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of the month this occurred, so in order to make sure they celebrate the whole month.
The green turbaned Turks are the descendants of the Prophet Mohammed, through his daughter, Fatima, who
married Ali, the faithful disciple. They are known as Emirs, and enjoy religious and political preference. Having a chief of their own, who is a sovereign among them, even to the infliction of punishment, they form a religious institution, keeping alive the spirit of Islamism, as the Janizaries in their day kept up the military spirit of the empire.
Besides these there are several other peculiar Mohammedan orders. We shall first describe the Dervishes. The Dervish is a historic figure. The order was founded thirty-seven years after the death of Mohammed. Asceticism is the most distinctive feature of this order. On several occasions it has been my privilege to visit the huts of these sacred beggars. They are destitute of furniture. Some of the rigid devotees have not even a cushion or bedding, and lie on the bare mud-floor. As their maxim says, “poverty is my glory,” they generally live in deserted quarters of the city, in mud holes or in mountain caves. Like the Grecian philosopher, Diogenes, all their care in life is a place to sleep and something to eat. In personal appearance they are the most hideous-looking beings on earth. They wear sheep-skin, have their whiskers and hair hang down long over their faces and shoulders. They always carry sharp hatchets in their hands for protection, and go begging in the bazaars, and praying in the streets in the Arabic tongue. Cut off from all family associations, their lives are entirely sanctified to their monastic institutions.
There is another kind of Dervishes-religious dancers, an entirely different order from those above described. In manner, dress and principles, these latter are more human, though at times quite frantic. These are spinners and howlers. The former are generally found in tekiehs or chapels-octagon-shaped rooms with polished floors. They are in close-fitting suits with loose petticoats, and wear conical hats of grey felt. After the Koran is expounded and kisses exchanged, the graceful spinning begins. Arms are crossed on the breast with hands on the shoulders. Slowly at first, then faster, as they warm up, the arms and skirts are extended. They move around and pass one another but never touch. Steadily the spell increases, until the climax is reached, when it decreases to the finish, about one hour being the time for a single dance.
The howlers are the demons of religious fanaticism. In a shell of a building, decorated with spikes, chains, daggers and like implements of torture, with which they excite themselves, arranged in circles, they repeat all the names of God. Swinging backward and forward, they cry “La-il-la-il! La-lah! Hoo-yah Hou !" Beads of perspiration form on the faces distorted as if by mental anguish, Foaming at the mouth like madmen, they proceed with the fearful energy of deep fervor and rapture of devotion, until, all the physical powers overcome by exhaustion, they fall bleeding to the floor. Calmly a devotee may approach the Sheikh and have a skewer thrust through his cheek. You may examine and see that there is no legerdemain.
There is still another class, which represents the climax of Mohammedan fanaticism. While in Constantinople in the summer of 1889, I was permitted one night to witness the horrid religious celebration of the Persian Mohammedans-an awful night, never to be forgotten! The purpose of the celebration is to obtain merit and forgiveness for admittance to Paradise without examination. It was during the month of Ramazan-a month of religious frenzy
and fanaticism in the calendar of Mohammedanism, that the Persian devotees, clothed in robes of white, appeared in a procession at night. They were all armed with swords, iron chains and like weapons of torture. The streets were surging with thousands of clamorous men and women of every nationality and type, who were in eager anticipation of the death-foreboding pageant soon to come. Then from a large building, amid a profusion of lamps, the Persian devotees burst out into the streets in the midst of the many spectators, and moved step by step in a circle, amid wild roars and wails of Hassan! Hussein! Hassan! Hassein-Shah.*
They inflict ferocious charges upon their bodies, some slashing themselves to slices or mutilating themselves by clubs and iron chains, many gashing their heads and throats with knives. It is the most horrible spectacleever performed by a group of savage mortals, where the body loses all semblance of humanity and assumes the aspect of a hideous ghost. Hassan and Hussein, murdered twelve centuries ago, that night claimed the active sympathy of their followers with fresh blood.
Ears, eyes, hands, arms, head, throat and abdomen are not considered too dear to be sacrificed in this deamon-like act of religious frenzy. As the blood pours out in streams, sobbing cries of Hassan and Hussein go on in varying tones and inflame the entire assembly.
My very soul shuddered and recoiled with horror as
* Hassan and Hussein were sons of Fatima, and grandchildren to Mohammed. Their father, Ali, a favorite of the Prophet, became Caliph later in his order, and upon his assassination in 660, theirs was the right to the Caliphate. Hassan gave up his claim to prevent war, and was finally poisoned by the tyrant Yazid. Twenty years after his brother, Hussein, was slain in battle, just as he had been invited back by the subjects of the empire. The injustice done these two has always been the cause for comment among a certain class of Mohammedans.