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LET us suppose that the average Moslem could read English, and that we placed in his hands one of those admirable volumes published by the Society for Psychical Research. In order to sympathise with his feelings on such an occasion, we have only to imagine what our own would be if a scientific friend invited us to study a treatise setting forth the evidence in favour of telegraphy and recording well-attested instances of telegraphic communication. The Moslem would probably see in the telegraph some kind of spirit--an afreet or jinni. Telepathy and similar occult phenomena he takes for granted as self-evident facts. It would never occur to him to investigate them. There is something in the constitution of his mind that makes it impervious to the idea that the supernatural may be subject to law. He believes, because he cannot help believing, in the reality of an unseen world which 'lies about us,' not in our infancy alone, but always and everywhere; a world from which we are in no wise excluded, accessible and in some measure revealed to all, though free and open intercourse with it is a privilege enjoyed by few. Many are called but few chosen.

"Spirits every night from the body's snare
Thou freest, and makest the tablets clean.
{By erasing all the sensuous impressions which form a veil between
the soul and the world of reality.}
Spirits are set free every night from this cage,
Independent, neither ruled nor ruling.
At night prisoners forget their prison,
At night kings forget their power:
No sorrow, no brooding over gain and loss,
No thought of this person or that person.
This is the state of the gnostic, even when he is awake;
God hath said, 'Thou wouldst deem them awake while they slept.'
{Kor. 18.17}
He is asleep, day and night, to the affairs of the world,
Like a pen in the controlling hand of the Lord."

The Sufis have always declared and believed themselves to be God's chosen people. The Koran refers in several places to His elect. According to the author of the Kitab al-Luma‘, this title belongs, firstly, to the prophets, elect in virtue of their sinlessness, their inspiration, and their apostolic mission; and secondly, to certain Moslems, elect in virtue of their sincere devotion and self-mortification and firm attachment to the eternal realities: in a word, the saints. While the Sufis are the elect of the Moslem community, the saints are the elect of the Sufis.

The Mohammedan saint is commonly known as a wali (plural, awliya). This word is used in various senses derived from its root-meaning of 'nearness'; e.g. next of kin, patron, protector, friend. It is applied in the Koran to God as the protector of the Faithful, to angels or idols who are supposed to protect their worshippers, and to men who are regarded as being specially under divine protection. Mohammed twits the Jews with professing to be protégés of God (awliya lillah). Notwithstanding its somewhat equivocal associations, the term was taken over by the Sufis and became the ordinary designation of persons whose holiness brings them near to God, and who receive from Him, as tokens of His peculiar favour, miraculous gifts (karamat, «charísmata»); they are His friends, on whom "no fear shall come and they shall not grieve" {Kor. 10.63}; any injury done to them is an act of hostility against Him.

The inspiration of the Islamic saints, though verbally distinguished from that of the prophets and inferior in degree, is of the same kind. In consequence of their intimate relation to God, the veil shrouding the supernatural, or, as a Moslem would say, the unseen world, from their perceptions is withdrawn at intervals, and in their fits of ecstasy they rise to the prophetic level. Neither deep learning in divinity, nor devotion to good works, nor asceticism, nor moral purity makes the Mohammedan a saint; he may have all or none of these things, but the only indispensable qualification is that ecstasy and rapture which is the outward sign of 'passing-away' from the phenomenal self. Anyone thus enraptured (majdhub) is a wali {Waliyyat, if the saint is a woman.}, and when such persons are recognised through their power of working miracles, they are venerated as saints not only after death but also during their lives. Often, however, they live and die in obscurity. Hujwiri tells us that amongst the saints "there are four thousand who are concealed and do not know one another and are not aware of the excellence of their state, being in all circumstances hidden from themselves and from mankind."

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