THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM
ANIMISM IN THE CREED AND THE USE OF THE ROSARY
ONE has only to read popular expositions of the Koran texts that refer to angels, jinn, iblis (the devil), kismet (fate), and the many traditions regarding the creation of the soul and its transmigration to realize that the world of Moslem thought and that of Animism are not distinct. Not only in popular Islam, its magic (high and low), its amulets, charms, talismans, magic squares, sacred trees, etc., but in the sacred literature of Islam we find pagan beliefs and practices perpetuated. The shortest of all monotheistic creeds, the Kalima, has itself become a species of magic and at least in three of the six articles of the expanded statement of orthodox belief we find animistic teaching and interpretation. "I believe in Allah and His angels, and His books, and His prophets, and the Resurrection and the Predestination of good and evil." The doctrine of God includes the magical use of His names and attributes. The doctrine of angels includes not only demonology but jinn fear and worship as real as in Paganism. The belief in revelation has in popular Islam almost degenerated into bibliomancy and bibliolatry.
Do the fellahin of Egypt not take their oath on Al Bokhari?
The prophets, especially Solomon and Mohammed, had intercourse with demons and jinn. According to the Koran and Tradition man is created with a double ego or two souls (the Qarina) just as in the pagan mythologies. The beliefs regarding the relation of the soul to the body after death, and the doctrine of metempsychosis resemble the beliefs of Animism. Their belief in how the spirit leaves the body; the benefit of speedy burial; the questioning by the two angels of the tomb; the visiting of the graves and the presentation of offerings of food and drink on the graves: all this is mixed up with pagan practices which find their parallel in Animism. Finally, the whole eschatology of Islam is a strange mixture of Judaism, Christianity and Paganism.
Some of these practices based on the creed we will recur to later; here we limit our discussion to the use of the Koran,
the creed formula and the rosary in ways that are condemned by the creed itself. " There is no god but Allah "yet His Book, His names, His very attributes are used as amulets against demon and jinn or as fetish receive the reverence due to Himself alone. Every missionary knows that the Koran itself has the power of a fetish in popular Islam. Not only
is the book eternal in its origin and use for mystic purposes, but only those who are ritually pure may touch it. Certain
chapters are of special value against evil spirits. It is related in Tradition, e.g. that " whosoever reads the 105th chapter and the 94th chapter of the Koran at morning prayers will never suffer pain in his teeth"! This is one reason why these two chapters, i.e. of the "Elephant" and the one entitled "Have we not expanded," are almost universally used for the early prayers. At funerals they always read the chapter "Y.S." and then, in fear of jinn and spirits, the chapter of the Jinn. One has only to read this last chapter with the commentaries on it to see how large a place the doctrine occupies in popular Islam. The cure for headache is said to be the 13th verse of the chapter called "Al-Ana am" or the "Cattle," which reads: "His is whatsoever dwells in the night or in the day: He both hears and knows."
Against robbers at night a verse of the chapter called "Repentance" is read, etc., etc.
1 No religion has ever made so much. Even Al Ghazali who is quoted in book of "Wird," Mujarabat of Ahmed Dirbi, p. 80.
of its sacred book in a magic way as Islam. Not only do we find bibliolatry, i.e. the worship of the Book, but also bibliomancy, i.e. the use of the Koran for magical or superstitious purposes. This is perhaps based on Judaism. We find that Jews used the Torah for protection purposes and in a magical way as do the Mohammedans. When a person was dangerously ill the Pentateuch was opened, and the name which first met the eye was added to the patient s name, in order to avert the evil destiny.
Just as Moslems to-day use special names of God and special chapters as "cure-alls" so did the Jews of the Dispersion. The following verses in the original Hebrew were used on amulets:
Genesis I: 1-5
To make oneself invisible (S. Z. 32a). (The last letters only.) To confuse a person s mind (M. V. 25) ; as preservation against pollution (S. Z. lib); and for other purposes Cat. Anglo-Jew. Hist. Exh. No. 1874; Schwab).
XXI: 1 To lighten child-birth (M. V. 59).
XXIV: 2 On using a divining rod (M. V. 80).
XXV: 14 Against the crying of children (M. V. 64).
XXXII: 31 Against danger on a journey (M. V. 34).
XLIX: 18 To shorten one s way on a journey (M. V. 23); in the lying-in room (M. V. 80).
Exodus XI: 7 For protection against a fierce dog.
(For greater security, the traveler
2 "The Jewish Encyclopedia,"Vol. Ill, pp. 202-203.
is advised to carry a stout stick as well, which gave rise to the saying, "He has both a verse ( posuk ) and a stick (stecken ) with him" applied to one well fortified on every side.)
XI: 8 To lighten child-birth (M. V. 59).
XV: 2 To shorten one s way (M. V. 24).
XV: 16 To shorten the way (M. V. 23); to insure safety in a court of law (M. V. 32) ; against fear (M. V. 65).
XVII: 16 Against bleeding (M. V. 45).
XXII: 17 In the lying-in room (M. V. 91).
XXXIII: 23 Against, witchcraft (M. V. 41).
XXXIV: 6 To shorten the way (M. V. 23).
Lev. I: 1 The same (M. V. 23).
Num. XI: 2 Against fire (M. V. 10, 11; S. Z. 27).
XI: 12 Against the evil eye (M. V. 41).
XXIII: 23 In lying-in rooms (M. V. 91).
Deut. VI: 4 - 9 Against fever (M. V. 50).
XXIII: 4 On taking children to school (S. Z. 30b).
A still larger number of verses were taken from the Psalms for similar purposes and used as amulets. Most common,
however, was the use of the names of God and of angels.
The Koran is not only the most excellent of all books, but the essential Word of God contained therein is eternal and
uncreated. It was originally written by God himself on the Preserved Tablet, then brought down in sheets (suhuf} to
the lowest heaven on the night of Al Qadr where they "Jewish Encyclopedia,"; p. 203. were preserved in a place called the House of Majesty (Beit-vl- Izza). From here they were brought to Mohammed as required by circumstances in revelations. What Professor Hurgronje says of the Moslems of Sumatra is true of all the illiterate masses in Islam and even of many of the so-called literates even in Arabia and Egypt :
"This book, once a world-reforming power, now serves but to be chanted by teachers and laymen according to definite
rules. The rules are not difficult, but not a thought is ever given to the meaning of the words; the Quran is chanted simply because its recital is believed to be a meritorious work.
This disregard of the sense of the words rises to such a pitch that even pandits who have studied the commentaries not
to speak of laymen fail to notice when the verses they recite condemn as sinful things which both they and the listeners do every day, nay even during the very common ceremony itself.
"The inspired code of the universal conquerors of thirteen centuries ago has grown to be no more than a mere text-book of sacred music, in the practice of which a valuable portion of the youth of well-educated Muslims is wasted and which is recited on a number of ceremonial occasions in the life of every Mohammedan. 4
In all Moslems lands on the occasions of birth, death or marriage the Koran is used as a charm. It is put near the head of the dying, and on the head of a new-born infant for good-luck. The belief is universal in the Mohammedan world that Safar is pregnant with evil, and that one may feel very thankful when he reaches the last Wednesday of this month without mishap. This day nowhere passes wholly without notice. "In Acheh,"; says Hurgronje, it is called
Rabn Abeh, the final Wednesday. Many take a bath on this day, the dwellers on the coast in the sea, others in the
"The Achenese," pp. 343-4.
river or at the well. It is considered desirable to use for this bath water consecrated by contact with certain verses of the
Koran. To this end a teunglcu in the gampong gives to all who ask slips of paper on which he has written the seven
verses of the Koran in which Allah addresses certain men with the word salam (blessing or peace).
It is the common belief in East Arabia that the Koran if wrapped in a fresh sheep-skin will withstand the hottest fire and never a page be singed or burned. I was repeatedly challenged to this ordeal with the Gospel vs. the Koran during my early missionary days at Bahrein. That the sacred character of the work is not limited to the text, but extends to paper and ink is clear from the process of insulation in taking oath. In India a hog s bristle put on the ball of the thumb which then rests on the Koran allows the swearer to perjure himself without danger. So holy a book is used therefore to drive away demons. No evil spirit visits the room where it rests on the highest shelf the place of honor.
This belief that the Koran can drive away devils is exactly paralleled by practices in China. De Groot writes
(The Religion of the Chinese/ p. 51) : I have said that classical works are among the best weapons in the war against specters.
Even the simple presence of a copy, or a fragment, or a leaf of a classic is a mighty preservative, and an excellent medicine for spectral disease. As early as the Han dynasty, instances are mentioned of men having protected themselves against danger and misfortune by reciting classical phrases.
But also writings and sayings of any kind, provided they be of an orthodox stamp, destroy specters and their influences.
Literary men, when alone in the dark, insure their safety by reciting their classics; should babies be restless because of
the presence of specters, classical passages do excellent service as lullabies.
"The Achenese,"; p. 206.
Again he speaks of the magical power of the almanac (De Groot, p. 53): "No house in China may be without a
copy of the almanac, or without at least its title-page in miniature, printed on purpose with one or two leaves affixed, as a charm, in accordance with the pars pro toto principle, and sold in shops for one coin or cash. These charms are deposited in beds, in corners and cupboards, and such like places, and worn on the body ; and no bride passing from her
paternal home into that of her bridegroom may omit the titlepage among the exorcising objects with which her pocket is
for that occasion filled."
Portions of the Koran are lithographed in colors and sold for the same purposes in Cairo, Bombay, Singapore and Madras. The fantastic combinations of Arabic script and the intaglio of the design make the charm all the more potent.
Men cannot decipher it, but demons can.
In the use of the Rosary (Subha^ and its gradual spread throughout the world of Islam we also find evidence of Animistic superstition. According to Dr. Goldziher: "It is generally admitted that the use of the rosary, which was imported into Islam, was not adopted by the disciples of Mohammed until the third century of the Hegira (622 A. D.). The following story can, at any rate, be cited in this connection. When the Abbaside Khalif, Al-Hadi (169-170 of the Hegira) forbade his mother Chejzuran, who tried to exercise her influence in political affairs, to take part
in the affairs of state, he used the following words: "It is not a woman s business to meddle with the affairs of state;
you should occupy your time with your prayers and your subha." From this it seems certain that in that century the
use of the sublia as an instrument of devotion was common only among the inferior classes and had no place among the
learned. When a rosary was found in the possession of a certain pious saint, Abu-1-Kasim al-Junaid, who died in 297 of the Hegira, they attacked him for using it, although he belonged to the best society.
"I cannot give up,"; said he, "a thing that serves to bring me nearer to God." This tradition furnishes us with rare facts since it shows us on the one hand that in the social sphere the use of the rosary was common even among the higher classes; and on the other hand that the strict disciples of Mohammed looked on this foreign innovation which was patronized by saints and pious men, with displeasure. To them it was biaa that is, an innovation without foundation in the old Islamic sunna, and was consequently bound to stir a distrust among the orthodox.
Even later on, when the use of the rosary had for long ceased to provoke discontent in the orthodox Moslems, the
controversialists, whose principle was to attack all "innovations," still distrusted any exaggerations in the usage of this
practice. But like a great many things that were not tolerated at the beginning under religious forms, the rosary
introduced itself from private religious life to the very heart of the mosques.
Abu Abdullah Mohammed al- Abdari, who died 737 A.H., wrote a work of three volumes called "Al-Madkhal," which
contains a lot of interesting matter on the intimate life of Islamic society, their superstitions and their popular customs,
and should be studied by all who are interested in the history and civilization of the Mohammedan Orient. Among the
innovations, "writes al- Abdari," the rosary is to be noted. A special box is made where it is kept; a salary is fixed for
some one to guard and keep it, and for those who use it for Zikr. ... A special Sheikh is appointed for it, with the title of Sheikh al-Subha, and with him a servant with the title of Khadim al-Subha. These innovations are quite modern. It is the duty of the imam of the mosque to suppress such customs as it is in his power to do so. "The appearance of the rosary," says Goldziher, to quote again from his paper, "and the way in which it had been adopted by the faithful of the Sunna, did not pass unperceived by the Hadith. I believe that the following story which we read in the book called Sunan/ written in the third century, has to do with the entrance of the rosary:"
Al-Hakam b. al-Mubarak relates on the authority of Amr b. Jahja, who had heard it from his father, and who in his turn had heard from his father : we were sitting before the door of Abdallah b. Masud, before the morning prayer, for we were in the habit of going to the mosque in his company.
One day we encountered Abu Musa al-Ash ari . . . and very soon Abu Abd al-Rahman came in his turn. Then Abu
Musa said: "In former times, O Abu Rahman, I saw in the mosque things that I did not approve of; but now, thank God, I see nothing but good. "What do you mean by that?" said the other. "If you live long enough," answered Abu Musa, "you will know. I have seen in the mosque, people who sat round in circles (kauman hilakan) awaiting the moment of Salat. Each group was presided over by a man and they held in their hands small stones. The president said to them: Repeat 100 Takbir! & and for one hundred times they recited the formula of the Takbir. Then he used to tell them: Repeat 100 Tdhlil!"
7 And they recited the formula of Taldil for one hundred times. Then he told them also: Repeat 100 times the Tasbih!
8 And the persons who were in the group equally went through this exhortation also. "Then Abu Abd al-Rahman asked:
"What did st thou say when thou sawest these things?"
"Nothing," answered Abu Musa," because I first wanted to find out your view and your orders."
Did you not tell them that it would have been more profitable for them to Takbir to repeat
6 Allahu Akbar, God is great.
7 Tahlil to repeat La, ilaha ilia Allah (The Creed).
8 Tasbih to repeat Subhan Allah, God be praised.
have kept account of their sins and did you not tell them that their good actions would not have been in vain?
Sowe together repaired to the mosque and we soon came acrossone of these groups. He stopped before them and said:
"What do you here?"
"We have here," they answered," small stones which help us to count the Takbir, the Tahlil
and the Tasbih, which we recite.
But he answered them in these terms:
"Sooner count your sins and nothing will be lost of your good works. Woe to thee, O community of Mohammed! with what haste you are going toward damnation? Here are also in great numbers, companions of your Prophet? look at these garments which are not covered with dust, these vessels that are not yet broken; verily by him who holds my soul in his hands, your religion can lead you better than the contemporaries of Mohammed; will you not at least open the door of wrong?"
"By Allah, O Abu Abd al-Kahman," they cried, "we mean but to do right!"
And he answered them:
"There are many who pretend to do right, but who cannot get at it, it is to them that the word of the Prophet applies: There are of those who read the Koran, but deny its teaching, and I swear it by God, I doubt whether the majority of these people are not among yourselves."
"Other traditions show us the prophet protesting regarding some faithful women against their using these small stones
when reciting the litanies just mentioned and recommending the use of the fingers when counting their prayers."
"Let them count their prayers on their fingers (ja Tcidna bil anamil); for an account will be taken of them."
All these insinuations found in traditions invented for the purpose, denote a disapprobation of the use of the rosary, at
the moment of its appearance. The use of small stones in the litanies was, it seems, an original form of the subha, very
much like the later use of the rosary. It is said of AbuHuraira that he recited the Tasbih in his house by the aid of small stones which he kept in a purse (jusabbih bilia). Let us also mention the severe words of Abdallah, son of the Khalif Omar, which he addressed to a person who rattled his stones in his hands during prayer (juharrik al-Hasa Bijedihi), "Do not do that, for that is prompted by the devil."
Were not the litanies ever counted in this way before the rosary was introduced? One cannot be sure. Anyway, it seems very probable that the traditions against this custom date from the time when the rosary was introduced into Islam. The Tibetan Buddhists, long before the Christian Era, used strings of beads, generally 108 in number and made of jewels, sandal-wood, mussel-shells, and the like, according to the status of their owners. Whether Islam adopted the rosary from India during the Moslem conquest is uncertain, but not improbable.
Regarding the Christian use of the rosary we read: "The custom of repeatedly reciting the Our Eather arose in the
monastic life of Egypt at an early time, being recorded by Palladius and Sozomen. The Hail Mary or Ave Maria, on the other hand, first became a regular prayer in the second half of the eleventh century, though it was not until about the thirteenth century that it was generally adopted. The addition of the words of Elizabeth, blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus (Luke 1:42), and the Angelical Salutation, Hail Mary, full of grace; the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women (Luke 1:28), is first mentioned about 1130; but Bishop Odo of Paris (1196-1208) requires the recitation of Hail Mary together with the Our Father and the Creed as a regular Christian custom. The closing petition, Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, developed gradually in the sixteenth century, and was regarded even by the council of Besangon (1571) as a superfluous but pious custom. These facts show that the traditions which ascribe the invention of the rosary to Benedict of Nursia, Bede, or Peter the Hermit, are untrustworthy, and the same statement holds of the Dominican tradition which makes Dominic receive a vision of the Virgin commanding him to introduce the use of the rosary. At the same time, the rosary was originally an essential Dominican mode of devotion; though first arising long after the death of the founder of the order; but while some influence may have been exercised by the acquaintance of oriental Christians with the Mohammedan Tasbih, all the characteristics of the recitation of Our Father, like the meditations connected with it, can only be explained by the operation of specifically Christian ideas.
The Rosary in Islam is at present used for three distinct purposes. It is used in prayer and Zikr for counting pious
ejaculations or petitions. It is used for divining the will of God; and it is used in a magical way for healing. The second
practice is called Istikhara. It is related of one of the wives of Mohammed that she said:
"The Prophet taught us IstiWiara,, i.e. to know what is best, just as he taught us verses from the Book, and if any of you wants anything let him perform ablution and pray two rakk as and read the verse: There is no other God, etc. To use the rosary in this way the following things must be observed. The rosary must be grasped within the palms of both hands, which are then rubbed together; then the Fatiha is solemnly repeated, after which the user breathes upon the rosary with his breath in order to put the magic-power of the chapter into the beads. Then he seizes a particular bead and counts toward the pointer bead using the words, God, Mohammed, Abu Jahal; when the count terminates with the name of God it means that his request is favorably received, if it terminates
9 "Schaff Herzog Encyclopedia," Vol. X.
with Abu Jahal it is bad, and if with Mohammed the reply is doubtful. Others consider it more correct to use these three words: Adam, Eve, the devil. When these words are used the Adam bead signifies approval, the devil bead disapproval, and the Eve bead uncertainty, because woman's judgment is fickle. This use of the rosary is almost universal among the common people of North Africa and Egypt.
When we remember the high idealism with which Edwin Arnold has clothed the ninety-nine names of Allah in his book on the Moslem rosary entitled "Pearls of the Faith" we enter a word of protest against the use of such glorious names
for magic and sorcery. In this connection we mention a ceremony practiced among the Mohammedans of India on special occasions, called in the Arabic Subha and usually performed on the night succeeding a burial. The soul is then supposed to remain in the body, after which it departs to Hades, there to await its final doom. The ceremony is thus described:
"At night, derwishes, sometimes as many as fifty, assemble, and one brings a rosary of 1000 beads, each as large as a pigeon s egg. Then beginning with the 67th chapter of the Koran, they say three times, God is one; then recite the last chapter but one and the first, and then say three times, O God, favor the most excellent and most happy of thy creatures, our lord Mohammed, and his family and companions, and preserve them. To this they add: All who commemorate Thee are the mindful, and those who omit commemorating Thee are the negligent. They next repeat three thousand times, There is no god but God, one holding the rosary and counting each repetition. After each
thousand they sometimes rest and take coffee; then 100 times (I extol) the perfection of God with his praise. Then the
same number of times: I beg forgiveness of God the Great; after which fifty times: The perfection of the Lord the Eternal; then The perfection of the Lord of Might; etc. (Koran XXXVII last three verses). Then two or three recite two or three more verses. This done one asks his companions, Have ye transferred (the merit of) what ye have recited to the soul of the deceased? They reply, We have and add, Peace be on the apostles. This concludes the ceremony, which in the house of the rich, is repeated the second and third nights."
In Algeria the rosary is used by the Taleb in divining whether the sick will die or not. The beads are counted oft in threes, if this leaves one off number the beads must be recounted in twos, if ending evenly the patient will live, if an odd one remains it means death. The rosary which is considered a holy thing is never used in vulgar magic.
In Tunisia the fortune-teller marks a place on the rosary with a thread and counts off the beads while chanting certain
words, sometimes the names of the father or mother of the sick person. The required information is found by the number of beads remaining over after the recitation; if three remain to the thread, it is sickness; if two it is health.
Mr. G. B. A. Gardener, of Cape Town, says: "The rosary is sometimes worn round the neck as a cure for sickness.
Those most in use are made of sandal-wood, said to come from Mecca. For magical purposes the rosary is used by
Miss G. Y. Holliday of Tabriz, Persia, gives the following information:
"The rosary is used to decide what medicine should be taken, what physician should be called, whether his advice should be followed or not, etc. It is also used about all the affairs of life; it is called taking the istikhara. In using it, the rosary is grasped by the first bead the hand happens on; from which they count to the Khalifa, or the large bead which is the most prominent object, saying bad, good, the last bead giving the decision."
In Java the rosary is used as follows for healing the sick, or for inducing sickness. With the rosary in the hand one
reads any chapter from the Koran and up to the fifteenth verse, this verse always contains a word of talismanic power,
and while this verse is being read the rosary is counted and the result follows.
In Egypt the rosary is widely used for the cure of the sick. In this case it depends on the material from which the beads are manufactured. Those made of ordinary wood or of mother-of-pearl are not valuable, but a rosary made of jet (yusr) or Icuk (a particular kind of wood from Mecca) is valuable. In Egypt both among Copts and Moslems the rosary is used for the cure of "retention of urine" in children. It is put on the infant s neck or is laid on the roof in the starlight to catch the dew, then it is washed and the water given to the child to drink.
"In India," writes Mr. K. I. Khan of Poona, "the rosary is used to protect against the evil eye and other dangers, sometimes it is washed in water and the water given as medicine to the sick to drink."
When we consider how in all these puerile superstitions the original use of the rosary with its ninety-nine beads for the
remembrance of the one true God has been lost or obscured we are forcibly reminded of the words of Warneck:
"Animistic heathenism is not a transition stage to a higher religion. I think I have adduced sufficient facts to establish that, and facts do not vanish away before hypothesis. Let them produce facts to prove that animistic heathenism somewhere and somehow evolved upwards toward a purer knowledge of God, real facts, not imaginary construction of such an evolution.
Any form of Animism known to me has no lines leading to perfection, but only incontestable marks of degeneration.
10 In its doctrine of the soul before birth, after death, and in the future world, Islam is not free from animistic ideas which 10 "The Living Christ and Dying Heathenism," Warneck, p. 10. differ little from those of Pagans in Africa. Al Ghazali says: "When God Almighty let His hands pass over the back of Adam and gathered men into His two hands, He placed some of them in His right hand and the others in His left ; then he opened both His hands before Adam, and Adam looked at them and saw them like imperceptible atoms. Then God said: These are destined for Paradise and these are destined for hell-fire. He then asked them: Am I not your Lord? and they replied: Certainly, we testify that
Thou art our Lord. God then asked Adam and the angels to be witnesses . . . after this God replaced them into the loins of Adam. They were at that time purely spiritual beings without bodies. He then caused them to die, but gathered them and kept them in a receptacle near His throne.
When the germ of a new being is placed in the womb of the mother, it remains there till its body is sufficiently developed; the soul in the same is then dead, yet when God Almighty breathes into it the spirit, He restores to it its most precious part, of which it had been deprived while preserved in the receptacle near the throne. This is the first death and a second life. Then God places man in this world till he has reached the term fixed for him."
In this teaching of the greatest Moslem theologian we have the gist of the teaching as found in the Koran and Tradition.
The Koran in many places gives a minute description of the process of death while the Commentaries based on savings of Mohammed leave no doubt of the crass materialisic ideas he held and perpetuated. (See e.g., Suras 75 ; 81:1-19; 82;
83 : 4-20 ; 84 : 1-19 ; and of a later period 22 : 1-7.)
Death takes place by means of a poisonous lance which is held by Izra il, the angel of death, who pierces the soul and
detaches it from the body. (Cf. Surah 32:11.) As long as the soul slowly ascends from the heart through the throat, it is exposed to various temptations and doubts, but when it has been pierced by the lance and thus separated from the body, these cease. Izra il is said to be frightful in appearance and of enormous size; his head in the highest heaven, his feet in the lowest part of the earth, and his face opposite the preserved Tablet. To a believer, however, he appears in a lovely shape, and his assistants as Angels of Mercy, while to the unbelievers they are tormenting angels. The soul or spirit, according to the orthodox school, is said to be a subtle body, intimately united with the body of man, like the juice is united with the green branch of a tree. The Angel of Death also takes the life of jinn, of angels and even of animals. 11
The teaching that the Angel of Death takes care of the souls of animals as well as of men s souls is clearly animistic.
Immediately after burial two large black Angels visit the dead in their graves. They are called Munkar and Nakir.
The spirit of the believer, according to some authorities, is taken through the seven Heavens ino the very presence of
God and then returns to the grave to reenter the body and be examined. This seems to be the teaching of Ghazali (Durrai al Fakhira). The same authority classifies the inhabitants of the grave as follows, and says they are of four kinds:
(1) Those who sleep on their backs till their corpses be come dust, when they constantly rove about between earth and
the lowest heaven; (2) those on whom God causes sleep to descend and who only wake up at the first blast of the
trumpet; (3) those who remain in their graves only two or three months, then are carried away into Paradise; they perch on the trees of Paradise in the shape of birds. The spirits of martyrs are in the crops of birds. (4) Prophets
and saints who may choose their own habitation.
Another animistic idea in the teaching of Mohammed is that although the whole of the human body perishes in the
11 Klein, "The Religion of Islam," p. 81.
grave, one bone, namely the os sacrum, remains uncorrupted until the resurrection morning. It is from this bone or seed
that the whole body is renewed by means of a miraculous rain storm called "the water of life."
The spirit after death enters the state (or interval), whether of time or place seems uncertain called Al BarzaMi.
Many curious traditions are current regarding the souls of the martyrs and their residence in the crops of green birds.
One commentator says the birds are transparent, i.e. ethereal.
Others say that it signifies figuratively the speed with which the souls of martyrs can travel about.
An important point and which is universally believed relates to the spirits of ordinary mortals. These remain near their graves. This accounts for the universal custom in Islam of visiting the graves of their dead on Thursday night. In
India we are told, "It is a general belief among the community of Mussulmans that when a Moslem gives up the ghost his soul haunts and lurks about the place where he breathed his last for full forty days from the date of his demise: that it (the soul) comes to visit the quarter it left, with the idea and conviction that its surviving relations and acquaintances may show pity to it by offering prayers and charity for its good and salvation in the migrated region of the heaven above; that in case it finds its survivors doing good for its well-being, rest, happiness, and welfare in its changed career, it devoutly and heartily prays in return for their safety, pleasure and comfort on earth ; and that in the reverse case, when it perceives its people doing naught for it or entrapped in vices opposed to the dictates of Islamic faith, it curses them and invokes on them heavenly displeasure for
12 It is impossible to give the indecent Moslem interpretations of this term. Cf. any popular Arabic work on Eschatology.
their negligence and foolish reckless pursuits devoid of all religious principles. 13
The special sanctity of the "night of the middle of Sha ban," called in Arabic Lailat Nusf Sha ban, is believed in
by all Mohammedans. It is supposed that on that particular night Allah determines the fate of mortals during the forth
coming year. The most popular idea is that there is a celestial tree of symbolic import, on which every human being has a leaf to represent him. This tree is shaken during the night preceding the 15th of Sha ban, causing the leaves of all
those who are to die during the coming year to fall.
In Arabia many watch through a part or the whole of this night and offer up a prayer, invoking Allah s mercy, and
beseeching him to blot out from his eternal book the calamities and adversity destined for the suppliant.
"Throughout the whole of the Indian Archipelago,: says Hurgronje, this month, Sha ban, is especially dedicated to
the commemoration of the dead. This does not imply grief for their loss, but rather care for their souls repose, which is not inconsistent with merrymaking. This solicitude for the welfare of the departed exhibits itself by the giving of religious feasts. According to the religious or learned conception this is done in order to bestow on the deceased the
recompense earned by this good work; according to the papular notion it is to let them enjoy the actual savor of the
good things of the feast.
Not only in visiting the graves of the dead, but in the very method of burial Moslems are animists in practice
whatever they may be in creed. "It is fear," says Warneck, speaking of the Animists in Malaysia, that leads them to place food on the dead man's grave; to bring him his tools
13 "Moslem Festivities," by Mohammed Ameer All Calcutta, 1892, p. 42.
and coin, that his shadow may use them in the other world and be content. The inhabitants of many islands sacrifice some one, preferably a slave, at the grave in order that they themselves may be spared. The impelling motive is always
fear, not grief nor pity. To prevent the soul of the dead from returning to the living, thorns are laid upon the corpse, which is firmly bound, its thumbs and toes tied together, ashes put in its eyes, an egg placed in its armpits, all with the
view of making it incapable of movement. 14
According to a Moslem tradition also, it is the universal practice to tie the toes of the dead together before burial but
then to loosen them when the body has been lowered into the grave. The construction of the grave itself with its characteristic lahdi in all Moslem lands, can only be explained by beliefs which are animistic. Coffins are never used for burial, but a niche, lahdi, is made on one side of the open grave.
The contents of any book on the subject of Eschatology are an index to this world of Moslem-animistic thought.
The terrors of the grave are real in popular Islam, and such books have a larger sale than any other religious literature.
Here follows for example the table of contents of El Hamzawi's "Masharik-ul-Anwar" on this subject. In every chapter there are points of contact with animism and signs of old pagan belief and practices perpetuated:
I. WHAT HAPPENS TO THE DEAD BEFORE BURIAL.
1. What he should do while he is still here.
2. What he should do when death approaches.
3. How the spirit leaves the body.
4. The benefit of speedy burial.
II. WHAT HAPPENS IN THE GRAVE.
1. How the questions are asked by the two angels,
14 The Living Christ and Dying Heathenism," p. 59.
ANIMISM IN THE CREED 41
2. How he must answer.
3. On the joy and pain that results.
4. Where the spirits go.
5. Warning to the living.
III. ON VISITING THE GRAVE.
1. Its desirability.
2. The right times.
3. What to do.
4. Are the dead conscious ?
5. Traditions of the Prophet.
6. Who of the Prophet s family were buried in Egypt.
IV. SIGNS OF THE HOUR AND THE END OP THE AGE.
1. Minor signs of the hour.
2. The appearance of the Mahdi.
3. The appearance of anti-Christ.
4. The return of Jesus.
5. The Beast Gog and Magog.
6. The first blast of the trumpet.
V. THE RESURRECTION.
1. The number of trumpet blasts.
2. The one who blows.
3. How they arise from the graves.
4. In what form do they come ?
5. Do they arise naked or dressed ?
6. The books.
7. The intents of the heart.
VI. THE PLACE OF JUDGMENT.
1. Where the judgment takes place.
2. The conditions of those who appear.
3. The day of accounts.
4. The robes and the throne.
5. The sirat and the scales.
6. The intercession.
7. The scales of justice.
8. The pond.
VII. ON THE THINGS THAT CONCERN HEAVEN AND HEL.L AND THE VENGEANCE OP GOD.
In this survey of the present use of the creed and the clear teaching based on some of its six articles, the conclusion is irresistible that the monotheism of Islam has degenerated in popular belief to a much larger degree than is generally ap
preciated. It is idle to talk of pure monotheism when dealing with popular Islam.