showing the location of Sudan.:

Sudan river land – Measured lineally (not superficially) along the river by the “habl” (habl = usually 8 dira, but may be anything from 2 to 10 dira).¹

Since Amery says the Sudan dira was 22½ inches, the ḥabl would have usually been 4.57 meters, but anything from 1.14 meters to 5.72 meters.

1. H[arald] F[rançois] S[aphir] Amery.
English-Arabic Vocabulary for the Use of Officials of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, compiled in the Intelligence Department of the Egyptian Army.
Cairo: Al-Mokattam Printing Office, 1905.


In Libya, 20th century, a unit of length, approximately 35.0 meters.

United Nations, 1966.


In Tunisia, a unit of length, about 25 meters. In Bizerte and Zlass, called “habel el Kiss.”

Other authors refer to a “habel eddiouane” = 50 dhrâa arbi each of 0.493 meters, so about 24.65 meters.

1. Marcel Legendre.
Survivance des Mesures Traditionnelles en Tunisie.
Publications de L’Institut des Hautes Études de Tunis.
Memoires du Centre D’Études de Science Humaines, volume 4.
Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1958.

Pages 20 and 27.


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