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Others say they must always be put into the river or flowing water. If left to fly about they will make the pathway to heaven difficult. A special order is observed in trimming the finger-nails.” Among the Malays special exposure to danger is believed to occur whenever portions of a man — such as the hair or the nails — are severed from the parent body, the theory being that injury to such discarded portions may in some way be used to affect the living body itself. A Malay husband, if he found his wife treasuring up a lock of his hair, would regard her conduct with extreme suspicion.” Sometimes by the use of a waxen or other image, or by the exhibition of a “sample * such as the parings of a man's nails or the clippings of his hair, the wizard conveys to the world of ghosts a knowledge of the person he wishes them to attack — and the ghosts are ever ready to profit by the hint so kindly given.” That all this is really a piece of heathenism is clear to the student of comparative religion. In Africa also the witch doctor or oganga makes special use of hair, teeth, nails, etc., just as in Islam. Nassau writes: * “If it be desired to obtain power over some one else, the oganga must be given by the applicant, to be mixed in the sacred compound, either crumbs from the food, or clippings of finger-nails or hair, or (most powerful!) even a drop of blood of the person over whom influence is sought. These represent the life or body of that person. So fearful 16 Dr. B. J. Esser, Poerbolinggo, Java, in a letter. 17 “Malay Beliefs,” p. 53. 18 Regarding the hair of Mohammed, a legend is told among the Malays that on his journey to heaven on the monster Al-burak, they cleft the moon and when Mohammed was shaved by Gabriel the houris of heaven fought for the falling locks so that not a single hair was alare natives of power being thus obtained over them, that they have their hair cut only by a friend; and even then they carefully burn it or cast into a river. If one accidentally cuts himself, he stamps out what blood has dropped on the ground, or cuts out from wood the part saturated with blood.”
lowed to reach the ground. “Malay Beliefs,” p. 43. 19 “Fetishism in West Africa,” p. 83. “Malay Beliefs,” p. 72.
Superstitions in regard to finger-nails are common throughout the whole world and are undoubtedly animistic in their origin. Dresslar mentions a number as current in Christendom: *
“Cut your nails on Monday, cut them for health;
We are not surprised therefore, to find in Islam so many superstitions mentioned in connection with the paring of the nails, some of which doubtless came through Judaism, others directly from Arab paganism. According to the Haggadah,” “every pious Jew must purify himself and honor the coming holy day by trimming and cleaning the nails beforehand. The Rabbis are not agreed as to when they should be pared; some prefer Thursday, for if cut on Friday they begin to grow on the Sabbath; others prefer Friday, as it will then appear that it is done in honor of the Sabbath. It has, however, become the practice to cut them on Friday and certain poskim even prohibit the paring of the nails on Thursday.” Moslems also have special days for this purpose. The Jews believe that the parings should not be thrown away. The Rabbis declare that he who burns them is a pious man (Hasid), he who buries them is a righteous one (zaddik), and he who throws them away is a wicked one. The reason for this is that if a pregnant woman steps on them the impurity attached to them will cause a premature birth.22 In the order of cutting the nails the Jews have borrowed from the Zoroastrians while the Mohammedans seem to have borrowed from the Jews. According to Mohammed the order of procedure is remembered by the word Khawabis which indicates the initials of the names of the five fingers of the hand. First one is to attend to the Khansar (little finger), then the Wasti (middle finger), then the Abham (thumb), then the Binsar (ring finger), and last of all to the Sababa (index finger). The Sababa means the “finger of cursing ” — derived from the root sabba — to curse. Moslems generally follow this practice without knowing the reason of what they do. The cuttings of the finger-nails are never thrown away but are either wrapped in a paper, buried under the door-mat or carefully put into a chink of the wall. Similar superstitions exist among the animistic tribes of the South Seas. “In Morocco,” says Mr. Haldane, “they begin at the small finger on the right hand, finishing with the thumb, and then commencing with the small finger on the left hand. Some, however, hold that the little and middle finger with the thumb must be done first and then the two remaining ones afterwards. Friday is the best day for this work. Nailparings must be carefully buried. They are not so particular about hair and beard trimmings, but still they ought to be put in some out-of-the-way place where they will not be trod upon. Why these things are so no one can tell; it's the custom.” In Yemen the following customs are observed. While many Arabs hold that there is no particular order of paring the nails nor any reason for keeping and burying the 21 “Jewish Encyclopedia,” Art. Nails.
20 “Superstition and Education,” p. 72. 21 “Jewish Encyclopedia,” Art. Nails.
parings, others are very particular to begin with the little finger and to collect every scrap of the paring in a piece of cloth or cotton-wool and then to bury the lot, saying that this was their prophet’s custom. Others who also bury the parings say that one ought always to begin with the fore-finger of the right hand, as it is the most honorable of all the digits. As a rule the hair is not buried; although in very exceptional cases it is. The custom connected with hair cutting or shaving and the trimming of the nails during the pilgrimage ceremony at Mecca is well know. As soon as the pilgrim assumes the Ihram or pilgrim dress he must abstain from cutting his hair or nails. This command is observed most scrupulously. We read in a celebrated book of law “ that “The expiatory fine of three modd of foodstuffs is only incurred in full when at least three hairs or three nails have been cut; one modd only being due for a single hair or a single nail, and two modd for two hairs or two nails. A person who is unable to observe this abstinence, should have his whole beard shaved and pay the expiatory fine.” When the pilgrimage is terminated and the ceremony completed, the head is shaved, the nails are cut and the following prayer is offered: “I purpose loosening my Ihram according to the Practice of the Prophet, Whom may Allah bless and preservel O Allah, make unto me every hair, a Light, a Purity, and a generous Reward | In the name of Allah, and Allah is Almighty!” After this prayer strict Moslems carefully bury their hair and nail-trimmings in sacred soil.” We pass on to superstitions connected with the human hand. Mr. Eugene Lefebure writes: * “There never was 28 Minhaj et Talibin Nawawi, p. 120. 24 Burton’s “Pilgrimage,” Vol. II, p. 205.
25 “Bulletin de la Societé de Géographie d'Alger et de l'Afrique du Nord,” 1907, No. 4.
a country where the representation of the human hand has not served as an amulet. In Egypt as in Ireland, with the Hebrews as with the Etruscans, they attribute to this figure a mysterious power.” Our illustrations show different forms of this superstition. The use of the hand in this connection is very ancient, perhaps it has some connection with the laying on of hands. The laying of hands on the head as a sign of dedication is found in the Bible, where one gives up one's own right to something and transfers it to God. (Ex. XXIX: 15, 19; II. Chron. XXIX: 23.) Again, the hands are placed on the head of the animal whose blood is to be used for the consecration of priests or for the atonement of the sins of the people. The same ceremony was used in transferring the sins of the people to the scapegoat and with all burnt offerings except the sin-offerings. The laying of hands on the head of a blasphemer should also be noted here. Jacob, on his death-bed, placed his right hand on the head of Ephraim. The Levites were consecrated through the laying on of hands by the heads of the tribes. The time-honored prototype of ordination through laying on of hands is the consecration of Joshua as successor to Moses. This rite is found in the New Testament and in the Talmud and was observed at the appointment of members of the Sanhedrin. It was gradually discontinued in practice, however, although it was preserved nominally. Islam makes a religious and ritual distinction between the right and left hand. Many dark and uncanny interpretations and suggestions are connected with matters referring to the left side of the body, the left hand, the left foot, etc. These go back to great antiquity and are well-nigh universal. In Islam the left hand is never used for eating; Tradition tells us that the devil eats with the left hand; the Moslem must never spit to the right or in front of him but to the left. Whether the origin of this