has been pierced by the lance and thus separated from the body, these cease. Izra‘il is said to be frightful in appearance and of enormous size; his head in the highest heaven, his feet in the lowest part of the earth, and his face opposite the preserved Tablet. To a believer, however, he appears in a lovely shape, and his assistants as ‘Angels of Mercy,’ while to the unbelievers they are tormenting angels. The soul or spirit, according to the orthodox school, is said to be a subtle body, intimately united with the body of man, like the juice is united with the green branch of a tree. The Angel of Death also takes the life of jinn, of angels and even of animals.” 11 The teaching that the Angel of Death takes care of the souls of animals as well as of men's souls is clearly animistic. Immediately after burial two large black Angels visit the dead in their graves. They are called Munkar and Nakir. The spirit of the believer, according to some authorities, is taken through the seven Heavens ino the very presence of God and then returns to the grave to reënter the body and be examined. This seems to be the teaching of Ghazali (Durrat al Fakhira). The same authority classifies the inhabitants of the grave as follows, and says they are of four kinds: “(1) Those who sleep on their backs till their corpses become dust, when they constantly rove about between earth and the lowest heaven; (2) those on whom God causes sleep to descend and who only wake up at the first blast of the trumpet; (3) those who remain in their graves only two or three months, then are carried away into Paradise; they perch on the trees of Paradise in the shape of birds. The spirits of martyrs are in the crops of birds. (4) Prophets and saints who may choose their own habitation.” Another animistic idea in the teaching of Mohammed is that although the whole of the human body perishes in the 11 Klein, “The Religion of Islam,” p. 81.

grave, one bone, namely the os sacrum, remains uncorrupted until the resurrection morning. It is from this bone or seed that the whole body is renewed by means of a miraculous rainstorm called “the water of life.” ” The spirit after death enters the state (or interval), whether of time or place seems uncertain — called Al Barzakh. Many curious traditions are current regarding the souls of the martyrs and their residence in the crops of green birds. One commentator says the birds are transparent, i.e. ethereal. Others say that it signifies figuratively the speed with which the souls of martyrs can travel about. An important point and which is universally believed relates to the spirits of ordinary mortals. These remain near their graves. This accounts for the universal custom in Islam of visiting the graves of their dead on Thursday night. In India we are told, “It is a general belief among the community of Mussulmans that when a Moslem gives up the ghost his soul haunts and lurks about the place where he breathed his last for full forty days from the date of his demise: that it (the soul) comes to visit the quarter it left, with the idea and conviction that its surviving relations and acquaintances may show pity to it by offering prayers and charity for its good and salvation in the migrated region of the heaven above; that in case it finds its survivors doing good for its well-being, rest, happiness, and welfare in its changed career, it devoutly and heartily prays in return for their safety, pleasure and comfort on earth; and that in the reverse case, when it perceives its people doing naught for it or entrapped in vices opposed to the dictates of Islamic faith, it curses them and invokes on them heavenly displeasure for their negligence and foolish reckless pursuits devoid of all religious principles.” ” The special sanctity of the “night of the middle of Sha’ban,” called in Arabic Lailat Nusf Sha’ban, is believed in by all Mohammedans. It is supposed that on that particular night Allah determines the fate of mortals during the forthcoming year. The most popular idea is that there is a celestial tree of symbolic import, on which every human being has a leaf to represent him. This tree is shaken during the night preceding the 15th of Sha’ban, causing the leaves of all those who are to die during the coming year to fall. In Arabia many watch through a part or the whole of this night and offer up a prayer, invoking Allah's mercy, and beseeching him to blot out from his eternal book the calamities and adversity destined for the suppliant. “Throughout the whole of the Indian Archipelago,” says Hurgronje, “this month, Sha’ban, is especially dedicated to the commemoration of the dead. This does not imply grief for their loss, but rather care for their souls’ repose, which is not inconsistent with merrymaking. This solicitude for the welfare of the departed exhibits itself by the giving of religious feasts. According to the religious or learned conception this is done in order to bestow on the deceased the recompense earned by this good work; according to the popular notion it is to let them enjoy the actual savor of the good things of the feast.” Not only in visiting the graves of the dead, but in the very method of burial Moslems are animists in practice whatever they may be in creed. “It is fear,” says Warneck, speaking of the Animists in Malaysia, “that leads them to place food on the dead man’s grave; to bring him his tools and coin, that his shadow may use them in the other world and be content. The inhabitants of many islands sacrifice some one, preferably a slave, at the grave in order that they themselves may be spared. The impelling motive is always fear, not grief nor pity. To prevent the soul of the dead from returning to the living, thorns are laid upon the corpse, which is firmly bound, its thumbs and toes tied together, ashes put in its eyes, an egg placed in its armpits, all with the view of making it incapable of movement.”” According to a Moslem tradition also, it is the universal practice to tie the toes of the dead together before burial but then to loosen them when the body has been lowered into the grave. The construction of the grave itself with its characteristic lahdi in all Moslem lands, can only be explained by beliefs which are animistic. Coffins are never used for burial, but a niche, lahdi, is made on one side of the open grave. The contents of any book on the subject of Eschatology are an index to this world of Moslem-animistic thought. The terrors of the grave are real in popular Islam, and such books have a larger sale than any other religious literature. Here follows for example the table of contents of El Hamzawi's “Masharik-ul-Anwar” on this subject. In every chapter there are points of contact with animism and signs of old pagan belief and practices perpetuated:

12 It is impossible to give the indecent Moslem interpretations of this term. Cf. any popular Arabic work on Eschatology.

18 “Moslem Festivities,” by Mohammed Ameer Ali — Calcutta, 1892, p. 42.


1. What he should do while he is still here.
2. What he should do when death approaches.
3. How the spirit leaves the body.
4. The benefit of speedy burial.

II. WHAT HAPPENS IN THE GRAVE. 1. How the questions are asked by the two angels.

14 “The Living Christ and Dying Heathenism,” p. 59.

2. How he must answer.
3. On the joy and pain that results.
4. Where the spirits go.
5. Warning to the living.


Its desirability.

The right times.

What to do.

Are the dead conscious?
Traditions of the Prophet.
Who of the Prophet's family were buried in


1. Minor signs of the hour.
2. The appearance of the Mahdi.
3. The appearance of anti-Christ.
4. The return of Jesus.


. The Beast — Gog and Magog.
. The first blast of the trumpet.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

1. Where the judgment takes place.
2. The conditions of those who appear.
3. The day of accounts.

« ElőzőTovább »