Page images

period; others think they exist with Adam in the lowest heaven ; others that they live in the trumpet which is to wake the dead; and others that they dwell in the forms of white birds under the throne of God. The souls of the wicked having been rejected by heaven and by this earth are taken down to the seventh earth, and thrown into a dungeon under a green rock, or under the Devil's jaw, where they will be tortured until called upon to rejoin their bodies.

Muhammadans generally believe in the resurrection both of the body and of the soul. All parts of the bodies of the dead will decay except the cuckoo bone (coccyx), wherefrom the whole body shall be renewed, and this renewal shall take place through a rain of forty days, which shall cover the earth to a depth of twelve cubits, and cause the bodies to sprout like plants.

The time when the resurrection is to take place is known only to God. The first blast of the trumpet will shake heaven and earth ; the second will cause all living creatures to die, the last being the angel of death; and the third, which is to take place forty years after the second, will raise the dead, Muḥammad being the first to rise. The general resurrection will include animals. Some say the day of judgment will last 1,000 years, and others 50,000; the place of judgment will be the earth, and Muhammad is to be the intercessor with God on behalf of man. A book wherein is written an account of his actions will be given to each man, and all things will be weighed in a balance; the judgment over, the souls of the good will turn to a road on the right, and those of the bad to a road on the left. All will, however, have to pass over the bridge Al-Sirât, which is laid over the midst of hell, and is finer than a hair, and sharper then the edge of a sword; the good will have no difficulty in passing over this, but the wicked will fall from it and meet their doom in Gehenna, which is divided into seven stories, one below the other, Between hell and paradise is a partition or gulf, which is not, however, so wide that the blessed and the damned cannot discourse together. The blessed will drink out of a lake, the water of which comes from paradise, and is whiter than milk, and sweeter in smell than musk. Paradise was created before the world, and is situated above the seven heavens, near the throne of God ; its earth is made of fine wheat flour, or musk, or saffron; its stones are pearls ; its walls are inlaid with gold and silver ; and the trunks of all its trees are of gold. Therein is the Tûba tree, laden with every kind of fruit, and it will supply the true believer with everything he needs, i.e., meat, drink, raiment, horses to ride, etc. The rivers flow with milk, wine, and honey, and the fountains are innumerable. The

Paradise, the Hûr al-'uyûn (Houris), who will be given to the believers, are made of pure musk, and are free from all the defects of earthly women ; they live in hollow pearls, which are sixty miles long, and sixty miles wide. The beings in Paradise will never grov old, and they will always remain in the prime and vigour of a man thirty years of age ; when they enter Paradise, they will be of the same stature as Adam, i.e., sixty cubits, or 110 feet high. Women who have lived good lives upon earth will live in Paradise in an abode specially set apart for them.

6. Predestination. God's decree, whether concerning evil or good, is absolute; and whatever hath come or will come to pass hath been irrevocably fixed from all eternity. A man's fate cannot, either by wisdom or foresight, be avoided.

Concerning the four points of practice :

1. Prayer and ablutions. Prayer is the prop of religion and the key of Paradise, and the pious Muhammadan prays at least five times a day :--Between daybreak and sunrise ; 2. In the early afternoon; 3. In the afternoon

before sunset ; 4. In the evening after sunset ; and 5. Be. fore the first watch of the night. Notice is given from the mosques of the times of prayer daily ; because the day begins with sunset, the time of which changes daily, and every believer is expected to prepare for prayer as soon as he hears the voice of the crier from the mosque. The prayers recited are those ordained by God and those ordained by the Prophet; some are said sitting, some standing upright, and some with the head bent. Before praying a man must wash his hands, mouth, nostrils, face and arms, each three times, and then the upper part of the head, the beard, ears, neck and feet, each once. Muḥammad is said to have declared that “the practice of religion is founded on cleanliness," which is one half of the and the key of prayer, without which it will not be heard by God; and also that there could be no good in that religion wherein was no prayer." When praying the Muhammadans turn the face towards the temple at Mecca, and in mosques and public inns the direction of that city is always indicated by a niche which is called ķibla or Mihrab, and all prayer is held to be in vain unless it be said with a humble, penitent, and sincere heart. Muḥammadans never pray clad in fine clothes, nor do they pray in public with women.

The Muhammadan, having turned his face towards Mecca, stands with his feet not quite close together, and, raising his open hands on each side of his face, he touches the lobes of his ears with the ends of his thumbs and says the takbir, i.e., “Allahu Akbar," "God is most Great.” He next proceeds to recite the appointed prayers. Standing, he places his hands before him a little below the girdle, the left within the right, and, keeping his eyes fixed on the ground where his head will touch it when he kneels, he recites the opening chapter of the Ķur'ân, and after it three or more verses, or some short chapter. He next says, God is most Great," and makes at the same time an inclination of his head and body, placing his hands upon his knees, and separating his fingers a little. In this position he says, “[I extol] the perfection of my Lord the Great," three times, and adds, “May God hear him who praiseth Him! Our Lord, praise be unto Thee.” He then raises his head and repeats, “God is most Great." Dropping upon his hands he says, "God is most Great," and, placing his hands upon the ground, a little before his knees, he puts his nose and forehead also to the ground, between his two hands. During his prostration he says, “[I extol] the perfection of my Lord the Most High," three times. He then raises his head and body, sinks backwards upon his heels, and places his hands upon his thighs, saying, at the same time, “God is most Great,” which words he repeats as he bends his head a second time to the ground. During the second prostration he repeats the same words as in the first, and in raising his head again, he utters the takbir as before. Thus the prayers of one “bowing" are ended.

He who prays must take care not to move the toes of his right foot from the spot where he first placed them, and the left foot must be moved as little as possible. For the next "bowing” he rises on his feet, still keeping the toes of his right foot on the same spot, and repeats the same words, but after the opening chapter of the Ķur'ân he must recite a different chapter. After every second "bowing,” and after the last, still kneeling, he bends his left foot under him and sits upon it, and places his hands upon his thighs, with the fingers a little apart. He then says, "Praises are to God, and prayers, and good works. Peace be on thee, O Prophet, and the mercy of God, and His blessings. Peace be on us, and on [all] the righteous worshippers of God." Then raising the first finger of the right hand he adds, “I testify that there is no god but God, and I testify that Muhammad is His servant and Apostle.” After the last "bowing" the

worshipper, looking upon his right shoulder, says, “Peace be on you, and the mercy of God," and looking upon the left he says the same words. Before these salutations the worshipper may offer up any short petition, and as he does so he looks at the palms of his two hands, which he holds like an open book before him, and then draws over his face, from the forehead downwards. He who would acquire special merit remains seated, and repeats the following beautiful section of the second chapter (verse 256) of the Kur'ân :-"God! There is no god but Him, the Living One, the Self-existing One. Neither slumber nor sleep seizeth Him. To Him belongeth whatsoever is in heaven and upon earth. Who is he that can intercede with Him, except through His good pleasure ? He knoweth that which hath been, and that which is to come unto them, and they shall not comprehend anything of His knowledge, except in so far as He pleaseth. His throne is extended over the heavens and the earth, and the preservation of both is no burden unto him. He is the High, the Mighty." After this he says, “O High, O Mighty, Thy perfection (I extol]." He then repeats the words, "the perfection of God," 33 times, and says, “The perfection of God the Great, with His praise for ever," once; he then repeats “ Praise be to God,” 33 times, and says, Extolled be His dignity; there is no god but Him," once ; he then repeats "God is most Great,” 33 times, and says, “God is most Great in greatness, and praise be to God in abundance,” once. The worshipper counts the repetitions by means of a string of beads, 99 in number.

The prayer which is said on the night preceding the fifteenth day of Sha'bân, the eighth month, is one of considerable interest, and the occasion for it is one of great importance to all Muḥammadans, and is observed with solemnity. The Muslims believe that in one portion of Paradise there grows a tree which bears as many leaves as

« PreviousContinue »