It’s like the ‘Night of the Living Dead‘! Or ‘Groundhog’s Day‘!! The 600-page Fatwa that won’t go away!!! First launched back in January, relaunched earlier this month, and then once again a couple of days ago. In honor of this holy occasion, I am taking upon myself to relaunch an old, old story. The published account I have is about 80 years old and I am sure the story is much, much older. I had heard a version of it a few years ago but finding it in written form has been a godsend. So here it is. Enjoy!
[Starting p. 308 of the book The Darvishes or Oriental Spiritualism, by John P. Brown; Edited by H. A. rose, 1927]
The Story Of The Ass’s Grave
A humorous story has been told me regarding a Shaikh near one of the larger cities of Asia Minor, who for many years had watched over the tomb of a deceased Darvish saint, attended by a youth, or murid, to whom he was supposed to impart his spiritual knowledge. The Shaikh possessed an extensive reputation for piety, and even spiritual power and influence, and was consequently much frequented by the peasantry, and even the neighbouring gentry especially the female part of the community.
The turba over the grave was a conspicuous object, and contained two or three small rooms, in which lodged the Shaikh and his disciple, and served as a dormitory for any wandering Darvish who, on his way to and from places of pilgrimage in various parts of Asia Minor, might claim his hospitality. A lamp hung suspended at the head of the grave, and this was always kept burning at night, and even on certain days — such as, for instance, that of the birth of the deceased — and on Fridays, when visitors were most apt to frequent the Shaikh for the purpose of presenting various gifts, of imploring his prayers and blessings, and of offering prayers over the sainted remains. The windows of the little mausoleum were literally covered with bits of rags tied there by the many persons who made vows or nazrs to the saint; and the reverence shown for both the living and the dead saint, brought quite a revenue to the former and his humble murid or disciple. The Shaikh for many years had possessed a comely ass, on which he was wont to make visits to his friends in the vicinity, and a small amount of the veneration bestowed on its master was even vouchsafed to his humble animal. As to the murid, he became well versed in the routine of the affairs of the turba, and was supposed to exercise considerable influence with his principal. He wore the cap of the tariq, or Order of the Shaikh, though the rest of his costume was rather the worse for long years of wear ; but this by no means affected his reputation — indeed, on the contrary, poverty is so well known an attribute of the ‘poor Darvish ‘, and gives so much interest to his career, that it forms the chief capital of the fraternity, and enables them to wander over the world free from all fear of robbery, or of a want of daily subsistence. It formed the ‘pride’ of the blessed Prophet, and therefore might readily do as much for a humble Darvish, who, though generally sadly deficient in cash, never had occasion to complain of the want of food, as this flowed into the turba in abundance; especially on Fridays, through the benevolence and piety of the visitors. As to the Shaikh himself, he wore the full costume of his Order, and even added the green turban which designates descent from the family of the Prophet, through his only child and daughter Fatima, the wife of ‘All, the nephew as well as son-in-law of the Prophet, and who finally succeeded him as the fourth of the direct Caliphs of Islamism. This turban constituted him a Saiyid — amir or a sharif — of the family of Muhammad, and tended to add greatly to his claims to popular veneration. Whether he possessed the necessary sanad, or silsilanama (genealogical register), to support his assumed descent from so honoured a source might have been questioned ; but no one cared or perhaps dared to entertain, much less put in doubt, such a matter with regard to the honoured Shaikh who passed his days, and even much of his nights, in prayers over the sainted tomb of the Darvish, whose name and good character were fully described in the epitaph at its head.
The disciple, whose name was ‘Ali, had never been much remarked for any superior intelligence : but for piety, and acquaintance with the duties of his position, no fault could possibly be found with him. He had gradually assumed the sedate and calm exterior of a pious Darvish, and always possessed a dignity of demeanour which was quite impressive on the minds of the visitors of the turba. It was predicted that some day he would be sure to figure as an eminent Shaikh, and destiny seemed to press him strongly in thet direction already. Quite as little was known of his origin and parentage as of those of the Shaikh, his superior ; but these are of little use to a Darvish, who, it is well understood, has no claims to celebrity other than those acquired by his own spiritual powers and personal reputation. The Shaikh was his immediate spiritual director, or murshid, and all the knowledge which he possessed was due to the oral instruction received from him. From him he had taken the bai’at, or initiation ; he had spent long nights in prayer and meditation, and the visions of the latter had been duly reported to and interpreted by him, much to his own satisfaction and encouragement. The time had therefore fully arrived when, according to the rules of the Order, he must set out on his travels, for the purpose of performing pilgrimages to various holy tombs situated throughout Islam lands, or to extend his wanderings as far even as that of the blessed Prophet and the Ka’ba, or the shrines at Karbala, where are interred the remains of the grandsons of the Prophet, Hasan and Husain, and others of the victims of the cruel usurpers of the Caliphate, after the death of the fourth Caliph, ‘Ali.
One Friday evening, after the visitors had all departed, and the Shaikh and his pupil remained quite alone in the turba, the former renewed a topic which had already been slightly touched upon on some previous occasions, viz. of the necessity which existed for the latter setting out upon his travels. This time a decision was come to, and it was mutually agreed upon that on the following Sunday the young neophyte should take his departure. “I have instructed you with much care, my son,” said the Shaikh, “and taught you all that it is necessary for you to know, and your further continuance here is not only of no use to you, but even detrimental to your career. As you well know, I possess but little of the world’s goods, but of what I have you shall receive a bountiful share. You have now grown up to manhood, and will be able to make your way in the world, and by your pious appeals to the benevolent and the wealthy, not fail to receive all the assistance of which you may stand in need. On the morning aforenamed I will be prepared to equip you for your long and tedious journey, and to bestow upon you my blessing.” So much goodness deeply impressed the heart and mind of young ‘Ali, and so overcame him, that, in place of any answer, he devoutly pressed his Shaikh’s hand to his lips, and retired to meditate upon his future prospects, and cultivate whatever spiritual visions might be sent him by the pir of the Order, or even by the blessed Prophet himself.
Early on Sunday morning ‘Ali arose, and awaited the conclusion of the Shaikh’s slumbers. The latter was not long behind him, and after the usual salutations and morning prayers, he gave his pupil some excellent advice, and then quite overcame him by the declaration that he had decided to offer him an evidence of the great friendship which he had always entertained for him, by the gift of his own long-treasured companion the ass, on which he had rode for so many years, with its pack-saddle, one of his own khirqas, or mantles, and a wallet of provisions sufficient for some days’ use. Besides these, he presented him with a keshgul, or alms-cup, a mu’in, (1) or arm-rest, made of iron, in which was concealed a goodly dagger with which to defend himself against wild animals or in any other danger — for it was not to be supposed that it could possibly ever be used as a means of offence in the hands of a pious Darvish like himself, travelling over the world only for the most peaceful and honest motives — and a tiger’s skin to throw over his shoulders, as some protection against the heat of the sun and the colds of winter. But the most precious of all his gifts was a nuskha or hama’il (2) (amulet), which the Shaikh had long worn suspended to his own neck in a small metal cylinder, which seemed to be of some precious metal, much resembling silver, greatly admired and revered by the visitors of the turba, in which so many of his days had been spent. As to the ass, it had peculiar claims to his consideration on account of its age and truly venerable appearance. They had long served together, and often suffered, especially during the winter season, from the same cause, viz. a want of food ; and even now its lean condition seemed to indicate that pasture was scarce, and a more nourishing diet decidedly on the decline. Whether this was the case, or rather that its teeth were imperfect, cannot be now stated with any degree of accuracy; but there was one thing quite apparent to ‘Ali, and which he now remembered with reflections to which the coming future gave rise, that he and the ass were nearly about the same age, and therefore could readily sympathise with each other in whatever lot their lives might hereafter be cast during their united pilgrimage.
The ass was soon got ready for the journey, and its load now consisted only of the wallet, the keshgul, and the mantle, for ‘Ali decided to start on his wanderings on foot, like any ordinary Darvish, and so not accustom himself, at the outset, to the luxury of a conveyance. The Shaikh took a deep interest in all his preparations, and when these had been got ready for the departure, he accompanied his pupil some half a mile or so from the turba, and then, coming to a standstill, took his hand in his own and devoutly blessed him, reciting the fatiha, or first chapter of the Quran, with a tone of peculiar benevolence. Then, bidding him farewell, he slowly returned to the turba, and ‘Ali bent his way, not to the town, but across the neighbouring valley, and towards the distant mountain range which bordered the horizon.
For some days ‘Ali journeyed onwards over the public route, without much regard to its possible termination, and with a very vague idea of the direction which he was taking. His provisions were becoming low, and his companion’s strength was failing from the want of a better nourishment than that offered by the way-side. His nights had been spent in true Darvish style, under the cover of a hospitable tree, or beside a bountiful spring of water, and few had been the alms which he, thus far, had received from passers-by. Hunger, however, had not as yet rendered it necessary for him to appeal to the benevolent for assistance ; and as he was naturally of a timid disposition, he rather had avoided than sought companionship on his way. Indeed, it is so usual to meet with wandering Darvishes in the great routes of Asia Minor, that his appearance attracted no particular notice. But one day, towards nightfall, ‘Ali was much fatigued by the exertions which he had been compelled to make to induce his companion to proceed : and, indeed, the ass had several times actually lain down by the way-side from sheer exhaustion. The day had been extremely warm, and little shelter or pasture had been found for their relief. Finally, age and its infirmities overcame the animal, and falling down, it seemed to fail rapidly. A few minutes of heavy breathing, then a quivering of all its limbs, a gurgling in its throat, and a reversion of its eyeballs, and all was over. ‘Ali was left alone in the world by the side of a dead ass, with no one to sympathise with him in his loss, or from whom to seek consolation in his grief. Overcome by his feelings, he folded his arms across his breast, and gave vent to his sorrow in a copious flood of tears. The vast plain in the midst of which he stood now appeared to him peculiarly desolate, and his thoughts reverted to the distant turba in which so many years of his life had glided away, free from care or anxiety. To this he could, however, no more return, and the dead ass served as the last link which connected him with his deserted home and venerated instructor, its pious Shaikh. It might be said that this was the first time he had ever experienced real grief, and his lonely condition added to its poignancy.
Whilst the young Darvish was thus situated, he beheld on the distant horizon a small cloud of dust rise, which indicated the approach of visitors, and gave to him the reflection that, lest he should be held responsible for the decease of his late companion, he would do well to drag him away from the public road ; and, as well as he was able, under the circumstances, to conceal his remains beneath its sandy soil. It did not take him long to put this plan into effect, and so, in a short space of time, he had succeeded in digging a hole sufficiently deep to contain the thin body of the deceased animal. When this was done he sat down by the side of the newly made grave, and indulged in a fresh flow of tears.
In the meantime, the small cloud of dust which ‘Ali had seen in the distance, and which had excited his apprehensions, gradually increased, and speedily approached him. Seated by the grave of his late companion, the ass, his mind became filled with reflections of a desolate and alarming nature ; friendless and alone in the wide and desert world that surrounded him, he watched the arrival of the coming interruption to his grief with no ordinary interest. Although not very near to the road, he was not so distant as to be able to hope to escape the notice of those who were approaching, and a vague feeling of danger greatly agitated him. He began to regret that he had buried the ass from view, and half determined to disinter it, so that there could be no misapprehension as to the truth that the deceased was only an ass, dead from sheer age and exhaustion, and not a human being, whose death might be attributed to violence. In case of suspicion, thought he, they can readily remove the thin cover of earth which conceals its remains, and so verify the fact of my assertion of innocence. With this reflection he had almost recovered his composure, and modified somewhat his grief, when, the dust rising higher and higher in the air, he could distinctly perceive emerge from it quite a numerous cavalcade of Mussulman travellers, none of whom, as yet, seemed conscious of his existence. In advance of the group was one who seemed to be the most prominent of the company ; either from the unpleasantness of the heat and atmosphere, or from fatigue, the party hastily rode on in silence, and he hoped that it would pass him by unnoticed. From, however, an intuitive impulsion of respect, common to all the people of the East in the presence of even possible superiors, as it neared him he rose to his feet, and so, perhaps, attracted the attention of the whole company. Surprised by so sudden an apparition, their faces were all immediately directed towards ‘Ali, some nods were exchanged amongst them, and the leader of the group, having suddenly come to a halt, he turned to one of his, attendants and directed him to ride up and see who the lonely individual was.
Now the party in question was that of a wealthy Bey of the neighbourhood, returning from a distant visit to the governor of the province, attended by a numerous retinue of his own servants, and by several of the principal inhabitants of the little town in which he resided, not many miles off, among the hills, which, in a clearer atmosphere, were visible from the spot on which ‘Ali stood. Though somewhat fatigued by the ride over the dusty plain, and overcome by the heat of the day, now almost spent, the Bey was not insensible to the wants of others, and thought that the individual in question might be some wayfaring traveller in need of assistance. Mussulman hospitality and generosity is never more prominent than on those occasions when it is asked for by silent respect ; and to have passed ‘Ali by unnoticed would have been a strange deviation from this noble characteristic of the Eastern gentleman. The attendant had only to approach ‘Ali to discover, from his Darvish cap, his tiger skin, and the kashgul suspended at his side, that he belonged to one of the fraternities of the Islam Orders. So, turning back to the Bey, he informed him that the stranger was a poor Darvish. On hearing this, the whole company followed its leader to the spot where , ‘Ali stood, trembling with apprehension, and his countenance still showing the grief which he had so recently felt for the loss he had sustained.
After the exchange of the usual Mussulman salutation, the Bey was struck by the circumstance that the poor fellow was standing beside a newly made grave, undoubtedly that of a recently deceased brother Darvish ; and he was struck with the strange fate or providence that had led them to so desolate a spot, the one to die there, and the other to inter his remains, where neither water could be procured for the requisite ablutions of the dead prescribed by Islam holy law, nor an Imam to assist at so touching a ceremony. He made inquiry of ‘Ali as to the time of the decease, and learned that it had even occurred during the present day ; and to the question as to how long they had been companions, ‘All, with much emotion, added that, from his earliest youth, they had almost been inseparable. Deeply touched by so tender an attachment and devotedness between two brothers, the Bey deemed it unnecessary to make any more inquiry as to the history of the deceased. After a few words exchanged between him and one or two of the better-dressed companions of his journey, turning towards ‘All, he stated to him that he regarded the whole circumstance as one of a particularly providential character, intended as a blessing to the whole neighbouring country, which had never possessed, he added, any of the advantages always derived from the protection and spiritual influence of the grave of a holy man; and that one such was greatly needed by the community. We beg you, therefore, he continued, to consent to remain amongst us ; and if you do so, we will, without any loss of time, have a goodly turba constructed over the sainted remains of your deceased brother, which shall remain under your own especial care. Too much affected by the recent occurrence of the day to enter into any explanations of the real facts of the case, or perhaps fearful that an exposition of the truth might be so mortifying to the Bey as to result in an immediate and severe exhibition of arbitrary power upon his own person, for having conferred the honours of burial upon an ass, which are only due to a human being, ‘Ali was unable to utter a word of remark. Perhaps, also, he was not dissatisfied with the favourable turn which had thus, unexpectedly, occurred to his fortunes, and found that silence neither committed him to a falsehood, nor betrayed imprudent truth. He, therefore, said nothing, and only by his countenance and a low salutation, consented to sacrifice any private desire he might entertain for the prolongation of his travels, and pilgrimages to holy tombs, for the spiritual benefit to the pious Mussulmans of the surrounding country. “Remain here, and watch over the remains of your deceased brother,” said the Bey, “and we will have the turba commenced without delay. I will even, to-night, have some provisions and drink sent you from my own family, and you shall, henceforth, be in want of nothing necessary for your comfort.”
With these parting words, the Bey turned his horse again towards his route, followed by all of his company, and gradually receded from sight. In the course of an hour or two he reached his home, and the news of the decease of a pious Darvish on the plain, and of the intention of the Bey to erect a turba over his hallowed remains, soon became known over the little town or village in which he and his companions resided.
As to ‘Ali, he made a frugal meal from the now almost empty wallet bestowed upon him by his venerated Shaikh ; and as the sun was descending behind the hills of the distant horizon, devoutly spread his tiger skin (the hair of which, from long use, was quite worn off) upon the earth, beside the grave of his lamented companion, and performed the namaz appropriate to the fourth period of the day prescribed by the Islam Prophet. Having no water with which to perform the requisite ghusl, or ablutions, he, according to usage, made use of sand for that purpose, and so acquitted himself of his religious duties. These he had been instructed never to omit, and to perform them as strictly in a crowd as in a desert place — in the turba, or by the way-side — and thus leave no room to doubt his piety and strict observance of all the injunctions of the ‘ Path ‘, or Order to which he belonged, and to religion in general. Then placing his kashgul under his head, and his mu’in by his side, as a means of defence in case he should be attacked by any wild animal during the night, his skin serving him for a bed, and his mantle for a cover, he sought relief and calmness in sleep from the sorrows and anxieties of the past day. Some time before midnight he was roused by the sound of a human voice and the noise of an animal’s feet, and, jumping up, he was.addressed by a Mussulman peasant, sent by the Bey, with an abundant supply of food and water for his use. The bearer stayed but a short time, and on delivering the provisions, told ‘Ali that he had also been directed to repeat to him the desire of the Bey, that he should continue to watch by the remains of his deceased brother, over which a turba was to be commenced as soon as possible. Then devoutly kissing ‘Ali’s hand, and pressing it to his forehead, in token of deep respect, he begged his blessing and prayers, and set off for the place from which he came.
On the following day ‘Ali had occasion to review the labours of the previous one, and to place the remains of his late companion considerably deeper in the ground than he had primitively done, and also to raise the earth above them in such a manner as to give to the spot more the appearance of a properly constructed grave. He also threw some water over the fresh earth, either as an oblation or to harden the surface. Whilst thus engaged, he was not surprised to perceive in the distance the approach of visitors, perhaps of travellers, perhaps of workmen, sent for the construction of the turba. With more calmness and composure than on the previous occasion, he quietly watched their approach, which was but slow ; and perceiving that the company was formed of waggons heavily laden, drawn by oxen and buffaloes, and the drivers pointing to himself, he became convinced that he was the object of their visit. Lest he should not have time to perform them, after their arrival, he now spread his skin beside the grave of his lost friend, and was busily engaged in the performance of his namaz when the waggons drew near, and out of respect for his evident piety, the drivers stood at some little distance from him, until their completion. It was readily seen how forcible was the impression which this simple act of piety made upon them, for, after saluting ‘Ali, they each came forward and kissed his hand. A little group was soon formed around the newly made grave, and two pieces of plank were at once erected at its head and foot by one of the workmen. The loads were next discharged, the circumference of the building was laid out, and the construction of the turba at once commenced.
We must now pass over a period of several years. The turba, or mausoleum, had long since been constructed, and ‘Ali been constituted the turbadar, or keeper of the holy tomb of the deceased, whose venerated remains rested peacefully beneath its little dome. The structure seemed to be formed much after the model of the other one, in which he had spent so many days of comfort with his Shaikh ; and if he had really any part in shaping it, there is no doubt ‘but that the resemblance was intentional. In place of two pieces of wood, an equal number made of marble now marked the grave of the deceased. Oh the one at its head was inscribed an epitaph, commencing as usual with “Him, the Creator and the Eternal “, and adding, “This is the tomb of the celebrated qutb, or axis, of eminent piety, the renowned Shaikh ‘Abd-ul-Qadir, of the tariq, or Order, of the Qadiris. Say a fatiha (the opening chapter of the Quran) for his soul.” As if so eminent a Santon could not possibly be equalled in stature by ordinary humanity, the length of the grave was considerably extended, and full ten feet of space showed the size of the great man whose bones were considered so great a blessing to the locality in which they reposed.(3) The tomb was surrounded by a wire network, to keep it from the pollution of impure hands ; and not unfrequently a costly shawl or a rich silk article of apparel was spread over this, to remain there, however, only for some days, and receive for its future wearer the benefit of the spiritual powers of the revered and holy deceased. A lamp hung suspended within the enclosure, which at nightfall was carefully lighted, and a pious lady of the neighbouring town had, just before her decease, appropriated a sum of money as a wakf, or votive offering, from which to support the expense of keeping up this lamp. Other wakfs had also been left for the support of the turba generally, and to ensure the comfort of the pious individual who watched over the tomb. In the windows of the turba could be seen innumerable pieces of cloth and cotton fabrics tied there in evidence of the nazrs, or vows of the visitors who had come to ask spiritual aid from the deceased ; many of them from young Mussulman maidens, who, not being able orally to make known their affection for the objects of their preferences, sought, through the spiritual powers of their renowned Shaikh, to reach their hearts in an indirect manner–an usage unknown to or unpractised by the now Islam world ; or from married ladies, to secure the wavering affections of their husbands — or acquire the cares of maternity — through his intercession. Few persons ever passed by the turba without stopping to offer a prayer at its tomb, and such visits were a source of no little emolument to ‘Ali, who now bore the full title of ‘ ‘Ali the Shaikh ‘. It was not uncommon for persons highly placed in official as well as social position throughout the neighbouring country, to send him a present, and ask his intercession with the deceased saint in their behalf, and for the promotion of their worldly interests. The Shaikh ‘Ali, much to the dissatisfaction and mortification of sundry maidens and wealthy widows of the neighbourhood, had refused to join his lot in life with theirs, and change his solitary position for one more in harmony with their own desires and regard for his welfare. Following the example of the Shaikh by whom he had been educated, he preferred passing his life in a state of celibacy, his only, companion being a comely youth, then of some twelve or fourteen years of age, whom he had found destitute and an orphan, in one of the villages of the vicinity.
Shaikh ‘All’s renown had spread far and wide over the surrounding country. His eminent piety, and the innumerable miraculous occurrences at the turba, all attributed to his prayers and the spiritual powers of the holy Santon over whose tomb he presided, tended greatly to acquire for him and it an enviable celebrity. News of it had reached even as far as the turba in which he had been educated, and created no little surprise in the mind of its Shaikh. He had never heard of the presence nor of the decease of any eminent member of his own fraternity, much less of the existence of so pious a Shaikh as the one must be who presided at his tomb. Curiosity, as well perhaps as jealousy, deeply penetrated his heart, and finally decided him to make a pilgrimage in person to a tomb so renowned for its sanctity. One fine autumn day the now venerable old Shaikh closed his turba and set out on a journey which, at his time of life, was not free from much inconvenience and fatigue. The object in view, however, was so important to his own interests, both temporal and spiritual, that he considered it quite providential, and worthy of his declining days. At least, so he gave out to the usual visitors at his own shrine ; and the painful effort which it required greatly enhanced his own already high reputation. He therefore set out, with the prayers and blessings of all his friends and admirers. Travelling by easy stages, the aged Shaikh finally reached the object of his little pilgrimage, and on Friday noon arrived at the turba by the way-side.
There were many visitors present on the occasion in question. Ladies had come there in such wheeled conveyances as the country furnished ; others rode there on horseback, quite in the same fashion as the men ; not a few bestrode gentle donkeys, especially the more aged and infirm ; and men came, some on horseback, and some even on foot. A few trees, which had grown up under the care of Shaikh ‘Ali and the protection of the holy tomb, afforded these visitors some shade during the heat of the day, and copious draughts were imbibed from a well which had been sunk in close proximity to the tomb, the waters of which had become widely celebrated for their healing qualities. Mingling among the crowd, the old man attracted but little attention, and after the performance of the usual prayers at the holy tomb, he sat down in quiet beside it, his mind filled with pious meditations on the Prophet, the pir of his Order> and the holy deceased in general. As Shaikh ‘Ali passed frequently by him, he had abundant opportunity of seeing his features, now considerably changed by time, and a goodly beard which ornamented his features, and greatly added to the venerableness of his appearance. Although his head was covered by a green turban of considerable dimensions, showing his direct descent from the blessed Prophet, more than once it flashed across the mind and memory of the old man that he had seen him under other circumstances and in some other part of the world. Indeed, he at one moment almost thought that he had some resemblance to his former pupil, but as he had never heard from, or of him, since his departure, he concluded that it was only accidental, and that ‘Ali must have long since joined the list of the deceased. Gradually the visitors departed, and towards nightfall the two eminent Shaikhs remained alone at the turba, attended only by the comely youth afore alluded to. It was only then that any communication took place between them, and very soon the old man became fully convinced that the younger Shaikh was none other than his former pupil. The former made no difficulty in admitting the fact, and an intimacy soon was renewed between them. The flourishing condition of his late eleve was a source of much satisfaction to the old man, and dispelled any feelings of envy which he might have previously entertained. Shaikh ‘Ali, on his part, seemed to be extremely happy on receiving the visit of his former master, and treated him with much respect and consideration. They freely talked over the interests of their particular turbas, and the old man admitted that the growing celebrity of the newer one had considerably- affected that of the old. The old man, being now no longer able to restrain his curiosity, begged Shaikh ‘Ali to be so good as to inform him who was the revered member of their Order whose remains were interred in the turba. But on this point his former pupil made some objection to enlighten him. Pressed, however, to inform him of what so deeply interested the character and welfare of their common Order, ‘Ali, after exacting a most formal promise of secrecy, narrated to his late master the entire history of his journey thus far, on the pilgrimage on which he had originally set out, its sudden termination, with the untimely death of the aged ass which he had so generously bestowed upon him, and the manner in which its remains had been canonised by popular favour, he having only to offer no opposition to what he verily believed was brought about by a direct intervention of Providence for some wise purpose, the ass having perhaps been the receptacle of the soul of some re-embodied saint. To this frank avowal the old man did not make even ashow of surprise, and received the information with his usual calm and dignified demeanour. At this ‘AH was somewhat astonished and alarmed, lest it might prove ominous to the continuance of his heretofore most peaceful and prosperous career as a Shaikh. With this reflection he thought he would venture to inquire, for the first time in his life, what holy man was interred at the turba of the old Shaikh, his former master, but found him equally uncommunicative on such a subject. As a matter of reciprocity and mutual confidence, he pressed him for information on so deeply interesting a subject ; and it was only after having given him a most solemn pledge of secrecy that he learned, with no little surprise, that the remains of the deceased saint over which the venerable Shaikh had presided for so many years, and to which so many of his own earlier prayers and supplications had been offered, were those of none other than the father of his own once so lamented companion, and now so highly venerated saint, the ass, which had been bestowed upon him by his master, with his blessing.
(1) Mu’in, a helper, especially God. This may be compared to the Indian arm-rest, which takes two forms, the crutch or bairagan and the T-shaped rest.
(2) Hamila (hamileh in orig.) and hamala both have the plural hama’il, which is used as a singular. Both denote a baldrick, a sword-knot, and the root simply means a carrier, anything to hold something to be carried, e.g. a Quran. Pace the Oxford Diet., p. 295, it is tempting to see in the word the origin of our ‘ amulet ‘.
(3) This recalls the naugazas or ’9-yard’ long shrines found in India. There these tombs actually vary in length from 10 to upwards of 50 ft., and they appear to ‘grow’, perhaps because they are lengthened by the devout, like cairns. Sir Alexander Cunningham opined that every such tomb was described as that of a Grhazi and Shahid, ‘Champion and Martyr ‘, but he also records that two graves at Ajudhia are ascribed to the prophets Sis and Aiyub (Seth and Job), and one at Lamghan, in Afghanistan, to Lamech, so they are clearly ascribed to ancient prophets as well as to more modern martyrs. He also says those two places are the extreme limit of their occurrence, but Doutte depicts and describes the tomb of a giant prophet in Morocco (En Tribu, p. 379). He also refers to his Merrakech, i. p. 293, and to Pettazoni, Religione primitiva in Sardegna, pp. 4 f., in support of the statement that Moslem ruins are often assigned to the idolaters of the times of ignorance, regarded as a race of giants (ib. p. 381). So to in India Cunningham suggested a Buddhist origin for such shrines (Archaeological Survey Rep., V. pp. 130-1, 106).
In Moslem belief a dead person when put in his grave will be asked and if he replies that he bore witness that Muhammad was the servant of God and His Prophet, his tomb will be expanded 7000 yards in length and as many in breadth, and a light will be placed in it. Then he will be told to sleep. Hence it seems hardly necessary to postulate a Buddhist origin for such tombs.
In the early years of the present century Chevalier describes a takia at the town of the Dardanelles as containing a cerceuil 40 feet in length and ascribed to a giant whose remains form the relics for which it appears to be revered (Voyage de la Propontide, p. 14, quoted by Hasluck in Annual, B.S.A. xxi. p. 95). Hasluck considered this tomb to be possibly identical with a ruined and deserted takia outside the village of Seraidjik, in the valley of the Rhodius, which was probably a Baqtashi centre before 1826. It bears the name of the saint interred in it, Indje or Indjir Baba. This name is not explained, but injir = ‘fig ‘. Inje would, however, mean ‘slender ‘, but possibly the saint’s correct name is Inji or Inju, ‘pearl ‘, or ‘ the lily of the valley ‘.
N. of Hayil . . . upon a height . . . is the Kabr es-Sany, ‘the smith’s grave ‘, laid out to a length of three fathoms. “Of such stature was the man; he lived in the time of the Beny Helal ; pursued by the enemies’ horsemen, he ran before them with his little son upon his shoulder, and fell there” (Doughty, Wanderings in Arabia, i. p. 265. Abridgement, 1908).