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ious magic owes much to later Jewish sources. The character 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 incantations, especially against the intermittent fever or inflammation, the patient wearing an amulet upon his neck, with the following inscription:
The underlying idea was to force the spirit of the disease gradually to relinquish its hold upon the patient.” 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 names of God and the great name of God that produce these results. 2.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 Tirmadhi 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 juljuliyeh (i.e., Jalla jallalahu). 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 recommended to be used for immoral purposes.” The terms used in magic are Da’wah; ’azima or Incantation; Kahana — Divination; Ruqya — Casting a Spell; and Sihr — Magic. The two former are considered lawful, the latter are considered forbidden by many authorities.*
2 Has this any relation to Abraka and dabra, i.e. “Most blessed word ”? or “I will bless the Word ”?
* A vast literature on the use of God’s names and the magic of numbers has grown up called Kutub al Ruhaniyat on Geomancy, Orithomancy and dreams.
4 Hughes’ Dictionary, p. 304.
According to a statement of the Prophet, what a fortuneteller 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 ascend 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 Bgypt, for example, a common amulet used on children consists 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 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. Children 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 parchments, etc., tied round their necks. Furniture and household 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. Figuratively, The Torah is said to be such an amulet for Israel. The priestly benediction (Num. vi, 24–26) 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." 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 neighborhood 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 that in the Middle Ages Christians employed Jews to make amulets for them. 5 The Jewish Encyclopedia, Vol. I, art. Amulet.
At present in Cairo, Baghdad and Damascus Jewish silverSmiths 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 Solomon. It consists of a strip of paper seventy-nine inches in length and four inches in breadth, lithographed, and with portions 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
Peace upon him