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NIAHOMMEDAN RELIGION

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Originally appearing in Volume V17, Page 414 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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NIAHOMMEDAN RELIGION. The law and usage of religious foundations in perpetuity (waqf, mortmain) became as important in Islam as monastic endowments in medieval Europe, and such foundations tended similarly to absorb the greater part of the national wealth. It was the only safe way of providing for posterity. A pious foundation could be erected in such a way that either so much from its funds would be paid yearly in perpetuity to the descendants of the erector, or those descendants would be employed as officials of the foundation. When it became impossible for the caliph to lead the people personally in prayer in the mosque, he delegated that part of his The Imam. duties to another, hence called imam (q.v.). Naturally, then, the appointment of the imam would lie with the supreme ruler. This holds of the daily prayers in the principal mosque (al-masjid al jami') supported by the ruler where the Friday service is held, but in the separate smaller mosques built by each community the community chooses its own imam. With regard to the Friday service, the schools of law disagree as to the necessity of the presence of an imam appointed by the chief ruler. But the imam should certainly make mention of the ruler in his sermon and pray for him. At the occasional prayers, such as those for rain, &c., the presence of an imam appointed by the ruler is not necessary. The imam appoints the muaddhin, the announcer of the hour of prayer from the minaret, and both have a claim on the state treasury. Another office exercised when possible by the caliph, but very frequently delegated to some high dignitary, such as the heir to the caliphate or a prince, was the leadership of the pilgrimage caravan to Mecca and back. Sometimes this official, called amir-al-hajj, was appointed imam as well. He then led all the pilgrimage ceremonies at Mecca. When outside of towns where there was a cadi he exercised also over the caravan the rights of a judge. Mahommedan law (q.v.) is treated eparately. Here, again, as judging is a duty of the caliph, a cadi is the delegate, or, when ap-The Gadl. pointed by a vizier or governor, a delegate of his delegate. He examines into disputes brought before him and enforces his judgments, he names administrators of the estates of minors, the insane, &c.; he supervises the waqf property of mosques and schools in his district and inspects highways and public buildings; he watches over the execution of wills; he inflicts the due legal penalties for apostasy, neglect of religious duties, refusal to pay taxes, theft, adultery, outrages, murder; he can inflict the penalties of imprisonment, fine, corporal punishment, death; if there is no imam, he can perform his duty, as in fact can anyone who has the requisite knowledge. But it should be noticed that all this holds only of the un-europeanized Moslem state. For the existence of an army in Islam, there are two grounds, the holy war (jihad, q.v.) against unbelievers without the state The Army, and the suppression of rebellion within. Under the ordinance of Omar the entire community was pre- served and used as a weapon for the subduing of the world to Islam, and every able-bodied male Moslem was theoretically a fighting man, part of the national militia. This army was divided into corps situated in the conquered lands, as armies of occupation, where they eventually came to form military colonies in great camp-cities. The occupied countries had to support them, and they were bound to render military service at any time. But as the ideal of Omar broke down before facts the use of mercenary and slave troops finally increased; although there has always continued in Moslem armies acting against unbelievers a proportion of volunteers not paid a fixed wage but subsidized by the state from the poor-rate and alms funds. The generals were appointed by the caliph, and had either unlimited authority to act as his representatives, concluding peace, acting as cadi and imam, distributing booty; or were restricted within limits, e.g. to simple leading of the troops and carrying on military operations. They, in turn, appointed their subordinates; this principle of giving a head full powers and full responsibility was very generally applied in Islam. It was controlled of course by the espionage of the postal system. As war by a Moslem power is essentially sacred war, the regulations of jihad must be considered here. Unbelievers must first be invited to embrace Islam and, if they follow a sacred book and are not idol-worshippers, are given a choice between (a) becoming Moslems; or (b) submitting to the Moslems and entering on a treaty with them of protection and tribute; or (c) fighting. If they accept Islam, their lives, families and property are secure, and they form henceforth part of the Moslem community. The ability of Islam to create a common feeling between highly different races is one of its most striking features. If they submit and enter on treaty relations, they pay a poll-tax, for which their personal safety is assured, and assume a definitely inferior status, having no technical citizenship in the state, only the condition of protected clients (dhimmis). If they elect to fight, the door of repentance is open, even when the armies are face to face. But after defeat their lives are forfeit, their families are liable to slavery, and all their goods to seizure. It is open to the sovereign either to put them to death; or to enslave them; or to give them their liberty; or to exchange them for ransom or against Moslem prisoners. The sovereign will choose that which is best for Islam. As for their families and wealth, the sovereign can release them only with consent of the army that has captured them. Apostates must be put to death. Four-fifths of the booty after a battle goes to the conquering army. The technical art of war seems to have been little studied among Moslems; they have treatises on archery but very little upon tactics. Their writers recognize, however, the essential difference between the European and Persian methods of charging in solid lines and holding the ground stubbornly, and the Arab and Berber method of flying attacks and retreats by clouds of cavalry. Therefore, one explained, the custom grew of using a mass of European mercenaries as a fixed nucleus and rallying-point. The early Moslem armies, too, had used the solid, unyielding charge, which may have been the secret of their success. For one of the greatest puzzles of history is the cause which changed the erratic, untrustworthy swarms of Arab horsemen with their childish strategy into the ever-victorious legions of the first caliphs. They certainly learned rapidly. Byzantium and Persia taught them the use of military engines and the entrenched camp. Before that they had been, at the best, single knights with mail-shirt, helmet, sword and lance. Bowmen, too, they used, but the principal use of the bow seems to have come with the Turks. The glory of Moslem education was its university system, which fed the higher learning and did not serve every-day needs. Its primary system was very poor, almost non-existent'-; 6ducadon. and technical education has never been recognized in Islam. Primary teachers were despised as ignorant and foolish. Apparently, if we may trust the many stories of how ignorant men set up for themselves, there was no control of them by the state. Their pupils were young only; they taught the rudiments of reading, Koran, catechism, prayer, writing and arithmetic, but very little of the latter. Technical education was given by the gilds through their apprentice system, teaching mechanical arts and crafts. This was genuine instruction, but was not so regarded; it was looked upon rather as are the mysteries and secrets of operative masonry. It produced artisans of independent character, but not artists. Thus there was no distinction between architect and builder; there was no sculpture; and painting, so far as it went, was like carving, a craft. All Moslem university education, like all Moslem science, revolved round theology. There were, apparently, only two With the death of Mahomet began the development and codification of Moslem law. It was at first entirely practical. Cases had to be decided, and to decide them there was, first, the Koran; secondly, if nothing ad rem was found in the Koran, there were the decisions of the Prophet; thirdly, if these failed, there was the common law of Medina; and, fourthly, if it, in turn, failed, the common sense of the judge, or equity. A knowledge of the decisions of Mahomet came thus to be of great importance, and records of such decisions were eagerly sought and preserved. But this was simply a part of a much wider movement and tendency. As among primitive peoples in general, custom and usage have always been potent among the Arabs. The ways of the fathers, the old paths, they love to tread. Very early there arose a special reverence for the path and usage (sunna) of Mahomet. Whatever he did or said, or left unsaid or undone, and how he did it, has become of the first importance to the pious Moslem, who would act in every way as did the Prophet. There is evidence that for this purpose the immediate companions of Mahomet took notes, either in memory or in writing, of his table talk and wise sayings, just as they took down or learned by heart for their private use the separate fragments of the Koran. His sayings and doings, manners and customs, his answers to questions on religious life and faith, above all his decisions in legal disputes, came to be recorded on odd sheets in private notebooks. This was the beginning of the enormous literature of traditions (hadith) in Islam. The collecting and preserving of these, which was at first private, for personal guidance and edification, finally became one of the most powerful weapons of political and theological propaganda, and coloured the whole method and fabric of Moslem thought. All knowledge tended to be expressed in that form, and each element of it to be traced back to, and given in the words of, some master or other through a chain of transmitters. Above all there grew up an enormous mass of evidently forged sayings put into the mouth of Mahomet. At every important political or theological crisis each party would invent and put into circulation a tradition from him, supporting its view. By a study of these flatly opposed " sayings " it is possible to reconstruct the different controversies of Islam in the past, and to discover what each party regarded as the essence of its position. The first collecting of traditions was for private purposes, and the first publication dealing with them was legal. This was the Muwatla' of Malik ibn Anas (d. 795), a corpus juris based partly on traditions, and a protest in its methods against the too speculative character of the books of canon law which preceded it. Thereafter came collections of two different types. The earlier kind was arranged according to the companions of Mahomet, on whose authority the traditions were transmitted; after each companion came the traditions going back to him. The best known example of this kind is the Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal. The other kind, called Mu.Fannaf (classified), contains traditions arranged in chapters according to their subject matter. That of Bukhari is the most famous, and is arranged to give a traditional basis for a complete system of canon law; its rubrics are those of such a system. Another is that of Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, who paid less atteption to legal aspects and more to minute accuracy. There are many others of more or less acceptance and canonicity. Bukhari's book enjoys a reverence only second to that of the Koran. But in all these publications the primary object was to purify the mass of traditions of forged accretions and to give to the believer a sound basis for his knowledge of the usages of the Prophet, whether for his personal or for public use. These two kinds were a natural development. In the Moslem community there were from the first students of tradition proper whose interest lay in collecting, testing and transmitting, not in combining, systematizing and elucidating; whose preference was to take a single statement from the Prophet and apply it to a case, without reasonings or questionings. And there were students of canon law who were interested rather in the system and results, and who, while they used traditions, used them only to an end and insisted on the free application of speculative principles. The conflict of the future was to be between these traditionalists, on the one hand, and rationalists, on the other; and the result was to be a compromise. With the wide sweep of Moslem conquest another element came into the development. This was Roman law, which the Moslem jurist found at work in the conquered Roman provinces and in the law courts of which they went to school. It is to be remembered that the Arab armies were not devastating hordes; they recognized the need of law and order wherever outstanding exceptions to this rule, the academy of Mamun (813–833) at Bagdad, and the hall of wisdom of the Fatimites at Cairo (1004—1171) ; both of these are explained by their environment. From the earliest times, independent scholars instructed classes in mosques—the common places of meeting _for the community—and gave their pupils personal certificates. Their subjects were the reading and interpretation of the Koran; the body of traditions from the Prophet; the thence deduced system of theology; the canon law. But the interpretation of the Koran involved grammatical and lexicographical studies of early Arabic, and hence of the early Arabic literature. Theology came to involve meta-physical and logical studies. Canon law required arithmetic and mensuration, practical astronomy, &c. But these last were strictly ancillary; the object of the instruction was primarily to give know-ledge of value for the life of the next world, and, secondarily, to turn out theologians and lawyers. Medicine was in Jewish and Christian hands; engineering, architecture, &c., with their mathematical bases, were crafts. Then this instruction was gradually subsidized and organized by the state, or endowed by individuals. How early this took place is uncertain. But the individual teacher, with his certificate, remained the object of the student; there was nothing corresponding to our general degrees. Thirdly, educational institutions came to be equipped with scholarships of money or in kind for the students, The first instance of this is generally ascribed to Nishapur (Naisabur) in 1066; but it soon became general in the system and afforded a means of control and centralization. A final, and most important, characteristic was the wide journeying of the students " in search of knowledge." Aided by Arabic as the universal language of learning, students journeyed from teacher to teacher, and from Samarkand to the Atlantic, gathering on their way hundreds of personal certificates. Scholars were thus kept in touch all over the Moslem world, and intellectual unity was maintained. To the democratic equality of Islam, in which the slave of to-day may be the prime minister of to-morrow, there is one outstanding exception. The descendants of the The Prophet and of his relatives (the family of Hashim) Sayyids. formed and form a special class, held in social reverence, and guarded from contamination and injury. These are the sayyids (lords), and genealogical registers of them are carefully preserved. They are of all degrees of wealth and poverty, but are guarded legally from mesalliances with persons of ignoble origin or equivocal occupation. Their influence is very great, and in some parts of the Moslem world they have the standing and reverence of saints, See Von Kremer, Culturgeschichte des Orients, based largely on Mawardi's Ahkam, trans. in part by Ostrorog; McG. de Slane's trans. of Ibn Khaldun, Prolegomenes; Lane, Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians; R. F. Burton, Pilgrimage to Mekka; Snouck Hurgronje, Mekka; Hughes, Dictionary of Islam-; Juynboll, De Mohammedaansche Wet; Macdonald, Development of Muslim Theology, &c. For women in Islam, see HAREM. (D. B. MA.)
End of Article: NIAHOMMEDAN RELIGION
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