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The Dervishes wear long hair and a pointed, orange-shaped cap, a cloak of patch work and a long white robe. In their right hand they carry a tomahawk or hatchet with a fancy handle; on the blade are some
PERSIA BY A PERSIAN.
inscriptions consisting of passages from the Koran, or poems. In the left hand they hold a kashkul or receptacle for money donated them. A dozen or more may be seen on every street not far distant from each other, standing in front of stores singing some poems for the praise of Ali in a loud voice, and with an earnest and enthusiastic spirit. Then lie will pass his kashkul and the shopkeeper will drop into it some small coin or only a bit of sugar or ginger. Any gift is acceptable. Sometimes they are called Kalander, which means humble and holy men of Allah. They are exempted from tax and from military service. Many presents are given them by the people. The salutation is different from that among common people. The first says, “Ya-ho” (O living God); the response is, “Ya-mal-ho” (O God, Giver of life); “Ya hak” (O truth, Î truth).
Among Mush-to-hids, two tithes are given to those who excel in holiness, viz: Pish-Namiz and Imam-Juma. The former means mediator in prayer; the latter, the prophet of holy Friday.
They are, indeed, more devoted to their faith, and at the same time more fanatical in their hatred against Christianity. When one of these priests goes to the mosque, he wears a large turban on his head, a cloak of fur, a staff with gold or silver handle. He wears a long beard, which is painted black. Following him is a procession of from fifty to one hundred men. mostly mollahs, or lower class who are faithful Moslems. Proceeding toward the mosque with slow and solemn tread, he is saluted by people of all classes along the street by their rising to their feet, crossing the breast with the arms and reverently bowing before him, uttering the words, “Sallam ali-Kun Agha” (peace be unto you, sir). This service occurs on holy Friday.
Women are not admitted in these most holy and solemn services. The Mush-ta-hid stands in the front part of the mosque, facing Mecca, and all the audience is back of him. As he advances in the prayer, all the people repeat what he prays. They imitate every motion he makes. When he kneels, they kneel. When he puts the ends of his front fingers in his ears, the entire audience does the same. They believe all prayers prayed in that way are accepted through his mediatorial prayer.
Lit. “The Black Stone.” The famous black stone which forms part of the sharp angle of the Ka’bah in the temple at Mecca. Mr. Burk-hardt says, “It is an irregular oval, about seven inches in diameter, with an undulating surface, composed of about a dozen smaller stones of dif-
RELIGIONS OF PERSIA.
ferent sizes and shapes, well joined together with a small quantity of cement, and perfectly well smoothed; it looks as if the whole had been broken into as many pieces by a violent blow, and then united again. It is very difficult to determine accurately the quality of this stone, wiiich has been worn to its present surface by the millions of touches and kisses it has received. It appeared to me like a lava, containing several small extraneous particles of whitish and of a yellow substance. Its color is now a deep reddish brown, approaching to black. It is surrounded on all sides by a border composed of a substance which I took to be a close cement of pitch and gravel of a similar, but not quite the same, brownish color. This border serves to support its detached pieces; it is two or three inches in breadth, and rises a little above the surface of the stone. Both the border and the stone itself are encircled by a silver band, broader below than above, and on the two sides with a considerable swelling below, as if a part of the stone were hidden under it. The lower part of the border is studded with silver nails.” Captain Burton remarks, “The color appeared to me black and metallic, and the center of the stone was sunk about two inches below the metallic circle. Round the sides was a reddish brown cement, almost level with the metal, and sloping down to the middle of the stone. The hand is now a massive arch of gold or silver gilt. I found the aperture in which the stone is, one span and three fingers broad.”
According to Ibu 'Abbas, Mohammed said the black stone came down from Paradise and at the time of its descent it was whiter than milk, but that the sins of the children of Adam have caused it to be black, by their touching it. That on the Day of Resurrection, when it will have two eyes, by which it will see and know all those who touched it and kissed it, and when it will have a tongue to speak, It will give evidence in favor of those who touched and kissed it.
Maximus Tyrius, who wrote in the second century, says, “The Arabians pay homage to I know not what god, which they represent by a quadrangular stone,” alluding to the Ka’bah, or temple which contains the black stone. The Guebars, or Ancient Persians, assert that the black stone was amongst the images and relics left by Mahabad and his successors in the Ka’bah, and that it was an emblem of Saturn. It is probably an aerolite, and owes its reputation, like many others, to its fall from the sky. Its existence as an object of adoration in an iconoclastic religious system, can only be accounted for by Mohammed’s attempt to conciliate the idolaters of Arabia.