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Besançon (1571) as a superfluous but pious custom. These facts show that the traditions which ascribe the invention of the rosary to Benedict of Nursia, Bede, or Peter the Hermit, are untrustworthy, and the same statement holds of the Dominican tradition which makes Dominic receive a vision of the Virgin commanding him to introduce the use of the rosary. At the same time, the rosary was originally an essential Dominican mode of devotion; though first arising long after the death of the founder of the order; but while some influence may have been eacercised by the acquaintance of oriental Christians with the Mohammedan Tasbih, all the characteristics of the recitation of Our Father, like the meditations connected with it, can only be explained by the operation of specifically Christian ideas.” ” The Rosary in Islam is at present used for three distinct purposes. It is used in prayer and Zikr for counting pious ejaculations or petitions. It is used for divining the will of God; and it is used in a magical way for healing. The second practice is called Istikhara. It is related of one of the wives of Mohammed that she said: “The Prophet taught us Istikhara, i.e. to know what is best, just as he taught us verses from the Book, and if any of you wants anything let him perform ablution and pray two rakk'as and read the verse: ‘There is no other God, etc.” To use the rosary in this way the following things must be observed. The rosary must be grasped within the palms of both hands, which are then rubbed together; then the Fatiha is solemnly repeated, after which the user breathes upon the rosary with his breath in order to put the magic-power of the chapter into the beads. Then he seizes a particular bead and counts toward the “pointer” bead using the words, God, Mohammed, Abu Jahal; when the count terminates with the name of God it means that his request is favorably received, if it terminates * “Schaff Herzog Encyclopedia,” Vol. X.
with Abu Jahal it is bad, and if with Mohammed the reply is doubtful. Others consider it more correct to use these three words: Adam, Eve, the devil. When these words are used the Adam bead signifies approval, the devil bead disapproval, and the Eve bead uncertainty, because woman's judgment is fickle. This use of the rosary is almost universal among the common people of North Africa and Egypt.
When we remember the high idealism with which Edwin Arnold has clothed the ninety-nine names of Allah in his book on the Moslem rosary entitled “Pearls of the Faith ” we enter a word of protest against the use of such glorious names for magic and sorcery. In this connection we mention a ceremony practiced among the Mohammedans of India on special occasions, called in the Arabic Subha and usually performed on the night succeeding a burial. The soul is then supposed to remain in the body, after which it departs to Hades, there to await its final doom. The ceremony is thus described: “At night, derwishes, sometimes as many as fifty, assemble, and one brings a rosary of 1000 beads, each as large as a pigeon's egg. Then beginning with the 67th chapter of the Koran, they say three times, “God is one;” then recite the last chapter but one and the first, and then say three times, “O God, favor the most excellent and most happy of thy creatures, our lord Mohammed, and his family and companions, and preserve them.” To this they add: “All who commemorate Thee are the mindful, and those who omit commemorating Thee are the negligent.’ They next repeat three thousand times, “There is no god but God,” one holding the rosary and counting each repetition. After each thousand they sometimes rest and take coffee; then 100 times ‘(I extol) the perfection of God with his praise.” Then the same number of times: “I beg forgiveness of God the Great’; after which fifty times: ‘The perfection of the Lord the Eternal’; then ‘The perfection of the Lord of Might”; etc. (Koran XXXVII last three verses). Then two
or three recite two or three more verses. This done one asks his companions, ‘Have ye transferred (the merit of) what ye have recited to the soul of the deceased ?’ They reply, ‘We have and add, “Peace be on the apostles.’ This concludes the ceremony, which in the house of the rich, is repeated the second and third nights.” In Algeria the rosary is used by the Taleb in divining whether the sick will die or not. The beads are counted off in threes, if this leaves one off number the beads must be recounted in twos, if ending evenly the patient will live, if an odd one remains it means death. The rosary which is considered a holy thing is never used in vulgar magic. In Tunisia the fortune-teller marks a place on the rosary with a thread and counts off the beads while chanting certain words, sometimes the names of the father or mother of the sick person. The required information is found by the number of beads remaining over after the recitation; if three remain to the thread, it is sickness; if two it is health. Mr. G. B. A. Gardener, of Cape Town, says: “The rosary is sometimes worn round the neck as a cure for sickness. Those most in use are made of sandal-wood, said to come from Mecca. For magical purposes the rosary is used by counting.” Miss G. Y. Holliday of Tabriz, Persia, gives the following information: “The rosary is used to decide what medicine should be taken, what physician should be called, whether his advice should be followed or not, etc. It is also used about all the affairs of life; it is called taking the istikhara. In using it, the rosary is grasped by the first bead the hand happens on; from which they count to the Khalifa, or the large bead which is the most prominent object, saying ‘bad, good,’ the last bead giving the decision.” In Java the rosary is used as follows for healing the sick, or for inducing sickness. With the rosary in the hand one reads any chapter from the Koran and up to the fifteenth verse, this verse always contains a word of talismanic power, and while this verse is being read the rosary is counted and the result follows. In Egypt the rosary is widely used for the cure of the sick. In this case it depends on the material from which the beads are manufactured. Those made of ordinary wood or of mother-of-pearl are not valuable, but a rosary made of jet (yusr) or kuk (a particular kind of wood from Mecca) is valuable. In Egypt both among Copts and Moslems the rosary is used for the cure of “retention of urine” in children. It is put on the infant’s neck or is laid on the roof in the starlight to catch the dew, then it is washed and the water given to the child to drink. “In India,” writes Mr. K. I. Khan of Poona, “the rosary is used to protect against the evil eye and other dangers, sometimes it is washed in water and the water given as medicine to the sick to drink.” When we consider how in all these puerile superstitions the original use of the rosary with its ninety-nine beads for the remembrance of the one true God has been lost or obscured we are forcibly reminded of the words of Warneck: “Animistic heathenism is not a transition stage to a higher religion. I think I have adduced sufficient facts to establish that, and facts do not vanish away before hypothesis. Let them produce facts to prove that animistic heathenism somewhere and somehow evolved upwards toward a purer knowledge of God, real facts, not imaginary construction of such an evolution. Any form of Animism known to me has no lines leading to perfection, but only incontestable marks of degeneration.”” In its doctrine of the soul before birth, after death, and in the future world, Islam is not free from animistic ideas which 10 “The Living Christ and Dying Heathenism,” Warneck, p. 10.
differ little from those of Pagans in Africa. Al Ghazali says: “When God Almighty let His hands pass over the back of Adam and gathered men into His two hands, He placed some of them in His right hand and the others in His left; then he opened both His hands before Adam, and Adam looked at them and saw them like imperceptible atoms. Then God said: ‘These are destined for Paradise and these are destined for hell-fire.’ He then asked them: ‘Am I not your Lord?' and they replied: “Certainly, we testify that Thou art our Lord.” God then asked Adam and the angels to be witnesses . . . after this God replaced them into the loins of Adam. They were at that time purely spiritual beings without bodies. He then caused them to die, but gathered them and kept them in a receptacle near His throne. When the germ of a new being is placed in the womb of the mother, it remains there till its body is sufficiently developed; the soul in the same is then dead, yet when God Almighty breathes into it the spirit, He restores to it its most precious part, of which it had been deprived while preserved in the receptacle near the throne. This is the first death and a second life. Then God places man in this world till he has reached the term fixed for him.” In this teaching of the greatest Moslem theologian we have the gist of the teaching as found in the Koran and Tradition. The Koran in many places gives a minute description of the process of death while the Commentaries based on savings of Mohammed leave no doubt of the crass materialisic ideas he held and perpetuated. (See e.g., Suras 75; 81:1–19; 82; 83:4–20; 84:1–19; and of a later period 22: 1–7.) Death takes place by means of a poisonous lance which is held by Izra‘il, the angel of death, who pierces the soul and detaches it from the body. (Cf. Surah 32:11.) “As long as the soul slowly ascends from the heart through the throat, it is exposed to various temptations and doubts, but when it