Observations on the Mussulmauns of India
By Meer Hassan Ali

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Public Domain Books

Letter VII

Namaaz (daily prayer).–The Mussulmaun prayers.–Their different names and times.–Extra prayer-service.–The Mosque.–Ablutions requisite previous to devotion.–Prostrations at prayers.–Mosque described.–The Mussulmauns’ Sabbath.–Its partial observance.–The amusements of this life not discontinued on the Sabbath.–Employment of domestics undiminished on this day.–Works of importance then commenced.–Reasons for appropriating Friday to the Sabbath.–The Jews opposed to Mahumud.–The Prophet receives instructions from the angel Gabriel.–Their import and definition. Remarks of a Commentator on the Khoraun.–Prayer of intercession.–Pious observance of Christmas Day by a Native Lady.–Opinions entertained of our Saviour.–Additional motives for prayer.–David’s Mother’s prayer.–Anecdote of Moses and a Woodcutter.–Remarks upon the piety and devotion of the female Mussulmauns.

The Mussulmaun Lawgiver commanded Namaaz (daily prayer) five times a day:

1st. ’The Soobhoo Namaaz,’ to commence at the dawn of day.

2nd. ’The Zohur,’ at the second watch of the day, or mid-day.

3rd. ’The Ausur,’ at the third day watch.

4th. ’The Muggrib,’ at sunset; and,

5th. ’The Eshaa,’ at the fourth ghurrie of the night.[1]

These are the commanded hours for prayer. Mahumud himself observed an additional service very strictly, at the third watch of the night, which was called by him, ’Tahujjoot,’[2] and the most devout men, in all ages of their faith, have imitated this example scrupulously.

’The Soobhoo Namaaz’ is deemed a necessary duty, and commences with the earliest dawn of day. The several prayers and prostrations occupy the greatest part of an hour, with those who are devout in their religious exercises; many extend the service by readings from an excellent collection, very similar to our Psalms, called ’The Vazefah’.[3]

’The Zohur Namaaz’, an equally essential duty, commences at mid-day, and occupies about the same time as ’The Soobhoo’.

’The Ausur Namaaz’ commences at the third day watch. The religious men are not tempted to excuse themselves from the due observance of this hour; but the mere people of the world, or those whose business requires their time, attach this service to the next, and satisfy their conscience with thinking that the prayer-hours combined, answers the same purpose as when separately performed.

’The Muggrib Namaaz’. This is rigidly observed at sunset; even those who cannot make it convenient at other hours, will leave their most urgent employment to perform this duty at sunset. Who that has lived any time in India, cannot call to mind the interesting sight of the labouring classes, returning to their home after the business of the day is over? The sun sinking below the Western horizon, the poor man unbinds his waist, and spreads his cummerbund on the side of the road; he performs his ablutions from his brass lota of water, and facing Mecca, bows himself down under the canopy of heaven, to fulfil what he believes to be his duty at that hour to his merciful God.

’The Eshaa Namaaz’ commences at the fourth ghurrie of the night. The form of prayer for this Namaaz is much longer than the rest. The devout men extend their prayers at this still hour of the night; they tell me that they feel more disposed at this time to pour out their hearts to God in praise and thanksgiving, than at any other period of the day or night; and I have known many of them to be at silent prayer for hours together.

Many persons in their early life may have neglected that due obedience expected in the commanded daily prayers; in after life, they endeavour to make up the deficiency, by imposing on themselves extra services, to fulfil the number omitted. By the same rule, when a member of the family dies, and it is suspected the due performance of Namaaz had been neglected by him, the survivor, who loved him or her in life, is anxious for the soul’s rest, and thus proves it by performing additional prayers for the benefit of the soul of that beloved individual.

If a Mussulmaun falls from affluence to penury, twelve devout men of his faith engage to fast and pray, on a day fixed by themselves, to make intercession for their friend:–they believe in the efficacy of good men’s prayers; and Meer Hadjee Shaah has often declared to me, that he has witnessed the benefit of this exercise by the happiest results, in many such cases.

The Khoraun, it is commanded, shall be read. A person perhaps dies before he has been awakened to a love of sacred things; his friends therefore engage readers to attend his grave, and there to read the Khoraun for the benefit of the departed soul.[4]

They have a firm belief in the efficacy of prayer by proxy; and the view they have of departed spirits is still more singular. They believe the soul hovers over the body in the grave for some time, and that the body is so far animated, as to be sensible of what is passing; as when the Maulvee is repeating the service, the angels visit in the grave, or when the Khoraun is read; hence the belief in the efficacy of prayer and reading as substitutes for neglected or omitted duties whilst on earth. There are in all the mosques men retained to do the requisite service there,[5] that is, to keep it clean, and to prevent any thing that could pollute the sanctuary from entering; to call at the stated hours for Namaaz, with a loud voice, so that all the neighbourhood may hear and go to prayers; he mounts the minaret as the hour is striking, and pronounces, ’Allah wo uckbaar!’ ’Mahumudoon Russool Allah!’[6]–God alone is true! Mahumud is God’s Prophet!–with a voice, the extent of which can only be imagined by those who have heard it; this summons is repeated many times over.

The mosque is open day and night for all who choose to enter for the purpose of prayer. The Mussulmauns, however, in their prayer-services are not restricted to the mosques; all places are deemed holy where no unclean animal has been to defile the spot, as dogs or swine, nor any idol been set up for worship. The person coming to Namaaz must not have contaminated himself by touching the dead, or any other thing accounted unclean, until he has bathed his whole body and changed his clothes. This resembles the Mosaic law.

Ablutions are regarded as essentially necessary: if any one is ill, and to use water would be dangerous, or if there be no water to be found where the Mussulmaun is about to pray, there is an allowed substitute, merely to rub the hands, feet, knees, and head with the dry dust of clay, and this is counted to them for ablutions. Thus prepared, the devotee spreads his prayer-carpet[7] (generally of fine matting) in the most convenient place to himself, if not in the mosque;–perhaps under a tree, in the verandah, or in a room, no matter where, taking care, under all circumstances, that the carpet is spread to face the Kaabah (Holy House at Mecca).

At the commencement of his prayers, he stands erect, his hands lifted up, the palms held out towards heaven, where the eyes are also turned whilst expressing adoration and praise to God. This ended, he prostrates himself before the Almighty, his forehead touching the ground; the form of words here used expresses the unworthiness of the creature permitted to approach and worship the Creator; again he stands to repeat the glorious perfections of God; he then kneels in worship and prayer, after which prostrations are resumed, &c. In the performance of some of the services they prostrate five times, standing up and kneeling an equal number of times; the shortest services have three, and all the prayers and praises are arranged in Arabic,–that most expressive language,–which to translate, they say, is to corrupt the meaning of the prayers. For this reason the Khoraun is not allowed in any other than the original language; and for the benefit of the unlearned in Arabic, it is commented upon, passage by passage, in the Persian language.

The mosques are all erected on one plan; the entrance to the outer court is secured by a gate or door always on the latch, without locks, bars, or bolts; in the paved yard a tank or reservoir for bathing or ablutions is usually provided. The mosque itself is square, with a dome and two minarets; the side next the court-yard is the entrance, and generally this front is entirely open; the back of the mosque faces Mecca, in which direction the prayer must be offered to be effectual. These houses of prayer are generally kept clean and neat, but not the slightest ornament allowed within the walls; the floor is matted, and a plain wooden mhembur (pulpit) is provided. Shoes never enter within the precincts of the mosque; ’Put off thy shoes’ is strictly observed by Mussulmauns in all sacred places–a man praying with shoes on his feet would be accounted mad or a heathen.[8]

The Sabbath of the Mussulmauns is kept on Friday, commencing on the preceding night, after the manner of the Jews, only with the difference of the day.[9]

As a religious rest, the Sabbath is but partially observed with Mussulmauns. The Soonies, I have remarked, pay much more attention to its institutions than the Sheahs; but with either sect, the day is less strictly kept, than might have been expected from people who really seem to make religion their study, and the great business of their lives. Both sects have extra prayers for the day besides the usual Namaaz, which, the religious people perform with, great punctuality, whether they carry their devotions to the mosque, or offer their prayers in due form in their own abode. On the Sabbath they make it a point to bathe and change their apparel; the public offices are closed, and the shops partially shut until mid-day; the rulers,–as Kings or Nuwaubs,–distinguish the day by not receiving their courtiers and the public visitors, as on other days. Charitable donations are likewise more bountifully dispensed from the rich to the poor on Friday.

These observances serve to convince us that they believe in the constituted Sabbath; still there is not that strict respect for the holy day which could satisfy the scrupulous feelings of a Christian; the servants are quite as much employed on Friday as on any other day;–the dhurzie[10] (tailor), dhobhie[11] (washerman), and indeed the whole establishment of servants and slaves, male and female, find their work undiminished on the Sabbath. The ladies amuse themselves with cards or dice, the singing women even are quite as much in request as on other days; and all the amusements of life are indulged in without once seeming to suspect that they are disobeying the law of God, or infringing on their actual duties. Indeed, I believe they would keep the day strictly, if they thought doing so was a necessary duty: but I have often observed, that as Friday is one of their ’fortunate days’, works of any importance are commenced on this day;–whether it be building a house,–planting a garden or field,–writing a book,–negotiating a marriage,–going a journey,–making a garment, or any other business of this life which they wish should prosper. With them, therefore, the day of rest is made one of the busiest in the calendar; but I must do them the justice to say, that they believe their hearts are more pure after the ablutions and prayers have been performed. And that as nothing, however trifling or important, according to their praiseworthy ideas, should ever be commenced without being first dedicated to God,–from whose mercy they implore aid and blessings on the labour of their hands,–they set apart Friday for commencing whatever business they are anxious should prosper. This was the excuse made by the pious Meer Hadjee Shaah.

Mahumud’s biographers notice in many instances the strict observance of the Sabbath, at the period in which he flourished; they also say he selected Friday to be observed as the Mussulmaun Sabbath in distinction from the Jews, who it would seem were jealous of Mahumud’s teaching, and annoyed both him and his followers in every way they could possibly devise. And the Khoraun commentators, on the subject of Mahumud’s mission, declare, when speaking of the place to which the Mussulmaun bow in prayer, ’That when Mahumud first commenced his task of teaching the ignorant Arabians to forsake their idol worship, and to turn to the only true God, he was often reviled and insulted by the Jews; who even ridiculed the presumption of the Mussulmauns in daring to bow down, in their worship, towards Jerusalem, in the same direction with them. Mahumud was sadly perplexed whether to abstain or continue the practice, as he was unwilling to offend the Jews: in this trial he was visited by the angel Gabriel, who brought the following command to him from God:–

’Turn from Jerusalem; and when thou bowest down to Me, face that Holy House of Abraham, the place of sacrifice: that shall be thy Kiblaah, O Mahumud.’

Kiblaah is the point to which men bow in worship.[12] Kaabah is the ’Holy House’ where Abraham’s sacrifice was offered. Mecca is the city or tract of country surrounding the house.

Thus they will say: ’I am making my pilgrimage to Mecca, to visit the Kaabah, which in my Namaaz, has been my Kiblaah when worshipping my God.’

A Commentator on the Khoraun writes, in allusion to the prevailing worldly-minded men of his day, the following expressive definition of the objects most worshipped by them, and concludes with the one only Kiblaah deserving men’s attention.

’The Sovereign’s Kiblaah is His well-ornamented crown.’

’The Sensualist’s Kiblaah, The gratification of his appetites.’

’The Lover’s Kiblaah, The mistress of his heart.’

’The Miser’s Kiblaah, His hoards of gold and silver.’

’The Ambitious Man’s Kiblaah, This world’s honours and possessions.’

’The mere Professor’s Kiblaah, The arch of the Holy House.’


’The Righteous Man’s Kiblaah, The pure love of God,–which may all men learn and practise.’

The Mussulmaun Faith directs them to believe, not only in the prophets and their writings, but also that they are intercessors at the throne of grace; for this reason Mahumud taught his followers to call on God to hear them for the sake of,–

’1st. Adam, Suffee Ali ("the Pure” is the nearest possible translation).’

’2nd. Noah, the Prophet of God.’

’3rd. Abraham, the Friend of God.’

’4th. Moses, who Conversed with God.’

’5th. Jesus, the Soul of God.’

’6th. Mahumud, the Prophet of God.’[13]

Those persons who are devout in the exercise of their religious duties day by day, in the concluding part of the morning Namaaz strictly observe the practice of Mahumud and the Emaums, in the prayers of intercession; and the ’Salaam-oon-ali Khoom’,[14] (peace or rest be with thee) O Adam Suffee Ali! and to thee, O Noah, the Prophet of God! and to thee, O Abraham! &c. &c. going through the line in the manner and rotation above-described, concluding with the several Emaums, twelve in number (as in their Creed).

It will be seen by this, that they have reverence for all who came from God, to teach mankind His will. They believe also, that the Holy Prophets are sensible of the respect paid to them by existing mortals, as also when on earth they knew what was in the hearts of those men they conversed with. I have the honour to be acquainted with a lady of the Mussulmaun Religion, who lives in accordance with the Faith she professes. There was a period in her life, within my recollection, when she had very severe trials of a domestic nature. She trusted in God for relief, and followed in the way she had been instructed, keeping fasts and holy days; testifying her respect for the prophets, by observing those days for extra prayer and giving alms, which the Khoraun and commentaries represent as worthy to be done, by the devout Mussulmauns.

Amongst the number of days strictly observed by this pious lady during her troubles, was the Nativity of Jesus Christ, for whose sake she fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and gave alms to the necessitous. I was the more delighted when first hearing of this circumstance, because I had judged of the Mussulmaun faith by common report, and fancied they rejected, with the Jews, our Redeemer having come. They, on the contrary, believe, according to their Prophet’s words, ’that He was born of the Virgin Mary; that He worked miracles; that He ascended after His earthly commission had ceased, to the seventh heaven; that He will again visit the earth (when their Emaum Mhidhie will also appear), to cleanse the world of its corrupt wickedness, when all men shall live in peace, and but one faith shall prevail, in the worship of the true God’.

The Mussulmaun work, ’Hyaatool Kaloob’ (which I have so often referred to), contains, with the lives of all the prophets, the Life of Jesus Christ, His acts, and the Ungeel[15] (Gospel). The Gospel they have is in many things different from ours; it is not formed into books by the apostles, neither are the miracles united with the Gospel, but are detailed as the acts of Christ Jesus. What they understand by the Ungeel, is, ’the Word of God by the mouth of Jesus’;–for instance, the Sermon on the Mount, or, in other words, the precepts of Jesus. I am indebted to the Meer for this information.

The Mussulmauns say, ’All power belongs to God.–Who would dare dispute the miracle of Christ’s birth? Is there any thing difficult with God? God first formed Adam from the dust; and by His word all things were created. Is there any thing too great for His power? Let no man, then, dispute the birth of Christ by a pure Virgin.’ They believe that Jesus Christ was the Prophet of God, but they believe not that He is God; and they deem all who thus declare Christ to be God, as unfaithful both to God and to Christ.

I have said the Mussulmauns of each sect have extra prayers, beside the Namaaz, or daily services of prayer. I suppose there are a greater variety of prayers amongst these people than with those of any other religion. Very few, if any, of the devout men, in the early ages of their religion, have omitted to leave behind them some testimony of their regard for posterity in the form of ’prayers’, dictating the words most likely to lead the heart of the creature to the worship of the Creator; and also directions how to pray for any particular object they may desire to accomplish by the aid of God, in whom they are instructed and believe the fulness of power, as of glory, ever was, is, and will be to all eternity.

If the Mussulmaun suffers by persecution, by sickness, by loss of property, or any other distress of mind or body, he applies himself to the particular prayer of a favourite Emaum, or holy scribe, suited to his exact case. I cannot do better here than copy the translation my husband has made of the leading causes for the use of that prayer called ’Daaood’s[16] (David’s) Mother’s Prayer’, in which I have known so many people to be engaged, when under difficulties, at the appointed period, viz. the fifteenth day of the month Rujub. The prayer itself occupies about sixteen closely written pages, and the person intending to make use of it, is expected to bathe and fast, as commanded by Mahumud, who instructed his followers in this prayer, which was then called ’The Opening of Difficulties’,[17] afterwards, and to the present day ’David’s Mother’s Prayer’, by reason of a miraculous occurrence which followed her having fulfilled the task of fasting, preparation, and the prayer alluded to.

’A very poor woman had been engaged in the family of the Emaum Jaffur Saadick,[18] as wet-nurse to his son; she was much respected in the family, who wished to have retained her with them, when the child was weaned; but she would return to her own village, where her son was living, at some distance from the city of Koofah.

’Her son, named Daaood, grew up under her maternal care, and proved the great comfort and solace of her life, by his dutiful and affectionate bearing towards her. At that period the reigning King of Arabia was a most cruel man, and an idolater; he persecuted all the professors of the “True Faith” whenever they came within his reach, with the most barbarous brutality.

’One day, at an early hour, Daaood’s mother presented herself at the house of the Emaum, in great distress of mind, and related the heavy affliction which had befallen her, in the loss of her dearly loved son (then a fine youth), who had been decoyed by the wicked emissaries of the King, for the purpose, it was feared, of immolation–as it was known to be his custom, when, laying the foundation of a building, to deposit living victims of the Mussulmaun faith beneath it. The poor woman had no hope her eyes would ever again be blessed with the sight of her fondly-loved son, and still more agonizing were her fears, that his protracted sufferings would be of the same terrible description with numbers of the faithful who had fallen into the hands of that wretched heathen King.

’Her friends in the Emaum’s family grieved over the sad affliction with which their favourite had been visited. The Emaum strove to comfort her, and proposed that she should perform the prayer in which Mahumud had instructed his followers for “The Opening of Difficulties”. “Alas!" replied the woman, “poor ignorant that I am, how shall I repeat that prayer; I cannot read: knowest thou not, my Emaum, that I am not acquainted with letters?” “But I will teach you the prayer,” answered the Emaum; “you shall repeat it after me, and by diligence you will acquire it perfectly by that day, on which our Prophet commanded his followers to perform the fast and offer this prayer, that God might be pleased to remove their calamities.”

’The poor woman obeyed all the injunctions and advice of the Emaum Jaffur Saadick punctually; acquired, by her diligence, the words of the prayer; strictly observed the preparation by fast; and, on the fifteenth “day of Rujub”, the prayer was duly performed, with sincere devotion and perfect faith in God’s power, and His infinite mercy.

’In the mean time, it appears, the King having been much troubled in a dream, he was warned to release his prisoner from captivity without delay, at the peril of destruction to himself and all he possessed. The warning dream presented him with a view of the gulf to which he was condemned, if he delayed the release of Daaood from his confinement. The person of the youth was so clearly represented to the King in his dream, that there could be no possible mistake in the particular captive to be freed, out of the many he held in bondage. The King awakening from his troubled sleep, demanded of his attendants where the young man was confined; and learning from the chief officer of his court that Daaood was sent to a distant place, to be the offering buried under the foundation of a house, erecting by his command: the swiftest camels were ordered immediately, to convey messengers with two bags of gold, and the King’s mandate, peremptorily ordering the release of the youth, if happily he yet existed; and if the building was proceeding with, the superintendent was cautioned to pull it down with the utmost care and dispatch, so that nothing should be omitted which could be done to preserve that life now so dear to the hopes of the King.

’The messengers reached the place on the third day after Daaood had been immured in the foundation of the building. Small, indeed, were the hopes that the King’s desires would be gratified. The builder, however, more humane than his employer, had so raised the work round the person of Daaood, as to leave him unhurt by its pressure, and having left a small aperture for air, his life was preserved;–the masonry being removed promptly, and with caution, the youth was discovered not only alive, but even uninjured by the confinement. The courier mounted the boy on the camel, with the present of gold contained in two bags, and conveyed Daaood, without loss of time, to his mother’s abode.

’All the particulars having undergone due investigation, it was clearly proved that it was on that very day when the poor woman was occupied in her fast and prayer, that her son Daaood was released from the foundation of the King’s house and restored to his home. From this time forward the prayer of “Opening Difficulties” was denominated “Or of Daaood’s Mother”.’

Turning over my collection of curiosities for the story of Daaood’s Mother, which the Meer translated for me many years since, I met with an ancient anecdote which. I received from the same dear revered friend I must often quote as my author when I am detailing the particulars of things which I have heard and not seen,–Meer Hadjee Shaah,–who tells me he has found the following anecdote in the ’Commentary on The History of Moses’.–It is translated by my husband.

’When Huzerut[19] Moosa (Moses), “to whose spirit be peace!” was on earth, there lived near him a poor yet remarkably religious man, who had for many years supported himself and his wife by the daily occupation of cutting wood for his richer neighbours; four small copper coins (equivalent to our halfpence) proved the reward of his toil, which at best afforded the poor couple but a scanty meal after his day’s exertions.

’The prophet Moosa passed the Woodcutter one morning, who accosted him with “O Moosa! Prophet of the Most High; behold I labour each day for my coarse and scanty meal; may it please thee, O Huzerut! to make a petition for me to our gracious God, that He may in His mercy grant me at once the whole supply for my remaining years, so that I shall enjoy one day of earthly happiness, and then, with my wife, be transferred to the place of eternal rest”. Moosa promised and made the required petition; his prayer was answered from Mount Tor, thus:–

’"This man’s life is long, O Moses! nevertheless, if he be willing to surrender life when his supply is exhausted, tell him thy prayer is heard, the petition accepted, and the whole amount shall be found beneath his jhaawn namaaz[20] (prayer-carpet) after his early prayers.”

’The Woodcutter was satisfied when Moosa told him the result of his petition, and when the first duties of the morning were concluded, he failed not in looking for the promised remittance, where, to his surprise, he found a heap of silver coins. Calling his wife, the Woodcutter told her what he had required of the Lord through his Holy Prophet Moosa; pointing to the result, they both agreed it was very good to enjoy a short life of happiness on earth and depart in peace; although they could not help again and again recurring to the number of years on earth they had thus sacrificed. “We will make as many hearts rejoice as this the Lord’s gift will admit,” they both agreed, “and thus we shall secure in our future state the blessed abode promised to those who fulfil the commands of God in this, since to-morrow our term of life must close.”

’The day was spent in providing and preparing provisions for the meal. The whole sum was expended on the best sorts of food, and the poor made acquainted with the rich treat the Woodcutter and his wife were cooking for their benefit. The food was cooked for the indigent, and allotments made to each hungry applicant, reserving for themselves one good substantial meal, to be eaten only when the poor were all served and satisfied. It happened at the very moment they were seated to enjoy this their last meal, as they believed, a voice was heard, “O friend! I have heard of your feast,–I am late, yet may it be that you have a little to spare, for I am hungry to my very heart. The blessing of God be on him who relieves my present sufferings from hunger!” The Woodcutter and his wife agreed that it would be much, better for them to go to heaven with half a bellyful, than leave one fellow-creature on earth famishing for a meal; they, therefore, determined on sharing their own portion with him who had none, and he went away from them rejoicing. “Now,” said the happy pair, “we shall eat our half-share with unmixed delight, and with thankful hearts. By to-morrow eve we shall be transferred to paradise.”

’They had scarcely raised the savoury food to their opening mouths, when a voice of melancholy bewailing arrested their attention, and stayed the hands already charged with food;–a poor wretched creature, who had not tasted food for two whole days, moaned his piteous tale in accents that drew tears from the Woodcutter and his wife–their eyes met and the sympathy was mutual; they were more willing to depart for heaven without the promised benefit of one earthly enjoyment, than suffer the hungry creature to die from want of that meal they had before them. The dish was promptly tendered to the bewailing subject, and the Woodcutter and his wife consoled each other by thinking that, as their time of departure was now so near at hand, the temporary enjoyment of a meal was not worth one moment’s consideration. “To-morrow we die, then of what consequence to us whether we depart with full or empty stomachs!” And now their thoughts were set on the place of eternal rest. They slept, and arose to their morning orisons with hearts resting humbly on their God, in the fullest expectation that this was their last day on earth: the prayer was concluded, and the Woodcutter in the act of rolling up his carpet, on which he had bowed with gratitude, reverence, and love to his Creator, when he perceived a fresh heap of silver on the floor;–he could scarcely believe it was not a dream. “How wonderful art Thou, O God!” cried the poor Woodcutter; “this is Thy bounteous gift that I may indeed enjoy one day before I quit this earth.” And when Moosa came to him, he (Moosa) was satisfied with the goodness and power of God; but he retired again to the Mount to inquire of God the cause of the Woodcutter’s respite. The reply given to Moosa was, “That man has faithfully applied the wealth given in answer to his petition. He is worthy to live out his numbered years on earth, who, receiving My bounty, thought not of his own enjoyments whilst his fellow men had wants he could supply.” And to the end of the Woodcutter’s long life, God’s bounty lessened not in substance; neither did the pious man relax in his charitable duties of sharing with the indigent all that he had, and with the same disregard to his own enjoyments.’

I have but little to add, as regards the manner of worship amongst my Mussulmaun acquaintance; but here I cannot omit remarking, that the women are devout in their prayers and strict in their observance of ordinances. That they are not more generally educated is much to be regretted; this, however, is their misfortune, not their fault. The Mussulmaun faith does not exclude the females from a participation in the Eternal world,[21]–as has so often been assorted by people who could not have known them,–and the good Mussulmaun proves it by his instruction of the females under his control in the doctrines of Mahumud, and who he believes to be as much dependent on him for guidance on the road to heaven, as for personal protection from want or worldly dangers.

The pure life of Fatima, Mahumud’s only daughter, is greatly esteemed as an example of female excellence, whom they strive to imitate as much as possible, as well in religious as in moral or domestic duties. They are zealous to fulfil all the ordinances of their particular faith,–and I have had the best possible opportunity of studying their character,–devotion to God being the foundation on which every principal action of their lives seems to rest.

In my delineation of character, whether male or female, I must not be supposed to mean the whole mass of the Mussulmaun population. There are good and bad of every class or profession of people; it has been my good fortune to be an inmate with the pious of that faith, and from their practice I have been aided in acquiring a knowledge of what constitutes a true disciple of Mahumud.

[1] The writer mixes up the Persian and Arabic names of the hours of
    prayer. The proper names, according to this list, are: i,
    Namaz-i-Subh, from dawn to sunrise; ii, Salatu’l-Zuhr, when the
    sun has begun to decline; iii, Salatu’l ’Asr, midway between
    Nos. ii and iv; iv, Sala tu’l-Maghrib, a few minutes after sunset;
    v, Salatu’l ’Isha, when night has closed in.

[2] Namaz-i-Tahajjid, the prayer after midnight.

[3] Wazifah, ’a daily ration of food’, a term used for the daily
    lesson or portion of the Koran read by devout Musalmans. The
    Koran is divided into thirty lessons (siparah) for use
    during the month Ramazan.

[4] Special readers (muqri) of the Koran are needed, owing to
    the want of vowels in the Arabic character (Sale, Preliminary
    Discourse, 47). Readers are often employed to recite the Koran
    over a corpse on the way to Karbala.

[5] Known as Khadim.

[6] Allahu akbar ... Muhammadan rasulu’llah. In English the
    entire call runs: ’Allah is most great (four times), I testify that
    there is no God but Allah (twice), I testify that Muhammad is the
    Apostle of Allah (twice), Come to prayer (twice), Come to salvation
    (twice), Allah is most great (twice), There is no God but Allah!’

[7] Known as Ja’e-namaz, ’place of prayer’.

[8] See p. 27.

[9] The Salatu’l-Juma’, the Friday prayer, is obligatory. Friday was
    appointed a Sabbath to distinguish Musalmans from Jews and

[10] Darzi.

[11] Dhobi.

[12] See p. 74.

[13] The correct titles are as follows: Adam, Safiyu’llah, ’The
    Chosen One of God’; Noah, Nabiyu’llah, ’The Prophet of God’;
    Abraham, Khalilu’llah, ’The Friend of God’; Moses,
    Kalimu’llah, ’He that spoke with God’; Jesus, Ruhu’llah,
    ’A Spirit from God’; Muhammad, Rasulu ’Illah, ’The Prophet of

[14] Salam-’alai-kum. [15] Injil, [Greek: e’uaggélion], the Gospel, as opposed to taurat, the Pentateuch.

[16] Daud.

[17] The Fatiha, or opening chapter of the Koran, used like the Pator-noster.

[18] Ja’afar as-Sadiq.

[19] Hazrat, ’Reverend’, or ’Superior’.

[20] Ja’e-namaz, known also as sajjadah, or musalla.

[21] The assertion that the Koran teaches that women have no souls is
    incorrect. See the texts collected by Hughes, Dictionary of Islam,
    pp. 677 ff.


Introductory Notes  •  Preface to the Second Edition  •  Introduction  •  Introductory Letter  •  Letter I  •  Letter II  •  Letter III  •  Letter IV  •  Letter V  •  Letter VI  •  Letter VII  •  Letter VIII  •  Letter IX  •  Letter X  •  Letter XI  •  Letter XII  •  Letter XIII  •  Letter XIV  •  Letter XV  •  Letter XVI  •  Letter XVII  •  Letter XVIII  •  Letter XIX  •  Letter XX  •  Letter XXI  •  Letter XXII  •  Letter XXIII  •  Letter XXIV  •  Letter XXV  •  Letter XXVI  •  Letter XXVII  •  Bibliography of Works

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