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2,000,000 square miles of north-east Africa, and his dominions reached from the Bahr al-Ghazal to Wâdi Halfa, and from Darfûr to the Red Sea.
The Mahdi was a tall, broad-shouldered man, strongly built, and of a light brown colour ; his head was large, and he wore a black beard. His eyes were black and sparkling, his nose and mouth were well shaped, and he had a V-shaped aperture called the falga, between his two front teeth which is always regarded as a sign of good luck in the Sûdân ; on each cheek were the three slits seen on faces everywhere in the Sûdân.
The Mahdi's successor was Sayyid 'Abd-Allahi, the son of Muḥammad at-Taki, a member of the Taaisha section of the Baķķâra tribe, and he was a native of the south-western part of Darfûr ; he is better known, however, as the Khalifa, which he was specially appointed to be by the Mahdî. As brief notices of the defeats of his generals and of his own defeat and death are given elsewhere (see p. 104 ff.), they need not appear here. He is described by Slatin Pâshâ as having been a powerfully built man of a suspicious, resolute, cruel, tyrannical, vain disposition, hasty in temper, and unscrupulous in action. His belief in his own powers was unbounded, and he took the credit for everything that succeeded. He had four legal wives and a large number of concubines, who were kept under the charge of a free woman; at intervals he held a sort of review of all his ladies, and dismissed numbers of them as presents to his friends. His chief wife was called Sahra, with whom he quarrelled on the subject of food ; she wished him to keep to the kind of food which he ate in his early days, and he wished to indulge in Egyptian and Turkish dishes. Twice he gave her letters of separation, and twice he revoked them. A detailed sketch of his life is given by Slatin Pâshâ in his Fire and Sword, p. 514 ff.; and the horrors of his rule are graphically described by Father
Ohrwalder in Ten Years' Captivity (14th edition), p. 455 ff.
Birth, Marriage, and Death among the Muḥammadans. When a child is born, the call to prayer must be pronounced in his right ear by a male as soon as possible, for only by this can the child be preserved from the influence of the evil spirits. The father names the boy, and the mother the girl, and no ceremony takes place at the naming of children. A surname is often added indicating relationship, or a title of honour, or the origin, family, birthplace, sect, or trade ; a surname of any kind usually follows the proper name. When about two years old a boy's head is shaved, but two tufts of hair are left, one on the crown and another on the forehead; girls' heads are rarely shaved. Young children of well-to-do people are often dressed like those of beggars, and their faces are rarely washed, because the parents fear lest the Evil Eye be cast upon them.
Boys* are circumcised at the age of five or six years, and the ceremony is usually made an occasion of joyful display. The boy is dressed as a girl and wears a red turban, and he rides a horse and frequently covers part of his face, with the idea of warding off the glance of the Evil Eye. The barber's servant, who carries his master's sign (.e., the haml, which is a wooden case, with four short legs, ornamented with pieces of looking glass, and embossed brass), and a few musicians walk in front of the house. In purely Muḥammadan schools the education of boys is very simple ; they learn to declare the unity of God and their belief in Muhammad as His Prophet, to hate Christians, to read parts or the whole of the Ķur'ân, the ninety-nine Beautiful Names of God, and sometimes they learn writing and arithmetic. In learning the Ķur'ân, the beautiful intro
* Strabo remarks, rà gevvú jeva naidia kai tò mipiréuvelv kai à Orteg éKTÉLVELV ; Bk. xvii., 2, $ 4, Didot's edition, p. 699.
ductory chapter (Fâtihah) is first committed to memory, then the last chapter, then the last but one, and so on backwards until the second is reached ; the reason of this being that the chapters successively decrease in length from the second to the last. Girls used to learn to read and write but rarely, and very few even learnt to say their prayers. Certain fanatical Muḥammadans will hardly allow girls or women to touch the Ķur'ân, and on the borders of Persia the writer has bought manuscripts of the book from widows who had wrapped them in cloth and buried them under their houses, because they regarded them as too sacred for them to handle.
Marriage. Among the Muḥammadans it is thought to be the duty of every man possessing sufficient means to marry. Girls are betrothed at the age of seven or eight years, a few are married at ten, but many not until twelve or thirteen ; few remain unmarried after the age of sixteen. Marriages are arranged by a go-between, the deputy of the bride, and by the relatives of the parties, and as long as the girl is quite a child, her parents may betroth her to whom they please. The amount of the dowry varies from £10 to £50, according to the position of the parties, and the dowry of a widow, or divorced woman, is less than that of a maiden. Two-thirds of the dowry are paid immediately before the marriage contract is made, and the remaining third is held in reserve by the bridegroom to be paid to the wife in the event of his divorcing her against her consent, or of his own death. The marriage takes place in the evening about eight or ten days after the contract has been made, and the day usually chosen is Thursday or Sunday. On the Wednesday or Saturday the bride is conducted to the bath, and is accompanied by her friends and relatives, and musicians; she walks under a canopy of silk, which is open in front, but she herself is covered with a Kashmîr shawl of some bright colour. After the bath she returns to her house, and that evening the nails of her hands and feet are stained yellow with ḥenna.
The same evening the bridegroom entertains his friends lavishly, and the next day the bride goes in state to his house, and partakes of a meal. At sunset the bridegroom goes to the bath, and a few hours later to the mosque, after which he is escorted to his house by friends and relatives, bearing lamps, and by musicians. Marriage ceremonies may be elaborate or simple, according to the taste or position of the bride or bridegroom, and if a woman merely says to a man who wishes to marry her, “I give myself to thee,” even without the presence of witnesses, she becomes his legal wife. Usually a man in Egypt prefers to marry a girl who has neither mother nor any female relative. A part of the house is specially reserved (harim) for women, i.e., wife or wives, daughters, and female slaves, so that these may not be seen by the male servants and strange men unless properly veiled. A Muḥammadan may possess four wives and a number of female slaves, and he may rid himself of a wife by merely saying, “ Thou art divorced.” He may divorce a wife twice, and each time receive her back without further ceremony, but he cannot legally take her back again after a third divorce until she has been married to and divorced by another man ; a triple divorce may be conveyed in a single sentence.
Mr. Lane (Modern Egyptians, vol. I., p. 231), commenting on the depraving effects of divorce upon the sexes, says that many men, in a period of ten years, have married twenty or thirty wives, and that women not far advanced in age have been known to be wives to a dozen or more men successively. The abuse of divorce among the lower classes in Egypt is perhaps the greatest curse of the country, and its mental, moral. and physical effects are terrible.
Death. As soon as a man dies, the women begin to lament loudly, and often professional wailing women are
sent for to beat their tambourines and utter cries of grief; the relatives join them in their cries, and with dishevelled hair beat their faces and rend their garments. If a man dies in the morning he is buried before night, but if he dies in the afternoon or later he is not buried until the next day. The body is carefully washed and sprinkled with rose water, etc., the eyes are closed, the jaw is bound up, the ankles are tied together, the hands are placed on the breast, and the ears and nostrils are stopped with cotton. The style and quality of the cere-cloths vary with the position and means of the deceased; when dressed, the body is laid upon a bier and covered with a Kashmîr shawl. The funeral procession is composed of six poor men, mostly blind, who walk slowly and chant, “ There is no god but God, and Muḥammad is the Apostle of God. God bless and save him!” Next come the male friends and relatives of the deceased; then two or more dervishes, with the flags of the sect to which they belong; then three or four schoolboys, one of whom carries upon a palm-stick desk a copy of the Ķur'ân covered with a cloth, singing a poem on the events of the Last Day, the Judgment, etc. Next comes the bier, borne head-foremost, and then the female mourners; the bier is carried by friends in relays of four into a mosque, and is set down in the place of prayer, with the right side towards Mecca; both men and women from the procession enter the mosque, and prayers are then said ascribing majesty to God, and beseeching mercy for the dead.
In the longest prayer the leader of prayer says, “O God, verily this is thy servant, and the son of thy servant: he hath departed from the repose of the world, and from its amplitude, and from whatever he loved, and from those by whom he was loved in it, to the darkness of the grave, and to what he experienceth. He did testify that there is no deity but Thou alone; that Thou hast no companion; and that Muḥammad is Thy servant and Thine Apostle ; and