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Full text of "The influence of animism on Islam : an account of popular superstitions"

Libris 1 

THE CANADIAN! 




,..i 



,. BStA 

KNOX COLLEGE 

TORONTO 



THE INFLUENCE OP 
ANIMISM ON ISLAM 



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

HW YORK BOSTON CHICAGO DALLAS 
ATLANTA SAN FRANCISCO 

MACMILLAN & CO., LIMITED 

LONDON BOMBAY - CALCUTTA 
MELBOURNE 

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD. 

TORONTO 



THE INFLUENCE OF 
ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

AN ACCOUNT OF POPULAR 
SUPERSTITIONS 



BY 

SAMUEL M. ZWEMER, F.R.G.S. 



CAVZN LiL&ARY 

KNOX COLLEGE 

TORONTO 



LONDON 

CENTRAL BOARD OF MISSIONS 

AND 

SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING 
CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE 

1920 



80371 



COPYRIGHT, I92O, IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 
THE MACMILLAN CO. 



This book is one of a series of American publications which the 
Central Board of Missions desires to make available for students 
of missions in England. While considering these books to be 
worthy of study the Central Board of Missions takes no respon 
sibility for their contents. 



THIS VOLUME CONTAINS 
THE A. C. THOMPSON LECTURES FOR 1918-1919 

DELIVERED ON THE 

HARTFORD SEMINARY FOUNDATION 

AND AT 
PRINCETON THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY 

IN A COURSE OF LECTURES ON MISSIONS: 
IT IS DEDICATED TO 

THE STUDENTS AND FACULTIES OF THESE 
INSTITUTIONS 

IN APPRECIATION OF 

THE INVITATION TO DELIVER THE LECTURES 

AND IN PLEASANT RECOLLECTION OF 

THEIR MANY COURTESIES 



PKEFACE 

From the standpoint both of religion and culture Animism 
has been described as " the tap-root which sinks deepest in 
racial human experience and continues its cellular and 
fibrous structure in the tree-trunk of modern conviction." 
All the great world religions show traces of animism in their 
sub-soil and none but Christianity (even that not completely) 
has uprooted the weed-growth of superstition. In this book 
it is our purpose to show how Islam sprang up in Pagan soil 
and retained many old Arabian beliefs in spite of its vigorous 
monotheism. Wherever Mohammedanism went it intro 
duced old or adopted new superstitions. The result has been 
that as background of the whole ritual and even in the creed 
of popular Islam, Animism has conquered. The religion of 
the common people from Tangier to Teheran is mixed with 
hundreds of superstitions many of which have lost their or 
iginal significance but still bind mind and heart with con 
stant fear of demons, with witchcraft and sorcery and the call 
to creature-worship. Just as popular Hinduism differs in 
toto from the religion of the Vedas, popular Islam is alto 
gether different from the religion as recorded in its sacred 
Book. Our purpose in the chapters which follow is to show 
how this miry clay of animism mingles with the iron of 
Semitic theism in the feet of the great image with head of 
gold that rest on Asia and Africa. The rapid spread of 
Islam in Africa and Malayia is, we believe, largely due to its 
animistic character. The primitive religions had points of 
contact with Islam that were mutually attractive. It stooped 
to conquer them but fell in stooping. The reformation of 



viii PKEFACE 

Islam, if such be possible, must begin here. The student of 
Islam will never understand the common people unless he 
knows their curious beliefs and half-heathen practices. The 
missionary should not only know but sympathize. Avoiding 
contempt or denunciation he will even find points of contact 
in Animistic Islam that may lead discussion straight to the 
Cross and the Atonement. In popular Islam we have to deal 
with men and women groping after light and struggling in 
the mire for a firm foothold on the Rock. This book may 
help us to find their hand in the dark. As we read its pages 
we must not forget that even in Egypt and India over ninety- 
four per cent of the Moslem population is illiterate and there 
fore has no other religion than popular Islam. 

S. M. ZWEMEE. 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PACK 

I ISLAM AND ANIMISM 1 

II ANIMISM IN THE CREED AND THE USE OF THE 

ROSARY 21 

III ANIMISTIC ELEMENTS IN MOSLEM PRAYER ... 43 

IV HAIR, FINGER-NAILS AND THE HAND .... 66 
V THE AQIQA SACRIFICE 87 

VI THE FAMILIAR SPIRIT OR QARINA 107 

VII JINN 125 

VIII PAGAN PRACTICES IN CONNECTION WITH THE PIL 
GRIMAGE 146 

IX MAGIC AND SORCERY 163 

X AMULETS, CHARMS AND KNOTS 186 

XI TREE, STONE AND SERPENT WORSHIP .... 208 

XII THE ZAR: EXORCISM OF DEMONS . 227 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

The Center of the Moslem Faith Frontispiece 

FACING 
PAGE 

Large Incense Bowls in Mosque at Hankow, China . . .26 
Interior Court of the Mosque of Al Azhar, Cairo .... 50 

The Torba and Amulets 54 

Hand-shaped Amulets 82 

Amulets and " Lucky " Eings used in Lower Egypt . . .118 

Egyptian Geomancer 132 

The City of Mecca 156 

Talismans and Magical Squares from Egypt .... 204 

Magic Bowl and Amulets 180 

Ancient Amulets from the Egyptian Tombs 212 

Women and children visiting a newly-made grave in the 

Moslem Cemetery, Cairo 240 



THE INFLUENCE 
OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 



CHAPTER I 

ISLAM AND ANIMISM 

THAT Islam in its origin and popular character is a com 
posite faith, with Pagan, Jewish and Christian elements, is 
known to all students of comparative religion. Rabbi 
Geiger in his celebrated essay l has shown how much of the 
warp and woof of the Koran was taken from Talmudic 
Judaism and how the entire ritual is simply that of the 
Pharisees translated into Arabic. Tisdall in his " Sources 
of Islam " and other writers, especially Wellhausen, Gold- 
ziher and Robertson Smith, have indicated the pagan ele 
ments that persist in the Moslem faith to this day and were 
taken over by Mohammed himself from the old Arabian 
idolatry. Christian teaching and life too had their influ 
ence on Mohammed and his doctrine, as is evident not only 
in the acknowledged place of honor given to Jesus Christ, 
the Virgin Mary, John the Baptist, and other New Tes 
tament characters, but in the spirit of universalism, of 
conquest and above all in the mystic beliefs and ascetic 
practices of later Islam. 

" A three-fold cord is not easily broken." The strength 
of Islam is its composite character. It entrenches itself 
everywhere and always in animistic and pagan supersti 
tion. It fights with all the fanatic devotion of Semitic 

i " Was hat Mohammed aus dem Judenthume aufgenommen " (Wies 
baden, 1833). 

1 



2 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

Judaism with its exaggerated nationalism. It claims at 
once to include and supersede all that which Jesus Christ 
was and did and taught. It is a religion of compromise, of 
conservatism, and of conquest. 

It is our purpose to show how strong is the pagan ele 
ment in Mohammedanism, how many doctrines and prac 
tices of popular Islam find their explanation only in a sur 
vival of the animism of Ancient Arabia or were incorporated 
from many heathen sources in the spread of the faith ; doc 
trines and practices which Islam was never able to eliminate 
or destroy. At the outset of our discussion it need not sur 
prise us that a belief in demons and the old Arabian super 
stitions persisted in spite of Islam. Five times daily the 
Moslem muezzin calls out from the Mosque : " There is no 
god but Allah." The people repeat this and reiterate it far 
more than a hundred times during the day in their quarrels, 
feasts, fasts, rejoicings, and common conversation. But in 
my daily observations and I have lived among them for 
more than twenty-five years I find they have fetishes and 
superstitious customs which amount to as many gods as the 
heathen who bow down to wood and stone. 2 

2 In the use of the word " Animism " we refer to primitive pagan 
practices and not to other uses of the term. William McDougall writes 
in his "Body and Mind" (Methuen & Co. Ltd., 36 Essex St., W. C., p. 
viii of Preface) : " Primitive Animism seems to have grown up by ex 
tension of this notion to the explanation of all the more striking phe 
nomena of nature. And the Animism of civilized men, which has been 
and is the foundation of every religious system, except the more rigid 
Pantheism, is historically continuous with the primitive doctrine. 
But, while religion, superstition, and the hope of a life beyond the 
grave have kept alive amongst us a variety of animistic beliefs, rang 
ing in degree of refinement and subtlety from primitive Animism to 
that taught by Plato, Liebnitz, Lotze, William James, or Henri Berg- 
son, modern science and philosophy have turned their backs upon An 
imism of every kind with constantly increasing decision; and the ef 
forts of modern philosophy have been largely directed towards the 
ex-cogitation of a view of man and of the world which shall hold fast 
to the primacy and efficiency of mind or spirit, while rejecting the ani- 



ISLAM AND ANIMISM 3 

Now we find that Islam in Arabia itself and in the older 
Moslem lands was not able to shake itself free from similar 
beliefs and practices. To understand these aright in their 
origin and character it is necessary first of all to know some 
thing of what we mean by Animism. Animism is the belief 
that a great part if not all of the inanimate kingdom of nature 
as well as all animated beings, are endowed with reason, in 
telligence and volition identical with man. Kennedy defines 
it as " both a religion, a system of philosophy and a system 
of medicine. As a religious system it denotes the worship 
of spirits as distinguished from that of the gods " ; 3 and War- 
neck says : " It would seem as if Animism were the primi 
tive form of heathenism, maintaining itself, as in China and 
India to this hour, amid all the refinements of civilization. 
The study of Greek and old German religions exhibits the 
same animistic features. The essence of heathenism seems to 
be not the denial of God, but complete estrangement from 
Him. The existence of God is everywhere known, and a cer 
tain veneration given Him. But He is far away, and is 
therefore all but ruled out of the religious life. His place is 
taken by demons, who are feared and worshiped." 4 

mistic conception of human personality. My prolonged puzzling over 
the psycho-physical problem has inclined me to believe that these at 
tempts cannot be successfully carried through, and that we must accept 
without reserve Professor Tylor s dictum that Animism embodies the 
very essence of spiritualistic, as opposed to materialistic, philosophy, 
and that the deepest of all schisms is that which divides Animism from 
Materialism." 

In our treatment of Islam we do not deal with the psychology or 
philosophy of Animism in this sense at all. Islam as well as Chris 
tianity believes thoroughly in the existence of the soul as well as the 
body, and Moslem philosophy never became materialistic. The belief 
in life after death and in the mortality of the soul is not disputed. 
This book deals with the pagan interpretations of this doctrine and 
with superstitions connected with a belief in demons, etc., more com 
monly known as Animism. 

3 " Animism," by Rev. K. W. S. Kennedy, Westminster, 1014. 

* Warneck " Living Christ and Dying Heathenism," p. 7. 



4 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

Even in Arabia the stern monotheism of the Wahabi Re 
formers was unable to eradicate the pagan superstitions of 
Islam because they are imbedded in the Koran and were 
not altogether rejected by Mohammed himself, much less 
by his companions. 

With regard to the pagan practices prevalent in early 
Islam, Abu l Fida calls attention to a number of religious 
observances which were thus perpetuated under the new sys 
tem. " The Arabs of the times of ignorance," he says, " used 
to do things which the religious law of Islam has adopted; 
for they used not to wed their mothers or their daughters, 
and among them it was deemed a most detestable thing to 
marry two sisters, and they used to revile the man who mar 
ried his father s wife, and to call him Daizan. They used, 
moreover, to make the pilgrimage (Hajj) to the House " 
(the Ka aba), "and visit the consecrated places, and wear 
the Ihram " (the single garment worn to the present day 
by a pilgrim when running round the Ka bah), "and per 
form the Tawwaf, and run " (between the hills As Saf a and 
Al Marwa) " and make their stand at all the Stations and cast 
the stones " (at the devil in the valley of Mina) ; " and they 
were wont to intercalate a month every third year." He goes 
on to mention many other similar examples in which the re 
ligion of Islam has enjoined as religious observances ancient 
Arabian customs, for instance ceremonial washings after cer 
tain kinds of defilement, parting the hair, the ritual observed 
in cleansing the teeth, paring the nails, and other such mat 
ters. 5 

Mohammed also borrowed certain fables current among the 
heathen Arabs, such as the tales of Ad and Thamud and some 
others (Surah VII 63-77). Regarding such stories, Al 
Kindi well says to his opponent : " And if thou mentionest 
the tale of Ad and Thamud and the Camel and the Comrades 
of the Elephant " (Surahs CV and XIV: 9) " and the like of 

s Cf. Tisdall, " The Sources of the Qur an," pp. 44-45. 



ISLAM AND ANIMISM 5 

these tales, we say to thee, These are senseless stories and 
the nonsensical fables of old women of the Arabs, who kept 
reciting them night and day. 

When we read the account of pre-Islamic worship at Mecca 
we realize how many of the ancient customs persist in Islam. 
The principal idols of Arabia were the following : 

Hobal was in the form of a man and came from Syria ; he 
was the god of rain and had a high place of honor. 

Wadd was the god of the firmament. Special prayers for 
rain and against eclipse were taught by Mohammed. 

Suwahj in the form of a woman, was said to be from ante 
diluvian times. 

Yaghuth had the shape of a lion. 

Yafook was in the form of a horse, and was worshiped in 
Yemen. (Bronze images of this idol are found in ancient 
tombs and are still used as amulets.) 

Nasr was the eagle god. 

El Uzza, identified by some scholars with Venus, was 
worshiped at times under the form of an acacia tree (cf. 
Tree-worship by Moslems). 

Allat was the chief idol of the tribe of Thakif at Taif who 
tried to compromise with Mohammed to accept Islam if he 
would not destroy their god for three years. The name ap 
pears to be the feminine of Allah. 

Manat was a huge stone worshiped as an altar by several 
tribes. 

Duwar was the virgin s idol and young women used to go 
around it in procession ; hence its name. 

Isaf and Naila were idols that stood near Mecca on the hills 
of Saf a and Mirwa ; the visitation of these popular shrines is 
now a part of the Moslem pilgrimage, i. e., they perpetuate 
ancient idolatrous rites. 

Hdbhab was a large stone on which camels were slaugh 
tered. In every Moslem land sacred-stones, sacred-trees, etc., 



6 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

abound; in most cases these were formerly shrines of pagan 
(in some cases, of Christian) sanctity. 

" Even in the higher religions," says Warneck, " and in the 
heathenism that exists in Christendom, we find numerous 
usages of animistic origin. Buddhism, Confucianism and 
Mohammedanism have nowhere conquered this most tenacious 
of all forms of religion ; they have not even entered into con 
flict with it; it is only overcome by faith in Jesus Christ." 
Therefore these many superstitions can now no longer be 
styled anti-Mohammedan, although they conflict in many re 
spects with the original doctrines of Islam. A religion is not 
born full-grown any more than a man, and if on attaining a 
ripe maturity it has cast off the form of its early youth past 
recognition, we cannot deny it its right to this transforma 
tion, as it is part and parcel of the scheme of nature. 

" A custom or idea does not necessarily stand condemned 
according to the Moslem standard," writes Hurgronje, " even 
though in our minds there can be no shadow of doubt of its 
pagan origin. If, for example, Mohammedan teaching is 
able to regard some popular custom as a permissible enchant 
ment against the devil or against jinns hostile to mankind, 
or as an invocation of the mediation of a prophet or saint 
with God, then it matters not that the existence of these ma 
lignant spirits is actually only known from pagan sources, nor 
does any one pause to inquire whether the saint in question is 
but a heathen god in a new dress, or an imaginary being whose 
name but serves to legitimate the existing worship of some 
object of popular reverence." 6 Some writers go so far as to 
say that Animism lies at the root of all Moslem thinking and 
all Moslem theology. " The Moslem," says Gottfried Simon, 
" is naturally inclined to Animism ; his Animism does not run 
counter to the ideal of his religion. Islam is the classic ex 
ample of the way in which the non-Christian religions do not 
e " The Achenese," pp. 287-8. 



ISLAM AKD ANIMISM 7 

succeed in conquering Animism. This weakness in face of 
the supreme enemy of all religious and moral progress bears 
a bitter penalty. Among the animistic peoples Islam is more 
and more entangled in the meshes of Animism. The con 
queror is, in reality, the conquered. Islam sees the most 
precious article of its creed, the belief in God, and the most 
important of its religious acts, the profession of belief, 
dragged in the mire of animistic thought; only in animistic 
guise do they gain currency among the common people. In 
stead of Islam raising the people, it is itself degraded. Is 
lam, far from delivering heathendom from the toils of Ani 
mism, is itself deeply involved in them. Animism emerges 
from its struggle for the soul of a people, modernized it is 
true, but more powerful than ever, elegantly tricked out and 
buttressed by theology. Often it is scarcely recognizable in 
its refined Arabian dress, but it continues as before to sway 
the people; it has received divine sanction." 

Other writers express a still stronger opinion. " Moslem 
ritual, instead of bringing a man to God," writes Dr. Adri- 
ani, " serves as a drag net for Animism," and evidence con 
firms this from Celebes where the Mohammedan is more su 
perstitious even than the heathen. " Islam has exercised 
quite a different influence upon the heathen from what we 
should expect. It has not left him as he was, nor has it tem 
pered his Animism. Rather it has relaid the old animistic 
foundations of the heathen s religion and run up a light, ar 
tistic superstructure upon it of Moslem customs." 7 

While Moslems profess to believe in one God and repeat 
His glorious incommunicable attributes in their daily wor 
ship, they everywhere permit this glorious doctrine to be 
buried under a mass of pagan superstitions borrowed either 
originally from the demon-worship of the Arabs, the Hindu 

7 " The Progress and Arrest of Islam in Sumatra," Gottfried Simon, 
pp. 157-9. 



8 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

gods, or the animistic practices of Malaysia and Central 
Africa. Regarding the thirty million Moslems of the Dutch 
East Indies Wilkinson well says : " The average Malay 
may be said to look upon God as upon a great king or gov 
ernor, mighty, of course, and just, but too remote a power to 
trouble himself about a villager s petty affairs; whereas the 
spirits of the district are comparable to the local police, who 
may be corrupt and prone to error, but who take a most ab 
sorbing personal interest in their radius of influence, and 
whose ill-will has to be avoided at all costs." 

At first consideration one would imagine that the stern 
monotheism of Islam the very intolerance of Semitic be 
lief in Allah would prevent compromise with polytheism. 
The facts are, however, to the contrary. " Belief in spirits 
of all sorts is neither peculiar to Acheh nor in conflict with 
the teaching of Islam," says Dr. Snouck Hurgronje. " Ac 
tual worship of these beings in the form of prayer might seri 
ously imperil monotheism, but such worship is a rare ex 
ception in Acheh. The spirits most believed in are hostile to 
mankind and are combated by exorcism; the manner in 
which this is done in Acheh, as in Arabia and other Moham 
medan countries is at variance in many respects with the 
orthodox teaching. Where, however, the Achenese calls in 
the help of these spirits or of other methods of enchantment 
in order to cause ill-fortune to his fellow-man, he does so with 
the full knowledge that he is committing a sin." The mis 
sionary, Gottfried Simon, goes even further when he says : 
" The pioneer preaching of the Mohammedan idea of God 
finds a hearing all the more easily because it does not essen 
tially rise above the level of Animistic ideas ; for the Moham 
medan does not bring the heathen something absolutely new 
with his doctrine of God ; his idea of God correlates itself to 
existing conceptions. Animism is really the cult of spirits 
and the souls of the departed. Yet spirit worship has not 



ISLAM AND ANIMISM 9 

been able to entirely obliterate the idea of God." 8 He goes 
on to show that among all the tribes of Sumatra, the images 
which are incorrectly called idols are either pictures to scare 
away evil spirits by their ugliness, or soul-carriers, that is to 
say, pictures into which soul-stuff has been introduced by 
some kind of manipulation; they therefore either introduce 
soul-stuff into the house (soul-stuff = life power, life-fluid, 
hence a material conception) and with it a blessing, or by an 
increase of soul-stuff they ensure protection against diseases 
and spirits. The first group might perhaps best be called 
amulets, or when they are worshiped and given food, fet 
ishes; and the second group talismans. 

In Skeat s " Malay Magic " 9 it is shown that just as in 
the language of the Malays one can pick out Arabic words 
from the main body of native vocabulary, so in their popular 
religious customs Mohammedan ideas overlie a mass of orig 
inal pagan notions. " The Malays of the Peninsula are 
Sunni Muhammadans of the school of Shafi i, and nothing, 
theoretically speaking, could be more correct and orthodox 
(from the point of view of Islam) than the belief which they 
profess. " But the beliefs which they actually hold are an 
other matter altogether, and it must be admitted that the 
Mohammedan veneer which covers their ancient superstitions 
is very often of the thinnest description. The inconsistency 
in which this involves them is not, however, as a rule realized 
by themselves. Beginning their invocations with the ortho 
dox preface : In the name of God, the merciful, the com 
passionate/ and ending them with an appeal to the Creed: 
There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the Apostle of 
God/ they are conscious of no impropriety in addressing the 
intervening matter to a string of Hindu Divinities, Demons, 

" The Progress and Arrest of Islam in Sumatra," Gottfried Simon, 
London, pp. 48-51. 
9 Skeat s " Malay Magic," p. xiii. 



Ghosts and Nature Spirits, with a few Angels and Prophets 
thrown in, as the occasion may seem to require." 

The very wide extent of Animism is often not realized. 
This belief is the living, working creed of over half the human 
race. All South, Central and West African tribes are Ani- 
mists, except where Animism has been dispossessed by Chris 
tianity. The Mohammedanism of Africa is largely mingled 
with it. It is the faith of Madagascar. North and South 
American Indians knew no other creed when Columbus 
landed, and the uncivilized remnant still profess it. The 
islanders of the Pacific and the aborigines of Australia are 
Animists. In Borneo and the Malay Archipelago it is 
strong, although a good deal affected by Hinduism. Even in 
China and Japan its adherents are numbered by millions. 
In Burma it has been stated that the nominal Buddhism of 
the country is in reality only a thin veneer over the real 
religion, which is Animism. In India, while the Census Re 
ports record only eight and a half million as Animists, yet 
there are probably more than ten times that number whose 
Hinduism displays little else, and even the Mohammedans in 
many places are affected by it. 

There is no agreement among scholars regarding the or 
igin of Animism. According to a writer in the Encyclopaedia 
Britannica, " Animism may have arisen out of or simultane 
ously with animatism as a primitive explanation of many dif 
ferent phenomena; if animatism was originally applied to 
non-human or inanimate objects, animism may from the out 
set have been in vogue as a theory of the nature of men. 
Lists of phenomena from the contemplation of which the sav 
age was led to believe in Animism have been given by Dr. 
Tylor, Herbert Spencer, Mr. Andrew Lang and others; an 
animated controversy arose between these writers as to the 
priority of their respective lists. Among these phenomena 
are : trance and unconsciousness, sickness, death, clairvoyance, 



ISLAM AND ANIMISM 11 

dreams, apparitions of the dead, wraiths, hallucinations, 
echoes, shadows and reflections." According to this theory 
evolution accounts for the growth of religious ideas. But all 
are not in accord with this theory ; it is opposed to the Scrip 
tures. " A dispassionate study of heathen religions," says 
Warneck, " confirms the view of Paul that heathenism is a 
fall from a better knowledge of God. In earlier days hu 
manity had a greater treasure of spiritual goods. But the 
knowledge of God s eternal power and divinity was neglected. 
The Almighty was no longer feared or worshiped; depend 
ence upon Him was renounced; and this downward course 
was continued till nothing but a dim presentiment of Him 
was left. The creature stepped into the place of the Crea 
tor, and the vital power, the soul-stuff and the spirits of the 
dead came to be worshiped." 10 This view is not exploded 
by science, for the Encyclopaedia Britannica concludes its dis 
cussion on the subject by saying : " Even, therefore, if we 
can say that at the present day the gods are entirely spiritual, 
it is clearly possible to maintain that they have been spiritual 
ized pari passu with the increasing importance of the ani 
mistic view of nature and of the greater prominence of 
eschatological beliefs. The animistic origin of religion is 
therefore not proven." 

Aside from the question of origin we return to its con 
tent. It is in its teaching regarding man s soul and the su 
preme importance of the immaterial that Animism affords a 
point of contact with such words of Christ as " What shall it 
profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own 
soul." It is the loss of the soul, the spirit, the invisible life- 
principle that the Animist fears: but this fear brings him 
into a life-long bondage to superstitions. 

Among the Basutos in Africa it is held that a man walk- 

10 " The Living Christ and Dying Heathenism," p. 103. Compare also 
Ellinwood s "Oriental Religions and Christianity," p. 225. 



12 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

ing by the brink of a river may lose his life if his shadow 
falls on the water, for a crocodile may seize it and draw 
him in; in Tasmania, North and South America is found 
the conception that the soul is somehow identical with the 
shadow of a man. For some of the Red Indians the Roman 
custom of receiving the breath of a dying man was no mere 
pious duty but a means of ensuring that his soul was trans 
ferred to a new body. Other familiar conceptions identify 
the soul with the liver or the heart, with the reflected figure 
seen in the pupil of the eye and with the blood. Although 
the soul is often distinguished from the vital principle, there 
are many cases in which a state of unconsciousness is ex 
plained as due to the absence of the soul ; in South Australia 
wilyamarraba (without soul) is the word used for insensible. 
So too the autohypnotic trance of the magician or shaman is 
regarded as due to his visit to distant regions or the nether 
world, of which he brings back an account. 

" In many parts of the world it is held that the human 
body is the seat of more than one soul; in the island of Nias 
four are distinguished, the shadow and the intelligence, which 
die with the body, a tutelary spirit, termed Itegoe, and a sec 
ond which is carried on the head." " Just as among western 
nations the ghost of a dead person is held to haunt the church 
yard or the place of death, although more orthodox ideas may 
be held by the same person as to the nature of a future life, 
so the savage, more consistently, assigns different abodes to 
the multiple souls with which he credits man. Of the four 
souls of a Dakota Indian one is held to stay with the corpse, 
another in the village, a third goes into the air, while the 
fourth goes to the land of souls, where its lot may depend on 
its rank in this life, its sex, mode of death or sepulture, on the 
due observance of funeral ritual, or many other points. 
From the belief in the survival of the dead arose the practice 
of offering food, lighting fires, etc., at the grave, at first, 



ISLAM AND ANIMISM 13 

maybe, as an act of friendship or filial piety, later as an act of 
worship. The simple offering of food or shedding of blood 
at the grave develops into an elaborate system of sacrifice; 
even where ancestor-worship is not found, the desire to pro 
vide the dead with comforts in the future life may lead to the 
sacrifice of wives, slaves, animals, etc., to the breaking or 
burning of objects at the grave or to the provision of the ferry 
man s toll, a coin put in the mouth of the corpse to pay the 
traveling expenses of the soul. But all is not finished with 
the passage of the soul to the land of the dead ; the soul may 
return to avenge its death by helping to discover the murderer, 
or to wreak vengeance for itself ; there is a widespread belief 
that those who die a violent death become malignant spirits 
and endanger the lives of those who come near the haunted 
spot ; the woman who dies in child-birth becomes a pontianak, 
and threatens the life of human beings; and man resorts to 
magical or religious means of repelling his spiritual dan 
gers." n 

It is clear from the beliefs of the non-Mohammedans of 
Malaysia that all things, organic and inorganic were once 
credited with the possession of souls. This primitive Ani 
mism survives most distinctly in the well-known Moslem 
Malay ceremonies connected with the rice-soul at seed-time or 
harvest, but it is also traceable in a large number of other 
practices. We are told that whenever a peasant injures any 
thing he must propitiate its personality, its living essence, its 
soul, its tutelary spirit call it what we will. If the hunter 
slays a deer he must excuse himself ; it is not the man but the 
gun or the knife or the leaden bullet that must answer for 
the deed. Should a man wish to mine or to set up a house, he 
must begin by propitiating the spirits of the turned-up soil ; 
should he desire to fish, he will address the spirits of the sea 
and even the fish themselves ; should he contemplate planting, 

11 " Encyclopaedia Britannica," art. Animism. 



14 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

he begins by acknowledging that rice has a living essence of 
its own which he is bound to treat with respect. In short, he 
considers that all nature is teeming with life and that his own 
soul is walking in the midst of invisible foes. 

All of these evil spirits find worshipers among Moslems in 
the Malay States to-day. The pawang or witch-doctor and 
not the Moslem priest is called in to exorcise them. This he 
does with old-fashioned magic with admixture of the names of 
Allah and Mohammed. " The pawang or witch-doctor is in 
great demand by orthodox Mohammedan Malays, especially 
in times of sickness, although he often appeals openly to Siva 
or uses such language as the following : 

" I am the equal of the Archangels, 
I sit upon God s Judgment-seat, 
And lean on the pillar of God s Throne of Glory." 12 

In reading a standard work on Animism by Kruijt, I 
noted the following particulars in which Animism and Islam 
agree. The correspondence is the more remarkable because 
my experiences have been limited to East Arabia and Egypt. 
That is to say Islam in its cradle already had these features 
of paganism or primitive Animism: 

The putting of blood upon the door-posts and the founda 
tions when a house is being built (p. 23). The special im 
portance of the placenta as the double of the child (p. 26). 
Hair as the seat of the soul (pp. 26-37). Among the pagans 
there are ceremonies connected with the shaving of the hair 
in infancy. The Tor ad j as nail bits of the human scalp or 
shreds of hair to the palm trees to make them more fruitful. 
The same is done with the hair of infants. When a mother 
leaves her child for a journey she ties some of her own hair 
to that of the child so that " the child believes the mother is 
still present." Hair offerings take place as in Islam. The 

12 Chas. E. G. Tisdall in " The Missionary Review of the World," 1916. 



ISLAM AND ANIMISM 15 

finger nails are connected with the soul and have spiritual 
value (p. 38). Also the teeth (p. 39). Spittle, perspira 
tion, tears and the other excretions of the body all contain 
soul-stuff (pp. 40-47) and one may see in all the supersti 
tions of the animist the same practices that are related of 
Mohammed the Prophet and his companions in Moslem 
Tradition. (See references given later.) The use of urine 
as medicine is not more common among pagans of Celebes 
than in Moslem lands where the practice of Mohammed the 
Prophet and his teaching is still supreme. One needs only 
to consult books like Ed Damiri, or Tub-en-Nabawi. The 
use of blood of animals, of saliva, of blowing, spitting and 
stroking in order to bring benefit to the patient is universal 
among animists; it was also common in early Islam and is 
to-day. It is recorded in early tradition that Mohammed 
practiced cures in this manner. In Java and Sumatra spit 
ting is a common method for curing the sick (pp. 62-63). 
Among Animists amulets and anklets are worn to keep the 
soul in the body ; at the time of death the nose, the ears, the 
mouth, etc., are carefully plugged up to prevent the soul 
escaping. These customs at the time of burial are universal 
also in Islam (p. 76). 

Among Animists sneezing is considered unfortunate, for 
then the soul tries to escape from the body; yawning is on 
the other hand a good sign, for the breath comes inward. 
Perhaps for this reason the Moslems everywhere ask forgive 
ness of God when they sneeze, but praise Him when they 
yawn (pp. 92-93). 

The belief that souls of men may inhabit animals such as 
dogs, cats, gazelles, snakes, etc., is Animistic. The same is 
taught in Moslem books, for example in " The Arabian 
Nights," which gives us a faithful picture of popular Islam. 
The bones of animals contain soul matter and are therefore 
dreaded by the animist or used for special purposes of good 



16 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

or ill (pp. 128). We may connect with this the belief of 
the Moslems that bones are the food of jinn and must not be 
touched. Mr. Kruijt shows in Chapter VI of his book 
(p. 157) that soul-stuff exists in certain metals, iron, gold, 
silver, lead. These are therefore powerful protectors against 
evil spirits. Iron objects are used to defend infants in the 
cradle (p. 161). The same practice is carried on in Arabia, 
Egypt, Persia and Morocco. 

The soul after death takes its flight into the animal kingdom 
(pp. 171-180) ; especially changing to dwell in butterflies, 
birds, mice, lizards, snakes. May we not connect with this 
the teaching of Islam that the souls of Moslem martyrs go 
into the crops of green birds until the resurrection day ? Or 
closer yet is the common belief in metempsychosis based upon 
Koran legends, developed in the commentaries. Does not 
the Koran teach that Jews were changed into apes and Tradi 
tion tell us that Jews and Christians were changed into hogs ? 

When we read the pages of Kruijt on the Fetish (pp. 197- 
232) we are struck in almost every paragraph with parallel 
beliefs current in Islam. Stones are sacred because they 
contain spirits. Trees are sacred for the same reason : " If 
a man has been successful in fighting, it has not been his 
natural strength of arm, quickness of eye, or readiness of 
resource that has won success; he has certainly got the mana 
of a spirit or of some deceased warrior to empower him, 
conveyed in an amulet of a stone round his neck, or a tuft of 
leaves in his belt, in a tooth hung upon a finger of his bow 
hand, or in the form of words with which he brings super 
natural assistance to his side" (p. 201). Word for word 
this might be said of Moslems to-day. 

With regard to stone- worship Kruijt tells us of sacred 
stones in the Indian Archipelago (pp. 204210) which re 
ceive worship because they fell from heaven (cf. " The Black 



ISLAM AND ANIMISM 17 

Stone at Mecca ") or because of their special shape. Among 
the Dajaks of Serawak, Chalmers tells of the interior of a 
Lundu house at one end of which were collected the relics of 
the tribe. " These consisted of several round-looking stones, 
two deers heads, and other inferior trumpery. The stones 
turn black if the tribe is to be beaten in war, and red if to 
be victorious ; any one touching them would be sure to die ; 
if lost, the tribe would be ruined." (p. 209.) The Black 
Stone at Mecca is also believed to have changed color. 

Tree-worship, by hanging amulets on the tree to produce 
fertility or bring blessing, is common in Celebes and New 
Guinea (p. 215) not only, but in Arabia, Egypt and Morocco. 
The effect of all this, even on the conception of God in Islam, 
is of importance. Here also there are points of contact as 
well as points of contrast. " What has Animism made of 
God," asks Warneck, " the holy and gracious Creator and 
Governor of the world ? It has divested Him of His omni 
potence, His love, His holiness and righteousness and has 
put Him out of all relation with man. The idea of God has 
become a mere decoration ; His worship a caricature. Spirits 
inferior to men, whose very well-being is dependent on men s 
moods, are feared instead of the Almighty; the rule of an 
inexorable fate is substituted for the wise and good govern 
ment of God. Absurd lies are believed concerning the life 
after death, and efforts are made to master the malevolent 
spirits by a childish magic." Is this not true of Arabia also ? 

Regarding the impotence of Mohammedanism to reject 
animistic influences which have dragged down to its lowest 
levels the ideas of God, Warneck goes on to say, " Moham 
medanism even with its higher idea of God, cannot introduce 
into the heathenism which it influences any development for 
the better. The heathen, who have passed over to Islam, 
quietly retain their demon-worship. Instead of the purer 



18 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

idea of God raising them, they drag it down to their own 
level, a proof of the tremendous down-drag which animistic 
religions possess" (p. 100). 

" Mohammedanism," he says in another place, " has been 
unable to remove the fear of evil spirits. On the contrary, 
it assists in the expulsion of the spirits by its malims. It 
allows the people to go on worshiping ancestors, and adds 
new spirits of Arabic origin to those already worshiped. 
Islam nowhere appears among Animists as a deliverer " 
(pp. 114-115.) 

The missionary is not so much concerned after all with 
the fact of Animism in Islam as he is with the utter failure of 
Islam to meet Animistic practices and overcome them. 
Gottfried Simon has shown conclusively that Islam cannot 
uproot pagan practices or remove the terror of spirits and 
demon-worship in Sumatra and Java. 13 This is true every 
where. In its conflict with Animism Islam has not been the 
victor but the vanquished. Christianity on the contrary, as 
Harnack has shown, did win in its conflict with demon- 
worship and is winning to-day. 14 

Animism in Islam offers points of contact and contrast that 
may well be used by the missionary. Christianity s message 
and power must be applied to the superstitions of Islam and 
especially to these pagan practices. The fear of spirits can 
be met by the love of the Holy Spirit ; the terror of death by 
the repose and confidence of the Christian; true exorcism is 
not found in the zar but in prayer; so-called demonic pos 
session can often be cured by medical skill ; and superstition 
rooted out by education. Jesus Christ is the Lord of the 
Unseen World, especially the world of demons and angels. 
Christ points out the true ladder of Jacob and the angels of 

is " The Progress and Arrest of Islam in Sumatra," London, 1912. 
i* Harnack : " The Mission and Expansion of Christianity," Vol. I, 
Book II, Chapter III. 



ISLAM AND ANIMISM 19 

God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man He 
is the sole channel of communication with the other world. 
With Him as our living, loving Saviour and Friend we have 
no fear of " the arrow that flieth hy day nor of the pestilence 
that walketh in darkness." 

In order to guide the student for further study in regard to Ani 
mism and Islam we give the keys that will unlock the subject; for if 
Moslems know tKat we have some idea of their superstition they will 
tell us more. The subject needs thorough investigation, especially in 
Egypt. The best book on Animism is by A. C. Kruijt, a Dutch mis 
sionary in the East Indies, and his division of the subject is very sug 
gestive. I here translate the table of contents of his book. Every sub 
ject leads out into a wide field of thought and investigation. 

I. ANIMISM. 

(1) The Personal soul-stuff of Man found especially in the 
Head, the Intestines, the Blood, Placenta, Hair, Teeth, 
Saliva, Sweat, Tears, Urine, etc. 

(2) Means by which this soul-stuff is appropriated, e.g., 
Spitting, Blowing, Blood-wiping, and Touch. 

(3) The Personal Soul in Man : The Shadow, the Dream, The 
Escape of the Soul through Sneezing, Yawning, etc. 
The Were Wolf and the Witch. 

(4) The Soul-stuff of Animals. 

(5) Soul-stuff of Plants, Sacred Plants. 

(6) Soul-stuff of Inanimate Objects Metals, Iron, Gold, etc. 

(7) The Transmigration of the Soul, especially in Animals 
The Firefly, the Butterfly, the Bird, the Mouse, the Snake, 
the Lizard. 

(8) Special honor paid to Animals, Fetishes, Stones and Amu 
lets. 

II. SPIBITISM, OB THE DOCTRINE OF THE SOUL. 

( 1 ) The Living Man in regard to his Soul, its Nature. 

(2) The Life of the Soul after Death It remains in the 
Grave or in the House Its Journey to Soul Land. 

(3) The Worship of Souls Either through a medium or 
without a medium In Special Places or in Special Ob 
jects. The Priesthood that gives communication with 
the souls of the Departed. 

III. DEMONOLOGY. 

( 1 ) Introduction on the Creator and Creation. 

(2) The Spiritual Part of Creation. 

(3) Animals as Messengers of the Gods. 



20 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

(4) Predestination. 

( 5 ) Honor of man Saint-worship. 

( 6 ) Demi-gods. 

(7) The Home of the Gods. 

(8) Agricultural Gods and Sea Gods. 

(9) Tree Spirits and other Demons. 

(10) How demons show themselves and how one drives them 
away. 



CHAPTER II 

ANIMISM IN THE CREED AND THE USE OF THE ROSAKY 

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 prac 
tices 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 interpreta 
tion. " I believe in Allah and His angels, and His books, 
and His prophets, and the Resurrection and the Predestina 
tion 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 wor 
ship 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. Accord 
ing to the Koran and Tradition man is created with a double- 
ego or two souls (the Qarina) just as in the pagan mytholo 
gies. The beliefs regarding the relation of the soul to the 
body after death, and the doctrine of metempsychosis re 
semble the beliefs of Animism. Their belief in how the spirit 

leaves the body ; the benefit of speedy burial ; the questioning 

21 



22 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

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 re 
lated 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 " Repen 
tance " is read, etc., etc. 1 No religion has ever made so much 

i Cf. Even Al Ghazali who is quoted in book of " Wird," Mujarabat of 
Ahmed Dirbi, p. 80. 



ANIMISM IN THE CREED 



23 



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 biblio- 
mancy, 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 danger 
ously 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. 2 

Just as Moslems to-day use special names of God and 
special chapters as " cure-alls " so did the Jews of the Dis 
persion. The following verses in the original Hebrew were 
used on amulets : 



Genesis 



I: 1 



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). 

To lighten child-birth (M. V. 59). 
On using a divining rod (M. V. 80). 
Against the crying of children 
(M. V. 64). 

Against danger on a journey 
(M. V. 34). 

To shorten one s way on a journey 
(M. V. 23) ; in the lying-in room 
(M. V. 80). 

For protection against a fierce dog. 
(For greater security, the traveler 

2 " The Jewish Encyclopedia," Vol. Ill, pp. 202-203. 



XXI 

XXIV: 

XXV: 



1 

2 

14 



XXXII: 31 



XLIX:18 



Exodus 



XI: 7 



24 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 



XI: 8 
XV: 2 
XV: 16 



XVII: 16 

XXII :1T 

XXXIII: 23 

XXXIV: 6 

Lev. I: 1 

Num. XI: 2 



Deut. 



XI: 12 
XXIII: 23 

VI: 4-9 
XXIII: 4 



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.) 

To lighten child-birth (M. V. 59). 

To shorten one s way (M. V. 24). 

To shorten the way (M. V. 23) ; to 

insure safety in a court of law 

(M. V. 32) ; against fear (M. V. 

65). 

Against bleeding (M. V. 45). 

In the lying-in room (M. V. 91). 

Against, witchcraft (M. V. 41). 

To shorten the way (M. V. 23). 

The same (M. V. 23). 

Against fire (M. V. 10, 11; S. Z. 

27). 

Against the evil eye (M. V. 41). 

In lying-in rooms (M. V. 91). 

Against fever (M. V. 50). 

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 

s " Jewish Encyclopedia," p. 203. 



25 

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 Saf ar 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. 



26 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

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)." 5 

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 char 
acter 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 medi 
cine 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." 

s " The Achenese," p. 206. 



ANIMISM IN THE CKEED 27 

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 minia 
ture, 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 de 
posited 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 title- 
page 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 



28 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

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 " innova 
tions," 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 sup 
press such customs as it is in his power to do so." 

" The appearance of the rosary," says Goldziher, to quote 



ANIMISM IN THE CREED 29 

again from his paper, " and the way in which it had been 
adopted by the faithful of the Sunna, did not pass unper- 
ceived 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 hun 
dred times they recited the formula of the Takbir. Then he 
used to tell them: Repeat 100 Tdhlil!" 1 And they re 
cited 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 Allahu Akbar, God is great. 

7 Tahlil to repeat La, ilaha ilia Allah (The Creed). 

s Tasbih to repeat Subhan Allah, God be praised. 



30 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

have kept account of their sins and did you not tell them 
that their good actions would not have been in vain ? " So 
we together repaired to the mosque and we soon came across 
one 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 damna 
tion? 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 your 
selves." " 

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 ana- 
mil) ; 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 Abu 



ANIMISM IN THE CREED 31 

Huraira 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, i 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 



32 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

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 medi 
tations connected with it, can only be explained by the opera 
tion of specifically Christian ideas." 9 

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. 



ANIMISM IN THE CREED 33 

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 dis 
approval, and the Eve bead uncertainty, because woman s 
judgment is fickle. This use of the rosary is almost uni 
versal 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 hold 
ing 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 



34 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

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, l We have and add, i 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 con 
sidered 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 num 
ber of beads remaining over after the recitation ; if three re 
main 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 
counting." 

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, 



35 

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 chil 
dren. 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, some 
times 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 pro 
duce 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. 



36 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

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 



ANIMISM IN THE CREED 37 

has been pierced by the lance and thus separated from the 
body, these cease. Izra il is said to be frightful in appear 
ance 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 f 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 ani 
mals." ll 

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. 



38 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

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." 12 

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 re 
lates 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 com 
munity 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. 



ANIMISM IN THE CKEED 39 

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 con 
ception 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 

is " Moslem Festivities," by Mohammed Ameer All Calcutta, 1892, 
p. 42. 



40 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

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 char 
acteristic lahdi in all Moslem lands, can only be explained by 
beliefs which are animistic. Coffins are never used for bur 
ial, 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, 
i* " 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. 



42 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

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 ir 
resistible 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. 



CHAPTER III 

ANIMISTIC ELEMENTS IN MOSLEM PRAYER 

ONE of the most impressive rites of Islam is the daily 
prayer ritual. It has elicited the admiration of many who 
have observed it, and, ignorant of the real character and con 
tent of Moslem prayer interpreted it entirely from the Chris 
tian standpoint. What is understood by prayer, however, in 
Christendom, and what the Moslem calls by the same name 
are to a degree distinct conceptions. In the punctilious re 
gard of position, prostration, ablution and the peculiar ges 
tures and movements of the hand, the head and the body it is 
clear that prayer is more than a spiritual exercise. Moslems 
themselves are at a loss to explain the reason for many of the 
details which they have learned from their youth. The 
various sects in orthodox Islam can be distinguished by the 
casual observer most easily in the method of ablution and 
in the prostration of the prayer ritual. 

Theodore Noldeke of Germany, and the Dutch scholar 
Prof. A. J. Wensinck have made a special study of the origin 
and detail of the prayer ritual, the latter more especially of 
the Moslem laws of ablution. 1 2 Further study of the sources 
given and long experience in many Moslem lands have led to 
the following observations and conclusions on the subject. 

In the preparation of the five daily prayers, especially in 
the process of ablution the object of the Moslem seems to 
be to free himself from everything that has connection with 

i 2 Der Islam, Band IV, Animisme und Daemonenglaube. 
Der Islam, Band V, Heft I, " Die Entstehung der muslimischen 
Reinheitsgesetzebung," von A. J. Wenainck. 

43 



44 THE INFLUENCE OE ANIMISM ON ISLAM 




**** **** * * * * 



The " Paisa " or Restaurant board from China. 
This hangs over every place where pure (Moslem) 
food is sold. The Arabic inscriptions contain the 
text of the Koran regarding purity of food, the 
name of the shop-keeper and date, while in the 
center surrounding the ablution-vessel are words 
which signify the absolute ritual purity of all that 
is sold. 

It is significant that the Turkish flag appears 
with the Chinese flag at the top. 



ANIMISTIC ELEMENTS IN PRAYER 45 

supernatural powers or demons as opposed to the worship of 
the one true God. That is the reason for its supreme im 
portance. Wensinck tells us that these beliefs have little or 
nothing to do with bodily purity as such, but are intended to 
free the worshiper from the presence or influence of evil 
spirits. It is this demonic pollution which must be re 
moved. In two traditions from Muslim we read, " Said the 
Prophet : If any of you wakens up from sleep then let him 
blow his nose three times. For the devil spends the night in 
a man s nostrils. And again : " Said Omar ibn el- 
Khitab (may God have mercy on him) : A certain man 
performed ablution but left a dry spot on his foot. When 
the Prophet of God saw it he said : Go back and wash 
better, then he returned and came back to prayer. Said the 
Prophet of God : If a Moslem servant of God performs the 
ablution when he washes his face every sin which his face has 
committed is taken away by it with the water or with the 
last drop of water. And when he washes his hands the sin 
of his hands are taken away with the water or with the last 
drop of water. And when he washes his feet all the sins 
which his feet have committed are taken away with the water 
or with the last drop of water until he becomes pure from 
sin altogether. Goldziher has shown in one of his essays 
that, according to Semitic conception, water drives away 
demons. 

That ablution in Islam as taught by Mohammed to his 
disciples was originally not intended to remove physical un- 
cleanness but was a ceremonial precaution against spiritual 
evil, of demons, etc., is evident when we compare it with the 
ablutions practiced by pagan races in their ritual. For 
example, Skeat describes the bath ceremony as practiced at 
Perak : 

" Limes are used in Perak, as we use soap. When a Malay 
has resolved on having a really good scrub they are cut in 



46 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

two and squeezed (ramas) in the hand. In Penang a root 
called sintoJc is usually preferred to limes. When the body is 
deemed sufficiently cleansed, the performer, taking his stand 
facing the East, spits seven times, and then counts up to seven 
aloud. After the word Tujoh (seven) he throws away the 
remains of the limes or sintoTc to the West, saying aloud, 
Pergi-lah samua sial jambalang deripada badan aku ka pusat 
tasek Pawjangi, Misfortune and spirits of evil, begone from 
my body to the whirlpool of the lake Paujangi ! Then he 
throws (jurus) a few buckets of water over himself, and the 
operation is complete." 

" The ceremony just described is evidently a form of puri 
fication by water. Similar purificatory ceremonies form an 
integral part of Malay customs at birth, adolescence, mar 
riage, sickness, death, and in fact at every critical period of 
the life of a Malay." 3 

According to al-Bokhari the washings before prayer should 
always begin on the right side of the body and not on the 
left. Another tradition gives the value of the hairs of the 
Prophet when they fell in the washing-vessel. The Prophet 
used to wash his feet when he wore sandals by simply passing 
his hands over the outside of the sandals ; the object, there 
fore, cannot have been to cleanse impurity but to ward off 
demons. Another tradition is given as follows : According 
to Abd-el-Rahman, a man came to Omar ibn el-Khattab and 
said, " I am in a state of impurity and cannot find water." 
Ammar ibn Yasir said to Omar ibn el-Khattab, " Do you 
remember the day that you and I traveled together. You 
did not make your prayers, but I rolled myself in the sand 
and prayed. When I told the Prophet of this, he said, 
That was enough, and so saying he took some earth in his 
hands, blew on it and then rubbed his face and hands with 
it." 4 5 Abd-el-Rahma-n was witness when " Amar said to 

sSkeat s "Malay Magic," p. 278. 

45" Lea Traditions de Bokhari," by 0. Houdas, p. 126. 



ANIMISTIC ELEMENTS IN PRAYER 47 

Omar," " We were in a detachment and we were in a state of 
impurity, etc. . . ." and he uses the words : " he spat on his 
hands " instead of " he breathed." 

These two traditions from Bokhari also show the value 
ascribed to the animistic custom of blowing and spitting. 

There are a number of traditions regarding spitting in a 
mosque. It must in no case be done in front of any one, nor 
to the right hand but to the left. 6 According to Annas Ibn 
Malek, to spit in a mosque is a sin: one may expiate it by 
wiping up the spittle. Again, in entering a mosque one 
must put the right foot forward first for fear of evil conse 
quences. In the same way we are told that a man who was 
carrying arrows in his hand entered a mosque, and the 
Prophet cried : " Hold them by the point." The only 
reason for this command, as is shown by its connection, is 
that the points of the arrows or other sharp instruments 
might arouse jinn or damage the value of prayer. We also 
find traditions concerning such Animistic practices as cross 
ing the fingers or the limbs at the time of prayer. 

In regard to the ritual ablution, (ghasl), after certain 
natural functions, Wensinck remarks, " Das Geschlechtsle- 
ben stand in semitischen Heidentum unter den Schutze 
gewisser Gotter and war ihnen somit geweiht. Die mann- 
lichen und weiblichen Prostituierten bei den Palastinichen 
und babylonichen Heiligtumern sind ja bekaunt genug. Ich 
brauche dariiber kein wort ze verlieren. Weil nun der 
betreffende Gott fur den Monotheismus Damon geworden ist, 
so ist auch sein Kult, das Geschlechtsleben, den Monotheismus 
damonisch." There are many traditions which assert a 
close relationship between sleep and the presence of Jinn. It 

Bokhari : Chap. 33. Cf. Muslim, Vol. I, 207 Arabic edition. " No 
one must enter or approach a mosque if he has eaten onion, or garlic, 
because the angels hate the smell as much as human beings do." Mus 
lim: Vol. I: 210. 



48 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

is during sleep that the soul, according to animistic belief, 
leaves the body. Therefore, one must waken those who 
sleep, gently, lest the soul be prevented from returning. 
Not only during sleep, but during illness demons are present ; 
and in Egypt it is considered unfortunate for any one who is 
ceremonially unclean to approach a patient suffering from 
ophthalmia. 

The Moslem when he prays is required, according to tradi 
tion, to cover his head, especially the back part of the skull. 
This according to Wensinck is also due to animistic belief; 
for evil spirits enter the body by this way. Goldziher has 
shown that the name given to this part of the body (al qafa) 
has a close relation to the kind of poetry called Qafiya, which 
originally meant a poem to wound the skull, or in other words, 
an imprecatory poem. It is therefore for the dread of evil 
powers which might enter the mind that the head must be 
covered during prayer. References are found to this prac 
tice both in Moslem tradition and in the Talmud, on which 
they are based. Again it is noteworthy that those places 
which are ritually unclean, such as closets, baths, etc., are 
considered the habitation of demons. 

According to tradition a Moslem cannot perform his prayer 
without a Sutra or some object placed between himself and 
the Kibla (the direction of Mecca) in order, " that nothing 
may harm him by passing in between." Of this custom we 
speak later. The call of the Muezzin according to Al-Bokhari 
drives away the demons and Satan. 7 No one dares to recite 
the Koran, which is a holy book, without first repeating the 
words, " I take refuge in God against Satan the accursed." 
We may add to all this what Mittwoch has shown in his 
book " Zur Entstehungsgeschichte des islamischen Gebets und 
Kultus," that the Takbir itself (that is the cry Allahu ATcbar, 
God is greater), one of the elements of daily prayer, is a cry 

i Bokhari : Kitab al Adhan : Section IV. 



ANIMISTIC ELEMENTS IN PKAYER 49 

against demons. The raising of the hands during prayer and 
the movement of the forefinger is perhaps to ward off the 
spirits of the air, 8 or it may have a connection with the 
Qanut. Others say that the spreading out or the stretching 
forth of the fingers and arms is to prevent any idol or thing of 
blasphemy being hidden between the fingers or under the 
armpits, a ruse used formerly by the unbelievers and dis 
covered by the Angel Gabriel. 

Among the Arabs before the time of Mohammed and among 
Moslems to-day, sneezing, especially during prayer, is an 
ominous sign and should be accompanied by a pious ejacula 
tion. This also is clearly animistic; among the tribes of 
Malaysia the general belief is that when one sneezes, the soul 
leaves the body. At the close of the prayer, as is well-known, 
the worshiper salutes the two angels on his right and left 
shoulders. When one sneezes one should say, " I ask for 
giveness of God " ; when one yawns, however, the breath 
(soul) passes inward and one says, " Praise be to God." 

Not only the preparations for prayer and prayer itself but 
the times 9 of prayer have a distinct connection with the 
animistic belief. The noon-day prayer is never held at high 
noon but a short time after the sun reaches the meridian. 
Wensinck points out that this is due to the belief that the 
sun-god is really a demon and must not be worshiped by the 

8 I am told by my sheikh from Al-Azhar that according to Moslem 
tradition it is bad luck (Makruh) to drink water or any liquid while 
one is standing. If, however, one is compelled to drink standing one 
should move his big toe rapidly as this will ward off all harm. We 
find here the same superstitious custom of warding off evil spirits by 
moving the first toe up and down as that of the finger at the end of 
the ritual prayer. 

a Prayer is forbidden at three particular periods : at high noon be 
cause the devil is then in the ascendant; when the sun is rising be 
cause it rises between the horns of the devil, when the sun is at the set 
ting because it sets between the horns of the devil. ." Ibn Maja": Vol. 
I, p. 195. 



50 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

monotheist. According to al-Bokhari the Prophet postponed 
the noon-day prayer until after high noon for " the greatest 
heat of the day belongs to the heat of hell." Nor is it per 
mitted to pray shortly after sunrise for " the sun rises between 
the horns of the devil." According to Abu Huraira and 
Abdallah ibn Omar, the prophet of God said : " When it is 
excessively hot wait until it is cool to make your prayers, for 
intense heat comes from hell." 

Abu-Dzarr said: The Muezzin of the Prophet. had called 
for the noon-prayer. " Wait until it is cooler, wait until it 
is cooler, or wait . . ." said the Prophet. Then he added: 
" Great heat is of hell : so when it is excessively hot wait 
until it is cool, then make your prayers." Abou-Dzarr 10 
adds : " And we waited until we saw the shadow declining." 

That certain hours of the day are unlucky and must be 
guarded against is a pagan belief probably based on their fear 
of darkness. Maxwell, quoted by Skeat (page 15), says: 
" Sunset is the hour when evil spirits of all kinds have most 
power. In Perak, children are often called indoors at this 
time to save from unseen dangers. Sometimes, with the 
same object, a woman belonging to the house where there 
are young children, will chew Jcuniet terus (an evil-smelling 
root), supposed to be much disliked by demons of all kinds, 
and spit it out at seven different points as she walks round 
the house. 

The yellow glow which spreads over the western sky, 
when it is lighted up with the last rays of the dying sun, is 
called mambang kuning ( the yellow deity ), a term indica 
tive of the superstitious dread associated with this particular 
period." " 

In this connection it is curious to note that the unlucky 
times among the Malay people correspond exactly with the 

10 " Al-Bokhari," translated by Houdas (Paris, 1903), p. 190. 

11 Skeat s " Malay Magic," p. 15. 




INTERIOR COURT OF THE MOSQUE OF AL AZHAR, CAIRO 
In the upper left-hand corner of this university mosque where 6,000 stu 
dents receive instruction, one may see the old Moslem sun dial which 
indicates the hours of prayer. 



ANIMISTIC ELEMENTS IN PKAYEE 51 

periods appointed for Moslem prayer. Among the Malays 
each of these periods has a special meaning and a special 
guardian deity, one of the Hindu divinities. The table given 
corresponds very closely to the Moslem prayer schedule. 
" Perhaps the oldest and best known of the systems of lucky 
and unlucky times is the one called Katika Lima, or the Five 
Times. Under it the day is divided into five parts and five 
days form a cycle: to each of these divisions is assigned a 
name, the names being Maswara (Maheswara), Kala, S ri, 
Brahma, and Bisnu (Vishnu), which recur in the order 
shown in the following table or diagram: 12 

Morning Forenoon Noon Afternoon Evening 

(pagi) (tengah naik) (tengah hari) (tengah turun) (petang) 

1st day Maswara Kala S ri Brahma Bisnu 

2nd day Bisnu Maswara Kala S ri Brahma 

3rd day Brahma Bisnu Maswara Kala S ri 

4th day S ri Brahma liismi Maswara Kala 

5th day Kala S ri Brahma Bisnu Maswara 

The most interesting thing of all, however, is the tradition 
regarding the Sutra. The word means something that covers 
or protects ; from what is it a protection and why is it used ? 
The Commentaries do not explain what the Sutra really 
means but it is very clearly a protection against demons, as 
is shown by the traditions given. 13 

According to Ibn Omar, on the feast day (when the fast 
was broken) the Messenger of God gave him an order when he 
went out to bring him a stick and to stick it before him and 
it was before this stick that he made his prayers, while the 
faithful were ranged behind him. He did the same thing 
when he traveled and it is from this that the emirs took the 
custom. Other authorities say the Sutra of the Prophet was 
the short spear or the camel-saddle, or his camel when 
kneeling. 14 

12 Skeat s " Malay Magic," p. 545. 

is See "Muslim," Vol. I, pp. 190, 193, 194, and Zarkani: "Com. on 
al-Muwatta," Vol. I, p. 283. 

i* " Ibn Maja," Vol. I, p. 156, lines 10-12. 



52 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

A curious tradition is given by Abu Dawud on the au 
thority of Ibn Abbas who said, " I think the Apostle of God 
said, If one of you prays without a sutra (a thing set up by a 
praying person) before him, his prayer is apt to be annulled 
by a dog, or an ass, or a pig, or a Jew, or a Magi, or a 
menstruating woman; if they pass before him they ought 
to be punished on that account, with the pelting of 
stones. " 15 

Abu-Johaif a said : " The Prophet went out during the 
heat of the day and when he came to El-Batha and prayed 
two raJcas for the noon-prayer and the evening prayer, he 
stuck a pike before him and made his ablutions. The faith 
ful washed themselves with the rest of the water." 16 

The following tradition is most important as it shows what 
the Sutra originally meant. The reference to the demon is 
animistic : " Abu Salih es-Sam an said : I saw something 
that separated him from the crowd. A young man of the 
Bni Abu Mo ait trying to pass before him, Abu Said gave him 
a push full on the chest. The young man looked round for 
another way out and not finding any, he returned. Abu Said 
pushed him back still more violently. The young man cursed 
him and then went and told Merwan of Abu Said s conduct. 
The latter at this moment entered and Merwan said to him : 
" What is the matter with you, O Abu Said, that you thus 
treat one of your own religion ? " "I have heard the Prophet 
pronounce these words," answered Abu Said, " when one of 
you prays, let him place something before him which will 
separate him from the public, and if any one tries to pass 
between turn him away and if he refuse to leave let him use 
force, for it is a demon/ " 17 Muslim adds : 18 lt If any of 

IB Ad-Damiri s " Hayat Al-Hayawan," Vol. I, p. 708. 
is " Les Traductions de Bokhari," Houdas, p. 179. 
IT " Les Traductions Bokhari," Houdas, p. 181. 
i " Muslim," Vol. I, p. 193. 



ANIMISTIC ELEMENTS IN PKAYER 53 

you pray do not allow any one to pass between himself and 
the Sutra for it protects from the demons." 

The Sutra or guard placed before the one in prayer is 
usually some object such as a stone or a stick placed at a 
certain distance from the one praying: i.e. about one foot 
beyond where his head would touch the ground. It is also a 
sign that none must pass before him, but never used except 
by men of mature years and serious mind, and then only in 
open or public places, never in a room or house-top. If stones 
are used they must never be less than three, otherwise it 
would seem as if the stone were the object of worship. 

There are cases in which passing before one at prayer is 
counted as sin either to the pray-er or to the one passing, i.e. : 

(a) If he who prays is obliged to pray in the public way, 
and there is no other way of passing except before him, there 
is sin neither to the pray-er or to the passer-by. 

(b) If he who prays chooses a public place in preference 
to one less exposed and one passes in front of him, who could 
as easily have gone behind, sin is accounted to both of them. 

(c) If he who prays chooses a public place in preference to 
one less exposed and the one who passes has no choice but to 
go in front of him sin is accounted to him who prays. 

(d) If he who prays chooses an unexposed place and some 
one deliberately passes in front when there is space behind, 
sin is accounted to the passer-by and not to him who prays. 

" The practices among the Shiah Moslems differ in some 
respects from those of the Sunnis," says Miss Holliday of 
Tabriz, Persia. " A Shiah about to pray takes his place 
looking toward the Kibla at Mecca ; if he be a strict Moslem 
he lays before him nearest the Kibla and where he can put 
his forehead upon it, the Muhr which is indispensable. It 
generally consists of earth from Kerbela, compressed into a 
small tablet and bearing Arabic inscriptions ; it is various in 
shape. If one has not this object, he can use a common 



54 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

stone, a piece of wood or a clod of earth ; in the baths they 
keep small pieces of wood for the convenience of worshipers. 
With regard to wood, they say all the trees in the world 
came from heaven, and their life is directly from God, so 
they are holy objects. The Kerbela talismans are called 
1 turbat as being made from holy earth from the tomb city 
of the Imam Hussain. On the side nearest him of the muhr 
the worshiper lays a small pocket comb, then next to himself 
the rosary. 

" After prayer, they point the right forefinger first in the 
direction of the Kibla, saluting Mohammed as the Son of 
Abdullah and the Imam Hussain grandson of the Prophet, 
son of Fatima, then to the east saluting Imam Eiza as the 
Gareeb, or stranger, at Meshhed in Khorassan, then to the 
west, saluting the Imam Mahdi, as the Sahib-i-zaman or Lord 
of the Age. The back is to the north; this looks like sun- 
worship." 

Among the customs which are forbidden during prayer is 
that of crossing or closing the fingers. They should be held 
widely spread apart. We have the following tradition in 
Ibn Maja: 19 "Said the Prophet: Do not put your 
fingers close together during prayer. It is also forbidden to 
cover the mouth during prayer. Another tradition reads 
that the Apostle of God saw a man who had crossed his fingers 
during prayer or joined them close together; he approached 
him and made him spread his fingers. 20 

That the yawning, to which reference was made, has con 
nection with spirits and demons is evident from a tradition 
given in the same paragraph, namely : " If any of you 
yawn, let him put his hand upon his mouth for verily the 
devil is laughing at him." 

The Moslem lives constantly in dread of evil spirits ; this is 

is Vol. I, p. 158. 
ao Vol. I, p. 158. 








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ANIMISTIC ELEMENTS IN PRAYER 55 

shown by other traditions regarding the prayer ritual. For 
example, we read in the Sunnan of Ibn Maja 21 that 
Mohammed forbade prayer being made on or near watering 
places of camels because camels were created by devils. It 
is an old superstition that Satan had a hand in the creation 
of the camel ; the explanation is given in the commentators. 
"We are solemnly told that the fingers must be spread so as to 
afford no nestling place for evil demons and that therefore 
the method of washing the hands (Takhlil} consists in rub 
bing the outspread fingers of both hands between each other. 
(Ibn Maja, Vol. I, p. 158, Nasai, Vol. I, pp. 30, 173, 186-7.) 
The last reference is particularly important as it shows that 
Mohammed inculcated the practice of moving the first finger 
during prayer. 22 Undoubtedly the practice of combing the 
hair with the fingers outspread (TaJchlil esh-Sha ar} to which 
al-Bukhari refers (Vol. I, p. 51) has a similar significance. 
Some of the sects do not spread the fingers of the right hand 
during prayer but make a special effort to spread those of 
the left. This may be because the left hand is used for 
ablutions and therefore is specially apt to be infected by 
demonic influence. 

"We give further reference to all such practices as re 
corded in a standard work on tradition, the Sunnan of 
An-Nasai. 23 

21 Vol. I, p. 134. 

22 Takhlil is not only used of the fingers but of the toes as well, there 
also demons lurk. (See Sha arani s " Lawa ih al Anwar fi Tabakat al 
Ahjar," p. 26.) 

23 In prayer there should be no gaps in the ranks of the wor 
shipers lest Satan come between. Vol. I, p. 131. 

One should blow the nostrils three times when awakening so as 
to drive away the devil. Ibid., Vol. I, p. 27. 

The Prophet forbade sleep in bath-rooms because they are the abode 
of devils. Ibid., Vol. I, p. 15. 

The Prophet forbade facing the Kibla when fulfilling a call of nature, 
for fear of Satan. Ibid., Vol. I, p. 15. 

The separation of the fingers (p. 30) : the fingers of the right hand 



56 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

The niche in a mosque that shows the direction to which 
prayer is made called the Mihrab, i.e., " the place of fighting," 
or perhaps, the instrument by which we fight the demons? 
There are many traditions concerning Mohammed s struggle 
with afrits and Jinn in a mosque. The most interesing one 
is given in Muslim (Vol. I, p. 204). " Said the Apostle of 
God (on him be prayers and peace) : ( A certain demon of 
the Jinn attacked me yesterday in order to stop my prayers, 
but, verily, God gave me victory over him. I was about to 
tie him to the side of a pillar of the pillars of the Mosque so 
that ye might get up in the morning and behold him, all of 
you, when I remembered the prayer of my brother Solomon : 
" O Lord, forgive me and give me a dominion such as no one 
ever had," and after that God set the demon free ! The 
Mihrab in a mosque, I am told, takes the place of the Sutra 
outside of a mosque and serves the same purpose. 

The forming of ranks in Moslem prayers as they face the 
Mihrab, is most important and therefore they are extremely 
careful of it. There are many traditions in this respect 
which can only have relation to belief in Jinn. For example, 
not only must the worshipers stand in a row, but in a mosque 
it is considered most important to stand so close together that 
nothing can possibly pass between. They stand ready like 
soldiers in massed-formation. Here is the tradition : 

Anas states that the Prophet said : " Observe your ranks, 
for I can see you from behind my back." " Each one of 
us," he adds, " put his shoulder in touch with his neighbor s 
and his foot with that of his neighbor." 24 We must add to 

should be closed tight during prayer and of the left hand spread out, 
but the forefinger should remain straight. Ibid., Vol. I, p. 186. 

The forefinger should be bent when giving witness. Ibid., p. 187. 

The fingers should be moved. Ibid., p. 187. 

Turning the head around during prayer is caused by the devil. Ibid., 
Vol. I, p. 177. 

24 Houdas al Bukhari ( French Trans. ) , p. 243 ; see also al Nasai, 
Vol. I, pp. 173 and 186-7. 



ANIMISTIC ELEMENTS IN PRAYER 57 

this another superstition, namely, it is bad luck to pray on 
the left hand of the Imam. Ibn- Abbas said : " On a certain 
night I made my prayers together with the Prophet. As I 
was placing myself on his left, the Messenger of God taking 
hold of me by the back of my head, placed me on his right. 
After having made our prayers, he lay down and rested until 
the muezzin came to look for him. Then he got up and 
made his prayers without making his ablutions." 25 

We have already spoken of the lifting of the hands in 
prayer. This is an important matter for discussion in all 
works of Fiqh. 

In the prayer called Qunut, which takes place during and 
as part of the morning prayer (Salat}, the hands are raised 
in magical fashion. Goldziher believes the original significa 
tion of this was a curse or imprecation on the enemy; such 
was the custom of the Arabs. The Prophet cursed his ene 
mies in this way. So did also the early Caliphs. In Lane s 
Dictionary (Art. Qunut) we find the present prayer given as 
follows : " O God, verily we beg of Thee aid, and we beg of 
Thee forgiveness. And we believe in Thee and we rely on 
Thee, and we laud Thee well, and we will not be unthankful 
to Thee for Thy favor, and we cast off and forsake him who 
disobeys Thee : O God, Thee we worship and to Thee we per 
form the divinely-appointed act of prayer, and prostrate our 
selves; and we are quick in working for Thee and in serving 
Thee; we hope for Thy mercy, and we dread Thy punish 
ment; verily (or may} I]hy punishment overtake the unbe 
lievers." It is said of the Prophet that he stood during a 
whole month after the prayer of daybreak cursing the tribes of 
Rial and Dhukwan. We read in Al-Muwatta (Vol. I, p. 
216) that at the time of the Qunut they used to curse their 
enemies, the unbelievers, in the month of Ramadhan. Later 
on this custom was modified or explained away. Al-Bukhari 

25 Houdas al Bukhari ( French Trans. ) , p. 244. 



58 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

even wrote a book on the subject as to when the hands might 
be lifted in prayer. 

There is no doubt regarding the origin of the Qunut prayer. 
We learn from Yusuf as Safti in his commentary on Ibn 
Turki s well-known book on Fiqh (p. 157) : " The reason 
for the legislation concerning the Qunut is as follows : One 
day there came to the Prophet certain unbelievers who pre 
tended that they had become Moslems and asked him that he 
would give them aid from among his Companions as a troop 
against their enemies. So he granted them seventy men from 
among the Companions ; when they departed with them, how 
ever, they took them out to the desert and killing them threw 
them into the well Mayrah. This became known to the 
Prophet and he mistrusted them and was filled with wrath and 
began to curse them saying : O God, curse Ra ala and Lah- 
yan and Beni Dhakwan because they mocked God and his 
Apostle. O God, cause to come down upon them a famine 
like in the days of Joseph and help el-Walid ibn el-Walid and 
the weak company of Mecca. Then Gabriel came down to 
him and told him to keep quiet, saying, God did not send you 
a reviler and a curser but verily he sent you as a mercy. He 
did not send you as a punishment. The affair does not con 
cern you; for God will either forgive them or punish them. 
They are the transgressors. Then he taught him the Qunut 
aforementioned, i. e., the prayer now used." 

In spite of the assertion of God s unity there are many 
other things connected wih Moslem prayer which show pagan 
magic, such as the power through certain words and gestures 
to influence the Almighty. These practices were prevalent 
before Islam. Professor Goldziher mentions the custom of 
incantation (Manashada) similar to that practiced by the 
heathen Kahins, Of certain leaders in the early days of 
Islam it was said : " If so and so would adjure anything 
upon God he would doubtless obtain it." 



ANIMISTIC ELEMENTS IN PRAYER 59 

Not only in formal prayer (Salat) but also in the Du a 
(petition) there are magical practices, especially in the prayer 
for eclipse by the raising of the hands. We are told (al- 
Bukhari) that on one occasion the Prophet while praying for 
rain raised his hands so high that one could see the white 
skin of his arm-pits. In the case of Du a therefore, the 
Kibla is said to be heaven itself and not Mecca. 

Another gesture used in Du a is the- stroking of the face, 
or of the body with the hands. This custom, borrowed from 
the Prophet, also has magical effect. At the time of his 
death the Prophet put his hands in water and washed his face 
with them, repeating the creed. 

Goldziher refers especially to magical elements in the 
prayer for rain, 26 and against eclipses of the sun or moon. 
These, like excessive drought, were explained and combated 
by the pagan Arabs in a superstitious manner. Mohammed 
forbade them to recognize in such phenomena anything more 
than special manifestations of the omnipotence of the Crea 
tor, yet ordained in this case also certain ritual prayers, to be 
continued as long as the eclipse lasted. 

No Mohammedan questions for a moment that the omnipo 
tence of God reveals itself in these eclipses indeed no doc 
trine is more popular than that of the omnipotence of God 
and predestination yet in the ranks of the people all kinds 
of superstitions prevail in regard to such phenomena. In 
these temporary obscurations of sun and moon they discern 
the action of malignant spirits and do not regard the perform 
ance of a simple service of prayer as a sufficient protection. 
" In Acheh, as in other Mohammedan countries, these prayers 
are left to the representatives of religion, the teunkus and 
leubes, while the people of the gampong keep up a mighty 

28 See al Bukhari who gives certain chapters on magical formulas to be 
used on this occasion. Certain of the companions of the Prophet were 
celebrated as rain-makers. 



60 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

uproar beating the great drum of the meunasah, and firing off 
guns and sometimes even cannons in order to frighten away 
the enemies of the sun and moon. Various sorts of ratebs 
are also held in order to relieve the suffering heavenly 
body." 27 

That Moslem prayer has become paganized among the 
Malays is well known. The whole ceremony of sowing rice 
and reaping the first crop is thoroughly animistic, and yet it 
is carried on with Moslem-pagan prayers and invocations. 
Among many examples we give the following from Skeat. 28 
He describes how a woman gathers in the first fruits. 

" Next she took in one hand (out of the brass tray) the 
stone, the egg, cockle-shell and candle-nut, and with the other 
planted the big iron nail in the center of the sheaf close to 
the foot of the sugar-cane. Then she took in her left hand 
the cord of tree-bark, and after fumigating it, together with 
all the vessels of rice and oil, took up some of the rice and 
strewed it round about the sheaf, and then tossed the re 
mainder thrice upwards, some of it falling upon the rest of 
the company and myself. 

" This done, she took the end of the cord in both hands, 
and encircling the sheaf with it near the ground, drew it 
slowly upward to the waist of the sheaf, and tied it there, 
after repeating what is called the Ten Prayers (do a 
sapuloh) without once taking breath: 

" The first, is God, 

The second, is Muhammad, 

The third, Holy Water of the five Hours of Prayer by Day and 

Night, 

The fourth, is Pancha Indra, 
The fifth, the Open Door of Daily Bread, 
The sixth, the Seven Stories of the Palace-Tower, 
The seventh, the Open Door of the rice-sifting Platform, 

27 Hurgronje s " The Achenese," pp. 285-6. 

28 Skeat s " Malay Magic," p. 240. 



ANIMISTIC ELEMENTS IN PKAYER 61 

The eighth, the Open Door of Paradise, 

The ninth, is the child in its Mother s Womb, 

The tenth is the Child created by God, the reason of its creation 

being our Lord, 
Grant this, Isa! 
Grant this, M.oses! 
Grant this, Joseph! 
Grant this, David! 
Grant me, from God (the opening of) all the doors of my daily 

bread, on earth, and in heaven." 

In Algeria the usual posture used in prayer for rain is 
standing upright with the elbows bent and palms turned up 
wards. Prayers for rain must only be done out of doors 
and with old clothes on, the burnous being worn inside out 
to express distress and need. 

For eclipse of the sun a long prayer is made standing with 
hands down at the side, fingers extended, then a long prayer 
while the hands are bent on the knees. These two positions 
are repeated with each prayer. 

In Yemen, at the first of the year, if there is a drought five 
cows are brought to a special mosque and each one in turn 
is driven around the mosque three times by a huge crowd of 
young men, who constantly pray or recite the Koran. In 
case of an eclipse water is put in large trays in the open air 
and the people peer into this water searching for the moon s 
reflection, but in this prayer also is not forgotten. 

In 1917 there was a total eclipse of the moon visible in 
Egypt. As might well be expected the eclipse greatly excited 
the Egyptian masses, who were very much impressed by the 
fact that it coincided with Ramadan and the war. Pans and 
drums as well as other noise-making appliances were beaten 
by them as long as the phenomenon was visible, and even after 
its disappearance, many servants refused to go to sleep on the 
roofs. 

Among the Turkish Moslems there is a superstition regard- 



62 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

ing the value of " rain stones " called Yada Raslii, or in 
Persian Sangi Yada. This superstition dates from before 
their conversion to Islam but still persists and spread to Mo 
rocco. In Tlemcen the Moslems in time of drought gather 
70,000 pebbles which are put in seventy sacks; during the 
night they repeat the Koran prayers over every one of these 
pebbles, after which the bags are emptied into the wady with 
the hope of rain. 29 

This service of prayer is also occasionally held in Java, 
under the name istika; but a more popular method of rain- 
making is " giving the cat a bath," which is sometimes accom 
panied by small processions and other ceremonies. " In 
Acheh, so far as I am aware," says Dr. Snouck Hurgronje, 
" the actual custom no longer survives, though it has left 
traces of its former existence in sundry popular evpressions. 
1 It is very dry ; we must give the cat a bath and then we 
shall get rain, say the padi-planters when their harvest threat 
ens to fail through drought." 

" In Tunis and Tripoli," Major Tremearne tells us, " if 
there is no rain, and the crops are being ruined, the Arabs go 
in procession outside the city with drums and flags, and pray 
for rain, and, according to Haj Ali, cows are made to urinate 
and the roofs of the houses are wetted with water by the Arabs 
and Hausas with them as a means of bringing down rain. 
But if there is no result the negroes are summoned to use 
their magic." 

" In Northern Algeria, amongst the Magazawa of Gobir, 
the rain was made to fall and to cease in the following man 
ner, according to Haj Ali. The rain-makers were nine in 
number and would go round with wooden clubs to a tsamiya 
(tamarind) or a ganje (rubber) tree near the gate of the 
town, and sacrifice a black bull, the blood being allowed to 

2 Goldziher in the " Noldeke Festschrift," Zauber Elemente im Islam- 
ischen Gebet, p. 316. 



ANIMISTIC ELEMENTS IN PKAYER 63 

flow into the roots. Then four pots of giya (beer) were 
brought, and were drunk by the rain-makers. After this, 
the eldest of the nine (Mai-Shibko) would rise, put on the 
hide and call out : " You Youths, You Youths, You Youths, 
ask the Man (Allah) to send down water for us, tell the 
Owner of the Heavens that men are dying here, ask him to 
spit upon us." The eight others would rise and stand around 
the old man, and call out in a loud voice what they had been 
told to say, and add : " If you do not send rain we will kill 
this old man. We are true to you, see, we have sacrificed a 
bull to you." Then brandishing their weapons in the air, 
they would continue : " If you do not send down the rain, 
we will throw up our clubs at you." 30 

Regarding prayers for rain offered up by the Mohamme 
dans in China we glean the following from the Revue du 
Monde Musulman (Vol. 26, p. 89, article by G. Cordier) : 
" A procession is formed headed by the aliong, or priest, car 
rying three objects which I will here describe : 

" (1) A sack filled with 7,000 stones, very clean and which 
have been gathered from the bed of some river near by. 
These may be said to represent a sort of rosary as ten prayers 
are repeated over each stone. 

" (2) A sword of the shape employed in the mosques but 
without a sheath. On the handle of this sword is inscribed 
the words pao-kien, i. e., the precious sword, and in Ara 
bic the creed. This sword is made of wood and is covered 
with inscriptions in Arabic characters and carried in a case 
made of yellow linen. 

" (3) A tablet made of brass. The Chinese call it Chao 
p ai, that is to say the Tablet that is planted. The Mos 
lems call it t ong P ai, i Tablet of brass, and in Arabic 
lukh nahas. This tablet is also covered with Arabic inscrip 
tions. 

so " The Ban of the Bori," pp. 185, 189. 



64 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

" Forty-four flags covered with quotations from the Koran 
are also carried in these processions, and as they march pray 
ers are chanted. Arriving at Hei-long-t an, the source of the 
black dragon, the procession halts near the basin called Etang 
du dragon. There a Moslem beats the water with the sword 
while the prayers are continued. 

" This done an ahong holding the brass tablet gets into the 
water and throws it in so as to make a fish come out (others 
say a water snake). When this is caught they place it in 
some water taken from the same source and carry it back to 
the mosque and is kept there until the rain comes down. 
When this happens it is taken back to the basin where it is 
again thrown in." 31 

In conclusion we may here give four of the short final 
chapters of the Koran that are used at the time of the five 
daily prayers and which contain allusions to animistic and 
pagan practices current in Arabia before Islam. It is true 
that the beautiful opening chapter of the Koran with its lofty 
theism and the chapter of the Forenoon with its pathetic ref 
erence to Mohammed s childhood are frequently on Moslem 
lips. So also is the chapter of the Unity (CXII). But what 
thoughts a Moslem has when he repeats the following chapters, 
if he understands the words, we may learn from the com 
mentaries. After reading what they tell us there remains 
little doubt that paganism entered Islam by the door of the 
Koran ! 

" In the name of the merciful and compassionate God. 

" Verily, we sent it down on the Night of Power ! 

si " A few days ago," writes Miss H. E. Levermore of Tsinchow, " the 
Moslems had a rain procession, a thing rarely known with them. It 
is said once before they had one, and the informer significantly adds, 
and they revolted just after. In this procession there was no noise, 
great order and devotion being observed. The Moslems walked the 
streets carrying incense and reading their incantations. Two chairs 
carrying Moslem sacred books were caried, whilst the priests had open 
Arabic Korans in their hands." 



ANIMISTIC ELEMENTS IN PKAYEE 65 

" And what shall make thee know what the Night of Power 
is ? the Night of Power is better than a thousand months ! 

" The angels and the spirits descend therein, by the permis 
sion of their Lord with every bidding. 

" Peace it is until rising of the dawn ! " 32 

" In the name of the merciful and compassionate God. 

" By the snorting chargers. 

" And those who strike fire with their hoofs. 

" And those who make incursions in the morning, 

" And raise up dust therein. 

" And cleave through a host therein. 

" Verily, man is to his Lord ungrateful ; and, verily, he is 
a witness of that. 

" Verily, he is keen in his love of good. 

" Does he not know when the tombs are exposed, and what 
is in the breasts is brought to light ? 

" Verily, thy Lord upon that day indeed is well aware." 38 

" In the name of the merciful and compassionate God. 

" Say, I seek refuge in the Lord of the daybreak, from 
the evil of what He has created ; and from the evil of the night 
when it cometh on ; and from the evil of the blowers upon 
knots ; and from the evil of the envious when he envies. " 34 

" Say, I seek refuge in the Lord of men, the King of men, 
the God of men, from the evil of the whisperer, who slinks 
off, who whispers into the hearts of men from jinns and 
men. " 

32 33 34 The Quran," Part II. Translated by E. H. Palmer. Suras 
97, 100, 113, 114. 



CHAPTEK IV 

HAIR, FINGER-NAILS AND THE HAND 

IT must not surprise us that a great deal of animism and 
old Arabian superstition persist in Islam. The words of 
Frazer apply in this connection : x "As in Europe beneath 
a superficial layer of Christianity a faith in magic and witch 
craft, in ghosts and goblins has always survived and even 
flourished among the weak and ignorant, so it has been and 
so it is in the East. Brahminism, Buddhism, Islam may 
come and go, but the belief in magic and demons remains un 
shaken through them all, and, if we may judge of the future 
from the past, is likely to survive the rise and fall of other 
historical religions." He goes on to say, " With the common 
herd, who compose the great bulk of every people, the new 
religion is accepted only in outward show, because it is im 
pressed upon them by their natural leaders whom they can 
not choose but follow. They yield a dull assent to it with 
their lips, but in their hearts they never really abandon their 
old superstitions; in these they cherish a faith such as they 
cannot repose in the creed which they nominally profess; 
and to these, in the trials and emergencies of life, they have 
recourse as to infallible remedies when the promises of the 
higher faith have failed them, as indeed such promises are apt 
to do." 2 

i"The Scapegoat," pp. 89-90. 

2 This is true, alas, even in Christendom. But outside its pale, 

" Superstition has sacrificed countless lives, wasted untold treasures, 

embroiled nations, severed friends, parted husbands and wives, parents 

and children, putting swords and worse than swords between them; it 

has filled jails and mad-houses with innocent or deluded victims; it 

66 



HAIR, FINGER-NAILS AND THE HAND 67 

What is here written has reference to the popular customs 
observed by Moslems in all lands and connected with hair- 
cutting, nail-trimming, and the use of the hand as an amulet, 
the latter especially in lower Egypt and North Africa. Cus- 

has broken many hearts, embittered the whole of many a life, and not 
content with persecuting the living it has pursued the dead into the 
grave and beyond it, gloating over the horrors which its foul imagina 
tion has conjured up to appall and torture the survivors. How numer 
ous its ramifications and products have been is merely hinted in the 
following list of subjects given as cross-references in a public library 
catalogue card: Alchemy, apparitions, astrology, charms, delusions, 
demonology, devil-worship, divination, evil eye, fetishism, folk-lore, 
legends, magic, mythology, oocult sciences, oracles, palmistry, relics, 
second sight, sorcery, spiritualism, supernatural, totems and uritch- 
craft. This force has pervaded all provinces of life from the cradle to 
the grave, and, as Frazer says, beyond. It establishes customs as bind 
ing as taboo, dictates forms of worship and perpetuates them, obsesses 
the imagination and leads it to create a world of demons and hosts 
of lesser spirits and ghosts and ghouls, and inspires fear and even 
worship of them." * 

Professor F. B. Dresslar of the University of California prepared a 
list of those things with which superstition was connected in that 
State. He secured the list through questions to grown-up people in the 
present century. It was as follows: Salt, bread and butter, tea and 
coffee, plants and fruit; fire, lightning, rainbow, the moon, the stars; 
babies, birds, owls, peacocks and their feathers, chickens, cats, dogs, 
cows, swine, horses, rabbits, rats, frogs and toads, fish, sheep, crickets, 
snakes, lizards, turtles, wolves, bees, dragon flies; chairs and tables, 
clocks, mirrors, spoons, knives and forks, pointed instruments, pins, 
hairpins, combs, umbrellas (mostly unlucky), candles, matches, tea 
kettle, brooms, dishcloths, handkerchiefs, gardening tools, ladders, 
horseshoes, hay; days of the week and various festivals or fasts, espe 
cially Hallowe en, birthdays; various numbers, counting, laughing, 
singing, crying; starting on a journey and turning back, two persons 
simultaneously saying the same thing, passing in at one door and out 
at another, walking on opposite sides of a post, stepping on cracks, 
sneezing, crossing hands while shaking hands, use of windows as exits, 
stumbling; itching of palm, eye, nose, ear, or foot; warts, moles; vari 
ous articles of dress, shoes, precious stones, amulets and charms, rings, 
money; wish-bones; death and funerals, dreams, spiritisms, weddings, 
and initials. 

* " The New Schaff Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge," 
Vol. XI, p. 169. 



68 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

toms which have in many cases been approved and perpetu 
ated by the example of Mohammed himself. 

According to Skeat there are certain portions of the human 
frame which are considered invested with a special sanctity, 
and require special ceremonies among the pagans. These 
parts of the anatomy are the head, the hair, the teeth, the ears 
and the nails. He says in regard to hair and its sacred 
character : " From the principle of the sanctity of the head 
flows, no doubt, the necessity of using the greatest circum 
spection during the process of cutting the hair. Sometimes 
throughout the whole life of the wearer, and frequently dur 
ing special periods, the hair is left uncut. Thus I was told 
that in former days Malay men usually wore their hair long, 
and I myself have seen an instance of this at Jugra in Se- 
langor in the person of a Malay of the old school, who was 
locally famous on this account. So, too, during the forty 
days which must elapse before the purification of a woman 
after the birth of her child, the father of the child is forbid 
den to cut his hair, and a similar abstention is said to have 
been formerly incumbent upon all persons either prosecuting 
a journey or engaging in war. Often a boy s head is entirely 
shaven shortly after birth with the exception of a single lock 
in the center of the head, and so maintained until the boy 
begins to grow up, but frequently the operation is postponed 
(generally, it is said, in consequence of a vow made by the 
child s parents) until the period of puberty or marriage. 
Great care, too, must be exercised in disposing of the clip 
pings of hair (more especially the first clippings), as the 
Malay profoundly believes that " the sympathetic connection 
which exists between himself and every part of his body con 
tinues to exist even after the physical connection has been 
severed, and that therefore he will suffer from any harm that 
may befall the severed parts of his body, such as the clippings 
of his hair, or the parings of his nails. Accordingly he takes 



HAIR, FINGER-NAILS AND THE HAND 69 

care that those severed portions of himself shall not be left 
in places where they might either be exposed to accidental 
injury, or fall into the hands of malicious persons who might 
work magic on them to his detriment or death." 3 

According to animistic beliefs the soul of man rests not 
only in his heart but pervades special parts of his body, such 
as the head, the intestines, the blood, placenta, hair, teeth, 
saliva, sweat, tears, etc. The means by which this soul-stuff 
is protracted or conveyed to others is through spitting, blow 
ing, blood-wiping, or touch. In all of these particulars and 
under all of these subjects we have superstitions in Islam 
that date back to pagan days but are approved in and by Mos 
lem tradition and in some cases by the Koran itself. 

In the disposal of hair-cuttings and nail-trimmings among 
Moslems to-day, and their magical use, there is clear evidence 
of animistic belief. People may be bewitched through the 
clippings of their hair and parings of their nails. This be 
lief is world-wide, 4 " To preserve the cut hair and nails from 
injury," says Frazer, " and from the dangerous uses to which 
they may be put by sorcerers, it is necessary to deposit them 
in some safe place. In Morocco women often hang their cut 
hair on a tree that grows on or near the grave of a wonder 
working saint ; for they think thus to rid themselves of head 
ache or to guard against it. In Germany the clippings of 
hair used often to be buried under an elder-bush. In Olden 
burg cut hair and nails are wrapped in a cloth which is de 
posited in a hole in an elder-tree three days before the new 
moon; the hole is then plugged up. In the west of North 
umberland it is thought that if the first parings of a child s 
nails are buried under an ash-tree, the child will turn out a 
fine singer. In Amboyna before a child may taste sago-pap 
for the first time, the father cuts off a lock of the infant s 

3 Skeat s " Malay Magic," pp. 43-45. 

* " Taboo and the Perils of the Soul," pp. 274-275. 



70 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

hair, which he huries under a sago-palm. In the Aru Islands 
when a child is able to run alone, a female relation shears a 
lock of its hair and deposits it on a banana-tree. In the Is 
land of Rotti it is thought that the first hair which a child 
gets is not his own, and that if it is not cut off it will make 
him weak and ill. Hence, when the child is about a month 
old, his hair is polled with ceremony. As each of the 
friends who are invited to the ceremony enters the house he 
goes up to the child, snips off a little of its hair and drops it 
into a cocoanut shell full of water. Afterwards the father 
or another relation takes the hair and packs it into a little 
bag made of leaves, which he fastens to the top of a palm- 
tree. Then he gives the leaves of the palm a good shaking, 
climbs down, and goes home without speaking to any one. 
Indians of the Yukon territory, Alaska, do not throw away 
their cut hair and nails, but tie them up in little bundles 
and place them in the crotches of trees or wherever they are 
not likely to be disturbed by beasts. For they have a super 
stition that disease will follow the disturbance of such re 
mains by animals. Often the clipped hair and nails are 
stowed away in any secret place, not necessarily in a temple 
or cemetery or at a tree, as in the case already mentioned." 

It is remarkable that in Arabia, Egypt and North Africa 
everywhere this custom of stowing away clippings of hair 
and nails is still common among Moslems and is sanctioned by 
the practice of the Prophet. 

Among the Malays hair offerings are made to-day in thor 
oughly pagan fashion, but it is interesting that the shorn locks 
are not buried under the threshold as they were before Islam, 
but are now sent to Mecca. We quote from Skeat a descrip 
tion of the ceremony at a wedding when the bride s locks are 
qut: 

" The cocoanut containing the severed tresses and rings is 
carried to the foot of a barren fruit-tree (e. g., a pomegran- 



HAIK, FINGEK-NAILS AND THE HAND 71 

ate tree), when the rings are extracted and the water (with 
the severed locks) poured out at the tree s foot, the belief be 
ing that this proceeding will make the tree as luxuriant as 
the hair of the person shorn, a very clear example of sympa 
thetic magic. If the parents are poor, the cocoanut is gener 
ally turned upside down and left there; but if they are well- 
to-do, the locks are usually sent to Mecca in charge of a pil 
grim, who casts them on his arrival into the well Zemzem." 5 

In North Africa a man will not have his hair shaved in the 
presence of any one who owes him a grudge. After his hair 
has been cut, he will look around, and if there is no enemy 
about he will mix his cuttings with those of other men, and 
leave them, but if he fears some one there he will collect the 
cuttings, and take them secretly to some place and bury them. 
With a baby this is said to be unnecessary, as he has no ene 
mies a surprising statement. Nails are cut with scissors 
and they are always buried in secret. One can see this super 
stition also in the account given of a charm described by 
Captain Tremearne, 6 which consists of certain roots from 
trees mixed with a small lock of hair from the forehead and 
the partings of all the nails, hands and feet, except those of 
the index fingers. The fact of this exception clearly shows 
that we deal again with a superstition that has come from 
Arabian Animism, as we shall see later. 

In Bahrein, East Arabia, they observe a special order in 
trimming the finger-nails and bury the discarded trimmings 
in a piece of white cloth saying Platha amana min andina ya 
Iblis yashud lana al Rahman. 7 They bury hair-combings 
in the same way expecting to receive them back on the day 
of resurrection. Concerning the thumb, they think it has 
no account with God because it can do no evil alone. 

"Skeat s "Malay Magic," p. 355. 

e " The Ban of the Bori," p. 57. 

7 " O Satan, this is a safe deposit from us as God is our witness." 



The belief that cut hair and nails contain soul-stuff and 
therefore may be used for spiritual communion leads Mos 
lems to hang their hair on the tombs of saints together with 
shreds of their garments, nails, teeth, etc. On the great gate 
of Old Cairo, called Bab-el-Mutawali, this also takes place 
and one may watch a constant procession of men, women and 
children having communion with the saint who dwells be 
hind or under this gateway and seeking through personal con 
tact with the doorway by touching, breathing, etc., to carry 
away the blessing. 

In connection with this superstition Rev. L. E. Hogberg, 
of Chinese Turkestan, 8 tells of the popular belief that " dur 
ing the last days, Satan will appear on earth riding on a 
Merr dedjell (Satan s mule). Every hair on the mule s body 
is a tuned string or musical instrument. By the music fur 
nished in this way all the people on earth are tempted to fol 
low Satan. Great horns grow out on their heads, so that 
they can never return through their doors. The faithful Mo 
hammedan has, however, a way. of salvation. He has care 
fully collected his cut-off nails, and placed them under the 
threshold, where they have formed a hedge, blocking the door 
so as to prevent the household from running after Satan ! " 
Again the hair and nails have special power assigned to them 
as a protection for the soul against evil ! 

In many parts of the Moslem world such as in East Arabia, 
human hair is used by native doctors of medicine as a power 
ful tonic. It is generally administered as tincture or decoc 
tion. In this respect the hair of saints has more value than 
ordinary hair. I have known of a case where a learned 
kadi sent to the barbers to collect hair in order to prepare such 
a powerful tonic. Miss Fanny Lutton writes from Muscat, 
Arabia : " Just in front of the Mission compound is a 

8 Correspondence in a magazine called Central Asia for December, 
1916. 



HAIR, FINGER-KAILS AND THE HAND 73 

Mosque, and in the compound of the Mosque is a saint s 
grave. I have witnessed some queer heathenish perform 
ances there. Only a short time ago a crowd of women, men 
and children were assembled. A woman brought her one- 
year-old son to have his head shaved over the grave. A cloth 
was spread to receive the hair and it was afterwards tied to 
a small flagpole at the head of the grave, and then a new 
red flag was also attached which must be left there until it 
fades and wears out, when it must be replaced with a new 
one and with similar ceremonies. Refreshments were par 
taken of by the visitors sitting around the grave and much 
merriment was indulged in. Helwa (candy) was thrown 
over the grave and rose water was sprinkled all over the grave. 
Then the company as well as the mother and child were 
marched three times around the grave and led out of the 
grounds walking backwards, for those who perform the vow 
must never turn their backs on the grave as they leave. This 
hair is very efficacious for various ills. Yesterday I saw the 
keeper, who is a very wicked woman, approach the grave. 
Her first act was to stoop down and kiss the earth at the head 
of the grave. She then tore off some of the rag that was 
wrapped around the hair and took a portion of the hair and 
tied it in a bundle and delivered it to the woman that had 
come with her. No doubt the women had been sent to get 
this for some serious case that would not yield to other treat 
ments, and so the Mullah (priest) or woman reader had been 
called to the case and had prescribed the hair which the pa 
tient must wear to keep off evil spirits." 

Special chapters are found in the lives of Mohammed the 
prophet on the virtues of his fadhalat, spittle, urine, 9 blood, 

9 There are traditions in Bukhari and Muslim to show the sacred 
power of Mohammed s blood, spittle, etc. It is also taught that even 
the excreta of the prophet of Arabia were free from all defilement. Cf. 
" Insan al Ayun al Halebi," Vol. II, p. 222. 



74 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

etc., including his hair. We read, for example, in the life of 
Mohammed by Seyyid Ahmed Zaini Dahlan : 10 " When the 
Prophet had his head shaved and his companions surrounded 
him they never suffered a single hair to fall to the ground but 
seized them as good omens or for blessing. And since His 
Excellency only had his hair cut at the times of the pilgrim 
age this had become sunna, so it is related in the Mawcihib, 
and he who denies it should be severely punished." And Mo 
hammed bin Dai>ain relates : " I said to Obeid al Suleimani, 
1 1 have a few hairs of the Prophet which I took from Anas, 
and he replied, i If I had a single hair it would be more to 
me than all the world. Because of this belief, hairs of the 
Prophet s beard and in some cases of other saints in Islam 
are preserved as relics in the mosques throughout the world, 
e. g., at Delhi, Aintab, Damascus, etc. To give a recent in 
stance, the population of Safed in Palestine, according to a 
missionary correspondent, " was all excitement in the early 
days of July, 1911, because a veritable hair from the beard 
of the Prophet had been granted them as a gift by the Sultan. 
A Christian builder was engaged to restore a mosque of the 
Binat Yacob, where the famous relic now finds shelter. The 
mayor of the city took the journey to Acre in order to accom 
pany the relic to its resting-place. The correspondent goes 
on to relate some of the marvels that were told as to the vir 
tues connected with the hair of the Prophet. Twenty sol 
diers, fully armed, escorted the relic." 1X 

This same relic was the object of the most energetic search 
among Moslems from the earliest period of Islam. Ac 
cording to Goldziher the hair was worn as an amulet, and 
men on their deathbeds directed by will that the precious pos- 

10 Margin of Sirat al Ealabi, Cairo Edition, 1308 A.H., vol. iii, pp. 
238-9. 

iiDer Christliche Orient, Sept., 1911. 



HAIR, FINGER-NAILS AND THE HAND 75 

session should go down with them and mingle with the earth. 
Jafar-ibn-Khinzabu, the vizier of an Egyptian prince, had 
three such hairs which at his death were put into his mouth, 
and his remains, according to his last testament, were carried 
to Medina. Impostors and charlatans were not slow to turn 
to advantage the credulity of the devout. Let us listen to 
Abdul Jani ul-Nabulusi, the famous traveler. He met on 
his pilgrimage to Medina a learned Mohammedan from In 
dia, Ghulam Mohammed by name. " He told me," the 
traveler narrates, " that in the countries of India many peo 
ple possess Mohammed s hair, many have but a single hair, 
but others own more, up to twenty. These relics are shown 
to all those who would inspect them reverently. This Ghu 
lam Mohammed tells me that one of the saintly men of the 
lands of India annually exhibits such relics on the ninth day 
of Rabi-ul-Aval, that on those occasions many people gather 
round him, learned and pious, perform prayers to the 
Prophet and go through divine service and mystic practices. 
He further informs me that the hairs at times move of their 
own accord, and that they grow in length and increase in 
number, so that a single hair is the propagator of a number 
of new ones." " All this," comments our traveler, " is no 
wonder, for the blessed apostle of God has a prolonged di 
vine existence which is manifested in all his noble limbs and 
physical components. An historian relates that Prince Nur- 
ud-Din possessed a few of the Prophets s hairs in his treas 
ury, and when he neared his dissolution he directed in his 
testament that the holy relics be deposited on his eyes, and 
there they remain in his grave to this day. He (the his 
torian cited) goes on to inform us that every one who visits 
the mausoleum of the prince combines with the intention of 
visiting the ruler s tomb the hope that the magical relics pre 
served therein would produce their blissful effect. The tomb 



76 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

could be seen in the academy at Damascus built by the 
prince." 12 

The statements made in books of Moslem law leave no 
doubt that hair is considered sacred and may not therefore 
be sold or in any way dishonored. We read in the Hedaya, 13 
a great commentary on Moslem law, " The sale of human 
hair is unlawful, in the same manner as is the use of it, 
because, being a part of the human body, it is necessary to 
preserve it from the disgrace to which an exposure of it to 
sale necessarily subjects it. It is moreover recorded, in the 
Hadith Sharif, that God denounced a curse upon a Wasila 
and a Mustawasila,. (The first of these is a woman whose 
employment it is to unite the shorn hair of one woman to the 
head of another, to make her hair appear long; and the 
second means the woman to whose head such hair is united). 
Besides, as it has been allowed to women to increase their 
locks by means of the wool of a camel, it may thence be in 
ferred that the use of human hair is unlawful." 

" In Tunis," writes Mr. E. E. Short, " nail parings are bur 
ied; hair trimmings the same or burnt. If the latter are 
carried away by the wind the person will suffer from giddi 
ness of the head. One informant gave Friday as the day for 
trimming the hair and nails, another Saturday. The reason 
for the practice seems to be that the parings might be found 
again and then when questioned one could answer that they 
had been properly buried. (Does not this point to a very 
materialistic conception of the resurrection body?)" 

In Algeria it is believed that if nail trimmings are thrown 
on the ground Satan makes use of them ; if trodden on, their 
late owner might become very ill, and it is unlucky if water 
is poured on them. They are used in magic and if mixed 
with food cause illness or death. 

12 " The Moslem World," Vol. I, p. 306. 
is Hamilton s " Hedaya," Vol. II, p. 439. 



HAIR, FINGER-NAILS AND THE HAND 77 

In Cape Town the same superstitions prevail among Indian 
Moslems with regard to hair and nail trimmings. 

In Persia the hair and nail trimmings are sometimes pre 
served in bottles as part of the body, which will be needed 
by it at the resurrection. This was the practice of an old 
gatekeeper on the missionary premises at Urumia; the mis 
chievous missionary s son took pleasure in hunting for his 
treasure and carrying it off, then witnessing his subsequent 
anger and grief. 14 

" When a girl reaches what the Achenese regard as a 
marriageable age without having yet had a suitor for her 
hand, it is believed that there must be some supernatural 
agency at work. It is looked upon as certain that she must 
have in some part of her body something malang or unpro- 
pitious, which stands in the way of her success. 

" The numerical value of the initial letter of her name is 
assumed as the basis of a calculation for indicating the part 
of her body which is to blame. When this has been ascer 
tained, the girl is placed on a heap of husked rice (breuch) 
and the spot indicated is slightly pricked with a golden needle, 
so as to draw a little blood. This blood is gathered up by 
means of a wad of tree cotton (gapeueli) which is then 
placed in an egg, part of the contents of which have been 
removed to make room for it. A little of the girl s hair and 
some parings of her nails are enclosed in a young cocoanut 
leaf, and finally all these things are thrown into the run 
ning water of the nearest river or stream." 15 

In Java nails may not be cut on Fridays and never after 
dark. They are always wrapped up and buried and the fol 
lowing words repeated, " Abide here until I die and when I 
die follow me." Hair clippings must be put in a cool spot 
or the person will suffer. They must never be burned. 

i* Letter from Miss S. Y. Holliday of Tabriz, 
is " The Achenese," p. 296. 



78 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

Others say they must always be put into the river or flowing 
water. If left to fly about they will make the pathway to 
heaven difficult. A special order is observed in trimming the 
finger-nails. 16 

Among the Malays special exposure to danger is believed 
to occur whenever portions of a man such as the hair or 
the nails are severed from the parent body, the theory be 
ing that injury to such discarded portions may in some way 
be used to affect the living body itself. A Malay husband, 
if he found his wife treasuring up a lock of his hair, would 
regard her conduct with extreme suspicion. 17 

Sometimes by the use of a waxen or other image, or by the 
exhibition of a " sample " such as the parings of a man s 
nails or the clippings of his hair, the wizard conveys to the 
world of ghosts a knowledge of the person he wishes them to 
attack and the ghosts are ever ready to profit by the hint 
so kindly given. 18 

That all this is really a piece of heathenism is clear to the 
.student of comparative religion. 

In Africa also the witch doctor or oganga makes special 
use of hair, teeth, nails, etc., just as in Islam. Nassau 
writes : 19 " If it be desired to obtain power over some one 
else, the oganga must be given by the applicant, to be mixed 
in the sacred compound, either crumbs from the food, or 
clippings of finger-nails or hair, or (most powerful!) even a 
drop of blood of the person over whom influence is sought. 
These represent the life or body of that person. So fearful 

is Dr. B. J. Esser, Poerbolinggo, Java, in a letter. 

if " Malay Beliefs," p. 53. 

i 8 Regarding the hair of Mohammed, a legend is told among the 
Malays that on his journey to heaven on the monster Al-burak, they 
cleft the moon and when Mohammed was shaved by Gabriel the houris 
of heaven fought for the falling locks so that not a single hair was al 
lowed to reach the ground. " Malay Beliefs," p. 43. 

" Fetishism in West Africa," p. 83. "Malay Beliefs," p. 72. 



HAIR, FINGER-NAILS AND THE HAND 79 

are natives of power being thus obtained over them, that they 
have their hair cut only by a friend ; and even then they care 
fully burn it or cast into a river. If one accidentally cuts 
himself, he stamps out what blood has dropped on the ground, 
or cuts out from wood the part saturated with blood." 

Superstitions in regard to finger-nails are common through 
out the whole world and are undoubtedly animistic in their 
origin. Dresslar mentions a number as current in Christen 
dom: 20 

" Cut your nails on Monday, cut them for health ; 
Cut them on Tuesday, cut them for wealth ; 
Cut them on Wednesday, cut them for news; 
Cut them on Thursday, a pair of new shoes; 
Cut them on Friday, cut them for woe; 
Cut them on Saturday, a journey to go ; 
Cut them on Sunday, you cut them for evil 
And all the week you ll be ruled by the devil." 

We are not surprised therefore, to find in Islam so many 
superstitions mentioned in connection with the paring of 
the nails, some of which doubtless came through Judaism, 
others directly from Arab paganism. According to the 
Haggadah, 21 " every pious Jew must purify himself and 
honor the coming holy day by trimming and cleaning the 
nails beforehand. The Rabbis are not agreed as to when 
they should be pared; some prefer Thursday, for if cut on 
Friday they begin to grow on the Sabbath; others prefer 
Friday, as it will then appear that it is done in honor of the 
Sabbath. It has, however, become the practice to cut them 
on Friday and certain poskim even prohibit the paring of the 
nails on Thursday." Moslems also have special days for this 
purpose. The Jews believe that the parings should not be 
thrown away. The Rabbis declare that he who burns them 

20 " Superstition and Education," p. 72. 
21 " Jewish Encyclopedia," Art. Nails. 



80 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

is a pious man (Hasid), he who buries them is a righteous 
one (zaddik), and he who throws them away is a wicked one. 
The reason for this is that if a pregnant woman steps on 
them the impurity attached to them will cause a premature 
birth. 22 

In the order of cutting the nails the Jews have borrowed 
from the Zoroastrians while the Mohammedans seem to have 
borrowed from the Jews. According to Mohammed the order 
of procedure is remembered by the word Khawabis which 
indicates the initials of the names of the five fingers of the 
hand. First one is to attend to the Khansar (little finger), 
then the Wasti (middle finger), then the Abham (thumb), 
then the Binsar (ring finger), and last of all to the Sababa 
(index finger). The Sababa means the " finger of cursing " 
derived from the root sabba to curse. Moslems gener 
ally follow this practice without knowing the reason of what 
they do. The cuttings of the finger-nails are never thrown 
away but are either wrapped in a paper, buried under the 
do\)r-mat or carefully put into a chink of the wall. Similar 
superstitions exist among the animistic tribes of the South 
Seas. " In Morocco," says Mr. Haldane, " they begin at the 
small finger on the right hand, finishing with the thumb, and 
then commencing with the small finger on the left hand. 
Some, however, hold that the little and middle finger with the 
thumb must be done first and then the two remaining ones 
afterwards. Friday is the best day for this work. Nail- 
parings must be carefully buried. They are not so particu 
lar about hair and beard trimmings, but still they ought to be 
put in some out-of-the-way place where they will not be trod 
upon. Why these things are so no one can tell ; it s the cus 
tom." In Yemen the following customs are observed. 
While many Arabs hold that there is no particular order of 
paring the nails nor any reason for keeping and burying the 

21 " Jewish Encyclopedia," Art. Nails. 



81 

parings, others are very particular to begin with the little 
finger and to collect every scrap of the paring in a piece of 
cloth or cotton-wool and then to bury the lot, saying that this 
was their prophet s custom. Others who also bury the par 
ings say that one ought always to begin with the fore-finger 
of the right hand, as it is the most honorable of all the digits. 
As a rule the hair is not buried; although in very excep 
tional cases it is. 

The custom connected with hair cutting or shaving and the 
trimming of the nails during the pilgrimage ceremony at 
Mecca is well know. As soon as the pilgrim assumes the 
Ihram or pilgrim dress he must abstain from cutting his hair 
or nails. This command is observed most scrupulously. We 
read in a celebrated book of law 23 that " The expiatory fine of 
three modd of foodstuffs is only incurred in full when at least 
three hairs or three nails have been cut ; one modd only being 
due for a single hair or a single nail, and two modd for two 
hairs or two nails. A person who is unable to observe this 
abstinence, should have his whole beard shaved and pay the 
expiatory fine." When the pilgrimage is terminated and the 
ceremony completed, the head is shaved, the nails are cut and 
the following prayer is offered : " I purpose loosening my 
Ihram according to the Practice of the Prophet, Whom may 
Allah bless and preserve ! O Allah, make unto me every hair, 
a Light, a Purity, and a generous Reward ! In the name of 
Allah, and Allah is Almighty ! " After this prayer strict 
Moslems carefully bury their hair and nail-trimmings in 
sacred soil. 24 

We pass on to superstitions connected with the human 
hand. Mr. Eugene Lefebure writes : 25 " There never was 

23 Minhaj et Talibin Nawawi, p. 120. 

24 Burton s " Pilgrimage," Vol. II, p. 205. 

25 " Bulletin de la Societe" de Geographic d Alger et de PAfrique 
du Nord," 1907, No. 4. 



82 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

a country where the representation of the human hand has not 
served as an amulet. In Egypt as in Ireland, with the 
Hebrews as with the Etruscans, they attribute to this figure a 
mysterious power." Our illustrations show different forms 
of this superstition. The use of the hand in this connection 
is very ancient, perhaps it has some connection with the lay 
ing on of hands. The laying of hands on the head as a sign 
of dedication is found in the Bible, where one gives up one s 
own right to something and transfers it to God. (Ex. 
XXIX : 15, 19 ; II. Chron. XXIX : 23.) Again, the hands 
are placed on the head of the animal whose blood is to be used 
for the consecration of priests or for the atonement of the sins 
of the people. The same ceremony was used in transferring 
the sins of the people to the scapegoat and with all burnt 
offerings except the sin-offerings. The laying of hands on 
the head of a blasphemer should also be noted here. Jacob, 
on his death-bed, placed his right hand on the head of 
Ephraim. The Levites were consecrated through the laying 
on of hands by the heads of the tribes. The time-honored 
prototype of ordination through laying on of hands is the 
consecration of Joshua as successor to Moses. This rite is 
found in the New Testament and in the Talmud and was 
observed at the appointment of members of the Sanhedrin. 
It was gradually discontinued in practice, however, although 
it was preserved nominally. Islam makes a religious and 
ritual distinction between the right and left hand. Many 
dark and uncanny interpretations and suggestions are con 
nected with matters referring to the left side of the body, the 
left hand, the left foot, etc. These go back to great antiquity 
and are well-nigh universal. In Islam the left hand is never 
used for eating; Tradition tells us that the devil eats with 
the left hand ; the Moslem must never spit to the right or in 
front of him but to the left. Whether the origin of this 



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HAIR, FINGER-NAILS AND THE HAND 83 

superstition is due to physical causes or to ritual practice, 
such as ablution, cannot be easily decided. 26 

In Judaism a priest s hands, represented as in benediction, 
on a tombstone indicate that the deceased was descended from 
the family of Aaron ; on the title-page of a book they indicate 
that the printer was descended from the family of Aaron. 
The hand is also represented on the walls of synagogues and 
on mirrors. A hand is generally used as a pointer for the 
Torah. A hand with two ears of grain and two poppy- 
heads is seen on coins. Two hands joined together are often 
represented on " Jcetubah " blanks and on the so-called 
" siflones-tefillah " there is a hand hewing a tree or mowing 
down flowers. A hand either inscribed or cast in metal, was 
often used as an amulet. 

28 Dresslar remarks concerning similar beliefs in the United States, 
" Experiments upon school children show that there is more disparity 
between the right and left sides of the body of the brighter pupils than 
there is between the right and left of the duller ones. Doubtless this 
same augmented difference holds throughout life, or at least to the pe 
riod of senescence. It is nothing more nor less than the result of 
specialization which increases as growing thought-life calls upon the 
right members of the body for finer adjustment and more varied and 
perfect execution. Hence, the right members become more the special 
organs of the will than the left, induce a greater proportion of emo 
tional reaction, and altogether become more closely bound up with the 
mental life. That this specialization gives an advantage in accuracy, 
strength, control, and endurance of the right side there can be no 
doubt. But it seems equally certain that it introduces mental par 
tialities not at all times consistent with well-balanced judgment, or 
the most trustworthy emotional promptings. Indeed this difference 
is recorded in the meaning and use of the two words, dextrous and 
sinister. The thought that relates itself to the stronger side is more 
rational than that which deals with the weaker and less easily con 
trolled half. 

" In addition to this fundamental basis for psychic differentiation 
with respect to the left and right, it is probable that the beating of 
the heart, strange and wonderful to the primitive mind, had some in 
fluence in connecting the left side with the awful and mysterious." 
("Superstition and Education," pp. 206-207.) 



84 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

We now turn to Moslem superstitions of this character. 
A missionary in Morocco writes : " Of all the talismans by 
which Moorish women ward off the evil eye with all its 
danger, none possesses so much magic power as a silver orna 
ment worn on the breast and called Khoumsa. Its virtue lies 
in its five points, that number, in whatever form presented, 
being the most potent of protective agencies. In Moorish 
folk-beliefs it means the dispersion to the four corners of the 
earth, of any malign influence which has been directed against 
the life of the wearer." In Palestine this goes by the name 
of Kef Miry am; in Algeria the Moslems very appropriately 
named these talismans La Main de Fatima, and from this 
source another superstition has been developed: the mystic 
virtue of the number five, because of the five fingers of the 
hand or its sinister power. 27 

" The hand of Fatima," says Tremearne, 28 " is a great 
favorite in Tunis, and one sees it above the great majorities 
of doorways ; in Tripoli there is hardly one, and this is only 
to be expected, since the sign is an old Carthaginian one, 
representing not the hand of Fatima at all, but that of Tanith. 
It has been thought, however, that the amulet is so curiously 
similar to the thunderbolt of Adad, worn in the necklet of the 
Assyrian kings along with emblems for the sun, the moon, 
and Venus, that it may be a survival of that." 28 

The hand is often painted upon the drum used in the bori 
(devil) dances in Tunis. It is held up, fingers outstretched 
and pointing towards the evil-wisher, and this, in Egypt, 
North Africa and Nigeria, has now become a gesture of 
abuse. In Egypt the outstretched hand pointed at some one 
is used to invoke a curse. They say yukhammisuna, or " He 
throws his five at us," i.e. he curses. Not only the hand but 

27 Mr. Lefebure in his short work, " La Main de Fatima," has gath 
ered all that is known on the subject. 

28 " The Ban of the Bori," p. 174. 



HAIK, FINGEK-NAILS AND THE HAND 85 

the forefinger is used for this purpose. It is therefore called, 
as we have seen, the Sdbriba. Goldziher gives many examples 
of how the fore-finger was used in magical ways long before 
its present use in testifying to God s unity. A controversy 
arose in Islam very early about the raising of the hands in 
prayer. It is regarding the position of the hands that the 
four sects have special teaching and can be distinguished. 
Perhaps this also indicates a magical use of the hand. In 
Egypt the hand is generally used as an amulet against the 
evil eye. It is made of silver or gold in jewelry, or made 
of tin in natural size, and is then suspended over the door of 
a house. The top of a Moslem banner is often of this shape. 
It is used on the harness of horses, mules, etc., and on every 
cart used in Alexandria we see either a brass hand or one 
painted in various colors. The following points are to be 
noted. It is unlucky to count five on the fingers. All 
Egyptians of the Delta when they count say : " One, two, 
three, four, in-the-eye-of-your-enemy." Children, when at 
play, show their displeasure with each other by touching the 
little finger of their two hands together, which signifies sepa 
ration, enmity, hatred. The same sign is used by grown-up 
people also to close a discussion. 

The origin of the stretching out of the hand with the palm 
exposed toward the person was explained by my sheikh in this 
way: Tradition says that at one time a woman who saw 
Mohammed became very much enamored with his handsome 
presence, and Mohammed fearing she would work some power 
over him, raised his hand (said to be the right one) and 
stretched it out to one side in front of him with the palm 
exposed toward the woman, and at the same time he repeated 
Sura 113. When he did this the covetous glance passed be 
tween his two fingers and struck a nail in a tree near by and 
broke it in pieces ! 

Finally we may add the curious custom also common in 



86 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

Egypt, of dipping the hand in the blood of a sacrifice and 
leaving its mark upon doors, foundations of buildings, ani 
mals, etc., in order to consecrate them or protect them from 
evil influences. In the next chapter on the Aqiqa sacrifice 
we will refer to the prevalence of blood sacrifice in early 
Islam, and its significance. The practice of dipping the 
hand in blood and putting marks on the door-post may go 
back to the story of Israel in Egypt, but the present use of 
the hand in this way is mixed with all manner of supersti 
tion. Who can unravel the threads in the tangled skein of 
Moslem beliefs and practices ? There is much Judaism, as 
Rabbi Geiger has shown; more perhaps even of Christian 
ideas prevalent in Arabia at the time of the Prophet; but 
most of all Islam in its popular forms is full of animism and 
of practices which can only be described as pagan in origin 
and in tendency. 



CHAPTER V 

THE AQIQA SACRIFICE 

AMONG the many points of contact between Christianity 
and Islam (and the points of departure, from which the 
faithful missionary can launch out into the very heart of 
the Gospel message), there is one which has not received the 
emphasis it deserves. We refer to the Aqiqa ceremony, ob 
served by every Moslem household throughout most Moslem 
lands after the birth of a child, and concerning which the 
Traditions are so full. According to Moslem religious law, 
the expiatory sacrifice is made on the seventh day ; it is com 
mendable on that occasion to give the child its name, shave 
off the hair on its head, make an offering to the poor, and kill 
a victim. According to some authorities, if the offering of 
the Aqiqa has been neglected on the seventh day by the 
parents, it can be done afterwards by the child himself when 
he has become of age. 

The root of the word aqiqa is aqqa, he clave, split, rent. 
It is used especially in regard to the cutting off of an amulet 
when the boy becomes of age. It is also used in the expres 
sion " Aqqa bi sahmi " (He shot the arrow towards the sky), 
or of the sacrifice of Aqiqa (He sacrificed for his new-born 
child). It is interesting to note that the use of this word in 
every connection seems to have reference to expiation or re 
demption. According to Lane the arrow as well as the 
sacrifice was called aqiqa: " and it was the arrow of self- 
excuse : they used to do thus in the Time of Ignorance (on the 
occasion of a demand for blood-revenge) ; and if the arrow 

i Lane s "Arabic-English Lexicon," Vol. V. 

87 



88 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

returned smeared with blood, they were not content save with 
the retaliation of slaughter; but if it returned clean, they 
stroked their beards, and made reconciliation on the condition 
of the blood-wit; the stroking of the beards being a sign of 
reconciliation ; the arrow, however, as Ibn-ul- Arabi says, did 
not return otherwise than clean. The origin was this : a man 
of the tribe was slain, and the slayer was prosecuted for his 
blood ; whereupon a company of the chief men collected them 
selves together to the heirs of the slain, and offered the blood- 
wit, asking forgiveness for the blood ; and if the heir was a 
strong man, impatient of injury, he refused to take the blood- 
wit ; but if weak, he consulted the people of his tribe, and then 
said to the petitioners, We have, between us and our Creator, 
a sign denoting command and prohibition : we take an arrow, 
and set it on a bow, and shoot it towards the sky; and if it 
return to us smeared with blood, we are forbidden to take the 
blood-wit, and are not content save with the retaliation of 
slaughter ; but if it return clean, as it went up, we are com 
manded to take the blood-wit : so they made reconciliation." 

The word aqiqa in Moslem literature, however, no longer 
refers to the ceremony of the arrow, which belongs to the 
Time of Ignorance. Aqiqa in Tradition signifies: either 
the hair of the young one recently born, " that comes forth 
upon his head in his mother s womb," some say of human 
beings only and others of beasts likewise; or the sheep or 
goat that is slaughtered as a sacrifice for the recently born 
infant " on the occasion of the shaving of the infant s hair on 
the seventh day after his birth, and of which the limbs are 
divided and cooked with water and salt and given as food to 
the poor." Al Zamakhshari " holds it to be thus catted from 
the same word as applied to the hair; but it is said to be 
so-called because it is slaughtered by cutting the windpipe and 
gullet and the two external jugular veins." 

The Aqiqa sacrifice is referred to in nearly all the stan- 



89 

dard collections of Traditions, generally under Bab-al-NiJcah. 
In books of FikJi, it is mentioned under the head of 
" sacrifice " and " offerings." The most detailed account Of 
Al- Aqiqa I have found in the celebrated book on Filch, by 
Ibn Rushd el Kartabi. He treats this subject under six 
heads: (1) On whom it is incumbent; (2) Where; (3) 
For whom it should be offered and how many offerings should 
be made; (4) The time of the ceremony; (5) Its manner; 
(6) What is done with the flesh. 

" IsTow in regard on whom it is incumbent one of the sects, 
namely the literalists, say that it is necessary in every case, 
but most of them say it is only following the custom of the 
Prophet (sunna}, and Abu Hanifa says it is not incumbent 
and not sunna. But most of them are agreed that he means 
by this that it is optional. And the reason for their dis 
agreement is the apparent contradiction of two traditions, 
namely, that a tradition of Samra concerning the Prophet 
reads, Every male child shall be redeemed by his aqiqa, 
which is to be sacrificed for him on his seventh day, and so 
evil shall be removed from him. This tradition would in 
dicate that the sacrifice was incumbent: but there is the evi 
dent meaning of another tradition which reads as follows: 
When Mohammed was asked concerning Al Aqiqa he said, 
"I do not love Al Aquq (ungrateful treatment), but to 
whomsoever a child is born let him make the ceremony for 
his child." This tradition infers that the custom is praise 
worthy or allowable, and those who understand from it that 
it is praiseworthy say that the Aqiqa is sunna, and those who 
understand from it that it is allowed say it is neither sunna 
nor incumbent. But those who follow the tradition of Samra 
say it is incumbent. In regard to the character of the sacri 
fice, all the learned are agreed that everything that is per 
mitted in this respect for the annual sacrifice is permitted in 
the case of the Aqiqa from the eight classes of animals, male 



90 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

and female. Malik, however, prefers the ewe as a sacrifice 
in his sect, and he disagrees whether the camel or the cow is 
sufficient. The rest of the authorities on Filch say that the 
camel is better than the cow and that the goat is better than 
the sheep. And the reason for their disagreement is again 
due to the discrepancy of Tradition. For the Traditions of 
Ibn Abbas say that the Prophet of God performed the Aqiqa 
ceremony for Hassan and Hussain by a ram for each. An 
other saying of his is, l For a girl a ewe and for a boy two 
ewes, according to Abu Dawud. 

" In regard to the one for whom the ceremony is performed, 
the majority of them are agreed that the Aqiqa should be 
performed for the male and the female in infancy only. 
The exception to this is Al Hassan, who says no Aqiqa shall 
be given for the girl, and some of them allow the Aqiqa to be 
performed for adults. And the proof with the majority of 
the authorities that it is limited to infants is the saying of 
Mohammed on his seventh day/ and the proof of those who 
disagree is the tradition related by Anas, that the Prophet 
performed the ceremony of Aqiqa for himself when he was 
called to be a prophet- ( Aqqa an nafsihi ba adma bu atha 
b n nabuwa. ) Proof that it is allowed for girls is his saying, 
for a maiden one ewe and for a boy two. On the other 
hand, the proof that it should be limited to the male infants 
is his saying, Every boy child is under obligation to have his 
Aqiqa. But as regards the number of victims the learned 
are also disagreed. Es Shafi, however, says, and with him 
agree Abu Thaur and Dawud and Ahmad, The Aqiqa of 
the girl to be one ewe and of the boy two. And the cause of 
their disagreement is the disagreement of Tradition. For 
we have a tradition of Um Karz related by Abu Dawud, that 
the Prophet said in the Aqiqa the boy shall have two similar 
ewes and the girl one. And this undoubtedly means that 
there shall be a difference in the number of victims in the 



THE AQIQA SACRIFICE 91 

case of the boy or the girl. The other tradition, however, 
that Mohammed himself performed the ceremony for Hassan 
and Hussain with one ram each, compels a different inter 
pretation. 

" As regards the time of this ceremony, the majority are 
agreed that it shall be on the seventh day after birth. Malik 
does not count in this number the day on which the child is 
born, if he is born in the daytime. Abd ul Malik, however, 
counts it in. Ibn al Kasim says if the Aqiqa is performed 
at night-time the hair of the sacrifice shall not be cut off. 
The companions of Malik disagree regarding the time of the 
cutting of the hair. It is said to be the usual time of the 
sacrifice, namely forenoon. Others say immediately after 
dawn, basing their statement upon what is related by Malik 
in his Hadaya. And there is no doubt that those who permit 
the annual sacrifice at night permit this sacrifice also. It 
is also stated that the Aqiqa is permitted on the 14th day 
or the 21st. 

" As regards the sunna of this ceremony and its character, 
it is like the sunna of the annual sacrifice, namely, that the 
victim must be free from blemishes as in that case, and I 
know no disagreement among the four schools in this respect 
whatever. 

" As regards the flesh of the victim and its skin and the 
other parts, the law is the same as in regard to the flesh of 
the annual sacrifice, both as regards eating, alms to the poor, 
and prohibition of sale. All authorities are agreed that 
generally the head of the infant was smeared with blood in 
pre-Islamic times, and that this custom was abrogated in 
Islam, basing it upon a tradition of Baridah, viz., In the 
Days of Ignorance when a child was born to any one of us, 
we sacrificed a sheep for him and smeared his head with its 
blood. When Islam came, we were accustomed at the time 
of the sacrifice to shave the infant s head and to smear it 



92 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

with saffron. Hassan and Katadah, however, make excep 
tion to this statement, and they say that the head of the 
young child shall be wiped with a piece of cotton which has 
been dipped in the blood, and in the Days of Ignorance it 
was thought commendable to break the bones of the sacrifice 
and to cut them from the joints. And they disagree regard 
ing the shaving of the head of the new-born child on the 
seventh and the alms equal in weight to the hair in silver. 
Some say that it is commendable, others say it is optional. 
Both of these opinions are based upon Malik, and I find the 
custom that it is commendable better. For it is based upon 
a saying of Ibn Habib, according to what is contained in Al 
Muwatta, viz. : That Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet 
of God, shaved the hair of Hassan and Hussain and Zainab 
and Um Kuthum, and then she gave in alms the value of the 
weight in silver. So far the summary of the ceremony ac 
cording to orthodox Tradition. 

We turn from this account of the ceremony as given in 
Moslem books of jurisprudence to the present practice in 
Moslem lands. Herklots tells us that in India " the Aqiqa 
sacrifice takes place on the seventh day, called Ch huttee, or 
on the fortieth day, called Chilla, in some cases on any other 
day that is convenient. It consists in a sacrifice to God, in 
the name of the child, of two he-goats, if the new-born be a 
boy ; and of one, if a girl. The he-goat requires to be above a 
year old, and suheeh-col-zaz (or perfect and without a 
blemish) ; he must not be blind in one or both eyes, or lame, 
and is to be skinned so nicely that no flesh adhere to his 
skin, and his flesh so cut up that not a bone be broken. It 
being difficult to separate the flesh from the smaller bones, 
they are boiled and dressed with the flesh remaining; while 
in eating, the people are enjoined to masticate and swallow 
the softer bones, and the meat is carefully taken off the larger 
ones without injuring the bone. The meat is well boiled, 



THE AQIQA SACRIFICE 93 

in order that it may be more easily separated from the bones. 
This is served up with manda, chupat&e, or rotee. While 
they are offering it, an Arabic sentence is repeated; the sig 
nification of which runs thus : O Almighty God. I offer 
in the stead of my own offspring, life for life, blood for 
blood, head for head, bone for bone, hair for hair, and skin 
for skin. In the name of God do I sacrifice this he-goat. 
It is meritorious to distribute the food to all classes of people, 
save to the seven following individuals, viz. : the person on 
whose account the offering is made, his parents, and his 
paternal and maternal grandfathers and grandmothers; to 
whom it is unlawful to partake of it. The bones, boiled or 
unboiled, skin, feet and head, are buried in the earth, and 
no one is allowed to eat them." 

The custom he describes in such detail was taken by him 
verbatim from the lips of Jaffur Shurruf, a native of the 
Deccan, who belonged to the Sunni or orthodox sect. He goes 
on to tell us that the shaving of the head, which is called 
Moondun, takes place on the same day, or, in the case of the 
rich, the ceremony is performed some days later. Those who 
can afford it have the child s head shaved with a silver- 
mounted razor and use a silver cup to contain the water, both 
of which after the operation are given as a present to the 
barber. The hair is weighed, and its weight in silver is dis 
tributed among the religious mendicants. The hair itself is 
tied up in a piece of cloth and either buried in the earth or 
thrown in the water. 

Another curious custom is thus described : " Those who 
can afford it have the hair taken to the water-side, and there, 
after they have assembled, musicians and the women, and 
offered fateeha in the name of Khoaja Khizur over the hair, 
on which they put flour, sugar, ghee, and milk, the whole is 
placed on a raft or juhaz (a ship), illuminated by lamps, the 
musicians singing and playing the whole time, they launch 



94 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

it on the water. Some people at the time of moondiyi, leave 
choontees (or tufts of hair unshaved) in the riame of par 
ticular saints, and take great care that nothing unclean con 
taminates them. A few, vowing in the name of any saint, 
do not perform moondun at all, but allow the hair to grow 
for one or even four or five years ; and either at the expira 
tion of the appointed season, or a little before or after, pro 
ceed to the durgaJi (or shrine) of that saint, and there have 
the hair shaved. Should it happen that they are in a distant 
country at that time and have not the means of repairing to 
his shrine, they perform fateeha in his name, and have the 
hair shaved at the place where they may happen to be. Such 
hair is termed jumal chontee, or jumal bal. This ceremony 
is, by some men and women, performed with great faith in 
its efficacy." 

According to Lane, the ceremony of Aqiqa was not uni 
versal in Egypt in his day. It has become less common since. 
Where it is observed, a goat is sacrificed at the tomb of some 
saint in or near their village. The victim is called Aqiqa,, 
and is offered as a ransom for the child from hell. The gift 
to the poor and the shaving of the head in all its detail as in 
Indian practice, however, still prevails among the villagers. 
The shaving of the head has been taken over by the Copts, and 
is practiced by them as well as by the Moslems. In the case 
of wealthy Copts a sum of money, equal in value to the weight 
of the hair of the infant in gold, is given to the poor. In 
Arabia the custom is common everywhere. 

According to Doughty, there is no question in the minds of 
the Arabs to-day as to the significance of the rite of sacrifice : 
" When a man child is born, the father will slay an ewe, but 
the female birth is welcomed in by no sacrifice. Something 
has been already said of their blood-sprinkling upon break- 
land, and upon the foundation of new buildings; this they 
use also at the opening or enlarging of new wells and waters. 



THE AQIQA SACRIFICE 95 

Again, when their ghrazzu riders return with a booty (feyd 
or chesscib}, the women dance out with singing to meet them; 
and the (live) chessab, 2 which they say t is sweet/ is the 
same evening smeared with the blood of a victim. Metaad, 
a neighbor of mine, sent me a present of the meat of a fat 
goat, which he had sacrificed for the health of a sick camel ; 
and now, said the Arab, it would certainly begin to amend. 
Rubba, the poor herdsman, made a supper to his friends, 
dividing to them the flesh of a she-goat, the thank-offering 
which he had vowed in his pain and sickness. Swoysh, 
sacrificing the year s mind, [sic] for his grandsire, distributed 
the portions at his tent, but we sat not down to a dish. They 
are persuaded that backwardness to sacrifice should be to 
their hurt. All religious sacrifices they call kurban. I have 
seen townsmen of Medina burn a little bakliur, before the 
sacrifice, for a pompous odor, acceptable to God, and dis 
posing our minds to religion Where all men are their own 
butchers, perhaps they are (as the Arabs) more rash-handed 
to shed human blood. When they sacrifice to the jan they 
sacrifice to demons. If one sacrifice for health, the death 
of the ewe or the goat they think to be accepted for his 
camel s or for his own life, life for life." 

In Morocco the ceremony is also well-known. " On the 
morning of the name-day," says Budgett Meakin, " the 
father or nearest male relative slaughters the sheep, exclaim 
ing as he cuts the throat, In the Name of the Mighty God : 
for the naming of so-and-so, son (or daughter) of so-and-so. 
Referring to the mother, who is asked to give the child a 
name. In the evening a feast is made of the sheep, the 
nurse receiving as her perquisite the fleece and a fore-leg, 
with perhaps a present of cash besides, in return for her 
presence for seven days. The mother sits in state on a special 
chair brought by the nurse." 

2 Doughty refers to animals such as sheep or horses taken as booty. 



96 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

In Sumatra, we are told " The Mohammedan law recom 
mends an offering of two sheep or goats for a male, and one 
for a female child, by preference on the seventh day after 
birth, but if this be impossible then at some later date, even 
when the child is quite grown up." This sacrifice is called 
aqiqa and is not only known but is actually practiced in 
Acheh under the name of hakikah. In Acheh, no less than in 
other parts of the E. Indian archipelago, the people of 
Mekka have done their best to foster the doctrine that it is an 
extremely meritorious act to offer this sacrifice for the child in 
the holy city. The Mekka folk thus of course reap the profits 
on the sale of the goats and at the same time enjoy their share 
of the meat. Many Achenese are, however, aware that the 
hakikah is more properly offered at home. The choice of 
some later occasion for this sacrifice, and not the seventh 
day after birth is also common in Acheh. 

The ceremony is performed among the Malays as follows : 
" A few days later the child s head is shaved, and his nails 
cut for the first time. For the former process a red lather 
is manufactured from fine rice-flour mixed with gambier, 
lime, and betel-leaf. Some people have the child s head 
shaved clean, others leave the central lock (jambul). In 
either case the remains of the red lather, together with the 
clippings of hair (and nails ?) are received in a rolled-up 
yam-leaf (daun k ladi diponjut} or cocoa-nut ( ?) and carried 
away and deposited at the foot of a shady tree, such as a 
banana (or a pomegranate?). 

" Some times (as had been done in the case of a Malay 
bride at whose tonsure I assisted), the parents make a 
vow at a child s birth that they will give a feast at the tonsure 
of its hair, just before its marriage, provided the child grows 
up in safety. 

" Occasionally the ceremony of shaving the child s head 
takes place on the 44th day after birth, the ceremony being 



THE AQIQA SACKIFICE 97 

called balik juru. A small sum, such as $2.00 or $3.00, is 
also sometimes presented to a pilgrim to carry clippings of 
the child s locks to Mecca and cast them into the well Zem- 
zem, such payment being called kekah ( aqiqa) in the case 
of a boy and kurban in the case of a girl." 8 

The custom prevails also in China, although so much else 
of the Moslem ritual has there been modified or suppressed. 
A Koranic name, called King-ming, is given to the child 
within seven days of its birth, and a feast is celebrated. 
" The rich are expected to kill a sheep, two if the child is a 
male, and the poor are to be fed with the meat. In selecting 
the name the father has to hold the child with its face turned 
towards Mecca and repeat a prayer in each ear of the child. 
Then taking the Koran he turns over any seven pages, and 
from the seventh word of the seventh line of the seventh page 
gives the name." (Marshall Broomhall, " Islam in China.") 
Here as elsewhere the naming of the child and the Aqiqa 
are closely related. 

In Mecca, on the seventh day after the birth of a child, a 
wether is usually killed. According to Snouck Hurgronje, 
the people there do not connect this with the Aqiqa cere 
mony which may take place later. For the rest the cere 
monies are observed by the calling of God s name in the right 
ear of the infant and giving the call to prayer in its left ear. 
A short Kliuibdh is given at the naming of the child and a 
present of silver given to the poor. On the fortieth day the 
infant is dressed in beautiful clothes, generally of silk, and 
handed at sunset by the mother to one of the eunuch guardians 
of the Kadba who lays it down near the door of the Kaaba. 
For ten minutes the child remains under the protection of 
the shadow of the Kaaba. Then the mother performs the 
evening prayer and carries the infant home. 

In the Punjab, according to Major W. Fitz G. Bourne, the 

3 Skeat s " Malay Magic," pp. 341-342. 



08 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

ceremony is universal. He writes : " On the sixth day after 
birth, the mother is bathed, all the women of the family 
assemble, and a feast takes place, called Chliati. On the 
seventh day both male and female relations are invited, and a 
great feast takes place. The child s head is shaved, and the 
hair weighed against silver, which is given to the poor. The 
barber places a small brass cup before the assembly, into 
which all present put silver. 4 A sacrifice of one or two he- 
goats in the case of a male child, and of a she-goat in the 
case of a female child, is made. This ceremony is called 
Aqiqa and is solemnized by repeating a given prayer in 
Arabic." 

In regard to Malaysia and especially Celebes, we have in 
teresting information about the practice prevalent among 
Bare e-speaking Toradja s, by Dr. N. Adriani and the Rev. 
A. D. Kruijt. They say, " The Mohammedans on the south 
coast believe that when a child dies before its third year it 
has no sins, and therefore, its soul is taken directly to Allah. 
After the third year, however, a sacrifice is required, for a 
boy two goats, for a girl one. This sacrifice is called the 
Mosambale, or Aqiqa. The time differs, and is chiefly de 
pendent on the prosperity of the family. If there is, how 
ever, a death in the family or the child is ill, no effort is 
spared to secure the necessary sacrifice. The father himself 
must slay the goat. If the father has died before the Aqiqa 
ceremony, then a portion of the father s personal possessions 
must be used to purchase the Aqiqa sacrifice; for example, 
a piece of his clothing or outfit. When the sacrifice takes 
place the father says bis millah, etc. (I sacrifice the Aqiqa 
of so-and-so, who is the child of so-and-so. . . .) The 
popular opinion is that when the child dies afterwards it 
rides the goat which has been sacrified for it in order to wel 
come its father in the other world. On the presentation of 

* This is also the custom in Egypt. 



THE AQIQA SACRIFICE 99 

this sacrifice, they assert, that the future character of the 
child is dependent for good or for ill. The child whose 
morals are corrupt is described as one for whom no proper 
aqiqa offering has been made. Possibly this representation 
rests on a curious misunderstanding of the Arabic word 
aqiqa and the other Arabic word haqiqa, which means 
reality, so that the people imagine that the two words are 
closely related." 

In Afghanistan the practice is well-known; and in addi 
tion to that of the Aqiqa we learn of other vicarious sacrifices 
that are prevalent. Dr. Pennell says, " All Muhammadan 
nations must, from the origin of their religion, have many 
customs and observances which appear Jewish, because they 
were adopted by Muhammed himself from the Jews around 
him; but there are two, at least, met with among Afghans 
which are not found among neighboring Muhammadan 
peoples, and which strongly suggest a Jewish origin. The 
first, which is very common, is that of sacrificing an animal, 
usually a sheep or a goat, in case of illness, after which the 
blood of the animal is sprinkled over the doorposts of the 
house of the sick person, by means of which the angel of death 
is warded off. The other, which is much less common, and 
appears to be dying out, is that of taking a heifer and placing 
upon it the sins of the people, whereby it becomes qurban, or 
sacrifice, and then it is driven out into the wilderness." 

All this testimony from many Moslem lands concerning 
the prevalence of a practice which is based upon the highest 
authority, namely, Sunna, is of course deeply interesting to 
the student of comparative religion ; and for the theories on 
the subject, some of which are fanciful in the extreme, the 
reader is referred to such authorities as Frazer in his " Golden 
Bough " or the special treatise of Prof. G. A. Wilkens, 
" Ueber das Haaropfer." Perhaps the best explanation of 
the origin of this sacrifice from the standpoint of comparative 



100 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

religion is that given by W. Robertson Smith in his book, 
" Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia." He says, 
" Shaving or polling the hair was an act of worship commonly 
performed when a man visited a holy place or on discharging 
a vow (as in the ritual of the Hebrew Nazarites). At Taif, 
when a man returned from a journey, his first duty was to 
visit the Rabba and poll his hair. The hair in these cases 
was an offering to the deity, and as such was sometimes 
mingled with a meal offering. So it must have been also 
with the hair of the babe, for Mohammed s daughter Fatima 
gave the example of bestowing in alms the weight of the hair 
in silver. The alms must in older times have been a pay 
ment to the sanctuary, as in the similar ceremony observed in 
Egypt on behalf of children recovered from sickness ; and the 
sacrifice is meant, as the Prophet himself says, to avert evil 
from the child by shedding blood on his behalf. This is 
more exactly brought out in the old usage discontinued in 
Moslem times of daubing the child s head with blood, which 
is the same thing with the sprinkling of the living blood 
of a victim on the tents of an army going out to battle, or the 
sprinkling of the blood on the doorposts at the Hebrew pass- 
over. The blood which ensures protection by the god is, as 
in ritual of blood-brotherhood, blood that unites protector and 
protected, and in this, as in all other ancient Arabian sacri 
fices, was doubtless applied also to the sacred stone that repre 
sented the deity. The prophet offered a sheep indifferently 
for the birth of a boy or a girl, but in earlier times the 
sacrifice seems to have been only for boys. 5 Some authorities 
say that the ceremony fell on the seventh day after birth, but 
this is hardly correct ; for when there was no aqiqa offered the 
child was named and its gums rubbed with masticated dates 
on the morning after birth. The Arabs were accustomed to 
hide a new-born child under a cauldron till the morning 
o Compare the Tradition already cited. 



THE AQIQA SACRIFICE 101 

light ; apparently it was not thought safe till it had been put 
under the protection of the deity. I presume that in general 
the sacrifice, the naming, and the symbolical application of 
the most important article of food to the child s mouth, all 
fell together and marked his reception into partnership in the 
sacra and means-of-life of his father s group. At Medina 
Mohammed was often called in to give the name and rub the 
child s gums probably because in heathenism this was done 
by the priest. Such a ceremony as this would greatly facili 
tate the change of the child s kin; it was only necessary to 
dedicate it to the father s instead of the mother s god. But 
indeed the name aqiqa, which is applied both to the hair cut 
off and to the victim, seems to imply a renunciation of the 
original mother-kinship ; for the verb aqqa, " to sever," is not 
the one that would naturally be used either of shaving hair 
or cutting the throat of a victim, while it is the verb that is 
used of dissolving the bond of kindred, either with or without 
the addition of al-rahim. If this is the meaning of the cere 
mony, it is noteworthy that it was not performed on girls, 
and of this the words of the traditions hardly admit a doubt. 6 
The exclusion of women from inheritance would be easily 
understood if we could think that at one times daughters were 
not made of their father s kin. That certainly has been the 
case in some parts of the world." 

In his later work, " The Religion of the Semites," how 
ever, Professor Smith says that a fuller consideration of the 
whole subject of the hair offering convinces him that the 
name aqiqa is not connected with the idea of change of kin, 
but is derived from the cutting away of the first hair. " I 
apprehend that among the Arabs . . . the aqiqa was origin 
ally a ceremony of initiation into manhood, and that the 
transference of the ceremony to infancy was a later innova- 

On the contrary, the Traditions leave the matter uncertain except 
as regards the practice of the Jews. 



102 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

tion, for among the Arabs, as among the Syrians, young lads 
let their hair grow long, and the sign of immaturity was the 
retention of the side locks, which adult warriors did not 
wear. The cutting of the side locks was, therefore, a formal 
mark of admission into manhood, and in the time of Herod 
otus it must also have been a formal initiation into the 
worship of Orotal, 7 for otherwise the religious significance 
which the Greek historian attaches to the shorn forehead of 
the Arabs is unintelligible. At that time, therefore, we must 
conclude that a hair-offering, precisely equivalent to the 
aqiqa, took place upon entry into manhood, and thereafter 
the front hair was habitually worn short as a permanent 
memorial of this dedicatory sacrifice. It is by no means 
clear that even in later times the initiatory ceremony was 
invariably performed in infancy, for the name aqiqa which 
in Arabic denotes the first hair as well as the religious cere 
mony of cutting it off, is sometimes applied to the ruddy locks 
of a lad approaching manhood, and figuratively to the plum 
age of a swift young ostrich or the tufts of an ass s hair, 
neither of which has much resemblance to the scanty down 
on the head of a new-born babe. It would seem, therefore, 
that the oldest Semitic usage both in Arabia and in Syria, 
was to sacrifice the hair of childhood upon admission to the 
religious and social status of manhood." 

It does not seem very clear, however, that either of these 
theories is altogether satisfactory. Is it not more probable 
that we have in this Moslem custom another Jewish element 
in Islam connected with the Old Testament doctrine of 
sacrifice, especially the redemption of the first-born ? (Com 
pare Exodus XIII: 11-22 XXXIV: 19.) If in addition 
to all the resemblances to the Jewish practice already 
noted further testimony were necessary, it would be suffi 
cient to refer to the statement made in the commentary of Al 

7 Orotal = Allah Ta ala, God Supreme, Z. 



THE AQIQA SACRIFICE 103 

Buchari as the key to this true Sunna of the Prophet : " For 
the female child one ewe and this abrogates the saying of 
those who disapprove a sacrifice for a girl as did the Jews, 
who only made aqiqa for boys." (On the authority of Araki 
in Tinnidhi Fath-ul-Bari V. 390.) 

An additional proof would be the injunction of Ayesha, 
" That not a bone of this sacrifice should be broken." Surely 
the observation of the Aqiqa ceremony may well lead us to 
use Exodus XII and John XIX with our Moslem brethren, 
pointing them to the " Lamb of God which taketh away the 
sin of the world," and who is the true Redeemer also of 
childhood; who Himself took little children into His arms 
and blessed them. I have recently prepared a leaflet on this 
subject for Moslems, entitled " Haqiqat ul Aqiqa" (The 
True Explanation of the Aqiqa) calling attention to some of 
these traditions and pointing out the teaching of the Old 
Testament regarding the redemption by the sacrificial Lamb, 
and showing that without the shedding of blood there is no 
remission of sin. That the Moslem himself once recognized 
the vicarious character of this sacrifice and its deeper sig 
nificance of atonement is perfectly evident from the prayer 
used on this occasion. In one of the books of devotion pub 
lished in Hindustani and printed at Calcutta, this prayer 
reads as follows : " O God, this is the Aqiqa sacrifice of 
my son so-and-so; its blood for his blood, its flesh for his 
flesh, its bone for his bone, its skin for his skin, its hair for 
his hair. O God ! make it a redemption for my son from 
the Fire, for truly I have turned my face to Him who 
created the heavens and the earth, a true believer. And I am 
not of those who associate partners with God. Truly my 
prayer and my offering my life and my death is to God, the 
Lord of the worlds, who has no partner, and thus I am com 
manded, and I belong to the Moslems." After using this 
prayer the manual of devotion states that the sacrifice shall 



104 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

be slain by the father of the child while he crys ee Allahu 
akbar." 

We may well imagine that under the Old Testament law 
a similar intercessory prayer was offered by the pious 
Israelite when presenting his sacrifice on behalf of the first 
born. According to Jewish Talmudic law, every Israelite 
was obliged to redeem his first-born son thirty days after the 
latter s birth. At the redemption the father of the child 
pronounces these words, " Blessed art thou in the name of 
Him who commandeth us concerning the redemption of the 
son." In the case of the first-born they also observe the 
custom of Ahlakah; that is cutting the boy s hair for the first 
time. This took place after his fourth birthday. According 
to the Jewish Encyclopaedia, it was also customary in Tal 
mudic times to weigh the child (sic) 8 and to present the 
weight in coin to the poor. According to Rabbi Joseph 
Jacobs among the Beni Israel there is a custom that if a 
child is born as the result of a vow its hair is not cut until 
the sixth or seventh year. It is usual in all these cases to 
weigh the hair cut off and give its weight in coin to charitable 
purposes. 

Who can fail to see that the Moslem custom is borrowed 
from Judaism, however much there may be mingled in the 
latter of early Semitic practice, the origin of which is ob 
scure ? Is there perhaps some connection also with the 
Akedah 9 prayer and ceremony observed among the Jews ? 
The term refers to the binding of Isaac as a sacrifice, and 
this Biblical incident plays an important part in the Jewish 
liturgy. The earliest allusion occurs in the Mishnah, and 
the following prayer is found in the New Year s Day ritual : 
" Remember in our favor, O Lord our God, the oath which 
Thou hast sworn to our father Abraham on Mount Moriah ; 

8 This must be a misprint, even in so careful and accurate a work, for 
" hair of the child." 

9 Akedah the binding or knotting of a rope. 



THE AQIQA SACRIFICE 105 

consider the binding of his son Isaac upon the altar when he 
suppressed his love in order to do Thy will with a whole 
heart ! Thus may Thy love suppress Thy wrath against us, 
and through Thy great goodness may the heat of Thine anger 
be turned away from Thy people, Thy city and Thy heritage. 
. . . Remember to-day in mercy in favor of his seed the bind 
ing of Isaac." (Jewish Encyclopaedia.) Dr. Max Lands- 
berg says : " In the course of time ever greater importance 
was attributed to the Akedah. The haggadistic literature is 
full of allusions to it ; the claim to forgiveness on its account 
was inserted in the daily morning prayer ; and a piece called 
Akedah was added to the liturgy of each of the penitential 
days among the German Jews." In any case we notice that 
among the Jews as among Moslems attempts are made to 
explain away the significance of this prayer and sacrifice as 
relating to the idea of the atonement. Accordingly, many 
American reform rituals have abolished the Akedah prayers. 
It is the fashion of the day in liberal Theology, Moslem 
and Jewish as well as Christian, to explain away the idea of 
expiation and atonement in the Old Testament as well as in 
the New. The altar with its blood sacrifice is as great a 
stumbling-block to such thinkers as the Cross of Christ ; but 
the place of the altar and of the Cross are central, pivotal, and 
dominant in the soteriology of the Bible. We cannot escape 
the clear teaching of God s Word, that " without the shedding 
of blood there is no remission of sin " ; that " the lamb of God 
was slain before the foundation of the world " : that the Son 
of God came " to give His life a ransom for many." The 
missionary, therefore, as well as the reverent student of the 
Old Testament, is not satisfied with any explanation of the 
doctrine of sacrifice which leaves out substitution and atone 
ment. One thing seems clear from our investigation, that 
we have in the Aqiqa sacrifice as well as in the great annual 
feast of Islam with its day of sacrifice at Mecca, a clear 



106 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

testimony to the doctrine of a vicarious atonement and the 
remission of sin through the shedding of blood. Were St. 
Paul present at an Aqiqa ceremony or at Arafah on the 
great day of the feast, would he not preach to the assembled 
multitudes on the " remission of sins through His blood " ? 
(Eph. 1 : 7 Col. 1 : 14 Eom. V : 11 Eom. Ill : 25.) 

Surely there is pathos as well as interest in the fact that 
the great Moslem world of childhood from its infancy has 
been consecrated to the religion of Islam by the Aqiqa 
sacrifice. 

BOOKS REFERRED TO IN THIS CHAPTER 

" Al Bukhari" (Bulak, 1314). Vol. VII, p. 83. 

" Commentary on al Bukhari," Fath-ul-Bari, by El Ainy. Vol. IX, p. 
710. 

" Commentary on al Bukhari," by al Askalany. Vol. IX, p. 464. 

" Commentary on al Muwatta," by al Zarkani. Vol. Ill, p. 23. 

" Badayat ul Majtahid," by El Kurtubi bin Rushd el Hafidh. Vol. I, 
p. 375. 

" Minhaj ut Talibin," by al Nawawi, p. 127. 

"Mishkat ul Masabih (Delhi). P. 363. 

" Ihya ulum id Din," by al Ghazali. Vol. II, p. 35. 

Commentary on the same, by al Murtadhi. Vol. V, p. 390. 

"The Encyclopaedia of Islam" (Leyden). 

"The Jewish Encyclopaedia" (Arts. Hair; First-born; Child; Sac 
rifice) . 

W. Robertson Smith, " Kinship and Marriage in Early Arabia " ( Cam 
bridge, 1885). "The Religion of the Semites" (New York, 1889). 

C. Snouck Hurgronje, "Mekka" (The Hague, 1888). 

C. M. Doughty, "Arabia Deserta " (Cambridge, 1888). 

G. A. Herklots, "Customs of the Moosulmans of India" (London, 
1832). 

Major W. Fitz G. Bourne, " Hindustani Mussulmans and Mussulmans of 
the Eastern Punjab" (Calcutta, 1914). 

N. Adrian! and Alb. C. Kruijt, " De Barre s-sprekende Toradja a " 
(Batavia, 1912). 

Budgett Meakin, "The Moors" (London, 1902). 

Dr. Pennell, "Among the Wild Tribes of the Afghan Frontier" (Lon 
don, 1909). 

Marshall Broomhall, "Islam in China" (London, 1910). 



CHAPTER VI 

THE FAMILIAR SPIRIT OR QARINA 

AMONG all the superstitions in Islam there is none more 
curious in its origin and character than the belief in the 
Qarin or Qarina. It probably goes back to the ancient re 
ligion of Egypt, or to the animistic beliefs common in Arabia 
as well as in Egypt, at the time of Mohammed. By Qarin or 
Qarina the Moslem understands the double of the individual, 
his companion, his mate, his familiar demon. In the case of 
males a female mate, and in the case of females a male. 
This double is generally understood to be a devil, shaitan or 
jinn, born at the time of the individual s birth and his con 
stant companion throughout life. The Qarina is, therefore, 
of the progeny of Satan. 

The conception of the soul and the belief in a double among 
Moslems closely resembles the idea of the Malays and other 
animists. " The Malay conception of the human soul," we 
read, " is that of a species of thumbling, a thin unsubstantial 
human image, or mannikin, which is temporarily absent from 
the body in sleep, trance, disease, and permanently absent 
after death. This mannikin, which is usually invisible but 
is supposed to be about as big as the thumb, corresponds ex 
actly in shape, proportion and even complexion, to its em 
bodiment or casing, i. e., the body in which it has its resi 
dence. It is of a vapory, shadowy, or filmy essence, though 
not so impalpable, but that it may cause displacement on en 
tering a physical object. . . . The soul appears to men (both 
waking and sleeping) as a phantom separate from the body, 

of which it bears the likeness, manifests physical power, and 

107 



108 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

walks, sits, and sleeps." 1 What this concept has become in 
Islam we shall see in a moment. 

That the shadow is a second soul, or a semblance of the 
soul, is also an animistic idea. The same thing appears in 
Islam, for the shadow of a dog defiles the one who prays as 
much as does the dog himself. 2 The Javanese believe that 
black chickens and black cats do not cast a shadow because 
they come from the underworld. When one reads of this 
one cannot help comparing with it the Moslem belief in the 
Qarina. 

There are many passages in the Koran in which this doc 
trine is plainly taught, and by reading the commentaries on 
these texts, a world of superstition, groveling, coarse, and, 
to the last degree, incredible, is opened to the reader. The 
Koran passages read as follows : 3 ( Chapter of the Cave, 
verse 48), " And when we said to the angels, Adore Adam, 
they adored him, save only Iblis, who was of the jinn, who 
revolted from the bidding of his Lord. What ! will ye then 
take him and his seed as patrons, rather than me, when they 
are foes of yours ? bad for the wrong-doers is the exchange ! 
The reference here is to the words, " Satan and his seed." 
(See especially the Commentary of Fahr al Din al Razi, 
margin, Vol. VI, p. 75.) 

In speaking of the resurrection when the trumpet is blown 
and the day of judgment comes, we read: (Chapter Kaf, 
verses 2030), "And every soul shall come with it a 
driver and a witness ! Thou wert heedless of this, and we 
withdrew thy veil from thee, and to-day is thine eyesight 
keen ! And his mate (qarina] shall say, This is what is 
ready for me (to attest). Throw into hell every stubborn 

i" Malay Magic," by W. W. Skeat, London, 1900. 

2 I have not found this stated in the Traditions, but it is a well- 
known belief in Egypt and in Arabia. 

3 Palmer s translation is used throughout. 



THE FAMILIAR SPIRIT OR QARINA 109 

misbeliever ! who forbids good, a transgressor, a doubter ! 
who sets other gods with God and throw him, ye twain, 
into fierce torment ! His mate shall say, ( Our Lord ! I se 
duced him not, but he was in a remote error. He shall say, 
Wrangle not before me ; for I sent the threat to you before. 
The sentence is not changed with me, nor am I unjust to my 
servants. On the day we will say to hell, Art thou full ? 
and it will say, Are there any more ? 

And again we read: (Chapter of Women, verses 41, 42), 
" And those who expend their wealth in alms for appearance 
sake before men, and who believe not in God nor in the last 
day; but whosoever has Satan for his mate, (qarina) an 
evil mate has he." 

Again: (Chapter of the Ranged, verses 47-54), ". . . 
and with them damsels, restraining their looks, large eyed; 
as though they were a sheltered egg; and some shall come 
forward to ask others ; and a speaker amongst them shall say, 
Verily, I had a mate (qarina) who used to say, " Art thou 
verily of those who credit? What! when we are dead, and 
have become earth and bones, shall we be surely judged ? " 
He will say, Are ye looking down ? and he shall look down 
and see him in the midst of hell. He shall say, By God, 
thou didst nearly ruin me ! 

(Chapter "Detailed," verse 24), "We will allot to them 
mates, for they have made seemly to them what was before 
them and what was behind them; and due against them was 
the sentence on the nations who passed away before them; 
both of jinns and of mankind ; verily, they were the losers ! " 

(Chapter of Gilding, verses 35-37), "And whosoever 
turns from the reminder of the Merciful One, we will chain 
to him a devil, who shall be his mate ; and verily, these shall 
turn them from the path while they reckon they are guided ; 
until when he comes to us he shall say, O, would that be 
tween me and thee there were the distance of the two orients, 



for an evil mate (art thou) ! But it shall not avail you on 
that day, since ye were unjust; verily, in the torment shall 
ye share ! " 

To speak of only one of these passages, what Baidhawi says 
in regard to the Chapter of the Ranged, verse 49, leaves no 
doubt that the qarina, which has been the mate of the be 
liever all through life, is cast into hell on the day of judg 
ment, and that this evil spirit, which is born with every man, 
is determined to ruin him, but that the favor of God saves 
the believer, and that one of the special mercies of heaven 
for the believer is to behold his companion devil forever 
in torment. 

Before we deal further with the comment as given on these 
verses, and the teaching in Moslem books, we consider the 
possible origin of this belief in teaching found in the " Book 
of the Dead " of ancient Egypt. " In addition to the Nat 
ural-body and Spirit-body," writes E. A. Wallis Budge 
(" Book of the Dead," Vol. I, p. 73), " man also had an ab 
stract individuality or personality endowed with all his char 
acteristic attributes. This abstract personality had an abso 
lutely independent existence. It could move freely from 
place to place, separating itself from, or uniting itself to, the 
body at will, and also enjoying life with the gods in heaven. 
This was the Jca, a word which at times conveys the meaning 
of its Coptic equivalent KW, and of ttSwAov, image, genius, 
double, character, disposition, and mental attributes. What 
the lea really was has not yet been decided, and Egyptologists 
have not yet come to an agreement in their views on the sub 
ject. Mr. Griffith thinks (Hieroglyphs, p. 15), that it was 
from one point of view regarded as the source of muscular 
movement and power, as opposed to ba, the will or soul which 
set it in motion. In September, 1878, M. Maspero ex 
plained to the Members of the Congress of Lyons the views 
which he held concerning this word, and which he had for the 



THE FAMILIAR SPIRIT OR QARIKA 111 

past five years been teaching in the College of France, and 
said, " le ka est une sorte de double de la personne humaine 
d une matiere moins grossiere que la matiere dont est forme 
le corps, mais qu il fallait nourrir et entretenir comme le 
corps lui-meme; ce double vivait dans le tombeau des offran- 
des qu on faisait aux fetes canoniques, et aujourd hui encore 
un grand nombre des genies de la tradition populaire egyp- 
tienne ne sont que des doubles, devenus demons au moment 
de la conversion des fellahs au christianisme, puis a I islam- 
isme." 4 

Other authorities whom Mr. Budge quotes think that the 
Ka was a genius and not a double. Mr. Breasted thinks that 
the ka was the superior genius intended to guide the fortunes 
of the individual in the hereafter. But Mr. Budge goes on 
to say : " The relation of the ka to the funerary offerings has 
been ably discussed by Baron Fr. W. v. Bissing (Versuch 
einer neuen Erklarung des Ka i der alten Aegypter in the Sit- 
zungsberichte der Kgl. Bayer. Akad., Munich, 1911), and 
it seems as if the true solution of the mystery may be found 
by working on the lines of his idea, (which was published in 
the Recueil, 1903, p. 182), and by comparing the views about 
the double held by African peoples throughout the Sudan. 
The funeral offerings of meat, cakes, aje, wine, unguents, etc., 
were intended for the ka; the scent of the burnt incense was 
grateful for it (sic). The ka dwelt in the man s statue just 
as the ka of a god inhabited the statue of the god. In the 
remotest times the tombs had special chambers wherein the 
ka was worshiped and received offerings. The priesthood 
numbered among its body an order of men who bore the name 
of priests of the ka and who performed services of honor 
of the ka in the " Ka chapel ! " Although not in any sense 

* The Qarina. The belief in the Qarina shows itself in the common 
speech of the people. When an Egyptian wishes to send some one away 
he always uses the expression Rukh-anta-wa-hunca, i.e., Go thou and he. 
The latter pronoun refers to the man s demon mate or Qarina. 



112 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

an Egyptologist, I believe further light may be thrown on the 
real significance of ka by what popular Islam teaches to-day. 

Whatever may be the significance of ka in Egyptology, we 
are not in doubt as to what Mohammed himself thought of his 
ka or qarina. In the most famous volume of all Moslem 
books on the doctrine of jinn, called " Kitab akam al mar j an 
fi Ahkam al Jan" by Abdullah-esh-Shabli (769 A. H.) we 
read in chapter five as follows : " It is related by Muslim 
and others from Ayesha that the Apostle of God left her 
one night and that she said, I was jealous of him. Then 
she said, Mohammed saw me and came for me and said, 
" What s the matter with you, Ayesha ? are you jealous ? " 
And I replied, Why should one like me not be jealous of 
one like you ? Then the apostle of God said, Has your 
devil spirit got hold of you ? Then I said, O Apostle of 
God, is there a devil with me ? Said he, l Yes, and with 
every person. Said I, And with you also, Apostle of 
God ? Said he, Yes, but my Lord Most Glorious and Pow 
erful has assisted me against him, so that he became a Mos 
lem. Another Tradition is given in the same chapter on 
the authority of Ibn Hanbal as follows : " Said the Apostle 
of God, There is not a single one of you but has his qarina 
of the jinn and his qarina of the angels. They said, < And 
thou also, O Apostle of God ? Yes, he replied, I also, 
but God has helped her so that she does not command me ex 
cept in that which is true and good. The Tradition here 
given occurs in many forms in the same chapter, so that there 
can be no doubt of its being well-known and, in the Moslem 
sense, authentic. 

Here is another curious form of the same Tradition. 
" Said the Apostle of God, I was superior to Adam in two 
particulars, for my devil (qarina}, although an unbeliever, 
became through God s help a Moslem and my wives were a 
help to me, but Adam s devil remained an infidel and his wife 



THE FAMILIAR SPIRIT OR QARINA 113 

led him into temptation. We also find an evening prayer 
recorded of Mohammed as follows : " Whenever the Apos 
tle of God went to his bed to sleep at night he said, In the 
name of God I now lay myself down and seek protection from 
him against the evil influence of my devil {qarin, shaitan), 
and from the burden of my sin and the weight of my iniquity. 
O God, make me to receive the highest decree." 

As regards the number of these companion devils and their 
origin, Tradition is not silent. " It is said that there are 
males and females among the devils, out of whom they pro 
create; but as to Iblis, God has created. . . . (The signifi 
cance of this passage, which is not fit for translation, is that 
Iblis is an hermaphrodite) . . . there come forth out of him 
every day ten eggs, out of each of which are born seventy 
male and female devils. (Ibn Khallikan, quoted in Hayat 
al-IIawayan, article jinn.} 

In another tradition also found in the standard collec 
tions it is said that Iblis laid thirty eggs " ten in the west, 
ten in the east, and ten in the middle of the earth and 
that out of every one of those eggs came forth a species of 
devils, such as al-Gilan, al- Akarib, al-Katarib, al-Jann, and 
others bearing diverse names. They are all enemies of men 
according to the words of God. What ! will ye then take 
him and his seed as patrons, rather than we, when they are 
foes of yours ? with the exception of the believing ones 
among them." 

Al-Tabari, in his great commentary, vol. 26, p. 104, says 
the qarin or qarina is each man s shaitan (devil), who was 
appointed to have charge of him in the world. He then 
proves his statement by a series of traditions similar to those 
already quoted : " his qarin is his devil (stiaitan) " ; or, ac 
cording to another authority there quoted, " his qarina is his 
jinn." (The second form of the word is feminine, the first 
masculine.) 



114 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

According to Moslem Tradition, not only Mohammed but 
even Jesus the Prophet had a qarin. As He was sinless, and 
because, in accordance with the well-known tradition, Satan 
was unable to touch Him at His birth, His qarin like that of 
Mohammed was a good one. " On the authority of Ka ab the 
Holy Spirit, Gabriel, strengthened Jesus because He was 
His qarin and his constant companion, and went with Him 
wherever He went until the day when He was taken up to 
heaven." (Qusus al Anbiya," by Al Tha alabi.) 

Now while in the case of Mohammed and Jesus and per 
haps also in the case of other prophets, the qarin or qarina 
was or became a good spirit, the general teaching is that all 
human beings, non-Moslems as well as Moslems, have their 
familiar spirit, who is in every case jealous, malignant, and 
the cause of physical and moral ill, save in as far as his 
influence is warded off by magic or religion. It is just here 
that the belief exercises a dominating place in popular Islam. 
It is against this spirit of jealousy, this other-self, that chil 
dren wear beads, amulets, talismans, etc. It is this other-self 
that through jealousy, hatred and envy prevents love between 
husband and wife, produces sterility and barrenness, kills the 
unborn child, and in the case of children as well as of adults 
is the cause of untold misery. 

The qarina is believed often to assume the shape of a cat 
or dog or other household animal. So common is the belief 
that the qarina dwells in the body of a cat at night-time, that 
neither Copts nor Moslems would dare to beat or injure a 
cat after dark. 5 

Many precautions are taken to defend the unborn child 
against its mate, or perhaps it is rather against the mate of 
the mother, who is jealous of the future child. Major Tre- 
mearne, who studied the subject in North Africa, says 

5 Many stories are related of the terrible consequences that follow 
beating a cat. These stories are credited even by the educated. 



THE FAMILIAR SPIRIT OR QARINA 115 

(" Ban of the Bori," p. 97) : the qarin " does not come until 
after the child has been actually born, for the sex is not known 
before that time." And again (p. 131) : "All human be 
ings, animals, plants and big rocks, have a permanent soul 
(quruwa) and a familiar bori of the same sex, and, in addi 
tion, young people have a temporary bori of the opposite 
sex, while all living things have two angels (mala ika) in 
attendance. Small stones are soulless, and so are those large 
ones which are deep in the earth, for they are evidently 
dead, else they would not have been buried. The soul has 
a shape like that of the body which it inhabits, and it dwells 
in the heart, but where it comes in and out of the body is not 
known. It is not the shadow (ennuwa), for it cannot be seen, 
and in fact the ennuwa is the shadow both of the body and of 
the soul. Yet the word quruwa is sometimes loosely used for 
shadow, and there is evidently some connection, for a wizard 
can pick the soul out of it. Neither is it the breath, for when 
a person sleeps his soul wanders about ; in fact, it does so even 
when a person is day-dreaming." 

All this, which is descriptive of conditions among the 
Hausa Moslems of North Africa, closely resembles the belief 
in Egypt. The jinn of the opposite sex, that is the soul-mate, 
generally dwells underground. It does not wish its par 
ticular mortal to get married. For, again I quote from Major 
Tremearne, " It sleeps with the person and has relations dur 
ing sleep as is known by the dreams." This invisible com 
panion of the opposite sex is generally spoken of in Egypt as 
" sister " or " brother." His or her abode is in quiet shady 
places, especially under the threshold of the house. The 
death of one or more children in the family is often attributed 
to their mother s mate, and therefore, the mother and the sur 
viving children wear iron anklets to ward off this danger. 
Most people believe that the qarina dies with the individual ; 
others that it enters the grave with the body. Although gen- 



116 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

erally invisible there are those who have second sight and 
can see the qarina. It wanders about at night in the shape 
of a cat. 

I have recently taken down verbatim from Sheikh Ahmed 
Muharram of Daghestan and later from Smyrna an account 
of the popular belief. He says that his statement represents 
the belief of all Turkish and Russian Mohammedans. The 
qurana (plural of qarina) come into the world from the 
Alalam ul Barzakhiya at the time the child is conceived, 
before it is born ; therefore during the act of coition, Moslems 
are told by their Prophet to pronounce the word " bismillah." 
This will prevent the child from being overcome by its devil 
and turned into an infidel or rascal. The qarina exists with 
the foetus in the womb. When the child is born the ceremony 
of pronouncing the creed in its right ear and the call to prayer 
in the left is to protect the child from its mate. Among the 
charms used against qurana are portions of the Koran writ 
ten on leaden-images of fish or on leaden discs. The qurana 
are invisible except to people who are idiots and to the 
prophets. These often have second vision. The qurana do 
not die with their human mates, but exist in the grave until 
the day of the resurrection, when they testify for or against 
the human being. The reason that young children die is be 
cause Um es Subyan (the child-witch) is jealous of the mother, 
and she then uses the qarina of the child to put an end to it. 
" The way I overcome my qarina" said Ahmed Muharram, 
" is by prayer and fasting." It is when a man is overcome 
with sleep that his qarina gets the better of him. " When I 
omit a prayer through carelessness or f orgetfulness, it is my 
qarina and not myself. The qarina, is not a spirit merely but 
has a spiritual body, and all of them differ in their bodily 
appearance, although invisible to us. The qarina does not 

6 The unseen world, Hades, the abode of souls after death and before 
birth. 



THE FAMILIAR SPIRIT OR QARINA 117 

increase in size, however, as does the child." The Sheikh 
seemed to be in doubt in regard to the sex of the qarina. At 
first he would not admit that the sex relation was as indicated, 
thinking it improper for a man to have a female mate, but 
after discussion he said he was mistaken. He admitted also 
that all these popular beliefs were based upon the Koran and 
Tradition, although superstitious practice had crept in among 
the masses. 

A learned Sheikh at Caliub, a Moslem village near Cairo, 
was also consulted on the subject. At first he tried to explain 
away the idea of popular Islam by saying that the qarina 
only referred to the evil conscience or a man s evil nature, 
but after a few questions he became quite garrulous, and 
gave the following particulars : The expectant mother, in 
fear of the qarina, visits the sheikha (learned woman) three 
months before the birth of the child, and does whatever she 
indicates as a remedy. These sheikhas exercise great influ 
ence over the women, and batten on their superstitious 
beliefs, often impersonating the qarina and frightening the 
ignorant. The Moslem mother often denies the real sex of 
her babe for seven days after it is born in order to protect its 
life from the qarina. During these seven days she must not 
strike a cat or she and the child will both die. Candles are 
lighted on the seventh day and placed in a jug of water near 
the head of the child, to guard it against the qarina. Be 
fore the child is born a special amulet is prepared, consist 
ing of seven grains each of seven different kinds of cereal. 
These are sewn up in a bag, and when the infant is born it is 
made to wear it. The mother also has certain verses of the 
Koran written with musk water or ink on the inside of a white 
dish. This is then filled with water and the ink washed off 
and the contents taken as a potion. The Sheikh told me that 
the last two chapters of the Koran and also Surat Al Muja- 
dala were most commonly used for this purpose. One of the 



118 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

most common amulets against the qarina or the child-witch is 
that called the " Seven Covenants of Solomon." 7 

In Upper Egypt the bride wears a special amulet against 
the qarina fastened to her hair at the back or elsewhere on 
her person. It consists of a triangular bag an inch long of 
colored cloth containing seeds. The tongue of a donkey dried 
is considered a most powerful charm against the qarina and 
is used as an amulet on the house or the person. 

A third amulet against the qarina of which I have a speci 
men from the village of Sirakna consists of a flat bronze ring 
three quarters of an inch in diameter. On this they tie 
threads of yellow, red, and blue silk. It is then hung in the 
armpit of a little child to protect it from the qarina. 

Charms and amulets against the qarina abound. Books on 
the subject are printed by the thousands of copies. Here, for 
example, are the directions given for writing an amulet in 
the celebrated book called " Kitab Mujaribat " by Sheikh 
Ahmed Al Dirbi (p. 105) : " This (twenty-fourth) chapter 
gives an account of an amulet to be used against qarina and 
against miscarriage. This is the blessed amulet prepared to 
guard against all bodily and spiritual evils and against harm 
and sorcery and demons and fear and terror and jinn and the 
qarina and familiar spirits and ghosts and fever and all man 
ner of illness and wetting the bed, and against the child-witch 
(Um es Subyan) and whirlwinds and devils and poisonous 
insects and the evil eye and pestilence and plague and to 
guard the child against weeping while it sleeps and the 
mystery of this writing is great for those children who have 
fits every month or every week or who cannot cease from cry 
ing or to the woman who is liable to miscarriage. And it is 
said that this amulet contains the great and powerful name 
of God in short, it is useful for all evils. It must be 

7 A translation of this is given in the chapter on amulets, charms and 
knots. 



r | rG 










Q rt - 

w "S * 

t> p"H 

or 2 a 

rK Oi ^ 

hH C ^j 

^ rt 



T3 3 
* C 

S 






H 3 ^ 

w S 5* 



THE FAMILIAR SPIRIT OR QARINA 119 

written the first hour of the first day of the week, and reads 
as follows : " In the name of God the Merciful, the Compas 
sionate, there is no God but He, the Living, the Eternal, etc. 
(to the end of the verse on the throne). In the name of God 
and to God and upon God, and there is no one victorious save 
God and no one can deliver him who flees from God, for He 
is the Living, the Self-subsisting, whom slumber seizes not 
nor sleep, etc. I place in the safe keeping of God him who 
carries this amulet, the God than whom there is no other, 
who knows the secret and the open. He is the Merciful, the 
Compassionate. I protect the bearer by the words of God 
Most Perfect and by His glorious names from evil that ap 
proaches and the eyes that flash and the souls of the wicked 
and from the evil of the father of wickedness and his descend 
ants and from the evil of those that blow upon knots and 
from the evil of the envier when he envies, and I put him 
under the protection of God the Most Holy, King of the 
Angels and of the Spirits, Lord of the worlds, the Lord of 
the great throne, Ihyashur, Ihyabur, Ihya-Adoni, Sabaoth Al 
Shaddai ; 8 and I put the bearer under the keeping of God 
by the light of the face of God which does not change and by 
His eye which does not sleep nor slumber and His protection 
which can never be imagined nor escaped and His assist 
ance which needs no help and His independence which has no 
equal and His eternity without end, His deity which cannot 
be overcome and His omnipresence which cannot be escaped, 
and I put him under the protection of the Lord of Gabriel and 
Michael and Israfil and Izrail and of Mohammed, the seal of 
the Prophets, and of all the prophets and apostles, and in the 
name of Him who created the angels and established their 
footsteps by His majesty to hold up His throne when it was 
borne on the face of the waters, and by the eight names writ- 

8 This portion shows Jewish origin and gives some of the Hebrew 
names of God Jehovah. 



120 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

ten upon the throne of God. I also give the bearer the pro 
tection of K.H.T.S. and the seven H.W.M. s and H.M.S.K. s, 
and by the talisman of M.S. and M.R. and R. and H.W.M. 
and S. and K. and N. and T.H. and Y.S. 9 and the learned 
Koran and by the name of God Most Hidden and His noble 
book and by Him who is light upon lights, by His name who 
flashed into the night of darkness and destroyed by his blaze 
every rebellious devil and made those that feared trust Him ; 
and by the name by which man can walk upon water and 
make it as dry land; and by the name by which Thou didst 
call thyself in the book which came down and which Thou 
didst not reveal to any but by whose power Thou didst return 
to Thy throne after the creation ; and by the name by which 
Thou didst raise up the heavens and spread out the earth and 
Greatest paradise and the fire*; the" name by which Thou didst 
part the sea for Moses and sent the flood to the people of 
Noah, the name written on Moses rod and by which Thou 
didst raise up Jesus, the name written on the leaves of the 
olive trees and upon the foreheads of the noble angels. And 
I put the one who wears this amulet under the protection of 
Him who existed before all and who will outlast all and who 
has created all, God, than whom there is no other, the Living, 
He is the Knowing and the Wise ; and I put the bearer under 
the protection of the name of God by which He placed the 
seven heavens firmly and the earth upon its mountains and 
the waters so that they flowed and the fountains so that they 
burst forth and the rivers so that they watered the earth, and 
the trees brought forth their fruit and the clouds gave rain 
and night became dark and the day dawned and the moon 
game his light and the sun his splendor and the stars went 
in their course and the winds who carried His messages ; and 
I put the bearer under the protection of the name by which 
Jesus spoke in the cradle and by which He raised the dead 
9 These are the mystical letters which occur in the Koran text. 



THE FAMILIAR SPIRIT OR QARINA 121 

from the grave, and by which He opened the eyes of those 
born blind and cured the lepers, the name by which He 
made the dumb to speak. And I protect him by the Merciful 
God and His great name and His perfect words, which neither 
riches nor the sinner can resist, from the evil which comes 
down from heaven or the evil that ascends to heaven and from 
the evil which is found upon the earth or which comes out 
of the earth, and from the terror of the night and of the day 
and from the oppression of the night and of the day; and I 
protect him from all powerful influences of evil and from 
the cursed devil and from envious men and from the wicked 
infidel ; and I protect him by the Lord of Abraham, the friend 
of God, and Moses, the spokesman of God, and Jesus and 
Jacob and Isaac and Ishmael and David and Solomon and 
Job and Yunas and Aaron and Seth and Abel and Enoch and 
Noah and Elijah and Zecahriah and John and Hud and 
Elisha and Zu Kifl and Daniel and Jeremiah and Shu aib 
and Ilyas and Salih and Ezra and Saul and the Prophet-of- 
the-fish and Lokman and Adam and Eve and Alexander the 
Great and Mary and Asiah (Pharaoh s wife) and Bilkis and 
Kharkil and Saf the son of Berachiah and Mohammed the 
seal of the prophets; and I protect him by God than whom 
there is no other, who will remain after all things have per 
ished, and by His power and by His might and by His exalta 
tion above all creatures and above all devils male and female, 
and all manner of jinn, male and female, and familiar spirits 
of both sexes, and wizards and witches, and deceivers male 
and female, and infidels male and female, and enemies male 
and female, and ghoul and demons, and from the evil eye and 
the envious, from the evil in things of ear and eye and tongue 
and hand and foot and heart and conscience, secret or open. 
And I protect the wearer from everything that goes out and 
comes in, from every breath that stirs of evil or of movement 
of man or beasts, whether he be sick or well, awake or sleep- 



122 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

ing, and from the evil of that which dwells in the earth or 
in the clouds or in the mountains or in the air or the dust or 
the vapor or the caves or the wells or the mines, and from the 
devil himself, and from the flying demons, and from those 
who work sorcery and from the evil of the whirlwind caused 
by the chief of the jinn, and from the evil of those who dwell 
in tombs and in secret places, in pools and in wells and from 
him who is with the wild beasts or within the wombs, and 
from him who is an eavesdropper of the secrets of the angels, 
etc., etc. (After this the amulet closes with the words of 
the Moslem creed written three times, the call to prayer twice 
and) " May God s blessing and peace be upon the Prophet 
and upon his companions forever until the day of judgment. 
Praise be to God the Lord of the worlds." All this seems 
the height of folly to the educated Moslem. Yet it is taken 
from one of the best selling books on popular magic and medi 
cine, printed in Cairo, third edition, 1328 A.H. (six years 
ago) 192 pages, fine print, and sold for ten cents! 

No one can read of these superstitious practices and beliefs, 
which are inseparable from the Koran and Tradition, with 
out realizing that the belief in the qarina is a terror by night 
and by day to pious Moslem mothers and their children. For 
fear of these familiar spirits and demons they are all their 
life time subject to bondage. A mother never dares to leave 
her infant child alone in Egypt for fear of the qarina. The 
growing child must not tramp on the ground heavily for fear 
he may hurt his qarina. It is dangerous to cast water on 
the fire lest it vex the qarina. On no account must the child 
be allowed to go asleep while weeping. Its every whim must 
be satisfied for fear of its evil mate. It is the firm belief 
in Egypt that when a mother has a boy her qarin (mascu 
line) has also married a qarina (feminine), who at that time 
gives birth to a girl. This demon-child and its mother are 
jealous of the human mother and her child. To pacify the 



THE FAMILIAK SPIKIT OR QARINA 123 

qarina they sacrifice a chicken, which must be absolutely 
black and sacrificed with the proper ceremonies. It is im 
possible to see the qarina except in one way. Following a 
Jewish superstition (Jewish Encyclopedia, art. demonology), 
a man may see evil spirits by casting the -ashes of the foetus 
of a black cat about his eyes or by sprinkling these ashes 
around his bed he can trace their footsteps in the morning. 

When we remember that only one-third of one per cent, 
of the women in Egypt are able to read, we can imagine the 
power that is exercised over them by the lords of this super 
stition, who sell amulets and prescribe treatment for the ex 
pectant mother and her child. Pitiful stories have come to 
me from those who were eye-witnesses of this swindle which is 
being carried on in every village of the Delta. 

Al-Ghazali himself in his great work, " The Revival of the 
Religious Sciences," in speaking of the virtue of patience, 
says : " He who is remiss in remembering the name of God 
even for the twinkling of an eye, has for that moment no 
mate but Satan. For God has said, And whosoever turns 
from the reminder (remembrance) of the Merciful One, 
we will chain to him a devil, w r ho shall be his mate (qarina} . 

We may perhaps appropriately close this chapter with what 
one of the learned men relates regarding the victory of the 
believer over his demon and its powers. It may lead us to a 
new conception of that petition in the Lord s Prayer which 
we offer also for our Moslem brothers and sisters : " Lead 
us not into temptation but deliver us from the Evil One." 
" ( Verily, the devil is to you a foe, so take him as a foe. 
This is an order for us from Him may He be praised ! 
that we may take him as a foe. He was asked, How are we 
to take him as a foe and to be delivered from him ? and he 
replied, Know, that God has created for every believer seven 
forts the first fort is of gold and is the knowledge of God ; 
round it is a fort of silver, and it is the faith in Him ; round 



124 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

it is a fort of iron and it is the trust in Him; round it is a 
fort of stones and consists of thankfulness and being pleased 
with Him : round it is a fort of clay and consists of ordering 
to do lawful things, prohibiting to do unlawful things, and 
acting accordingly; round it is a fort of emerald which con 
sists of truthfulness and sincerity toward Him ; and round it 
is a fort of brilliant pearls, which consists of the discipline 
of the mind (soul). The believer is inside these forts and 
Iblis outside them barking like a dog, which the former does 
not mind, because he is well-fortified (defended) inside these 
forts. It is necessary for the believer never to leave off the 
discipline of the mind under any circumstances or to be slack 
with regard to it in any situation he may be in, for whoever 
leaves off the discipline of the mind or is slack in it, will 
meet with disappointment (from God), on account of his 
leaving off the best kind of discipline in the estimation of 
God, whilst Iblis is constantly busy in deluding him, in de 
siring for his company, and in approaching him to take from 
him all these forts, and to cause him to return to a state of 
unbelief. We seek refuge with God from that state ! " 10 

10 "Al Damiri Hayat-ul-Hayawan." Vol. I, p. 470. (English 
Translation by Jayakar.) 



CHAPTER VII 

JINN 

WHEN the Moslem loudly professes belief in the one true 
God, the second article of the creed adds that he also believes 
in the existence of God s angels. The word here used for 
angels is mala ikat, derived from the Arabic root " alaka," 
which means to carry a message. The derivation therefore 
is similar to that of the English word angel. The Moslem 
term, however, covers three distinct orders of created beings. 

First, angels proper. Heavenly messengers imbued with 
subtle bodies and created of light. They neither eat or drink 
or have any distinction of sex. Their general characteristic 
is complete obedience to the will of God. They are included 
in His army of slaves. Their place is in Heaven, and their 
general work consists in praising and executing His com 
mands. Their forms are beautiful and they are divided into 
ranks and degrees. The four archangels whose names are 
well-known; two recording angels, one on the right shoul 
der and the other on the left, constantly watch the believer; 
the guardian angels ; the cherubim ; the angels of the tomb and 
the special guardian of Paradise called Ridwan. Another 
order of spiritual beings are the devils with their chief, Satan, 
whose original name was Azazil. The third class of super 
natural creatures find their place between men and angels. 
They are called Jinn. 

According to Moslem tradition the Jinn were created of 
fire some thousands of years before Adam. The Jinn are 
considered to be like men, capable of future salvation and 
damnation; they can accept or reject God s message. They 

are believers or non-believers. According to the Koran Mo- 

125 



126 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

hammed was sent to convert the Jinn to Islam as well as 
the Arabs. (Suras 72 : 1-7 and 15 : 27.) The Jinn are re 
ported to be eaves-droppers and constantly trying to go be 
hind the curtain of heaven in order to steal God s secrets. 
For this reason the good angels throw stones at them, that is 
shooting stars, and the common name given to these demonic 
transgressors is therefore " the stoned ones " Ar-rajim. 
(See the commentaries on Suras 55:14; 51:56; 11:120, 
etc.) The general abode of all of these spirits or demons is 
said to be the mountains of Qaf which are supposed to encircle 
the world. 

Although Mohammed destroyed polytheism with its priest 
hood and idols, the substratum of paganism remained and was 
incorporated into Islam by his revelations on Jinn. Well- 
hausen has shown how belief in Jinn was universal in Ara 
bia before Islam. Men and Jinn are often spoken of as the 
Thaqalan, i. e., the two classes of material beings endowed 
with souls. The etymological derivation of the word is in 
teresting and its cognate words such as those for garden, 
foatus, shield, show the same root meaning: to hide, cover. 
Among the names for Jinn the following are female: gliul, 
si lat, aluq and auluq. The male Jinn are called afrit and 
azab, etc. The word afrit occurs in the Kor an (Sur. 
27:39). 

Professor Macdonald in his fascinating book, " The Re 
ligious Attitude and Life in Islam," throws considerable light 
on the doctrine of Jinn both before and after the rise of 
Islam. 

He tells us how Hasan ibn Thabit, a close friend of Mo 
hammed, and one who praised him in his poetry, was initiated 
into his verses by a female Jinn. " She met him in one of 
the streets of Medina, leapt upon him, pressed him down and 
compelled him to utter three verses of poetry. Thereafter 
he was a poet, and his verses came to him as the other Arab 



JINN 127 

poets from the direct inspiration of the Jinn. He refers 
himself to his brothers of the Jinn who weave for him 
artistic words, and tells how weighty lines have heen sent 
down to him from heaven in the night season. The curious 
thing is that the expressions he uses are exactly those used of 
the sending down/ that is revelation of the Qur-an." 

Dr. Macdonald points to the close parallel between the 
terms used in the story of Hassan ibn Thabit s inspiration 
and the account we have of the first revelation of Mohammed. 
" Just as Hassan was thrown down by the female spirit and 
had verses pressed out of him, so the first utterances of proph 
ecy were pressed from Mohammed by the angel Gabriel. 
And the resemblances go still farther. The angel Gabriel is 
spoken of as the companion (qarin) of Muhammad, just 
as though he were the Jinni accompanying a poet, and the 
same word, nafatha, blow upon/ is used of an enchanter, of 
a Jinni inspiring a poet and of Gabriel revealing to Muham 
mad." 

In the preceding chapter on the Qarina this belief in a 
double or twin guardian soul was fully treated. Here we 
deal with the subject in general as unfolded in the Koran 
and in orthodox tradition. The Jinn are referred to in 
the Koran in the following passages : Chapter VI : 100 : 
" Yet they made the jinn partners with God, though he cre 
ated them ! and they ascribed to Him sons and daughters, 
though they have no knowledge ; celebrated be His praise ! 
and exalted be He above what they attribute to Him ! The 
inventor of the heavens and the earth ! how can He have a 
son, when He has no female companion, and when He has 
created everything, and everything He knows ? " 

Chap. VI : 127 : " And on that day when He shall gather 
them all together, O assembly of the jinns ! he have got much 
out of mankind. And their clients from among mankind 
shall say, O our Lord ! much advantage had we one from 



another ; but we reached our appointed time when thou 
hadst appointed for us. Says He, The fire is your resort, 
to dwell therein for aye! save what God pleases; verily, thy 
Lord is wise and knowing ! 

Chapter VII : 36 : " He will say, Enter ye amongst 
the nations who have passed away before you, both of jinns 
and men into the fire ; whenever a nation enters therein, 
it curses its mate; until, when they have all reached it, the 
last of them will say unto the first, O Our Lord ! these it was 
who led us astray, give them double torment of the fire ! 
He will say, To each of you double ! but ye do not know. 
And the first of them will say unto the last, Ye have no 
preference over us, so taste ye the torment for that which ye 
have earned ! 

Chapter VII : 177 : " We have created for hell many of 
the jinn and of mankind." 

Chapter XXIII : 70 : " Is it that they did not ponder 
over the words, whether that has come to them which came 
not to their fathers of yore? Or did they not know their 
apostle, that they thus deny him ? Or do they say, He is 
possessed by a jinn ? Nay, he came to them with the truth, 
and most of them are averse from the truth." 

Chapter XXXIV : 45 : " Say, I only admonish you of 
one thing, that ye should stand up before God in twos or sin 
gly, and then that ye reflect that there is no jinn in your com 
panion. He is only a warner to you before the keen tor 
ment. " 

Chapter LV : 14 : " He created men of crackling clay 
like the potters. And He created the jinn from smokeless 
fire." 

Chap. LV:32: "O assembly of jinns and mankind! if 
ye are able to pass through the confines of heaven and earth 
tnen pass through them ! ye cannot pass through save by 
authority ! " 



JINN 129 

The whole of the chapter of the Jinn namely, Chapter 
LXXII. The important passages are the earlier ones: 
" Say, I have been inspired that there listened a company of 
the jinn, and they said, " We have heard a marvelous Qur r an 
that guides to the right direction ; and we believe therein, and 
we join no one with our Lord, for, verily, He may the 
majesty of our Lord be exalted ! has taken to Himself 
neither consort nor son. . . . 

" And, verily, a fool among us spake against God wide of 
the mark ! . . . 

" And we thought that men and jinn would never speak a 
lie against God. . . . 

" And there are persons amongst men who seek for refuge 
with persons amongst the jinn, but they increase them in their 
perverseness. And they thought, as ye thought, that God 
would not raise up any one from the dead. 

" But we touched the heavens and found them filled with a 
mighty guard and shooting-stars; and we did sit in certain 
seats thereof to listen; but whoso of us listens now finds a 
shooting-star for him on guard." 

And the last chapter of the Koran, one of the first chrono 
logically, reads : " Say, I seek refuge in the Lord of men, 
the King of men, the God of men, from the evil of the whis 
perer, who slinks off, who whispers into the hearts of men ! 
from jinns and men ! 

The belief in jinn among Moslems is almost the same as 
the belief in spiritual beings demons, sprites, elves, etc. 
in the African religions. Nassau writes (p. 50) : " The 
belief in spiritual beings opens an immense vista of the purely 
superstitious side of the theology of Bantu African religion. 

All of the air and the future is peopled with a large and 
indefinite company of these beings. The attitude of the 
Creator (Anyambe) toward the human race and lower ani 
mals being that of indifference or of positive severity in 



130 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

having allowed evils to exist, and His indifference making 
Him almost inexorable, cause effort in the line of worship to 
be therefore directed only to those spirits who, though they 
are all probably malevolent, may be influenced and made be 
nevolent." One has only to compare this with the popular 
practice of Islam to see how close is the parallel. 

Jinn are called forth by whistling or blowing a pipe. This 
therefore is considered an omen of evil. Before Islam as 
now certain places were considered as inhabited by the jinn. 
Higar (the city of the dead from the days of Thamud) , grave 
yards and outhouses are their special resort. When entering 
such places a formula must be uttered to drive them away. 
Jinn are specially busy at night and when the morning-star 
appears they vanish. Wherever the soil is disturbed by dig 
ging of wells or building there is danger of disturbing the 
jinn as well. Whenever Mohammed changed his camp he 
was accustomed to have the Takbir cried in order to drive 
them away. The whirlwind is also an evidence of the pres 
ence of jinn. When the cock crows or the donkey brays it is 
because they are aware of the presence of jinn (Bokhari 2 : 
182). They also dwell in animals and, as Wellhausen rightly 
says, " The zoology of Islam is demonology." The wolf, 
the hyena, the raven, the liudhud, the owl are special favor 
ites in this conception. A specially close connection exists 
between the serpent and the jinn; in every snake there is a 
spirit either good or evil. Examples of the Prophet s belief 
in this superstition are given by Wellhausen. 1 

In the old Arabian religion the jinn were nymphs and 
satyrs of the desert. They were in constant connection with 
wild animals and often appeared in brute forms. Robertson 
Smith in his " Religion of the Semites," shows us the rela 
tions that were supposed to exist between these spirits of the 
wild and the gods. He says : " In fact the earth may be 

i " Reste Arabischen Heidentums," Berlin, 1897, p. 153. 



JINN" 131 

said to be parceled out between demons and wild beasts on 
the one hand, and gods and men on the other. To the former 
belong the untrodden wilderness with all its unknown perils, 
the wastes and jungles that lie outside the familiar tracks 
and pasture grounds of the tribe, and which only the boldest 
men venture upon without terror ; to the latter belong the re 
gions that man knows and habitually frequents, and within 
which he has established relations, not only with his human 
neighbors, but with the supernatural beings that have their 
haunts side by side with him. And as man gradually en 
croaches on the wilderness and drives back the wild beasts 
before him, so the gods in like manner drive out the demons ; 
and spots that were once feared, as the habitation of mysteri 
ous and presumably malignant powers, lose their terrors and 
either become common ground or are transformed into the 
seats of friendly deities. From this point of view, the recog 
nition of certain spots as haunts of the gods is the religious 
expression of the gradual subjugation of nature by man." 
To the Arabs of Mohammed s day this teaching formed the 
background of their supernatural world. The heathen of 
Mecca considered the jinn as the sons and daughters of Allah. 
When Islam came this relation was denied, but the existence 
of the jinn and their character remained unchanged. Dr. 
Macdonald quotes a number of instances in the history of 
Islam where the saints had intercourse with God through 
Jinn (pp. 139-152). We need not marvel at these stories of 
later tradition for we find in Moslem books a number of in 
stances given where Mohammed himself held converse with 
jinn. The following is a typical example: " One day the 
Prophet prayed the morning prayer with us in the Mosque 
of Al-Madina. Then when he had finished, he said, Which 
of you will follow me to a deputation of the jinn to 
night \ But the people kept silence and none said anything. 
He said which of you ? He said it three times ; then 



132 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

he walked past me and took me by the hand, and I walked 
with him until all the mountains of al-Madina were distant 
from us and we had reached the open country. And there 
were men, tall as lances, wrapped completely in their mantles 
from their feet up. When I saw them a great quivering 
seized upon me, until my feet would hardly support me from 
fear. When we came near to them the Prophet drew with 
his great toe a line for me on the ground and said, sit in 
the middle of that. Then when I had sat down, all fear 
which I had felt departed from me. And the Prophet passed 
between me and them and recited the Qur-an in a loud voice 
until the dawn broke. Then he came past me and said, 
1 Take hold of me. So I walked with him, and we went a 
little distance. Then he said to me, Turn and look ; dost 
thou see any one where these were ? I turned and said, O 
Apostle of God, I see much blackness ! He bent his head 
to the ground and looked at a bone and a piece of dung, and 
cast both to them. Thereafter he said, They are a depu 
tation of the jinn of Nasibin; they asked of me traveling 
provender; so I appointed for them all bones and pieces of 
dung. " 

Al-Tabarani relates on the strength of respectable author 
ities, on the authority of Abu-Tha labah al-Khushani Al- 
Khushati, (MishJcat al-Masabih*} that the Prophet said, " The 
genii are of three kinds; the genii of one kind have wings 
with which they fly in the air ; those of the second kind are 
snakes; and those of the third kind alight and journey to 
distant places." And again, " All the Moslems hold the opin 
ion that our Prophet was sent for the genii as well as for 
men. God has said, ( Say ) This Kur an was inspired to 
me to warn you and those it reaches. It reached the genii, 
(as well as man). God has also said, And when we turned 
towards thee some of the genii listening to the Kur an, and 
when they were present at (the reading of) it, they said, " Be 



JINN 133 

silent! " and when it was over they turned back to their 
people warning them." 

Moslem tradition leaves no doubt as to the dealings which 
Mohammed had with these inhabitants of the air (p. 451). 
" It is related in (Kitab Kliair al~bushr bi-khair al-bashar) 
by the Imam, the very learned Muhammed b. Dafar on the 
authority of Ibn-Mas ud who said, The Apostle of God said 
to his Companions, being at the time in Mecca, " Whoever 
of you likes to be present to-night to see the affair of the genii, 
let him come with me " ; so I went out with him, and when 
we reached the upper part of Mecca, he marked out a boun 
dary line for me, and then going away stood up and com 
menced to recite the Koran, upon which he was concealed 
(from my view) by many bodily forms which came between 
me and him, so much so that I could not hear his voice; 
then they dissipated as clouds do, and went away, only as 
clouds do, and went away, only a small company of them 
under ten (in number) remaining behind. The Prophet 
then came and asked (me), "What has the small company 
done ? " and I replied, " There they are, O Apostle of God." 
He then took a bone and some dung and gave them to them 
and prohibited the use of a bone or dung for cleaning oneself 
after answering the call of nature. 

A similar tradition is found in the Sahih of Muslim (pp. 
452-3). " We were with the Prophet one night, and we 
missed him ; so we searched for him in the valleys and water 
courses, and said (to ourselves), He has been either taken 
away quickly, as though birds have carried him away, or has 
been beguiled, taken away to a place, and there slain. We 
spent that night in the worst way that any people could spend ; 
but when the morning dawned, he came from the direction of 
Ilira, and we said to him, O Apostle of God, we missed you 
and therefore searched for you, but did not find you and spent 
the night in the worst manner that a party could spend (it), 



134 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

upon which the Prophet replied, * A caller of the genii came 
to me, so I went away with him and recited the Koran to 
them. He then went away with us and showed us the traces 
of their fires; they (the genii) then asked him for traveling 
provisions and he said (to them), For you is every bone over 
which the name of God has been taken (at the time of slaugh 
tering), which you may take and which will fall into your 
hands with the largest quantity of flesh (over it), and all the 
globular dung as fodder for your animals. The Prophet 
then said (to us), Do not clean yourselves with them for 
they are the food of your brethren. 

Again (p. 455), " Al-Bukhari, Muslim, and an-Nasa i re 
late, on the authority of Abu-Hurairah, that the Prophet said, 
An Afrit (a wicked genius) out of the genii came suddenly 
upon me last night, desiring to disturb me in my prayer, so I 
strangled him and wished to tie him to one of the columns of 
the mosque, but I remembered the words of my brother, (the 
prophet) Sulaiman. 

The following story reminds us somewhat of the Wandering 
Jew and is also related on good authority. It is given by 
Damiri (p. 461). " I was with the Apostle of God outside 
the mountains of Mecca, when an old man approached lean 
ing on a staff. The Prophet said, The walk is that of a 
genius and so is his voice, and he replied, Yes, The 
Prophet then asked him, From what kind or tribe of genii ? 
and he replied, I am Hamah b. al-Himmor b. Him b. Lakis 
b. Iblis, upon which the Prophet said, I see that only two 
generations (fathers) have passed between you and him (Ib 
lis), and he replied, C I have eaten (lived through) the 
(whole) world excepting a little of it ; during the nights when 
Cain (Kabil) killed Abel (Habil) I was only a boy, a few 
years old, and used to ascend high hills to look down, and used 
to incite discord between mankind. The Apostle of God 
thereupon said, Wretched was the action ! but he replied, 



JINN 135 

O Apostle of God, leave off reproaching me, because I am 
one of those who believed in Noah and repented through him ; 
I then reproached him for his prayer (against his people 
al-Kur an LXXI:27), upon which he cried and made me 
cry, and said, I am by God, verily one of those who have 
repented and I take refuge with God from being one of the 
ignorant ones. I then met Hud and believed in him, and I 
met Abraham with whom I was in the fire when he was 
thrown into it, and I was with Joseph when he was thrown 
into the well, preceding him to the bottom of it ; I met Jethro 
(Shu aib), and Moses, and Jesus the son of Mary, who told 
me, " If you meet Mohammed greet him with my salutation," 
and now I have delivered to you his message and have believed 
in you. The Prophet thereupon said, Salutation to Jesus 
and to you ! What is it you want, O Hamah ? and he re 
plied, Moses taught me the Pentateuch, and Jesus taught me 
the Gospel and now teach me the Koran. In another ver 
sion, it is said that the Prophet taught him ten chapters out 
of the Koran. 

So firm is the belief in jinn that long disputes have arisen 
regarding the question of 40 people being present in the Fri 
day congregation. Some authorities hold that they are 
counted among them and others will not accept the testimony 
of those who claim to see them. Special sections are also 
devoted in books of Moslem law regarding marriage of Jinn 
with human beings and their rights of inheritance ! 

We also learn that jinn do not enter a house in which there 
is a citron. " It has been related to us regarding the Imam 
Abu l-IIusain Ali b. al-Hasan b. al-Husain b. Mohammed 
al-Khila i he was so surnamed on account of his selling 
robes of honor and was one of the disciples of al-Shafi i ; his 
grave is a well-known one at al-Karafah, and prayers ad 
dressed in its name are answered ; he was called the kadi of 
the jinn, as having informed that they (the genii) used to 



136 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

come to him and recite the Koran (for the purpose of learn 
ing it) ; one Friday they kept away from him, and when they 
came again he asked them the reason of that, and they re 
plied, " There was in your house a citron, and we do not enter 
a house in which that fruit is." 2 

Similar precautions against evil germs of the spirit world 
are common in India and Egypt to-day. In Egypt as in Mo 
rocco the belief in jinn includes such things as setting aside 
dishes of food at dusk to propitiate them. Others keep loaves 
of bread under their mattresses with a similar idea; while 
meal and oil are thrown into the corner of new houses for the 
jinn. The placing of knives and daggers under the pillows 
of the sick is for the same purpose. 

Skeat in his book " Malay Magic" gives a complete account 
of the Malay pantheon and shows how the jinn, good and 
bad, dominate the thought of the masses. There is an inter 
esting account of the origin of the jinn according to Moslem 
belief, and he speaks of how they may be bought at Mecca 
at a fixed price. He gives a picture of the black and white 
jinn mentioned: 

" The White Genie is said to have sprung, by one account, 
from the blood-drops which fell on the ground when Habil and 
Kabil bit their thumbs; by another, from the irises of the 
snake Sakatimuna s eyes (benih mata Sakatimuna}, and is 
sometimes confused with the White Divinity ( Toh Mam- 
bang Puteh), who lives in the sun. 

" The name of his wife is not mentioned, as it is in the 
case of the Black Genie, but the names of three of his chil 
dren have been preserved, and they are Tanjak Malim Kaya, 
Pari Lang (lit. kite-like, i.e., winged Skate), and Bintang 
Sutan (or Star of Sutan). 

" On the whole, I may say that the White Genie is very 

2 All page references are to Ad-Damiri s Hayat al-Eayawan 
(Jayaker). 



JIM 



137 




^&^^ij) 

^^(s$R 

if 



m 
^ 

ftfc 



A facsimile reproduction, one-half reduced, of a Chinese Moslem 
amulet sold at Shanghai in the leading mosques. The central char 
acter is the Arabic for BismiUah " In the name of God." At the four 
corners are the names of the archangels, Gabriel, Michail, Azrail and 
Asrafil. On the right side of the central monogram is the call to 
prayer in the usual form. On the left side is the first chapter of the 
Koran followed by the six articles of the orthodox creed. On the 
outer edge beginning at the upper right hand corner is the Verse of 
the Throne. This amulet is used to defend the possessor against Jinn, 
and other evil influences and to produce good health and prosperity. 



138 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

seldom mentioned in comparison with the Black Genie, and 
that whereas absolutely no harm, as far as I can find out, is 
recorded of him, he is, on the other hand, appealed to for 
protection by his worshipers." 

" A very curious subdivision of Genii into Faithful (Jin 
Islam) and Infidel (Jin Kafir) is occasionally met with, and 
it is said, moreover, that Genii (it is to be hoped orthodox 
ones) may sometimes be bought at Mecca from the Sheikh al 
Jin (Headman of Genii) at prices varying from $90 to 
$100 apiece." 3 

One may almost say of popular Islam what Dr. Warneck 
does of the heathen Battaks of Sumatra : " The worship of 
spirits, with the fear underlying it, completely fills the relig 
ious life of the Battaks and of all animistic peoples. Their 
whole daily life in its minutest details is saturated with it. 
At birth, name-giving, courting, marriage, house-building, 
seed-time and harvest, the spirits must be considered." 4 
What the Moslem belief in jinn involves can best be indicated 
by giving here the table of contents of one of the standard 
works on the subject called Akam ul Mir j an fi Ahkam al 
Jann by Mohammed ibn Abdallah al-Shibli who died 789 
A. H. It is for sale in every Moslem city throughout the 
world. I follow the chapter headings without note or com 
ment : the reader will pardon its literalisms : 

Introduction : Proof of the existence of Jinn. 

Moslems, People of the Book and the infidels of the Arabs 
agree on the existence of jinn. 

Great philosophers and physicians proclaim their exist 
ence 

Beginning of creation of jinn. 

The origin of jinn is fire as the origin of man is earth. 

Bodies of jinn. 

Skeat s "Malay Magic," pp. 95-96. 

* " Living Christ and Dying Heathenism," p. 80. 



JINN 139 

Kinds of jinn. 

Residence of jinn. 

Diversification of jinn. 

Demons ability of diversification. 

God gave different forms to angels, jinn and men. 

Some dogs are of the jinn. 

Jinn look at the private parts of man when exposed. 

What prevents demons from sleeping at men s houses. 

Man s Companion of the jinn, the Qarina. 

Jinn eat and drink. 

Some traditions concerning this subject. 

The Devil eats and drinks with his left hand. 

What prevents jinn from taking the food of man. 

Jinn marry and beget children. 

That jinn have responsibilities. 

Were there any prophets of jinn before the Prophet ? The 
jinn are included in the mission of the Prophet. 

The jinn went to the Prophet and heard him. 

Sects of jinn. 

Worship of jinn with man. 

Reward of jinn. 

Infidels of jinn enter the Fire. 

Believers of jinn enter Paradise. 

Do the believers of jinn see God in Paradise? Prayers 
behind a jinni. 

A jinn passed between the hands of a praying man. 

A man kills a jinni. 

Marriage of jinn. 

Jinn expose themselves to women. 

Some jinn prevent others from exposing themselves to 
women. 

If a jinn cohabited with a woman must she purify her 
self ? The hermaphrodites are the sons of the jinn. 

What if a jinn robs a woman of her husband? 



140 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

Prohibition of eating and burnt offerings of jinn. 

Jinn give fatwas. 

Jinn preach to men. 

Jinn teach medicine to men. 

Jinn and men quarrel before men. 

Jinn fear men. 

Jinn obey men. 

How to get refuge against jinn. 

The influence of the Koranic verses on the bodies of jinn. 

Why jinn obey amulets. 

Solomon was the first man who took servants of Jinn. 

What must be written for the sick. 

Jinn reward men for good and evil. 

How jinn cast down men. 

How jinn enter men s bodies. 

Are the motions of the epileptic due to jinn ? How to heal 
him. 

The plague is of jinn. 

The passions caused by Satan. 

The evil eye caused by Jinn. 

Its effect on men. 

Jinn are bound with chains in the month of Ramadan. 

The worship of jinn by men. 

Jinn foretell the mission of the Prophet. Heaven is 
guarded from them by shooting stars. 

Jinn told of the Prophet s attack. 

Jinn told of his converts. 

Jinn told of Badr story. 

Jinn told of the murdering of Said ibn Ebada. 

It is allowed to ask jinn concerning the past, not the fu 
ture. 

Testimony of jinn on the day of Judgment. 

Jinn lament and eugolize several dead Moslems. 



JINN 141 

Was Satan of the angels ? 

Did God speak to Satan ? 

Satan s fault in saying he is better than Adam. 

Satan s whispering. 

God s name drives away the whisper. Stories concerning 
that. 

Satan s call to man. 

Evil-doing is desired by Satan. 

How Satan seduces man. 

Satan is always with the one who contradicts others. 

The learned man is stronger than the pious before Satan. 

Satan weeps at the death of the believer for being unable 
to seduce him. 

Angels wonder at the escape of the believer s heart from 
Satan. 

The four wailings of Satan. 

Satan s throne is over the sea. 

Satan s place. 

Satan gave his five children five positions. 

The presence of Satan at cohabitation. 

The presence of Satan at the birth of every child. 

Satan runs through man s veins. 

Satans expose themselves to boys at night. 

What diverts Satan from boys. 

Satan sleeps on the vacant bed. 

Satan never takes a siesta. 

Satan ties three knots over the head of the sleeping. 

Bad dreams are from Satan. 

Satan never imitates the Prophet. 

The Sun arises and sets betwen the two horns of Satan. 

The sitting-place of Satan. 

Satan flees at prayer call. 

Satan accompanies the unjust judge. 



142 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

Satan walks in one shoe. 

Satan flees if man repeats El-Sajada. 

Yawning, sleeping and sneezing are from Satan. 

Haste is from Satan. 

A donkey brays when he sees a demon. 

Satan exposes himself to the people of the mosques. 

Satan s pride not to have knelt down to Adam and to have 
seduced him to eat from the tree. 

Is Eden in heaven or on earth ? 

Satan showed himself to Eve. 

Satan showed himself to Noah in the ark. 

Satan showed himself to Abraham when he was about to 
offer up Isaac. 

Satan showed himself to Moses. 

Satan showed himself to Zul Kifl. 

Satan showed himself to Job. 

Now all this and nearly every chapter is a door to a 
world of groveling superstition and demonolatry finds its 
parallel in the beliefs of the animist. Among them the earth, 
air and water are supposed to be peopled with spirits. They 
are most numerous in the forest and in the waste fields, where 
they lie in wait for the living, and afflict them with disease 
and madness, or drag them away to an awful death. " They 
prowl round the houses at night, they spy through the crev 
ices of the partitions or come into the house in the form of 
some man or beast. Sometimes in epidemics they can even 
be seen. There are men who have the spiritual gift of being 
able to see spirits and souls. Sometimes these men see the 
spirit of the dead stepping behind the coffin and perching the 
soul of a living man upon it the inevitable result of which 
is, that the man must die. The number of dangerous spirits 
to which human misery is traced back is legion. Names are 
given and attributes ascribed to spirits of particularly bad 
repute, such as the spirit who causes cholera : he is of a terrific 



143 

size, and carries a mighty club with which he smites his victim 
to the earth." B 

The spirits are mostly mischievous and ill-disposed. They 
lurk in tree-tops and all sorts of places and cause disease, 
misfortune and death. It is much more important to keep 
the hurtful ones in good humor than to honor the kindly dis 
posed, who are, therefore, practically ignored. 

There are all sorts of legends current among animists of 
India as to the origin of these ghosts or spirits, but most of 
them have some admixture proving their comparatively late 
date. A clear distinction must be made between gods and 
spirits. There are no gods in Animism proper. The word 
god implies a higher degree of personality, and where that is 
attributed to these spirits the influence of some more advanced 
creed can generally be traced. The impersonal element in 
Animism must strike any one who tries to investigate it. 
Undefined shadowy powers with no settled habitation sigh in 
the wind, whisper in the rustling leaf and lurk in silence in 
the tree-tops. They may attach themselves for longer or 
shorter periods to a particular object. Any striking natural 
feature such as a blasted or lonely tree, a waterfall, a moun 
tain peak, is sure to be thus inhabited. But the primeval 
forest is their special domain, and as this is cleared little 
sacred groves must everywhere be left standing. Constantly 
one is told of some tree or grove, " a very strong spirit lives 
there," but if you ask its name or origin none can be assigned. 
Its existence and power are undoubted, and many tales of the 
mischief it has caused will be quoted in proof. In every par 
ticular the popular Moslem doctrine of jinn is Animistic, 
except their belief in Allah as Lord of jinn, as well as the 
Lord of men. He is over all, God blessed forever and yet 
for fear of the jinn the Moslem masses are all their lifetime 
subject to fear and dread and bondage. 

6 " The Living Christ and Dying Heathenism," Warneck, p. 68. 



144 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

What Warneck writes of the pagan tribes in Malaysia is 
not less true of their Moslem neighbors and of Moslem women 
and children in Arabia and the villages of the Delta. " Ex 
cept in case of necessity," he says, " no one leaves the house 
after sunset or in moonlight, when the spirits swarm in great 
numbers. Houses and villages are shifted here and there to 
escape the influence of evil spirits. Sick people are carried 
secretly by night into another house to get away from the tor 
menting spirit. They prefer to deceive the spirits. During 
harvest loud singing and whistling are avoided, lest the spirits 
should suppose that men were rejoicing at an abundant har 
vest, and out of envy take their share." 6 

When I traveled in Yemen nothing so distressed my Arab 
companions as the awful habit of whistling. There are tra 
ditions to prove that Mohammed forbade any one to blow a 
pipe or whistle especially at night-time. 

In regard to devil-worship and the fear of evil spirits, 
Wilkinson says that in Malay " the upper stratum is, of 
course, Moslem; the Malays accept the whole demonology of 
the Persians and Arabs and have even added to it by assum 
ing mere demon-epithets such as " accursed " (mcdaun) or 
" misbegotten " (haramzadah, jadah} to be the names of new 
varieties of devils. The next stratum is Hindu because Han- 
uman is still vaguely remembered as a dog-faced or horse- 
faced demon, meteors are described as the ghostly arrows of 
Arjuna, and the legends of the Indian Ramayana have be 
come folk-lore in the Northern States. The ancient litera 
ture of the Malays is also full of references to Hindu mythol 
ogy." His concluding words are significant : 

" It is comparatively easy to identify those portions of 
Malay demonology which owe their existence to the historic 
Moslem or Hindu influences, but below these upper strata of 
beliefs we find further strata belonging to primeval religions 

" The Living Christ and Dying Heathenism," p. 79. 



JINN 145 

of whose character we know very little. We are here dealing 
with a very mixed race of people who have probably pre 
served traditions handed down to them from several distinct 
sources. A few facts stand out fairly distinctly. The fish 
ermen along the coast of the Peninsula sacrifice to four great 
spirits of the sea who go by many names but whose scope of 
authority is always the same; one is the Spirit of Bays, an 
other that of Banks or Beaches, another that of Headlands, 
and the last and fiercest is the Spirit of Tideways or Mid- 
currents. Most of the designations given to these ancient 
divinities are merely descriptive of their functions. So long 
as things go well, the names of the four Moslem Archangels 
are considered sufficient; if things go badly Sanscrit words 
are used ; if matters become desperate, the fisherman throws 
prudence to the winds and appeals to the spirits in pure In 
donesian terms which they cannot fail to understand." 7 
7 " Malay Beliefs," pp. 26-27. 



CHAPTER VIII 

PAGAN PRACTICES IN CONNECTION WITH THE PILGRIMAGE 

WHEN we consider Mecca, Mohammed s words of prophecy 
in the second chapter of his book seem to have been literally 
fulfilled : " So we have made you the center of the nations 
that you should bear witness to men." The old pagan pan 
theon has become the religious sanctuary and the goal of 
universal pilgrimage for one-seventh of the human race. 

From Sierra Leone to Canton, and from Tobolsk to Cape 
Town, the faithful spread their prayer carpets, build their 
houses (in fulfillment of an important tradition, even their 
outhouses ! ) and bury their dead toward the meridian of 
Mecca. If the Moslem world could be viewed from an aero 
plane, the observer would see concentric circles of living wor 
shipers covering an ever-widening area, and one would also 
see vast areas of Moslem cemeteries with every grave dug 
toward the sacred city. 

The earliest settlements at Mecca were undoubtedly due to 
the fact that the caravan trade from South Arabia northward 
found here a stopping place near the spring of Zem Zem, long 
before the time of Mohammed, just as the early Roman settle 
ments at Wiesbaden and other places in Germany were so 
located because of the medicinal waters. 

The sacred Mosque, Masjid al Haram, with the Ka aba as 
its center, is located in the middle of the city. Mecca lies in 
a hot, sandy valley, absolutely without verdure and sur 
rounded by rocky, barren hills, destitute of trees or even 
shrubs. The valley is about 300 feet wide and 4,000 feet 
long, and slopes towards the south. The Ka aba or House of 
God (Beit Allah) is located in the bed of the valley. All 

146 



THE PILGRIMAGE 147 

the streets slope toward it, and it occupies, as it were, the 
pit of a theater. 

The Ka aba proper stands in an oblong space 250 paces 
long and 200 broad, surrounded by colonnades, which are 
used as schools and as a general meeting place for pilgrims. 
The outer enclosure has nineteen gates and six minarets; 
within the enclosure is the well of Zem Zem, the great pulpit, 
the staircase used to enter the Ka aba door, which is high 
above the ground, and two small mosques called al Kubat- 
tain. The remainder of the space is occupied by pavements 
and gravel, where prayers are said by the four orthodox 
sects, each having its own allotted space. 

In the southeast corner of the Ka aba, about five feet from 
the ground, is the famous Black Stone, the oldest treasure 
of Mecca. The stone is a fragment resembling black vol 
canic rock, sprinkled with reddish crystals, and worn smooth 
by the touch of centuries. It was undoubtedly an aerolite 
and owes its reputation to its fall from the sky. Moslem his 
torians do not deny that it was an object of worship before 
Islam. In Moslem tradition it is connected with the history 
of the patriarchs, beginning as far back as Adam. 

The word Ka aba signifies a cube, although the measure 
ments, according to Ali Bey, one of the earliest writers who 
gives us a scientific account of the pilgrim ceremonies, do not 
justify its being so called. Its height is thirty-four feet four 
inches, and the four sides measure thirty-eight feet four 
inches, thirty-seven feet two inches, thirty-one feet, seven 
inches, and twenty-nine feet. The cloth covering is renewed 
every year. At present it is made of silk and cotton tissue 
woven at Khurunfish, the factory site in Cairo. The time of 
departure of the annual procession which takes it to Mecca 
is one of the great feast days in Cairo. 

Formerly, we are told, the whole of the Koran text was 
woven into the Ka aba covering. Now the inscription con- 



148 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

tains the words, " Verily, the first house founded for mankind 
to worship in is that at Mecca, a blessing and a direction to 
all believers." Seven other short chapters of the Koran are 
also woven into this tapestry, namely, the Chapter of the 
Cave, Miriam, Al Amran, Repentance, T.H., Y.S., and 
Tabarak. 

The final duty of righteous Moslems and the most important 
ceremony of the Moslem religion is the pilgrimage to Mecca. 
The pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca is not only one of the 
pillars of the religion of Islam, but it has proved one of the 
strongest bonds of union and has always exercised a tre 
mendous influence as a missionary agency. Even to-day the 
pilgrims who return from Mecca to their native villages in 
Java, India and West Africa are fanatical ambassadors of 
the greatness and glory of Islam. From an ethical stand 
point, the Mecca pilgrimage, with its superstitious and 
childish ritual, is a blot upon Mohammedan monotheism. 
But as a great magnet to draw the Moslem world together 
with an annual and ever-widening esprit de corps, the Mecca 
pilgrimage is without a rival. . . . For the details of the 
pilgrimage one must read Burckhardt, Burton, or other of 
the score of travelers who have risked their lives in visiting 
the forbidden cities of Islam. The record of their heroism 
has been compiled in one short volume by Augustus Ralli 
under the title " Christians at Mecca " (Heinemann, London, 
1909). The earliest European pilgrim was Ludovico Bar- 
tema who reached Mecca in 1503. The most accurate in his 
description of the ceremonies of the Hajj is Burckhardt 
(1814-5), the most fascinating, Burton (1853), and it re 
mained for a Hollander, Christiaa-n Snouck Hurgronje, to 
give us a history of Mecca, a photographic atlas of the city, 
and a philosophical dissertation on the pilgrimage. 1 " It is 

i " Het Mekkaansche Feest," Leiden, 1880 and Mekka 2 vols. in 
German. The latter book is accompanied by a photographic atlas. 



THE PILGEIMAGE 149 

possible," says Ralli, " to divide Christian pilgrims to Mecca 
into three groups. First come those from Bartema to Pitts, 
inclusive, whom I have already compared to a cloud of light 
skirmishers. They are followed by the votaries of science 
Badia, Seetzen, Burckhardt, Hurgronje. In a parallel 
column advance those impelled by love of adventure or 
curiosity von Maltzan, Bicknell, Keane, Courtellemont. 
Burton belongs to both the latter groups ; Wallin to the first, 
but he fell on evil days ; and it is hard to classify Roches. 

" It would tax -the ingenuity of most of us to find such 
another heterogeneous collection of men devoted to one theme. 
It is a far cry from the humble Pitts to the princely Badia, 
from the scientific Burckhardt to the poetical Courtellemont, 
from the impersonal Hurgronje to the autobiographical 
Roches, from the obscure Wild to the world-famous Burton. 
Such contrasts might be pursued in the written records that 
remain; between Burckhardt s orderly accumulation of facts 
and Keane s rollicking narrative. But suffice it that the 
members of this select company, differing in time and coun 
try, aim and temperament, are united by the single bond of a 
strange adventure." This strange adventure led them all to 
observe the pagan rites of the great monotheistic faith of 
Islam, of which the ceremonies in brief are as follows: 
After donning the garb of a pilgrim and performing the legal 
ablutions, the Ilajji visits the sacred mosque and kisses the 
Black Stone. He then runs around the Ka aba seven times 
thrice very rapidly and four times very slowly in imita 
tion of the motions of the planets. Next he offers a prayer : 
" O Allah, Lord of the Ancient House, .free my neck from 
hell-fire, and preserve me from every evil deed; make me 
contented with the daily food Thou givest me, and bless me 
in all Thou hast granted." At " the place of Abraham " he 
also prays ; he drinks water from the sacred well of Zem Zem 
and again kisses the Black Stone. Then the pilgrim runs 



150 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

between the hills of Safa and Marwa. He visits Mina and 
Arafat, a few miles from Mecca, and at the latter place 
listens to a sermon. On his return he stops at Mina and 
stones three pillars of masonry known as the " Great Devil," 
the " middle pillar " and the " first one " with seven small 
pebbles. Finally, there is the sacrifice of a sheep or other 
animal as the climax of the pilgrim s task. Snouck Hur- 
gronje and Dozy have given us the theory of the origin of 
these strange ceremonies in their monographs. The whole 
pilgrimage is, in the words of Kuenen, " a fragment of in 
comprehensible heathenism taken up undigested into Islam/* 
And as regards the veneration for the Black Stone, there is a 
tradition that the Caliph Omar remarked : " By God, I 
know that thou art only a stone and canst grant no benefit 
or do no harm. And had I not known that the Prophet 
kissed thee I would not have done it." (Nisai, Vol. II, 
p. 38.) 

There are two books that may be considered authoritative 
on the ceremonies of the pilgrimage : Wellhausen s " Reste 
Arabischen Heidentums," pp. 68-249, and Burton s " Pil 
grimage to Al Medina and Mecca." 

Burton s description of the ritual is complete : 
" We then advanced towards the eastern angle of the 
Ka abah, in which is inserted the Black Stone ; and, standing 
about ten yards from it, repeated with upraised hands, 
There is no god but Allah alone, Whose Covenant is Truth, 
and Whose Servant is Victorious. There is no god but 
Allah, without Sharer; His is the Kingdom, to Him be 
Praise, and He over all Things is potent. After which we 
approached as close as we could to the stone. A crowd of 
pilgrims preventing our touching it that time, we raised our 
hands to our ears, in the first position of prayer, and then 
lowering them, exclaimed, O Allah (I do this), in Thy 
Belief, and in verification of Thy Book, and in Pursuance of 



THE PILGRIMAGE 151 

Thy Prophet s Example may Allah bless Him and pre 
serve ! O Allah, I extend my Hand to Thee, and great is my 
Desire to Thee ! O accept Thou my Supplication and 
diminish my Obstacles, and pity my Humiliation, and gra 
ciously grant me Thy pardon ! Aiter which, as we were still 
unable to reach the stone, we raised our hands to our ears, 
the palms facing the stone, as if touching it, recited the 
various religious formulae, the Takbir, the Tahlil, and the 
Hamdilah, blessed the Prophet, and kissed the finger-tips of 
the right hand. The Prophet used to weep when he touched 
the Black Stone, and said that it was the place for the pouring 
forth of tears. According to most authors, the second Caliph 
also used to kiss it. For this reason most Moslems, except the 
Shafa i school, must touch the stone with both hands and 
apply their lips to it, or touch it with the fingers, which 
should be kissed, or rub the palms upon it, and afterwards 
draw them down the face. Under circumstances of difficulty, 
it is sufficient to stand before the stone, but the Prophet s 
Sunnat, or practice, was to touch it. Lucian mentions adora 
tions of the sun by kissing the hand. 

" Then commenced the ceremony of Tawaf, or circumam- 
bulation, our route being the Mataf the low oval of polished 
granite immediately surrounding the Ka abah. I repeated, 
after my Mutawwif, or cicerone, l In the Name of Allah, and 
Allah is omnipotent ! I purpose to circuit seven circuits unto 
Almighty Allah, glorified and exalted ! This is technically 
called the Niyat (intention) of Tawaf. Then we began the 
prayer, O Allah (I do this), in Thy belief, and in Verifica 
tion of Thy Book, and in Faithfulness to Thy Covenant, and 
in Perseverance of the Example of the Apostle Mohammed 
may Allah bless Him and preserve ! till we reached the 
place Al-Multazem, between the corner of the Black Stone 
and the Ka abah door. Here we ejaculated, O Allah, Thou 
hast Rights, so pardon my transgressing them. Opposite 



152 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

the door we repeated, O Allah, verily the House is Thy 
House, and the Sanctuary Thy Sanctuary, and the Safeguard 
Thy Safeguard, and this is the Place of him who flies to 
Thee from (hell) Fire! At the little building called 
Makam Ibrahim, 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 Irak corner of the Ka abah we exclaimed, O 
Allah, 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 fronting the Mizab, or spout, we repeated 
the words, O Allah, verily I beg of Thee Faith which shall 
not decline, and a Certainty which shall not perish, and the 
good Aid of Thy Prophet Mohammed may Allah bless Him 
and preserve ! O Allah, shadow me in Thy Shadow, on 
that Day when there is no Shade but Thy Shadow, and cause 
me to drink from the Cup of Thine Apostle Mohammed 
may Allah bless Him and preserve ! that pleasant Draught 
after which is no Thirst to all Eternity, Lord of Honor 
and Glory ! Turning the west corner, or the Rukn al- 
Shami, we exclaimed, O Allah, make it an acceptable Pil 
grimage, and a Forgiveness of Sins, and a laudable Endeavor, 
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 Yamani, or 
south 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. Finally, between 
the south angle and that of the Black Stone, where our circuit 
wodld be completed, we said, O Allah, verily I take refuge 
with Thee from Infidelity, and I take Refuge 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 PILGRIMAGE 153 

the Next, and I implore Thy Pardon for the Present and for 
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. 

" Thus finished a Shaut, or single course round the house. 
Of these we performed the first three at the pace called 
Harwalah, very similar to the French pas gymnastique, or 
Tarammul, that is to say, moving the shoulders as if walk 
ing in sand. The four latter are performed in Ta ammul, 
slowly and leisurely, the reverse of the Sai, or running. 
These seven Ashwat, or courses, are called collectively the 
Usbu." (Burton s " Pilgrimage to Al Madinah and Mecca," 
pp. 164-167.) 

He continues (p. 169) : " Having kissed the stone we 
fought our way through the crowd to the place called Al- 
Multazem. Here we pressed our stomachs, chests, and right 
cheeks to the Ka abah, raising our arms high above our heads 
and exclaiming, O Allah !. O Lord of the Ancient House, 
free my Neck from Hell-fire, and preserve me from every ill 
Deed, and make me contented with that daily bread which 
Thou has given to me, and bless me in all Thou hast 
granted ! Then came the Istighf ar, or begging of pardon : 
1 1 beg Pardon of Allah the Most High, who, there is no 
other God but He, the Living, the Eternal, and unto Him I 
repent myself ! After which we blessed the Prophet, and 
then asked for ourselves all that our souls most desired." 

Prayer is granted at fourteen places besides Al-Multazem, 
all of them connected, as we shall see, with the old idolatry 
of Arabia. Viz. : 

1. At the place of circumambulation. 

2. Under the Mizab, or spout of the Ka aba. 

3. Inside the Ka aba. 

4. At the well Zem Zem. 



154 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

5. Behind Abraham s place of prayer. 

6. On Mt. Safa. 

7. On Mt. Marwah. 

8. During the ceremony called " Al-Sai." 

9. Upon Mount Arafat. 

10. At Muzdalif ah. 

11. In Muna. 

12. During the devil-stoning. 

13. On first seeing the Ka aba. 

14. At the Hatim of Hijr. 

" Muna," says Burton (Vol. II, p. 180), " more classically 
called Mina, is a place of considerable sanctity. Its three 
standing miracles are these : The pebbles thrown at the 
Devil return by angelic agency to whence they came ; during 
the three Days of Drying Meat rapacious beasts and birds 
cannot prey there; and lastly, flies do not settle upon the 
articles of food exposed so abundantly in the bazars. Dur 
ing pilgrimage houses are let for an exorbitant sum, and it 
becomes a World s Fair of Moslem merchants. At all 
other seasons it is almost deserted, in consequence, says 
popular superstition, of the Rajm or (diabolical) lapidation. 
Distant about three miles from Meccah, it is a long, narrow, 
straggling village, composed of mud and stone houses of one 
or two stories, built in the common Arab style. Traversing 
a narrow street, we passed on the left the Great Devil, which 
shall be described at a future time. After a quarter of an 
hour s halt, spent over pipes and coffee, we came to an open 
space, where stands the Mosque Al-Khayf. Here, accord 
ing to some Arabs, Adam lies, his head being at one end of 
one long wall, and his feet at another, whilst the dome covers 
his omphalic region. After passing through the town we 
came to Batn al-Muhassir, The Basin of the Troubler 
(Satan) at the beginning of a descent leading to Muzdalif ah 



THE PILGEIMAGE 155 

(the Approacher), where the road falls into the valley of 
the Arafat torrent. 

" At noon we reached the Muzdadif ah, also called Masha al- 
Haram, the Place dedicated to religious Ceremonies. It is 
known in Al-Islam as the Minaret without the Mosque/ 
opposed to Masjid Nimrah, which is the Mosque without the 
Minaret. Half-way between Muna and Arafat, it is ahout 
three miles from both." 

Burton: (Vol. II, pp. 180-7) : " Arafat, anciently called 
Jabal Hal, the Mount of Wrestling in Prayer and now 
Jabal al-Rahmah, the l Mount of Mercy is a mass of coarse 
granite split into large blocks, with a thin coat of withered 
thorns." 

(Pp. 188-9) : " The Holy Hill owes its name and honors 
to a well-known legend. When our first parents forfeited 
Heaven by eating wheat, which deprived them of their 
primeval purity, they were cast down upon earth. The ser 
pent descended at Ispahan, the peacock at Kabul, Satan at 
Bilbays (others say Semnan and Seistan), Eve upon Arafat 
and Adam at Ceylon. The latter, determining to seek his 
wife, began a journey, to which earth owes its present mottled 
appearance. Wherever our first father placed his foot 
which was large a town afterwards arose ; between 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 Arafat. Upon its summit, Adam, 
instructed by the archangel Gabriel, erected a Mada a, or 
place of prayer: and between this spot and the Nimrah 
Mosque the couple abode till death." 

Burton: (Vol. II, pp. 203-205) : "We found a swarm 
ing crowd in the narrow road opposite the Jamrat-al- 
Akabah, or, as it is vulgarly called, the Shaytan al-Kabir 
the Great Devil. These names distinguish it from another 



156 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

pillar, the Wusta, or Central Place (of stoning), built in 
the middle of Mima, and a third at the eastern end, Al- 
Aula or the First Place/ 

" The Shaytan al-Kabir is a dwarf buttress of rude 
masonry, about eight feet high by two-and-a-half broad, placed 
against a rough wall of stones at the Meccan entrance to 
Muna. Finding an opening, we approached within about 
five cubits of the place, and holding each stone between the 
thumb and forefinger of the right hand, we cast it at the 
pillar, exclaiming, In the name of Allah, and Allah is 
Almighty! (I do this) in Hatred of the Fiend and to his 
Shame. After which came the Tahlil and the Sana or 
praise to Allah. The seven stones being duly thrown, we 
retired, and entering the barber s booth, took our places upon 
one of the earthen benches around it. This barber shaved 
our heads, and, after trimming our beards and cutting our 
nails, made us repeat these words : I purpose loosening 
my Ihrain according to the Practice of the Prophet, Whom 
may Allah bless and preserve ! O, Allah, make unto me in 
every Hair, a Light, a Purity, and a generous Reward ! 
In the name of Allah, and Allah is Almighty ! 

After following all these details of the ceremony with 
Burton for our guide, we are ready to ask the why and where 
fore of the performances. 

If the Jews and Christians had hearkened to the call of 
Mohammed at Medina when he made the Kibla, Jerusalem, 
the course of Moslem history might have been that of an 
oriental Unitarian sect. But when the Prophet changed the 
Kibla from Jerusalem to Mecca he compromised with idolatry 
and the result was that Islam at its very center has remained 
pagan. The transformation of the old Pantheon of the Arabs 
into the house of God which Abraham rebuilt and which 
Adam himself founded was the legend to justify the adoption 
of these pagan practices. Other ceremonies which had noth- 



THE PILGEIMAGE 157 

ing to do with the Ka aba but which were performed at cer 
tain places near Mecca were also adapted to the new religion. 
In the tenth year A. H. Mohammed made his pilgrimage to 
Mecca, the old shrine of his forefathers, and every detail of 
superstitious observance which he fulfilled has become the 
norm in Islam. As Wellhausen says the result is that " we 
now have the stations of a Calvary journey without the his 
tory of the Passion." Pagan practices are explained away by 
inventing Moslem legends attributed to Bible characters, and 
the whole is an incomprehensible jumble of fictitious lore. 

The Ka aba itself in its plan and structure is a heathen 
temple. The covering of the Ka aba goes back to old 
heathenism. The Temple was the Bride and she received 
costly clothing. The building stands with its four corners 
nearly to the points of the compass; not the sides of the 
building, but the corners point N.S.E. and W. We may 
therefore expect, as is the case, that the holy objects were at 
the corners of the building. The Black Stone is in the 
E.S.E. corner; the other four corners also had sacred stones 
which are still places of special worship. The front of the 
Ka aba is the N.E. side, and the door is not in the middle 
but near the Black Stone. Between the Stone and the door 
is the Multazam, the place where the pilgrim presses himself 
against the building, hugs the curtain and calls upon God. 
On the N.W. side there is an enclosure in the shape of a 
half-circle called the Hajr, or the Hatim. Wellhausen has a 
note (p. 74) to show that this enclosure was formerly a part 
of the Ka aba but that shortly before Mohammed s time the 
building was restored on a smaller foundation. This en 
closure, therefore, marks the original size of the heathen 
temple. There seems to be no doubt that the Black Stone 
was the real idol of the Ka aba. Bait Allah and Masjid, 
according to Wellhausen, originally signified " the stone " and 
not " the temple." In ancient days there was an empty well 



158 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

inside the Ka aba to receive votive offerings. In front of 
the well stood a human image, that of the god Hobal. One 
may still see a similar worship at the tomb of Eve, near 
Jiddah, where there is a well for offerings under the middle 
dome which is over the navel of Mother Eve. It has been 
thought that Hobal, the main god of the Ka aba, was perhaps 
" Allah " himself. Others say that the word has connection 
with Baal the sun-god. When we remember the circumam- 
bulation of the Ka aba seven times, three times rapidly and 
four times more slowly in imitation of the inner and outer 
planets, it is not strange to find Baal the sun-god chief of the 
temple. The present place called Maqam Ibrahim (Sura 
2: 119) was originally a stone for offierings. A short dis 
tance outside of Mecca are the two hills Al Safa and Al 
Marwa ; both of these names signify " a stone," i. e., an idol. 
The road between them runs almost parallel with the front of 
the Ka aba and directly east is the well of Zem Zem, originally 
also a place for sacred offerings. It contained two golden 
gazelles among other things. There are many other sacred 
places in the vicinity formerly associated with idol-worship 
now transformed by Moslem legend into graves of the saints, 
etc. Ar af at and Muzdalif a are at present only stations where 
one stops on the pilgrimage. No offerings are brought there. 
Formerly Muzdalifa was a place of fire-worship. Wackidi 
says : " Mohammed rode from Arafat towards the fire 
kindled in Muzdalifa ; this is the hill of the holy fire." The 
mountain was called Quzah and Wellhausen thinks it may 
have been the place of the thunder-god whose sign was the 
rainbow. (Quzah.) 

The early history of Mecca shows that it was a place of 
pilgrimage long before Mohammed. The battle of Islam 
for the conquest of Arabia was determined at Mecca. This 
was the capture of the Pagan center. In conquering it Islam 
was itself conquered. " There is no god but Allah " and 



THE PILGKIMAGE 159 

the old idol-shrines at Mecca ? Dozy has shown that Mecca 
was an old Jewish center, but his conclusions have been dis 
puted by later writers. 4 

Not only the pilgrimage itself, but its calendar goes back 
to paganism. The names of the Arabic months have many 
of them a pagan significance. Of course the calendar was 
solar, but Mohammed changed it into a lunar calendar. 
Moharram was the month of the great feast. Tree worship 
and stone worship as we shall see later belong to the old 
heathenism. In Nagran a date-palm served as god. A 
number of sacred trees or groves between Mecca and Medina 
which formerly were idol temples, are now visited because 
" Mohammed resided there, prayed there, or had his hair cut 
under them." (See Bokhari, 1 : 68-3 : 36.) 

Prof. A. J. Wensinck in writing on the Hajj in the 
Encyclopedia of Islam (Vol. II, p. 22 ff.) gives it as his 
opinion that " great fairs were from early times associated 
with the Hadjdj which was celebrated on the conclusion of 
the date-harvest. These fairs were probably the main thing 
to Muhammed s contemporaries, as they still are to many 
Muslims. For the significance of the religious ceremonies 
had even then lost its meaning for the people." Neverthe 
less the significance of the various rites and ceremonies al 
though no longer understood clearly, point to a pagan origin. 
Snouck Hurgronje thinks he sees a solar rite in the wukuf 
ceremony. Wensinck says : " The god of Muzdalifa was 
Quzah, the thunder-god. A fire was kindled on the sacred 
hill also called Quzah. Here a halt was made and this 
wukuf has a still greater similarity to that on Sinai, as in 
both cases the thunder-god is revealed in fire. It may further 
be presumed that the traditional custom of making as much 
noise as possible and of shooting was originally a sympathetic 
charm to call forth the thunder." 

*"De Israeliten te Mekka van David s tyd enz," Dozy (Leiden). 



160 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

As soon as the sun was visible, the ifada to Mina used to 
begin in pre-Islamic times. Mohammed therefore ordained 
that this should begin before sunrise; here again we have 
the attempt to destroy a solar rite. In ancient times they 
are said to have sung during the ifada, "" ashrik thabir kaima 
nughir" The explanation of these words is uncertain ; it is 
sometimes translated : " Enter into the light of morning, 
Thabir, so that we may hasten." And again we know from a 
statement in Ibn Hisham (ed. Wustenfeld, p. 76, et seq.), that 
the stone throwing only began after the sun had crossed the 
meridian. Houtsma has made it probable that the stoning 
was originally directed at the sun-demon ; important support 
is found for this view in the f oct that the Pilgrimage originally 
coincided with the autumnal equinox as similar customs are 
found all over the world at the beginning of the four seasons. 
With the expulsion of the sun-demon, whose harsh rule comes 
to an end with summer, worship of the thunder-god who 
brings fertility and his invocation may easily be connected, 
as we have seen above at the festival in Muzdalifa. The 
name tarwiya, " moistening," may also be explained in this 
connection as a sympathetic rain-charm, traces of which 
survive in the libation of Zein Zem water. Other explana 
tions of the stone-throwing are given. Van Vloten connects 
it with snake-worship or demonolatry and as proof gives the 
expression used in the Koran so frequently, As Shaitan ar 
rajim " the pelted devil." Chauvin finds in it " an 
example of scopelism (sic) the object being to prevent the 
cultivation of the ground by the Meccans." Both theories 
have been refuted by Houtsma. 5 Regarding the throwing of 
the pebbles in the pilgrimage ceremony we may compare 
what Frazer says in his chapter on the transference of evil 
to stones and sticks among pagans and animists (" The 
Scapegoat," pp. 23-24) : 

6 See Art. " Hadjdj in the Encyclop. of Islam," Vol. II, p. 200. 



THE PILGRIMAGE 161 

" Sometimes the motive for throwing the stone is to ward 
off a dangerous spirit; sometimes it is to cast away an evil; 
sometimes it is to acquire a good. Yet, perhaps, if we 
could trace them back to their origin in the mind of primitive 
man, we might find that they all resolve themselves more or 
less exactly into the principle of the transference of evil. 
For to rid themselves of an evil and to acquire a good are 
often merely opposite sides of one and the same operation; 
for example, a convalescent regains health in exactly the 
same proportion as he shakes off his malady. And though 
the practice of throwing stones at dangerous spirits, especially 
at mischievous and malignant ghosts of the dead, appears 
to spring from a different motive, yet it may be questioned 
whether the difference is really as great to the savage as it 
seems to us." ..." Thus the throwing of the sticks or 
stones would be a form of ceremonial purification, which 
among primitive peoples is commonly conceived as a sort of 
physical rather than moral purgation, a mode of sweeping or 
scouring away the morbid matter by which the polluted per 
son is supposed to be infected. This notion perhaps explains 
the rite of stone-throwing observed by pilgrims at Mecca; on 
the day of sacrifice every pilgrim has to cast seven stones on a 
cairn, and the rite is repeated on the three following days. 
The traditional explanation of the custom is that Mohammed 
here drove away the devil with a shower of stones; but the 
original idea may perhaps have been that the pilgrims cleanse 
themselves by transferring their ceremonial impurity to the 
stones which they fling on the heap." 

Dr. Snouck Hurgronje gives, in addition, the following 
pagan practices of the pilgrimage. It is commonly sup 
posed that in the time of ignorance two idols were worshiped 
on Safa and Marwa, and the names of these idols are men 
tioned. In the second chapter of the Koran, Verse 153, the 
pagan custom observed by the Arabs before Islam is sane- 



162 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

tioned. Prof. Hurgronje thinks that the existence of the 
small sanctuaries around the Ka aba are due to the existence 
of sacred trees, stones and wells, which formerly were pagan 
places of worship, but were afterwards Islamized by stating 
that under such a tree the Prophet sat down this stone 
spoke to him on that stone he sat down and certain wells 
even were made sacred because Mohammed spat in them. 
(Azraqi, p. 438, quoted in Hurgronje, p. 123.) 

A little south of the valley of Arafat there is a small hill 
called the Hill of Grace, on the top of which there was for 
merly a small building with a dome. At present it is con 
nected with Um Salima, but its origin is lost in obscurity. 
When the Wahhabis came to Mecca and desired to purify it 
of idolatry, they destroyed these places. Prof. Hurgronje 
concludes that while the general ritual of the pilgrimage is 
Mohammedan, there are many practices that now are con 
demned as innovations, which are in reality old Arabian and 
pagan in their character. His conclusion at the end of his 
learned paper is this : " Should Sprenger s hope ever be ful 
filled, and it is not probable that a school of Tiibingen 
critics should arise in Islam, then surely the feast at Mecca 
and the pilgrim ceremonies would be the first to disappear 
among the practices which belong to the heart of the Moslem 
religion." 



CHAPTEK IX 



IN no monotheistic religion are magic and sorcery so firmly 
entrenched as they are in Islam; for in the case of this 
religion they are based on the teaching of the Koran and the 
practice of the Prophet. In one celebrated passage x we 
read : " they follow that which the devils recited against 
Solomon s kingdom ; it was not Solomon who misbelieved, 
but the devils who misbelieved, teaching men sorcery, and 
what has been revealed to the two angels at Babylon, Harut 
and Marut, yet these taught no one until they said, c We are 
but a temptation, so do not misbelieve. Men learn from 
them only that by which they may part man and wife; but 
they can harm no one therewith, unless with the permission 
of God, and they learn what hurts them and profits them not. 
And yet they knew that he who purchased it would have no 
portion in the future ; but sad is the price at which they have 
sold their souls, had they but known. But had they believed 
and feared, a reward from God were better, had they but 
known." 

In the commentaries we have a long account of how these 
two angels, Harut and Marut, had compassion on the frailties 
of mankind and were sent down to earth to be tempted. They 
both sinned, and being permitted to choose whether they 
would be punished now or hereafter, chose the former and 
are still suspended by the feet at Babel in a rocky pit, where 
they are great teachers of magic. 2 There are other passages 

i"The Qur an," E. H. Palmer, Part I, Sura 11:96 ff. 

2 Hughes Dictionary of Islam, p. 168. In a beautifully illustrated 
Persian book of Traditions found in the Sultaniah Museum, Cairo, there 
is a picture of these culprits. 

168 



164 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

in the Koran dealing with magic, in fact the book itself, as 
we have already seen, has magical power. The superstitions 
that obtained in Arabia before Islam have been perpetuated 
by it. No orthodox Moslem doubts that men are able to call 
forth the power of demons and Jinn by means of magic 
(stTz/r). Everywhere there are professional magicians, 
wizards and witches. The popular belief in them to-day in 
Arabia is well described by Doughty (Vol. II, p. 106). 
" Wellah," he said, " Sheykh Khalil, one of them sitting on 
such a beam, may ride in the night-time to Medina and return 
ere day, and no man know it ; for they will be found in their 
houses when the people waken." " How may a witch that 
has an husband gad abroad by night, and the goodman not 
know it ? " " If she take betwixt her fingers only a little of 
the ashes of the hearth, and sprinkle it on his forehead, the 
dead sleep will fall upon him till the morning. But though 
one knew his wife to be a witch, yet durst he not show it, 
nor put her away, for she might cause him to perish miser 
ably! yet the most witches are known, and one of them, he 
added darkly, is a neighbor of ours. When it is the time to 
sleep they roam through the village ways : and I warn thee, 
Sheykh Khalil ! for a thing which we looked not for may 
happen in a moment ! have a care in thy coming home by 
night." " I would willingly see them." " Eigh ! speak not 
so fool-hardily, except thou know some powerful spells to say 
against them. I have heard that Dakhilallah (a menhel, or 
man of God), once meeting with the witches did cry against 
them words which the Lord put into his heart, out of the 
Koran, and they fled from him shrieking that the pairs of 
hell were come upon them." " The witches," said the melan 
choly Imam, " are of all ages : they have a sheikh, who is a 
man, and he also is known." " And why are they not 
punished ? " " Wellah, it is for fear of their malice. The 
hags assemble in dead hours of the night, and sitting in a 



MAGIC AND SORCERY 165 

place of ordures, they strip off their smocks, and annoint their 
bodies with cow milk (which in Arabia is esteemed 
medicinal), and then the witches cry, We be issued from 
the religion of Islam. So they gad it in the dim streets, and 
woe worth any man returning lateward if they meet with 
him ! For they will compel him to lie with them ; and if he 
should deny them, they will change him into the form of some 
beast an ox, a horse, or an ass : and he shall afterward 
lose his mind, and in the end perish miserably. But they 
eat, wellah, the heart (and he is aware of it) of him who 
consents to them, and suck the blood of his living body ; and 
after this he will become a fool, and be a dazing man all his 
days." 

The sorcerer who desires to exercise his magic art begins 
by sacrificing a black cock. He then reads his spell, ties 
his knots, or flings his magical readings into the wells. All 
this is done in the same fashion to-day as was customary be 
fore Mohammed. To such practices the last two chapters of 
the Koran refer. Much more important and more wide 
spread than the magic of producing demonic influence is the 
magic of acting against them what might be called " anti- 
magic." Illness, especially in the ease of children, is caused 
by Jinn. The one remedy is therefore magic. And consists 
in stroking or rubbing, the tying of knots, or spitting and 
blowing. I have seen an educated kadi in Arabia solemnly 
repeat chapters from the Koran and then blow upon the 
body of his dying child, in order to bring back health again. 
The Rev. Edwin E. Calverley tells this story : " What do 
you suppose I have just seen ? " exclaimed an excited Jew 
to a Christian in a Moslem city of Arabia. 

" What was it ? Where did you see it ? " 

" There was a whole group of Arab women standing out 
side the big door of the mosque and they all had cups or 
glasses in their hands." 



166 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

" Oh, they were beggars, and they were waiting for the 
men to get through reciting their prayers." 

" But no, they were not beggars, because I saw the beggars 
at another door, and besides, I watched the men as they came 
out of the mosque, and, it is hard to believe it, they spat right 
into the cups and glasses and bowls that the women and 
children and even men held out to them. Some of the 
Moslems spat into one cup after another, into every cup 
that was put near them. I never saw the like in all my 
life ! " 

" That is indeed most strange and revolting ! What were 
they doing it for ? I m sure I don t know. Why don t you 
go and ask some Moslem about it ? " 

Soon he came back, utterly disgusted. 

" Did you find out what the purpose is ? " 

" Yes, and that is the most repulsive thing of all ! I 
wouldn t have believed it about them if anybody but one of 
their own religion had told it to me. Those people with the 
cups and bowls have some friend or some one in their family 
who is sick, and they are collecting the spittle of the men 
who have just finished their prayers for their sick ones at 
home." 

My Moslem friends could not give me the religious au 
thority supporting their unhygienic custom, but such 
authority exists nevertheless. Al Bukhari (Sahih VII, p. 
150) gives two traditions reporting Mohammed s sanction for 
the practice. After recording the usual " chain of witnesses, 
Al Bukhari relates that " Aisha (May Allah be pleased with 
her) said that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him 
peace) told a sick man, l In the name of Allah the earth of 
our land and the saliva of some of us cure our sick, by the 
permission of our Lord. 

Spitting is used for all difficult performances, for example, 
to open locks that will not otherwise yield to the key. (See 



MAGIC AND SOKCERY 167 

Doughty Vol. I, p. 527 and Vol. II, p. 164.) In this way 
they cure sick camels. Doughty says (Vol. II, p. 164) : 
" Another time I saw Salih busy to cure a mangy thelul; 
he sat with a bowl of water before him, and mumbling there 
over he spat in it, and mumbled solemnly and spat many 
times ; and after a half -hour of this work the water was taken 
to the sick beast to drink. Spitting (a despiteful civil defile 
ment) we have seen to be some great matter in their medicine. 
Is it that they spit thus against the malicious jinn ? Parents 
bid their young children spit upon them: and an Arabian 
father will often softly say to the infant son in his arms, 
Spit upon babu ! spit, my darling. 

Another case he gives as follows : (Vol. I, p. 527) : " A 
young mother yet a slender girl, brought her wretched babe, 
and bade me spit upon the child s sore eyes; this ancient 
Semitic opinion and custom I have afterward found wherever 
I came in Arabia. Meteyr nomads in el-Kasim have brought 
me, some of them bread and some salt, that I should spit in 
it for their sick friends. Their gossips followed to make 
this request with them and when I blamed their superstition 
they answered simply, that l such was the custom here from 
time out of mind. 

In regard to blowing and spitting as methods of healing or 
conferring a blessing, it is important to note the Arabic dis 
tinction between nafakha and nafatha, the latter means to 
blow with spittle. A Moslem correspondent in Yemen points 
out this distinction and says that there is no real healing 
power or hurting power in the dry breath. It is the spittle or 
soul-stuff that transfers good or ill. 

Among the animistic tribes of West Africa spitting is one 
of the means of conferring a blessing. The same thing is 
true among the Barotse of South Africa. Mr. Nassau writes : 
" The same Benga word, tuwaka, to spit, is one of the two 
words which mean also to bless. In pronouncing a blessing 



168 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

there is a violent expulsion of breath, the hand or head of the 
one blessed being held so near the face of the one blessing 
that sometimes in the act spittle is actually expelled upon 
him." 3 

Concerning South Africa he quotes a testimony of Wilson : 
" Relatives take leave of each other with elaborate ceremony. 
They spit upon each other s faces and heads, or rather, pre 
tend to do so, for they do not actually emit saliva. They also 
pick up blades of grass, spit upon them, and stick them about 
the beloved dead. They also spit on the hands : all this is 
done to ward off evil spirits. Spittle also acts as a kind of 
taboo. When they do not want a thing touched they spit on 
straws, and stick them all about the object." 

In India, we are told, many women with their little chil 
dren go to the mosques at the prayer hour and stand near the 
door. After prayers as the people come out from the mosques 
still repeating their wazifas they breathe on these children. 
Often in case of sickness in the family some one is sent for 
(such as an Imam) who repeats some suras or verses of the 
Koran and either directly breathes on the sick or on a little 
water which is given to the sick to drink. Sometimes he 
touches his tongue with his forefinger and then the tongue of 
the sick, and in this way saliva is used for healing purposes." 

" In Yemen," writes a Moslem correspondent, " it is com 
mon to blow on the sick or use saliva for healing. But it is 
necessary that the one who blows or uses spittle should be a 
pious man, and that before he does it the Fatiha be repeated. 
This practice is in accordance with the example of the 
Prophet as he worked miracles in this way and his Compan 
ions did likewise." 

In Tabriz, Persia, a holy man often is asked to say prayers 
for the sick and breathe on them. 

" Some people," says Mr. Gerdener of South Africa, " who 

"Fetichism in West Africa," p. 213. 



MAGIC AND SOKCEEY 169 

have been to Mecca are supposed to possess the power to 
breathe on the face of the sick and cure them. Passing the 
hand in front of the face is also resorted to, especially for 
children." 

In Bahrein, Arabia, saliva mixed with oil, is used as an 
ointment and is also taken internally. It is collected in a 
cup from various contributors ! 

The Mullah s breath is supposed to be efficacious in sick 
ness. He receives a fee for this treatment. " Mrs. D. 

called on the women of Sheikh J s household, and he 

was in the room doctoring a sick boy. He sat beside him," 
writes Miss Kellien, " muttering pious phrases supposedly 
from the Koran, and punctuating every few words by spitting 
towards the child s face, and then watching her to see how 
she took it. She said his wives were convulsed with 
laughter which they were careful to hide, and had apparently 
little faith in the virtue of such treatment." 

To cure headache in Algeria the taleb will take hold of 
the patient s head with the first finger and thumb across the 
brow and gently blow upon the patient s face until the pain 
has disappeared. A taleb will spit in the mouth of a patient 
supposed to be possessed by jinn, knock him sharply on the 
back between the shoulder-blades, and the evil spirit will 
leave him. 

In Tunis if a person is ill, some one is brought who spits 
on his own hands and wipes them over the sick person s face 
and hands. 

Among Moslems everywhere sneezing has an evil sig 
nificance and may have bad results. To ward these off, those 
who are present utter a pious formula. This was the custom 
before Islam as well as to-day. Gaping is of the devil (Buk- 
hari 2: 180), therefore it is followed by the expression, " I 
take refuge in God (from Satan)." 

The chief danger, however, always present to the Semitic 



170 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

mind, is that of the " evil eye " not only of him who 
envies but also of him who admires. It is also feared in the 
glance of the Jinn and the afrit. Mohammed was a believer 
in the baneful influence of the evil eye. Asma Bint TJmais 
relates that she said, " O Prophet, the family of Ja far are 
affected by the baneful influences of an evil eye ; may I use 
spells for them or not ? " The Prophet said, " Yes, for if 
there were anything in the world which would overcome fate, 
it would be an evil eye." 4 

Again we read, 5 " Anas says : The Prophet permitted a 
spell (ruqyah) being used to counteract the ill effects of the 
evil eye ; and on those bitten by snakes or scorpions. 
(Sahih Muslim p. 233.) 

Um Salmah relates " that the Prophet allowed a spell to 
be used for the removal of yellowness in the eye, which, he 
said, proceeded from the malignant eye." (Sahih Al-Bok- 
hari, p. 854.) 

" Auf ibn Malik says The Prophet said there is nothing 
wrong in using spells, provided the use of them does not 
associate anything with God. (Mishkat, Book XXI, 
ch. I.) 

The magic resting in knots is also referred to in the Koran. 
In the Chapter of the Daybreak 8 we read : " Say, I seek 
refuge in the Lord of the Daybreak, from the evil of what 
He has created ; and from the evil of the night when it cometh 
on; and from the evil of the blowers upon knots." That 
the custom is animistic is clear from Frazer s description of 
it in his work on Taboo 7 : " At a difficult birth the Battaks 
of Sumatra make a search through the possessions of husband 
and wife and untie everything that is tied up in a bundle. 

* Mishkat, XXI, C. I., Part 2. 
B Hughes Dictionary, p. 303. 
Surah 113. 
i Vol. II, pp. 296-7 and 300. 



MAGIC AND SOKCERY 171 

In some parts of Java, when a woman is in travail, everything 
in the house that was shut is opened, in order that the birth 
may not be impeded ; not only are doors opened and the lids 
of chests, boxes, rice-pots, and water-buts lifted up, but even 
swords are unsheathed and spears drawn out of their cases. 
Customs of the same sort are practiced with the same inten 
tion in other parts of the East Indies." He goes on to say, 
" We meet with the same superstition and the same custom 
at the present day in Syria. The persons who help a Syrian 
bridegroom to don his wedding garments take care that no 
knot is tied on them nor buttoned, for they believe that a 
buttoned or a knot tied would put it within the power of his 
enemies to deprive him of his nuptial rights by magical 
means." 

Among the Jews also knots played an important part in 
magic. " Even to-day among the children of Kiev one of the 
ways of determining who shall be it is to tie a knot in a 
handkerchief ; the children pick out the corners, and the one 
selecting the knotted corner is l it. In Kovno, when a wart 
is removed a knot is tied around it with a thread and this 
knot is placed under the threshold." 8 

Commentators on the Koran relate that the reason for the 
revelation of the chapter quoted above was that a Jew named 
Lobeid, had, with the assistance of his daughters, bewitched 
Mohammed by tying eleven knots in a cord which they hid in 
a well. The Prophet falling ill in consequence, this chapter 
and that following it were revealed; and the angel Gabriel 
acquainted him with the use he was to make of them, and 
told him where the cord was hidden. The Khalif Ali fetched 
the cord, and the Prophet repeated over it these two chapters ; 
at every verse a knot was loosed till on finishing the last 
words, he was entirely freed from the charm. 9 

8 The Jewish Encyclopedia, article Knot. 

See " Al Razi," Vol. VIII, pp. 559-564. Here we also learn that an 



172 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

In Malay magic, heathen practices are so thoroughly mixed 
up with Mohammedan prayers that it is hard to disentangle 
the threads of superstition. Skeat tells us that in order to 
injure an enemy the method followed is as follows : 

" Take parings of nails, hair, eyebrows, saliva, etc., of your 
intended victim (sufficient to represent every part of his 
person), and make them up into his likeness with wax from a 
deserted bees comb. Scorch the figure slowly by holding it 
over a lamp every night for seven nights and say : 

" It is not wax that I am scorching. 

" It is the liver, heart and spleen of So-and-so that I 
scorch. After the seventh time burn the figure, and your 
victim will die." 10 

The following prayer is also used in burying a wax image 
of one s enemy after piercing it with the thorn of the palm 
tree: 

"Peace be to you! Ho, Prophet Tap, in whose charge the earth 

is, 
Lo, I am burying the corpse of Somebody, 

I am bidden (to do so) by the Prophet Mohammed, 
Because he (the corpse) was a rebel to God. 

Do you assist in killing him or making him sick; 

If you do not make him sick, if you do not kill him, 

You shall be a rebel against God, 

A rebel against Mohammed, 

It is not I who am burying him, 

It is Gabriel who is burying him. 

Do you too grant my prayer and petition, this very day that has 

appeared, 
Grant it by the grace of my petition within the fold of the Creed 

La ilaha." u 

afrit used to tease Mohammed, so Gabriel taught him to repeat this 
chapter at bed-time. It was also given him as a charm against the 
evil eye. 

10 " Malay Magic," p. 570. 

II " Malay Magic," p. 571. 



MAGIC AND SOECERY 173 

In this way the one who performs magic absolves himself 
from blood-guiltiness by shifting the burden of his guilt to the 
shoulders of the Angel Gabriel. 

The teaching of the Koran is to blame for other forms of 
magic ; is it not the inspired word of God ? Among the Mos 
lems Solomon is a great historic figure. He is still looked 
upon as the ruler of the animal world ; the very trappers in 
the jungle address their prey in the name of " God s prophet, 
Solomon." His adventures with the Queen of Sheba are re 
corded in romance, his seal (the pentacle) is drawn by 
sorcerers on talismans and gives its name to the five-pointed 
starfish, and his wealth, like the treasure of Korah, is much 
sought for by local magicians. 

Miss Holliday says that one of the most prevalent forms of 
magic in Persia is filling a metal bowl with water, holding 
money or some metallic object between the thumb and fore 
finger and stirring the water with it ; they divine by looking 
in the water. Sometimes a cloth is placed in the bowl and 
chirping sounds, like the voices of sparrows are heard. I 
have heard of a woman in Urumia who has a familiar spirit, 
who is sometimes visible and whose answers to questions have 
a muttering or chirping sound. Sometimes a metal plate is 
used with letters on the rim from which answers are de 
duced. " The family of my Moslem cook," writes Miss Hol 
liday, " have a singular distinction, their house being what is 
known as an i ojock, literally, a hearthstone, or fireplace. 
This is a rare thing; women bring their small infants to him 
and making a noose of a handkerchief round his gun, pass the 
child three times through it, which is supposed to protect it 
from the evil eye. All the sons of this clan have this power 
of blessing and protecting which is unknown to other Mos 
lems. They have peculiar customs; one is, that after the 
birth of a child all in the house must abstain from all food of 
animal origin for a week, till the mother has gone to the 



174 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

bath. The majority are monogamists and divorce is rare 
among them. My cook thinks there is but one other clan 
in this city which has the power of being an ojock. 
Women here wishing to avert the evil eye from a young child, 
will bring it to my cook and give it to him as his own, then 
will give him money, with which he hires the mother, as the 
child s nurse, and she takes it away to her home." 

She continues : " Two or three onions were pierced by a 
spit because the woman said the evil spirits did not like the 
odor or the looks of the sharp iron. Three eggs were put in 
a bowl at the pillow and stayed there till the mother was 
taken to the bath. When they left the house, one was broken 
and thrown out to attract the attention of the jinns to that, 
another when half way to the bath and the last when they 
reached the door, so that she could enter while their curiosity 
detained them without. A copy of the Koran was usually 
tied in a headkerchief and laid at the pillow. 

" One must not come in on top of the baby till the forty 
days are expired. So they would hold the baby over the 
door and I would enter the room under it. This was only 
for one who was not present at the birth." 

" One form of magic very common in Cape Town," says 
Mr. Gerdener, " is the casting of dice, also human bones and 
pebbles of varied color. In fact all through the country even 
by Europeans, Moslem magic is believed in and they send for 
Malay doctors, paying them large sums for humbug. The 
term Malay is synonymous in local newspaper circles with 
Moslem. Amber beads, dried dates, flowers, Zem Zem 
water and sand or earth from Mohammed s grave are all 
used for good luck ; dates and flowers for sickness, the flower 
being put into water and the newly born child bathed in it. 
The flower is subsequently taken out, dried and kept among 
the child s garments, until the next arrival. The sand or 
earth is worn in a rag round the neck to ward off sickness 



MAGIC AND SORCERY 175 

or to keep off evil spirits, of which the Moslem world seems 
to swarm. These rags are also worn by criminals to escape 
the police." 

Mekkeya, a Moslem convert at Bahrein, Arabia, says that 
people who deal in magic often take the head of a sheep, bury 
it in the cemetery and every night for seven days go to the 
place, where they first curse father and mother forty times, 
and then open the grave. If the head salutes him for each 
of these seven nights he digs it up and takes it home with him 
where it is kept in state and gives an answer regarding all 
the owner s intended magic. Should it fail to answer during 
one of the seven nights, it cannot be used. 

For magic purposes pieces of the Kaaba-covering, Zem 
Zem water, earth which is mixed with water and used as 
medicine, date stones from Mecca, etc., are kept in a box in 
the house because of the blessing they are supposed to con 
tain. 

The following is one form of magic prevalent in Algeria. 
A dish of semoule is placed before a dead body dug out of its 
grave and placed in an upright position before the dish, while 
some one takes the dead hand and presses it over the semoule; 
it is then made into little figures of various descriptions and 
sold as charms. 

Sometimes words are written on paper which is then 
pounded up and given to some one in their coffee or food. 

"Writing is also put into the mouth of a toad. The mouth 
is then sewn up, the toad s limbs are bound together and the 
toad is put into a hole in the ground. As the toad pines and 
dies the person for whom the charm is bought also pines 
and dies. 

Sometimes a Jcetuba is tied to the neck of a tortoise and the 
tortoise put at the doorstep of the person hated with his or 
her name attached, who will then also pine away and die. 

Sometimes a viper s head is cut off, dried in the sun and 



176 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

pounded up and mixed with the food or drink of the victim, 
who dies. All these things are the work of talebs. There 
are numerous other forms of magic of the same sort for bring 
ing about the illness or death of some one, or as love-charms. 

Many animistic customs are in vogue among Moslems in 
connection with their marriage ceremonies. The reader is re 
ferred to a complete treatise on the subject by Edward Wester- 
marck (" Marriage Ceremonies in Morocco," Macmillan, 
London, 1914), from which we quote one example: "As a 
protection against magic the gift removed from the wheat 
which is to be used for the wedding is thrown into a river, 
water-course or spring, or buried in the ground; the bride 
groom steps three times over the bundle of old clothes con 
taining his shaved-off hair; the bride is carefully guarded by 
women on her way to the bridegroom s place, particularly 
for fear lest some malevolent person should in a magical 
manner deprive her of her virginity ; she shakes out the henna 
powder from her slippers and throws it into water ; and when 
the young wife pays her first visit to her parents she goes 
and comes back in the evening, being still very susceptible to 
the evil eye." 

One has only to compare these practices with the marriage 
customs of pagan tribes to see how much of animism lies back 
of them. The whole question of sexual pollution in Islam 
can be explained best of all by animistic belief. To refer 
once more to Westermarck : " The Moors say that a 
scribe is afraid of evil spirits only when he is sexually un 
clean, because then his reciting of passages of the Koran 
the most powerful weapon against such spirits Avould be 
of no avail. Sexual cleanness is required of those who have 
anything to do with the corn, 12 for such persons are otherwise 
supposed to pollute its holiness, and also, in many cases, to 
do injury to themselves." 

12 Cf. Frazer, The Corn Spirit, in his " The Golden Bough." 



MAGIC AND SORCERY 177 

In another place he shows how the bride brings blessing to 
others just as she does among the pagan races of Malaysia. 
" When milk is offered to the bride on her way to the bride 
groom s place, she dips her finger into it or drinks a few drops 
and blows on the rest, so as to impart to it a little of her holi 
ness, and the milk is then mixed with other milk to serve as a 
charm against witchcraft, or poured into the churn to make 
the butter plentiful; or when, on her arrival at the bride 
groom s place, his mother welcomes her with milk, she drinks 
of it herself and sprinkles some on the people. She hurls the 
lamb, which is handed her, over the bridegroom s tent so that 
there shall be many sheep in the village." 

Astrology with its belief that the sun, the moon and the 
planets preside over the seven days of the week and govern 
by their good or bad influences, is generally prevalent among 
the uneducated classes. Books on astrology are among the 
best sellers even in the shops near the Azhar in Cairo. The 
following invocations taken from the " Book of Treasures " 
of the celebrated physician and philosopher, Ibn Sina (died 
A.D. 1035), are still used and published widely (one would 
hardly call the prayers monotheistic) : 

Invocation to Venus. O blessed, moist, temperate, subtle, 
aromatic, laughing and beautiful Princess, who art the mis 
tress of jewels, ornaments, gold, silver, amusements, and of 
social gatherings; O Lady of sports and jokes, conquering, 
alluring, repelling, strengthening, love-inspiring, match 
making ! O Lady of joy, I pray thee to grant my wishes by 
the permission of God the Most High ! 

Invocation to Mercury. O veracious, excellent, just, elo 
quent Prince who art pleasant to look at, a writer, an arith 
metician, a master of wickedness, fraud, trickery and helper 
in all stratagems! O truthful, noble, subtle and light one, 
whose nature and graciousness are unknown, as they are 
boundless, because thou art boding good the well-boding ones, 



ITS THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

and boding evil with the evil-boding; a male with males, a 
female with females, diurnal with diurnals, and nocturnal 
with nocturnals, accommodating thyself to their natures, and 
assimilating thyself to their forms. Everything is thine. I 
ask thee to do my will, by the permission of God. 13 

In astrology it is generally believed that Saturn presides 
over Saturday, and his color is black; the Sun presides over 
Sunday and his color is yellow ; the moon presides over Mon 
day and his color is green; Mars presides over Tuesday and 
his color is red; Mercury presides over Wednesday and his 
color is blue; Jupiter presides over Thursday and his color 
is sandal ; Venus presides over Friday and her color is white. 
There are also seven angels, one for each day of the week, and 
special perfumes which are to be burned in connection with 
these incantations. The modus operandi in the books on this 
subject is to take the first letters of the names of the persons 
concerned and use them with the tables of astrology. We 
then take the first letter of the planet relating to the person 
or thing asked for, writing them, and putting the sign of the 
accusative case on a hot letter, that of the nominative on a 
dry one, and that of the genitive on a moist one, and the 
thing is done. E.g. if we wish to join the letters of Mahmud 
and Fatimah with the letter of the planet representing the 
thing asked for, namely Venus (Zuhrah), we take the first let 
ter of Mahmud, the first of Fatimah, and the first of Venus. 
Then we operate with them, fumigating them with the appro 
priate perfumes ; you must however have your nails cut, put 
on your best clothes, and be alone; and your wish will be 
granted by the permission of God. It is still customary to 
get the horoscope of new-born children from astrologers. We 
can also learn the future by Geomancy which is called in 
Arabic Ilm ar raml (sand) because the figures and dots were 

is From the article on Magic by E. Rehatsek, M.C.E., in the Journal 
of the Asiatic Society, Vol. XIV, No. 37. 



MAGIC AND SOECERY 179 

formerly traced on that material, instead of on paper as at 
present; the operator is called Rammal, and he not seldom 
calls in astrology to aid him in his vaticinations and prog 
nostications. Books on Geomancy are numerous enough, but 
the actual modus operandi must be learned from a practi 
tioner. See the illustration on page 185. 

Of many other magical practices in vogue among Moslems 
to-day we cannot write at length. I may mention, however, 
the use of magic bowls or cups, which goes back to great 
antiquity. Generally speaking the cups are of two kinds. 
One is called Taset al Khadda from the Arabic root khadda 
which means " to shake your cup." 14 This kind is also 
called Taset al Turba. These all are used for healing, and to 
drive away the ills of the body. A specimen of this sort, so 
carefully kept by old families, may be seen in the Arab 
Museum, made by an engraver called Ibrahim in 1581 A.D. 
According to a Coptic writer the owners of such goblets often 
lend them to others who need them. The right manner to 
use the goblet is to fill it with water in the early morning, 
place some ordinary keys in it and leave them until the 
following day, when the patient drinks the water. This 
operation is repeated, three, seven, or forty consecutive nights 
until the patient gets rid of the evil effects of his fright. 
It would not be strange if the oxide of iron acted on the 
patients. 

The Moslem goblets generally contain Koran inscriptions 
and the keys spoken of are suspended by wires from the inner 
cup which rests in the center of the Taseh. This is fastened 
to the cup by a screw allowing the inner cup to revolve so 
that the keys reach every position of the outer goblet. Two 
magic cups which I purchased, the smaller one at Alexandria, 
the larger at Cairo, are both made of brass, the larger measur 
ing a little over eight inches in diameter and two inches in 

i* See Lane s Dictionary. 



180 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

height ; the smaller one five inches and a quarter in diameter 
and one and a half in height. The inner cup or basin in 
both cases is two inches in diameter. The keys are suspended 
from perforations numbering thirty in the case of the larger 
cup and twenty in that of the smaller. (See illustration 
opposite. ) 

To begin with the larger cup ; on the inside we have round 
the rim certain numerical signs equivalent to the number 
1711 which may have magical significance but the num 
bers are not distinct nor are they uniform. Then follows the 
inscription taken from the chapter "Y.S." of the Koran 
(Surah XXXVI) " In the name of the Merciful and Com 
passionate God. Y.S. By the wise Quran, verily, thou art 
of the apostles upon a right way. The revelation of the 
mighty the Merciful ! That thou mayest warn a people whose 
fathers were not warned, and who themselves are heedless. 
Now is the sentence due against most of them, for they will 
not believe. Verily, we will place upon their necks fetters, 
and they shall reach up to their chins, and they shall have 
their heads forced back; and we will place before them a 
barrier, and behind them a barrier; and we will cover them 
and they shall not see ; and it is all the same to them if thou 
dost warn them or dost warn them not, they will not believe. 
Thou canst only warn him who follows the reminder, and 
fears the Merciful in the unseen ; but give him glad tidings or 
forgiveness and a noble hire." 

The remainder of this section of the Koran is given on the 
outside of the cup on the outer circle and reads as follows: 
" Verily we quicken the dead, and write down what they 
have done before, and what vestiges they leave behind; and 
everything we counted in a plain model. 

" Strike out for them a parable : the fellows of the city 
when there came to it the apostles; when we sent those two 
and they called them both liars." The outside of the cup 








32 



MAGIC AND SORCERY 181 

also contains in bold characters five of the beautiful names 
of God, namely, " O Healer, O Sufficient One, O Thou Who 
Carest, O Thou Who Givest Health, O Thou Who Judgest." 
Here also we have a number of mystical symbols, Arabic 
numbers, etc. 

The smaller cup also has on the inside the first portion of 
the chapter already indicated and in addition the follow 
ing verse from the twenty-fourth chapter of the Koran : 
" God is the Light of the Heavens and the Earth ; His light 
is as a niche in which is a lamp, and the lamp is in the 
glass, the glass is as though it were a glittering star," and a 
portion of the seventeenth chapter, " The Night Journey " : 
" And we will send down of the Koran that which is a healing 
and a mercy to the believers." There is no inscription on 
the outside of the smaller cup. Each of the keys is inscribed 
with the words, " Bismillahi ar Rahman ar Rahim." 15 

Another cup is used for evil purposes. It is manufactured 
at Medina and bears the inscription in Arabic, " Al Medina 
the Illuminated. In the year 1305 A.H." It is made of 
aromatic wood with a yellow tinge and a bitter taste, turned 
by hand and with no verses from the Koran. This cup is 
called Al Kubalya al Kimiya, or " the cup of Alchemy." 
Its strange use is to separate husband and wife or by sorcery 
to injure a woman or draw her away into unlawful love. 
Two verses of the Koran are written backward with semen 
humanis on the inside of the cup and it is filled with water 
and the woman is made to drink it secretly. The verses are 
the following : " And the whoremonger shall marry none 
but a whore or an adultress ; and the whore shall none marry 
but an idolater; God has prohibited this to the believers." 
And also a verse from the sixty-fifth chapter : " O Thou 
Prophet ! when ye divorce women, then divorce them at their 
term, and calculate the term and fear God your Lord. Do 

i* In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate. 



182 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

not drive them out of their houses unless they have committed 
manifest adultery." 

That this cup also is in common use is established by the 
fact that the person who gave it to me said that his father in 
Ramleh (near Alexandria) used to let it out and receive one 
pound a night for its use. Apparently these cups are man 
ufactured in large quantities at Medina by the Moslems 
and the virtue consists not only in the power of the Koran 
chapters but in the material of the cup and the place of its 
manufacture. 

Ahmed Zaki Pasha, an Arabic scholar and secretary of the 
Council of Ministers in Cairo, read a paper before the Egyp 
tian Institute recently with regard to one of the healing 
cups now kept at the old Coptic Church as a relic. 16 From 
this paper we learn the following particulars : 

Magic Cups fall into two categories those which cure the 
sufferings caused by violent and sudden emotions which the 
Arabs call " Cups of Terror," and those which serve to cure 
maladies, physical as well as moral, and even domestic 
troubles. The " Cups of Terror " are jealously preserved by 
those who possess them, and are in general use to this day in 
Egypt. The owners willingly lend them to their suffering 
fellow mortals; one condition, however, attaches to such 
loans, non-compliance with which will cause the cup to lose 
its charm forever the borrower must make a monetary de 
posit. Zeki Pasha related that in the case of one of these 
cups, which he produced, he had had to pay the sum of 
75 to the mother of the head of the family possessing it. 

The following is the procedure that must be followed to 
work the charm of the " Cup of Terror." The cup has to be 
filled with water at the hour when the Faithful proceed to the 
mosque for the dawn prayer. A bunch of keys and other 

is A full account of another cup of this character was given by E. 
Rehatsek, M.C.E., in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Soc., Vol. XIV, 
No. 37. Our illustration is taken from this article. 



MAGIC AND SORCERY 183 

metal trinkets, all of them rusty, are then dipped in the water, 
which is left out in the open, and which the person to be 
cured has to drink the next morning. This ceremony, re 
peated three, seven, or forty consecutive nights, as the case 
may be, invariably cures any one suffering from the effects 
of strong emotions. 

The other category, which is far more interesting from 
both the superstitious and the historic point of view, falls 
into two classes, those that are anonymous, i.e. undated, and 
those that bear either the name of a distinguished personage 
or a definite date. It is to the second class of this category 
that the cup forming the subject of the paper belongs. 

This cup Zeki Pasha calls the Saladin Cup, because of the 
dedication which is inscribed upon it. The inside, made of 
white brass, bears a circular inscription consisting of mystic 
and cabalistic letters, which, albeit several Arabic letters and 
cyphers are distinguishable, are so intermingled that it is 
quite impossible to make anything out of them. Above this 
inscription are sixteen medallions, identical in form but with 
alternating Koranic and mystic inscriptions, on them. The 
Koranic medallions contain the formula : " In the name of 
God, the Merciful and All-Forgiving." The original bottom 
of the cup has disappeared, and has been replaced by a 
curious piece of copper, on which there are no inscriptions. 
On the outside of the cup, which is made of red copper, is the 
dedicatory formula, which is worth reproducing. It runs as 
follows : 

" Honor to our Lord, the Sultan King, the defender of 
the cause of God, who is supported (by Him) the vic 
torious, Abu-1-Mouzaffar, Yusef, the co-sharer of the 
Commander of the Faithful ! (This cup) has been proved 
by experience (to be a cure for) viper and scorpion bites, 
fever, to bring about the return of her husband to the 



184 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

divorced and abandoned woman, to cure (the bite of a) 
mad dog, intestinal pains, colic, headache ... to destroy 
the effects of witchcraft, (to stop) bleeding, to exorcise the 
evil eye, to drive away sadness and heart qualms, and all 
ills and infirmities except death ... to prevent the vexa 
tions caused by troublesome children. (It should be) 
placed at the head (of the patient) and be used as a bath 
by the old maid (to help her get a husband)." 

Below this inscription are ten medallions, alternately round 
and trapezoid in form. All are covered with mystic signs 
entirely incomprehensible to us to-day. Underneath the 
medallions is a circular inscription in Arabic characters, 
some of which are obliterated, but from which with the help 
of contemporary cups in the Arab Museum, it has been pos 
sible to reconstruct the following text : 

" Made after astrological observations reproduced and 
engraved during the apogee of the star and according to the 
horoscopes derived from the astral tables. This has been 
agreed upon and adopted by the principal religious heads 
of the Rashidite Caliphs in order to safeguard the Moslem 
community. Executed at Mecca in the year . . . for all 
ills and infirmities." 



MAGIC AND SORCERY 



185 




TALISMANIC MEDICINE CUP 

From Rehatsck a Article " Magic " Jour. Asiatic Soc., Vol. XIV : 37. 



CHAPTER X 

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 amu 
lets, 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 un- 
classed, and without any known meaning. The various ascer 
tained 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." J All these classes of amulets, 
except the last, are in use among Moslems to-day, in many 

i " Amulets of Ancient Egypt," p. 6. 

186 



AMULETS, CHARMS AND KNOTS 187 

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 Egyp 
tians used magical figures made of wax just as they do to 
day. 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 teach 
ing. 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 TJrim and 
Thummim of the Old Testament ? No doubt Moslem relig- 



188 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

ions magic owes much to later Jewish sources. The charac 
ter 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 in 
cantations, especially against the intermittent fever or in 
flammation, the patient wearing an amulet upon his neck, 
with the following inscription : 

ABRACADABRA 

ABRAC AD ABR 

ABR ACAD AB 

ABRAC AD A 

ABR AC AD 

AB R AC A 

ABRAC 

AB R A 

ABR 

A B 

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 Word"? 



AMULETS, CHARMS AND KNOTS 189 

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 Tir- 
madhi 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 juljuliyeli (i. e., 
Jalla jallalaliu). 

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 recom 
mended to be used for immoral purposes. 3 

The terms used in magic are Da wall ; azima or Incanta 
tion ; Kali ana 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 num 
bers has grown up called Kutub al Ruhaniyat on Geomancy, Oritho- 
mancy and dreams. 

* Hughes Dictionary, p. 304. 



190 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

According to a statement of the Prophet, what a fortune 
teller 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 as 
cend 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 con 
sists 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 



AMULETS, CHARMS AND KNOTS 191 

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. Chil 
dren 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 parch 
ments, etc., tied round their necks. Furniture and house 
hold 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. Figur.a- 
tively, 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 neighbor 
hood 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. 



192 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

At present in Cairo, Baghdad and Damascus Jewish silver 
smiths 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 Near 
East, is entitled The Amulet of the Seven Covenants of Solo 
mon. It consists of a strip of paper seventy-nine inches in 
length and four inches in breadth, lithographed, and with por 
tions 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 

Hassan Hussein 

Mohammed 

Peace upon him 
Othman All 



AMULETS, CHARMS AND KNOTS 193 

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 sell 
ing and buying, and for traveling by day and night: Cer 
tainly 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 re 
lated 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 



194! THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

their possessions. I enter houses and gobble like turkeys and 
bark like dogs, and low like cows, and make a noise like cam 
els, 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 expres 
sions 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 daugh 
ters 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 Harm 
ful, 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 



AMULETS, CHAKMS AND KNOTS 195 

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 

" t 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 walk 
ing 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 ac 
cepted and loved by all, and give him light and favor. God 
is the Light of Heaven. 

"Light Verse 
" God is the Light. The similitude of His Light is as a 



196 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

niche in a wall wherein a lamp is placed and the lamp en 
closed 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. 

" Throne Verse 

11 God ! There is no god but He, the Living, the Eternal. 
Slumber doth not overtake Him, neither sleep. To Him be- 
longeth whatsoever is in heaven and on earth. Who shall in 
tercede 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 preserva 
tion of both is no weariness to Him. He is the High, the 
Mighty." 



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 in 
vented 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 



197 

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. Accord 
ing 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 fubhaks 
(or rosaries), his mushaf (or writings) in unarranged frag 
ments, 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 tooth 
pick, 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. Q 

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 transla 
tion 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. 

" Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians," Lane, p. 255. 
Wackidi 429, Aghani 14:163; Buchari 4:33. 



198 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

" O ! the Blessedness of l 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 Com 
passionate. 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 ac 
quirement 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, com 
passionate, 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 



AMULETS, CHARMS AND KNOTS 199 

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 pro 
pose 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. What 
ever is in the heavens and in the earth praiseth Him ; and He 
is the Mighty, the Wise. In the name of God the Compas 
sionate, the Merciful. Say He is one God, God the Ever 
lasting. He begetteth not, and is not begotten, and there is 
none like unto Him. In the Name of God, etc. ... I be 
take 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 whis 
perer, 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 
master Mohammed." 

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. Dyk- 
stra, " 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 fas 
tened 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 pil 
grimage to Mecca. 

Mr. Gerdener of Cape Town tells us the most common amu 
lets 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. 



AMULETS, CHAEMS AND KNOTS 201 

In Tunis the most common amulets are little leathern bags 
in which are sewn written charms, bits of incense, white cara 
way 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 pa 
gans 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 ex 
istence 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 suc 
cess 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." 
Mishkat, 21:1. 



202 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

victory in battle. It is an occult science and is divided into 
four heads : 10 

(1) The qualifications necessary for Mm 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 con 
versation. 

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 re 
frain 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 assafo3tida. 

(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." 



203 

















3 













3 
W 





a 

3 
O 




Amiable 


1 

H 


V 

C 

E 


do 


i s 
42 


Zuhrah 
Venus 


(4 


Durba il 


, 


a 

Q 


VC 


Reckoner 


Terrible 


Enmity 


w 


Red Sandal 


g 


CO 

S c 

5) 3 


Twayush 


Darda il 










3 TJ 































a 


c 


J- 


* 


rs 


CO 


3 


H 


Assemb 


Terrible 
Amiab 
Combin 





* 
i? 


Cinnam 


03 


1^ 


p 

"3 


a 

"a 
M 




5- 
^ 


CO 
i-l 


fl 
C 


3 
a 


I 


j< 


ii 


83 
II 


H t4 

- -^ 


B 


S 
E 








H 


<J 






OB 




^- 


Q 




- 


1 


V 



s 

o 

o 


Terrible 


~ 

,= 

3 
s 


E 


| 


| 


la 

g a 


Zuhal 
Saturn 


layupush 


3 

(4 

M 












fi 




pq 










ill 


i 








1 

























3 














|<j-2 


c 








s 














^1 











** 














fc-O P 


1 


_ 


z. 





















- 


fl 






A 














^ 


R 









S 




b 










J^ -g 


If 


E 


r. 


Is 


c 




i 


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||| 


1 

S 


J 




S 


5 


^ 


3 




i 

N 






JS 


M 


S 

f^ bt^ 

t> ^ 

E 


*C 

< 
~ 
| 


s 


Meaning of 


a 
"o 

S 


p 


Elements . . 
Arba ah Anas 


Perfume of t 


o 

JS 

II 


Planets 
Kawakib) 


9 

a 

3 

8 




Guardian An 
Muwakkil) 


fl 


CL 


4 


Q 


Q> 


M 




- 


0) 


Q) 






3 


e 


e 


ft 


S 


g 


EH 


P 


EH 


EH 


g 





201 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

Moslem lands and there are hundreds of books on the sub 
ject. 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 mem 
ory, 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. 



8 


11 


14 


1 


13 


2 


7 


12 


3 


16 


9 


6 


10 


5 


4 


15 



14 


4 


1 


15 


7 


9 


12 


6 


11 


5 


8 


10 


2 


16 


13 


3 



15 


1 


4 


14 


10 


8 


5 


11 


6 


12 


9 


7 


3 


13 


16 


2 



1 


14 


15 


4 


8 


11 


10 


5 


12 


7 


6 


9 


13 


2 


3 


16 



7 


13 


19 


25 


1 


20 


21 


2 


8 


14 


3 


9 


15 


16 


22 


11 


17 


23 


4 


10 


24 


5 


G 


12 


18 



12 " Qanoon-e-Islam," by Herklots, London. 






H-s 

PH d, 2 

5 : 
s 

s ^ 

i!l 

~ 0) 

^ ^ S* 

s - 
S ^ 

i en fl 

O* "3 P 
02 a 3 

^ ^ 
^ -g ^ 

2 -2 

O S 3 
*^ TO ^3 



Q C 

^ ^ - - 

< s 

co S 



- (!) 
1* -C 



i-3 < -^ 
^ 



5 bO 

2 c 
a 



AMULETS, CHARMS AND KNOTS 205 

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 blioojputur, 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, to 
gether 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 bath 
ing, 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 har 
assed by him the following is what people, in the habit of 
doing these things, perform, either for themselves or for oth 
ers, for a reward. However, it is not every one that succeeds 

I 8 I. e., an amulet with the name of Ali. 



206 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

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 tiibut-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, 



AMULETS, CHARMS AND KNOTS 207 

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, lit 
erally, 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 char 
acter 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. 



CHAPTER XI 



PRIMITIVE worship in all parts of the world is connected 
with sacred trees and sacred stones. Paradise had its tree 
of knowledge and the tree of life. The Patriarchs pitched 
their tents under special groves and worshiped Jehovah with 
out blame. They saw God in nature, yet did not deify na 
ture and were charged over and over not to follow the abom 
inations of those who worshiped under every grove. The 
Ashera or sacred poles (trees) were connected with idolatrous 
and orgiastic worship of the Baalim. Egyptologists speak 
of Osiris as a tree-god with tree-demons and on Babylonian 
cylinders we find pictures of sacred trees. A lordly oak or 
elm is so beautiful that our poet, Joyce Kilmer, who gave his 
life in France, wrote: 

"I think that I shall never see 
A poem lovely as a tree. 

A trees whose hungry mouth is prest 
Against the earth s sweet flowing breast. 

A tree that looks at God all day 

And lifts her leafy arms to pray. . . . 

Poems are made by fools like me, 
But only God can make a tree." 

The account in the Book of Genesis of the Tree of Life to 
gether with that of the trees of the River of Life in the book 
of Revelation find their parody in what Moslems teach con 
cerning the Lotus-tree of Paradise. (See Commentary on 

208 



209 

Surah 9Y.) It is said to be at the extremity or on the most 
elevated spot, in Paradise, and is believed by Moslems to have 
as many leaves as there are living human beings in the world ; 
and the leaves are said to be inscribed with the names of all 
those beings ; each leaf bearing the name of one person, and 
that of his father and mother. This tree, Moslems believe, is 
shaken on the Lailat al Qadr (night of Destiny) a little after 
sunset; and when a person is destined to die in the ensuing 
year, the leaf upon which his name is written, falls off on this 
occasion ; if he is to die very soon his leaf is almost wholly 
withered, a very small portion only remaining green ; if he is 
to die later on in the year, a larger portion remains green; 
according to the time he has yet to live, so is the proportion 
of the part of the leaf yet green. This therefore is a very 
awful night to the serious and considerate Moslems, who, ac 
cordingly, observe it with solemnity and earnest prayer. 

A whole world of superstition and tradition is connected 
with this tree of Paradise and pictures of it are sold as amu 
lets in Cairo. It is also common to find the genealogy of the 
Prophet Mohammed traced back to Adam and forward to the 
saints of Islam depicted as a sacred tree. I have seen such 
pictures hanging for good luck as well as for instruction in 
mosques at Saigon, Indo-China and in Honan and Singapore. 
But this is beside our subject. 

The special veneration of trees, however, exists in all Mos 
lem lands and has the closest possible resemblance to pagan 
tree-worship, as we shall see. In pagan belief because of 
their theory of universal life all weird or abnormal objects are 
sacred and have special soul-qualities. Trees of unusual size, 
rocks of peculiar shape, animals with strange deformities, 
all such things are sacrosanct. A Moslem dares not injure 
them ; to do so would bring down upon himself the wrath of 
unseen powers. 

" Of course it is not to be supposed that the Malay peasant 



210 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

is fully aware of the animistic character of his belief. He 
acts as his ancestors acted before him ; he does not reason why. 
He is satisfied with the fact that a tree has a spirit attached 
to it; he does not stop to enquire whether that spirit is the 
soul of the tree or merely a ghost that has taken up its abode 
in the tree ; all he is certain about is that some unseen power 
is connected with the tree." * 

In West Africa tree-worship is common among the pagans 
and such trees are famous haunts of spirits. Large, promi 
nent trees are inhabited by spirits. " Many trees in the 
equatorial West Africa forest throw out from their trunks," 
says Nassau, " at from ten to sixteen feet from the ground, 
solid buttresses continuous with the body of the tree itself, 
only a few inches in thickness, but in width at the base of 
the tree from four to six feet. These buttresses are pro 
jected toward several opposite points of the compass, as if 
to resist the force of sudden wind-storms. They are a no 
ticeable forest feature and are commonly seen in the silk-cot 
ton trees. The recesses between them are actually used as 
lairs by small wild animals. They are supposedly also a 
favorite home of the spirits." 

In Islam the same beliefs and practices exist and go back 
to Arabian paganism or were adopted by Moslems in their 
local or national environment and Islamized. The subject 
was treated by Goldziher in a brief paper translated for the 
Moslem World (July, 1911, p. 302). Other facts have since 
come to our notice and all travelers in the Near East witness 
to the wide prevalence of this superstition. Special venera 
tion to holy trees is offered in Syria, Palestine, and all North 
Africa. The Bedouins inhabiting the tracts of land tra 
versed by Doughty look upon certain trees and shrubs as 
manhals, or abodes of angels and demons. To injure such 
trees or shrubs, to lop their branches, is held dangerous. 

i" Malay Beliefs," pp. 20-21. 



TKEE, STONE AND SERPENT WORSHIP 211 

Misfortune overtakes him who has the foolhardiness to per 
petrate such an outrage, and as may be imagined, the Arabs 
have many delectable stories calculated to win over the skep 
tic. The holy tree is hung with a variety of buntings and like 
ornaments. The diseased and maimed of the desert resort 
to it, offer it a sheep or goat, and besprinkle it with the blood 
of the sacrificed animal. The flesh is cooked and distributed 
among the friends present, a portion being left suspended 
from a branch of the magic tree; and the patient returns 
tranquil in the faith that the angel will appear in a dream and 
instruct him with a view to his cure. But again it is the 
patient only who may sleep in the shades of the sacred tree ; 
to a healthy man the attempt would involve ruin. Professor 
Sachu s attention was arrested in the rocky land Jabal-ul- 
Amiri, southeast of Aleppo, by a stunted desiccated thorny 
tree of a man s height which he beheld hung on all sides with 
variegated rags. " Stones were heaped around its stem, and 
all manner of stones, large and small, were placed in the 
branches. Such a tree, called zarur, is the altar of the desert. 
When a woman yearns for a child, when a peasant longs for 
rain, or when he yearns for the restoration to health of his 
horse or camel he takes a stone and deposits it at the foot of 
the zarur, or fixes it somewhere between its two branches." 
Again, on either side of the Jordan religious veneration for 
sacred trees which has dominated there from times imme 
morial and which evoked stern Biblical enactments has still 
perpetuated in unaltered shape. " In no country," says the 
Rev. Mr. Mills, " have men greater reverence for trees than 
in Palestine. There we encounter a considerable number of 
holy trees, which are hung with pieces of cloth and garments 
of pilgrims who have journeyed thither to do homage to the 
trees. We notice on other trees rags for purposes of super 
stitious enchantments. Many a tree is the resort of evil 
spirits, but what is more weird, a place abounding in tender 



212 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

oaks is usually dedicated to a species of beings denominated 
Daughters of Jacob. Abbe Barges tells of a lotus-tree 
in the garden of an Arab in Jaffa to which special veneration 
was offered. From the branches of the tree depended lamps 
and strips of cloth of a variety of colors. The proprietor, 
explaining the strange worship, said that the seed of the 
tree had descended from heaven. That was why it was dedi 
cated to the Prophet who visited the tree from time to time 
in the shades of the night. All good Mohammedans show the 
same awe-struck respect for a holy tree. The practice is 
noticeable in other countries too, where popular worship 
finds expression in veneration accorded to singular represen 
tatives of the vegetable kingdom. Schumacher recording his 
experiences in Jolan describes how the butmi tree is some 
times seen standing solitary in the midst of a field shading 
the final resting-place of a Moslem saint. It receives the dis 
tinctive appellation of " fakiri," the indigent, and is so se 
cured from all outside interference, being allowed unchecked 
to attain to a great height. No Moslem dare break a single 
one of its branches or even remove a dry twig, for, as the 
legend has it, no man can ever bend its bough but must call 
down upon himself the justice of divine vengeance. 

Goldziher further states : " We may glance at a few more 
of the diverse aspects which the cult of trees assumes in Islam. 
Alongside of immutable heathen forms we come upon such 
as have been subjected to the moderating influencing of 
Mohammedanism. An umbrageous tree in Wadi ul-sirar, not 
far from Mecca, which used to be worshiped in pre-Islamic 
ages, is adored as the one under which seventy prophets had 
their umbilical cord severed. (Al-Muwatta II, p. 284 ; Yakut 
III, p. 75.). The Abbaside Abd-ul-Sainad-ibn-Ali, Governor 
of Mecca, built a mosque at this place. A sacred tree is 
either associated with the memory of Mohammed or its 
shadow covers -a Wall s tomb. In the desert the holy tree is 






r 





TKEE, STONE AND SERPENT WORSHIP 213 

adored in all its pagan aspects ; in the city the veneration is 
transferred to a convenient saint. And without such props 
the heathen cult would certainly have been uprooted. In the 
mosque of Rabia in Kazwin there was a tree regarded sacred 
by the vulgar. The Caliph ul-Mutawakkil ordered its de 
struction l so that the people may no more fall into tempta 
tion. (Beladhuri, p. 322.) It is imperative among aus 
tere Mohammedan environment to find out a dead pious man 
upon whom to transpose the homage really done to the tree, 
and when no tomb is forthcoming nigh at hand, the tree itself 
becomes the recipient of the worship in the shape of the habi 
tation of a Wali. At the corner of a street in Damascus there 
is an olive-tree, to which pilgrimages are made, chiefly by 
women, among whom it is celebrated as the Holy Lady Olive 
(Sitti Zaytun). A dervish collects the sacrificial gifts of the 
pious devotees in whose behalf he offers prayers. The olive 
was considered an individual with a personal name. Zeytun 
grew into Zaytun. Morocco actually boasts of a like Notre 
Dame d Olive in a gigantic tree which is the center of 
crowded pilgrimages. A masculine counterpart of Lady 
Zaytun we meet in the Sheikh Abu Zeytun whose mausoleum 
is situated in Palestine. By an analogous process the Mo 
hammedans have personified a venerable stone column into 
Sheikh-ul-Amud, or the Reverend Pillar. Objects previously 
looked up to as sacred continue to be so in Moslem times, 
only they are connected with some pious man whose existence 
the worshipers ever are at a loss to establish." So far the 
investigations of Professor Goldziher. In Yemen the Mos 
lems give the following tradition to explain how the custom 
arose. I have not been able to trace it to its source. They 
say that the polytheists of the Koreish used to pay high honor 
to sacred trees and accept good and ill from their influences. 
They used to drive nails into the trees and hang bits of their 
clothing upon them, but when Islam came this practice was 



214 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

forbidden to the extent that one day when Omar-ibn-el-Kha- 
tab saw certain people going to a particular tree mentioned 
in the Koran where the oath of allegiance to the Prophet was 
taken by the Companions, he greatly feared that the people 
would go back to idolatry and sent some one to cut down the 
tree and it was cut down. This clearly shows that whatever 
tree-worship persists in Arabia it is due to pre-Islamic prac 
tice and is admittedly contrary to their own conception of the 
demands of pure theism. Yet in spite of this tradition and 
the loud assertion in the mosque that Allah is God alone and 
that all polytheism is of the devil, we find tree-worship almost 
universal. Sacred trees are very common in Morocco. 
About twenty miles distant from Mogador there is a large 
argan tree. Large numbers of Moors visit the spot every 
year. They hang upon it bits of rag, broken pottery or nails, 
believing that any of these things have power to unloose the 
hidden virtue which lies concealed within and which flowing 
to the donor will make this way prosperous until next visit. 
While hanging these things upon the tree they give utterance 
to desires which fill the heart. Moslems in India respect a 
tree called Brimje which does not bear fruit and the leaves 
of which are like those of a poplar tree but a little darker. 
This tree is often planted on their tombs and in mosques ; the 
pilgrims then tie up a strip of cloth on the branches of the tree 
vowing to untie it on the fulfillment of some desire when they 
offer a sacrifice. 

In Algeria trees become holy and are worshiped because 
some saint has sat under them or dreamed about them, etc. 
They partake of the holiness of the saint and of the special 
virtues belonging to him, such as healing children s illnesses, 
child-bearing, etc. Strips of material are hung on them 
as offerings to the saint. These rags then become blessed and 
are frequently stolen and torn by other worshipers who place 



TREE, STONE AND SERPENT WORSHIP 215 

the piece in their waist belts or in the folds of their head!- 
dress. 

" Anatolia," writes Dr. George E. White, " is emphatically 
full of sacred trees and groves, each of which usually owes 
its sanctity to a holy grave, and often is in close proximity to 
a sacred spring and a sacred stone. Riding through the coun 
try one often spies a clump of trees, larger or smaller, on a 
hill top, or in some valley nook, of which even before inquir 
ing he may be quite sure that they are regarded as sacred. 
Men fear to cut the wood except for a mosque or a coffin. 
They believe that if one were to fell a tree or lop off a bough, 
he would anger the spirit of the place and some stroke would 
overtake him in consequence. They often say that if one cut 
the wood it would fly back to the forest before morning. 
More firmly do they believe that the woodman s house would 
burn, or some accident befall one or more of the inmates. At 
Ipejik a visitor told the people that devils would not get them 
if they cut down the trees. Near Arabkir is a cave beside a 
holy tree, where cocks are shut up as votive offerings to starve 
and so propitiate the spirit of the place ; the willows are ac 
counted sacred and can heal on Palm Sunday. Near Van the 
Seer rock and tree cure fever in exchange for the tying of 
a rag; near Harpout is a thorn-bush nearly buried in stones 
which cures fever; again a forty branched tree at Goganz 
rests on a hill top, and is visited by Armenians who have a 
spring festival there. The Striker tree is feared by both 
Turks and Armenians, who pray as they pass it, lest some ill- 
luck overtake them in its vicinity. At St. Sapanz is a tree 
which no one dares climb; Kurds and Armenians worship 
there every Sunday. It is remarkable that Kurds should ob 
serve the Christian Sabbath in this way, and suggests that 
they may sometimes have changed their connection from nom 
inal Christianity to nominal Mohammedanism, while remain- 



216 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

ing really Pagan for the most part all the time. At Agunjik 
a Kurd shot at a bird on a holy tree, and died eight days (that 
is a week) afterward. Rushdonienz has a famous walnut 
tree to which the sick resort, and where they remain in all 
sorts of weather to offer sacrifices, for at certain times or in 
certain stages of the weather a peculiar halo surrounds the 
tree and the sick are then miraculously healed. At Morenik 
a Sun Pole was burned in 1907 and thousands of nails were 
found in the ashes, the remains of years of worshipers. This 
tree was called the Censor, and cured all diseases for Turks 
or Armenians impartially. They would beat the roots with 
stones, burn candles before it, cast eggs into the pool hard by, 
or drive nails into the pole, crying from me to you, from you 
to another in the hope of thus expelling the disease." 

In Kerbela there are trees supposed to belong to Ali and 
other Shiah saints. There are two palm trees near Kerbela 
under which Mary is believed to have sat when Jesus was 
born. Women visit these trees, eat the fruit and drink a 
mixture of the earth and water. Pilgrims carry a collection 
of hair and tie it on the trees in Kerbela, believing that on 
the day of resurrection they will have hair the length of the 
trees. Finger-nails are also tied in a bit of rag to the trees ; 
teeth are washed, wrapped in white cloth and hung on the 
trees with a little salt, believing that this will keep them pure 
and whole until they come to claim them on the day of resur 
rection. 

" In Persia," writes Miss Holliday, " I had a cook who 
found near a village two fine saplings growing from the root 
of an old tree ; as they would be fine for walking sticks he cut 
them, but was reproved by his host for the night. If the 
village knew they would be very angry. Don t you know 
these are persons ? Another incident is given of a tree 
that had fallen down in a cemetery to which rags were tied, 
for communion with the spirit of the tree, lights were burnt 



TREE, STONE AND SERPENT WORSHIP 217 

and offerings made and which had even been walled off as a 
protection. 

The method of communion, the awe of dread consequences 
to those who injure the tree, and the details of worship are 
practically the same everywhere. 

How trees are regarded and worshiped to-day in Arabia is 
related by Doughty (Vol. I, p. 365). "Returning one of 
those days I went out to cut tent-pegs at the great solitary 
acacia tree which stands nigh the kella; here the goats and 
sheep of the garrison lie down at noon after the watering. 
Clear gum-arabic drops are distilled upon the small boughs ; 
that which oozes from the old stock is pitchy black, bitter to 
the taste, and they say medicinal : with this are caulked the 
Arab coasting boats which are built at Wejh. Hither I saw 
Doolan leading his flock, and waited to ask him for his bill, 
or else that he would cut down the sticks for me. He an 
swered : Wellah, O son of mine uncle, ask me anything 
else, but in this were mischief for us both. No ! I pray thee, 
break not, Khalil, nor cut so much as a twig of all these 
branches, thou art not of this country, thou art not aware: 
Look up ! seest thou the cotton shreds and the horns of goats 
which hang in these boughs, they are of the Beduw, but 
many fell in the late winds. And seest thou these nails ! cer 
tain of the Haj knock them into the stem whilst they pray ! 
As I laid hand anew on a good bough and took my knife, 
Doolan embraced me. No, Khalil, the man who cuts this 
tree, he said, must die. What is this folly ! are you 
afraid of trees? Ah me! she is possessed by a jinn; be 
not so foolhardy. Wellah, I tell thee truth, a Beduwy broke 
but a bough and Jie died within a while and all his cattle 
perished. Khalil, the last evening a little girl of the booth 
that is newly pitched here gathered some of these fallen sticks, 
for her mother s fire, and as they kindled, by-thy-lif e ! the 
child s arm stiffened; they carried her immediately into the 



218 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

kella, where Haj Nejm hanged some charms about her, and 
by the mercy of God the child recovered. 

And here is a pen-portrait equally pathetic of how a mother 
with her babe in Turkey seeks help at a holy-tree. The 
writer, Victoria de Bunsen, has gazed deeply into the soul 
of a Turk : " As my eyes wandered over the green branches, 
I saw that low down they were ragged and bare, and all 
stripped of their leaves. Instead the dry twigs were hung 
with objects which by much travel had grown familiar to me, 
the objects one learns to associate with all sacred mysterious 
places in the East. There were the dirty rags, the wisps of 
twisted hair, the little strings of beads or common charms 
all the worthless cast-off things which mean so much to those 
who cast them off for such a purpose, and are mere rubbish 
to everybody else. ... I saw a woman stoop to pass beneath 
them, and she came into the shade. She did not see me, and 
she need not, for I was close to the tomb, and evidently that 
was not the object of the visit. Some tall rank weeds and 
grass trees hid me from her sight, though I could still watch 
her. The woman I watched was tall and young. She wore 
the blue loose dress of the Lebanon women and the long coarse 
white veil. In her arms she carried a baby. She came 
swiftly and with decision in her movements. There was 
trouble in her face and great perplexity, but there was no 
doubt of the reason she had come to the tree. Kneeling down 
on the ground she unwinds the baby from its long thick wrap 
pings and lays it on the ground beside her. I cannot see its 
face but it must be very little and weak, for I can hear its 
wailing cry, and it is feeble and struggling. When the swad 
dling clothes are loosened, the wailing ceases for a minute and 
I see one tiny toe kick weakly in the air. . . . While the 
baby lies there on the ground and feebly stretches its wasted 
limbs I watch with anxious sympathy, this last attempt to 
save the life that means so much. The baby still wears a 



TREE, STONE AND SERPENT WORSHIP 219 

ragged little cotton shirt under the swaddling bands, and 
from this the mother carefully tears a rag. Then, rising, 
she scans anxiously the dry, leaf-stripped branches around 
her. She holds the polluted discolored thing the holy 
thing the little rag in her hand. All the fever and the 
pain and the weakness of her child is concentrated and 
bound up in that rag. For her was the duty of bringing that 
concentrated evil that heavy-laden rag into contact with 
the holy, life-giving tree. The rag must be bound to it, cast 
off upon its branches. Choosing the place the woman fastens 
the rag to a branch with steady deliberate fingers, and then 
sits down again by her baby and contemplates it dangling 
from a twig. Who shall say what hope, what agony of sus 
pense, fills her troubled mind ? " 2 

Stone- as well as tree-worship persists in Islam and Mo 
hammed himself sanctioned it when in destroying all the idols 
of the Ka aba he spared the Black-stone and left it in its place 
of honor, an object of adoration. The Meccans before Islam 
used to carry with them on their journeys pieces of stone from 
the Ka aba, and paid reverence to them because they came 
from the Haram or Holy Temple. Herodotus mentions the 
use of seven stones by the Arabs when taking solemn oaths. 
The honor, almost amounting to worship, paid the meteoric 
Hajuru l Aswad or Black Stone, is one of the many Islamic 
customs which have been derived from those of the Arabs 
who lived long before Mohammed s time. The kiss which 
the pious Mohammedan pilgrim bestows on it is a survival 
of the old practice, and was a form of worship in Arabia as 
in many other lands. The various gods of the ancient Arabs 
were represented by images or stones. It is interesting to 
know that some of these are still preserved as witness to Mo 
hammed s triumph over idolatry. Doughty says : " On the 
morrow I went to visit the three idol-stones that are shown 

2 " The Soul of a Turk," Victoria de Bunsen, p. 242. 



220 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

at Tayif-El- Uzza, which I had seen in the small (butchers ) 
market place. It is some twenty feet long; near the end 
upon the upper side is a hollowness which they call makam 
er-ras, the head place; and this, say they, was the mouth of 
the oracle. Another and smaller stone, which lay upon a 
rising-ground, before the door of the chief gunner, they call 
el-Hubbal: this also is a wild granite block, five or six feet 
long and cleft in the midst by a sword-stroke of our lord 
Aly. " ..." A little without the gate we came to the third 
reputed bethel-stone. This they name el-Lata (which is 
Venus of the Arabs, says Herodotus) : it is an unshapely 
crag; in length nearly as the Uzza, but less in height, and 
of the same gray granite." (Vol. II: 515). 3 Even to-day 
among the Shiahs in Bahrein, Arabia, there are ancient stones 
which are objects of worship because they are supposed to 
have jinn in them that have the power to come to life. Of 
ferings of food are made to them on Tuesday night and some 
times on Thursdays. The person making the offering al 
ways salaams the jinn and after hoping that he may " eat in 
health " the food is placed on the stone. In the morning the 
dish is found empty. Women often take a piece of silk for 
a garment in payment of a vow and leave it on the stone. 
Each stone seems to have its " seyyida " who is responsible 
for the removal of the silk, as the women say. 

In Tabriz, Persia, there is a large marble tomb-stone before 
which candles are burnt. When children have whooping 
cough both Moslem and Christian mothers scrape off some of 
the marble dust and give it to the children as a cure. 

Another form of stone-worship very common throughout 

s Our chief authority for the ancient Arabian idolatry is the cele 
brated Kitab al-Asnam by Ibn al Kalbi. The book itself is lost, but is 
widely quoted by Jaqut. The best summary on the subject is found in 
Wellhausen s " Reste Arabischen Heidentums," and it is fully treated in 
W. Robertson Smith s " The Religion of the Semites," New York, 1889. 



221 

the Moslem world is that of raising up stone heaps on sacred 
places : " In Syria it is a common practice with pious Mos 
lems when they first come in sight of a very sacred place, such 
as Hebron or the tomb of Moses, to make a little heap of 
stones or to add a stone to a heap which has been already 
made. Hence every here and there the traveler passes a 
whole series of such heaps by the side of the track. In North 
ern Africa the usage is similar. Cairns are commonly 
erected on spots from which the devout pilgrim first discerns 
the shrine of a saint afar off ; hence they are generally to be 
seen on the top of passes. For example, in Morocco, at the 
point of the road from Casablanca to Azemmour, where you 
first come in sight of the white city of the saint gleaming in 
the distance, there rises an enormous cairn of stones shaped 
like a pyramid several hundreds of feet high, and beyond it 
on both sides of the road there is a sort of avalanche of stones, 
either standing singly or arranged in little pyramids. Every 
pious Mohammedan whose eyes are gladdened by the blessed 
sight of the sacred towns adds his stone to one of the piles or 
builds a little pile for himself." 4 The custom of passers-by 
putting stone on a heap is a form of fetish worship. This 
is clear from what we read concerning the practice in West 
Africa. 

" All day we kept passing trees or rocks," writes Nassau, 
" on which were placed little heaps of stones or bits of wood ; 
in passing these, each of my men added a new stone or bit 
of wood, or even a tuft of grass. This is a tribute to the 
spirits, the general precaution to insure a safe return. These 
people have a vague sort of Supreme Being called Lesa who 
has good and evil passions; but here (Plateau of Lake Tan 
ganyika), as everywhere else, the Musimo, or spirits of the 
ancestors, are a leading feature in the beliefs. They are pro- 

* Frazer s " The Scapegoat," pp. 21, 22. 



222 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

pitiated, as elsewhere, by placing little heaps of stones about 
their favorite haunts." 5 The stoning of " The Three Dev 
ils " at Mecca may be some form of ancestor worship if it is 
not in memory of the old ictols. 

We turn finally to Serpent-worship in Islam. Here also 
we are surprised to find how much animism remains in Mos 
lem lands and lives and literature ; all covered of course with 
the charitable mantle of their creed. The Arabic dictionary 
gives two hundred names for snakes. As-Suhaili says that 
when God caused the serpent to come down to the earth, He 
caused it to alight in Sijistan which is the part of God s earth 
abounding most in serpents, and that if it were not for the 
Irbadd (the male viper) eating and destroying many of 
them, Sijistan would (now) have been empty of its people 
owing to the large number of them (in it). 

Ka b-al-Ahber states that " God caused the serpent to alight 
in Ispahan, Iblis in Jeddah, Eve on Mount Arafah, and 
Adam on the mountain Sarandib (Ceylon) which is the land 
of China in the Indian Ocean." The curious may find much 
on serpent lore in Damiri (Vol. I, p. 631). The most com 
mon belief is that serpents are often human beings in the 
form of snakes. The serpent has a place also in the story 
of Creation which is given as follows : " Al-Kurtubi relates 
in the commentary on the XL chapter of the Kuran on the 
authority of Thawr b. Yazid, who had it from Khalid b. 
Ma dan regarding Ka b al-Ahbar as having said, When God 
created the Throne, it said, God has not created anything 
greater than myself, and exulted with joy out of pride. God 
therefore caused it to be surrounded by a serpent having 
70,000 wings ; each wing having 70,000 feathers in it, each 
feather having in it 70,000 faces, each face having in it 
70,000 mouths, and each mouth having in it 70,000 tongues, 
with its mouths ejaculating every day praises of God, the 

8 Nassau s " African Fetichism," p. 91. 



TREE, STONE AND SERPENT WORSHIP 223 

number of drops of rain, the number of the leaves of trees, 
the number of stones and earth, the number of days of this 
world, and the number of angels, all these numbers of 
times. The serpent then twisted itself round the Throne 
which was taken up by only half the serpent while it re 
mained twisted round it. The Throne thereupon became 
humble." 6 

The following story is told on the authority of one of the 
Companions of Mohammed: " We went out on the pilgrim 
age, and when we reached al- Ari, we saw a snake quivering, 
which not long afterwards died. One of the men out of us 
took out for it a piece of cloth in which he wrapped it up, 
and then digging a hole buried it in the ground. We then 
proceeded to Makkah and went to the sacred mosque, where a 
man came to us and said, Which of you is the person that 
was kind to Amer b. Jabir ? Upon which we replied, We 
do not know him. He then asked, Which of you is the per 
son that was kind to the Jann ? and they replied, This one 
here, upon which he said (to him), May God repay you 
good on our account ! As to him (the serpent that was bur 
ied) he was the last of the nine genii who had heard the 
Koran from the lips of the Prophet ? 

In Java the Moslems speak of the holy serpent found in 
the rice fields which must not be killed. They relate legends 
in this respect that are undoubtedly of pre-Moslem origin. 
When the peasant finds such a sacred snake in his fields he 
takes it home and cares for it in order that the rice fields may 
have the blessing. 

The Shiahs in Bahrein believe serpents are jinn in human 
forms and they should not be killed. Small ones, however, 
are killed, placed in the sun with a little salt, and when the 
flesh is thoroughly dry it is cut up, put in bags and worn as 
an amulet against the evil eye. Rich people have their am- 

P. 638, Damiri (English translation by Jayakar). 



224 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

ulets placed in gold cases while poor people content them 
selves with leather bags. 

Serpents, lizards and frogs that frequent the marabout 
buildings in Algeria are supposed to be inhabited by demons 
subdued by the dead marabout (a holy person) and it is for 
bidden to kill them on pain of death or subsequent ill luck. 
The snakes are drawn out of their lairs by the beating of 
tom-toms while certain Morocco sorcerers are supposed to 
have the power to bring them out by a few spoken words. 
On the occasion of an epidemic among the sheep near Eeli- 
yane the shepherds threw their sticks under a certain mar 
about tree and left them there for two or three days, then 
they made their flocks to pass by that tree, after repeating 
which two or three times they were healed. 

In spite of the fact that Egypt is the intellectual center 
of Islam many forms of the serpent worship of the ancient 
Egyptians are still widely found, and in one case it is prac 
ticed with the sanction of the Moslem faith. 

The superstitious idea that every house has a serpent 
guardian is pretty general throughout the country, and many 
families still provide a bowl of milk for their serpent pro 
tector, believing that calamity would come upon them if the 
serpent were neglected. This is undoubtedly a survival of 
the ancient belief that the serpent was the child of the earth 
the oldest inhabitant of the land, and guardian of the 
ground. 

The serpent is used very frequently by sorcerers in their 
incantations, and also in the preparation of medicines and 
philtres which are used for the cure of physical and emotional 
disturbances suffered by their clients. 

The religious sanction given to serpent worship occurs in 
the case of Sheikh Heridi whose tomb or shrine, with that 
of his " wife," is to be seen in the sand-hills of Upper Egypt 
some distance from the town of Akhniim. Sheikh Heridi is 



TEEE, STONE AND SEEPENT WOESHIP 225 

really a serpent supposed to occupy one of the tombs. The 
birthday festival of this serpent saint takes place during the 
month following Eamadhan, and lasts about eight days. 
This festival is attended by crowds of devotees, including 
large numbers of sailors who encamp about the shrine during 
the festivities. 

At other times pilgrimages on behalf of those suffering 
from certain ailments are made to come to the tomb* Pro 
fessor Sayce in an article on the subject published in the 
Contemporary Review for October, 1893, quotes at length 
from various travelers who have mentioned this serpent-saint 
of Islam in their writings. 

Professor Sayce then describes in detail the immediate 
surroundings of the two domed shrines, one of which belongs 
to the " wife " of the serpent. Near the shrines is a cleft 
of the rock which was probably the " grotto " inhabited by the 
" saint " before the shrine was erected. 

Sheikh Heridi occupies as high a place in the esteem of 
the native to-day as he did in the days of Paul Lucas and 
Norden. His birthday festival is attended by crowds of 
devout believers. Many stories are still told of the miracu 
lous powers of the Saint, who is declared to be a serpent as 
" thick as a man s thigh." If treated with irreverence or 
disrespect, it breathes fire into the face of the offender, who 
forthwith dies. It is very jealous of its wife s good name; 
those who show her disrespect are also put to death by the 
saint. The belief that if the serpent is hacked to pieces each 
piece will rejoin, still survives, and it is held that any one 
clever enough to note the place where the blood flowed, would 
become wealthy, because there he would find gold. 

The professor points out that Sheikh Heridi may be re 
garded as the successor of Agathodaemon the ancient 
serpent-god of healing. Belief in his miraculous powers is as 
strong to-day as it was in the days of the Eameses or 
Ptolemies. 



226 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

At the entrance to the quarry through which pilgrims have 
to pass on their way to the shrine, Professor Sayce discovered 
engraved in large Greek letters in the stone the words 
C7r aya0o> which, he says, indicate that during the Greek pe 
riod, the place was sacred, and that a divinity must have 
been worshiped here. It may be safely assumed that that 
divinity was none other than the sacred serpent now Sheikh 
Heridi under another name. 



CHAPTER XII 
THE ZAE: EXORCISM OF DEMONS 

" WITHIN only a comparatively short period of years," 
says Professor Macdonald, " quite easily within thirty years, 
I should say we have come to know that practically all 
through the Moslem world there is spread an observance ex 
actly like the Black Mass in Christendom. That is to say, 
it is a profane parody of a sacred service. Among the older 
travelers you will find no reference to this. Lane apparently 
knew nothing of it, nor did even Burton, in spite of his curi 
ous knowledge of the most out-of-the-way and disrespectable 
sides of Islam. What it travesties is the Darwish zikr. . . . 
ISTow, practically throughout all Islam -there is a kind of a 
parody of this, in which the beings whose intervention is 
sought are what we would broadly call devils. Yet when 
we speak of Moslem devils, we must always remember their 
nondescript character and that they are continually confused 
with the jwn, and so come to be on a dividing line between 
fairies, brownies, kobolds, and true theological devils. 
Devil-worship, then, in Islam and in Christendom are two 
quite different things. In Islam there is no precise feeling 
of rejection of Allah and of blasphemy against his name. 
It is, rather, akin to the old Arab taking refuge with the 
jinn (Qur. Ixxii, 6), denounced, it is true, by Mohammed 
as a minor polytheism, but compatible with acceptance and 
worship of Allah. Perhaps it might be described most ex 
actly as a kind of perverted saint-worship. But its form 

is certainly a parody of the zikr, though with curious addi- 

227 



228 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

tions of bloody sacrifice, due to its African Voodo origin." l 
The exorcism of demons is a universal desire where the be 
lief in their power and malignity is so strong as we have 
seen it to be in Moslem lands, but the particular form of this 
belief, called the Zar, is unique in other ways than those 
pointed out by Dr. Macdonald. Evidence continues to accu 
mulate that we deal here with a form of Animistic worship 
which although so long and so often concealed from western, 
i.e., infidel observation, is found in Morocco, Algeria, Tu 
nisia, Tripoli, Egypt, the Soudan, East and West Arabia, 
Persia, Malaysia, and India. No direct witness to the exist 
ence of this superstition among Chinese Moslems has come 
from travelers or missionaries, but it would not surprise me 
to find it also in Yunan and in Kansu provinces. 

" Three things good luck from the threshold bar 
A wedding, a funeral, and the Zar" 

So runs an Egyptian ditty on the lips of suffering woman 
hood which links these together as a trinity of evil. 

The origin of the word is disputed. Dr. Snouck Hur- 
gronje s<ays that it is not Arabic and has no plural. 2 But in 
Eastern Arabia, especially in the province of Oman, the word 
has a plural and the plural form, Zeeran, is preferably used. 
Moreover I have been told that the word is Arabic and de 
notes "A (sinister) visitor" (zara yezuru] who makes his 
or her abode and so possesses the victim. " All Moslem 
nationalities in Mecca," he says, " practice the Zar. Even 
if they gave it another name in their own country they very 
soon adopt the word Zar, although the national differences 
continue." 

The best account of its origin and character is that given 

1 " Aspects of Islam," pp. 330-332. 

2 " Mekka," Volume II, p. 124. 



THE ZAR: EXORCISM OF DEMONS 229 

by Paul Kahle, although he deals mainly with Egypt. 3 To 
his account and the fuller experiences related by women mis 
sionaries in Egypt and Arabia I am indebted for the par 
ticulars given in this chapter. One of the best accounts of 
the actual ceremony is that given by Miss Anna Y. Thomp 
son of the American Mission in Egypt. 4 She writes: 

" There are places where women go to have these Z&r 
spirits appeased, but generally a woman who can afford the 
expense of the occasion will have the performances in her 
own house. Formerly, I thought that only hysterical women 
were possessed/ but men also may have demon possession, 
and even children. Indeed, in some parts of the city of 
Cairo the little girls have this as a performance in their play 
in the streets. 

" There are different kinds of demons, and it is the busi 
ness of the sheikhas to determine which sort (or sorts) are in 
their patient. Yawning and lassitude go with possession, 
also palpitation, a stinging sensation, and sometimes rheuma 
tism and nausea. Instead of going to a doctor for medi 
cine, the patient goes to a sheikh, who takes a handkerchief 
belonging to the sick person and puts it under her pillow at 
night. The sheikh or mashayikh (plural), who appear to 
her during the night, are those who are making the trouble. 
A day is appointed, a bargain is made about the kind and 
expense of the ceremony, and all friends who are afflicted by 
these particular demons are invited to assist in the festivities. 

" One of our Bible-women was permitted to attend a Zar 
in one of the houses where she was accustomed to read the 
Bible, so a number of the missionaries went with her to the 
place, which was an old building near the Bab-el-Shaa rieh 
quarter. Women were sitting round on mats in -the court, 

Paul Kahle, " Zar-Beschworungen in Egypten " in Der Islam, Band 
III, Helt 1, 2. Strassburg, 1912. 
* See Moslem World, July, 1913. 



230 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

and the first part of the performance was the Nass-el-Kursy, 
or preparation of the high, round table which had a large 
copper tray on it. Different kinds of nuts were brought and 
spread on the outer part, and some of each were given to 
us. Then followed parched peas, sesame seed, parsley, cof 
fee in a paper package, two heads of sugar, two bowls of 
sour milk, two pieces of soap, a plate of oranges, one of feast 
cakes, another of Turkish delight, candy and sugared nuts, 
cucumbers and apples, all of which were covered with a 
piece of red tarlatan. Three small candles (an uneven 
number) were brought, and two large ones were placed on 
the floor in tin stands. These were all lighted, and the 
woman (after a bath) began to dress for the performance 
which casts out Sudanese spirits. The woman was dressed 
in white, and she and others were ornamented with blue and 
white Sudan charms, silver chains, anklets, bracelets, etc., 
which had cowries or shells that rattled. One woman said 
to me, All these are a redemption for us. Then the sheikha 
and her women began to get their musical instruments ready, 
by heating them over a few burning coals in a little earthen 
ware brazier. They had two darabukka, or wedding drums, 
two drums the shape of sieves and one barrel drum. 

" The demon in one person of the family is a Christian 
demon, and the possessed woman wears a silver cross and 
crucifix to keep him happy. 5 If she were to take these off 
she would suffer. She also wears a silver medallion with 
bells on it, and silver rings on each finger, one having a cross 
on it. Her child danced with the drums. A curious thing 
was that this woman spent a few months in a mission school 

5 Before I heard of Miss Thompson s story I discovered in the bazaar 
at Cairo silver crosses engraved and sold to Moslem women by Jewish 
dealers. One shows Christ upon the cross, while the other represents 
the Virgin, and has " the verse of the Throne," from the Koran, on 
the reverse side. They are used to cast out Christian devils by the 
dreaded power i.e., the cross of the Christians. 



THE ZAE: EXORCISM OF DEMONS 231 

years ago, and she promised to send her daughter to be edu 
cated by us in the same building. 

" The performance began when the patient was seated on 
the floor, by the sheikha drumming vigorously and chanting 
over her head. One elderly relative, who was standing, be 
gan to sway back and forth, and was followed by the patient 
and others. After a period of rest, during which some 
smoked, the woman was told to rise, and the sheikha held her 
head, then each hand, the hem of her dress, and each foot, 
over the incense which had been burned before the food on 
the tray. Ten or fifteen others had the incense treatment 
in the same way. This was after the sheik/ha, had called 
on all the mashayikh, or demons, and had repeated the Fatiha 
about five times, during which the drums played and all the 
company chanted ; at a given signal on the drums, each one 
covered her face with a white veil. The patient rose and 
began swaying and contorting her body as she went slowly 
around the table, followed by others. When a performer 
was too vigorous, an onlooker would take a little flour or 
salt and sprinkle it over her head, following her around the 
circle to prevent her falling. In the midst of all the din, 
some of the women gave the joy cry. Two white hens and 
a cock, which were to be sacrificed the next day, were brought 
in and flew about the room. The patient at last sank down 
panting, and the sheikha took a large mouthful from a bottle 
of rose water, and spattered it with force over each per 
former. 

" The flour and other things are intended to make peace 
between the patient and the Asyad (ruling demons). Do 
not be angry with us, we will do all we can. At the begin 
ning of these performances, the sheikha, with the incense in 
her hand, and all the -others standing around the table, re 
peated the Fatiha; 6 after which she alone recited : l To 

I. e., the first or opening chapter of the Koran. 



232 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

those who belong to the house of God, may they have mercy 
on you hy their favor, and we ask of you pardon, O Asyad. 
Have pity on us and on her in whom ye are, and forgive her 
with all forgiveness, because those who forgive died pious. 
Forgive, forgive, in the right of the Prophet (hak-en-nebi) , 
upon him be prayers and peace. 

" The second round was in the name of others. After the 
Fatiha, To those who are of the house of God, the people 
of Jiddah, and Mecca, and the Arabs, by the right of the 
Prophet Mohammed, upon him be prayers and peace. 

THE FATIHA 

" To the mashayikh, Ahmed the Soudanese, all of them 
Sayyidi Amr, and Sayyedi Ahmed Zeidan. 

THE FATIHA 

" To the mashayikh of the convent, all of them, and Amir 
Tadrus and all those about him, and those who belong to the 
convent. ( Coptic. ) 

THE FATIHA 

" To the four angels, and the Wullayi, and Mamah, and 
Rumatu, and all the mashayikh. 

THE FATIHA 

" To those in the sea (or river), Lady Safina swimming in 
the river, and those of her household, and all those who belong 
to her. 

THE FATIHA 

" * To Merri, the father of Abbassi, and sheikh-el-Arab, 
the Seyyid el Bedawi and Madbouli, and all the honored 
mashayikh. Come -all, by .the right of the Prophet, upon 
him be prayers and peace. 



THE ZAR: EXORCISM OF DEMONS 233 

" After the first round the sheikha put incense on the coals 
in the brazier, and with varied voices and gestures called on 
these personages to appear, the standing company joining in 
a low voice in the Fatiha. Then the incense was waved over 
the different articles on the table, then before the patient, 
the sheikha inclining -the head of the woman toward the in 
cense, afterwards her hands, feet, etc., and thus for all who 
wished it. 

" We left at the end of the third round, but returned when 
they were in the middle of the tenth round. Some new 
women had taken the places of those who had become tired 
and who now sat chatting." 

Miss Thompson, however, did not see the concluding cere 
mony, the climax of the Zar-ritual, namely, the sacrifice and 
the drinking of blood. She is not the only writer who omits 
the subject. Klunzinger 7 says nothing at all of a sacri 
fice, nor does Plowden. His account is one of the earliest we 
have: 

" These Zars," he writes, " are spirits or devils of a some 
what humorous turn, who, taking possession of their victim, 
then cause him to perform the most curious antics, and 
sometimes become visible to him while they are so to no 
one else somewhat after the fashion of the Erl-King, I 
fancy. The favorite remedies are amulets and vigorous 
tom-toming, and screeching without cessation, till the pos 
sessed, doubtless distracted with the noise, rushes violently 
out of the house, pelted and beaten and driven to the nearest 
brook, where the Zar quits him and he becomes well. . . . 
As for defining the nature of a Zar more accurately, it is 
difficult ... as it also is to state wherein the functions of 
a Zar differ from that of a Ganeem (jinn}, save that the 
Zar is a more sportively malicious spirit and the Ganeem 
rather morose in his manners. The Zar is frequently heard, 

i " Bilder aus Oberagypten," p. 389. 



234 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

indeed, singing to himself in the woods, but woe betide the 
human eye that falls on him." 8 

The close connection between the Galla country and Oman 
since the Zanzibar Sultanate and the days of the Arab slave- 
traders make it probable that the Zar came to Muscat very 
early, if it was an imported superstition. Here the blood 
sacrifice is the main thing in exorcism. 

" They have their houses of sorcery," writes Miss Fanny 
Lutton of the American Mission, " which have different 
names, and have different ceremonies in each one. The 
largest and most expensive one is called Bait-e-Zaar/ If 
one is afflicted with madness, or it may be some serious or 
incurable disease, she is taken to this house and the profes 
sionals are called; and the treatments sometimes last for 
days. The money extorted from the patient is exorbitant, 
and so, as a rule, it is only the rich who can afford to un 
dergo this treatment. The poor are branded with a hot iron 
or suffer cupping (blood letting), which does not cost so very 
much. In these houses animals are slain and the sufferer 
is drenched with the blood and must drink the hot blood as it 
is taken from the animal. And then the devil dancing is per 
formed by black slave women, and the patient is whirled 
around with them until she sinks exhausted." 

In Egypt, the preparation for the sacrifice is closely re 
lated to one part of the ecstatic Zar dance. The sick person 
is dressed in white and ornamented with special charms, 
while the room is also prettily decorated. The Jcursi (chair) 
in the middle of the room is in fact an altar, which has been 
decorated with flowers, burning candles and various sweets, 
as a mark of honor for the spirits. These gifts and the burn 
ing incense are supposed to attract the spirit and cause him 
to appear; or drive away other demons. 

s " Travels in Abyssinia and the Galla Country," quoted by Paul 
Kahle. 



THE ZAR: EXORCISM OF DEMONS 235 

The animal sacrifice consists of sheep or fowls ; sometimes 
a fowl is sacrificed in the beginning, and afterwards a sheep. 
Kahle is of the opinion that in former times only fowls were 
sacrificed, the sheep sacrifice being introduced later on, with 
out, however, displacing the sacrifice of the fowl. Accord 
ing to Borelli, a black fowl is sacrificed in Abyssinia. In 
Luxor a brown or white cock is offered, and in Cairo one cock 
and two hens, which may be black or white. In Abyssinia 
the contact between the spirit and the sacrifice is performed 
by swinging the fowl several times around the head of the 
patient. Afterwards it is thrown on the floor, and if it 
does not die very soon, the sacrifice is considered to have been 
in vain. In Cairo, according to one report by Kahle, the 
animal is killed by the sheikha above the head of the Zar 
bride, who must open her mouth and drink the warm blood, 
the remainder running down her white garment. The the 
ory is that it is not she who drinks, but the spirit in her. 
In Luxor one drop of the blood is placed on the forehead, the 
cheeks, the chin, the palms of the hands and on the soles of 
the feet. Probably the blood has to be drunk also. The 
claws and feathers of the fowl are laid aside carefully as a 
special gift to the spirit. 

Of course the sacrifice must be an excellent animal. The 
possessed person is seated on its back and rides seven times 
around the kursi. If a sheikh leads the performance, he 
kills the beast immediately afterwards: if a sheikha is in 
charge, another person must do it instead, because it is un 
usual for women to kill sheep. The animal is slaughtered 
according to Moslem ritual, with its head toward Mecca, 
while the onlookers say the " Bismillah." Then the sick 
person is addressed as follows : " May God comfort you in 
this which has come upon you." If he is a man he stands 
near by and catches the warm blood in his mouth. In the 
case of a woman, the blood is poured into a bowl and given 



236 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

her to drink. With the remainder of the blood the hands 
and feet of the patient are stained. Almost the same cere 
monies are observed at the sacrifice of both a fowl and a 
sheep, and so separate mention is unnecessary. 

While the meat is being prepared, parts of the exorcism 
are repeated, the meal forming the closing act of the whole 
festival. The Zar bride, the sheikha, and her servants may 
eat only the inner parts (heart, stomach, etc.) of the animal 
and its head. 

The charms which are given to the Zar bride during the 
performances must never be removed, or the spirit will re 
turn at once. These charms consist of silver ornaments and 
coins, worn on the breast beneath the dress, a ring with spe 
cial inscriptions, or some other article. I have in my pos 
session the following ornaments worn at the time of exorcism 
by the sheikh : First, a head-dress made of beads and cowrie 
shells with a fringe six inches wide, and a three-fold tassel. 
It is called takiet kharz. A belt of the same beadwork, 
green and white beads mounted on a red girdle with border 
of cowrie shells. In addition to these, two small amulets are 
worn of the same material ; one square and containing Koran 
passages and the other circular of the same character with 
other potent material against demons. 

The sheep or goat which is the sacrifice also has a special 
ornament on its head similar to those worn by brides in the 
villages. It consists of two palm twigs, two feet long, bound 
together in the shape of a T cross. Each twig is covered 
with colored paper and tinsel ornaments, and the whole is so 
adjusted that it can be tied to the head of the sacrifice. 

Finally the woman who rides on the sacrificial sheep is 
armed with a cane forty-two inches in length. This is en 
tirely covered with beadwork, brown, white, green, red, and 
has three chaplets of cowrie shells at equal distances from 
the top of the handle. 



THE ZAK: EXORCISM OF DEMONS 237 

In Morocco, when a man or woman is possessed with the 
" devil " or jinn the people, including men and women, gather 
in a zeriba or mat hut where the proceedings are com 
menced by dances, chants, etc. Some chickens, or else a goat, 
are strangled and are afterwards boiled without salt. Some 
of the water that the aniirtal has been boiled in is smeared 
all over the walls and floor by way of exorcism while the 
meat is eaten by those present, including the " possessed " 
one. (" Villes et Tribus du M aroc," Casablanca, vol. I, p. 
64; Paris 1915.) 

A fuller account of this sacrifice to demons as practiced in 
Arabia, " the Cradle of Islam," is given by Mrs. D. Dijkstra, 9 
as follows : 

" The great feast ordered by the zeeraan is called Tccibsh 
meaning ram, and is so called because a sacrifice must be 
offered and this sacrifice is always a ram. The room for 
the Tcdbsh is always a very large room. The meeting be 
gins in the evening with a general dinner, but which is as 
a rule not an elaborate one. After the dinner the leader 
begins to chant, La illaha ilia allah wa Mohammed rasul 
allah all the others joining in chorus, and this exercise 
is kept up for about an hour, and all the while their bodies 
are swaying back and forth in rhythm to the chant. After 
this is ended the whole company get down on their knees 
and go through a crawling, grunting exercise which is kept 
up until they are exhausted. After a little rest the musi 
cians begin their playing and do not stop until the next fea 
ture in the program, which is riding the ram by the party 
who is visited by the zar. Sometimes this is done at mid 
night if, as they say, the zar is not a very proud one, but if 
he considers himself very important this exercise takes place 
at dawn. The ram to be ridden is decorated with mash- 

9 Neglected Arabia, a quarterly published by the Arabian Mission, 
New York, January, 1918. Mrs. Dijkstra uses the word zar for the 
victim as well as for the ceremony. 



238 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

mourn (green twigs) and the rider is the one in whom the 
zar is. The rider goes around the circle three or four times. 
This is seldom accomplished except with great cruelty to the 
poor beast, which is pulled and prodded in a most unmerci 
ful way, and it is a mercy that it is killed later, for it is 
usually injured in this exercise. 

" After this first riding the company all take some rest un 
til an hour or two after daybreak, when the second riding 
takes place, in the same way as the first. Immediately after 
this the ram is killed. This is done by the abu or um, 
as the case may be, assisted by the zwr, as the possessed one 
is called, and a third party. The head of the ram is held over 
a large tray or dish, for not a drop of blood must be spilled 
or wasted. When the beast is killed, a glass is filled with 
the blood and into it is put some saffron and some sugar and 
the zar drinks while the blood is warm. Three or four 
others of the company then strip the zar and give her the 
blood bath. The zar is then dressed and put to sleep for 
an hour and after that is bathed to remove the blood and 
dressed in new clothes and new ornaments or decorations. 
In the meantime the sacrifice has been preparing. As with 
the blood so with the body; not a hair or bone or any of 
the entrails must be spilled or thrown away. The entrails 
and feet are boiled separately, but the skin, turned inside 
out and tied, is cooked with the rest of the body, including 
the head. When all is cooked, a portion is brought to each 
table (the table is a large mat spread on the floor), and all 
the rest of the food is placed around the central dish. A 
stick, which has been bathed in the blood of the animal, is 
placed before the zar. When all is in readiness, the leader 
asks the zar, Is everything here that you want ? Are all 
the bones here of your sacrifice ? Tell us now if there is 
anything amiss and don t say later that this or that was not 
done right and that, therefore, you will take revenge on us 



THE ZAR: EXORCISM OF DEMONS 239 

by bringing upon us some accident. The zar is commanded 
to answer and if he does not he is beaten with the bloody 
stick until he does." . . . 

In Cairo, the sacrificial ceremony was witnessed and de 
scribed by Madame H. Rushdi Pasha. 10 She tells how after 
the preliminary music, dancing, and feasting, incense is 
burnt and the one possessed is properly fumigated. During 
the process of fumigating no prayers are offered. When this 
is over the dancing begins. The one possessed then takes 
hold of the rani which has now been brought in. She makes 
the tour of the room three times, acting the while like a 
drunken woman, amid the shrieks of the other women in the 
room. The ram is then dragged by the possessed to the door 
where it is butchered. The possessed reenters preceded by 
the goudia who carries a tray filled with jewels covered with 
the blood of the ram. In fact everybody gets covered with 
the blood of the ram, still warm. Blood is everywhere. 
They roll about on the animal until they are quite covered 
with it. The air becomes hot with incense and smoke. And 
when at last the women fall down on the ground, the goudias 
go around touching them on the ears and breathe on them 
whispering words in their ears, presumably from the Koran. 
After a while they regain their places as if nothing has hap 
pened. 

Dr. Kahle also states that the sheikha or leader of the per 
formance is called " Kudija " (goudia) but gives no explana 
tion of the word ; its derivation is obscure. Zars which are 
performed near sanctuaries and not in private houses, have 
neither a Icursi, with candles, nor sheep offerings. But in 
most cases the sheikha comes to the house of the sick person 
the following morning to kill the animal there. The name 
sheikha (the feminine of sheikh, elder) is given her, be- 

10 " Harems et Musulmanes d Egypte " (Paris), out of print, pp. 
270-274. 



240 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

cause she knows the method of casting out spirits. Her first 
task is to find out the right tune for a particular sufferer. 
If she knows the " Zar bride " from previous meetings, she 
at once begins the right one. The first time, one tune after 
another is tried (for Cairo spirits, Upper Egypt spirits, 
etc.), until the sick person becomes ecstatic, which proves 
that the right tune has been found and it is then continued. 
Each special tune requires special dressing, which, accord 
ing to the sex of the spirit, may be that of men, women, boys 
or girls. The sick person herself acts as the incarnation of 
the spirit ; sometimes, however, the sheikha speaks instead of 
the spirit. 

The meetings for exorcising the Zar may be of short dura 
tion, or may continue for several nights. If the patient is 
rich, the feast is prolonged, and during the fourth night, 
called the " great night," the greatest feast is prepared. The 
sheikha and other visitors remain for the whole night with 
the sick person, and the following morning they have the 
solemn sacrifice, the supreme performance of the feast. 11 

Captain Tremearne in " the Ban of the Bori " and G. A. 
Herklot in his book on the customs of the Moslems of India, 
" Qanoon-e-Islam " (1832), relate similar practices pre 
vailing in North Africa and India. In every land therefore, 
with variations due to local circumstances, the Zar must al 
ways be propitiated by three incense, the ^Tar-dance with 
music and last, but not least, the sacrifice all three of these 
are Pagan and repulsive to orthodox Islam and yet continue 
under its shadow. Between 1870-80 the practices spread to 
such an extent in Upper Egypt that the Government had to 
put a stop to them. 12 During the past four years the Cairo 
press has published many articles demanding that " these 

11 See The Moslem World, July, 1913. Article by Elizabet Franke, 
based on Kahle s investigations. 

12 Klunzinger, p. 388. 



THE ZAR: EXORCISM OF DEMONS 241 

infidel ceremonies " be abolished by law, but the custom dies 
hard. 13 Not only is the superstition of the Zar degrading to 
morals and spiritual life judged even by Moslem standards 
but it is such an expensive bit of heathenism that families 
have been financially ruined through its demands. 

" Sometimes a man will divorce his wife," says Mrs. 
Dijkstra, " because she has zeeran, or if he learns that the 
girl or woman he was going to marry has them he will break 
his marriage agreement. And the reason in all these in 
stances is a financial one. People possessed by zeeran must 
give feasts at various times, and the women are prompted 
by their zeeran to demand from their husbands new cloth 
ing, new jewelry, and new house furnishings, and if these 
are not forthcoming the zeeran threaten that severe calami 
ties will overtake them. So unless the husband is prepared 
to assume such burdens he very promptly rids himself of the 
cause, and families refuse to entertain the very idea of 
zeeran because of the constant drain upon their time and 
strength and money." 

The Zar spirits (zeeran] are divided into numerous tribes 
and classes. In Cairo they have Abyssinian, Sudanese, 
Arab, and even Indian evil-spirits, for each of which a spe 
cial ceremony is necessary at the time of exorcism. They 
are male, female, or hermaphrodites. They may belong to 
every class of society and different religions. In Bahrein, 
East Arabia, " the outward sign of being possessed by a Zar 
is the wearing of a signet ring, with the name of the Zar and 
of the person himself engraven on a red stone, and also the 
Shehadeh or witness, La illaha ilia allah, wa Mohammed 
rasoul allah, there is no god but God and Mohammed is 
the prophet of God. This signet ring must receive a bath 

13 Cf. for example the newspaper Al Jareeda, April 18, 1911, and 
the pamphlet " Mudarr ez Zar," " The Baneful Effect of the Zar," Cairo, 
1903. 



242 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

of blood before it becomes efficacious, and so a fowl must 
be killed and the stone soaked in the blood." 

Among the fetich-worshipers of West Africa, where Islam 
has not yet entered, the same kind of demon-exorcism is prac 
ticed as in Arabia or in Cairo, the intellectual capital of 
Islam! Indeed, we need not ask what is the origin of the 
Zar for we have an almost exact description of it from the 
Rev. Robert H. Nassau as he witnessed pagan exorcism 
among a primitive people : 

" Sick persons, and especially those that are afflicted with 
nervous disorders, are supposed to be possessed by one or 
other of these evil spirits. If the disease assumes a serious 
form, the patient is taken to a priest or a priestess, of either 
of these classes of spirits. Certain tests are applied, and it 
is soon ascertained to which class the disease belongs, and 
the patient is accordingly turned over to the proper priest. 
The ceremonies in the different cases are not materially dif 
ferent; they are alike, at least, in the employment of an al 
most endless round of absurd, unmeaning, and disgusting 
ceremonies which none but a heathenish and ignorant priest 
hood could invent, and none but a poor, ignorant, and super 
stitious people could ever tolerate. . . . 

" In either case a temporary shanty is erected in the mid 
dle of the street for the occupancy of the patient, the priest, 
and such persons as are to take part in the ceremony of ex 
orcism. The time employed in performing the ceremonies 
is seldom less than ten or fifteen days. During this period 
dancing, drumming, feasting, and drinking are kept up with 
out intermission day and night, and all at the expense of the 
nearest relative of the invalid. The patient, if a female, is 
decked out in the most fantastic costume; her face, bosom, 
arms, and legs are streaked with red and white chalk, her 
head adorned with red feathers, and much of the time she 
promenades the open space in front of the shanty with a 



THE ZAR: EXORCISM OF DEMONS 243 

sword in her hand, which she brandishes in a very menac 
ing way against the bystanders. At the same time she as 
sumes as much of the maniac in her looks, actions, gestures, 
and walk as possible. ... In speaking of the actions of 
these demoniacs, they are said to be done by the spirit, and 
not by the person who is possessed. If the person performs 
any unnatural or revolting act, as the biting off of the head 
of a live chicken and sucking its blood, it is said that the 
spirit, not the man, has done it." 14 

.... 

We have ended our studies on Animism in Islam. It has 
been rather a voyage along the coasts than a survey of the 
vast areas yet unexplored in a continent of superstition. 
Enough, however, has passed before our eyes to show that no 
real fundamental understanding of popular Islam is possible 
without taking account of Animism. 

Regarding the effect of Animism and the fear of demons 
upon the mind of the Moslem we recall words written by De 
Groot in his " Religion of the Chinese," pp. 60-61 ; the fact 
that he says it in regard to China and that the same phenom 
ena have passed before us as existing in Islam, makes his 
statement the more striking : " A religion in which the fear 
of devils performs so great a part that they are even wor 
shiped and sacrificed to, certainly represents religion in a 
low stage. It is strange to see such a religion prevail among 
a nation so highly civilized as China is generally supposed to 
be ; and does this not compel us to subject our high ideas of 
that civilization to some revision? No doubt, we ought to 
rid ourselves a little of the conception urged upon us by en 
thusiastic friends of China, that her religion stands high 
enough to want no foreign religion to supplant it. The 
truth is that its universalistic animism, with its concomitant 

i* " Fetichism in West Africa," New York, Charles Scribner s Sons, 
1904, pp. 72-74. 



244 THE INFLUENCE OF ANIMISM ON ISLAM 

demonistic doctrine renders the Chinese people unhappy ; for 
most unhappy must be a people always living in a thousand 
a hundred thousand fears of invisible beings which 
surround the path of life with dangers on every hand, at 
every moment. If it is the will of God that man should 
have a religion in order to be happy, the Chinese religion 
is certainly no religion shaped by God." We likewise con 
clude that if it is the will of God that man shall have a 
religion in order to be happy and to have an assurance of 
deliverance from fear Animistic Islam is not that religion. 



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