Click to View



THAT Islam in its origin and popular character is a composite faith, with Pagan, Jewish and Christian elements, is known to all students of comparative religion. Rabbi Geiger in his celebrated essay1 has shown how much of the warp and woof of the Koran was taken from Talmudic Judaism and how the entire ritual is simply that of the Pharisees translated into Arabic. Tisdall in his "Sources of Islam" and other writers, especially Wellhausen, Goldziher and Robertson Smith, have indicated the pagan elements that persist in the Moslem faith to this day and were taken over by Mohammed himself from the old Arabian idolatry. Christian teaching and life too had their influence on Mohammed and his doctrine, as is evident not only in the acknowledged place of honor given to Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, John the Baptist, and other New Testament characters, but in the spirit of universalism, of conquest and above all in the mystic beliefs and ascetic practices of later Islam.

"A three-fold cord is not easily broken." The strength of Islam is its composite character. It entrenches itself everywhere and always in animistic and pagan superstition. It fights with all the fanatic devotion of Semitic Judaism with its exaggerated nationalism. It claims at once to include and supersede all that which Jesus Christ was and did and taught. It is a religion of compromise, of conservatism, and of conquest.

It is our purpose to show how strong is the pagan element in Mohammedanism, how many doctrines and practices of popular Islam find their explanation only in a survival of the animism of Ancient Arabia or were incorporated from many heathen sources in the spread of the faith; doctrines and practices which Islam was never able to eliminate or destroy. At the outset of our discussion it need not surprise us that a belief in demons and the old Arabian superstitions persisted in spite of Islam. Five times daily the Moslem muezzin calls out from the Mosque: "There is no god but Allah." The people repeat this and reiterate it far more than a hundred times during the day in their quarrels, feasts, fasts, rejoicings, and common conversation. But in my daily observations - and I have lived among them for more than twenty-five years - I find they have fetishes and superstitious customs which amount to as many gods as the heathen who bow down to wood and stone.2 Now we find that Islam in Arabia itself and in the older Moslem lands was not able to shake itself free from similar beliefs and practices. To understand these aright in their origin and character it is necessary first of all to know something of what we mean by Animism. Animism is the belief that a great part if not all of the inanimate kingdom of nature as well as all animated beings, are endowed with reason, intelligence and volition identical with man. Kennedy defines it as "both a religion, a system of philosophy and a system of medicine. As a religious system it denotes the worship of spirits as distinguished from that of the gods"3 ; and Warneck says: "It would seem as if Animism were the primitive form of heathenism, maintaining itself, as in China and India to this hour, amid all the refinements of civilization. The study of Greek and old German religions exhibits the same animistic features. The essence of heathenism seems to be not the denial of God, but complete estrangement from Him. The existence of God is everywhere known, and a certain veneration given Him. But He is far away, and is therefore all but ruled out of the religious life. His place is taken by demons, who are feared and worshiped."4 Even in Arabia the stern monotheism of the Wahabi Reformers was unable to eradicate the pagan superstitions of Islam because they are imbedded in the Koran and were not altogether rejected by Mohammed himself, - much less by his companions.

With regard to the pagan practices prevalent in early Islam, Abu'1 Fida calls attention to a number of religious observances which were thus perpetuated under the new system. " The Arabs of the times of ignorance," he says, "used to do things which the religious law of Islam has adopted; for they used not to wed their mothers or their daughters, and among them it was deemed a most detestable thing to marry two sisters, and they used to revile the man who married his father's wife, and to call him Daizan. They used, moreover, to make the pilgrimage (Hajj) to the House" (the Ka'aba), "and visit the consecrated places, and wear the Ihram" (the single garment worn to the present day by a pilgrim when running round the Ka'bah), "and perform the (Tawwaf) and run" (between the hills As Safa and Al Marwa) "and make their stand at all the Stations and cast the stones " (at the devil in the valley of Mina) ; "and they were wont to intercalate a month every third year." He goes on to mention many other similar examples in which the religion of Islam has enjoined as religious observances ancient Arabian customs, for instance ceremonial washings after certain kinds of defilement, parting the hair, the ritual observed in cleansing the teeth, paring the nails, and other such matters.5

Mohammed also borrowed certain fables current among the heathen Arabs, such as the tales of Ad and Thamud and some others (Surah VII 63-77). Regarding such stories, Al Kindi well says to his opponent: "And if thou mentionest the tale of Ad and Thamud and the Camel and the Comrades of the Elephant (Surahs CV and XIV:9) "and the like of these tales, we say to thee, ' These are senseless stories and the nonsensical fables of old women of the Arabs, who kept reciting them night and day.'"

When we read the account of pre-Islamic worship at Mecca we realize how many of the ancient customs persist in Islam. The principal idols of Arabia were the following:

Hobal was in the form of a man and came from Syria; he was the god of rain and had a high place of honor.

Wadd was the god of the firmament. Special prayers for rain and against eclipse were taught by Mohammed.

Suwah, in the form of a woman, was said to be from antediluvian times.

Yughuth had the shape of a lion.

Ya'ook was in the form of a horse, and was worshiped in Yemen. (Bronze images of this idol are found in ancient tombs and are still used as amulets.)

Nasr was the eagle god.

El Uzza identified by some scholars with Venus, was worshiped at times under the form of an acacia tree (cf. Tree-worship by Moslems).

Al1at was the chief idol of the tribe of Thakif at Taif who tried to compromise with Mohammed to accept Islam if he would not destroy their god for three years. The name appears to be the feminine of Allah.

Manat was a huge stone worshiped as an altar by several tribes.

Duwar was the virgin's idol and young women used to go around it in procession; hence its name.

Isaf and Naila were idols that stood near Mecca on the hills of Safa and Mirwa; the visitation of these popular shrines is now a part of the Moslem pilgrimage, i.e., they perpetuate ancient idolatrous rites.

Habhab was a large stone on which camels were slaughtered. In every Moslem land, sacred-tree, etc., abound; in most cases these were formerly shrines of pagan (in some cases, of Christian) sanctity.

"Even in the higher religions," says Warneck, " and in the heathenism that exists in Christendom, we find numerous usages of animistic origin. Buddhism, Confucianism and Mohammedanism have nowhere conquered this most tenacious of all forms of religion; they have not even entered into conflict with it; it is only overcome by faith in Jesus Christ." Therefore these many superstitions can now no longer be styled anti-Mohammedan, although they conflict in many respects with the original doctrines of Islam. A religion is not born full-grown any more than a man, and if on attaining a ripe maturity it has cast off the form of its early youth past recognition, we cannot deny it its right to this transformation, as it is part and parcel of the scheme of nature.

"A custom or idea does not necessarily stand condemned according to the Moslem standard," writes Hurgronje, "even though in our minds there can be no shadow of doubt of its pagan origin. If, for example, Mohammedan teaching is able to regard some popular custom as a permissible enchantment against the devil or against jinns hostile to mankind, or as an invocation of the mediation of a prophet or saint with God, then it matters not that the existence of these malignant spirits is actually only known from pagan sources, nor does any one pause to inquire whether - the saint in question is but a heathen god in a new dress, or an imaginary being whose name but serves' to legitimate the existing worship of some object of popular reverence."6 Some writers go so far as to say that Animism lies at the root of all Moslem thinking and all Moslem theology. "The Moslem," says Gottfried Simon, "is naturally inclined to Animism; his Animism does not run counter to the ideal of his religion. Islam is the classic example of the way in which the non-Christian religions do not succeed in conquering Animism. This weakness in face of the supreme enemy of all religious and moral progress bears a bitter penalty. Among the animistic peoples Islam is more and more entangled in the meshes of Animism. The conqueror is, in reality, the conquered. Islam sees the most precious article of its creed, the belief in God, and the most important of its religious acts, the profession of belief, dragged in the mire of animistic thought; only in animistic guise do they gain currency among the common people. Instead of Islam raising the people, it is itself degraded. Islam, far from delivering heathendom from the toils of Animism, is itself deeply involved in them. Animism emerges from its struggle for the soul of a people, modernized it is true, but more powerful than ever, 'elegantly tricked out and buttressed by theology. Often it is scarcely recognizable in its refined Arabian dress, but it continues as before to sway the people; it has received divine sanction."

Other writers express a still stronger opinion. "Moslem ritual, instead of bringing a man to God," writes Dr. Adriani, "serves as a drag net for Animism," and evidence confirms this from Celebes where the Mohammedan is more superstitious even than the heathen. "Islam has exercised quite a different influence upon the heathen from what we should expect. It has not left him as he was, nor has it tempered his Animism. Rather it has relaid the old animistic foundations of the heathen's religion and run up a light, artistic superstructure upon it of Moslem customs."7

While Moslems profess to believe in one God and repeat His glorious incommunicable attributes in their daily worship, they everywhere permit this glorious doctrine to be buried under a mass of pagan superstitions borrowed either originally from the demon-worship of the Arabs, the Hindu gods, or the animistic practices of Malaysia and Central Africa. Regarding the thirty million Moslems of the Dutch East Indies Wilkinson well says: "The average Malay may be said to look upon God as upon a great king or governor mighty, of course, and just, but too remote a power to trouble himself about a villager's petty affairs; whereas the spirits of the district are comparable to the local police, who may be corrupt and prone to error, but who take a most absorbing personal interest in their radius of influence, and whose ill-will has to be avoided at all costs."

At first consideration one would imagine that the stern monotheism of Islam - the very intolerance of Semitic belief in Allah - would prevent compromise with polytheism. The facts are, however, to the contrary. "Belief in spirits of all sorts is neither peculiar to Acheh nor in conflict with the teaching of Islam," says Dr. Snouck Hurgronje. "Actual worship of these beings in the form of prayer might seriously imperil monotheism, but such worship is a rare exception in Acheh. The spirits most believed in are hostile to mankind and are combated by exorcism; the manner in which this is done in Acheh, as in Arabia and other Mohammedan countries is at variance in many respects with the orthodox teaching. Where, however, the Achenese calls in the help of these spirits or of other methods of enchantment in order to cause ill-fortune to his fellow-man, he does so with the full knowledge that he is committing a sin." The missionary, Gottfried Simon, goes even further when he says: "The pioneer preaching of the Mohammedan idea of God finds a hearing all the more easily because it does not essentially rise above the level of Animistic ideas; for the Mohammedan does not bring the heathen something absolutely new with his doctrine of God; his idea of God correlates itself to the existing conceptions. Animism is really the cult of spirits and the souls of the departed. Yet spirit worship has not been able to entirely obliterate the idea of God."8 He goes on to show that among all the tribes of Sumatra, the images which are incorrectly called idols are either pictures to scare away evil spirits by their ugliness, or soul-carriers, that is to say, pictures into which soul-stuff has been introduced by some kind of manipulation; they therefore either introduce soul-stuff into the house (soul-stuff = life power, life fluid, hence a material conception) and with it a blessing, or by an increase of soul-stuff they ensure protection against diseases and spirits. The first group might perhaps best be called amulets or when they are worshiped and given food, fetishes; and the second group talismans.

In Skeat's "Malay Magic"9 it is shown that just as in the language of the Malays one can pick out Arabic words from the main body of native vocabulary, so in their popular religious customs Mohammedan ideas overlie a mass of original pagan notions. "The Malays of the Peninsula are Sunni Muhammadans of the school of Shafi'i, and nothing, theoretically speaking, could be more correct and orthodox (from the point of view of Islam) than the belief which they profess. "But the beliefs which they actually hold are another matter altogether, and it must be admitted that the Mohammedan veneer which covers their ancient superstitions is very often of the thinnest description. The inconsistency in which this involves them is not, however, as a rule realized by themselves. Beginning their invocations with the orthodox preface: 'In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate,' and ending them with an appeal to the Creed: 'There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the Apostle of God they are conscious of no impropriety in addressing the intervening matter to a string of Hindu Divinities, Demons Ghosts and Nature Spirits, with a few Angels and Prophets thrown in, as the occasion may seem to require."

The very wide extent of Animism is often not realized. This belief is the living, working creed of over half the human race. All South, Central and West African tribes are Animists, except where Animism has been dispossessed by Christianity. The Mohammedanism of Africa is largely mingled with it. It is the faith of Madagascar. North and South American Indians knew no other creed when Columbus landed, and the uncivilized remnant still profess it. The islanders of the Pacific and the aborigines of Australia are Animists. In Borneo and the Malay Archipelago it is strong, although a good deal affected by Hinduism. Even in China and Japan its adherents are numbered by millions. In Burma it has been stated that the nominal Buddhism of the country is in reality only a thin veneer over the real religion, which is Animism. In India, while the Census Reports record only eight and a half million as Animists, yet there are probably more than ten times that number whose Hinduism displays little else, and even the Mohammedans in many places are affected by it.

There is no agreement among scholars regarding the origin of Animism. According to a writer in the Encyclopedia Britannica, "Animism may have arisen out of or simultaneously with animatism as a primitive explanation of many different phenomena; if animatism was originally applied to non-human or inanimate objects, animism may from the outset have been in vogue as a theory of the nature of men. Lists of phenomena from the contemplation of which the savage was led to believe in Animism have been given by Dr. Tylor, Herbert Spencer, Mr Andrew Lang and others; an animated controversy arose between these writers as to the priority of their respective lists. Among these phenomena are: trance and unconsciousness, sickness, death, clairvoyance, dreams, apparitions of the dead, wraiths, hallucinations, echoes, shadows and reflections." According to this theory evolution accounts for the growth of religious ideas. But all are not in accord with this theory; it is opposed to the Scriptures. "A dispassionate study of heathen religions," says Warneck, "confirms the view of Paul that heathenism is a fall from a better knowledge of God. In earlier days humanity had a greater treasure of spiritual goods. But the knowledge of God's eternal power and divinity was neglected. The Almighty was no longer feared or worshiped; dependence upon Him was renounced; and this downward course was continued till nothing but a dim presentiment of Him was left. The creature stepped into the place of the Creator, and the vital power, the soul-stuff and the spirits of the dead came to be worshiped."10 This view is not exploded by science, for the Encyclopedia Britannica concludes its discussion on the subject by saying: "Even, therefore, if we can say that at the present day the gods are entirely spiritual, it is clearly possible to maintain that they have been spiritualized pari passu with the increasing importance of the animistic view of nature and of the greater prominence of eschatological beliefs. The animistic origin of religion is therefore not proven.

Aside from the question of origin we return to its content. It is in its teaching regarding man's soul and the supreme importance of the immaterial that Animism affords a point of contact with such words of Christ as "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul." It is the loss of the soul, the spirit the invisible life-principle that the Animist fears: but this fear brings him into a lifelong bondage to superstitions.

Among. the Basutos in Africa it is held that a man walking by the brink of a river may lose his life if his shadow falls on the water, for a crocodile may seize it and draw him in; in Tasmania, North and South America is found the conception that the soul is somehow identical with the shadow of a man. For some of the Red Indians the Roman custom of receiving the breath of a dying man was no mere pious duty but a means of ensuring that his soul was transferred to a new body. Other familiar conceptions identify the soul with the liver or the heart, with the reflected figure seen in the pupil of the eye and with the blood. Although the soul is often distinguished from the vital principle, there are many cases in which a state of unconsciousness is explained as due to the absence of the soul; in South Australia wilyamarraba (without soul) is the word used for insensible. So too the auto-hypnotic trance of the magician or shaman is regarded as due to his visit to distant regions or the netherworld, of which he brings back an account.

"In many parts of the world it is held that the human, body is the seat of more than one soul; in the island of Nias four are distinguished, the shadow and the intelligence, which die with the body, a tutelary spirit, termed begoe, and a second which is carried on the head." "Just as among western nations the ghost of a dead person is held to haunt the churchyard or the place of death, although more orthodox ideas may be held by the same person as to the nature of a future life, so the savage, more consistently, assigns different abodes to the multiple souls with which he credits man. Of the four souls of a Dakota Indian one is held to stay with the corpse, another in the village, a third goes into the air, while the fourth goes to the land of souls, where its lot may depend on its rank in this life, its sex, mode of death or sepulture, on the due observance of funeral ritual, or many other points. From the belief in the survival of the dead arose the practice of offering food, lighting fires, etc., at the grave, at first, maybe, as an act of friendship or filial piety, later as an act of worship. The simple offering of food or shedding of blood at the grave develops into an elaborate system of sacrifice; even where ancestor-worship is not found, the desire to provide the dead with comforts in the future life may lead to the sacrifice of wives, slaves, animals, etc., to the breaking or burning of objects at the grave or to the provision of the ferry-man's toll, a coin put in the mouth of the corpse to pay the traveling expenses of the soul. But all is not finished with the passage of the soul to the land of the dead; the soul may return to avenge its death by helping to discover the murderer, or to wreak vengeance for itself; there is a widespread belief that those who die a violent death become malignant spirits and endanger the lives of those who come near the haunted spot; the woman who dies in child-birth becomes a pontianak, and threatens the life of human beings; and man resorts to magical or religious means of repelling his spiritual dangers."11

It is clear from the beliefs of the non-Mohammedans of Malaysia that all things, organic and inorganic were once credited with the possession of souls. This primitive Animism survives most distinctly in the well-known Moslem Malay ceremonies connected with the rice-soul at seed-time or harvest, but it is also traceable in a large number of other practices. We are told that whenever a peasant injures anything he must propitiate its personality, its living essence, its soul, its tutelary spirit call it what we will. If the hunter slays a deer he must excuse himself; it is not the man but the gun or the knife or the leaden bullet that must answer for the deed. Should a man wish to mine or to set up a house, he must begin by propitiating the spirits of the turned-up soil; should he desire to fish, he will address the spirits of the sea and even the fish themselves; should he contemplate planting, he begins by acknowledging that rice has a living essence of its own which he is bound to treat with respect. In short, he considers that all nature is teeming with life and that his own soul is walking in the midst of invisible foes.

All of these evil spirits find worshipers among Moslems in the Malay States today. The pawang or witch-doctor and not the Moslem priest is called in to exorcise them. This he does with old-fashioned magic with admixture of the names of Allah and Mohammed. "The pawang or witch-doctor is in great demand by orthodox Mohammedan Malays, especially in times of sickness, although he often appeals openly to Siva or uses such language as the following:

"I am the equal of the Archangels, I sit upon God's Judgment-seat, And lean on the pillar of God's Throne of Glory."12

In reading a standard work on Animism by Kruijt, I noted the following particulars in which Animism and Islam agree. The correspondence is the more remarkable because my experiences have been limited to East Arabia and Egypt. That is to say Islam in its cradle already had these features of paganism or primitive Animism:

The putting of blood upon the door-posts and the foundations when a house is being built (p.23). The special importance of the placenta as the double of the child (p.26). Hair as the seat of the soul (pp. 26-3t). Among the pagans there are ceremonies connected with the shaving of the hair in infancy. The Toradjas nail bits of the human scalp or shreds of hair to the palm trees to make them more fruitful. The same is done with the hair of infants. When a mother leaves her child for a journey she ties some of her own hair to that of the child so that "the child believes the mother is still present." Hair offerings take place as in Islam. The finger nails are connected with the soul and have spiritual value (p. 38). Also the teeth (p. 39). Spittle, perspiration, tears and the other excretions of the body all contain soul-stuff (pp.40-47) and one may see in all the superstitions of the animist the same practices that are related of Mohammed the Prophet and his companions in Moslem Tradition. (See references given later.) The use of urine as medicine is not more common among pagans of Celebes than in Moslem lands where the practice of Mohammed the Prophet and his teaching is still supreme. One needs only to consult books like Ed Damiri, or Tub-en-Nabawi. The use of blood of animals, of saliva, of blowing, spitting and stroking in order to bring benefit to the patient is universal among animists; it was also common in early Islam and is today. It is recorded in early tradition that Mohammed practiced cures in this manner In Java and Sumatra spitting is a common method for curing the sick (pp. 62-63). Among Animists amulets and anklets are worn to keep the soul in the body; at the time of death the nose, the ears, the mouth, etc., are carefully plugged up to prevent the soul escaping. These customs at the time of burial are universal also in Islam (p.76).

Among Animists sneezing is considered unfortunate, for then the soul tries to escape from the body; yawning is on the other hand a good sign, for the breath comes inward. Perhaps for this reason the Moslems everywhere ask forgiveness of God when they sneeze, but praise Him when they yawn (pp.92-93).

The belief that souls of men may inhabit animals such as dogs, cats, gazelles, snakes, etc., is Animistic. The same is taught in Moslem books, for example in "The Arabian Nights," which gives us a faithful picture of popular Islam. The bones of animals contain soul matter and are therefore dreaded by the animist or used for special purposes of good or ill (pp. 128). We may connect with this the belief of the Moslems that bones are the food of jinn and must not be touched. Mr. Kruijt shows in Chapter VI of his book (p. 157) that soul-stuff exists in certain metals, iron, gold, silver, lead. These are therefore powerful protectors against evil spirits. Iron objects are used to defend infants in the cradle (p.161). The same practice is carried on in Arabia, Egypt, Persia and Morocco.

The soul after death takes its flight into the animal kingdom (pp.171-180); especially changing to dwell in butterflies, birds, mice, lizards, snakes. May we not connect with this the teaching of Islam that the souls of Moslem martyrs go into the crops of green birds until the resurrection day? Or doser yet is the common belief in metempsychosis based upon Koran legends, developed in the commentaries. Does not the Koran teach that Jews were changed into apes and Tradition tell us that Jews and Christians were changed into hogs?

When we read the pages of Kruijt on the Fetish (pp.197-232) we are struck in almost every paragraph with parallel beliefs current in Islam. Stones are sacred because they contain spirits. Trees are sacred for the same reason: "If a man has been successful in fighting, it has not been his natural strength of arm, quickness of eye, or readiness of resource that has won success; he has certainly got the mana of a spirit or of some deceased warrior to empower him, conveyed in an amulet of a stone round: his neck, or a tuft of leaves in his belt, in a tooth hung upon a finger of his bow hand, or in the form of words with which he brings supernatural assistance to his side" (p. 201). Word for word this might be said of Moslems to-day.

With regard to stone-worship Kruijt tells us of sacred stones in the Indian Archipelago (pp. 204-210) which receive worship because they fell from heaven (cf. "The Black Stone at Mecca") or because or their special shape. Among the Dajaks of Serawak, Chalmers tells of the interior of a Lundu house at one end of which were collected the relics of the tribe. " These consisted of several round-looking stones, two deers' heads, and other inferior trumpery. The stones turn black if the tribe is to be beaten in war, and red if to be victorious; any one touching them would be sure to die; if lost, the tribe would be ruined." (p.209.) The Black Stone at Mecca is also believed to have changed color.

Tree-worship, by hanging amulets on the tree to produce fertility or bring blessing, is common in Celebes and New Guinea (p.215) not only, but in Arabia, Egypt and Morocco. The effect of all this, even on the conception of God in Islam, is of importance. Here also there are points of contact as well as points of contrast. "What has Animism made of God," asks Warneck, "the holy and gracious Creator and Governor of the world? It has divested Him of His omnipotence, His love, His holiness and righteousness and has put Him out of all relation with man. The idea of God has become a mere decoration; His worship a caricature. Spirits inferior to men, whose very well-being is dependent on men's moods, are feared instead of the Almighty; the rule of an inexorable fate is substituted for the wise and good government of God. Absurd lies are believed concerning the life after death, and efforts are made to master the malevolent spirits by a childish magic." Is this not true of Arabia also?

Regarding the impotence of Mohammedanism to reject animistic influences which have dragged down to its lowest levels the ideas of God, Warneck goes on to say, "Mohammedanism even with its higher idea of God, cannot introduce into the heathenism which it influences any development for the better. The heathen; who have passed over to Islam, quietly retain their demon-worship. Instead of the purer idea of God raising them, they drag it down to their own level, a proof of the tremendous down-drag which animistic religions possess" (p.100).

"Mohammedanism," he says in another place, "has been unable to remove the fear of evil spirits. On the contrary, it assists in the expulsion of the spirits by its malirns. It allows the people to go on worshiping ancestors, and adds new spirits of Arabic origin to those already worshiped. Islam nowhere appears among Animists as a deliverer" (pp. 114-115.)

The missionary is not so much concerned after all with the fact of Animism in Islam as he is with the utter failure of Islam to meet Animistic practices and overcome them. Gottfried Simon has shown conclusively that Islam cannot uproot pagan practices or remove the terror of spirits and demon-worship in Sumatra and Java.13 This is true everywhere. In its conflict with Animism Islam has not been the victor but the vanquished. Christianity on the contrary, as Harnack has shown, did win in its conflict with demon-worship and is winning to-day.14

Animism in Islam offers points of contact and contrast that may well be used by the missionary. Christianity's message and power must be applied to the superstitions of Islam and especially to these pagan practices. The fear of spirits can be met by the love of the Holy Spirit; the terror of death by the repose and confidence of the Christian; true exorcism is not found in the zar but in prayer; so-called demonic possession can often be cured by medical skill; and superstition rooted out by education. Jesus Christ is the Lord of the Unseen World, especially the world of demons and angels. Christ points out the true ladder of Jacob and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man - He is the sole channel of communication with the other world. With Him as our living, loving Saviour and Friend we have no fear of "the arrow that flieth by day nor of the pestilence that walketh in darkness."

In order to guide the student for further study in regard to Animism and Islam we give the keys that will unlock the subject; for if Moslems know that we have some idea of their superstition they will tell us more. The subject needs thorough investigation, especially in Egypt. The best book on Animism is by A. C. Kruijt, a Dutch missionary in the East Indies, and his division of the subject is very suggestive. I here translate the table of contents of his book. Every subject leads out into a wide field of thought and investigation.


(1) The Personal soul-stuff of Man found especially in the Head, the intestines, the Blood, Placenta, Hair, Teeth, Saliva, Sweat, Tears, Urine, etc.

(2) Means by which this soul-stuff is appropriated, e.g., Spitting, Blowing, Blood-wiping, and Touch.

(3) The Personal Soul in Man: The Shadow, the Dream, The Escape of the Soul through Sneezing, Yawning, etc. The Were Wolf and the Witch.

(4) The Soul-stuff of Animals.

(5) Soul-stuff of Plants, Sacred Plants.

(6) Soul-stuff of Inanimate Objects - Metals, Iron, Gold, etc.

(7) The Transmigration of the Soul, especially in Animals-The Firefly, the Butterfly, the Bird, the Mouse, the Snake, the Lizard.

(8) Special honor paid to Animals, Fetishes, Stones and Amulets.


(1) The Living Man - in regard to his Soul, its Nature.

(2) The Life of the Soul after Death - It remains in the Grave or in the House-Its Journey to Soul Land.

(3) The Worship of Souls-Either through a medium or without a medium - In Special Places or in Special Objects. The Priesthood that gives communication with the souls of the Departed.

III Demonology

(1) Introduction on the Creator and Creation.

(2) The Spiritual Part of Creation.

(3) Animals as Messengers of the Gods.

(4) Predestination.

(5) Honor of man-Saint-worship.

(6) Demi-gods.

(7) The Home of the Gods.

(8) Agricultural Gods and Sea Gods.

(9) Tree Spirits and other Demons.

(10) How demons show themselves and how one drives them away.

The Influence of Animism on Islam

Click to View