Part 2 out of 10
the case of the Black Stone at Mecca. But he protested against idols
in one of the earliest Suurahs of the Koraan (lii 35-43), and in
Continuation of Mahurrum.--Consecration of Banners.--Durgah at
Lucknow.--Its origin explained.--Regarded with peculiar
veneration.--The Nuwaub vows to build a new one.--Its
description.--Procession to the Durgah.--Najoomies.--Influence
possessed and practised by them.--Eunuchs.--Anecdotes of some having
attained great honours and wealth.--Presents bestowed upon them
generally revert to the donor.--Rich attire of male and female slaves.
After the Tazia is brought home (as the temporary ones are from the bazaar
on the eve of Mahurrum, attended by a ceremonious display of persons,
music, flags, flambeaux, &c.), there is little to remark of out-door
parade beyond the continual activity of the multitude making the sacred
visits to their several Emaum-baarahs, until the fifth day, when the
banners are conveyed from each of them in solemn procession, to be
consecrated at the Durgah (literally translated, 'The threshold' or
'Entrance to a sanctified place').
This custom is perhaps exclusively observed by the inhabitants of Lucknow,
where I have had the privilege of acquiring a knowledge of the motives
which guide most of their proceedings; and as there is a story attached to
the Durgah, not generally known to European visitors, I propose relating
it here, as it particularly tends to explain the reasons for the
Mussulmauns conveying their banners for consecration to that celebrated
'A native of India--I forget his name--remarkable for his devotion and
holy life, undertook the pilgrimage to Mecca; whilst engaged in these
duties at the "holy house", he was visited with a prophetic dream. Abass
Ali (the standard-bearer and relation of Hosein) appeared to him in his
dream, commanding him, that as soon as his duties at Mecca were fulfilled
he should, without delay, proceed to Kraabaallah, to the tomb of Hosein;
directing him, with great precision, how he was to find the exact spot of
earth where was deposited the very Allum (banner) of Hosein, which he
(Abass Ali) had, on the great day of Kraabaallah, carried to the field.
The man was further instructed to possess himself of this relic secretly,
and convey it about his person until he should reach his native country,
when he would be more fully directed by the orderings of Providence how
the relic should be disposed of.
'The Hadjee followed all the injunctions he had received punctually; the
exact spot was easily discovered, by the impressions from his dream; and,
fearing the jealousy of the Arabs, he used the utmost precaution, working
by night, to secure to himself the possession of so inestimable a prize,
without exciting their suspicion, or attracting the notice of the numerous
pilgrims who thronged the shrine by day. After several nights of severe
labour he discovered, to his great joy, the metal crest of the banner; and
concluding the banner and staff to have mouldered away, from their having
been so long entombed in the earth, he cautiously secreted the crest about
his person, and after enduring the many vicissitudes and privations,
attendant on the long journey from Arabia to India, he finally succeeded
in reaching Lucknow in safety with his prize.
'The Nuwaub Asof ood Duolah ruled at this period in Oude; the pilgrim
made his adventures known to him, narrating his dream, and the
circumstances which led to his gaining possession of the crest. The Nuwaub
gave full credence to his story, and became the holder of the relic
himself, rewarding the Hadjee handsomely for his trouble, and gave
immediate orders for a small building to be erected under the denomination
of "Huzerut Abass Ali Ke Durgah", in which the crest was safely
deposited with due honours, and the fortunate pilgrim was appointed
guardian with a liberal salary.
'In the course of time, this Durgah grew into great repute amongst the
general classes of the Mussulmaun population, who, venerating their Emaum
Hosein, had more than common respect for this trifle, which they believed
had been used in his personal service. Here the public were permitted to
offer their sacrifices and oblations to God, on occasions of importance to
themselves; as after the performance of the rite of circumcision in
particular, grand processions were formed conveying the youthful
Mussulmaun, richly attired, attended by music, &c. and offering presents
of money and sweetmeats at the shrine which contains their Emaum's sacred
relic. On these occasions the beggars of every denomination were benefited
by the liberality of the grateful father, and the offerings at the shrine
became the property of the guardian of the Durgah, who, it was expected,
would deal out from his receipts to the necessitous as occasions served.'
This custom is still observed, with equal veneration for the shrine and
its deposit; and when a lady recovers from the perils attendant on giving
to her husband's house a desired heir, she is conveyed, with all the pomp
and parade due to her rank in life, to this Durgah, attended by her female
relatives, friends, domestics, eunuchs, and slaves, in covered conveyances;
in her train are gentlemen on horseback, in palkies, or on elephants, to
do honour to the joyful event; the Guardian's wife having charge on these
occasions of the ladies' visits; and the Guardian, with the gentlemen and
all the males, guarding the sanctuary outside; for they are not permitted
to enter whilst it is occupied by the ladies, the eunuchs alone having
that privilege where females congregate.
Recovery from sickness, preservation from any grievous calamity, danger,
or other event which excites grateful feelings, are the usual inducements
to visiting the Durgah, with both males and females, amongst the
Mussulmaun population of Lucknow. These recurrences yield ample stores of
cash, clothes, &c. left at the disposal of the Guardian, who, if a good
man, disperses these charitable donations amongst the indigent with a
liberality equal to that of the donors in their various offerings.
The Durgah had grown into general respect, when a certain reigning Nuwaub
was afflicted by a severe and tedious illness, which baffled the skill of
his physicians, and resisted the power of the medicine resorted to for his
recovery. A confidential Najoom (astrologer), in the service of his
Highness, of great repute in his profession, advised his master to make a
vow, that 'If in the wisdom of Divine Providence his health should be
restored, he would build a new Durgah on the site of the old one, to be
dedicated to Abass Ali, and to be the shrine for the sacred deposit of the
crest of Hosein'. The Nuwaub, it appears, recovered rapidly after the vow
had been made, and he went in great pomp and state to return thanks to God
in this Durgah, surrounded by the nobles and officers of his Court, and
the whole strength of his establishment accompanied him on the occasion.
So grand was the spectacle, that the old people of the city talk of it at
this day as a scene never equalled in the annals of Lucknow, for splendour
and magnificence; immense sums of money were distributed on the road to
the populace, and at the Durgah; the multitude, of all classes, hailing
his emancipation from the couch of sickness with deafening cheers of
In fulfilment of his vow, the Nuwaub gave immediate orders for erecting
the magnificent edifice, which now graces the suburbs of Lucknow, about
five miles from that part of the city usually occupied by the Sovereign
Ruler of the province of Oude. By virtue of the Nuwaub's vow and recovery,
the before-respected Durgah has, thus newly built, increased in favour
with the public; and, on account of the veneration they have for all that
concerns their Emaums, the banners which adorn the Tazias of Hosein must
be consecrated by being brought to this sacred edifice; where, by the
condescending permission of the Sovereign, both the rich and the poor are
with equal favour admitted, at that interesting period of Mahurrum, to
view the crest of their Leader, and present their own banners to be
touched and thus hallowed by the, to them, sacred relic. The crest is
fixed to a staff, but no banner attached to it; this is placed within a
high railing, supported by a platform, in the centre of the building; on
either side splendid banners are exhibited on these occasions.
The Durgah is a square building, entered by flights of steps from the
court-yard; the banner of each person is conveyed through the right
entrance, opposite the platform, where it is immediately presented to
touch the revered crest; this is only the work of a few seconds; that
party walks on, and moves out to the left again into the court-yard; the
next follows in rapid succession, and so on till all have performed this
duty: by this arrangement, confusion is obviated; and, in the course of
the day, perhaps forty or fifty thousand banners may have touched the
Emaum's consecrated crest. On these occasions, the vast population of
Lucknow may be imagined by the almost countless multitude, of every rank,
who visit this Durgah: there is no tax levied on the people, but the sums
collected must be immense, since every one conscientiously offers
something, according to his inclination or his means, out of pure respect
to the memory of Hosein.
The order of procession, appointed by each noble proprietor of banners, to
be consecrated at the Durgah, forms a grand spectacle. There is no
material difference in their countless numbers; the most wealthy and the
meanest subjects of the province make displays commensurate with their
ability, whilst those persons who make the most costly exhibitions enjoy
the greatest share of popular favour, as it is considered a proof of their
desire to do honour to the memory of Hosein and Hasan, their venerated
A description of one, just passing my house, will give you a general idea
of these processions,--it belongs to a rich man of the city:--A guard of
soldiers surrounds four elephants on which several men are seated, on pads
or cushions, supporting the banners; the staffs of several are of
silver,--the spread hand, and other crests, are formed of the same metal,
set with precious stones. Each banner--they all resemble--is in the shape
of a long scarf of rich silk, of bright florid colours, embroidered very
deep at the ends, which are finished with gold and silver bullion fringes;
it is caught together near the middle, and tied with rich gold and silver
cords and tassels to the top of the staff, just under the hand or crest.
The silks, I observe, are of many different colours, forming an agreeable
variety, some blue, purple, green, yellow, &c. Red is not used; being the
Soonies' distinguishing colour at Mahurrum it is carefully avoided by the
zealous Sheahs--the Soonies are violently opposed to the celebration of
this festival. After the elephants, a band of music follows, composed of
every variety of Native instruments, with drums and fifes; the trumpets
strike me as the greatest novelty in their band; some of them are very
long and powerful in their effect.
Next in the order of procession I observe a man in deep mourning,
supporting a black pole, on which two swords are suspended from a bow
reversed--the swords unsheathed glittering in the sun. The person who owns
the banners, or his deputy, follows next on foot, attended by readers of
the Musseeah, and a large party of friends in mourning. The readers select
such passages as are particularly applicable to the part Abass Ali took in
the affair at Kraabaallah, which is chanted at intervals, the procession
pausing for that purpose.
Then comes Dhull Dhull,--the name of Hosein's horse at
Kraabaallah;--that selected for the present purpose is a handsome white
Arab, caparisoned according to the olden style of Arabia: due care is
taken to represent the probable sufferings of both animal and rider, by
the bloody horsecloth--the red-stained legs--and the arrows apparently
sticking in several parts of his body; on the saddle is fixed a turban in
the Arabian style, with the bow and arrows;--the bridle, &c. are of very
rich embroidery; the stirrups and mountings of solid silver. The horse and
all its attire are given after Mahurrum, in charity, to a poor Syaad.
Footmen, with the afthaadah and chowrie--peculiar emblems of royalty
in India--attend Dhull Dhull. The friends of the family walk near the
horse; then servants of all classes, to fill up the parade, and many
foot-soldiers, who occasionally fire singly, giving to the whole
description a military effect.
I have seen many other processions on these fifth days of Mahurrum--they
all partake of one style,--some more splendid than others; and the very
poor people parade their banners, with, perhaps, no other accompaniment
than a single drum and fife, and the owner supporting his own banner.
My next letter will contain the procession of Mayndhie, which forms a
grand feature of Mahurrum display on the seventh night.
P.S.--The Najoomee are men generally with some learning, who, for their
supposed skill in astrology, have, in all ages since Mahumud's death, been
more or less courted and venerated by the Mussulmaun people;--I should say,
with those who have not the fear of God stronger in their hearts than the
love of the world and its vanities;--the really religious people
discountenance the whole system and pretended art of the astrologer.
It is wonderful the influence a Najoom acquires in the houses of many
great men in India;--wherever one of these idlers is entertained he is the
oracle to be consulted on all occasions, whether the required solution be
of the utmost importance, or the merest trifling subject. I know those who
submit, with a childlike docility, to the Najoom's opinion, when their
better reason, if allowed to sway, would decide against the astrologer's
prediction. If Najoom says it is not proper for Nuwaub Sahib, or his Begum,
to eat, to drink, to sleep, to take medicine, to go from home, to give
away or accept a gift, or any other action which human reason is the best
guide to decide upon, Najoom has said it,--and Najoom must be right.
Najoom can make peace or war, in the family he overrules, at his pleasure;
and many are the houses divided against themselves by the wicked influence
of a bad man, thus exercising his crafty wiles over the weakness of his
credulous master.--So much for Najoomee; and now for my second notice of
They are in great request among the highest order of people, and from
their long sojourn in a family, this class of beings are generally
faithfully attached to the interest and welfare of their employer; they
are much in the confidence of their master and mistress, and very seldom
betray their trust. Being frequently purchased, whilst children, from the
base wretches who have stolen them in infancy from the parental roof, they
often grow up to a good old age with the family by whom they are adopted;
they enjoy many privileges denied to other classes of slaves;--are
admitted at all hours and seasons to the zeenahnahs; and often, by the
liberality of their patrons, become rich and honourable;--still 'he is but
a slave', and when he dies, his property reverts to his owner.
In Oude there have been many instances of Eunuchs arriving to great honour,
distinctions, and vast possessions. Al Mauss Ali Khaun was of the
number, within the recollection of many who survive him; he was the
favoured Eunuch of the House of Oude; a person of great attainments, and
gifted with a remarkably superior mind, he was appointed Collector over an
immense tract of country, by the then reigning Nuwaub, whose councils he
benefited by his great judgment. He lived to a good old age, in the
unlimited confidence of his prince, and enjoyed the good will and
affection of all who could appreciate what is valuable in honest integrity.
He died as he had lived, in the most perfect resignation to whatever was
the will of God, in whose mercy he trusted through time, and for eternity.
Many of the old inhabitants speak of him with veneration and respect,
declaring he was the perfect pattern for good Mussulmauns to imitate.
Another remarkable Eunuch, Affrine Khaun, of the Court of Oude, is
well remembered in the present generation also,--the poor having lost a
kind benefactor, and the rich a sensible companion, by his death. His vast
property he had willed to others than the sovereign ruler of Oude (whose
property he actually was), who sent, as is usual in these cases, to take
possession of his estate, immediately after his death; the gates were
barred, and the heirs the Eunuch had chosen to his immense wealth had
taken possession; which I am not aware was disputed afterwards by the
reigning Nuwaub, although by right of the Mussulmaun law, the Nuwaub owned
both the slave and the slave's wealth.
This accounts, perhaps, for the common practice in the higher circles of
the Mussulmaun population, of heaping ornaments and riches on favourite
slaves; the wealth thus expended at one time, is but a loan in the hands
of safe keepers, to revert again to the original proprietor whenever
required by the master, or no longer of service to the slave, who has
neither power to bestow, nor heirs to benefit from the property he may
leave when he dies.
I have frequently observed, among the most exalted ladies, that their
female slaves are very often superbly dressed; and, on occasions of
marriage ceremonies, or other scenes of festivity, they seem proud of
taking them in their suite, handsomely dressed, and richly adorned with
the precious metals, in armlets, bangles, chains, &c.; the lady thus
adding to her own consequence by the display of her attendant slaves. The
same may be observed with regard to gentlemen, who have men-slaves
attending them, and who are very frequently attired in costly dresses,
expensive shawls, and gold ornaments.
 _Dargah_, '(sacred) door-place'.
 '_Alam_. For illustrations of those banners see Hughes,
_Dictionary of Islam_, 408 ff.; Mrs. Parks, _Wanderings of a
Pilgrim_, ii. 18.
 Asaf-ud-daula, eldest son of Nawab Shuja'-ud-daula, on whose
death in 1775 he succeeded. He changed the seat of government
from Faizabad to Lucknow, where he died in 1797, and was
buried in the Imambara. He is principally remembered for
his liberality. The merchants, on opening their shops, used to
_Jisko na de Maula,
Tisko de Asaf-ud-daula_.
Who from Heaven nought receiveth,
To him Asaf-ud-daula giveth.
 Mr. H.C. Irwin informs me that the Dargah is situated on the
Crommelin Road, rather more than a mile south-west of the
Machhi Bhawan fort. It was here that Nawab Sa'adat
'Al'i, on his accession, vowed that he would reform his
ways--an intention which was not realized.
 _Nujumi_, 'an astrologer'; '_ilm-i-nujum_, 'astrology,
 The numbers are greatly exaggerated.
 Duldul was the name of the Prophet's mule which he gave to
'Ali. It is often confounded with Buraq, the
Assyrian-looking gryphon on which he alleged that he flew to
 _Aftabgir_, 'a sun-screen'; see p. 47.
 _Chaunri_, the bushy tail of the yak, used as a fly-flapper.
 Writing in 1849, General Sleeman remarks that Dom singers and eunuchs
are the virtual rulers of Oudh.--_A Journey through Oudh_, i, introd.
 Almas ['the diamond'] 'Ali Khan, known as Miyan ['Master']
Almas, according to General Sleeman, was 'the greatest and best man
of any note that Oude has produced. He held for about forty years
Miyanganj and other districts, yielding to the Oude Government an
annual revenue of more than eighty lacs of rupees [about L850,000].
During this time he kept the people secure in life and property, and
as happy as people in such a state of society can be; and the whole
country under his charge was during his lifetime a garden. He lived
here in great magnificence, and was often visited by his sovereign.'
(Ibid., i. 320 f.). Lord Valentia more than once speaks highly of him
(_Travels_, i. 136, 241). He also notes that the Nawab was
anxiously watching for his death, because, being a slave, under
Muhammadan law his estates reverted to the Crown.--See N.B.E. Baillie,
_Digest of Moohummudan Law_ (1875), 367 f.
 Afrin Khan, 'lord of praise', Mr. Irwin informs me, is
mentioned in the _Tarikh Farahbakhsh_ (tr. W. Hoey, 129) as
engaged in negotiations when Nawab Asaf-ud-daula, at the
instigation of Warren Hastings and Haidar Beg, was attempting to
extort money from the Nawab Begam.
Mahurrum concluded.--Night of Mayndhie.--Emaum-baarah of the King of
Oude.--Procession to Shaah Nudghiff.--Last day of Mahurrum.--Chattahs.
--Musical instruments.--Zeal of the Native gentlemen.--Funeral
obsequies over the Tazia at Kraabaallah.--Sentiments of devout
Mussulmauns.--The fast followed by acts of charity.--Remarks on the
observance of Mahurrum.
The public display on the seventh Mahurrum is by torch-light, and called
the night of Mayndhie, intending to represent the marriage ceremony for
Cossum, who, it will be remembered, in the sketch of the events of
Kraabaallah, was married to his cousin Sakeena Koobraah, the favourite
daughter of Hosein, on the morning of the celebrated battle.
This night presents to the public all the outward and showy parade which
marks the Mayndhie procession of a real wedding ceremony, of which I
propose speaking further in another place. This display at Mahurrum is
attended with considerable expense; consequently, the very rich only
observe the out-door formalities to be exhibited on this occasion; yet all
classes, according to their means, remember the event, and celebrate it at
The Mayndhie procession of one great personage, in Native cities, is
directed--by previous arrangement--to the Emaum-baarah of a superior. I
was present, on one occasion, when the Mayndhie of the Prime Minister of
Oude was sent to the King's Emaum-baarah, called Shaah Nudghiff,--from
the mausoleum of Ali, of which it is an exact representation, on a small
It is situated near the banks of the river Goomtie, some distance from
the palace at Lucknow; the entrance to the outer court, or quadrangle, is
by a handsome gateway of brickwork plastered and polished, resembling
marble. On each side of the gateway, and carried up the two sides, in a
line with the building, are distinct apartments, designed for the abode of
the distressed and houseless poor; the back of these apartments forms a
substantial wall or enclosure. The Shaah Nudghiff faces the gateway, and
appears to be a square building, on a broad base of flights of steps, with
a cupola roof; the interior is paved with black and white marble
tesselated, the walls and dome neatly ornamented with plaster and gold in
relief, the beading, cornices, &c. of gold, to correspond on a
stone-colour ground. The cupola and cornices on the outside are richly
ornamented with plaster designs, relieved with gold; on the summit of the
dome is placed a crown, of pure silver, gilt, of an immense size.
The decorations of the interior, for the season of Mahurrum, were on a
scale of grandeur not easily to be conveyed by description. The walls were
well covered with handsome glasses and mirrors; the splendid
chandeliers,--one containing a hundred wax lights,--in every variety, and
relieved with coloured lamps--amber, blue, and green,--mellowing the light,
and giving a fairy-like effect to the brilliant scene. In the centre of
the building stood the green glass Tazia, surrounded by wax lights; on
the right of which was placed an immense lion, and on the left, a fish,
both formed of the same bright emerald-green glass as the Tazia. The
richness and elegance of the banners,--which were numerous and well
arranged,--could be equalled only by the costliness of their several
In Asiatic buildings niches and recesses prevail in all convenient
situations, and here they are appropriated for the reception of the relics
of antiquity and curiosities; such as models of Mecca, the tent of Hosein,
the gate of Kraabaallah, &c.; these three are made of pure silver, and
rest on tables of the same metal. Many curious sabres, of all ages,
shields, chain armour of the ancients, lances, &c., arranged with much
taste, adorn the interior.
The pulpit (mhembur) is of silver, and of very handsome workmanship; the
whole of the fitting up and arrangements had been made under the eye of
his Majesty, and to his good taste may be ascribed all the merit of the
well-ordered display for these occasions. He delighted in visiting this
place, which he not only designed as a tribute of his respect to the
Emaums, but as the future repository for his own remains, when this world
should cease to be his place of joy, or anxious care. His intention has
been fulfilled--he died in 1827, aged fifty years, much and justly beloved
and regretted by all who knew him; his funeral obsequies were impressively
grand, according to Mussulmaun custom. This good and amiable King was
succeeded by his only son Nusseer ood deen Hyder, who had just
completed his twenty-second year when he began to reign.
On the evening of Mayndhie, the crowds of admiring people were admitted to
view their Paidshah's (King's) exhibition; until the distant sounds of
musketry announced the approach of the spectacle, when the multitude were
desired to quit the Emaum-baarah. Hundreds still lingering, could not be
prevailed on to depart, except by the stripes dealt out unsparingly from
the whips of the hurkaarahs and peons, appointed to keep order on the
occasion. The place cleared, and quiet restored, I had leisure to view the
fairy-like palace of splendour, before the bustle of the procession
reached the building. I could hardly persuade myself the picture before me
was not a dream, instead of a reality.
I stood at the entrance to watch the approach of the minister's train,
through the gateway into the illuminated quadrangle. Spacious as this
court-yard is, it was nearly filled with the many people forming the
Mayndhie parade. I should imagine there could not be less than three
thousand souls engaged in this service, including the match-lock soldiery.
Several trays of Mayndhie are brought, with the other requisites for the
usual forms of marriage gifts, such as sweetmeats, dried fruits, garlands
of sweet jasmine, imitative beds of flowers, composed of uberuck: in some
of the flowers, fireworks were concealed, to be let off in the quadrangle.
An imitative tomb on a bier is also paraded, together with the palkie and
chundole of silver, which are the covered conveyances for females of the
royal family, or such of the nobility as are privileged by grants from the
crown; all other females use the covered palkie, mahanah, dhollee, and the
rutt. Several bands of music follow, and torches out of number. The
elephants, camels, cavalry, &c., are left in the open space, outside the
gateway--the gentlemen, dismounting, enter with Dhull Dhull and the trays
I trembled for the probable destruction of the brilliant ornaments in the
Emaum-baarah, when I heard the noble animal was to make the circuit round
the Tazia. Dhull Dhull, being led in, went up the steps with little
difficulty; and to my astonishment, the gentle creature paced the
tesselated floor, in very slow time, without once slipping, or seeming
concerned at the novelty of his situation; indeed, this docile animal
seemed to me the only living thing present that felt no interest in the
scene--rendered more attractive and conspicuous by the gentle manners of
the pretty Dhull Dhull himself. The circuit being made, he was conducted
back into the court-yard, without the slightest accident or confusion
occurring during his visit to the Emaum-baarah.
The model of the tomb of Cossum, the chundole and palkie, the trays of
Mayndhie, sweetmeats, &c. were deposited here until the tenth day, when
they accompany the King's temporary Tazia cavalcade to Kraabaallah for
The ceremonies performed on this night of Mayndhie resemble, in every
particular, those of the same rank of persons on the actual solemnization
of a wedding, even to the distribution of money amongst the populace who
crowd in multitudes on such occasions, though apparently more eager for
the prize than the sight.
The most imposing spectacle in the celebration of Mahurrum, is reserved
for the last day; and, judging from the activity of all classes, the
zealous exertions of the multitude, the deep interest marked on every face,
male and female, a mere spectator might well imagine this morning to be of
more importance than any other in the Mussulmaun's catalogue of days.
At the earliest hour of the dawning day, the preparations for the march
being complete,--which had occupied the hours usually devoted to
sleep,--the streets and roads present a very animated picture. From the
bustle and outpouring of the multitude, on this one absorbing engagement,
a stranger might be led back in imagination to the flight from Egypt; the
object, however, is very different from that of the children of Israel.
The order of the day being to commemorate the death of Hosein, a grand
military funeral is pourtrayed in each person's cavalcade, all pressing
forward to their chosen Kraabaallah,--the poor man, with his humble Tazia
and flags, falling in the rear of the more affluent person's display, as
well for protection as for speed. There is so much of similarity in these
processions, that the description of one will be sufficient to convey the
idea of the whole, as they pass on in succession to the chosen place of
The consecrated banners take the precedence, in the order of march,
carried by men on elephants; then a band of music. Next comes the
jillewdhar (sword-bearer), supporting, on a black staff, the bow
reversed, with brilliant swords suspended; on each side of him are men
bearing black poles, on which are fixed immense long streamers of black
unspun silk,--designed to symbolize grief, despair, &c.
Then follows the horse, caparisoned as on the day of consecrating the
banners; it is attended by servants, in the same order as when a prince
rides out,--viz. a man with the afthaadah (or sun),--the well-dressed
grooms, holding the bridle rein on either side,--a man with the chowrie of
peacock's feathers in a silver handle,--chobdhaahs with long silver
and gold staffs,--sota badhaahs, with short staffs resembling fish, of
the same materials,--hurkaarahs (running-footmen, or messengers), bearing
small triangular banners with silver handles,--shoe-bearers, &c.
The royal chattah (umbrella), of embroidered velvet, is supported over
the head of Dhull Dhull. This article in its plain garb, so generally used
in Europe, is, in Hindoostaun, an original distinguishing mark of royalty,
gracing the King's throne in lieu of a canopy. In Oude, the chattah cannot
be used by the subject when in view of the sovereign; if the King's
dunkah be heard abroad, the people hide their chattahs, and even
descend from their carriages, elephants, horses, or palkies, standing with
their hands folded, in all humility, to make obeisance to the
King,--resuming them only when the royal cortege has moved out of sight. I
have known many of the first nobility in the Court of Oude, and English
gentlemen in the King's suite, exposed to the rays of the morning sun,
during the hottest season of the year; in these airings, the King alone
has the benefit of a chattah, except the Resident happens to be of the
party, who being always received as an equal, is privileged to the chattah,
the chowrie, and the hookha; indulgences of which those only who have
lived in India can possibly estimate the true value.
But to my subject:--The saddle is adorned with Hosein's chain armour, gold
turban, a richly set sword, with an embroidered belt: some of the family
and friends attend respectfully near the horse. Then follow the bearers of
incense, in gold censers, suspended to chains, which they wave about,
fumigating the air with the refreshing smell of lahbaun,--a
sweet-scented resin from the cedar of Lebanon, I imagine, though some
suppose it to be the frankincense noticed in Scripture.
Next in the cavalcade is a chanter or reader of the Musseeah, who selects
passages from that well-arranged work suited to the time when Hosein's
person was the mark for Yuzeed's arrows, and which describe his conduct on
the trying occasion; one or two couplets being chanted, the procession
advances in slow time, halting every five minutes on the way from the
beginning to the end of the march. The reader is attended by the
proprietor of the Tazia display, and his many relatives and friends,
bare-footed, and without any covering on their heads;--many of these
persons throw chaff on their heads, expressive of grief, and whilst
the Musseeah is chanted, their boisterous expressions of sorrow are
painfully severe to the mere observer of the scene.
The Tazia then follows, surrounded by banners, and covered with a canopy
upheld by silver poles in the hands of the supporters, according to the
general style of conveying their dead at the funerals of the Mussulmauns.
The canopy is of green, bordered and embroidered with gold. The model of
Cossum's tomb follows in succession, which is covered with gold cloth, and
has a canopy also supported over it, in the same way, by poles carried by
several men. The palkie and chundole of silver and tissue are next seen;
the trays of Mayndhie, the flowers of uberuck, and the other paraphernalia
of the marriage ceremony, follow in due order. Then the camels and
elephants, conveying the tent equipage and luggage of Hosein, form a long
train, representing the supposed style of his march from Medina to
The last and most judicious feature in the arrangement is the several
elephants with confidential servants, distributing bread and money to the
poor, who are thus attracted to the rear in countless numbers, leaving the
cavalcade in quiet possession of the space of roadway uncrowded by the
multitude. The bread given on these occasions is in great esteem amongst
the females, who receive a small portion from the followers on their
return from Kraabaallah with veneration, for the Emaum's sake, in whose
name it is given. I have often been led to the remembrance of past times
by this act of theirs, when the cross-buns of Good-Friday were esteemed by
the aged women as possessing virtues beyond the mere substance of the cake.
The whole line of march is guarded in each procession by burkhandhars
(matchlock men), who fire singly, at intervals on the way. Several bands
of music are dispersed in the cavalcade, performing solemn dirge-like airs,
peculiar to the style of composition in Hindoostaun and well-suited to the
occasion--muffled drums and shrill trumpets, imitating the reiteration of
'Hasan, Hosein', when Mortem is performed. I remember a fine female
elephant, belonging to King Ghauzee ood deen Hyder, which had been so well
instructed, as to keep time with the soundings from her proboscis with the
occasional Mortems. I cannot say that she clearly pronounced the names of
the two sons of Ali, yet the regularity of keeping time with the music and
the human voices was of itself sufficient to excite admiration--the
Natives declare that she pronounces the names distinctly. Her name is
Hoseinie, the feminine of Hosein.
Amongst the many varieties of Native musical instruments I have seen in
India, the kettle-drum is the most simple and singular, which I will take
the liberty of describing:--It is of well-baked earth, moulded in the
usual way, and very similar in shape to those of the Royal Horse Guards. A
globe of the common size, divided into exact halves, would be about the
dimension and shape of a pair of Indian manufacture; the parchment is
strained over the open mouth, with a thin hoop to fix it firm; the
slightest pressure with the fingers on this hoop draws it into tune. The
simplicity of this accompaniment to the human voice, when touched by the
fingers, very much in the way Europeans use the tambourine, is only to be
appreciated by those who have been long acquainted with the sound. The
only time when it is beaten with sticks is, when used as dunkahs, before
the King and Queen, on their appearing in public--a sort of alarum to warn
obstructing hackeries, or carriages, to move out of the way.
I have occasionally observed a singular mode of imitating the sound of
cavalry going over hard ground, adopted in the processions of great men on
the tenth of Mahurrum; the contrivance is called chuckee, and composed
of ebony, or some equally hard wood, the shape and size of a pocket globe,
divided into halves; each person, having the pair, beats them with a
particular tact on the flat surface, so as to produce the desired sound of
horses galloping; and where from fifty to a hundred men, or more, are
engaged in this performance, the resemblance may be easily conceived.
There are many little observances, not of sufficient importance to make
them general to all who keep Mahurrum, that need not here be
detailed;--but one must not be omitted, as it is a feature in the domestic
observances of Mussulmauns. On the Tazias, when about to be conveyed to
Kraabaallah, I discovered small portions of corn, rice, bread, fruits,
flowers, cups of water, &c.;--this is in keeping with the Mussulmaun
funerals, who invariably convey food to the tomb with their dead. For
the same reason, at Mahurrum, camphor and rosewater are always carried
with the Tazia to Kraabaallah, although there is not the same occasion for
the articles, as will be observed when the burial service is explained.
I have seen females of rank, with their own hands, place red and green wax
lights in front of the Tazia in their halls, on the night of Mayndhie. I
was told, in answer to my inquiry, What was meant by the solemn process I
had witnessed?--that these ladies had some petition to make, for which
they sought the Emaum's intercession at the throne of mercy. The red light
was for Hosein, who died in battle; the green for Hasan, who died by
poison,--which these colours symbolize; and that those females place great
dependance on the fulfilment of their desires, who thus present to their
Emaums the wax lights on the night of Mayndhie.
I have remarked that the noblemen and gentlemen generally engaged in the
service of celebrating Mahurrum, walk on the tenth morning with their
heads bare and their feet uncovered from their homes to the burial
ground called Kraabaallah, whatever may be the distance,--perhaps four
or five miles,--exposed to the fiery rays of the sun: some persons, who on
this occasion are very scrupulous in thus humbling their nature, walk back
again in the same manner, after the funeral ceremony has been duly gone
through at Kraabaallah. The magnitude of this undertaking can be only well
understood by those who have experienced the state of an atmosphere in the
shady rooms of a large house, when the thermometer ranges from eighty-four
to eighty-eight, or even ninety degrees; and when, if you venture to the
verandah for a few seconds, the flames of heated wind are not only
insupportable to Europeans, but frequently produce severe attacks of fever.
The luxurious habits of the Eastern great men may be well recollected when
counting over the proofs of zeal exhibited in this undertaking, where
every selfish consideration for the time is banished. The nobility (or
indeed any one who lays the slightest claim to gentility) never walk from
one house to another during their lives, but at this particular season;
even in their gardens indulging in whatever luxury they may boast, by
being conveyed round in their palkie, or thonjaun--a chair with poles,
supported by bearers. On the tenth day, the good Mussulmauns rigidly fast
until after the third watch; not even a drop of water, or the hookha,
enters their mouths;--as they believe Hosein's sufferings only concluded
just before the third watch, they cautiously abstain from indulgences,
until that hour has passed.
The procession having reached Kraabaallah, the whole ceremony of a funeral
is gone through. The Tazia is committed to the grave with equal solemnity
to that which is observed when their dead are deposited in the tomb: this
occupies some time. I never witnessed the movements at Kraabaallah,--the
season of the year, the confusion, and the anticipated feuds between
Sheahs and Soonies, ever deterred me from gratifying my curiosity. It is
always expected that the bad feelings between the two sects, amongst the
lower orders of the people, may produce a real battle on the imitative
ground of Kraabaallah; and I have heard of many such terminations of the
Mahurrum at Lucknow, where the enthusiastic Sheahs and Soonies--having
reserved their long hatred for a favourable opportunity of giving it
vent,--have found an early grave on the very ground to which their
Tazia has been consigned. Private quarrels are often reserved for decision
on the field of Kraabaallah.
I may here remark, swords form a part of every man's daily costume, from
the king to the poorest peasant; save only the devout men, who having
forsaken the world have no occasion for a sword. I have often heard them
say, 'My trust is not resting on a morsel of steel, but on the great mercy
of my God'.--'What shall I defend? my life? Where is the arm that can
assault me without the permission of my God; if He ordains it, should I
murmur, or ward off the blow?'--'Is it my worldly goods I am to defend?
From whose bounty have I received them? Is not the great Giver able to
defend His gifts? and if He wills that I should lose them, what shall I
say, but as Yoube (Job) said, "It is the Lord, to do His own will";
blessed be His great name for ever.' These are the sentiments of the
devout men of all creeds; and these are likewise the exemplary opinions of
some good Mussulmauns I have known in India.
Returned to their home, the rich men are occupied in dispensing benefits
among the poor. Food, money, and clothes, are distributed in nearly as
great proportions as when they have to mourn over a recent separation by
death from a beloved relative. The clothes worn during Mahurrum are never
retained for the next occasion, but always distributed amongst the poor,
who derive so many advantages from the annual commemoration of Mahurrum,
that the philanthropic heart will rather be pleased than vexed at the zeal
which produces such a harvest of benefits to the necessitous.
The riches of a native city may be calculated by the immense sums expended
at Mahurrum every year; and if no greater advantage be derived from the
gorgeous display of the wealthy, than the stimulus to honest industry
amongst the several trades, whose labour is brought into use on these
occasions, there is enough in the result to excuse the expenditure of
surplus cash in apparent trifles. This, however, is strictly the result,
not the design, of those expensive displayers at Mahurrum, who are
actuated solely by fervent zeal, in keeping a continued remembrance of the
sufferings of their Emaums, and doing honour to their memory.
It is not my province either to praise or condemn, but merely to mark out
what I observe of singularity in the habits, manners, and customs of the
Mussulmauns, in whose domestic circles I have been so many years a
sojourner. On the subject which my pen has faintly traced to your
view,--the celebration of Mahurrum,--I cannot refrain from offering one
remark; I think them to be actuated by so fervent a zeal, that if they
could believe with me, that whatever we do in this life is for Eternity,
they would still persevere in this their supposed duty of honouring their
 _Mendhi_ in its primary sense is the plant _Lawsonia alba_, the
leaves of which are used for dyeing the hands and feet of the bride
and bridegroom; hence, the marriage rites on this occasion.
 This edifice was built under the superintendence of Ghauzee ood deen
Hyder, first King of Oude; and it is here his remains are deposited.
May his soul rest in peace! [_Author_.] [This building was named after
Shah Najaf or Najaf Ashraf, the scene of the martyrdom of 'Ali,
120 miles south-west of Baghdad. The capture of the Shah Najaf, in
which the guns of Captain Peel played a leading part, was a notable
incident in the relief of Lucknow by Sir Colin Campbell.--T.R.E.
Holmes, _History of the Indian Mutiny_ (1885), 398 ff.]
 The Gumti, Gomati, 'abounding in cattle'.
 The fish is a symbol of sovereignty, or authority emanating from the
sovereign, in Hindoostaun, since the period of Timour.--Possessors of
Jaghires, Collectors of Districts, &c., have permission to use the
fish, in the decorations on their flags, in the way similar to our
armorial bearings. In Oude the fish is represented in many useful
articles--pleasure boats, carriages, &c. Some of the King's Chobdhaars
carry a staff representing a gold or silver fish. [_Author_.] [The
Order of the Fish (_mahi maratib_) is said to have been founded
by Khusru Parviz, King of Persia (A.D. 591-628), and thence
passed to the Moghul Emperors of Delhi and to the Court of Oudh.--W.H.
Sleeman, _Rambles and Recollections_, ed. V.A. Smith, 135 ff.]
 Nasir-ud-din Haidar, son of Ghazi-ud-din Haidar, whom
he succeeded in 1827, died, poisoned by his own family, in 1837. 'He
differed from his father, Ghazi-ud-din Haidar, in being
considerably more debauched and disreputable. His father had been an
outwardly decent hedonist and voluptuary, but the son was under no
restraints of any sort or kind, and it is probable that his character
was not unfavourably depicted in that highly coloured sketch, "The
Private Life of an Eastern King" (by W. Knighton, 1855). "Any one", we
are told, "was his friend who would drink with him," and his whole
reign was one continued satire upon the subsidiary and protected
system.'--H.C. Irwin, _The Garden of India_, p. 117.
 _Harkara_, 'a messenger, orderly'.
 _Palki_, the common palanquin or litter; _chandol_, usually carried
by four men at each end (a drawing representing one carried by twelve
men will be found in N. Manucci, _Storia do Mogor_, iv. 32, and see ii.
76 f.;) _miyana_, a middle-sized litter out of which the type used
by Europeans was developed; the Anglo-Indian 'dhooly', properly
_duli_; the _rath_ is a kind of bullock-carriage, often with
four wheels, used by women and by portly merchants.
 Known as 'Ashura.
 See a graphic account of the procession at Bombay in Sir G. Birdwood,
_Sva_, 177 ff.
 _Jilaudar, Jalaudar_, properly an attendant holding the bridle
of a mounted officer or magnate.
 The afthaadah is a sun embroidered on crimson velvet, both sides the
same, and fixed on a circular framework, about two yards in
circumference; this is attached to a silver or gold staff, the circle
deeply and fully flounced with gold brocade, or rich silk bound with
silver ribands. The person riding is sheltered from the rays of the
sun by the afthaadah being carried in an elevated position.
[_Author_.] (See p. 38.)
 _Chobdar_, 'a stick-or staff-bearer'.
 _Sontabardar_, 'a bearer of the silver stick or mace'.
 _Chhata_, a mark of dignity in the East.
 _Danka_, 'a kettle-drum'.
 _Loban_, _luban_, frankincense, olibanum, procured from various
species of _Boswellia_.
 As early as A.D. 1000 the people of Baghdad used to throw dust and
ashes about the streets, and dress in black sackcloth on the
anniversary of the death of Husain (Ockley, _History of the Saracens_,
418). The custom was common among the Hebrews (Isaiah iii. 26, xlvii.
1; Job ii. 8, & c.). Robertson Smith suggests that the dust was
originally taken from the grave, and the ashes from the funeral pyre
(_Religion, of the Semites_, 413).
 _Barqandaz_, 'lightning-darter'.
 _Charkhi_; the description is reproduced, without acknowledgement,
by Mrs. Parks, _Wanderings of a Pilgrim_, i. 299.
 The practice of offering food to the dead is an Indian innovation on
Musalman practice; it is based on the Hindu custom of offering
flour-balls (_pinda_) to the spirit of the dead man.
 This was a Hebrew practice, condemned by the prophets (2 Samuel
xv. 30; Ezekiel xxiv. 17).
 _Tamjhan, thamjan_, the Anglo-Indian 'tonjon' or
'tomjohn', the derivation of which is obscure. See Yule,
_Hobson-Jobson_, 930 f.
 Ill-feeling between Sunnis and Shi'ahs is not universal in
India. 'Though the Sunnis consider the Shi'ah observances as
impious, they look on with the contempt of indifference. The fact that
the British Government punishes all who break the peace may have
something to do with this. Still the Sunni and the Shi'ah in
India live on much better terms, and have more respect for each other
than the Turk has for the Persian, or the Persian for the Turk. Some
Musalman poets, indeed, are both Sunnis and Shi'ahs.'--E.
Sell, _The Faith of Islam_, 292 f.; cf. p. 14.
Time.--How divided in Hindoostaun.--Observances after
Mahurrum.--Luxuries and enjoyments resumed.--Black dye used by the
ladies.--Their nose-ring.--Number of rings worn in their ears.--Mode
of dressing their hair.--Aversion to our tooth-brushes.--Toilet of
the ladies.--The Pyjaamahs.--The Ungeeah (bodice).--The Courtie.--The
Deputtah.--Reception of a superior or elder amongst the
ladies.--Their fondness for jewels.--Their shoes.--The state of
society amongst the Mussulmaun ladies.--Their conversational
endowments.--Remarks upon the fashion and duty of beards.
In my last I alluded to the 'third watch'; it will now, perhaps, be
necessary to explain the divisions of time, as observed by the Mussulmauns
The day is divided into four equal parts, or watches, denominated
purrhs; as, first purrh, second purrh, &c. The night is also divided
into four purrhs, each of which is subdivided into ghurries (hours),
varying in number with the changes of season; the longest days require
eight ghurries to one purrh; the shortest, only six. The same division is
observed for the night. The day is reckoned from the earliest dawn to the
last decline of light:--there is very little twilight in the Upper
Provinces of India.
By this method of calculating time, you will understand that they have no
occasion for those useful, correct, mechanical time-keepers, in general
use in Europe; but they have a simple method of measuring the hour, by
means of a brass vessel, with a small aperture at the bottom, which, being
floated on a tank or large pan of water, one drop to a second of time
forces its way through the aperture into the floating vessel, on which
marks are made outside and in, to direct the number of ghurries by the
depth of water drawn into it; and in some places, a certain division of
time is marked by the sinking of the vessel. Each hour, as it passes, is
struck by the man on duty with a hammer on a broad plate of bell-metal,
suspended to the branch of a tree, or to a rail;--the gong of an English
showman at the country fairs is the exact resemblance of the metal plates
used in India for striking the hours on, and must, I think, have been
introduced into England from the East.
The durwaun (gate-keeper), or the chokeedhars (watchmen), keep the time.
In most establishments the watchmen are on guard two at a time, and are
relieved at every watch, day and night. On these men devolves the care of
observing the advance of time by the floating vessel, and striking the
hour, in which duty they are required to be punctual, as many of the
Mussulmauns' services of prayer are scrupulously performed at the
appointed hours, which will be more particularly explained when their
creed is brought forward in a future Letter; and now, after this
digression, I will pursue my subject.
When a member of the Mussulmaun family dies, the master of the house
mourns forty days, during which period the razor is laid aside. In the
same manner the devout Mussulmaun mourns every year for his martyred
Emaums; this, however, is confined to the most religious men; the general
practice of the many is to throw off their mourning garb and restore the
razor to its duties on the third day after the observances of Mahurrum
It is stated, on the authority of ancient Arabian writers, on whose
veracity all Mussulmauns rely, that the head of Hosein being taken to
Yuzeed, one of his many wives solicited and received the head, which she
gave to the family of the martyred leader, who were prisoners to the King,
and that they contrived to have it conveyed to Kraabaallah, where it was
deposited in the same grave with his body on the fortieth day after the
When a death occurs in a Mussulmaun family, the survivor provides dinners
on the third, seventh, and fortieth days succeeding, in memory of the
deceased person; these dinners are sent in trays to the immediate
relatives and friends of the party,--on which sacred occasion all the poor
and the beggars are sought to share the rich food provided. The like
customs are observed for Hosein every year. The third day offering is
chiefly composed of sugar, ghee, and flour, and called meetah; it is of
the consistence of our rice-puddings, and whether the dainty is sent to a
king or a beggar there is but one style in the presentation--all is served
in the common brown earthen dish,--in imitation of the humility of Hosein
and his family, who seldom used any other in their domestic circle. The
dishes of meetah are accompanied with the many varieties of bread common
to Hindoostaun, without leaven, as sheah-maul, bacherkaunie,
chapaatie, &c.; the first two have milk and ghee mixed with the flour,
and nearly resemble our pie-crust. I must here stay to remark one custom I
have observed amongst Natives: they never cook food whilst a dead body
remains in the house; as soon as it is known amongst a circle of
friends that a person is dead, ready-dressed dinners are forwarded to the
house for them, no one fancying he is conferring a kindness, but
fulfilling a duty.
The third day after the accomplishment of the Mahurrum ceremonies is a
busy time with the inmates of zeenahnahs, when generally the mourning garb
is thrown off, and preparations commence at an early hour in the morning
for bathing and replacing the banished ornaments. Abstinence and privation
being no longer deemed meritorious by the Mussulmauns, the pawn--the dear
delightful pawn, which constitutes the greatest possible luxury to the
Natives,--pours in from the bazaar, to gladden the eye and rejoice the
heart of all classes, who after this temporary self-denial enjoy the
luxury with increased zest.
Again the missee (a preparation of antimony) is applied to the lips,
the gums, and occasionally to the teeth of every married lady, who emulate
each other in the rich black produced;--such is the difference of taste as
regards beauty;--where we admire the coral hue, with the females of
Hindoostaun, Nature is defaced by the application of black dye. The eyelid
also is pencilled afresh with prepared black, called kaarjil: the
chief ingredient in this preparation is lampblack. The eyebrow is well
examined for fear an ill-shaped hair should impair the symmetry of that
arch esteemed a beauty in every clime, though all do not, perhaps,
exercise an equal care with Eastern dames to preserve order in its growth.
The mayndhie is again applied to the hands and feet, which restores the
bright red hue deemed so becoming and healthy.
The nose once more is destined to receive the nutt (ring) which
designates the married lady; this ring, I have before mentioned, is of
gold wire, the pearls and ruby between them are of great value, and I have
seen many ladies wear the nutt as large in circumference as the bangle on
her wrist, though of course much lighter; it is often worn so large, that
at meals they are obliged to hold it apart from the face with the left
hand, whilst conveying food to the mouth with the other. This nutt,
however, from ancient custom, is indispensable with married women, and
though they may find it disagreeable and inconvenient, it cannot possibly
be removed, except for Mahurrum, from the day of their marriage until
their death or widowhood, without infringing on the originality of their
customs, in adhering to which they take so much pride.
The ears of the females are pierced in many places; the gold or silver
rings return to their several stations after Mahurrum, forming a broad
fringe of the precious metals on each side the head; but when they dress
for great events,--as paying visits or receiving company,--these give
place to strings of pearls and emeralds, which fall in rows from the upper
part of the ear to the shoulder in a graceful, elegant style. My ayah, a
very plain old woman, has no less than ten silver rings in one ear and
nine in the other, each of them having pendant ornaments; indeed, her
ears are literally fringed with silver.
After the hair has undergone all the ceremonies of washing, drying, and
anointing with the sweet jessamine oil of India, it is drawn with great
precision from the forehead to the back, where it is twisted into a queue
which generally reaches below the waist; the ends are finished with strips
of red silk and silver ribands entwined with the hair, and terminating
with a good-sized rosette. The hair is jet black, without a single
variation of tinge, and luxuriantly long and thick, and thus dressed
remains for the week,--about the usual interval between their laborious
process of bathing;--nor can they conceive the comfort other people find
in frequent brushing and combing the hair. Brushes for the head and the
teeth have not yet been introduced into Native families, nor is it ever
likely they will, unless some other material than pigs' bristles can be
rendered available by the manufacturers for the present purposes of
brushes. The swine is altogether considered abominable to Mussulmauns; and
such is their detestation of the unclean animal that the most angry
epithet from a master to a slave would be to call him 'seur' (swine).
It must not, however, be supposed that the Natives neglect their teeth;
they are the most particular people living in this respect, as they never
eat or drink without washing their mouths before and after meals; and as a
substitute for our tooth-brush, they make a new one every day from the
tender branch of a tree or shrub,--as the pomegranate, the neem,
babool, &c. The fresh-broken twig is bruised and made pliant at the
extremity, after the bark or rind is stripped from it, and with this the
men preserve the enamelled-looking white teeth which excite the admiration
of strangers; and which, though often envied, I fancy, are never surpassed
by European ingenuity.
As I have rather prematurely introduced the Native ladies' style of dress
into this Letter, I may as well conclude the whole business of their
toilet under the present head, instead of reserving the detail of the
subject for a future Letter when the zeenahnah is to be described, and
accordingly proceed to tell you that the ladies' pyjaamahs are formed of
rich satin, or gold cloth, goolbudden, or mussheroo (striped
washing silks manufactured at Benares), fine chintz,--English manufacture
having the preference,--silk or cotton ginghams,--in short, all such
materials are used for this article of female dress as are of sufficiently
firm texture, down to the white calico of the country, suited to the means
of the wearer. By the most fashionable females they are worn very full
below the knee, and reach to the feet, which are partially covered by the
fulness, the extremity finished and the seams are bound with silver riband;
a very broad silver riband binds the top of the pyjaamah; this being
double has a zarbund (a silk net cord) run through, by which this part
of the dress is confined at the waist. The ends of the zarbund are
finished with rich tassels of gold and silver, curiously and expressly
made for this purpose, which extend below the knees: for full dress, these
tassels are rendered magnificent with pearls and jewels.
One universal shape is adopted in the form of the ungeeah (bodice),
which is, however, much varied in the material and ornamental part; some
are of gauze or net, muslin, &c., the more transparent in texture the more
agreeable to taste, and all are more or less ornamented with spangles and
silver trimmings. It is made to fit the bust with great exactness, and to
fasten behind with strong cotton cords; the sleeves are very short and
tight, and finished with some fanciful embroidery or silver riband. Even
the women servants pride themselves on pretty ungeeahs, and all will
strive to have a little finery about them, however coarse the material it
is formed of may happen to be. They are never removed at night but
continue to be worn a week together, unless its beauty fades earlier, or
the ornamental parts tarnish through extreme heat.
With the ungeeah is worn a transparent courtie (literally translated shirt)
of thread net; this covers the waistband of the pyjaamah but does not
screen it; the seams and hems are trimmed with silver or gold ribands.
The deputtah is a useful envelope, and the most graceful part of the whole
female costume. In shape and size, a large sheet will convey an idea of
the deputtah's dimensions; the quality depends on choice or circumstances;
the preference is given to our light English manufacture of leno or muslin
for every-day wear by gentlewomen; but on gala days, gold and silver gauze
tissues are in great request, as is also fine India muslin manufactured at
Decca--transparent and soft as the web of the gossamer spider;--this is
called shubnum (night dew), from its delicate texture, and is procured
at a great expense, even in India; some deputtahs are formed of
gold-worked muslin, English crape, coloured gauze, &c. On ordinary
occasions ladies wear them simply bound with silver riband, but for dress
they are richly trimmed with embroidery and bullion fringes, which add
much to the splendour of the scene, when two or three hundred females are
collected together in their assemblies. The deputtah is worn with much
original taste on the back of the head, and falls in graceful folds over
the person; when standing, it is crossed in front, one end partially
screening the figure, the other thrown over the opposite shoulder.
I should say they rarely stand; but when distinguished guests, or their
elders amongst relatives, are announced, this mark of respect is never
omitted. It is an interesting sight, as they have much ease and grace in
their manner, which no tutoring could impart; they rise and arrange their
drapery, advance a few steps from their place in the hall, and embrace
their visitor thrice in due form, ending by salaaming, with the head bowed
very low towards the ground and the open hand raised to the forehead,
three times in succession, with solemnity and dignity.
I have told you, in a former Letter, how many precious ornaments were laid
aside on the eve of Mahurrum, and need hardly describe them again. Their
fondness for good jewellery perhaps exceeds the same propensity in any
other females on the globe: the rude workmanship of Native jewellers is
never an object of weighty consideration, provided the precious metals are
unalloyed in quality. The same may be remarked in their selection of
jewels: pearls of the largest size, even when discoloured or misshapen,
are selected in preference to the most regular in form and colour, of a
smaller size; large diamonds, having flaws, are often preferred to smaller
ones most perfect. The gentlemen are good judges of precious stones, and
evince some taste in their style of ornaments; they are worn on their
turbans, and in necklaces or harrhs--rings, armlets, &c.; but these
are all laid aside at seasons of devotion, when they are restricted
wearing, not only ornaments, but mixed articles of silk and wool in their
apparel. The most religious men and women invariably abstain from
ornamental dress in every way, deeming it frivolous vanity, and
inconsistent with that they profess--'to be seeking God, and forsaking
The ladies never wear stockings, and only cover the feet with shoes
when pacing across their court-yard, which bounds their view and their
walks. Nevertheless, there is a fashion and taste about the ladies' shoes,
which is productive of much emulation in zeenahnah life;--they are
splendidly worked in many patterns, with gold and silver spangles,
variously-coloured small seed beads and embroidery--the whole one mass of
glittering metal;--they are made with sharp points curling upwards, some
nearly reaching half-way to the knees, and always worn down at the heel,
as dressing slippers; the least costly for their every-day wear are of
gold embroidery on velvet; the less opulent condescend to wear tinsel work,
and the meanest servants yellow or red cloth with silver binding. The same
style of shoes are worn by the males as by the females; I have seen some
young men with green shagreen slippers for the rainy season; these are
made with a high heel and look unseemly. The fashion of shoes varies with
the times in this country, as well as in others--sometimes it is genteel
to have small points to the shoes; at another, the points are long and
much curled; but they still retain the preference for pointed shoes
whatever be the fashion adopted.
The greatest novelty in the way of shoes, which came under my observation
in India, was a pair of silver embroidery, small pointed, and very neatly
made: on the points and round the instep small silver bells were fastened,
which produced harmony with every step, varied by the quick or more gentle
paces of the wearer; these were a present to me from a lady of distinction
in Oude. Upon visiting this lady on one occasion, my black silk slippers,
which I had left at the entrance (as is the custom here), had most likely
attracted the curiosity of the Begum's slaves, for when that lady attended
me to the threshold, they could nowhere be found; and I was in danger of
being obliged to soil my stockings by walking shoeless to my palkie,
across the court-yard. In this dilemma the lady proffered me the pair here
described; I was much amused with the novelty of the exchange, upon
stepping into the musical shoes, which, however they may be prized by
Native ladies, did not exactly suit my style of dress, nor convenience in
walking, although I must always remember the Begum's attention with
The ladies' society is by no means insipid or without interest; they are
naturally gifted with good sense and politeness, fond of conversation,
shrewd in their remarks, and their language is both correct and refined.
This, at first, was an enigma to me, considering that their lives are
spent in seclusion, and that their education was not conducted on European
principles; the mystery, however, has passed away upon an intimate
acquaintance with the domestic habits of the people. The men with whom
genteel women converse, are generally well educated, and from the
naturally inquisitive disposition of the females, not a word escapes the
lips of a father, husband, or brother, without an inquiry as to its
meaning, which having once ascertained, is never forgotten, because their
attention is not diverted by a variety of pursuits, or vain amusements.
The women look up to the opinions of their male relatives with the same
respect as children of other climes are accustomed to regard their tutor
or governess,--considering every word pronounced as worthy of imitation,
and every sentiment expressed, as a guide to their own. Thus the habit of
speaking correctly is so familiar to the females of Mussulmaun society,
that even women servants, long accustomed to serve in zeenahnahs, may be
readily distinguished by their language from the same class of people in
attendance on European ladies.
P.S. All good Mussulmauns are expected to wear their beards, by command of
the Prophet; so says my informant, who is of 'the faith', and wears his
beard, in accordance with the injunction of his Lawgiver. In modern times,
however, the Mussulmauns have seen fit to modify the strict letter of the
law, and we perceive generally, mustachios only reserved on the upper lip.
This ornament is trained with the nicest care amongst the fashionable
young men of the present day, and made to creep over the lip at each
corner of the mouth with curling points; well-trained mustachios being
with them much esteemed.
The religious Mussulmauns become more scrupulous as they advance in
knowledge of their faith, when they allow their beards to grow and their
heads to be shaven; if the hair turns white--while to look well is an
object of interest--a dye is resorted to, composed of mayndhie and indigo,
which restores its youthful appearance, and the beard retains its black
glossy hue for about six weeks, when the process of dyeing is again made
the business of a convenient hour. The vanities of the world ceasing
to charm (the heart being fixed on more important subjects), the beard is
permitted to retain its natural colour; and, truly, the venerable
countenance of an aged Mussulmaun, with a silvery-white beard flowing
nearly to his girdle, is a picture that would interest every beholder well
acquainted with Bible history.
When the Mussulmaun determines on fulfilling the command of his Lawgiver,
in making the pilgrimage to Mecca, the beard is allowed to grow whatever
be his age; and this may be considered a badge of their faith, none being
admitted at 'the Holy House' who have not this passport on their chin.
 _Ghari_, about twenty-four minutes.
 _Darwan, chaukidar_.
 See p. 64.
 According to the Shi'ahs, Zainu-l-'Abidin obtained from Yazid,
after forty days, the head of Husain, and brought it to Karbala. They
deny that the head is at Cairo and the body at Karbala. Others say
that the head was sent to Medina, and buried near the grave of
Fatimah.--Burton, _Pilgrimage_, ii. 40; Ockley, _History of the
Saracens_, 412, 415 note.
 _Mitha_, 'sweet'.
 _Shirmal_, bread made with milk.
 _Baqirkhani_, a kind of crisp bread or cake, like piecrust,
made of milk, sugar, and flour.
 _Chapati_, the griddle cake, the standard food of the people.
 No food should be cooked in the house of a Musalman during the
forty days of mourning. Sir J.G. Frazer thinks that this is due to
the risk of eating the ghost clinging to the food (_Journal
Anthropological Institute_, xv. (1886) 92 ff.).
 _Missi_, from _mis_, 'copper', because copper-filings form its
chief ingredient, to which are added myrobalan, gall-nuts, vitriol, &c.
The custom is based on the Arab admiration for the rose-red colour of
the inner lip.--Burton, _A Thousand Nights and A Night_, iii. 365.
 _Nath_, a love-token presented to the bride by the bridegroom. The
very mention of it is considered indelicate.
 They generally adopt an odd number.
 _Nim_ (_Melia Azidirachta_).
 _Babul_ (_Acacia arabica_).
 _Gulbadan_, 'with body like a rose', a fine silk fabric.
 _Mashru_ 'conformable to law', a silk-cotton cloth, which--but not
pure silk--a Musulman can wear during prayer.
 _Zerband_, 'fastening below', 'a girth'.
 _Shabnam_. The finest varieties of these cloths were made at Dacca.
Aurungzeb is said to have remonstrated with his daughter for wearing
what he thought to be a _Coa vestis_. She answered that she wore seven
folds of this cloth.
 _Har_, a necklace, an embroidered garland thrown round the neck of
a visitor on his departure, as a mark of respect. These garlands were
substituted for the pearl necklaces which, in former days, were
presented to guests.
 'Stockings are never worn [in the Zenana]: but I have seen little
coloured stockings, made of the wool from Cashmir, worn at times
during the cold season.'--Mrs. Parks, _Wanderings of a Pilgrim_,
 According to the traditions, the Prophet said, 'Change the whiteness
of your hair, but not with anything black'. The first Caliph is said
to have dyed his beard red with henna. Nowadays indigo is largely used.
The Mussulmaun religion.--Sectarians.--Their difference of
faith.--History of the Soonies.--The Caliphas Omir, Osman, Aboubuker,
&c.--Mahumud's parting charge to Ali.--Omir's jealousy of Ali.--The
Khoraun.--How compiled.--The Calipha Omir held in detestation.--Creed
of the Sheahs.--Funeral service.--Opinions of the Mussulmauns
respecting the Millennium.--The foundation of their faith
exhibited.--Sentiments of the most devout followers of
Mahumud.--Bridge of Sirraat, the Scales, &c. explained.--Emaum
Mhidhie.--Prophecy of his reappearance.--Its early fulfilment
anticipated.--Discourse with the Meer Hadjee Shaah on this subject.
I do not presume to offer opinions on the nature, substance, or character,
of the Mussulmaun Faith; but confine myself to the mere relation of such
facts as I have received from the best possible authority, viz. the
religious men who are of that faith, and live in strict accordance with
the tenets they profess.
There are two sects of the Mussulmaun persuasion, as I have before
remarked, viz. the Sheahs and the Soonies. The leaders of the former are
called Emaums; and those of the latter Caliphas. The Sheahs acknowledge
Ali and his immediate descendants (eleven in number) 'the right and only
lawful Emaums', in succession, after Mahumud. The Soonies declare the
Caliphas--as Omir, Aboubuker, &c.--to be their lawful leaders after
I do not find that there is any great difference in the points of faith
between the two sects; they are equally guided by the same laws and
ordinances inculcated by Mahumud in the Khoraun;--the Sheahs pursuing the
pattern of observances traced out in the life and manners of Ali and his
descendants;--and the Soonies taking their examples from the manners of
the Caliphas. There is a distinguishing method in ablutions before prayers,
and also in the manner of bowing and prostrating in their devotional
exercises; this difference, however, has nothing to do with their
faith,--the subject and form of their daily prayer is one; but both sects
have extra services for particular occasions, agreeable to the instruction
of their favourite leaders. The Namaaz (daily prayer) was taught by
Mahumud to his followers, every line of which is religiously reverenced by
Mussulmauns, and cannot be altered by sectarian principles.
The Mussulmaun faith is founded on three roots; from these spring, with
the Sheahs, six branches; with the Soonies, five. The roots are as
First.--'There is but one God, self existing; ever was, and ever will be;
in Whom is all Power, Majesty, and Dominion; by Whom all things are, and
were created. With Whom is neither partner or substance: and He alone
is to be worshipped.'
Second.--'The Prophets were all true; and all their writings to be relied
on, with a true faith.'
Third.--'The resurrection of the dead is certain.'
The Sheahs' branches, or emanations, from the three roots of their faith,
are as follow:--
1st.--'Namaaz,' (prayer five times daily); a necessary duty, never to
2nd.--'Rumzaun,' (fasting) the whole thirty days of that month; a
service acceptable to God from His humble creatures.
3rd.--'The Hadje,' (pilgrimage to Mecca); commanded by Mahumud, and
therefore to be obeyed.
4th.--'Zuckhaut;' the fortieth portion of all worldly goods to be set
apart every year (an offering to God) for the service of the poor.
5th.--To fight in the road of God, or in His service, against the
6th.--To believe that the twelve Emaums were the true and lawful leaders,
after Mahumud; to follow in their path, or example, and to succour and
defend the Syaads, their descendants.
The Soonies omit the last branch in their profession of faith; with this
solitary exception, the creed of the two sects, from all I can understand,
is the same. The Sheahs are those who celebrate Mahurrum: in my
description of that event will be seen the zealous partizans of the sect;
and here may be introduced with propriety, some account of the opposite
party denominated Soonies.
The word Calipha implies the master or head of any trade, profession,
or calling,--as the master of the tailors, the head master of a college or
school, &c. Omir was the first to usurp the title after Mahumud's death,
and to him succeeded Aboubuker, and then Ausmaun (Osman).
Aboubuker may have claimed some relationship to Mahumud;--he was converted
by his preaching from idolatry to the faith;--he gave his daughter in
marriage to Mahumud, by whom two sons were born to him, Ishmael and
Ibrahim. 'An angel appeared to Mahumud, saying, Which of thy family
shall be taken from thee, Oh, Mahumud! such is the command of God; two of
thy youth must die, and I am sent to demand of thee whether it is thy wish
Ishmael and Ibrahim, thine own sons, shall be taken from this world, or
Hasan and Hosein, the sons of Fatima thy daughter?' The historian
continues, after dwelling much on the virtues of the Prophet's only
daughter, 'Such was the affection of Mahumud for his daughter Fatima and
her children, and so well he knew the purity of their hearts, that he
hesitated not a moment in replying, "If the Lord graciously permits His
servant to choose, I freely offer my two sons Ishmael and Ibrahim; that
Hasan and Hosein may live by His mercy "'.
Omir was also a convert to the faith Mahumud taught: he likewise gave a
daughter in marriage to Mahumud; by whom, however, the same historian
remarks, his house was not peopled. His only daughter, Fatima, lived to
add numbers to his family: she was born to him by the pious female (a
widow) who was his first wife and to whom he was united before he
commenced his work of conversion. Ali, to whom Fatima was married, was the
nephew of Mahumud, and from this union the Syaad race descend to the
present day. The Prophet observing real piety in Ali, designed him not
only to be the most suitable husband for his amiable daughter, but the
best qualified person to be chosen as his successor, when he should be
called by 'the hand of death'; and in the most public manner gave charge
of his flock to Ali, not long before that event occurred. Mahumud's speech
to Ali on that occasion is much reverenced by the Sheah sect;--it has been
translated for me by my husband, and is as follows:--
'You, my son, will suffer many persecutions in the cause of religion; many
will be the obstructions to your preaching, for I see they are not all as
obedient and faithful as yourself. Usurpers of the authority, delegated to
you, will arise, whose views are not pure and holy as your own; but let my
admonitions dwell on your mind, remember my advice without swerving. The
religion I have laboured to teach, is, as yet, but as the buds shooting
forth from the tree; tender as they are, the rude blasts of dissension may
scatter them to the winds, and leave the parent tree without a leaf:--but
suffered to push forth its produce quietly, the hand of Time will ripen
and bring to perfection that which has been the business of my awakened
life to cultivate. Never, my son, suffer your sword to be unsheathed in
the justice of your cause; I exhort you to bear this injunction on your
mind faithfully; whatever may be the provocations you receive, or insults
offered to your person,--I know this trial is in store for my
son,--remember the cause you are engaged in; suffer patiently; never draw
your sword against the people who profess the true faith, even though they
are but by name Mussulmauns.
'Against the enemies of God, I have already given you directions; you may
fight for Him--the only true God,--but never against Him, or His faithful
When Mahumud was numbered with the dead, Omir soon set himself forward as
the lawful successor; he was of good address, and insinuating manners, and
succeeded in drawing 'numbers to his threshold'. He preached the same
doctrine Mahumud had taught, but sensual indulgence and early developed
ambition were more strong in his heart than the faith he preached. Omir
grew jealous of Ali's virtues and forbearance, under the various trials of
oppression and injustice he chose to visit him with; and resolved that, if
possible, he would destroy not only Ali, but his whole family. Omir caused
his house to be fired treacherously, but as the historians say, 'the mercy
of God watched over the sanctified family'; they escaped from the flames,
with no other loss than that of their small property.
The Khoraun was not the work of any particular period in the life of
Mahumud. It was not compiled into a book until after Mahumud's death, who
was totally unacquainted with letters; each chapter having been conveyed
by the angel Gabriel to Mahumud, his inspired memory enabled him to
repeat, verbatim, the holy messenger's words to his disciples and converts
when assembled as was their daily custom. To as many as committed verse,
chapter, or portion to memory, by this oral communication, Mahumud
rewarded with the highest seats in his assembly (meaning nearest his
person); and to those who wished for employment, he gave the command of
detachments sent out against the infidels.
The whole Khoraun was thus conveyed to Mahumud by the angel Gabriel, at
many different periods of his mission; and by daily repetition, did he
instil into the memory of his followers that mental scripture. But when
Omir usurped the right to lead, he ambitiously planned for himself a large
share of popularity by causing the Khoraun to be committed to paper, and
he accordingly gave orders, that the best scribes should be employed to
convey its precepts to writing.
Ali had been engaged in the same employment for some time, perceiving the
future benefit to the faith which would accrue from such a labour, and on
the very day, when Omir was seated in form to receive the work of his
scribes, Ali also presented himself with his version of the Khoraun. It is
asserted that Omir treated him with some indignity, and gave the
preference to the volume his own scribes had prepared, desiring Ali,
nevertheless, to leave that he had transcribed with him, though he
candidly told him he never intended it should be 'the Book for the People'.
Ali found, on this trying occasion, the benefit of Mahumud's advice, to
keep his temper subdued for the trial, and withdrew with his book clasped
to his heart, assuring Omir, that the volume should only be the property
of his descendants; and that when the twelfth Emaum, prophesied by Mahumud,
should disappear from the eye of man, the Khoraun he had written should
also disappear, until that Emaum returned, with whom the book he had
written should again be found.
The name of Omir is detestable to all lovers of literature, or admirers of
ancient history and valuable records. By his orders, the bath was heated
with the valuable collection of manuscripts, which it had been the work of
ages to complete. Omir was told that the people valued the writings of
the ancients, and that they were displeased at this irreparable
destruction of valuable records; he asked if the people were not satisfied
with the Khoraun? and if satisfied, why should they seek for other
knowledge than that book contained? declaring it to be an useless
employment of time, to be engaged in any other readings. They say the
collection of books thus destroyed was so vast, that it served the purpose,
to which it was applied, for many successive days. I have thus far given
the accounts I have received of the origin of the two sects amongst the
Mussulmauns from good authority. My husband says, that in Hindoostaun the
two sects may be nearly equal in number; in Persia the Sheahs
certainly prevail; in Turkey all are Soonies; and in Arabia the Sheahs are
supposed to preponderate. On the whole, perhaps, the two sects are about
The Mussulmauns' Creed, of the Sheah sect, is as follows:--
'I believe in one God, supreme over all, and Him alone do I worship.
'I believe that Mahumud was the creature of God, the Creator; I believe
that Mahumud was the messenger of God, (the Lord of messengers); and that
he was the last of the prophets. I believe that Ali was the chief of the
faithful, the head of all the inheritors of the law, and the true leader
appointed of God; consequently to be obeyed by the faithful. Also I
believe that Hasan and Hosein, the sons of Ali, and Ali son of Hosein, and
Mahumud son of Ali, and Jaufur son of Mahumud, and Moosa son of Jaufur,
and Ali son of Moosa, and Mahumud son of Ali, and Ali son of Mahumud, and
Hasan son of Ali, and Mhidhie (the standing proof) son of Hasan; the mercy
of God be upon them! these were the true leaders of the faithful, and the
proof of God was conveyed by them to the people.'
This creed is taught to the children of both sexes, in Mussulmaun families,
as soon as they are able to talk; and, from the daily repetition, is
perfectly familiar to them at an early age.
I propose describing the funeral service here, as the substance of their
particular faith is so intimately connected with the appointed service for
The dead body of a Mussulmaun, in about six hours after life is extinct,
is placed in a kuffin (coffin) and conveyed to the place of burial,
with parade suited to the rank he held in life.
A tent, or the kaanaut (screen), is pitched in a convenient place,
where water is available near to the tomb, for the purpose of washing and
preparing the dead body for interment. They then take the corpse out of
the coffin and thoroughly bathe it; when dry, they rub pounded camphor on
the hands, feet, knees, and forehead, these parts having, in the method of
prostrating at prayer, daily touched the ground; the body is then wrapped
neatly in a winding-sheet of white calico, on which has been written
particular chapters from the Khoraun: this done, it is taken up with
great gentleness and laid in the grave on the side, with the face towards
Mecca. The officiating Maulvee steps solemnly into the grave (which is
much deeper and wider than ours), and with a loud voice repeats the creed,
as before described; after which he says, 'These were thy good and holy
leaders, O son of Adam! (here he repeats the person's names). Now when the
two angels come unto thee, who are the Maccurrub (messengers) from thy
great and mighty God, they will ask of thee, "Who is thy Lord? Who is thy
Prophet? What is thy faith? Which is thy book? Where is thy Kiblaah?
Who is thy Leader?"
'Then shalt thou answer the Maccurrub thus:--
'"God, greatest in glory, is my only Lord; Mahumud, my Prophet; Islaaim,
my faith, (Islaaim means true faith); the Khoraun, my book; the Kaubah
(Holy House at Mecca), my Kiblaah;
'"Emaum Ali, son of Aboutalib,
" Hasan and Hosein,
" Ali, surnamed Zynool Auberdene,
" Mahumud, " Baakur,
" Jaufur, " Saadick,
" Moosa, " Khazim,
" Ali, " Reezah,
" Mahumud, " Ul Jawaad,
" Ali, " Ul Hoodah,
" Hasan, " Ul Ushkeree,
" Mhidhie, the standing proof that we are waiting for.
'"These are all my leaders, and they are my intercessors, with them is my
love, with their enemies is my hatred, in the world of earth and in the
world to come eternal."'
Then the Maulvee says:--
'Know ye for a truth, O man (repeating his name), that the God we worship
is One only, Great and Glorious, Most High and Mighty God, who is above
all lords, the only true God.
'Know ye also, That Mahumud is the best of the Lord's messengers.
'That Ali and his successors (before enumerated, but always here repeated)
were the best of all leaders.
'That whatever came with Mahumud is true, (meaning the whole work of his
mission);--Death is true; the Interrogation by Moonkih and Nykee (the
two angels) is true; the Resurrection is true; Destruction is true; the
Bridge of Sirraat is true; the Scales are true; Looking into the Book
is true; Heaven and Earth are true; Hell is true; the Day of Judgment is
'Of these things there is no doubt--all are true; and, further, that God,
the great and glorious God, will raise all the dead bodies from their
Then the Maulvee reads the following prayer or benediction, which is
called Dooar prayer:--
'May the Lord God, abundant in mercy, keep you with the true speech; may
He lead you to the perfect path; may He grant you knowledge of Him, and of
'May the mercy of God be fixed upon you for ever. Ameen.'
This concluded, the Maulvee quits the grave, and slowly moves forty
measured paces in a line with it; then turning round, he comes again to
the grave, with the same solemnity in his steps, and standing on the edge,
'O great and glorious God, we beseech Thee with humility make the earth
comfortable to this Thy servant's side, and raise his soul to Thee, and
with Thee may he find mercy and forgiveness.'
'Ameen, Ameen,' is responded by all present.
This ends the funeral service: the earth is closed over by the servants,
&c. and, except with the very poor, the grave is never entirely forsaken
day or night, during the forty days of mourning; readers of the Khoraun
are paid for this service, and in the families of the nobility the grave
is attended for years by those hired, who are engaged to read from that
book perpetually, relieving each other at intervals day and night.
They believe that when the Maulvee quits the grave, the angels enter to
interrogate the dead body, and receive the confession of his particular
faith; this is the object of the Maulvee's retiring forty paces, to give
the angels time to enter on their mission to the dead.
The Mussulmauns all believe that Mhidhie, the standing proof as he is
called, will visit the earth at a future period; they are said to possess
prophecies, that lead them to expect the twelve hundred and sixtieth year
of the Hegirah, as the time for his coming. The Soonies say, this Emaum
has yet to be born:--the Sheahs believe that Emaum Mhidhie is the person
to reappear. Some believe he is still on earth, dwelling, as they
conjecture, in the wilds and forests; and many go so far as to assert,
that Mhidhie visits (without being recognized) the Holy House of Mecca
annually, on the great day of sacrifice; but I cannot find any grounds
they have for this opinion.
They also possess a prophecy, on which much dependance is placed, that
'When the four quarters of the globe contain Christian inhabitants, and
when the Christians approach the confines of Kaabah, then may men look for
that Emaum who is to come'. And it is the general belief amongst
Mussulmauns, founded on the authority of their most revered and valued
writers, that Emaum Mhidhie will appear with Jesus Christ at his second
coming; and with whom, they declare and firmly believe, he will act in
concert to purge the world of sin and wickedness. When, they add, 'all men
shall be of one mind and one faith'.
Of the three principal Roots of the Mussulmauns' faith, little need be
further said in explanation. I have had various opportunities of learning
their undisguised thoughts, and wish only to impart what the people are,
who are so little known to the world in general. All persons having had
the opportunity of studying the peculiarities of their particular faith,
will, I think, give them due credit, that reverence for, and belief in God,
forms a prominent trait in their character and faith: 'The English
translation of the Khoraun by Sale, (imperfect as all works must be, where
the two languages are inadequate to speak each other's meaning,) will tell
without a commentary, that the worship of God was the foundation on which
Mahumud built his code of laws; and that the prophets were all
acknowledged by him as messengers sent from God to His people, in every
age of the world; and, lastly, that Mahumud was the Prophet, who came when
the people of the earth, vicious and profane, had fallen into the most
dissolute habits, worshipping idols instead of God.' This passage is the
sentiment expressed to me by a worthy man, and a true Mussulmaun; I have
traced it out for the sake of explaining what is in the hearts of the
Mussulmauns of the present day.
When I have conversed with some of them on the improbability of Mahumud's
prophetic mission, I have been silenced by a few words, 'How many prophets
were sent to the Israelites?'--'Many.'--'You cannot enumerate them? then,
is it too much to be probable that God's mercy should have been graciously
extended to the children of Ishmael? they also are Abraham's seed. The
Israelites had many prophets, in all of whom we believe; the Ishmaelites
have one Prophet only, whose mission was to draw men from idolatry to the
true God. All men, they add will be judged according to their fidelity in
the faith they have professed. It is not the outward sign which makes a
man the true Mussulmaun; neither is it the mere profession of Christianity
which will clear the man at the last day. Religion and faith are of the
In their collection of writings, I have had access to a voluminous work,
entitled 'Hyaatool Kaaloob' (Enlightener of the Heart). My husband has
translated for me, occasionally, portions of this valuable work, which
bears a striking similarity to our Holy Scriptures, though collected after
a different manner; I have acquired, by this means, a more intimate
acquaintance with the general character of the Mussulmaun's belief. This
book contains all the prophets' lives, at every age of the world. It was
compiled by Mahumud Baakur, first in Arabic, and afterwards translated by
him into the Persian language, for the benefit of the public; and is of
great antiquity--I cannot now ascertain the exact date.
The Mussulmaun belief on the subject of the resurrection is, 'When the
fulness of time cometh, of which no man knoweth, then shall the earth be
destroyed by fire--and after this will be the resurrection of the dead'.
The branches emanating from the roots of the Mussulmaun faith will require
further explanation which shall follow in due course. I will in this
letter merely add what is meant by the Bridge of Sirraat, the
Scales, and Looking into the Book as noted in the burial service.
'The Bridge of Sirraat', they understand, is to be passed over by every
person in their passage to eternity, and is represented sharp as the
keenest sword. The righteous will be gifted with power to pass over
with the rapidity of lightning, neither harm nor inconvenience will attend
them on the passage. The wicked, on the contrary, will be without help,
and must be many times injured and cut down in the attempt. An idea has
crept into the minds of some, that whoever offers up to God, at different
periods of his life, such animals as are deemed clean and fitting for
sacrifice, the same number and kind, on their day of passing Sirraat,
shall be in readiness to assist them on the passage over.
On this supposition is grounded the object of princes and nobles in India
offering camels in sacrifice on the day of Buckrah Eade. This event
answers our Scripture account of Abraham's offering, but the Mussulmauns
say, the son of Abraham so offered was Ishmael, and not Isaac. I have
disputed the point with some of their learned men, and brought them to
search through their authorities; in some one or two there is a doubt as
to which was the son offered, but the general writers and most of the
Mussulmauns themselves believe Ishmael was the offering made by Abraham.
'The Scales are true;' the Mussulmauns believe, that on the day of
judgment, the good and the bad deeds of every mortal will be submitted to
the scales prepared in Heaven for that purpose.
'Looking into the Book is true;' the Mussulmauns believe that every human
being from their birth is attended by two angels, one resting on the
right shoulder the other on the left, continually; their business is to
register every action of the individual they attend; when a good action is
to be recorded, they beseech the Almighty in His mercy to keep the person
in the good and perfect way; when evil ways are to be registered, they
mourn with intercessions to God that His mercy may be extended, by
granting them repentant hearts, and then, His forgiveness. Thus they
explain 'Looking into the Book is true', that whatever is contained in
this book will be looked into on the day of judgment, and by their deeds
therein registered shall they be judged.
In the 'Hyaatool Kaaloob' is to be found the lives of the Emaums, from
which is gleaned the following remarks:--
The Emaum Mhidhie was an orphan at nine years old. Alrouschid, the
King of Bagdad, advised by his wicked minister, resolved on destroying
this boy (the last of the Emaums), fearing as he grew into favour with the
people, that the power of his sovereignty would decrease.
The King sent certain soldiers to seize Mhidhie, who was at prayers in an
inner room when they arrived. The soldiers demanded and were refused
admittance they then forced an entrance and proceeded to the room in which
the Emaum was supposed to be at prayers, they discovered him immersed to
the waist in a tank of water; the soldiers desired him to get out of the
water and surrender himself, he continued repeating his prayer, and
appeared to take no notice of the men nor their demand. After some
deliberations amongst the soldiers, they thought the water was too shallow
to endanger their lives, and one entered the tank intending to take the
Emaum prisoner, he sank instantly to rise no more, a second followed who
shared the same fate; and the rest, deterred by the example of their
brother soldiers, fled from the place, to report the failure of their plan
to the King at Bagdad.
This writer reports that Emaum Mhidhie was secretly conveyed away,
supposed by the interposition of Divine Providence, and was not again seen,
to be recognized, on earth; yet it is believed he still lives and will
remain for the fulfilment of that prophecy which sayeth:--'When Mecca is
filled with Christian people Emaum Mhidhie will appear, to draw men to the
true faith; and then also, Jesus Christ will descend from heaven to Mecca,
there will be great slaughter amongst men; after which there will be but
one faith--and then shall there be perfect peace and happiness over all
The Mussulmauns of the present age discourse much on the subject of that
prophecy--particularly during the contest between the Greeks and Turks, of
which however they had no very correct information, yet they fancied the
time must be fast approaching, by these leading events, to the fuller
accomplishment; often, when in conversation with the most religious men of
the country, I have heard them declare it as their firm belief that the
time was fast approaching when there should be but one mind amongst all
men. 'There is but little more to finish;' 'The time draws near;' are
expressions of the Mussulmauns' belief, when discoursing of the period
anticipated, as prophesied in their sacred writings;--so persuaded are
they of the nearness of that time. In relating the substance of my last
serious conversation with the devout Meer Hadjee Shaah, I shall disclose
the real sentiments of most, if not every religious reflecting, true
Mussulmaun of his sect in India.
Meer Hadjee Shaah delighted in religious conversations; it was his
happiest time when, in the quiet of night, the Meer, his son, translated,
as I read, the Holy Bible to him. We have often been thus engaged until
one or two, and even to a later hour in the morning; he remembered all he
heard, and drew comparisons, in his own mind, between the two authorities
of sacred writings--the Khoraun and Bible; the one he had studied through
his long life, the other, he was now equally satisfied, contained the word
of God; he received them both, and as the 'two witnesses' of God. The last
serious conversation I had with him, was a very few days before his death;
he was then nearly in as good health as he had been for the last year; his
great age had weakened his frame, but he walked about the grounds with his
staff, as erect as when I first saw him, and evinced nothing in his
general manner that could excite a suspicion that his hours had so nearly
run their course.
We had been talking of the time when peace on earth should be universal;
'My time, dear baittie (daughter), is drawing to a quick conclusion.
You may live to see the events foretold, I shall be in my grave; but
remember, I tell you now, though I am dead, yet when Jesus Christ returns
to earth, at His coming, I shall rise again from my grave; and I shall be
with Him, and with Emaum Mhidhie also.'
This was the substance of his last serious conversation with me, and
within one short week he was removed from those who loved to hear his
voice; but he still lives in the memory of many, and those who knew his
worth are reconciled by reflecting on the 'joy that awaits the righteous'.
'Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring,
and they shall hear My voice; and there shall be one fold, and one
shepherd.' Also, 'In My Father's house are many mansions'. These were
particularly pleasing passages to him, and often referred to in our
 The Shi'ahs only wipe or rub the feet, instead of washing them, as
do the Sunnis. In the standing posture (_qiyam_) in prayer, the
Sunnis place the right hand over the left below the navel; the
Shi'ahs keep their hands hanging on both sides of the body.
 I have met with the creed of the modern Jews, some time in the course
of my life, in Hurd's _History of all Religions_; the belief of the
Mussulmauns, as regards the unity of God, strictly coincides with that
of the Jews, described in the first four articles of their creed.
 _Namaz_, liturgical prayer, as contrasted with _du'a_, ordinary
 _Ramzan, Ramazan_.
 Khalifah, 'successor,' 'lieutenant,' 'viceregent.'
 'Umar, Abu Bakr, 'Usman.
 No son named Ishmail is recorded. Ibrahim, his son from
his slave girl, Mary the Copt, died A.D. 631, and was buried at Medina.
The daughter of Abu Bakr was 'Ayishah.
 The Prophet married Hafsah, daughter of 'Umar, as his third wife.
 'Whoso is the enemy of Gabriel--for he has by God's leave caused to
descend on thy heart the confirmation of previous
revelations.'--_Koran_, ii. 91.
 'The story of the destruction of the library at Alexandria is first
told by Bar-hebraeus (Abulfaragius), a Christian writer who lived six
centuries later: it is of very doubtful authority.'--_Encyclopaedia
Britannica_, i. 570.
 This is incorrect, Sunnis very largely preponderating over
Shi'ahs. According to the latest information there were in the
United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, nearly 6-1/2 million Sunnis and
183,000 Shi'ahs (_Imperial Gazetteer_ (1908), xxiv. 172). This
information was not collected in recent census reports. In the whole
of India, in 1881, there were 46-3/4 million Sunnis, as compared
with 809,561 Shi'ahs.
 The correct list of the Imams recognized by the Imamiya or
orthodox Shi'ahs is as follows: 'Ali, son-in-law of the Prophet;
Al-Hasan, son of 'Ali, Al-Husain, second son of 'Ali; 'Ali
Zain-ul-'Abidin, son of Al-Husain; Muhammad Al-Baqir, son of
Zain-ul-'Abidin; Ja'afar as-Sadiq, son of Muhammad Al-Baqir;
Ar-Raza, son of Musa; Muhammad At-Taqi, son of Ar-Raza;
'Ali-an Naqi, son of Muhammad At-Taqi; Al-Hasan Al-Askari,
son of 'Ali-an Naqi; Muhammad, son of Al-Hasan Al-Askari, or
the Imam Al-Mahdi, who is believed to be still alive, and will
appear in the last days as the Mahdi.
 _Kafn_, properly 'a winding-sheet'.
 The religious man generally prepares his own winding-sheet, keeping
it always ready, and occasionally taking out this monitor to add
another verse or chapter, as the train of thought may have urged at
the time. I have seen this done by the Meer Hadjee Shaah, who
appropriated a piece of fine white cambric muslin, he had received
from me, to this sacred purpose. I have often been a silent observer
of my revered friend whilst he was engaged in writing passages from
the book whose rules he lived by. The anticipated moment when he
should require this his kuffin dress, was never clouded by dread, but
always looked forward to with cheerfulness and fervent hope; for he
trusted in the mercy of God whom he loved and worshipped. [_Author_.]
[Many pilgrims buy at Mecca the shroud in which they desire to be
buried, and wash it in the well Zamzam, supposing that the holy water
will secure the repose of the soul after death.]
 Maccurrub means those angels who are at all times privileged to
appear in the presence of God;--they are supposed to have eyes of
great brilliance. In order that the Mussulmauns may have the reply
ready for that awful moment, they have a custom of repeating the
responses to the angel every evening, when the lamp is first lighted,
as they say this sudden light resembles the angels' eyes. I had
noticed the custom for some time, and fancied the Mussulmaun people
worshipped light, until I was made acquainted with the real motive for
this general observance both with the men and women. [_Author._]
[_Muqarrab_, 'those allowed to come near'.]
 Kiblaah is the holy place to which men turn their face when offering
up their prayer to God, as the Jews face Jerusalem. Literally,
'worshipping place'. [_Author._] [_Qiblah_: the direction of prayer
was changed by the Prophet from Jerusalem to Mecca (_Koran_, ii.
138-9, with Sale's note).]
 See p. 72.
 Munkir, or Munkar, and Nakir are the two recording angels.
 See p. 78.
 Al-Mahdi, 'the directed one', who will appear in the last day.
According to the Shi'ahs, he has already appeared in the person of
Muhammad Abu'l-Qasim, the 12th Imam. Later claimants are
Sayyid Ahmad, who fought against the Sikhs in 1826; Muhammad Ahmad ibn
Sayyid Abdulla, who fled after the fatal day of Omdurman, and was
killed in battle in 1899.
 _Hayat[u']l-Qulub_ compiled by Muhammad Baqir, whose last
work was published A.D. 1627. It has been partly translated into
English by J.L. Morrick, Boston, 1850.
 Sirat, the bridge over which the soul must cross on its way to
 Mizan, the Balance, with which the deeds of the dead man are
weighed.--_Koran_, xxi. 47.
 May not this be a poetical symbol, similar to the scythe? [_Author._]
 Baqarah 'Id, 'cow festival,' held on the 10th of the month
Zu'l-Hijjah, the month of pilgrimage, the attempted sacrifice of
Ishmael having, it is said, occurred at Mount Mina, near Mecca.
 Kiramu'l-Katibin, one recording the good, the other the
evil actions of the dead.
 Harun-al-Rashid, 'Aaron the Orthodox', fifth Abbasid Caliph,
of Baghdad (A.D. 763 or 776-809), best known from _The Arabian Nights_.
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
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.
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,' 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'.
'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
'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