they severally prefer to attain ecstasy: dancing and recitation are practised by the dancing and howling dervishes and other methods are in vogue. It is an institution very different from monasticism but the result of a course of development undoubtedly similar to that which produced the monk : dervishism and monasticism are independent developments of the same original idea.
Among these Muhammedan companies attempts to reach the point of ecstasy have developed to a rigid discipline of the soul; the believer must subject himself to his master, resigning all power of will, and so gradually reaches higher stages of knowledge until he is eventually led to the consciousness of his absolute identity with God. It seems to me beyond question that this method is reflected in the exercitiis spirituali-bus of Ignatius Loyola, the chief instrument by which the Jesuits secured dominion over souls. Any one who has realised the enor-
If ■■■ III' I. - ■ ■■■■■ IT •■!■ I. I I ' I I ■■ I I r II
mous influence which Arab thought exerted upon Spanish Christianity so late as the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, will not regard the conjecture as unfounded.
When a man's profession or position prevented him from practising these mystical exercises, he satisfied his religious needs by venerating persons who were nearer to the deity and whose intercession was effectual even after their death and sometimes not until they were dead: hence arose the veneration of saints, a practice as alien as pantheistic dogma to primitive Islam. The adoption of Christian saint worship was not possible until the person of Muhammed himself had been exalted above the ordinary level of humanity. Early Muhammedans observed that the founder of Christianity was regarded by popular opinion as a miracle worker of unrivalled power : it was impossible for the founder of Islam to remain inferior in this respect. Thus the early biographies of the prophet, which appeared
CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM
in the first century of Muhammedanism, recount the typical miracles of the Gospels, the feeding of multitudes, healing the sick, raising the dead and so forth. Two methods of adoption may be distinguished. Special features are directly borrowed, or the line of advance is followed which had introduced the worship of saints and relics to Christianity a short time before. The religious emotions natural to any people produced a series of ideas which pass from one religion to another. Outward form and purport may be changed, but the essential points remain unaltered and are the living expression of that relation to God in which a people conceives itself to stand. Higher forms of religion—a fact as sad as it is true— require a certain degree not only of moral but of intellectual capacity.
Thus we have traversed practically the whole circle of religious life and have everywhere found Islam following in the path of
Was this article helpful?