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declared that the end was drawing near, and various persons arose who claimed to be Al-Mahdí. I have already mentioned two. Amongst others was Shaikh 'Aláí of Agra. (956 A.1.) Shaikh Mubarak, the father of Abu'l-Fazl—the Emperor Akbar's famous vizier, was a disciple of Shaikh 'Aláí and from him imbibed Mahdaví ideas. This brought upon him the wrath of the 'Ulamá who, however, were finally overcome by the free-thinking and heretical Emperor and his vizier. There never was a better ruler in India than Akbar, and never a more heretical one as far as orthodox Islám is concerned. The Emperor delighted in the controversies of the age. The Súfís and Mahdavís were in favour at Court. The orthodox 'Ulamá were treated with contempt. Akbar fully believed that the millennium had come. He started a new era, and a new religion called the 'Divine Faith. There was toleration for all except the bigoted orthodox Muslims. Abu'l-Fazl and others like him, who professed to reflect Akbar's religious views, held that all religions contained truth. Thus :
"O God, in every temple I see people that seek Thee, and in every language I hear spoken, people praise Thee !
Polytheism and Islám feel after Thee,
Each religion says, 'Thou art one, without equal.'
In this reign one Mír Sharíf was promoted to the rank of a Commander of a thousand, and to an appointment in Bengal. His chief merit in Akbar's eyes was that he taught the doctrine of the transmigration of souls and the close advent of the millennium. He was a disciple of Mahmúd of Busakhwán, the founder of the Nuqtawiah sect. As this is another offshoot of the Shía’hs I give a brief account of them here. Mahmúd lived in the reign of Timur and
professed to be Al-Mahdí. He also called himself the Shakhs-i-Wáhíd-the Individual one. He used to quote
“ It may be that thy Lord will raise thee up to a glorious (mahmúd) station.” (Súra xvii. 81). From this he argued that the body of man had been advancing in purity since the creation, and that on its reaching to a certain degree, one Mahmúd (glorious) would arise, and that then the dispensation of Muhammad would come to an end. He claimed to be the Mahmúd. He also taught the doctrine of transmigration, and that the beginning of everything was the Nuqtah-i-khák-earth atom. It is on this account that they are called the Nuqtawiah sect. They are also known by the names Mahmúdiah and Wáhídiah. Shah 'Abbás king of Persia expelled them from his dominions, but Akbar received the fugitives kindly and promoted some amongst them to high offices of State.
This Mahdaví movement, arising as it did out of the Shía'h doctrine of the Imámat, is a very striking fact. That imposters should arise and claim the name and office of Al-Mahdí is not to be wondered at, but that large bodies of men should follow them shows the unrest which dwelt in men's hearts, and how they longed for a personal leader and guide.
The whole of the Shía'h doctrine on this point seems to show that there is in the human heart a natural desire for some Mediator-some Word of the Father, who shall reveal Him to His children. At first sight it would seem, as if the doctrine of the Imámat might to some extent reconcile the thoughtful Shía’h to the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation and Mediation of Jesus Christ, to His office as the perfect revealer of God's will, and as our Guide in life; but alas ! it is not so. The mystic lore connected with Shía'h doctrine has sapped the foundation of moral life and vigour. A system of religious reservation, too, is a fundamental part of the system in its mystical developments, whilst all Shía’hs may lawfully practise "takía,” or religious com
promise in their daily lives. It thus becomes impossible to place dependence on what a Shía'h may profess, as pious frauds are legalised by his system of religion. If he becomes a mystic, he looks upon the ceremonial and the moral law as restrictions imposed by an Almighty Power. The omission of the one is a sin almost, if not quite, as bad as a breach of the other. The advent of Mahdí is the good time when all such restrictions shall be removed, when the utmost freedom shall be allowed. Thus the moral sense, in many cases, becoines deadened to an extent such as those who are not in daily contact with these people can hardly credit. The practice of “takía,” religious compromise, and the legality of " muta’h” or temporary marriages, have done much to demoralise the Shía'h community. The following words of a recent author descriptive of the Shía'h system are in the main true, though they do not apply to each individual in that system :-
“ There can be no stronger testimony of the corrupting power and the hard and hopeless bondage of the orthodox creed, than that men should escape from it into a system which established falsehood as the supreme law of conduct, and regarded the reduction of men to the level of swine as the goal of human existence.” 1
The Mutazilites, or Seceders, were once an influential body. They do not exist as a separate sect now. An account of them will be given in the next chapter.
In the doctrine of the Imámat, common to all the offshoots of the Shía’h sect, is to be found the chief point of difference between the Sunní and the Shía’h, a difference so great that there is no danger of even a political union between these two great branches of Islám. I have already described, too, how the Shía'hs reject the Sunnat, though they do not reject Tradition. A good deal of ill-blood is still kept up by the recollection-a recollection kept alive by the annual recurrence of the Muharram fast-of the sad fate of 'Ali and his sons. The Sunnís are blamed for the work of their ancestors in the faith, whilst the Khalífs Abu Bakr, Omar, and Osmán are looked upon as usurpers.
1. Islám under the Khalífs, p. 139.
Not to them was committed the wonderful ray of light. In the possession of that alone can any one make good a claim to be the Imám, the Guide of the Believers. The terrible disorders of the early days of Islám can only be understood when we realise to some extent the passionate longing which men felt for a spiritual head-an Imám. It was thought to be impossible that Muhammad, the last-the seal-of the prophets should leave the Faithful without a guide, who would be the interpreter of the will of Allah.
We here make a slight digression to show that this feeling extends beyond the Shía’h sect, and is of some importance in its bearing upon the Eastern Question. Apart from the superhuman claims for the Imám, what he is as a ruler to the Shía’h, the Khalíf is to the Sunní—the supreme head in Church and State, the successor of the Prophet, the Conservator of Islám as made known in the Qurán, the Sunnat and the Ijma' of the early Mujtahidín. To administer the laws, the administrator must have a divine sanction. Thus when the Ottoman raler, Selim the First, conquered Egypt, (A.D. 1516) he sought and obtained, from an old descendant of the Baghdad Khalífs, the transfer of the title to himself, and in this way the Sultáns of Turkey became the Khalífs of Islám. Whether Mutawakal Billál, the last titular Khalif of the house of 'Abbás, was right or wrong in thus transferring the title is not my purpose now to discuss. I only adduce the fact to show how it illustrates the feeling of the need of a Pontif-a divinely appointed Ruler. Strictly speaking, according to Muhammadan law, the Sultáns are not Khalífs, for it is clearly laid down in the Traditions that the Khalif (or the Imám) must be of the tribe of the Quraish, to which the Prophet himself belonged.
Ibn-i-Umr relates that the Prophet said :-" The Khalífs shall be in the Quraish tribe as long as there are two per
sons in it, one to rule and another to serve.”
'It is a necessary condition that the Khalíf should be of the Quraish tribe.”? Such quotations might be multiplied, and they tend to show that it is not at all incumbent on orthodox Sunnís, other than the Turks, to rush to the rescue of the Sultán, whilst to the Shía’hs he is little better than a heretic. Certainly they would never look upon him as an Imám, which personage is to them in the place of a Khalíf. In countries not under Turkish rule, the Khutbah, or prayer for the ruler, said on Fridays in the mosques, is said for the “ ruler of the age," or for the Amír, or whatever happens to be the title of the head of the State. Of late years it has become more common in India to say it for the Sultán. This is not, strictly speaking, according to Muhammadan law, which declares that the Khutbah can only be said with the permission of the ruler, and as in India that ruler is the British Government, the prayers should be said for the Queen. Evidently the law never contemplated large bodies of Musalmáns residing anywhere but where the influence of the Khalíf extended.
In thus casting doubt on the legality of the claim made by Turkish Sultáns to the Khalifate of Islám, I do not deny that the Law of Islám requires that there should be a Khalíf. Unfortunately for Islám, there is nothing in its history parallel to the conflict of Pope and Emperor, of Church and State. “The action and re-action of these powerful and partially independent forces, their resistance to each other, and their ministry to each other, have been of incalculable value to the higher activity and life of Christendom." In Islám the Khalif is both Pope and Emperor. Ibn Khaldoun states that the difference between the Khalíf and any other ruler is that the former rules according to divine, the latter according to human law. The Prophet in transmitting his sacred authority to the Khalífs, his successors, conveyed to