THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM
AMULETS, CHARMS AND KNOTS
THE belief in the magic effect of inanimate objects on the course of events seems to belong to a condition of the intellect so low as to be incapable of clear reasoning regarding cause and effect. Yet it is so early a form of belief or super-belief (i.e. superstition) that it survives the rise of knowledge and reasoning among most peoples. The lowest of mankind the Tasmanians had great confidence in the power of amulets, the Shilluks of the Sudan wear them in a bunch, the Arabs have always had great faith in charms, and Southern Italy in our own as in Pliny s time abounds in amulets.
In ancient Egypt they were even more common than they are to-day.
"On examining the two hundred and seventy different kinds of amulets found in Egypt," says Dr. Elinders
Petrie, "there are only about a dozen which remained unclassed, and without any known meaning. The various ascertained meanings may be completely put in order under five great classes. These are (1) the amulets of Similars, which are for influencing similar parts, or functions, or occurrences, for the wearer; (2) the amulets of Powers, for conferring powers, and capacities, especially upon the dead; (3) the amulets of Property, which are entirely derived from the funeral offerings, and are thus peculiar to Egypt; (4) the amulets of Protection such as charms and curative amulets; (5) the figures of gods, connected with the worship of the gods and their functions."All these classes of amulets, except the last, are in use among Moslems to-day, in many
1 " Amulets of Ancient Egypt," p. 6.
cases of the same form and material as in the days of the Pharaohs. Metal discs, animal shapes, etc., similar to those
that were used in the days of Isis are still in use by the Egyptians, as is shown by Mr. Budge. The ancient Egyptians used magical figures made of wax just as they do today. The names of the gods were inscribed in magical fashion then as now, and the ceremonies used for purification, sacrifice and horoscopes are strangely like those we find in modern Moslem books.
Not only in Egypt but in all the lands of the East and wherever Islam has carried its stern monotheistic creed the use of animistic charms and amulets has persisted or been modified or in many cases been introduced by Moslem teaching. Moslem amulets are made of anything that has magical power. Everything that attracts the eye (even the tattoo marks or the mole on the face) is useful for this purpose.
Amulets are used on horses, camels and donkeys as well as for men, women and children. The ringing noise of metal
charms drives away the demons. Amulets are worn round the neck and as rings, anklets, girdles, etc. The amulet which
hangs around the neck was universal in pre-Islamic days and was called tamima. When the boy reaches puberty the
tamima is cut off. The following names are given to amulets and talismans in Arabic:
audha root signifies to protect take refuge.
hijab root signifies to shield as with a curtain.
Tiirz root signifies to guard against evil.
nafra root signifies to flee from, i. e., make demons flee.
wadh root signifies to make distinct.
tamima root signifies to be complete (oldest name given).
Has this word tamima any connection with the Urim and Thummim of the Old Testament? No doubt Moslem religions magic owes much to later Jewish sources. The character and even the shape of amulets is often borrowed from Judaism, e. g., we have in Islam something very similar to "ABRACADABRA," a magic word or formula used in incantations, especially against the intermittent fever or inflammation, the patient wearing an amulet upon his neck,
with the following inscription :
ABRAC AD ABR
ABR ACAD AB
ABRAC AD A
ABR AC AD
AB R AC A
AB R A
The underlying idea was to force the spirit of the disease gradually to relinquish its hold upon the patient. 2
The vain search for the supreme name of God, a name which Solomon is said to have used, is common among those
who write talismans. The Gnostics in their magic used the word ABRAXAS as that of the highest being; the value of the letters in this name equal 365, the number of the days in the year. Many derivations are given for the word and it became a common magical term in Judaism.
Conjuring spirits or exorcising demons in Islam is by the use of certain prayer-formulas. These formulas compel God
to do what is requested and indicate a belief in the fetish power of the words themselves. It is especially the use of the
2 Has this any relation to Abraka and dabra, i.e. "Most blessed word" or "I will bless the"?
names of God and the great name of God that produce these results.
The number 99 for the names of God is a hyperbole for any large number. The Arabs were accustomed to say 33, 44,
99, 333, etc., for any large number and the significance of the saying "God has 99 names," indicates simply that his names are manifold. The number 99 is not given by Bukhari nor Muslim. According to Goldziher it was first given by Tirmadhi and Ibn Maja, and the latter even states that there is no good authority for this tradition.
There are many different lists of the names. Kastallani points out no less than twenty-three variants. In later days under the influence of the Sufis the number of God's names increased to one thousand and one. One of the most popular books of common prayer, by Abdallah Mohammed Gazali (died 870 A. H.), illustrates this magical use of God's names and often uses such expressions as "I beseech Thee by Thy hidden and most Holy Name which no creature understands, etc., etc." There are many books on the magical use of the names of God, especially one called Da' wa al juljuliyeh (i. e., Jalla jallalahu).
These names of God are used not only for lawful prayer but for strength and power to execute unlawful acts. This shows that they have a magical rather than a holy character.
In the notoriously obscene book Rajua, al Sheikh ila Saba, written by a "pious" Moslem, these names of God are recommended to be used for immoral purposes. 3
The terms used in magic are Da wah; azima or Incantation; Kahana - Divination; Ruqya - Casting a Spell; and
Sihr - Magic. The two former are considered lawful, the latter are considered forbidden by many authorities. 4
3 A vast literature on the use of God s names and the magic of numbers has grown up called Kutub al Ruhaniyat on Geomancy, Orithomancy and dreams.
4 Hughes Dictionary, p. 304.
According to a statement of the Prophet, what a fortuneteller says may sometimes be true; because if one of the jinn
steals away the truth he carries it to the magician s ears; for the angels come down to the regions next the earth (the lowest heaven), and mention the words that have been pre-ordained in heaven; and the devils, or evil jinn, listen to what the angels say, and hear the orders predestined in heaven, and carry them to the fortune-tellers. It is on such occasions that shooting stars are hurled at the devil. It is also said that the diviner obtains the services of the devil (Shaitan) by magic arts, and by names invoked, and by the burning of perfumes, and other practices he informs him of secret things. For the devils, before the mission of the Apostle of God, used to ascend to heaven, and hear words by stealth. That the evil jinn are believed still to ascend sufficiently near to the lowest heaven to hear the conversation of the angels, and so to assist magicians, appears from many traditions and is asserted by all Moslems.
For all of the Arabic terms mentioned above the English word is Amulet, concerning the derivation of which there has
been much dispute. Formerly it was supposed to be derived from the Arabic word Hamala,, but it really is an ancient
Latin word of unknown etymology. Moslem amulets may be classified as of Pagan, Jewish, or Christian origin. In Egypt, for example, a common amulet used on children consists of a small leaden fish, similar to the fish amulets found in the catacombs which represented the initials of the Greek words for Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour.
The use of amulets was very extensive among the Jews in the Rabbinical period and we can clearly trace many of the
amulets in use to-day by Moslems to these Jewish practices.
The amulet itself, it appears, might consist either of an article inscribed with the name of God, with a Scripture passage or the like, or of the root of some herb. Grains of wheat wrapped in leather sometimes served as amulets. The most
frequent form of amulet, however, was a small pearl wrapped in leather. To protect a horse from evil influence, a fox's
tail or a crimson plume was fastened between its eyes. Children owing to their feeble powers of resistance, were held to
be much exposed to the danger of magic fascination; they were, therefore, protected by means of knots, written parchments, etc., tied round their necks. Furniture and household belongings were protected by inscribing the name of
God upon foot-rests and handles. Usually, at least among men, amulets were worn on the arm; but exceptionally they
were carried in the hand. Women and children wore them especially on neck-chains, rings, or other articles of jewelry.
An amulet would sometimes be placed in a hollow stick, and would be all the more efficacious because no one would suspect its presence; it was a species of concealed weapon. Figuratively, The Torah is said to be such an amulet for Israel.
The priestly benediction (Num. vi, 2426) protected Israel against the evil eye. . . . Upon an amulet said to be potent
in curing the bite of a mad dog, was written,
"Yah, Yah, Lord of Hosts." Medicine did not disdain the use of amulets. Abraham they taught wore a jewel on his neck
which healed every person he looked upon. A "stone of preservation" was said to protect women from miscarriage. 5
This stone of preservation is still a common superstition in Egypt among Moslems; it is called in Arabic Hajr an Naqdha and is loaned by different families in a neighborhood to rub on the limbs of a convalescent, to protect children
against contagion, etc.
The later science of amulets and their use seems to be almost wholly borrowed from Judaism. Moslem works on the subject follow the Cabila. We read thait in the Middle Ages Christians employed Jews to make amulets for them.
5 The Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. I, art. Amulet.
At present in Cairo, Baghdad and Damascus Jewish silversmiths carry on a large trade in Moslem amulets, in fact an
amulet is supposed to have special power if it has not only Arabic but Hebrew letters on it.
The sale of amulets of every description is carried on within a stone s throw of Al Azhar University, and some of the professors, as well as many of the students, promote the industry. A favorite amulet, printed by the thousands and sent from Cairo throughout all North Africa and the NearEast, is entitled The Amulet of the Seven Covenants of Solomon. It consists of a strip of paper seventy-nine inches in length and four inches in breadth, lithographed, and with portions of it covered with red, yellow, green, or gold paint.
The whole is then rolled up, tied, put into an amulet case of leather and silver, and worn by men as well as by women
and children. The specimen which is translated herewith was purchased from Mohammed el Maliji, a bookseller near
Al-Azhar and renowned for his controversial writings and anti-Christian poems. As typical of the real character of
popular Islam this translation, which is verbatim except where indicated, will interest the reader:
THE SEVEN COVENANTS OF SOLOMON
What God wills will be
There is no god but God, Mohammed is the Apostle of God.
Abu Bakr Omar
God Most High
Peace upon him
Gabriel, Peace upon him ; Michael, Peace upon him ; Israfil,
Peace upon him; Azrail, Peace upon him.
An amulet for jinns and payment of debts, and a preserver from all secret diseases, and for traveling by land and sea,
and for meeting governors, and for winning love, and for selling and buying, and for traveling by day and night: Certainly my prosperity is through God and Mohammed. Him alone I have trusted and to Him I repent.
The Seven Covenants against all evils and to preserve men and cause blessings.
Talha, Zobeir, Abd-al-Rahman, El Haj.
It is useful for the sting of scorpions, serpents, and all other insects. The one who carries this (amulet) gains by its blessing all desires.
(Here a picture is given of a scorpion and a snake.)
Certainly every person attains to what he purposes. This is the amulet of great power and might and proof.
"IN THE NAME OF GOD THE MERCIFUL, THE COMPASSIONATE
"Thanks be to God the Lord of the worlds, and prayer and peace be upon the noblest apostle, our Lord Mohammed, and upon his family and Companions. But after this it is related of the prophet of God Solomon, son of David, (peace
upon both), that he saw an old woman with hoary hair, blue eyes, joined eyebrows, with scrawny limbs, disheveled hair,
a gaping mouth from which flames issued. She cleaved the air with her claws and broke trees with her loud voice. The
prophet Solomon said to her, Art thou of the jinn or human?
I have never seen worse than you. She said, O prophet of God, I am the mother of children (Um-es-Subyan) . I have
dominion upon sons of Adam and daughters of Eve, and upon their possessions. I enter houses and gobble like turkeys and bark like dogs, and low like cows, and make a noise like camels, and neigh like horses, and bray like donkeys, and hiss like serpents, and represent everything. I make wombs barren and destroy children. I come to women and close their wombs and leave them, and they will not conceive, and then people say they are barren. I come to a woman in pregnancy and destroy her offspring. It is I, O prophet of God, who come to the woman engaged and tie the tails of her garments, and announce woes and disasters. It is I, O prophet of God, who come to men and make them impotent. (The expressions here used are too indecent for translation.) It is I, prophet of God, who come to men and oppose their selling and buying. If they trade, they do not gain, and if they plow they will not reap. It is I, O prophet of God, who
cause all these. 7 Then Solomon (peace be upon him), seized her in anger and said to her, O cursed one, you shall not go
before you give me covenants for the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve, and for their wombs and their children, or I
will cut you with this sword. She then gave the following:
"The First Covenant "
By God, there is no God but He, the Profiter, the Harmful, the Possessor of this world and the next, the Life-giver,the Guide to the misbelievers, the Almighty, the Dominant, the Grasper, from whom no one can escape, and whom no one can overcome nor defeat. I shall not come near the one upon whom this amulet is hung, neither in travel nor in sleep, nor in walking, nor in loneliness, and God is witness to what 1 say, Here is its seal,
"The Second Covenant"
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
By God, there is no God but He, the Knower of secrets, the Mighty. ... I will not touch the one who carries this, neither in his humors, nor in his bones, nor in flesh nor blood nor skin nor hair; nor by any evil as long as earth and heavens
exist, and God is witness to what I say, and this is the seal.
"The Third Covenant"
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. By God, who is God but He, the Living, the Self-subsisting.
I will not touch the one who carries this, neither in his pros perity nor his children . . . (etc., as before).
"The Fourth Covenant"
"In the name of God, etc. (Attributes to God differ).
I will not touch the one who carries this neither in his walking nor sitting, (etc.).
"The Fifth Covenant"
In the name of God, etc. I will not touch the one who carries this neither in his property, nor trade, etc., etc.
"The Sixth Covenant"
In the name of God, etc. I will not touch . . . neither secretly nor openly, etc., etc. Then follow the Koranic verses called Al Munajiyat.
"Special Information and Benefit for Securing Love and Friendship
"O Thou who dost unite the hearts of the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve by love, we ask you to make the bearer accepted and loved by all, and give him light and favor. God is the Light of Heaven.
God is the Light. The similitude of His Light is as a niche in a wall wherein a lamp is placed and the lamp enclosed in a case of glass. The glass appears as it were a shining star. It is lighted with the oil of a blessed tree, and olive neither of the east nor of the west. It wanteth little but that the oil thereof would give light although no fire touched it.
"God! There is no god but He, the Living, the Eternal.
Slumber doth not overtake Him, neither sleep. To Him belongeth whatsoever is in heaven and on earth. Who shall intercede with Him except by His permission? He knows what is between their hands and behind them; and they can
not encompass aught of His knowledge except as He please.
His throne is as wide as heaven and earth. The preservation of both is no weariness to Him. He is the High, the
Perhaps the most celebrated amulet in the world of Islam is that called Al Buduh, a magic square supposed to have been revealed to Al Ghazali and now known by his name. It has become the starting-point for a whole science of talismanic symbols. Some of the Moslem authorities say that Adam invented the square. It is so called from the four Arabic letters which are key to the combination. To the popular mind this word buduJi has become a sort of guardian angel, invoking both good and bad fortune. The square is used against stomach pains, to render one s self invisible, to protect from the evil eye, and to open locks; but the most common use is to insure the safe arrival of letters and packages.
A description of a common Moslem amulet in silver is given by Prof. D. B. Macdonald in the "Festschrift of Ignaz
Goldziher" edited by Carl Bezold (Strassburg, 1911, p. 267). It was bought at Damascus and is about two inches long, pear-shaped, of silver metal. On one side is Ya Hafiz and the names of the Seven Sleepers of the Cave and their dog Qitmir are written in circular fashion to form a hexagon or Solomon s Seal. On the other side is a magic square with the names of the four archangels around its sides. All the elements of the charm are of great talismanic value. According to Lane these names of archangels, the sleepers and their dog are sometimes engraved in the bottom of a drinking-cup,
and more commonly on the round tray of tinned copper which placed on a stool forms the table for dinner, supper, etc.
Another charm supposed to have similar efficacy is composed of the names of those common articles of property which the Prophet left at his decease. These relics were two subhahs (or rosaries), his mushaf (or writings) in unarranged fragments, his mukhidah (or the vessel in which he kept the black powder with which he painted the edges of his eyelids), two seggadehs (or prayer carpets), a hand-mill, a staff, a toothpick, a suit of clothes, the ewer which he used in ablution, a pair of sandals, a burdeh (or woolen covering), three mats, a coat of mail, a long woolen coat, his white mule, ed-duldul, and his she-camel, el'adba. 6
We need not be surprised at these modern relic worshipers for according to Tradition even the Companions carried hair
of the Prophet in their head-gear on the field of battle and Hasan and Hussein, the grand-sons of the Prophet, wore small amulets filled with the down of the feathers of the angel Gabriel. 7
In addition to the amulets mentioned we give the translation of an amulet from Upper Egypt written on ordinary paper with black ink in running hand. At the end there are some marks and symbols including the usual so-called Seal of Solomon.
6 "Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians," Lane, p. 255.
7 Wackidi 429, Aghani 14:163; Buchari 4:33.
"O! the Blessedness of In the Name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate Peace and Prayers of God are upon
our Master Mohammed, family and companions." Your God and ours is One. No God hut He the Merciful, the Compassionate. God, there is no God hut He, the Living, the Eternal. Slumber doth not overtake Him, neither sleep.
To Him belongeth whatsoever is in heaven and on the earth.
Who shall intercede with Him except by His permission?
He knows what is between their hands and behind them; and they cannot encompass aught of His knowledge except as He please. His throne is as wide as Heavens and the earth.
The preservation of both is no weariness to Him, He is the High, the Mighty. The Apostle believeth in what hath been
sent down from His Lord, as do the faithful also. Each one believeth in God and His Angels and His Scriptures and His apostles; we make no distinction between any of His Apostles, and they say we have heard and we obey. 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 labored. 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 had been before us, O our Lord; and lay not on us that for which we have not strength: but blot out our sins and forgive us, and
have pity on us. Thou art our Protector: help us then against the unbelievers. Now hath an apostle come to you from among yourselves: your iniquities press heavily upon him. He is careful over you, and towards the faithful, compassionate, merciful. And if they turn away, then say: God sufficeth me; there is no God but He. In Him put I my
trust. And He is the Lord of the Glorious Throne.
"H. S. Sh. M. In the Name of the Living, the Eternal, who never dies, I have preserved you from all evil. No power and no strength except in the Great One. In His name nothing can hurt you in earth or in heaven. He is the All Hearer, the All Knowing. I take refuge in the Face of God the Gracious, and in the Words of God being full, which no body, believer or unbeliever, can comprehend, of any evil from heaven, and what happens in it, and what is in earth, or comes out of it, or the events of day or night. Let all events be good. In the name of God the Creator, the
Greatest. This amulet is a refuge against what I fear. "(Names of some Jinn - illegible.) He is the All Hearer,
the All Knower."
Had we sent down this Koran on some Mountain, thou wouldst certainly have seen it humbling itself, and cleaving as under for the fear of God. Such are the parables we propose to men in order that they may reflect. He is God beside
whom there is no other God, He is the King, the Holy, the Peaceful, the Faithful, the Guardian, the Mighty, the Strong,
the Most High. Far be the Glory of God from that which they unite with him. He is God the Producer, the Maker, the Fashioner, to whom as ascribed excellent titles. Whatever is in the heavens and in the earth praiseth Him; and He is the Mighty, the Wise. In the name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful. Say He is one God, God the Everlasting. He begetteth not, and is not begotten, and there is none like unto Him. In the Name of God, etc. ... I betake me for refuge to the Lord of the Daybreak, against the mischief of His creation, and against the mischief of the first darkness when it overspreadeth and against the mischief of any enchantress, and against the mischief of the envier when he envieth. In the Name of God, etc. . . . Say I betake me for refuge to the Lord of men, the King of men, the God of men, against the mischief of the stealthily withdrawing whisperer, who whispereth in man s breast against Jinn and men.
"In the Name of God the Compassionate the Merciful. I bewitch thee (charm thee against) every evil, every envying
soul. Praise be to God, the Lord of men, the King of men, the God of men, against the mischief of the stealthily with
drawing whisperer, who whispers in man s breast against Jinn and men. Prayers of God and his peace are on our
In East Arabia superstitions and charms are almost as common as in Egypt although the Wahabi reformers made
strong protest in their day. "In Bahrein," writes Mrs. Dykstra, "a black kettle, turned upside down and placed on a
pole, guards the owner of the house or compound from evil.
To refer to the plague or any other epidemic is to bring it on, for that is blaming God and He will become angry, and the
epidemic is then His punishment upon them. A mother must not weep over the death of a child less than eight years, for her tears will be as fat in the fire to her child to continue his pain in the other world. A dirty face and black clothes are a
baby s protection against jinns. A new-born baby must be spat on to secure its health and preservation. Amulets and
charms are worn by all to protect from evil and sickness."
In Persia, blue beads, and turquoises are used and little metal hands called the hand of Ali. A large hand of Ali fastened to the top of a pole is worshiped in a mountain village near Tabriz ; it was brought to the city, but not liking it, says the legend, went back by itself. It is taken on a yearly pilgrimage to Mecca.
Mr. Gerdener of Cape Town tells us the most common amulets among Moslems there are bits of rag, containing herbs or some drug. But more frequently they contain a small bit of paper with certain Arabic writings, verses from the Koran
and mysterious looking squares with letters and figures in the corners are also used. These they call their power.
In Tunis the most common amulets are little leathern bags in which are sewn written charms, bits of incense, white caraway seeds, also shells of snails, and " Fatima s hand"; the latter being often hung round the neck of cows or donkeys to keep them from disease. One also sees the tails of fish over house doors and the skull and horns of cattle.
It would not be an exaggeration to say of Moslems in Egypt, Persia and Morocco what is stated by Nassau of pagans in West Africa; the only difference between the pagan talisman and the Moslem one is that the pagan connects his magic with the gods of the bush; the Moslem connects his with Allah and the Koran:
"For every human passion or desire of every part of our nature, for our thousand necessities or wishes, a fetish can be made, its operation being directed to the attainment of one specified wish, and limited in power only by the possible existence of some more powerful antagonizing spirit. This
amulet hung on the plantation fence or from the branches of plants in the garden is either to prevent theft or to sicken
the thief; hung over the doorway of the house, to bar the entrance of evil; hung from the bow of the canoe, to insure a
successful voyage; worn on the arm in hunting, to ensure an accurate aim; worn on any part of the person, to give success in loving, hating, planting, fishing, buying and so forth, through the whole range of daily work and interests." 8
According to Tradition, Mohammed sanctioned the use of spells and magic so long as the names were only the names of
God or of good angels. 9
It is, therefore, lawful to use charms and amulets of this character. The system of incantation used is called Al Da'wa; this science is used to establish friendship, to cure sickness, to accomplish desire, to obtain
8 "Fetishism in West Africa."
9 Mishkat, 21:1.
victory in battle. It is an occult science and is divided into four heads: 10
(1) The qualifications necessary for him who practices it:
When any one enters upon the study of the sciences, he must begin by paying the utmost attention to cleanliness. No dog or cat or any stranger is allowed to enter his dwelling place, and he must purify his house by burning wood aloes, pastiles, and other sweet-scented perfumes. He must take the utmost care that his body is in no way defiled, and he must bathe and perform the legal ablutions constantly. A most important preparation for the exercise of the art is a forty-days fast (chilla), when he must sleep on a mat spread on the ground, sleep as little as possible, and not enter into general conversation.
Exorcists not infrequently repair to some cave or retired spot in order to undergo complete abstinence. The diet of the exorcist must depend upon the kind of asma, or names of God he intends to recite. If they are the asma ul-jalaliyah,
or "terrible attributes " of the Almighty, then he must refrain from the use of meat, fish, eggs, honey, and musk If
they are the asma ul-jamaliyah, or " amiable attributes," he must abstain from butter, curds, vinegar, salt and ambergris.
If he intends to recite both attributes, he must then abstain from such things as garlic, onions, and assafoetida.
(2) The use of the tables required by the performer: This contains an arrangement of the alphabet of which we
give an example on the next page. To use the table one takes the initial letters of say Ahmad
(A) and Daniel (D) and copies out in double column the result. The future is then read by discerning the agreement
or discord of the planets, the elements, the perfumes, etc. In addition to this the perfumes mentioned are burnt during the incantation. This science is almost universally practiced in
10 See Hughes Dictionary of Islam, art. "Da wa."
Moslem lands and there are hundreds of books on the subject. The most celebrated is that called "Shems al Ma arif
al Kubra" of Ahmed ibn All Al Buni, who died 622 A. II.
Among the subjects treated in this book of magical practices are the following: to drive away demons, to strengthen memory, to increase property, to gain love, to cure inflammation, to hear the speech of Jinn, to increase crops. He gives us the names on the seal of Solomon, the names on the rod of Moses, the names which Jesus used to perform his miracles, etc., etc., etc. There is not a Moslem village from Tangier to Teheran where this encyclopedia of magic can not be found in daily use by some Sheikh.
Among the most common amulets in use in India are magic squares based upon the well-known magic square of Al- Ghazali.
These magic squares are written on a white porcelain plate, or on paper, the inscription is then washed off with water
and the latter drank; or they are worn upon the person; or they are burnt, and the individual is smoked with their fumes; or they are kept suspended in the air; or having been made into charms by being enveloped in cotton, they are
dipped in odoriferous oils, and burnt in a lamp; or they are engraved on rings and worn on the fingers.
"Some persons write the taweez or ism on bhoojputur, or have it engraved on a thin plate of silver, gold, etc., roll it up or fold and form it into a taweez or puleeta, cover it with wax, and sew some superior kind of cloth or brocade over it; or they insert it into a square hollow case or tube of gold or silver, seal it hermetically, and wear it suspended to the neck, or tie it to their upper arms or loins, or stick it into their turbans or tie it up in a corner of their handkerchiefs and carry it about their persons. People very generally have empty taweezes made, and suspend them to the necks of their children, together with nadulec 13 in the center, as well as some baghnuk (tiger s nails) set in silver, etc., and when they obtain a taweez from any renowned mushaekh or mulla, or can procure a little of any sacred relic offered on shrines, such as flowers, sundul, etc., they put these into them."
It is by such magic that people find out the hour and day of the month most propitious for undertaking a journey, for wearing new clothes, for trimming the beard, etc., for bathing, shaving, etc. The character of these superstitions may
be judged from a single example which Herklots gives: "If a person have an enemy on whom he has not the power
to be revenged, though he is constantly distressed and harassed by him the following is what people, in the habit of doing these things, perform, either for themselves or for others, for a reward. However, it is not every one that succeeds
I3 I. e., an amulet with the name of Ali.
in performing these; and practitioners only undertake them for those actually in need of relief; and the Almighty again,
on His part, will only hear the supplications of those who are really distressed. He is to read the tubut-maqoos, or the
chayhul qaf morning and evening daily, for twenty-one days, at each period forty-one times. Or, with some earth taken
out of a grave, or the earth of the Hindoo musan, he is to make a doll about a span long more or less; and repeating the
soora-e-ullum-turkyf with the name of its accompanying demon, or the tubut reversed, or the chayhul qaf over twenty one small thin wooden pegs, and repeating it three times over each peg, he is to strike them into different parts of the body of the image; such as one into the crown of the head, one into the forehead, two into the two eyes, two into the two upper arms; two into the two arm-pits, two into the two palms of the hands, two into the two nipples, two into the two sides of the body, one into the navel, two into the two thighs, two into the two knees, and two into the two soles of the feet. The image is then to be shrouded in the manner of a human corpse, conveyed to the cemetery, and buried in the name of the enemy who (it is believed) will positively die after it."
In all these charms and performances we can see animism and Islam strangely mingled, theism and paganism side by
side. The prayer is made to the Almighty, the chapters read are from the Koran (i. e., 9th Chapter"Tauba" is to be read
backwards and the chapter called Qaf is to be read 40 times), but the whole character of the rite is pagan. The spiritual power or the spirit itself, the benefit of the blessing is directly connected with the charm. We may again use words in regard to Islam that Nassau uses regarding the charms of the pagans in West Africa (p. 76):
"Over the wide range of many articles used in which to confine spirits, common and favorite things, are the skins and
especially the tails of bush-cats, horns of antelopes, nut-shells, snail-shells, bones of any animal, but especially human bones; and among the bones are specially regarded portions of skulls of human beings and teeth and claws of leopards. But, literally, anything may be chosen, any stick, any stone, any rag of cloth. Apparently, there being no limit to the number of spirits, there is literally no limit to the number and character of spirits, there is literally no limit to the number and character of the articles in which they may be localized."
In the villages of the Delta, where ninety-nine per cent of the people are Moslems, and in the back streets of Cairo, the intellectual capital of Islam, I have collected amulets made of bone, shell, skin, horns of animals, teeth, claws, mud from the tombs, etc., etc. Islam and Animism live, in very neighborly fashion, on the same street and in the same mind.