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Title: The Faith of Islam

Author: Edward Sell

Release date: February 24, 2007 [eBook #20660]

Language: English

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Transcriber's note: A few typographical errors have been corrected. They appear in the text like this, and the explanation will appear when the mouse pointer is moved over the marked passage.








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The following pages embody a study of Islám during a residence of fifteen years in India, the greater part of which time I have been in daily intercourse with Musalmáns. I have given in the footnotes the authorities from which I quote. I was not able to procure in Madras a copy of the Arabic edition of Ibn Khaldoun's great work, but the French translation by Baron M. de Slane, to which I so frequently refer, is thoroughly reliable. The quotations from the Qurán are made from Rodwell's translation. The original has been consulted when necessary.

A few slight and occasional errors in transliteration have occurred, such as Sulát for Salát, Munkar for Munkir, &c., but in no case is the meaning affected.

In some words, such as Khalíf, Khalífate, and Omar, I have retained the anglicised form instead of using the more correct terms, Khalífa, Khiláfat, 'Umr. The letter Q has been used to distinguish the Káf-i-Karashat from the Káf-i-Tází.

E. S.


December 1st, 1880.



Introduction. ... PAGE ix



The Qurán—Its revelation—Miraculous nature—Arrangement of Qurán—Osmán's recension. The Sunnat—The authority of Sunnat—Tradition—Bid'at or innovation—Shía'h Traditions. Ijmá'—Ijtihád—Four orthodox Imáms, Hanífa, Málik, Sháfa'í and Hanbal. Qíás—Established by the early Mujtahidín—Sterility of Islám ... PAGE 1

Note to Chapter I. Ijtihád ... PAGE 32



Inspiration—The seven readings—Work of a Commentator—Words and Sentences of the Qurán—Use of the words—Deductions of arguments from the Qurán—Divisions of the Qurán—Abrogation—Creation of the Qurán—Hadís or Tradition—Collections of Traditions—Classification of Traditions ... PAGE 37



The Shía'hs—The Imámat—Khárigites—Núr-i-Muhammadí—Imám—Ismá,ílians and Imámites—Ghair-i-Mahdís—Dá,irí—Mahmúdíah—Khalífate—Súfíism—Persian Poetry—Darwíshes—Omar Khayyám—Wahhábís—their rise—spread in India—doctrines and influence ... PAGE 73

Note to Chapter III. Wahhábíism ... PAGE 114




Imán—God—Attributes of God—Discussions on the nature of God—The rise of the Mutazilites—The Sifátíans—Mushábihites—Names of God—Creation of the Qurán. Angels—Recording Angels—Hárút and Márút—Munkir and Nakír—Jinn. The Books—Abrogation—Tahríf. The Prophets—Rank and inspiration of prophets—Nabí and Rasúl—Sinlessness of prophets—The Anbiya-ulul-'Azm—Miracles of prophets—The Mi'ráj. The Resurrection and the last day—The Trumpets—Descent of the books—Balances—Bridge—Al-A'ráf—Al-Barzakh—Intercession of Muhammad—Heaven—Hell. The Predestination of good and evil—Jabríans—Qadríans—Ash'aríans—Free-will—Apostacy ... PAGE 116

Note to Chapter IV. Muslim Philosophy ... PAGE 181



Farz, wájib, sunnat, mustahab and mubáh actions—Harám or unlawful acts. Tashahhud. Salát—Wazú—Ghusl—Tayammum—Namáz—Farz, sunnat, witr and nafl rak'ats—Appointed hours of prayer—Friday Namáz and sermon—Namáz on a journey and in time of war—Namáz in Ramazán, during an eclipse and in time of drought—Funeral service—Its ritual and prayers. Fasting—Its time and nature. Zakát—Nisáb—Proportion of property to be given as alms—Recipients of the Zakát. The Hajj—Farz, sunnat, wájib and mustahab duties connected with the Hajj—Time for the Hajj—Arrival of the Hájí at Mecca—Tawáf—Ceremonies of the Hajj—Conclusion of the Hajj—Formal nature of Islám ... PAGE 187

Note to Chapter V. Fatvá on the Namáz ... PAGE 233




Muharram—'Áshúr Khána—Marsiya—Wáqi'a Khán—'Alams—Ceremonies of the 'Áshúrá—Fátihas for 'Alí, for Hasan and Husain—Akhir-i-chár Shamba—Bárá Wafát—Jashn-i-milád-i-Sharif—Ásár-i-Sharíf—Shab Barát—Ramazán and 'Íd-ul-Fitr—'Itikáf—Sadqa—Sermon on the 'Íd-ul-Fitr—Baqr-'Íd or 'Íd-uz-Zuhá—Sermon on the 'Íd-uz-Zuhá—The Qurbán or Sacrifice—Festival of Madár—Festival of Sálár Mas'úd Ghází—Festival of Khája Khizr—Feast of Pír Dastgír Sáhib—Festival of Qádir Walí Sáhib ... PAGE 237

Index of Technical Terms ... PAGE 265



It is necessary to enter into some explanation as regards the contents of this work. It does not fall in with its plan to enter into an account either of the life of Muhammad or of the wide and rapid spread of the system founded by him. The first has been done by able writers in England, France and Germany. I could add nothing new to this portion of the subject, nor throw new light upon it. The political growth of Muslim nations has also been set forth in various ways.

It seems to me that the more important study at this time is that of the religious system which has grown out of the Prophet's teaching, and of its effect upon the individual and the community. What the Church in her missionary enterprise has to deal with, what European Governments in the political world have to do with is Islám as it is, and as it now influences those who rule and those who are ruled under it.

I have, therefore, tried to show from authentic sources, and from a practical knowledge of it, what the Faith of Islám really is, and how it influences men and nations in the present day. I think that recent Fatvás delivered by the 'Ulamá in Constantinople show how firmly a Muslim State is bound in the fetters of an unchangeable Law, whilst the present practice of orthodox Muslims all the world [x]over is a constant carrying out of the precepts given in the Qurán and the Sunnat, and an illustration of the principles I have shown to belong to Islám. On this subject it is not too much to say that there is, except amongst Oriental scholars, much misconception.

Again, much that is written on Islám is written either in ignorant prejudice, or from an ideal standpoint. To understand it aright, one should know its literature and live amongst its people. I have tried faithfully to prove every statement I have made; and if, now and again, I have quoted European authors, it is only by way of illustration. I rest my case entirely upon Musalmán authorities themselves. Still more, I have ascertained from living witnesses that the principles I have tried to show as existing in Islám, are really at work now and are as potent as at any previous period.

I have thus traced up from the very foundations the rise and development of the system, seeking wherever possible to link the past with the present. In order not to interfere with this unity of plan, I have had to leave many subjects untouched, such as those connected with the civil law, with slavery, divorce, jihád or religious wars, &c. A good digest of Muhammadan Law[1] will give all necessary information on these points. The basis of the Law which determines these questions is what I have described in my first chapter. Ijtihád, for example, rules quite as effectually in a question of domestic [xi]economy or political jurisprudence as on points of dogma. It was not, therefore, necessary for me to go into details on these points.

When I have drawn any conclusion from data which Muhammadan literature, and the present practice of Muslims have afforded me, I have striven to give what seems to me a just and right one. Still, I gladly take this opportunity of stating that I have found many Muslims better than their creed, men with whom it is a pleasure to associate, and whom I respect for many virtues and esteem as friends. I judge the system, not any individual in it.

In India, there are a number of enlightened Muhammadans, ornaments to native society, useful servants of the State, men who show a laudable zeal in all social reforms, so far as is consistent with a reputation for orthodoxy. Their number is far too few, and they do not, in many cases, represent orthodox Islám, nor do I believe their counterpart would be found amongst the 'Ulamá of a Muslim State. The fact is that the wave of scepticism which has passed over Europe has not left the East untouched. Hindu and Muslim alike have felt its influence, but to judge of either the one system or the other from the very liberal utterances of a few men who expound their views before English audiences is to yield oneself up to delusion on the subject.

Islám in India has also felt the influence of contact with other races and creeds, though, theologically speaking, the Imán and the Dín, the faith and the practice, are unchanged, and remain as I have [xii]described them in chapters four and five. If Islám in India has lost some of its original fierceness, it has also adopted many superstitious practices, such as those against which the Wahhábís protest. The great mass of the Musalmán people are quite as superstitious, if not more so, than their heathen neighbours. Still the manliness, the suavity of manner, the deep learning, after an oriental fashion, of many Indian Musalmáns render them a very attractive people. It is true there is a darker side—much bigotry, pride of race, scorn of other creeds, and, speaking generally, a tendency to inertness. It is thus that in Bengal, Madras and perhaps in other places, they have fallen far behind the Hindus in educational status, and in the number of appointments they hold in the Government service. Indeed, this subject is a serious one and deserves the special attention of the Indian Government. In Bengal the proportion of Musalmáns to Hindus in the upper ranks of the Uncovenanted Civil Service in 1871 was 77 to 341. In the year 1880 it had declined to 53 to 451. The state of affairs in Madras is equally bad. Yet an intelligent Muslim, as a rule, makes a good official.

Looking at the subject from a wider stand-point, I think the Church has hardly yet realised how great a barrier this system of Islám is to her onward march in the East. Surely special men with special training are required for such an enterprise as that of encountering Islám in its own strongholds. No better pioneers of the Christian [xiii]faith could be found in the East than men won from the Crescent to the Cross.

All who are engaged in such an enterprise will perhaps find some help in this volume, and I am not without hope that it may also throw some light on the political questions of the day.





The creed of Islám, "Lá-iláha-il-lal-láhu wa Muhammad-ur-Rasúl-Ulláh," (There is no deity but God, and Muhammad is the Apostle of God) is very short, but the system itself is a very dogmatic one. Such statements as: "The Qurán is an all-embracing and sufficient code, regulating everything," "The Qurán contains the entire code of Islám—that is, it is not a book of religious precepts merely, but it governs all that a Muslim does," "The Qurán contains the whole religion of Muhammad," "The Qurán which contains the whole Gospel of Islám" are not simply misleading, they are erroneous. So far from the Qurán alone being the sole rule of faith and practice to Muslims, there is not one single sect amongst them whose faith and practice is based on it alone. No one among them disputes its authority or casts any doubt upon its genuineness. Its voice is supreme in all that it concerns, but its exegesis, the whole system of legal jurisprudence and of theological science, is largely founded on the Traditions. Amongst the orthodox Musalmáns, the foundations of the Faith are four in number, the Qurán, Sunnat, Ijmá' and Qíás. The fact that all the sects do not agree with the orthodox—the Sunnís—in this matter illustrates another important fact in Islám—the want of unity amongst its followers. [2]

1. The Qurán.—The question of the inspiration will be fully discussed, and an account of the laws of the exegesis of the Qurán will be given in the next chapter. It is sufficient now to state that this book is held in the highest veneration by Muslims of every sect. When being read it is kept on a stand elevated above the floor, and no one must read or touch it without first making a legal ablution.[2] It is not translated unless there is the most urgent necessity, and even then the Arabic text is printed with the translation. It is said that God chose the sacred month of Ramazán in which to give all the revelations which in the form of books have been vouchsafed to mankind. Thus on the first night of that month the books of Abraham came down from heaven; on the sixth the books of Moses; on the thirteenth the Injíl, or Gospel, and on the twenty-seventh the Qurán. On that night, the Laylut-ul-Qadr, or "night of power," the whole Qurán is said to have descended to the lowest of the seven heavens, from whence it was brought piecemeal to Muhammad as occasion required.[3] "Verily we have caused it (the Qurán) to descend on the night of power." (Súra xcvii. 1.) That night is called the blessed night, the night better than a thousand months, the night when angels came down by the permission of their Lord, the night which bringeth peace and blessings till the rosy dawn. Twice on that night in the solitude of the cave of Hira the voice called, twice though pressed sore "as if a fearful weight had been laid upon him," the prophet struggled [3]against its influence. The third time he heard the words:—

"Recite thou, in the name of thy Lord who created—

Created man from clots of blood." (Súra xcvi. 5.)

"When the voice had ceased to speak, telling how from minutest beginnings man had been called into existence, and lifted up by understanding and knowledge of the Lord, who is most beneficent, and who by the pen had revealed that which man did not know, Muhammad woke up from his trance and felt as if "a book had been written in his heart." He was much alarmed. Tradition records that he went hastily to his wife and said—"O Khadíja! what has happened to me!" He lay down and she watched by him. When he recovered from his paroxysm, he said "O Khadíja! he of whom one would not have believed (i.e., himself) has become either a soothsayer (káhin) or mad." She replied, "God is my protection, O Ab-ul-kásim. He will surely not let such a thing happen unto thee, for thou speakest the truth, dost not return evil for evil, keepest faith, art of a good life and art kind to thy relatives and friends, and neither art thou a talker abroad in the bazaars. What has befallen thee? Hast thou seen aught terrible?" Muhammad replied "Yes." And he told her what he had seen. Whereupon she answered and said:—"Rejoice, O dear husband and be of good cheer. He in whose hands stands Khadíja's life, is my witness that thou wilt be the Prophet of this people."[4] The next Súra, the 74th, was revealed at Mecca, after which there seems to have been an intermission, called the Fatrah. It was during this time that the Prophet gained some knowledge of the contents of the Jewish and the Christian Scriptures.

Gabriel is believed to have been the medium of communication. This fact, however, is only once stated in the Qurán:—"Say, whoso is the enemy of Gabriel—For he it is [4]who by God's leave hath caused the Qurán to descend on thy heart" (Súra ii. 91.) This Súra was revealed some years after the Prophet's flight to Madína. The other references to the revelation of the Qurán are:—"Verily from the Lord of the worlds hath this book come down; the Faithful Spirit (Rúh-ul-Ámín) hath come down with it" (Súra xxvi. 192.) "The Qurán is no other than a revelation revealed to him, one terrible in power (Shadíd-ul-Quá) taught it him." (Súra liii. 5.) These latter passages do not state clearly that Gabriel was the medium of communication, but the belief that he was is almost, if not entirely, universal, and the Commentators say that the terms "Rúh-ul-Ámín" and "Shadíd-ul-Quá" refer to no other angel or spirit. The use of the word "taught" in the last Súra quoted, and the following expression in Súra lxxv. 18. "When we have recited it, then follow thou the recital," show that the Qurán is entirely an objective revelation and that Muhammad was only a passive medium of communication. The Muhammadan historian, Ibn Khaldoun, says on this point:—"Of all the divine books the Qurán is the only one of which the text, words and phrases have been communicated to a prophet by an audible voice. It is otherwise with the Pentateuch, the Gospel and the other divine books: the prophets received them under the form of ideas."[5] This expresses the universal belief on this point—a belief which reveals the essentially mechanical nature of Islám.

The Qurán thus revealed is now looked upon as the standing miracle of Islám. Other divine books, it is admitted, were revelations received under the form of ideas, but the Qurán is far superior to them all for the actual text was revealed to the ear of the prophet. Thus we read in Súra lxxv. 16-19:—


"Move not thy tongue in haste to follow and master this revelation;

For we will see to the collecting and recital of it;

But when we have recited it, then follow thou the recital;

And verily it shall be ours to make it clear to thee."

The Qurán is, then, believed to be a miraculous revelation of divine eloquence, as regards both form and substance, arrangement of words, and its revelation of sacred things. It is asserted that each well-accredited prophet performed miracles in that particular department of human skill or science most flourishing in his age. Thus in the days of Moses magic exercised a wide influence, but all the magicians of Pharaoh's court had to submit to the superior skill of the Hebrew prophet. In the days of Jesus the science of medicine flourished. Men possessed great skill in the art of healing; but no physician could equal the skill of Jesus, who not only healed the sick, but raised the dead. In the days of Muhammad the special and most striking feature of the age was the wonderful power of the Arabs in the art of poetry. Muhammad-ud-Damiri says:—"Wisdom hath alighted on three things—the brain of the Franks, the hands of the Chinese and the tongue of the Arabs." They were unrivalled for their eloquence, for the skill with which they arranged their material and gave expression to their thoughts. It is in this very particular that superior excellence is claimed for the Qurán.[6] It is to the Muhammadan mind a sure evidence of its miraculous origin that it should excel in this respect. Muslims say that miracles have followed the revelations given to other prophets in order to confirm the divine message. In this case the Qurán is both a revelation and a miracle. [6]Muhammad himself said:—"Each prophet has received manifest signs which carried conviction to men: but that which I have received is the revelation. So I hope to have a larger following on the day of resurrection than any other prophet has." Ibn Khaldoun says that "by this the Prophet means that such a wonderful miracle as the Qurán, which is also a revelation, should carry conviction to a very large number."[7] To a Muslim the fact is quite clear, and so to him the Qurán is far superior to all the preceding books. Muhammad is said to have convinced a rival, Lebid, a poet-laureate, of the truth of his mission by reciting to him a portion of the now second Súra. "Unquestionably it is one of the very grandest specimens of Koranic or Arabic diction.... But even descriptions of this kind, grand as they be, are not sufficient to kindle and preserve the enthusiasm and the faith and the hope of a nation like the Arabs.... The poets before him had sung of valour and generosity, of love and strife and revenge ... of early graves, upon which weeps the morning cloud, and of the fleeting nature of life which comes and goes as the waves of the desert sands, as the tents of a caravan, as a flower that shoots up and dies away. Or they shoot their bitter arrows of satire right into the enemy's own soul. Muhammad sang of none of these. No love-minstrelsy his, not the joys of the world, nor sword, nor camel, nor jealousy, nor human vengeance, not the glories of tribe or ancestor. He preached Islám." The very fierceness with which this is done, the swearing such as Arab orator, proficient though he may have been in the art, had never made, the dogmatic certainty with which the Prophet proclaimed his message have tended, equally with the passionate grandeur of his utterances, to hold the Muslim world spell-bound to the letter and imbued with all the narrowness of the book.

So sacred is the text supposed to be that only the [7]Companions[8] of the Prophet are deemed worthy of being commentators on it. The work of learned divines since then has been to learn the Qurán by heart and to master the traditions, with the writings of the earliest commentators thereon. The revelation itself is never made a subject of investigation or tried by the ordinary rules of criticism. If only the Isnád, or chain of authorities for any interpretation, is good, that interpretation is unhesitatingly accepted as the correct one. It is a fundamental article of belief that no other book in the world can possibly approach near to it in thought or expression. It deals with positive precepts rather than with principles. Its decrees are held to be binding not in the spirit merely but in the very letter on all men, at all times and under every circumstance of life. This follows as a natural consequence from the belief in its eternal nature.

The various portions recited by the Prophet during the twenty-three years of his prophetical career were committed to writing by some of his followers, or treasured up in their memories. As the recital of the Qurán formed a part of every act of public worship, and as such recital was an act of great religious merit, every Muslim tried to remember as much as he could. He who could do so best was entitled to the highest honour, and was often the recipient of a substantial reward.[9] The Arab love for poetry facilitated the exercise of this faculty. When the Prophet died the revelation ceased. There was no distinct copy of the whole, nothing to show what was of transitory importance, what of permanent value. There is nothing which proves that the Prophet took any special care of any portions. There seems to have been no definite order in which, when the book was [8]compiled, the various Súras were arranged, for the Qurán, as it now exists, is utterly devoid of all historical or logical sequence. For a year after the Prophet's death nothing seems to have been done; but then the battle of Yemana took place in which a very large number of the best Qurán reciters were slain. Omar took fright at this, and addressing the Khalíf Abu Bakr, said, "The slaughter may again wax hot amongst the repeaters of the Qurán in other fields of battle, and much may be lost therefrom. Now, therefore, my advice is that thou shouldest give speedy orders for the collection of the Qurán." Abu Bakr agreed, and said to Zeid who had been an amanuensis of the Prophet:—"Thou art a young man, and wise, against whom no one amongst us can cast an imputation; and thou wert wont to write down the inspired revelations of the Prophet of the Lord, wherefore now search out the Qurán and bring it all together." Zeid being at length pressed to undertake the task proceeded to gather the Qurán together from "date leaves, and tablets of white stone, and from the hearts of men." In course of time it was all compiled in the order in which the book is now arranged. This was the authorized text for some twenty-three years after the death of Muhammad. Owing, however, either to different modes of recitation, or to differences of expression in the sources from which Zeid's first recension was made, a variety of different readings crept into the copies in use. The Faithful became alarmed and the Khalíf Osmán was persuaded to put a stop to such a danger. He appointed Zeid with three of the leading men of the Quraish as assistants to go over the whole work again. A careful recension was made of the whole book which was then assimilated to the Meccan dialect, the purest in Arabia. After this all other copies of the Qurán were burnt by order of the Khalíf, and new transcripts were made of the revised edition which was now the only authorised copy. As it is a fundamental tenet of Islám that the Qurán is incorruptible and absolutely free [9]from error, no little difficulty has been felt in explaining the need of Osmán's new and revised edition and of the circumstances under which it took place; but as usual a Tradition has been handed down which makes it lawful to read the Qurán in seven dialects. The book in its present form may be accepted as a genuine reproduction of Abu Bakr's edition with authoritative corrections. We may rest assured that we have in the Qurán now in use the record of what Muhammad said. It thus becomes a fundamental basis of Islám. It was a common practice of the early Muslims when speaking of the Prophet to say:—"His character is the Qurán." When people curious to know details of the life of their beloved master asked 'Áyesha, one of his widows, about him, she used to reply:—"Thou hast the Qurán, art thou not an Arab and readest the Arab tongue? Why dost thou ask me, for the Prophet's disposition is no other than the Qurán?"

Whether Muhammad would have arranged the Qurán as we now have it is a subject on which it is impossible to form an opinion. There are Traditions which seem to show that he had some doubts as to its completeness. I give the following account on the authority of M. Caussin de Percival. When Muhammad felt his end draw near he said:—"Bring ink and paper: I wish to write to you a book to preserve you always from error." But it was too late. He could not write or dictate and so he said:—"May the Qurán always be your guide. Perform what it commands you: avoid what it prohibits." The genuineness of the first part of this Tradition is, I think, very doubtful, the latter is quite in accordance with the Prophet's claim for his teaching. The letter of the book became, as Muhammad intended it should become, a despotic influence in the Muslim world, a barrier to freethinking on the part of all the orthodox, an obstacle to innovation in all spheres—political, social, intellectual and moral. There are many topics connected with it which can be better explained in the next chapter. All [10]that has now to be here stated is that the Qurán is the first foundation of Islám. It is an error to suppose it is the only one: an error which more than anything else has led persons away from the only position in which they could obtain a true idea of the great system of Islám.

The Shía'hs maintain, without good reason, that the following verses favourable to the claims of 'Alí and of the Shía'h faction were omitted in Osmán's recension.

"O Believers! believe in the two lights. (Muhammad and 'Alí).

'Alí is of the number of the pious, we shall give him his right in the day of judgment; we shall not pass over those who wish to deceive him. We have honoured him above all this family. He and his family are very patient. Their enemy[10] is the chief of sinners.

We have announced to thee a race of just men, men[11] who will not oppose our orders. My mercy and peace are on them living[12] or dead.

As to those who walk in their way, my mercy is on them; they will certainly gain the mansions of Paradise."

2. The Sunnat.—The second foundation of Islám is based on the Hadís (plural Ahádís) or Tradition. Commands from God given in the Qurán are called 'farz' and 'wájib.' A command given by the Prophet or an example set by him is called 'sunnat,' a word meaning a rule. It is then technically applied to the basis of religious faith and practice, which is founded on traditional accounts of the sayings and acts of Muhammad.[13] It is the belief common to all Musalmáns, that the Prophet in all that he did, and in all that he said, was supernaturally guided, and that his words and acts are to all time and to all his followers a divine rule of faith and practice. "We should know that God Almighty has given commands and prohibitions to his [11]servants, either by means of the Qurán, or by the mouth of His Prophet."[14] Al-Ghazáli, a most distinguished theologian, writes:—"Neither is the faith according to His will, complete by the testimony to the Unity alone, that is, by simply saying, 'There is but one God,' without the addition of the further testimony to the Apostle, that is, the statement, 'Muhammad is the apostle of God.'" This belief in the Prophet must extend to all that he has said concerning the present and the future life, for, says the same author, "A man's faith is not accepted till he is fully persuaded of those things which the Prophet hath affirmed shall be after death."

It is often said that the Wahhábís reject Tradition. In the ordinary sense of the word Tradition they may; but in Muslim Theology the term Hadís, which we translate Tradition, has a special meaning. It is applied only to the sayings of the Prophet, not to those of some uninspired divine or teacher. The Wahhábís reject the Traditions handed down by men who lived after the time of the Companions, but the Hadís, embodying the sayings of the Prophet, they, in common with all Muslim sects, hold to be an inspired revelation of God's will to men. It would be as reasonable to say that Protestants reject the four Gospels as to say that the Wahhábís reject Tradition.[15] An orthodox Muslim places the Gospels in the same rank as the Hadís, that is, he looks upon them as a record of what Jesus said and did handed down to us by His Companions. "In the same way as other Prophets received their books under the form of ideas, so our Prophet has in the same way received a great number of communications which are found in the collections of the [12]Traditions (Ahádís).[16] This shows that the Sunnat must be placed on a level with the Jewish and Christian Scriptures; whilst the Qurán is a revelation superior to them all. To no sect of Musalmáns is the Qurán alone the rule of faith. The Shía'hs, it is true, reject the Sunnat, but they have in their own collection of Traditions an exact equivalent.

The nature of the inspiration of the Sunnat and its authoritative value are questions of the first importance, whether Islám is viewed from a theological or a political stand-point.

"Muhammad said that seventy-three sects would arise, of whom only one would be worthy of Paradise. The Companions inquired which sect would be so highly favoured. The Prophet replied:—'The one which remains firm in my way and in that of my friends.' It is certain that this must refer to the Ahl-i-Sunnat wa Jamá'at." (Sunnís.)[17]

It is laid down as a preliminary religious duty that obedience should be rendered to the Sunnat of the Prophet. Thus in the fourth Súra of the Qurán it is written: "O true believers! obey God and obey the apostle." "We have not sent any apostle but that he might be obeyed by the permission of God." From these and similar passages the following doctrine is deduced: "It is plain that the Prophet (on whom and on whose descendants be the mercy and peace of God!) is free from sin in what he ordered to be done, and in what he prohibited, in all his words and acts; for were it otherwise how could obedience rendered to him be accounted as obedience paid to God?"[18] Believers are exhorted to render obedience to God by witnessing to His divinity, and to the Prophet by bearing witness to his prophetship; this is a sign of love, and love is the cause of nearness to God. The Prophet himself is reported to have [13]said, "Obey me that God may regard you as friends." From this statement the conclusion is drawn that "the love of God (to man) is conditional on obedience to the Prophet." Belief in and obedience to the Prophet are essential elements of the true faith, and he who possesses not both of these is in error.[19]

In order to show the necessity of this obedience, God is said to have appointed Muhammad as the Mediator between Himself and man. In a lower sense, believers are to follow the "Sunnat" of the four Khalífs, Abu Bakr, Omar, Osmán, and 'Alí, who are true guides to men.

To the Muslim all that the Prophet did was perfectly in accord with the will of God. Moral laws have a different application when applied to him. His jealousy, his cruelty to the Jewish tribes, his indulgence in licentiousness, his bold assertion of equality with God as regards his commands, his every act and word, are sinless, and a guide to men as long as the world shall last. It is easy for an apologist for Muhammad to say that this is an accretion, something which engrafted itself on to a simpler system. It is no such thing. It is rather one of the essential parts of the system. Let Muhammad be his own witness:—"He who loves not my Sunnat is not my follower." "He who revives my Sunnat revives me, and will be with me in Paradise." "He who in distress holds fast to the Sunnat will receive the reward of a hundred martyrs." As might be expected, the setting up of his own acts and words as an infallible and unvarying rule of faith accounts more than anything else for the immobility of the Muhammadan world, for it must be always remembered that in Islám Church and State are one. The Arab proverb, "Al mulk wa dín tawáminí"—country and religion are twins—is the popular form of expressing the unity of Church and State. [14]To the mind of the Musalmán the rule of the one is the rule of the other,—a truth sometimes forgotten by politicians who look hopefully on the reform of Turkey or the regeneration of the House of Osmán. The Sunnat as much as the Qurán covers all law, whether political, social, moral, or religious. A modern writer who has an intimate acquaintance with Islám says:—"If Islám is to be a power for good in the future, it is imperatively necessary to cut off the social system from the religion. The difficulty lies in the close connection between the religious and social ordinances in the Kurán, the two are so intermingled that it is hard to see how they can be disentangled without destroying both." I believe this to be impossible, and the case becomes still more hopeless when we remember that the same remark would apply to the Sunnat. To forget this is to go astray, for Ibn Khaldoun distinctly speaks of "the Law derived from the Qurán and the Sunnat," of the "maxims of Musalmán Law based on the text of the Qurán and the teaching of the Traditions."[20]

The Prophet had a great dread of all innovation. The technical term for anything new is "bida't," and of it, it is said: "Bida't is the changer of Sunnat." In other words, if men seek after things new, if fresh forms of thought arise, and the changing condition of society demands new modes of expression for the Faith, or new laws to regulate the community, if in internals or externals, any new thing (bida't) is introduced, it is to be shunned. The law as revealed in the Qurán and the Sunnat is perfect. Everything not in accordance with the precepts therein contained is innovation, and all innovation is heresy. Meanwhile some [15]"bida't" is allowable, such as the teaching of etymology and syntax, the establishment of schools, guest-houses, &c., which things did not exist in the time of the Prophet; but it is distinctly and clearly laid down that compliance with the least Sunnat (i.e. the obeying the least of the orders of the Prophet, however trivial) is far better than doing some new thing, however advantageous and desirable it may be.

There are many stories which illustrate the importance the Companions of the Prophet attached to Sunnat. "The Khalíf Omar looked towards the black stone at Mecca, and said, 'By God, I know that thou art only a stone, and canst grant no benefit, canst do no harm. If I had not known that the Prophet kissed thee, I would not have done so, but on account of that I do it.'" Abdullah-Ibn-'Umr was seen riding his camel round and round a certain place. In answer to an inquiry as to his reason for so doing he said: "I know not, only I have seen the Prophet do so here." Ahmad-Ibn-Hanbal, one of the four great Imáms, and the founder of the Hanbalí school of interpretation, is said to have been appointed on account of the care with which he observed the Sunnat. One day when sitting in an assembly he alone of all present observed some formal custom authorised by the practice of the Prophet. Gabriel at once appeared and informed him that now, and on account of his act, he was appointed an Imám.[21] In short, it is distinctly laid down that the best of all works is the following of the practice of Muhammad. The essence of religion has been stated by a learned theologian to consist of three things: first, to follow the Prophet in morals and in acts; secondly, to eat only lawful food; thirdly, to be sincere in all actions.


The Sunnat is now known to Musalmáns through the collections of Traditions gathered together by the men whose names they now bear. The whole are called Sihah-Sittah, or "six correct books." Not one of these collectors flourished until the third century of the Hijra, and so, as may be easily supposed, their work has not passed unchallenged. There is by no means an absolute consensus of opinion among the Sunnís as to the exact value of each Tradition, yet all admit that a 'genuine Tradition' must be obeyed. Whether the Prophet spoke what in the Traditions is recorded as spoken by him under the influence of the highest kind of inspiration is, as will be shown in the next chapter, a disputed point; but it matters little. Whatever may have been the degree, it was according to Muslim belief a real inspiration, and thus his every act and word became a law as binding upon his followers as the example of Christ is upon Christians.

The Shía'hs do not acknowledge the Sihah-Sittah, the six correct books of the Sunnís, but it by no means follows that they reject Tradition. They have five books of Traditions, the earliest of which was compiled by Abu Ja'far Muhammad A.H. 329, or a century later than the Sahíh-i-Bukhárí, the most trustworthy of the Sunní set. Thus all Musalmán sects accept the first and second ground of the faith—the Qurán and the Sunnat—as the inspired will of God; the Shía'hs substituting in the place of the Traditions on which the Sunnat is based, a collection of their own. What it is important to maintain is this, that the Qurán alone is to no Musalmán an all-sufficient guide.

3. Ijmá'.—The third foundation of the Faith is called Ijmá', a word signifying to be collected or assembled. Technically it means the unanimous consent of the leading theologians, or what in Christian theology would be called the "unanimous consent of the Fathers." Practically it is a collection of the opinions of the Companions, the Tábi'ín and the Taba-i-Tábi'ín. "The Law," says Ibn Khaldoun [17]"is grounded on the general accord of the Companions and their followers." The election of Abu Bakr to the Khalifate is called Ijmá'-i-Ummat, the unanimous consent of the whole sect. The Companions of the Prophet had special knowledge of the various circumstances under which special revelations had been made; they alone knew which verses of the Qurán abrogated others, and which verses were thus abrogated. The knowledge of these matters and many other details they handed on to their successors, the Tábi'ín, who passed the information on to their followers, the Taba-i-Tábi'ín. Some Muslims, the Wahhábís for example, accept only the Ijmá' of the Companions; and by all sects that is placed in the first rank as regards authority; others accept that of the 'Fugitives' who dwelt at Madína; and there are some amongst the orthodox who allow, as a matter of theory, that Ijmá' may be collected at any time, but that practically it is not done because there are now no Mujtahidín. The highest rank a Muslim Theologian could reach was that of a Mujtahid, or one who could make an Ijtihád, a word which, derived from the same root as Jihád (a Crescentade), means in its technical sense a logical deduction. It is defined as the "attaining to a certain degree of authority in searching into the principles of jurisprudence." The origin of Ijtihád was as follows:—Muhammad wished to send a man named Mu'áz to Yaman to receive some money collected for alms, which he was then to distribute to the poor. On appointing him he said: "O Mu'áz, by what rule will you act?" He replied, "by the Law of the Qurán." "But if you find no direction therein?" "Then I will act according to the Sunnat of the Prophet." "But what if that fails?" "Then I will make an Ijtihád and act on that." The Prophet raised his hands and said, "Praise be to God who guides the messenger of His Prophet in what He pleases."[22] This is considered a proof of the authority of Ijtihád for the Prophet clearly sanctioned it.


When the Prophet was alive men could go to him with their doubts and fears: an infallible authority was always present ready to give an inspired direction. The Khalífs who succeeded the Prophet had only to administer the Law according to the opinions which they knew Muhammad had held. They were busily engaged in carrying on the work of conquest; they neither attempted any new legislation, nor did they depart from the practice of him whom they revered. "In the first days of Islám, the knowledge of the Law was purely Traditional. In forming their judgments they had no recourse either to speculation, to private opinion, or to arguments founded upon analogy."[23] However, as the Empire grew, new conditions of life arose, giving rise to questions, concerning which Muhammad had given no explicit direction. This necessitated the use of Ijtihád. During the Khalifates of Abu Bakr, Omar, Osmán and 'Alí—the Khulafa-i-Ráshidín, or the Khalífs who could guide men in the right way, the custom was for the Faithful to consult them as to the course of action to be pursued under some new development of circumstances; for they knew as none other did the Prophet's sayings and deeds, they could recall to their memories a saying or an act from which a decision could be deduced. In this way all Muslims could feel that in following their judgments and guidance they were walking in the right path. But after the death of 'Alí, the fourth Khalíf, civil war and hostile factions imperilled the continuance of the Faith in its purity. At Madína, where Muhammad's career as a recognised Prophet was best known, devout men commenced to learn by heart the Qurán, the Sunnat, and the analogical judgments (Ijtihád) of the four Khalífs. These men were looked up to as authorities, and their decisions were afterwards known as the 'Customs of Madína.'

It is not difficult to see that a system, which sought to regulate all departments of life, all developments of men's ideas and energies by the Sunnat and analogical deductions [19]therefrom, was one which not only gave every temptation a system could give to the manufacture of Tradition, but one which would soon become too cumbersome to be of practical use. Hence, it was absolutely necessary to systematize all this incoherent mass of Tradition, of judgments given by Khalífs and Mujtahidín. This gave rise to the systems of jurisprudence, founded by the four orthodox Imáms, to one or other of which all Muslims, except the Shía'hs, belong. These Imáms, Abu Hanífa, Ibn Málik, As-Sháfi'i and Ibn Hanbal were all Mujtahidín of the highest rank. After them it is the orthodox belief that there has been no Mujtahid. Thus in a standard theological book much used in India it is written: "Ijmá' is this, that it is not lawful to follow any other than the four Imáms." "In these days the Qází must make no order, the Muftí give no fatvá (i.e. a legal decision), contrary to the opinion of the four Imáms." "To follow any other is not lawful." So far then as orthodoxy is concerned, change and progress are impossible.

Imám Abu Hanífa was born at Basra (A.H. 80), but he spent the greater part of his life at Kúfa. He was the founder and teacher of the body of legists known as 'the jurists of Irák.' His system differs considerably from that of the Imám Málik who, living at Madína, confined himself chiefly to Tradition as the basis of his judgments. Madína was full of the memories of the sayings and acts of the Prophet; Kúfa, the home of Hanífa, on the contrary, was not founded till after the Prophet's death and so possessed none of his memories. Islám there came into contact with other races of men, but from them it had nothing to learn. If these men became Muslims, well and good: if not, the one law for them as for the Faithful was the teaching of Muhammad. Various texts of the Qurán are adduced to prove the correctness of this position. "For to thee have we sent down the book which cleareth up every thing." (Súra xvi. 91) "Nothing have we passed over in the book." (Súra vi. [20]38.) "Neither is there a grain in the darkness of the earth nor a thing green or sere, but it is noted in a distinct writing." (Súra vi. 59). These texts were held to prove that all law was provided for by anticipation in the Qurán. If a verse could not be found bearing on any given question, analogical deduction was resorted to. Thus: "He it is who created for you all that is on earth." (Súra ii. 27). According to the Hanifite jurists, this is a deed of gift which annuls all other rights of property. The 'you' refers to Muslims. The earth[24] may be classified under three heads:—(1) land which never had an owner; (2) land which had an owner and has been abandoned; (3) the person and property of the Infidels. From the last division the same legists deduce the lawfulness of slavery, piracy and constant war against the unbelievers. To return to Abu Hanífa. He admitted very few Traditions as authoritative in his system, which claims to be a logical development from the Qurán. "The merit of logical fearlessness cannot be denied to it. The wants and wishes of men, the previous history of a country—all those considerations, in fact, which are held in the West to be the governing principles of legislation, are set aside by the legists of Irák as being of no account whatever. Legislation is not a science inductive and experimental, but logical and deductive."[25]

Imám Ibn Málik was born at Madína (A.H. 93) and his system of jurisprudence is founded, as might be expected from his connection with the sacred city, on the "Customs of Madína." His business was to arrange and systematize the Traditions current in Madína, and to form out of them and the "Customs" a system of jurisprudence embracing the whole sphere of life. The treatise composed by him was called the "Muwatta" or "The Beaten Path." The greater part of its contents are legal maxims and opinions [21]delivered by the Companions. His system of jurisprudence, therefore, has been described as historical and traditional. In an elegy on his death by Abu Muhammad Ja'far it is said: "His Traditions were of the greatest authority; his gravity was impressive; and when he delivered them, all his auditors were plunged in admiration."[26] The Traditions were his great delight. "I delight," said he, "in testifying my profound respect for the sayings of the Prophet of God, and I never repeat one unless I feel myself in a state of perfect purity,"[27] (i.e., after performing a legal ablution.) As death approached, his one fear was lest he should have exercised his private judgment in delivering any legal opinion. In his last illness a friend went to visit him, and enquiring why he wept, received the following answer: "Why should I not weep, and who has more right to weep than I? By Allah! I wish I had been flogged and reflogged for every question of law on which I pronounced an opinion founded on my own private judgment."[28]

Imám As-Sháfa'í, a member of the Quraish tribe, was born A.H. 150. He passed his youth at Mecca but finally settled in Cairo where he died (A.H. 204). Ibn Khallikan relates of him that he was unrivalled for his knowledge of the Qurán, the Sunnat, and the sayings of the Companions. "Never," said Imám Ibn Hanbal, "have I passed a night without praying for God's mercy and blessing upon As-Sháfi'í." "Whosoever pretends," said Abu Thaur, "that he saw the like of As-Sháfi'í for learning is a liar." Having carefully studied the systems of the two preceding Imáms he then proceeded on an eclectic system to form his own. It was a reaction against the system of Abu Hanífa. As-Sháfi'í follows rather the traditional plan of Ibn Málik. The Hanifite will be satisfied if, in the absence of a clear and a direct statement, he finds one [22]passage in the Qurán, or one Tradition from which the required judgment may be deduced. The Sháfi'ite in the same circumstances, if Tradition is the source of his deduction, will require a considerable number of Traditions from which to make it.

Imám Ibn Hanbal was the last of the four Orthodox Imáms. He was born at Baghdád (A.H. 164). His system is a distinct return to Traditionalism. He lived at Baghdád during the reign of the Khalíf Mamun, when Orthodox Islám seemed in danger of being lost amid the rationalistic speculations, (that is, from an Orthodox Muslim stand-point), and licentious practices of the Court. The jurists most in favour at Court were followers of Abu Hanífa. They carried the principle of analogical deduction to dangerous lengths in order to satisfy the latitudinarianism of the Khalíf. Human speculation seemed to be weakening all the essentials of the Faith. Ibn Hanbal met the difficulty by discarding altogether the principle of analogical deduction. At the same time he saw that the Máliki system, founded as it was on the "Customs of Madína," was ill-suited to meet the wants of a great and growing Empire. It needed to be supplemented. What better, what surer ground could he go upon than the Traditions. These at least were inspired, and thus formed a safer foundation on which to build a system of jurisprudence than the analogical deductions of Abu Hanífa did. The system of Ibn Hanbal has almost ceased to exist. There is now no Muftí of this sect at Mecca, though the other three are represented there. Still his influence is felt to this day in the importance he attached to Tradition.

The distinction between the four Imáms has been put in this way. Abu Hanífa exercised his own judgment. Málik and Hanbal preferred authority and precedent. As-Sháfi'í entirely repudiated reason. They differ, too, as regards the value of certain Traditions, but to each of them an authentic Tradition is an incontestable authority. Their [23]opinion on points of doctrine and practice forms the third basis of the Faith.

The Ijmá' of the four Imáms is a binding law upon all Sunnís. It might be supposed that as the growing needs of the Empire led to the formation of these schools of interpretation; so now the requirements of modern, social and political life might be met by fresh Imáms making new analogical deductions. This is not the case. The orthodox belief is, that since the time of the four Imáms there has been no Mujtahid who could do as they did. If circumstances should arise which absolutely require some decision to be arrived at, it must be given in full accordance with the 'mazhab,' or school of interpretation, to which the person framing the decision belongs.[29] This effectually prevents all change, and by excluding innovation, whether good or bad, keeps Islám stationary. Legislation is now purely deductive. Nothing must be done contrary to the principles contained in the jurisprudence of the four Imáms. "Thus, in any Muhammadan State legislative reforms are simply impossible. There exists no initiative. The Sultán, or Khalíf can claim the allegiance of his people only so long as he remains the exact executor of the prescriptions of the Law."

The question then as regards the politics of the "Eastern [24]Question" is not whether Muhammad was a deceiver or self-deceived, an apostle or an impostor; whether the Qurán is on the whole good or bad; whether Arabia was the better or the worse for the change Muhammad wrought; but what Islám as a religious and political system has become and is, how it now works, what Orthodox Muslims believe and how they act in that belief. The essence of that belief is, that the system as taught by Prophet, Khalífs and Imáms is absolutely perfect.[30] Innovation is worse than a mistake. It is a crime, a sin. This completeness, this finality of his system of religion and polity, is the very pride and glory of a true Muslim. To look for an increase of light in the knowledge of his relation to God and the unseen world, in the laws which regulate Islám on earth is to admit that Muhammad's revelation was incomplete, and that admission no Muslim will make.

It has been stated on high authority that all that is required for the reform of Turkey is that the Qánúns or orders of the Sultán should take the place of the Sharí'at or law of Islám. Precisely so; if this could be done, Turkey might be reformed; but Islám would cease to be the religion of the State. That the law as formulated by the Imám Abu Hanífa ill suits the conditions of modern life is more than probable; but it is the very function of the Khalíf of Islám, [25]which the Sultán claims to be, to maintain it. He is no Mujtahid, for such there are not now amongst the Sunnís, to which sect the Turks belong. If through stress of circumstances some new law must be made, orthodoxy demands that it should be strictly in accordance with the opinions of the Imáms. The Shía'hs, in opposition to the Sunnís, hold that there are still Mujtahidín, but this opinion arises from their peculiar doctrine of the Imámat, a subject we shall discuss a little later on. At first sight it would seem that if there can be Mujtahidín who are now able to give authoritative opinions, there may be some hope of enlightened progress amongst Shía'h people—the Persians for example. There is doubtless amongst them more religious unrest, more mysticism, more heresy, but they are no further on the road of progress than their neighbours; and the apparent advantage of the presence of a Mujtahid is quite nullified by the fact that all his decisions must be strictly in accordance with the Qurán and the Sunnat, or rather with what to the Shía'h stands in the place of the Sunnat. The Shía'h, as well as the Sunní, must base all legislation on the fossilized system of the past, not on the living needs of the present. Precedent rules both with an iron sway. The Wahhábís reject all Ijmá' except that of the Companions, but that they accept; so when they are called the Puritans of Islám, it must be remembered that they accept as a rule of faith not only the Qurán, but the Sunnat, and some Ijmá'.

In order to make Ijmá' binding, it is necessary that the Mujtahidín should have been unanimous in their opinion or in their practice.

The whole subject of Ijtihád is one of the most important in connection with the possibility of reforms in a Muslim state. A modern Muhammadan writer[31] seeking to show that Islám does possess a capacity for progress and that so far from being a hard and fast system, it is able to adapt itself to new circumstances, because the Prophet ushered in [26]"an age of active principles," uses the story I have already related when describing the origin of Ijtihád (Ante. p. 17) to prove the accuracy of his statement. He makes Mu'áz to say:—"I will look first to the Qurán, then to precedents of the Prophet, and lastly rely upon my own judgment." It is true that Ijtihád literally means 'great effort,' it is true that the Companions and Mujtahidín of the first class had the power of exercising their judgment in doubtful cases, and of deciding them according to their sense of the fitness of things, provided always, that their decision contravened no law of the Qurán or the Sunnat; but this in no way proves that Islám has any capacity for progress, or that "an age of active principles" was ushered in by Muhammad, or that his "words breathe energy and force, and infuse new life into the dormant heart of humanity." For, though the term Ijtihád might, in reference to the men I have mentioned, be somewhat freely translated as "one's own judgment," it can have no such meaning now. It is a purely technical term, and its use and only use now is to express the "referring of a difficult case to some analogy drawn from the Qurán and the Sunnat." But even were the meaning not thus restricted, even though it meant now as it sometimes meant at first, "one's own judgment;" still Syed Amír 'Alí's position would remain to be proved for, since the days of the four Imáms, the orthodox believe that there has been no Mujtahid of the first class, and to none but men of this rank has such power ever been accorded. Thus granting, for the sake of argument merely, that the Syed's translation is grammatically and technically correct, all that results from it is that the "age of active principles" lasted only for two centuries. I do not admit that there ever was such an age in Islám, and certainly neither its theological development, nor its political growth negative the opposite assertion, viz., that Muhammad gave precepts rather than principles. The Turks are included in "the dormant heart of humanity," but it is difficult to see what "energy and [27]force" is breathed, what "new life is infused" into them by the "wonderful words" of the Prophet, or what lasting good the "age of active principles" has produced.

4. Qíás is the fourth foundation of Islám. The word literally means reasoning, comparing. It is in common use in Hindustani and Persian in the sense of guessing, considering, &c. Technically, it means the analogical reasoning of the learned with regard to the teaching of the Qurán, the Sunnat and the Ijmá'. For example, the Qurán says:—"Honour thy father and thy mother and be not a cause of displeasure to them." It is evident from this that disobedience to parents is prohibited, and prohibition implies punishment if the order is disobeyed. Again, if the Qurán and the Sunnat hold children responsible, according to their means, for the debts of their father, does it not follow that the elder ones ought to fulfil for their parents all those obligations which for some reason or other the parents may not be able to perform, such as the pilgrimage to Mecca, &c. A Tradition said to come from the Companions runs thus:—"One day, a woman came to the Prophet and said, 'my father died without making the Pilgrimage.' The Prophet said, 'If thy father had left a debt what wouldest thou do,' 'I would pay the debt.' 'Good, then pay this debt also.'" The Qurán forbids the use of Khamar, an intoxicating substance, and so it is argued that wine and opium are unlawful, though not forbidden by name. The Wahhábís would extend the prohibition to the use of tobacco.

From cases such as these, many jurisconsults hold that the Mujtahidín of the earliest age established this fourth foundation of the faith which they call Qíás. It is also called I'tibár-ul-Amsál, or "imitation of an example." The idea is taken from the verse: "Profit by this example, ye who are men of insight" (Súra lix. 2). There are strict rules laid down which regulate Qíás, of which the most important is, that in all cases it must be based on the Qurán, the Sunnat, and the Ijmá'. In fact, the fundamental idea of Islám [28]is that a perfect law has been given, even unto details, of social and political life. The teaching of Muhammad contains the solution of every difficulty that can arise. Every law not provided by the Prophet must be deduced analogically. This produces uniformity after a fashion, but only because intellectual activity in higher pursuits ceases and moral stagnation follows. Thus all who come within the range of this system are bound down to political servitude. Whatever in feeling or conviction goes beyond the limits of an out-worn set of laws is swept away. There is a wonderful family likeness in the decay of all Musalmán States, which seems to point to a common cause. All first principles are contained in the Qurán and the Sunnat; all that does not coincide with them must be wrong. They are above all criticism.

Qíás, then, affords no hope of enlightened progress, removes no fetter of the past, for in it there must be no divergence in principle from a legislation imperfect in its relation to modern life and stationary in its essence.[32] In the Niháyat-ul-Murád it is written:—"We are shut up to following the four Imáms." In the Tafsír-i-Ahmadí we read:—"To follow any other than the four Imáms is unlawful." An objector may say that such respect is like the reverence the heathen pay to their ancestors. To this an answer is given in the preface to the Tarjuma-i-Sharh-i-Waqáyah. The writer there says that it is nothing of the kind. "The Mujtahidín are not the source of the orders of the Law, but they are the medium by which we obtain the Law. Thus Imám Abu Hanífa said: 'We select first from the Qurán, then from the Traditions, then from the decrees of the Companions; we act on what the Companions agreed upon; where they doubt, we doubt.' The Commentator Jelál-ud-dín Mahlí says, 'The common people and others who have [29]not reached the rank of a Mujtahid, must follow one of the four Imáms.' Then when he enters one Mazhab (sect) he must not change. Again, it may be objected that God gave no order about the appointment of four Imáms. Now, it is recorded in a Tradition that the Prophet said, 'Follow the way of the great company; whosoever departs from it will enter hell.' The Followers of the Imáms are a great company." It is moreover the unanimous opinion, the "Ijmá'-i-Ummat," that the Imáms rightly occupy the position accorded to them. It is a great blessing, as we read in the Tafsír-i-Ahmadí: "It is of the grace of God, that we are shut up to these four Imáms. God approves of this, and into this matter proofs and explanations do not enter." Should any one further object that, in the days of the Prophet, there were no Mujtahidín, that each man acted on a "saying" as he heard it, that he did not confine his belief or conduct to the deductions made by some "appointed Companion," he may be answered thus:—"For a long time after the death of the Prophet many Companions were alive, and consequently the Traditions then current were trustworthy; but now it is not so, hence the need for the Imáms and their systems."

These four foundations,—the Qurán, the Sunnat, Ijmá' and Qíás—form in orthodox Muslim opinion and belief a perfect basis of a perfect religion and polity. They secure the permanence of the system, but they repress an intelligent growth. The bearing of all this on modern politics is very plain. Take again the case of Turkey. The constitution of the Government is theocratic. The germs of freedom are wanting there as they have never been wanting in any other country in Europe. The ruling power desires no change; originality of thought, independence of judgment is repressed. Nothing good has the Turk ever done for the world.[33] This rule has been one continued display of brute [30]force unrelieved by any of the reflected glory which shone for a while in Cordova and in Baghdád. No nation can possibly progress, the foundations of whose legal and theocratic system are what has been described in this chapter. When brought into diplomatic and commercial intercourse with States possessing the energy and vigour of a national life and liberal constitution, Muslim kingdoms must, in the long run, fail and pass away. It has been well said that "Spain is the only instance of a country once thoroughly infused with Roman civilisation which has been actually severed from the empire; and even then the severance, though of long duration, was but partial and temporary. After a struggle of nearly eight centuries, the higher form of social organisation triumphed over the lower and the usurping power of Islám was expelled." So it ought to be, and so indeed it must ever be, for despotism must give way to freedom; the life latent in the subject Christian communities must sooner or later cast off the yoke of a barbarian rule, which even at its best is petrified and so is incapable of progress. However low a Christian community may have fallen, there is always the possibility of its rising again. A lofty ideal is placed before it. All its most cherished beliefs point forward and upward. In Islám there is no regenerative power. Its golden age was in the past. When the work of conquest is done, when a Muhammadan nation has to live by industry, intelligence and thrift, it always miserably fails.

In this chapter which must now draw to a close, I have tried to prove from authentic and authoritative sources that [31]the Qurán alone is to no Muslim the sole guide of life. The fetters of a dogmatic system fasten alike around the individual and the community. Islám is sterile, it gives no new birth to the spirit of a man, leads him not in search of new forms of truth, and so it can give no real life, no lasting vitality to a nation.[34]




Questions connected with Ijtihád are so important in Islám, that I think it well to give in the form of a note a fuller and more technical account of it, than I could do in the Chapter just concluded. This account which I shall now give is that of a learned Musalmán, and is, therefore, of the highest value. It consists of extracts from an article in the Journal Asiatique, Quatrième Série, tome, 15, on "Le Marche et les Progres de la Jurisprudence parmi les Sectes orthodoxes Musalmanes" by Mirza Kázim Beg, Professor in the University of St. Petersburg. It entirely supports all that has been said of the rigid character of Muhammadan Law, and of the immobility of systems founded thereon.

"Orthodox Musalmáns admit the following propositions as axioms.

1. God the only legislator has shown the way of felicity to the people whom He has chosen, and in order to enable them to walk in that way He has shown to them the precepts which are found, partly in the eternal Qurán, and partly in the sayings of the Prophet transmitted to posterity by the Companions and preserved in the Sunnat. That way is called the "Sharí'at." The rules thereof are called Ahkám.

2. The Qurán and the Sunnat, which since their manifestation are the primitive sources of the orders of the Law, form two branches of study, viz., Ilm-i-Tafsír, or the interpretation of the Qurán and Ilm-i-Hadís, or the study of Tradition.

3. All the orders of the Law have regard either to the actions (Dín), or to the belief (Imán) of the Mukallifs.[35]

4. As the Qurán and the Sunnat are the principal sources from whence the precepts of the Sharí'at have been drawn, so the rules recognized as the principal elements of actual jurisprudence are the subject of Ilm-í-Fiqh, or the science of Law.

Fiqh in its root signifies conception, comprehension. Thus Muhammad prayed for Ibn Mas'úd: "May God make him [33]comprehend (Faqqihahu), and make him know the interpretation of the Qurán." Muhammad in his quality of Judge and chief of the Believers decided, without appeal or contradiction, all the affairs of the people. His sayings served as a guide to the Companions. After the death of the Prophet the first Khalífs acted on the authority of the Traditions. Meanwhile the Qurán and the Sunnat, the principal elements of religion and legislation, became little by little the subject of controversy. It was then that men applied themselves vigorously to the task of learning by heart the Qurán and the Traditions, and then that jurisprudence became a separate science. No science had as yet been systematically taught, and the early Musalmáns did not possess books which would serve for such teaching. A change soon, however, took place. In the year in which the great jurisconsult of Syria died (A.H. 80) N'imán bin Sabit, surnamed Abu Hanífa was born. He is the most celebrated of the founders of the schools of jurisprudence, a science which ranks first in all Muslim seats of learning. Until that time and for thirty years later the Mufassirs,[36] the Muhaddis,[37] and the Fuqihá,[38] had all their knowledge by heart, and those who possessed good memories were highly esteemed. Many of them knew by heart the whole Qurán with the comments made on it by the Prophet and by the Companions; they also knew the Traditions and their explanations, and all the commands (Ahkám) which proceed from the Qurán, and the Sunnat. Such men enjoyed the right of Mujtahidín. They transmitted their knowledge to their scholars orally. It was not till towards the middle of the second century A.H. that treatises on the different branches of the Law were written, after which six schools (Mazhabs) of jurisprudence were formed. The founders, all Imáms of the first class, were Abu Hanífa, the Imám-i-A'zam or great Imám (A.H. 150),[39] Safian As-Sáurí (A.H. 161), Málik (A.H. 179), As-Sháfa'í (A.H. 204), Hanbal (A.H. 241) and Imám Dáúd Az-Zaharí (A.H. 270). The two sects founded by Sáurí and Zaharí became extinct in the eighth century of the Hijra. The other four still remain. These men venerated one another. The younger ones speak with great respect of the elder. Thus Sháfa'í said:—"No one in the world was so well versed in jurisprudence as Abu Hanífa was, and he who has read neither his works, nor those of his disciples knows nothing of jurisprudence." Hanbal when sick wore a shirt which had belonged to Sháfa'í, in order that he might be cured of his malady; but all this [34]did not prevent them starting schools of their own, for the right of Ijtihád is granted to those who are real Mujtahidín. There are three degrees of Ijtihád.

1. Al-Ijtihád fi'l Shari': absolute independence in legislation

2. Al-Ijtihád fi'l Mazhab: authority in the judicial systems founded by the Mujtahidín of the first class.

3. Al-Ijtihád fi'l Masáil: authority in cases which have not been decided by the authors of the four systems of jurisprudence.

The first is called a complete and absolute authority, the second relative, the third special.


Absolute independence in legislation is the gift of God. He to whom it is given when seeking to discover the meaning of the Divine Law is not bound to follow any other teacher. He can use his own judgment. This gift was bestowed on the jurisconsults of the first, and to some in the second and third centuries. The Companions, however, who were closely connected with the Prophet, having transmitted immediately to their posterity the treasures of legislation, are looked upon as Mujtahidín of much higher authority than those of the second and third centuries. Thus Abu Hanífa says:—"That which comes to us from the Companions is on our head and eyes (i.e., to be received with respect): as to that which comes from the Tábi'ín, they are men and we are men."

Since the time of the Tábi'ín this degree of Ijtihád has only been conferred on the six great Imáms. Theoretically any Muslim can attain to this degree, but it is one of the principles of jurisprudence that the confirmation of this rank is dependent on many conditions, and so no one now gains the honour. These conditions are:—

1. The knowledge of the Qurán and all that is related to it; that is to say, a complete knowledge of Arabic literature, a profound acquaintance with the orders of the Qurán and all their sub-divisions, their relationship to each other and their connection with the orders of the Sunnat. The candidate should know when, and why each verse of the Qurán was written, he should have a perfect acquaintance with the literal meaning of the words, the speciality or generality of each clause, the abrogating and abrogated sentences. He should be able to make clear the meaning of the 'obscure' passages (Mutashábih), to discriminate between the literal and the allegorical, the universal and the particular.

2. He must know the Qurán by heart with all the Traditions and explanations. [35]

3. He must have a perfect knowledge of the Traditions, or at least of three thousand of them.

He must know their source, history, object and their connection with the laws of the Qurán. He should know by heart the most important Traditions.

4. A pious and austere life.

5. A profound knowledge of all the sciences of the Law.

Should any one now aspire to such a degree another condition would be added, viz:—

6. A complete knowledge of the four schools of jurisprudence.

The obstacles, then, are almost insurmountable. On the one hand, there is the severity of the 'Ulamá, which requires from the candidate things almost impossible; on the other, there is the attachment of the 'Ulamá to their own Imáms, for should such a man arise no one is bound now to listen to him. Imám Hanbal said:—"Draw your knowledge from whence the Imáms drew theirs, and do not content yourself with following others for that is certainly blindness of sight". Thus the schools of the four Imáms remain intact after a thousand years have passed, and so the 'Ulamá recognise since the time of these Imáms no Mujtahíd of the first degree. Ibn Hanbal was the last.

The rights of the man who attained to this degree were very important. He was not bound to be a disciple of another, he was a mediator between the Law and his followers, for whom he established a system of legislation, without any one having the right to make any objection. He had the right to explain the Qurán, the Sunnat and the Ijmá' according as he understood them. He used the Prophet's words, whilst his disciples only used his. Should a disciple find some discrepancy between a decision of his own Imám and the Qurán or Traditions, he must abide by the decision of the Imám. The Law does not permit him to interpret after his own fashion. When once the disciple has entered the sect of one Imám he cannot leave it and join another. He loses the right of private judgment, for only a Mujtahid of the first class can dispute the decision of one of the Imáms. Theoretically such Mujtahidín may still arise; but, as we have already shown, practically they do not.


This degree has been granted to the immediate disciples of the great Imáms who have elaborated the systems of their masters. They enjoyed the special consideration of the contemporary 'Ulamá, and of their respective Imáms who in some cases have allowed them [36]to retain their own opinion.' The most famous of these men are the two disciples of Abu Hanífa, Abu Yúsuf and Muhammad bin al Hasan. In a secondary matter their opinion carries great weight. It is laid down as a rule that a Muftí may follow the unanimous opinion of these two even when it goes against that of Abu Hanífa.


This is the degree of special independence. The candidates for it should have a perfect knowledge of all the branches of jurisprudence according to the four schools of the Arabic language and literature. They can solve cases which come before them, giving reasons for their judgment, or decide on cases which have not been settled by previous Mujtahidín; but in either case their decisions must always be in absolute accordance with the opinions of the Mujtahidín of the first and second classes, and with the principles which guided them. Many of these men attained great celebrity during their lifetime, but to most of them this rank is not accorded till after their death. Since Imám Qází Khán died (A.H. 592), no one has been recognised by the Sunnís as a Mujtahid even of the third class.

There are three other inferior classes of jurists, called Muqallidín, or followers of the Mujtahidín; but all that the highest in rank amongst them can do is to explain obscure passages in the writings of the older jurisconsults. By some of the 'Ulamá they are considered to be equal to the Mujtahidín of the third class. If there are several conflicting legal opinions on any point, they can select one opinion on which to base their decision. This a mere Qází cannot do. In such a case he would have to refer to those men, or to their writings for guidance. They seem to have written commentaries on the legal systems without originating anything new. The author of the Hidáyah, who lived at the end of the sixth century, was a Muqallid.

Such is Mirza Kázim Beg's account. The whole article, of which I have only given the main points, is worthy of the closest study. It shows how "the system, as a whole, rejects experience as a guide to deeper insight or wider knowledge; tramples upon the teaching of the past; pays no heed to differences of climate, character, or history; but regards itself as a body of absolute truth, one jot or tittle of which cannot be rejected without incurring the everlasting wrath of God."[40]




The following account of this branch of Muslim theology, technically called 'Ilm-i-Usúl, may be introduced by a few remarks on the nature of inspiration according to Islám, though that is not strictly speaking a portion of this study.

There are two terms used to express different degrees of inspiration, Wahí and Ilhám. Wahí is the term applied to the inspiration of the Qurán, and implies that the very words are the words of God. It is divided into Wahí Záhir (external inspiration), and Wahí Bátin (internal inspiration). The whole book was prepared in heaven. Muhammad, instructed by Gabriel, is simply the medium through which the revelation of Wahí Záhir reaches man. The Wahí Qurán, i.e., the highest form of inspiration, always came to the ear of the Prophet through the instrumentality of Gabriel. In Muhammadan theology, this is the special work of Gabriel. Thus in the Traditions it is related that he appeared to Adam twelve times, to Enoch four, to Noah fifty, to Abraham forty-two, to Moses four hundred, to Jesus ten times, to Muhammad twenty-four thousand times.

Ilhám means the inspiration given to a saint or to a prophet when he, though rightly guided, delivers the subject matter out of his own mind, and is not a mere machine to reproduce the messages of Gabriel. There is a lower form of Wahí Záhir, which is called Ishárat-ul-Malak (literally, "sign of the Angel.") This expresses what Muhammad meant when he said: "The Holy Ghost has entered into my heart." In other words, he received the inspiration through [38]Gabriel, but not by word of mouth. This form of inspiration is higher than that possessed by saints, and is usually applied to the inspiration of the Traditions. This is denied by some, who say that except when delivering the Qurán Muhammad spoke by Ilhám and not by Wahí. The practical belief is, however, that the Traditions were Wahí inspiration, and thus they come to be as authoritative as the Qurán. Sharastani speaks of "the signs (sayings) of the Prophet which have the marks of Wahí."[41] This opinion is said by some Muslim theologians to be supported by the first verse of the fifty-third Súra, entitled the Star. "By the Star when it setteth; your companion Muhammad erreth not, nor is he led astray, neither doth he speak of his own will. It is none other than a revelation which hath been revealed to him." In any case the inspiration of Muhammad is something quite different from the Christian idea of inspiration, which is to Musalmáns a very imperfect mode of transmitting a revelation of God's will.

That there should be a human as well as a divine side to inspiration is an idea not only foreign, but absolutely repugnant to Muhammadans. The Qurán is not a book of principles. It is a book of directions. The Qurán describes the revelation given to Moses thus:—"We wrote for him upon the tables a monition concerning every matter and said: 'Receive them thyself with steadfastness, and command thy people to receive them for the observance of its most goodly precepts.'" (Súra vii. 142). It is such an inspiration as this the Qurán claims for itself. Muhammad's idea was that it should be a complete and final code of directions in every matter for all mankind. It is not the word of a prophet enlightened by God. It proceeds immediately from God, and the word 'say' or 'speak' precedes, or is understood to precede, every sentence. This to a Muslim is the highest form of inspiration; this alone stamps a book as [39]divine. It is acknowledged that the Injíl—the Gospel—was given by Jesus; but as that, too, according to Muslim belief, was brought down from heaven by the angel Gabriel during the month of Ramazán, it is now asserted that it has been lost, and that the four Gospels of the New Testament are simply Traditions collected by the writers whose names they bear. Their value is, therefore, that of the second foundation of the Islámic system.

The question next arises as to the exact way in which Gabriel made known his message to Muhammad. The Mudárij-un-Nabuwat, a standard theological work, gives some details on this point.[42] Though the Qurán is all of God, both as to matter and form, yet it was not all made known to the Prophet in one and the same manner. The following are some of the modes:—

1. It is recorded on the authority of 'Áyesha, one of Muhammad's wives, that a brightness like the brightness of the morning came upon the Prophet. According to some commentators this brightness remained six months. In some mysterious way Gabriel, through this brightness or vision, made known the will of God.

2. Gabriel appeared in the form of Dahiah, one of the Companions of the Prophet, renowned for his beauty and gracefulness. A learned dispute has arisen with regard to the abode of the soul of Gabriel when he assumed the bodily form of Dahiah. At times, the angelic nature of Gabriel overcame Muhammad, who was then translated to the world of angels. This always happened when the revelation was one of bad news, such as denunciations or predictions of woe. At other times, when the message brought by Gabriel was one of consolation and comfort, the human nature of the Prophet overcame the angelic nature of the angel, who, in such case, having assumed a human form, proceeded to deliver the message. [40]

3. The Prophet heard at times the noise of the tinkling of a bell. To him alone was known the meaning of the sound. He alone could distinguish in, and through it, the words which Gabriel wished him to understand. The effect of this mode of Wahí was more marvellous than that of any of the other ways. When his ear caught the sound his whole frame became agitated. On the coldest day, the perspiration, like beads of silver, would roll down his face. The glorious brightness of his countenance gave place to a ghastly hue, whilst the way in which he bent down his head showed the intensity of the emotion through which he was passing. If riding, the camel on which he sat would fall to the ground. The Prophet one day, when reclining with his head in the lap of Zeid, heard the well known sound: Zeid, too, knew that something unusual was happening, for so heavy became the head of Muhammad that it was with the greatest difficulty he could support the weight.

4. At the time of the Mi'ráj, or night ascent into heaven, God spoke to the Prophet without the intervention of an angel. It is a disputed point whether the face of the Lord was veiled or not.

5. God sometimes appeared in a dream, and placing his hands on the Prophet's shoulders made known his will.

6. Twice, angels having each six hundred wings, appeared and brought the message from God.

7. Gabriel, though not appearing in bodily form, so inspired the heart of the Prophet that the words he uttered under its influence were the words of God. This is technically called Ilká, and is by some supposed to be the degree of inspiration to which the Traditions belong.

Above all, the Prophet was not allowed to remain in any error; if, by any chance, he had made a wrong deduction from any previous revelation, another was always sent to rectify it. This idea has been worked up to a science of abrogation, according to which some verses of the Qurán abrogate others. Muhammad found it necessary to shift [41]his stand-point more than once, and thus it became necessary to annul earlier portions of his revelation.

Thus in various ways was the revelation made known to Muhammad. At first there seems to have been a season of doubt (Ante p. 3), the dread lest after all it might be a mockery. But as years rolled on confidence in himself and in his mission came. At times, too, there is a joyousness in his utterances as he swears by heaven and earth, by God and man; but more often the visions were weird and terrible. Tradition says:—"He roared like a camel, the sound as of bells well-nigh rent his heart in pieces." Some strange power moved him, his fear was uncontrollable. For twenty years or more the revelations came, a direction on things of heaven and of earth, to the Prophet as the spiritual guide of all men,[43] to the Warrior-Chief, as the founder of political unity among the Arab tribes.

A Muhammadan student, after passing through a course of instruction in grammar, rhetoric, logic, law, and dogmatics, at length reaches the stage when he is permitted to enter upon the study of "'Ilm-i-usúl," or the exegesis of the Qurán, and the inspired sayings of the Prophet. This done, he can henceforth read the approved commentaries in order to learn what the Fathers of Islám have to say. This science in one way fits him to be a commentator, for the work of a Muslim divine now is, not to bring things "new and old" out of the sacred book, but to hand down to others the things old. There is no indwelling spirit in the Church of Islám which can reveal to the devout mind new views of truth, or lead the pious scholar on to deeper and more profound knowledge.

The greatest proficient in theology is the man who can repeat the Qurán by heart, who knows also and can reproduce at will what the early commentators have said, who can remember, and quote in the most apposite manner, the [42]Prophet's sayings preserved in the Traditions handed down by the Companions, their followers, and their followers' followers, who can point out a flaw in the Isnád (i.e. chain of narrators) of a Tradition quoted by an opponent, or maintain, by repeating the long list of names, the authority of the Isnád of the Tradition he quotes himself. A good memory, not critical acumen, is the great desideratum in a Muslim theologian. The chief qualification of a Háfiz, a man who can repeat the whole Qurán by heart, is not that he shall understand its meaning, but that he shall be able to pronounce each word correctly. By men who are not Arabs by birth, this is only to be attained after years of practice from childhood. The Sunnís say that no Shía'h can ever become a Háfiz, from which fact they draw the conclusion that the Shía'hs are heretics. In the early days of Islám, the great authorities on the question of the correct pronunciation of the Qurán were the Khalífs Abu Bakr, Omar, Osmán, and 'Alí, and ten of the Companions, who learned from the Prophet himself the exact way in which Gabriel had spoken. The Arabic of heaven was the Arabic of Islám. The effort, however, to preserve one uniform method of repeating the Qurán failed. Men of other lands could not acquire the pure intonation of Mecca, and so no less than seven different ways of reading the sacred book became current. Here was a great difficulty, but it proved surmountable. Abu Ibn Káb, one of the Companions, had become so famous as a reader that the Prophet himself said: "read the Qurán under Abu Ibn Káb." These men remembered that Abu Ibn Káb had stated, that one day when scandalized at man after man who entered the mosque repeating the Qurán in different ways, he spoke to Muhammad about it. His Highness said: "O Abu Ibn Káb! intelligence was sent to me to read the Qurán in one dialect, and I was attentive to the Court of God, and said: 'make easy the reading of the Qurán to my sects.' These instructions were sent to me a second time saying: 'read the [43]Qurán in two dialects.' Then I turned myself to the Court of God saying: 'make easy the reading of the Qurán to my sects.' Then a voice was sent to me the third time saying: 'read the Qurán in seven dialects.'"

This removed all difficulty, and the foresight displayed by the Prophet in thus obtaining a divine sanction for the various ways of reading was looked upon as a proof of his inspiration. Thus arose the "haft qirá,at," or seven readings of the Qurán, now recognised.

In the Qurán compiled by the order of the Khalíf Osmán there were no vowel-points, but when men of other countries embraced Islám they found great difficulty in mastering Arabic. Khalid bin Ahmad, a great grammarian, then invented the short vowels and other diacritical marks. The seven famous "Readers" whose names have been given to the various modes of reading, are Imám Nafi of Madína, Imám Ibn-i-Kasir of Mecca, Imám Abu 'Umr of Basra, Imám Hamza of Kufa, Imám Ibn 'Amir of Syria, Imám 'Ásim of Kufa, Imám Kisáe of Kufa.[44] These learned men affixed different vowel-points in many places in the Qurán, and thus slight differences of meaning arose. In India the "qirá,at—reading,—of Imám 'Ásim is followed by both Sunnís and Shía'hs. There are three readings of lesser note allowable when reading the Qurán privately, but not when reading any part in a liturgical service. During the month of Ramazán the Qurán is repeated every night in the mosque, it being so arranged that one-thirtieth part shall be recited each night. The Imám of the mosque, or public Reader, (Qárí) who commences according to one of the seven recognised readings (qirá,at), must keep to the same all the month. As he has to recite without a book this involves a great exercise of the memory. A good Háfiz will know the whole seven varieties. The various readings thus introduced, though [44]unimportant in their nature,[45] amount to about five hundred in number. The following are a few illustrations. In the second Súra Abu 'Umr reads: "Nor shall ye be questioned concerning that which they have done;" but 'Ásim reads: "That which ye have done." This is caused by putting two dots above the line instead of below it. Again 'Ásim reads: "Enter ye the gates of hell" (Súra xxxix. 73), but Nafi reads: "Ye will be made to enter hell,"—that is, by a slight change the passive is substituted for the active voice. These are fair samples of the rest. No doctrine, so far as I know, is touched, but the way in which Tradition records the Prophet's anticipation of the difficulty is instructive to the student of Islám. At times, too, fierce disputes have arisen between the followers of the seven famous Readers whose names I have given above. In the year 935 A.H., Ibn Shanabud, a resident of Baghdád, ventured to introduce some different readings in his recital of the Qurán. The people of Baghdád, not knowing these, were furious, and the Khalíf was compelled to cast the offender into prison. A Council of divines was called together, before whom the unhappy Ibn Shanabud was produced. For a while he maintained the correctness of his "readings," but after being whipped seven times he said: "I renounce my manner of reading, and in future I shall follow no other than that of the manuscript drawn up by the Khalíf Osmán, and that which is generally received."[46]

Closely connected with this subject is the history of the rise of the science of grammar. As Islám spread, it became necessary to expound the Qurán to persons unacquainted with Arabic. The science of grammar then became an important branch of study, and the collection of Traditions a necessary duty. The Faithful were for a long time in [45]doubt as to the lawfulness of applying the laws of grammar to so sacred a book. There was no command in the book itself to do so, nor had the Prophet given any directions on this point. It was then neither "farz" nor "sunnat," that is, neither a command based on the Qurán nor one based on any saying or act of the Prophet. The Traditions, however, solve the difficulty.

Al Mamun, the distinguished though heretical Khalíf of Baghdád, was a patron of Al Farra, the chief of grammarians. A distinguished pupil of his, Abu'l 'Abbás Thalub, on his death-bed expressed his belief in the fact that the Quránists, the Traditionists, and others, had gained their heavenly reward, but he had been only a grammarian, and grammar after all was, in connection with the Qurán, a science of doubtful legality. The friend to whom he told his doubts and fears went home and saw a vision. It is recorded that he had a vision in his sleep that very night, in which he saw the blessed Prophet, who said to him: "Give my greeting to Abu'l 'Abbás Thalub, and say, 'thou art master of the superior science.'" The Prophet had now spoken, and henceforth grammar became a lawful study in Islám. Muslims now quote the Qurán as a perfect model of style; it may be well to remember that the rules have been made for it, and that, therefore, it is but natural that it should be perfect according to the present canons of Arabic grammar.[47]

The question of the interpretation of the text speedily became a very important branch of the "'Ilm-i-usúl." It is said that the Qurán was brought from Paradise by Gabriel to Muhammad as occasion required. The Prophet was reproached for not having a complete revelation, and [46]answered the reproach by the following verse, sent for the purpose. "The infidels say, 'unless the Qurán be sent down to him all at once'—but in this way we establish thy heart in it, in parcels have we parcelled it out to thee" (Súra xxv. 34). The revelation thus given is entirely objective; it came to the ear of the Prophet through the teaching of Gabriel. "Yet it is a glorious Qurán, written on the preserved Table." (Súra lxxxv. 22). Gabriel addresses the Prophet thus: "When we have recited it then follow thou the recital." (Súra lxxv. 18). The external mode in which it came is referred to in the verse: "We have sent down to thee an Arabic Qurán." (Súra xx. 112). The fragmentary way in which the Qurán was given[48] was not without its difficulties. Some passages contradicted others, some were difficult to understand. To the Prophet alone was the solution known. The knowledge he communicated to his immediate followers, the Companions, as they are called, thus: "To thee have we sent down this book of monitions, that thou mayest make clear to men what hath been sent down to them." (Súra xvi. 46).

Ibn Khaldoun says: "The Prophet unfolded the meaning, distinguished between abrogated and abrogating verses, [47]and communicated this knowledge to his Companions. It was from his mouth that they knew the meaning of the verses and the circumstances which led to each distinct revelation being made."[49] The Companions thus instructed became perfectly familiar with the whole revelation. This knowledge they handed down by word of mouth to their followers, the Tába'ín, who in their turn passed it on to their followers the Taba-i-Tába'ín. The art of writing then became common, and the business of the commentator henceforth was to collect together the sayings of the Companions thus handed down. Criticism of a passage in the Qurán was not his duty, criticism of a comment made on it by a Companion was beyond his province: the first was too sacred to be touched, the second must be accepted if only the chain of narrators of the statement were perfect. Thus early in the history of Islám were the principles of exegesis fixed and settled. Every word, every sentence, has now its place and class. The commentator has now only to reproduce what was written before,[50] though he may in elucidation of the point, bring forth some Tradition hitherto unnoticed, which would, however, be a difficult thing to do. It will thus be seen that anything like the work of a Christian commentator, with all its fresh life and new ideas, is not to be had in Islám. The perfection of its exegesis is its dogmatic and antique nature—

"While as the world rolls on from age to age,

And realms of thought expand,

The letter stands without expanse or range,

Stiff as a dead man's hand."

The technical terms which the student must know, and [48]the definitions of which he must understand, are those which relate to the nature of the words, the sentences, the use of the words of the Qurán, and the deduction of arguments from passages in the book.

I. The words of the Qurán are divided into four classes.

1. Kháss, or special words. These are sub-divided into three classes. First, words which relate to genus, e.g. mankind. Secondly, words which relate to species, e.g. a man, which refers to men as distinguished from women. Thirdly, words which relate to special individuality, e.g. Zeid, which is the name of a special individual.

2. 'Amm, or common or collective names, such as "people."

3. Mushtarik, or words which have several significations, as the Arabic word "'ain," which may mean an eye, a fountain, or the sun. Again, the word "Sulát," if connected with God, may mean mercy, as "Sulát Ulláh," the mercy of God; if with man, it may mean either "namáz," a stated liturgical service, or "du'a," prayer in its ordinary sense, e.g. Sulát-ul-Istisqá (prayer in time of drought) is du'a, not namáz.

4. Muawwal, words which have several significations, all of which are possible, and so a special explanation is required. For example, Súra cviii. 2, reads thus in Sale's translation. "Wherefore pray unto the Lord and slay (the victims)." The word translated "slay" is in Arabic "nahr," which has many meanings. The followers of the great Legist Abu Hanífa render it, "sacrifice," and add the words (the "victims"). The followers of Ibn Sháfa'í say it means "placing the hands on the breast in prayer."

This illustrates the difference between Mushtarik and Muawwal. In the former, only one meaning is allowable, and that meaning the context settles; in the latter both meanings are allowable and both right.

These divisions of words having been well mastered and the power of defining any word in the Qurán gained, the [49]student passes on to consider the nature of the sentences. These are divided into two great classes,—the "Obvious," and the "Hidden."

This division is referred to in the following passage of the Qurán. "He it is who hath sent down to thee the book. Some of its signs are of themselves perspicuous; these are the basis (literally "mother") of the book, and others are figurative. But they whose hearts are given to err follow its figures, craving discord, craving an interpretation; yet none know its interpretation, but God.[51] And the stable in knowledge say: 'We believe in it, it is all from God.'" (Súra iii. 3).

This has given rise to the division of the whole book into literal and allegorical statements. In order to explain these correctly the commentator must know (1) the reason why, (2) the place where, (3) the time when, the particular passage he is expounding was revealed; he must know whether it abrogates or is abrogated, whether it is in its proper order and place or not; whether it contains its meaning within itself or needs the light which the context throws upon it; he must know all the Traditions which bear upon it, and the authority for each such Tradition. This effectually confines the order of commentators in the strict sense of the word to the Companions, and supplies the reason why commentators since then simply reproduce their opinions.[52] But to return from this digression. Sentences are Záhir—"Obvious," or Khafí—"Hidden." Obvious sentences are divided into four classes.

I. (1). Záhir, or obvious, the meaning of which is so clear that he who hears it at once understands its meaning [50]without seeking for any explanation. This kind of sentence may be abrogated. Unless abrogated, action in accordance with it is to be considered as the express command of God. All penal laws and the rules regulating the substitution of one religious act for another, e.g. almsgiving instead of fasting, must be based on this, the clearest of the obvious sentences.

(2). Nass, a word commonly used for a text of the Qurán, but in its technical meaning here expressing what is meant by a sentence, the meaning of which is made clear by some word which occurs in it. The following sentence illustrates both Záhir and Nass: "Take in marriage of such other women as please you, two, three, four." This sentence is Záhir, because marriage is here declared lawful; it is Nass, because the words "one, two, three, four," which occur in the sentence, show the unlawfulness of having more than four wives.

(3). Mufassir, or explained. This is a sentence which needs some word in it to explain it and make it clear. Thus: "And the angels prostrated themselves, all of them with one accord, save Iblis (Satan)." Here the words "save Iblis," show that he did not prostrate himself. This kind of sentence may be abrogated.

(4). Mukham, or perspicuous. This is a sentence as to the meaning of which there can be no doubt, and which cannot be controverted, thus: "God knoweth all things." This kind of sentence cannot be abrogated. To act on such sentences without departing from the literal sense is the highest degree of obedience to God's command.

The difference between these sentences is seen when there is a real or apparent contradiction between them. If such should occur, the first must give place to the second, and so on. Thus Mukham cannot be abrogated or changed by any of the preceding, or Mufassir by Nass, &c.

The other great division of sentences is that of

II. (1). Khafí or hidden. Such are those sentences in [51]which other persons or things are hidden beneath the plain meaning of a word or expression contained therein, as: "as for a thief, whether male or female, cut ye off their hands in recompense for their doings." (Súra v. 42). The word for thief is "Sáriq," and in this passage it is understood to include highwaymen, pickpockets, plunderers of the dead, &c. These meanings are Khafí or hidden under it.

(2). Muskhil, or ambiguous, The following is given as an illustration: "And (their attendants) shall go round about them with vessels of silver and goblets. The bottles shall be bottles of silver." The difficulty here is that bottles are not made of silver, but of glass. The commentators say, however, that glass is dull in colour, though it has some lustre, whilst silver is white, and not so bright as glass. Now it may be, that the bottles of Paradise will be like glass bottles as regards their lustre, and like silver as regards their colour. But anyhow, it is very difficult to ascertain the meaning.

(3.) Mujmal. These are, first, sentences which may have a variety of interpretations, owing to the words in them being capable of several meanings; in that case the meaning which is given to the sentence in the Traditions relating to it should be acted on and accepted. Secondly, the sentence may contain some very rare word, and thus its meaning may be doubtful, as: "Man truly is by creation hasty." (Súra lxx. 19.) In this verse the word "halú'"—hasty—occurs. It is very rarely used, and had it not been for the following words, "when evil toucheth him, he is full of complaint; but when good befalleth him, he becometh niggardly," its meaning would not have been at all easy to understand.

The following is an illustration of the first kind of Mujmal sentences: "Stand for prayer (salát) and give alms," (zakát.) Both salát and zakát are 'Mushtarik' words. The people, therefore, did not understand this verse, so they applied to Muhammad for an explanation. He explained to them that "salát" might mean the ritual of public prayer, [52]standing to say the words "God is great," or standing to repeat a few verses of the Qurán; or it might mean private prayer. The primitive meaning of "zakát" is growing. The Prophet, however, fixed the meaning here to that of "almsgiving," and said, "Give of your substance one-fortieth part."

(4.) Mutashábih. These are sentences so difficult that men cannot understand them, a fact referred to in Súra iii. 3. (Ante. p. 49), nor will they do so until the day of resurrection. The Prophet, however, knew their meaning. Such portions are the letters A, L, M; A, L, R; Y, A at the commencement of some of the Súras.[53] Such expressions also as "God's hand," "The face of God," "God sitteth," &c., come under this category.

The next point to be considered is the use of words in the Qurán, and here again the same symmetrical division into four classes is found, viz:—

(1.) Haqíqat, that is, words which are used in their literal meaning, as "rukú'," a prostration, and "salát" in the sense of prayer.

(2.) Majáz, or words which are used in a figurative sense, as "salát" in the sense of "námáz" a liturgical service.

(3.) Saríh, or words the meaning of which is quite evident, as, "Thou art divorced," "Thou art free."

(4.) Kinayáh, or words which, being used in a metaphorical sense, require the aid of the context to make their meaning clear, as: "Thou art separated," which may, as it [53]stands alone, mean "Thou art divorced." This class also includes all pronouns the meaning of which is only to be known from the context, e.g. one day the Prophet not knowing who knocked at his door said, "Who art thou?" The man replied, "It is I." Muhammad answered, "Why dost thou say I, I? Say thy name that I may know who thou art." The pronoun "I" is here 'kinayáh.'

The most important and most difficult branch of exegesis is "istidlál," or the science of deducing arguments from the Qurán. This too is divided into four sections, as follows:—

(1.) Ibárat, or the plain sentence. "Mothers, after they are divorced, shall give suck unto their children two full years, and the father shall be obliged to maintain them and clothe them according to that which is reasonable." (Súra ii. 233.) From this verse two deductions are made. First, from the fact that the word "them" is in the feminine plural, it must refer to the mothers and not to the children; secondly, as the duty of supporting the mother is incumbent on the father, it shows that the relationship of the child is closer with the father than with the mother. Penal laws may be based on a deduction of this kind.

(2.) Ishárat, that is, a sign or hint which may be given from the order in which the words are placed.

(3.) Dalálat, or the argument which may be deduced from the use of some special word in the verse, as: "say not to your parents, "Fie" (Arabic "uff") (Súra xvii. 23). From the use of the word "uff," it is argued that children may not beat or abuse their parents. Penal laws may be based on "dalálat," thus: "Their aim will be to abet disorder on the earth; but God loveth not the abettors of disorder." (Súra v. 69.) The word translated "aim" is in Arabic literally yasa'úna, "they run." From this the argument is deduced that as highwaymen wander about, they are included amongst those whom "God loveth not," and that, therefore, the severest punishment may be given to [54]them, for any deduction that comes under the head of "dalálat" is a sufficient basis for the formation of the severest penal laws.

(4.) Iqtizá. This is a deduction which demands certain conditions: "whosoever killeth a believer by mischance, shall be bound to free a believer from slavery." (Súra iv. 94). As a man has no authority to free his neighbour's slave, the condition here required, though not expressed, is that the slave should be his own property.

The Qurán is divided into:—

(1). Harf (plural Hurúf), letters. The numbers given by different authorities vary. In one standard book it is said that there are 338,606 letters.

(2). Kalima (plural Kalimát), words, stated by some to amount to 79,087; by others to 77,934.

(3). Áyat (plural Áyát), verses. Áyat really means a sign, and was the name given by Muhammad to short sections or verses of the Qurán. The end of a verse is determined by the position of a small circle circle with dot. The early Qurán Readers did not agree as to the position of these circles, and so five different ways of arranging them have arisen. This accounts for a variation in the number of verses in various editions. The varieties are:—

(1). Kúfa verses. The Readers in the city of Kúfa say that they followed the custom of 'Alí. Their way of reckoning is generally adopted in India. They reckon 6,239 verses.

(2). Basra verses. The Readers of Basra follow 'Asim bin Hajjáj, a Companion. They reckon 6,204.

(3). Shámi verses. The Readers in Syria (Shám) followed Abd-ulláh bin 'Umr, a Companion. They reckon 6,225 verses.

(4). Mecca verses. According to this arrangement there are 6,219 verses.

(5). Madína verses. This way of reading contains 6,211 verses.


In each of the above varieties the verse "Bismilláh" (in the name of God) is not reckoned. It occurs 113 times in the Qurán.

This diversity of punctuation does not generally affect the meaning of any important passage. The third verse of the third Súra is an important exception. The position of the circle circle with dot, the symbol denoting a full stop, in that verse is of the highest importance in connection with the rise of scholasticism ('Ilm-i-kalám) in Islám.

Most of the cases, however, are like the following:—

In Súra xxvii. an account is given of the Queen of Sheba's receiving a letter from King Solomon. Addressing her nobles she said: "Verily, Kings, when they enter a city (by force) waste the same, and abase the most powerful of the inhabitants hereof: and so will (these) do (with us)." Many Readers put the full stop after the word "hereof," and say that God is the speaker of the words "and so will they do."

(4). Súra, or chapter. The word Súra means a row or series, such as a line of bricks arranged in a wall, but it is now exclusively used for chapters in the Qurán. These are one hundred and fourteen in number. The Súras are not numbered in the original Arabic, but each one has some approximate name, (as Baqr—the cow, Nisá—women, &c.,) generally taken from some expression which occurs in it. They are not arranged in chronological order, but according to their length. As a general rule, the shorter Súras which contain the theology of Islám, belong to the Meccan period of the Prophet's career,[54] and the longer ones relating chiefly to social duties and relationships, to the organisation of Islám as a civil polity, to the time when he was consolidating his power at Madína. The best way, therefore, to [56]read the Qurán, is to begin at the end. The attempt to arrange the Súras in due order, is a very difficult one, and, after all, can only be approximately correct.[55] Carlyle referring to the confused mass of "endless iterations, long windedness, entanglement, most crude, incondite" says: "nothing but a sense of duty could carry any European through the Qurán." When re-arranged the book becomes more intelligible. The chief tests for such re-arrangement are the style and the matter. There is a very distinct difference in both of these respects between the earlier and later Súras. The references to historical events sometimes give a clue. Individual Súras are often very composite in their character, but, such as they are, they have been from the beginning. The recension made by Zeid, in the reign of the Khalíf Osmán, has been handed down unaltered in its form. The only variations (qirá'at) now to be found in the text have been already noticed. They in no way affect the arrangements of the Súras.

5. Sípára a thirtieth portion. This is a Persian word derived from , thirty, and pára, a portion. The Arabs call each of these divisions a Juz. Owing to this division, a pious man can recite the whole Qurán in a month, taking one Sípára each day. Musalmáns never quote the Qurán as we do by Súra and Áyat, but by the Sípára and Rukú', a term I now proceed to explain.

6. Rukú' (plural Rukúát). This word literally means a prostration made by a worshipper in the act of saying the prayers. The collection of verses recited from the Qurán, ascriptions of praise offered to God, and various ritual acts connected with these, constitute one act of worship called a "rak'at." After reciting some verses in this form of prayer, the worshipper makes a Rukú', or prostration, the [57]portion then recited takes the name of Rukú'. Tradition states that the Khalíf Osmán, when reciting the Qurán during the month of Ramazán, used to make twenty rak'ats each evening. In each rak'at he introduced different verses of the Qurán, beginning with the first chapter and going steadily on. In this way he recited about two hundred verses each evening; that is, about ten verses in each rak'at. Since then, it has been the custom to recite the Qurán in this way in Ramazán, and also to quote it by the rukú', e.g., "such a passage is in such a Sípára and in such a rukú'."

The following account of a rak'at will make the matter plain. When the Faithful are assembled in the mosque, the Imám, or leader, being in front facing the Qibla, the service commences thus:—Each worshipper stands and says the Niyyat (literally "intention"), a form of words declaring his intention to say his prayers. He then says: "God is great." After this, looking downwards, he says: "Holiness to Thee, O God! and praise be to Thee, Great is Thy name, Great is Thy greatness, there is no deity but Thee." Then follows: "I seek from God refuge from cursed Satan." Then the Tasmiyah is repeated: "In the name of God, the Compassionate and Merciful." Then follows the Fátiha, that is, the short chapter at the commencement of the Qurán. After this has been recited, the Imám proceeds, on the first night of the month Ramazán, with the first verse of the second chapter.[56] After saying a few verses, he makes a rukú'; that is, he bends his head and body down, and places his hands on his knees. In this position he says: "God is great." Then he repeats three times the words: "I extol the holiness of my Lord, the Great." He then stands up and says: "God hears him who praises Him." To this the people respond: "O Lord, thou art praised." Again, falling on his knees, the worshipper says: "God is great." Then he puts first his nose, and then his forehead on the [58]ground and says three times: "I extol the holiness of my Lord, the Most High." Then sitting on his heels, he says: "God is great;" and again repeats as before: "I extol, etc." He then rises and says: "God is great." This is one rak'at. On each night in the month of Ramazán this is gone through twenty times, the only variation being that after the Fátiha and before the first prostration, fresh verses of the Qurán are introduced. The whole is, of course, done in Arabic, in whatever country the worshippers may be. The name of the prostration (rukú') has been transferred to the portion of the Qurán recited just before it is made. There are altogether 557 Rukúát.

(7). The other divisions are not important. They are, a Sumn, Ruba', Nisf, Suls, that is one-eighth, one-fourth, one-half, one-third of a Sípára respectively.

In reciting the Qurán the worshipper must be careful to say the "Takbír," i.e. "God is great," after the several appointed places. Such a place is after the recital of the 93rd Súra. The custom arose in this way. The hypocrites came to the Prophet and asked him to relate the story of the "Seven Sleepers." He said: "I will tell you to-morrow;" but he forgot to add the words "if God will." By way of warning, God allowed no inspiration to descend upon him for some days. Then the hypocrites began to laugh and say: "God has left him." As it was not God's purpose to put his messenger to ridicule, the Súra entitled "The brightness" (xciii) was immediately brought by the ever-ready Gabriel. It begins: "By the brightness of the morning, and by the night when it groweth dark, thy Lord hath not forsaken thee, neither doth He hate thee." In remembrance of this signal interposition of Providence on his behalf, the Prophet always concluded the recital of this Súra with the words: "God is great." The practice thus became a "Sunnat" obligation; that is, it should be done because the Prophet did it.

The doctrine of abrogation is a very important one in [59]connection with the study of the Qurán. It is referred to in the verses: "Whatever verses we cancel or cause thee to forget, we give thee better in their stead, or the like thereof." (Súra ii. 100). This is a Madína Súra. "What He pleaseth will God abrogate or confirm; for with Him is the source of revelation." (Súra xiii. 39). Some verses which were cancelled in the Prophet's life-time are not now extant. Abdullah Ibn Masúd states that the Prophet one day recited a verse, which he immediately wrote down. The next morning he found it had vanished from the material on which it had been written. Astonished at this, he acquainted Muhammad with the fact, and was informed that the verse in question had been revoked. There are, however, many verses still in the Qurán, which have been abrogated. It was an exceedingly convenient doctrine, and one needed to explain the change of front which Muhammad made at different periods of his career. Certain rules have been laid down to regulate the practice. The verse which abrogates is called Núsikh, and the abrogated verse Mansúkh. Mansúkh verses are of three kinds:—first, where the words and the sense have both been abrogated; secondly, where the letter only is abrogated and the sense remains; thirdly, where the sense is abrogated though the letter remains. Imám Málik gives as an instance of the first kind the verse: "If a son of Adam had two rivers of gold, he would covet yet a third; and if he had three he would covet yet a fourth. Neither shall the belly of a son of Adam be filled, but with dust. God will turn unto him who shall repent." The Imám states that originally this verse was in the Súra (ix.) called Repentance. The verse, called the "verse of stoning" is an illustration of the second kind. It reads: "Abhor not your parents for this would be ingratitude in you. If a man and woman of reputation commit adultery, ye shall stone them both; it is a punishment ordained by God; for God is mighty and wise." The Khalíf Omar says this verse was extant in Muhammad's life-time but that it [60]is now lost. But it is the third class which practically comes into 'Ilm-i-usúl. Authorities differ as to the number of verses abrogated. Sale states that they have been estimated at two hundred and twenty-five. The principal ones are not many in number, and are very generally agreed upon. I give a few examples. It is a fact worthy of notice that they occur chiefly, if not almost entirely, in Súras delivered at Madína. There, where Muhammad had to confront Jews and Christians, he was at first politic in his aim to win them over to his side, and then, when he found them obstinate, the doctrine of abrogation came in conveniently. This is seen plainly in the following case. At Mecca Muhammad and his followers did not stand facing any particular direction when at prayer, a fact to which the following passage refers:—"To God belongeth the east and west; therefore, whithersoever ye turn yourselves to pray there is the face of God." (Súra ii. 109). When Muhammad arrived at Madína, he entered into friendship with the Jews and tried to win them to his side. The Qibla (sanctuary) towards which the worshippers now invariably turned at prayer was Jerusalem. This went on for a while, but when Muhammad claimed to be not merely a Prophet for the Arabs, but the last and the greatest of all the Prophets, when he asserted that Moses had foretold his advent, and that his revelations were the same as those contained in their own Scriptures, they utterly refused allegiance to him. In the first half of the second year of the Hijra the breach between them was complete. It was now time to reconcile the leaders of the Quraish tribe at Mecca. So the verse quoted above was abrogated by: "We have seen thee turning thy face towards heaven, but we will have thee turn to a Qibla, which shall please thee. Turn then thy face toward the Holy Temple (of Mecca), and wherever ye be, turn your faces toward that part." (Súra ii. 139.) The Faithful were consoled by the assurance that though they had not done so hitherto, yet God would not let their [61]faith be fruitless, "for unto man is God merciful, gracious." (v. 138.) The doctrine of abrogation is brought in for a more personal matter in the following case: "It is not permitted to thee to take other wives hereafter, nor to change thy present wives for other women, though their beauty charm thee, except slaves, whom thy right hand shall possess." (Súra xxxiii. 52.) This is said by Beidawi, and other eminent Muslim divines, to have been abrogated by a verse which though placed before it in the arrangement of verses, was really delivered after it. The verse is: "O Prophet, we allow thee thy wives whom thou hast dowered, and the slaves which thy right hand possesseth out of the booty which God hath granted thee; and the daughters of thy uncle, and the daughters of thy aunts, both on thy father's side, and on thy mother's side, who have fled with thee (to Madína), and any other believing woman, who hath given herself up to the Prophet; if the Prophet desireth to wed her, it is a peculiar privilege for thee, above the rest of the Faithful." (Súra xxxiii. 49.)

The Moghul Emperor Akbar, wishing to discredit the 'Ulamá, in one of the meetings so frequently held for discussion during his long reign, propounded the question as to how many free born women a man might marry. The lawyers answered that four was the number fixed by the Prophet. "Of other women who seem good in your eyes marry two and two, and three and three, and four and four." (Súra iv. 3.) The Emperor said that he had not restricted himself to that number, and that Shaikh 'Abd-un-Nabi had told him that a certain Mujtahid had had nine wives. The Mujtahid in question, Ibn Abi Lailah reckoned the number allowed thus 2+3+4=9. Other learned men counted in this way 2+2, 3+3, 4+4=18. The Emperor wished the meeting to decide the point.

Again, the second verse of Súra lxxiii reads: "Stand up all night, except a small portion of it, for prayer." According to a Tradition handed down by 'Áyesha the last verse [62]of this Súra was revealed a year later. It makes the matter much easier. "God measureth the night and the day; he knoweth that ye cannot count its hours aright, and therefore turneth to you mercifully. Recite then so much of the Qurán as may be easy to you." (v. 20.)

The following is an illustration of a verse abrogated, though there is no verse to prove its abrogation. However, according to the Ijmá' it has been abrogated. "But alms are only to be given to the poor and the needy and to those who collect them, and to those whose hearts are won to Islám." (Súra ix. 60.) The clause—"to those whose hearts are won to Islám"—is now cancelled.[57] Muhammad, to gain the hearts of those, who lately enemies, had now become friends, and to confirm them in the faith, gave them large presents from the spoils he took in war; but when Islám spread and became strong, the 'Ulamá agreed that such a procedure was not required and said that the order was "mansukh."

The other verses abrogated relate to the Ramazán fast, to Jihád, the law of retaliation, and other matters of social interest.

The doctrine of abrogation is now almost invariably applied by Musalmán controversialists to the Old and New Testaments, which they say are abrogated by the Qurán. "His (Muhammad's) law is the abrogator of every other law."[58] This is not, however, a legitimate use of the doctrine. According to the best and most ancient Muslim divines, abrogation refers entirely to the Qurán and the Traditions, and even then is confined to commands and prohibitions. "Those who imagine it to be part of the Muhammadan creed that one law has totally repealed another, are utterly mistaken—we hold no such doctrine."[59] In the Tafsír-i-Itifáq it is written: "Abrogation affects those [63]matters which God has confined to the followers of Muhammad, and one of the chief advantages of it is that the way is made easy." In the Tafsír-i-Mazhirí we find: "Abrogation refers only to commands and prohibitions, not to facts or historical statements."[60] Again, no verse of the Qurán, or a Tradition can be abrogated unless the abrogating verse is distinctly opposed to it in meaning. If it is a verse of the Qurán, we must have the authority of Muhammad himself for the abrogation; if a Tradition, that of a Companion. Thus "the word of a commentator or a Mujtahid is not sufficient unless there is a 'genuine Tradition' (Hadís-i-Sahíh), to show the matter clearly. The question of the abrogation of any previous command depends on historical facts with regard to the abrogation, not on the mere opinion of a commentator." It cannot be shown that either Muhammad or a Companion ever said that the Bible was abrogated. This rule, whilst it shows that the assertion of modern controversialists on this point is void of foundation, also illustrates another point to which I have often called attention, viz.; that in Islám all interpretation must be regulated by traditionalism.

Additions were occasionally made. Thus when it was revealed that those who stay at home were not before God as those who go forth to war, Abdullah and Ibn Um-Maktum said: 'and what if they were blind.' The Prophet asked for the shoulder-blade on which the verse was written. He then had a spasmodic convulsion. After his recovery he made Zeid add the words, "free from trouble." So now the whole verse reads thus: "Those believers who sit at home free from trouble (i.e., bodily infirmity), and those who do valiantly in the cause of God, with their substance and their persons, shall not be treated alike." (Súra iv. 97). Years after, Zeid said: "I fancy I see the words now on the shoulder-blade near a crack."


The question of the eternal nature of the Qurán does not properly come under the head of 'Ilm-i-usúl, but it is a dogma fondly cherished by many Muslims. In the days of the Khalíf Al-Mamun this question was fiercely debated. The Freethinkers, whilst believing in the Mission of Muhammad, asserted that the Qurán was created, by which statement they meant that the revelation came to him in a subjective mode, and that the language was his own. The book was thus brought within the reach of criticism. In the year 212, A.H. the Khalíf issued a decree to the effect that all who held the Qurán to be uncreated were to be declared guilty of heresy. But the Khalíf himself was a notorious rationalist, and so the orthodox, though they remained quiet, remained unconvinced. The arguments used on the orthodox side are, that both the words and their pronunciation are eternal, that the attempt to draw a distinction between the word as it exists in the Divine Mind and as it appears in the Qurán is highly dangerous. In vain do their opponents argue that, if the Qurán is uncreated, two Eternal Beings are in existence. To this it is answered: "This is the honourable Qurán, written in the preserved Tablet." (Súra lvi. 76). A Tradition is also adduced which states: "God wrote the Thora (Law) with His own hand, and with His own hand He created Adam; and also in the Qurán it is written, 'and We wrote for him upon the tables a monition concerning every matter,' in reference to the tables of the Law given to Moses." If God did this for former prophets and their works, how much more, it is argued, should he not have done it for the last and greatest of the prophets, and the noble Qurán? It is not easy to get a correct definition of the term "the uncreated Qurán," but it has been put thus: "The Word as it exists in the mind of God is 'Kalám-i-Nafsí' (spiritual word), something unwritten and eternal. It is acknowledged by the Ijmá'-i-Ummat (consent of the Faithful), the Traditions, and by other prophets that God [65]speaks. The Kalám-i-Nafsí then is eternal, but the actual words, style, and eloquence are created by God; so also is the arrangement and the miraculous nature of the book." This seems to be a reasonable account of the doctrine, though there are theologians who hold that the very words are eternal. The doctrine of abrogation clashes with this idea, but they meet the objection by their theory of absolute predestination. This accounts for the circumstances which necessitated the abrogation, for the circumstances, as well as the abrogated verses, were determined on from all eternity.

This concludes the consideration of the exegesis of the Qurán, a book difficult and uninteresting for a non-Muslim to read, but one which has engaged and is still engaging the earnest thoughts of many millions of the human race. Thousands of devout students in the great theological schools of Cairo, Stamboul, Central Asia and India are now plodding through this very subject of which I have here been treating; soon will they go forth as teachers of the book they so much revere. How utterly unfit that training is to make them wise men in any true sense of the word, how calculated to render them proud, conceited, and scornful of other creeds, its rigid and exclusive character shows. Still, it is a marvellous book; for twelve hundred years and more it has helped to mould the faith, animate the courage, cheer the despondency of multitudes, whether dwellers in the wild uplands of Central Asia, in Hindustan, or on the shores of the Mediterranean. The Turanian and the Aryan, the Arab and the Negro, alike learn its sonorous sentences, day by day repeat its opening clauses, and pray in its words as their fathers prayed before them.

Next to the act of testifying to the unity of God, the Qurán is the great bond of Islám. No matter from what race the convert may have come, no matter what language he may speak, he must learn in Arabic, and repeat by rote portions of the Qurán in every act of public worship.

The next subject for consideration is that of the [66]Traditions, or the second branch of the science of 'Ilm-i-usúl. The Traditions contain the record of all that Muhammad did and said. It is the belief of every Muslim, to whatever sect he belongs, that the Prophet not only spake but also acted under a divine influence. The mode of the inspiration is different from that of the Qurán. There the revelation was objective. In the Prophet's sayings recorded in the Traditions the inspiration is subjective, but still a true inspiration. This belief places the Traditions in a place second only to the Qurán; it makes them a true supplement to that book, and thus they not only throw light on its meaning, but themselves form the basis on which doctrines may be established. Without going so far as to say that every Tradition by itself is to be accepted as an authority in Islám, it may be distinctly asserted that there can be no true conception formed of that system if the Traditions are not studied and taken into account. So important a branch of Muslim theology is it, that the study of the Traditions is included in the 'Ilm-i-usúl, or science of exegesis. Some account of them, therefore, naturally forms part of this chapter.

The first four Khalífs were called the Khulafá-i-Ráshidín that is, those who could guide others aright. They had been friends and Companions of the Prophet, and the Faithful could always appeal to them in cases of doubt. The Prophet had declared that Islám must be written in the hearts of men. There was therefore an unwillingness to commit his sayings to writing. They were handed down by word of mouth. As no argument was so effectual in a dispute as "a saying" of the Prophet, the door was opened by which spurious Traditions could be palmed off on the Faithful. To prevent this, a number of strict rules were framed, at the head of which stands the Prophet's saying, itself a Tradition: "Convey to other persons none of my words except those which ye know of a surety. Verily, he who purposely represents my [67]words wrongly will find a place for himself nowhere but in fire." To enforce this rule, it was laid down that the relator of a Tradition must also repeat its "Isnád," or chain of authorities, as: "I heard from such an one, who heard from such an one," and so on, until the chain reaches the Prophet himself. Each person, too, in this "Isnád," must have been well known for his good character and retentive memory. This failed, however, to prevent a vast number of manifestly false Traditions becoming current; so men set themselves to the work of collecting and sifting the great mass of Tradition that in the second century of Islám had begun to work untold evil. These men are called "Muhadisín," or "collectors of Tradition." The Sunnís and the Wahhábís recognise six such men, and their collections are known as the "Sihah-Sittah," or six correct books. They are the following:—

(1). The Sahíh-i-Bukhárí, called after Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn-i-Ismá'íl, a native of Bukhárá. He was born A.H. 194. He was a man of middle height, spare in frame, and as a boy totally blind. The grief of his father was on this account intense; but one day in a dream he saw the Patriarch Abraham, who said to him: "God on account of thy grief and sorrow has granted sight to thy son." The sight being thus restored, at the age of ten he went to school, and began to learn the Traditions by heart. After his education was finished, a famous Muhadis named Dákhlí came to Bukhárá. One day the youthful Bukhárí ventured to correct the famous man. It was an astounding piece of audacity, but the youth was proved to be in the right. This set him on the work of collecting and sifting the Traditions. At the early age of sixteen he was able to remember fifteen thousand. In course of time he collected 600,000 Traditions. The result of his examination and selection was that he approved of seven thousand two hundred and seventy-five. These are now recorded in his great work, the Sahíh-i-Bukhárí. It [68]is said that he never sat down to examine a Tradition without first performing a legal ablution, and repeating two rak'at prayers. He then said: "O Lord, let me not make a mistake." For sixteen years he lived in a mosque and died much respected at the age of sixty-four.

(2). Sahíh-i-Muslim. Muslim Ibn-i-Hajjáj was born at Nishápúr, a city of Khorásán. He collected about 300,000 Traditions, from which he made his collection. He is said to have been a very just man, and willing to oblige all who sought his advice. In fact, this willingness to oblige was the indirect cause of his death. One day he was sitting as usual in the mosque when some people came to ask him about a Tradition. As he could not discover it in the books he had with him, he went to his house to search there. The people brought him a basket of dates. He went on eating and searching, but unfortunately he ate so many dates that he died. (A.H. 261.)

(3). Sunan-i-Abu Dáúd. Abu Dáúd Sajistání, a native of Seistán, was born A.H. 202. He was a great traveller, and went to all the chief places of Musalmán learning. In knowledge of the Traditions, in devotion, in piety, he was unrivalled. He collected about 500,000 Traditions, of which he selected four thousand eight hundred for his book.

(4). Jámí'-i-Tirmizí. Abu Isa' Muhammad Tirmizí was born at Tirmiz in the year A.H. 209. He was a disciple of Bukhárí. Ibn Khallikan says this work is "the production of a well-informed man: its exactness is proverbial."[61]

(5). Sunan-i-Nasáí. Abu Abd-ur-Rahman Nasáí was born at Nasá, in Khorásán, in the year A.H. 214, and died A.H. 303. It is recorded of him, with great approbation, that he fasted every other day, and had four wives and many slaves. This book is considered of great value. He met with his death in rather a sad way. He had compiled a book on the virtues of 'Alí, and as the people of [69]Damascus were at that time inclined to the heresy of the Khárigites, he wished to read his book in the mosque of that place. After he had read a little way, a man arose and asked him whether he knew aught of the praises of Muavia, 'Alí's deadly enemy. He replied that he did not. This answer enraged the people, who beat him so severely that he died soon after.

(6). Sunan-i-Ibn Májah. Ibn Májah[62] was born at 'Irak A.H. 209. This work contains 4,000 Traditions.

The Shía'hs reject these books and substitute five books[63] of their own instead. They are of a much later date, the last one, indeed, having been compiled more than four hundred years after the Hijra.

The belief which underlies the question of the authority of the Traditions is that before the Throne of God there stands a 'preserved Table,' on which all that can happen, and all that has ever entered, or will enter, the mind of man is 'noted in a distinct writing.' Through the medium of Gabriel, the Prophet had access to this. It follows then that the words of the Prophet are the words of God.

Of the four great "Canonical Legists" of Islám, Ahmad Ibn Hanbal was the greatest collector of Traditions. It is said that he knew by heart no less than one million. Of these he incorporated thirty thousand into his system of jurisprudence. That system is now almost obsolete. Abu Hanífa, who is said to have accepted only eighteen Traditions as authentic, founded a system which is to this day the most powerful in Islám. The Hanifites, however, as well as other Muslims, acknowledge the six standard collections of Traditions as direct revelations of the will of [70]God. They range over a vast number of subjects, and furnish a commentary on the Qurán. The Prophet's personal appearance, his mental and moral qualities, his actions, his opinions, are all recorded over and over again. Many questions of religious belief are largely founded on the Traditions, and it is to them we must go for an explanation of much of the ritual of Islám. It is very difficult for any one, who has not lived in long and friendly intercourse with Muslims, to realize how much their religious life and opinions, their thought and actions, are based on the Traditions.

Having thus shown the importance of the Traditions, I now proceed to enter a little into detail on the question of the rules framed concerning them. The classification adopted by different authors may vary in some subordinate points; but the following account is adopted from a standard Muhammadan work. A Tradition may be Hadís-i-Qualí, that is, an account of something the Prophet said; or Hadís-i-Fa'lí, a record of something which he did; or Hadís-i-Taqrírí, a statement of some act performed by other persons in his presence, and which action he did not forbid.

The Traditions may be classed under two general heads:—

First.—Hadís-i-Mutawátír, that is, "an undoubted Tradition," the Isnád, or chain of narrators of which is perfect, and in which chain each narrator possessed all the necessary qualifications for his office.[64] Some authorities say there are only a few of these Traditions extant, but most allow that the following is one: "There are no good works except with intention," for example, a man may fast, but, unless he has the intention of fasting firmly in his mind, he gains no spiritual reward by so doing.

Second.—Hadís-i-Ahád. The authority of this class is [71]theoretically somewhat less than that of the first, but practically it is the same.

This class is again sub-divided into two:—

(1). Hadís-i-Sahíh, or a genuine Tradition. It is not necessary to go into the sub-divisions of this sub-division. A Tradition is Sahíh if the narrators have been men of pious lives, abstemious in their habits, endowed with a good memory, free from blemish, and persons who lived at peace with their neighbours. The following also are Sahíh, though their importance as authorities varies. I arrange them in the order of their value. Sahíh Traditions are those which are found in the collections made by Bukhárí and Muslim, or in the collection of either of the above, though not in both; or, if not mentioned by either of these famous collectors, if it has been retained in accordance with their canons for the rejection or retention of Traditions; or lastly, if retained in accordance with the rules of any other approved collector. For each of these classes there is a distinct name.

(2). Hadís-i-Hasan. The narrators of this class are not of such good authority as those of the former with regard to one or two qualities; but these Traditions should be received as of equal authority as regards any practical use.[65] It is merely as a matter of classification that they rank second.

In addition to these names, there are a number of other technical terms which have regard to the personal character of the narrators, the Isnád, and other points. A few may be mentioned.

(1). Hadís-i-Z'aíf, or a weak Tradition. The narrators of it have been persons whose characters were not above reproach, whose memories were bad, or who, worse still, were addicted to "bid'at," innovation, a habit now, as then, a crime in the eyes of all true Muslims. All agree that a [72]"weak Tradition" has little force; but few rival theologians agree as to which are, and which are not, "weak Traditions."

(2). Hadís-i-Mua'llaq, or a Tradition in the Isnád of which there is some break. If it begins with a Tábi' (one in the generation after that of the Companions), it is called "Mursal" the one link in the chain, the Companion, being wanting. If the first link in the chain of narrators begins in a generation still later, it has another name, and so on.

(3). Traditions which have various names, according as the narrator concealed the name of his Imám, or where different narrators disagree, or where the narrator has mixed some of his own words with the Tradition, or has been proved to be a liar, an evil liver, or mistaken; but into an account of these it is not necessary to enter, for no Tradition of this class would be considered as of itself sufficient ground on which to base any important doctrine.[66]

It is the universally accepted rule, that no authentic Tradition can be contrary to the Qurán. The importance attached to Tradition has been shown in the preceding chapter, an importance which has demanded the formation of an elaborate system of exegesis. To an orthodox Muslim the Book and the Sunnat, God's word direct and God's word through the mind of the Prophet, are the foundation and sum of Islám, a fact not always taken into account by modern panegyrists of the system.




It is a commonly received but nevertheless an erroneous opinion, that the Muhammadan religion is one remarkable for the absence of dogma and the unanimity of its professors. In this chapter I propose to show how the great sects differ in some very important principles of the faith, and their consequent divergence in practice. There is much that is common ground to all, and of that some account was given in the first chapter on the "Foundations of Islám."

It was there shown that all Muslim sects are not agreed as to the essential foundations of the Faith. The Sunnís recognise four foundations, the Wahhábís two; whilst the Shía'hs reject altogether the Traditions held sacred by both Sunní and Wahhábí. The next chapter will contain a full account of the doctrines held by the Sunnís, and so no account of this, the orthodox sect, is given in this chapter.

The first breach in Islám arose out of a civil war. The story has been so often told that it need not be reproduced here at any length. 'Alí, the son-in-law of Muhammad, was the fourth Khalíf of Islám. He is described as "the last and worthiest of the primitive Musalmáns who imbibed his religious enthusiasm from companionship with the Prophet himself, and who followed to the last the simplicity of his character." He was a man calculated by his earnest devotion to the Prophet and his own natural graces to win, as he has done, the admiration of succeeding generations. A strong opposition, however, arose, and 'Alí was assassinated in a mosque at Kúfa. It is not easy, amid the conflicting statements of historians of the rival sects, to arrive at the truth in all the details of the events which happened then; [74]but the generally received opinion is, that after the assassination of 'Alí, Hasan, his son, renounced his claim to the Khalifate in favour of his father's rival, Muavia. Hasan was ultimately poisoned by his wife, who, it is said, was instigated by Muavia to do the deed, in order to leave the coast clear for his son Yezíd. The most tragic event has yet to come. Yezíd, who succeeded his father, was a very licentious and irreligious man. The people of Kúfa, being disgusted at his conduct, sent messengers to Husain, the remaining son of 'Alí, with the request that he would assume the Khalifate. In vain the friends of Husain tried to persuade him to let the people of Kúfa first revolt, and thus show the reality of their wishes by their deeds. In an evil hour Husain started with a small band of forty horsemen and one hundred foot-soldiers. On the plain of Karbalá he found his way barred by a force of three thousand men. "We are few in number," said Husain, "and the enemy is in force. I am resolved to die. But you—I release you from your oath of allegiance; let all those who wish to do so leave me." "O Son of the Apostle of God!" was the reply, "what excuse could we give to thy grandfather on the day of resurrection did we abandon thee to the hands of thine enemies?" One by one these brave men fell beneath the swords of the enemy, until Husain and his infant son alone were left. Weary and thirsty, Husain sat upon the ground. The enemy drew near, but no one dared to kill the grandson of the Prophet. An arrow pierced the ear of the little boy and he died. "We came from God, and we return to him," were the pathetic words of Husain, as with a sorrowful heart he laid the dead body of his son on the sand. He then stooped down to drink some water from the river Euphrates. Seeing him thus stooping, the enemy discharged a flight of arrows, one of which wounded him in the mouth. He fought bravely for a while, but at last fell covered with many wounds. The schism between the Sunní and the Shía'h was now complete. [75]

The ceremonies celebrated during the annual fast of Muharram refer to these historical facts, and help to keep alive a bitter feud; but to suppose that the only difference between the Shía'h and the Sunní is a mere dispute as to the proper order of the early Khalífs would be a mistake. Starting off with a political quarrel, the Shía'hs have travelled into a very distinct religious position of their own. The fundamental tenet of the Shía'h sect is the "divine right" of 'Alí the Chosen and his descendants. From this it follows that the chief duty of religion consists in devotion to the Imám (or Pontiff); from which position some curious dogmas issue. The whole question of the Imámat is a very important one. The word Imám comes from an Arabic word meaning to aim at, to follow after. The term Imám then becomes equal to the word leader or exemplar. It is applied in this sense to Muhammad as the leader in all civil and religious questions, and to the Khalífs, his successors. It is also, in its religious import only, applied to the founders of the four orthodox schools of jurisprudence, and in a restricted sense to the leader of a congregation at prayer in a mosque. It is with the first of these meanings that we have now to deal. It is so used in the Qurán—"When his Lord made trial of Abraham by commands which he fulfilled, He said: 'I am about to make of thee an Imám to mankind;' he said: 'Of my offspring also?' 'My covenant,' said God, 'embraceth not the evil-doers.'" (Súra ii. 118.) From this verse two doctrines are deduced. First, that the Imám must be appointed by God, for if this is not the case, why did Abraham say "of my offspring also?" Secondly, the Imám is free from sin, for God said: "My covenant embraceth not the evil-doer."

The first dispute about the Imámat originated with the twelve thousand who revolted from 'Alí after the battle of Siffin (657 A.D.), because he consented to submit to arbitration the dispute between himself and Muavia. Some years after they were nearly all destroyed by 'Alí. A few [76]survivors, however, fled to various parts. Two at last settled in Omán, and there preached their distinctive doctrines. In course of time the people of Omán adopted the doctrine that the Imámat was not hereditary but elective, and that in the event of misconduct the Imám might be deposed. 'Abdullah-ibn-Ibádh (744 A.D.) was a vigorous preacher of this doctrine, and from him the sect known as the 'Ibádhiyah takes its rise. The result of this teaching was the establishment of the power and jurisdiction of the Imám of Omán. The 'Ibádhiyah seem to have always kept themselves independent of the Sunní Khalífs of Baghdád, and, therefore, would consider themselves free from any obligation to obey the Sultán of Turkey. From the ordinary Shía'hs they differ as regards the "divine right" of 'Alí and his children. The curious in such matters will find the whole subject well treated in Dr. Badger's "Seyyids of Omán."

The term Khárigite (Separatist) has since become the generic name for a group of sects which agree as to the need of an Imám, though they differ as to the details of the dogma. In opposition to this heresy of the Khárigite stands what may be termed the orthodox doctrine of the Shía'h. The Shía'hs hold that the Imámat must continue in the family of 'Alí, and that religion consists mainly in devotion to the Imám. The tragic end of 'Alí and his sons invested them with peculiar interest. When grieving for the sad end of their leaders, the Shí'ahs found consolation in the doctrine which soon found development, viz., that it was God's will that the Imámat should continue in the family of 'Alí. Thus a tradition relates that the Prophet said: "He of whom I am master has 'Alí also for a master." "The best judge among you is 'Alí." Ibn Abbás, a Companion says: "I heard the Prophet say: 'He who blasphemes my name blasphemes the name of God; he who blasphemes the name of 'Alí blasphemes my name.'" A popular Persian hymn shows to what an extent this feeling deepened. [77]

"Mysterious being! none can tell

The attributes in thee that dwell;

None can thine essence comprehend;

To thee should every mortal bend—

For 'tis by thee that man is given

To know the high behests of heaven."

The general idea is, that long before the creation of the world, God took a ray of light from the splendour of His own glory and united it to the body of Muhammad, to which He said: "Thou art the elect, the chosen, I will make the members of thy family the guides to salvation." Muhammad said: "The first thing which God created was my light, and my spirit."[67] The body of the Prophet was then in some mysterious way hidden. In due time the world was created, but not until the birth of Muhammad did this ray of glory appear. It is well known to all Musalmáns as the "Núr-i-Muhammadí"—light of Muhammad.

This "Núr" is said to be of four kinds. From the first kind God created His Throne, from the second the Pen of Fate, from the third Paradise, and from the fourth the state, or place of Spirits and all created beings. According to a statement made by 'Alí, Muhammad said that he was created from the light of God, whilst all other created beings were formed from the "light of Muhammad."[68]

This "light" descended to 'Alí, and from him passed on to the true Imáms, who alone are the lawful successors of the Prophet. Rebellion against them is sin; devotion to them the very essence of religion.

The doctrine of the Imámat has given rise to endless discussion and dissension, as the numerous sub-divisions of the Shía'h sect will show. They are said to be thirty-two in number. The Shía'h proper is the largest and most influential of them. The following are the Shí'ah tenets regarding the Imám, based on one of their standard books of [78]divinity.[69] The Imám is the successor of the Prophet, adorned with all the qualities which he possessed. He is wiser than the most learned men of the age, holier than the most pious. He is the noblest of the sons of men and is free from all sin original or actual: hence the Imám is called ma'sum (innocent.)[70] God rules the world by wisdom, hence the sending forth of prophets was a necessity; but it was equally necessary to establish the Imámat. Thus the Imám is equal to a prophet. 'Alí said: "In me is the glory of every prophet that has ever been." The authority of the Imám is the authority of God, for (I quote the Hyát-un-Nafís) "his word is the word of God and of the Prophet, and obedience to his order is incumbent." The nature of the Imám is identical with the nature of Muhammad, for did not 'Alí say: "I am Muhammad, and Muhammad is me." This probably refers to the possession by the Imám of the "light of Muhammad." The bodies of the Imáms are so pure and delicate that they cast no shadow.[71] They [79]are the beginning and the end of all things. To know the Imáms is the very essence of the knowledge which men can gain of God. "The Holy God calls the Imáms His word, His hands, His signs, His secret. Their commands and prohibitions, their actions too, He recognises as His own." As mediums between God and man they hold a far higher position than the prophets, for "the grace of God, without their intervention, reaches to no created being." These extravagant claims for the Imáms culminate in the assertion that "for them a pillar of light has been fixed between the earth and heaven, by which the actions of the Faithful are made known to them." The Imám is the supreme Pontiff, the Vicar of God on earth. The possession of an infallible book is not sufficient. The infallible guide is needed. Such wisdom and discernment as such a guide would require can only be found amongst the descendants of the Prophet. It is no longer, then, a matter of wonder, that in some cases, almost, if not entirely, divine honour is paid to 'Alí and his descendants.[72]

The Usúl, or fundamental tenets of the Shía'h sect are five in number. (1) To believe in the unity of God, (2) To admit that He is just, (3) To believe in the divine mission of all the prophets, and that Muhammad is the chief of all, (4) To consider 'Alí the Khalíf next in order after Muhammad, (5) To believe 'Alí's descendants from Hasan to Mahdí, the twelfth Imám, to be his true successors, and to consider all of them in character, position and dignity as raised far above all other Muslims. This is the doctrine of the Imámat.


The first principal divisions of the Shía'h sect are the Ismá'ílians and the Imámites. The latter believe in twelve Imáms, reckoning 'Alí as the first.[73] The last of the twelve Abu'l-Qásim, is supposed to be alive still, though hidden in some secret place. He bears the name of Al-Mahdí, "the guided." It is expected that he will reappear at the second advent of Christ. They say that he was born near Baghdád in the year 258 A.H. He afterwards mysteriously disappeared. When he was born the words, "Say: 'truth is come and falsehood is vanished: Verily falsehood is a thing that vanisheth,'" (Súra xvii. 83) were found written on his right arm. When he came into the world, he pointed with his fingers to heaven, sneezed, and said: 'Praise be to God, the Lord of the world.' A person one day visited Imám Hasan 'Askarí (the eleventh Imám) and said: 'O son of the Prophet who will be Khalíf and Imám after thee?' He brought out a child and said: 'if thou hadst not found favour in the eyes of God, He would not have shown thee this child; his name is that of the Prophet, and so is his patronymic,' (Abu 'l-Qásim). The sect who believe Mahdí to be alive at present, say that he rules over cities in the far west, and he is even said to have children. God alone knows the truth.[74]

The other large division, the Ismá'ílians, agree with the Imámites in all particulars save one. They hold that after Sádiq, the sixth Imám, commenced what is called the succession of the "concealed Imáms." They believe that there never can be a time when there shall be no Imám, but that he is now in seclusion. This idea has given rise to all sorts of secret societies, and has paved the way for a mystical religion, which often lands its votaries in atheism.[75] [81]

The Ghair-i-Mahdí (literally "without Mahdí") are a small sect who believe that Al-Mahdí will not reappear. They say that one Syed Muhammad of Jeypore was the real Mahdí, the twelfth Imám, and that he has now gone never more to return. They venerate him as highly as they do the Prophet, and consider all other Musalmáns to be unbelievers. On the night called Lailat-ul-Qadr, in the month of Ramazán, they meet and repeat two rak'at prayers. After that act of devotion is over, they say: "God is Almighty, Muhammad is our Prophet, the Qurán and Mahdí are just and true. Imám Mahdí is come and gone. Whosoever disbelieves this is an infidel." They are a very fanatical sect.

There is another small community of Ghair-i-Mahdís called the Dá,irí, settled in the province of Mysore, who hold peculiar views on this point. About four hundred years ago, a man named Syed Ahmad collected some followers in the dominions of the Nizám of Hyderabad. He called himself the Imám Mahdí, and said that he was superior to any prophet. He and his disciples, being bitterly persecuted by the orthodox Musalmáns, fled to a village in the adjoining district of Mysore where their descendants, fifteen hundred in number, now reside. It is said that they do not intermarry with other Musalmáns. The usual Friday service in the mosque is ended by the leader saying: "Imám Mahdí came and went away," to which the people respond: "He who does not believe this is a Káfir" (infidel).

There are several Traditions which refer to the latter days. "When of time one day shall be left, God shall raise up a man from among my descendants, who shall fill the world with justice, just as before him the world was full of oppression." And again: "The world shall not come to an end till the king of the earth shall appear, who is a man of my family, and whose name is the same as mine." When Islám entered upon the tenth century of its existence, there was throughout Persia and India a millenarian movement. Men [82]declared that the end was drawing near, and various persons arose who claimed to be Al-Mahdí. I have already mentioned two. Amongst others was Shaikh 'Aláí of Agra. (956 A.H.) Shaikh Mubarak, the father of Abu'l-Fazl—the Emperor Akbar's famous vizier, was a disciple of Shaikh 'Aláí and from him imbibed Mahdaví ideas. This brought upon him the wrath of the 'Ulamá who, however, were finally overcome by the free-thinking and heretical Emperor and his vizier. There never was a better ruler in India than Akbar, and never a more heretical one as far as orthodox Islám is concerned. The Emperor delighted in the controversies of the age. The Súfís and Mahdavís were in favour at Court. The orthodox 'Ulamá were treated with contempt. Akbar fully believed that the millennium had come. He started a new era, and a new religion called the 'Divine Faith.' There was toleration for all except the bigoted orthodox Muslims. Abu'l-Fazl and others like him, who professed to reflect Akbar's religious views, held that all religions contained truth. Thus:—

"O God, in every temple I see people that seek Thee, and in every language I hear spoken, people praise Thee!

Polytheism and Islam feel after Thee,

Each religion says, 'Thou art one, without equal.'

If it be a mosque, people murmur the holy prayer, and if it be a Christian Church, people ring the bell from love to Thee,

Sometimes I frequent the Christian cloister, and sometimes the mosque,

But it is Thou whom I search from temple to temple."

In this reign one Mír Sharíf was promoted to the rank of a Commander of a thousand, and to an appointment in Bengal. His chief merit in Akbar's eyes was that he taught the doctrine of the transmigration of souls and the close advent of the millennium. He was a disciple of Mahmúd of Busakhwán, the founder of the Nuqtawiah sect. As this is another offshoot of the Shía'hs I give a brief account of them here. Mahmúd lived in the reign of Timur and [83]professed to be Al-Mahdí. He also called himself the Shakhs-i-Wáhíd—the Individual one. He used to quote the verse, "It may be that thy Lord will raise thee up to a glorious (mahmúd) station." (Súra xvii. 81). From this he argued that the body of man had been advancing in purity since the creation, and that on its reaching to a certain degree, one Mahmúd (glorious) would arise, and that then the dispensation of Muhammad would come to an end. He claimed to be the Mahmúd. He also taught the doctrine of transmigration, and that the beginning of everything was the Nuqtah-i-khák—earth atom. It is on this account that they are called the Nuqtawiah sect. They are also known by the names Mahmúdiah and Wáhídiah. Shah 'Abbás king of Persia expelled them from his dominions, but Akbar received the fugitives kindly and promoted some amongst them to high offices of State.

This Mahdaví movement, arising as it did out of the Shía'h doctrine of the Imámat, is a very striking fact. That imposters should arise and claim the name and office of Al-Mahdí is not to be wondered at, but that large bodies of men should follow them shows the unrest which dwelt in men's hearts, and how they longed for a personal leader and guide.

The whole of the Shía'h doctrine on this point seems to show that there is in the human heart a natural desire for some Mediator—some Word of the Father, who shall reveal Him to His children. At first sight it would seem, as if the doctrine of the Imámat might to some extent reconcile the thoughtful Shía'h to the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation and Mediation of Jesus Christ, to His office as the perfect revealer of God's will; and as our Guide in life; but alas! it is not so. The mystic lore connected with Shía'h doctrine has sapped the foundation of moral life and vigour. A system of religious reservation, too, is a fundamental part of the system in its mystical developments, whilst all Shía'hs may lawfully practise "takía," or religious [84]compromise in their daily lives. It thus becomes impossible to place dependence on what a Shía'h may profess, as pious frauds are legalised by his system of religion. If he becomes a mystic, he looks upon the ceremonial and the moral law as restrictions imposed by an Almighty Power. The omission of the one is a sin almost, if not quite, as bad as a breach, of the other. The advent of Mahdí is the good time when all such restrictions shall be removed, when the utmost freedom shall be allowed. Thus the moral sense, in many cases, becomes deadened to an extent such as those who are not in daily contact with these people can hardly credit. The practice of "takía," religious compromise, and the legality of "muta'h" or temporary marriages, have done much to demoralise the Shía'h community. The following words of a recent author descriptive of the Shía'h system are in the main true, though they do not apply to each individual in that system:—

"There can be no stronger testimony of the corrupting power and the hard and hopeless bondage of the orthodox creed, than that men should escape from it into a system which established falsehood as the supreme law of conduct, and regarded the reduction of men to the level of swine as the goal of human existence."[76]

The Mutazilites, or Seceders, were once an influential body. They do not exist as a separate sect now. An account of them will be given in the next chapter.

In the doctrine of the Imámat, common to all the offshoots of the Shía'h sect, is to be found the chief point of difference between the Sunní and the Shía'h, a difference so great that there is no danger of even a political union between these two great branches of Islám. I have already described, too, how the Shía'hs reject the Sunnat, though they do not reject Tradition. A good deal of ill-blood is still kept up by the recollection—a recollection kept alive by the annual recurrence of the Muharram fast—of the sad [85]fate of 'Alí and his sons. The Sunnís are blamed for the work of their ancestors in the faith, whilst the Khalífs Abu Bakr, Omar, and Osmán are looked upon as usurpers. Not to them was committed the wonderful ray of light. In the possession of that alone can any one make good a claim to be the Imám, the Guide of the Believers. The terrible disorders of the early days of Islám can only be understood when we realise to some extent the passionate longing which men felt for a spiritual head—an Imám. It was thought to be impossible that Muhammad, the last—the seal—of the prophets should leave the Faithful without a guide, who would be the interpreter of the will of Allah.

We here make a slight digression to show that this feeling extends beyond the Shía'h sect, and is of some importance in its bearing upon the Eastern Question. Apart from the superhuman claims for the Imám, what he is as a ruler to the Shía'h, the Khalíf is to the Sunní—the supreme head in Church and State, the successor of the Prophet, the Conservator of Islám as made known in the Qurán, the Sunnat and the Ijmá' of the early Mujtahidín. To administer the laws, the administrator must have a divine sanction. Thus when the Ottoman ruler, Selim the First, conquered Egypt, (A.D. 1516) he sought and obtained, from an old descendant of the Baghdád Khalífs, the transfer of the title to himself, and in this way the Sultáns of Turkey became the Khalífs of Islám. Whether Mutawakal Billál, the last titular Khalíf of the house of 'Abbás, was right or wrong in thus transferring the title is not my purpose now to discuss. I only adduce the fact to show how it illustrates the feeling of the need of a Pontiff—a divinely appointed Ruler. Strictly speaking, according to Muhammadan law, the Sultáns are not Khalífs, for it is clearly laid down in the Traditions that the Khalíf (or the Imám) must be of the tribe of the Quraish, to which the Prophet himself belonged.

Ibn-i-Umr relates that the Prophet said:—"The Khalífs shall be in the Quraish tribe as long as there are two [86]persons in it, one to rule and another to serve."[77] "It is a necessary condition that the Khalíf should be of the Quraish tribe."[78] Such quotations might be multiplied, and they tend to show that it is not at all incumbent on orthodox Sunnís, other than the Turks, to rush to the rescue of the Sultán, whilst to the Shía'hs he is little better than a heretic. Certainly they would never look upon him as an Imám, which personage is to them in the place of a Khalíf. In countries not under Turkish rule, the Khutbah, or prayer for the ruler, said on Fridays in the mosques, is said for the "ruler of the age," or for the Amír, or whatever happens to be the title of the head of the State. Of late years it has become more common in India to say it for the Sultán. This is not, strictly speaking, according to Muhammadan law, which declares that the Khutbah can only be said with the permission of the ruler, and as in India that ruler is the British Government, the prayers should be said for the Queen. Evidently the law never contemplated large bodies of Musalmáns residing anywhere but where the influence of the Khalíf extended.

In thus casting doubt on the legality of the claim made by Turkish Sultáns to the Khalifate of Islám, I do not deny that the Law of Islám requires that there should be a Khalíf. Unfortunately for Islám, there is nothing in its history parallel to the conflict of Pope and Emperor, of Church and State. "The action and re-action of these powerful and partially independent forces, their resistance to each other, and their ministry to each other, have been of incalculable value to the higher activity and life of Christendom." In Islám the Khalíf is both Pope and Emperor. Ibn Khaldoun states that the difference between the Khalíf and any other ruler is that the former rules according to divine, the latter according to human law. The Prophet in transmitting his sacred authority to the Khalífs, his successors, conveyed to [87]them absolute powers. Khalífs can be assassinated, murdered, banished, but so long as they reign anything like constitutional liberty is impossible. It is a fatal mistake in European politics and an evil for Turkey to recognize the Sultán as the Khalíf of Islám, for, if he be such, Turkey can never take any step forward to newness of political life.[79]

This, however, is a digression from the subject of this chapter.

There has been from the earliest ages of Islám a movement which exists to this day. It is a kind of mysticism, known as Súfíism. It has been especially prevalent among the Persians. It is a re-action from the burden of a rigid law, and a wearisome ritual. It has now existed for a thousand years, and if it has the element of progress in it, if it is the salt of Islám some fruit should now be seen. But what is Súfíism? The term Súfí is most probably derived from the Arabic word Súf, "wool," of which material the garments worn by Eastern ascetics used to be generally made. Some persons, however, derive it from the Persian, Súf, "pure," or the Greek σοφια, "wisdom." Tasawwuf, or Súfíism, is the abstract form of the word, and is, according to Sir W. Jones, and other learned orientalists, a figurative mode, borrowed mainly from the Indian philosophers of the Vedanta school, of expressing the fervour of devotion. The chief idea is that the souls of men differ in degree, but not [88]in kind, from the Divine Spirit, of which they are emanations, and to which they will ultimately return. The Spirit of God is in all He has made, and it in Him. He alone is perfect love, beauty, etc.—hence love to him is the only real thing; all else is illusion. Sa'dí says: "I swear by the truth of God, that when He showed me His glory all else was illusion." This present life is one of separation from the beloved. The beauties of nature, music, and art revive in men the divine idea, and recall their affections from wandering from Him to other objects. These sublime affections men must cherish, and by abstraction concentrate their thoughts on God, and so approximate to His essence, and finally reach the highest stage of bliss—absorption into the Eternal. The true end and object of human life is to lose all consciousness of individual existence—to sink "in the ocean of Divine Life, as a breaking bubble is merged into the stream on the surface of which it has for a moment risen."[80]

Súfís, who all accept Islám as a divinely established religion, suppose that long before the creation of the world a contract was made by the Supreme Soul with the assembled world of spirits, who are parts of it. Each spirit was addressed separately, thus: "Art thou not with thy Lord?" that is, bound to him by a solemn contract. To this they all answered with one voice, "Yes."

Another account says that the seed of theosophy (m'arifat) was placed in the ground in the time of Adam; that the plant [89]came forth in the days of Noah, was in flower when Abraham was alive and produced fruit before Moses passed away. The grapes of this noble plant were ripe in the time of Jesus, but it was not till the age of Muhammad that pure wine was made from them. Then those intoxicated with it, having attained to the highest degree of the knowledge of God, could forget their own personality and say:—"Praise to me, is there any greater than myself? I am the Truth."

The following verse of the Qurán is quoted by Súfís in support of their favourite dogma—the attaining to the knowledge of God: "When God said to the angels, 'I am about to place a viceregent on the earth,' they said: 'Wilt Thou place therein one who shall commit abomination and shed blood? Nay; we celebrate Thy praise and holiness.' God answered them, 'Verily I know that ye wot not of.'" (Súra ii. 28.) It is said that this verse proves that, though the great mass of mankind would commit abomination, some would receive the divine light and attain to a knowledge of God. A Tradition states that David said: "'Oh Lord! why hast Thou created mankind?' God replied, 'I am a hidden treasure, and I would fain become known.'" The business of the mystic is to find this treasure, to attain to the Divine light and the true knowledge of God.

The earlier Muhammadan mystics sought to impart life to a rigid and formal ritual, and though the seeds of Pantheism were planted in their system from the first, they maintained that they were orthodox. "Our system of doctrine," says Al-Junaid, "is firmly bound up with the dogmas of the faith, the Qurán and the Traditions." There was a moral earnestness about many of these men which frequently restrained the arm of unrighteous power, and their sayings, often full of beauty, show that they had the power of appreciating the spiritual side of life. Some of these sentences are worthy of any age. "As neither meat nor drink," says one, "profit the diseased body, so no warning avails [90]to touch the heart full of the love of this world." "The work of a holy man doth not consist in this, that he eats grain, and clothes himself in wool, but in the knowledge of God and submission to His will." "Thou deservest not the name of a learned man till thy heart is emptied of the love of this world." "Hide thy good deeds as closely as thou wouldst hide thy sins." A famous mystic was brought into the presence of the Khalíf Hárún-ur-Rashíd who said to him: "How great is thy abnegation?" He replied, "Thine is greater." "How so?" said the Khalíf. "Because I make abnegation of this world, and thou makest abnegation of the next." The same man also said: "The display of devotional works to please men is hypocrisy, and acts of devotion done to please men are acts of polytheism."

But towards the close of the second century of the Hijra, this earlier mysticism developed into Súfíism. Then Al-Halláj taught in Baghdád thus: "I am the Truth. There is nought in Paradise but God. I am He whom I love, and He whom I love is I; we are two souls dwelling in one body. When thou seest me, thou seest Him; and when thou seest Him thou seest me." This roused the opposition of the orthodox divines by whom Al-Halláj was condemned to be worthy of death. He was then by order of the Khalíf flogged, tortured and finally beheaded. Thus died one of the early martyrs of Súfíism, but it grew in spite of bitter persecution.

In order to understand the esoteric teaching of Súfíistic poetry, it is necessary to remember that the perceptive sense is the traveller, the knowledge of God the goal, the doctrines of this ascent, or upward progress is the Tarikat, or the road. The extinction of self is necessary before any progress can be made on that road. A Súfí poet writes:—

"Plant one foot upon the neck of self,

The other in thy Friend's domain;

In everything His presence see,

For other vision is in vain."


Sa'dí in the Bustán says: "Art thou a friend of God? Speak not of self, for to speak of God and of self is infidelity." Shaikh Abu'l-Faiz, a great poet and a friend of the Emperor Akbar, from whom he received the honourable title of Málik-ush-Shu'ará—Master of the Poets, says: "Those who have not closed the door on existence and non-existence reap no advantage from the calm of this world and of the world to come." Khusrau, another well-known poet says:—

"I have become Thou: Thou art become I,

I am the body, Thou the soul;

Let no one henceforth say

That I am distinct from Thee, and Thou from me."

The fact is, that Persian poetry is almost entirely Súfíistic. It is difficult for the uninitiated to arrive at the esoteric meaning of these writings. Kitmán, or the art of hiding from the profane religious beliefs, often contrary to the revealed law, has always been a special quality of the East. Pantheistic doctrines are largely inculcated.[81] Thus:—

"I was, ere a name had been named upon earth;

Ere one trace yet existed of aught that has birth;

When the locks of the Loved One streamed forth for a sign,

And Being was none, save the Presence Divine!

Named and name were alike emanations from Me,

Ere aught that was 'I' existed, or 'We.'"

The poet then describes his fruitless search for rest and peace in Christianity, Hinduism, and the religion of the Parsee. Even Islám gave him no satisfaction, for—

"Nor above nor beneath came the Loved One to view,

I toiled to the summit, wild, pathless and lone,

Of the globe-girding Kaf[82]:—but the 'Anka[83] had flown!


The sev'nth heaven I traversed—the sev'nth heaven explored,

But in neither discern'd I the court of the Lord!

I question'd the Pen and the Tablet of Fate,

But they whisper'd not where He pavilions His state;

My vision I strain'd; but my God-scanning eye

No trace, that to Godhead belongs, could descry.

My glance I bent inward; within my own breast,

Lo, the vainly sought elsewhere, the Godhead confess'd!

In the whirl of its transport my spirit was toss'd,

Till each atom of separate being I lost."

These are the words of the greatest authority among the Súfís, the famous Maulána Jelál-ud-dín Rúmí, founder of the order of the Mauláví Darwíshes. He also relates the following story: "One knocked at the door of the beloved, and a voice from within said: 'Who is there?' Then he answered, 'It is I.' The voice replied, 'This house will not hold me and thee!' So the door remained shut. The lover retired to a wilderness, and spent some time in solitude, fasting, and prayer. One year elapsed, when he again returned, and knocked at the door. 'Who is there?' said the voice. The lover answered, 'It is thou.' Then the door was opened."

The great object of life, then, being to escape from the hindrances to pure love and to a return to the divine essence, the Tálib, or seeker, attaches himself to a Murshid, or teacher. If he prosecutes his studies according to Súfíistic methods he now often enters one of the many orders of Darwíshes. After due preparation under his Murshid, he is allowed to enter on the road. He then becomes a Sálik, or traveller, whose business henceforth is súlúk that is, devotion to one idea—the knowledge of God. In this road there are eight stages. (1) Service. Here he must serve God and obey the Law for he is still in bondage. (2) Love. It is supposed that now the Divine influence has so attracted his soul that he really loves God. (3) Seclusion. Love having expelled all worldly desires, he arrives at this stage, and passes his time in meditation on the deeper doctrines [93]of Súfíism regarding the Divine nature. (4) Knowledge. The meditation in the preceding stage, and the investigation of the metaphysical theories concerning God, His nature, His attributes and the like make him an 'Árif—one who knows. (5) Ecstasy. The mental excitement caused by such continued meditation on abstruse subjects produces a kind of frenzy, which is looked upon as a mark of direct illumination of the heart from God. It is known as Hál—the state; or Wajd—ecstasy. Arrival at this stage is highly valued, for it is the certain entrance to the next. (6) Haqiqat—the Truth. Now to the traveller is revealed the true nature of God, now he learns the reality of that which he has been for so long seeking. This admits him to the highest stage in his journey, as far as this life is concerned. (7) That stage is Wasl—union with God.

"There was a door to which I found no key;

There was a veil past which I could not see:

Some little talk of Me and Thee

There seemed—and then no more of Thee and Me."

He cannot, in this life, go beyond that, and very few reach that exalted stage. Thus arose a "system of Pantheism, which represents joy and sorrow, good and evil, pleasure and pain as manifestations of one changeless essence." Religion, as made known by an outward revelation, is, to the few who reach this stage, a thing of the past. Even its restraints are not needed. The soul that is united to God can do no evil. The poet Khusrau says: "Love is the object of my worship, what need have I of Islám?"

Death ensues and with it the last stage is reached. (8) It is Faná—extinction. The seeker after all his search, the traveller after all his wearisome journey passes behind the veil and finds—nothing! As the traveller proceeds from stage to stage, the restraints of an objective revelation and of an outward system are less and less heeded. "The [94]religion of the mystic consists in his immediate communication with God, and when once this has been established, the value of ecclesiastical forms, and of the historical part of religion, becomes doubtful." What law can bind the soul in union with God, what outward system impose any trammels on one who, in the "Ecstasy," has received from Him, who is the Truth, the direct revelation of His own glorious nature? Moral laws and ceremonial observances have only an allegorical signification. Creeds are but fetters cunningly devised to limit the flight of the soul; all that is objective in religion is a restraint to the reason of the initiated.[84]

Pantheistic in creed, and too often Antinomian in practice, Súfíism possesses no regenerative power in Islám. "It is not a substantive religion such as shapes the life of races or of nations, it is a state of opinion." No Muslim State makes a national profession of Súfíism.

In spite of all its dogmatic utterances, in spite of much that is sublime in its idea of the search after light and truth, Súfíism ends in utter negation of all separate existence. The pantheism of the Súfís, this esoteric doctrine of Islám, as a moral doctrine leads to the same conclusions as materialism, "the negation of human liberty, the indifference to actions and the legitimacy of all temporal enjoyments."

The result of Súfíism has been the establishment of a large number of religious orders known as Darwíshes.[85] These men are looked upon with disfavour by the [95]orthodox; but they flourish nevertheless, and in Turkey at the present day have great influence. There are in Constantinople two hundred Takiahs, or monasteries. The Darwíshes are not organized with such regularity, nor subject to discipline so severe as that of the Christian Monastic orders; but they surpass them in number. Each order has its own special mysteries and practices by which its members think they can obtain a knowledge of the secrets of the invisible world. They are also called Faqírs—poor men, not, however, always in the sense of being in temporal want, but as being poor in the sight of God. As a matter of fact the Darwíshes of many of the orders do not beg, and many of the Takiahs are richly endowed. They are divided into two great classes, the Ba Shara' (with the Law) Darwíshes; and the Be Shara' (without the Law). The former prefer to rule their conduct according to the law of Islám and are called the Sálik—travellers on the path (taríqat) to heaven; the latter though they call themselves Muslims do not conform to the law, and are called Azád (free), or Majzúb (abstracted), a term which signifies their renunciation of all worldly cares and pursuits.

The Sálik Darwíshes are those who perform the Zikrs.[86] What little hope there is of these professedly religious men working any reform in Islám will be seen from the following account of their doctrines.[87]

1. God only exists,—He is in all things, and all things are in Him. "Verily we are from God, and to Him shall we return." (Súra ii. 151.)


2. All visible and invisible beings are an emanation from Him, and are not really distinct from Him. Creation is only a pastime with God.

3. Paradise and Hell, and all the dogmas of positive religions, are only so many allegories, the spirit of which is only known to the Súfí.

4. Religions are matters of indifference; they, however, serve as a means of reaching to realities. Some, for this purpose, are more advantageous than others. Among which is the Musalmán religion, of which the doctrine of the Súfís is the philosophy.

5. There is not any real difference between good and evil, for all is reduced to unity, and God is the real author of the acts of mankind.

6. It is God who fixes the will of man. Man, therefore, is not free in his actions.

7. The soul existed before the body, and is now confined within it as in a cage. At death the soul returns to the Divinity from which it emanated.

8. The principal occupation of the Súfí is to meditate on the unity, and so to attain to spiritual perfection—unification with God.

9. Without the grace of God no one can attain to this unity; but God does not refuse His aid to those who are in the right path.

The power of a Sheikh, a spiritual leader, is very great. The following account of the admission of a Novice, called Tawakkul Beg, into an Order, and of the severe tests applied, will be of some interest.[88] Tawakkul Beg says:—"Having been introduced by Akhúnd Moollá Muhammad to Sheikh Moolla Sháh, my heart, through frequent intercourse with him, was filled with such a burning desire to arrive at a true knowledge of the mystical science that I found no sleep by night, nor rest by day. When the initiation commenced, [97]I passed the whole night without sleep, and repeated innumerable times the Súrat-ul-Ikhlás:—

"Say: He is God alone:

God the eternal:

He begetteth not, and He is not begotten;

And there is none like unto Him." (Súra cxii.)

Whosoever repeats this Súra one hundred times can accomplish all his vows. I desired that the Sheikh should bestow on me his love. No sooner had I finished my task than the heart of the Sheikh became full of sympathy for me. On the following night I was conducted to his presence. During the whole of that night he concentrated his thoughts on me, whilst I gave myself up to inward meditation. Three nights passed in this way. On the fourth night the Sheikh said:—'Let Moollá Senghim and Sálih Beg, who are very susceptible to ecstatic emotions, apply their spiritual energies to Tawakkul Beg.'

They did so, whilst I passed the whole night in meditation, with my face turned toward Mecca. As the morning drew near, a little light came into my mind, but I could not distinguish form or colour. After the morning prayers, I was taken to the Sheikh who bade me inform him of my mental state. I replied that I had seen a light with my inward eye. On hearing this, the Sheikh became animated and said: 'Thy heart is dark, but the time is come when I will show myself clearly to thee.' He then ordered me to sit down in front of him, and to impress his features on my mind. Then having blindfolded me, he ordered me to concentrate all my thoughts upon him. I did so, and in an instant by the spiritual help of the Sheikh my heart opened. He asked me what I saw. I said that I saw another Tawakkul Beg and another Moollá Sháh. The bandage was then removed, and I saw the Sheikh in front of me. Again they covered my face, and again I saw him with my inward eye. Astonished, I cried; 'O master! whether I look with my bodily eye, or with my spiritual [98]sight, it is always you I see.' I then saw a dazzling figure approach me. The Sheikh told me to say to the apparition, 'What is your name?' In my spirit I put the question, and the figure answered to my heart: 'I am 'Abd-ul-Qádir Jilání, I have already aided thee, thy heart is opened.' Much affected, I vowed that in honour of the saint, I would repeat the whole Qurán every Friday night.

Moollá Sháh then said: 'The spiritual world has been shown to thee in all its beauty.' I then rendered perfect obedience to the Sheikh. The following day I saw the Prophet, the chief Companions, and legions of saints and angels. After three months, I entered the cheerless region in which the figures appeared no more. During the whole of this time, the Sheikh continued to explain to me the mystery of the doctrine of the Unity and of the knowledge of God; but as yet he did not show me the absolute reality. It was not until a year had passed that I arrived at the true conception of unity. Then in words such as these I told the Sheikh of my inspiration. 'I look upon the body as only dust and water, I regard neither my heart nor my soul, alas! that in separation from Thee (God) so much of my life has passed. Thou wert I and I knew it not.' The Sheikh was delighted, and said that the truth of the union with God was now clearly revealed to me. Then addressing those who were present, he said: 'Tawakkul Beg learnt from me the doctrine of the Unity, his inward eye has been opened, the spheres of colours and of images have been shown to him. At length, he entered the colourless region. He has now attained to the Unity, doubt and scepticism henceforth have no power over him. No one sees the Unity with the outward eye, till the inward eye gains strength and power.'"

I cannot pass from this branch of the subject without making a few remarks on Omar Khayyám, the great Astronomer-Poet of Persia. He is sometimes confounded with the Súfís, for there is much in his poetry which is similar [99]in tone to that of the Súfí writers. But his true position was that of a sceptic. He wrote little, but what he has written will live. As an astronomer he was a man of note. He died in the year 517 A.H. There are two things which may have caused his scepticism. To a man of his intelligence the hard and fast system of Islám was an intolerable burden. Then, his scientific spirit had little sympathy with mysticism, the earnest enthusiasts of which were too often followed by hollow impostors. It is true, that there was much in the spirit of some of the better Súfís that seemed to show a yearning for something higher than mere earthly good; above all, there was the recognition of a Higher Power. But with all this came spiritual pride, the world and its duties became a thing of evil, and the religious and the secular life were completely divorced, to the ruin of both. The Pantheism which soon pervaded the system left no room for man's will to act, for his conscience to guide. So the moral law become a dead letter. Irreligious men, to free themselves from the bondage and restraints of law, assumed the religious life. "Thus a movement, animated at first by a high and lofty purpose, has degenerated into a fruitful source of ill. The stream which ought to have expanded into a fertilising river has become a vast swamp, exhaling vapours charged with disease and death."

Omar Khayyám saw through the unreality of all this. In vain does he try, by an assumed air of gaiety, to hide from others the sadness which fills his heart, as all that is bright is seen passing away into oblivion.

One moment in annihilation's waste,

One moment, of the well of life to taste—

The stars are setting and the Caravan

Starts for the dawn of nothing—oh, make haste!

Ah, fill the cup:—what boots it to repeat

How Time is slipping underneath our feet:

Unborn To-morrow, and dead Yesterday,

Why fret about them if To-day be sweet.


Omar held to the earthly and the material. For him there was no spiritual world. Chance seemed to rule all the affairs of men. A pitiless destiny shaped out the course of each human being.

"'Tis all a chequer-board of nights and days

Where destiny with men for pieces plays:

Hither and thither moves, and mates, and slays,

And one by one back in the closet lays.

The moving finger writes; and, having writ,

Moves on: nor all thy piety nor wit

Shall lure it back to cancel half a line,

Nor all thy tears wash out a word of it."

Neither from earth nor heaven could he find any answer to his cry. With sages and saints he discussed, and heard, "great argument, but evermore came out by the same door as in he went." He left the wise to talk, for one thing alone was certain, and all else was lies,—"the flower that once has blown for ever dies." Leaving men he turned to nature, but it was all the same.

"Up from earth's centre through the seventh gate

I rose, and on the throne of Saturn sate,

And many knots unravell'd by the road;

But not the knot of human death and fate.

And that inverted bowl we call the sky,

Where under crawling coop'd we live and die,

Lift not thy hands to it for help—for it

Rolls impotently on as thou or I."

Omar has with justice been compared to Lucretius. Both were materialists, both believed not in a future life. "Lucretius built a system for himself in his poem ... it has a professed practical aim—to explain the world's self-acting machine to the polytheist, and to disabuse him of all spiritual ideas." Omar builds up no system, he only shows forth his own doubts and difficulties, "he loves to balance antitheses of belief, and settle himself in the equipoise of the sceptic." [101]

The fact that there is no hereafter gives Lucretius no pain, but Omar who, if only his reason could let him, would believe, records his utter despair in words of passionate bitterness. He is not glad that there is no help anywhere.[89] And though he calls for the wine-cup, and listens to the voice within the tavern cry,

"Awake, my little ones, and fill the cup

Before Life's liquor in its cup be dry,"

yet he also looks back to the time, when he consorted with those who professed to know, and could say:

"With them the seed of wisdom did I sow,

And with my own hand laboured it to grow."

The founder of the Wahhábí sect was Muhammad-ibn-Abd-ul-Wahháb, who was born at a village in Nejd in the year 1691 A.D. The Wahhábís speak of themselves as Muwahhid—Unitarians; but their opponents have given to them the name of the father of the founder of their sect and call them Wahhábís. Muhammad was a bright intelligent youth, of a strong constitution and generous spirit. After going through a course of Arabic literature he studied jurisprudence under a teacher of the Hanífi school. He then set out in company with his father to perform the Hajj. At Madína he received further instruction in the Law. He spent sometime at Ispahán in the society of learned men. Full of [102]knowledge, he returned to his native village of Ayína where he assumed the position of a religious teacher. He was shocked to see how the Arabs had departed from what seemed to him the strict unchanging precepts of the Prophet. Luxury in the form of rich dresses and silken garments, superstition in the use of omens, auguries, and the like, in the pilgrimages to shrines and tombs seemed to be altering the character of the religion as given by the Apostle of God. He saw, or thought he saw, that in the veneration paid to saints and holy men, the great doctrine of the "Unity" was being obscured. The reason was very plain. The Qurán and the Traditions of the Companions had been neglected, whilst the sayings of men of lesser note, and the jurisprudence of the four great Imáms had been too readily followed. Here was work to do. He would reform the Church of Islám, and restore men to their allegiance to the Book and the Sunnat, as recorded by the Companions. It is true, that the Sunnís would rise up in opposition, for thus the authority of the four Imáms, the "Canonical Legists" of the orthodox sect, would be set aside; but what of that? Had he not been a follower of Abu Hanífa? Now he was prepared to let Aba Hanífa go, for none but a Companion of the Prophet could give an authoritative statement with regard to the Sunnat—the Prophet's words and acts. He must break a lance with the glorious Imám, and start a school of his own.

He said: "The Muslim pilgrims adore the tomb of the Prophet, and the sepulchre of 'Alí, and of other saints who have died in the odour of sanctity. They run there to pay the tribute of their fervent prayers. By this means they think that they can satisfy their spiritual and temporal needs, From what do they seek this benefit? From walls made of mud and stones, from corpses deposited in tombs. If you speak to them they will reply, 'We do not call these monuments God; we turn to them in prayer, and we pray the saints to intercede for us on high.' Now, the true [103]way of salvation is to prostrate one's self before Him who is ever present, and to venerate Him—the one without associate or equal." Such outspoken language raised up opposition, and he had to seek the protection of Muhammad-Ibn-Saud, a chief of some importance, who now vigorously supported the Wahhábí movement. He was a stern and uncompromising man. "As soon as you seize a place," he said to his soldiers, "put the males to the sword. Plunder and pillage at your pleasure, but spare the women and do not strike a blow at their modesty." On the day of battle he used to give each soldier a paper, a safe conduct to the other world. This letter was addressed to the Treasurer of Paradise. It was enclosed in a bag which the warrior suspended to his neck. The soldiers were persuaded that the souls of those who died in battle would go straight to heaven, without being examined by the angels Munkar and Nakír in the grave. The widows and orphans of all who fell were supported by the survivors. Nothing could resist men who, fired with a burning zeal for what they deemed the truth, received a share of the booty, if conquerors; who went direct to Paradise if they were slain. In course of time, Muhammad-Ibn-Saud married the daughter of Ibn-Abd-ul-Wahháb and founded the Wahhábí dynasty which to this day rules at Ryadh.[90]

Such was the origin of this great movement, which spread, in course of time, over Central and Eastern Arabia, and in the beginning of this century found acceptance in India. In the year 1803 A.D. both Mecca and Madína fell into the hands of the Wahhábís. A clean sweep was made of all things, the use of which was opposed to Wahhábí principles. Not only rosaries and charms, but silk robes and pipes were consigned to the flames, for smoking is a [104]deadly sin. On this point there is a good story told by Palgrave—"'Abd-ul-Karím said: 'The first of the great sins is the giving divine honours to a creature.' Of course I replied, 'The enormity of such a sin is beyond all doubt. But if this be the first, there must be a second; what is it?' 'Drinking the shameful!' (in English idiom, 'smoking tobacco') was the unhesitating answer. 'And murder, and adultery, and false witness?' I suggested. 'God is merciful and forgiving,' rejoined my friend; that is, these are merely little sins."[91]

After holding possession of the holy cities for nine years they were driven out by the Turkish forces. 'Abdullah, the fourth Wahhábí ruler, was captured by Ibrahím Pasha, and afterwards executed in the square of St. Sophia (1818 A.D.) The political power of the Wahhábís has since been confined to parts of Arabia; but their religious opinions have widely spread.

The leader of the Wahhábí movement in India was Sayyid Ahmad, a reformed freebooter. He was now born at Ráí Bareili, in Oudh, 1786 A.D. When about thirty years of age he gave up his wild way of living and settled down in Delhi as a student of the Law of Islám. After a while, he went on pilgrimage to Mecca, but his opinions, so similar to those of the noted Wahhábí, attracted the attention of the orthodox theologians, through whose influence he was expelled from the sacred city. Persecution deepened his religious convictions, and he returned to India a pronounced Wahhábí. He soon gained a large number of disciples, and in 1826 A.D. he preached a Jihád against the Sikhs. This war was not a success. In the year 1831 the Wahhábís were suddenly attacked by the Sikhs, under Sher Singh, and Sayyid Ahmad was slain. This did not, however, prevent the spread of Wahhábí principles, for he had the good fortune to leave behind him an enthusiastic disciple. This man, [105]Muhammad Ismá'íl, was born near Delhi in the year 1781 A.D. He was a youth of good abilities and soon mastered the subjects which form the curriculum of a liberal education amongst Musalmáns. His first preaching was in a Mosque at Delhi on Tauhíd (Unity), and against Shirk (Polytheism). He now met with Sayyid Ahmad who soon acquired great influence over his new disciple. Ismá'íl told him one evening that he could not offer up his prayers with Huzúr-i-Kalb, presence of heart. The Sayyid took him to his room where he instructed him to repeat the first of the prayers after him, and then to conclude them alone. He did so, and was able to so abstract himself in the contemplation of God that he remained engaged in prayer till the morning. Henceforward he was a devoted adherent of his spiritual teacher. In the public discussions, which now often took place, none were a match for Ismá'íl. This fervent preacher of Wahhábíism is now chiefly remembered by his great work, the Takwiat-ul-Imán, the book from which the account of Wahhábí doctrine given in this chapter is taken. If I make no special reference to the quotations given, it will be known that my authority for the statements thus made is Muhammad Ismá'íl, the most famous of all Sayyid Ahmad's disciples. This book was followed by the Sirát-ul-Mustaqím, said to have been written by one of Ismá'íl's followers. Wahhábí doctrines are now spread throughout India. In the South there is not much religious excitement or inquiry, yet Wahhábís are to be found there.[92] It was and is a remarkable movement. In one sense it is a struggle against the traditionalism of later ages, but in no sense can it be said that the Wahhábís reject Tradition. They acknowledge as the foundation of the faith—first, the Qurán; secondly, the Traditions which are recorded on the authority of the Companions, and also the Ijmá' of the Companions, that is, all things on which they were unanimous in opinion [106]or in practice. Thus to the Wahhábí as to the Sunní, Muhammad is in all his acts and words a perfect guide.

So far from Wahhábíism being a move onward because it is a return to first principles, it rather binds the fetters of Islám more tightly. It does not originate anything new, it offers no relaxation from a system which looks upon the Qurán and the Traditions as a perfect and complete law, social and political, moral and religious.

The Wahhábí places the doctrine of the "Tauhíd," or Unity, in a very prominent position. It is true that all Musalmán sects put this dogma in the first rank, but Wahhábís set their faces against practices common to the other sects, because they consider that they obscure this fundamental doctrine. It is this which brings them into collision with other Musalmáns. The greatest of all sins is Shirk (i.e. the ascribing of plurality to the Deity). A Mushrik (Polytheist) is one who so offends. All Musalmáns consider Christians to be Polytheists, and all Wahhábís consider all other Musalmáns also to be Polytheists, because they look to the Prophet for intercession, pray to saints, visit shrines, and do other unlawful acts.

The Takwiat-ul-Imán says that "two things are necessary in religion—to know God as God, and the Prophet as the Prophet." The two fundamental bases of the faith are the "Doctrine of the Tauhíd (Unity) and obedience to the Sunnat." The two great errors to be avoided are Shirk (Polytheism) and Bida't (Innovation). As Bida't is looked upon as evil, it is somewhat difficult to see what hope of progress can be placed upon this latest phase of Muhammadan revival.

Shirk is defined to be of four kinds: Shirk-ul-'Ilm, ascribing knowledge to others than God; Shirk-ut-tasarruf, ascribing power to others than God; Shirk-ul-'Ibádat, offering worship to created things; Shirk-ul-'ádat, the performance of ceremonies which imply reliance on others than God. [107]

The first, Shirk-ul-'Ilm, is illustrated by the statement that prophets and holy men have no knowledge of secret things unless as revealed to them by God. Thus some wicked persons made a charge against 'Áyesha. The Prophet was troubled in mind, but knew not the truth of the matter till God made it known to him. To ascribe, then, power to soothsayers, astrologers, and saints is Polytheism. "All who pretend to have a knowledge of hidden things, such as fortune-tellers, soothsayers and interpreters of dreams, as well as those who profess to be inspired are all liars." Again, "should any one take the name of any saint, or invoke his aid in the time of need, instead of calling on God, or use his name in attacking an enemy, or read passages to propitiate him, or make him the object of contemplation—it is Shirk-ul-'Ilm."

The second kind, Shirk-ut-tasarruf, is to suppose that any one has power with God. He who looks up to any one as an intercessor with God commits Shirk. Thus: "But they who take others beside Him as lords, saying, 'We only serve them that they may bring us near God,'—God will judge between them (and the Faithful) concerning that wherein they are at variance." (Súra xxxix. 4.) Intercession may be of three kinds. For example, a criminal is placed before the King. The Vizier intercedes. The King, having regard to the rank of the Vizier, pardons the offender. This is called Shafá'at-i-Wajahat, or 'intercession from regard.' But to suppose that God so esteems the rank of any one as to pardon a sinner merely on account of it is Shirk. Again, the Queen or the Princes intercede for the criminal. The King, from love to them, pardons him. This is called Shafá'at-i-muhabbat, or 'intercession from affection.' But to consider that God so loves any one as to pardon a criminal on his account is to give that loved one power, and this is Shirk, for such power is not possible in the Court of God. "God may out of His bounty confer on His favourite servants the epithets of Habíb—favourite, or Khalíl—friend, [108]&c.; but a servant is but a servant, no one can put his foot outside the limits of servitude, or rise beyond the rank of a servant." Again, the King may himself wish to pardon the offender, but he fears lest the majesty of the law should be lowered. The Vizier perceives the King's wish, and intercedes. This intercession is lawful. It is called Shafá'at-i-ba-izn—intercession by permission, and such power Muhammad will have at the day of Judgment. Wahhábís hold that he has not that power now, though all other Musalmáns consider that he has, and in consequence (in Wahhábí opinion) commit the sin of Shirk-ut-tasarruf. The Wahhábís quote the following passages in support of their view. "Who is he that can intercede with Him but by His own permission." (Súra ii. 256) "Say: Intercession is wholly with God! His the kingdoms of the heavens and of the earth." (Súra xxxix. 46). They also say: "whenever an allusion is made in the Qurán, or the Traditions to the intercession of certain prophets or apostles, it is this kind of intercession and no other that is meant."

The third Shirk is prostration before any created beings with the idea of worshipping it. It also includes perambulating the shrines of departed saints. Thus: "Prostration, bowing down, standing with folded arms, spending money in the name of an individual, fasting out of respect to his memory, proceeding to a distant shrine in a pilgrim's garb and calling out the name of the saint whilst so going is Shirk-ul-'Ibádat." It is wrong "to cover the grave with a sheet (ghiláf), to say prayers at the shrine, to kiss any particular stone, to rub the mouth and breast against the walls of the shrine, &c." This is a stern condemnation of the very common practice of visiting the tombs of saints and of some of the special practices of the pilgrimage to Mecca. All such practices as are here condemned are called Ishrák fi'l 'Ibádat—'association in worship.'

The fourth Shirk is the keeping up of superstitious customs, such as the Istikhára—seeking guidance from beads [109]&c., trusting to omens, good or bad, believing in lucky and unlucky days, adopting such names as 'Abd-un-Nabi (slave of the Prophet), and so on. In fact, the denouncing of such practices and calling them Shirk brings Wahhábíism into daily contact with the other sects, for scarcely any people in the world are such profound believers in the virtue of charms and the power of astrologers as Musalmáns. The difference between the first and fourth Shirk, the Shirk-ul-'Ilm and the Shirk-ul-'ádat, seems to be that the first is the belief, say in the knowledge of a soothsayer, and the second the habit of consulting him.

To swear by the name of the Prophet, of 'Alí, of the Imáms, or of Pírs (Leaders) is to give them the honour due to God alone. It is Ishrák fi'l adab—'Shirk in association.'

Another common belief which Wahhábís oppose is that Musalmáns can perform the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca), say prayers, read the Qurán, abide in meditation, give alms, and do other good works, the reward of which shall be credited to a person already dead.[93] Amongst other Musalmáns it is a common practice to read the Qurán in the belief that, if done with such an intention, the reward will pass to the deceased object of the desire. Wahábís entirely object to this.

The above technical exposition of Wahhábí tenets shows how much stress they lay on a rigid adherence to the doctrine of the "Unity." "Lá-il-láha, Il-lal-lá-hu" (there is no God but God) is an eternal truth. Yet to the Musalmán God is a Being afar off. In rejecting the Fatherhood of God he has accepted as the object of his worship, hardly of his affections, a Being despotic in all He does, arbitrary in all His ways. He has accepted the position of a slave instead of that of a son. Wahhábíism emphasizes the ideas which flow from the first article of the Muslim creed. But [110]on this subject we prefer to let Palgrave speak. He of all men knew the Wahhábí best, and he, at least, can be accused of no sectarian bias. The extract is rather long, but will repay perusal; indeed, the whole passage from which this extract is taken should be read.

"'There is no God but God,' are words simply tantamount in English to the negation of any deity save one alone; and thus much they certainly mean in Arabic, but they imply much more also. Their full sense is, not only to deny absolutely and unreservedly all plurality whether of nature or of person in the Supreme Being, not only to establish the unity of the Unbegetting and the Unbegot, in all its simple and incommunicable oneness, but besides this, the words, in Arabic and among Arabs, imply that this one Supreme Being is the only Agent, the only Force, the only Act existing throughout the universe, and leave to all beings else, matter or spirit, instinct or intelligence, physical or moral, nothing but pure unconditional passiveness, alike in movement or in quiescence, in action or in capacity. Hence in this one sentence is summed up a system which, for want of a better name, I may be permitted to call the 'Pantheism of Force.' 'God is One in the totality of omnipotent and omnipresent action, which acknowledges no rule, standard, or limit, save one sole and absolute will. He communicates nothing to His creatures, for their seeming power and act ever remain His alone, and in return He receives nothing from them.' 'It is His singular satisfaction to let created beings continually feel that they are nothing else than His slaves, that they may the better acknowledge His superiority.' 'He Himself, sterile in His inaccessible height, neither loving nor enjoying aught save His own and self-measured decree, without son, companion, or councillor, is no less barren for Himself than for His creatures, and His own barrenness and lone egoism in Himself is the cause and rule of His indifferent and unregarding despotism around.'[94]

Palgrave allows that such a notion of the Deity is monstrous, but maintains that it is the "truest mirror of the mind and scope of the writer of the Book" (Qurán), and that, as such, it is confirmed by authentic Tradition and learned commentaries. At all events, Palgrave possessed [111]the two essential qualifications for a critic of Islam—a knowledge of the literature, and intercourse with the people. So far as my experience goes I have never seen any reason to differ from Palgrave's statement. Men are often better than their creeds. Even the Prophet was not always consistent. There are some redeeming points in Islám. But the root idea of the whole is as described above, and from it no system can be deduced which will grow in grace and beauty as age after age rolls by.

The Arab proverb states that "The worshipper models himself on what he worships."[95] Thus a return to "first principles," sometimes proclaimed as the hope of Turkey, is but the "putting back the hour-hand of Islám" to the place where indeed Muhammad always meant it to stay, for

"Islám is in its essence stationary, and was framed thus to remain. Sterile, like its God, lifeless like its first Principle and supreme Original in all that constitutes true life—for life is love, participation, and progress, and of these the Quránic Deity has none—it justly repudiates all change, all advance, all development."[96]

Muhammad Ibn 'Abd-ul Wahháb was a man of great intellectual power and vigour. He could pierce through the mists of a thousand years, and see with an eagle eye how one sect and another had laid accretions on the Faith. He had the rare gift of intuition, and could see that change (Bida't) and progress were alien to the truth. This recognition of his ability is due to him; but what a sad prostration of great gifts it was to seek to arrest, by the worship of the letter, all hope of progress, and to make "the starting-point of Islám its goal." That he was a good Musalmán in so doing no one can doubt, but that his work gives any hope of the rise of an enlightened form of Islám no one who really has studied Islám can believe.

Wahhábíism simply amounts to this, that while it denounces all other Musalmáns as polytheists, it enforces the [112]Sunnat of the Prophet with all its energy.[97] It breaks down shrines, but insists on the necessity of a pilgrimage to a black stone at Mecca. It forbids the use of a rosary, but attaches great merit to counting the ninety-nine names of God on the fingers. It would make life unsocial. The study of the Fine Arts with the exception of Architecture can find no place in it. Ismá'íl quotes with approval the following Tradition. "'Áyesha said: 'I purchased a carpet on which were some figures. The Prophet stood in the doorway and looked displeased.' I said: 'O messenger of God, I repent to God and His Messenger; what fault have I committed that you do not enter?' His Highness then said: 'What is this carpet?' I replied; 'I have bought it for you to sit and rest upon.' Then the messenger of God replied: 'Verily, the maker of pictures will be punished on the day of resurrection, when God will desire them to bring them to life. A house which contains pictures is not visited by the angels.'" In a Tradition quoted by Ibn 'Abbás, the Prophet classes artists with murderers and parricides. Wahhábíism approves of all this, and thus by forbidding harmless enjoyments it would make society "an organised hypocrisy." It would spread abroad a spirit of contempt for all mankind except its own followers, and, where it had the power, it would force its convictions on others at the point of the sword.

Wahhábíism was reform after a fashion, in one direction; in the history of Islám there have been attempts at reform in other directions; there will yet be such attempts, but so long as the Qurán and the Sunnat (or, in the case of the Shía'h, its equivalent) are to form, as they have hitherto [113]done for every sect, the sole law to regulate all conditions and states of life, enlightened and continued progress is impossible. The deadening influence of Islám is the greatest obstacle the Church of God has to overcome in her onward march; its immobility is the bane of many lands; connection with it is the association of the living with the dead; to speak of it, as some do, as if it were a sort of sister religion to Christianity, is but to show deplorable ignorance where ignorance is inexcusable. Thus it is plain that Musalmáns are not all of one heart and soul.[98] In the next chapter I hope to show that Islám is a very dogmatic and complex system in spite of the simple form of its creed.




In the Journal Asiatique, 4me Série, tome 11, a curious account is given of the voyage of Mirzá Muhammad 'Alí Khán, some time Persian Ambassador in Paris. This gentleman states that in one of his voyages from Persia to India he met with a Wahhábí, who had in his possession a tract written by the founder of the sect. This small pamphlet he allowed Mirzá Muhammad to copy. I give the substance of the pamphlet in this note. The original Arabic will be found in the Journal Asiatique. It is of considerable interest as a protest against idolatry. It is as follows:—I know that God is merciful, that the sect of Abu Hanífa is orthodox and identical with the religion of Abraham. After thou hast known that God has created His servants for the purpose of being served by them, know also that this service or devotion is to worship God, One and alone; just as prayer (Salát) is not prayer (Salát), unless it is accompanied with the legal purification. God Most High has said: "It is not for the votaries of other gods with God, witnesses against themselves of infidelity, to visit the temples of God. These! vain their works: and in the fire shall they abide for ever!" (Súra ix. 17.)

Those who in their prayers, address any other than God, in the hope of obtaining by them that which God alone can give—those bring unto their prayers the leaven of idolatry and make them of none effect, "and who erreth more than he who, beside God, calleth upon that which shall not answer him until the day of resurrection." (Súra xlvi. 4) On the contrary, when the day of resurrection comes, they will become their enemies and treat them as infidels for having served others than God. "But the gods whom ye call on beside Him have no power over the husk of a date-stone! If ye cry to them they will not hear your cry; and if they heard they would not answer you, and in the day of resurrection they will disown your joining them with God." (Súra xxxv. 14,15.)

He who says: "O thou Prophet of God! O 'Ibn 'Abbás! O 'Abd-ul-Qádir!" &c. with the persuasion that the souls of these blessed ones can obtain from God that of which the suppliant has need, or that they can protect him, is an infidel whose blood any one may shed, and whose goods any one may appropriate with impunity unless he repent. There are four different classes of idolaters.


First, the infidels against whom the Prophet made war. These acknowledge that God is the creator of the world, that He supports all living creatures, that in wisdom He rules over all. "Say: who supplieth you from the heavens and the earth? who hath power over hearing and sight? and who bringeth forth the living from the dead, and bringeth forth the dead from the living? who ruleth all things? they will surely say: 'God,' then say: 'What! will ye not therefore fear Him.'" (Súra x. 32.) It is difficult to distinguish idolatry of this kind; but under an outwardly orthodox appearance they go astray; for they have recourse to divinities of their own choosing and pray to them.

Secondly, there are idolaters who say that they only call upon these intermediary powers to intercede in their favour with God, and that what they desire they seek from God. The Qurán furnishes a proof against them. "They worship beside God what cannot hurt or help them, and say, these are our advocates with God! say: will ye inform God of aught in the heavens and in the earth which He knoweth not?" (Súra x. 19.)

Thirdly, those are idolaters who choose one idol as their patron, or rather those who, renouncing the worship of idols, become attached to one saint, as Jesus or His Mother, and put themselves under the protection of Guardian Angels. Against them we cite the verse: "Those whom ye call on, themselves desire union with their Lord, striving which of them shall be nearest to Him; they also hope for His mercy, and fear His chastisement." (Súra xvii. 59.) We see here that the Prophet drew no distinction between the worship of an idol and the worship of such and such a saint; on the contrary, he treated them all as infidels, and made war upon them in order to consolidate the religion of God upon a firm basis.

Fourthly, those who worship God sincerely in the time of trouble, but at other times call on other Gods are idolaters. Thus: "Lo! when they embark on board a ship, they call upon God, vowing Him sincere worship, but when He bringeth them safe to land, behold they join partners with Him." (Súra xxix. 65.)

In the age in which we live, I could cite still worse heresies. The idolaters, our contemporaries, pray to and invoke the lower divinities when they are in distress. The idolaters of the Prophet's time were less culpable than those of the present age are. They, at least, had recourse to God in time of great evil; these in good and evil states, seek the aid of their patrons, other than God, and pray to them.




Faith is defined by Muslim theologians as: "Confession with the tongue and belief with the heart."[100] It is said to "stand midway between hope and fear." It is sub-divided into Imán-í-mujmal and Imán-í-mufassal. The former is an expression of the following faith: "I believe in God, His names and attributes, and accept all His commands."[101] The latter is the acceptance of the following dogmas: "I believe in God, Angels, Books, Prophets, the Last Day, the Predestination by the Most High God of good and evil and the Resurrection after death."[102] These form the articles of faith which every Muslim must believe, to which belief, in order to render it perfect, he must add the performance of the "acts of practice," viz.: (1) "The recital of the Kalima or creed:—'There is no deity but God, and Muhammad is the Apostle of God.' (2) Sulát. The five daily prayers. (3) Roza. The thirty days fast of Ramazán. (4) Zakát. The legal alms. (5) Hajj, or the pilgrimage to Mecca." This chapter will contain an account of the Imán—the dogmas of Islám. An account of the Dín—the practical duties, will be given in the next chapter. [117]

1. God.—This article of the faith includes a belief in the existence of God, His unity and attributes, and has given rise to a large number of sects. Some acquaintance with the various controversies which have thus arisen is necessary to a correct knowledge of Islám. I commence the consideration of this subject by giving the substance of a Sunní, or orthodox treatise known as the Risála-i-Berkevi. The learned orientalist M. Garcin de Tassy, considered it to be of such authority that in his "L'Islamisme d'après le Coran" he has inserted a translation of the Risála.[103] Muhammad Al-Berkevi, speaking of the Divine attributes, says:—

(1). Life. (Hyát). God Most High is alone to be adored. He has neither associate nor equal. He is free from the imperfections of humanity. He is neither begotten nor does He beget. He is invisible. He is without figure, form, colour or parts. His existence has neither beginning nor end. He is immutable. If He so wills, He can annihilate the world in a moment of time and, if it seem good to Him, recreate it in an instant. Nothing is difficult to Him, whether it be the creation of a fly or that of the seven heavens. He receives neither profit nor loss from whatever may happen. If all the Infidels became Believers and all the irreligious pious, He would gain no advantage. On the other hand, if all Believers became Infidels, He would suffer no loss.

(2). Knowledge. ('Ilm). He has knowledge of all things hidden or manifest, whether in heaven or on earth. He knows the number of the leaves of the trees, of the grains of wheat and of sand. Events past and future are known to Him. He knows what enters into the heart of man and what he utters with his mouth. He alone, except those to whom He has revealed them, knows the invisible things. He is free from forgetfulness, negligence and error. His knowledge is eternal: it is not posterior to His essence.

(3). Power. (Qudrat). He is Almighty. If He wills, He can raise the dead, make stones talk, trees walk, annihilate the heavens and the earth and recreate of gold or of silver thousands similar to those destroyed. He can transport a man in a moment of time from the east to the west, or from the west to the east, or to the seventh heaven. His power is eternal à priori and à posteriori. It is not posterior to His essence.


(4). Will (Irádah). He can do what He wills, and whatever He wills comes to pass. He is not obliged to act. Everything, good or evil, in this world exists by His will. He wills the faith of the believer and the piety of the religious. If He were to change His will there would be neither a true believer nor a pious man. He willeth also the unbelief of the unbeliever and the irreligion of the wicked and, without that will, there would neither be unbelief nor irreligion. All we do we do by His will: what He willeth not does not come to pass. If one should ask why God does not will that all men should believe we answer: "We have no right to enquire about what God wills and does. He is perfectly free to will and to do what He pleases." In creating unbelievers, in willing that they should remain in that state; in making serpents, scorpions and pigs: in willing, in short, all that is evil God has wise ends in view which it is not necessary that we should know. We must acknowledge that the will of God is eternal and that it is not posterior to His essence.

(5). Hearing. (Sama'). He hears all sounds whether low or loud. He hears without an ear for His attributes are not like those of men.

(6). Seeing. (Basr). He sees all things, even the steps of a black ant on a black stone in a dark night; yet He has no eye as men have.

(7). Speech. (Kalám). He speaks, but not with a tongue as men do. He speaks to some of His servants without the intervention of another, even as He spoke to Moses, and to Muhammad on the night of the ascension to heaven. He speaks to others by the instrumentality of Gabriel, and this is the usual way in which He communicates His will to the prophets. It follows from this that the Qurán is the word of God, and is eternal and uncreated.

These are the "haft sifát," or seven attributes of God. There is unanimity of opinion as to the number of attributes, but not as regards their nature and the extent of the knowledge concerning them to which men can attain. Thus some say that the knowledge of God is the first thing to acquire; but Imám Sháfa'í and the Mutazilites say that a man must first attain to the idea of the knowledge of God. The meaning of the expression "Knowledge of God" is the ascertaining the truth of His existence, and of His positive and privative attributes, as far as the human understanding can enter into these matters. The unity is not a mere numerical unity but absolute, for the number one is the first of a series and implies a second, but God has not a [119]second. He is "singular without anything like Him, separate having no equal;" for, "had there been either in heaven or earth gods beside God, both surely had gone to ruin." (Súra xxi. 22). God is not a substance, for substance has accidents, but God has none: otherwise His nature would be that of "dependent existence." God is without parts, for otherwise he would not exist till all the parts were formed, and His existence would depend on the parts, that is, on something beside Himself.

The orthodox strictly prohibit the discussion of minute particulars, for say they, "just as the eye turning to the brightness of the sun finds darkness intervene to prevent all observation, so the understanding finds itself bewildered if it attempts to pry into the nature of God." The Prophet said: "We did not know the reality of the knowledge of Thee;" and to his followers he gave this advice: "Think of God's gifts, not of His nature: certainly you have no power for that." The Khalíf Akbar is reported to have said: "to be helpless in the search of knowledge is knowledge and to enquire into the nature of God is Shirk (infidelity)."[104] A moderate acquaintance with Muslim theology shows that neither the injunction of the Prophet nor the warning of the Khalíf has been heeded.

According to the early Muslims, the Companions and their followers, enquiries into the nature of God and His attributes were not lawful. The Prophet knowing what was good for men, had plainly revealed the way of salvation and had taught them:—

"Say: He is God alone:

God the eternal!

He begetteth not, and He is not begotten;

And there is none like unto Him." (Súra cxii)

This was sufficient for them to know of the mystery of the Godhead. God is far beyond the reach of the human [120]understanding. He alone embraces all in His comprehension. Men should therefore mistrust their own perceptive faculties and notions and should obey the inspired legislator Muhammad, who loving them better than they love themselves, and knowing better than they do what is truly useful, has revealed both what they ought to believe and what they ought to do. It is true that men must exercise their reason, but they must not do so with regard to the divine attributes.[105]

Dogma is divided into two portions, usúl and farú'—(i.e., roots and branches.) The former include the doctrine about God; the latter, as the name implies, consist of truths which result from the acceptance of the former. The orthodox belief is that reason has only to do with the "farú'," for the usúl being founded on the Qurán and Sunnat have an objective basis.

Differences of opinion about various branches of the "farú'," led to discussions which did not stop there but went on to the "usúl," and so paved the way for the rise of scholastic theology ('Ilm-i-kalám.) I have already in the chapter on the exegesis of the Qurán explained the difference in meaning between muhkam (obvious) verses and mutashábih (intricate) ones. This difference lies at the very foundation of the present subject. It is, therefore, necessary to enter a little into detail.

The question turns very much on the interpretation of the 5th verse of the 3rd Súra: "He it is who hath sent down to thee 'the Book.' Some of its signs are of themselves perspicuous (muhkam): these are the basis of the [121]Book—and others are figurative (mutashábih.) But they whose hearts are given to err, follow its figures, craving discord, craving an interpretation; yet none knoweth its interpretation but God. And the stable in knowledge say, 'We believe in it: it is all from our Lord.' But none will bear this in mind, save men endued with understanding." Here it is clearly stated (1) that no one except God can know the interpretation of mutashábih verses, and (2) that wise men though they know not their interpretation, yet believe them all. Many learned men, however, say that the full stop should not be placed after the word "God" but after "knowledge," and so this portion of the verse would read thus: "None knoweth its interpretation but God and the stable in knowledge. They say: 'we believe, &c.'" On this slight change in punctuation, which shows that the 'stable in knowledge' can interpret the mutashábih verses, opposite schools of theology have arisen in Islám.

The latter reading opens the way to a fearless investigation of subjects which all the early Muslims avoided as beyond their province. In the early days of Islám it was held that all parts of the Qurán, except the muhkam verses and the purely narrative portions, were mutashábih; that is, all verses which related to the attributes of God, to the existence of angels and genii, to the appearance of Antichrist, the period and signs of the day of judgment, and generally all matters which are beyond the daily experience of mankind. It was strongly felt that not only must there be no discussion on them,[106] but no attempt should be made to understand or act on them. Ibn 'Abbás, a Companion, says: "One must believe the mutashábih verses, but not take them for a rule of conduct." Ibn Jubair was once [122]asked to put the meaning of the Qurán into writing. He became angry and said: "I should rather be palsied in one-half of my body than do so."[107] 'Ayesha said: "Avoid those persons who dispute about the meaning of the Qurán, for they are those whom God has referred to in the words, 'whose hearts are given to err.'"

The first reading is the one adopted by the Asháb, the Tábi'ín and the Taba-i-Tábi'ín and the great majority of Commentators. The Sunnís generally, and, according to the testimony of Fakr-ud-dín Rází (A.H. 544-606), the Sháfa'í sect are of the same opinion.

Those who take the opposite view are the Commentators Mujáhid (died A.H. 101), Rábí' bin Ans and others. The scholastic theologians[108] (Mutakallimán) generally adopt the latter reading.[109] They argued thus: how could men believe what they did not know; to which their opponents answered, that the act of belief in the unknown is the very thing here praised by God. The scholastics then enquired why, since the Qurán was sent to be a guide and direction to men, were not all its verses muhkam? The answer was, that the Arabs acknowledged two kinds of eloquence. One kind was to arrange words and ideas in a plain and simple style so that the meaning might be at once apparent, the other was to speak in figurative language. Now, if the Qurán had not contained both these styles of composition, it could not have claimed the position it does as a book absolutely perfect in form as well as in matter.[110]

Bearing in mind this fundamental difference of opinion, we can now pass on to the consideration of the attributes.


The essential attributes are Life, Knowledge, Power, Will, for without these the others could not exist. Then the attributes of Hearing, Seeing, Speech give us a further idea of perfection. These are the "Sifát-i-Sabútiah," or affirmative attributes, the privation of which would imply loss; there are also Sifát-i-Salbiah, or privative attributes, such as—God has no form, is not limited by place, has no equal, &c. The acts of sitting, rising, descending, the possession of face, hands, eyes, &c., being connected with the idea of corporeal existences imply imperfection and apparently contradict the doctrine of "exemption" (tenzih) according to which God is, in virtue of His essence, in no way like the creatures He has made. This was a difficulty, but the four great Imáms all taught that it was impious to enquire into these matters for all such allusions were mutashábih. "The Imám Hanbal and other early divines followed in the path of the early Muslims and said: 'We believe in the Book and the Sunnat, and do not desire explanations. We know that the High God is not to be compared to any created object: nor any creature with Him.'"[111] Imám As-Sháfa'í said that a man who enquired into such matters should be tied to a stake, and carried about, and that the following proclamation should be made before him: "This is the reward of him who left the Qurán and the Traditions for the study of scholastic theology." Imám Hanbal says: "Whosoever moves his hand when he reads in the Qurán the words, 'I have created with my hand,' ought to have his hand cut off; and whoever stretches forth his finger in repeating the saying of Muhammad, 'The heart of the believer is between two fingers of the Merciful,' deserves to have his finger cut off." At-Tirmízí when consulted about the statement of the Prophet that God had descended to the lowest of the seven heavens, said: "The descent is intelligible, the manner how is unknown; the belief therein [124]is obligatory; and the asking about it is a blameable innovation." But all such attempts to restrain discussion and investigation failed.

The two main points in the discussion of this question are (1) whether the attributes of God are internal or external, whether they are part of His essence or not, and (2) whether they are eternal or not.

The two leading Sects were the Sifátians (or Attributists) and the Mutazilites. The Sifátians whom the early orthodox Muslims follow, taught that the attributes of God are eternally inherent in His essence without separation or change. Every attribute is conjoined with Him as life with knowledge, or knowledge with power. They also taught that the mutashábih verses were not to be explained, and such were those which seemed to show a resemblance between God and His creatures. So at first they did not attempt to give the meaning of the terms, "hands, eyes, face, &c.," when applied to God. They simply accepted them as they stood. In course of time, as will be seen, differences of opinion on this point led to some sub-divisions of this sect.

The Mutazilites were the great opponents of the Sifátians. They rejected the idea of eternal attributes, saying that eternity was the formal attribute of the essence of God. "If," said they, "we admit the eternal existence of an attribute then we must recognize the multiplicity of eternal existences." They also rejected the attributes of hearing, seeing and speech, as these were accidents proper to corporeal existences. They looked upon the divine attributes as mental abstractions, and not as having a real existence in the divine essence. The Mutazilites were emphatically the Free thinkers of Islám. The origin of the sect was as follows: Al Hasan, a famous divine, was one day seated in the Mosque at Basra when a discussion arose on the question whether a believer who committed a mortal sin became thereby an unbeliever. The Khárigites (Ante p. 76) [125]affirmed that it was so. The orthodox denied this, saying that, though guilty of sin, yet that as he believed rightly he was not an infidel.[112] One of the scholars Wásil Ibn Atá, (who was born at Madína A.H. 80), then rose up and said: "I maintain that a Muslim who has committed a mortal sin should be regarded neither as a believer nor an unbeliever, but as occupying a middle station between the two." He then retired to another part of the Mosque where he was joined by his friend 'Umr Ibn Obaid and others. They resumed the discussion. A learned man, named Katáda, entering the Mosque, went up to them, but on finding that they were not the party in which Al Hasan was, said 'these are the Seceders (Al-Mutazila).' Al Hasan soon expelled them from his school. Wásil then founded a school of his own of which, after the death of his master, 'Umr Ibn Obaid became the head.

Wásil felt that a believer, though sinful, did not merit the same degree of punishment as an infidel, and thus starting off on the question of degrees of punishment, he soon opened up the whole subject of man's responsibility and the question of free-will. This soon brought him into conflict with the orthodox on the subject of predestination and that again to the subject of the inspiration, the interpretation and the eternity of the Qurán, and of the divine attributes. His followers rejected the doctrine of the "divine right" of the Imám, and held that the entire body of the Faithful had the right to elect the most suitable person, who need not necessarily be a man of the Quraish tribe, to fill that office. The principles of logic and the teaching of philosophy were brought to bear on the precepts of religion. According to Shahrastání the Mutazilites hold:—

"That God is eternal; and that eternity is the peculiar property of His essence; but they deny the existence of any eternal attributes (as distinct from His nature). For they say, He is Omniscient as to [126]His nature; Living as to His nature; Almighty as to His nature; but not through any knowledge, power or life existing in Him as eternal attributes; for knowledge, power and life are part of His essence, otherwise, if they are to be looked upon as eternal attributes of the Deity, it will give rise to a multiplicity of eternal entities."

"They maintain that the knowledge of God is as much within the province of reason as that of any other entity; that He cannot be beheld with the corporeal sight; and with the exception of Himself everything else is liable to change or to suffer extinction. They also maintain that Justice is the animating principle of human actions: Justice according to them being the dictates of Reason and the concordance of the ultimate results of this conduct of man with such dictates."

"Again, they hold that there is no eternal law as regards human actions; that the divine ordinances which regulate the conduct of men are the results of growth and development; that God has commanded and forbidden, promised and threatened by a law which grew gradually. At the same time, say they, he who works righteousness merits rewards and he who works evil deserves punishment. They also say, that all knowledge is attained through reason, and must necessarily be so obtained. They hold that the cognition of good and evil is also within the province of reason; that nothing is known to be right or wrong until reason has enlightened us as to the distinction; and that thankfulness for the blessings of the Benefactor is made obligatory by reason, even before the promulgation of any law upon the subject. They also maintain that man has perfect freedom; is the author of his actions both good and evil, and deserves reward or punishment hereafter accordingly."

During the reigns of the 'Abbásside Khalífs Mámún, Mutasim and Wathik (198-232 A.H.) at Baghdád, the Mutazilites were in high favour at Court, Under the 'Abbásside dynasty[113] the ancient Arab Society was revolutionized, Persians filled the most important offices of State; Persian doctrines took the place of Arab ones. The orthodox suffered bitter persecution. The story of that persecution will be told later on. The Khalíf Wathik at length relented. [127]An old man, heavily chained, was one day brought into his presence. The prisoner obtained permission to put a few questions to Ahmad Ibn Abu Dá,úd, a Mutazilite and the President of the Court of Inquisition. The following dialogue took place. "Ahmad," said the prisoner, "what is the dogma which you desire to have established." "That the Qurán is created," replied Ahmad. "This dogma, then, is without doubt an essential part of religion, insomuch that the latter cannot without it be said to be complete?" "Certainly." "Has the Apostle of God taught this to men or has he left them free?" "He has left them free." "Was the Apostle of God acquainted with this dogma or not?" "He was acquainted with it." "Wherefore, then, do you desire to impose a belief regarding which the Apostle of God has left men free to think as they please?" Ahmad remaining silent, the old man turned to Wathik and said, "O Prince of Believers, here is my first position made good." Then turning to Ahmad, he said, "God has said, 'This day have I perfected religion for you, and have filled up the measures of my favours upon you; and it is my pleasure that Islám be your religion.' (Súra v. 5). But according to you Islám is not perfected unless we adopt this doctrine that the Qurán is created. Which now is most worthy of credence—God, when He declares Islám to be complete and perfect, or you when you announce the contrary?" Ahmad was still silent. "Prince of Believers," said the old man, "there is my second point made good." He continued, "Ahmad, how do you explain the following words of God in His Holy Book?—'O Apostle! proclaim all that hath been sent down to thee from thy Lord; for if thou dost not, thou hast not proclaimed His message at all.' Now this doctrine that you desire to spread among the Faithful, has the Apostle taught it, or has he abstained from doing so?" Ahmad remained silent. The old man resumed, "Prince of Believers, such is my third argument." Then turning to Ahmad he said: "If the Prophet was acquainted with the doctrine [128]which you desire to impose upon us, had he the right to pass by it in silence?" "He had the right." "And did the same right appertain to Abu Bakr, Omar, Osmán and 'Ali?" "It did," "Prince of Believers," said the prisoner, "God will, in truth, be severe on us, if He deprives us of a liberty which He accorded to the Prophet and his Companions." The Khalíf assented, and at once restored the old man to liberty. So ended one of the fiercest persecutions the orthodox have ever had to endure, but so also ended the attempt to break through the barriers of traditionalism.[114] The next Khalíf, Al Mutawakhil, a ferocious and cruel man, restored the orthodox party to place and power. He issued a fatva (decree) declaring that the dogma that the Qurán was created was an utter falsehood. He instituted severe measures against Christians, Jews, Shía'hs and Mutazilites. Ahmad Ibn Abu Dá,úd was one of the first to be disgraced. Heresy and latitudinarianism were banished.

The final blow to the Mutazilites, however, came not from the Khalíf but a little later on from Abu Hasan-al-Ash'arí (270-340 A.H.)

The Mutazilites expelled from power in Baghdád, still flourished at Basra where one day the following incident occurred. Abu 'Alí Al-Jubbai, a Mutazilite doctor, was lecturing to his students when Al-Ash'arí propounded the following case to his master: "There were three brothers, one of whom was a true believer, virtuous and pious; the second an infidel, a debauchee and a reprobate; and the third an infant; they all died. What became of them?" Al-Jubbai answered: "The virtuous brother holds a high station in Paradise, the infidel is in the depths of hell, and the child is among those who have obtained salvation." [129]"Suppose now," said Al-Ash'arí, "that the child should wish to ascend to the place occupied by his virtuous brother, would he be allowed to do so?" "No," replied Al-Jubbai, "it would be said to him: 'thy brother arrived at this place through His numerous works of obedience to God, and thou hast no such works to set forward.'" "Suppose then," said Al-Ash'arí, "that the child should say: 'this is not my fault, you did not let me live long enough, neither did you give me the means of proving my obedience.'" "In that case," said Al-Jubbai, "the Almighty would say: 'I knew that if I allowed thee to live, thou wouldest have been disobedient and have incurred the punishment of hell: I acted, therefore, for thy advantage.'" "Well," said Al-Ash'arí, "and suppose the infidel brother were here to say: 'O God of the Universe! since Thou knowest what awaited him, Thou must have known what awaited me; why then didst Thou act for his advantage and not for mine?'"[115] Al-Jubbai was silent, though very angry with his pupil, who was now convinced that the Mutazilite dogma of man's free-will was false, and that God elects some for mercy and some for punishment without any motive whatever. Disagreeing with his teacher on this point, he soon began to find other points of difference, and soon announced his belief that the Qurán was not created. This occurred on a Friday in the Great Mosque at Basra. Seated in his chair he cried out in a loud voice: "They who know me know who I am; as for those who do not know me I shall tell them; I am 'Alí Ibn Ismá'íl Al-Ash'arí, and I used to hold that the Qurán was created, that the eyes (of men) shall not see God, and that we ourselves are the authors of our evil deeds; now, I have returned to the truth: I renounce these opinions, and I take the engagement to refute the Mutazilites and expose their infamy and turpitude."[116]

He then, adopting scholastic methods, started a school of [130]thought of his own, which was in the main a return to orthodoxy. The Ash'arían doctrines differ slightly from the tenets of the Sifátians of which sect Al-Ash'arí's disciples form a branch. The Ash'aríans hold—

(i.) That the attributes of God are distinct from His essence, yet in such a way as to forbid any comparison being made between God and His creatures. They say they are not "'ain nor ghair:" not of His essence, nor distinct from it: i.e., they cannot be compared with any other things.

(ii.) That God has one eternal will from which proceed all things, the good and the evil, the useful and the hurtful. The destiny of man was written on the eternal table before the world was created. So far they go with the Sifátians, but in order to preserve the moral responsibility of man they say that he has power to convert will into action. But this power cannot create anything new for then God's sovereignty would be impaired; so they say that God in His providence so orders matters that whenever "a man desires to do a certain thing, good or bad, the action corresponding to the desire is, there and then, created by God, and, as it were, fitted on to the desire." Thus it seems as if it came naturally from the will of the man, whereas it does not. This action is called Kasb (acquisition) because it is acquired by a special creative act of God. It is an act directed to the obtaining of profit, or the removing of injury: the term is, therefore, inapplicable to the Deity. Abu Bakr-al-Bakillání, a disciple of Al-Ash'arí, says: "The essence or substance of the action is the effect of the power of God, but its being an action of obedience, such as prayer, or an action of disobedience, such as fornication, are qualities of the action, which proceed from the power of man." The Imám Al-Haramain (419-478 A.H.) held "that the actions of men were effected by the power which God has created in man." Abu Isháq al Isfarayain says: "That which maketh impression, or hath influence on action, is a compound of the power of God and the power of man." [131]

(iii.) They say that the word of God is eternal, though they acknowledge that the vocal sounds used in the Qurán, which is the manifestation of that word, are created. They say, in short, that the Qurán contains (1) the eternal word which existed in the essence of God before time was; and (2) the word which consists of sounds and combinations of letters. This last they call the created word.

Thus Al-Ash'arí traversed the main positions of the Mutazilites, denying that man can by the aid of his reason alone rise to the knowledge of good and evil. He must exercise no judgment but accept all that is revealed. He has no right to apply the moral laws which affect men to the actions of God. It cannot be asserted by the human reason that the good will be rewarded, or the bad punished in a future world. Man must always approach God as a slave, in whom there is no light or knowledge to judge of the actions of the Supreme. Whether God will accept the penitent sinner or not cannot be asserted, for He is an absolute Sovereign, above all law.[117]

The opinions of the more irrational sub-divisions of the Sifátians need not be entered into at any length.

The Mushábihites (or Assimilators), interpreting some of the mutashábih verses literally, held that there is a resemblance between God and His creatures; and that the Deity is capable of local motion, of ascending, descending, &c. These they called "declarative attributes." The Mujassimians (or Corporealists) declared God to be corporeal, by which some of them meant, a self-subsisting body, whilst others declared the Deity to be finite. They are acknowledged to be heretics.


The Jabríans gave great prominence to the denial of free agency in man, and thus opposed the Mutazilites, who in this respect are Kadríans, that is, they deny "Al-Kadr," God's absolute sovereignty, and recognize free will in man.

These and various other sub-divisions are not now of much importance. The Sunnís follow the teaching of Al-Ash'arí, whilst the Shí'ahs incline to that of the Mutazilites.

Connected with the subject of the attributes of God is that of the names to be used when speaking of Him. All sects agree in this, that the names "The Living, the Wise, the Powerful, the Hearer, the Seer, the Speaker," &c., are to be applied to God; but the orthodox belief is that all such names must be "tauqífi," that is dependent on some revelation. Thus it is not lawful to apply a name to God expressive of one of His attributes, unless there is some statement made, or order given by Muhammad to legalize it. God is rightly called Sháfí (Healer), but He cannot be called Tabíb which means much the same thing, for the simple reason that the word Tabíb is never applied in the Qurán or the Traditions to God. In like manner the term 'Álim (Knower) is lawful, but not so the expression 'Áqil (Wise). The Mutazilites say that if, in the Qurán or Traditions, there is any praise of an attribute, then the adjective formed from the name of that attribute can be applied to God even though the actual word does not occur in any revelation. Al-Ghazzálí (A.H. 450-505), who gave in the East the death-blow to the Muslim philosophers, says: "The names of God not given in the Law, if expressive of His glory, may be used of Him, but only as expressive of His attributes, not of His nature." On the ground that it does not occur in the Law, the Persian word "Khuda" has been objected to, an objection which also holds good with regard to the use of such terms as God, Dieu, Gott, &c. To this it is answered, that as "Khuda" means "one who comes by himself" it is equivalent to the term Wájib-ul-Wajúd, [133]"one who has necessary existence," and therefore so long as it is not considered as the "Ism-i-Zát (name of His nature) it may with propriety be used."[118]

The current belief now seems to be that the proper name equal to the term Alláh, current in a language, can be used, provided always that such a name is not taken from the language of the Infidels; so God, Dieu, &c, still remain unlawful. The names of God authorised by the Qurán and Traditions are, exclusive of the term Alláh, ninety-nine in number. They are called the Asmá-i-Husná[119] (noble names); but in addition to these there are many synonyms used on the authority of Ijmá'. Such are Hanán, equal to Rahím (Merciful) and Manán, "one who puts another under an obligation." In the Tafsír-i-Bahr it is stated that there are three thousand names of God; one thousand of which are known to angels; one thousand to prophets; whilst one thousand are thus distributed, viz., in the Pentateuch there are three hundred, in the Psalms three hundred, in the Gospels three hundred, in the Qurán ninety-nine, and one still hidden.

The following texts of the Qurán are adduced to prove the nature of the divine attributes:—

(1). Life. "There is no God but He, the Living, the Eternal." (Súra ii. 256). "Put thy trust in Him that liveth and dieth not." (Súra xxv. 60).

(2). Knowledge. "Dost thou not see that God knoweth all that is in the heavens, and all that is in the earth." (Súra lviii. 8). "With Him are the keys of the secret things; none knoweth them but He: He knoweth whatever is on the land and in the sea; and no leaf falleth but He knoweth it; neither is there a grain in the darknesses of the earth, nor a thing green or sere, but it is noted in a distinct writing." (Súra vi. 59).


(3). Power. "If God pleased, of their ears and of their eyes would He surely deprive them. Verily God is Almighty." (Súra ii. 19). "Is He not powerful enough to quicken the dead." (Súra lxxv. 40). "God hath power over all things." (Súra iii. 159.)

(4). Will. "God is worker of that He willeth." (Súra lxxxv. 16). "But if God pleased, He would surely bring them, one and all, to the guidance." (Súra vi. 35). "God misleadeth whom He will, and whom He will He guideth—God doeth His pleasure." (Súra xiv. 4, 32).

As this attribute is closely connected with the article of the Creed which refers to Predestination, the different opinions regarding it will be stated under that head.

There has never been any difference of opinion as to the existence of these four attributes so clearly described in the Qurán: the difference is with regard to the mode of their existence and their operation. There is, first, the ancient Sifátian doctrine that the attributes are eternal and of the essence of God: secondly, the Mutazilite theory that they are not eternal; and, thirdly, the Ash'arían dogma that they are eternal, but distinct from His essence.

There is also great difference of opinion with regard to the next three attributes—hearing, sight, speech. For the existence of the two first of these the following verses are quoted, "He truly heareth and knoweth all things." (Súra xliv. 5). "No vision taketh in Him, but He taketh in all vision." (Súra vi. 103).

The use of the terms sitting, rising, &c., hands, face, eyes, and so on, gave rise as I have shown to several sub-divisions of the Sifátians. Al-Ghazzálí says: "He sits upon His throne after that manner which He has Himself described and in that sense which He Himself means, which is a sitting far remote from any notion of contact or resting upon, or local situation." This is the Ash'arían idea, but between the Ash'aríans and those who fell into the error of the [135]Mujassimians,[120] there was another school. The followers of Imám Ibn Hanbal say that such words represent the attributes existing in God. The words "God sits on His throne" mean that He has the power of sitting. Thus, they say, "We keep the literal meaning of the words, we allow no figurative interpretation. To do so is to introduce a dangerous principle of interpretation, for the negation of the apparent sense of a passage may tend to weaken the authority of revelation. At the same time we do not pretend to explain the act, for it is written: 'There is none like unto Him.' (Súra cxii.) 'Nought is there like Him.' (Súra xlii. 9.) 'Unworthy the estimate they form of God.'" (Súra xxii. 73.) To prove that God occupies a place they produce the following Tradition: "Ibn-al-Hákim wished to give liberty to a female slave Saouda and consulted the Prophet about it. Muhammad said to her, 'Where is God?' 'In heaven,' she replied. 'Set her at liberty, she is a true believer.'" Not, say the Commentators, because she believed that God occupied a place but because she took the words in their literal signification. The Shí'ahs consider it wrong to attribute to God movement, quiescence, &c, for these imply the possession of a body. They hold, too, in opposition to the orthodox that God will never be seen, for that which is seen is limited by space.

The seventh attribute—speech—has been fruitful of a very long and important controversy connected with the nature of the Qurán, for the word "Kalám" means not mere speech, but revelation and every other mode of communicating intelligence. Al-Ghazzálí says:—

"He doth speak, command, forbid, promise, and threaten by an eternal ancient word, subsisting in His essence. Neither is it like to the word of the creatures, nor doth it consist in a voice arising from the commotion of the air and the collision of bodies, nor letters [136]which are separated by the joining together of the lips or the motion of the tongue. The Qurán, the Law, the Gospel and the Psalter are books sent down by Him to His Apostles, and the Qurán, indeed, is read with tongues written in books, and is kept in hearts; yet, as subsisting in the essence of God, it doth not become liable to separation and division whilst it is transferred into the hearts and on to paper. Thus Moses also heard the word of God without voice or letter, even as the saints behold the essence of God without substance or accident."

The orthodox believe that God is really a speaker: the Mutazilites deny this, and say that He is only called a speaker because He is the originator of words and sounds.

They also bring the following objections to bear against the doctrine of the eternity of the Qurán. (1) It is written in Arabic, it descended, is read, is heard, and is written. It was the subject of a miracle. It is divided into parts and some verses are abrogated by others. (2) Events are described in the past tense, but if the Qurán had been eternal the future tense would have been used. (3) The Qurán contains commands and prohibitions; if it is eternal who were commanded and who were admonished? (4) If it has existed from eternity it must exist to eternity, and so even in the last day, and in the next world, men will be under the obligation of performing the same religious duties as they do now, and of keeping all the outward precepts of the law. (5) If the Qurán is eternal, then there are two eternals.

The position thus assailed was not at first a hard and fast dogma of Islám. It was more a speculative opinion than anything else, but the opposition of the Mutazilites soon led all who wished to be considered orthodox to become not only stout assertors of the eternity of the Qurán, but to give up their lives in defence of what they believed to be true. The Mutazilites by asserting the subjective nature of the Quránic inspiration brought the book itself within the reach of criticism. This was too much for orthodox Islám to bear even though the Khalíf Mámún in the [137]year 212 A.H. issued a fatva declaring that all who asserted the eternity of the Qurán were guilty of heresy. Some six years after this, the Imám Ahmad Ibn Hanbal was severely beaten, and then imprisoned because he refused to assent to the truth of the decree issued by the Khalíf. Al Buwaiti, a famous disciple of As-Sháfa'í, used an ingenious argument to fortify his own mind when being punished by the order of the Khalíf. He was taken all the way from Cairo to Baghdád and told to confess that the Qurán was created. On his refusal, he was imprisoned at Baghdád and there remained in chains till the day of his death. As Ar-Rábí Ibn Sulaimán says: "I saw Al Buwaiti mounted on a mule: round his neck was a wooden collar, on his legs were fetters, from these to the collar extended an iron chain to which was attached a clog weighing fifty pounds. Whilst they led him on he continued repeating these words, 'Almighty God created the world by means of the word Be! Now, if that word was created, one created thing would have created another.'"[121] Al Buwaiti here refers to the verse, "Verily our speech unto a thing when we will the same, is that we only say to it, 'Be,' and it is,—Kun fayakúna." (Súra xxxvi. 82). This, in the way Al Buwaiti applied it, is a standing argument of the orthodox to prove the eternity of the Qurán.

When times changed men were put to death for holding the opposite opinion. The Imám As-Sháfa'í held a public disputation in Baghdád with Hafs, a Mutazilite preacher, on this very point. Sháfa'í quoted the verse, "God said be, and it was," and asked, "Did not God create all things by the word be?" Hafs assented. "If then the Qurán was created, must not the word be have been created with it?" Hafs could not deny so plain a proposition. "Then," said Sháfa'í, "All things, according to you, were created by a created being, which is a gross inconsistency and manifest [138]impiety." Hafs was reduced to silence, and such an effect had Sháfa'í's logic on the audience that they put Hafs to death as a pestilent heretic. Thus did the Ash'arían opinions on the subject of the Divine attributes again gain the mastery.[122]

The Mutazilites failed, and the reason why is plain. They were, as a rule, influenced by no high spiritual motives; often they were mere quibblers. They sought no light in an external revelation. Driven to a reaction by the rigid system they combated, they would have made reason alone their chief guide. The nobler spirits among them were impotent to regenerate the faith they professed to follow. It was, however, a great movement, and at one time, it threatened to change the whole nature of Islám. This period of Muslim history, famed as that in which the effort was made to cast off the fetters of the rigid system which Islám was gradually tightening by the increased authority given to traditionalism, and to the refinements of the four Imáms, was undoubtedly a period of, comparatively speaking, high civilization. Baghdád, the capital of the Khalífate, was a busy, populous, well-governed city. This it mainly owed to the influence of the Persian family of the Barmecides, one of whom was Vizier to the Khalíf Hárún-ur-Rashíd. Hárún's fame as a good man is quite undeserved. It is true that he was a patron of learning, that his Empire was extensive, that he gained many victories, that his reign was the culminating point of Arab grandeur. But for all that, he was a morose despot, a cruel man, thoroughly given up to pleasures of a very questionable nature. Drunkenness and debauchery were common at court. Plots and intrigues were ever at work. Such was the state of one of the greatest, if not the greatest, periods [139]of Muslim rule. This, too, was at a time most favourable for the development of any good which Islám might have possessed. It should be remembered that whatever glory is rightly attached to this period is connected with an epoch when heresy was specially prevalent, when orthodoxy was weak in Baghdád. The culture of the time was in spite of, not on account of, the influence of orthodox Islám.

2. Angels.—Of this article of the creed Muhammad Al-Berkevi says:—

"We must confess that God has angels who act according to His order and who do not rebel against Him. They neither eat nor drink, nor is there amongst them any difference of sex. Some are near the throne of God; those are His messengers. Each one has his particular work. Some are on earth, some in heaven, some are always standing, some always prostrate themselves and some laud and praise God. Others have charge of men and record all their actions. Some angels are high in stature and are possessed of great power. Such an one is Gabriel (Jibrá,íl) who in the space of one hour can descend from heaven to earth, and who with one wing can lift up a mountain.

We must believe in 'Izrá,íl who receives the souls of men when they die, and in Isráfíl into whose charge is committed the trumpet. This trumpet he has actually in his hand, and placed to his mouth ready to blow when God gives the order. When he receives that order he will blow such a terrible blast that all living things will die.[123] This is the commencement of the last day. The world will remain in this state of death forty years. Then God Most High will revive Isráfíl who will blow a second blast, at the sound of which all the dead will rise to life."[124]

This confession of faith makes no mention of Míká,íl (Michael), the fourth of the archangels. His special duty is to see that all created beings have what is needful for them. He has charge of the rain-fall, plants, grain and all that is required for the sustenance of men, beasts, fishes, &c. Gabriel's special charge is the communication of God's will to prophets. The words "one terrible in power" (Súra liii. 5) [140]are generally applied to him. He is honoured with the privilege of nearness to God. Tradition says that on the night of the Mi'ráj, the Prophet saw that Gabriel had six hundred wings, and that his body was so large that from one shoulder to the other the distance was so great that a swift flying bird would require five hundred years to pass over it.

Nine-tenths of all created beings are said to be angels who are formed of light. Their rank is stationary, and each is content with the position he occupies. Their one desire is to love and to know God. Whatever he commands they do. "All beings in the heaven and on the earth are His: and they who are in His presence disdain not His service, neither are they wearied: they praise Him day and night." (Súra xxi. 19, 20.) They are free from all sin.[125] It is true that they did not wish for the creation of Adam, and this may seem like a want of confidence in God. It is said, however, that their object was not to oppose God, but to relieve their minds of the doubts they had in the matter. Thus "when the Lord said to the angels, 'Verily, I am about to place one in my stead on earth,' they said: 'Wilt Thou place there one who will do ill therein, and shed blood when we celebrate thy praise and extol thy holiness.' God said: 'Verily I know what ye know not.'" It is true that Iblís was disobedient, but then he belonged not to the angelic order but to that of the jinn. "When we said to the angels, 'prostrate yourselves before Adam,' they all prostrated themselves save Iblís, who was of the jinn, and revolted from his Lord's behest." (Súra xviii. 48.) (See also Súra ii. 33.)

Angels appear in human form on special occasions, but usually they are invisible. It is a common belief that animals can see angels and devils. This accounts for the saying, "If you hear a cock crow, pray for mercy, for it has seen an angel; but if you hear an ass bray, take refuge with God, for it has seen a devil."


The angels intercede for man: "The angels celebrate the praise of their Lord and ask forgiveness for the dwellers on earth." (Súra xlii. 3.) They also act as guardian angels: "Each hath a succession of angels before him and behind him who watch over him by God's behest." (Súra xiii. 12.) "Is it not enough for you that your Lord aideth you with three thousand angels sent down from on high?" (Súra iii. 120.) "Supreme over His servants He sendeth forth guardians who watch over you, until when death overtaketh any one of you our messengers take his soul and fail not." (Súra vi. 61.)

In the Traditions it is said that God has appointed for every man two angels to watch over him by day, and two by night. The one stands on the right hand side of the man, the other on his left. Some, however, say that they reside in the teeth, and that the tongue of the man is the pen and the saliva of the mouth the ink.[126] They protect the actions of men and record them all whether good or bad. They are called the Mua'qqibát, i.e., those who succeed one another. They also bear the name of Kirám-ul-Kátibín, "the exalted writers." They are referred to in the Qurán. "Think they that we hear not their secrets and their private talk? Yes, and our angels who are at their sides write them down." (Súra xliii. 80).

There are eight angels who support the throne of God. "And the angels shall be on its sides, and over them on that day eight shall bear up the throne of thy Lord." (Súra lxix. 17). Nineteen have charge of hell. "Over it are nineteen. None but angels have we made guardians of the fire." (Súra lxxiv. 30).

There is a special arrangement made by Providence to mitigate the evils of Satanic interference. "Iblís," says Jábir Maghrabí, "though able to assume all other forms is not permitted to appear in the semblance of the Deity, or [142]any of His angels, or prophets. There would otherwise be much danger to human salvation, as he might, under the appearance of one of the prophets, or of some superior being, make use of this power to seduce men to sin. To prevent this, whenever he attempts to assume such forms, fire comes down from heaven and repulses him."

The story of Hárút and Márút is of some interest from its connection with the question of the impeccability of the angels. Speaking of those who reject God's Apostle the Qurán says: "And they followed what the Satans read in the reign of Solomon; not that Solomon was unbelieving, but the Satans were unbelieving. Sorcery did they teach to men, and what had been revealed to the two angels Hárút and Márút at Bábel. Yet no man did these two teach until they had said, 'We are only a temptation. Be not thou an unbeliever.'" (Súra ii. 96). Here it is quite clear that two angels teach sorcery, which is generally allowed to be an evil. Some explanation has to be given. Commentators are by no means reticent on this subject. The story goes that in the time of the prophet Enoch when the angels saw the bad actions of men they said: "O Lord! Adam and his descendants whom Thou has appointed as Thy vice-regents on earth act disobediently." To which the Lord replied: "If I were to send you on earth, and to give you lustful and angry dispositions, you too would sin." The angels thought otherwise; so God told them to select two of their number who should undergo this ordeal. They selected two, renowned for devotion and piety. God having implanted in them the passions of lust and anger said: "All day go to and fro on the earth, put an end to the quarrels of men, ascribe no equal to Me, do not commit adultery, drink no wine, and every night repeat the Ism-ul-A'zam, the exalted name (of God) and return to heaven." This they did for some time, but at length a beautiful woman named Zuhra (Venus) led them astray. One day she brought them a cup of wine. One said: [143]"God has forbidden it;" the other, "God is merciful and forgiving." So they drank the wine, killed the husband of Zuhra, to whom they revealed the "exalted name," and fell into grievous sin. Immediately after, they found that the "name" had gone from their memories and so they could not return to heaven as usual. They were very much concerned at this and begged Enoch to intercede for them. The prophet did so, and with such success that the angels were allowed to choose between a present or a future punishment. They elected to be punished here on earth. They were then suspended with their heads downwards in a well at Bábel. Some say that angels came and whipped them with rods of fire, and that a fresh spring ever flowed just beyond the reach of their parched lips. The woman was changed to a star. Some assert that it was a shooting star which has now passed out of existence. Others say that she is the star Venus.

It is only right to state that the Qází 'Ayáz, Imám Fakhr-ud-dín Rází (544-606 A.H.), Qází Násir-ud-dín Baidaví (620-691 A.H.) and most scholastic divines deny the truth of this story. They say that angels are immaculate, but it is plain that this does not meet the difficulty which the Qurán itself raises in connection with Hárút and Márút. They want to know how beings in such a state can teach, and whether it is likely that men would have the courage to go near such a horrible scene. As to the woman, they think the whole story absurd, not only because the star Venus was created before the time of Adam, but also because it is inconceivable that one who was so wicked should have the honour of shining in heaven for ever. A solution, however, they are bound to give, and it is this. Magic is a great art which God must allow mankind to know. The dignity of the order of prophets is so great that they cannot teach men what is confessedly hurtful. Two angels were therefore sent, and so men can now distinguish between the miracles of prophets, the signs of [144]saints, the wonders of magicians and others. Then Hárút and Márút always discouraged men from learning magic. They said to those who came to them: "We are only a temptation. Be not thou an unbeliever." Others assert that it is a Jewish allegory in which the two angels represent reason and benevolence, the woman the evil appetites. The woman's ascent to heaven represents death.

To this solution of the difficulty, however, the great body of the Traditionists do not agree. They declare that the story is a Hadís-i-Sahíh, and that the Isnád is sound and good. I name only a few of the great divines who hold this view. They are Imám Ibn Hanbal, Ibn Ma'súd, Ibn 'Umr, Ibn 'Abbás, Háfiz 'Asqallání[127] and others. Jelál-ud-din Syútí in his commentary the Dúrr-i-Mashúr, has given all the Traditions in order and, though there is some variety in the details, the general purport accords with the narrative as I have related it. The Traditionists answer the objections of the Scholastics thus. They say that angels are immaculate only so long as they remain in the angelic state; that, though confined, Hárút and Márút can teach magic, for a word or two is quite sufficient for that purpose; that some men have no fear and, if they have, it is quite conceivable that the two angels may teach through the instrumentality of devils or jinn. With regard to the woman Zuhra they grant that to be changed into a bright star is of the nature of a reward; but they say the desire to learn the "exalted name" was so meritorious an act that the good she desired outweighs the evil she did. With regard to the date of the creation of the star Venus, it is said that all our astronomical knowledge is based on observations made since the Flood, whereas this story relates to the times of Enoch who lived before the days of Noah. So the dispute goes on and men of great repute for learning and knowledge believe in the story.


Munkir and Nakír are two fierce-looking black angels with blue eyes who visit every man in his grave, and examine him with regard to his faith in God and in Muhammad. The dead are supposed to dwell in 'Álam-i-barzakh, a state of existence intervening between the present life and the life of mankind after the resurrection.[128] This is the meaning of the word "grave" when used in this connection. Unbelievers and wicked Muslims suffer trouble in that state; true believers who can give a good answer to the angels are happy. Some suppose that a body of angels are appointed for this purpose and that some of them bear the name of Munkir, and some that of Nakír and that, just as each man has two recording angels during his lifetime, two from this class are appointed to examine him after death. There is a difference of opinion with regard to children. The general belief is that the children of believers will be questioned, but that the angels will teach them to say: "Alláh is my Lord, Islám my religion, and Muhammad my Prophet." With regard to the children of unbelievers being questioned, Imám Abu Hanífa hesitated to give an opinion. He also doubted about their punishment. Some think they will be in A'ráf, a place between heaven and hell; others suppose that they will be servants to the true believers in Paradise.

Distinct from the angels there is another order of beings made of fire called jinn (genii.) It is said that they were created thousands of years before Adam came into existence. "We created man of dried clay, of dark loam moulded, and the jinn had been before created of subtle fire." (Súra xv. 26, 27.) They eat, drink, propagate their species and are subject to death, though they generally live many centuries. They dwell chiefly in the Koh-i-Káf, a chain of mountains supposed to encompass the world:[129] [146]some are believers in Islám; some are infidels, and will be punished. "I will wholly fill hell with jinn and men." (Súra xi. 120.) The Súra called Súrat-ul-Jinn (lxxii.) refers to their belief in Islám. The passage is too long to quote. They try to hear[130] what is going on in heaven. "We guard them (i.e., men) from every stoned Satan, save such as steal a hearing." (Súra xv. 18.) They were under the power of Solomon and served him. (Súra xxxviii. 36.) An 'Ifrít of the jinn said, "I will bring it thee (Solomon) ere thou risest from thy place: I have power for this and am trusty." (Súra xxvii. 39.) At the last day the jinn also will be questioned. Imám Hanífa doubted whether the jinn who are Muslims will be rewarded. The unbelieving jinn will assuredly be punished. Tradition classifies them in the following order: (1) Jánn, (2) Jinn, (3) Shaitán, (4) 'Ifrít, (5) Márid. Many fables have been invented concerning these beings, and though intelligent Muslims may doubt these wonderful accounts, yet a belief in the order of jinn is imperative, at least, as long as there is belief in the Qurán. Those who wish to know more of this subject will find a very interesting chapter on it in Lane's Modern Egyptians.

3. The Books.—Al Berkevi says:—

"It is necessary to believe that the books of God have been sent through the instrumentality of Gabriel, to prophets upon the earth. The books are never sent except to prophets. The Qurán was sent to Muhammad portion by portion during a space of 23 years. The Pentateuch came to Moses, the Injíl to Jesus, the Zabúr to David, and the other books to other prophets. The whole number of the Divine books is 104. The Qurán, the last of all, is to be followed till the day of judgment. It can neither be abrogated nor changed. Some laws of the previous books have been abrogated by the Qurán and ought not to be followed."

The one hundred and four books were sent from heaven in the following order:—To Adam, ten; to Seth, fifty; to Enoch (Idris), thirty; to Abraham, ten; to Moses, the [147]Taurát (Pentateuch); to David, the Zabúr (Psalms); to Jesus, the Injíl; to Muhammad, the Qurán. The one hundred to which no distinctive name is given are known as the "Suhúf-ul-Anbiya,"—Books of the Prophets. The Qurán is also known as the Furqán, the distinguisher; the Qurán-i-Sharíf, noble Qurán; the Quran-i-Majíd, glorious Qurán; the Mushaf, the Book. It is said to be the compendium of the Taurát, Zabúr and Injíl[131]; so Muslims do not require to study these books.[132] The orthodox belief is that they are entirely abrogated by the Qurán,[133] though Syed Ahmad denounces as ignorant and foolish those Musalmáns who say so.[134] Be that as it may, their inspiration is considered to be of a lower order than that of the Qurán. A large [148]portion of the Injíl is considered to be mere narrative. The actual words of Christ only are looked upon as the revelation which descended from heaven. It is so in the case of the Old Testament Prophets. "However, it was the rule to call a book by the name of the prophet, whether the subject-matter was pure doctrine only, or whether it was mixed up with narrative also." "It is to be observed that, in the case of our own Prophet, the revelations made to him were intended to impart a special miracle of eloquence and they were written down, literally and exactly, in the form in which they were communicated without any narrative being inserted in them."[135] The writings of the Apostles are not considered to be inspired books. "We do not consider that the Acts of the Apostles, or the various Epistles, although unquestionably very good books, are to be taken as part and parcel of the New Testament itself; nevertheless we look upon the writings of the Apostles in the same light as we do the writings of the Companions of our own Prophet; that is to say, as entitled to veneration and respect."[136] There are many verses in the Qurán which speak of previous revelations, thus: "We also caused Jesus, the son of Mary, to follow the footsteps of the prophets, confirming the law (Taurát) which was sent before him, and we gave him the Injíl with its guidance and light, confirmatory of the preceding law; a guidance and a warning to those that fear God." (Súra v. 50). "We believe in God, and that which hath been sent down to us, and that which hath been sent down to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and that which hath been given to Moses and to Jesus, and that which was given to the prophets from their Lord. No difference do we make between any of them: and to God are we resigned." (Súra ii. 130). "In truth hath He sent down to thee the Book, which confirmeth those that precede it, for He had sent down the [149]Law and the Injíl aforetime, as man's guidance; and now hath He sent down the Furqán." (Súra iii. 2).[137]

Practically, Musalmáns reject the Old and New Testaments. To do so is manifestly against the letter of the Qurán, and, as some reason for this neglect of previous Scriptures must be given, Muslim divines say that the Jewish and Christian Scriptures have been corrupted. The technical expression is "tahríf," a word signifying, to change, to turn aside anything from the truth. Then tahríf may be of two kinds, tahríf-i-m'anaví, a change in the meaning of words; tahríf-i-lafzí, an actual change of the written words. Most Musalmáns maintain that the latter kind of corruption has taken place, and so they do not feel bound to read or study the previous revelations so frequently referred to in the Qurán. The charge brought against the Jews of corrupting their Scriptures is based on the following verse of the Qurán: "Some truly are there among you who torture the Scriptures with their tongues, in order that ye may suppose it to be from the Scripture, yet it is not from the Scripture. And they say: 'this is from God,' yet it is not from God; and they utter a lie against God, and they know they do so." (Súra iii. 72.) All the ancient commentators assert that this only proved tahríf-i-m'anaví; that is, that the Jews referred to either misinterpreted what they read, or, whilst professing to read from the Scripture, used expressions not found therein. It does not mean that they altered the text of their Scriptures. This, however, does not excuse Musalmáns for their neglect of the previous Scriptures, and so the orthodox divines of modern times maintain that the greater corruption—the tahríf-i-lafzí, has taken place. The question is fully discussed, and the opinion of the earlier commentators endorsed by Syed Ahmad in his Commentary on the Bible.[138]


4. Prophets.—Muhammad Al Berkevi says:—

"It is necessary to confess that God has sent prophets; that Adam is the first of the prophets and the father of all men; that Muhammad is the last of the prophets; that between Adam and Muhammad there were a great number of prophets; that Muhammad is the most excellent of all and that his people are the best of all peoples; that each of the preceding prophets was sent to a special people, some with books, some without, but that Muhammad was sent to all men and also to the genii; that his law will remain until the end of the world, that his miracles are many in number, that by his blessed finger he made waters flow, that he divided the moon into two parts, that animals, trees, and stones said to him: 'Thou art a true prophet.'

We must also believe that one night he was transported from Mecca to Jerusalem, and from thence to heaven, where he saw both paradise and hell, conversed with the Most High and returned to Mecca before morning. After him no other prophet will come, for he is the seal of the prophets."

The number of prophets sent by God to make known His will varies according to the Tradition which records it. About two hundred thousand is the usual number stated. Twenty-five are mentioned by name in the Qurán, of whom six are distinguished by special titles. Adam, Sufi Ulláh, the chosen of God; Noah, Nabí Ulláh, the prophet of God; Abraham, Khalíl Ulláh, the friend of God; Moses, Kalím Ulláh, the speaker with God; Jesus, Rúh Ulláh, the spirit of God; Muhammad, Rasúl Ulláh, the messenger of God. These are called the Anbiya-ulul-'Azm (possessors of purpose) because they were the heads of their respective dispensations, and because they will be permitted by God to intercede in the day of judgment for their followers. They are the greatest and most exalted of the prophets.[139]

There are degrees of rank amongst the prophets, for "Some of the Apostles have We endowed more highly than others. Those to whom God hath spoken, He hath raised to the loftiest grade, and to Jesus, the Son of Mary We gave [151]manifest signs, and We strengthened him with the Holy Spirit." (Súra ii. 254). The Anbiya-ulul-'Azm are ranked in the following order: Noah, Jesus, Moses, Abraham and as the chief of all, Muhammad, of whom it is said: "He is the Apostle of God and the seal of the prophets." (Súra xxxiii. 40).

A Tradition, as usual, supports his position. "I am the chief of the sons of men." "Adam and all beside him will be ranged under my flag in the judgment day."[140] It is said that the law given by Moses was harsh and severe; that by Christ was mild and gracious; but that the law given by Muhammad is perfect, for it combines both the quality of strictness and that of graciousness; according to the Tradition: "I always laugh and by laughing kill."[141] Each prophet is said to have been sent to his own tribe, but Muhammad was sent for all men. A Tradition is adduced to support this statement: "I was raised up for all men whether white or black, other prophets were not except for their own tribe." The Qurán also states: "We have sent thee (Muhammad) for all men."

There is some difference of opinion as to whether the prophets are superior to the angels. The Hanífites hold that the prophets amongst men are superior to the prophets amongst angels, who in their turn are superior to the ordinary run of men, to whom again the angels, other than prophets, are inferior. The Mutazilites say that the angels are superior to the prophets. The Shía'hs assert that the twelve Imáms are superior to prophets.

The way in which Muhammad received inspiration has been shown in a previous chapter; but Ibn Khaldoun gives such an interesting account of prophetic inspiration that I give the substance of his remarks here. He speaks somewhat as follows.[142] If we contemplate the world and the creatures it contains we shall recognize a perfect order, a regular [152]system, a sequence of cause and effect, a connexion between different categories of existence, and a transformation of beings from one category of existence to another. Then the phenomena of the visible world indicate to us the existence of an agent whose nature is different from that of the body, who is in fact a spiritual existence. This agent, which is the soul, must on the one hand be in contact with the existences of this world and, on the other, with the existences in the next category of superiority, and one whose essential qualities are pure perception and clear intelligence. Such are the angels. It follows, then, that the human soul has a tendency towards the angelic world. All this is quite in accordance with the idea that, according to a regular order, all the categories of existences in the universe are in mutual contact by means of their faculties and on account of their nature.

The souls of men may be divided into three classes. The first kind of soul is too feeble by nature to attain to a perception of the spiritual: it has to content itself with moving in the region of sense and imagination. Thus it can understand concepts and affirmations. It can raise itself high in its own category but cannot pass its limit.

The souls of the second class are carried by a reflective movement and a natural disposition towards a spiritual intelligence. They can enter into a state of contemplation which results in ecstasy. This is the intuition of the Saints (Auliya)[143] to whom God has given this divine knowledge.

The souls of the third class are created with the power of disengaging themselves altogether from their human bodies in order that they may rise to the angelic state where they become like angels. In a moment of time such [153]a soul perceives the sublime company (of angels) in the sphere which contains them. It, there and then, hears the speech of the soul and the divine voice. Such are the souls of the prophets. God has given to these souls the power of leaving the human body. Whilst thus separate from it God gives to them His revelation. The prophets are endowed by God with such a purity of disposition, such an instinct of uprightness, that they are naturally inclined to the spiritual world. They are animated by an ardour quite peculiar to their order. When they return from the angelic state they deliver to men the revelations they have received. Sometimes the revelation comes to the prophet as the humming of confused discourse. He grasps the ideas and, as soon as the humming ceases, he comprehends the message; sometimes an angel in human form communicates the revelation, and what he says the prophet learns by heart. The journey to, the return from the angelic state, and the comprehension of the revelation received there occupy less time than the twinkling of an eye. So rapidly do the souls of prophets move. So instantaneously do they receive and understand God's revelations. This is why inspiration is called Wahí, a word which, according to Ibn Khaldoun, means to make haste.

The first way of delivering a message is adopted when he who receives it is only a Nabí (prophet), and not a Rasúl (apostle or messenger.) The second mode is employed towards a Rasúl who, on the principle that the greater contains the less, is also a Nabí. A Hadís records that Muhammad said: "Revelation came to me sometimes like the ticking of a clock and fatigued me much. When it stopped I learnt the meaning of what had been delivered to me. Sometimes an angel in human form spoke to me and, whilst he was speaking, I learnt what was said." That a prophet should feel oppressed on such occasions is hinted at in "With measured tone intone the Qurán, for we shall devolve on thee mighty words." (Súra lxxiii. 5.)


A Nabí, (who must be a wise and a free man, that is, one who is not a slave of another, and one also who is free from imperfection either of body or mind), receives Wahí but has not necessarily to deliver to men the orders of God. A Rasúl who must possess the same qualifications as a Nabí, is one who is commanded to deliver God's message to men, though he does not necessarily abrogate what preceding Rasúls have delivered. Neither is it necessary that he should bring a book or even a new law. Some Rasúls do so, but the distinguishing mark of the Rasúl is that he delivers to men commands direct from God, and is specially commissioned so to do. Thus every Rasúl is a Nabí, whilst every Nabí is not a Rasúl.

The question of the sinlessness of the prophets is one to which considerable attention has been paid by Muslim theologians. The orthodox belief is that they are free from sin. Some think that their freedom from sin is because the grace of God being ever in them in the richest fulness they are kept in the right path. The Ash'aríans believe that the power of sinning is not created in them.[144] The Mutazilites deny this, but admit the existence of some quality which keeps them from evil. These theories do not agree with actual facts. Prophets like other men commit faults, but here comes in the Muslim distinction of sins into gunáh-i-kabíra "great sins," and gunáh-i-saghíra "little sins." The gunáh-i-kabíra are, murder, adultery, disobedience to God and to parents, robbing of orphans, to accuse of adultery, to avoid fighting against infidels, drunkenness, to give or to take usury, to neglect the Friday prayers and the Ramazán fast, tyranny, backbiting, untrustworthiness, forgetting the Qurán after reading it, to avoid giving true or to give false witness, lying without sufficient reason,[145] to swear falsely or to swear by any other than God, flattery of tyrants, false judgments, giving short weight or measure, [155]magic, gambling, approval of the ceremonies of infidels, boasting of one's piety, calling on the names of deceased persons and beating the breast at such times,[146] dancing, music, neglect when opportunity offers of warning other persons with regard to the "commands and prohibitions" of God, disrespect to a Háfiz, to shave the beard, to omit saying the "darúd" (i.e. on whom and on whose family be the peace and mercy of God) whenever the name of Muhammad is mentioned.[147] These are all "great sins" and can only be forgiven after due repentance: the "little sins" are forgiven if some good actions are done. "Observe prayer at early morning, at the close of day, and at the approach of night; for the good deeds drive away the evil deeds." (Súra xi. 116).

Men may commit sin wittingly or unwittingly. It is the universal belief that a prophet never commits the greater sins in either way; but there is a difference of opinion with regard to the lesser sins. Some hold that they can do them unwittingly, though even then it is not in any thing connected with their office. Others again limit even this frailty to the period before "wahí" (inspiration) comes upon them. The general opinion, however, is that they are free from all sin, whether great or small. The frailties which they show are merely reckoned as faults and slight imperfections not amounting to sin.

This, to the Muslim mind at once disposes of a difficulty the Qurán itself raises on this point. With the exception of Jesus Christ, the Anbiya-ulul-'Azm are spoken of as doing what every one except an orthodox Muslim would call sin. Adam's transgression[148] is referred to in Súra ii. 29-37 and [156]in Súra vii. 10-24. I quote only one verse: "They said, 'O our Lord! with ourselves have we dealt unjustly; if Thou forgive us not and have not pity on us, we shall surely be of those that perish.'" The sin of Noah is not specified in the Qurán, yet it is plainly hinted at. "To Thee verily, O my Lord, do I repair lest I ask that of Thee wherein I have no knowledge: unless Thou forgive me and be merciful to me I shall be one of the lost." (Súra xi. 49). There is also a similar request in Súra lxxi. 29. Abraham is represented as saying to his people: "They whom ye worship, ye and your fathers of early days, are my foes; but not so the Lord of the worlds, who hath created me, and guideth me, who giveth me food and drink; and when I am sick, he healeth me, and who will cause me to die and again quicken me, and who, I hope, will forgive me my sins in the day of reckoning." (Súra xxvi. 75-82). Moses is described as having done "a work of Satan" in killing a man, and as saying: "'O my Lord, I have sinned to my own hurt; forgive me.' So God forgave him; for He is the forgiving, the merciful. He said: 'Lord, because thou hast showed me this grace, I will never again be the helper of the wicked.'" (Súra xxviii. 15, 16).

The following passages refer to Muhammad. "Be thou steadfast and patient; for true is the promise of God; and seek pardon for thy fault."[149] (Súra xl. 57). "Ask pardon for thy sin, and for believers, both men and women." (Súra xlvii. 21). The scandal caused by the Prophet's conduct with the wife of Zeid, and with the Egyptian slave Mary, necessitated a pretended revelation of God's will in reference to these events. The circumstances will be found fully detailed in Súra xxxiii. 36-38 and in Súra lxvi. 1-5.

One of the most important verses is: "Verily, we have won for thee an undoubted victory, in token that God forgiveth thy earlier and later fault." (Súra xlviii. 1-2). [157]It is not quite clear what victory is here referred to. According to the Tafsír-i-Husainí, some commentators say that it is the taking of Mecca, the past tense being prophetically used for the future. The following explanations are given of the expression "earlier and later fault." (1) God has forgiven thy sin committed before and after the descent of wahí, (2) before and after the taking of Mecca, or (3) before the descent of this Súra. (4) The commentator Salmí says: "The earlier sin refers to the sin of Adam committed when Muhammad was in the loins of his great ancestor and thus connected with him; the later sin refers to the followers of the Prophet, and in that way is connected with him, just as the sin of Adam was the predecessor and the cause of their sin." (5) Imám Abu'l-Lais says: "The words refer to the sin of Adam, and to those of the followers of the Prophet. Both are connected with Muhammad, because the former is forgiven by the blessing, and the latter by the intercession of Muhammad."[150]

From these extracts from the Qurán it appears that sin is imputed to prophets, though Muslims evade the charge by the casuistry I have already referred to. Be that as it may, it is a striking fact that the one sinless member of the Anbiya-ulul-'Azm, the one sinless prophet of Islám, is none other than Jesus Christ. There is no passage in the Qurán which hints at sin, even in the modified form in which Muslims attribute it to other prophets, being committed by him: no passage which speaks of His seeking for pardon.

It is the universal belief that prophets work miracles, (mu'jizát). A miracle is defined to be "Kharq-i-'ádat," that is, something contrary to the usual course of nature.

The object for which a miracle is performed must be a moral one, and chiefly to attest the truth of the statements made by the prophet. Although Muhammad makes, in the [158]Qurán, no distinct claim to the power of working miracles,[151] his followers maintain that in this, as in all other respects he was equal to all and superior to some prophets, and produce various passages of the Qurán in support of their view. Thus, according to Shaikh Jelál-ud-dín Syutí, if to Adam was given the power of naming every thing, Muhammad also possessed the same power. Enoch was exalted on high, but Muhammad was taken to the 'Baqáb-i-qausain,' the 'two bows' length,' where Gabriel, "one mighty in power," appeared to him. (Súra liii. 5-9). Ishmael was ready to be sacrificed, but Muhammad endured the splitting of his chest;[152] Joseph was to some extent handsome, but Muhammad was the very perfection of beauty; Moses brought water from the rock, but Muhammad produced it from his fingers. The sun was stayed on its course by Joshua and so it was by Muhammad. Solomon had a great kingdom, Muhammad a greater, for he possessed the keys of the treasuries of the earth. Wisdom was given to John the Baptist whilst yet a child, so also were wisdom and understanding granted to Muhammad at an early period of his life. Jesus could raise the dead, so also could Muhammad. In addition to all these, the special miracles of the Prophet are the splitting of the moon asunder, the Mi'ráj, the coming of a tree into his presence, and above all the wonderful miracle of the Qurán.[153]

The splitting of the moon in sunder is referred to in, [159]"The hour of judgment approacheth; and the moon hath been split in sunder." (Súra liv. 1). Imám Záhid says that Abu Jahl and a Jew visited the Prophet, and demanded a sign from him on pain of death. The Prophet made a sign with his little finger, and at once the moon separated into two parts: one of which remained in the sky, the other went off to a long distance. The Jew believed in Islám forthwith. Abu Jahl ascribed the affair to magic, but on making enquiry from various travellers ascertained that they, on this very night, distinctly saw the moon in two parts.[154] Some, however, refer the passage to the future, as they consider the splitting of the moon to be one of the signs of the last day.

The Mi'ráj, or night ascent, is mentioned in, "Glory be to Him who carried His servant by night from the sacred temple (of Mecca) to the temple that is more remote, whose precinct We have blessed, that We might show him of our signs." (Súra xvii. 1). Muslim writers, who are fond of the marvellous, narrate at length the wonderful things the Prophet saw and did on this eventful night;[155] but some maintain that it was only a vision, and quote the words: "We ordained the vision which we showed thee," in proof of this assertion.[156] Be that as it may, all orthodox Muslims maintain the superiority of Muhammad, as a worker of miracles, over all other prophets.

5. The Resurrection and the last day.—These two articles of the faith may be considered together. The [160]following is a summary of the remarks of Muhammad Al Berkevi on this point. It is necessary to acknowledge:—

1. That the torments of the tomb are real and certain and that Munkir and Nakír (Ante p. 145) will come and interrogate the dead person concerning his God, his Prophet, his faith and his Qibla. The faithful will reply: "our God is God; our Prophet is Muhammad; our religion, Islám; our Qibla, the Ki-'ádataba.

2. That all the signs of the last day mentioned by the Prophet will come to pass; such as, the appearance of Dajjál, or Antichrist; the descent of Jesus from heaven; the appearance of Imám Mahdí and of Gog and Magog; the rising of the sun from the west, &c.

3. That all living things will die; that the mountains will fly in the air like birds; that the heavens will melt away; that after some time has thus passed God most High will set the earth in order and raise the dead; that prophets, saints, doctors of the law, and the faithful will find near them the robes and the horses of Paradise. They will put on the robes, and mount the horses and go into the shade of the throne of God. Other men, hungry, thirsty, and naked will go on foot. The Faithful will go to the right, the Infidels to the left.

4. That there will be a balance, in which the good and bad actions of men will be weighed. Those whose good deeds outweigh the bad will go to Paradise; if the bad predominate, they will go into the fire, unless God has mercy on them, or the prophets or saints intercede for them. If, however, they were not Muslims there will be no intercession for them, nor will they come out from the fire. The Muslims who enter the fire will, after having purged their crimes, enter Paradise.

5. That the bridge Sirát, which is sharper than a sword, is raised above the fire; that all men must pass over this. Some will pass over with the speed of lightning, some like a horse that runs, some, their backs laden with their sins, will go very slowly over; others will fall and certainly enter into the fire.

6. That each prophet has a pool where he, with his people, will quench their thirst before entering Paradise; that the pool of Muhammad is the largest of all, for it is a month's march from one side thereof to the other. Its water is sweeter than honey, whiter than milk.

7. That Paradise and Hell actually exist; that the chosen remain for ever in the former; they neither die, nor grow aged. They experience no kind of change. The Houris and the females are exempted [161]from the infirmities of their sex. They will no longer bear children. The elect will find there the meat and the drink they require, without taking upon themselves any trouble. The ground of Paradise is of musk; the bricks of its edifices are of gold and of silver.

The unbelievers and the demons will remain for ever in hell, tormented by serpents as thick as the neck of a camel, by scorpions as large as mules, by fire and by scalding water. Their bodies will burn, till they become reduced to a coal, when God will revive them so that they may endure fresh torments. This will last for ever."

The following additional remarks are based on the Sharh-i-'Aqáíd-i-Jámí. They fall under four heads.

(1). The sounding of the trumpets. (Nafkhatain-i-Súr). This will not take place until wickedness spreads over all the earth. The Prophet said: "The resurrection will not come to pass, till some of the sects among my followers mix up with the Mushriks (those who associate others with God) and till others commence to worship monuments." Again, "The last hour will not be till no one is found who calls on God." Then "There shall be a blast on the trumpet, and all who are in the heavens and all who are in the earth shall expire, save those whom God shall vouchsafe to live. There shall be another blast on it, and lo! arising they shall gaze around them." (Súra xxxix. 68). Abu Huraira, a Companion, relates that the Prophet speaking of the trumpet stated as follows: "After the creation of the heavens and the earth God created the trumpet and gave it to Isráfíl who, with his mouth placed to it, is ever looking up and waiting for the order to blow it. He will blow three times.[157] The first time, the blast of consternation, to terrify; the second, the blast of examination, to slay; the third, the blast of resurrection, to quicken the dead." Most persons believe that everything, save God and His attributes, will perish. The Karamians and some other sects deny this.


The resurrection of the body is clearly proved by the Qurán. Thus, "They say, 'Who will bring us back?' Say: 'He who created you at first.'" (Súra xvii. 53). "'Who shall give life to bones when they are rotten?' Say: 'He shall give life to them who gave them being at first, for in all creation is He skilled.'" (Súra xxxvi. 79). "Man saith: 'What! after I am dead, shall I in the end be brought forth alive?' Doth not man bear in mind that we made him at first, when he was nought?" (Súra xix. 68). "The infidels will say, 'shall we indeed be restored as at first? What! When we have become rotten bones?' 'This then,' say they, 'will be a return to loss.' Verily, it will be but a single blast, and lo! they are on the surface of the earth." (Súra lxxix. 10-14). "Is He not powerful enough to quicken the dead?" (Súra lxxv. 40). This resurrection will be to judgment. "'Never,' say the unbelievers, 'will the hour come upon us.' Say: 'Yea, by my Lord who knoweth the unseen, it will surely come upon you, ... to the intent that God may reward those who have believed, ... but as for those who aim to invalidate our signs, a chastisement of painful torment awaiteth them.'" (Súra xxxiv. 3, 4). "A terrible chastisement doth await them on the Day when faces shall turn white, and faces shall turn black. 'What! after your belief have ye become infidels? Taste, then, the chastisement for that ye have been unbelievers.' And as to those whose faces shall have become white, they shall be within the mercy of God." (Súra iii, 102). The Prophet knew not the time when all this would take place. "They will ask thee of the 'Hour,' when will be its fixed time? But what knowledge hast thou of it? Its period is known only to thy Lord; and thou art charged with the warning of those who fear it." (Súra lxxix. 41-45.) These and similar texts show the certainty of the resurrection. According to the Ijmá' of the Faithful, he who has any doubts on this article of the faith is an infidel. The [163]Mutazilites show from reason that a resurrection of the body is necessary in order that rewards and punishment may be bestowed. The orthodox agree with the conclusion, but hesitate to base it on reason.[158]

The Karamians hold that the different parts of the body will not cease to be, but that at the last God will gather them together. "Thinketh man that we shall not re-unite his bones? Aye! his very finger tips we are able evenly to replace." (Súra lxxv. 3, 4.) The orthodox, however, hold that this verse does not disprove the fact of previous annihilation, a belief supported by the Prophet's saying, "All the sons of men will be annihilated." It will be a re-creation though the body will return to its former state.

The learned are not agreed as to the state of the soul during this period of the death of the body, and therefore disagree with regard to its revival. Some assert that it is wrong to speak of a resurrection of the soul, for it exists in the body as "fire in coal," hence its revival is included in the resurrection of the body; others maintain that as it is a distinct entity, it is not annihilated with the body. The scholastics favour the first idea. Practically the result seems the same in both cases. The resurrection body has a soul. Wise and foolish, devils and beasts, insects and birds—all will rise at the last day. Muhammad will come first in order and be the first to enter Paradise.

(2). The descent of the Books (Tatáír-i-sahá,íf). After the resurrection, men will wander about for forty years, during which time the "Books of Actions" will be given to them. These books contain the record kept by the Kirám-ul-Kátibín, (Ante p. 141). Traditions recorded by Abu Huraira state: "Men will rise up naked, and confused; some will walk about, some stand for forty years. All will be constantly looking up toward the heavens (i.e. expecting the books.) They will perspire profusely through [164]excess of sorrow.[159] Then God will say to Abraham, 'put on clothes.' He will put on a robe of Paradise. Then He will call Muhammad for whose benefit a fountain will flow forth not far from Mecca. The people, too, shall thirst no more." The Prophet said: "I will also put on a dress and will stand near the throne, where no one else will be allowed to stand and God will say: 'Ask and it shall be granted to thee; intercede, thy intercession shall be accepted.'" Each book flies from the treasury under the Throne of God and is given to its proper owner. "Every man's fate have We fastened about his neck; and on the day of resurrection will We bring forth to him (every man) a book which shall be proffered to him wide open: 'Read thy book, there needeth none but thyself to make out an account against thee this day.'" (Súra xvii. 15). "He into whose right hand his book shall be given, shall be reckoned, with an easy reckoning, and shall turn, rejoicing, to his kindred. But he whose book shall be given behind his back (i.e. into his left hand) shall invoke destruction." (Súra lxxxiv. 8-11.) "He, who shall have his book given into his left hand will say: 'O that my book had never been given me! and that I had not known my reckoning.'" (Súra lxix. 25). It is always said that wicked Musalmáns will be seized by the right hand before they are cast into the fire, which is a proof that they are not always to remain there. Some hold that the expression "Read thy book" implies a literal reading; others that it is a metaphorical expression which simply means that all the past actions will be known. Those who believe in a literal reading say that each believer will read the account of his faults only, and that other persons will read that of his good deeds. The face of the believer as he reads will shine resplendently, but black will be the face of the infidel.


(3). The Balances (Mízán). This belief is based on the authority of the Qurán, Sunnat and the Ijmá'; no Muslim, therefore, can have any doubt about it. Thus: "They whose balances shall be heavy, shall be the blest; but they whose balances shall be light,—these are they who shall lose their souls, abiding in hell for ever." (Súra xxiii. 104). "As to him whose balances are heavy, his shall be a life that shall please him well: and as to him whose balances are light, his dwelling-place shall be the pit. And who shall teach thee what the pit (Al-Háwía) is? A raging fire!" (Súra ci. 5-8). The Traditions on this point are very numerous. The Ijmá' is also strong on the reality, the objective existence, of a balance with scales, &c., complete. They also state that the "Books of Actions" (Sahá,íf-i-A'mál) will be weighed. In the Sahíh-i-Bukhárí it is said that the Believers will not be weighed in the balances, for "God will say, 'O Muhammad make those of thy people, from whom no account is taken, enter into Paradise.'" Prophets and angels will also be exempt. Such a test also is not required for the unbelievers, for their state is very evident; "By their tokens shall the sinners be known, and they shall be seized by their forelocks and their feet." (Súra lv. 41). Thus it is evident that, with regard to true believers and unbelievers, the works of such only as God may choose need be weighed. Some, however, maintain that no unbeliever will have this test applied to his case and quote: "Vain therefore, are their works; and no weight will we allow them on the day of resurrection." (Súra xviii. 105). To this it is answered, that all that is here denied is the fact of "a weighing in their favour." The place where the weighing will take place is situated midway between heaven and hell. Gabriel standing by watches the movement of the scales and Michael guards the balance. The orthodox are not agreed as to whether there will be a separate balance for each tribe of men, and also for each of the 'good works' [166]of the believers. Those who hold that there will be a balance for prayer, another for fasting and so on, adduce the use of the plural form, balances (muwázín) in proof of their statement. There is also a difference of opinion as to whether the "works" themselves, or the books (sahá,íf) will be weighed. The latter opinion is supported by a Tradition recorded by Tirmízí. "The Prophet said: 'Ninety-nine registers will be distributed. Each register will extend as far as the eye can reach. God will say: 'What! dost thou deny this, or have the recording angels treated thee unjustly?' Each will say: 'No! O Lord.' 'Hast thou then any excuse?' 'No! O Lord.' Then God will display a cloth on which the Kalima is written. This will be put into one scale, and God will say: 'To thee will be no evil if thou hast a register in this scale, and this cloth in the other, for the first scale will be light.'" This is considered conclusive testimony with regard to the weighing of the Sahá,íf. The Mutazilites objected to statements such as these, for said they: "actions are accidents, and the qualities of lightness and heaviness cannot be attributed to accidents." They explained the verses of the Qurán and the statements of the Traditions on this point, as being a figurative way of saying that perfect justice will be done to all in the Day of Judgment.

(4). The Bridge (Sirát). The meaning of the word Sirát is a road, a way. It is so used in the Qurán. In connection with the Day of Judgment it is said: "If we pleased we would surely put out their eyes: yet even then would they speed on with rivalry in their path (Sirát)." (Súra xxxvi. 66). "Gather together those who have acted unjustly, and their consorts (demons), and the gods whom they have adored beside God; and guide them to the road (Sirát) for hell." (Súra xxxvii. 23). It is nowhere in the Qurán called a bridge, but Tradition is very clear on this point. The Prophet said: "There will be a bridge sharper than the edge of a sword, finer than a hair, suspended over [167]hell. Iron spikes on it will pierce those whom God wills. Some will pass over it in the twinkling of an eye, some like a flash of lightning, others with the speed of a swift horse. The angels will call out, 'O Lord! save and protect.' Some Muslims will be saved, some will fall headlong into hell." Bukhárí relates a similar Tradition. The infidels will all fall into hell and there remain for ever. Muslims will be released after a while.

The Mutazilites deny the existence of such a bridge. "If we admit it," say they, "it would be a trouble for the believers, and such there is not for them in the Day of Judgment." To this the orthodox reply that the believers pass over it to show how they are saved from fire, and that thus they may be delighted with Paradise, and also that the infidels may feel chagrin at those who were with them on the bridge being now safe for ever.

Al A'ráf is situated between heaven and hell. It is described thus: "On (the wall) Al A'ráf shall be men who know all, by their tokens,[160] and they shall cry to the inhabitants of Paradise, 'Peace be on you!' but they shall not yet enter it, although they long to do so. And when their eyes are turned towards the inmates of the fire, they shall say, 'O our Lord! place us not with offending people &c.'" (Súra vii. 44, 45). Sale's summary of the opinions regarding Al A'ráf in his Preliminary Discourse is exceedingly good. It is as follows:—

"They call it Al Orf, and more frequently in the plural, Al Aráf, a word derived from the verb Arafa, which signifies to distinguish between things, or to part them; though some commentators give another reason for the imposition of this name, because, say they, those who stand on this partition will know and distinguish the blessed from the damned, by their respective marks or characteristics: and others way the word properly intends anything that is high raised or elevated, as such a wall of separation must be supposed to [168]be. Some imagine it to be a sort of limbo for the patriarchs and prophets, or for the martyrs and those who have been most eminent for sanctity. Others place here such whose good and evil works are so equal that they exactly counterpoise each other, and therefore deserve neither reward nor punishment; and these, say they, will on the last day be admitted into Paradise, after they shall have performed an act of adoration, which will be imputed to them as a merit, and will make the scale of their good works to overbalance. Others suppose this intermediate space will be a receptacle for those who have gone to war, without their parents' leave, and therein suffered martyrdom; being excluded from Paradise for their disobedience, and escaping hell because they are martyrs."

There is also an interval, between the death of the body in this world and the Last Day, called Al-Barzakh. "Behind them shall be a barrier (barzakh), until the day when they shall be raised again." (Súra xxiii. 102). When death takes place, the soul is separated from the body by the Angel of death; in the case of the good with ease, in that of the wicked with violence. It then enters into Al-Barzakh.[161]

It is a doctrine founded on Ijmá', that God will not pardon Shirk, that is, the ascribing plurality to the Divine Being. The Mushrik, one who does so, will remain in hell for ever, for as Kufr, infidelity, is an eternal crime, its punishment must also be eternal. "The unbelievers among the people of the Book, and among the Polytheists shall go into the fire of Gehenna to abide therein for aye. Of all creatures are they the worst?" (Súra xcviii. 5). "Cast into Hell every infidel, every hardened one, the hinderer of the good, the transgressor, the doubter who set up other Gods with God. Cast ye him into the fierce torment." (Súra 1. 23-25.)

Muslims who commit great (Kabíra) sins, though they die unrepentant, will not remain in hell for ever, for, "whosoever shall have wrought an atom's weight of good shall [169]behold it." (Súra xcix. 7). It is asserted that the fact of believing in Islám is a good work and merits a reward: this cannot be given before the man enters hell to be punished for his sins, and therefore he must be, after a while, released from punishment. "Perfect faith (Imán-i-Kámil) consists in believing with sincerity of heart and acting in accordance thereto, but the actions are not the faith itself. Great sins, therefore, prevent a man from having "perfect faith," but do not destroy faith (Imán), nor make the Muslim an infidel, but only a sinner."[162] The Mutazilites teach that the Muslim who enters hell will remain there for ever. They maintain that the person who, having committed great sins, dies unrepentant, though not an infidel, ceases to be a believer and hence suffers as the infidels do.

The orthodox belief is that Muhammad is now an Intercessor and will be so at the Last Day. The intercession then is of several kinds. There is the 'great intercession' to which the words, "it may be that thy Lord will raise thee to a glorious station," (Súra xvii. 81) are supposed to refer. The Maqám-i-mahmúd, (glorious station), is said to be the place of intercession in which all persons will praise the Prophet.[163] In the Zád-ul-Masír it is said that the Maqám-i-mahmúd refers to the fact that God will place the Prophet on His Throne. Others say that it is a place in which a standard will be given to the Prophet, around whom all the other prophets will then gather to do him honour. The first interpretation is, however, the ordinary one. The people will be in great fear. Muhammad will say: "O my people! I am appointed for intercession." Their fear will then pass away. The second intercession is made so that they may enter into Paradise without rendering an account. The authorities differ with regard to this. The third intercession is on behalf of those Muslims who [170]ought to go to hell. The fourth for those who are already there. No one but the Prophet can make these intercessions. The fifth intercession is for an increase of rank to those who are in Paradise. The Mutazilites maintained that there would be no intercession for Muslims guilty of great sins, and adduced in favour of their opinion the verse: "Fear ye the day when soul shall not satisfy for soul at all, nor shall any intercession be accepted from them, nor shall any ransom be taken, neither shall they be helped." (Súra ii. 45). The orthodox bring in reply this Hadís-i-Sahíh: "The Prophet said: 'my intercession is for the men of my following who have committed great sins.'" If this Tradition is disputed, they then say that the verse in the Qurán just quoted does not refer to Muslims at all, but to the Infidels.[164]

According to a Tradition related by Anas the Prophet said: "In the day of resurrection Musalmáns will not be able to move, and they will be greatly distressed and say: 'would to God that we had asked Him to create some one to intercede for us, that we might be taken from this place, and be delivered from tribulation and sorrow.'" The Tradition goes on to state how they sought help from Adam and the prophets of the old dispensation, who, one and all, excused themselves on account of their own sinfulness. At length Moses told them to go to Jesus, the Apostle of God, the Spirit of God and the Word of God. They did so and Jesus said: "Go to Muhammad who is a servant, whose sins God has forgiven both first and last." The Prophet continued, according to the Tradition, "then the Musalmáns will come to me, and I will ask permission to go into God's presence and intercede for them."[165]

The second advent of Christ is a sign of the last day. "Jesus is no more than a servant whom We favoured ... [171]and he shall be a sign of the last hour." (Súra xliii. 61). He will not, according to the Qurán, come as a judge, but like other prophets to be judged. "We formed with them (i.e. prophets) a strict covenant, that God may question the men of truth as to their truth, (i.e. how they have discharged their prophetic functions)." (Súra xxxiii. 7, 8). He will come to bear witness against the Jews who reject him: "In the day of resurrection, He will be a witness against them." (Súra iv. 158).

It is necessary to believe in the pond of the Prophet called Kausar. This faith is founded on the verse "Truly we have given thee an abundance." (Súra cviii. 1). Bukhárí says: "The meaning of Kausar is the 'abundance of good' which God gives to the Prophet. Abu Básh said to one Sa'íd, 'the people think that Kausar is a river of Paradise.' Sa'íd replied, 'Kausar is a river in which there is abundance of good.'" According to the same authority Muhammad said: "My pond is square, its water is whiter than milk, its perfume better than that of musk, whosoever drinks thereof will thirst no more."

There are many degrees of felicity in heaven to which the believers are admitted. The Prophet, according to Tirmízí, said there were one hundred. Some of these may possibly be meant by the eight names they give to Paradise. (1.) Jannat-ul-Khuld. "Say: Is this, or the Garden of Eternity which was promised to the God-fearing, best?" (Súra xxv. 16.) (2.) Jannat-us-Salám. "For them is a Dwelling of Peace with their Lord." (Súra vi. 127.) (3.) Dár-ul-Qarár. "The life to come is the Mansion which abideth." (Súra xl. 42.) (4.) Jannat-ul-'Adan. "To the Faithful, both men and women, God promiseth gardens and goodly mansions in the Garden of Eden." (Súra ix. 73.) (5.) Jannat-ul-Mawá. "Near which is the Garden of Repose." (Súra liii. 15.) (6) Jannat-un-Na'ím. "Amid delights shall the righteous dwell." (Súra lxxxii. 13.) (7) Jannat-ul-Illiyún. "The register of the righteous is [172]in Illiyún." (Súra lxxxiii. 18,) (8.) Jannat-ul-Firdaus. "Those who believe and do the things that are right, they shall have the Gardens of Paradise for their abode." (Súra xviii. 107.)

Hell is said to have seven divisions. The Qurán, though it mentions the names of these divisions, does not state what classes of persons will be sent to each; but Muslim Commentators have supplied the needed information. They classify them thus:—(1.) Jahannam, for sinners who die without repentance. (2.) Lazwá, for the infidels (i.e., Christians.) (3.) Hutama, a fire for Jews, and according to some for Christians. (4.) Sa'ir, for devils, the descendants of Iblís. (5.) Saqar, for the magians: also for those who neglect prayer. (6.) Jahím, a boiling caldron for idolaters: also for Gog and Magog. (7.) Háwía, a bottomless pit for hypocrites. It is said that heaven has one division more than hell to show that God's mercy exceeds His justice.

The Muhammadan writers give very full and minute accounts of the events connected with the resurrection, judgment and future state of those who are lost, and of those who are saved. Sale gives such an excellent summary of these opinions, that it is not necessary to enter into details here. The orthodox belief is that the statements in the Qurán and the Traditions regarding the pleasures of Paradise are to be taken literally.[166]

6. The Predestination of good and evil.—I have already in the section in which the attribute "will" is described (p. 118) given some account of the dogmatic statements concerning the doctrine of predestination; but as it always forms a distinct chapter in Musalmán books, I treat it separately here. Having, however, in the passage referred [173]to, given Al Berkevi's words on the attribute "will," it is only necessary to make a short extract from his dogmatic statement concerning Predestination. He says:—

"It is necessary to confess that good and evil take place by the predestination and predetermination of God, that all that has been and all that will be was decreed in eternity, and written on the preserved table;[167] that the faith of the believer, the piety of the pious and good actions are foreseen, willed, predestinated, decreed by the writing on the preserved table, produced and approved by God; that the unbelief of the unbeliever, the impiety of the impious and bad actions come to pass with the fore-knowledge, will, predestination and decree of God, but not with His satisfaction and approval. Should any ask why God willeth and produceth evil, we can only reply that He may have wise ends in view which we cannot comprehend."

Another confession of faith has:—

"Whoever shall say, that God is not delighted with virtue and faith, and is not wroth with vice and infidelity, or that God has decreed good and evil with equal complacency is an infidel."

There are three well-defined schools of thought on the subject:—

First.—The Jabríans, so called from the word "jabr" compulsion, deny all free agency in man and say that man is necessarily constrained by the force of God's eternal and immutable decree to act as he does.[168] They hold that as [174]God is the absolute Lord, He can, if He so wills, admit all men into Paradise, or cast all into hell. This sect is one of the branches of the Ash'aríans with whom on most points they agree.

Secondly.—The Qadríans, who deny Al-Qadr, or God's absolute decree, say that evil and injustice ought not to be attributed to God but to man, who is altogether a free agent. God has given him the power to do or not to do an act. This sect is generally considered to be a branch of the Mutazilite body, though in reality it existed before Wásil quitted the school of his master Hasan (Ante. p. 125). As Wásil, however, followed the opinions of Mábad-al-Johní, the leading Kadrían divine, the Mutazilites and Qadríans are practically one and the same.

Thirdly.—The Ash'aríans, of whom I have already given some account, maintain that God has one eternal will which is applied to whatsoever He willeth, both of His own actions and those of men; that He willeth that which He knoweth and what is written on the preserved table; that He willeth both good and evil. So far they agree with the Jabríans; but then they seem to allow some power to man, a tenet I have already explained when describing their idea of "Kasb" (Ante. p. 130). The orthodox, or Sunní belief is theoretically Ash'arían, but practically the Sunnís are confirmed Jabríans. The Mutazilite doctrines are looked upon as quite heretical.

No subject has been more warmly discussed in Islám than that of predestination. The following abstract of some lengthy discussions will present the points of difference.

The Ash'aríans, who in this matter represent in the main orthodox views, formulate their objections to the Mutazilite system thus:—

(i). If man is the causer of an action by the force of his own will, then he should also have the power of controlling the result of that action.

(ii). If it be granted that man has the power to originate [175]an act it is necessary that he should know all acts, because a creator should be independent in act and choice. Intention must be conditioned by knowledge. To this the Mutazilites well reply that a man need not know the length of a road before he walks, or the structure of the throat before he talks.

(iii). Suppose a man wills to move his body and God at the same time wills it to be steady, then if both intentions come to pass there will be a collection of opposites; if neither, a removal of opposites; if the exaltation of the first, an unreasonable preference.

(iv). If man can create an act, some of his works will be better than some of the works of God, e.g. a man determines to have faith: now faith is a better thing than reptiles, which are created by God.

(v). If man is free to act, why can he not make at once a human body; why does he need to thank God for grace and faith?

(vi). But better far than all argument, the orthodox say, is the testimony of the Book. "All things have we created under a fixed decree." (Súra liv. 49). "When God created you and that ye make." (Súra xxxvii. 94). "Some of them there were whom God guided and there were others decreed to err." (Súra xvi. 38). As God decrees faith and obedience He must be the causer of it, for "on the hearts of these hath God graven the Faith." (Súra lviii. 22). "It is he who causeth you to laugh and weep, to die and make alive." (Súra liii. 44). "If God pleased He would surely bring them, one and all, to the guidance." (Súra vi. 36). "Had God pleased, He had guided you all aright." (Súra vi. 150). "Had the Lord pleased, He would have made mankind of one religion." (Súra xi. 120). "God will mislead whom he pleaseth, and whom He pleaseth He will place upon the straight path." (Súra vi. 39.) Tradition records that the Prophet said: "God is the maker of all makers and of their actions."[169]


The Mutazilites took up the opposite side of this great question and said:—

(i). If man has no power to will or to do, then what is the difference between praising God and sinning against Him; between faith and infidelity; good and evil; what is the use of commands and prohibitions; rewards and punishments; promises and threats; what is the use of prophets, books, &c.

(ii). Some acts of men are bad, such as tyranny and polytheism. If these are created by God, it follows that to tyrannise and to ascribe plurality to the Deity is to render obedience. To this the Ash'aríans reply that orders are of two kinds, immediate and mediate. The former which they call "Amr-i-takwíti," is the order, "Be and it was." This comprehends all existences, and according to it whatever is ordered must come to pass. The latter they call "Amr-i-tashri'í," an order given in the Law. This comes to men through prophets and thus is to be obeyed. True obedience is to act according to that which is revealed, not according to the secret intentions of God, for that we know not.

(iii). If God decrees the acts of men, He should bear the name of that which he decrees. Thus the causer of infidelity is an infidel; of tyranny a tyrant, and so on; but to speak thus of God is blasphemy.

(iv). If infidelity is decreed by God He must wish it; but a prophet desires faith and obedience and so is opposed to God. To this the orthodox reply, that God knows by His eternal knowledge that such a man will die an infidel. [177]If a prophet intends by bringing the message of salvation to such an one to make God's knowledge become ignorance, he would be doing wrong; but as he does not know the secret decrees of God, his duty is to deliver his message according to the Hadís: "A prophet has only to deliver the clear message."

(v). The Mutazilites claimed as on their side all verses of the Qurán, in which the words to do, to construct, to renew, to create, &c., are applied to men. Such are the verses: "Whatever is in the heavens and in the earth is God's that He may reward those who do evil according to their deeds: and those who do good will He reward with good things." (Súra liii. 32). "Whoso shall have wrought evil shall not be recompensed but with its like: but whoso shall have done the things that are right, whether male or female and is a believer, these shall enter Paradise." (Súra xl. 43). Say: "the truth is from the Lord; let him then who will believe; and let him who will, be an infidel." (Súra xviii. 28).[170] "Those who add Gods to God will say: 'If God had pleased neither we nor our fathers had given Him companions.' Say: 'Verily ye follow only a conceit, ye utter lies.'" (Súra vi. 149). The Hadís is also very plain. "All good is in Thy hands and evil is not to Thee." (Al-khair kuluhu fí yadaika wash-sharru laisa 'alaika.)

The Ash'aríans have one famous text which they bring to bear against all this reasoning and evidence. It is: "This truly is a warning; and whoso willeth, taketh the way of his Lord; but will it ye shall not, unless God will it, for God is knowing, wise." (Súra lxxvi. 29, 30). To the Hadís they reply (1) that there is a difference between acquiescence in evil and decreeing it. Thus the expression "God willeth not tyranny for His servants," does not mean [178]that God hath not decreed it, but that tyranny is not one of His attributes: so "evil is not to Thee" means it is not an attribute of God; and (2) the Hadís must be explained in accordance with the teaching of the Qurán.

The Muslim philosophers tried to find a way out of the difficulty. Averhoes says: "We are free to act in this way or that, but our will is always determined by some exterior cause. For example, we see something which pleases us, we are drawn to it in spite of ourselves. Our will is thus bound by exterior causes. These causes exist according to a certain order of things which is founded on the general laws of nature. God alone knows before hand the necessary connection which to us is a mystery. The connection of our will with exterior causes is determined by the laws of nature. It is this which in theology we call, 'decrees and predestination.'"[171]

I have already shown how, as Islám grew into a system, the Muslims fell into a Cabbalism, and a superstitious reverence for the mere letters and words of the Qurán. With this declension came a still more distorted view of the character of God. The quotations made from the Qurán in the last few pages will have shown that whilst some passages seem to attribute freedom to man and speak of his consequent responsibility, others teach a clear and distinct fatalism. The great strength of Islám lay in the energy with which Muhammad preached the doctrine that God was a divine Ruler, one who would deal righteous judgment, who "taught man that which he knew not." As the system became more complex and dogmatic—a very necessary result of its first principles—men lost the sense of the nearness of God. He became an unapproachable being. A harsh unfeeling Fate took the place of the Omnipotent Ruler. It is this dark fatalism which, whatever the Qurán may teach on the subject, is the ruling principle in all Muslim [179]communities. It is this which makes all Muhammadan nations decay. Careless of self-improvement,[172] heedless of the need of progress, the Muslim nations, still independent, are in all that relates to the higher aspects of intellectual and civilized life far behind the nations of the west.

The subject of 'Ilm-i-Aqáíd, or the science of dogma properly ends here, but most Muslim treatises include in this branch of the subject a few practical remarks. I therefore add a summary of them here. The believer who commits murder, fornication, &c., does not cease to be a Muslim provided that he does not say that these are allowed: should he die unrepentant, God can punish him for a while in hell, or forgive him without punishment. The Hadd, a punishment based on a Záhir, or obvious sentence of the Qurán requires that a Muslim who apostatizes shall be put to death.[173] In the case of an apostate woman, Imám Abu Hanífa ruled that she should be imprisoned and beaten every day. The other three Imáms, Málik, Sháfa'í and Hanbal said that she should be put to death in accordance with the Tradition which says: "He who changes his religion, kill." The Arabic word "man," usually translated "He who" is of common gender, and so these Imáms include women in the list of those who, after apostasy, are to be killed.[174] God does not pardon polytheism and infidelity; but He can, if He willeth, pardon all other crimes. If any one is asked, "dost thou believe?" he should reply, "I am truly a believer," and not say: "If God [180]willeth."[175] If any one says to him: "Wilt thou die in the faith?" he should reply: "I do not know, God knows." Except when speaking of prophets, or of those of whom the Prophets have spoken, such as Abu Bakr, Omar, Osmán and 'Alí, it must not be said of any one, "he is gone to Paradise," for God only knows his state. Prayer should be made for a deceased Muslim whether he was a good or bad man. To give alms, to read the Qurán, to perform other good works, and to apply the merit thus gained to the souls of the dead is a pious and beneficial act.




I have shown in the preceding chapter how the earlier scholastics, or the Mutazilites, as they are called, were finally crushed by the orthodox party. The later scholastics, or the philosophers, form the subject of this note. The Khalíf Mámún (813-833 A.D.), a notorious free-thinker, was the first to give an impulse to philosophic researches. It was then that Greek philosophical works were translated into Arabic. The Greek author most patronized was Aristotle, partly, because his empirical method accorded with the positive tendencies of the Arab mind better than the pure idealism of Plato; and, partly, because his system of logic was considered an useful auxiliary in the daily quarrels between the rival theological schools. It was quite natural that Aristotle should be thus followed. "The Musalmán mind was trained in habits of absolute obedience to the authority of fixed dogmas. The Muslims did not so much wish to discover truth as to cultivate their own intellect. For that purpose, a sharp and subtle systematist like Aristotle was the very man they required."[176] Some idea of the range of subjects then discussed may be gained from an account given by the Arab historian, Masoudi, of a meeting held under the Presidentship of Yahya, one of the famous Barmecide family.[177] Yahya thus addressed the meeting: "You have discussed at length the theory of concealment (Al-Kumún) and manifestation (Al-Zahúr), of pre-existence and creation, of duration and stability, of movement and quiescence, of the union and separation (of the Divine substance), of existence and non-existence, of bodies and accidents, of the approval and the refutation (of the Isnáds of the Traditions), of the absence or the existence of attributes in God, of potential and active force, of substance, quantity, modality and relation, of life and annihilation. You have examined the question as to whether the Imám rules by divine right, or by popular election; you have had an exhaustive discussion on metaphysical subjects, in their principles and corollaries. Occupy yourselves to-day with the subject of love," &c.

The translation of the works of Aristotle, as indeed of all the Greek authors, was made by Syrian and Chaldean Christians, and [182]especially by the Nestorians who, as physicians, were in high favour with the liberal Khalífs of the 'Abbásside dynasty. In some cases the translation into Arabic was made from Syriac versions, for in the time of the Emperor Justinian many Greek works had been translated into the latter language. The most celebrated translator was the historian physician Honein-Ibn-Ishak (died 876 A.D.), a man profoundly acquainted with the Syriac, Greek and Arabic languages. He was at the head of a school of interpreters in Baghdád, to which his son Ishak-ben-Honein and his nephew Hobeisch-Al-Asam also belonged. In the tenth century (A.D.) Yahya-ben-Adi and Isa-ben-Zara'a translated some works and corrected earlier translations of others. It is to these men that the Arabs owe their chief acquaintance with Plato.

The study of Aristotle spread rapidly amongst the Muslim people, especially amongst the heretical sects. The orthodox looked with grave suspicion on the movement, but could not for a while stay the impulse. The historian Makrizi says: "The doctrine of the Philosophers has worked amongst the Muslims evils most fatal. It serves only to augment the errors of the heretics and to increase their impiety."[178] It came into contact with Muslim dogmas in such subjects as the creation of the world, the special providence of God and the nature of the divine attributes. To a certain extent the Mutazilites were supported by the philosophical theories they embraced, but this did not diminish the disfavour with which the orthodox looked upon the study of philosophy. Still it grew, and men in self defence had to adopt philosophic methods. Thus arose a later system of scholasticism. The earlier system was confined mainly to matters of religion; the later school occupied itself with the whole range of philosophic investigation, and thus went farther and farther away from orthodox Islám.

The Muslims themselves did not write books on philosophy in the earlier period. Men of liberal tendencies imbibed its teaching, but orthodoxy finally gained the day over the earlier scholastics, and in the form known as that of the Ash'arían School became again supreme.[179] The great intellectual movement of the Philosophers proper, the later scholastics (Mutakallimán), lasted longer, but by the end of the twelfth century (A.D.) the whole Muhammadan world had again become orthodox. Saláh-ud-dín (Saladin) and his successors in Egypt were strong supporters of the Ash'aríans.


The period now under review was one prolific of authors on grammar, rhetoric, logic, exegesis, traditions and the various branches of philosophy; but the men who stand out most prominently as philosophers were then, and are now, considered heretics.[180]

Al-Kendi, was born at Basra, on the Persian Gulf. He died about 870 A.D. He was a very scientific man, but a thorough rationalist in theology. He composed commentaries on the logic of Aristotle. In his great work on the unity of God he has strayed far away from Muslim dogmas.

Al Farabi, another philosopher patronized by the 'Abbássides, seems to have denied not only the rigid and formal Islámic view of inspiration, but any objective revelation at all. He held that intuition was a true inspiration, and that all who had acquired intuitive knowledge were real prophets. This is the only revelation he admits. He received his philosophical training at Baghdád, where for a while he taught; but finally he went to Damascus, where he died 950 A.D.

Ibn Sina, better known as Avicenna, a man of Persian origin, was a Philosopher of great note, but of him it is said that in spite of the concessions he made to the religious ideas of his age, he could not find favour for his opinions, which ill accord with the principles of Islám. He was born near Bukhárá, in the year 980 A.D. For a while he taught medicine and philosophy in Ispahán.

Ibn Badja, (Avempace) was one of the most celebrated Muslim Philosophers of Spain. He was born at Saragossa towards the end of the eleventh century. He is distinguished for having opposed the mystical tendencies of the teaching of Al-Ghazzálí, and for maintaining that speculative science alone was capable of leading man to a true conception of his own proper nature. He was violently attacked by the orthodox divines who declared that all philosophical teaching was "a calamity for religion and an affliction to those who were in the good way."

Al-Ghazzálí was born A.D. 1059 in Khorásán. He was a famous Muslim divine. He adopted scholastic methods. For a while he was President of the Nizámiah College at Baghdád. He travelled much, and wrote many books to prove the superiority of Islám over all other religions and over philosophy. The first result of his wide and extensive study of the writings of the philosophers, and of the heretics was that he fell into a state of scepticism with regard to religion and philosophy. From this he emerged into Súfíism, in [184]which his restless spirit found satisfaction. On Súfíism, however, he exercised no very notable influence; but the scepticism which he still retained as regards philosophy rendered him a very formidable opponent to those who were trying to bring Islám into accord with philosophic theories. His works, "Tendency of Philosophers," and "Destruction of the Philosophers" had an immense influence. In the preface to the latter book, he speaks of "those who arrogate to themselves a superior intelligence, and who, in their pride, mistaking the precepts of religion, take as a guide the authority of certain great men, instead of revealed religion." It is, however, and with some show of reason supposed that Al-Ghazzálí did not really object to all that he condemned, but that to gain the orthodox he wrote what he did. Indeed, Moses of Narbonne states that Ghazzálí later on in life wrote a book, circulated only amongst a few select friends, in which he withdrew many of the objections he had raised in the "Destruction of Philosophers." Be that as it may, it is acknowledged that he dealt a blow to philosophy from which in the East it has never recovered; that is, as far as the Muslim world is concerned. His course marks a reaction of the exclusively religious principle of Islám against philosophical speculation, which in spite of all accommodation never made itself orthodox.

In Spain philosophy still found an ardent defender in Ibn Rashíd, better known as Averhoes. This celebrated man was born at Cordova in the year 1126 A.D., or about 520 of the Muhammadan era. He came of a noble and learned family, whilst he himself must ever occupy a distinguished place amongst the Muslim Philosophers. "Without dispute he was one of the most learned men of the Muslim world, and one of the profoundest commentators of Aristotle. He knew all the sciences then accessible to the Muslims and was a most prolific writer."[181] One of his most famous works was the "Refutation of the destruction of Philosophers." Notwithstanding his philosophical opinions Averhoes claimed to pass for a good Muslim. He held that the philosophic truths are the highest object of research; but that only a few men could by speculation arrive at them, and that, therefore, a divine revelation through the medium of prophets was necessary for spreading amongst men the eternal verities which are proclaimed alike by philosophy and religion. He held, it is true, that the orthodox had paid too much attention to the letter, and too little to the spirit, and that false interpretations had educed principles not really to be found in religion. This [185]profession and a rigid adherence to outward forms of worship, however, did not save him from suspicion. He was accused of preaching philosophy and the ancient sciences to the detriment of religion. He was deprived of his honours and banished by the Khalíf Al-Mansúr to Lucena, near Cordova. In his disgrace he had to suffer many insults from the orthodox. One day on entering the mosque with his son he was forcibly expelled by the people. He died at Morocco in 1198 A.D. Thus passed away in disgrace the last of the Muslim Philosophers worthy of the name.[182] In Spain a strict prohibition was issued against the study of Greek philosophy, and many valuable works were committed to the flames. Soon after the rule of the Moors in Spain began to decline. The study of philosophy came to an end, and liberal culture sank under the pressure of the hard and fast dogmatic system of Islám. In Spain,[183] as in Baghdád, orthodoxy gained the day. There was much of doubtful value in the speculations of the Muslim Philosophers, but they were Muslims, and if they went too far in their efforts to rationalize Islám, they also tried to cast off what to them seemed accretions, added on by the Traditionalists and the Canonical Legists. They failed because like the earlier scholastics they had no gospel to proclaim to men, no tidings to give of a new life which could enable wearied humanity to bear the ills to which it was subject. Another strong reason was that the orthodoxy against which they strove was a logical development of the foundations of Islám, and these foundations are too strongly laid for any power other than a spiritual one to uproot. They were men of good position in life, voluminous writers, profound admirers of Aristotle, and "more or less devoted to science, especially to medicine." Yet they did not advance philosophy, and science they left much as they found it. They preserved something of what Grecian thought had achieved, and so far their labour is not lost.

Thus Islám has, as a religion, no right to claim any of the glory which Muslim philosophers are supposed to have shed around it. [186]The founders of Islám, the Arabs, produced but one philosopher of note.[184] The first impetus to the study was given by heretical Khalífs employing Christians at Baghdád to translate Greek books; whilst in Spain, where philosophy most flourished, it was due largely to the contact of intelligent Muslims with learned Jews. Even there, the philosophers were, as a rule, the objects of bitter persecution. Now and again, a liberal minded Khalíf arose, but a system such as Islám survives the liberal tendencies of a generation. From the close of the twelfth century (A.D.) downwards it would be difficult to point to any Muslim Philosopher, much more to an Arab one, whose work is of any real value to the human race. For four hundred years the contest raged, a contest such as Islám has never since seen. This great effort to bring it into accordance with the main stream of human thought, to introduce into it some element of progress utterly failed. The lesson is plain. Any project of reform in Islám which admits in any degree its fundamental principles must fail. Revolution, not reform, is the only hope for the permanence of an independent Muslim state when it enters into the circle of civilized nations.




The portion of the creed considered in the last chapter was connected with Imán (faith); the remaining portion is connected with Dín (practical religion). The five principal acts are called Irkán-i-Dín, pillars of religion. They are: (1) The recital of the Kalima, or short confession of faith; (2) Sulát, the five stated periods of prayer; (3) Roza, the thirty days' fast of Ramazán; (4) Zakát, legal alms; (5) Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. These are all farz duties, being based on a Nass-i-Záhir, or "obvious," sentence of the Qurán, a proof derived from which is called dalíl-i-qata'í. This is the strongest of all kinds of proofs.

The authorities, however, specify other religious duties which good Muslims should perform. Such are the seven duties which are wájib, or duties based on the more obscure texts of the Qurán, called Khafi, or "hidden" sentences, a proof derived from which is called dalíl-i-zaní. These duties are: (1) To make the 'Umra, or Pilgrimage to Mecca in addition to the Hajj; (2) obedience to parents; (3) the obedience of a wife to her husband; (4) the giving of alms after a fast; (5) the offering of sacrifice; (6) the saying of Namáz-i-witr, a term which will be explained later on; (7) the support of relatives. The duties numbered as (4) and (5) are wájib orders to the rich; but only mustahab to the poor: that is, it is meritorious if they perform them, but not sinful if they leave them undone.

The duties next in order as regards authority are the sunnat ones. They are three in number and are based either on the practice of the Prophet, or are fitrat, that is practices of previous prophets, the continuance of which [188]Muhammad did not forbid. They are (1) circumcision; (2) shaving off the hair from the head and the body; (3) the paring of the nails. In addition to these there are actions which are mustahab. They are those which Muhammad sometimes did and sometimes omitted. There is a still lower class of action which are mubáh. These are works of supererogation. If omitted there is no fear of punishment.

It may be mentioned in passing that unlawful actions and things are (1) Harám, actions and food forbidden either in the Qurán or the Traditions; (2) Mahrúh, actions the unlawfulness of which is not absolutely certain, but which are generally considered wrong; (3) Mufsid, actions corrupting or pernicious. It is necessary to bear these terms in mind as they will now frequently occur.

1. Tashahhud.—This is the recital of a confession of faith. There are several forms of this. A common one is: "I testify that there is no deity but God, I testify to His unity and that He has no partner; I testify that Muhammad is His servant and His messenger." The shorter form is: "There is no deity but God and Muhammad is the apostle of God." The power contained in this latter confession is extraordinary. It embodies the very spirit of Islám. "It has led everywhere the march of its armies, it has rung for twelve centuries in the morning air from its minarets, it has been passed from lip to lip, as no other word has ever been passed, by thousands of millions of the human race." The power of Islám, its proclamation of the Unity, is here seen in the closest contact with what is to Muslim theologians the equally fundamental truth—the apostleship of Muhammad, a dogma which retards the healthy development, explains the narrowness, and causes the prostration of Islám, as the world around grows luminant with the light of science and truth, of faith and reason.

2. Sulát.[185]—All the books on Fiqh (Law) which treat of [189]these Irkán-i-dín, give in connection with Sulát the rules regarding the necessary purifications. It will be convenient to follow the same order.

Tahárat or legal purification is of three kinds: (1) Wazú, the lesser lustration; (2) Ghusl, the greater lustration; (3) Tayammum, or purification by sand.

(1). Wazú is an ablution made before saying the appointed prayers. Those which are 'farz' are four in number, viz:—to wash (1) the face from the top of the forehead to the chin, and as far as each ear; and (2) the hands and arms up to the elbow; (3) to rub (masah) with the wet hand a fourth part of the head; also (4) the feet to the ankles. The authority for these actions is the text: "O Believers! when ye address yourselves to prayer, wash your hands up to the elbow, and wipe your heads, and your feet to the ankles" (Súra v. 8). The Sunnís wash the feet: the Shía'hs are apparently more correct, for they only wipe, or rather rub, (masah) them. In these ablutions, if the least portion of the specified part is left untouched, the whole act becomes useless and the prayer which follows is vain.

The act of making wazú, however, has not been allowed to remain in this simple form. The Sunnat regulations regarding it are fourteen in number. They are, (1) to make the intention of wazú, thus: I make this wazú for the purpose of putting away impurity; (2) to wash the hand up to the wrist, but care must be taken not to put the hands entirely into the water, until each has been rubbed three times with water poured on it; (3) to say one of the names of God at the commencement of the wazú[186] thus: "In the name of the Great God," or "Thanks be to God for the religion of Islám;" (4) to clean the teeth; (5) to rinse the mouth three times; (6) to put water into the [190]nostrils three times; (7) to do all the above in proper order; (8) to do all without any delay between the various acts; (9) each part is to be purified three times; (10) the space between the fingers of one hand must be rubbed with the wet fingers of the other; (11) the beard must be combed with the fingers; (12) the whole head must be rubbed once; (13) the ears must be washed with the water remaining on the fingers after the last operation; (14) to rub under and between the toes with the little finger of the left hand, drawing it from the little toe of the right foot and between each toe in succession. Imám Sháfa'í holds that (1) and (7) are farz duties and that (12) should be done three times. Imám Málik considers (8) to be farz.

The actions may be done in silence, or prayer may be repeated. Such a recital is a mustahab, not a sunnat or farz order. It is not obligatory. A specimen of these prayers is given in a note.[187]

(2). Ghusl is an ablution of the whole body after certain legal defilements, and should be made as follows. The person should put on clean clothes and perform the wazú, then he should say: "I make ghusl to put away impurity." All being ready he should wash himself in the following order. He must pour water over the right shoulder three times, then over the left three times and, lastly, on his head [191]also the same number of times. The three farz conditions are that (1) the mouth must be rinsed, (2) water be put into the nostrils, and (3) the whole body be washed. If one hair even is left dry the whole act is rendered vain and useless. All other particulars are sunnat or mustahab.

There are obvious reasons why an explanation of the causes which vitiate a purification, or of the cases in which ghusl is required, cannot be given here. Every standard Muslim work on Fikh, or law, deals fully with the subject. Nothing is more calculated to show the student of Islám how much the Sunnat rules in the practical life of Muslims. The Traditions have raised the most trivial ceremonial observances into duties of the greatest importance. That there may be spiritually minded men in Islám is not to be denied; but a system of religion which declares that the virtue of prayer depends practically on an ablution, and that that ablution is useless unless done in the order prescribed, is one well calculated to make men formalists and nothing more. It comes to this, that, if a man when making wazú washes his left hand before his right, or his nose before his teeth, he cannot lawfully say the daily Namáz enjoined on all Muslims. None but those who have studied Muslim treatises on the subject can conceive of the puerile discussions which have taken place on points apparently trivial, but which from their connection with the Sunnat are deemed by learned Muslims of great importance.

(3). Tayammum, or purification by sand, is allowable under the following circumstances. (1) When water cannot be procured except at a distance of one kos (about 2 miles); (2) in case of sickness when the use of water might be injurious; (3) when water cannot be obtained without incurring danger from an enemy, a beast or a reptile; and (4) when on the occasion of the Namáz of a Feast day or the Namáz at a funeral, the worshipper is late and has no time to perform the wazú. On ordinary days this substitution of tayammum for wazú is not allowable.


The ceremony is performed as follows. The person says: "I make tayammum to put away impurity;" then, "I seek refuge near God from cursed Satan. I commence in the name of God, most Merciful and most High, whose praises are in the religion of Islám." He then strikes the sand with open hands, rubs his mouth and, at last, the arms to the elbows. Not one hair must be left untouched or the whole ceremony is useless. The farz acts are to make the intention of tayammum, to rub the mouth and the hands. "If ye are sick, or on a journey, or if one of you come from the place of retirement, or if ye have touched women, and ye find no water, then take clean sand and rub your faces and your hands with it." (Súra v. 9.)

Minute regulations are laid down with regard to the water which may be used for purification. The following kinds of water are lawful:—rain, sea, river, fountain, well, snow and ice-water. Ice is not lawful. The first kind is authorized by the Qurán. "He sent you down water from heaven that He might thereby cleanse you, and cause the pollution of Satan to pass from you." (Súra viii. 11.) The use of the others is sanctioned by the Traditions. I give one illustration. A man one day came to the Prophet and said: "I am going on a voyage and shall only have a small supply of fresh water; if I use it for ablutions I shall have none wherewith to quench my thirst, may I use sea water?" The Prophet replied: "The water of the sea is pure." Tirmízí states that this is a Hadís-i-Sahíh. Great difference of opinion exists with regard to what constitutes impurity in water, and so renders it unfit for ablutions. It would be wearisome to the reader to enter into all details, but I may briefly say that, amongst the orthodox, it is generally held that if a dead body or any unclean thing falls into flowing water, or into a reservoir more than 15 feet square it can be used, provided always that the colour, smell and taste are not changed. It is for this reason that the pool near a mosque is never less than ten cubits square. If of [193]that size, it is called a dah dar dah, (literally 10 x 10). It may be, and commonly is, larger than this. It should be about one foot deep.

The necessary ablutions having been made, the worshipper can commence the Namáz.

(4). Salát or Namáz. The Namáz can be said either in private or in public. All that is required is that the clothes and person of the worshipper should be clean, the place free from all impurity, and that the face be turned towards Mecca. Whether the Namáz is said in public or in private, it must be preceded by wazú, except when tayammum is allowed. If the Namáz[188] is said in a mosque which is considered to be more meritorious than repeating it in private, it must be preceded by the Azán, or call to prayers, and the Iqámat. Minute particulars regarding the exact attitude in which the Musallí, one who says the Salát, must stand and the words he is to say are given in Muslim books. The following account will give some idea of a Namáz, or Service.[189]

The Mu,azzin[190] calls out loudly in Arabic:—

"Alláhu Akbar! Alláhu Akbar! Alláhu Akbar! Alláhu Akbar[191]!"

All who hear it respond:—

"Alláhu Akbar! Alláhu Akbar! Alláhu Akbar! Alláhu Akbar!"

The Mu,azzin says:—

"I confess there is no God but God, I confess there is no God but God."

Each of his auditors replies:—

"I confess there is no God but God, I confess there is no God but God."


Mu,azzin:—"I confess Muhammad is the apostle of God."

Auditor:—"I confess Muhammad is the apostle of God."

Mu,azzin:—"Come to prayer."

Auditor:—"I have no power or strength but from God most High and Great."

Mu,azzin:—"Come to do good."

Auditor:—"What God wills will be; what He wills not will not be."

If it is the time of morning prayer, the Mu,azzin adds the words: "Prayer is better than sleep," to which the response is given: "Thou hast spoken well." "Alláhu Akbar," and "There is no God but God" are then repeated twice and so the Azán ends.

The Iqámat (literally, "causing to stand") is a repetition of the Azán, but after the words, "come to do good," the statement "prayer has commenced" is made.

These preliminaries being now over, the Namáz can commence. It is as follows:

The Musallí, or worshipper, stands with his hands close to his side and says in a low voice the Niyyat (intention):—

"I have purposed to offer up to God only, with a sincere heart this morning (or as the case may be), with my face Qibla-wards, two (or as the case may be) rak'at prayers, farz (or sunnat or nafl, as the case may be)."

Then follows the Takbír-i-Tahrímah, said with the thumbs touching the lobes of the ears. The palms of the hands are placed towards the Qibla. The fingers are slightly separated from each other. In this position the Musallí says:—"Alláhu Akbar!"

The Qíám, or standing position. The palm of the right hand being placed on the back of the left, the thumb and little finger of the former seize the wrist of the latter. Both hands are then placed below the navel,[192] the eyes are [195]directed towards the spot where the head of the worshipper will touch the ground in prostration, and the Saná is said. It is:—

"Holiness to Thee O God! and praise be to Thee!

Great is Thy name! Great is thy Greatness!

There is no God but Thee!"

The Ta'awwuz is then said:—

"I seek refuge near God from cursed Satan."

Then follows the Tasmíyah:—

"In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful."

Then follows the Fátiha,[193] or first chapter of the Qurán:—

"Praise be to God, Lord of the worlds! the Compassionate, the Merciful! King on the day of reckoning! Thee only do we worship, and to Thee do we cry for help. Guide Thou us on the straight path: the path of those to whom Thou hast been gracious: with whom Thou art not angry, and who go not astray."

After this the worshipper can repeat as many chapters of the Qurán as he likes.[194] Some verses he must repeat.

The Súrat-ul-Ikhlás (Súra 112) is generally said:—

"Say: He is God alone: God the Eternal, He begetteth not, and is not begotten; and there is none like unto Him."

The Takbír-i-rukú'—Alláhu Akbar!—is said whilst the Musallí makes an inclination of the head and body, and separating the fingers a little, places his hands upon his knees.

The Tasbíh-i-rukú' is said in the same position. It is:—

"I extol the holiness of my Lord, the Great!

I extol the holiness of my Lord, the Great!

I extol the holiness of my Lord, the Great!"

The Tasmía' is then said with the body erect, but with the hands placed on either side. Thus:—


"God hears him who praises Him: O Lord, Thou art praised[195]."

The Takbír-i-Sijdar—Alláhu Akbar!—is said as the worshipper drops on his knees.

The Musallí then kneeling down, places his hands, with the fingers close to each other, upon the ground. He must rest upon his toes, not on the side of the feet which must be kept straight behind him. The elbow must not touch the side, nor the stomach the thigh, nor the thigh the calf of the leg. The eyes must be kept bent downwards. Then he touches the ground first with his nose, and then with his forehead, taking care that the thumbs just touch the lobe of the ears.[196] All this being carefully attended to, the Musallí can say the Tasbíh-i-Sijda thus:—

"I extol the holiness of my Lord, the Most High!

I extol the holiness of my Lord, the Most High!

I extol the holiness of my Lord, the Most High!"

He then raises his head and body, sinks backwards upon his heels, places his hands a little above his knees, and whilst doing so says the Takbír-i-Jalsa[197]—"Alláhu Akbar!"

After a slight pause, a second prostration, or Sijda is made and the Takbír-i-Sijda and the Tasbíh-i-Sijda are repeated as before. Then when in the act of rising up the Musallí says the Takbír-i-Qíám—"Alláhu Akbar!"

This concludes one rak'at. The second rak'at begins with the Fátiha, so that after saying the Takbír-i-Qíám a Musallí would have to begin again at that place (p. 195) and repeat all that he had just finished; the only change being that after the Fátiha, he recites different verses of the Qurán to those he said in the first rak'at. After two rak'ats have been said, and after the last, though it be an odd number, the [197]Musallí, unless he is a Shía'h, places his left foot under him and sits upon it. He then places his hands above his knees, as for the Takbír-i-Jalsa, and with his eyes directed towards his lap says the Attahíyát:—

"The adorations of the tongue are for God, and also the adorations of the body, and almsgiving! Peace be on thee O Prophet! with the mercy of God and His blessing. Peace be on us and upon God's righteous servants!"

Then raising the first finger of the right hand he says the Tashahhud[198]:—

"I testify that there is no deity but God; and I testify that Muhammad is the servant of God and the messenger of God."

Then at the end of all the rak'ats the Musallí, whilst in the same posture, says the Darúd:—

"O God! have mercy on Muhammad and his descendants[199]; as Thou didst have mercy on Abraham and his descendants, Thou art to be praised and Thou art great. O God! bless Muhammad and his descendants, as Thou didst bless Abraham and his descendants. Thou art to be praised and Thou art great."

Then comes the Du'á, which may be in the worshipper's own words though he usually says[200]:—

"O God our Lord, give us the blessings of this life, and also the blessings of life everlasting. Save us from the torments of hell."

Then turning the head to the right the Musallí repeats the Salám:—

"The peace and mercy of God be with you."

Then turning the head to the left he says:—

"The peace and mercy of God be with you."

At the close of the whole ceremony, the worshipper raises [198]his hands as high as his shoulders, with the palm towards heaven, or towards his own face, and offers up a Munáját, or supplication, either in Arabic or in the vernacular. The hands are then drawn over the face, as if to convey the blessing received from above to every part of the body.

The appointed periods of prayer are five in number, in proof of which the following text is quoted: "Glorify God when ye reach the evening (masá), and when ye rise at morn (subh); and to Him be praise in the heavens and in the earth,—and at twilight ('ashí) and when ye rest at noon (zuhr)." (Súra xxx. 17). The Commentators say that masá includes both sunset and the period after sunset; that is both the Salát-ul-Maghrib and the Salát-ul-'Ishá. There is also a reference to a stated period of prayer in the following verse: "Observe prayer at early morning, at the close of the day, and at the approach of night." (Súra xi. 116).

These daily Namáz are farz, sunnat, witr and nafl prayers. Farz are those distinctly ordained by God, such as the five stated periods of prayer.

Sunnat, a certain number of rak'ats which are added, because it is said the Prophet repeated them.

Witr rak'ats are an odd number of rak'ats, 3, 5 or 7, which may be said after the last prayer at night, and before the dawn of day. Usually they are added to the Salát-ul-'Ishá. Imám Abu Hanífa says they are wájib, that is ordered by God. They are not authorised by any text in the Qurán, but by Traditions each of which is generally received as a Hadís-i-Sahíh, and so witr rak'ats are regarded as being of divine authority. Imám Sháfa'í, however, considers them to be sunnat only, a term already explained.

The Traditions referred to are: "God has added to your Namáz one Namáz more: know that it is witr, say it between the Salát-ul-'Ishá and dawn." On the authority of Buzár, a Traditionist, it is recorded that the Prophet [199]said: "Witr is wájib upon Muslims," and in order to enforce the practice he added: "Witr is right, he who does not observe it is not my follower." The Prophet, the Companions, the Tába'ín and the Taba-i-Tába'ín all observed it. The word witr literally means "odd number." A Tradition says: "God is odd, He loves the odd." (Alláhu witrun yuhibbu'l-witra). Musalmáns pay the greatest respect to an odd number. It is considered unlucky to begin any work, or to commence a journey on a day, the date of which is an even number. The number of lines in a page of a book is nearly always an odd number.

Nafl are voluntary prayers the performance of which is considered mustahab, or meritorious, but they are not of divine obligation. It must be understood that all these prayers are precisely the same in form. They simply consist in the repetition of a number of rak'ats, of which I have already given a single illustration in full. A Muslim who says the five daily prayers with the full number of rak'ats will repeat the Service I have described fifty times in one day. If in addition to these he observes the three voluntary periods of prayers, he must add twenty-five more rak'ats, making a grand total of seventy-five. It is, however, usual to omit some of the Sunnat rak'ats; still there is a vast amount of repetition, and as the whole must be said in Arabic it becomes very mechanical.

A Muslim who ventured to say that a Namáz might be recited in Hindustani was publicly excommunicated in the principal Mosque at Madras on Friday, February 13th, 1880.[201]

The table on the next page will make the matter clear.[202] The optional Sunnat rak'ats are called [200]'Sunnat-i-ghair-i-maukadda'; the Sunnat rak'ats before the farz are 'Sun-nat-i-maukadda' and should be said.



The names of the time of prayer.

The number of rak'ats said.










(a) Sunnat-i-ghair-maukadda'. (b) Sunnat-i-mau-kadda'. (c) Farz. (d) Sunnat after Farz. (e) Nafl. (f) Witr.

The five periods of prayer.


From dawn to sunrise.



Fajr Kí Namáz.



When the sun has begun to decline.



Zuhr Kí Namáz.






Midway between No. 2 and 4.



'Asr Kí Namáz.




A few minutes after sunset.



Maghrib Kí Namáz.





When the night has closed in.



'Ishá Kí Namáz.






Three periods which are voluntary.


When the sun has well risen.



Ishráq Kí Namáz.



About 11 o'clock A.M.



Zuhá Kí Namáz.



After mid-night.



Tahajjud Kí Namáz.


In addition to these there are several kinds of Namáz which have to be said at different times, or under special circumstances.

(i). Salát-ul-Juma'—The Friday Namáz. This is a farz duty. It has the threefold authority of the Qurán, the Sunnat, and the Ijmá'. Thus: "O ye who believe! When ye are summoned to prayer on the day of the assembly (Friday), haste ye to the commemoration of God, and quit your traffic." (Súra lxii. 9.) The Prophet also said: "Juma' is farz," and, "God will make a mark on the heart of him who misses the Salát-ul-Juma'[204]." There are, however, eight kind of persons on whom it is not incumbent, viz: a traveller, a sick person, a slave, a woman, a young child, a mad [201]person, a blind or a lame person. The conditions which make this Namáz obligatory are:—

(1). That the place in which it is said be a town in which a Qází (judge) dwells.

(2). There must be in the town a ruler or his deputy.

(3). It must take the place of the Salát-uz-Zuhr, with which it agrees, except that two farz rak'ats instead of four are recited. The nafl rak'ats are omitted. The four sunnat rak'ats which precede, and the two which follow the farz ones are said.

(4). One, or according to the followers of Imám Sháfa'í two Khutbas, or sermons are preached. These are delivered by the Imám after the four sunnat rak'ats are recited, and before the two farz ones. The Khutba should consist of the praise of God, prayer and injunctions to piety.

(5). There must be a congregation of three persons besides the Imám. The Sháfa'ítes say there should be at least forty worshippers.

(6). The Azán, or call to prayers, must be made to all without distinction of rank.

Any person who is qualified to act as Imám at the other prayers can conduct this Namáz. The Imám and Khatíb (preacher) is usually, but not necessarily, one and the same person. The Khutbas should not be long, for Muhammad said that long sermons and short prayers would be a sign of the degeneracy of the latter days. When two Khutbas are said, the Imám sits down to rest before the delivery of the second. The worshippers may then offer up a Du'á, or private prayer. Some, however, say that this practice is bid'at, (innovation) and consider it a very bad act. According to the Traditionists, Bukhárí, Abu Dáúd and Tirmízí, it is a mustahab act to wear clean clothes on Friday.

The preacher standing on the second step of the Mimbar, or pulpit, with a large club or staff in his hand, delivers his sermon.[205]


The following is a specimen of the Khutbas.


In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

Praise be to God, the King, the Holy, the Great, the Knower. He has opened our hearts through the blessing of Islám. He has made Friday the best of days. We testify that there is no God but God, the One, without partner. This confession saves those who make it from danger and from darkness. We testify that our Lord Muhammad is His servant and His Apostle sent to all mankind. May the mercy and peace of God be on him, his descendants and on his Companions. O men! O believers of God! I advise you and my own soul thus: "Obey God!" Know, O servants of God! that when Friday commences the angels assemble in the fourth heaven, and Gabriel, (on whom be peace) is the Mu,azzin, Míká,íl the Khatíb, Isráfíl the Imám and 'Izrá,íl the Mukabbir[206] and all the angels join in the Namáz. When it is over Gabriel says: "I give the reward due to me as Mu,azzin to the Mu,azzins of the sect of Islám;" Míká,íl: "I give mine to the Khatíbs;" Isráfíl: "I give mine to the Imáms;" 'Izrá,íl: "I give mine to the Mukabbirs." The angels say: "We give ours to the company of the Muslims." The Prophet said: "The night and day of Friday last twenty-four hours, and each hour God releases a thousand souls from hell. Whosoever makes 'ghusl' on Friday, God will give him for every hair on his body the reward of ten good deeds. Whosoever dies on a Friday meets with the reward of a martyr."

Certainly the best and most eloquent speech is the Holy Qurán, the Word of God,—the King, the Great, the Knower. His word is true and righteous. When thou readest the Qurán say: "O God! protect me from cursed Satan."

In the name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful.

"When ye are summoned to prayer on the day of the assembly, haste to the commemoration of God and quit your traffic. This, if ye knew it, will be best for you. And when the prayer is ended, then disperse yourselves abroad and go in quest of the bounties of God; and that it may be well with you, oft remember God. But when they get a sight of merchandize or sport, they disperse after, and leave thee standing alone. Say: 'God hath in reserve what is better than sport or wares. God is the best provider.'" (Súra lxii. 9-11.) God [203]by means of the Holy Qurán will bless us and you. And by its verses and teaching will reward us and you. God is Almighty, Generous, Merciful, Eternal, Holy, Clement.

Here ends the first sermon; after a short pause the preacher commences the second.

In the name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful.

Praise be to God, the Creator of the earth and heavens, the Maker of light and darkness. I testify that there is no God but God. He is one. He has no partner. Know, O believers! that this confession will save you from trouble and calamity. I testify that Muhammad, who wipes out error and infidelity, is the servant and Apostle of God. The mercy of God be on our Lord Muhammad, the Lord of Creation; and on his descendants; and on his Companions be grace and honour. O servants of God! I advise you and my own soul thus: Obey God! Fear God, who created life and death and who scrutinizes our good actions. O God! be pleased with Abu Bakr, the righteous, the Sáhib-ul-Ghár,[207] and with Omar Ibn-ul-Khattáb, the chief of the holy men; and with Osmán the possessor of two lights, who was martyred when reading the Holy Qurán, and upon 'Alí Murtuzá, the destroyer of infidels and sinners. O God! be pleased with the great Imáms Hasan and Husain. Be pleased with their mother Fatimat-uz-Zuhra, the chief of women, and with Hamza and 'Abbás, the uncles of the Prophet. Also be pleased with all the Asháb (Companions). O God! help those who help the religion of Muhammad, and make us of their number. Make those wretched who corrupt it, and keep us aloof from all such. O believers! truly God orders you to do justice and to show kindness to your kindred. He orders you to abstain from infidelity and from the greater and the lesser sins. God warns you. God is the Most High, the Most Glorious. God is Great!"

The collection of Khutbas from which the above have been translated contains a considerable number on a variety of subjects, such as prayer, the resurrection, worldliness, the various feast and fast days, &c. The form in all is very similar. The exordium and the conclusion are practically the same. A few sentences in the middle refer to the special subject of the sermon. The second of the two [204]sermons is always the same; it is practically an invocation of blessings on certain persons. Both are said in Arabic. What would answer to our idea of a sermon, such as an explanation of some doctrine, or an exposition of some passages in the Qurán, is not part of the public worship in the mosque, but would be done in an ordinary assembly, in any convenient place, by a Moollá, or any learned man who could collect an audience.

(ii). Salát-ul-Musáfir.—Prayers said by a traveller. A person who makes a journey which lasts three days or three nights is, for this purpose, considered a traveller.[208] The length of a day's journey is estimated at the distance a camel can march in that period of time. If a traveller intends to stay in a certain place fifteen days, he must repeat the usual Namáz; if less than fifteen days, or when actually on the journey, he can shorten it. He is then permitted to say only two farz rak'ats. He may omit the sunnat and nafl rak'ats if he chooses; but the three witr rak'ats he must recite at the Salát-ul-'Ishá. If a traveller passing through a place is, for the time being, the most suitable person to act as Imám, he being a traveller will only recite two rak'ats. The rest of the worshippers then complete the Namáz. In the case where a permanent resident of the place is the Imám and the traveller only a worshipper, the Imám is bound to recite the whole number of rak'ats and the traveller must also repeat the whole after him. The principle on which this is based is that the worshippers must not recite less than the Imám.[209]

(iii). Salát-ul-Khauf.—Prayers of fear. This is a Namáz said during the time of war. When there is imminent danger from the approach of an enemy the Imám should divide the army into two bodies; one of which should be placed in a position towards the enemy, the other should recite, if they are on the march, one rak'at; if stationary [205]in a place, two rak'ats. This division will then march towards the enemy and the first division will recite as many rak'ats as may be required to complete the Namáz. The Salám (Ante. p. 197) will be recited by the Imám alone. The first division of troops will not say the qir,at, i.e. the Fátiha and the other verses of the Qurán recited after it (Ante. p. 195); but the second division will supply the omission. If the enemy are so near that the cavalry dare not dismount, then each man will recite a rak'at or rak'ats for himself, and make the rukú' and sijda by means of signs. If he cannot turn towards the Qibla, he is, under the circumstances, allowed to face any direction most convenient. During the recital of the Namáz he must not fight, or allow his horse to move, lest the prayer should be rendered void. "When ye go forth to war in the land, it shall be no crime in you to cut short your prayers, if ye fear lest the infidels come upon you. Verily, the infidels are your undoubted enemies! And when thou, O Apostle! shalt be among them, and shalt pray with them, then let a party of them rise up with thee, but let them take their arms; and when they shall have made their prostrations, let them retire to your rear: then let another party that hath not prayed come forward, and let them pray with you." (Súra iv. 102, 103).

(iv). Salát-ut-Taráwíh.—This is a special set of twenty rak'ats recited every night during the month of Ramazán. They must be said after the farz and sunnat, and before the witr rak'ats at the time of the Salát-ul-'Ishá. The Salát-ut-Taráwíh is considered of sunnat obligation. The practice dates from the time of the Khalíf Omar. Abd-ur-Rahmán, a Traditionist, states that one night in Ramazán he went with Omar to the Mosque. They saw some persons saying the Namáz alone and some reciting it in groups. Omar said: "If I gather them all together, so that they may recite it after one Imám it will be good." He did so, and the next night the people of their own accord came in great numbers and united together. Then said Omar: "this [206]bid'at is good." This is good authority for the institution, for the Prophet said: "Follow my Sunnat and that of the Khulafá-i-Rashídín." There is also a Hadís-i-Sahíh to the effect that "God has made the fast of Ramazán farz, and its qíám[210] sunnat." (Kutiba 'alaikum síámu Ramazána wa sunna qíámuhu). The Prophet was anxious lest the Tiráwíh Namáz should become farz and, therefore, after going to the Mosque on two successive nights in Ramazán, he stayed away on the third, giving as his reason for so doing that he feared that, if he went every night, it might be considered a farz and not a sunnat duty.[211] The number of rak'ats is fixed at twenty, as that was the number recited by Muhammad and by the Khalíf Omar. The Shía'hs do not say these prayers or even enter the Mosque on such occasions, as after every four rak'ats an eulogium is repeated on the four Khalífs—the first three of whom they hate.

(v). Salát-ul-Kusúf and Salát-ul-Khusúf—Prayer said when an eclipse of the sun, or of the moon takes place. In the former case, the Imám recites with the congregation in the Mosque two rak'ats. The Azán and the Iqámat are both omitted. No Khutba is said. In each rak'at one rukú' is read. The Sháfa'ítes read two. After the rak'ats are completed those present remain in prayer (Du'á) until the eclipse is at an end. The Namáz during an eclipse of the moon is the same as that during an eclipse of the sun, with this exception that the rak'ats need not be recited in a congregation. Each Muslim can say the Namáz privately in his own house. The practice is founded on the Prophet's saying: "When you see an eclipse then remember God, pray (Du'á) and recite the Namáz until it becomes light again."

(vi). Salát-ul-Istisqá.—Prayer in time of drought. When [207]there is a scarcity of water each person should, with face Qibla-wards, offer up prayer to God. They can be said at home and in private. Care must be taken that no Zimmí[212] is present. The reason given is that this is a prayer for a blessing; but God sends no blessing on a company in which a Zimmí is present.

These prayers are simple Du'á and not a Namáz. There is no well-authenticated Tradition to the effect that the Prophet ever said Namáz on such an occasion; whilst there are many which show that he made Du'á. This is a very good example of the use of the term Salát as a Mushtarik word, i.e. one which has several significations. Its ordinary meaning is Namáz; here it means Du'á.

(vii). Salát-ul-Janáza.—Prayers at a Funeral. When a person is about to die, the attendants should place him on his right side with his face Qibla-wards. In that position he should repeat the "Kalima-i-Shahádat," the creed of testimony: "I confess that God is one, without a partner; that truly Muhammad is His servant and His Apostle." After death has taken place, the corpse is laid out, incense is burnt, and the shroud is perfumed an odd number of times. A tradition states that an odd number is fixed upon, because the number one which represents the unity of God is odd and not even. The lesser lustration (wazú) is then made. The head and beard are washed with a decoction made of some flowers, after which the greater lustration (ghusl) is made. The members of the body used when making sijda (prostration) i.e., forehead, nose, hands, knees, feet, are then rubbed with camphor.

To recite the Salát-ul-Janáza is a duty called Farz-i-kifáya, that is, if some few persons in the assembly say it, all need not do so; whilst if no one repeats it all will be guilty of sin. To prove that this Namáz is farz the following verse is quoted: "Take alms of their substance, that thou mayest [208]cleanse and purify them thereby, and pray for them; for thy prayers shall assure their minds: and God heareth, knoweth." (Súra ix. 104.) The proof that it is not Farz-i-'ain (i.e., incumbent on all), but Farz-i-kifáya is drawn from an account given in a Hadís, to the effect that the Prophet one day did not recite the Namáz over one of his deceased followers. Now, if the Namáz had been Farz-i-'ain even the Prophet could not have omitted it. His Sunnat, or practice, has decided the nature of the farz command contained in the verse of the Qurán just quoted.

The Namáz can only be said when the corpse is present. It is recited in the open space in front of the Mosque, or in some neighbouring spot: never in the graveyard.

When all are assembled the Imám or leader says: "Here begins the Namáz for the dead."

The company present then stand up in rows with faces turned in the direction of Mecca. The Imám stands a little in front, near the head or waist of the corpse according as it is that of a male or female. Then all assume the Qíám, or standing position, and recite the Niyyat as follows:—

"I recite Namáz for the sake of God, and offer prayers (Du'á) for this deceased person, and I follow the Imám (who is about to officiate.)"

Then all at the first[213] Takbír put the hands to the lobe of the ears and say: "God is Great!"

Then they say the Saná (Ante, p. 195.):—

"Holiness to Thee O God! And to Thee be praise! Great is Thy Name! Great is Thy greatness! Great is Thy praise! There is no God but Thee!"

Then follows the second Takbír: "God is Great!"

Then all say the Darud-i-Ibráhím:—

"O God! have mercy on Muhammad and upon his descendants, as Thou didst bestow mercy, and peace, and blessing, and compassion, and great kindness upon [209]Abraham and upon his descendants." "Thou art praised, and Thou art Great!" "O God, bless Muhammad and his descendants as Thou didst bless, and didst have compassion and great kindness upon Abraham and upon his descendants."

Then follows the third Takbír: "God is Great!"

The Du'á is then repeated:—

"O God, forgive our living and our dead, and those o£ us who are present, and those who are absent, and our children and our full grown persons, our men and our women. O God, those whom Thou dost keep alive amongst us, keep alive in Islám, and those whom Thou causest to die, let them die in the Faith."[214]

Then follows the fourth Takbír: "God is Great!"

Then all say:—

"O God, give us good in this world and in the next, and save us by Thy mercy from the troubles of the grave and of hell."

Then each one in a low voice says the Salám, as in an ordinary Namáz. (Ante, p. 197.)[215]

The Namáz is now over and the people make another Du'á thus:—

"'O our Lord! suffer not our hearts to go astray after that Thou hast once guided us; and give us mercy from before Thee; for verily Thou art He who giveth.' (Súra iii. 6.) O God, Thou art his[216] Master, and Thou createdst him, and Thou didst nourish him, and didst guide him toward Islám, and Thou hast taken his life, and Thou knowest well his inner and outer life. Provide intercessors for us. Forgive him, for Thou art the Forgiver, the most Merciful."


Then going towards the head of the corpse, they say:—

"No doubt is there about this Book (Qurán.) It is a guidance to the God-fearing, who believe in the unseen,[217] who observe prayer (salát), and out of what we have bestowed on them, expend (for God), and who believe in that which hath been sent down to thee (Muhammad), and in what hath been sent down before thee; and full faith have they in the life to come: these are guided by their Lord; and with these it shall be well." (Súra ii. 1-4).

Then coming towards the feet of the corpse, they say:—

"The Apostle believeth in that which hath been sent down from his Lord, as do the faithful also. Each believeth in God, and His angels, and His Books and His Apostles: we make no distinction between any of His Apostles.[218] And they say: 'We have heard and we obey. (We implore) Thy mercy, Lord; for unto Thee must we return.' God will not burden any soul beyond its power. It shall enjoy the good which it hath acquired, and shall bear the evil for the acquirement of which it laboured. O our Lord! punish us not if we forget, or fall into sin; O our Lord! and lay not on us a load like that which Thou hast laid on those who have been before us[219]; O our Lord! and lay not on us that for which we have no strength: but blot out our sins and forgive us, and have pity on us. Thou art our protector; give us victory therefore over the infidel nations." (Súra ii. 285, 286).


The chief mourner then gives the Izn-i-'Ámm, that is, he says:—

"All have permission to depart."

Some then proceed homewards, others go with the corpse to the graveyard. When the bier is lifted up, or when it is placed down near the grave, the people say:—

"We commit thee to earth in the name of God and in the religion of the Prophet."

If the ground is very hard, a recess (lahad) is dug out in the side of the grave. This must be high enough to allow the corpse to sit up when Munkir and Nakír come to interrogate it. If the ground is soft a small grave is excavated at the bottom of the larger one. The corpse is then placed in the lower one. The idea in both cases is that the corpse must be in such a position that it can have free movement. The body is placed with the face towards Mecca. When the bands of the shroud have been loosened the people say:—

"O God deprive us not of the heavenly reward of the deceased, place us not in trouble."

Each person then takes seven clods of earth, and over each clod says; "Bismilláh" (in the name of God), and the Súrat-ul-Iklás (Súra cxii) and then places each clod by the head of the corpse. Unburnt bricks, bamboos or boards having then been placed over the smaller grave, the persons present with both hands throw clods of earth three times into the grave. The first time they say: "From it (earth) We created you"; the second time, "and into it will We return you;" the third time, "and out of it will We bring you a second time." (Súra xx. 57).

Then they say this Du'á: "O God I beseech Thee for the sake of Muhammad not to trouble the deceased."

When the attendants are filling up the grave they say:—

"O God, defend the deceased from Shaitan (devil) and from the torments of the grave."

When the grave is completely filled up, one man pours [212]water three, or five, or seven times over it and then plants a green branch on it.[220]

One of the mourners then draws near the middle of the grave and recites the Talqín (instruction):—

"O servant of God, and child of a female servant of God.

O son of (such an one),[221] remember the faith you professed on earth to the very last; that is, your witness that there is no God but God, and that certainly Muhammad is His Apostle, and that Paradise and Hell and the Resurrection from the dead are real; that there will be a day of judgment, and say: 'I confess that God is my Lord, Islám my religion, Muhammad (on whom be the mercy and peace of God) my Prophet, the Qurán my guide, the K'aba my Qibla, and that Muslims are my brethren.' O God, keep him (the deceased) firm in this faith, and widen his grave, and make his examination (by Munkir and Nakír) easy, and exalt him and have mercy on him, O Thou most Merciful."

The other persons present then offer a Fátiha.[222]

After this, they may, if they like to do so, read the Súrat-ul-Yá Sín (xxxvi) and the Súrat-ul-Mulk (lxvii.) It is not common to do so. Then retiring forty paces from the grave they again offer a Fátiha, for by this time the examination of the deceased has commenced. The first night is one of great trouble to the deceased, so alms should be given liberally that night in his name. In order to relieve him as much as possible, two nafl rak'ats of a Namáz should be said. After the Fátiha in each rak'at the worshipper should repeat the Áyat-ul-Kursí [213](Throne-verse)[223] three times; then the Súrat-ut-Takísur (102) eleven times; then the Súrat-ul-Iklás (112) three times.

After the Salám and the Darúd the worshipper lifts up both hands, and with great humility prays that the reward of the service just concluded may be bestowed on the deceased.

(viii). Salát-ul-Istikhára.—This is a Namáz said before undertaking any special work. The person recites two rak'at prayers. After each rak'at he says the following Du'á: "O God, make me know what is best for me, and keep me from evil, and bestow good upon me, for I have no power to know what is best for me." He then goes to sleep, during which period be expects to receive a special inspiration (Ilhám) which will give him the needed directions and guide him aright as to the matter in hand.

(ix). Salát-ut-Taráwih.—This consists of twenty rak'ats recited each evening during the month of Ramazán. An account of these will be given in the next chapter when the ceremonies connected with the Ramazán fast are described.

3. Roza, the thirty days' fast of Ramazán.—Fasting is defined to be abstinence from food, drink and cohabitation from sunrise to sunset. There must also be in the mind the intention of keeping a fast. The person should say: "O Lord, I intend to fast to-morrow for Thy sake. Forgive my past and future sin." When the fast is ended he says: "O God I fasted for Thy sake and had faith in Thee, and confided in Thee and now I break (iftár) the fast with the food Thou givest. Accept this act."

It is a farz duty to keep the fast during the thirty days of the month Ramazán. This is laid down in the words: "O believers! a fast is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you." "As to the month Ramazán, in which the Qurán was sent down to be man's guidance, and an explanation of that guidance, and of that [214]illumination, as soon as any one of you observeth the moon, let him set about the fast." (Súra ii. 179-181). The Ijmá' is also unanimous on this point. Young children and idiots are excused. Sick persons and travellers may postpone the fast to another time. "He who is sick, or upon a journey, shall fast a like number of other days. God wisheth you ease, but wisheth not your discomfort, and that you fulfil the number of days." (Súra ii. 181). This is called a qazá fast, that is, a fast kept at another time in lieu of one which has been omitted.

If a person makes a vow that, if God grants a certain request, he will fast (roza-i-nazr), or if he fasts by way of atonement for some sin committed (roza-i-kafára), in both cases it is a wájib duty to keep the fast. Some hold that the former is a farz duty and base their assertion on the verse: "Let them bring the neglect of their persons to a close, and let them pay their vows." (Súra xxii. 30).

All other kinds of fasts are nafl, a term already explained (p. 199). Such are the fasts kept on the 10th day of Muharram, on the Aiyám-i-Bíz (bright days)—the 13th, 14th and 15th day of any month, on the 15th of Sh'abán, that is, the day following the night called Shab-Barát, and on the 30th of each month in which there are thirty days. A nafl fast may be broken if the person who intended to keep it receives an invitation to a feast. According to Bukhárí, a woman may not make a nafl fast without the consent of her husband. The reverse is not the case, for "Men are superior to women on account of the qualities with which God hath gifted the one above the other, and on account of the outlay they make from their substance for them." (Súra iv. 38). It is said that one day a woman came to the Prophet and said that her husband had slapped her. The Prophet wished to punish him for doing so improper an act, but he was prevented by the descent from heaven of the verse just quoted, which is held to be conclusive evidence of the inferiority of women. The verse also contains the words "chide those [215](wives) for whose refractoriness ye have cause to fear; remove them into beds apart, and scourge them." It is mustahab to fast some days in the month Shawwál, for Muhammad is reported to have said: "Whosoever keeps the fast of Ramazán and some seven days in the preceding month of Shawwál, it is as if his whole life were a fast."

If on account of dull weather, or of dust storms the new moon is not visible, it is sufficient to act on the testimony of a trustworthy person who declares that Ramazán has commenced. Imám Sháfa'í requires two, but the following Tradition is quoted against him: "An Arab came to the Prophet and said: 'I have seen the new moon.' His Excellency said: 'Dost thou believe that there is no God but God? Dost thou confess that Muhammad is His Apostle?' 'Yes,' replied the man. The Prophet calling Billál, the Mu,azzin, said: 'Tell the people to commence the fast.'" This proves that the evidence of one good Muslim is sufficient testimony in the matter.

The fast is destroyed in the following cases:—if when cleansing the teeth a little water should pass into the throat, if food is eaten under compulsion, if an enema is used, if medicine is put into the ears, nose or a wound in the head, if a meal has been taken on the supposition that it was night when it was really day, if the niyyat (intention) in the Ramazán fast was not properly made, if after a meal taken during the night a portion of food larger than a grain of corn remains between the teeth or in a cavity of a tooth, lastly, if food is vomited. In each of these cases a qazá fast must be kept in lieu of the one thus broken.

In the case where the fast is deliberately broken, the person must atone for his sin by setting a slave at liberty; if from any cause that cannot be done, he must fast every day for two months; if that cannot be done, he must give sixty persons two full meals each, or give one man such meals daily for sixty days.

The fast is not broken by merely tasting anything, by [216]applying antimony to the eyes, and oil to the beard, by cleansing the teeth, or by kissing a person; but it is considered better not to do these things during the day-time. The Imám As-Sháfa'í declared that it was very wrong indeed to do either of these actions after noon. He used to repeat the following Tradition handed down by Tabrání. "The Prophet said: 'when you fast, cleanse the teeth in the early morning, because when the lips of him who fasts become dry and parched, they will be for him a light in the day of judgment.'"

If a person through the infirmity of old age is not able to keep the fast, he must perform sadqa, that is, he must feed a poor person. This opinion is based on a sentence in the Qurán, which has caused a good deal of dispute: "As for those who are able (to keep it and yet break it), the expiation of this shall be the maintenance of a poor man." (Súra ii. 180). This seems to make fasting a matter of personal option, and some Commentators admit that at first it was so, but they say that the words have been abrogated[224] by the following sentence which occurs in the next verse: "As soon as any one of you observeth the moon, let him set about the fast." Others say that the negative particle "not" must be understood before "able," in which case the words in italics must be omitted. Others explain the expression "those who are able" as equivalent to "those who have great difficulty therein," such as aged and infirm persons. This seems to be the best interpretation and is the one which practically is acted on.

In the case of women with child, mothers giving suck to their children, sick persons whom fasting at this particular time might injure, it is sufficient if they keep it at another time; that is, they must when convenient make a qazá fast. [217]In these cases the sadqa or feeding of the poor is not required. Thus Abu Dáúd says: "The Prophet said, 'God allows travellers to shorten the Namáz and to postpone the fast. Women also are allowed to fast another time.'" The Qurán is also clear on the point: "He who is sick or upon a journey, shall fast a like number of other days." (Súra ii. 181). There are five days in the year in which it is unlawful to fast. These are, 'Íd-ul-Fitr, Baqr-'íd and the three following days, viz: the 11th, 12th and 13th of Zu'l-Hajja. If during the month of Ramazán, a person arrives at maturity, or an Infidel becomes a Muslim, each must keep the fast during the remaining days of the month.

To take the Sahra, or meal taken just before sunrise in the month of Ramazán, is a Sunnat act. The great Traditionists, Bukhárí, Muslim and Tirmízí, all agree that the Prophet said: "Eat Sahra because there is a blessing in it. The difference between our fast and that of the men of the Book (Christians) is the partaking of Sahra."

The meal eaten immediately after sunset is called Iftár, or the breaking of the fast. In India it is the custom to eat a date first, or if that fruit is not procurable to drink a little water. In Turkey an olive is chosen as the fruit with which the fast should be broken.

The distinctive feature of a Muhammadan fast is, that it is a fast during the day only. The rich classes by turning day into night avoid much of its rigour.

They, however, frequently break the fast, though any such action must be done in secret, for popular opinion all over the Musalmán world is strongly against a man who does not outwardly, at least, observe the fast of Ramazán. In this matter it may be said

"Pecher en secret, n'est pas pecher,

Ce n'est que l'éclat qui fait le crime."

Those who have to work for their living find the observance of the fast very difficult, for however laborious may be their occupation they must not swallow any liquid; yet as [218]a rule the lower classes observe it strictly.[225] In hot climates this is often exceedingly distressing. In such circumstances the evening twilight is anxiously looked for, as then the Iftár can be commenced. The month of Ramazán brings with it other duties than that of fasting. These will be described in the next chapter.

4. Zakát.—There are two terms in use to express almsgiving. The first is Zakát (literally, "purification") or the legal alms due, with certain exceptions, from every Muslim. The second is Sadqa, or offerings on the feast day known as 'Íd-ul-Fitr, or alms in general.[226] It is the first of these that has now to be considered.

On the authority of the Qurán and the Ijmá'-i-Ummat it is declared to be a farz duty for every Muslim of full age, after the expiration of a year, to give the Zakát on account of his property; provided that, he has sufficient for his subsistence and is a Sáhib-i-Nisáb, or one who possesses an income equivalent to about £5 per annum. The Qurán says: "Observe prayer (Salát) and the legal impost (Zakát)." (Súra ii. 40). The Khalíf 'Umr Ibn 'Abd-ul-'Azíz used to say: "Prayer carries us half way to God, fasting brings us to the door of His palace, and alms procure us admission." The three conditions without which Zakát would not be compulsory are Islám, Hurriat (freedom) and Nisáb (stock). The reason for this is, that Zakát is said to be a fundamental part of 'Ibádat (worship), and that, as the Infidels cannot perform acceptable worship, they have nothing to do with Zakát. Freedom is necessary, for slaves hold no [219]property. Nisáb is required, for so the Prophet has decreed. When the Nisáb is required for daily use the zakát is not taken from it; such as a slave retained for personal service, grain for food, weapons, tools, books, household furniture, wearing apparel, horses for riding, &c., for one Tradition records that the Prophet specially exempted all these, whilst another given on the authority of Bukhárí states that for slaves employed in domestic service only the Sadqa-i-fitr[227] should be given. If a person owes a debt, the amount necessary for its liquidation must be deducted from his property and the Zakát given on the balance. If it is a debt due to God, such as an offering due on a vow or to be given in atonement for the neglect of some religious duty, it must not be so deducted from the property on which Zakát is due.

The amount of gold which constitutes a Nisáb is 20 miskats, or of silver 200 dirhems (=£5 4s.). Whether these metals are in coin or not, one-fortieth part is due. Some say that gold and silver ornaments are exempt, but Imám Sháfa'í does not admit this, and quotes from Abu Dáúd the following Tradition: "A woman with a child, on whose arms were heavy golden bracelets, came to the Prophet. He enquired if the Zakát had been given for them. On receiving a reply in the negative he said: 'It is easy for God in the day of judgment to make thee wear bracelets of fire.' The girl then took them off and said: 'These are for the service of God and of His Prophet.'" On all treasure known as rikáz, that is, buried treasure found by any one, and on valuable metals extracted from mines, one-fifth of the value must be paid, whether the land be Khárijí, rented at its proper market value; or 'Usharí possessed by the payment of a tithe. If the rikáz is found in Dar-ul-Harb, a country under a non-Muslim Government, the whole belongs to the finder, if it is on his own land, or if on unclaimed [220]land he must pay the one-fifth. If the coins found bear the mint stamp of a Musalmán Government, the finder must, if he can, find the owner and return them to him; if they were coined in a mint belonging to the Infidels, after having given one-fifth as Zakát, he may retain four-fifths for himself.

Pearls, amber and turquoise are not subject to any deduction, for the Prophet said: "There is no Zakát for stones."

As regards cattle the following rules have been laid down. For sheep and goats nothing is given when the number is under forty. The owner must give one for one hundred and twenty, two for the next eighty and one for every hundred after. The scale for buffaloes is the same as that for sheep.

For camels the rule is as follows: from 5 to 24 in number, one sheep or goat must be given; from 25 to 35, one yearling female camel (bint-i-mukház); from 36 to 45, one two-year old female camel (bint-i-labún); from 46 to 60, one three-year old female camel (hiqqah); from 61 to 75, one four-year old female camel (jaz'ah); from 76 to 90, two bint-i-labún; from 91 to 120, two hiqqah; and from 121 upwards, either a bint-i-labún for every forty or a hiqqah for every fifty. Horses follow this scale, or two and a half per cent on the value may be given instead. For 30 cows a one-year old female calf (tabi'a) must be given; for 40, a two-year old female calf (musinna), and after that one calf for every ten cows.

Donkeys and mules are exempt, for the Prophet said: "No order has come down (from heaven) to me about them."

If a stock of merchandize exceeds the Nisáb (£5 4s.), Zakát must be given on it and on the profits at the rate of one in forty, or two-and-a-half per cent. The Hanífites do not count a fraction of the forty. The Sháfa'ítes count such a fractional part as forty and require the full Zakát to be paid on it.

Honey, fruit, grain, &c., although less than five camel [221]loads,[228] must according to Imám Abu Hanífa pay one-tenth; but the Sáhibain and Imám Sháfa'í say that if there is less than the five camel loads no Zakát is required. The Prophet said: "If produced on land naturally watered one-tenth is due, if on land artificially irrigated one-twentieth." As he said nothing about the quantity, the Hanífites adduce the fact of the omission as a proof on their side.

The Zakát should be given to the classes of person mentioned in the following verse. "Alms are to be given to the poor and the needy, and to those who collect them, and to those whose hearts are won to Islám, and for ransoms, and for debtors, and for the cause of God, and for the wayfarer." (Súra ix. 60). The words italicised, according to the Tafsír-i-Husainí, are now cancelled (mansúkh). The reference is to the Arab Chiefs who were beaten by the Prophet at the battle of Honein (A.H. 8). This victory is referred to in the 25th verse of this Súra. "God hath helped you in many battle fields, and on the day of Honein." Abu Bakr abolished this giving of Zakát to converts, and the Khalíf Omar said to these or similar persons: "This Zakát was given to incline your hearts toward Islám. Now God has prospered Islám. If you be converted it is well; if not, a sword is between us." No Companion has denied this statement, and so the authority for the cancelling of this clause is that of the Ijmá'-i-Ummat (unanimous consent). It is well that an appeal to unworthy motives should be abolished, but no commentator so far as I know makes that a reason for the cancelling of this order. It is always placed on the ground of the triumphant nature of Islám which now needs no such support. Contemptuous indifference, not any high moral motive was the cause of the change.

In addition to the persons mentioned in the verse just quoted, Zakát may be given to assist a Mukátib, or slave [222]who is working in order to purchase his freedom. Persons who are too poor to go on a Jihád or to make the Hajj must be assisted.

The Zakát must not be given for building mosques,[229] for funeral expenses, liquidating the debts of a deceased person, or to purchase a slave in order to set him free. It is not lawful to give the Zakát to parents or grand-parents, children or grandchildren; or for a husband to give it to his wife, or a wife to her husband; or a master to his slave. The Sáhibain[230] maintain that a wife can apply the Zakát to her husband's wants and quote this Tradition: "A woman asked the Prophet if she could give the Zakát to her husband. He answered 'give; such an act has two rewards, one for the giving of charity and one for the fulfilment of the duties of relationship.'" It should not be given to a rich man, nor to his son, nor to his slave. The descendants of Hásham and the descendants of the Prophet should not be the recipients of the Zakát. The Prophet said: "O Ahl-i-Beit (men of the house), it is not lawful for you to receive Zakát, for you get the one-fifth share of my fifth portion of the booty." So some say that Syeds are excluded; but they demur and reply that they do not now get a portion of the spoil of the Infidels. Zakát must not be given to a Zimmí (a non-muslim subject).

In Muhammadan countries there are officers whose duty it is to collect the Zakát; in India the payment is left to each person's conscience. Whilst there is not much regularity in the payment, due credit must be given for the care which Musalmáns take of their poor.

The Sadqa (charitable offerings) form a different branch of this subject. A full account of it will be given in the section of the next chapter which treats of the 'Íd-ul-Fitr.


5. The Hajj.—The Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, is a farz duty, and he who denies this fact is considered to be an infidel. "The pilgrimage to the temple is a service due to God from those who are able to journey thither: and as to him who believeth not—verily God can afford to dispense with all creatures." (Súra iii. 91, 92.) On the authority of Ibn 'Abbás the following Tradition has been handed down. "The Prophet said: 'God has made the Hajj farz.' Then Aqra' bin Hábis, standing up, said: 'O Prophet is it to be made every year?' His Excellency said: 'If I say—yes, it will be a wájib duty to do it annually; but that ye are not able to bear, so the Hajj is necessary only once; whatever pilgrimage may be made to Mecca in addition is nafl.'"

The Hajj must be made by every free Muslim, who is sound in body, and of full age, when he has sufficient means to pay his expenses, after duly providing for the support of his household till his return. If a slave, or a child should make the Hajj, the former on attaining freedom, and the latter on coming of age must again go on pilgrimage. If a woman, whose residence is at a distance of more than three days' journey from Mecca, goes on pilgrimage, she must be accompanied by her husband or by a near relative. Imám As Sháfa'í denies the necessity of such attendance, stating that the verse already quoted makes no such restriction. His objection is, however, met as usual by a Tradition. "A certain man came to the Prophet and said: 'My wife is about to make the Hajj, but I am called to go on a warlike expedition.' The Prophet said: 'Turn away from the war and accompany thy wife in the Hajj.'" Imám Abu Yúsuf considered that a man who possessed the means should go to Mecca, and held that if he delayed more than a year in making the Hajj he was a sinner. Imám Muhammad, and most others think that a person may postpone the Hajj for some years, but if death should overtake the man before he has made [224]the pilgrimage, he will be accounted a sinner. So practically all agree that delay is dangerous.

Connected with the Hajj there are three actions which are farz, and five which are wájib; all the rest are sunnat or mustahab. The farz requisites are: (1) to wear no other garment except the Ihrám,[231] two seamless wrappers, one of which is worn round the loins, the other thrown over the shoulder; (2) to stand in 'Arfát; (3) to make the Tawáf, that is to go round the K'aba seven times.

The wájib duties are: (1) to stay in Muzdalífah; (2) to run between Mount Safá and Mount Marwah; (3) to perform the Ramí-ul-Jamár, or the casting of the pebbles; (4) if the pilgrims are non-Meccans they must make an extra Tawáf; (5) to shave the head after the pilgrimage is over.

The Hajj must be made at the appointed season. "Let the pilgrimage (Hajj) be made in the months already known." (Súra ii. 193). These months are Shawwál, Zu'l-q'ada, and the first ten days of Zu'l-Hajja. The actual Hajj must be in the month Zu'l-Hajja, but the preparations for, and the niyyat, or intention of the Hajj can be made in the two preceding months. The 'Umrah, or ordinary pilgrimage, can be done at any time of the year except on the ninth, and four succeeding days of Zu'l-Hajja. On each of the various roads leading to Mecca, there are at a distance of about five or six miles from the city stages called Míqát. The following are the names. On the Madína road, the stage (manzil) is called Zu'l-Halifah; on the 'Iráq road, Zát-i-'Arq; on the Syrian road, Hujfah; on the Najd road, Qarn; on the Yaman road, Yalamlam.[232]


The Hájís from all parts of the Muslim world at length arrive weary and worn at one of these stages. They then divest themselves of their ordinary clothing, and after a legal ablution, and after saying a Namáz of two nafl rak'ats they put on the Ihrám. The Hájí, having now really entered upon the Hajj, faces Mecca and makes the niyyat (intention), and says: "O God, I purpose to make the Hajj; make this service easy to me and accept it from me." He then says the Talbíyah[233]: "Here I am! O Alláh! Here I am! Here I am! There is no God but Thee! Truly, praise and bounty, and the kingdom are to Thee! No partner hast Thou! Here am I!"

The persons who reside permanently in any of these Míqát can assume the pilgrim's garb in a place called Hal, near to Mecca, or in the city itself; whilst the inhabitants of Mecca can put on the Ihrám in the precincts of the temple.

The Hájí having assumed the Ihrám must now abstain from worldly affairs, and devote himself entirely to the duties of the Hajj. He is not allowed to hunt, though he may catch fish if he can. "O Believers, kill no game while ye are on pilgrimage." (Súra v. 96). The Prophet also said: "He who shows the place where game is to be found is equally as bad as the man who kills it." The Hájí must not scratch himself, lest vermin be destroyed, or a hair be uprooted. Should he feel uncomfortable, he must rub himself with the open palm of his hand.[234] The face and head must be left uncovered, the hair on the head and beard unwashed and uncut. "Shave not your heads until the [226]offering reach the place of sacrifice." (Súra ii, 192). On arriving at an elevated place, on descending a valley, on meeting any one, on entering the city of Mecca or the Musjid-ul-Harám[235] the Hájí should continually repeat the word "Labbaik, Labbaik."

As soon as he sees the K'aba[236] he must say the Takbír and the Tahlíl. The Traditionist 'Atá says that at this stage the Prophet used to lift up his hands and pray.

On entering the enclosure, the Hájí says the Labbaik, Takbír and the Tahlíl, then a Du'á. A Namáz of two rak'ats is then said at the station of one of the four great Imáms. On arriving near the Hajr-ul-Aswad (black stone) the Hájí again says the Takbír and the Tahlíl, after which he kisses the stone. If, on account of the crowd, he cannot get near enough to do this, he must touch it with his hand or with a stick, and kiss that with which he has thus touched the stone. At the same time he says: "O Alláh, (I do this) in Thy belief, and in verification of Thy book, and in pursuance of Thy Prophet's example—may Alláh bless and preserve him. O accept Thou my supplication, diminish my obstacles, pity my humiliation and graciously grant me Thy pardon." Then he again repeats the Takbír and the [227]Tahlíl, the Darúd and the Tahríf (prayer for, and praise of Muhammad). He then encompasses the K'aba seven times, in accordance with the niyyat he had made, thus: "In the name of Alláh, and Alláh is Omnipotent! I purpose to make the circuit seven times."[237] This is called the Tawáf. The Hájí runs round three times at a rapid pace (Tarammul), and four times he proceeds slowly (Taammul). A permanent resident in Mecca will not perform the Tawáf. The Hájí then presses his stomach, chest and right cheek against the portion of the K'aba wall, called Al-Multazim, and raising up his arms on high says: "O Alláh, Lord of the Ancient House, free my neck from hell-fire, and preserve me from every evil deed; make me contented with that daily bread which Thou hast given to me, and bless me in all Thou hast granted!" He then says the Istigfár—"I beg pardon of Alláh, the Most High, the Living, the Eternal, and to Him I repent."

The Hájí next proceeds to the Maqám-i-Ibráhím[238] (place of Abraham) and then recites two rak'ats[239] called Sunnat-ut-Tawáf. Some water from the sacred well Zemzem is then drunk, after which the Hájí returns to the Hajr-ul-Aswad, and again kisses it.

Hájí Burton thus describes one shaut or circuit:—

"We began the prayer 'O Alláh (I do this) in Thy belief and in verification of Thy Book, and in faithfulness to Thy covenant and after the example of Thy Prophet Muhammad. May Alláh bless and preserve him!' till we reached the place Al-Multazim, between the corner of the black stone and the K'aba door. Here we ejaculated, 'O Alláh, Thou hast rights, so pardon my transgressing them.' Opposite the door we repeated, 'O Alláh, verily the house is Thy house, and the sanctuary Thy sanctuary, and the safeguard Thy [228]safeguard, and this is the place of Him who flees to Thee from (hell) fire.' At the building called Maqám-i-Ibráhím, we said: 'O Alláh, verily this is the place of Abraham, who took refuge with, and fled to Thee from the fire! O deny my flesh and blood, my skin and bones to the (eternal) flames.' As we paced slowly round the north or Irák corner of the K'aba we exclaimed, 'O Alláh, verily I take refuge with Thee from polytheism, and disobedience, and hypocrisy, and evil conversation, and evil thoughts concerning family, and property and progeny.' When we passed from the Mízáb, or spout, we repeated the words, 'O Alláh, verily I beg of Thee faith which shall not decline, and a certainty which shall not perish, and the good aid of Thy Prophet Muhammad—may Alláh bless and preserve him! O Alláh, shadow me in Thy shadow, on the day when there is no shadow by Thy shadow; and cause me to drink from the cup of Thy Prophet Muhammad—may Alláh bless and preserve him—that pleasant draught, after which is no thirst to all eternity, O Lord of honour and glory.' Turning to the west corner, or the Rukn el Shámí, we exclaimed: 'O Alláh, make it an acceptable pilgrimage, and a forgiveness of sins, and a laudable endeavour, and a pleasant action (in Thy sight), and a store which perisheth not, O Thou Glorious, O Thou Pardoner!' This was repeated thrice, till we arrived at the Yemaní, or southern corner, where the crowd being less importunate, we touched the wall with the right hand, after the example of the Prophet, and kissed the finger-tips. Between the south angle and that of the black stone, where our circuit would be completed, we said: 'O Alláh, verily I take refuge with Thee from infidelity, and I take refuge with Thee from want, and from the tortures of the tomb, and from the troubles of life and death. And I fly to Thee from ignominy in this world and the next, and implore Thy pardon for the present and the future. O Lord, grant to me in this life prosperity, and in the next life prosperity, and save me from the punishment of fire.'"

The next important step is the running between the Mounts Safá and Marwah. Starting from the former, the Hájí runs seven times between the two summits. He runs, moving the shoulders, and with head erect, like soldiers charging in battle. The reason for this is, that the infidel Meccans mocked the Companions of the Prophet, and said that the climate of Madína had made them weak. This bold way of running was adopted to disprove the [229]calumny and so has become a Sunnat practice. The prayer to be said during the S'ai (running) is: "O my Lord, pardon and pity, and pass over that (sin) which Thou knowest. Verily Thou knowest what is not known, and verily Thou art the most Glorious, the most Generous. O, our Lord, grant us in both worlds prosperity, and save us from fire." The Hájí should also quote passages from the Qurán. This S'ai must be done after an important Tawáf, either the first, or a later one. On the seventh day the Imám must preach in Mecca, and instruct the pilgrims in the ritual of the Hajj. He preaches again on the ninth and eleventh days.

On the eighth day, (Rúz-i-Tarwiáh), the Hájí goes to Miná, a place three miles distant from Mecca, where with all the other Hájís he says the usual Namáz, and there spends the night.[240] This is a sunnat observance. On the morning of the ninth day, starting after the Salát-ul-Fajr, the Hájí goes to 'Arifát.[241] On arriving there he says: "O God, I turn to Thee, I put my trust on Thee, I desire Thee, pardon my sin, accept my Hajj, show mercy to me, supply my need in 'Arifát, Thou art powerful over all." He then says Labbaik, the Takbír and the Tahlíl.

The noontide, and the afternoon Namáz are said together there: they are thus shortened.[242] This done he should stand upon the mountain, if possible at or near the place the Prophet [230]is said to have occupied. This is called the Wukúf or (standing), a necessary part of the Hajj. He must also listen to the sermon delivered by the Imám, explaining what still remains of the ritual of the Hajj, i.e., how the Hájís are to stand in Muzdalífah, to throw the stones in Miná, to make the sacrifice, &c.

All the time the Hájí should constantly shout out the Talbíyah, and the Tahlíl, and weep bitterly.

The Hájí then proceeds to Muzdalífah, a place situated about half-way between Miná and 'Arifát, where he should pass a portion of the night. After a visit to the Mosque Mashar al Harám, he should collect seven pebbles and proceed to Miná.

When the morning of the tenth day, the 'Íd-ul-Azhá arrives, he again goes to Miná, where there are three different pillars, called respectively the Jamrat-ul-Akabah, commonly known as the Shaitan-ul-Kabír[243] (great devil), the Wusta, or middle pillar, and the Al Ula, or first one. Holding the jamár, or pebble, between the thumb and forefinger of the right hand, the Hájí throws it a distance of not less than fifteen feet and says: "In the name of Alláh, and Alláh is Almighty, (I do this) in hatred of the Fiend and to his shame." The remaining six stones are thrown in like manner. The object is to confound the devils who are supposed to be there. The stones are small lest the pilgrims should be hurt. Before each stone is thrown the Takbír must be said. This ceremony is called Ramí-ul-Jamár, the throwing of stones. It is also known as Hasal Khazaf. It is said that this ceremony has been performed since the time of Abraham, and that the stones are miraculously removed. Ibn 'Abbás, a Companion, says that if the pilgrimage of a Hájí is approved of by God, the stones are secretly removed. Mujáhid, a well known Traditionist, [231]says that he put a mark on his stones and afterwards searched, but found them not. The pilgrim then returns to Miná, and there offers the usual sacrifice of the 'Íd-ul-Azhá. An account of this will be given in the next chapter. This act strictly speaking, concludes the Hajj. The Hájí can now shave his head, pare his nails and remove the Ihrám.

The remaining three days, the 11th, 12th and 13th of Zu'l-Hajja are called the Aiyám-ut-Tashríq "days of drying flesh" because now the pilgrims prepare provisions for the return journey, by cutting slices from the victims offered in sacrifice and drying them in the sun. The Hájí should spend this time at Miná, and each day throw seven pebbles at each of the pillars. This ceremony duly over, he returns to Mecca and makes the Tawáf-ul-Widá' (circuit of farewell). He should also drink some water from the well of Zemzem. Tradition says that when Ishmael was thirsty Gabriel stamped with his foot and a spring gushed forth. This is now the far-famed well Zemzem. Finally, the Hájí kisses the threshold, and then, with hands uplifted laying hold of the covering of the K'aba, and weeping bitterly, he prays most humbly, and expresses regret that he will soon have to depart from a place so dear as the sacred K'aba. Retiring backwards, he makes his exit and the Hajj is complete.[244] The Umráh or little pilgrimage can be made at any time except the eighth, ninth and tenth of Zu'l-Hajja. It is usually done before pilgrims start homewards. Its ceremonies differ but slightly from the Hajj. The Ihrám must [232]be put on, and the obligations of abstinence which it entails must be observed.

The usual course is then to make the Ziárat, or visit to the tomb of the Prophet at Madína. Henceforth the pilgrim assumes the honorable title of Hájí and so is, ever after, a person of some consequence among the community in which he dwells. The Hajj cannot be performed by proxy, though it is esteemed a 'good work,' if someone who can afford it, sends a pilgrim who otherwise could not go.

This account of the Irkán-i-dín, or five pillars of religion, must now draw to a close. They illustrate well the fixed and formal nature of Islám, whilst the constant reference to the Prophet's sayings and practice, as an authority for many of the details, shows how largely Islám is based on the Sunnat. With regard to the differences of opinion which the great Imáms hold on some of the details, it is most difficult to decide which side holds the correct view. Such opinions are always based on some Tradition, the value of which it is impossible to determine. The opponent says it is a weak (z'aif) Tradition—a statement it would puzzle any one to prove or to disprove. It is sometimes said in praise of Musalmáns that they are not priest-ridden; but no people in the world are so Tradition-ridden, if one may use such an expression. Until this chain of superstition is broken there can be no progress and no enlightenment; but when it is so broken Islám will cease to be Islám, for this foundation of the Faith and the edifice erected on it are so welded together that the undermining of the one will be the fall of the other.



The following Fatvá was publicly given in the Great Mosque, Triplicane, Madras, February 13th, 1880.

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.


"O 'Ulamá of the religion, and Muftís of the enlightened Law, what is your opinion in this matter? A person having translated a juz (one-thirtieth part) of the noble Qurán into the Hindustani language has printed it. The translation is defective: moreover the Arabic text is not given. In order to give the translation the same authority as the original, he has retained the usual signs and marks of the Arabic editions; such as—toí, qif, jím, lá, mím, and circle   with dot.[245] At the end of the juz he has added a translation of the Tashshahud, Qanúd, Saná, Ta'awwuz, Tasmí, Tashibát, rukú' and Sujúd, and has said that all these must be read in Hindustani. He further states that in the translation he has retained the rhythm of the original, and that in eloquence and style it is equal to the Arabic. He has also added rubrical directions as to the ritual of the Namáz, and has stated that to those who do not know Arabic, it is a wájib and a farz duty to recite the translation; otherwise they commit sin and the Namáz is vain. As regards the past, he considers that the ignorant are forgiven, but he maintains that the 'Ulamá of these days must answer for the neglect they show in not telling the people to use translations of the Qurán. Further, in support of his views he adduces a Hadís-i-Sahíh, according to which the Prophet said to a Companion, Salmán-i-Farsí: "Read a translation of the Qurán in the Namáz." He claims, as on his side, the four great Imáms. He himself understands Arabic, yet he says his Namáz in Hindustani and influences others to do likewise. He has been spoken to, but he takes no heed and strives to spread his sect all over India.

Now, what is the order of the noble Law with regard to such a person, and what is the decree in the case of those who follow [234]him, or who circulate his opinions, or who consider him a religious man and a guide, or who consider the translation to which reference has been made to be the Holy Qurán, or who teach it to their children? O learned men, state the Law in this matter and merit a good reward."


"After praising God, and after imploring His mercy and peace on Muhammad, be it known that the person referred to is an infidel, an atheist and a wanderer from the truth. He also causes others to wander. His assertion that his opinions are in accordance with those of the four Imáms is utterly false, because according to Imám Sháfa'í, Imám Málik, and Imám Hanbal it is illegal to use a translation of the Qurán when saying the Namáz, whether the worshipper is ignorant of Arabic or not. Thus Imám Navarí, a disciple of Sháfa'í says: "It is unlawful in any case to use Persian[246] in the Namáz." Faqí 'Alí, a disciple of Málik says: "Persian is unlawful." To these opinions Káfí, a disciple of Hanbal adds his testimony: "To recite in the Namáz from a translation of the Qurán is unlawful." Moreover from the Qurán itself, the recital of it in Arabic is proved to be a divine command (farz). The term Qurán, too, means an Arabic Qurán, for God speaks of it as a revelation in Arabic. The words "recite so much of the Qurán as may be easy to you" prove the duty of reciting it; whilst the words "an Arabic Qurán have we sent it down" show that the Qurán to be used is an Arabic one. Imám Abu Hanífa and his disciples, the Sáhibain (Imám Muhammad and Imám Abu Yúsuf), consider that, if a person can recite only a short verse in Arabic, it is not lawful for such an one to use a translation. If he cannot read the Arabic character, he must learn by heart such a sentence as "Praise be to God, Lord of the people." Until he learns this he may use a translation.[247] In the Tanwír-ul-Absár it is written: "It is a farz duty to read one verse, and to learn it by heart is farz-i-'ain" (i.e., incumbent on all). In the Masíh-ul-Azhar it is written: "If a person says the Namáz in a language other than Arabic, he is a madman or an atheist." With regard to the statement made by Imám Abu Hanífa that a person might use for a [235]time a translation, it is well known that he afterwards recalled that opinion. The statement made by the person complained of regarding Sulmán-i-Farsí is not correct. In the Niháyáh (commentary on the Hidáyah) it is written that some Persians wrote to Sulmán, and requested him to send them a Persian translation of Súrat-ul-Fátiha. He complied with their request and they used it in the Namáz, until they could pronounce Arabic properly. The Prophet on hearing of this circumstance made no remark. This account, however, is not trustworthy; but granting that it is true, all that it proves is that, until some Arabic words can be remembered, a translation may be used. No Imám has ever allowed that to read a translation is farz or wájib. So if the person referred to says that it is farz to read his own translation, then it follows that to read the original Arabic will not be farz, but will be unlawful. Now such an opinion is infidelity. The person is a Káfir, for he tries to make out that the 'Ulamá of all preceding ages who have instructed the people, from the days of the Prophet till now, to read Arabic in the Namáz are sinners. Further, he rejects the statement made by learned canonists and listens now to no advice. He reads his translation in the Namáz and causes others to read it. He boasts that his translation is equal in style to the original. He has translated the Du'á-i-qunút, Saná, and the Tasbíhát of the rukú' and Sujúd, and has said that these translations should be used in the Namáz. Thus, it is plain that he wants to abolish the use of Arabic in the prayers. The result of such a course would be that soon a number of different translations would be circulated, and the text like that of the Taurait, and the Injíl would be corrupted. In the Fatáwá-i-'Álamgírí it is written: "Whosoever considers that the unlawful is lawful or vice versâ is a Káfir." "If any one without apparent cause has enmity with one of the 'Ulamá, his orthodoxy is doubtful." "A man who after committing a fault declines to repent, though requested to do so, is an infidel." In the Tahqíq-i-Sharh-i-Husainí it is written; "To translate the Qurán into Persian and to read that is unlawful." In the Fatáwá-i-Matlúb-ul-Múminín it is said: "Whosoever intends to write the Qurán in Persian must be strictly forbidden." In the Itqán it is written: "According to Ijmá', it is wrong to speak of the Qurán as having rhymes."[248] In the Fatáwá-i-Tátár Khánía it is said: "To translate the Arabic into Persian is an act of infidelity."

Our decision then is that the usual salutations should not be made to this person. If he dies he must not be buried in a Musalmán [236]cemetery. His marriages are void and his wives are at liberty, according to the rule laid down in the Miftáh-us-S'ádat. To doubt of the infidelity of such a person is itself infidelity. As by the proofs of the law here adduced, the 'Ulamá have declared such a person to be an infidel, it follows that all those who assist him or who consider his claim just, or who circulate his opinions, or who consider him to be a religious person and a fit guide for men, are also infidels. To send children to be taught by him, to purchase newspapers which advocate his views, and to continue to read his translation is unlawful. In the Fatáwá-i-'Álamgírí in the chapter entitled Murtád it is written: "Whosoever has doubts of the present infidelity and of the future punishment of such an one is an infidel." God says in the Qurán: "Be helpful to one another according to goodness and piety, but be not helpful for evil and malice; and fear ye God." (Súra v. 3). In another place God says: "Whosoever acts not according to God's order is an infidel." Now, what greater disobedience can there be than this, that a person should say that the recital of the Arabic Qurán in the Namáz is not lawful, and that the recital of his own Hindustani translation of it is incumbent (farz).

"Our duty is to give information to Musalmáns, and God is the best Knower."

This was written by a learned Moulvie, and signed by twenty-four other leading Moulvies of the city of Madras.

This Fatvá, an authentic copy of which is in my possession, is of very considerable importance as showing how unyielding the law of Islám is to the varied circumstances of the countries in which it exists. The law enjoining the Arabic language as a medium of worship was suited for the Arab people, and the principle involved would seem to be that the vernacular language of a country should be used by the Muslims of that country for the purposes of devotion; but, as I have repeatedly shown, precepts, not principles are the ruling power in Islám. It further demonstrates that all such matters must be regulated, not by the needs of the age or country, but by an antiquated law which, to say the least, is an anachronism in the world's history. The authority paid to the statements made by the four chief Imáms, and the fact that the Fatvá is based on their decisions, and on previous Fatvás in which their authority has been adduced, show how even to the present day they are regarded as the Mujtahidín of Islám. The Fatvá is thus manifestly orthodox, and corroborates most fully all I have said in the first chapter on the "Foundations of Islám."




1. Muharram.—Muharram, the name of the first month of the Muhammadan year, has now become the name by which are known the days of mourning spent by the Shía'hs in commemoration of the martyrdoms of 'Alí and of his two sons Hasan and Husain. The historical events thus referred to have been already described in the third chapter, so that it is only necessary now to give an account of the ceremonies connected with the Muharram. They differ in different countries. The following is a description of an Indian Muharram.

Some days previous to the feast, the 'Áshúr Khána (literally, ten-day house) is prepared. As soon as the new moon appears, the people gather together in the various 'Áshúr Khánas, and offer a Fátiha over some sherbet or some sugar in the name of Husain. The Fátiha concludes thus: "O God, grant the reward of this to the soul of Husain." The sherbet and sugar are then given to the poor. Then they mark a spot for the Alláwa, or hole for the bonfire which is to be lit. Every night during the festival these fires are kindled, and the people, both old and young, fence across the fire with swords or sticks, and jump about calling out: "'Alí! Noble Husain! Noble Husain! Dulha! Dulha! Bridegroom! Bridegroom! Friend! &c." These words they repeat hundreds of times.

In some parts of the country they erect an Imám Bára (Imám-house). This is often a substantial building, frequently used afterwards as a mausoleum for the founder and his family. In South India the 'Áshúr Khána only is known. This is generally a temporary structure, or [238]some large hall fitted up for the occasion. Sometimes the walls are draped with black cloth, bordered with texts of the Qurán written in a large and elegant style. The place is brilliantly illuminated. On one side stands the Tázíahs or Tábúts—structures made of bamboos covered with tinsel and profusely ornamented. They are intended to represent the mausoleum erected on the plains of Karbalá over the remains of Husain. Sometimes the Tázíah is constructed to represent the Prophet's tomb at Madína. Large sums of money are spent on these Tázíahs, which when lighted up have a very elegant appearance. At the back of the Tázíahs are laid the several articles similar to those supposed to have been used by Husain at Karbalá,—a turban of gold, a rich sword, a shield, a bow and arrow. The Mimbar, or pulpit is so placed that the speaker can face Mecca. The 'Alams, or standards, which are commonly made of copper and brass, though occasionally of gold or of silver, are placed against the walls. The usual standard is that of a hand placed on a pole. This is emblematic of the five members who compose the family of the Prophet, and is the special standard of the Shía'hs. These standards have many different names, such as—the standard of the palm of 'Alí, the Lady Fátima's standard, the standard of the Horse-shoe, to represent the shoe of Husain's swift horse, and others too numerous to mention. Mirrors, chandeliers and coloured lanterns add lustre to the scene.

Every evening large crowds of people assemble in these 'Áshúr Khánas. In the centre, on a slightly raised platform a band of singers chant the Marsiya, an elegiac poem in honour of the martyred Husain. It is a monotonous performance lasting about an hour; but it has a wonderful effect on the audience, who, seated on the ground, listen patiently and attentively. At each pause the hearers beat their breasts, and say Husain! Husain! Real or stimulated grief often finds expression in groans and tears, though the more violent expression of the anguish felt is reserved for a later ceremony.


This over, the Wáqi'a Khán (literally, narrator of events) ascends the Mimbar, or pulpit, and seats himself on the top, or on a lower step. He proceeds to relate the historical facts, adding many curious stories gathered from the vast heap of Traditions which have cast such a halo of glory around the martyr. Sometimes he becomes very excited, and the audience is stirred up to great enthusiasm. The following account is that of an eye-witness who passed an evening in an 'Áshúr Khána. "The first Wáqi'a Khán was a Persian who delivered a very eloquent oration in his own tongue. It was calm but effective. He was succeeded by an eloquent old gentleman who spoke rapidly in Hindustani at the top of his voice, then rose up, ran down the steps, and casting off his turban rushed in and out amongst the audience, vociferating vigorously all the while. The effect was marvellous, old and venerable men wept like little children, whilst from the adjoining Zanána was heard the bitter weeping of the women who, though not exposed to view, could hear all that was said. After a while, the assembly rose and formed two lines facing each other. A boy then chanted a few words and the whole assembly began, slowly at first, to sway their bodies to and fro, calling out 'Alí! 'Alí! Husain! Husain! Each one then began to beat his breast vigorously. The excitement at last became intense and the men in the rows looked like so many wild creatures."

In some cases blood has been known to flow from the breast, so severe is the self-inflicted beating. This continues till they are well-nigh exhausted, when the whole company goes away to repeat the performance over again in some other 'Áshúr Khána. A devout person will visit several each evening. During the day some pious Shía'hs recite the Qurán.

During this season women who can read, visit the Zanánas and chant Marsiyas to the ladies of the Harem, by whom this season of Muharram is celebrated with great earnestness.

For the first six days, nothing else takes place, but on the [240]seventh day the 'Alam-i-Qásím is taken out in public procession. This is to represent the marriage of Qásím, the son of Hasan, to the favourite daughter of Husain, just before the death of the latter. The event is now commemorated by the bearing of Qásím's standard in procession. It is usually borne by a man on horseback. If it is carried by a man on foot, he reels about like a drunken man to show his grief. The crowd shout out: Bridegroom! Bridegroom! After perambulating the principal thoroughfares, the people bring the standard back to its own 'Áshúr Khána. As the standard which represents Qásím is supposed to be a martyr, it is then laid down, covered over, and treated as a corpse. Lamentation is made over it as for one dead. Sherbet is then produced, and a Fátiha is said, after which the standard is again set up in its own place.

The Neza, a lance or spear, with a lime on the top, to recall to remembrance the fact that Yezíd caused Husain's head to be thus carried about, is taken in procession from one place to another. The Na'l Sáhib (literally, Mr. Horse-shoe) is the representation of a horse shoe, and is meant to remind the people of the swift horse of Husain. Vows are frequently made to this standard. Thus a woman may say to it: "Should I through your favour be blessed with offspring, I shall make it run in your procession." If she attains her wish, the child when seven or eight years old has a small parasol placed in its hand and is made to run after the Na'l Sáhib.

If two 'Alams, or standards, meet, they embrace each other, that is they are made to touch. Fátiha is then said and the respective processions pass on their way. The Buráq, supposed to be a fac-simile of the horse sent by Gabriel for Muhammad to make the night ascent to heaven (Ante. p. 159) is also taken out.

On the evening before the tenth day, which according to the Muslim mode of computing time is the tenth night, the whole of the Tázías and the 'Alams are taken out in [241]procession. It is a scene of great confusion, for men and boys disguised in all sorts of quaint devices run about. It is the carnival of the Musalmán year.

On the following day, the 'Áshúrá, they kindle the fires in the Alláwas, and say a Fátiha in each 'Áshúr Khána. After this the 'Alams and the Tázías are taken away to a large open spot near water, which represents the plain of Karbalá. Another Fátiha is said, the ornaments and decorations are taken off the Tázías, the frameworks of which are then cast into the water.[249] Sometimes they are reserved for use the following year. The water reminds the people of the parching thirst which Husain felt before his death. Only the 'Alams, not the Buráqs nor the Na'l Sáhibs, are immersed. The people then burn incense, recite the Marsiyas, return home and say Fátiha over the 'Alams, Buráqs, &c. On the evening of the 12th, they sit up all night reading the Qurán, reciting Marsiyas and verses in the praise of Husain. On the 13th day, a quantity of food is cooked which, when a Fátiha has been said over it, is distributed to the poor. Some very pious Shía'hs celebrate the fortieth day after the first of Muharram. It is on this day, according to some accounts, that the head and body of Husain were reunited. It is known as the 'Íd-i-sar wa tan (head and body feast).

The Sunnís do not, except as spectators, take any part in the Muharram ceremonies. Indeed, where the ruling power is not strong, there is often much ill-feeling aroused by the enthusiasm excited for all that concerns 'Alí and his family. The three first Khalífs are often well abused, and that no Sunní can bear with patience. The breach between the Sunní and the Shía'h is very wide, and the annual recurrence of the Muharram feast tends to keep alive the distinction.


The tenth day—the 'Áshúrá is, however, a Sunnat feast and, as such, is observed by all Sunnís. It is considered to be a most excellent day, for on it God is said to have created Adam and Eve, His throne, heaven, hell, the seat of judgment, the tablet of decree, the pen, fate, life and death.

The Sunnís about three o'clock in the afternoon of this day prepare sherbet and khichrí—a dish composed of boiled rice and pulse mixed with clarified butter and spices. A Fátiha in the name of Husain and of those who were martyred with him is then said. The food is disposed of as usual in such cases. A Namáz of some nafl rak'ats is said and sometimes a Du'á is added. On this day also they go to the burial grounds and place flowers on, and say Fátiha over the graves of their friends.

Indian Musalmáns have copied in their feast many Hindu ceremonies. The procession of the Tázías, and the casting of them into the water is very similar to the procession at the Hindu feast of the Durga Puja,[250] when on the tenth day the Hindus cast the idol Durga, the wife of Siva, into the Ganges. The oblations offered at different shrines are similar to those offered by the Hindus, such as rice, clarified butter and flowers.

The Muhammadan form of worship was too simple for a country, in which an allegorical and idolatrous religion predominated, addressing itself to the senses and the imaginations rather than to the understanding and the heart; consequently the Musalmán festivals have borrowed from it a variety of pagan rites, and a pompous and splendid ceremonial. While this has done much to add to the superstition of the Musalmáns in India, it has no doubt softened their intolerant spirit. Though the Sunnís consider the Shía'h observances as impious, they look on with the contempt of indifference. The fact that the British Government punishes all who break [243]the peace may have something to do with this. Still the Sunní and the Shía'h in India live on much better terms, and have more respect for each other than the Turk has for the Persian, or the Persian for the Turk. Some Musalmán poets, indeed, are both Sunnís and Shía'hs. Thus Wálí, begins his poem with a brief encomium on the four first Khalífs, and then bestows an eulogy on 'Alí and his sons Hasan and Husain whom he calls "Imáms of the world."

The following is a prayer used in a Fátiha for 'Alí:—

I pray, "That God may deign for the sake of that pure soul, the ornament of the book of nature, the first of mortals after the Prophet, the star of mortals, the most precious jewel of the jewel-box of virtue, the lord of the high and the low, he who occupies a distinguished place on the bridge of eternity, the mihráb[251] of the faith, he who sits upon the throne of the palace of the law, the ship of the sea of religion, the sun of the firmament of glory, the power of the arm of the Prophet, he who has merited access to the tabernacle of the Divine Unity, the most profound of all religious people, the resplendent brightness of the marvels of God, the father of victory, the Imám of the gate of heaven, the cup-bearer of the water of Kausar, he who has merited the praise of Muhammad, he who is the best of men, the holy martyr, the chief of Believers, the Imám of the Faithful, 'Alí, son of Abu Tálib, 'Alí the victorious lion of the Most High. I pray that God for the sake of this holy Khalíf may favourably hear the vows which I offer to Him."

The following prayer occurs in a Fátiha said for Hasan and Husain:—

I pray, "That the eternal God may deign to accept the vows which I make for the repose of the glorious souls of the two brave Imáms, the martyrs well-beloved by God, the innocent victims of wickedness, the blessed Abu Muhammad Al-Hasan and Abu 'Abd-Alláh Al-Husain, and for the twelve Imáms, and the fourteen[252] pure ones, and for the seventy-two martyrs of the plain of Karbalá."


2. Akhir-i-Chár Shamba.—This feast is held on the last Wednesday of the month Safar. It is kept in commemoration of the fact, that, as on this day, the Prophet experienced some mitigation of the disorder which in the next month terminated his life. Sweet cakes are prepared, and Fátihas in the name of the Prophet are said over them; but the most extraordinary custom is the drinking of the seven Saláms. A plantain, or a mango tree leaf, or a piece of paper is taken to a Mullá, or a religious teacher, who writes seven short sentences from the Qurán upon it. The writing whilst still wet is washed off, and the mixture drunk by the person for whom it was written. Peace and happiness are thus ensured for the future. The seven Saláms are: (1) "Peace! shall be the word on the part of a merciful Lord." (Súra xxxvi. 58). (2) "Peace be on Noah throughout the worlds." (Súra xxxvii. 77). (3) "Peace be on Abraham." (Súra xxxvii. 109). (4) "Peace be on Moses and Aaron." (Súra xxxvii. 120). (5) "Peace be on Elias." (Súra xxxvii. 130). (6) "Peace be on you, ye have been good; enter into Paradise." (Súra xxxix. 73). (7) "It is peace till the breaking of the morn." (Súra xcvii. 5). The Shía'hs consider this an unlucky day. They call it "Chár Shamba-i-Súrí."—The "Wednesday of the Trumpet;" that is, of the trumpet of the last day. The Sunnís, on the other hand, rejoice in the day, and esteem it an excellent and auspicious season.

3. Bárá Wafát.—This feast is held on the twelfth day of the month Rabí'-ul-Awwal. The name is derived from bárá, twelve and wafát, death, because many suppose that on this day the Prophet died. According to a well-known Muslim writer "the terrific intelligence, circulating throughout the world, produced universal consternation, and all hastened to offer to God their vows and prayers for the repose of the Prophet's soul." Others, however, maintain that he died on the second of the month and, as there is some doubt on the subject, many persons make a Fátiha [245]every day, from the first to the twelfth of the month inclusive. Those who keep the feast as Bárá Wafát observe the ceremony called Sandal on the previous evening, and the 'Urs, that is, the prayers and the oblations, on the twelfth. The Sandal consists in making a perfumed embrocation from sandal wood. This is then placed into a vessel and carried in procession to the 'Íd-gáh,[253] or to the place where Fátiha will be said. It is then distributed to the people. It is a sort of public notice on the eve of a Feast day, or of a Saint's day, that on the morrow the usual prayers and offerings will be made in such and such a place. On the morning of the twelfth, the Qurán is read in the Mosque, or in private houses: then food is cooked and Fátihas are said.

Some persons possess a Qadam-i-Rasúl, or footstep of the Prophet. This is a stone with the impression of a footstep on it. It is a sacred thing and on this day the place in which it is kept is elegantly decorated. When a company has assembled, some persons appointed for the purpose, repeat the story of the birth, miracles and death of the Prophet. Portions of the Qurán are read and the Darúd is said.[254]

In Madras, and in some other parts, it is more customary to keep this day, not as the anniversary of the death of the Prophet, but as the "'Jashn-i-milád-i-Sharíf," the "Feast of the noble birth." The practical duties are the same. Instead of the Qadam-i-Rasúl, the Ásár-i-Sharíf is exhibited. This is supposed to be a real portion of the hair of the Prophet's beard and moustache. It is said to possess [246]the miraculous property of growing again when a portion is broken off. On this day it is put into rose water which those present then drink and rub on their eyes. Great virtue is attached to this proceeding. In the Ásár Khána, or house in which this hair is kept Fátihas, Darúds, &c., are repeated.

The observance of this festival is neither wájib nor sunnat, but mustahab. It is generally kept, and it is a very rare thing to meet a person who does not believe in the miraculous growth of the Ásár-i-Sharíf.

4. Shab Barát.—This feast, the name of which signifies the "night of the record," is held on the fourteenth day of the month Sh'abán. The 'Arfa, or vigil is kept on the preceding day.[255] It is commonly but erroneously called Shab-i-Barát.

The word Barát signifies a book or record. It is said that God on this night registers in the Barát all the actions men are to perform during the ensuing year. On the thirteenth day food is prepared for the poor and a Fátiha for the benefit of deceased ancestors and relatives is said over it. When all in the house are assembled, the Súrat-ul-Fátiha is read once, the Súrat-ul-Iklás (112) three times, the Áyat-ul-Kursí once, and then the Darúd. After this a prayer is offered, in which God is asked to transfer the reward of this Service, and of the charity shown in the gift of food to the poor, to the souls of deceased relatives and friends of this family. This petition is offered in the name of the Prophet. The men then go to the Mosque and after the Namáz-i-'Ishá they repeat a number of nafl rak'ats. This over, the Súrat-ul-Yá Sín is read three times. It must be done with the niyyat, intention. The first time, the intention is that the worshipper may have a long life; the second time, that his means of subsistence may be increased; the third time, that he may be protected from evil. [247]The Súra-i-Dukhán (144) is then read with the same intentions. Any other portions may then be read. After this those present rise, and go to the various cemeteries. On the way they purchase flowers which are afterwards strewn on the graves. A Fátiha is then said. If the worshipper has no relatives or friends buried there, prayer is offered for the benefit of the Arwáh-i-Qubúr, the souls of those there buried. The very pious spend the whole night in going from one cemetery to another.

These observances are neither farz, nor sunnat, but nawáfil, (sing. nafl), works of supererogation. Still though they are bid'at, yet they are esteemed good and so are called bid'at-i-Hasana, or "excellent innovation." The general merry-making of the fourteenth day has no religious signification. The night of the fifteenth is the Guy Fawkes night of Islám. Large sums of money are spent on fireworks, of which more are let off on this feast than at any other.

The following prayer occurs in the Fátiha: "O our God, by the merits of the Apostleship of Muhammad, grant that the lamps which are lit up on this holy night may be for the dead a pledge of the light eternal, which we pray Thee to shed on them. O God, admit them, we beseech Thee, unto the abode of eternal felicity."

5. Ramazán and 'Íd-ul-Fitr—It is one of the five pillars of the practical religious duties to fast during the thirty days of the month Ramazán. The subject of fasting has been fully treated of in the preceding chapter; and so it is only necessary now to describe the other ceremonies connected with the religious observance of this month.

From the earliest days of Islám this month has been held in the greatest esteem by Muslims, for it was in this month that Muhammad used to retire for meditation, year after year, to the cave of Hira, situated on a low hill some few miles distant from Mecca. In the second year of the Hijra, or flight from Mecca, it was ordained that the month of Ramazán should be kept as a fast. "As to the month [248]Ramazán, in which the Qurán was sent down to be man's guidance, and an explanation of that guidance, and of that illumination, as soon as any one of you observeth the moon, let him set about the fast." (Súra ii. 181).

The Muslims had hitherto observed as the principal fast the 'Ashúrá, the tenth of Muharram. This fast was probably connected with the Jewish fast on the tenth day of the seventh month. "Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, &c." (Leviticus xxiii. 27). Now, when Muhammad first went to Madína he had great hopes of winning over the Jews to his side; but when he failed he took every opportunity of making Islám differ as much as possible from Judaism. This was the reason why the Qibla was changed (Ante. p. 60), and that in the second year of his residence at Madína the fast of Ramazán was appointed. The reasons assigned by learned Muslims for the selection of this month, are that in Ramazán God gave to the previous prophets the revelations connected with their names, and that in this month the Qurán was sent down from the Secret Tablet in the seventh heaven to the first or lowest, and that on the Laylut-ul-Qadr, or 'night of power' the first revelation was made to Muhammad. "Verily we have caused it (Qurán) to descend on the 'night of power.' And who shall teach thee what the night of power is? The night of power excelleth a thousand nights." (Súra xcvii. 1-3). To illustrate the sacredness of this month the Prophet used to say that in it "the gates of Paradise are open, and the gates of hell are shut, and the devils are chained by the leg." "Only those who observe it will be allowed to enter by the gate of heaven called Rayyán." Those who keep the fast "will be pardoned all their past venial sins."[256]

In making the fast one for the day, and none for the night, [249]Muhammad doubtless had reference to the verse: "God wisheth you ease, but wisheth not your discomfort." (Súra ii. 181).

The special ceremonies connected with the Ramazán are the Taráwíh Namáz and 'Itikáf (retirement). The Taráwíh prayers have been described already (p. 205). Each night in Ramazán one-thirtieth part (sípára) of the Qurán is recited in the Mosque. The duty of performing the 'Itikáf is a Sunnat-ul-maukadda, a very strict duty. The Mu'takif, one who makes 'Itikáf, must remain apart in a Mosque used for public services, and there meditate. Bukhárí says that the Prophet made 'Itikáf the last ten days of each Ramazán, and that the practice was continued by his wives after his death. Usually a man should thus sit and meditate one of the days between the twentieth and the thirtieth of Ramazán. If his meditation is disturbed by any illegal interruption, another day should be devoted to it; but Imám Muhammad says: "The least legal time is one hour." Some theologians hold that 'Itikáf is farz-i-kifáya, that is, if one person of a community does it the obligation does not rest on the others. If, however, a person makes a vow in Ramazán, then 'Itikáf is considered wájib. 'Itikáf can be performed at any time other than the last ten days of Ramazán, but then it is only mustahab, a work of supererogation. All the sects except the Sháfa'ítes hold that the Mu'takif must fast. He should also make the nizzat, or intention, of performing what he is about to do. The Mu'takif must not go out of the Mosque except for obviously necessary purposes, and for making the legal wazú and ghusl (purifications). At night he may eat, drink and sleep in the Mosque: acts quite unlawful at other times. He may speak with others on religious matters, and if a man of business, he may give orders with regard to the purchase and sale of merchandize, but on no account must any goods be brought to him. It is highly meritorious for him to read the Qurán in an audible voice. By such an act he becomes [250]a man of penetration, whose words are as powerful as a sharp sword.[257]

When the thirty days have passed the fast is broken. This act is called Iftár, and the first day on which food is taken is called the 'Íd-ul-Fitr—the 'Feast of the breaking of the fast.' On that day the Sadqa, or alms are given before the Namáz is said in the Mosque. The Sadqa of the 'Íd-ul-Fitr is confined to Muslims: no other persons receive it. If any one neglects to give these alms before the Namáz is said, he will not merit so great a reward as he otherwise would. The reason assigned for this is that, unless they are given early in the day, the poor cannot refresh themselves before coming to the Mosque for the Namáz. The Sadqa are given for the good of one's own soul, for that of young children, slaves male and female—Muslim or Infidel; but not for the spiritual benefit of one's wife or elder children.

In South India, the Sadqa consists of a gift of sufficient rice to feed one person. When this has been done the people go to the Mosque saying, 'God is great! God is great!' The Namáz is like that of a Friday, except that only two rak'ats are said, and the Khutba which is said after the Namáz is sunnat; whereas the Friday Khutba is said before the farz rak'ats, and is itself of farz obligation. After hearing the sermon, the people disperse, visit each other and thoroughly enjoy themselves.

A very usual form of the Khutba of the 'Íd-ul-Fitr which is preached in Arabic is as follows:—


In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

"Holy is God who has opened the door of mercy for those who fast, and in mercy and kindness has granted them the right of entrance into heaven. God is greater than all. There is no God save Him. God is great! God is great! and worthy of praise. It [251]is of His grace and favour that He rewards those who keep the fast. He has said: 'I will give in the future world houses and palaces, and many excellent blessings to those who fast. God is great! God is great! Holy is He who certainly sent the Qurán to our Prophet in the month of Ramazán, and who sends angels to grant peace to all true believers. God is great! and worthy of all praise. We praise and thank Him for the 'Íd-ul-Fitr, that great blessing; and we testify that beside Him there is no God. He is alone. He has no partner. This witness which we give to His Unity will be a cause of our safety here, and finally gain us an entrance to Paradise. Muhammad (on whom be the mercy and peace of God) and all famous prophets are His slaves. He is the Lord of genii and of men. From Him comes mercy and peace upon Muhammad and his family, so long as the world shall last. God is greater than all. There is none beside Him. God is great! God is great! and worthy of all praise. O company of Believers, O congregation of Muslims, the mercy of the True One is on you. He says that this Feast day is a blessing to you, and a curse to the unbelievers. Your fasting will not be rewarded, and your prayers will be stayed in their flight to heaven until you have given the sadqa.[258] O congregation of Believers, to give alms is to you a wájib duty. Give to the poor some measures of grain or its money equivalent. Your duty in Ramazán was to say the Taráwíh prayers, to make supplication to God, to sit and meditate ('Itikáf) and to read the Qurán. The religious duties of the first ten days of Ramazán gain the mercy of God, those of the second ten merit His pardon; whilst those of the last ten save those who do them from the punishment of hell. God has declared that Ramazán is a noble month, for is not one of its nights, the Laylut-ul-Qadr, better than a thousand months? On that night Gabriel and the angels descended from heaven: till the morning breaks it is full of blessing. Its eloquent interpreter, and its clearest proof is the Qurán, the Word of God, most Gracious. Holy is God who says in the Qurán: "This word of God comes down in the month of Ramazán." This is a guide for men, a distinguisher between right and wrong. O Believers, in such a month be present, obey the order of your God and fast; but let the sick and the travellers substitute some other days on which to fast so that no days be lost, and say: "God is great!" and praise Him. God has made the fast easy for you. O Believers, God will bless you and us by the grace of the Holy Qurán. Every verse of it is a benefit to us and fills us with wisdom. God is the Bestower, the [252]Holy King, the Munificent, the Kind, the Nourisher, the Merciful, the Clement."[259]

"The assemblies of the ladies on this 'Íd are marked by all the amusements and indulgences they can possibly invent or enjoy in their secluded state. Some receiving, others paying visits in covered conveyances; all doing honour to the day by wearing their best jewellery and splendid dress. The Zanána rings with festive songs and loud music, the cheerful meeting of friends, the distribution of presents to dependents, and remembrances to the poor; all is life and joy, cheerful bustle and amusement, on this happy day of 'Íd, when the good lady of the Mansion sits in state to receive presents from inferiors and to grant proofs of her favour to others."[260]

6. The Baqr-'Íd.—This is the most important Feast in the whole year. It is also known as the 'Íd-i-Qurbán, and as the 'Íd-ul-Azhá, commonly called the Íd-uz-Zuhá, the feast of sacrifice. In Turkey and in Egypt it is called Bairám. Its origin was as follows: A few months after the Hijra, or flight from Mecca, Muhammad, dwelling in Madína, observed that the Jews kept, on the tenth day of the seventh month, the great fast of the Atonement. A Tradition records that the Prophet asked them why they kept this fast. He was informed that it was a memorial of the deliverance of Moses and the children of Israel from the hands of Pharaoh. "We have a greater right in Moses than they," said Muhammad, so he fasted with the Jews and commanded his followers to fast also. This was at the period of his mission when Muhammad was friendly with the Jews of Madína, who occasionally came to hear him preach. The Prophet also occasionally attended the synagogue. Then came the change of the Qibla from Jerusalem to Mecca, for the Jews were not so ready to change their [253]creed as Muhammad had at first hoped. In the second year of the Hijra, Muhammad and his followers did not participate in the Jewish fast, for the Prophet now instituted the feast of the Baqr-'Íd. The idolatrous Arabs had been in the habit of making an annual pilgrimage to Mecca at this season of the year. The offering of animals in sacrifice formed a part of the concluding ceremony of that pilgrimage. That portion—the sacrifice of animals—Muhammad adopted in the feast which now, at Madína, he substituted for the Jewish fast. This was well calculated to attract the attention of the Meccans and to gain the goodwill of the Arabs. Muhammad could not then make the pilgrimage to Mecca, for as yet there was a hostile feeling between the inhabitants of the two cities; but on the tenth day of the month Zu'l-Hajja, at the very time when the Arabs at Mecca were engaged in sacrificing victims, Muhammad went forth from his house at Madína, and assembling his followers instituted the Íd-uz-Zuhá or Baqr-'Íd. Two young kids were brought before him. One he sacrificed and said: "O Lord! I sacrifice this for my whole people, all those who bear witness to Thy unity and to my mission. O Lord! this is for Muhammad and for the family of Muhammad."

Great merit is obtained by all who keep this feast. 'Áyesha relates how the Prophet once said: "Man hath not done anything on the 'Íd-ul-Azhá more pleasing to God than spilling blood; for verily the animal sacrificed will come on the day of resurrection with its horns, hair and hoofs, and will make the scale of his good actions very heavy. Verily its blood reached the acceptance of God before it falleth upon the ground, therefore be joyful in it."

Musalmáns say that the Patriarch Abraham was ordered to sacrifice Ishmael, and that he made several ineffectual attempts to cut the throat of his son. Ishmael then said to his father: "It is through pity and compassion for me that you allow the knife to miss: blindfold yourself and then sacrifice me." Abraham acted upon this advice, [254]blindfolded himself, drew his knife, repeated the Bismilláh, and, as he thought, cut the throat of his son; but, behold, in the meantime Gabriel had substituted a sheep for the lad. This event is commemorated in this feast.

On the day before the feast, the Arfa, or vigil, is kept. Food of various kinds is prepared, over which a Fátiha is offered, first, in the name of the Prophet; secondly, in the names of deceased relatives, and of others for whom a blessing is desired, or from whom some favor is expected. The food is then sent as a present to friends.

On the morning of the feast day, the devout Muslims proceed to the 'Íd-gáh or, if there is no 'Íd-gáh, to the principal Mosque, repeating on the way the Takbír "God is Great!" and "There is no other God save the one true God, God is great, praise be to God." At the time of making wazú, the worshipper should say: "O God, make this (i.e. the sacrifice I shall offer to-day) an atonement for my sin, and purify my religion and take evil away from me."

The Service at the 'Íd-gáh, or in the Mosque consists of two farz rak'ats, as in the Salát-ul-Juma (p. 201), after the Khutba is delivered. It will, however, be seen from the following sermon that it is mustahab to say four more rak'ats.


In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.

Alláhu Akbar! God is Great. There is no God but God. God is Great! God is Great and worthy of all praise. He is Holy. Day and night we should praise Him. He is without partner, without equal. All praise be to Him. Holy is He, Who makes the rich generous, Who provides the sacrifice for the wise. He is Great, without an equal. All praise be to Him. Listen! I testify that there is no God but God. He is alone, without partner. This testimony is as bright as the early dawn, as brilliant as the glorious feast day. Muhammad is His servant who delivered His message. On Muhammad, and on his family, and on his Companions may the peace of God rest. On you who are present, O congregation of Muslimín, may the [255]mercy of God for ever rest. O servants of God! our first duty is to fear God and to be kind. God has said: "I will be with those who fear Me and are kind."

Know O servants of God! that to rejoice on the feast day is the sign and mark of the pure and good. Exalted will be the rank of such in Paradise (Dár-ul-Qarár), especially on the day of resurrection will they obtain dignity and honour. Do not on this day foolish acts. It is no time for amusements and negligence. This is the day on which to utter the praises of God. (Tasbíh.) Read the Kalíma, the Takbír and the Tamhíd. This is a high festival season and the feast of sacrifice. Read now the Takbír-ut-Tashríq. God is great! God is great! There is no God but God! God is great! God is great! All praise be to Him! From the morning of the 'Arfa, after every farz rak'at it is good (mustahab) for a person to repeat the Takbír-ut-Tashríq. The woman before whom is a man as Imám, and the traveller whose Imám is a permanent resident (Muqím) should also repeat this Takbír. It should be said at each Namáz until the Salát-ul-'Asr of the Feast day (10th). Some, however, say that it should be recited every day till the afternoon ('Asr) of the thirteenth day, as these are the days of the Tashríq (p. 231).[261] If the Imám forgets to recite, let not the worshipper forget. Know, O believers, that every free man who is a Sáhib-i-Nisáb (i.e. worth Rs. 52) should offer sacrifice on this day, provided that this sum is exclusive of his horse, his clothes, his tools, and his household goods and slaves. It is wájib for every one to offer sacrifice for himself, but it is not a wájib order that he should do it for his children.[262] A goat, a ram or a cow should be offered in sacrifice for every seven persons. The victim must not be one-eyed, blind, lame or very thin.

If you sacrifice a fat animal it will serve you well, and carry you across the Sirát. O Believers, thus said the Prophet, on whom be the mercy and peace of God, "Sacrifice the victim with your own hands, this was the Sunnat of Ibráhím, on whom be peace."

In the Kitáb-uz-zád-ut-Taqwá, it is said that on the 'Íd-ul-Fitr and the 'Íd-uz-Zuhá, four nafl rak'ats should be said after the farz Namáz [256]of the 'Íd. In the first rak'at after the Súrat-ul-Fátiha recite the Súrat-ul-A'lá (Súra lxxvii); in the second, the Súrat-ush-Shams (Súra xci); in the third, the Súrat-uz-Zuhá (Súra xciii); in the fourth, the Súrat-ul-Ikhlás (cxii).

O Believers, if ye do so, God will pardon the sins of fifty years which are past and of fifty years to come. The reading of these Súras are equal as an act of merit to the reading of all the books God has sent by His prophets.

May God include us amongst those who are accepted by Him, who act according to the Law, whose desire will be granted at the last day. To all such there will be no fear in the day of resurrection; no sorrow in the examination at the day of judgment. The best of all books is the Qurán. O believers! May God give to us, and to you a blessing for ever by the grace of the Noble Qurán. May its verses be our guide, and may its wise mention of God direct us aright. I desire that God may pardon all believers, male and female, the Muslimín and the Muslimát. O believers, also seek for pardon. Truly God is the Forgiver, the Merciful, the Eternal King, the Compassionate, the Clement. O believers, the Khutba is over. Let all desire that on Muhammad Mustafá the mercy and peace of God may rest.

The worshippers then return to their respective homes and offer up the sacrifice,[263] for it is a wájib order that every Muslim should keep this feast, and sacrifice an animal for himself. He need not fear though he has to incur debt for the purchase of an animal, for it is said that God will in some way help him to pay the debt. If a camel is sacrificed, it should be one not less than five years of age, if a cow or sheep it should at least be in its second year, though the third year is better; if a goat it must not be less than six months old. All of these animals must be without a blemish, or defect of any kind. It is a sunnat order that the head of the household should himself slay the victim. If, however, from any cause, he cannot do so, he may call in a butcher; but in that case he must place his hand upon that of the butcher when the operation is performed. If the [257]victim is a camel, it must be placed with the head towards Mecca. Its front legs being bandaged together the sacrificer must stand on the right hand side of the victim, and plunge the knife into its throat with such force that the animal may fall at once. Any other mode of slaying it is unlawful. Other animals must be slain in the same way. Just before slaying the victim the following verse of the Qurán should be repeated: "Say! my prayers, and my worship, and my life and my death are unto God, the Lord of the worlds. He hath no associate. This am I commanded, and I am the first of the Muslims." (Súra vi. 163). The operator also adds: "O God, from Thee, and to Thee (I do this), in the name of God, God is Great!" Then having slain the victim he says: "O God accept this for me." The first meal taken should be prepared from the flesh of the animal just slaughtered, after which the members of the family, the neighbours, and the poor should receive some portions.

It is considered highly meritorious to sacrifice one animal for each member of the family; but as that would involve an expenditure few could bear, it is allowable to sacrifice one victim for the household. In extreme cases men may combine together and make one sacrifice do for the whole, but the number of persons so combining must not exceed seventy. Some authorities limit the number to seven. This feast is strictly observed by all Muslims wherever they may be.

The Baqr-'Íd and the 'Íd-ul-Fitr constitute the 'Ídain, the two great Feasts of Islám. A country in which Musalmáns could not observe them both would at once become Dár-ul-Harb, or House of Enmity, in which it would be the bounden duty of every Muslim to join in a Jíhád, against the Infidel rulers of the land.

This completes the principal Feasts of the Muslim year.

Among other practices borrowed from the Hindus must be placed the pilgrimage made by Indian Musalmáns to the [258]shrines of Saints, the ceremonies connected with them and the festivals instituted in their honour. Properly speaking, the Sunnís have but two festivals—the Baqr-'Íd and the 'Íd-ul-Fitr, but many others are now observed. Of these I have described several. It only remains to notice a few of the festival days which are peculiar to India. The title of Pír given to a Musalmán devotee is equivalent to the term Guru amongst the Hindus. A man who seeks to be a 'religious' takes a Pír as a spiritual guide. "Follow," says the poet Walí, "the footsteps of thy Pír, like a shadow." After death these Pírs are venerated as Walís or Saints. The Pírs when alive, are frequently resorted to for a ta'wíz, or charm, and the aid of their prayers is often invoked. The sepulchre of a Walí is called a Dargáh, shrine; Mazár, place of pilgrimage; Rauza, garden. The professional reciter of the Qurán, and the Namáz at such places is called a Rauza Khán. As a rule, processions are made to the shrines, and flowers, sweetmeats and food over which a Fátiha has been said are offered. Usually the Fátiha is for the Saint, not to the Saint. It is considered a very meritorious act to give land for the erection of such shrines and to endow them. An account of many of these Saints is given in the Bara Masa by Jawán and the Áráyish-i-Mahfil by Afsos. The following selection will give an idea of the customs prevalent:—

1. Festival of Madár.—Sayyid Badr-ud-dín Kutb-ul-Madár is said to have descended from the Imám Husain. He was born at Aleppo about A.D. 1050, and received from Muhammad permission to "hold his breath" (Habs-i-dam). Thus he was able to live to a good old age. He is said to have had 1,442 sons, and to have died when upwards of 300 years old. More rational people explain the number of his sons by saying they were his spiritual children. The length of his life is explained by saying that as each man has to make a certain number of inspirations, the less frequently he does it the longer he will live. Jawán in his account of [259]the festival states: "The tomb of Madár is at Makanpúr, a place about forty miles from Cawnpore." On the seventeenth of the month Jamádí-ul-Awwal an immense crowd fills the village which is illuminated at night. Fires are lighted, around which Fakírs dance, and through which they leap calling out "Dam Madár, Dam Madár," (breath of Madár.) An order of Fakírs, called Madária, look to this Saint as their patron. In distant places where this feast is kept they set up an Alam, or standard in honour of the Saint, and perform ceremonies common to such days. The nights are spent in celebrating his praises, &c.

2. Festival of Mu'ín-ud-dín Chistí.[264]—The tomb of this Saint is in Ajmír. He was a Syed descended from Husain, the son of 'Alí, and was born in Sajistán about the year 537 A.H. His father died when he was about fifteen years old. Soon after this he fell in with a famous Fakír, Ibráhím Qandúzí, through whose influence he began to seek the Taríqat, or mystical road to the knowledge of God. When he was twenty years of age he received further instruction from the famous 'Abd-ul-Qádir Jílání. After the conquest of Hindustan by Shaháb-ud-dín Ghorí, Mu'ín-ud-dín retired to Ajmír, where he died in the odour of sanctity 636 A.H. Pilgrimages to this tomb have been and are very popular. Emperors and people vied with each other in doing honour to the memory of this saint. Even Akbar, sceptic though he was as regards orthodox Islám, made a pilgrimage to this shrine, and offered vows that he might have a son who would live to manhood. Hindus also visit this tomb and presents from rich men of this class are not unusual.

3. Festival of Sálár Mas'úd Ghází.—There is some doubt as to the nationality of this Saint. Some say he was a Husainí Syed, others that he was a Pathán, and a martyr. His tomb is situated in Oude. Afsos thus describes the [260]pilgrimage. "Once a year great crowds of people gather from all parts. They carry red lances, and beat thousands of tambourines. The 'Urs is held on the first Sunday of the month Jíth (May-June). The people believe that this was his wedding day, because it is said that he had on wedding garments when he was killed. This belief once led a certain oilman, a resident of Radúlí, to send a bedstead, chair, and other marriage presents to the shrine at this time. The custom is still kept up by the descendants of the oilman. The common people fasten ropes to the branches of the trees in the neighbourhood, and swing, some by the hands and some by the heels, and assume various disguises. They thus hope to obtain what they desire." The Hindus venerate this Saint very highly. The Musalmáns look upon him as a most sacred person, for he slew many idolatrous Hindus, and so earned the title of Ghází, the warrior: the Hindus consider that it was only by the power of God that he could do so many acts of prowess.

4. Festival of the Bíra or of Khája Khizr.—Of this Saint, M. Garcin de Tassy says: "Khája Khizr is a personage respecting whom the opinions of orientals vary. Many consider him the same as Phineas, the grandson of Aaron; others that he is the prophet Elias; and lastly, the Turks confound him with St. George. In order to reconcile these conflicting opinions, some allege that the same soul has animated three different persons. Whatever be the fact, Khizr, according to the Musalmáns, discovered the source of the Water of Life of which he is the guardian. He is believed to be very clever in divination, and to be the patron of waters. As such a festival is held in his honour." Jawán describes it thus: "In the month of Bhádún (August-September) all whose wishes have been fulfilled, make it a point of duty to set afloat the boat (náú) in honour of Khája Khizr, and to make according to their means offerings of milk and bruised grain to the holy personage. On every Friday, and in some places on every Thursday, in the month [261]in question, the devotees having prepared the bíra carry it at night to the bank of the river, with many ceremonies. There great and small, having lighted lamps and tapers, make their respective oblations, whilst a number of swimmers together jointly push the bíra into the middle of the river." Sometimes a number of small bíras, made of clay, are also launched, and as each carries a lamp the general effect is striking. It is said that the Musalmán natives of the Maldive Islands annually launch a small vessel laden with perfumes, gum, and odoriferous flowers, and leave it to the mercy of the winds and waves as an offering to the god of the sea. There can be no doubt that this god of the sea is Khizr, the patron of the waters.

The following prayer is recited in the Fátiha of Khizr: "To obtain purity of heart, and the benediction of Him who hears the vows of mortals, and who alone can keep from them all evils, I rest upon the merits of Khája Khizr, the great prophet Elias."

5. The Feast of Pír Dastgír Sáhib.—This is held on the eleventh day of the month of Rabí'-us-Sání. The Sunnis hold this Saint in great reverence. He has no less than ninety-nine names. His tomb is at Baghdád. On the tenth of the month the ceremony called Sandal (p. 245) is performed, followed on the next day by the 'Urs, when the Maulad, or the account of the circumstances connected with the birth of the saint is read; Qasá,id, or elegiac poems are recited; the Darúd is repeated and Fátihas are said. The Qurán is also read through. Vows are frequently made to this Saint and in time of any special visitation, such as cholera, a flag is carried about in honour of this Pír by some of his devotees to whom presents of food, &c, are offered. Fátiha is then said over them. He is said to appear to his followers during their sleep and to give them directions. Ja'far Sharíf, the compiler of the Qánún-i-Islám speaking, on this point relates his own experience thus: "The author speaks from personal experience, for at the time of need, when he [262]was oppressed in mind concerning things which he desired, he used to repeat constantly the ninety-nine names of the Pír and vow before the Holy God, imploring His assistance by the soul of Dastgír; and through the mercy of the Almighty, his Excellency Ghaus-ul-A'zam (Dastgír) presented himself in his sleep, and relieved him of his perplexities and vouchsafed his behests."

Syed Ahmad Kabír Rafáí, the founder of the Rafái Darwíshes was a nephew of this Saint.

6. Festival of Qádir Walí Sáhib.—This is the great saint of Southern India. The 'Urs is celebrated on the tenth day of Jamádí-us-Sání. The shrine is at Nagore, a town situated four miles north of Negapatam. The sandal and other ceremonies are similar to those described already. He is the patron saint of sailors, who in times of difficulty vow that, if they reach the shore in safety, they will offer a Fátiha in the name of Qádir Walí. The common people have a profound faith in the power of the saint to work miracles. The story of the following one is frequently related: "A vessel springing a leak was about to founder, when the Captain made a vow that should Qádir Walí stop the leak, he would offer in his name the value of the cargo. At that time the saint was being shaved, but being miraculously acquainted with the perilous position of the Captain he cast away the looking-glass which he held in his hand. This glass attached itself to the hole in the bottom of the ship which then came safely to land. The Captain, in due course, presented his offering to the saint who requested him to return the glass to the barber. The Captain was astonished at this request and enquired what glass was meant. He was then directed to look at the bottom of his ship. He did so, and discovered how the saint had saved the ship."

The festival affords a curious illustration of the way in which Hindu influences have acted on Islám, and how even Hindus pay regard to Muslim Saints. Qádir Walí is said to [263]have been a Fakír who lived on the charity of both Hindus and Musalmáns. Indeed both parties claim him as belonging to their respective religions, which may be accounted for by the fact that in his preaching to mixed audiences he suited his addresses to both classes of his hearers. After his death a small Mosque was erected on or near his tomb. The fame of the Walí gradually grew, and a Hindu Rajah made a vow that if he were blessed with the birth of a son, he would enlarge and beautify the Mosque. His wish was fulfilled, and the present elegant structure is the result. So famous has the shrine of the Saint now become that the Musalmáns there say: "First Mecca, then Nagore." The same reason which induced the Hindu Rajah to make a votive offering years ago, still influences large numbers of people. On Thursday evenings, the commencement of the Muhammadan Sabbath, many Hindu women resort to the shrine of the Saint. On the closing night of the Annual Feast, Tábúts are taken in procession from Negapatam, and rich presents are sent from the Tanjore Palace to the Nagore Mosque. Thus is the Hindu connection still kept up with the festival of this Musalmán Saint.

There are many other Walís and Pírs to whose tombs pilgrimages are made, and in memory of whom many superstitious observances are still kept up; but all such pilgrimages to a Dargáh (shrine) are no necessary part of Islám. In all parts of the country there are the shrines of Saints who have a local reputation and whose annual festivals are more or less observed. Still it is not necessary for me to give a further account of these. This brings me to the close of my subject.

In the preceding chapters, I have endeavoured to set forth the main features of the Faith of Islám, and the religious duties it enjoins. I might now go on to show its relation to Judaism and Christianity, the elements it has drawn from them, and the distortions it has made in the borrowing, as well as the protest it raised against much that was [264]corrupt in the Christianity with which it came in contact. I might also enlarge upon its moral and social effects, and the character it produces in the individual and the state. But these subjects would lead me far beyond my present scope. I prefer to content myself with giving a representation of the Faith of Islám from its own authorities, and with leaving my readers to make comparisons and draw inferences for themselves.





Aiyám-i-Bíz, 214

Aiyám-ut-Tashríq, 231

'Alam, 238

Al-A'ráf, 167

Al-Barzakh, 168

Al-Mahdí, 80

Akhir-Chár Shambah, 244

'Amm, 48

Amr-i-Takwíti, 176

Anbiya-ulul-'Azm, 150

Ásár-i-Sharíf, 245

Asháb, 7

'Áshúrá, 241

'Áshúr Khána, 237

Asmá-i-Husná, 133

Attahíyát, 197

Auliya, 152

Áyat, 54

Áyat-ul-Kursí, 212

Azád, 95

Azán, 193


Bárá Wafát, 244

Baqáb-i-Qausain, 158

Baqr-'íd, 252

bid'at, 14

Buráq, 241


Dá,írí, 81

Dalálat, 53

Dalíl-i-qata'í, 187

Dalíl-i-zani, 187

Darwíshes, 94

Dargáh, 258

Du'á, 197


Faná, 93

Farú', 120

Farz, 187

Farz-í-'ain, 208

Farz-i-kifáya, 207

Fatrah, 3

Fitrat, 187

Fuqihá, 33


Ghair-i-Mahdí, 81

Ghusl, 190

Gunáh-i-kabíra, 154

Gunáh-i-saghíra, 154



Hadís-i-Ahád, 70

Hadís-i-Hasan, 71

Hadís-i-Mua'llaq, 72

Hadís-i-Mursal, 72

Hadís-i-Mutawátír, 70

Hadís-i-Sahíh, 71

Hadís-i-Z'aíf, 71

Hadd, 179

Háfiz, 42

Haft Sifát, 118

Hajj, 223

Hajr-ul-Aswad, 226

Hál, 93

Haqíqat, 52, 93

Harám, 188

Hárút, 142

Hasal Khazaf, 230


Ibádhiyah, 76

Ibárat, 53

Iblís, 140

'Íd-gáh, 245

'Íd-ul-Fitr, 247

Iftár, 250

Ihlál, 224

Ihrám, 224

Ijmá', 16

Ijmá'-i-Ummat, 17

Ijtihád, 17, 26, 32

Ijtihád fi'l-Masá,íl, 34

Ijtihád fi'l-Mazhab, 34

Ijtihád fi'l-Sharí', 34

Ilhám, 37

Ilká, 40

'Ilm-i-usúl, 41

Imám, 75

Imám Abu Hanífa, 19

Imám Ibn Málik, 20

Imám As-Sháfa'í, 21

Imám Ibn Hanbal, 22

Imámat, 75

Imám Bára, 237

Imán-i-mufassal, 116

Imán-i-mujmal, 116

Istidlál, 53

Ishárat, 53

Ishrák fi'l-'ibádat, 108

Ishrák fi'l-adab, 109

Isnád, 67

'Itikáf, 249

Iqámat, 194

Iqtizá, 54

I'tibár-ul-Amsál, 27


Jabríans, 132

Jahannum, 172

Jámí'-i-Tirmizí, 86

Jamrat-ul-Akahah, 230

Jannat, 171

Jashn-i-milád-i-sharíf, 245

Jinn, 145

Juz, 56


K'aba, 227

Kalám, 135


Kalima, 54, 116

Karámians, 163

Kasb, 130

Kausar, 171

Kináyah, 52

Kirám-ul-Kátibín, 141

Kitmán, 91

Khafí, 50

Khárigites, 76

Kháss, 48

Kharq-i-'ádat, 157

Khulafá-i-Ráshidín, 66

Khutba, 201


Labbaik, 225

Lahad, 211

Lailat-ul-Qadr, 2


Mahmúdiah, 83

Majáz, 52

Majzúb, 95

Maukadda', 200

Makrúh, 188

Mansúkh, 59

Maqám-i-Mahmúd, 169

Marsiya, 238

Márút, 142

Mihráb, 243

Mimbar, 239

Míqát, 225

Mízán, 165

Mua'qqibát, 141

Muawwal, 48

Mu,azzin, 193

Mubáh, 188

Mufassir, 33, 50

Mufsid, 188

Muhaddis, 67

Mujassimians, 131

Mu'jizát, 157

Mujmal, 51

Mujtahid, 17

Mukham, 50

Munkir, 145

Murshid, 92

Mutashábih, 52

Musallí, 193

Mushábihites, 131

Mus-haf, 147

Muharram, 237

Muskhil, 51

Mustahab, 188

Mu'takif, 249

Mustarik, 48

Muta'h, 84

Mutazilites, 125


Nabí, 153

Nafkhatain-i-Súr, 161

Nafl, 199

Nakír, 145

Namáz, 193

Nass, 50

Násikh, 59

Nisáb, 218

Niyyat, 194

Núr-i-Muhammadí, 77



Qadam-i-Rasúl, 245

Qadríans, 174

Qazá, 214

Qíám, 194

Qíás, 27, 28

Qirá,at, 43

Qárí, 43


Rak'at, 195

Ramazán, 247

Ramí-ul-Jamár, 230

Rasúl, 153

Rauza Khán, 258

Roza, 213

Roza-i-nazr, 214

Roza-i-kafára, 214

Rúh-ul-Ámín, 4

Rukú', 56

Rúz-i-Tarwiáh, 229


Sadqa, 250

Sahá,íf-i-A'mál, 165

Sahíh-i-Bukhárí, 67

Sahíh-i-Muslim, 68

S'ai, 229

Salát, 193

Salát-ul-'Asr, 200

Salát-ul-Fajr, 200

Salát-ul-'Ishá, 200

Salát-ul-Ishráq, 200

Salát-ul-Istisqá, 206

Salát-ul-Istikhára, 213

Salát-ul-Janáza, 207

Salát-ul-Juma', 200

Salát-ul-Khauf, 204

Salát-ul-Khusúf, 206

Salát-ul-Kusúf, 205

Salát-ul-Maghrib, 200

Salát-ul-Musáfir, 204

Salát-ut-Taráwíh, 206

Salát-ul-Tahajjud, 200

Salát-uz-Zuhá, 200

Salát-uz-Zuhr, 200

Sálik, 92

Saríh, 52

Shafá'at-i-ba-izn, 108

Shafá'at-i-muhabbat, 107

Shafá'at-i-wajahat, 107

Shirk, 105

Shirk-ul-'Ádat, 109

Shirk-ul-ibádat, 108

Shirk-ul-'ilm, 107

Shirk-ut-tasarruf, 107

Sifát-i-Salbiah, 123

Sifát-i-Sabútiah, 123

Sihah-Sittah, 67

Sípára, 56

Sirát, 166

Sufíism, 87-101

Sunan-i-Abu Dáúd, 68

Sunan-i-Nasáí, 68

Sunan-i-Májah, 69

Sunnat, 10

Súra, 55


Ta'awwuz, 195


Taba-i-Tábi'ín, 7

Tábi'ín, 7

Tábút, 238

Tahárat, 189

Tahríf, 149

Takbír, 193

Takía, 84

Talbíyah, 225

Talqín, 212

Tasbíh, 195

Tashahhud, 188

Tasmía', 195

Tasmíyah, 195

Tatáír-i-Sahá,íf, 163

Tauhíd, 106

Tauqífi, 132

Tawáf, 227

Tawáf-ul-Widá', 231

Tayammum, 190

Tázíah, 238


Usúl, 120

'Umráh, 231


Wahhábís, 101

Wahí, 37

Wajd, 93

Wájib, 187

Wájib-ul-Wajúd, 132

Wáqi'a Khán, 239

Wazú, 189

Witr, 198


Zakát, 218-222

Záhir, 49

Ziárat, 233


[1] There is an excellent one by Neil B. E. Baillie. The question of Jihád is fully discussed in Dr. Hunter's Our Indian Musalmáns.

[2] "Let none touch it but the purified." (Súra lvi. 78.)

[3] "It was certainly an admirable and politic contrivance of his to bring down the whole Korán at once to the lowest heaven only, and not to the earth, as a bungling prophet would have done; for if the whole had been published at once, innumerable objections might have been made, which it would have been very hard, if not impossible for him to solve; but as he pretended to receive it by parcels, as God saw proper that they should be published for the conversion and instruction of the people, he had a sure way to answer all emergencies, and to extricate himself with honour from any difficulty which might occur." (Sale's Preliminary Discourse, Section III.)

[4] Literary Remains of Emmanuel Deutsch, p. 77.

[5] Prolégomènes d'Ibn Khaldoun, vol. i. p. 195.

[6] "The grandeur of the Qurán consists, its contents apart, in its diction. We cannot explain the peculiarly dignified, impressive, sonorous nature of Semitic sound and parlance; its sesquipedalia verba with their crowd of affixes and prefixes, each of them affirming its own position, whilst consciously bearing upon and influencing the central root—which they envelope like a garment of many folds, or as chosen courtiers move around the anointed person of the king." Literary Remains of Emmanuel Deutsch, p. 122.

[7] Prolégomènes d'Ibn Khaldoun vol. i. p. 194.

[8] Those who were in constant intercourse with the prophet are called Asháb (Companions); their disciples are named Tábi'ín (Followers); their disciples are known as Taba-i-Tábi'ín (Followers of the Followers)."

[9] "Thus, after the usual distribution of the spoils taken on the field of Cadesia (A.H. 14) the residue was divided among those who knew most of the Corán." Muir, vol. i. p. 5.

[10] Muavia.

[11] The twelve Imáms.

[12] Al-Mahdí is still supposed to be alive.

[13] These are called (1) Sunnat-i-Fi'lí; that which Muhammad himself did. (2) Sunnat-i-Qaulí, that which he said should be practised. (3) Sunnat-i-Taqrírí, that which was done in his presence and which he did not forbid.

[14] Risála-i-Berkeví.

[15] The great Wahhábí preacher Muhammad Ismá'íl, of whom some account will be given later on, says in the Takwiat-ul-Imán:—"The best of all ways is to have for principles the words (holy writings) of God and of His Apostle; to hold them alone as precedents, and not to allow our own opinion to be exercised."

[16] Prolégomènes d'Ibn Khaldoun vol. i. p. 195.

[17] Takmíl-ul-Imán, p. 16.

[18] Mudárij-un-Nabuwat, p. 285.

[19] "Les docteurs de la loi sont unaniment d'accord sur l'obligation de conformer ses actions à ce qui est indiqué dans les traditions attribuées au Prophète," Ibn Khaldoun, vol. ii. p. 465.

[20] In June 1827, A.D., Sultán Mahmud issued a manifesto protesting against interference in the affairs of the Ottomán Empire, "the affairs of which are conducted upon the principles of sacred legislation, and all the regulations of which are strictly connected with the principles of religion." These principles still remain in force, for the famous Fatvá given by the Council of the 'Ulamá, in July 1879, anent Khair-ud-dín's proposed reforms, speaks of "the unalterable principles of the Sheri," or Law.

[21] "The respect which modern Muslims pay to their Prophet is almost idolatrous. The Imám Ibn Hanbal would not even eat water-melons because although he knew the Prophet ate them, he could not learn whether he ate them with or without the rind, or whether he broke, bit or cut them: and he forbade a woman, who questioned him as to the propriety of the act, to spin by the light of torches passing in the streets by night, because the Prophet had not mentioned that it was lawful to do so." Lane's Modern Egyptians, vol. i. p. 354.

[22] Mudárij-un-Nabuwat, p. 1009.

[23] Prolégomènes d'Ibn Khaldoun, vol. ii. p. 469.

[24] Journal Asiatique 4me série, tom. xii.

[25] Osborn's Islám under the Khalífs, p. 29.

[26] Ibn Khallikan's Biographical Dictionary, vol. ii. p. 594.

[27] Ibid., p. 546.

[28] Ibid., vol. ii. p. 548.

[29] In South India, the Muhammadan money-changer resorts to a curious piece of casuistry to reconcile the practice of his profession with the faith he holds. It is wrong to gain money by money as a direct agency. Suppose, then, for example, that the charge for changing a shilling is one farthing. It is unlawful for the money-changer to give four three-penny pieces for one shilling plus one farthing, for then he will have sinned against the laws anent usury by gaining money (one farthing) by money; but if he gives three three-penny pieces plus two pence three farthings in copper the transaction will be lawful, as his profit of one farthing is then gained by selling as merchandize certain pieces of silver and copper for one shilling, and not by exactly changing the shilling.

Again, pictures or representations of living creatures are unlawful; and so, when British rupees were first circulated in India, good Muslims doubted whether they could use them, but after a long consultation the 'Ulamá declared that, as the eye of His Majesty was so small as not to be clearly visible, the use of such coins was legal. This kind of casuistry is very common and very demoralizing; but it shows how rigid the law is.

[30] "Authority becomes sacred because sanctioned by heaven. Despotism, being the first form of consolidated political authority, is thus rendered unchangeable and identical in fact with Government at large." "Supreme Government has four stages: (1) where the absolute Prince (Muhammad) is among them concentrating in his own person the four cardinal virtues, and this we call the reign of wisdom; (2) where the Prince appears no longer, neither do these virtues centre in any single person: but are found in four (Abu Bakr, Omar, Osmán and 'Alí), who govern in concert with each other, as if they were one, and this we call the reign of the pious; (3) where none of these is to be found any longer, but a chief (Khalíf) arises with a knowledge of the rules propounded by the previous ones, and with judgment enough to apply and explain them, and this we call the reign of the Sunnat; (4) Where these latter qualities, again, are not to be met with in a single person, but only in a variety who govern in concert; and this we call the reign of the Sunnat-followers.—Akhlák-i-Jalálí, pp. 374. 378.

[31] Life of Muhammad, by Syed Amír 'Alí, p. 289.

[32] The Muslim 'Ulamá are certainly much fettered by their religion in the pursuit of some of the paths of learning; and superstition sometimes decides a point which has been controverted for centuries. Lane's Modern Egyptians, vol. i. p. 269.

[33] The Goth might ravage Italy, but the Goth came forth purified from the flames which he himself had kindled. The Saxon swept Britain, but the music of the Celtic heart softened his rough nature, and wooed him into less churlish habits. Visigoth and Frank, Heruli and Vandal, blotted out their ferocity in the very light of the civilisation they had striven to extinguish. Even the Hun, wildest Tartar from the Scythian waste, was touched and softened in his wicker encampment amid Pannonian plains; but the Turk—wherever his scymitar reached—degraded, defiled, and defamed; blasting into eternal decay Greek, Roman and Latin civilisation, until, when all had gone, he sat down, satiated with savagery, to doze for two hundred years into hopeless decrepitude. Lieut.-Col. W. F. Butler, C.B., in Good Words for September 1880.

[34] "The Muslim everywhere, after a brilliant passage of prosperity, seems to stagnate and wither, because there is nothing in his system or his belief which lifts him above the level of a servant, and on that level man's life in the long run must not only stagnate but decay. The Christian, on the other hand, seems everywhere in the last extremity to bid disorganization and decay defiance, and to find, Antæus-like, in the earth which he touches, the spring of a new and fruitful progress. For there is that in his belief, his traditions, and in the silent influences which pervade the very atmosphere around him, which is ever moving him, often in ways that he knows not, to rise to the dignity and to clothe himself with the power which the Gospel proposes as the prize of his Christian calling. The submissive servant of Allah is the highest type of Moslem perfection; the Christian ideal is the Christ-like son."—British Quarterly, No. cxxx.

[35] A Mukallif is one who is subject to the Law. A Ghair-i-Mukallif is one not so subject, such as a minor, an idiot, &c. The term Mukallif is thus equivalent to a consistent Muslim, one who takes trouble (taklíf) in his religious duties.

[36] Commentators on the Qurán.

[37] The Traditionists.

[38] Plural of Faqíh, a theologian.

[39] I have given the dates of their death.

[40] Osborn's Islám under the Khalífs p. 72.

[41] Dabistán, p. 214.

[42] pp. 508-510.

[43] "It (the Qurán) is simply an instruction for all mankind" (Súra xii. 104).

[44] Zawábit-al-Qurán, pp. 110, 111.

[45] The opinion of Von Hammer, quoted by Sir W. Muir, in his life of Muhammad (vol. i. page 27) seems to be correct, "We may hold the Qurán to be as surely Muhammad's words as the Muhammadans hold it to be the Word of God."

[46] Ibn Khallikan's Biographical Dictionary, vol. iii. p. 16.

[47] "Were we to examine the Qurán by the rules of rhetoric and criticism as they are taught in Muslim schools, we should be obliged to acknowledge that it is the perfection of thought and expression; an inevitable result as the Muslims drew their principles of rhetoric from that very book."—Baron M. de Slane, in the introduction to Ibu Khallikan's Biographical Dictionary.

[48] There are many Traditions which refer to this fact. Omar Ibn al Khattáb said; "I accorded with my cherisher (i.e., God) in three things. One is that I said, 'O messenger of God! if we were to say our prayers in Abraham's place it would be better.' Then a revelation came down 'Take the place of Abraham for a place of prayer.' The second is, that I said, 'O messenger of God! good and bad people come to your house; and I do not see that it is fitting; therefore, if you order your women to be shut up it will be better.' Then the revelation for doing so came down. The third is, that his Majesty's wives were all agreed in a story about his drinking honey; and he had vowed never to drink it more. Then I said to his Majesty's wives, 'Should the Prophet divorce you, God will give him better in exchange.' Then a revelation, came down agreeing with what I said."

'Áyesha said:—"I was reflecting on those women who had given themselves to the Prophet, and said 'What! does a woman give herself away?' Then the revelation descended:, 'Thou mayest decline for the present whom thou wilt of them, and thou mayest take to thy bed her whom thou wilt, and whomsoever thou shalt long for of those thou shalt have before neglected: and this shall be no crime in thee.' (Súra xxxiii. 51). I said; 'I see nothing in which your God doth not hasten to please you: whatsoever you wish He doeth.'"

[49] Les Prolégomènes d'Ibn Khaldoun, vol. ii. p. 459.

[50] This includes even the orthography, for:—"La génération suivante, je veux dire les Tábis (Tába'ín), adopta l'orthographe des Compagnons du Prophète et se fit un mérite de ne point s'écarter des formes adoptées par ceux qui, après Mahommed, étaient les plus excellent des hommes et qui avaient recu de lui les révélations célestes, soit par écrit, soit de vive voix." Ibn Khaldoun, vol. ii. p. 397.

[51] This interpretation God made known to the Prophet, who communicated it to the Companions, hence all orthodox opinion must be in strict accordance with theirs. They were the sole depositaries of the inspired commentary given by Muhammad. There is now no room for, as there is no need of, any other.

[52] Speaking on this very subject Ibn Khaldoun says:—"Rien de tout cela n'a pu se connaître que par des indications provenant des Compagnons et de leurs disciples." Vol. ii. p. 460.

[53] Ibn Khaldoun says that Zamakchori, (a theologian of good repute for learning in the sixth century A.H.), remarked on these letters as follows:—They indicate that the style of the Qurán is carried to such a degree of excellence, that it defies every attempt to imitate it; for this book which has been sent down to us from heaven is composed of letters. All men know them all alike, but this power disappears when, in order to express their ideas, they want to use these same letters combined."

On this curious passage Baron de Slane remarks that the author is not very clear, and that the Turkish translator of Ibn Khaldoun gives the sense of the passage as:—"God has placed these letters in several Súras as a sort of defiance; as if He had said:—'Voilà les éléments dont se compose le Coran; prenez-les et faites-eu un livre qui l'égale par le style.'" Ibn Khaldoun, vol. iii. p. 68.

[54] The last verse revealed at Mecca was, "This day have I perfected your religion for you, and have filled up the measure of my favours upon you; and it is my pleasure that Islám be your religion; but whoso without wilful leanings to wrong shall be forced by hunger to transgress, to him, verily, will God be indulgent, merciful." (Súra v. 5). Ibn Khaldoun vol. i. p. 206.

[55] The arrangement made by Professor Th. Nöldeke in his "Geschichte des Quráns" is considered by Stanley Lane Poole to be the best. Rodwell's English version of the Qurán is, with some exceptions, an example of this order.

[56] On ordinary occasions any verses may be chosen. The 112th Súra is the one generally repeated.

[57] Tafsír-i-Husainí, p. 216.

[58] Sharh-i-'Aqáíd-i-Jámí, p. 131.

[59] Commentary on the Holy Bible by Syed Ahmad, C.S.I., vol. i. p. 268. See note on this in chapter 4. Section 'Prophets.'

[60] Niáz Namáh, by Maulavi Safdar 'Ali, p. 250.

[61] Biographical Dictionary, vol. ii, p. 679.

[62] "He ranked as a high authority in the Traditions and was well versed in all the sciences connected with them." Ibn Khallikan, vol. ii. p. 680.

[63] The Káfi, by Abu Ja'far Muhammad, A.H. 329. The Man-lá-yastah-zirah-al-Faqíh, by Shaikh 'Alí, A.H. 381. The Tahzíb and the Istibsár by Shaikh Abu Ja'far Muhammad, A.H. 466. The Nahaj-ul-Balághat by Sayyud Razí A.H. 406.

[64] If the Isnád is good, internal improbability carries with it little weight against the genuineness of a Tradition. There is a saying current to this effect:—"A relation made by Sháfa'í on the authority of Málik, and by him on the authority of Nafi, and by him on the authority of Ibn Omar, is really the golden chain."

[65] Núr-ul-Hidáyah, p. 5.

[66] A full account of these will be found in the preface to the Núr-ul-Hidáyah, the Urdu translation of the Sharh-i-Waqáyah.

[67] Sharh-i-'Aqáíd-i-Jámí, p. 123.

[68] Kisas-ul-Anbiya,—"Lives of the Prophets."

[69] Hyát-un-Nafís.

[70] The Shía'hs in claiming freedom from sin for the infallible Imáms are more logical than the Romanists, thus:—

"If we are to believe in the inerrability of a person, or a body of persons, because it is, forsooth, necessary for the full preservation of the truth, we must then also believe in all besides that can be shown to be needful for the perfect attainment of that end. Now, the conservation of all spiritual truth is not a mere operation of the intellect. It requires the faultless action of the perceiving power of the spirit. That is to say, it requires the exclusion of sin; and the man or body that is to be infallible, must also be a sinless organ. It is necessary that the tainting, blinding, distorting power of sin should be shut out from the spiritual eye of the infallible judge." Gladstone's Gleanings, vol. iii. p. 260.

[71] It is a common Musalmán belief that the body of a prophet casts no shadow. A similar idea regarding necromancers was widely spread over Northern Europe. It is alluded to by Scott in the "Lay of the Last Minstrel," where speaking of the father of the Ladye, who in Padua, "had learned the art that none might name," he says:—

"His form no darkening shadow traced

Upon the sunny wall."

It is said that at a certain stage of initiation candidates for magical honours were in danger of being caught by the devil. Now if the devil could only catch the shadow, and the man escaped, though so nearly captured, he became a great magician. This is evidently a legend to explain a previous belief. Muhammadan ideas in the middle ages were prevalent in the Universities of Southern Europe, and Salamanca and Padua were the universities, in which it was supposed that the greatest proficiency in magic was obtained. The superstition has evidently some connection with the Musalmán belief regarding the shadows of prophets.

[72] The Sunnís esteem and respect the Imáms, as Ahl-i-Beit—men of the House, (of the Prophet); but do not give them precedence over the duly appointed Khalífs.

[73] The names are 'Alí, Hasan, Husain, Zain-ul-'Abid-dín, Muhammad Báqr, Ja'far Sádiq, Musa Kázim, 'Alí Músa Razá, Muhammad Taqí, Muhammad Naqí, Hasan 'Askarí, Abu 'l-Qásim (or Imám Mahdí).

[74] Rauzat-ul-Aimmah by Sayyid 'Izzat 'Alí.

[75] For a good account of this movement see, Osborn's Islám under the Arabs, pp. 168-184.

[76] Islám under the Khalífs, p. 139.

[77] Miskát-ul-Musábih.

[78] Hujjat-ullah-ul-Balaghah.

[79] Nothing shows this more plainly than the Fatvá pronounced by the Council of the 'Ulamá in July 1879 anent Khaír-ud-din's proposed reform, which would have placed the Sultán in the position of a constitutional sovereign. This was declared to be directly contrary to the Law. Thus:— "The law of the Sheri does not authorize the Khalíf to place beside him a power superior to his own. The Khalíf ought to reign alone and govern as master. The Vakils (Ministers) should never possess any authority beyond that of representatives, always dependent and submissive. It would consequently be a transgression of the unalterable principles of the Sheri, which should be the guide of all the actions of the Khalíf, to transfer the supreme power of the Khalíf to one Vakil." This, the latest and most important decision of the jurists of Islám, is quite in accordance with all that has been said about Muhammadan Law. It proves as clearly as possible that so long as the Sultán rules as Khalíf, he must oppose any attempt to set up a constitutional Government. There is absolutely no hope of reform.

[80] It is instructive to compare the words of the Christian poet with the Súfí idea of absorption into the Divine Being.

"That each who seems a separate whole

Should move his rounds, and fusing all

The skirts of self again, should fall

Remerging in the general soul,

Is faith as vague as all unsweet:

Eternal form shall still divide

The eternal soul from all beside;

And I shall know him when we meet."

Tennyson's "In Memoriam."

[81] "Le spiritualisme des Sofis, quoiqu'il soit le contraire du matérialisme, lui est en réalité identique. Mais si leur doctrine n'est pas plus raisonnable, elle est du moins plus élevee et plus poétique." Poésie Philosophique et religieuse chez les Persans, par M. Garcin De Tassy, p. 2.

[82] Kaf—a chain of mountains supposed to encircle the earth.

[83] 'Anka—the Phœnix.

[84] "Ils pensent que la Bible et le Coran ont été seulement écrits pour l'homme qui se contente de l'apparence des choses, qui s'occupe de l'extérieur, pour le záhir parast, comme ils le nomment, et non pour le sofi qui sonde le fond des choses." La Poésie Philosophique et religieuse chez les Persans, par M. Garcin de Tassy, p. 13.

[85] The word Darvísh, or Darwísh, is of Persian origin. It is derived from 'dar,' a door, and 'wíz' the root of the verb 'awíkhtan,' to hang; hence the idea of hanging about doors, or begging. The 'z' is changed into 'sh' and the word becomes 'Darwísh.' Some Musalmáns, however, do not like this idea of holy men being called by a name which implies the habit of begging, and so they propose another derivation. They derive it from "dur," a pearl, and "wísh," like; and so a durwísh is one 'like a pearl.' The wísh is from wásh, a lengthened form of wash, an affix of common use to express similitude; or the long vowel in wásh may by a figure of speech, called Imála, be changed into the í of wísh. I think the first derivation the more probable. A good Persian dictionary, the Ghíás-ul-Lugbát, gives both derivations.

[86] For a very interesting account of this religious ceremony, see Hughes' Notes on Muhammadanism, Chapter 51.

[87] La Poésie Philosophique et Religieuse chez les Persans, par M. Garcin de Tassy, p. 7.

[88] Súfí doctrines of the Moollá Sháh by Tawakkul Beg. Journal Asiatique 6me Série, tom. 13.

[89] "That Omar in his impiety was false to his better nature we may readily admit, while, at the same time, we may find some excuse for his errors, if we remember the state of the world at that time. His clear strong sense revolted from the prevailing mysticism where all the earnest spirits of his age found their refuge, and his honest independence was equally shocked by the hypocrites who aped their fervour and enthusiasm; and at that dark hour of man's history whither, out of Islám, was the thoughtful Muhammadan to repair? No missionary's step, bringing good tidings, had appeared on the mountains of Persia; the few Christians who might cross his path in his native land, would only seem to him idolaters." Speaking, too, of Sa'di's life the reviewer says: "almost the only point of contact with Christendom is his slavery under the Crusaders at Tripoli. The same isolation runs through all the golden period of Persian Literature"—Calcutta Review, No. lix.

[90] The following are the names of the Wahhábí chiefs:—Muhammad-Ibn-Saud, died A.D. 1765; 'Abd-ul-Azíz, assassinated, 1803; Saud-Ibn-'Abd-ul-Azíz, died 1814; 'Abd-Ulláh-ibn-Saud, beheaded 1818; Turki, assassinated 1830; Fayzul, died 1866; 'Abd-Ulláh, still living. Hughes Notes, p. 221.

[91] Palgrave's Arabia, vol. ii. p. 10.

[92] According to the latest Census Report there are 4,000 in the Madras Presidency, where the total Musalmán population is about 2,000,000.

[93] Mudárij-un-Nabuwat, p. 149.

[94] Palgrave's Arabia vol. i. p. 369.

[95] Palgrave's Arabia, vol. i. p. 372.

[96] Ibid, p. 372.

[97] Muhammad Ismá'íl concludes his great work, the Takwiat-ul-Imán, with the prayer—"O Lord teach us by Thy grace, the meaning of the terms Bid'at and Sunnat, and the Law of the Prophet. Make us pure Sunnís and strictly submissive to the Sunnat." This is a clear and distinct proof that Wahhábís do not reject Tradition as a basis of the Faith. It also shows their horror of innovation, and reveals the little hope there is of any real progress through their influence.

[98] "Mr. Finlay, the clever but partial author of "The Byzantine Empire," has declared in a sweeping way 'that there is no greater delusion than to speak of the unity of the Christian Church.' However this may be, I can affirm the perfect applicability of this sentence to Islám in the East. In no part of the world is there more of secret division, aversion, misbelief (taking Muhammadanism as our standard), and unbelief than in those very lands which to a superficial survey, seem absolutely identified in the one common creed of the Qurán and its author."—Palgrave's Arabia, vol. i. p. 10.

[99] Strictly speaking, this chapter should be entitled the 'Faith of Islám,' as the subject of it is technically called Imán, or faith. The Kalima, or creed is, in the strict sense, the expression of belief in one God, and in Muhammad as His apostle. I here use the word creed in the usual sense of a body of dogmas.

[100] Iqrárun bil-lisáni wa tasdíqun bil janáni.

[101] Amantu billáhi kama hua bismáíhi wa sifátíhi wa qabiltu jamí'a ahkámihi.

[102] Amantu billáhi wa maláíkatihi wa kutubihi wa rusulihi wal-youm-íl-ákhiri wal-qadri khairihi wa sharrihi min alláhi ta'álá wal-ba'si ba'd al-mouti.

[103] He speaks of it thus: "l'ouvrage élémentaire de la religion Musulmane le plus estimé et le plus répandu en Turquie," p. 154.

[104] Sharh-i-'Aqáíd-i-Jámí, p. 27.

[105] The above statements form the substance of several pages in the "Prolégomènes d'Ibn Khaldoun," in which also occurs the following: "Cela n'est pas toutefois un motif pour déprécier notre intelligence et nos facultés perceptives: l'intelligence est une balance parfaitement juste: elle nous fournit des résultats certains sans nous tromper. Mais on ne doit pas employer cette balance pour peser les choses qui se rattachent à l'unité de Dieu, à la vie future, à la nature du prophétisme, au véritable caractère des attributs divine et à tout ce qui est au delà de sa porteé. Vouloir le faire, ce serait une absurdité." Vol. iii. p. 45.

[106] "Telle fut la règle suivie par les anciens musulmans à l'égard des verses motachabeh; ils l'appliquaient aussi aux expressions du même genre qui se présentent dans la Sonna, parce qu'elles proviennent de la même source que celles du Coran." Ibn Khaldoun, vol. iii. p. 67.

This passage is of some interest as maintaining the common source and origin of the Qurán and the Sunnat.

[107] Ibn Khallikan, vol. i. p. 565.

[108] "The Musulmán Authors distinguish between the earlier and later Mutakallimán. The former (of whom we here treat) were occupied with purely religious questions; the latter, who arose after the introduction of the Greek philosophy amongst Muslims, embraced many philosophic notions, though they tried to make them fit in with their religious opinions." Mélanges de Philosophie Juive et Arabe, p. 320.

[109] Tafsír-i-Faiz-ul-Karím, p. 250.

[110] Tafsír-i-Faiz-ul-Karím, p. 250.

[111] Dabistán, p. 218.

[112] Ibn Khallikan, vol. iii, p. 343.

[113] "C'etait l'époque de la plus grande splendeur extérieure de l'empire des Arabes, où leur pouvoir, et en même temps leur culture intellectuelle et littáraire, atteignirent leur point culminant." Journal Asiatique 4me Série, Tome xii. p. 104.

[114] To understand the bearing of all the discussions that then took place, the reader should have some acquaintance with the history of the Khalífs, and of the rise and progress of Muslim philosophy. The former can be found in Osborn's "Khalífs of Baghdád." A short review of the latter will be found in a note at the end of this chapter.

[115] Ibn Khallikan, vol. ii p. 669.

[116] Ibid, p. 228.

[117] Ibn Khaldoun says: "L'établissement des preuves (fondées sur la raison) fut adopté par les (premiers) scolastiques pour le sujet de leur traités, mais il ne fut pas, comme chez les philosophes, une tentative pour arriver à la découverte de la vérité et pour obtenir, au moyen de la démonstration, la connaissance de ce qui était ignoré jusqu' alors. Les scolastiques recherchaient des preuves intellectuelles dans le but de confirmer la vérité des dogmes, de justifier les opinions des premiers Musalmans et de repousser les doctrines trompeuses que les novateurs avaient émises." Prolégomènes d'Ibn Khaldoun, vol. iii. p. 169.

[118] Sharh-i-Aqáíd-i-Jámí, p. 63

[119] "Most excellent titles has God: by these call ye on Him and stand aloof from those who pervert His titles." (Súra vii. 179.)

[120] "The Mujassimians, or Corporealists not only admitted a resemblance between God and created beings, but declared God to be corporeal." Sale's Preliminary discourse, Section viii. para. 3.

[121] Ibn Khallikan, vol. iv. p. 394.

[122] "The Freethinkers (Mutazilites) left no traces of themselves except in the controversial treatises which they had written. These were destroyed, and with their destruction the last vestiges of the conflict between Free-thought and the spirit of Islám were obliterated." Osborn's Khalífs of Baghdád, p. 148.

[123] Súra xxxix, 68, 69.

[124] L'Islamisme d'après le Coran, p. 135.

[125] Sharh-i-'Aqáíd-i-Jámí, p. 112.

[126] Sharh-i-'Aqáíd-i-Jámí, p. 187.

[127] Tafsír-i-Faiz-ul-Karím, p. 58.

[128] Takmíl-ul-Imán, p. 19.

[129] "From the beginning of history the Caucasus is to civilized nations, both Greek and Oriental, the boundary of geographical knowledge—indeed, the boundary of the world itself."—Bryce's Transcaucasia and Ararat, p. 48.

[130] See also Súra xxxviii. 89.

[131] Sharh-Aqáíd-i-Jámí, p. 140.

[132] Thus the famous Persian poet Sa'dí says in the Bustán, "Yetímí kih nákardah Qurán darust, kutub khána-i-chand millat bashust."—"The Perfect one who, ere the whole of Gabriel's book he reads, has blotted out the library of all the peoples' creeds."

[133] Sharh-Aqáíd-i-Jámí, p. 147. Mansukh shud tiláwatan wa Kitábatan, i.e. abrogated both as regards reading and writing—entirely abrogated. Also Takmíl-ul-Imán, p. 64. Dín-i-wai Násikh-i-jami'-i-adián ast.—"His religion abrogates all religions."

[134] Commentary on the Holy Bible by Syed Ahmad, C.S.I., vol. i. p. 268. This Commentary is written in Urdu, but the author has made a translation for the benefit of the English reader. The passage referred to reads thus in English: "Those who imagine it to be part of the Muhammadan creed that one law has totally repealed another are utterly mistaken, and we do not believe that the Zuboor (Book of Psalms) abrogated the Taureit (Pentateuch); that the Taureit in turn gave way to the Injeel (New Testament) and that the New Testament was suppressed by the Holy Korán. We hold no such doctrine, and if any ignorant Muhammadan should assert to the contrary, he simply knows nothing whatever about the doctrines and articles of his faith." The learned Syed here assumes the rôle of a liberal Musalmán, but the English translation is different from his Urdu text which, literally translated, is as follows:—"Now it should be considered that those who imagine it to be part of the creed of Muslims that the Taurát by the coming of the Zabúr, and the Zabúr by the coming of the Injíl, and the Injíl by the coming of the Qurán are abrogated on account of the idea that there is any defect in them are utterly mistaken, &c."

The clause which I have italicised is entirely omitted in the English text; but it alters the import of the whole passage. To his co-religionists the Syed says in effect: "The books are abrogated but not because they were imperfect." Now, as no Muslim would believe that a divine book was defective, the Syed is simply asserting the fact of the abrogation of the previous Scriptures and to the orthodox is orthodox. The leader of an apparently liberal section of Indian Musalmáns is, in this instance, at least, as conservative as the most bigoted.

[135] Syed Ahmad's Commentary on the Holy Bible, vol. i. p. 22.

[136] Ibid, p. 31.

[137] There are many other such passages. They are given in detail, with the interpretation of approved commentators, in a small S. P. C. K. publication—The Korán—by Sir W. Muir.

[138] Commentary on the Holy Bible, by Syed Ahmad, C.S.I., vol. i. pp. 64-95.

[139] Takmíl-ul-Imán, p. 59.

[140] Takmíl-ul-Imán, p. 59.

[141] Takmíl-ul-Imán, p. 65.

[142] Prolégomènes d'Ibn Khaldoun, vol. i. pp. 196-205.

[143] "That the "Auliya" are distinguished above ordinary mortals is maintained on the authority of:—"Are not the friends (Auliya) of God, those on whom no fear shall come, nor shall they be put to grief." (Súra x. 63.)

[144] Sharh-i-Aqáíd-i-Jámí, p. 125.

[145] Sirát-ul-Islám, p. 18.

[146] This is an orthodox blow at the Shía'h practices in the month of Muharram. Shía'hs consider this a good act.

[147] Takmíl-ul-Imán, p. 18.

[148] It is said Adam's sin was a mere slip but it brought good to the world. Had he remained in Paradise the world would not have been peopled; and the word of God "I have not created men and jinns, except for worship," would not have been fulfilled.

[149] That is, according to the commentator Beidawí,—"Thy remissness in propagating Islám."

[150] Tafsír-i-Husainí, p. 332.

[151] On the contrary, he seems to disclaim such a power. Thus the Quraish said: "By no means will we believe on thee till thou cause a fountain to gush forth for us from the earth; or, till thou have a garden of palm-trees and grapes, and thou cause forth-gushing rivers to gush forth in its midst; or thou make the heaven to fall on us, as thou hast given out, in pieces; or thou bring God and the angels to vouch for thee, &c. Say: Am I more than a man, an Apostle?" (Súra xvii. 92-95). Former prophets, Muhammad used to say, were sent to their own sect, but he was sent for all. Their miracles were confined to their own times. The Qurán the great miracle of Islám, was for all ages. He needed no other sign than this.

[152] "Have We not opened thine heart for thee." (Súra xciv. 1). Tradition relates that when young, two angels cut open his breast, and took out a black drop; many other marvels are also connected with this event.

[153] Sharh-i-Aqáíd-i-Jámí.

[154] Tafsír-i-Husainí. p. 362

[155] For a graphic account of these events see "Literary Remains of Emmanuel Deutsch," pp. 99-112.

[156] "All that Muhammadans must believe respecting the Mi'ráj is that the Prophet saw himself, in a vision, transported from Mecca to Jerusalem, and that in such a vision he really beheld some of the greatest signs of his Lord." Essays by Syed Ahmad, Essay vi. p. 34. This, though a legitimate, is not, however, an orthodox opinion; which is, that he who denies an actual bodily migration from Mecca to Jerusalem is a Káfir, (infidel) as he denies the statement of a 'nass' or plain text of the Qurán. He who denies the ascension to heaven, and the wonderful account of the night's proceedings preserved in the Traditions is a "fásiq," (sinner), though he remains a Muslim.

[157] Some commentators make no distinction between the first and second blast, as only two are distinctly mentioned in the Qurán.

[158] Sharh-i-'Aqáíd-i-Jámí, p. 183.

[159] According to Búkhárí and to Muslim, this perspiration will flow to a distance of seventy yards from, and reach up to the lobe of the ears of those who perspire.

[160] "That is, they will know the inhabitants of Paradise by their whiteness, and the people of Hell by the blackness of their faces."

[161] For some curious opinions with regard to the state of the soul there see Sale's Preliminary Discourse, Section iv., p. 55.

[162] Takmíl-ul-Imán, p. 47.

[163] Tafsír-i-Husainí, vol. i. p. 397.

[164] Tafsír-i-Faiz-ul-Karím, p. 25.

[165] Miskát-ul-Musábíh, book xxiii. ch. 12.

[166] "Although some Muhammadans, whose understandings are too refined to admit such gross conceptions, look on their Prophet's description as parabolical, and are willing to receive them in an allegorical or spiritual acceptation, yet the general and orthodox doctrine is, that the whole is to be strictly believed in the obvious and literal acceptance." Sale's Preliminary Discourse, Section iv. p. 73.

[167] This, the Lauh-ul-Mahfúz, is referred to in Súra lxxxv. 22, as that on which the Qurán is written. In Súra xxxvi. 11, the actions of men are said to be written in "the clear book of our decrees." This is called the Imám-ul-Mubín, the clear prototype.

[168] "The Prophet of God said that Adam and Moses (in the world of Spirits) maintained a debate before God, and Adam got the better of Moses, who said, "Thou art that Adam, whom God created and breathed into thee His own Spirit, and made the angels bow down before thee, and placed thee in Paradise; after which, thou threwest man upon the earth, from the fault which thou didst commit.' Adam replied, 'Thou art that Moses, whom God selected for His prophecy and to converse with, and He gave thee twelve tables, in which are explained everything, and he made thee His confidant and the bearer of His secrets; then how long was the Bible written before I was created?' Moses said, 'Forty years.' Then said Adam, 'Didst thou see in the Bible that Adam disobeyed God?' 'Yes.' 'Dost thou reproach me on a matter, which God wrote in the Bible forty years before creating me?'"

[169] Ibn Kah, commenting on the verse, "When thy Lord brought forth their descendants from the reins of the sons of Adam and took them to witness against themselves, 'Am I not,' said He, 'your Lord,' They said: 'yes, we witness it.'" (Súra vii. 171), goes on to say: "God formed all the prophets and saints into one class, and the martyrs into another. The pious men, also, were separated into one, and the wicked into another. One class was formed of the obedient servants, while the unbelievers, viz., the Jews, the Christians, the Majians, the Hindus, &c., were likewise divided into several parties; next, they were shaped into forms, that is, into the shape in which he was to appear in the world was predestined for each one." This passage is quoted with approval by the Wahhábí author of the Takwiyat-ul-Imán.

[170] The orthodox Commentator 'Abbás says: "This verse refers to the decree, e.g. 'He whom God wills to believe certainly will do so, and whom He wills to be an infidel will be one,' and not at all to man's free will." Tafsír-Hisainí, vol. ii. page 9.

[171] Mélanges de Philosophe Juive et Arabe par S. Munk. p. 458.

[172] Thus the poet Faizí says: "Before thou and I were thought of, our free will was taken from our hands; be without cares, for the Maker of both worlds settled our affairs long before we were made."

[173] The punishment of death is sometimes decreed for lesser offences. In the latter part of the year 1879, one of the Turkish 'Ulamá, named Ahmad, was condemned to death for having assisted Dr. Koelle, an English clergyman residing in Constantinople, in the translation of the Book of Common Prayer, and a tract on 'Christ the Word of God.' Owing to the urgent representations of the British Ambassador the Khojah's life was spared, but he was banished to the island of Chio. The Porte promised to maintain his family whilst he was absent. It need scarcely be said that nothing of the kind has been done.

[174] Journal Asiatique 4me Série, tome 17, p. 582

[175] This is the Sháfa'íte form which the Hanifites consider wrong.

[176] Kingsley's Alexandria and her Schools, p. 160.

[177] Les Prairies D'or, tome sixième, p. 368.

[178] Mélanges de Philosophie Juive et Arabe, par S. Munk, p. 315.

[179] For a statement of the Ash'arían doctrines see pp. 130-131.

[180] Strictly speaking, one should not speak of Arab but of Muslim philosophy, for curiously enough only one famous Philosopher, Al-Kendi, was an Arab.

[181] Mélanges de Philosophie Juive et Arabe, par S. Munk, p. 429.

[182] "Aprés lui, nous ne trouvons plus chez les Arabes aucun philosophe véritablement digne de ce nom." Mélanges de Philosophie Juive et Arabe, par S. Munk, p. 458.

[183] Muslim rule in Spain is often referred to as an instance of the height of culture and the liberality of sentiment which may exist in a Muhammadan state. I have shown that the culture was not due to the teaching of the Arab Prophet and his Companions, and with regard to the liberality it is well to remember the words of G. H. Lewes. He says: "The Arabs, though they conquered Spain, were too weak in numbers to hold that country in subjection otherwise than by politic concessions to the opinion and customs of the people." History of Philosophy, vol. i. p. 36.

[184] "There never was any Arabian science, strictly speaking. In the first place, all the Philosophy and Science of the Muhammadans was Greek, Jewish, and Persian.... It really designates a reaction against Islámism, which arose in the distant parts of the Empire, in Samarcand, Bokhara, Morocco, and Cordova. The Arabian language having become the language of the Empire, this Philosophy is written in that language; but the ideas are not Arabian; the spirit is not Arabian." History of Philosophy, by G. H. Lewes, vol. ii. p. 34.

[185] The Persian term for this is Namáz, a word in commoner use in India than Sulát. Both terms will henceforth be employed.

[186] There is a Tradition to the effect that "the whole body of him who says the name of God when making wazú will be clean; whereas, if he says it not, only the part washed will be pure."

[187] Before commencing the wazú, say: "I am going to purify myself from all bodily uncleanness preparatory to commencing prayer, that holy act of duty, which will draw my soul near to the throne of the Most High. In the name of God, the Great and Mighty. Praise be to God who has given us grace to be Muslims. Islám is a truth and infidelity a falsehood."

When cleaning the teeth say: "Vouchsafe O God, as I clean my teeth, to purify me from my faults and accept my homage. O Lord, may the purity of my teeth be for me a pledge of the whiteness of my face at the day of judgment."

When washing the nostrils say: "O my God, if I am pleasing in Thy sight, perfume me with the odours of Paradise."

When washing the right hand say: "O my God, on the day of judgment, place the book of my actions in my right hand, and examine my account with favour."

When washing the left hand, say: "O my God, place not at the resurrection the book of my actions in my left hand." Similar prayers are said at each act.

[188] From the account which follows it will be seen that the term Namáz expresses what we term a 'Service.' The word for prayer in the ordinary sense is 'Du'á.'

[189] It is taken from the Sirát-un-Naját, pp. 30-33.

[190] As the use of bells is unlawful a man is employed to call the people to prayers.

[191] "God is Great."

[192] The followers of Imám As-Sháfa'í and the women of all sects place the hands upon the breast. The feet should be about four inches apart; women stand with the feet close together.

[193] The second rak'at begins here: all that precedes is only repeated at the first rak'at.

[194] A fixed portion is said in each rak'at during the nights of Ramazán, which portion is then called a rukú'. (Ante. p. 57.)

[195] In a mosque the Imám says the first sentences alone; the people the second.

[196] Women in the Sijda keep all the limbs of the body close together, and put both feet at right angles to the body. If their face is Qibla-wards it is sufficient.

[197] Here the Shía'hs say:—"I rise and sit by the power of God."

[198] This is said at the close of every two rak'ats.

[199] The Shía'hs stop here and omit the rest.

[200] The Shía'hs omit the Du'á and say: "Peace be on thee, O Prophet, with the mercy of God and His blessing. Peace be on us and on God's righteous servants."

[201] The Fatvá, or decree, will be found in a note at the end of this chapter.

[202] I am indebted to Hughes' Notes on Muhammadanism for this excellent table.

[203] The Musallí may say five or three witr rak'ats instead of seven.

[204] Núr-ul-Hidáayat, p. 155.

[205] In countries under Muslim rule he holds a wooden sword reversed.

[206] One who says, "Alláhu Akbar—God is Great."

[207] A reference to his presence with Muhammad in the cave (ghár) when they fled from Mecca to Madína. See Súra ix. 40.

[208] Núr-ul-Hidáyat, p. 153.

[209] Sirát-un-Naját, p. 40.

[210] Qíám is one of the positions in a Namáz and is here used by synecdoche for it. In Mecca the Salát-ut-Taráwíh is called with reference to this Tradition the Salát-ul-Qíámíah.

[211] Núr-ul-Hidáyat, p. 141.

[212] That is, a non-Muslim who is allowed to reside in a Musalmán State on payment of a special tax.

[213] The Sháfa'ítes raise the hands at the recital of each of the four Takbírs; the other sects do so only at the first.

[214] If the deceased was a child or a mad person, they say:—

"O God, make him (or her, as the case may be) a guide for us, and make him a cause of our gaining a future reward. O God, save him and make him an intercessor for us."

[215] The Imám makes the Niyyat in his mind that the Salám may be on his guardian angels, and on the worshippers who are behind him; each worshipper makes the Niyyat that the Salám may be on his guardian angels, on his fellow worshippers and on the Imám.

[216] i.e., the deceased's.

[217] Death, resurrection, judgment; &c.

[218] This contradicts verse 254 of this Súra. Muslims explain it thus. We accept all prophets and as regards faith in them make no difference, though as regards dignity we recognize the distinction indicated in the 254th verse.

[219] That is, the Jews and Christians, on whom, it is said by the Muslim Commentators, many strict ceremonial observances were incumbent. The word often used to express the idea of the burdensome nature of ceremonial observance is taklilíf, trouble. Practically, Muslims are not free from these "loads," a fact which finds expression in the word used for a pious man—a mukhallif, one who has to take trouble in the way of performing religious duties.

[220] In Madras, a branch of the pomegranate tree is usually stuck in.

[221] The name of the mother is here inserted. The mother's name is chosen in preference to that of the father, as there can be no doubt as to the maternity of the child. For the same reason it is said that at the Last Day each man will be summoned as such an one, son of such a mother. This simple fact reveals a sad state of morals, or, at least, a disbelief in the virtue of women.

[222] The idea is that the reward of this act is transferred to the person on whose behalf it is made.

[223] Súra ii. 256.

[224] There are others who maintain that this is a mukham statement and cannot therefore be abrogated. They hold that it must be restricted to the aged and to persons who have chronic diseases. Tafsír-i-Husainí, p. 30. Tafsír-i-Faiz-ul-Karím, p. 120.

[225] Burton says that, when in the disguise of a Musalmán doctor he was in Cairo making preparations for the Hajj, he had but one patient who would break his fast to save his life. All the others refused though death should be the consequence.

[226] "The former are called Zakát, either because they increase a man's store by drawing down a blessing on him and produce in his soul the virtue of liberality, or because they purify the remaining part of one's substance from pollution and the soul from the filth of avarice; the latter are called Sadqa because they are a proof of a man's sincerity in the worship of God." Sale's Preliminary Discourse, Section iv.

[227] That is food or money sufficient to provide one meal for a poor person.

[228] The technical term is 5 wasq. A wasq is equal to 60 sá', and a sá' is equal to 8 ratal. A ratal is equal to 1 lb; so a wasq, a load for one camel, is about 480 lb.

[229] Mosques are usually endowed. The property thus set apart is called waqf. This supports the various officials connected with a Mosque.

[230] The two famous disciples of Imám Abu Hanífa, Abu Yúsuf and Muhammad.

[231] This ceremony is called Al-Ihrám (i.e., making unlawful), because now various actions and pursuits must be abstained from. The ceremony of doffing the pilgrim's garb is called Al-Ihlál (i.e., making lawful), for now the pilgrim returns to the ordinary pursuits and joys of a life in the world.

[232] This statement of names is taken from the Núr-ul-Hidáyat p. 211, and that of the distance from Hughes' Notes on Islám; but Burton speaks of Al Zaribah, a place 47 miles distant from Mecca as a Míqát. It was there that he assumed the Ihrám. The explanation probably is that a Hájí must not approach nearer to Mecca without the Ihrám than the places named in the text. The farther from Mecca it is assumed, provided that it be during one of the two months preceding Zu'l-Hajja, the more meritorious is the act.

[233] Talbíyah means the repetition of "Labbaik," a phrase equivalent to "I am here." The Talbíyah can be said in any language, though Arabic is preferred. It usually is as follows: "Labbaik, Alláhumma, Labbaik! Lá Sharíka laka, Labbaik! Inna-l-hamda wa-n-ní'amata laka, w'-al-mulk! Lá Sharíka laka, Labbaik!

[234] "The object of these minute details is that the "Truce of God" may be kept." The five noxious creatures, however, may be slain, viz., a crow, a kite, a scorpion, a rat and a biting dog." (Burton).

[235] The Musjid-ul-Harám is the large Mosque in Mecca. The K'aba (cube) is a square stone building in the centre. This is also called the Qibla. The Hajr-ul-Aswad is the black stone fixed in the corner of the K'aba.

[236] It is said to have been rebuilt ten times. A full description will be found in Burton's Pilgrimage to Madína and Mecca, vol. iii. ch. 26. It is far too long to quote, and it cannot be condensed. The following extract is of some interest, as it states why the 'Ulama consider the K'aba so sacred a place. They quote the verse: 'Verily the first house built for mankind (to worship in) is that in Beccah (Mecca)—Blessed and a salvation to human beings. Therein are manifest signs, even the standing-place of Abraham, and he who entereth is safe.' (Súra iii. 90). The word 'therein' is said to mean Mecca, and the "manifest signs" the K'aba, which contains such marvels as the footprints on Abraham's platform, and is the spiritual safeguard of all who enter it. In addition, other "signs" are the preservation of the black stone, the miracles put forth to defend the House, the terrible death of the sacrilegious, and the fact that in the Flood the big fish did not eat the little fish in the Harám. Invalids recover their health by rubbing themselves against the Kiswat (the covering of the K'aba), and the black stone. One hundred thousand mercies descend on it every day, &c. Portions of the Kiswat are highly valued as markers for the Qurán. Waistcoats made of it are supposed to render the combatant invulnerable in battle.

[237] The whole seven are one Usbú'.

[238] The Maqám-i-Ibráhím is a small building, supported, by six pillars about eight feet high, four of which are surrounded from top to bottom by a fine iron railing, while the space between the two hinder pillars is left open; within the railing is a frame about five feet square, said to contain the sacred stone on which Abraham sat when he built the K'aba.

[239] In the first rak'at, the chapter usually recited is Súra cix; in the second, Súra cxii.

[240] "Many find this inconvenient and so pass on to 'Arifát during the afternoon of the eighth day" (Burton).

[241] The following legend is current about 'Arifát. "When our parents forfeited heaven by eating wheat, which deprived them of their primeval purity, they were cast down upon earth. The serpent descended at Ispahán, the peacock at Cabul, Satan at Bilbays, Eve upon 'Arifát and Adam at Ceylon. The latter determining to seek his wife, began a journey, to which the earth owes its present mottled appearance. Wherever he placed his foot—which was large—a town arose; between the strides will always be country. Wandering for many years he came to the Mountain of mercy, where our common mother was continually calling upon his name, and their recognition gave the place the name of 'Arifát. They lived here till death took place." (Burton).

[242] The Sháfa'í rules allow a traveller any time when on a journey of a night and day to reduce the five Namáz to three by joining some. The Hanafí code allows the shortened form only on this day.

[243] "The Shaitan-ul-Kabír is a dwarf buttress of rude masonry about eight feet high, by two and a half broad, placed against a rough wall of stones." (Burton).

[244] Most of the ceremonies connected with the Hajj, the Ihrám, the shaving of the head, the going to Safá and Marwah, the throwing of the stones, the circuit of the K'aba, the kissing of the black stone, and the sacrifice were all pagan ceremonies performed by the idolatrous Arabs. Muhammad by his time-serving policy, adopted to gain the Meccans to his side, has confirmed an idolatrous practice which otherwise would probably have been extinct long ago. Safá and Marwah were hills held in superstitious reverence by the Meccans. The early Muslims had some doubt about retaining them as sacred places: then came the revelation to the Prophet, "Safá and Marwah are among the monuments of God, whosoever then maketh a pilgrimage to the temple or visiteth it, shall not be to blame if he go round about them both." (Súra ii. 153).

[245] These are the letters contained in words which direct the reader when to pause. Thus toí stands for mutlaq (slight pause), qif (pause), jím for já,íz (freedom to pause, or not to pause), lá for no (no pause), mím for la'zim (necessary to pause), circle with dot is a full stop.

[246] Persian was the foreign language with which the early Muslims were brought most into contact; but the objection applies equally to any other language.

[247] A concession of no practical value, as any one with the power of speech could learn these words in a very short time.

[248] This is because by so doing it would seem to ascribe to it similarity to human compositions.

[249] During the first ten days they are supposed to contain the bodies of the martyrs, but now being empty the Tázías become mere ordinary frames and can be destroyed, Qánún-i-Islám, p. 146.

[250] This feast is known in South India as the Dassara. The idol is thrown into a tank.

[251] The Mihráb is a niche in a wall which indicates the position of Mecca. The face is always turned to it when prayers are said; so that the expression in the prayer means that 'Alí is to be the object toward which the faithful look.

[252] The twelve Imáms, Muhammad and Fátima.

[253] The 'Íd-gáh is usually built outside of the town, and consists of a long wall of masonry with two minarets and a large raised open court. There is a Mihráb in the wall: but no proper mimbar or pulpit, three raised steps doing duty for it. Sometimes, however, a Mosque is used as an 'Íd-gáh.

[254] Tradition records that the Prophet, after the battle of Ohud, was one day ascending a hill in a rage. The heat of his passion was such that the mountain softened into the consistence of wax and retained, some say eighteen; others, forty impressions of his feet. When rebuked by Gabriel for his anger the Prophet enquired the cause of his rebuke. Gabriel told him to look around. The Prophet seeing these impressions of his feet on the stones was astonished. His anger instantly ceased. Qánún-i-Islám, p. 152.

[255] The Baqr-'Íd is the only other feast that has an 'Arfa.

[256] Mishkát-ul-Musábih, Book vii. ch. 1.

[257] That is, his blessing or his curse takes effect. Qánún-i-Islám p. 170.

[258] This is a warning to those who may have omitted this duty.

[259] Khutbahá-i-Muhtarjam, p. 104.

[260] "Observations on the Musalmáns of India." Mrs. Mír Husan 'Alí, p. 192."

[261] The opinion of the various Traditionists on this point is given in the Núr-ul-Hidáyah, vol. iv. p. 61.

[262] Still it is mustahab, or a meritorious act so to do. It is also said that, if a minor is possessed of property, his father or his guardian may purchase at his expense an animal and sacrifice it. The child may then eat as much as it can. The remainder of the meat must be exchanged for something which the child can use, such as clothes, shoes, &c. Núr-ul-Hidáyah, vol. iv. p. 60.

[263] According to the Imáms Sháfa'í and Málik no one must offer up the sacrifice until the Imám who has officiated at the previous Namáz has slain his victim. Núr-ul-Hidáyah, vol. iv. p. 61.

[264] Áráyish-i-Mahfil p. 144.