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religious revolt against orthodox Islam, so far as that is repre-
sented by the Shi'ah sect. It raises women to a higher l6vel,
it professes to limit many of the social evils of Islam, it tends
to give liberty of thought and to develop a friendly spirit to
others. Mr. Curzon says : — 2 " Brotherly love, kindness to
children, courtesy combined with dignity, sociability, hospitality
freedom from bigotry, friendliness even to Christians are included
in its tenets." If men are sometimes better than their creed,

1 Episode of the Bdb, p. xxiv.
? Persia, Vol. I, p. 502,


they are sometimes worse, and not every Babl lives up to this
ideal. It is perhaps too soon to speculate on the future of the
movement. Those who think it will gradually take the place
of Islam in Persia, base a strong argument on the fact that
its " recruits are won from the best soldiers of the garrison
it is attacking." It certainly appeals to the traditionary instincts
of many Persians. The Sufi needs a Pir, or living guide; the
Shl'ah meditates on the Imam, and the high position accorded
to that person in Babiism is at least attractive. The life and
death of the Bab, and the magnificent heroism of his followers
all help forward the movement. Whether when the victory
is won, the Babis in the day of power will be as gentle and
as liberal as they are in the night of adversity is perhaps
doubtful. The whole movement has a disintegrating effect in
Islam as professed in Persia, though whether it will prepare
the way for the Gospel is a matter on which there is room
for difference of opinion. Some persons, well qualified to judge,
consider that it yields a present satisfaction to quickened reli-
gious instincts, and supplies a brotherhood not yet to be found
in Christianity in Persia, where indeed it appears to the
Persians themselves as a foreign religion. In such a case it
would seem likely to be a final home, rather than a resting
place on the road from Muhammad to Christ. But to all, who
take an interest in Christian missions in Persia, the movement
is one of great interest. ^ It does, at least, betrays a longing

1 I am indebted to a well-known Missionary who has spent a long time in Persia
for the following facts : —

(1) The Beh.a'fs admit that the Lord Jesus Christ was the incarnate son ; but
claim that Beha was the incarnate Father, and as each incarnation is superior to a
proceeding one, Behd is greater than Christ.

(2) Some of the Beha'is now say : — ' we are Christians ' ; others say : — ' we are
almost Christians ' ; others, ' The only difference between us is that we accepted
Christ when he came to us fifty years ago {i.e. in Behd) and you rejected him.

(3) They constantly invite the Christian Iilissionary to their houses, and are
most hospitable and kind.

(4) The Beh^'fs admit that the New Testament is the uncorrupted Word of God.
(s) !Many Jews in Persia have become Bdbfs and, on the other hand, some Bdbis

have become Christians.




for a real, living, loving, personal guide, the revealer of God
to man, which can be best met by the acceptance of the
Eternal Word. In any case, if only liberty of conscience can
be secured, there seems to be a wide and open door for the
proclamation of "Him whom God has manifested," "in Whom
are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge", for it
"pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell." i

1 Colossians ii. 3 ; i. 19.



The two most active elements in Muslim lands in the opposi-
tion to social, political, and religious reforms and to the advance
of modern civilisation are the 'Ulama, the men who may be
said to form the lawyers and the clergy of Islam, and the
various Orders of Darwishes. The 'Ulama speak in the name
of the sacred Law, eternal, unchangeable. The Darwishes look
upon Islam as a vast theocracy, in which their spiritual leaders
are the true guides. It is conceivable that the "Ulama might
be brought to see that, if some concessions w^ould save a Muslim
State from ruin or extinction, it might be to their advantage
to make them. The Darwish treats with scorn any attempt at
compromise, and looks upon a Muslim government, which in
the least departs from the laws and practices of the early
Khalifate, as disloyal to the great principle that Islam is a theo-
cracy. Its first rulers were neither kings nor princes : they
were preachers, Khalifs, or vice-regents of the Prophet. In the
opinion of the Darwish, as it was then so it should be now.
Muslims should be governed by an Imam, who is both a
religious and a political leader, whose chief business it is to
maintain the laws of Islam intact, to execute justice according
to their standard, to guard the frontiers, and to raise armies
. for the defence of the Faith. He should be so manifestly a
ruler that the words of the sacred Tradition would be realized,


viz., that "He who dies without recognizing the authority of
the Imam of the age, is accounted dead and is an infidel." It
is the special function of the great Eeligious Orders to keep
this principle active and to teach the people its vast importance.
The most religious of the Muslim people see that the civilisa-
tion of Europe, now finding its way into Muslim lands, is a
very great danger, and they seek to meet and to counteract it
by a large development of the Religious Orders. In Africa
and in parts of Asia this has resulted in a great pan-Islamic
movement, still actively going on, and having for its object not
merely "resistance to the advance of Christianity; but also
opposition to the progress of all modern civilization."! Since
the beginning of this century, this movement has grown with
great rapidity. Under various pretexts, innumerable agents of
the Eeligious Orders have gone throughout the Muslim world.
They have adopted many disguises. Sometimes they are stu-
dents, preachers, doctors ; sometimes artisans, beggars, quacks ;
but they are everywhere received by the people and protected
by them when they are suspected by the ruling powers. A
French writer, one of the best living authorities on the subject,
says that the reform movement in Islam during the 19th
century has led to a great increase in the Eeligious Orders.
The movement has not depended on the orthodox expounders
and authorized keepers of the canon law, but, on the contrary,
has relied on the leaders of the mystical sects, such as the
Bab, the Mahdi and the great Darwish leaders. The most
active element in Islam is now to be found amongst these
Darwishes, and from them has proceeded an active propaganda,
especially in Africa. This author sums up a long review of the
whole position by saying that " all this constitutes a grave
danger to the civilised world." 2

It was not until the 19th century that Islam suffered any
very grave reverses. It had had to retire a little in Europe,

1 Count Castries' L'Isldvi, p. 220.

2 Chatelier's Islam au xix. Siecle, p. 187.


but in Africa it was still strong. So its religious element
became slack. Now the position is changed. Algiers is gone,
Morocco is in danger, the English dominate India and Egypt.
Russia has encroached largely on the Turkish Empire, has
also absorbed the Central Asian Khanates, and threatens Persia.
Muslim rule in Central Africa is in danger, and it is not likely
that it will now extend further south ; for on all sides the
Christian Powers are encroaching, and some of the best tribes,
not yet wholly won to Islam, are within their respective spheres
of influence, and the still independent Muslim States have to
submit to a good deal of outward control. The development of
commerce and the wider influence of modern civilisation and
learning, its art and science, are also disturbing elements in the
Muslim world. Its contemptuous isolation, its absolute sway,
are becoming things of the past. This is very distressing to
pious Muslims of the old orthodox school. It has provoked a
great reaction. The religious spirit has been stirred up on its
most fanatical side, and the Eeligious Orders have, in conse-
quence, grown in extent and influence.

The existence of secret societies is not congenial to the spirit
of Oriental despotism, for the power of the religious leader is
apt to exceed that of the temporal one, and so, at various
times, attempts have been made to curtail their influence. In
the 16th century. Sultan Mauli Isma'il tried to suppress the
Darwish Orders and failed. In the 17th century, Kouprouli
Muhammad Pasha, the able Vizier of Sultan Muhammad
IV., tried his best to ruin the Maulawiyah, the Khalwatiyah.
the Jalwatiyah and the Shamsiyah Orders, but did not succeed.
In fact, he only showed the ultimate weakness of the Sultan's
rule and largely increased the importance and power of the
Qrders he tried in vain to suppress. A still stronger man,
Sultan Mahmud, in 1826, after suppressing the Janissaries,
tried to break up the Order of the Bakhtashiyah but failed, i

1 There was a close connection between the Janissaries and this Order.
When Sultan Orkhan in 1328 created the Yenicherees (Janissaries), or New
Troops, he sought some religious sanction for his action. The Shaikh of the


The head of the Order and his two chief officers were publicly
executed, the abolition of the Order was proclaimed, many of
its monasteries were demolished, and even the Darwishes
connected with it were compelled to change their distinctive
costume, but the Order survived and is powerful still. These
men were not lacking in courage. One of them stopped Sultan
MahniLid at the gate of Galata and seizing the bridle of his
horse said : — " Giaour Padishah, art thou not yet content with
abominations ? Thou wilt answer to God for all thy godless-
ness. Thou art destroying the institutions of thy brethren,
thou revilest Islam, and drawest the vengeance of the Prophet
on thyself and on us." The Sultan called on his guard to put
this ' fool ' away. "la fool," said the Darwish, "it is thou
and thy worthless counsellors who have lost their senses.
Muslims to the rescue ! " This Darwish was executed the next
day, and it is said that the following night a soft light was
seen over his tomb. He is now venerated as a saint.

In Algiers, whenever, after a local insurrection, the French
have destroyed the Zawiyahs of the Eeligious Orders, whose
members helped to stir up strife, it has been found to be
invariably the case that it has had no effect whatever in
lessening either the number, or even the influence of the
Darwishes; but has rather increased both. i

In Egypt the Darwishes are very numerous and are regarded
with respect. In Turkey the people believe in them, for, on
the whole, the sympathy of the Darwishes is with the masses.
The upper classes fear them. Some of the Darwish leaders

Ba'ditashfyahs blessed the troops by i^utting the sleeve of his robe on the head
of one of the soldiers, in such a way that it hung down behind his back, and
said : — " The militia which you have just created shall be called Yani cheree, its
figures shall be fair and shining, its arm redoubtable, its sword sharp. It shall
be victorious in all battles and ever return triumphant." In memory of this,
the Janissaries wore a white felt cap, having a piece of the same material
pendant on their backs. These troops were very closely attached to this
Order, and this may have excited the animosity of Sultan Mahmud against it.

1 Rinu's Maraboats ct KJiouan, p. 109.


are broad-minded men, in spite of mucli about them that seems
intolerant. On the other hand, the system affords opportunity
for much tliat is low in morals, especially when the higher
degrees are reached and the restraints of law are set aside :
when creed and formulas are looked upon as fetters to the
inspired and exalted soul.

The temporal power has some hold on the Orders. In Egypt
the person who exercises on the part of the State that author-
ity is called the Shaikhu'l-Bakri, and is always a descendant
of the Khalif Abu Bakr. The Khalif 'Umr also has a repre-
sentative who is the head of the Enaniyah Darwishes. The
Khahf 'Usman has none. The Khalif *AH has one called
Shaifchu'l-Sadat, or Shaikh of the Seyyids. Each of these is
said to be the " occupant of the sajjada or the prayer carpet, of
his ancestor." The head of an Order is also called the
occupant of the sajjada which belonged to the founder of it.
This sajjada is looked upon as a throne. In Turkey the
Shaikhu'l-Islam exercises a certain amount of control over the
heads of a Monastery, though he has probably little power
with the actual head of the Order. Many of the Orders add
to their prestige in the sight of the masses by the nobility
of the origin of their founders, who were Sharif s, or lineal
descendants of the Prophet.

The great enemies of the Orders are the 'Ulama and the
official clergy. The feeling is not unlike that between the sec-
ular and the monastic clergy in the middle ages. The 'Ulama,
in order to maintain their own prestige, oppose the Darwishes
and appeal to the orthodox standards of the Faith ; but the
Darwishes do the same. The latter reproach the former with
being mere time-servers, to which the retort is made that
the Darwishes are heretical in doctrine and scandalous in prac-
tice. The mass of the Muslims, who care not for theological
disputations, are attracted to the side of the Darwishes. They
are not shocked at the dancing and the music ; they look
upon the Darwishes as the chosen of God, the favourites of
heaven. Others again, who look upon some of their practices as


bordering on the profane, yet, on the whole, respect them. The
ignorant man also sees that, though destitute of the education
needed for an 'Ulama, he may without it acquire in an Order
a religious status and power equal to that attained to by his
more orthodox and learned brother, l

With this general introduction we can now pass on to con-
sider the constitution of the Orders in more detail. The
organization of each is practically the same. The head of an
Order is the spiritual heir of its founder, and is called the
Shaik]i. He is the Grand Master, and has unlimited power.
He resides in one or other of the Zawiyahs, or Monasteries,
belonging to the Order. He is looked up to with the greatest
veneration ; in fact absolute obedience to the ShaiMi is the
very essence of the system. " my master, you have taught
me that you are God and that all is God," says one disciple.
The founder of the Bastamiyah Order said : — "Glory be to me!
I am above all things." The adoration of the Master too
often takes the place of the worship of God, and the ideal
life of a Darwish is one which is in absolute conformity to
the will of the Shaikh. In every word and in every act the
disciple must keep the Master present to his mind.

Subordinate to the Shaikh are the Muqaddims, who act
under his orders and have certain functions allotted to them.
A Muqaddim is placed in charge of each Zawiyah. In a
diploma conferred by the Shaikh of the Qadiriyah Order on a
Muqaddim, the instructions given to the members of the Order
are that they should yield implicit obedience to the Muqad-
dim, who has the confidence of the chief of the Order ; that
they must not enter upon any enterprise without his knowledge.
Obedience duly rendered to him is as obedience to the Shaikh,
who is descended from the saint of saints, 'Abdu'l Qadir Jilani.

1 " Un homme qui n'appartient pas a la caste religieuse voit, avec un pro-
found sentiment d'orgueil, que grace au concours de I'ordre auquel il appartient,
il peut, sans instruction et malgre I'obscurite de sa naissance, acquerir un pouvoir
religieux egal, et quelquefois bien superieur, a celui des marabouts." Hanoteau et
Letourneux, Les Kahyles, Vol. ii. p. 104,


From amongst the Ikhwan, or brethren of the Order,
certain persons are selected as assistants to the Muqaddira.
These are known as the Wakil, who has charge of the property
and funds of the Zawiyah, and the Raqqab, who is employed as
a courier to carry despatches. In connection with the assemblies
of the members, the Muqaddim has the following officials
under his charge. The Cha'ush, or leader ; the Maddah, or
precentor ; the Qassad, or chanters of the elegies^ ; the 'Allam
or standard bearers and the Suqah, or water carriers. All these
employments are sought after by the Brethren, and the occu-
pations attached to them are performed seriously and as a
grave religious duty.

Then comes the general body of the simple members of the
Order. They are called the IkTiwan. or brothers; Asbab,2 or
companions ; whilst the generic term Darwish covers all.
Murid, disciple, is a common term and the one we shall hence-
forth use. The spiritual guide is called a Pir.

Outside of all these are what may be termed the Associates
or the ordinary members, who are the lay members of the
Order. _ They do not live in the Zawiyahs, though they are
open to them. Still they are in possession of secret signs and
words, by the use of which they can always get the protection
of the community. They do not make use of the Zikr, or
peculiar religious ceremony, of the Order, but use its rosary.
Their allegiance to it is often more political than religious.

The founders of these Orders were strictly orthodox ; that is,
they not only followed the Quran, but accepted the Sunnat —
the record preserved in the Traditions of the Prophet's words
and deeds — as a divine rule of faith and practice. Certain
sayings of the Prophet himself on this point were accepted by
them as authoritative, such as, " Confonn to my Sunnat. He

' i.e., 6JL-ai

2 They are subdivided into 15*^^ w»W-«^ — Ashdbu'l Fatwd, or companions of
the decree ; tL~J\ >— >U!-o^ — Ashdbu'l Bisdt, companions of the carpet ; AA,i5\ v»W-o^
— Ashdbu'l Ashad, companions of zeal ; jlJ\ w>U-«\— Ashdbu'l Yad, companions of
the hand.



who follows that shows that he loves me, he who does not
is not a Muslim." The foimders of the more modern Orders
follow the special teaching of some famous theologian, who can
show that his particular instruction was based on that of men
of the earliest days of Islam. Their declared object is, by their
efforts and pious practices, to bring the Faithful to the eternal
blessing promised to all who walk in the " good way " re-
vealed by Gabriel to Muhammad, and who has also given to
the founders of the Orders all knowledge concerning it. The
Shaikhs, therefore, can now lead the disciple on step by step,
to a pure and moral state, abounding in that spiritual per-
fection, which draws the creature to the Creator. Thus they
maintain that their object in founding these Orders is the
glory of God, the extension of Islam, and the salvation of men.
They claim to be able to lead their disciples on by suc-
cessive stages to such a state that they attain, or at least
approximate, to spiritual perfection.

Then a supernatural origin is also claimed for many of the
Orders. The members glory in this, the masses of the people
freely admit it. Very often this is connected with the legends
about Al-Khizr (Elias), who is said to have been the greatest
saint of his age and to be still the intermediary between God
and the founder of a ReHgious Order. As he did not die, he
is supposed to be still actively employed and to give power to
the religious devotee who attains to the dignity of Qutb, a
term to be explained later on. Owing to his miraculous
translation, to his being transported from place to place by
the spirit of God, to his investiture of Elisha with the pro-
phetic office, it is said that Al-Khizr still retains and exercises
great influence with men who rise to a high order of saintship.
To them he unveils the future, confers the gifts of blessing
(baraka), and gives supernatural powers (tasarruf). It is this
supposed supernatural character of the inception of an Order
which gives it its great influence. All the members of it
participate in this blessing, and in the abundance of spiritual
good, transmitted from the founder of the Order, who entered


into secret and direct communication with Al-Khizr and with
the Prophet. The Shaikh of an Order ahnost always nomi-
nates his successor.! He summons the chief Muqaddims and
as many of the Murids as he can conveniently gather together,
and states that, after seeking the guidance of the Prophet, he
has chosen a man who will maintain the traditions of their
founder and the purity of their Order. In Constantinople certain
Orders require the Sultan, or the Shaikhu'l Islam, to confirm
the appointment thus made.

The Muqaddims are persons of much importance, and great
care is taken in their selection. As a rule only such men are
appointed to this office, who are acceptable to the brethren
of the Order. One is placed in charge of each Zawiyah and
is a sort of Abbot of a monastery. Besides these, other
Muqaddims are placed in charge of the various missionary
enterprises, or are engaged in diplomatic business in the inter-
ests of the Order. In Turkey the Mufti at Constantinople has
the right to confirm the appointment of these men, and the
Shaikhu'l Islam the power to remove one from his local charge.

Once or twice a year the Muqaddims meet in conference
and consider questions relating to the well being of the Order.
The state of each Zawiyah is gone into, its financial condi-
tion is examined, and all matters of business are attended to.
The Shai^ issues from the conference pastoral letters to the
brethren. Amulets and charms blessed by him are sold. 2 New

1 Some, however, on the ground that the Prophet made no regulation on the
subject of succession to supreme power, leave the election to the ^luqaddims.
In some cases the candidate must belong to the family of the foimder of the
order. Rinu's Marabouts et Khouan, p. GO.

3 A le Chatelier writing of the Muslims in Western Africa says that they
retain and use many of the pagan superstitions, charms and incantations.
Hynoptism is also practised by the religious teachers. Thus the practice of
Islam, though not its doctrines, has been largely influenced by its environment.
He adds, " En tout cas, il ne s'agit la que de practiques. L'Islam, qui doit ses
slicces surtout a sa malleabilitie, s'est plie aux coutumes du pays, dans une
certainc mesure. Mais sa doctrine n'a pu ctre influencec par les croyances
fetichistes, qui n'existant que comme culte, comme tradition, n'ont rien d'un
systeme philosophique " Chatelier's U Islam daus L'Afrique occidentale, p. 313.


members are admitted into the Order, and when all is done
the members disperse, after receiving the blessing of the
Shaikh. This meeting is called the Hazrat, a word which
means the Presence. On his return home each Muqaddim
holds a synod of the brethren of his Zawiyah. He entertains
them at a feast, and then gives an account of the proceedings
of the conference and reads the pastoral letter. After this is
over, the brethren, one after another, salute the Muqaddim
and deposit an offering on the tray placed before them. This
synod is called Jalal, the Glorious.

I have already stated that these Religious Orders claim to
be strictly orthodox. Innovation in the sphere of dogma is
considered to be heresy of the worst kind. They can trace
their belief back through a long succession of holy men up
to primitive times. These men are honoured* by distinctive
titles, according to their standard of saintliness.

The highest rank of all is that of Ghaus.i a man who,
owing to the superabundance of his sanctity and the influence
of his merits, is able to be the sin-bearer of the faithful,
without in the least endangering his own salvation. He is
very often, therefore, called the Ghaus'l'Alam, or 'Refuge of
the World', or 'Defender of the World'.

Then come the men of the next rank who are called Qutb,2
or Axis. The title seems to imply that this saint is a centre
of influence round which all the greatness and the real grandeur
of the world revolve. He has attained to such a degree of
sanctity that he reflects to the general body of believers the
heart of the Prophet himself. The one most pre-eminent in
his day is called the Qutbu'l Waqt — the Axis of the Age. It
is said that the founders of the Rufa'iyah, Qadiriyah, Ahmadiyah,

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Online LibraryEdward SellEssays on Islám [microform] → online text (page 9 of 22)