Observations on the Mussulmauns of India eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 486 pages of information about Observations on the Mussulmauns of India.

[14] Salam-’alai-kum.

[15] Injil, [Greek:  e’uaggelion], the Gospel, as opposed to
    taurat, the Pentateuch.

[16] Daud.

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

[18] Ja’afar as-Sadiq.

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

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

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

LETTER VIII

The Fast of Rumzaun.—­Motives for its strict observance.—­Its commencement and duration.—­Sentiments of Meer Hadjee Shaah on the duty of fasting.—­Adherence of the females to the observing this fast.—­How first broken.—­Devout persons extend the term to forty days.—­Children permitted to try their zeal.—­Calamitous effects of the experiment.—­Exemptions from this duty.—­Joyful termination of the fast.—­Celebration of Eade on the last day.—­The Nuzza.—­Nautchwomen and Domenie.—­Surprise of the Natives at European dancing.—­Remarks on their Music.—­Anecdotes of Fatima.—­The Chuckee.

  ’The poor man fasts, because he wanteth meat;
  The sick man fasts, because he cannot eat. 
  The miser fasts, with greedy mind, to spare;
  The glutton fasts, to eat a greater share. 
  The hypocrite, he fasts to seem more holy;
  The righteous man, to punish sinful folly.’

The secret motive of the heart, man cannot fathom in his neighbour’s deeds.  There are some actions so praiseworthy in themselves, that the charitably disposed will pass over the probable actuating motive, when looking only to the fair example.  I have, however, reason to think that the Mussulmauns generally, in fulfilling the commanded fast of Rumzaun, have an unexceptionable motive.  They are taught by their Lawgiver, that the due performance of this rigid fast is an acceptable service to God the Creator, from man the creature:  they believe this, and therefore they fast?

Amongst the well-informed it is persevered in as a duty delightful to be permitted to perform; the ignorant take some merit to themselves in having faithfully observed the command; yet all the fasting population are actuated more or less by the same motive,—–­the desire to please God by fulfilling His commands, delivered to them by their acknowledged Prophet.

The severity of a Mussulmaun’s fast can alone be understood by those who have made the trial, as I frequently have, of the strict rules of abstinence which they observe; and with the additional privations to be endured at the period of the hottest months and the longest days in the same climate, as will sometimes be the case with all their movable fasts.

The Mussulmaun fast commences when the first streak of light borders the Eastern horizon, and continues until the stars are clearly discerned in the heavens.  During this period not the slightest particle of food, not one single drop of water, or any other liquid, passes the lips; the hookha, even, is disallowed during the continuance of the fast, which of itself forms not only a luxury of great value, but an excellent antidote to hunger.

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