Abbildungen der Seite

of the mufti to apply the law, whether religious, civil, or criminal, to particular cases ; to resolve all doubts which may be put to him on the written applications of individuals. But if the Koran and traditions are silent on the subject, the mufti must reply, that the sacred books afford him no information. The cadi is the officer who gives the law operation and effect. His decisions are regulated by the Koran, or the traditions, or esteemed commentaries on those books. When a novel case occurs, he exercises his own judgment. The mujtahids are men who are skilled in a more than ordinary degree in legal matters, and are a court of appeal from the cadi, or ordinary judge, in solemn and important causes.

The purifications prescribed by the law of the Koran are performed by the Mussulmen of every nation in Turkey with all possible strictness. No religious act is praiseworthy with God, unless the body is previously placed in a state of purity.

The professed object of the ceremonial is, the rendering of the body fit for the decorous discharge of religious duties ; and so scrupulous are the Turks, that is in the course of their daily prayers they chance to receive any pollution from dirt, they suspend their devotion, until the impurity is removed by water, or other necessary means. The fountains which are placed sound all the mosques, and the baths which crowd every city, enable the Museulmen to prepare themselves for the five daily prayers.

At the appointed time, the Maazeen, with their faces generally turned towards Mecca, with closed eyes, and upraised hands, pace the little gallery of the minarets, and proclaim in Arabic, (which is also the Mussulmen's language of prayer,). that the hour of devotion is arrived. Immediately after the clear and solemn voice of the crier is heard, the Mussulman, whatever may be his rank, or employment in life, gives himself up to prayer. The ministers of state suspend the transaction of public business, and prostrate themselves on the floor. The tradesman forgets his dealings with his customers, and converts his shop into a mosque. “ He is a good Mussulman, he never fails in the performance of his five nanazs every day," is the highest praise which a Turk can receive ; and so prejudicial in its consequences is the suspicion of irreligion, that even libertines neglect not attention to the external ritual. Twice, or thrice, in the course of the day, these devotions are performed in the mosque ; for the mosques are always open. In a prostrate or erect position, the prayers are offered up. Avowedly

lo Persia, the shaikh-ul-islam is the principal administrator of law ; there is one of these officers in every city, and a cadi in subordination to him. The towns and villages have judicial officers, according to the importance of the place. The chief priests, or mujtahids, have a great though undefined power over the courts of law. The judges continually submit cases to them. In all Moslem courts of import ance, the cadi ja assisted by several mollahs, or learned men.

in opposition to the Jewish practice the Moslems keep on their boots and shoes in the mosque : they seldom lay aside their turbans. The women, in the seclusion of their chambers, cover themselves with a veil in these moments of communion with heaven. Verses of the Koran, the names, and personal descriptions of Mahomet, of Ali and his sons, and other Moslem saints, are inscribed in letters of gold, round the walls of places of public worship ; but there are no altars, pictures, or statues. Persons of every rank and degree cast themselves indiscrimi. nately on the carpeted floor, exhibiting by this voluntary sacrifice of worldly distinction their belief in the equality of all mankind in the sight of the Creator. Infidels are prohibited from entering the mosques, and the order of the grand Sultan, or chief magistrate, can alone suspend the operation of the law.

Friday, the sabbath of the Mussulmen, is observed in a less rigourous manner than the Sabbath is by Protestant Christians. This consecrated period commences on the Thursday evening, when the appearance of festivity is given to the cities by the illuminated minarets and colonades of the mosques. At noon on Friday, every species of employment is suspended, and the faithful repair to their temples. Prayers of particular importance and solemnity are read, which the people, making various prostrations and genuflections, repeat after the imams. Sermons are preached by the sheik or vaiz. Points of morality, and not of controversial theology, are the general subjects of their discourses. In the warmth of their sincerity, they often declaim against political corruption and the depravity of the court. In times of public commotion, they irritate or appease the popular tumult, and the eloquence of a preacher in the mosque of Saint Sophia has made a weak and voluptuous sultan tear himself from the silken web of his haram, and lead his martial subjects to the plains of Hungary. The prayers and preaching being concluded, every body returns to his ordinary occupations or amusements. The day is, however, observed in the manner prescribed by the law by all ranks of persons, and the words of the prophet are never forgotten, that he, who without legitimate cause absents himself from public prayer for three successive Fridays, is considered to have abjured his religion. The Namaz, the prayer in general use, is chiefly, a confession of the divine attributes and of the nothingness of man, a solemn act of homage and gratitude to the Eternal Majesty. The faithful are forbidden to ask of God the temporal blessings of this frail and perishable life : the only legitimate object of the supplicatory part of the Namaz is spiritual gifts and the ineffable advantages of eternal felicity. The Turks may pray, however, for the health of the sultan, the prosperity of the country, and division and wars among Chrig. dans.

In this religion of ceremonies and prayer, no sacred institu. tion is more strictly and generally observed by the Turks than ibe fast of Ramadan. A violation of it by any individual

subjects biin to the character of an infidel and apostate ; and the deposition of two witnesses to his offence renders him worthy of death. Perfect abstinence from every kind of support to the body, and even from the refreshment of perfumes, is observed from the rising to the setting of the sun.

The pilgrimage to Mecca is made an affair of state ; and, although every individual furnishes his own viaticum, yet the grand sultan preserves the public ways, and the best soldiers of the empire are charged with the protection of the caravans.

Every year from Damascus and Grand Cairo, the devout Moslems depart in solemn and magnificent procession ; and the native band of the Turks is swelled in the desert by the Moors of every part of Africa and Asia. From the shores of the Atlantic on the one hand, and the most remote parts of the East on the other, the votaries of the prophet are seen in the roads to Mecca. The common horrors of the desert are despised by fanaticism, but the harassing depredations of the roving Arabs, who respect pot the religion nor fear the sword of the pilgrims, almost exhaust the fidelity of the Moslems. On arriving at the precincts of the Holy Land, the devotees make a general ablution with water and sand, repeat a prayer naked, and clothe themselves with the Ihram or sacred habit, which consists only of two colourless woollen cloths, and sandals defending the soles of the feet, but leaving the rest bare. They utter a particular invocation, and advance to Mecca. Spiritual meditation is now to be their employment ; worldly occupations and pleasures are forbidden. The sacred black stone is ardently kissed, and these chaste salutations have made it of a muscular appearance, and the part uncovered by silver has lost nearly twelve lines of its thickness.

Mahomet, finding he could not conquer the ancient superstition of the Arabians for this stone, caused to be written thereon that Allah (God) was Achbar (that is Maximus.) The custom of dancing round this stone is still kept up by the Turks at Mecca, where the Theasol is performed annually round the Achbar.

When the pilgrims enter Mecca they must go directly to the temple, saluting it at entering with “ Allah Achbar.” They then proceed to the black stone, on which some say Abraham descended from his camel ; others, that here he threw dust on his bead, &c.; then with uplifted hands they again repeat “ Allab Achbar," and if they do not incommode their companjons they kiss the stone, or touch it with their hands, and rub their faces to it, or else they touch it with something held in the hand, or make a sign that they would willingly kiss it; always saying “ Allah Achbar.”

Then going round the temple begin the procession called the Inafal kedum, or the procession of good luck, which must begin from the right hand side of the gate (Irish Thecasol); they then proceed to the low wall which reaches no higher than the

centre of the body; then they go round seven times with short quick steps, shaking their shoulders in the first three circuits, in manifestationem certaminis contra associatores, (i. e. Christianos) ;* in the four last circuits they proceed with a slow pace, and as often as they pass the black stone always salute it, and finish the procession by kissing and embracing it. This description could only be given by a Mussulman, or one, as in this case, who assumed the character of one ; for it is death for a Christian to be seen at their rites.

The Caaba is open three days. On the first and second, the men and women alternately offer up their devotions ; and on the third, the sheriff of Mecca, the chiefs of the tribes, and the illustrious strangers in the city wash and sweep the temple. The water, foul with the dirt of the Caaba, is eagerly caught and drank by the surrounding fanatics. The brooms of palm leaves are treasured as relics. The purification is completed by cutting off that part of the black cloth that surrounds the door and bottom of the building, and dividing it among the pilgrims. A visit to the neighbouring mountain of Arafat is the next part of the duty. This visit is called the feast of sacrifice, and can only be performed at a certain time (two months and ten days) after the fast of Ramadan. The best of supplications, say the traditions, is on this day, whether offered at Arafat or elsewhere. The afternoon prayer is repeated in the tents, and the pilgrims repair to the foot of the mountain to watch the setting of the sun. At the instant it disappears, the multitude leave the place, and with the utmost baste endeavour to reach a small chapel, called Mosdelifa, before the last moment of twilight, in order to repeat the prayer of the setting sun and the pight prayer at the same time.

On the morning after the journey to Mount Arafat, the pilgrims go to Mina, near whose fountain the devil built himself a house. A few small stones, (an uneven number), which each of the pilgrims had collected the preceding evening at Mosde: lifa, they cast at the house, not so much with a view to injure the building as to shew their detestation of its owner. Two pillars erected by or to the devil are likewise assailed. A sacrifice of a goat, a camel, or a cow, is then made, in commemoration of Abraham's obedience to the divine command by the intended sacrifice of his son. In the intervals between this religious rite and other ceremonies the pious Moslem turns to Mecca, kisses the sacred stone, and circumambulates the Caaba. The pilgrims stay three days in the valley of Mina, then return to Mecca, and speedily depart for their several countries.

Islamism, as well as Christianity, has its fanatics. This opprobrious title was, in the early days of Moslem history, applicable to all the followers of Mahomet ; but in these times, fanaticism supports not so much the religion itself, as various

• Intestimony of their enmity to Christianity,

deviations from it. Under the name of Sooffees, Fakirs, and Dervishes, the enthusiasts of Mahometanism are spread from the Atlantic to the Ganges. The holy mendicants of the Turk ish empire are divided into thirty-two sects. They pass their days and nights in prayer, fasting, and in every species of bodily pain and mortification. Ceremonies similar to incantations, violent dances, frightful gesticulations, repetitions of the name of Allah, for hours, nay days together, impress the vulgar with a sense of their spiritual superiority.

Dr. Clarke gives the following account of the Dancing Der. vishes : As we entered the mosque, we observed twelve or fourteen Dervishes, walking slowly round before the superior, in a small space surrounded with rails, beneath the dome of the building. Several spectators were standing on the outside of the railing : and being, as usual, ordered to take off our shoes, we joined the party. Presently, the Dervishes, crossing their arms over their breasts, and with each of their hands grasping their shoulders, began obeisance to the superior, who stood with his back against the wall, facing the door of the mosque. Then each in succession, as he passed the superior, having fashioned his bon, began to turn round, first slowly, but afterterwards with such velocity, that his long garments flying out in the rotatory motion, the whole party appeared spinning and turning like so many umbrellas upon their handles.

As they began, their hands were disengaged from their shoulders, and raised gradually above their heads. At length, as the velocity of the whirl increased, they were all seen with their arms extended horizontally, and their eyes closed, turning with inconceivable rapidity. The music, accompanied by voices, served to animate them ; while a steady old fellow in a green pelisse, continued to walk among them with a fixed countenance, and expressing as much care and watchfulness, as if his life would expire with the slightest failure in the ceremony. This motion continued for the space of fifteen minutes. Sud. denly, on a signal given by the directors of the dance, unobserved by the spectators, the Dervishes all stopped at the same instant, like the wheels of a machine ; and, what is more extraordinary, all in a circle, with their faces invariably turned to. wards the centre, crossing their arms on their breasts, and grasping their shoulders, as before, bowing together, with the utmost regularity, at the same instant, almost to the ground.

After this they began to walk, as at first, each following the other within the railing, and passing the superior, as before. As soon as their obeisance had been made, they began to turn again. This second exhibition lasted as long as the first, and was similarly concluded. They then began to turn for the third time ; and, as the dance lengthened, the music grew loud. er and more animating. Perspiration became evident on the faces of the Dervishes; the extended garments of some of them began to droop; and little accidents occurred, such as their striking against each other; they nevertheless persevere.

« ZurückWeiter »