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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 tubut-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 twentyone 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, 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, literally, 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 character 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 without blame. They saw God in nature, yet did not deify nature and were charged over and over not to follow the abominations 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 trees whose hungry mouth is prest
A tree that looks at God all day
Poems are made by fools like me,
The account in the Book of Genesis of the Tree of Life together 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
Surah 97.) 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, accordingly, 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 amulets 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 Moslem 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 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, prominent 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 projected toward several opposite points of the compass, as if to resist the force of sudden wind-storms. They are a noticeable forest feature and are commonly seen in the silk-cotton 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 veneration to holy trees is offered in Syria, Palestine, and all North Africa. The Bedouins inhabiting the tracts of land traversed 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. 1 “Malay Beliefs,” pp. 20–21.