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ulets placed in gold cases while poor people content themselves with leather bags. Serpents, lizards and frogs that frequent the marabout buildings in Algeria are supposed to be inhabited by demons subdued by the dead marabout (a holy person) and it is forbidden to kill them on pain of death or subsequent ill luck. The snakes are drawn out of their lairs by the beating of tom-toms while certain Morocco sorcerers are supposed to have the power to bring them out by a few spoken words. On the occasion of an epidemic among the sheep near Reliyane the shepherds threw their sticks under a certain marabout tree and left them there for two or three days, then they made their flocks to pass by that tree, after repeating which two or three times they were healed. In spite of the fact that Egypt is the intellectual center of Islam many forms of the serpent worship of the ancient Egyptians are still widely found, and in one case it is practiced with the sanction of the Moslem faith. The superstitious idea that every house has a serpent guardian is pretty general throughout the country, and many families still provide a bowl of milk for their serpent protector, believing that calamity would come upon them if the serpent were neglected. This is undoubtedly a survival of the ancient belief that the serpent was the child of the earth — the oldest inhabitant of the land, and guardian of the ground. The serpent is used very frequently by sorcerers in their incantations, and also in the preparation of medicines and philtres which are used for the cure of physical and emotional disturbances suffered by their clients. The religious sanction given to serpent worship occurs in the case of Sheikh Heridi whose tomb or shrine, with that of his “wife,” is to be seen in the sand-hills of Upper Egypt some distance from the town of Akhmim. Sheikh Heridi is really a serpent supposed to occupy one of the tombs. The birthday festival of this serpent saint takes place during the month following Ramadhan, and lasts about eight days. This festival is attended by crowds of devotees, including large numbers of sailors who encamp about the shrine during the festivities. At other times pilgrimages on behalf of those suffering from certain ailments are made to come to the tomb. Professor Sayce in an article on the subject published in the Contemporary Review for October, 1893, quotes at length from various travelers who have mentioned this serpent-saint of Islam in their writings. Professor Sayce then describes in detail the immediate surroundings of the two domed shrines, one of which belongs to the “wife’ of the serpent. Near the shrines is a cleft of the rock which was probably the “grotto * inhabited by the “saint ’’ before the shrine was erected. Sheikh Heridi occupies as high a place in the esteem of the native to-day as he did in the days of Paul Lucas and Norden. His birthday festival is attended by crowds of devout believers. Many stories are still told of the miraculous powers of the Saint, who is declared to be a serpent as “thick as a man's thigh.” If treated with irreverence or disrespect, it breathes fire into the face of the offender, who forthwith dies. It is very jealous of its wife's good name; those who show her disrespect are also put to death by the saint. The belief that if the serpent is hacked to pieces each piece will rejoin, still survives, and it is held that any one clever enough to note the place where the blood flowed, would become wealthy, because there he would find gold. The professor points out that Sheikh Heridi may be regarded as the successor of Agathodaemon — the ancient serpent-god of healing. Belief in his miraculous powers is as strong to-day as it was in the days of the Rameses or Ptolemies.
At the entrance to the quarry through which pilgrims have to pass on their way to the shrine, Professor Sayce discovered engraved in large Greek letters in the stone the words er'ayato which, he says, indicate that during the Greek period, the place was sacred, and that a divinity must have been worshiped here. It may be safely assumed that that divinity was none other than the sacred serpent now Sheikh Heridi under another name.
“WITHIN only a comparatively short period of years,” says Professor Macdonald, “quite easily within thirty years, I should say — we have come to know that practically all through the Moslem world there is spread an observance exactly like the Black Mass in Christendom. That is to say, it is a profane parody of a sacred service. Among the older travelers you will find no reference to this. Lane apparently knew nothing of it, nor did even Burton, in spite of his curious knowledge of the most out-of-the-way and disrespectable sides of Islam. What it travesties is the Darwish zikr. . . . Now, practically throughout all Islam there is a kind of a parody of this, in which the beings whose intervention is sought are what we would broadly call devils. Yet when we speak of Moslem devils, we must always remember their nondescript character and that they are continually confused with the jinn, and so come to be on a dividing line between fairies, brownies, kobolds, and true theological devils. Devil-worship, then, in Islam and in Christendom are two quite different things. In Islam there is no precise feeling of rejection of Allah and of blasphemy against his name. It is, rather, akin to the old Arab ‘taking refuge with the jinn” (Qur. lxxii, 6), denounced, it is true, by Mohammed as a minor polytheism, but compatible with acceptance and worship of Allah. Perhaps it might be described most exactly as a kind of perverted saint-worship. But its form
is certainly a parody of the zikr, though with curious additions of bloody sacrifice, due to its African Woodo origin.” " The exorcism of demons is a universal desire where the belief in their power and malignity is so strong as we have seen it to be in Moslem lands, but the particular form of this belief, called the Zar, is unique in other ways than those pointed out by Dr. Macdonald. Evidence continues to accumulate that we deal here with a form of Animistic worship which although so long and so often concealed from western, i.e., infidel observation, is found in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Tripoli, Egypt, the Soudan, East and West Arabia, Persia, Malaysia, and India. No direct witness to the existence of this superstition among Chinese Moslems has come from travelers or missionaries, but it would not surprise me to find it also in Yunan and in Kansu provinces.
“Three things good luck from the threshold bar-
So runs an Egyptian ditty on the lips of suffering womanhood which links these together as a trinity of evil. The origin of the word is disputed. Dr. Snouck Hurgronje says that it is not Arabic and has no plural.” But in Eastern Arabia, especially in the province of Oman, the word has a plural and the plural form, Zeeran, is preferably used. Moreover I have been told that the word is Arabic and denotes “A (sinister) visitor” (zara yezuru) who makes his or her abode and so possesses the victim. “All Moslem nationalities in Mecca,” he says, “practice the Zar. Even if they gave it another name in their own country they very soon adopt the word Zar, although the national differences continue.” The best account of its origin and character is that given
1 “Aspects of Islam,” pp. 330–332. 2 “Mekka,” Volume II, p. 124.