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Against bleeding (M. W. 45).
A still larger number of verses were taken from the Psalms for similar purposes and used as amulets. Most common, however, was the use of the names of God and of angels.
The Koran is not only the most excellent of all books, but the essential Word of God contained therein is eternal and uncreated. It was originally written by God himself on the Preserved Tablet, then brought down in sheets (suhuf) to the lowest heaven on the night of Al Qadr where they were preserved in a place called the House of Majesty (Beit-ul-'Izza). From here they were brought to Mohammed as required by circumstances in revelations. What Professor Hurgronje says of the Moslems of Sumatra is true of all the illiterate masses in Islam and even of many of the so-called literates even in Arabia and Egypt:
* “Jewish Encyclopedia,” p. 203.
“This book, once a world-reforming power, now serves but to be chanted by teachers and laymen according to definite rules. The rules are not difficult, but not a thought is ever given to the meaning of the words; the Quran is chanted simply because its recital is believed to be a meritorious work. This disregard of the sense of the words rises to such a pitch that even pandits who have studied the commentaries — not to speak of laymen — fail to notice when the verses they recite condemn as sinful things which both they and the listeners do every day, nay even during the very common ceremony itself.
“The inspired code of the universal conquerors of thirteen centuries ago has grown to be no more than a mere text-book of sacred music, in the practice of which a valuable portion of the youth of well-educated Muslims is wasted and which is recited on a number of ceremonial occasions in the life of every Mohammedan.” “
In all Moslems lands on the occasions of birth, death or marriage the Koran is used as a charm. It is put near the head of the dying, and on the head of a new-born infant for good-luck. The belief is universal in the Mohammedan world that Safar is pregnant with evil, and that one may feel very thankful when he reaches the last Wednesday of this month without mishap. This day nowhere passes wholly without notice. “In Acheh,” says Hurgronje, “it is called Rabn Abeh, “the final Wednesday.” Many take a bath on this day, the dwellers on the coast in the sea, others in the 4 “The Achenese,” pp. 343–4.
river or at the well. It is considered desirable to use for this bath water consecrated by contact with certain verses of the Roran. To this end a teungku in the gampong gives to all who ask slips of paper on which he has written the seven verses of the Koran in which Allah addresses certain men with the word salam (blessing or peace).””
It is the common belief in East Arabia that the Koran if wrapped in a fresh sheep-skin will withstand the hottest fire and never a page be singed or burned. I was repeatedly challenged to this ordeal with the Gospel vs. the Koran during my early missionary days at Bahrein. That the sacred character of the work is not limited to the text, but extends to paper and ink is clear from the process of insulation in taking oath. In India a hog's bristle put on the ball of the thumb which then rests on the Koran allows the swearer to perjure himself without danger. So holy a book is used therefore to drive away demons. No evil spirit visits the room where it rests on the highest shelf — the place of honor.
This belief that the Koran can drive away devils is exactly paralleled by practices in China. De Groot writes (“The Religion of the Chinese,” p. 51): “I have said that classical works are among the best weapons in the war against specters. Even the simple presence of a copy, or a fragment, or a leaf of a classic is a mighty preservative, and an excellent medicine for spectral disease. As early as the Han dynasty, instances are mentioned of men having protected themselves against danger and misfortune by reciting classical phrases. But also writings and sayings of any kind, provided they be of an orthodox stamp, destroy specters and their influences. Literary men, when alone in the dark, insure their safety by reciting their classics; should babies be restless because of the presence of specters, classical passages do excellent service as lullabies.”
5 “The Achenese,” p. 206.
LARGE INCENSE BOWLS IN MOSQUE AT HANKOW, CHINA These bowls are found everywhere in China, in the courtyard or in the Mosque itself. Similar ones are used in their homes and each has an Arabic inscription from the Koran. One in my possession dates from the Fourteenth Century. The idea is that incense drives away demons.