The Center of the Moslem Faith . . . . . Frontispiece


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” Rings 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



THAT Islam in its origin and popular character is a composite faith, with Pagan, Jewish and Christian elements, is known to all students of comparative religion. Rabbi Geiger in his celebrated essay * 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, Goldziher and Robertson Smith, have indicated the pagan elements 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 influence 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 Testament 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 superstition. It fights with all the fanatic devotion of Semitic

1 “Was hat Mohammed aus dem Judenthume aufgenommen” (Wies

baden, 1833).

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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 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-

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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 something 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, intelligence 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”; * and Warneck says: “It would seem as if Animism were the primitive 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 certain 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.” “ mistic conception of human personality. My prolonged puzzling over the psycho-physical problem has inclined me to believe that these attempts 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 Christianity 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 commonly known as Animism.

* “Animism,” by Rev. K. W. S. Kennedy, Westminster, 1914. * Warneck—“Living Christ and Dying Heathenism,” p. 7.

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