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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Secret sects of Syria and the Lebanon part I

{In the public domain} Part II here: God and His Messiah Jesus Christ our Lord - our right and duty to witness to Him: Secret sects of Syria and the Lebanon part II



Part I

SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 
AND THE LEBANON 



SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 
AND THE LEBANON A 

CONSIDERATION OF THEIR ORIGIN, 
CREEDS AND RELIGIOUS CEREMONIES, 
AND THEIR CONNECTION WITH AND IN- 
FLUENCE UPON MODERN FREEMASONRY 
By BERNARD H. SPRINGETT, P.M., P.Z. 




LONDON: GEORGE ALLEN & UNWIN LTD- 
RUSKIN HOUSE, 40 MUSEUM STREET, 



First published in 1922 



(All rights reserved) 



Printed in Great Britain by 

BROTHERS* LIMITED, THB GRESHAM PRESS^ LONDON AND WOKINO 



INTRODUCTION 

A SURPRISING amount of scorn and ridicule has been the 
reception accorded by Freemasons, both in Great Britain 
and in America, to previous attempts to place on record 
some very plain proofs that we are justified in saying in our 
Masonic Ritual that " we came from the East and proceeded 
to the West/ 1 The plain fact that much of what we now 
look upon almost entirely as Freemasonry has been practised 
as part and parcel of the religions of the Middle East for many 
thousands of years, lies open for anyone who cares to stop 
and read, instead of running by. But it is frequently and 
scornfully rejected by the average Masonic student, and this 
seems to betoken an unwillingness to credit Masonry with 
an existence of more than two or three hundred years at 
most. It is painful to those who, like myself, take a justifiable 
pride in the antiquity of Masonry, far exceeding that of any 
other religion in the world known to mankind, to hear it 
so frequently condemned as completely legendary. 

In the following pages I have attempted to bring together, 
from a very large number of sources, reliable evidence as to 
the prevalence amongst the inhabitants, ancient and modern, 
of Syria in general and the mountains of the Lebanon in 
particular, of various ceremonial rites, manners and customs. 
These, with the accompanying initiations, signs, pass-words 
and grips, together with the allegorical and symbolical 
language ^employed, seem to me' to point 'to' an extremely 
remote origin, and I hope some of my readers, at least, may 
be equally convinced. So far, as some writers would like 
us to believe, from the Templars who took part in the Crusades 
leaving behind them among the Arabian and Syrian tribes 
they came in contact with some traces of Masonry, we can 
see, plainly enough, that they, on the contrary, found 



6 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

own Masonic knowledge strengthened considerably by what 
they came in touch with in the East. Thus, on their return 
to their native land, a natural result would be some develop- 
ment of the extremely ancient ritual of the Druids, remnants 
of that Stellar Cult which seems to be the true source of 
Freemasonry, which extended by the influencing visits of 
Phoenician merchants, had been carefully preserved and added 
to by the loving care of Alfred and Athelstan, as proved by 
reliable documents in the Bodleian Library and the British 
Museum. 

Still further revised and modernized, altered in certain 
attributes of the symbolism, altered, very materially of course, 
in language, Freemasonry in its present form has preserved 
for us unchanged, as being unchangeable, the Ancient 
Landmarks, for some of which Enoch might even have been 
responsible, as claimed by our traditions. 

The late Mr. A. L. Rawson, the American artist 
who illustrated several books on classical mythology for 
J. W. Bouton, the New York publisher of Isis Unveiled? 
wrote for Madam Blavatsky a long description, which will be 
found further on in this present work, of his initiation into 
the Druse sect, which gave me my first incentive to research 
into Syrian Masonry. Mr. Rawson was very enthusiastic 
indeed on the resemblances he found in the Druse system 
with that of Freemasonry, but his views met with such ridicule 
among American Masons that he considered it would be 
a thankless and hopeless task to publish anything further 
on the subject with a view to educating them. The Rev. 
Haskett Smith, when reading a similarly interesting and 
carefully prepared paper before the learned " Ars Quatuor 
Coronatorum " met with equal coldness. It will be seen 
from the note on the subject in the Appendix that while only 
one learned Brother could praise the author, and he only 
because he had introduced a fresh line of research, several 
were prompt enough to ridicule his propositions ! Lyde, 
Taylor, and Von Hammer, in the innumerable traces 'their 
very interesting works have supplied me with of a connection 
between Syrian religions and Masonry, have themselves 
only found therein occasions for pouring contempt on the 
practices of Freemasonry, as imitating the debasing customs 



INTRODUCTION 7 

of the Syrian tribes as it appeared to their non-Masonic 
souls that all initiatory customs were only a prelude to 
debauchery and excess. How much more we might have 
gathered with regard to the subject of our inquiry, the 
prevalence of Masonic rites amongst these tribes, had these 
learned authors been themselves Freemasons ! Nor have 
later writers on Masonry developed this connection with 
Syria as they might have been expected to do. Yarker 
has given only certain references where one might J^ave 
expected him to go thoroughly into the subject. (Waite, 
the great writer on mystic Masonry, with probably the 
profoundest knowledge of ritual and tradition possessed 
by anyone, would seem to have carefully avoided any 
endeavour to confirm traditions, but rather to have discussed 
resemblances, and explained symbolisms, on a groundwork 
of mediaeval institution. Dr. Oliver refers to traditions as 
if he believed in them, and took them as having, at least, 
a vestige of foundation in fact. But most modern Masonic 
authors treat him as visionary. Churchward went at length, 
in his Arcana of Freemasonry, into the undoubted antiquity 
of the signs, tokens and words used in modern Masonry, 
and traced back their connection through all the ages with 
the Stellar Cult of antediluvian times. But one may well 
ask: "Who has believed his report ? " On the contrary, 
the average Freemason, at any rate in this country, seems 
quite willing to be told that all the ancient allusions in our 
rituals are purely traditional, have no actual foundation in 
fact or history, and are all due to the imagination of those 
who compiled our present rituals and constitutions, some- 
where in the eighteenth century. 

Take, for instance, the Rosicrucians. One would have 
thought that either Waite or Wynn Westcott, while clearly 
showing the influence of the Arabian alchemists on the writings 
and researches of European disciples, would have associated 
the establishment by Christian Rosen- Kreutz of a " House 
of the Holy Spirit, " on his return from his sojourn in the 
East, as a very natural result of his becoming acquainted, 
while passing through Egypt (the only available route for 
him from Damascus to Fez), with the " House of Wisdom " 
at Cairo. There can be little doubt in the minds of those 



8 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

who study intelligently the Rosicrucian rituals, and reflect 
thereon, that the close connection between Freemasonry and 
Alchemy which they find revealed is due to the teaching he 
received, during his Eastern wanderings, from Arabian 
Freemasons, still holding to their Masonic tenets, even if 
the " House " itself had been ruthlessly destroyed some 
hundred years earlier. 

I am dealing with this question more fully in a subsequent 
chapter, as I am convinced that herein we find a very strong 
corroboration of my contentions that to Asia in general and 
to Syria in particular, we must look for the source of Masonic 
tradition and ritual. 

It is a vast subject, and has involved research in the works 
of a large number of writers, as will be seen from the 
Bibliography I include in the present volume. It has been 
necessary, as a background, to survey the ancient Magian 
schools, an inheritance from the earliest prehistoric times, and 
to trace their influence, in Arabia, Persia and Egypt ; on 
the early Syrian Gnostics, and on the Jews during their 
Babylonian captivity, whence they evidently derived their 
Kabalistic philosophy. We shall have to glance, if only 
cursorily, at the doctrines and practices of sects which, at 
first sight, may appear to have so little in common. These 
include the Druids, the Manicheans and Gnostics, with all 
their developments traceable through to the Pythagorean 
system : the Templars ; the Essenes, Therapeutae, Nazarenes, 
and their modern representatives, the Mandaites, or Christians 
of St. John ; the Sabeans, Nabatheans and Samaritans ; 
the Sufeites, and the various Dervish Orders ; the secret 
sects of Islam, the Ismaeli, Batenians, Karmatians, and 
Metawileh ; the Lodge of Wisdom at Cairo, the Assassins, 
the Nusairis, and the Druses. The links in each case have 
lain ready to hand throughout the ages. All that was needed 
was some loving and careful hand to attempt to weld them 
into an homogeneous chain, strong enough to bear the strain 
of keen criticism from the majority of my Masonic brethren 
which I am willing and prepared to brave, in the hopes that 
some, perchance, may be strengthened in their own convictions 
by the perusal of these pages. 

It has been largely a task of collating the writings of 



INTRODUCTION 9 

others, putting them, as it were, in a fresh setting with the 
points of view of other authors. There should be a gain 
in lucidity and value, when a comparison is presented, or 
a condensation made, of that which has been noticed and 
described by men thoroughly engrossed in the subject they 
have written about, in the majority of cases, from a non- 
Masonic view-point. In order to ascertain more clearly the 
reasons for many points of ritual in whic'i will be found the 
connections with modern Freemasonry, it has been necessary 
to deal at some length with the Creeds of Mohammedans, 
Nusairis, and Druses. But this of itself will no doubt be 
found an interesting study by most of those who purchase 
and read this volume, who are interested in Craft Ritual, 
or in the symbolism of the higher Masonic Degrees. In this 
earnest hope I leave myself and my labours in their kindly 
hands. 

In the preparation of this work I have benefited laigely 
by the kind suggestions of my good friend, Mr. William Tait, 
of Belfast, and through him I have had access to some useful 
notes of the late Mr. A. L. Rawson. I am most grateful also 
to W. Bro. W. J. Songhurst, the Librarian and Secretary 
of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge, for permission to reprint 
Mr. Haskett Smith's paper on The Druses ; and to the Theo- 
sophical Society, for permission to reprint an article by 
Madam Blavatsky. I have endeavoured to give full attribu- 
tion to the many authors, alive or dead, from whom I have 
quoted at more or less length, especially Miss Lucy Garnett, 
whose unique details with regard to Dervish ceremonies 
I have so fully made use of. 



CONTENTS 



CHAPTER PAGE 

INTRODUCTION 5 

I. THE ROOT PRINCIPLES OF ALL FREEMASONRY . . . 15 

II. THE ANCIENT MYSTERIES 21 

III. THE ANTIQUITY OF THE PEOPLE OF THE LEBANON . 34 

IV. THE SABEANS, WORSHIPPERS OF THE POLE STAR . . 43 
V. THE GNOSTICS AND THE MANICHEANS .... 52 

VI. OTHER GNOSTIC SECTS: THE OPHITES, BASILIDEANS, AND 

FOLLOWERS OF SIMON MAGUS 6l 

VII. THE SCHIITE SECTS : SUFEISM AND THE DERVISH ORDERS 68 

VIII. INITIATION RITES AMONG THE DERVISHES ... 75 

IX. OTHER SCHIITE SECTS : THE METAWILEH .... 83 

X. THE SECT OF THE ESSENES AND THEIR TENETS . . 89 

XI. PYTHAGORAS AND HIS SYSTEM 98 

XII. THE ISMAELI AND THEIR VARIOUS BRANCHES : ORIGIN 

OF THE ASSASSINS IOJ 

XIII. THE ASSASSINS Il6 

XIV. THE MOHAMMEDAN CREED ; FROM AN ORIGINAL ARABIC 

CONFESSION OF FAITH 123 

XV. THE FIRST FOUR CALIPHS AND THE TWELVE IMAUMS . 133 

XVI. THE RELIGIOUS SYSTEM OF THE NUSA1RIS . . . 140 

XVII. THE RELIGIOUS SYSTEM OF THE NUSAIRIS Continued . 154 

XVIII. RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS OF THE NUSAIRIS . . . .165 

XIX. FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES AND DEEPER MYSTERIES OF 

THE NUSAIRI RELIGION 175 

XX. THE " HOUSE OF WISDOM " AT CAIRO, AND THE FOUNDING 

OF THE DRUSE SECT BY EL DORAZI AND HAMZEH . l8o 
11 



12 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

CHAPTER PAGE 

XXI. THE RELIGION OF THE DRUSES 1 88 

XXII. RELIGIOUS CEREMONIES OF THE DRUSES .... ig8 

XXIII. RELIGIOUS CREED OF THE DRUSES 2O8 

XXIV. RESEMBLANCE OF THE DRUSE RELIGION TO THIBETAN 

LAMAISM 234 

XXV. THE RELATION OF THE DRUSES TO FREEMASONRY . 248 

XXVI. THE YEZIDIS, OR DEVIL-WORSHIPPERS .... 259 

XXVII. MODERN ARABIAN FREEMASONRY 270 

XXVIII. SYRIAN INFLUENCES ON MODERN FREEMASONRY . . 275 

XXIX. SYRIAN INFLUENCES ON THE ORDER OF KNIGHTS TEMPLAR 

AND THE ANCIENT AND ACCEPTED SCOTTISH RITE . 288 

BIBLIOGRAPHY 297 



APPENDIX- 
NEW YEAR'S EVE CEREMONY AMONG THE MANDATTES 303 

THE NUSAIRI FESTIVAL OF CHRISTMAS, OR MEELAD 308 

THE NUSAIRI FESTIVAL OF NUROOZ . . . . 310 

MOHAMMEDAN FESTIVAL OF MOHURRAM . . 3IO 

LAMENTATIONS FOR ADONIS 311 

DISCUSSION OF IIASKE1T SMITH'S PATER ON THE 

DRUSES 312 

FAITH HEALING AMONG THE DRUSES . . . 313 

THE TWO PILLARS OF NIMROD 314 

TWO PILLARS IN THE CASTLE OF HARAN . . . 315 

THE TWO PILLARS OF SETH 315 

JACHIN AND BOAZ 316 

LEGENDS OF ENOCH 317 

MOSES' KNOWLEDGE OF ASTRONOMY . . . . 318 
DISPUTE BETWEEN ADAM AND MOSES , . .318 

MOSES DID NOT TEACH THE DOCTRINE OF IMMORTALITY 319 



CONTENTS 18 

PAGE 

APPENDIX (continued) 

ELIAS THE FOUNDER OF THE ESSENES . . . 319 

THE ANCIENT BOOK OF JASHER 319 

CLASSIFICATION OF THE TEMPLE WORKMEN . .320 

JEWISH FREEMASONRY IN THE BABYLONISH CAPTIVITY 32! 

GNOSTIC EMPHASIS ON " RIGHT " AND " LEFT " . 32! 

THE SPIRIT OF GNOSTICISM 322 

PORPHYRY 322 

MANES MEANS COMFORTER 323 

GEBA1L, THE ANCIENT BYBLUS 323 

ANTIQUITY OF SIDON 333 

RUINS NEAR MARAH, WITH MASONS' MARKS . . 324 
ANCIENT OLIVE GROVES OF SYRIA . . . .324 

AQUEDUCT OF SEMIRAMIS 324 

THE MYTH OF THE PHCENIX 325 

WORSHIP OF THE PEACOCK 326 

THE TRIQUETRA AND PENTALPHA .... 327 

THE SANCTITY OF THE TREFOIL 328 

EASTERN IDEAS OF PARADISE 328 

NAMES AND FUNCTIONS OF THE SEVEN ARCHANGELS 329 

ORIGIN OF THE KORAN 330 

CREATION OF THE KORAN 330 

ORIGIN OF THE SWASTIKA 33! 

CIRCUMAMBULATING THE LODGE . . . 331 

CIRCUIT WITH THE SUN, FROM LEFT TO RIGHT . 332 

THE THREE STEPS OF VISHNU 332 

ORIENTATION OF LODGES 333 

MASONIC TRACING-BOARDS AND ANCIENT CHRISTIAN 

CHURCHES 333 

RELIGIOUS WORK OF THE ANCIENT FREEMASONS . 335 



14 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

PAGE 

APPENDIX (continued) 

PATRIARCHAL SOURCE OF FREEMASONRY . . . 336 

TRANSITION FROM ANCIENT TO MODERN INITIATIONS 336 

KHONX-OM-PAX 337 

THREE STARS OF ORION'S BELT 337 

SYRIAN USE OF TOBACCO 337 

FAMA FRATERNITATIS I THE FOUNDING OF THE 

ROSICRUCIAN ORDER 338 

KABALISM 340 

THE TEMPLE AND THE CHURCH 340 

MASONIC MEETING IN A MOSQUE .... 341 

PRINCIPAL AUTHORS QUOTED 343 

INDEX 345 



SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

CHAPTER I 
THE ROOT PRINCIPLES OF ALL FREEMASONRY 

" FROM the commencement of the world/' says William 
Pieston, 1 " we may trace the foundation of Masonry. Ever 
since symmetry began, and harmony displayed her charms, our 
Order has had a being. During many ages, and in many 
different countries, it has flourished. No art, no science, 
preceded it. In the dark periods of antiquity, when literature 
was in a low state, and the rude manners of our forefathers 
withheld from them that knowledge we now so amply share, 
Masonry diffused its influence. This science unveiled, arts 
arose, civilization took place, and the pi ogress of knowledge 
and philosophy gradually dispelled the gloom of ignorance 
and barbarism. Government being settled, authority was 
given to law r s, and the assemblies of the fraternity acquired 
the patronage of the great and the good, while the tenets 
of the profession diffused unbounded utility. 

" Masonry is a science confined to no particular country, 
but ifextends over the whole terrestrial globe. Wherever 
arts flourish, there it flourishes too, and by secret and in- 
violable signs, carefully preserved among the fraternity, 
it becomes a universal language. The distant Chinese, 
the wild Arab, and the American savage will embrace a 
brother Briton. The universal principles of the art unite in 
one indissoluble bond of affection men of the most opposite 
tenets, of the most distant countries, and of the most 
contradictory opinions ; so that in every nation a Mason 
will find a friend, and in every climate a home/ 1 

* Illustrations of Masonry, p. 6. London, 1801. 
15 



16 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

No matter what degree of Masonry we are concerned 
with, or in whatever country Masonic rites are practised, 
the groundwork is ever the same, the Immortality of the 
Soul, symbolized more or less dramatically by the death of 
a victim, and the methods to be adopted to restore that 
victim to life, of another kind. In tracing, therefore, the 
antecedents of our present ritual we must endeavour to find 
the earliest mention of this doctrine of the Resurrection. 
The story of the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, and the 
Ascension would appear to have been clearly foreshadowed, 
and pictorially represented, some two hundred thousand 
years before our Christian era ! The combined discoveries 
of geologists and Oriental scholars and decipherers of cunei- 
form inscriptions leave no room for doubt on this important 
point. A pictograph reproduced by Dr. Churchward, 1 
taken from some ruins in Central America, which he reckons 
to be over two hundred thousand years old, " represents the 
Crucifixion during the period of the Stellar Cult, and shows 
a victim crucified on the two Poles, North and South. The 
hieroglyphics state that this is the GOD of the North and the 
South, the Great One of the Seven Glorious Ones (attributes). 
A Crown of Thorns is depicted on his head. His side is 
pierced with a spear, from whence blood and water is falling 
on his spiritual name, which, in Egyptian, is Amsu. He 
is supported by his four brothers, Amsta, Hapi, Taumutf, 
and Kabhsenuf, four ' Living Creatures ' represented else- 
where in primeval drawings by a Lion, a Calf, a Man, and 
an Eagle, symbols of the Four Evangelists : seen by St. 
John in his Apocalyptic vision : and also handed down to 
us, in the ritual of the Royal Arch, as the Banners of the four 
armies of the Israelites. This Crucified Deity was known 
by different names in different countries, namely : Horus, 
of the Stellar Cult of the Egyptians ; Huitzilopochtli, of 
the Astecs ; Zipe, of the Zapotics ; Hacaxipectli, of Guate- 
mala ; Ptah-Seker-Ausar, of the Egyptians, in their Solar 
Cult ; Tien-hwang Ta-Tici, of the Chinese ; Merodach, 
of the Babylonians ; lu, or Ea, of the Chaldeans, Assyrians 
and Druids of Britain ; Uiracocha, of the Peruvians, and 
many other names in various parts of the world ; yet all 
1 Arcana of Freemasonry, p. 41. 



ROOT PRINCIPLES OF AIX* FREEMASONRY 17 

one and the same, as proved by the same signs and symbols 
always associated with him, in whatever part of the world 
found." I From these ancient pictures, from hieroglyphics 
in Egypt and Central and South Ameiica, above all from the 
deciphering of the Book of the Dead, with its complete Ritual 
of the Ancient Mysteries, we know for certain that, ages 
before the Flood, our primeval brethfcrn were assembling 
in the forerunners of Masonic Lodges, using signs, symbols, 
and secret words, many of which are still in use in our own 
Lodges : that they had three^ principal degrees, and thirty- 
three in all : that their temples were built in the form of a 
double cube : and that there were always two pillars at 
the entrance to these temples. 

But to deal with Masonry at this early period of the world's 
history is not within the scope of the present work. Those 
who need convincing proof of the extreme antiquity of the 
Masonic ritual should study Dr. Churchward's two books 
closely, 2 and also the Book of the Dead, of which an admirable 
translation has been prepared by Dr. Wallis Budge. 

According to this Book of the Dead,* the builders of 
temples, who were the first originals of our Brotherhood, 
and who were initiated into the Lesser Mysteries, were called 
Craftsmen and Companions. At the time of the Stellar 
Cult a body of these Craftsmen, it is recorded, left Egypt 
and travelled into the Land of Chaldea. The Stellar Cult 
became merged in the Solar Cult. The Sun and Moon in 
addition to the Seven Stars became part and parcel of the 
religion of the country. Then followed the Great Deluge, 
which appears to have left Syria the centre of the habitable 
earth, to carry Masonry back again into Egypt through the 
agency of the Shepherd Kings. With the introduction of 
the Sun as an object of worship, as symbolical of the Grand 
Architect of the Universe, and representing to His human 
creatures the magnificence of His Glory and Power, came a 
change of name of that All-powerful Deity from Horus, 
GOD of the North Pole-Star, to El-Shaddai, GOD of the South 
Pole-Star. Here we find the origin of Operative, as distinct 

1 Churchward's Arcana of Freemasonry, p. 42. 

Arcana of Freemasonry and Signs and Symbols of Primordial Man. 

3 Book of the Deaa, chap. Ixxx. 

2 



18 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

from Speculative, Freemasonry, as we have it at the present 
day. iAey~us the same name for the Deity : they salute 
the rising sun with the seven-fold salute which was originally 
Stellar, but continued as an early Solar custom : they have 
a circular altar in the centre exactly under the plumb-line 
which comes down fiom the God of the Pole Star North. 
El-Shaddai was the Phoenician name for Sut, to whom the 
Egyptians erected the Second Pyramid, the First being 
dedicated to Horus, the North Polar Star, called by the 
Chaldeans "Jtao/' probably from " lu," one of the Egyptian 
names for Horus. Both lao and El-Shaddai were divine 
names in use amongst the Phoenicians. Whilst the Sacred 
Name of lao, as well as its Egyptian origin, lu, developed 
amongst the Hebrews into Jah, and its extension, Jahovah 
as handed down in the ritual of the Royal Arch Degree, the 
Druids in Britain worshipped the Deity under the names of 
lau and Hu. Here, then, would seem to be convincing 
proof, sufficient one would think for the most sceptical of 
English Masons, that it is to the Phoenicians, journeying from 
the East to the Western Isles, that we owe knowledge of 
signs, symbols, and words, unchanged in most respects, 
certainly in the more important aspects, from those used by 
our extremely ancient brethren, in pre-historic ages. 

If further proof is wanted of the Eastern source of our 
rituals let us again turn to the Royal Arch Degree which, 
while commemorating Masonry as practised by the Jews 
in their Babylonian captivity, makes use of certain words 
long anterior to that epoch. Probably few Egyptian scholars 
will attempt to refute the fact that the Chaldee words made 
use of in Royal Arch Masonry were in use, of a certainty, 
in this country, at least a hundred years before the discovery 
of the Rosetta Stone enabled the ancient Chaldee language 
to be read, by deciphering Babylonian and Assyrian tablets. 
Obviously, therefore, such words as were used in our rituals 
must have been transmitted orally. And if transmitted 
orally, it very naturally follows, equally plainly one would 
think, that they have been transmitted from the age when 
they were in use as the Babylonian and Chaldee language, 
that is, before the conquest by the Persians, and their 
introduction of their own language. I am a member of two 



ROOT PRINCIPLES OF ALL FREEMASONRY 19 

Orders of extreme antiquity, both closely allied to Masonry, 
though probably unknown to the large majority of English 
Freemasons, too many of whom seem to imagine that the three 
Craft Degrees constitute the sum total of Masonry. In both 
of these the Sacred Name lao is employed in speaking of 
the Almighty Father of the Universe, in one accompanied 
by the ancient Chaldean words Khonx-Om-Pax, 1 following 
the Egyptian words Khabs-Am-Pekht, a very significant 
proof of the antiquity of the source from which this particular 
ritual is derived. The other Order to which I refer claims 
to have preserved its ritual from the inhabitants of the 
submerged Atlantis. And however remote may seem this 
origin, it is a peculiar fact that the symbolical representation 
of the Sun and the Moon in this Order, the arrangement 
of the Temple, and much of the ritual, would appear to 
synchronize solely with the very earliest hieroglyphic 
descriptions of both Stellar and Solar worship. 

The universality of the science, to which attention is 
called in our Masonic ritual, is evidenced by the unexpected 
quarters in which Masonic signs and secrets are suddenly 
found available. While the Solar ritual alluded to just 
above is in many respects similar to one in use amongst 
the Aborigines of Australia, the three steps of our First 
Degree will admit one, it is said on good authority, to the 
innermost and most sacred shrines of certain Hindu temples. 
Later on in this work will be found an instance of the Five 
Points of Fellowship being hailed with delight by the Nusairi, 
as showing that their visitor was indeed a Brother Mason. 
My own sponsor in Masonry, when prospecting in Mexico, 
was received into blood-brotherhood by the chief of an Indian 
tribe far remote from civilization, with signs, unknown to 
him then, but afterwards entrusted to him when being made 
a Knight of Malta. 

Scotch Masons may be interested to learn that in some 
extremely ancient remains of a Druidic temple at Glammis, 
the Five Points of Fellowship are very clearly defined on a 
stone known locally as the Gravestone of Malcolm II, but 
certainly of much earlier date than his reign, which ended, 
in 1302. Here this world-wide sign of Masonic brotherhood 

1 See Appendix. 



20 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

is surmounted by a square vessel, into which two forms 
are disappearing, only their legs showing, a solstitial symbol 
of the commencing of a fresh year which we may presume it 
was thus hoped would be distinguished for an especial display 
of brotherly love. And on surrounding stones are to be 
be found emblems showing a very close connection with the 
symbolical religions of the Hindus and other Asiatic peoples 
of the earliest pre-historic origin. 



CHAPTER II 
THE ANCIENT MYSTERIES 

" THE institution of the Mysteries/' says G. S. Mead, "is the 
most interesting phenomenon in the study of religion. The 
idea of antiquity was that there was something to be known 
in religion, secrets or mysteries into which it was possible 
to be initiated ; that there was a gradual process of unfolding 
in thjng^jeligious ; in fine, that thertTw as a~ science of the 
soul, a knowledge of things unseen. 

" A persistent tradition in connection with all the great 
Mystery-institutions was that their several founders were 
the introducers of all the arts of civilization ; that they 
were either themselves gods or were instructed in them 
by the gods in brief, that they were men of far greater 
knowledge than any who had come after ; they were the 
teachers of infant races. And not only did they teach them 
the arts, but they instructed them in the nature of the gods 
of the human soul, and the unseen world, and set forth how 
the world came into existence and much else/ 1 1 

The first and most important secret of the Mysteries, 
whether celebrated in Eastern Asia, Egypt, or Greece, was, 
of course, that which is the grandest truth in theJUniverse^ 
the absolute Unity in Trinity oT^GoD, and His Eternal" 
Nature, apart from all other existences. The second was 
the existence of the Holy_ Spirit, the femina nature of the 
Deity, and the medium by which all creation was made 
manifest. The third secret was the Birth, Life, Death, 
Resurrection and^Ascension of the Third Person of the Trinity 
arid the " Blessed hope of Everlasting Life/ 1 thereby revealed 
to the human race. These principles were only in part 
communicated to those initiated into the Lesser Mysteries, 



1 Fragments of a Faith Forgotten, p. 46. London, 1906. 

21 



22 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

a full revelation being rigidly preserved for those privileged 
to obtain admission into the Greater Mysteries: Epiphanius 
says that Enoch l was the founder of the Mysteries, although 
he does not say whether of the Lesser, the Greater, or of 
both. 

Under the name of Mithraic Worship, the Supreme Deity 
was symbolized for adoration as the Sun, which the name 
Mithras signifies, while it also, if taken at its numerical 
value in the Greek letters, produced the number 365, the 
days of the year, just as does the name Abraxas of the 
Gnostics, and Belenos, the name given to the Sun in ancient 
Gaul. On Mithraic monuments we find representations of 
the globe of the sun, the club, and the bull, symbols of the 
highest truth, the highest creative activity, and the highest 
vital power. Such a Trinity agrees with that of Plato, 
which consists of the Supreme Good, The Word, and the 
Soul of the World : with that of Hermes Trismegistus, 
consisting of Light, Intelligence and Soul ; and with that of 
Porphyry, which consists of Father, Word and Supreme Soul. 

The religion of the Magi, says Franz Curnont, the great 
authority on Mithraism, 1 "which was the highest blossom of 
the genius of Iran, exercised a deep influence on Occidental 
culture at three different periods. In the first place, Parseeism 
had made a very distinct impression on Judaism in its 
formative stage, and several of its cardinal doctrines were 
disseminated by Jewish colonists throughout the entire 
basin of the Mediterranean, and subsequently even forced 
themselves on Orthodox Catholicism." 

" The influence of Mazdaism on European thought was 
still more direct when Asia Minor was conquered by the 
Romans. Here, from time immemorial, colonies of Magi 
who had migrated from Babylon lived in obscurity, and 
welding together their traditional beliefs and the doctrines 
of the Grecian thinkers, had elaborated, little by little, in 
these barbaric regions a religion original despite its complexity. 
At the beginning of our era we see this religion suddenly 
emerging from the darkness, and pressing forward, rapidly 

1 See Appendix : " Legend of Enoch." 

a Mysteries oj Mithra, American translation, Chicago, 1903 : preface to 
the French edition. 



THE ANCIENT MYSTERIES 28 

and simultaneously, into the valleys of the Danube and the 
Rhine, and even into the heart of Italy. The nations of 
the Occident felt vividly the superiority of the Mazdean faith 
over their ancient national creeds, and the populace thronged 
to the altars of the exotic god. But the progress of the 
conquering religion was checked when it came in contact 
with Christianity. The two adversaries discovered with 
amazement, but with no inkling of their origin, the similarities 
which united them. The defeat which ensued for Mithraism 
was not due entirely to the superiority of the evangelical 
ethics, nor to that of the Apostolic doctrine regarding the 
teaching of the Mysteries ; it perished, not only because 
it was encumbered with the onerous heritage of a 
superannuated past, but also because its liturgy and its 
theology had retained too much of its Asiatic colouring to 
be accepted by the Latin spirit without repugnance. For 
a converse reason the same battle, waged in the same epoch 
in Persia between these same two rivals, was without success, 
if not without honour, for the Christians ; and in the realms 
of the Sassanids Zoroastrianism never once was in serious 
danger of being overthrown." 

The defeat of Mithraism did not, however, utterly 
annihilate its power. It had prepared the minds of the 
Occident for the reception of a new faith which, like itself, 
came also from the banks of the Euphrates, and which 
resumed hostilities with entirely different tactics. Mani- 
cheism appeared as its successor. This was the final assault 
made by Persia on the Occident an assault more sanguinary 
than the preceding, but one which was ultimately destined 
to be repulsed by the powerful resistance offered to it by the 
Christian empire. 

A scrupulous respect for the traditional practices of their 
sect characterized the Magi of Asia Minor, and continued 
to be manifested with unabated ardour among their Latin 
successors. On the downfall of paganism the latter still 
took pride in worshipping the gods according to the ancient 
Persian rites which Zoroaster is said to have instituted. 
These rites sharply distinguished their religion from all others 
that were practised at the same time in Rome, and prevented 
its Persian origin from ever being forgotten. 



24 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

Amongst the few reliable details that have been preserved 
for us of the Mithraic ceremonies, a text of -St. Jerome, 
confirmed by a series of inscriptions, informs us that there 
were seven degrees of initiation, and that the mystic 
successively assumed the name of Raven, Occult, Soldier, 
Lion, Persian, Runner of the Sun, and Father. On the 
bas-reliefs they are represented in garbs suitable to those 
titles, which, or something similar, appear to have been 
common survivals of an extremely primitive cult amongst 
all nations of antiquity. The seven degrees of initiation 
through which the candidate was forced to pass, in order 
to acquire perfect wisdom and purity, answered to the seven 
planetary spheres which the soul was forced to traverse in 
order to reach the abode of the blessed. From being Ravens 
the initiated were promoted to the ranks of Occult in which, 
hidden by a veil, they remained invisible to the rest of the 
congregation, to exhibit them constituting a special and 
solemn rite. The Soldier formed part of the sacred militia 
of the invincible god, and waged war under his direction 
on the powers of evil. The dignity of Persian recalled the 
first origin of the Mazdean religion, and he who obtained it 
assumed, during the sacred ceremonies, the Oriental custom 
of wearing the Phrygian cap, which had also been bestowed 
on Mithra. The latter having been identified with the Sun, 
his servitors invested themselves with the name of Runner 
of the Sun (Heliodromoi) ; lastly, the title of Fathers was 
borrowed from the Greeks, among whom this honorable 
appellation frequently designated the directors of the 
community. 

In this septuple division of the rite, according to Porphyry, 
the taking of the first three degrees did not authorize participa- 
tion in the Mysteries. These Initiates, comparable to the 
Christian Catechumens, were the servants (Huperetountes). 
Only those who had received the Lion degree became 
Participants (Metechontes) and it is for this reason that the 
grade of Leo is mentioned more frequently in the inscriptions 
than any other. Finally, at the summit of the hierarchy 
were placed the Fathers (Patres Sacrorum) who appear to 
have presided over the sacred ceremonies, and retained until 
their death the general direction of the cult. We do not 



THE ANCIENT MYSTERIES 25 

know if the initiates were obliged to remain in any one of 
the grades for a fixed time. The Fathers probably decided 
when they were sufficiently prepared to receive the higher 
initiation, which they conferred in person. 

In the degree of Soldier (Miles), after taking a solemn 
obligation of secrecy, and numerous lustrations with 
consecrated water, the candidate was " sealed," not as in the 
Christian liturgy with an unction on the iorehead, but with 
a mark burnt in with a red-hot iron. In the degree of Lion 
there were fresh purifications, but with honey poured on 
the hands, and applied to the tongue. A loaf of bread and 
a goblet of water were placed before the officiating priest, 
who consecrated them with a sacred formula. Wine was 
at a later date mingled with the water, replacing the 
intoxicating juice of the Haoma, used in the original 
Mazdean service. Only initiates who had attained the 
grade of Lion were allowed to partake of these oblations, 
from which was probably derived their title of Participants. 
It was after the imbibing of this sacred wine, to which super- 
natural effects, which were possibly akin to intoxication, 
were ascribed, that the candidate underwent the awe- 
inspiring trials which have always been associated with the 
Mysteries by the early Christian writers. 

The Sanctuaries of the Mysteries were always subterranean, 
and in each was placed a ladder with seven steps, by which 
ascent was made to the Mansions of Felicity. The candidate 
for initiation was prepared by numerous lustrations with 
fire, water, and honey, after which he had to pass through 
numerous probations, ending with a fast of fifty days' 
continuance, spent in perpetual silence and solitude. If 
the candidate escaped partial or complete insanity, an 
occurrence of great frequency, and surmounted the trials of 
his fortitude, he was eligible for higher honours and the 
superior degrees. 

According to Heckethorn * the first degree was in- 
augurated with purifying lustrations, and a sign was set 
on the neophyte's brow, whilst he offered to the Deity a 
loaf and a cup of water. A crown was presented to him 
on the point of a sword, and he put it on his head with the 

1 Secret Societies, p. 31, 



26 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

words " Mithras is my crown." In the second degree the 
candidate put on armour, to meet the representatives of 
giants and wild beasts whom he was sent to encounter in 
the subterranean vaults of the temple, the characters being 
entrusted to priests perfectly prepared to attack the candidate 
fiercely and often inflict serious wounds on him, possibly 
causing loss of life. In the next degree he was robed with 
a mantle on which were painted the signs of the Zodiac, 
in which he again encountered appalling sights of terrifying 
monsters. Escaping these in due course, he was saluted as 
a " Lion of Mithras/' alluding to the Zodiacal sign in which 
the Sun obtained his greatest power. Then the grand secret 
was imparted to him, which, from the most authenticated 
traditions, we may conclude was the highest knowledge 
concerning the origin of the universe, and the attributes, 
perfections, and works of the Almighty Creator. 

The Lesser Mysteries, says Banier, served as a preparation 
for the Greater, celebrated at Eleusis, and by their means 
candidates were initiated into the secret rites of Ceres. 
After having passed through a good many trials, the candidate 
was termed Mystes, that is, qualified for being very soon 
initiated into the Greater Mysteries, and to become Epoptes, 
or the witness of the most secret Mysteries, which was not 
permitted until after five years' probation, during which he 
might enter into the vestibule of the temple, but not into 
the Sanctuary. And even when he was Epoptes, and enjoyed 
that privilege, there were still many things of which the 
knowledge was reserved to the priests alone. At his initiation, 
the candidate was introduced into the Temple by night, 
after washing his hands at the entry, and placing on his head 
a crown of myrtle. Then he was presented with a little 
box, containing the Laws of Ceres, and the ceremonies of 
her Mysteries, which he was told to read, and transcribe. 
After this, terrifying darkness, peals of thunder, vivid flashes 
of lightning, and the appearance of multitudes of terrifying 
figures were succeeded by visions of charming beauty. 

It may be said, says Theo of Smyrna, that " philosophy 
is the initiation into and the tradition of real and true 
Mysteries. But of initiation there were five parts. That 
which has the precedency indeed, and is the first, is purifica- 



THE ANCIENT MYSTERIES 27 

tion. For the Mysteries are not to be imparted to all who are 
willing to be initiated, but to the pure only. And the second 
thing after purification is the Tradition of the Mystery. The 
third stage is denominated Inspection. Then comes binding 
the head, and placing on it crowns : so that he who is initiated 
is now able to deliver to others the Mysteries which he has 
himself received, whether it be the mystery of a torch-bearer, 
or of the interpretation of the sacred ceremonies, or of some 
other priesthood. But the fifth thing, which arises from 
these others, is the felicity which results from being dear to 
Divinity, and the associate of the Gods/' The Epoptae 
in the Mysteries, says Faber, in his Pagan Idolatry, were 
supposed invariably to have " experienced a certain regenera- 
tion, or new birth, by which they entered upon a new state 
of existence, and were deemed to have acquired a great 
increase of light and knowledge. Hitherto they were exoteric 
and profane now they become esoteric and holy. The rite 
itself consisted sometimes in the aspirant's being born, 
as it were, out of a small covered boat, in which he had been 
previously committed to the mercy of the ocean ; sometimes 
in his being produced from the image of a cow, within which 
he had been first enclosed ; and sometimes in his coming 
forth through the door of a dark, rocky cave, or artificial 
stone cell, in which he had been shut up during the time 
appointed by the Hierophant." 

The Elysian fields, into which the Epoptae were conducted 
after their fearful progress through the realms of death and 
darkness, were variously said to be situated on the summit 
of a lofty mountain, in the orb of the Moon, and in the midst 
of the Ocean. According to the Chaldean teaching, the 
soul, after its various migratory purgations, is exhorted to 
hasten to the luminous abode of the Almighty Father from 
whom it emanated, and to seek for Paradise. 

In the archaeology of Wales, says Kenealy, 1 where the 
Eleusinian Mysteries passed under the name of Ceridwen, 
the Holy Spirit, we find traces of the oath which was imposed 
on the aspirant. The latter, led by an accompanying priest 
before the Hierophant, or Chief Priest, solemnly pledged 
himself, under terrible penalties in case of violation, to 

1 Book of God, ii, p. 53. 



28 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

preserve the laws of the Sanctuary, however he might be 
assaulted by his enemies, or deserted by his friends. In 
the Isle of Anglesea, these rites took place in a sacred twilight, 
gradually replacing the pitch darkness into which the 
candidate was first taken, and he passed through fire, as 
the symbol of GOD, and then through water, as the symbol 
of the Holy Spirit. 

In the Eleusinian Misteries the candidates received on 
their foreheads the mark of the Tau Cross, symbolizing the 
Light they were admitted into, and they were given at the 
same time a sprig of acacia, an evergreen plant opening 
its leaves in the morning and shutting them at night, 
symbolizing Innocence, or freedom from sin, as its name 
implies, conveying the same idea as the myrtle of the Mithraic 
Mysteries, and the palm used in the Egyptian Rites. Its 
use by Freemasons, though attributed to a different reason, 
has evidently had its origin in the Mysteries, as will be clear 
to every intelligent student. 

The ancient Mithraic Mysteries were celebrated on the 
25th of December, which was called The Day of the Nativity 
of the Invincible. In Greece, the Eleusinian Mysteries com- 
menced on the I5th of September, and lasted to the 23rd, 
thus being held at the same period as the Hebrew Feast 
of Tabernacles. 

In a subsequent stage of the Mysteries the fully initiated 
were made to undergo circumcision, and from this would 
appear to have originated the idea of non-Masons that all 
candidates for admission into the Craft had to suffer branding 
or mutilation, with the satisfaction in consequence of the 
initiate on finding this was merely a myth. 

Among the ancient Hindus, the periods of initiation 
were regulated by the increase and decrease of the moon, 
and the Mysteries were divided into four degrees, the age 
at which the candidate might be initiated into the first 
degree being as early as eight years. He was then prepared 
by a Brahmin who became his spiritual guide of the second 
degree, the probationary ceremonies of which consisted in 
incessant occupation in prayers, fastings, ablutions, and the 
study of astronomy. In the hot season he sat exposed to 
five fires, four blazing around him, with the sun above ; in 



THE ANCIENT MYSTERIES 29 

the rains, he stood uncovered ; in the cold season he wore 
wet clothing. To participate in the high privileges which 
the Mysteries were believed to confer, he was sanctified by 
the sign of the cross, and subjected to the probation of the 
pastos, the tomb of the sun, the coffin of Hiram, darkness 
hell, all symbolical of the first three properties. His purifica- 
tion being completed, he was led at night to the cavern of 
initiation. This was brilliantly illuminated, and there sat 
the three Hierophants, in the East, West, and South, 
representing the GODS Brahama, who was painted red 
to represent substance ; Vishnu, painted blue to symbolize 
space ; Siva, painted white, in contrast to the black night 
of eternity, surrounded by attendant mystagogues dressed 
in appropriate vestments. The initiation was begun by an 
apostrophe to the sun, addressed by the name of Pooroosh, 
here meaning the vital soul, or the universal spirit of Brahm ; 
and the candidate, after some further preliminary ceremonies, 
was made to circumambulate x the cavern three times, and 
afterwards conducted through seven dark caverns, during 
which period the waitings of Mahadeva for the loss of Siva 
were represented by dismal howlings. The usual paraphernalia 
of light, of dismal sounds, and horrid phantoms, were produced 
to terrify and confuse the aspirant. Having arrived at the 
last cavern, the sacred conch was blown, the folding doors 
thrown open, and the candidate was admitted into an apart- 
ment filled with dazzling lights, ornamented with statues 
and emblematic figures richly decorated with gems, and 
scented with the most fragrant perfumes, intended to represent 
Paradise. With eyes riveted on the altar, the candidate was 
taught to expect the descent of the Deity in the bright 
pyamidal fire that blazed upon it ; and in a moment of 
enthusiasm thus artificially produced, the candidate might 
indeed persuade himself that he actually beheld Brahm seated 
on the lotus, with his four heads and arms, representing the 
four elements and the four quarters of the globe, and bearing 
in his hands the emblems of eternity and power, the circle 
and fire. The symbol of initiation was a cord of seven threads, 
knotted thrice three. 

In the Egyptian Mysteries, the candidate for initiation, 
1 See Appendix. 



80 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

conducted by a guide, was led to a deep, dark well or shaft 
in the pyramid in which, erected over vast subterranean 
caverns, their initiation ceremonies were carried out. Into 
this well, provided with a torch, he descended by means of 
a ladder fixed to the side. Arrived at the bottom, he saw 
two doors, one of them barred, the other yielding to the touch 
of his hand. Passing through it, he beheld a winding gallery, 
whilst the door behind him shut with a clang that reverberated 
through the vaults. Inscriptions like the following met 
his eye : " Whoso shall pass along this road alone, and 
without looking back, shall be purified by fire, water and air : 
and overcoming the fear of death shall issue from the bowels 
of the earth to the light of day, preparing his soul to receive 
the Mysteries of Isis." Proceeding onward, the candidate 
arrived at another iron gate, guarded by three armed men, 
whose shining helmets were surmounted by emblematic 
animals, the Cerberus of Orpheus. Here the candidate had 
offered to him the last chance of going back, if so inclined. 
Electing to go forward, he underwent the trial by fire, by 
passing through a hall filled with inflammable substances in 
a state of combustion, and forming a bower of fire. The 
floor was covered with a grating of red hot iron bars, leaving, 
however, narrow interstices where he might safely place his 
feet. Having surmounted this obstacle, he had to encounter 
the trial by water. A wide and dark canal, fed by the waters 
of the Nile, arrested his progress. Placing the flickering lamp 
upon his head, he plunged into the canal, and swimming to 
the opposite bank, found the greatest trial, that by air, 
awaiting him. He landed upon a platform leading to an 
ivory door, bounded by two walls of brass, into each of which 
was inserted an immense wheel of the same metal. He in 
vain attempted to open the door, when, espying two large 
iron rings affixed to it, he took hold of them. Suddenly, 
the platform sank from under his feet, a chilling blast of 
air extinguished his lamp, the two brazen wheels revolved 
with formidable rapidity and stunning noise, whilst he 
remained suspended by the two rings over the fathomless 
abyss. But before he was quite exhausted the platform 
returned, the ivory door opened, and he saw before him a 
magnificent temple brilliantly illuminated, and filled with 



THE ANCIENT MYSTERIES 81 

the priests of Isis clothed in the mystic insignia of their 
offices, the Hierophant at their head. But the ceremonies 
of initiation did not cease here. The candidate was subjected 
to a series of fastings, which gradually increased for nine 
times nine days. During this period a rigorous silence 
was imposed upon him, which, if he preserved inviolate, he 
was at length fully initiated into the esoteric doctrines of 
Isis, and publicly proclaimed as a person who had been 
initiated into the first degree. 

But little is known of the rites of the second degree, 
called the Mysteries of Serapis. Apuleius, who has given 
us so many details of the first degree, scarcely touches upon 
the second, and lamblichus seems almost equally reticent. 
It would appear, however, as might be perhaps anticipated, 
to have been a rite of mystical death, followed by the 
resurrection in the third degree, called the Mysteries of Osiris, 
in which the candidate, as in the third Craft degree, typified 
the murdered Osiris. 

In most cases, the initiation ceremony concluded with this 
third degree, but Egyptian monarchs, and the higher grades 
of the priesthood, were initiated subsequently into a fourth 
degree, of seven grades, involving the rite of circumcision, 
if not already performed, much solitary meditation, and 
prolonged fasting. The postulant once again went through 
a mystical death, before being finally instructed in the 
higher branches of science, especially astronomy, astrology, 
and communication with unseen worlds. 

The whole aim of all the ancient Mysteries would clearly 
seem to be moral and instructive, and it is only as time went, 
on that licentiousness and mystification replaced the religious 
symbolism of the original institutions. 

A relic of the ancient mysteries can be found in the following 
account of an arduous trial of fortitude employed in certain 
female lodges in Paris. A candidate for admission, we are 
told, was usually very much excited. During a part of the 
ceremony she was conducted to an eminence, and told to 
look down at what awaited her if she faltered in her duty. 
Beneath her appeared a frightful abyss in which a double 
row of iron spikes were visible. No doubt her mind was in 
a chaos of fanaticism, for instead of shrinking at the sight, 



82 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

she exclaimed, " I can encounter all," and sprang forward. 
At that moment a secret spring was touched, and the candidate 
fell, not on the spikes, but on a green bed in imitation of a 
verdant plain. She fainted, but was soon recovered by her 
friends, when, the scene having changed, she was reanimated 
and soothed by the sweet strains of choral music. 

The priests were practically the masters of the old world, 
says the learned but anonymous author of The Canon, in 
which the ancient religions, with their ceremonies and 
beliefs, are treated from a numerical standpoint. Everything 
and everybody, he says was subservient to the ecclesiastical 
jurisdiction, and no work could be undertaken without its 
authority. " That the priests were legitimately entitled to 
regulate the building of the temples of the GODS, nobody will 
deny. And that they did exercise this control is beyond 
dispute. For we find that Freemasons, or somebody corre- 
sponding to the mediaeval Freemasons, with exclusive 
privileges and secrets required for building the temples, 
under ecclesiastical authority, have always existed. And 
the knowledge which we possess of the mediaeval Freemasons 
is sufficient to show that their secrets were the secrets of 
religion, that is, of mediaeval Christianity/' 

" It must be borne in mind, that only the vaguest ideas 
prevail as to the mystical secrets of the old priests. 1 Every- 
body knows that the Egyptians, Greeks, and other Eastern 
nations concealed the vital doctrines of their theology from 
the ignorant and vulgar, and it was only by a gradual process 
of initiation that the meaning of the sacred writings and 
ceremonies was explained. And then, after this preparation, 
the initiates were allowed to be full partakers in the religious 
rites. 

" The doctrine of these Mysteries is assumed to have been 
a defined scientific tradition, communicated orally to the 
initiates or mystics, who secretly passed it on from generation 
to generation. This mysticism, however, must not be 
confounded with the speculative mistiness which is cultivated 
by certain dreamy philosophers of our own day. The 
Mystic (Mustes) in the old sense has naturally become extinct, 
together with the Gnosis which formerly instructed him." 
1 The Canon, p. 4. London, 1897. 



THE ANCIENT MYSTERIES 38 

We do not know if the Hebraized or Christianized version 
of the Masonic ritual, as we now know it, has anything more 
than faint resemblance to its primitive form. We have some 
slight intimation of the ritual of the Mysteries from allusions 
in the works of the early writers, Christian and pagan, some 
of whom had themselves been initiated. More details are 
given, for those who can read between the lines of carefully 
veiled symbolism, in the Kabala, the works of lamblichus, 
and those attributed to Hermes Trisniegistus, which are 
some of our most diiect sources of information on the subject. 
The Kabala, perhaps contains the nearest approach to a 
direct revelation of the ancient secrets of the old world, and 
it has undoubtedly formed an important part of our Masonic 
traditions. The Christian equivalent to the word Kabala 
was Gnosis (knowledge), and from innumerable references 
in the writings of the Fathers it is evident that the Gnostics, 
whose doctrines will be dealt with in a subsequent chapter, 
like the older Christians in the construction of the Gospel 
and ritual of their Church, perpetuated the same mystical 
tradition which they had received from the Hebrews. The 
nature of their " knowledge " is thus stated by Clement of 
Alexandria l : " And the Gnosis itself is that which has 
descended by transmission to a few, having been imparted 
unwritten by the Apostles." St. Basil * also alludes to it 
thus : " They (the Fathers) were well instructed to preserve 
the veneration of the Mysteries in silence. For how could 
it be proper, publicly to proclaim in writing the doctrine 
of those things which no unbaptized person may so much as 
look upon ? " 

Miscellanea, Book vi, chap. vii. 
De Spintu Sancto, chap, xxvii. 



3 



CHAPTER III 
THE ANTIQUITY OF THE PEOPLE OF THE LEBANON 

IN writing of the Druses and Nusairis, those lifelong 
inhabitants of the Lebanon, we are dealing with people who 
retain practices spoken of by the Patriarchs, and who still 
exhibit in their life and customs many of the metaphors 
made use of by the Prophets. Here, says Urquhart, " may be 
seen the rudiment of the Pyramid, and the element of the 
calculations carried by the Etruscans to the West. 1 The 
' Exalted Horn ' is still the wonderful appendage of the 
married Druse woman, and carries the conviction of being 
a practice of the remotest antiquity, and therefore evidence 
of the unbroken continuity of the people. The cubes super- 
imposed on Syrian tombs present the very diagram of Lepsius 
in explaining his theory of the Pyramids. The carat, or 
division by twenty-four in Europe, preserved in the testing 
of the precious metal, the weighing of gems, and the division 
of ship property, is in common use in the Lebanon/ 1 

" The name given by these people to themselves is Sur. 
The race is the Surian, the Zuroi of the Greek, and Syrian 
modern tongues. The mountain is Gebel Suria. Lebanon 
is a foreign and descriptive term, from the Hebrew, implying 
4 white/ As it is the name they both use and cling to 
to-day, repudiating for their mountain the name of Lebanon, 
and for themselves that of Arab, so was it the name it bore 
in the time of Moses.* That the Hebrews should have called 
it by a name of their own invention shows how strange it was 
to them. The Jews, 700 years later, did not understand 

1 Urquhart, History of the Lebanon, vol. i. p. 15. 

" And we took at that time out of the hand of the two kings of the 
Amorites the land which is on this side of Jordan, from the river of Arnon 
unto Mount Hermon ; (which Hermon the Sidonians call Sirion, and the 
Amorites call it Shenir)/' Deut. m. 8, 9- 

84 



THE PEOPLE OF THE LEBANON 35 

the Syrian tongue. The Jews wanted no interpreter with 
the people of Canaan." 

The circumstances which show that the Hebrews did 
not conquer the Lebanon, show likewise that the Canaanites 
had not conquered it before them. Had the same race 
occupied the mountain and the plain, or had the Canaanites 
conquered this mountain, the defeated and expelled nations 
would have retreated thither, and made there their stand, 
which they did not and they too gave to Gebel Suria a name 
of their own Shinir. The people who, on the shores of 
the Atlantic, have preserved the names of " Hivite " and 
" Amonite," and recall the event of their dispersion by 
" Joshua the robber, th -j son of Nun," would not have 
forgotten and abandoned memory and name among 
inaccessible retreats and mountains fastnesses overlooking 
their native land. This is certain ; neither the Canaanites, 
when pressed by the Hebrews, nor the Hebrews, when 
pressed in their turn, ever took refuge in the Lebanon, as 
they must have done, had it not been already occupied by a 
powerful and warlike people. 1 

Xenophon speaks of the Suroi to the east as well as the 
west of the Euphrates, and Strabo makes these extend, 
mingled with the Arabs, from Cilicia to Judea, Phoenicia, and 
the coast ; just as to-day, were there a common name for 
Nusairis, Metawilis, Druses and Maronites, it would include 
the same districts. We may well consider then that these 
people have dwelt continuously in this land from the earliest 
peopling of the globe. 

The Bible informs us that after the deluge had subsided, 
the land was divided amongst the sons of Noah. The Biblical 
account is confirmed and extended in the " Book of Jubilees/' 
an Apocryphal book which bears traces of being written 
in the second century B.C., and whose narrative embraces 
material contained in the Book of Genesis and part of the 
Book of Exodus. We are told that Shem allotted to his son 
Arpachsad " all the land of the region of the Chaldees to the 
east of the Euphrates, bordering on the Red Sea, and all the 

> " I found in the Lebanon," says Urquhart, " no less than three villages 
named Ai Tat the Hittites of Scripture, and a tribe still flourishing in 
Morocco. The name of a people would no|t be given to its own villages, 
but settlements of refugees would naturally be so called." 



86 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

waters of the desert close to the tongue of the sea which 
looketh toward Egypt, all the land of Lebanon and Amana 
to the border of the Euphrates." But Canaan, a son of 
Ham, " saw the land of Lebanon to the river of Egypt that 
it was very good, and he went not into the land of his own 
inheritance to the west to the sea (that is north-west Africa) 
but he dwelt in the land of Lebanon, eastward and westward 
from the border of Jordan and from the border of the sea." 
He refused to hearken to the complaints of his father and 
brethren, that he was entering a district not apportioned to 
him, but " dwelt in the land of Lebanon, he and his sons, 
unto this day/' And for this reason the land is called 
Canaan. 

Kesed, the brother of Arpachsad, had a son named Ur, 
who, in the land apportioned to his father, built a city, 
which he called after his own name, Ur of the Chaldees. 
Here he " taught his sons the researches of the Chaldees, 
to divine and augur, according to the signs of heaven." 
Ur's great-grandson was Abram, who, about A.M. 1936, 
went forth with Terah his father from Ur of the Chaldees, 
to go into the land of Lebanon, and into the Land of Canaan, 
and dwelt in the land of Haran. 

The investigations of the last few years, writes Brace, 1 
in the cuneiform inscriptions of Babylonia have brought 
forth remarkable results, both as regards an ancient faith 
and a forgotten people. " In Northern Babylonia existed, 
probably three thousand years before Christ, a race who had 
attained a considerable degree of cultivation, and who are 
supposed to have invented the cuneiform mode of writing. 2 
They have been called the 'Akkadians/ 3 or Mountaineers, 
from the mountainous district on the north-east, whence 
they probably issued. They were long thought to be of 
stock foreign to the Semitic-Assyrian race who inhabited 
this region, and were believed to be Turanian, or connected 
in language with such races as the Finns, Turks, and 
Mongolians. But closer investigation makes it probable 
that they were mainly Semitic in blood, though perhaps 

1 C. Loring Brace, The Unknown God, p. 51. 1890. 

* Sec Appendix, p. 317, where it is attributed to Enoch. 

* Akkad, or Agade, their city, is mentioned in Genesis. 



THE PEOPLE OF THE LEBANON 87 

with strong Turanian mixture. The language of their 
inscriptions and tablets may have been* a kind of classical 
or sacred dialect of the Semitic-Assyrians. This ancient 
people had made a considerable progress in civilization two 
thousand years before Christ, possibly nearly four 'thousand 
years. They had founded great libraries ; their scholars 
had written treatises on astrology, magic, 1 and certain 
branches of mathematics ; they possessed various histories 
of the wars and exploits of the Assyrian kings, and had 
constructed temples and many public buildings, and (to 
judge from their cuneiform tablets) seem to have carried 
on elaborate commercial affairs. This race or people is 
deeply interesting to the student of religions, because it 
manifestly drew its religious traditions from the same 
source as the Hebrews. And out from the region inhabited 
or influenced by the Akkadians came forth one of the great 
figures of history, Abraham the father of monotheism. It 
seems to have been a people with a deep sense of the mysterious 
and supernatural. The Chaldean magic became known 
to all Oriental races. It was in that stage of development 
in which it especially worshipped the elemental powers, 
or the spirits of earth and storm, and sky and sun, and dreaded 
the evil powers of the universe. 1 ' 

The Akkadians, like the generality of mankind in all ages, 
believed in a divine Mediator, whom they called Silik-Khi, 
and later Merodach or Marduk, worshipped at first as the 
Sun-God, and later as Bel, or Baal, the Lord. It is interesting 
that in the inscriptions of Cyrus (c. 549 B.C.) illustrating 
his reign, he (Cyrus) is spoken of as " governing in justice 
and righteousness," and Merodach is described as " beholding 
with joy the deeds of his vicegerent who is righteous in hand 
and heart." * " Merodach, who in his necessity raised the 
dead to life," goes on the inscription, " who blesseth all men 
praying in need, hath in goodness drawn nigh to him, hath 
made strong his name." The prophet Isaiah uses like words 
of the same Cyrus : " I (GoD) have raised him up in 
righteousness. For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel 

1 The author no doubt alludes to Magian lore, as distinct from so-Galled 
" black magic." 

a Sayce, Ancient Monuments, p. 156. 



88 SECRET SECTS (51* SYRIA 

mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name ; I have 
surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me." x The 
inspired prophet of Israel evidently believed that the Unknown 
GOD was guiding and strengthening the Persian conqueror, 
though he knew him not. 

At the time of the Exodus of the Children of Israel, 
when they came in sight of the Promised Land, distinct 
injunctions were laid upon them as to certain tribes who were 
to be conquered by them, and into whose lands they w5re 
to enter, and take possession. These injunctions were 
relentlessly carried out, implying in many instances the 
blotting out by merciless slaughter of the whole race, and in 
some instances, the total destruction of all their possessions. 
But certain tribes were exempted from the same fate, and 
permitted to remain as neighbours, fulfilling from time to 
time certain acts of servitude, but with whom any such 
closer intermingling as would result in inter-marriage, and 
mixture of races, was prohibited. And amongst these are 
specified the Hivites. 

The same GOD who directed the destinies of one branch 
of the descendants of His servant Abraham, through Isaac 
and Jacob, in their sojourning in Egypt, their return to 
Canaan, and their preservation as a totally distinct race to 
the present day, notwithstanding all efforts at extermination, 
was not likely to forget that other son of Abraham, Ishmael, 
any more than He did that other forefather of Arab tribes, 
Esau, the wandering son of Isaac. Ishmael, no doubt, in 
the mountainous region of the Lebanon, became the founder 
of a mighty nation, called after him to this day, and therefore 
certain to be preserved from annihilation when the 
descendants of Isaac, through Jacob, returned to the country 
of their great ancestor, Abraham. 

Bryant, 3 quoting Eusebius and other early historians, 
says that " the sons of Ham seized upon all the country 
which reaches from Syria, and from the mountains of Albanus 
and Libanus. They also got possession of the places which 
lie upon the sea coast, even to the ocean, or great Atlantic." 
These people were chiefly Cushites, children of Cush, or 

* Isaiah, xlv. 13 ; xiv. 4, 5. 

a Bryant, Analysis of Ancient Mythology, 6 vols. London, 1807. 



THE PEOPM OF THE LEBANON 89 

Ethiopians, who over-ran Egypt, and conquered the former 
inhabitants of that country. Others, under the generic 
name of " Ammonites/ 1 occupied the principal islands of 
the jEgean Sea, also Sardinia, Crete, and Cyprus, apparently 
extending their journeying into the Isles of Britain, where the 
ancient Druids showed evident traces of Ammonite ancestry 
in the doctrines they taught, as far as they can be ascertained, 
and the religious rites which they pract'sed. 

* Of the same family were also the Cadmians (descendants 

of Cadmus, identified with the Egyptian Taut, or Thoth), 

and the Phoenicians, and the Hivites or Ophites, who came 

from Egypt, and settled near Libanus and Baal Hermon, 

upon the confines of Canaan. 1 The Cadmians, according 

to Bryant, "probably founded the temple of Baal Hermon, 

in Mount Libanus (the ruins of Baal-Bee are mentioned in 

the Appendix), and formed one of the Hivite nations in those 

parts. Bochart has very justly observed, that a Hivite 

is the same as an Ophite ; and many of this denomination 

resided under Mount Libanus, and Anti-Libanus ; part of 

which was called Baal Hermon, as we learn from the sacred 

writings. 2 There were other Hivites, who are mentioned 

by Moses among the children of Canaan.3 But the 

Cadmonites, and many of the people about Mount Libanus 

were of another family. The Hivites of Canaan Proper were 

those who, by a stratagem, obtained a treaty with Joshua. 4 

Their chief cities were Gibeon, Cephirah, Beeroth and Kirjath 

Jearim. These lay within the tribe of Judah, and of 

Benjamin, who possessed the northern parts of Canaan. 

But the other Hivites, among whom were the Cadmonites, 

lay far to the north, under Libanus, at the very extremities 

of the country. The sacred writer distinguishes them 

from the Canaanites, as well as from the other Hivites, by 

saying ' the Hivites of Baal Hermon/ And he seems to 

distinguish the Sidonians, and justly, from the genuine 

Canaanites ; for if we may credit profane history, the 

Cadmians had obtained the sovereignty in that city,5 and the 

people were of a mixed race. They were particularly famed 

for their knowledge in astronomy, architecture, and music, 

1 Ibid. pp. 242, 460. Judges iii. i, 3. 

3 Qenesjs x. 17. 4 Joshua ix. 3, 7. $ See Appendix. 



*0 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

and were looked upon as adepts in every branch of science. 
They were the first navigators of the seas, and, if we may 
believe Herodotus, carried their arts westwards, to Rhodes, 
and to many parts (of the West) besides." 

It is not within the reach of human comprehension, 
says Chasseaud, even did inclination tend in that way, to 
pretend to ascribe to the present Druses of the Lebanon 
any lineage which might prove their descent from the Hivites. 
" The fact is that no man living could accomplish such a feat ; 
but as far as human foresight, or rather comprehension, can 
discern, the present inhabitants of the Lebanon are a people 
equally as brave as those who at the exodus of the Israelites 
were permitted to remain there, to act as a check upon their 
audacity, and to remind them that with GOD everything was 
possible, and without His assistance even the most trivial 
wars were dubious, both in their character and as to their 
results." 

" Beyond a doubt, whatever grave theorists may say, there 
is an inherent virtue in people as a class, a peculiar system 
and belief which indirectly descends from generation to 
generation. Though these very people may have, in the 
lapse of time, changed their theories and doctrines ; and 
although it might be a feasible theory to presume that the 
people who have so long held sway upon these very mountains 
are of the same race as that old people, the Hivites, we have 
unfortunately no record to refer to ; no plausible ground 
on which to pronounce that such is the case. Although the 
beginning or the origin of the Druses, however, is and must 
ever remain an unsolvable mystery to the curious, it is feasible 
and plausible to suppose that this peculiar sect originated 
with the Freemasons that followed upon the steps of Solomon. 
Theirs was a mystery that has ever remained closed or a 
sealed secret, and so it is with the Druses." 

The Israelites, whom Joshua had led into the land of 
Canaan, were a powerful and all-conquering people ; and 
the Hivites of those ancient days must have been a remarkably 
courageous and resolute nation to have been able to with- 
stand the subjugating arms of so potent a foe. Now, the 
present race of mountaineers, who inhabit those same heights 
of the Lebanon, are characterized by similar qualities of 



THE PEOPLE OF THE LEBANON 41 

undaunted bravery and stubborn determination ; and as, 
of old, the Hivites resisted the Israelites effectually, whereas 
surrounding nations fell completely under their victorious 
swords, so have the present race of Druses sustained an 
indomitable resistance against the yoke which the Turkish 
Government succeeded in fully imposing upon all other 
classes inhabiting districts within the range of the Ottoman 
sway. The Druses have always substantially held their own, 
and the Turks cannot be said to haw ever entirely subdued 
their rude independence. 

It was not without a special object that the ancient 
Hivites were permitted to dwell in the Lebanon unscathed 
by the Israelites. If they were thus made a signal exception 
to that general practice by which the Israelites, on entering 
upon their new possessions, did not desist until they had 
scattered and rooted out all the infidels whom they encountered 
if the Hivites were allowed to remain undispersed in their 
mountain homes in the land of Canaan it was, as we are 
explicitly told in the words of the Bible, in order " to prove 
Israel by them. 11 They became a peculiar instrument of 
Providence in bringing about the chastisement and humiliation 
of the children of Israel. 

The Angel of the Lord had announced that the Hivites 
of the Lebanon would be as thorns in the sides of the Israelites 
and they were so. It is a strange coincidence that, in 
like manner, have the Druses proved themselves as thorns 
in the sides of the Ottoman Government. They have not 
only resisted and overcome the various attempts made at 
different times to trample down their national freedom ; 
but, professing a creed entirely foreign to that of the 
Ottoman Empire, they have also stood as a permanent 
and effectual barrier against the spread of Islamism upon 
their mountains. 

Learned and inquisitive travellers who have ventured 
to penetrate into this district, besides the imminent peril 
they incurred from the inhospitality of a most inhospitable 
people, found an invariable check to the furtherance of their 
projects from a superstitious objection on the part of the 
inhabitants to the exhumation of any trifling stone or 
monument which might have contributed, through the 



42 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

learning of those attempting their investigation, to universal 
information. 

It is a strange theory, yet one undoubtedly based upon 
some ancient but substantial evidence, that every peculiar 
stone or rock marked by inscription or device, or in any way 
inviting the attention of the stranger, was there placed as 
a record of buried treasure. There is no reason to doubt 
that, in a country so often subjected to sudden commotions, 
people were in the practice of interring treasures and other 
property which did not admit of being transported or removed 
in the moment of sudden exigency ; and consequently, 
even down to the present hour, these people are particularly 
jealous of any excavations which the natural researches of 
science may give rise to, but which they falsely attribute 
to motives of self-interest. 



CHAPTER IV 

THE SABEANS, WORSHIPPERS OF THE POLE 

STAR 

IN one of the five hymns of the Rigveda, the sacred book of 
the Brahmins, we are told that Vishvakarman, the GOD of 
Life, when creating the World, in order to make earth and 
heaven visible by his might, blew into existence, from all 
sides with his arms and wings, eyes, faces, arms and feet, 
thus begetting the single GOD, the Pole Star, Agohya. The 
Phoenicians looked upon the Pole Star as a goddess, whom 
they knew as Astroncema, the Deity presiding over growing 
corn, and in whose honour a New Year's Festival of the first 
fruits was held. In the Stellar Cult which preceded Solar 
worship the Pole Star was considered to be a one-eyed god, 
the giant Cyclops. 

Our present Pole Star, the last of the constellation known 
by astronomers as Ursa Major, is worshipped in China 
under the name of T'ien-hwang Ta-Ti, " The Heavens- 
king who is the Great Ruler." Older Chinese records refer 
to the period when the Pole Star was in Cygnus, about 
16500 B.C., and in Draco, about 3000 B.C. Chow-tsze, a 
distinguished Chinese scholar of the eleventh century, 
referred to it as " The Great Extreme." Under this 
name, or that of " The Great First," the Pole Star appears 
to have been worshipped in China, according to the 
Yi-king, or Book of Evolutions, which is considered to have 
been compiled about 1143 B.C., if not considerably earlier, 
that is, at least 600 years before Confucius, who refers to it. 
Shang-Ti, the Supreme Ruler of the Taoists, the followers 
of " The Way," was said to have as his celestial abode " a 
space round the North Pole." We read in the Yi-king that 
" day and night, the dark and the clear, succeed without end ; 

49 



44 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

such is the ordinary course of the Tao of celestial phenomena ; 
a period of increase and a period of decrease, such is the 
Tao of heaven." 

In the legends and institutions of the Sumero- Akkadians 
of the Euphrates delta, we are told I that the first civilizers 
of the country were the people led by the GOD la-khan or 
la, the fish, the son of the house (/) of the waters (a) the 
birth-ocean. He came thither clothed in fish-skins in the 
ship Ma, the constellation Argo, called by the Zends Sata- 
vasa, or the star of the hundred (sata) creators, and landed 
at Wri-du or Wri-duga, the holy (duga) city, whither they 
came from Dilmun, the isle of GOD (dil), where la first 
appeared to human eyes as En-zag, the first-born (zag) of 
GOD (en), the fish-born son of the waters. This was the 
island of Bahrein celebrated for its pearl fishery. 

These people, with whom the eastern Munda, or Malay 
sun-worshippers were intermingled, settled as the race 
known as Sumerians on the coasts of the Euphratean delta 
and the south-eastern shores of Arabia, forming the west 
coasts of the Persian Gulf, and divided the country into 
provinces, each of which had its central town surrounded 
by its associated villages, and its own gods worshipped in 
the village groves, together with its series of provincial and 
village festivals. This system prevailed over the Euphratean 
delta, Babylonia, Mesopotamia, and the whole of south- 
western Asia, and extended to Egypt, which was divided into 
Nones, each with its central city, holy groves, and local gods. 
These became, in the Euphratean countries, the provinces 
ruled by the numerous cities into which the land was divided, 
and in Syria the districts of the early Canaanite population 
of the Rephaim described in the Book of Joshua as cities with 
their associated villages. These districts must have been 
very small, for in the territory of the tribe of Judah, covering 
about 1,200 square miles, one hundred and six cities, each 
ruling its provinces, are mentioned, giving only about eleven 
square miles to each province. 

These immigrants became, in their new home, the race 

* I am indebted to Primitive Traditional History, by J. F. Hewitt, London 
1907, 2 vols., for this condensed account of the origin of the Sabeans, and 
the references throughout are those given by Mr. Hewitt. 



THE SABEANS 45 

known in Akkadian and Assyrian history as the " Sons of 
la, the black-headed race," of Sumer. The first city founded 
by these Sumerians was Erech, originally called Unuk, 
meaning " the Place of the Settlement/' the Enoch of 
Genesis iv. 17, and its seaport was Eriduga, the holy 
city. 1 

These Sumerian sons of the Mother-tree and the Holy 
Grove became the black Himyarite Sabeans of the Euphratean 
valley and the southern coasts of Arabia, the race known 
in Assyrian history as the Kalda or Chaldeans, who were 
skilled astronomers, and who, according to the Babylonian 
traditions recorded by Berosus, were the first rulers of the 
country after the Deluge, who studded it with towns forming, 
with their surrounding districts, associated provinces, and 
whose eighty-six kings reigned for 34,080 years. 2 They are 
proved to have measured time by the Pleiades, by the calendar 
of Telloh or Girsu, the city containing the oldest Akkadian 
monuments and inscriptions yet found, as their New Year's 
festival of the goddess Bau of the watery abyss was held in 
the middle of October.3 

The modern representatives of these fresh settlers in 
the Euphrates valley are the Sabean Mandaites, who call 
themselves the Sons of the Word (manda) of GOD, the traders 
of Mesopotamia, who begin their solar-lunar zodaic with which 
they measure their months and years with the Parwe, they 
Pleiades.4 They are now artisans and traders in Mesopotamia, 
but the Sabean race to which they belong were once rulers 
of Southern Arabia, called Saba, They were the chief 
merchants of the East, and their territory, described in 
Genesis x. 26-30 as the thirteen provinces ruled by the sons 
of Joktan, one of whose sons is Sheba or Saba, stretched 
from Arabia to the Mountain of the East, the Akkadian 
mother-mountain of Khar-sak-kurra, the mountain of the 
ox (khar), of the rain (sah,) of the East (hurra). They are 
called in Isaiah Ix. 6, Jeremiah vi. 20, Ezekiel xxxvii. 22, 
the richest merchants in the East, who, as the sons of Dedan, 

1 Sayce, Hibbert Lectures for 1887, Lecture III, p. 184. 

* Ibid. Babylonia, Encyclopaedia Britannica, gth ed., vol. iii. p. 283. 

3 Sayce, Gilford Lectures for 1902, " The Religions of Ancient Egypt 
and Babylonia/' Part II, Lecture IX, p. 473. 

4 Sachau, Alberuni's Chronology of Ancient Nations, chap. xi. p. 227. 



46 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

one of the sons of Jokshan (Genesis xxv. 3), sold precious 
cloths for riding, that is, Persian saddle-bags, carpets, horns 
of ebony, and ivory brought from India (Ezekiel xxvii. 
I5> 20). 

These people worship the Pole Star as the visible sign of 
the Father GOD. Their New Year's Day service is now held 
at the Autumnal Equinox, 1 but originally, as Alberuni tells 
us, they, and apparently all the people of the south-west of 
Asia, began their year with the Feast of Booths made of 
tree branches. This was held from the fourth to the eighteenth 
of Hilal Tishrin II, October-November. 2 In Arabia this 
festival is now a New Year's Fair. 

" The Subbas, (or as they call themselves, Mandoyo, 
that is, ' ancients ') of Mesopotamia/' says O'Neill,3 " still 
pray towards the Pole Star ; and they put the sole door of 
their temple in its south side, in order that those who enter 
may face the Pole Star ; and the reason of this is that Hivel 
Zivo, the Subban Creator, when he took up the government 
of the worlds he had formed, placed himself at the limit of 
the Seven Matarathos, at the extremity of the Universe, 
where the Pole Star was then created to cover him. Hivel 
Zivo seems to be another name for Avather, whom the Pole 
Star also covers, and who is the Judge of Souls. The theory 
that places the supreme, the upright, the unbiassed, the 
unwavering, divine judge at the only spot of the cosmos that 
seemed irremovable, unshakable that is the Pole of the 
heavens will be found to support in a remarkable degree 
the still older belief in the clear-seeing eye of the same Deity, 
still a well-defined attribute of the G.A.O.U. in our Masonic 
ritual. The supreme Babylonian GOD Ea (identified with 
Kronos) is called on the tablets the ' Lord with the clear- 
seeing Eye/ and also the ' motionless Lord/ which last 
seems to be an epithet peculiar to the polar divinity/' 

To these should be added the all-piercing eye of Atlas 
in the Odyssey ; the eye of Ra, and the all-seeing eye in the 
forehead of Krishna. A close parallel is to be found in the 
Rig Veda (iii. 59) where " Mithra sustains the earth and the 

1 Hewitt, Ruling Races of Prehistoric Times, vol ii. essay viii. pp. 156, 165. 
* Sachu, Alberuni 1 's Chronology of Ancient Nations, chap, xviii, " The 
Fasts and Feasts of the Magians and Sabeans," pp. 315-17, 
3 Night of the Gods, vol, i. pp. 490, et seq. 



THE SABEANS 47 

sky, Mithra with unwinking eye beholds all creatures." The 
Avestan Mithra has 10,000 eyes, high, strong, sleepless and 
ever awake. The Persian god Ahura Mazda is sometimes said 
to have only one eye, at others to see everything with his eyes, 
the sun, moon and stars. 

In all their actions, and in their position during sleep, 
the Subbas must turn towards the Pole Star, which fixes the 
spot where Avather dwells, and therefore the direction of 
Olmidanhuro, their heaven. The corpse of a Subba is laid 
out head to south and feet to north, so that the dead may have 
the Pole Star before his eyes and he is buried in the same way. 
In one of their legends (which they share with the Moslems) 
Solomon obtains access to the heavenly city through a hidden 
door in the centre of the wall facing the Pole Star. Here then 
we have a community who, while worshipping that star, 
are also Baptists who are held to continue the traditions 
of St. John, and to worship him also as Yahio. Their religion 
was one of those tolerated by Mohammed on paying tribute, 
and Sale says " travellers commonly call them Christians 
of St. John's." Of course, a large proportion of the 
Mohammedan Arabs were Sabeans in their worship. Siouffi, 
a French vice-consul at Mussul, said the name of Subbas is 
given to them by their Christian and Moslem neighbours, 
but they call themselves Mandoyo, " ancients/' In 1875, 
there were about 4,000 of these Subbas or Mandoyo near 
Basrah, where Turkey joins Persia ; those of Shushtar (the 
ancient Susa) are looked up to by the rest as being better 
educated in religious and other ways. 

None of them till the ground, but they are chiefly highly 
skilled goldsiiiiths and joiners : a few are blacksmiths, and 
a few traders. Norberg's Codex said their name came from 
11 Mando d'hhai," living word. 

O'Neill also quotes a remarkable passage on this subject 
in the Koran (vi. 77) : " And when the night overshadowed 
Abraham, he saw a star, and he said ' This is my Lord/ 
but when it set he said ' I like not gods that set/ And when 
he saw the moon rising he said ' This is my Lord ' ; but 
when he saw it set he said ' Verily if my Lord direct me 
not I shall become of the people that go astray/ And when 
he saw the sun rising he said ' This is my Lord, this is the 



48 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

greatest.' But when it set he said ' Verily I direct my face 
unto Him who hath created the heavens and the earth/ " 
Now the Pole Star and the Bears and other Polar constellations 
do not set in Arabic latitudes. The commentators say there- 
fore that Abraham's youthful religion was the Sabean, 
which consisted chiefly in worshipping the heavenly bodies, 
but especially the Pole Star. 

The Sabeans held the belief, as do the modern Subbas, 
that at the four cardinal points, guarded by four angels, 
are buried the four Shambube, the principles of the winds, 
and that if these were suffered to escape the world would be 
overturned. From this O'Neill traces the archaic origin 
of the square, that chief jewel of Freemasonry, and the oldest 
symbol of Deity. He points out that these four corners 
exactly accord with the Chinese absolute conception of a 
square earth, and a square altar of earth, while that of the 
heavens is round. Here again we get the source of the 
Egyptian belief in the Four Lords of the Four Angles of the 
heavens, and a reason for the antiquity of that sacred Hindu 
symbol of Deity, the Swastika. 

The Chinese north is the point " over which the Pole Star 
stands," while the three other points are referred to the sun : 
east where he rises, south where he rests, west where he sets. 
The Emperor when officiating at the round altar of heaven 
faced the north, and the Taoists turn towards the same point 
when addressing the first person of their Trinity. The 
Sabeans, the worshippers of the Saba t the Host of Heaven, 
believed in one GOD, and alleged many reasons for His 
Unity, says Jervis ; but they also paid adoration to the stars, 
or the angels or intelligences which they supposed resided 
in them and governed the world under the Supreme Deity. 
" They go on a pilgrimage to a place near the city of Hauran 
in Mesopotamia, where great numbers of them dwell." They 
derived their religion from Seth, and, according to Hyde, 
" those of Mount Lebanon have so high a veneration for 
him that they lay more stress on an oath made in his name 
than on one made on the name of GOD, Wa Sheyth, ' by 
Seth ' being their most solemn oath." They paid special 
adoration to the seven planets : hence we have Balaam, in 
following the old Sabean, Chaldean and ancient Arab form of 



THE SABEANS M 

worship, erecting seven altars, and offering on them seven 
oxen and seven rams. This same worship of " the Seven " 
continues among the Sabeans of the desert, says Dunlap, 
and is seen in the Desert-Christian religion of the Nazarenes 
of the Jordan. 1 

According to Wetzstein * the ancient Sabeans possessed 
the " secret of providing those glowing regions with water, a 
secret which has perished with them." He refers to Plutarch 
who says (de Iside, Hi.) " In the sun's circuit, called the 
search for Osiris, they go round the temple seven times, 
the goddess desiring greatly the water of winter. And they 
go round just so many times because the sun with the seventh 
month completes the passage from the winter to the summer 
solstice." Many of the houses now standing in the Hauran 
are estimated by Jervis to have been the dwellings of the 
old inhabitants of Basan, and many of the cities of the Hauran 
have names which cities of Basan bore in the earliest times. 
An Arab historian of the tenth century, Hamzah Issfahani, 
remarks that what is left of the Chaldeans is now in the two 
cities Harran and Roha, and that in the time of el-Maimun 
they gave up the name Chaldeans, and took the name of 
Sabeans, or Chaldean Harranites. Another Arab writer 
classifies Baylonians, Chaldeans, Nabatheans, and Syrians 
together as all descendants of the Sabeans. 

According to Jervis,3 the Nabatheans inhabited the 
southern foot of Mount Libanus, and, like the Jews, were hostile 
to the Syrians, whose country " was repeatedly overrun by 
Nabatheans and Sabeans," thus drawing a distinction between 
the two peoples. " Like John the Baptist," he goes on, 
" and the Nazarenes, their guests or neighbours, they drank 
no wine, and denied themselves many things." The Codex 
Nazaraeus (i. 5), says that the Nabatheans were the teachers 
of the Ebionites, and afterwards took their name . Jost (i. 
411-14) says that "Christianity created for the Essene 
doctrines a stronger sympathy and produced an Ebionite 
tendency, in which so-called Gnosis shaped itself entirely 
as a spiritual science called for by the expounding of the law. 

* S. F. Dunlap, Sod, tht Son of the Man, p. 8. 
Wetzstein, Reiseberich uber Haw an, pp. 37 ff. 
3 Jervis, Genesis, p. 382. 



60 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

The altogether mystic colouring of Christianity harmonized 
with the Essene rules of life and opinions, and it is not 
improbable that Jesus and the Baptist John were initiated 
into the Essene mysteries, to which Christianity may be 
indebted for many a form of expiession ; as indeed the 
community of Therapeutae, an offspring of the Essene 
Order, soon belonged wholly to Christianity. Thus gradually 
distinct communities formed themselves. History names 
them, now Nazarenes, now, with a slight distinction no- longer 
known to us, Ebionites. Irenseus (i. 26) says that " the 
Ebionites, as Sabeans, agreed that GOD created the world, 
while worshipping the stars. Their festivals were appointed 
for the days when the exaltations of the planets occur, the 
greatest taking place on the day when the sun enter Aries, 
with them the first day of the year, when they put on their 
Sun-day clothes. They celebrate the festival of every planet 
in a chapel dedicated to him, and derive their religion from 
Noah himself." 

The Sabeans say of Adam that when he quitted the country 
adjacent to India for the confines of Babel, he carried with 
him many wonderful things, amongst which were one tree, 
whose branches, leaves and flowers were all of gold ; another 
all of emerald ; also two of the leaves of a third tree, so verdant 
that the fire could not consume its leaves, and so large as to 
cover up ten thousand men of equal stature with Adam. 
This legend, according to Dr. Kenealy, in his Book of GOD, 
may be taken to refer to some ancient book, of which the 
authorship was referred to Adam. This sacred book of the 
Sabeans is mentioned by Maimonides, who calls it the " Book 
of Thammuz," or The Hidden One. They had other books, 
according to the same writer, called Tam-Tam, or the " Book 
of the Sun " ; the book Hassearab ; and the " Book of the 
Messenger Hermes." The Sabeans also worshipped twelve 
Messiahs, who would appear to be identical with the twelve 
Imaums, or Sacred Sheiks of ancient Arabia, commemorated 
also, according to the Nazarenes, by the sending forth of 
the Twelve Apostles, 

Writing on this subject of twelve Messengers, or Messiahs, 
Kenealy, in his Book of GOD, and carrying out his own 
idea of six hundred year cycles, considers the first Messenger 



THE SABEANS 51 

was Adam, whose date he gives as A.M. 3000 ; the second, 
Enoch, 3500 ; the third, Fo-hi, 4200 ; the fourth, Brigoo, 
of the Druids, Brahm of the Hindus, and Buddha, 4800 ; 
the fifth, Zaratusht or Zoroaster, 5400 ; the sixth, Thoth, 
6000 ; the seventh, Amosis, or Moses, 6600 ; the eighth, 
Lao-Tseu, the great Chinese Teacher, 7200 ; the ninth, 
Jesus of Nazareth, 7800 ; the tenth, Mohammed, 8400 ; 
the eleventh, Genghis Khan, 9000 and Kenealy apparently 
estimated that as the twelfth cycle was concurrent with his 
own writings, he himself might, modestly, assume that he 
was the Twelfth Messenger. The Nabatheans were followers 
of St. John the Baptist in Lebanon, and the books of this 
sect are yet existing in Syria. Marcion, who left Rome about 
A.D. 140, would seem to have followed the Gospel of St. Luke. 
Eusebius, St. Jerome and Epiphanius have stated that these 
sects were blanches of the Essenes, and Jones, in his 
Ecclesiastical History, says there is no doubt that several of 
the sects, which were eventually classed as Gnostic by the 
church of Rome, really proceeded from the Essenes. 

Irenaeus gives an account of the initiation ceremony of 
the Marcians, which, however, the sect repudiated, in which 
there would appear to be considerable resemblance to the 
rites of the modern Dervish sects. He says there is first a 
baptismal service, with an invocation to light, spirit and life, 
followed by one to " angelic redemption/' by which the 
Neophyte became united to his Angel, concluding with a 
formula of " restitution/' or unity to the super-celestial 
power, to which the Neophyte responded in declaring his 
redemption by the name lao. 



CHAPTER V 

THE GNOSTICS AND THE MANICHEANS, AND 
THEIR INFLUENCE ON THE ORDER OF 
KNIGHTS TEMPLARS 

THE general name " Gnostics " is used to designate several 
widely different sects, which sprang up in the Eastern 
provinces of the Roman Empire, almost simultaneously 
with the first planting of Christianity. Their doctrines are 
dealt with in a very complete manner by King, whose exhaus- 
tive work is a text-book on the subject. 1 From this is taken 
the following summary. 

The term " Gnosticism " is derived from the Greek 
Gnosis, knowledge, a word specially employed from the first 
dawn of religious inquiry to designate the science of things 
divine. Thus Pythagoras, according to Diogenes Laertius, 
called the transcendental portion of his philosophy, Gnosis 
ion onion, the knowledge of things that are. And in later 
times Gnosis was the name given to what Porphry calls 
the Antique or Oriental Philosophy to distinguish it from 
the Grecian systems. But the term was first used (as 
Matter on good grounds conjectures) in its ultimate sense 
of supernal and celestial knowledge, by the Jewish philosophers 
of the celebrated Alexandrian school. A very characteristic 
production of this Jewish Gnosis has come down to our 
times in the Book of Enoch,* of which the main object is to 
make known the description of the heavenly bodies, and 
their correct names, as revealed to the Patriarch by the 
angel Uriel. This profession betrays, of itself, the Magian 
source from which the inspiration was derived. 

Gnosticism therefore cannot receive a better definition 

1 The Gnostics and their Remains. London, 1864. 

a See quotations from this book in the Appendix. 

62 



THE GNOSTICS AND THE MANICHEANS 58 

than in that dictum of the sect first and specially calling 
itself " Gnostics," the Naaseni (translated by the Greeks 
into " Ophites/') viz., " The beginning of perfection is the' 
knowledge of man, but absolute perfection is the knowledge 
of GOD/' The entire system may be thus described. 
Gnosticism professes to teach the knowledge of GOD and 
of man, of the Being and Providence of the former, and of 
the creation and destiny of the latter. While the ignorant 
and superstitious were degrading the glory of the incorrup- 
tible GOD into an image made with hands, and were changing 
" the truth of GOD into a lie, and worshipped and served the 
creature rather than the Creator," the ancient Gnostics held 
purer and truer ideas. And when these corrupted and 
idolatrous forms of religion and worship became established, 
and were popularly regarded as true and real in themselves, 
the " Gnostics " held, and secretly taught, an esoteric theology 
of which the popular creed of multitudes of deities, with its 
whole ritual of sacrifice and worship, was but the exoteric 
form. Hence all the mysteries which almost all, if not all, 
the heathen religions possessed. Those initiated into these 
mysteries, whilst they carefully maintained and encouraged 
the gorgeous worship, sacrifices, and processions of the 
national religion, and even openly taught polytheism, and 
the efficacy of the public rites, yet secretly held something 
very different at the first, probably, a purer creed, but in 
course of time, like the exoteric form, degenerating. The 
progress of declination differed according to race, or habit 
of thought : in the East it tended to superstition, in the 
West (as we learn from the writings of Cicero) to pure atheism, 
a denial of Providence. This system was adopted likewise 
by the Jews, but with this great difference, that it was 
super-induced upon and applied to a pre-existent religion : 
whereas in the other Oriental religions, the external was 
added to the esoteric, and developed out of it. In thie 
Oriental systems, the external was the sensuous expression 
of a hidden meaning ; in the Jewish, the hidden meaning 
was drawn out of pre-existing external laws and ritual ; 
in the former the esoteric alone was claimed as Divine, 
in the latter it was the exoteric which was a matter of 
revelation. To remedy this seeming defect, the Kabalists, 



54 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

or teachers of the " Hidden Doctrine," invented the existence 
of a secret tradition, orally handed down from the time of 
Moses. We may, of course, reject this assertion, and affirm 
that the Jews learnt the idea of a Hidden Wisdom, underlying 
the Mosaic Law, from their intercourse with the Eastern 
nations during the Babylonian captivity ; and we may 
further be assured that the origin of this Secret Widom is 
India. Perhaps we shall be more exact if we say that the 
Jews learnt from their intercourse with Eastern nations to 
investigate the external Divine Law, for the purpose of 
discovering its hidden meaning. The heathen Gnostics, 
in fact, collected a Gnosis from every quarter, accepted all 
religious systems as partly true, and extracted from each 
what harmonized with their ideas. They strove for the 
knowledge of GOD, says the great authority on the Gnostics, 
G. R. S. Mead : * " The science of realities, the gnosis of the 
things-that-are ; wisdom was their goal ; the holy things 
of life their study. They were called by many names by 
those who subsequently haled them from their hidden 
retreats to ridicule their efforts and anathematize their 
doctrines, and one of the names, which they used for them- 
selves, custom has selected to be their present general title. 
They are now generally referred to in Church history as the 
Gnostics, those whose goal was the Gnosis if indeed that 
be the right meaning ; for one of their earliest existing docu- 
ments expressly declares that Gnosis is not the end it is 
the beginning of the path, the end is GOD and hence the 
Gnostics would be those who used the Gnosis as the means 
to set their feet dpon the Way to GOD." 

It will be seen from the above description of the Gnostics 
how much they had in common with the ancient sects in 
the Lebanon, while their " Inner Mystery," the continuous 
search for the " Hidden Wisdom," gives us more than a clue 
as to the Masonic searches for various " lost words." 

The Gnostics attached great value to the numbers jfrye 
^n^seven, and in the " Pistis- Sophia," one of their very 
interesting books, of which the authorship is attributed 
to St. Philip the Apostle, we find references to " Five Marks," 
" Five Trees," " Seven Vowels," and " Seven Amens." 

1 Fragments of a Faith Forgotten, p. 32. London, 1906. 



THE GNOSTICS AND THE MANICHEANS 55 

Manicheism is a development of the Indian source 
of Gnosticism alluded to above, and is so called from Manes, 
a Persian slave and scholar, who gave to certain Magian 
notions a definite shape, and constructed, says King, a 
system " with such skill that it spread not merely over the 
East, but throughout Europe. In the latter region its im- 
portance is evinced by the fact (mentioned incidentally 
by Ammianus), that Constantine himself, before finally 
changing his religion, following the Apostolic precept, 
' Try all things, hold fast that which is good/ carefully 
studied the Manichean system under the guidance of the 
learned Musonianus, whom we must suppose to have been 
a great doctor of the sect." Another follower of Gnosticism 
before accepting the Christian faith was St. Augustine, who 
has left on record what he found to be the weakness and 
fallacies of the Manichean tenets. 

In Justinian's time a fierce persecution of the Manicheans 
took place in Syria, and in the fifth century they were also 
attacked. They reappeared, however, in Asia Minor in 
the seventh century as Paulicians ; and at Tephrice, near 
Trebizond, they held the mountains till 880 A.D., then 
Basil the Macedonian drove them out. In the middle of 
the eighth century Constantine Copronymus transplanted 
a colony of Armenian Paulicians to Thrace, where they were 
increased by others from the valleys of the Caucasus in the 
tenth century. They there converted the Bulgarians, 
and spread to Sicily, Rome, Milan, and France. In the 
twelfth century the Albigenses in France derived their 
dogmas from these heretics, and no doubt also from the 
Gnosticism of the Manichean Priscillian (in the fourth 
century), Bishop of Avila, in Spain. Gnosticism had found 
its way to Gaul in the time of Irenaeus, and Jerome speaks 
of the heresy of the great Gnostic Basilides, in Spain. Thus, 
side by side with the orthodoxy of Greek and Latin Churches, 
the great Manichean system, combining Cfojistianity, Buddhism 
and Mazdean ideas in one syncretic doctrine, flourished 
in the Byzantine age from Persia to Spain, in spite of persecu- 
tion by Arian and Orthodox emperors alike. 1 

That Gnosticism, under its Manichean form, reachpn 

1 Sec Gibbon* Decline and, Fall, chap. liv. 



SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

Britain is evidenced by numerous discoveries, especially 
in Wales, of ancient medallions engraved, often very rudely, 
with Gnostic devices. And the tenets of Manicheism long 
prevailed amongst the Albigenses, who in the twelfth 
century were so ruthlessly exterminated by the general 
Almeida by order of Francois I. 

These European Manicheans were in large part the 
disciples, under the name of Paulicians, of Constantinus 
Sylvanus, a native of Samosata, who in the middle of the 
seventh century propounded a somewhat curious mixture 
of the doctrines of St. Paul with those of Zoroaster, inter- 
mingled with a larger proportion of the former than Manes 
had thought fit to introduce in his own theosophy. The 
new teacher easily united into one church the remnants of 
the old Gnostics, especially the Manicheans of Armenia, and 
the still unconverted Zoroastrians of Pontus and Cappadocia. 
They spread into what is now Bulgaria, and from thence 
diffused their doctrines into Italy, and so, as we have seen, 
into the South of France. 

The Manicheans were divided into classes or grades. 
The first grade were known as Disciples, and were more or 
less probationers. The second grade were known as Auditors, 
who were permitted to hear the writings of Manes read, 
and interpreted in a mystical form. The third grade were 
the Perfect, or Elect, who were the priestly order of the 
sect. From these last were chosen the Magistri, or Council, 
who were twelve in number, as in the Culdee system, with 
a thirteenth as President. In common with other sects 
professing Gnostic tenets they had secret forms of recognition, 
three in number, described by St. Augustine as the word, 
the grip, and the breast. 

Manichean doctrines were thus being diffused during 
the period when the Templars were at the height of their 
prosperity and power, and King 1 devotes several pages of 
his work to a consideration of the close resemblance between 
these Orders. 

Gnosticism, he points out, in one shape or another, was 
still surviving on the very headquarters of the Order, among 
their closest allies or enemies, the mountaineers of Syria. 

x Gnostics and their Remains, pp. 410 ff. 



THE GNOSTICS AND THE MANICHEANS 57 

The Templar Order " had been modelled after an original, 
the last to be looked for according to modern views, for 
Von Hammer has here been successful in demonstrating that 
its constitution is a servile copy of that of the detested 
' Assassins/ The statutes of the latter prove the fact 
beyond all gainsaying ; they were found upon the captives 
of their capital, Alamoot, by the Mogul, Halakoo, in the 
year 1335, when, by a most singular coincidence, Caliph 
and Pope were busied in exterminating the model and the 
copy in the East and West, at one and the same time." From 
these documents were verified the " Eight Degrees of 
Initiation " as established by Hassan, the first Grand Master, 
or " Prince of the Mountain/ 1 These degrees, probably 
suggested by the ancient Mithraic tests, were : 

I. The Trial of Knowledge. 

II. The Trial of Persuasiveness ; i.e. the talent for 
proselytism. 

III. Denial of the Truth of the Koran, and of all other 

sacred scriptures. 

IV. The Trial of Silent and Perfect Obedience. 

V. The Disclosure of the Names of the Great Brothers 
of the Order, royal, sacerdotal, and patrician, 
in all parts of the world. 
VI. The Confirmation of all the preceding Steps of 

Knowledge. 

VII. The Allegorical Interpretation of the Koran, and 
of all other Scriptures. In this Order the divinity 
of all founders of religious systems was alike 
denied. Religion was shown to be a mere 
step to knowledge, its narratives to be merely 
allegorical, and exhibiting the progress of civil 
society : thus Man's Fall signified political 
slavery ; Redemption his restoration to liberty 
and^ecjuality. 

VIII. That all actions were indifferent, provided only 
they were done for the good of the Order, there 
being no such thing, absolutely, as vice or 
virtue. 

It will be seen, says Von Hammer, that the principle 



58 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

running through these " Degrees " is identical with that 
pervading the main counts in the Articles of Accusation 
brought against the Templars. The same author, in his 
History of the Assassins, also shows that the organization 
of the Templars was exactly modelled upon that of the 
Assassins, and thus confronts the several degrees in each 
of the two Orders. 

DEGREES OF THE ASSASSINS 

I. The Grand Master, or Prince of the Mountain. 
II. The Dais-al-Kabir, or three great viceroys under 
him. 

III. The Dais, or provincial masters. 

IV. The Refek, or chaplains. 

V. The Lazik, or military body. 
VI. The Fedavee, or death-devoted. 
VII. The Batinee, or secret brethren, i.e. those affiliated 
to the Order. 

DEGREES OF THE TEMPLARS 

I. The Grand Master. 
II. The Three Grand Priors. 

III. The Provincial Prior. 

IV. The Chaplains. 
V. The Knights. 

VI. The Esquires. 
VII. The Serving Brethren. 
VIII. The Danato and Obligati. 
IX. The Affiliati. 

The " Donati " and " Obligati " were sworn, in return 
for the protection afforded to them by the Order, to leave 
to it all their property at their deaths, and consequently to 

, or even to stand sponsors to 



the children of others. If married at the time of joining 
the Order, they were bound to put away their wives. 
Infraction of the vow was punished by perpetual imprison- 
ment. The " Affiliati " had, probably, nothing to do with 
the secrets of the Order ; they merely, in return for a certain 



THE GNOSTICS AND THE MANICHEANS 59 

sum paid down, received their daily maintenance (their 
commons), out of the corporate fund ; such an arrangement 
being a simple anticipation of the principle of life annuities, 
and admirably adapted to the requirements of those barbarous 
times. 

Waite, an enthusiastic exponent of the high place taken 
in the religious aspect of Masonry by the ritual of the Knights 
Templar Degree, without allowing himseli to be committed 
to any statement which the ordinary reader might construe 
into a definite opinion, has many references in his Secret 
Tradition in Freemasonry to the influence from the East, 
which is to be distinctly traced in the Templar rites. Appar- 
ently, he attributes this in some measure to the Essenes, 
or, at least, he does not controvert such a statement by 
others. 

The tradition preserved among the Druses, that the 
present seat of their Grand Master is Europe, and that they 
have members of their faith existing at the present day, 
both in England and Scotland, tallies curiously enough with 
Von Hammer's theory about the close relationship that 
existed between the Templars and the Ismaeli, or Assassins, 
the actual progenitors of the Prunes. 

" The influence of the Crusades, and their results upon 
the mind and life of mediaeval Europe cannot possibly be 
exaggerated. The true masters of the Western barbarians 
in philosophy, science, and many of the arts, were the Arabs, 
firstly those of Syria, later those of Spain. Together with 
their learning they communicated other ideas, far different 
from those originally contemplated by their pupils. Never- 
theless, the connection between their science and their secret 
creed, was so intimate that, in reality, no other result was 
to be looked for. So much of primitive Gnosticism, before 
its admixture with Christianity, was based upon Magism, 
that is, upon astrological ideas, as to make it often difficult 
to determine whether a Gnostic monument involves a religious 
notion, or is merely a sidereal talisman." x 

The strange ceremonies observed on the admission of 
neophytes into the various secret societies that flourished 
under the Lower Empire and in the Middle Ages are all of 

* King, The Gnostics and their Remains, p. 414. 



60 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

them no more than faint traditions of the penances, or 
" Twelve Tortures," that purchased admission into the Cave 
of Mithras. How widely diffused were these Mithraici, 
especially in the West, is attested by the innumerable tablets, 
altars, and inscriptions still remaining in Germany, France, 
and this country. The religion of Mithras was so readily 
embraced, and flourished so extensively among all the 
Celtic races, in consequence of its analogy to the previously 
dominant Druidical religion, an affinity which had been 
observed by Pliny I and a hundred years before him 
by Caesar, 2 both of whom found that the subjects of study 
amongst the Druids were literally those of the Magian 
Gnosis. Druidism expressly taught the eternal existence 
of the Two Principles, the final triumph of Good, and the 
Renovation of all things. A most valuable fragment of 
early Druidical teaching has been preserved for us by 
Plutarch, in his strange essay " On the Face in the Moon," 
by the title of the Doctrine of the Sons of Saturn, which is 
full of Gnostic ideas, those of Manes, for instance, and 
even of Gnostic expressions. 

* Nat. Hist, xxx, 4. Bell. Gall, vi. 13. 



CHAPTER VI 

OTHER GNOSTIC SECTS: THE OPHITES, BASIL- 
IDEANS, AND FOLLOWERS OF SIMON MAGUS 

THE Ophites, according to Clemens Alexandrinus, were 
founded by one Eucrates at the beginning of the Christian 
era, and were a well-organized fraternity early in the second 
century. Their doctrine, though to some extent correspond- 
ing with that of the Mandaites, or followers of Joha the 
Baptist, was very Osirian, or Serapian, with Semitic names 
for the Coptic ones. Hippolytus, the Greek historian, 
styles them : " The Naaseni who specially call themselves 
Gnostics. But inasmuch as this deception of theirs is 
multiform and has many heads (a play upon their name of 
serpent-followers), like the hydra of fable, if I smite all the 
heads at once with the wand of Truth, I shall destroy the 
whole serpent, for all the other sects differ but little from 
this one in essentials," Their strange-sounding title, 
" Naaseni/' " Followers of the Naas," the only way in which 
the. Greek, from its want of aspirate letters could write the 
Hebrew word Nachash, " Serpent/' was literally rendered by 
" Ophites/ 1 the name which has ever since served to designate 
them. They first assumed a definite existence about the 
same time as the Basilideans, in the second century. 

Like other Gnostics, they rejected the O|d T?.8jtiament 
altogether as the work of a subordinate divinity, and con- 
taining nothing of their revealed Sophia, or Divine Wisdom, 
and they held that the New. Testament, although originally 
of higher authority, had been so corrupted by the interpola- 
tions of the Apostles as to have lost all value as a revelation 
of Divine truth. They drew the chief supports of their 
tends out of the various " Testaments " and similar books 

61 



62 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

then current, and ascribed to the Patriarchs and the most 
ancient Prophets, as, for example, the Book of Seth. 

The primary article of their doctrine was the Emanation 
of all things from the One Supreme, long utterly unknown 
to mankind, and at last only revealed to a very small number 
capable of receiving such enlightenment. Hence He is 
named Bythos, " Profundity," to express His unfathomable, 
inscrutable nature. Following the Zoroastrian and Kabalistic 
nomenclature they also designated Him as the " Fountain 
of Light/' and " The Primal Man," giving for the reason of 
the latter title that " Man was created after the Image of 
GOD," which therefore proved the nature of the prototype. 
The primitive Ophites, such as the Naaseni, regarded their 
serpent "The Naas" as identical with Christ, according to 
Epiphanius employing a living tame serpent to encircle and 
consecrate the loaves that were to be eaten at the Eucharistic 
supper. To establish the identity of their Ophis with the 
Saviour of Mankind, reference was made to the words of 
St. John : " For as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilder- 
ness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up. 1 ' This 
proves that the section of the Ophites which later on regarded 
the serpent as evil by its nature must have been led away 
from the primitive doctrine of their sect by the prevailing 
Zoroastrian and Jewish notions upon that subject. 

In common with the Basilideans, they called their Supreme 
Deity " Abraxas/' and attributed miraculous powers to 
the arrangement in the form of a triangle of the form of 
that name, Abracadabra. 

The Ophites preserved the celebration of both the Lesser 
and the Greater Mysteries, and are believed to have had 
three grades, with separate initiatory rites for each. 

The Basilideans took their name from Basilides of 
Alexandria, a disciple of Menander, a pupil of Simon Magus, 
This system had three grades, the material, intellectual, and 
spiritual. Two allegorical statues, a male and a female, 
had a prominent part in their religious ceremonies. As in 
the Mysteries, a quinquennial silence was exacted from their 
disciples. Their doctrine, whilst in many points strongly 
resembling that of the Ophites, also ran on the lines of Kabalism 
with a succession of ^Eons, Emanations and Sephiroth, over 



OTHER GNOSTIC SECTS 68 

which an Archon, or Angelic-prince, presided. They also 
tught that Simon of Cyrene took the place of Jesus at 
the Crucifixion. Basilides was succeeded as head of the 
sect by his son Isidorus, and a tradition says that Matthias 
the Apostle communicated to these two some secret dis- 
courses which, being specially instructed, he had heard from 
the Saviour. 

Irenaeus, who was a contemporary of Basilides, thus 
describes his doctrines : 

" Basilides, in order to invent something more refined 
and plausible in the Gnostic speculative philosophy, pushed 
his investigations even into the Infinite. He asserted that 
GOD, the uncreated eternal Father, first brought forth 
Nous, or Mind : l and Mind, the Logos, Word ; this in turn, 
Phronesis, Intelligence ; whence came forth Sophia, Wisdom, 
and Dynamis, Strength/ 1 Irenaeus understands Basilides 
as making a Quinternion of Beings, or Personal Intelligences 
external to the Godhead ; but Bellermann, with more reason, 
takes them as signifying personified attributes of the 
Supreme forms of his working internally and externally. 
According to this explanation, 3 says King, Basilides would 
only have borrowed his system from the Kabala ; it is, 
however, equally likely that he drew the whole from a much 
more distant source, and that his " Uncreated " and 
" Quinternion " stand in truth for the First Buddha and the 
successive five. 

" When the Uncreated Eternal Father beheld the corrup- 
tion of mankind/ 1 continues Irenaeus, " He sent His first- 
born, Nous, into the world in the form of Christ, for the 
redeeming of all that believe in Him out of the power of those 
who fabricated the world namely the Demiurgius and his 
six sons, the Planetary Genii. Nous appeared amongst 
men as the Man Jesus, and wrought miracles. This Christ 
did not die in person, but Simon the Cyrenian, to whom He 
lent His bodily form, suffered in His stead, inasmuch as the 
Divine Power, the Nous of the Eternal Father, is not corporeal, 
and therefore cannot die. Whoso therefore maintains 
that Christ has died is still the bondman of Ignorance, but 

1 Compare the Religious Creed o! the Druses, in chap, xxiii. 
* Gnostics and tkeit Remains, p. 261. 



64 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

whoso denies the same, he is a freeman, and hath understood 
the purpose of the Father." 

From this tenet the Basilideans got the opprobrious title 
of the " Illusionists." There is in all this a remarkable 
similarity to the desire of the Buddhist, Brahmin, and 
Mohammedan to preserve the dignity of the Father by refusing 
to believe in the human sufferings of the Son. 

Madam Blavatsky is at issue with Irenaeus as to the 
doctrines of the Ophites, and considers he had perhaps good 
reasons for disfiguring them. Describing the systems accord- 
ing to an old diagram preserved among some Copts and the 
Druses of Mount Lebanon she says : l 

" The Gnostic Ophites taught the doctrine of Emanations, 
so hateful to the defenders of the unity in the Trinity, and 
vice versa. The Unknown Deity with them had no name ; 
but his first female emanation was called Bythos or Depth. 
It answered to the Shekinah of the Kabalists, the ' Veil ' 
whicbr conceals the ' Wisdom ' in the cranium of the highest 
of the three heads. As the Pythagorean Monad, this nameless 
Wisdom was the Source of Light, and Ennoia or Mind, 
is Light itself. The latter was also called the ' Primitive 
Man,' like the Adam Kadmon, or ancient Adam of the 
Kabala. Indeed, if man was created after his likeness and 
in the image of GOD, then this GOD was like his creature in 
shape and figure hen,cehe is the ' Primitive, Man.' The 
first Manu, the one evolved from Swayarnbhuva, ' he who 
exists unrevealed in his own glory/ is also, in one sense, 
the primitive man, with the Hindus." 

Thus the " nameless and the unrevealed," Bythos, his 
female reflection, and Ennoia, the revealed mind proceeding 
from both, or their Son, are the counterparts of the Chaldean 
first triad as well as those of the Brahamic Trimurti. 

Though he is termed the " Primitive Man/ 1 Ennoia, 
who is like the Egyptian Pymander, the " Power of the 
Thought Divine," the first intelligible manifestation of the 
Divine Spirit in material form, is like the " Only-Begotten " 
Son of the " Unknown Father," of all other nations. He 
is the emblem of the first appearance of the Divine Presence 

1 Isis Vnveikd, pp. 169 ff. 



OTHER GNOSTIC SECTS 05 

in His own works of creation, tangible and visible, and there- 
fore comprehensible. As neither the male nor female principle, 
blended into the idea of a double-sexed Deity in ancient 
conceptions, could be comprehended by an ordinary human 
intellect, the theology of every people had to create for 
its religion a Logos, or manifested word, in some shape or 
other. With the Ophites and other Gnostics who took their 
models direct from more ancient originals, the unrevealed 
Bythos and her male counterpart produce Ennoia, and the 
three in their turn produce Sophia, thus completing the 
Tetraktya, from which will emanate Christos, the very 
essence of the Father Spirit. 

The only difference between the Ophite cosmogony and 
that of the St. John Nazarenes is a change of names. We 
find equally an identical system in the Kabala, the Book 
of Mystery (Liber Mysterii). All the three systems, especially 
that of the Kabalists and the Nazarenes, which were the 
models for the Ophite Cosmogony, belong to the pure Oriental 
Gnosticism. The Codex Nazaraeus opens with : " The 
Supreme King of Light, Mano, the great first one/' etc., 
the latter being the emanation of Ferho the unknown, 
formless LIFE. He is the chief of the ^Eons, from whom 
proceed (or shoot forth) five refulgent rays of Divine light. 
Mano is Rex Lucis, the Bythos-Ennoia of the Ophites. 

The followers of Simon Magus, though considered last, 
are estimated by Hippolytus to have had great influence 
upon the tenets of the two sects described above. He says : 
" It is here ray intention to exhibit the system of Simon 
Magus, a native of Gitteh, in Samaria, and I will prove that 
from him all those that come after have derived the elements 
of their doctrine, and impudently attempted the same things 
under different appellations. This Simon was skilled in 
magic, and had imposed upon great numbers, partly by 
practising the art of Thrasymedes after the manner which 
I have already exposed (in the Book upon Magicians), and 
partly by miracle working through the agency of demons. 
He attempted to set up for a god, being a thorough impostor 
and altogether unscrupulous and daring ; for he was that 
one whom the Apostles confuted, as is recorded in the Acts. 

" Simon speaks, when interpreting the Law of Moses, 





66 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

in an impudent and fraudulent fashion, for whenever Moses 
says ' Our GOD is a burning and consuming fire/ Simon, 
taking what Moses has said in a false sense, maintains that 
Fire is the Principle of all things. He designates the Principle 
of all things * Boundless Power ' in the following words : 
4 This is the Book of the Declaration of the Voice, and of 
the Name, from the inspiration of the Great, the Boundless 
Power. Wherefore the same is sealed, hidden, wrapped up, 
stored in the dwelling wherein the Root of all things is 
established/ This dwelling, he says, signifies Man here 
below, who is born of blood, and also signifies that there 
dwells within him a ' Boundless Power ' which he asserts 
is the Root of all things. But this Boundless Power (or 
Fire according to Simon) is not a simple substance in the 
same way as most people who call the Elements ' simple ' 
account Fire likewise as simple : on the contrary, he maintains 
that the nature of Fire is, as it were, double ; and of this double 
number he terms one part the Insensible, the other the 
Visible ; asserting that the insensible are contained within 
the visible parts of the Fire, and that the visible parts are 
generated by the invisible. (This is the same thing that 
Aristotle expresses by his ' Force ' and 'Energy/ and Plato 
by his ' Intelligible ' and ' Sensible/) 

" The commencement of the creation of the world was 
in this wise, according to Simon : six ' Radicals ' (lit. Roots), 
the First Principles of the beginning of Creation, were taken 
by the Begotten-one out of the Principle of that Fire ; for 
he asserts that these Six Radicals emanated by pairs out of 
the Fire. These Six Radicals he names ' Mind and Intelli- 
gence, Voice and Name, Reason and Thought/ And there 
exists in these Radicals taken together the whole of the 
' Boundless Power/ but existing in potentiality , not in activity. 
Now of these Six Powers, and of the Seventh which goes 
along with them, the First Thought Simon terms ' Mind and 
Intellect/ ' Heaven and Earth/ teaching that the one, of 
the male sex, looks down upon and takes care of his consort ; 
while the Earth below receives from Heaven the ' Intellect ' 
and fruits of the same nature with the Earth, which are 
poured down from above. For this cause, says Simon, the 
Word, often looking down upon the things that spring out 
of Mind and Intellect, says * Hear, O Heavens, and receive 



OTHER GNOSTIC SECTS 67 

with thine ears, O Earth ! for the Lord hath spoken : I 
have begotten and brought up sons, but they have despised 
me. He that saith this is the Seventh Power, ' He who 
standeth, hath stood, and shall stand ' ; for He is the author 
of those good things which Moses commended, saying that 
they were very good. 

" Voice and Name are the Sun and Moon ; Reason and 
Thought are Air and Water. But with all of these is mingled 
and combined that Boundless Power, ' He who standeth/ 
as already mentioned/ 1 

This teaching of a pronounced Male and Female principle, 
helped by the worship paid to the two pillars representing 
those principles, and also largely provoked into gross im- 
morality by Simon's own licentious conduct with a harlot 
of Tyre named Helena, to whom he attributed a divine 
origin, is undoubtedly the source of the allegations of immoral 
rites and drunken orgies ascribed to other secret sects in 
Syria, and for this reason I have mentioned it here. I 
conclude with a few more words quoted from the same 
author, Hippolytus : 

" The disciples, therefore, of this Simon practise magic 
arts and incantation, and make philtres and seductive spells ; 
they likewise send the so-called ' dream-bringing demons ' to 
trouble whomsoever they choose. They likewise practise the 
rites of the gods named Paredroi, the ' Assessors ' ; they have 
also an image of Simon, in the guise of Jupiter, and like- 
wise one of Helena, in the figure of Minerva ; and these they 
worship, calling one ' The Master ' the other ' The Mistress/ " 
No reference seems made by any historian of this sect 
to any special rites of initiation practised by them. 

A few words of Gibbon will suitably close this chapter : 
" The sects of Egypt and Syria enjoyed a free toleration 
under the shadow of the Arabian Caliphs, and therefore may 
reasonably be supposed to have maintained their peculiar 
notions and observances down to the time of the Crusades. 
Of such protracted existence we have the most convincing 
proof at the present day in the numerous sect, the Mandaites, 
or Nazarenes, of the Shat-el-Arab, and Bassora ; veritable 
Gnostics, holding a creed, the true image of that of Manes, 
in their Book of Adam ; and detested by their Christian 
and Moslem neighbours alike/' 



CHAPTER VII 

THE SCHIITE SECTS: SUFEISM AND THE 
DERVISH ORDERS 

SCARCELY had Islamism thrown out some roots in the places 
formerly subject to the empire of the Sassanides, and the 
religion of the Magians, than a schism, political and religious, 
lit up there the torch of fanaticism. 1 When the faith of 
Islam was forced upon the Persian nation by the sanguinary 
Omar, it was declared by the conqueror, that all who did not 
receive it with implicit obedience should be put to the sword. 
Such a summary process of conversion left the real tenets 
of the great majority of the nation unaltered ; from old 
associations, they began to regard the Imaums, or chiefs 
of the faith, as Bodhisatwas ; and, as we shall have occasion 
to notice hereafter, this principle pervades all the Schiite 
sects ; the chief difference between them being as to the 
number of incarnations. The Schiite notion of an Imaum 
is precisely the same as that which the Thibetians form of 
their Grand Llama, and the Burmese of their Bodhisatwas. 2 

The dogma of the union of the divinity to Ali and the 
Imaums of his race 3 " owed its origin, if I am not mistaken, to 
the ancient system of the Parsees. It is also to the ancient 
theology of the people of Eastern Asia that we must refer 
the origin of the belief in the transmigration of souls, and 
perhaps the study of the books of the Grecian philosophers 
contributed to strengthen and extend this opinion among 
the Mussulmans." 

The Sufees are a secret society of Persian mystic philo- 
sophers and ascetics, whose original religion may have 

* De Sacy, Religion of the Druses, Introd. p. 27. 

* Taylor, History of Mowmmedanism, p. 152. A separate chapter later 
is devoted to this resemblance. 

3 De Sacy, Introd. p. 31. 

68 



THE SCHIITE SECTS 69 

been that of the Chaldeans, or Sabeans, who believed in the 
unity of GOD, but adored the host of heaven (Tsaba), especi- 
ally the seven planets, as representing Him. Zoroaster, 
the introducer of the Magian religion, or a section of it, 
taught the existence of two principles, Ormuzd and Ahriman, 
and, as light was with him a symbol of the former, the good 
spirit, he directed his followers to turn to the fire lighted on 
the altar, if worshipping in a temple, or to the sun if worship- 
ping in the open air. 

The modern Persians are Schiites, that is, Mussulmans 
who reject the Sunnah, or the code received by Mussulmans 
of Turkey and the West, as founded in the traditions of 
Mohammed, collected and commented upon by the four 
Orthodox directors. They also look upon the first three 
Caliphs as usurpers, and consider Ali as at least equal to 
Mohammed. But many look upon him as far superior. It 
is quite a common saying in Persia, " Though I do not believe 
Ali tp be GOD, I believe that he is not far from being so." 
In all portraits of Him he is represented with His face covered, 
because, as they allege, the glory of His countenace is too 
bright for mortal eye to behold. 

The Sufees, says Sir John Malcolm, 1 represent themselves 
as devoted to the search after truth, and incessantly occupied 
in adoring the Almighty, a union with whom they desire 
with all fervour of divine love. The Creator, according 
to their belief, is diffused over all creation. He exists 
everywhere, and in everything. They compare the emanations 
of his essence or spirit to the rays of the sun, which they 
conceive are continually darted forth and reabsorbed. It 
is for this reabsorption into the divine essence, to which 
their immortal part belongs, that they continually sigh. 
They believe that the soul of man, and the principle of life 
which exists through Nature, are not from GOD, but of GOD. 

The Sufee doctrines are as old as Mohammed, and became 
general in Persia under a Sufee sheikh about A.D. 1499. 
The Sufee tenets allow a man to retain outward ceremonies 
in the first stage. They have four gradations, and secrets 
and mysteries for every gradation, which are never revealed 
to the profane. 

1 Malcolm, Persia, vol. ii, p. 269. 



70 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

" Look in your own heart/' says the Sufee, " for the 
Kingdom of GOD is within you." He who truly knows 
himself knows GOD, for the heart is a mirror in which every 
divine quality is reflected. But just as a steel mirror when 
coated with rust loses its power of reflection, so the inward 
spiritual sense, which Sufees call the eye of the heart, is 
blind to the celestial glory until the dark obstruction of the 
phenomenal self, with all its sensual contaminations, has 
been wholly cleared away. The clearance, if it is to be 
done effectively, must be the work of GOD, though it demands 
a certain inward co-operation on the part of man. " Who- 
soever shall strive for our sake, We will guide him in Our 
ways/' says the Koran (xxix, 69). Action is false and vain, 
it is thought to proceed from one's self, but the enlightened 
mystic regards GOD as the real agent in every act, and 
therefore takes no credit for his good works, nor desires to 
be recompensed for them. 

Both Moslem and Sufee declare that GOD is One, but 
the statement bears a different meaning in each instance. 
The Moslem means that GOD is unique in His essence, 
qualities, and acts ; that He is absolutely unlike all other 
beings. The Sufi means that GOD is the One Real Being 
which underlies all phenomena. 

Thus the Sufees conceive the universe to be a projected 
and reflected image of GOD. The divine light, streaming 
forth in a series of emanations, falls at last upon the darkness 
of not-being, every atom of which reflects some attribute of 
Deity. Man reflects all the attributes, the terrible as well 
as the beautiful, love and mercy as well as wrath and 
vengeance ; he is the epitome of heaven and hell. 

Ammian, in his history of Julian's Persian expedition, 
says that one day Hystaspes, as he was boldly penetrating 
into the unknown regions of Upper India, came upon a certain 
wooded solitude, the tranquil recesses of which were 
" occupied by those exalted sages, the Brachmanes or Shamans. 
Instructed by their teaching in the science of the motions 
of the world and of the heavenly bodies, and in pure religious 
rites, he transfused them into the creed of the Magi. The 
latter, coupling these doctrines with their own peculiar 
science of foretelling the future, have handed down the whole 



THE SCHIITE SECTS 71 

through their descendants to succeeding ages." *' It is 
from these descendants/' writes Madam Blavatsky, 1 " that 
the Sufees, chiefly composed of Persians and Syrians, acquired 
their proficient knowledge in astrology, medicine, and the 
esoteric doctrine of the ages. We hold to the idea which 
becomes self-evident when the Zoroastrian inbroglio is 
considered that there were, even in the days of Darius, 
two distinct sacerdotal castes of Magi : the initiated, and 
those who were allowed to participate in the popular rites 
only. We see the same in the Eleusinian Mysteries. Be- 
longing to every temple there were attached the ' Hierophants' 
of the inner sanctuary, and the secular clergy who were not 
even instructed in the Mysteries. It is against the absurdities 
and superstitions of the latter that Darius revolted, and 
4 crushed them/ for the inscription on his tomb shows 
that he was a ' Hierophant ' and a Magian himself. It 
is also but the exoteric rites of this class of Magi which 
descended to posterity, for the great secrecy in which were 
preserved the ' Mysteries ' of the true Chaldean Magi was 
never violated, however much guess-work may have been 
expended on them. The mysterious Druses of Mount 
Lebanon are the descendants of these ancient philosophers. 
Solitary Copts, earnest students scattered hither and 
thither throughout the sandy solitudes of Egypt, Arabia, 
Petraea, Palestine, and the impenetrable forests of Abyssinia, 
though rarely met with, may sometimes be seen. Many 
and various are the nationalities to which belong the disciples 
of that mysterious school, and many the side shoots of 
that one primitive stock. The secrecy preserved by these 
sub-lodges, as well as by the one and supreme great lodge, 
has ever been proportionate to the activity of religious 
persecutions : and now, in the face of the growing materialism, 
their very existence is becoming a mystery/' 

" The Sufee doctrine," says King, 3 " involved the grand 
idea of one universal creed which could be secretly held under 
any profession of an outward faith ; and, in fact, took virtu- 
ally the same view of religious systems as that in which the 
ancient philosophers had regarded such matters." 

1 Isw Unveiled, vol. ii. p. 306. 

1 The Gnostics and their Remains, p. 185. 



72 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

Although the ordinary Sufee principles are professed 
generally by the higher grades among the Dervishes, some 
of the Orders hold doctrines more purely mystical, and others 
more purely pantheistic, than the rest. Of the more purely 
mystical, the Nakshibendi and Khalveti Orders are the 
chief representatives. The former was founded by Abu 
Bakr, the first Caliph, the latter by Ali, the third Caliph. 
The successful establishment of other communities having 
caused the extinction of the two original fraternities, they 
had remained unrepresented, the former until the thirteenth, 
and the latter until the fourteenth century, when Mohammed 
of Nakshibend and Omar Khalvet respectively founded Orders 
which assumed their names. 1 The rule observed by the 
Nakshibendi Dervishes is held to be in strict accordance 
with that instituted by Abu Bakr, and the members of this 
Order live in their own homes, and pursue their ordinary 
avocations, meeting only at stated times for the performance 
of religious exercises. This Order seems to have remained 
one of the most numerous and popular in the Turkish Empire. 
The Order of the Khalvetis, although professing to be 
a revival of the primitive congregation of the Caliph Ali, 
practise a much more rigid austerity than was compatible 
with the rule originally observed of remaining in the world 
and fulfilling the ordinary duties of citizens. The members 
undertake to live much in retirement, and to devote a great 
part of their time to solitary contemplation. 

The Order of Jhe BeJ^tashis was instituted in the fifteenth 
century by the" Hadji Bektash, " Bektash the Pilgrim/' 
who, according to "YarTcer,* received his " Mantle " from 
Ahmed Yesevee, who claimed descent from the father-in- 
law of Mohammed. He established a " Path," consisting 
of seven nominal, but four essential degrees, and a descrip- 
tion of the initiation ceremonies is given in the next chapter. 
These degrees are magical in their nature, as they aim at 
establishing an affinity between the Aspirant and the Sheikh, 
from whom he is led, through the Founder, and the Prophet, 
to Allah. 

This Order, in addition to its numerous adherents among 

* Garnett, Mysticism and Magic in Turkey, p. 17. 
Arcane Schools, p. 188. 



THE SCHIITE SECTS 78 



the Osmanlis, is said to include in its ranks some 
Albanian Moslems. Bektash was one of the many learned 
men whom the munificence of the early Ottoman Princes 
attracted to Asia Minor from Khorassan, and Orchan is 
said to have attributed many of his victories to the presence 
in his army of this holy man. He built for him, at Sivas, 
a monastery and college, and sought his approval and blessing 
on every undertaking. And when he had enrolled that first 
fair young band of Christian boys which was destined to 
develop into " the strongest and fiercest instrument of 
imperial ambition ever devised upon earth/' 1 he led them to 
the abode of the saintly Sheikh, and begged of him to bestow 
upon them his blessing. With his arm, draped in the wide 
sleeve of his mantle, stretched over the head of a youth in 
the front rank, Hadgi Bektash thus addressed the Emir : 
" The troop which thou hast formed shall be called 
Yeni Sheri, (New Troop). Their faces shall be white and 
shining, their right arms strong, their sabres keen, and 
their arrows sharp. They shall be fortunate in battle, and 
never leave the field save as victors." 2 

The Yeni Sheri, or Janisseries, in consequence of this 
benediction, remained, until the massacre of their corps in 
1,826, closely incorporated with the Order founded by this 
famous Sheikh. 3 Other Orders of Dervishes, to whom we 
can only allude in passing, are the Rufai, or " Howling 
Dervishes," founded in the twelfth century ; the Mevlevi, or 
" Dancing Dervishes," founded in the thirteenth century ; 
and the Kalenderi, or " Kalender Dervishes," founded by a 
disciple of Sheikh Hadji Bektash, Kalender Yussuf-Andalusi. 
Expelled from his original Brotherhood on account of his 
overbearing temper and arrogant behaviour, Yussuf made 
unsuccessful attempts to gain admittance to the Mevlevi 
Order, and ended by establishing on his own authority a 
Brotherhood, the rules of which included the obligation of 
perpetual wandering, and of entertaining an eternal hatred 
against the Orders from which he had been excluded. The 
title of Kalender, which he assumed and bestowed on his 

1 Creasy, History of the Ottoman Turks, pp. 14-15. 

* Von Hammer, Histoire de I* Empire Ottomane, vol. ii. p. 71. 

3 This was followed by a general persecution of the Bektashis. 



74 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

followers, signifies " pure," implying the purity of heart, 
spirituality of soul, and exemption from worldly contamina- 
tion, which Yussuf required in his disciples, qualities somewhat 
at variance, one would suppose, with the above-mentioned 
obligation. This same title of Kalender, it may be remarked, 1 
is also given to Dervishes of all Orders who are distinguished 
among their brethren for superior spirituality. It is this 
class of " enlightened " beings which has produced so many 
dangerous fanatics in every age of Mohammedanism. From 
it have come the assassins of sultans, viziers, and grandees 
of the Empire, and all the unconscious impostors who, under 
the title of Mahdi, have misled thousands and desolated 
whole countries by their supposed prophecies and divine 
revelations. 

1 Mysticism and Magic in Turkey, p. 20. 



CHAPTER VIII 
INITIATION RITES AMONG THE DERVISHES ' 

THE founder of one of the earliest Orders of Dervishes, 
Sheikh Olwan, laid down certain rules to be observed in 
the admission of new members into his Brotherhood ; and 
these rules, though subsequently elaborated by certain of 
the Orders, are still substantially the same in their leading 
features, differing only in the severity of the discipline 
imposed upon a candidate, in the length of his period of 
probation, and in certain minor details. 

As a general rule, a neophyte is required during his 
novitiate to live in complete retirement from the world, to 
perform the menial offices of the Tekkah, (Monastery) and 
to repeat daily, 101, 151, or 301 times one of the attributes 
of the Deity. These are ninety-seven" in number, and are 
called the Isami Ilahi, or " Beautiful Names of Allah." 
Seven only of these are used by a Murid, or Candidate ; 
they are La Ilaha il Allah (" There is no GOD but Allah ") ; 
Ya Allah (" O GOD ") ; Ya Hoo (" O Him ") ; Ya Haak 
(" O Truth ") ; Ya Hay (" O Ever Living ") ; Ya Kayyoum 
(" O Self-existent"); and Ya Kahhar (" O Almighty"). 
In the first stage of his probation the neophyte repeats only 
the first attribute, and his advancement through the seven 
successive stages depends upon the proofs he is able to give 
of the reality of his vocation for a Dervish life. These proofs 
are found in the frequency and vividness of the dreams and 
visions vouchsafed to him, which he is bound to communicate 
to his Superior. 

Admission into the Mevlevi Order is only obtained by 

the performance of an uninterrupted novitiate of a thousand 

and one consecutive days. Should the Murid fail in a 

single day's duties, or be absent from the Tekkah for one 

1 From Mysticism and Magic in Turkey, by L. M. J. Garnett. London, 



76 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

whole night, his probation must be recommenced ; and, 
whatever his worldly rank, he must consider himself the 
subordinate of every member of the Tekkah. He is instructed 
in his duties by the Ashjibashi, or Chief of the Kitchen, spends 
much of his time in prayers and fasting, and in committing 
to memory the prayers and passages of the Koran more 
especially used by his Order. He must also become proficient 
in the mystic dance, and take part in the public services of 
the Brotherhood. The novice, having passed through his 
period of probation to the satisfaction of the Chief of the 
Kitchen, that functionary who acts as his sponsor reports 
him to the Sheikh as worthy of admission to the initiatory 
grade of the Order, and a meeting of all the Brotherhood 
is convened in the Ismi Jelik Hujreh, the private assembly 
room of the Tekkah. When all are assembled, the Murid is led 
by the Ashjibashi to the Prior, who occupies the seat of 
honour in the angle of the divan ; he kisses the extended 
hand of his Superior, and seats himself on the floor before 
him. His sponsor then places his right hand on the neck, 
and his left- on the forehead of the neophyte, the Sheikh 
takes off the kulah which, with the rest of the Mevlevi costume 
he has worn during his novitiate, and proceeds to chant a 
Persian distich composed by the founder of the Order. He 
then delivers an exhortation to the young disciple, at the 
termination of which he replaces the kulah on his head. The 
Murid and his sponsor now place themselves in the middle of 
the room, where they assume a posture of profound humility, 
standing with folded arms, crossed toes, and bowed heads. 
The Ashjibashi is then addressed as follows by the Sheikh : 
" May the services of the Murid, thy brother, be agree- 
able to the Throne of the Eternal, and in the eyes of our 
Pir, may His satisfaction, His felicity, and His glory grow 
in the nest of the humble, in the cell of the poor. Let us 
exclaim Hoo (Hm) in honour of oijr Mevlana" l The 
Murid and his sponsor answer " Hoo " and the former then 
kisses the hand of the Sheikh, who addresses to him some 
paternal remarks on his new position, and concludes by 
asking all the members of the congregation to embrace and 
welcome their new brother. 

1 The founder of tht Order, Mevlana Jelalu-'d-Din. 



INITIATION RITES AMONG THE DERVISHES 77 

A novice of the Bektashi Order is also required to perform 
a novitiate of a thousand and one days, during which he 
frequents the services in the Tekkah. But the formalities 
observed by this Order in the reception of candidates differ 
from those of the Mevlevi Brethren, and are even more 
elaborate. A candidate is recommended to the Sheikh by 
two members of the community who are called his " Inter- 
preters." x He must also have already given, during his 
novitiate, proofs of spiritual knowledge and acquirements, 
and have faithfully kept certain pretended secrets of the 
Order imparted to him as tests of his powers of reticence. 
His reception into the Brotherhood is also determined by 
the revelations concerning him received, in dreams or visions, 
by the Sheikh, from the Pir or from Ali. What is thus revealed 
is not communicated to the neophyte. 

On the evening appointed for the ceremony of initiation 
for the services of the Bektashi Order are always held by 
night the neophyte takes with him to the convent a sheep 
and a small sum of money. The sheep is sacrificed on the 
threshold of the Tekkah, part of its w r ool is twisted into a rope, 
the rest being preserved to be made, later on, into a girdle 
for his use. If the candidate desires to take the vow of 
celibacy, he is stripped naked ; but if he proposes, as in the 
generality of cases to take only the ordinary, or secular vow 
of this widespread and numerous Order, his breast only is 
bared. With the rope round his neck he is led by his 
" Interpreters/' one of whom carries the symbol termed 
the tebber, a kind of battle-axe, into the hall of the Tekkah. 
Here he stands with his arms folded across his breast, his 
hands on his shoulders, his toes crossed, and his body inclined 
towards the Sheikh-*-a posture signifying abject humility 
and designated buyun kesmek. The Prior and the Twelve 
Elders are seated around the hall on their sheepskins, a 
lighted candle being placed in front of each. One of the 
" Interpreters " announces to the Prior that he has brought 
to him a slave, and requests his acceptance of the gift. He 
acquiesces, and the neophyte, addressing him, repeats this 
prayer : 

1 Terjuman. This term also signifies the secret pass-word or phrase 
of the Bektashi Order. 



78 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

" I have erred ; pardon my fault, O Shah ! For the 
sake of the Accepted One (Ali) of the Exalted Place ; 
for the sake of the Martyr (Husein). I have done wrong to 
myself, and to our Lord, and I implore pardon of Him/' 

His " fault " is supposed to consist in having so long 
delayed to join the Order. The Sheikh then recites a sort 
of Litany, to which the Murid makes the responses. 

" In the Name of Allah, the Merciful and the Clement : 

" I beseech Allah's forgiveness (thrice repeated) ; I 
have come to implore pardon ; I have come in search of 
the Truth ; I ask it for the sake of the Just. Truth is the 
path which leads to Allah, the All True, whom I know. 
What you term Evil, I also know to be Evil, and I will 
avoid taking with my hands what is another's. . . . Repent 
of your sins unto Allah, a repentance that knows not return 
unto sin." 

Then follows an exhortation by the Superior : 

" Eat nothing forbidden ; speak no falsehood : quarrel 
with none ; be kind to your inferiors ; overlook the faults of 
others, and conceal them. If you cannot do this with your 
hand, do it with your skirts, your tongue, and your heart." 

The novice then kisses the hand of the Sheikh, who 
continues : 

" If thou now accept me as thy father, I accept thee 
as my son. Be hereafter the pledge of Allah breathed in 
thy right ear." 

He then repeats after his Superior the words : "Mohammed 
is my leader, and Ali is my guide/' The Sheikh asks, 
" Dost thou accept me as thy Guide (meaning as the repre- 
sentative of Ali) ? " to which he responds, " I accept thee 
as my Guide " ; and the Sheikh adds, " Then I accept thee 
as my son/' 

The postulant is now led by his " Interpreters fl to the 
Sheikh, before whom he first bows low and then prostrates 
himself, touching the floor with his forehead. Kneeling 
opposite to him so closely that their knees touch, the 
Superior takes the postulant's right hand in his, and the 
thumbs are raised to represent the Arabic letter Alif. The 
latter places his ear to the mouth of the Sheikh who imparts 
to him in a whisper the Ikranameh, or secret vows of the 



INITIATION RITES AMONG THE DERVISHES 79 

Order. As the tenets of the Bektashis are believed by many 
to be purely pantheistic, it is asserted that the words whispered 
by the Sheikh to the Murid convey a doctrine to which 
he must assent on pain of death, and admit the unity of God 
and Nature. But this assertion is positively denied by 
others ; and it would, indeed, be difficult to prove it, as the 
secrets of the Order are never committed to writing, and 
are known only to its members, who, it is believed, are 
deterred by the most frightful penalties from divulging them. 

When the disciple is presented with the girdle and the 
stone worn in it, the Prior, as he binds it round his waist 
says to him : " I now bind up thy waist in the path of Allah 
O Holy Name, possessed of all knowledge ! Whoever knows 
this Name will become the successor of his Sheikh (Naib)." 
Certain principles of the Order are then imparted to the 
novice, who is also instructed in various mystic tenets 
concerning the universe and the Koran. The Sheikh then 
sums up by saying, " There is but one Light, and the Truth 
is (as) the Moon. He who has found the science of his own 
body (called the Hum i Vurgood, his spiritual counterpart) 
knows his Lord ; for the holy Prophet has said, " To know 
thyself is to know thy Lord. In this is comprised a know- 
ledge of thine own secret, and that of thy Creator." 

When a Bektashi takes the vow of celibacy, he is asked 
by the Sheikh whether, if he break it, he is willing to come 
under the sword of Ali, to which he replies in the affirmative. 
The inner signification of this phrase is said to contain one 
of the secret vows of the Order. On putting on for the 
first time the sash or A lif-lam, 1 he says, " I abandon all 
matrimony, and bind myself to this sash so to do." The 
Murid then recites chapter cxii of the Koran ; after which 
the Sheikh declares to him that " Allah doth not engender 
or bring forth, and so may men tell of thee, and no one is 
equal to Him." 

Twelve being the Bektashi mystical number, a member 
having broken a vow, incurs twelve punishments. One 
of their secret signs is said to consist of the words Tehran 
and Toolan "far" and "near" signifying "near in 
affection and far in conceit." 

> The first and last letters of the Arabic alphabet. 



80 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

The ceremonies of affiliation of the other Orders bear 
a great resemblance to the foregoing, with the exception of 
those of the Kadiri, the Rufa'i the Sa'di. 

A novice of the Rufa'i receives from the Sheikh a small 
cup of water from the Zemzem the Sacred Well of Mekka, 
which, after reciting a prayer over, he drinks. 

At the initiation of a Sa'di Dervish, a number of dates 
are placed before the Superior. He selects one, extracts 
the stone, breathes upon the fruit and puts it into the moutfy 
of the neophyte who is seated on the floor before him. Two 
members of the Order seat themselves to the right and left 
of him, and proceed to sway him from side to side, reciting 
at the same time : " There is no GOD but Allah/' the Sheikh 
doing the same, until he has swallowed the date. All then 
rise, and the Murid, after kissing the hand of the superior, is 
acknowledged as a brother by the rest of the congregation. 

A person wishing to join the Kadiri Order intimates his 

desire to one of its members. The Dervish enjoins him 

to frequent the Tekkah and its services, and also to wait 

upon the brethren and their guests. These menial duties 

are required from every neophyte, whatever his worldly 

rank may be. The period of probation lasts for many months, 

during which time the Murid becomes greatly attached to 

his Superior. When he has been deemed worthy to enter 

the ranks of the Dervishes, he is directed to procure a cap 

of plain white felt, which is carried by his sponsor to the 

Sheikh. A gul, or piece of cloth stamped into the shape of 

a rose of eighteen petals, and having in the centre the 

" Solomon's Seal " two interlaced triangles is then 

attached to it. When the brethren assemble in the Tekkah for 

the performance of the Zihr, or invocation of Allah, the 

Sheikh takes his place on his sheepskin and the neophyte, led 

by his sponsor, kneels before him and kisses his hand. The 

Sheikh takes off the novice's ordinary cap, and replaces it by 

that bearing the " Rose," which he has carried in his bosom, 

and says, three times, " Allaha Ekber " (Goo is Great). 

A disciple does not, however, even after this formal 
reception into it, become at once a full member of the Order. 
This grade is only reached after, it may be, years of further 
probation, and its attainment depends upon the proofs he 



INITIATION RITES AMONG THE DERVISHES 81 

is able to give of his progress in spirituality. His final 
admission to full brotherhood is usually determined by a 
revelation from the Pir, or from Ali, received simultaneously 
by himself and his Sheikh. While passing through these 
intermediate stages, the aspirant is under the guidance of 
the Superior, or of an initiate who has himself reached the 
highest degree. During the first stage, which is termed 
Sheriat, or " the Law/' the disciple observes all the usual 
rites of Moslem worship, obeys all the commands and precepts 
of the Koran like any other True Believer, and is treated 
by the brethren of the community as an uninitiated outsider. 
He is taught, at the same time, to concentrate his thoughts 
so completely on his " Guide " as to become mentally absorbed 
in him as a spiritual link with the supreme object of all 
devotion. This Guide must be the neophyte's shield against 
all worldly thoughts and desires ; his spirit must aid him in all 
his efforts, accompany him wherever he may be, and be 
ever present to his mental vision. Such a frame of mind 
it termed " annihilation into the Murshid," and the Guide 
discovers, by means of his own visions, the degree of spirituality 
to which his disciple has attained, and to what extent his 
soul has become absorbed into his own. 

The Murid now enters upon what, in Dervish phraseology, 
is called " the Path/' During this period, which forms in 
reality the transition Irom outward to hidden things, the 
disciple is familiarized with those philosophical writings 
of the great Sufi masters which form the chief object of the 
lectures and studies of the Order. He is taught to substitute 
spiritual for ritual worship, and led by degrees to abandon 
the dogmas and formulas of Islam as necessary only for the 
unenlightened masses. This method is, however, pursued 
with great tact and caution, for a disciple is not released from 
the usual observances of religion until he has given proof 
of sincere piety, virtue, exceptional spirituality, and extreme 
asceticism ; and a Dervish at this stage of his novitiate 
passes most of his time in solitary contemplation, endeavouring 
to detach his mind from all visible objects in order to attain 
the desired union with the Deity. His Guide, meanwhile, 
imparts to him his own mystical philosophy as he finds him 
capable of receiving it. If the disciple's religious feeling 

6 



82 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

appear to be shocked by any maxim to which he has given 
utterance, the already mentioned Jesuitical expedient known 
as the Ketman supplies the Master with a double sense which 
enables him at once to convince his disciple of the groundless- 
ness of his objections. If, on the contrary, the Murshid 
finds his pupil's theological digestion robust, his advance on 
the path will be correspondingly rapid. He is now supposed 
to come under the spiritual influence of the Pir, or founder 
of the Order, in whom he in turn becomes mentally absorbed 
to such a degree as to be virtually one with him, acquiring 
his attributes and power of performing supernatural acts. 

The next stage of the mystic life is that termed by the 
Dervishes " Spiritual Knowledge/' and the disciple who 
believes himself, and is believed by his Sheikh, to have attained 
to such knowledge or, in other words, to have become inspired, 
is held to be on an equality with the Angels. He now enters 
into spiritual communion with the Prophet himself, into 
whose soul his own has become absorbed. 

The fourth degree is usually attained during the forty 
days of fasting and seclusion, observed by every Dervish 
during his novitiate. In his ecstatic state he believes him- 
self to have become a part of the Divinity, and sees Him in 
all things. The Sheikh, after witnessing this remarkable 
proof of the success of his teachings, gently awakens the 
disciple from his ecstasy, and having restored him to his 
normal condition, bestows upon him the rank of khalifeh 
(" successor "). The mystic now resumes his outward obser- 
vance of the rites of Islam, and prepares for his pilgrimage 
to the Holy Cities. 

Not every Dervish, however, attains even to the third 
grade ; and the highest is attained only by the few. Those 
less spiritually gifted, or less mystically minded, still continue 
to recognize the personal and anthropomorphic Allah of 
the Koran, and look forward at death only to a closer intimacy 
with Him than that which will be enjoyed by those who 
have not entered on " the Path." 



CHAPTER IX 
OTHER SCHIITE SECTS: THE METAWILEH 

FROM the fact that the so-called Orthodox Mohammedans 
have taken the name of Sunnites (Traditionists), " followers 
of the Sunnah/' to distinguish themselves from the Schiites, 
the impression prevails in some quarters that the latter entirely 
reject tradition. But with all the veneration of the Schiites 
for the Koran as the Word of GOD, and the repository of all 
the dogmas, doctrines, laws, and ordinances of the faith of 
Islam, they believe also in the value of oral traditions. They 
reject, indeed, says Wortabet, 1 "many traditions which the 
Moslems believe to have been handed down by the earliest 
successors of Mohammed, because these mediums are detested 
by the Schiites, and their report of traditions is considered 
as untruthful. But while they deny the genuineness of many 
of the traditions preserved by the Moslems, they have a set 
of their own, which again are regarded as spurious by the 
Sunnites. 

" The Schiites of Syria term themselves Metawileh ; they 
are found in Akkar, a district to the north of Tripoli ; in 
Belad Besharah and Shukeif, the mountainous country east 
of Tyre and Sidon, with a small number in these cities ; 
and in Baalbec and Coele-Syria. Their number in these 
places possibly amounts to about fifty thousand souls." 

They believe, with the Orthodox Mohammedan, that the 
divine mission of Mohammed is established beyond all doubt 
by the numerous and satisfactory miracles of which he was 
the subject, and by those which he performed. They believe 
that the Koran is the undisputed word of GOD, and the 
guide of men to truth, virtue, and paradise, and that there- 
fore there is great merit in reading it. 

1 Wortabet, Religions of Sym* PP 266 flL 
8$ 



84 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

On the subject of ethics, the Metawileh do not differ much 
from other Moslems. 1 All good works they divide into 
duties, or works of ordinances, and works of supererogation. 
The first division comprises prayer, fasting, alms, and 
pilgrimage ; the prompt performance of duty to parents, 
kinsmen, and slaves ; circumcision of males ; self-preserva- 
tion ; a life that is neither extravagant nor niggardly ; 
marriage in all cases where there is danger of sin ; veracity 
in the communications and transactions of life ; good 
faith both to believers and unbelievers, even to the murderers 
of El Husein ; the performance of all engagements and 
promises ; the right use of all the blessings of GOD ; con- 
tentment ; exhortation to others ; feeding the poor, and 
helping the distressed, etc. These duties, however, though 
among the most primary, are not in every instance binding 
on all ; e.g. alms is a duty only when the person is of full 
age and in affluent circumstances, and pilgrimage is binding 
on those only who are able to perform it. The works of 
supererogation are many, the following being the principal. 
The frequent mention of the name of GOD ; the assiduous 
reading of the Koran ; frequenting the public places of 
worship ; the habit of saluting believers, and of returning 
their salutations ; making many friends, showing civility 
to them, and requiting them for their favours, readiness to 
help ; generosity to the members of the family, and to 
others ; compassion on the poor and needy ; veneration of 
old age among believers, and humility towards all the faithful ; 
patience under injury ; mildness and dignity in deportment ; 
and shunning the use of evil language. In addition to these, 
the pious man must cultivate a sense of his shortcomings at 
all times. 

The Metawileh consider that for the same reasons that 
men need a prophet they need also an Imaum, with whom 
GOD deposits all the learning and knowledge of religion, 
who shall give a right and indisputable interpretation of 
the Koran, and who shall thus be a standing witness to the 
truth of the Islam faith. As he is ex officio the king of the 
Mohammedans, whose business it is to lead them in war in 
the cause of GOD, and to administer justice to the poor and 

1 Wortabet, Researches into the Religions of Syria, pp. 268 ff. 



OTHER SCHIITE SECTS: THE METAWILEH 85 

oppressed, he is also their high priest, their preacher, the 
expounder of their faith, and their guide in all spiritual 
concerns. He should be the best and most learned man of 
his age, and is, in fact, as inspired and infallible as the prophet 
Mohammed was. " We," says one of the twelve Imaums, 
" possess all that the prophet possessed, except the office 
of prophecy and the right to have more than four wives," 
Mohammed having enjoyed the privilege of taking eleven. 
The Imaums are pure and holy beings, acquainted with the 
secrets of the Most High, and are the way of access to Him 
as mediators and intercessors. Their commands are the 
commands of GOD himself, and disobedience to them is 
disobedience to Him ; and, in short, as Noah was only 
saved by entering into the ark, so a man can be safe from 
the wrath of GOD in time and eternity only by a sincere 
attachment to them. 

The office of Imaum is a perpetual one, and since its 
establishment it has never been vacant. Ali was succeeded 
by eleven of his descendants, constituting with himself the 
twelve Imaums who held so important a place in the creed 
of the Schiites. The thirteenth Mohammed Ibn el-Hasan 
el-Askang disappeared without having died, but he continues 
to live till the present time, though in a state of disguise, 
and without being known. He is believed to communicate 
with men incognito, being often, if not always, present among 
the multitudes who crowd the holy Kaaba every year. At 
the appointed time he will manifest himself to men, and will 
then be known by the name of the Guide (El Muhdi) and 
with Jesus, the Son of Mary, will fill the whole world with 
the knowledge of GOD, and with justice and piety, even as 
it is now full of idolatry, error, and unrighteousness. This 
set time is fast approaching. All this is a part of the settled 
faith of the Metawileh. Some of their learned men believe 
also that after the appearance of the Muhdi, he will in due 
time die, and be succeeded by his own father, or predecessor 
in the office, who will be raised from death for this purpose ; 
and a retrqgracje, resurrection and succession will go on, 
until the twelve Imaums shall have risen and completed the 
regeneration of the world. After this will come the end, the 
judgment and eternity. 



86 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

The Metawileh of Syria believe that they have among 
them the veritable descendants of El Hasan and El Husein, 
the children of AH ; and the Schiites of Persia, and even the 
Moslems of that country, do not dispute the veracity of these 
claims. From the fact, however, that large numbers have 
made the same claims, the intelligent classes have their 
doubts on the subject, and are content to treat it with 
indifference. These two branches of the descendants of 
Ali, called El Hasaniyeh and El Huseiniyeh, reside in Belad 
Beshara, wear the green turban as the badge of their honour- 
able descent, and are called Suyyad. They are distinguished 
by their strict adherence to their religion, and display all 
that sanctimonious piety which forms an essential part of 
it. They are treated with great respect by the Metawileh, 
out of veneration for their illustrious origin. 

The Metawileh, rejecting the opinions of the four Moham- 
medan schools, hold that Jaafar Ibn Mohammed, the sixth 
Imaum from Ali, was the person commissioned to give the 
Mohammedan system its most definite and permanent form. 
To his sayings, preserved it is said wholly by tradition, 
they appeal in all cases where a question of religion or 
jurisprudence is concerned, and he is to be considered, there- 
fore, as the author of their peculiar views. 

In prayer, the Metawileh perform their ablutions in a 
different way from the Mohammedans, using very little 
water for the occasion. When they bow to the ground, their 
heads are made to touch a small cake of earth, which they 
constantly carry with them for the purpose, made from the 
very spot where El Husein was killed. If this cake happens 
to be lost, or not obtainable, they use for the purpose a stone, 
or some other material, to remind them of the holy earth 
on which was shed the blood of their illustrious martyr. 
Unlike the Moslems, each one prays singly, unless the leader 
be a Muhtahid, a kind of doctor of divinity, who has completed 
his studies in Irak, and has returned with satisfactory 
testimonials of his having attained a high degree of learning 
and piety. At the hour of prayer, all articles of clothing 
in which gold is wrought, and gold or silver rings and watches, 
are laid aside. Among the points of difference on the 
subject of pilgrimage, the most remarkable is, that it may 



OTHER SCHIITE SECTS: THE METAWILEH 87 

be performed by proxy, even though the person for whom 
the service is done be dead. Another of their peculiar customs 
is, that when a person dies in affluent circumstances, he is 
covered with a shroud on which a part or the whole of the 
Koran is written the price of the article ranging from 
five hundred to two thousand five hundred piastres and 
readers are employed to read the Koran over the grave of 
the newly deceased, with the idea that while this is going 
on, the black angels will not be permitted to approach the 
dead body. The Schiites always begin and end the fast 
of Ramadan with the visible appearance of the new moon, 
not depending on computation of time, except in cloudy 
weather. The fast of the day begins at broad daylight, 
and ends by the time that the eastern horizon is wholly 
free from the last refracted rays of the set sun, both periods 
being about half an hour later than the computation of the 
Mohammedans. All travellers, according to the Koran, 
are excused from fasting, but the Metawileh do not consider 
less than seven hours' travelling as permitting food ; if it 
comes up to this measure of time, they deem it wrong to 
fast. Neither can the traveller fast at all unless he expects 
to stay ten days at the place of his destination. Should he 
fast on the way it will not be valid, and must be commuted 
by an equal number of other days. The Sunnites and 
Schiites differ considerably on some of the readings in the 
Koran, and also on the interpretation of some important 
passages. 

In their bearing the Metawileh are sanctimonious and 
Pharisaical, proud of their religion and of their strict adherence 
to its ceremonial observances, and lay claim to superior 
learning. But few, however, among the higher classes, 
liave any intelligence or general information ; and even 
their learning is superficial, and their acquaintance with the 
state of the civilized world very limited. In their morals 
they are not any better, if not indeed much worse, than the 
Moslems. The lower classes among them are addicted to 
petty theft, and all of them to shameless lying. Nor does 
it appear that they consider either theft or lying to be great 
crimes, especially when the victims of their fraud are persons 
who do not belong to their sect. It is even said by the 



88 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

Christians who live among them, that they have heard them 
declare that it is meritorious to rob and injure Gentiles ; 
but of this repulsive doctrine we have found no positive 
indications in their books. 

In their feelings towards Christianity they do not differ 
from the other Moslems. To a firm belief in the absolute 
unity of the person of GOD, in the divine mission of Moham- 
med and in the Koran as the undisputed word of GOD, they 
add a regard for Ali and the Imaums scarcely inferior to their 
veneration of the Arabian prophet. These points are so 
interwoven with all their ideas of religion, and with all their 
feelings as religious beings, that nothing short of the power 
of GOD can change their sentiments on and abhorrence 
to Christianity. The doctrines of the Trinity, the Divinity 
of our Saviour, and the Atonement, are equally repulsive to 
Moslems and Metawileh. Jesus they believe to have been 
a mere man, a prophet, like Mohammed, sent to teach 
men the knowledge of GOD. That he is the Son of GOD, 
equal with GOD, a person in the Godhead this sounds 
strangely in their ears, and is a stumbling-block which they 
cannot get over. The Koran, the magnificent eloquence and 
classic purity of which lend such a fascination and power 
to its diction, declares that GOD is one, to whom there is no 
equal or companion, and who neither begets nor is begotten. 
And this language rings perpetually in their ears from the 
days of childhood to the last moments of life, and presents 
an unwavering protest against the idolatry of the Christians 
who believe in and worship more than one GOD. The 
Schiites of Persia and the learned Sunnites maintain, indeed, 
that the first thing that GOD created out of Himself was 
Wisdom ; and one, at the first view, might suppose that this 
doctrine would prepare their minds to believe in the divinity 
of Jesus. But the Wisdom on which they theorise is created, 
and is a thing, not a being equal to and co-eternal with GOD. 
Between the merit of good works and the mercy of GOD, 
they can find no place for the doctrine of the Atonement. 



CHAPTER X 
THE SECT OF THE ESSENES AND THEIR TENETS 

AFTER the Persian captivity of the Jews, and their subse- 
quent return to Palestine, three Jewish sects existed, the 
Pharisees, the Essenes, and the Sadducees, the last being 
purely Mosaic, the first exhibiting many Buddhist char- 
acteristics, and the Essenes in particular showing strong 
signs of their faith having been founded by Buddhist 
missionaries, teaching the doctrines and practice of Sakya 
Muni. 

The Hebrews, says Inman, the well-known author who, 
in his anxiety to condemn all religious faiths gives us some 
exceedingly valuable side-lights from his researches with 
regard to them, " always showed, during the Old Testament 
times, a great aptitude to adopt the faith of outsiders and 
as the Jewish people were in great abasement and misery 
at the period when it is probable the Buddhist missionaries 
came into Syria, they would be prepared for the doctrine that 
they were suffering for bygone sins. The idea that men in 
the present were sometimes punished for sins done in the 
past was a Hebrew as well as a Hindu idea, else Saul's sons 
would not have been hanged for their father's misdeeds, 
or the Amalekites have been slaughtered by Samuel, because 
their forefathers had, some centuries before, fought with 
Israel, and been conquered by Moses and Joshua." 1 

The remarkable sect of the Essenes have always been 
considered to have had a very close connection with Free- 
masonry. In many of our Masonic rituals and lectures 
their name occurs. In certain American " Instructions " 
in the Craft ritual, printed in language intended to b 

Thomas Imran, M.D., Ancient Faiths and Modern, p. 143. Bouton, 
New York, 1876. 

$9 



90 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

unintelligible to the " uninitiated or popular world who are 
not Freemasons/ 1 the latter are alluded to throughout as 
" Essenes." 

The Essenes are described by Rev. Dr. Ginsburg, 1 a 
good authority on the subject, and one who quotes largely 
from Josephus, as a Jewish sect of singular piety. They 
did not sacrifice animals, but endeavoured to make their 
own minds holy fit for an acceptable offering to JEHOVAH. 
They provided themselves with just enough for the necessities 
of life, and held such goods as they possessed, e.g. clothes 
and cloaks, in common. They only allowed themselves to 
converse on such parts of philosophy as concern GOD and 
man. They abhorred slavery, but each served his neigh- 
bour. They respected the Sabbath. Their fundamental 
laws were, to love GOD, to love virtue, and to love mankind. 
They affected to despise money, fame, pleasures, professed 
the most strict chastity, or rather continence, and they 
practised endurance as a duty. They also cultivated simplicity, 
cheerfulness, modesty, and order. They lived together in 
the same houses and villages, and sustained the poor, the 
sick, and the aged. When they earned wages, the money 
was paid to a common stock. They did not marry, or have 
children ; but if any of their body chose to wed, there was 
nothing in the regulations to prevent their doing so, only 
they then had to enter another class of the brotherhood. 
When possible they worked all day. They were highly 
respected by those who knew them, and were frequently 
receiving additions to their number. They seem to have 
resembled, in their habits and customs, a fraternity of monks 
of a working, rather than a mendicant Order. 

Pleasure they regarded as an evil, having a tendency 
to enchain man to earthly enjoyments, a peculiarly Buddhist 
tenet. Still further, they considered the use of ointment 
as defiling, which was certainly not a Hebraic doctrine ; 
but they dressed decently. They prayed devoutly before 
sunrise ; but until the sun had risen they never spoke of 
worldly matters. They gave thanks, and prayed before 
and after eating ; and before they entered their refectory 
they bathed in pure water. The food provided was of the 
1 The Essenes. Longmans, London, 1864. 



SECT OF THE ESSENES AND THEIR TENETS 91 

simplest kind, and just in sufficient quantity to keep them 
alive. When a person wished to join the community, he 
was required to undergo a period of probation, and, if ap- 
proved, he took a solemn oath " to fear GOD ; to be just 
towards all men ; never to wrong anyone ; to detest the 
wicked, and love the righteous ; to keep faith with all men ; 
not to be proud ; not to try and outshine his neighbours 
in any matter ; to love truth, and to try and reclaim all liars ; 
never to steal or cajole ; never to conceal anything from 
the brotherhood, and to be reticent with outsiders." 

Freemasons will perceive in the various clauses of this 
Essene Obligation a very strong resemblance to solemn 
injunctions they themselves undertook to obey, in the three 
Craft degrees, a still further confirmation, were any such 
wanting, of the fact that the Essenes, in common with other 
Syrian sects, possessed and adhered to the " true principles 
of Freemasonry." 

Josephus, in writing of the Essenes, compares them with 
the Pythagoreans, a sect also holding doctrines evidently 
brought from .Persia and Hindostan. Pliny, in writing of 
the Essenes, remarks that their usages differ from those of 
all other nations which we may take as a proof that they 
did not copy their constitution from Greeks, Romans, or 
Jews, however much they might be indebted for it to their 
secluded neighbours in the Lebanon. 

Respecting the origin of this sect, nothing certain appears 
to be known, beyond the fact that they were in existence 
in the time of the Maccabees. Ordinary critics decline to 
see in them any direct relations to the Pythagoreans, and 
some imagine that the order sprung naturally out of a spiritual 
reading of the Mosaic law, modified, probably, by Persian 
or Chaldean notions. 

Whether or not we take as fact the details given of the 
early life of Jesus Christ, as related in the " Aquarian 
Gospels " and in " Hafed, Prince of Persia/' it seems highly 
probable that Our Lord may have spent some years of His 
life, before commencing His short three years' ministry in 
Palestine, in a residence among, and discussion of their 
doctrines with, other Eastern nations. It seems probable, 
from His plain dislike of the doctrines of both Pharisees and 



92 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

Sadducees that He was in sympathy with those of their 
keen opponents, the Essenes, which will account for the 
claim by certain writers of the period, as well as subsequently, 
tliat Jesus of Nazareth was an Essene. Certainly, so far 
as "Sis human personality may have required some form 
of religious observance, that of the Essenes would have been, 
undoubtedly, most in consonance with His divine nature. 
Modern Freemasonry, therefore, has acted wisely in incor- 
porating with the monotheistic principles of the ancient 
Craft degrees, with their foreshadowings of a coming Messiah, 
the more excellent and perfect teaching of the later, and 
higher degrees, and their references, in so many ways, to 
the past and future influence on human nature of the Saviour 
of mankind, in deed and in truth the greatest Teacher of the 
real, the inner principles of all Freemasonry. 

Yarker, writing of the Essenes, says : " This important 
mystic sect amongst the Jews has puzzled historians. It 
may have struck out a new path from the Kabalistic road, 
but the extreme veneration of its members for the sun is 
more characteristic of Chaldea and of the existing Yezids. 
Jewish critics believe that they are the Assideans, Chasdim, 
or old believers allied with the Maccabees. They afterwards 
divided into two sects, or the contemplative and practical 
members. Other writers consider that they were Egyptian 
priests, driven into Syria by the conquests of Cambyses 
of Persia and Alexander the Great, and it is very probably 
that this may be partly correct, and that they may have 
included Jesus ben Panther, a nephew of Queen Salome, 
who, after studying Egyptian Theurgy, and preaching to 
the people, was proclaimed for forty days, and then stoned 
to death and hung on a tree at Lyda, about the year 100 B.C." 1 

The Essenes are said to have recognized eight (some say 
ten) spiritual stages of ascent to beatitude ; and they had, 
like the Pythagoreans, a system of degrees with a probation- 
ary period between each. Their doctrines were delivered 
orally and they took a solemn oath of secrecy, chastity and 
justice in all their dealings, as mentioned above. When 
addressing their chiefs they stood with their right hand 
extended below their chin and the left dropped to their side. 

1 The Arcane Schools, p. 156. 



SECT OF THE ESSENES AND THEIR TENETS 08 

A select class of the Essenes were termed Therapeuta or 
healers, who dwelt in small houses containing an inner shrine 
which they used for contemplative purposes. They kept 
the Sabbath, and, every seventh time seven, they had a 
special service with mystic dances, evidently resembling those 
in the ancient Mysteries. Philo says : " They have impulses 
of heavenly love by which they kindle, in all, the enthusiasm 
of the Corybantes, and the Baccanalians, and are raised to 
that state of contemplation after which they aspire." 

Eusebius, the Christian historian, has some curious remarks 
on the sect. He says : " Their doctrines are to be found 
among none but in the religion of Christians, according to 
the Gospel. Their meetings, and the separate places of 
the men and women at their meetings, and the exercises 
performed by them, are still in use among us at the present 
day, equally at the feast of our Saviour's Passion." 

Josephus, who had evidently personal knowledge of the 
Essenes, makes mention of books which were kept very 
secret amongst them referring, he says, to " the names of 
the Angels." 

Apparently there were branches of the Essenes and es- 
pecially of the Therapeutae, who became actual Christians, 
such as the Nazarenes, Ebionites, and Nabatheans, and the 
first term is yet in use in the East to designate Christians who 
first took that name at Antioch. Theodoret says : " The 
Nazarenes are Jews, honouring the Anointed as a just man," 
and using the " Evangel according to St. Peter," portions 
of which were discovered some years ago in Egypt, with 
fragments of the Logia of the Lord. The Ebionites were a 
portion of the sect, having amongst them relatives of Jesus, 
and they used the Gospel of St. Matthew, derived, some 
say, from the Logia : they dwelt in a region near the seat 
of the Adonisian mysteries ; l they looked upon Jesus as 
assuming his apostleship at the descent of the Holy Spirit, 
and that His Messiahship would begin with His Second 
Coming. 

In a very interesting book in my own library, which 
I am prohibited from alluding to more distinctly, as it is 
connected with the ritual of a sect, dating back to the very 
1 The Weejdngjor Adonis was practised in Syria down to A.D. 400. 



04 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

earliest ages, the following particulars are given with respect 
to the Essenes, with whom they have a certain amount 
of resemblance : 

"Two hundred years after the College of Prophecy raised 
up Amos, Hosea and Jonah, Manasses, son of Hezekiah, 
established idol worship, and by law abolished the worsjiip 
of Jehovah. He caused the prophet Isaiah to be sawn in 
twain, because he worshipped Jehovah. For three hundred 
years following, the children of the prophets were a small 
body, and scattered in many lands. The rest, who were 
called Jews, lived under written laws and ceremonies, which 
were compiled and established by Ezra in Jerusalem, which 
combination of books was called The Scriptures. From 
that time forward the Jews became worshippers of the Lord 
and the GOD, but the scattered tribes still held to the worship 
of the Great Spirit, Jehovah, keeping their service secret. 
These were without sin, doing no war, nor resistance of 
evil against evil, and loving one another as oneself. From 
these sprang the Essenians, cultivating prophecy and purity 
of spirit, and the angels of Jehovah dwelt with these Essenians, 
who were the true Israelites in fact, and were about seven 
hundred in number. They were a separate people, pledged 
to Jehovah to have no king or ruler save their own rabbis. 
They dwelt in communities of tens and twenties, and hundreds, 
holding all things in common. In marriage they were mono- 
gamous, neither would they have more than one suit of 
clothes each ; and they lived on fruit and herbs only ; nor 
ate they flesh, nor fish, nor the flesh of anything that ever 
breathed the breath of life ; and they bathed every morning 
at sunrise, doing in all things after the manner of their 
forefathers. By virtue of the angel hosts who were with 
them did they see things. And they held communion with 
the angels of heaven every night before going to sleep. Yet, 
though they lived in great purity of body and soul, they were 
evilly slandered by the people round about them on every 
side. But Jehovah prospered the seed of the Essenians, 
in holiness and love, for many generations. Then came 
the chief of the angels, according to the commandment of 
GOD, to raise up an heir to the Voice of Jehovah. And, in 
four generations more, an heir was born, and named Joshua, 



SECT OF THE ESSENES AND THEIR TENETS 95 

and he was the child of Joseph and Mara, devout worshippers 
of Jehovah, who stood aloof from all other people save 
the Essenians. And this Joshua, in Nazareth, re-established 
Jehovah, and restored many of the lost rites and ceremonies. 
In the thirty-sixth year of his age he was stoned to death 
in Jerusalem, by the Jews that worshipped the heathen gods." 

" The beliefs of the Essenes and their monastic life are 
similar to the beliefs and practices of the early Gnostic sects 
of Syria. 1 They performed no sacrifices, and paid no 
attention to Pharisaic rites or books, having instead a 
literature of their own, and using apparently ' lustrations ' 
or baptisms instead of sacrifice. Their contempt of the 
world, their peaceful contented life and chastity, seem to 
have secured them a general reverence. The hermit Banu 
or Bunai, of whom Josephus was for a time a follower, 
appears to have belonged to this sect/ 1 Their connection 
with the Therapeutae of Egypt is usually recognized, and 
Pliny speaks of their colony near the Dead Sea. Josephus 
estimates their number at about four thousand. Their 
belief in charms, their prayers to the rising sun, and their 
reverence for light, show, however, that they were not far 
removed above the level of their fellows. We can hardly 
doubt that in the beliefs of this sect we trace more or less 
remotely the influence of Buddhism, which was at this 
time so strongly pressing on the West, and which we find 
to have been familiar as an Indian religion to the fathers 
of the Church, from Irenseus and Clement of Alexandria 
to Jerome. It is difficult to believe that such monasticism 
was of purely Egyptian or Syrian origin. It certainly con- 
travenes the most important principles of Judaism ; and in 
Egypt the wives of priests were priestesses in the great 
ages of the empire. 

" At Antioch, Christianity was less severely Jewish," 
says Conder, 3 " The Christoi, here first so named, were 
known to the vulgar as Chrestoi, or ' good ' people. Satur- 
ninus, the Gnostic, founded his school at Antioch, and taught 
that Christ was a phantom not really born of flesh and blood. 
He was a rigid ascetic, and abstained from all animal food. 

* Col. C. R. Conder, R.E., Syrian Stone Lore, p. 202. London, 1886. 

* Syrian Stone Lore, p. 250. 



96 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

Much of his philosophy was founded, apparently, on the 
Zoroastrian system. Tatian, known for his fierce attack 
on the pagan religion, founded a sect in Syria about 166 A.D. 
called Encratites, or Abstainers, the teetotalers of the age 
who even used pure water instead of wine for the Eucharist, 
They forbade marriage and the eating of animal food, and 
they held the same view with Saturninus as to the phantom 
Christ, never either born or suffering death." 

Syria, indeed, at this time was full of Gnostic sects, such 
as the Ophites, who worshipped serpents in connection with 
the Eucharist ; the Markosians, who claimed to change the 
water of the holy cup to blood, and who believed in Kab- 
alistic figures and Syriac magic sentences ; the Cainites, 
who commended Judas Iscariot as a martyr ; the Adamites, 
who worshipped naked in their churches ; the Setheans, 
named from their views as to Seth ; and the Elchesaites 
(in the third century), who were connected with the older 
Essenes. The prophet of the latter lived in the days of 
Trajan, it is said, and received an inspired book from heaven. 
The Sabians or Mendaiites, at the mouth of the Euphrates, 
were connected with this Essene Gnostic sect, which seems 
to have had its headquarters in the deserts of the Dead Sea ; 
and the Ebionites of Bashan accepted Elchesai as a prophet. 
Elchesai laid great stress on baptism frequently repeated, 
as among the Sabians, and shows a Judaizing tendency in 
his belief in the necessity of sacrifice. He honoured the 
patriachs, and identified Christ with Adam, but rejected the 
later prophets. He commanded abstinence from flesh, 
but allowed marriage, which accounts for the late survival 
of the Sabians as " Christians of St. John/' The Elchesait 
Eucharist appears to have "Consisted of bread, salt, and 
probably water. 

Heckethorn 1 says they took every possible precaution 
in the admission of members into their secret Order, which 
was divided into four degrees, and the process of initiation 
was so arranged that a candidate, even after having entered 
the third, did not know the grand secret, and if not found 
trustworthy to be admitted into the innermost sanctuary, 
remained totally unconscious of its real nature, and only 
1 Secret Societies, vol. i. p. 99* 



SECT OF THE ESSENES AND THEIR TENETS 97 

saw in it the governing ranks, highest in rank, but not other- 
wise distinguished in point of doctrine. As he justly adds, a 
parallel of this system is found in Freemasonry ; the members 
of the first three degrees are not initiated into the grand 
secret of Masonry ; only in the Royal Arch are they informed 
of it. The four degrees above referred to were respectively 
called the " Faithful/' the " Illuminate," the " Initiated/' 
and the " Perfect." The Faithful received at his initiation 
a new or baptismal name, and this was engraved with a 
secret mark upon a white stone, (possibly alluded to in 
Rev. ii. 17), which he retained as a voucher of his membership. 
The usual sign was the Cross, though other signs were also 
employed 



CHAPTER XI 
PYTHAGORAS AND HIS SYSTEM 

THERE can be little doubt in the mind of any student of 
such ancient beliefs as we are considering that the teaching 
of Pythagoras had a very great influence over a very wide 
area, so that the credit given to him for being responsible 
for bringing the principles of Freemasonry to Britain may 
not, after all, be quite traditionary, as some would have us 
believe. 

The early life and surroundings of this great philosopher 
tended to educate him in mysticism. 1 The son of a wealthy 
jeweller of Samos, his parents, previous to his birth, consulted 
the Delphic Oracle, when they were promised " a son who 
would be useful to all men and throughout all time," and 
by the same oracular advice the parents went to Sidon, in 
Phoenicia, so that the predestined son might be conceived, 
formed, and born far from the disturbing influences of his 
own land. Before his birth he was consecrated to the worship 
of Apollo. When one year old, again acting on Delphic 
advice, he was taken to the temple of Adonai, in the Lebanon 
valley, for a blessing from the high priest there. 

Up to the age of twenty he was accustomed to confer 
with the sages of his native town, Syros and Miletus. Then, 
in a wondrous vision, he saw pass before him the whole of 
his earlier years, and saw, as in his infancy, a white-bearded 
priest, uttering over him the words, often repeated to 
him by his mother, " O woman of Ionia, thy child shall be 
great in wisdom : but remember that, though the Greeks 
still possess the science of the gods, the knowledge of GOD 
can no longer be found elsewhere than in Egypt." He 

* See Edouard Schure", The Great Initiates, to whose section on Pythagoras 
I am indebted for much of the following. 

98 



PYTHAGORAS AND HIS SYSTEM 99 

determined to go at once to Egypt, and undergo initiation 
there, as advised. His initiation lasted in all twenty-two 
years, and he reached the summit of the Egyptian priest- 
hood, realizing, not as a vain theory, but as something lived 
through, the doctrine of the Logos- Light, or of the Universal 
Word, and that of human evolution through seven planetary 
cycles. Then Cambyses, the Persian despot, invaded 
Egypt ; the temples of Memphis and Thebes were plundered, 
that of Ammon destroyed, and Pythagoras, with other 
Egyptian priests, was taken as a prisoner to Babylon. Here 
he was able to thoroughly study the knowledge in the posses- 
sion of the magi, the heirs of Zoroaster, thereby enlarging 
his already vast horizon of doctrines and mysteries. After 
twelve years in Babylon, he returned to his native Samos, 
well-skilled in all the learning of the Egyptians and the 
Chaldeans, to commence the fulfilment of the Delphic 
prediction concerning him. 

Pythagoras visited all the temples of Greece, being every- 
where received as a master ; at the Eleusinian Mysteries, 
we are told, the hierophant himself gave up his office to him. 
Then he reached Delphi, that great centre of clairvoyant 
divination, practised there, as in the Egyptian temples, as 
an art and a science, but only to be used by the loftiest minds, 
and by them with a degree of religious sincerity and scientific 
thoroughness which raised it to the height of a real minis- 
tration. In conjunction with one of the high priestesses 
named Theoclea, Pythagoras instilled at Delphi a strengthen- 
ing infusion of his own Egyptian and Chaldean knowledge, 
and once again Delphi became a centre of life and action. 

After a year at Delphi, Pythagoras proceeded to what was 
then known as Greater Greece, founding his own celebrated 
Order at Croton, a town at the extremity of the Gulf of 
Tarentum, in Southern Italy. Here, with his teaching of 
esoteric doctrine to a chosen band of disciples, and also 
applying his principles to the education of youth and the 
life of the State, he produced a veritable revolution, according 
to Porphyry and lamblichus, 1 who depict the commencement 
of his life there as being rather that of a magician than., of a 
philosopher. With the ready aid of the wealthiest citizens 

1 See Appendix. 



100 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

he founded his Temple of the Muses, a home of initiation 
into the highest principles of education as well as of religion, 
with separate sections for the two sexes, though women were 
not admitted to the inner mysteries revealed to men, as 
unnecessary, according to Pythagoras, for their better 
accomplishment of their household duties ! 

The Pythagorean system embraced three degrees, with 
a fourth as a supreme entrance into the highest knowledge. 
Here we are at once confronted with a probable source of 
our own Masonic ritual, wherein only those whose minds are 
thoroughly prepared become acquainted with the fact that 
the apparent finality of the third degree is only the com- 
mencement of new light in a fourth, the Royal Arch, with 
its magnificent interweaving of Egyptian and Chaldean 
symbolism. 

The novitiate under Pythagoras commenced with a 
" Preparation " of two years, which might be prolonged to 
five, during which the novice, known as " The Listener," 
while developing the great gift of intuition, and exercising 
the strictest moral and hygienic discipline, was taught implicit 
obecjience to, and firm belief in a Supreme Deity, and the 
necessity of subduing his passions and enlarging his mind 
if he truly desired to be of the benefit to himself and his 
fellow men for which he was created. 

In the second degree, " Purification," he became 
acquainted " with the more hidden mysteries of Nature and 
science." His education became esoteric from within 
instead of as heretofore exoteric from without : his real 
initiation now commenced. He had revealed to him a com- 
plete, rational exposition of occult doctrine, from its 
principles as contained in the mysterious science of numbers 
to the final consequences of universal evolution, the destiny 
and end of the human ^soul. The meaning of figures and 
letters, and geometric forms, were divulged to initiated 
adepts under the most solemn vows of secrecy. The trans- 
cendent meaning of the first problem of the Pythagorean 
system of theogony was then entered upon, the reason 
which brings it to pass that the great Monad contains all 
the small ones, and that all the numbers spring from the 
great Unity in movement. 



PYTHAGORAS AND HIS SYSTEM 101 

Pythagoras taught that GOD, the indivisible substance, 
has accordingly for Number, the Unity which contains 
the Infinite ; for Name, that of Father, Creator, or Eternal 
Masculine : for Sign, the living Fire, symbol of the Spirit, 
essence of the Whole. This great Monad acts as a creative 
Dyad. Immediately GOD manifests Himself He is double ; 
indivisible essence and divisible substance : active, animating, 
masculine principle, and passive, feminine principle, or ani- 
mated plastic matter. Accordingly the Dyad represented the 
union of the Eternal-Masculine and the Eternal-Feminine in 
GOD, the two essential and corresponding divine faculties. 
Thus the Monad represents the essence of GOD, the Dyad 
His generative and reproductive faculty. The latter brings 
the world into being, the visible unfolding of GOD in time 
and space. Now the real world is triple. For just as man 
is composed of three elements, which are distinct, though 
blended in one another body, soul, and spirit ; so the 
universe is divided into three concentric spheres : the natural, 
the human, and the divine world. The Triad, or ternary 
law, is accordingly the constitutive life of things, and the 
real key to life, the corner stone of esoteric science, which 
Pythagoras made the foundation of his system. 

In the third degree, " Perfection/' the initiates passed 
on to clairvoyant sleep and experiences, the mystery of the 
human soul, its transmigrations, its supreme importance, 
as man gradually acquires, by his own actions in a new 
spiritual existence, and a more free exercise of his intellect 
and will-power, a fuller consciousness of the divine, and his 
own connection therewith. Pythagoras called the spirit 
the subtile chariot of the soul, because it is destined to remove 
it from earth after death, to its celestial life beyond. 

The fourth, the inner degree of all, reserved for the very 
select of his disciples, prepared by the teaching of Pythagoras 
in the former degrees for the ordinary trials of life, involved, 
as with the Indian and Persian sages, the complete subjuga- 
tion of human will. To attain this meant the unification 
of three kinds of perfection, the realization of truth in 
intelligence, of virtue in soul, and of purity in body. Thus 
man becomes an adept, and, if he possesses sufficient energy, 
enters into possession of new faculties and powers. He 



102 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

attains, in more or less degree, the power of healing, of seeing 
events taking place afar of, even of conveying himself in 
astral form to such places as his presence is needed in. 

The teaching of Pythagoras may be thus summed up : an 
attempt to solve the mystery of the origin of good and evil ; 
the necessity of assisting the law of destiny by endeavouring 
to perceive the difference between truth and error ; an 
inquiry into the diversity of human souls, conditions, 
and destinies ; true brotherhood of mankind, for we owe 
help, sympathy and charity to all ; for we are all of the 
same race, though we may have reached different stages ; 
the sacredness of suffering, and the divinity of sympathy 
with it ; the attainment of the rarest and loftiest of human 
ideals, the domination of intelligence over soul and instinct, 
that of the will over the whole being. 

Such, then, were the doctrines of Pythagoras, confessedly 
derived from Egypt, but engrafted on an intelligence in in- 
fancy and boyhood surrounded by Delphic and Phoenician 
influences, matured by the learning of the Chaldees, developed 
amidst the revised wisdom of Eleusis and Delphi, for ultimate 
diffusion through all Western Europe. 

Plato says that the Pythagoreans had a symbolism 
denoting Minerva by an equilateral triangle : Apollo by 
unity : Strife by the numeral two : justice by three, and the 
Supreme Being by four. Hippolytus says that " almost 
every heresy is indebted to the .science of arithmetic for its 
invention of the Hebdomads, and its emanations of the 
^Eons ; although the different teachers divide them variously, 
and change their names, doing in reality nothing more : 
in all which way of proceeding Pythagoras is their true 
master, he who first brought with him out of Egypt the 
use of numbers in such matters. ..." The so-called 
" Pythagorean Numerals " of unknown antiquity, whether 
due or not to the sage of Croton, are said to be preserved to 
us by Boethius, " the last of the Romans," in his treatise 
on Arithmetic. That they would be the true parents of our 
Arabic numerals is at once apparent by inverting the figures 
standing for I, 2, 5, 7, 9, o. Their forms look like certain 
Palmyrene letters, slightly modified. The Palmyrene is 
a very ancient Syriac alphabet, totally different in origin 



PYTHAGORAS AND HIS SYSTEM 108 

from either Punic or Pehlevi. The ancient importance of 
this character is apparent from what Epiphanius says : 
" Manes divided his work into twenty- two books, being the 
number of letters in the Syriac alphabet. For most of the 
Persians use the Syriac character as well as the Persian, 
just as with us, many nations, although having a national 
alphabet of their own, yet employ the Greek/' 

I have alluded above to the probability of the teachings 
and system of Pythagoras having penetrated through Europe, 
which will account for the mention made of them as well as 
of their author in modern Freemasonry, more especially 
in the Lectures on the Three Degrees. 

lamblichus tells us that Pythagoras required his disciples 
to undergo a probationary period of three years, during 
which they were under close and constant observation with 
regard to their manners of life and general characteristics. 
After this period they were ordered J " to observe a quinquen- 
nial silence in order that he might experimentally know how 
they were affected as to continuance of speech, the subjuga- 
tion of the tongue being the most difficult of all victories ; as 
those have unfolded to us who instituted the Mysteries." 

lamblichus also tells us that a visitor to Pythagoras was 
Abaris the Hyperborean, who came to Crotona from a distant 
land in order that he might collect gold for his temple, and 
that Pythagoras learned much from him. Now this Abaris 
is considered by many distinguished writers on the Druids 
to have been identical with Abhras, who, according to 
ancient Irish legendary history, is stated to have travelled 
from Ireland to distant countries, and after a long time to 
have returned by way of Scotland, where he remained for 
seven years, bringing a new system of religion. From this 
Godfrey Higgins concludes 2 that the Druids were 
Pythagoreans. 

Pythagoras has left us the following beautiful conception 
of the Deity : " GOD is neither the object of sense, nor 
subject to passions ; but invisible, only intelligible, and 
supremely intelligent. In His Body he is like the Light, and 
in His Soul He resembles Truth. He is the Universal Spirit 

* lamblichus, Life of Pythagoras, Taylor's translation, p. 50. 
Godfrey Higgins, The Celtic Druids, p. 125. 



104 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

that pervades and diffuses itself over all Nature. All things 
receive their life from Him. There is but One, Only GOD, 
Who is not, as some are apt to imagine, seated above the 
World beyond the Orb of the Universe ; but being Himself All 
in All, He sees all the beings that fill His immensity : the 
Only Principle, the Light of Heaven, the Father of all. 
He produces everything, He orders and disposes everything. 
He is the Reason, the Life and the Motion of all things." 

" Alongside of the Eleusinia/' says Mead, 1 " there existed 
certain private Mysteries not recognized by the State, the 
number of which subsequently increased enormously, so 
that almost every variety of Oriental Mystery-cultus found 
its adherents in Greece, as may be seen from a study of the 
religious associations among the Greeks known as Thiasi, 
Erani, and Orgeones ; among private communities and 
societies of this kind there were to be found naturally many 
undesirable elements, but at the same time they satisfied 
the needs of many who could derive no spiritual nourishment 
from the State religion." 

" Among these private foundations were communities of 
rigid ascetics, men and women, who gave themselves entirely 
to holy living ; such people were said to live the ' Orphic 
life/ and were generally known as Orphics. These Orphic 
communities appear to have been the refugees of those who 
yearned after the religious life, and among them were the 
Pythagorean schools. Pythagoras did not establish some- 
thing entirely new in Greece when he founded the famous 
school of Crotona ; he developed something already existing, 
and when his original school was broken up and its members 
had to flee they sought refuge among the Orphics. The 
Pythagorean schools disappear into the Orphic communities/' 

"It is in the Pythagorean tradition that we see the signs 
of what may be called the Philosophic Mysteries ; it is 
therefore in the best of the Orphic and Pythagorean traditions 
that we have to find the indications of the nature of the real 
Mysteries, and not in the political Eleusinia, or in the dis- 
orderly elements of the Oriental cults. In fact, the Orphics 
did much to improve the Eleusinia, and supported them as 
a most necessary means for educating the ordinary man 

1 Mead, Fragments oj a Faith Forgotten, pp. 49-51. London, 1906. 



PYTHAGORAS AND HIS SYSTEM 105 

towards a comprehension of the/ higher life. It stands to 
reason, however, that the Mysteries which satisfied the aspira- 
tions of Orphics and Pythagoreans were somewhat higher 
than the State Mysteries of the ordinary citizen. These 
Pythagoreans were famous throughout antiquity for the 
purity of their lives and the loftiness of their aims, and the 
Mysteries they regarded with such profound reverence must 
have been something beyond the Eleusinia, something to 
which the Eleusinia were but one of the outer approaches." 

Pythagoras is said to have been initiated into the Egyptian, 
Chaldean, Orphic and Eleusinian Mysteries ; at the same 
time he was one of the chief founders of Greek philosophy. 
His philosophy, however, was not a thing of itself, but the 
application of his intellect especially of his mathematical 
genius to the best in these Mystery traditions ; he saw that 
it was necessary to attempt to lead the rapidly evolving 
intellectuality of Greece along its own lines to the contempla- 
tion of the inner nature of things ; otherwise, in the joy of 
its freedom, it would get entirely out of hand and reject the 
truths of the ancient wisdom. 

This tradition of Pythagoras being responsible for the 
introduction of Masonry from Phoenicia into Britain is 
strengthened, even if not confirmed, by a MS. in the Bodleian 
Library, prepared by the antiquary John Layland for King 
Henry VIII, and purporting to be a faithful copy of a still 
older MS. about 160 years more ancient, said to be in the 
handwriting of King Henry VI. This MS., which has as its 
title " Certayn Questyons, with Answers to the same, concern- 
ing the Mystery of Ma?onrye," includes the following passages 
bearing on our subject : 

Quest. Where did it begynne ? 

Ans. Ytt dydd begynne with the ffyrste menne yn the 
este, whych were before the ffyrst manne of the weste, 1 

1 Preston has the following Notes on the MS. quoted. " Fyrste menne 
in the este, etc." It should seem by this that Masons believe there were 
men in the east before Adam, who is called the " ffyrste manne of the weste," 
and that arts and sciences began in the east. Some authors of great note 
for learning have been of the same opinion ; and it is certain that Europe 
and Africa (which in respect to Asia), may be called western countries), 
were wild and savage, long after arts and politeness of manners were in 
great perfection in China and the Indies. 



106 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

and comynge westlye, ytt hath broughte herwyth alle corn- 
fortes to the wylde and comfortlesse. 

Quest. Who dydd brynge ytt westlye ? 

Ans. The Venetians, 2 whoo beynge grate merchaundes, 
corned ffyrste ffromme the este ynn Venetia, for the 
commodyte of marchaundysynge beithe este and weste bey 
the redde and myddlonde sees. 

Quest. How comede ytt in Engelonde ? 

Ans. Peter Gower a Grecian,* journeyyde ffor kunnynge 
yn Egypte and in Syria, and yn everyche londe whereas 
the Venetians hadde plaunted maconrye, and wynnynge 
entraunce yn al lodges of ma^onnes he lerned muche, and 
retournedde, and woned in Grecia Magna, wacksynge and 
becommynge a mighty wyseacre, a gratelye renowned, and 
her he framedde a grate loge at Groton,4 and maked manye 
ma^onnes, some whereoffe dyde journeye yn Frannce, and 
maked manye ma^onnes ther, wherefromme, yn processe 
of tyme, the arte passed in Engelonde. 

1 " The Venetians, etc." In the times of monkish ignorance it is no 
wonder that the Phoenicians should be mistaken for the Venetians. Or 
perhaps, if the people were not taken one for the other, similitude of sound 
might deceive the clerk who first took down the examination. The Phoeni- 
cians were the greatest voyagers among the ancients, and were in Europe 
thought to be the inventors of letters, which perhaps they brought from 
the East with other arts. Illustrations of Masonry, p. 112. 

* Peter Gower, says Preston in his Note on this passage, must be another 
mistake of the writer. " I was puzzled at first to guess who Peter Gower 
could be, the name being perfectly English ; or how a Greek should come 
by such a name ; but as soon as I thought of Pythagoras, I could scarce 
forbear smiling, to find that philosopher had undergone such a metempsychosis 
he never dreamt of. We need only consider the French pronunciation of 
his name, ' Pythagore,' that is ' Petagore,' to conceive how easily such 
a mistake may be made by an unlearned clerk. That Pythagoras travelled 
for knowledge into Egypt, etc., is known to all the learned ; and that he 
was initiated into several different orders of priests, who in those days kept 
all their learning secret from the vulgar, is as well known. Pythagoras also 
made every geometrical theorem a secret, and admitted only such to the 
knowledge of them as had undergone first a five years' silence. He is sup- 
posed to be the inventor of the 4yth proposition of the first book of Euclid, 
for which, in the joy of his heart, he is said to have sacrificed a hecatomb. 
See his life by Dion Hal." 

3 Grecia Magna, a part of Italy so called, in which the Greeks had settled 
a large colony. 

* Groton is the name of a place in England, but the place here meant 
Crotona, a city of Grecia Magna, which in the time of Pythagoras was very 
populous. Preston's Illustrations of Masonry, pp. 113, 114. 



CHAPTER XII 

THE ISMAELI AND THEIR VARIOUS BRANCHES. 
ORIGIN OF THE ASSASSINS 

" WE have seen," says Taylor, 1 " how greatly Mohammedan- 
ism was corrupted by its admixture with the religion of the 
ancient Persians ; but there were certain sects among the 
Persians that professed doctrines more absurd and more 
pernicious than those of the Magians ; which, in fact, taught 
principles destructive of morality and social order. From 
these sprung several impostors, who seduced crowds of 
followers, by appealing to the depraved passions of human 
nature, teaching the indifference of actions, community of 
women, and the equal distribution of property. 1 ' 

Hakim Ibn-Hashem occupied the position of under- 
secretary to Abu Moslem, Governor of the Province of 
Khorassan. From the very first period of Islamism, Khorassan 
had been the fruitful parent of heresies, including the Rav^udi 
who taught the doctrines of the transmigration of soul, 
and the successive incarnations of the Deity, and theJSendics 
whose principle it was to believe nothing. Abu Moslem 
believed in the Ravendic creed ; Hashem adopted the same, 
and resolved to turn it to profit. Being very deformed, 
he knew that his figure would prevent his being believed if 
he proclaimed himself a Bodhisatwa, so he covered himself 
with a long silver veil, declaring that no mortal could gaze 
upon the effulgence of his face, and live. Hence he is usually 
alluded to as Al Mokanna, "The Veiled Prophet." He 
appeared in the reign of the Caliph Al Mohdi, the father of 
the renowned Haroun-al-Raschid, in A.D. 778 By some, 

1 History of Mohammedanism, p. 168 
107 



108 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

apparently, clever juggling performances he persuaded 
his followers that he had the power of working miracles, 
and so in a few months he collected a large army, and was 
able to garrison several strong fortresses. In particular, he 
is said to have caused the appearance of the moon to rise 
out of a well for several nights in succession, whence he is 
called by the Persians " Sazendeh Mah/ 1 the " Moon-maker/' 
Being closely besieged, and finding escape hopeless, he first 
poisoned the entire garrison and his own family, and then 
plunged into a vessel containing a corrosive liquid, hoping 
that from the disappearance of his body it might be thought 
that he had been taken up into heaven. Notwithstanding 
the assertions of one of his concubines, who had escaped by 
hiding herself, and who had seen all that he had done, many 
believed in the divinity of Al Mokanna, and clothed themselves 
in white, to show their hostility to the Abasside Caliphs, 
whose distinctive colour was black. 

A still more formidable heretic and rebel appeared in 
Irak during the caliphate of Al Mamoun (A.D. 10) ; this 
was Baber, who maintained his ground for twenty years, 
during which time he is said to have murdered two hundred 
and fifty thousand Mohammedans in cold blood. 

Another fierce enemy of the Mussulmans appeared in Irak 
during the caliphate of Al Mohammed (A.D. 891). This 
founder of a new sect was a poor labourer, named Karmat, 
to whose followers, the Karmatians, the Nusari seem more 
or less allied. The following account of Karmat is given 
by De Sacy, who says he quotes from Bibars Mansoori, 
and that it is also given by the great Arab chronicler, Ibn- 
Atheer : 

A man of the province of Khorassan came and established 
himself in the territory of Cufa, called Nahrein. He there 
led a most ascetic life, teaching that prayers should be 
said fifty times a day. Being taken ill, he was carefully 
attended by a man named Hamdan Karamita, whom he 
taught his religion, at the same time selecting another 
twelve of his followers as his apostles. The sect spread 
rapidly. Haidsam, the governor of those parts, imprisoned 
him, but he escaped through the friendly offices of a girl 
belonging to the gaoler, and then declared that he had been 



THE ISMAELI 109 

released by an angel. Fearing for his life, however, he 
fled into Syria, and assumed the name of the man who had 
showed him hospitality. 

About the same period, in the time of Mohammed son of 
Ismael, a son of the Imaum Djaafar as-Sadik previously 
mentioned, there arose Abdullah son of Maimoun Kaddah, 
who, seeing the failure of Al Mokannah and Baber, determined 
to proceed in a different way rather than by open war. He 
knew that men rarely resign all preconceived opinions at 
once ; he therefore resolved to form lodges, or assemblies, 
in which the members should pass through seven grades, 
each having its own peculiar system of doctrines. Mission- 
aries, called Dais, propagated the secret doctrine taught by 
Abdullah, and it is said that the founder of the Karmatians 
was converted by one of them. This, however, must be 
regarded as very doubtful, because the Karmatian system 
was not identical with the Ismaelian, though very like it ; 
and also because Karmat preached obedience to the ideal 
Massum, and not to Imaum Ismael. 

De Sacy supposes that before this time the sect of the 
Ismaeli may have existed, but that it was not till the time 
of Abdullah, which he gives as A.D. 863, that the doctrines 
of the sect were reduced to a system. He thinks that till 
then they were only an ordinary sect of Schiites, but that 
Abdullah introduced materialism and general infidelity. 

Nowairi I says that Abdullah son of Maimoun was obliged 
to fly successively from Ahwaz, near the head of the Persian 
Gulf, and Busrah and took refuge at Salameeh in Syria, 
a town on the borders of the desert, but situated in a fertile 
territory, a few miles south-east of Hamah. He died there, 
and his son Ahmed became chief of the Ismaeli. He sent 
Hosein Ahwazi, one of his dais, into Irak. Hosein arrived 
in the cultivated territory of Cufa, called by the Arabs 
Sawad, and there found Hamdan son of Ashath. He 
initiated him into his religion, and when dying named him 

1 De Sacy (see Expose of Religion of the Druses, vol. i. Introd. p. 73) 
places great reliance on Nowairi, who takes his facts from Aboul-Hasan, 
said to be separated by only live generations from Mohammed son of Ismael, 
from whom he claimed descent. He says that Makrisi and NowairJ derived 
from one source in all probability, for they employ nearly always the same 
expressions, and it is possible to correct the text of the one from that of 
the other. 



110 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

as bis successor. According to Nowairi, Hamdan was named 
Karmat, from the name of his ox. Others say that the 
word means a man with short legs, who makes short steps. 
Others that it comes from the Nabathean language, in which 
it is Karamita, and hence Karmat. Thus it appears that 
the Karmatians took their rise from the Ismaeli, as Hamdan 
Karmat sent a dai to Salameeh, who found that the house 
of Maimoun Kaddah were really set on aggrandising them- 
selves, rather than honouring Mohammed son of Ismael, 
which Karmat turned to his own advantage in the propagation 
of his own doctrines. 

Abdullah son of Maimoun divided his system into seven 
degrees after the fashion of the Pythagorean and Indian 
philosophers, into which his followers were initiated gradually. 
The last degree, according to Von Hammer, 1 inculcated the 
vanity of all religion the indifference of actions, which, 
according to Abdullah's teaching, are neither visited with 
recompense nor chastisement, either now or hereafter. 
This alone was the path of truth and right, all else imposture 
and error. He appointed emissaries, whom he dispatched 
to enlist disciples, and to initiate them, according to their 
capacity for libertinism or turbulence, in some or all of 
the degrees, the pretensions of the descendants of Mohammed 
son of Ismael served him as a political mask ; these his 
missionaries asserted as partisans, while they were secretly 
but the apostles of crime and impiety." 

These degrees were afterwards increased to nine by the 
Western Ismaeli, and are described by Macrisi, as they 
were taught in the Lodge at Cairo. 2 

The first degree was the longest and most difficult of all, 
as it was necessary to inspire the pupil with the most implicit 
confidence in the knowledge of his teacher, and to incline 
him to take that most solemn oath, by which he bound him- 
self to the secret doctrine with blind faith and unconditional 
obedience. For this purpose every possible expedient was 

1 Von Hammer, History of the Assassins, p. 29. 

* This is given by Von Hammer, pp. 34 ff., who says " This account 
which Makrisi has preserved, concerning the promulgation of these degrees 
of initiation, forms a very precious and the most ancient document on the 
history of the secret societies of the East, in whose steps those of the West 
afterwards trod.' 1 



THE ISMAELI 111 

adopted to perplex the mind by the many contradictions of 
positive religion and reason, to render the absurdities of 
the Koran still more involved by the most insidious questions 
and most subtle doubts, and to point from the apparent 
literal signification to a deeper sense, which was properly 
the kernel, as the former was but the husk. The more 
ardent the curiosity of the novice, the more resolute was 
the refusal of the master to afford the least solution to these 
difficulties, until he had taken the most unrestricted oath ; 
on this he was admitted to the second degree. This inculcated 
the recognition of divinely appointed Imaums, who were 
the source of all knowledge. As soon as the faith in them 
was well established, the third degree taught their number, 
which could not exceed the holy seven : for, as GOD had 
created seven heavens, seven earths, seven seas, seven 
planets, seven colours, seven musical sounds, and seven 
metals, so had he appointed seven of the most excellent 
of his creatures as Revealed Imaums : these were Ali, 
Hassan, Hosein, Ali Zeyn-il-Abaideen, Mohammed-al-Behir, 
Djaafar-as-Sadik, and Ismael his son as the last and seventh. 

The fourth grade taught that, since the beginning of 
the world there had been seven divine law-givers, or speaking 
apostles of GOD, of whom each had always, by the command 
of heaven, altered the doctrine of his predecessor ; that 
each of these had seven co-adjutors, who succeeded each 
other in the epoch from one speaking law-giver to another, 
but who, as they did not appear manifestly, were called 
the mutes (Samit). The first of these mutes was named 
Sas or Asas, meaning foundation, the seat, as it were, of 
the ministers of the speaking prophet, Natik. These seven 
speaking prophets, with their seven Asas were Adam, Noah, 
Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed, and Ismael the son 
of Djaafar, who, as the last, was called Sahib-ez-Zeman, 
the lord of the time, and Kaim-ez-Zeman, or chief of the 
age. Their seven assistants were Seth, Shem, Ishmael 
son of Abraham, Aaion and afterwards Joshua, Simeon 
or Simon Peter, Ali, and Mohammed son of Ismael. 

It is evident from this dexterous arrangement, which 
gained for the Ismaeli the name of " Seveners/' that as 
they named only the first of the mute divine envoys in 



112 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

each prophetic period, and since Mohammed son of Ismael 
had been dead only a hundred years, the teachers were at 
full liberty to present to those whose progress stopped at 
this degree whomsoever they pleased as one of the mute 
prophets of the current age. 

The fifth degree must necessarily render the credibility of 
the doctrine more manifest to the minds of the hearers. 
For this reason it taught that each of the seven mute prophets 
had twelve apostles for the extension of the true faith ; 
for the number twelve is the most excellent after seven : 
hence the twelve signs of the zodiac, the twelve months, 
the twelve tribes of Israel, the twelve bones of the fingers 
of each hand, the thumb excepted, and so on. 

After these five degrees, the precepts of Islam were 
examined ; and in the sixth it was shown that all positive 
legislation must be subordinate to the general and 
philosophical. The dogmas of Plato, Aristotle, and Pytha- 
goras were adduced as proofs and laid down as axioms. 
This degree was very tedious, and only when the acolyte 
was fully penetrated with the wisdom of the philosophers 
was he granted admission to the seventh, where he passed 
from philosophy to mysticism. This was the Oriental 
mystic theology, and the doctrine of unity which the Sufees 
have exhibited in their works. In the eighth degree the 
positive precepts of religion were again brought forward 
to fall to dust by all that preceded ; then was the pupil 
fully enlightened as to the superfluity of all apostles and 
prophets, the non-existence of heaven and hell, the indifference 
of all actions, for which there is neither reward nor punish- 
ment, neither in this world or the next ; and thus was he 
matured for the ninth and last degree, to become the blind 
instrument of all the passions of unbridled thirst of power. 
To believe nothing, and to dare all, formed, in two words, 
the sum of this system, which annihilated every principle 
of religion and morality, and had no other object than to 
execute ambitious designs with suitable ministers, who, 
daring all, and honouring nothing, since they consider every- 
thing a cheat and nothing forbidden, are the best tools of 
an infernal policy. 

It will bp very evident, from the above description, that 



THE ISMAELI 118 

neither Von Hammer, nor Makrisi, from whom he copied, 
could imagine a secret society being anything but vile, 
immoral and dangerous to society at large ! 

The doctrines of the Karmatians, taking them to be a 
branch of the early Ismaeli, are thus given by D'Herbelot. 1 

" Their founder taught his disciples to make fifty prayers 
a day and allowed them to eat things forbidden by Mussul- 
mans. He allegorized the precepts of the Koran, giving 
out prayer to be the symbol of obedience to the Imaum ; 
fasting to be merely the symbol of silence and secrecy with 
respect to strangers who were not of their sect ; and that 
fidelity to the Imaum was figured by the precept which 
forbids fornication, so that those who reveal the precepts 
of their religion, and who do not obey their Sheikh blindly 
fall into the crime called ' zinah/ Instead of the tenth 
part of their property which Mussulmans gave to the poor, 
they were to set apart the fifth part for the Imaum." 

Von Hammer speaks in a similar way of Karmat * : 

" His doctrine, in addition to the circumstances of its 
forbidding nothing, and declaring everything allowable and 
indifferent, meriting neither reward nor punishment, under- 
mined more particularly the basis of Mohammedanism, 
by declaring that all its commands were allegorical, and 
merely a disguise of political precepts and maxims. More- 
over, all was to be referred to the blameless and irreproach- 
able Imaum Maassum, (preserved from error) as the model 
of a prince whom, though he had occupied no existing 
throne, they pretended to seek, and declared war against 
bad and good princes, without distinction, in order that, 
under the pretext of contending for a better, they might 
be able to unravel at once the thickly interwoven web of 
religion and government. The injunction of prayer meant 
nothing but obedience to the Imaum Maassum ; alms, the 
tithes to be given to him ; fasting, the preservation of the 
political secret regarding the Imaum of the family of Ismael. 
Everything depended on the interpretation ' Terwil/ 
without which the whole word of the Koran, ' Tensil,' 
had neither meaning nor value. Religion did not consist 

* Article on Karmatians, Bib. Orient. 
a History of th* Assassins, pp. 39, 30. 
8 



114 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

in external observances, ' Iz-Zahir,' but in the internal 
feeling, ' Il-Batin/ " 

Ibn-Atheer, who lived between about A.D.IISQ to 1231, 
according to Nowairi, describes a book of the Karmatians, 
from which the following is an extract : 

" In the name of GOD, the compassionate, the merciful. 
Says II- Faradj, son of Othman, of the village of Nusrana, 
that there appeared to him in human form the Messiah, 
who is the Word of GOD, who is the Guide, and he is Ahmed, 
son of Mohammed, son of Hanafeyah, of the sons of Ali, 
and he is also Gabriel the angel, and he said to him : ' Thou 
art the true one ; thou art the camel that keepest wrath 
against the infidels ; thou art the ox that bearest the sins 
of the true believers ; thou art the spirit ; thou art John 
son of Zachariah/ " 

It is said also that Karmat taught his disciples to make 
four inclinations : two before sunrise, and two before sunset, 
or according to Bibars Mansoori, two after sunset. The 
following words are also ascribed to him : first quoting a 
passage from the Koran : " They will ask you of the new 
moons: they are the epochs fixed for men." He thus allegorizes 
it : " In the exterior sense it refers to years, chronology, 
months, days ; but in the inner sense it refers to my 
faithful friends, who have made known my ways to my 
servants." 

Among other things he commanded a fast two days in 
the year, at the feasts of Mihrdjan and of Nurooz 1 ; he 
forbade the wine of the palm-tree, and permitted the use 
of that made from the grape ; he prescribed the abstaining 
from the complete ablution according to the rite called Ghasl, 
for a pollution, and directed the being contented with the 
ablution called Wodu, as it is practised before prayer. He 
allowed the killing of all that should take up arms against him ; 
but fortade the eating of any animal with tusks or claws. 

After about A.D. 989 not much is heard of the Karmatians 
of Irak and Syria, but they were found in Bahrein till 
A.D. 1037-8, and at Mooltan in India still later. 

When about A.D. 910 the dynasty of the Fatimite* 

1 See Appendix, p. 310. 

So called on account of their descent from Fatima, wife of Ali. 



THE ISMAELI 115 

Caliphs was founded at Kairwan, the ancient Cyrene, by 
Obeid-allah, who claimed descent from the Imaum Ismael, 
the Ismaeli appear to tyave divided into two branches, the 
Eastern and Western. The former seem to have been 
identical with the Nusairi, or as they were called by Frank 
writers, the Assassins ; the latter developed into a new sect, 
called the Druses. 



CHAPTER XIII 
THE ASSASSINS 

ABOUT the time when the Western or Egyptian Ismaeli 
were beginning to decline, a new branch of the sect appeared 
in Northern Persia, which was first called the Eastern 
Ismaeli, but afterwards became more celebrated under the 
title of The Assassins. The founder of this branch was 
Hassan-Ibn-Mohammed-as-Sabah, who was a native of 
Rey, or Rha, the ancient Ragae. His father Ali was a 
distinguished Schiite of Khorassan. Although regarded 
with suspicion by Orthodox Mussulmans, he asserted that 
he was a native of Cufa, and a devoted adherent to the 
Sunnite creed ; as a proof he sent his son Hassan to be 
educated by the most celebrated Orthodox doctor of the 
age. Hassan was originally a believer in the twelve Imaums, 
but asserted that during an illness he had been converted 
to the Ismaeli doctrines, of which the Caliphs of Egypt 
were the head. He journeyed into Egypt, where he was 
gladly welcomed by the reigning Caliph, Mostanzer. After 
the death of this Caliph, Hassan returned to Persia, by way 
of Syria, and gained possession, by force and stratagem, 
of an impregnable mountain-fastness called from its position 
Alamoot, that is " the eagle's nest." This was in A.D. 1090. 
Pretending that he was the Huddjah, or demonstration of 
the Invisible Imaum, he procured followers among the 
pre-existing Ismaeli sect, and succeeded in persuading his 
followers that to die for the Imaum or the Order was to 
procure certain felicity. He gained castle after castle in 
Persia, and soon obtained great power, inspiring terror in 
the hearts of all by the sudden assassination of caliphs and 
viziers. About A.D. uoo, the Assassins appeared in Syria, 

no 



THE ASSASSINS 117 

existing almost independently in the mountains of Summak f 
the southern part of the Nusairi range. According to 
Dheheby l : " The Ismaeli of Alamoot sent into Syria, in 
the year 1107 or after, one of their missionaries. Many 
adventures happened to him, until he made himself master 
of several fortresses in the mountain of Sanak, which 
belonged to the Ansaireeh." 

" The Assassins," says Taylor, " were neither a nation 
nor a dynasty ; they were simply an Order, or confraternity, 
similar to that of the Knights Templar, or the modern 
Freemasons. Their Grand-Master took the simple title of 
Sheikh, usually accorded to the heads of all the Arab tribes ; 
the name of the Sheikh-ul-Jebal, or Chief of the Mountain, 
soon became formidable throughout Asia. In Europe, the 
word ' Sheikh ' was translated ' old man/ a signification 
which the word will bear ; and the name of ' The Old Man 
of the Mountain ' was pronounced with an instinctive 
shudder even on the coast of the Atlantic /' a 

Hitherto, says Ameer Ali, in his valuable Short History 
of the Saracens, a standard work on the subject, the Ismaeli 
had only Masters and Fellows ; namely, the Dais, or emissaries, 
who, being initiated into all the grades of the secret doctrine, 
enlisted proselytes ; and the Rafik, who, gradually entrusted 
with its principles, formed the bulk of the secret society. 
Hassan saw at once that for the purpose of carrying out his 
project with security and energy, a third class was needed, 
composed of agents who would be mere blind and fanatical 
tools in the hands of their superiors who would yield implicit 
obedience to the master's orders, without regard to conse- 
quences ; these agents were called Fedais, that is the Devoted. 
The Grand-Master of this murderous brotherhood was 
called " our lord " Syedna or Sidna (the Sydney of the 
Crusaders) and commonly Sheikh-ul-Jabal, the " Old Man 
(or Lord) of the Mountain." The Fedais formed his body- 
guard, and were the excutioners of his deadly orders. 

Immediately under the Grand-Master* came the Dai-ul- 
Kabir, the " Grand Prior/' and each of the three provinces 
to which the power of the Order extended, namely, Jabal, 

* In an Arabic MS. quoted in the Journal Aiiatique, May, 1854. 
3 History of Mohammedanism, p. 179. 



118 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

Kuhistan, and Syria, was ruled by a " Grand Prior." 
Beneath them were the Initiated Masters, the Dais who acted 
as nuncios, and enlisted proselytes. The Fellows or Compan- 
ions (Rafik) were those who were advancing to the Master- 
ship, through the several grades of initiation into the secret 
doctrine. The devoted murderers, the Fedais, came last, 
and the Lasik, or Aspirants, seem to have been the Novices, or 
lay brethren. From the uninitiated subjects of the Order 
strict observance of the religious duties of Islam was expected ; 
from the devoted satellites was demanded only blind sub- 
jection. The initiated worked with their heads, and led 
the arms of the Fedais in execution of the orders of the 
Sheikh, who with the pen guided the daggers. 

The Assassins by degrees made themselves masters of 
many of the strongest fortresses in the mountainous tracts 
of Northern Persia, Irak, and Syria, and pursued the best 
men of Islam with their daggers. 

It was at this period that the storm of savage fanaticism 
which in the annals of Christendom is called " the Holy 
Wars " burst in all its fury over Western Asia. " The 
Crusades form," says a clever writer, " one of the maddest 
episodes in history. Christianity hurled itself at Mohammed- 
anism in expedition after expedition for nearly three 
centuries, until failure brought lassitude, and superstition 
itself was undermined by its own labours. Europe was 
drained of men and money, and threatened with social 
bankruptcy, if not with annihilation. Millions perished in 
battle, hunger, or disease, and every atrocity the imagina- 
tion can conceive disgraced the warriors of the Cross." 

But a history of the Crusades does not enter into the 
scope of this work, fascinating as is the subject. We have 
traced the Assassins as the originators of the present Nusairis, 
and now proceed to give a few more particulars of that 
sect. 

" If the reader will take any map of Syria which has 
some pretensions to accuracy," says the Rev. Samuel Lyde, 1 
" and will look at the seacoast, he will find in the parallel 
of latitude 35 30' the town of Ladikeeh (Latakia), the 
Laodicea of Seleucus Nicator, celebrated now for its exports 

1 Asian Mystery, pp. i fi 



THE ASSASSINS l|flfj 

of the tobacco grown in the neighbouring mountain^ 
These mountains, which are the special abode of the Nusairis, 1 
are separated on the south from the Lebanon range by the 
entrance into Hamath, a valley through which run the 
roads from Tripoli to Hamah, and from Tartoos to Hums, 
also the ancienj: river Eleutherus, the Nahr-il-Chebeer of 
to-day. To the north they are separated from the mountains, 
of which Mount Cassius forms the conspicuous western 
termination, by a pass and valley, over and through which 
runs the road from Ladikeeh to Aleppo. But though these 
mountains are so almost exclusively inhabited by the 
Nusairis as to be called by their name, yet the Nusairi 
population of Syria is by no means confined to them. They 
also occupy the plain which stretches on the west of the 
mountains, the wide plain which stretches east to Hums 
and Hamah, in the district south of the Nahr-il-Chebeer, 
along the valley of the Orontes, and in Antioch they form a 
large element of the population. Leaving Syria, for a 
moment, and crossing the ancient bay of Issus, they abound 
in the district of Adana and Tarsoos, the ancient Tarsus, 
and in southern Syria; near the ancient Caesarea Philippi, 
are several Nusairi villages." 

As regards an approximate idea of the Nusairi population 
in Syria, it is impossible to estimate whether it has much 
diminished under Turkish mis-rule during the past fifty 
years, but we may doubtless consider that it has lessened 
considerably. About 1856 Dr. Vandyck, of the American 
Board of Missions at Beyrout, while giving the number 
of the Druses as 100,000 gave that of the Ismaeeli and 
Nusairis together as 200,000, of which the largest pro- 
portion would be Nusairis. Writing in the Missionary 
Herald for March 1841, Dr. Thomson, another American 
missionary, said : " Mr. Barker assures me that about one-third 
of the inhabitants of Tartoos are Ansaireeh, and that they 
abound not only in Djebel Bailan, above Scanderoon, but 
in the mountains of Anatolia. This corresponds with the 
unvarying testimony of the people themselves, who also 

* By Arab writers they are called the " An-Nusaireeyah." Lyde calls 
them " Ansaireeh/' as the nearest English imitation of the pronunciation 
of the people themselves. But I am calling them throughout Nusairis, 



120 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

say that their sect extends to Djebel Sindjar, and even to 
Persia. They are several times more numerous than the 
Druses, but then they are more widely dispersed. Their 
number cannot be less than 200,000, and most intelligent 
natives place it much higher. The largest number of them 
occupy the plain and mountains of Ladikeeh, which are in 
consequence called Djebel-il-Ansaireeh. Their villages are 
also very numerous in the region called Safeetah, above 
Tartoos, and in Husn and Akkar. They also comprise one- 
third of the inhabitants of Antioch, and abound in the 
mountains above it." 

Lieut. The Hon. F. Walpole, R.N., an English Free- 
mason who travelled in the East, including a visit to Nineveh, 
in 1850-1, has supplied us with many interesting details 
regarding the Nusairis in the work he published on his 
return to England. 1 Though somewhat mysterious in 
his account of how many of their secrets he acquired, it 
is evident he underwent a certain ceremony of initiation 
whilst resident amongst them. He says : 

" Though acquainted with many Ansayrii, high in their 
degree, I must confess as yet to not having discovered one 
trace of their belief, all my inquiries being met by, ' I am 
one of your faith.' An Ansayri assured me to-day they never 
taught their religion to their women. ' Would you have us 
teach them/ he said, ' whom we use, our holy faith ? ' 
The Ansayrii are now, also, from what I could gather, 
divided into several sects : for interpreting to him several 
tenets of Zoroaster, he appeared to be struck with my 
knowledge ; they always parry me by ' Your faith, my 
lord Frankmason ? ' Finding these remarks written of 
how, at first, I despaired of ever penetrating their secret, 
I must own the progress I have made now appears incredible 
even to myself, and their simplicity also in not detecting 
my gradual increase of knowledge ; but from my first 
arrival here my whole powers were turned to this, and, 
leaving all plan until circumstances opened, I gradually 
advanced ; and now with all truth I may say, that what 
I do not know, I have but to ask them to teach me. I 
early found that one deception, hardly justifiable, was 

Walpole, The Ansayrii, vol. iii., pp. 64, 342 ff. London, 1851. 



THE ASSASSINS 121 

necessary : namely, not understanding any question asked 
me which I could not answer. The Ibn Arabs, or sons of 
the country, says ' the Franks are fools ' but they are no 
match for the nonchalance and sang froid of the European ; 
and gradually I whetted the curiosity of the Ansayrii by a 
pretended reserve. ' Ya Sheik, you are happy ; you have 
your knowledge, I have mine ; I would say, let us each 
keep what he has got, and let us talk of the weather, the 
crops, of trade/ This persevered in, they could not stand, 
so they at last gave in, and would tell me. Then, again, 
several sitting close around me, they would talk over a 
question to be asked me ; as if I, all listless, and inattentive, 
as I seemed, was not all ears, all tension, to fathom their 
meaning. For this I wandered as a beggar, endured hard- 
ships more than I should like to tell ; cold, hunger, and 
fatigue more than I trust others will know ; I have been 
beaten, hurt with stones, yet the result more than repays 
me. That alone, without means, without powers to buy 
or bribe, I have penetrated a secret, the enigma of ages have 
dared alone to venture where none have been when the 
Government, with five hundred soldiers, could not follow ; 
and, better than all, have gained esteem among the race 
condemned as savages, and feared as robbers and assassins. 1 

"The lower classes are initiated into the principles of 
their religion, but not its more mystical, or higher parts; 
they are taught to obey their chiefs without question, without 
hesitation, and to give to the Sheik abundantly at feasts 
and religious ceremonies ; and above all to die a thousand 
deaths sooner than reveal the same faith he inherits from 
his race. 

" In their houses they place two small windows over 
the door. This is in order that if a birth and a death occur 
at the same moment, the coming and the parting spirit 
may not meet. In rooms dedicated to hospitality, several 
square holes are left, so that each spirit may come or depart 
without meeting another. 

* It is much to be regretted that, so far as is known, Lieutenant Walpole 
never disclosed, at any rate for publication, any other details as to his 
experiences amongst the Ansayrii whilst being initiated into their secret 
rites. Evidently, they were so near akin to his own Masonic experiences, 
that his former Obligations would still be considered binding upon him. 



122 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

" Like the Mahometans, they practise the rite of cir- 
cumcision, performing the rite at various ages, according 
to the precocity of the child. 

" When a candidate is pronounced ready for initiation, 
his tarboosh is removed, and a white cloth wrapped round 
his head. He is then conducted into the presence of the 
sheiks of religion. The chiefs deliver a lecture, cautioning 
him against ever divulging their great and solemn secret. 
' If you are under the sword, the rope, or the torture, die, 
and smile, you are blessed.' He then kisses the earth three 
times before the chief, who continues telling him the articles 
of their faith. On rising, he teaches him a sign, and delivers 
three words to him. This completes the first lesson. 

" The Ansayrii have signs and questions. By the one 
they salute each other, by the other they commence an 
examination as to whether a man is one of them or not, 
if they do not know him personally. But these signs are 
little used, and known only to a few, as the dress, etc., 
clearly indicates them to each other, and almost each one 
knows all the chiefs, at least, by sight. 

" They believe in the transmigration of souls. Those 
who in this life do well, are hospitable and follow their 
faith, become stars ; the souls of others return to the 
earth, and become Ansayrii again until purified, they 
fly to rest ; the souls of bad men become Jews, Christians, 
and Turks ; while the souls of those who believe not 
become pigs, and other beasts. One evening, sitting 
with a dear old man, a high sheik, his boys were round 
him : I said, ' Speak : where are the sons of your youth ? 
these are the children of your old age.' ' My son,' he said, 
looking up, ' is there ; nightly he smiles upon me, and invites 
me to come/ " 



CHAPTER XIV 

THE MOHAMMEDAN CREED ; FROM AN ORIGINAL 
ARABIC CONFESSION OF FAITH 

DURING the course of our consideration of the Creeds 
of the Syrian secret sects, and their variations from the 
ordinary Moslem Creed, references have to be so frequently 
made to the latter that it is necessary to give its clauses. 
The following condensation of the Mohammedan Creed is 
taken from Taylor's History of Mohammedanism, a text- 
book on the subject. 

The Creed of which the following is a translation, was 
originally compiled by a Mohammedan doctor of the law, 
who belonged to the Sunnite sect, and contains a summary 
of the doctrines generally received by Orthodox Mussulmen ; 
it was published in 1705, by Adrian Reland ; with a Latin 
translation, unfortunately too literal for general use, and 
from the Latin it was translated into English and French. 
Hottinger, who edited the Creed in Hebrew characters, 
declared that there were in it, " precepts, Ethical, Political, 
and Domestic, worthy of Christianity itself. 1 ' Some notes, 
explaining more fully the different articles, will be found in 
the Appendix. 

IN THE NAME OF GOD, THE MOST MERCIFUL. Praise 
be unto GOD, who has led us into the Faith, and has appointed 
it as a signet by which is obtained the entrance of the 
celestial paradise ; and as a veil between us and eternal 
dwelling in flames. And may the favour and praise of GOD 
be upon Mohammed, the best of men, the Guide, who leads 
his followers into the right way favour, perpetual and ever- 
increasing, from generation to generation. 

123 



124 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

Here begins the description of Faith and its explanation. 
Know that Faith is the foundation of Islamism, as the prophet 
Mohammed has pronounced, to whom may GOD be kind, 
and grant plenary salvation. Islamism rests on five founda- 
tions : of which the first is the Confession of GOD, that there 
is no other GOD beside Him, and that Mohammed is His 
delegated prophet ; the second is, the offering up of prayer 
at stated periods ; the third, the bestowing of alms ; the 
fourth, fasting during the month Ramadhan ; and the fifth, 
is the pilgrimage to Mecca, which every peison possessing 
the power is bound to perform. 

But this is the confession which we call Faith. 

Be it known, that every person possessing capacity for 
it, is bound to believe in GOD in His angels in His books 
in His prophets in the last day, and in the absolute decree, 
and predetermination of the Most Highest, respecting both 
good and evil. 

But Faith consists in this, that every man is persuaded 
in his soul of the truth of these things, and Confession is 
the proof \ of this belief by external indications. 

OF FAITH IN GOD 

FAITH in GOD is the real belief in the soul, and confession 
by the tongue, that GOD is a supreme existence, true, 
permanent, a very essence, eternal, without beginning and 
without end, Who has no form, or figure, is limited by no 
place, has no equal, compeer, or similarity, no motion or 
change ; no separation, division, weariness, 01 casualty. He 
is removed from conjunction with any other being, self- 
existent, intelligent, potent, of independent volition, hearing 
all our words, seeing all our deeds, the source of speech, 
the maker, the creator, the sustainer, the producer, the 
author of life and death ; giving a beginning to all things, 
causing to all a resurrection ; judging, decreeing, correcting, 
ruling, prohibiting, directing to rectitude and leading to 
error ; a retributive judge, rewarding, punishing, merciful, 
victorious. 

And these attributes are eternally inherent in His 
essence throughout all ages, without separation or changes, 



THE MOHAMMEDAM CREED 125 

and these attributes are not GOD, nor yet are they! 
different from Him. And thus every attribute is conjoined 
with Him, as life with knowledge, or knowledge with power. 

But these are the attributes, life, knowledge, power, 
will, hearing, sight, the power of communication, eternity 
both as regards a beginning and an end, action, creation, 
support, production, formation, the gift of life, the message 
of death, the first origin of things, their restoration, wisdom, 
predestination, direction to good, seduction to evil, retribu- 
tion, reward, punishment, grace and victory. 

And with these noble and precious attributes, GOD, 
the Most Highest, is endowed ; and whoever denies any 
of these attributes, or doubts concerning them, or any of 
them, is doubtlessly an infidel. 

Preserve us, O GOD, from the sin of infidelity ! 

OF ANGELS 

For a right belief concerning angels, there is requited a 
persuasion of the mind and confession of the tongue, that 
there exist servants to the supreme GOD, who are called 
Angels or messengers, free from sin, near to GOD, who perform 
all His commands, and are never disobedient. But they have 
pure and subtile bodies, created of fire ; neither is there 
among them any difference of sexes, or carnal appetites, 
and they have neither father nor mother. Also they are 
endowed with different forms, and severally preside over 
ministrations. Some stand, some incline downwards, some 
sit, or adore, with a lowered forehead ; others sing hymns 
and praises of GOD, or laud and extol their Creator, or ask 
pardon for human offences. Some of them record the deeds 
of men, and guard over the human race ; others support 
the throne of GOD, or go about it, and perform other works 
which are pleasing to the Deity. 

But it is necessary to believe in them, although a person 
may not know their names or specific attributes ; and to 
embrace them in love, is one of the necessary conditions of 
faith. And to hate them collectively or individually, is 
an act of infidelity. 

But if anyone confesses that angels exist, but asserts 



128 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

that they have sexual differences, it is an act of infidelity. 
Or if be confesses that there are angels, and that they have 
no sexual differences, but declares that he does not repose 
trust in them, or love them, he is to be esteemed an infidel. 

Preserve us, O GOD, from the sin of infidelity ! 

OF THE DIVINE BOOKS 

Faith in the books of GOD is this, that we are persuaded 
in our mind, and confess with our tongue, that those illustrious 
books are from God, which He sent down from heaven to 
His Prophet which demission was made without creation 
(the Koran is eternal *), without production. In them are 
contained the commands and prohibitions of GOD His 
edicts His promises, and His threatenings His declaration 
of what is lawful, and what is unlawful and His information 
of His retributive justice, both as regards rewards and 
punishments. All these books are the very word of GOD, 
the Most Highest, which is read by the tongue, guarded in 
the volumes, and written in the hearts of men. But this 
word of GOD is distinct from those letters and vocal sounds, 
and yet these letters and vocal sounds are metaphorically 
called the Word of GOD, because they indicate GOD'S real 
word. In the same way that we call our expressions our 
words, because they indicate what is truly our word. As 
the poet says : 

Our real language dwells within our breasts, 
The tongue is but an index to the heart. 

These things GOD well knows. 

The books are one hundred and four in number ; of 
which GOD, the Most Highest, sent down ten to Adam ; 
fifty to Seth ; thirty to Idris ; ten to Abraham ; one to 
Moses, which is the Thorah (law) or Pentateuch ; one to Issa 
(Jesus), which is the Engil (Evangelium, or Gospel) ; one 
to David, and this is the Book of Psalms ; and one to 
Mohammed, which is the Foikan (Koran). He who denies 
these volumes, or doubts concerning them, or a part of them, 
or a chapter, or a versicle, or a word of them, is certainly 
an infidel. 

Preserve us, O GOD, from the sin of infidelity ! 
See Appendix, " Creation of the Koran," 



THE MOHAMMEDAN CREED 127 

CONCERNING THE AMBASSADORS OF GOD 

Faith in the ambassadors of GOD demands that we 
recognise in the heart, and confess with the tongue, that 
GOD, the Most Highest, has appointed prophets ambassadors 
chosen from among men, and sent as messengers to men 
preachers of eternal truth, to whom implicit faith and con- 
fidence is due, who command and forbid certain things (as 
they are inspired), and bear to men the revealed edicts of 
the Deity, and make manifest to them his constitutions 
and decrees the appointments He has made, and the 
rules He requires to be observed ; and reveal to men things 
hidden from the powers of their natural understandings ; 
as the nature or essence of the Divinity the attributes the 
works and operations of God the resurrection and revivifica- 
tion of the dead the punishment of the sepulchre, and the 
interrogation, and the examination, and the scale and 
balance, and the bridge or road that must be trodden by 
all on the last day, and the fish-pond, and paradise with its 
delights, and hell with its punishments. But the prophets 
are free from errors and great sins, and all believe in the 
same creed, which is Islamism, and the Mohammedan faith, 
although they were different institutions. They are also 
elected from created beings honoured by personal com- 
munication with GOD, and by descent of angels to them ; 
supported by manifest miracles, which are contrary to 
the ordinary course of nature, as that some brought back 
the dead to life, spoke with beasts, and trees, and other 
inanimate beings and other miracles of a similar nature, 
to which degree of Divine eminence none but GOD'S prophets 
can attain. GOD also has instituted a rank and order 
amongst them, by which one is more eminent than another. 
Thus, those amongst them who have fulfilled the office of 
ambassadors from GOD, are superior to those who have 
not been delegated ; and those who have instituted a new 
mode of religious worship, to those who have not been 
commissioned to discharge that trust. The first of all 
was Adam, the last and most excellent was Mohammed 
(the blessing of GOD be upon him). After the order of the 
Prophets, the most excellent of created beings were Abu-Bekr f 



128 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

Omar, Otham, and All. After them in the order of dignity 
follow the six most honoured companions of Mohammed, 
Talcha, Al-Zobeir, Zeid, Saad, Abd-al-Rahman, and Abu- 
Obedia, and after them the rest of his associates, and after 
them the generation of men to which Mohammed (the peace 
and blessing of GOD be on Him) was sent. May the favour 
of GOD be upon them all ! Then follow those wise persons, 
who perform good actions. The number of the prophets, 
according to a certain tradition, amounts to two hundred 
and twenty-four thousand ; but according to another tradition 
to one hundred and twenty-four thousand. Amongst these 
three hundred and thirteen have filled the office of ambassa- 
dors, and there are six who brought new constitutions ; 
Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed. May 
GOD bless and be favourable to them all ! It is not required 
as a condition of faith, that a person should know their 
number, but it is necessary that he should feel an affection 
towards them ; for whoever denies the veracity of one of 
the prophets, or doubts it, or doubts concerning any thing 
which a prophet has told, he, indeed, is an infidel. 

Preserve us, O Lord, from the sin of infidelity ! 

OF THE LAST DAY OF FINAL RETRIBUTION 
Faith in the last day consists in this, that we believe 
in our hearts, and confess with our tongues, that there will 
be really a last day, the day of the resurrection ; and that 
the Almighty GOD will destroy this world, and whatever 
creatures are in it, except, however, those things which 
He will please to preserve ; that is to say, the throne of 
His glory, and the base on which it rests, and the spirit, 
and the tqjWe, and the pen, and paradise, 1 and hell with 
those things which are contained in them. Then GOD will 
revive, quicken, and assemble mankind, and demand from 
them an account of their actions, and examine them, and 
show them the books, in which their good and bad actions 
are written. And some shall be upon His right hand, and 
some upon His left. Then shall He judge them in equity, 
and weigh their works, as well good as bad, and reward 

See Appendix : " Eastern Ida of Paradise." 



THE MOHAMMEDAN CREED 129 

every soul according to the deeds done in the body. Some 
shall enter paradise through his goodness and mercy ; but 
some shall be cast into hell. But of the faithful, some 
shall remain in flaming torments ; but they shall enter 
paradise when they have suffered punishment according 
to the proportion of their sins ; for the faithful shall ever 
abide in paradise, but the infidels in the flaming tortures 
of hell. Reverential fear is required to the perfection of 
belief in the resurrection ; so that he is to be deemed an 
infidel who is careless about it, as likewise he who denies 
it, or doubts concerning it, or says " I do not fear the 
resurrection, nor do I desire paradise, nor do I dread hell." 

Preserve us, O Lord, from the sin of infidelity. 

OF THE DIVINE DECREE AND PREDESTINATION 

Faith in the decree of GOD is, that we believe in the heart 
and confess with the tongue, that GOD, the Most Highest, 
has decreed all things and the modes of their occurrence, 
so that nothing can happen in this world with respect to 
the conditions of operations of affairs whether for good or 
evil obedience or disobedience 1 faith or infidelity health 
or illness riches or poverty life or death ; which is not 
contained in the decree of GOD, and in His judgment, 
ordinance, and will. But GOD has thus decreed virtue, 
obedience, and faith, that He may so ordain and will them 
to be subservient to His direction, pleasure, and command. 
On the contrary, He has decreed vice, disobedience, and 
infidelity, and still ordains, wills, and decrees them ; but 
without his salutary direction, good pleasure, or command, 
nay rather, by his temptation, wrath, and prohibitions. 
But whoever will say, that GOD is not delighted with virtue 
and faith, and is not wrath with vice and infidelity, or that 
GOD has decreed good and evil with equal complacency, 
is an infidel. For GOD wills good that He may take pleasure 
in it ; and evil, that it may become the object of His 
rightful indignation. 

Direct us, GOD, into the right path ! 

1 See Appendix, " Dispute between Adam and Moses. 
9 



130 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

End of the first part of the creed Iman (Faith) : next 
follows the Second Part Din (Practice). 

OF LUSTRATIONS, MORE ESPECIALLY THAT CALLED 
"GHASL," OR THE GREATER PURIFICATION 

It must be remembered, that there are seven species 
of water fit for rightly performing religious ablutions ; 
that is to say, rain, sea, river, fountain, well, snow, and ice- 
water. But the principal requisites for the lustration Ghasl, 
are three : (i) intention ; (2) a perfect cleansing ; (3) that 
the water should touch the entire skin and every hair. And 
there are five requisites of the traditional law, or Sonna : 

(1) the appropriate phrase, Bismillah, must be pronounced ; 

(2) the palms must be washed before the hands are put 
into the basin ; (3) the lustration Wodu must be performed ; 
(4) the skin must be rubbed with the hand ; and (5) it must 
be prolonged. . . . (Omit the cases in which this lustration 
is required.) 

OF THE LUSTRATION "WoDu" 

The principal parts, indeed the divine institutions, of 
the lustration Wodu, are six : (i) intention ; (2) the washing 
of the entire face ; (3) the washing of the hands and fore- 
arms up to the elbows ; (4) the rubbing of some parts of 
the head ; (5) the washing of the feet as far as the ancles ; 
and (6) observance of the prescribed order. And the institu- 
tions of the traditional law about this lustration are ten : 
(i) the preparatory formula, Bismillah, must be used ; (2) 
the palms must be washed before the hands are put into the 
basin ; (3) the mouth must be cleansed ; (4) water must be 
drawn through the nostrils ; (5) the entire head and ears 
must be rubbed ; (6) if the beard be thick, the fingers must 
be drawn through it ; (7) the toes must be separated ; (8) the 
right hand and foot must be washed before the left ; (9) these 
ceremonies must be thrice repeated; (10) the whole must 
be performed in uninterrupted succession. . . . (Omit the 
cases in which this lustration is required.) 

OF PURIFICATION BY SAND 

The divine institutions respecting purification by sand 
are four : (i) intention ; (z) rubbing of the face ; (3) the rubbing 



THE MOHAMMEDAN CREED 131 

of the hands and fore-arms up to the elbows ; and (4) the 
observance of this order. But the Sunnite ordinances 
are three : (i) the formula Bismillah ; (2) that the right hand 
and foot precede the left, and, (3) that the ceremony be 
performed without interruption. 

OF PRAYER 

The divine institution, on which the rites of prayer rest, 
are thirteen : (i) intention ; (2) magnification ; (3) its formula 
(GoD is great) ; (4) an erect posture ; (5) reading the first 
chapter of the Koran ; (6) a bending of the body ; (7) raising 
it again ; (8) prostrate adoration ; (9) sitting down ; (10) 
sitting down a second time ; (n) the second confession ; 
(12) its formula (I testify that Mohammed is the Ambassador 
of GOD), (13) the observance of this order. But the Sunnite 
ordinances are : (i) the first proclamation of the time of 
prayer called Azan ; (2) the second proclamation ; (3) the 
first confession (I acknowledge that there is no GOD but 
GOD) ; (4) a certain form of prayer. There are five things 
required before prayer : (i) the body must be free from 
every polluting stain ; (2) it must be covered with a clean 
garment ; (3) the worshipper must stand in a pure place ; 
(4) the stated time must be observed ; (5) the face must 
be turned to the Kebla, or temple of Mecca. Prayers 
should be offered five times in the day : (i) at noon, when 
five genuflections are necessary ; (2) in the afternoon, which 
requires five also ; (3) the evening, which demands three ; 
(4) the night, which requires four; and (5) the morning, 
when two genuflections are sufficient. 

OF ALMS 

Alms should be given from five kinds of property: 
(i) cattle ; (2) money ; (3) corn ; (4) fruits ; and (5) merchandise. 
But there are three kinds of cattle from which alms must 
be given : (i) camels ; (2) oxen ; and (3) sheep. In order 
that alms should be given duly, six things are necessary : 
(i) the donor must believe in Islam ; (2) he must be free ; 
(3) he must be perfectly master of his property; (4) the 
value of the property must be of a certain amount ; (5) it 
must have been a year in his possession ; and (6) the animals 



182 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

from which alms are due, must be those which he pastures. 
Alms must be paid from both gold and silver money, according 
to the preceding regulations. Three things are required 
in giving alms for corn : (i) the corn must have been planted 
by man, and not be of spontaneous growth; (2) it must 
be laid in a granary ; and (3) it must amount to a certain 
quantity. Alms must be given from the fruit of the palm 
and the vine ; and for the right performance of this, the 
four first of the six preceding precepts must be observed 
The requisites for giving pecuniary alms are also applicable 
in the case of merchandise. But the divine institution 
respecting the alms distributed with respect to the amount 
of wealth, and with respect to the number oi persons, 
at the end of Ramadhan is twofold : (i) the intention with 
which the alms are bestowed ; and (2) their actual distribution. 

OF ABSTINENCE 

The requisites for a lawful fast are three : (i) the person 
must profess Islam; (2) he must have attained the age of 
puberty; and (3) he must be of sound mind. Five divine 
institutions must be observed in fasting ; ten things make 
it null and void. (The particulars need not be enumerated.) 

OF THE PILGRIMAGE To MECCA 

The divine institutions of this rite are five : (i) the 
intention with which a person resolves to make the pilgrimage 
to Mecca, and binds himself by a vow to God ; (2) a residence 
on Mount Ararat ; (3) shaving the head in the valley of Mina ; 
(4) going round the temple to Mecca ; and (5) the course 
between Safa and Merwa. 

End of the Mohammedan Creed. 



CHAPTER XV 

THE FIRST FOUR CALIPHS AND THE TWELVE 

IMAUMS. 

IN any consideration of the religious creeds of the peoples 
of Syria we are constantly finding references to the various 
Caliphs and Imaums who followed Mohammed. It is as 
well, therefore, in this place to give a necessarily condensed 
account of these. 

On the death of Mohammed, on June 8th A.D. 632, 
at the age of sixty-three years, during the last twenty-three 
of which he had assumed the character of a prophet, as 
he had not named a successor, there was an immediate 
hot dispute as to whom the office of leadership should be 
entrusted. Mohammed died in the house of his wife 
Ayesha, and she is said by the Schiites, or followers of Ali, 
to have suppressed his special designation in favour of Ali, 
of the Caliphate, or civil rule, and the Imaumate, or spiritual 
jurisdiction of Islam or Mohammedanism, on account of 
her hatred and jealousy of Fatimah, the wife of Ali. They 
say that Mohammed intended that Ali should be both 
Emir-il-Moomeneen, or Prince of the True Believers, and 
Imaum-il-Muslemeen, or High Priest of the Mussulmans ; 
and they maintain bis indefeasible right to both offices. 
However, the Caliphate was voted to Abu-Bekr (the 
" Father of the Virgin ") a name he assumed on giving his 
daughter in marriage to Mohammed, the Ayesha mentioned 
above. Ali was the son of Abu Talib, an uncle of Mohammed, 
who brought up the Prophet in his early days, and Ali 
married the favourite daughter of Mohammed, Fatimah, 
who was not, however, a daughter of the favourite wife, 
Ayesha. 

Abu-Bekr seems to have been a brave, mild and generous 

133 



184 SECRET SECTS OP SYRIA 

ruler, and one whose pious character was very generally 
respected. Unlike the ordinary absolute rulers, such as 
himself, of the richest countries in the world, he is said to 
have left behind him but a single camel and one Ethiopian 
slave, and even these he bequeathed to his successor. This 
was Omar-Ibn-al-Khattab, like Abu-Bekr a native of Mecca, 
and originally ajCMnel^hq^- He developed into a most 
bigoted Mussulman, eager to massacre all who would not 
believe in Mohammed. The greater part of Syria and 
Mesopotamia had been subdued during the life of Abu- 
Bekr. Their conquest was completed under Omar ; the 
ancient empire of the Persians was overthrown at the battle 
of Kadesch ; Palestine, Phoenicia and Egypt submitted 
to the Saracen yoke almost without a struggle ; and the 
standard of the Prophet floated in triumph from the sands 
of the Cyrenian desert to the banks of the Indus. " During 
the reign of Omar," says Khondemir, " the Saracens conquered 
thirty-six thousand cities, towns, and castles, destroyed 
four thousand Christian, Magian and pagan temples, and 
erected fourteen hundred mosques." Omar was assassinated 
in the eleventh year of his reign, and buried in the same 
tomb with Abu-Bekr and Mohammed. 

Omar had directed, that at his death, a council of six should 
be assembled, and three days allowed them for deliberation, 
at the end of which time, if they had not agreed upon a 
new Caliph, they should all be slain ! The six who met to 
deliberate under these conditions were Ali, who as we have 
seen was a cousin and son-in-law of Mohammed ; Othman, 
also a son-in-law ; Zobeir a cousin of the Prophet, and 
Abd-al-Rahman, Talha, and Saad, his favourite companions. 
After some deliberation they elected Othman, and he was 
installed third Caliph. 

Othman, who had married successively two daughters 
of Mohammed, had long acted as the Prophet's secretary, 
and enjoyed his intimate confidence. At the time of his 
election as Caliph he was more than eighty years of age, 
but his health was unshaken, and his faculties unabated. 
He pursued the warlike policy of his predecessors; by his 
orders the Mussulman armies completed the conquest of 
Persia, and extended the sway of the Saracens to the river 



FIRST FOUR CALIPHS AND TWELVE IMAUMS 185 

Oxus, and the borders of India. Northern Africa, as far as 
the shores of the Atlantic, was subdued by another of 
Othman's armies, and a fleet, equipped in the harbours of 
Egypt and Syria, subdued the island of Cyprus, and menaced 
the northern coasts of the Mediterranean. But factions 
broke out on many sides, and a mutiny broke out in the 
Egyptian army. Discontented troops marched suddenly 
upon Medina, and Othman was slain in a mosque while 
engaged in his daily perusal of the Koran. 

On the death of Othman, Ali-Ibn-Abu-Talib became 
Caliph, and the Schiites, as a body, make it a religious duty 
to solemnly curse, in their rituals, as will be seen later, 
all those who had thus stood in his way Abu-Bekr, Omar 
and Othman. 

But the opposition to Ali did not end with his accession 
to the Caliphate. Talha and Zobeir, instigated by Ayesha, 
his determined enemy, took the field against him. They 
were defeated, and Talha and Zobeir were put to death, 
and Ayesha imprisoned. But Moawiyah, a son of Abu 
Sofian, who, at the head of the Koreish, had long resisted 
Mohammed, and who had been appointed by Omar to the 
governorship of Syria, proved a more formidable antagonist. 
He continued his rebellion until Ali was assassinated, A.D. 661, 
when having forced Hassan, the eldest son of Ali, to resign, 
he became Caliph, to the exclusion of the family of 
Mohammed. 

Moawiyah was founder of the dynasty of the Omeyades 
(so called from Omeyah, one of his ancestors) which ruled the 
Mohammedan world till the accession of the Abassides, Caliphs 
of Baghdad, who were descended from Abbas, an uncle of 
Mohammed, who obtained the Caliphate in A.D. 750. This 
dynasty proved as zealous enemies of the descendants 
of Ali as the former. After a fierce conflict between Ali 
and Moawiyah, the former, after several attempts had been 
made on his life, was assassinated, also in a mosque, his 
death taking place towards the close of the thirty years 
which Mohammed had predicted would be a fatal period 
for the Caliphate. 

From the contest between Ali and Moawiyah arose 
the distinction of the Mohammedans into Sunnites and 



186 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

Schiites. The chief points at issue between them are the 
following: (i) The Schiites, or as they call themselves, the 
Adalyihans, or " lovers of justice," assert that the three 
first Caliphs were usurpers ; the Sunnites declare that they 
were legitimate monarchs, elected according to the " Sunna," 
or traditional law of the Prophet. (2) The Schiites regard 
Ali as the equal of Mohammed : some even assert his 
superiority, but the Sunnites deny that he possessed any 
special dignity. (3) The Schiites assert that the Koran is made 
void by the authority attributed to tradition ; the Sunnites 
say that tradition is necessary to complete and explain the 
doctrines of the Koran. The Turks, Egyptians and Arabs 
belong to the Sunnite sect, while the tenets of the Schiites 
are professed by the Persians, the Nusairis and Druses, 
a great portion of the Tartars, and by certain of the 
Mohammedan peoples of India. 

Ali-Ibn-Abu-Talib was buried at Cufa, but the exact 
place of his sepulchre has not been determined. 

Ali is reckoned to be the first Imaum, and his partisans 
declare that, though human force prevented him from 
enjoying temporal power, his spiritual dignity was the 
gift of GOD, and could not, therefore, be affected by the 
successive usurpations of Abu-Bekr, Omar, and Othman. 
The Schiite notion of an Imaum is precisely the same as 
that which the Thibetians form of their Grand Llama, 
(a point gone into very fully by Madame Blavatsky, to 
which a separate chapter is devoted later on in this work), 
and the Burmese of their Bodhisatwas, that is, the union 
in the same person of a divine and a human nature. Many 
Schiites think that Ali is not dead, but that he will return 
again to reign upon earth, when men, by their docility and 
submission, will cause him to forget the calamities which 
he had to suffer in his former career. A great number of 
them declare that the first Imaum was superior to the 
Prophet himself ; some say that Ali was chosen by GOD to 
propagate Islamism, but that the angel Gabriel, by mistake, 
delivered the letter to Mohammed. Others say that 
Mohammed was ordered to deliver his revelations in Ali's 
name but that, seduced by pride and ambition, he falsely 
proclaimed himself the chosen Apostle of GOD. 



FIRST FOUR CALIPHS AND TWELVE IMAUMS 187 

Ali left three sons by his wife Fatimah : Hassan, Hossein, 
and Mohsin, the latter dying young. After the death of 
Fatimah he married eight wives, by whom he had fifteen 
sons in all, one of whom, Mohammed Hanefeyed, attained 
some note. 

On the death of Ali, Hassan was proclaimed Caliph and 
Imaum in Irak : the former title he was forced to resign 
to Moawiyah ; the latter, or spiritual dignity, his followers 
regarded as inalienable. After nine years had passed, 
Hassan met the usual fate of Oriental rulers, being poisoned 
by his wife Jaadah, at the instigation of Moawiyah. Hossein 
succeeded to the title of Imaum, and enjoyed it until 
A.D. 679, when he was ^lay? in battle with Yezid, son of 
Moawiyah, who continued the conflict between the rival 
factions. The anniversary of Hossein's death, or martyrdom 
as it is considered by the Schiites, is celebrated with extra- 
ordinary splendour in the month Mohurrum, especially 
in Persia and India, the solemnities lasting ten days, during 
which the Schiites abstain from everything that could 
suggest notions of joys or pleasure. The Nusairis always 
speak of Hossein as the martyr of Kerbela, the place where 
he met his death. ^ 

Ali, the son of Hossein, who was twelve ydars old at 
the death of his father, became the fourth Imaum. He 
refused to take any part in public affairs, and died A.D. 712, 
leaving such a reputation for piety that he is called Zeyu- 
il-Aabideen, the " ornament of pious men." 

He was succeeded by his eldest son, Mohammed, who 
led as tranquil and retired a life of piety as his father. He 
devoted himself to study, and was supposed to have paid 
particular attention to the practice of magic. For these 
reasons the Schiites call him the " possessor of the secret," 
or II Bakir, " the investigator." The Omeyade Caliph of 
his day, alarmed at the progress of opinions which tended 
to strengthen the house of Ali, caused him to be poisoned, 
A.D. 734. Some of the Schiites believe that he wanders 
secretly over the earth still, accompanied by Ali-Ibn-Abu- 
Talib and the celebrated prophet Kedher. 

Djaafar, the sixth Imaum, was called As-Sadik or " the 
just," and in his reign an attempt was made, though 



188 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

unsuccessful, to restore the temporal power of the house of 
Ali, by Zeid, brother of the late Imaum. Djaafar died 
in A.D. 765, just as the Caliphate passed, as already mentioned, 
to the Abassides. 

Djaafar designated his son Ismael as his successor, but 
as he died young, in 762, he declared his second son, Mousa, 
as his heir in the Imaumship. Now, as Ismael had left 
children, those of the Schiites who regarded the Imaumate 
as hereditary, denied that Diaafar had any right to make 
a second nomination. They therefore formed the sect 
called the Ismaelis, from which sprang the Fatimite caliphs 
of Egypt, and the Ismaelis, or Assassins of Persia and 
Syria, as already mentioned. The Druses are the followers 
of one of these Fatimite caliphs, Hakem, as we shall show 
later. 

The Nusairis, who acknowledge the belief in the twelve 
Imaums, recognize the claims of Mousa, whom they call 
Ill-Kazim, or " the patient." In this they are distinguished 
from the Druses and Ismaelis, who break the line at Ismael, 
to the exclusion of Mousa and his descendants, and perhaps 
from the Karmatians, who appear to have done the same. 

Mousa's son, Ali, called by the Nusairis Ir-Reda, or 
" the acceptation," was the eighth Imaum. Mousa was 
assassinated by order of Haroun-ar-Rashid, the hero of 
the Arabian Nights, and Ali was proclaimed by II 
Mamoun, successor of Haroun, as his own successor in the 
empire. But this raised such a sedition among the thirty 
thousand descendants of Abbas that II Mamoun was 
obliged to cause Ali to be privately poisoned in A.D. 816. 

Mohammed, son of Ali, was the ninth Imaum ; he lived 
in privacy at Baghdad, where he died at an early age, in 
A.D. 835. On account of his generosity he is styled by the 
Nusairis // D jaw wad, " the generous." 

Ali, the tenth Imaum, was but a child when he succeeded 
his father. He was kept closely confined all his life in the 
city of Asker, by the Caliph Motawakkel, the mortal enemy 
of the Schiites, by whom he was poisoned in A.D. 868. From 
the place of his residence he is called " the Askerite." He 
is also known by the Nusairis as Ali-il-Hadi, " the director." 

Hassan, his son and successor, is also called II Askeri, 



FIRST FOUR CALIPHS AND TWELVE IMAUMS 180 

from the place where, like his father, he lived, and was 
finally poisoned. 

Mohammed, the twelfth and last Imaum, was but six 
months old when his father died. He was kept closely confined 
by the Caliph, but after he had attained the age of twelve 
years he suddenly disappeared. The Sunnites say that he 
was drowned in the Tigris, A.D. 879, and show what they 
say is his tomb. The Nusairis deny the fact of his death, 
and say that he wanders unknown over the earth until 
the predestined moment arrives, when he shall claim and 
receive universal empire. 

All the Schiite sects say that the earth will not have a 
legitimate sovereign until the re-appearance of the last 
Imaum. The Persian kings of the Sufee dynasty styled 
themselves " slaves of the lord of the country," that is, 
of the invisible Imaum ; they always kept two horses 
saddled and bridled in the royal stables at Ispahan, one 
for the twelfth Imaum, whenever he should appear, the 
other for Jesus Christ, by whom they believed he would 
be accompanied. 



CHAPTER XVI 
THE RELIGIOUS SYSTEM OF THE NUSAIRIS 

THE Nusairis believe in one GOD, self-existent and eternal, 
who manifested himself seven times in the world in human 
form, from Abel to Ali-Ibn-Abu-Talib, which last manifesta- 
tion, they say, was the most perfect ; to this the others 
pointed, and in this the mystery of the divine appearances 
found their chief -end and completion. 1 

At each of these manifestations the Deity made use of 
two other Persons : the first created out of the light of 
His essence, and by Himself ; the second created by the 
first. These, with the Deity, form an inseparable Trinity, 
called Maana-Ism-Bab. 

The first, the Maana, " meaning," is the designa- 
tion of the Deity as the meaning, sense, or reality of 
all things. 

The second, the Ism " name/' is also called the Hedjah, 
or veil, because under it the Maana conceals its glory, 
while by it, it reveals itself to men. 

The third, the Bab, " door/' is so called because 
through it is the entrance to the knowledge of the two 
former. 

In the time of Adam, when Abel was the Maana, Adam 
was the Ism, and Gabriel the Bab. In the time of Mohammed, 
when Ali was the Maana, Mohammed the Prophet Was 
the Ism, and Salman-il-Farisee, or the Persian, a coni|MQKi0n 
of Mohammed, was the Bab. 

The following are the seven appearances of the Maana, 
the Ism, and the Bab : 

1 This account of the religion of the Nusairis is condensed from Lyde's 
Asian Mystery, pp. no ff. 

140 



MAANA 


ISM 


(meaning) 


(name) 


I. Abel. 


Adam. 


2. Seth. 


Noah. 


3. Joseph. 


Jacob. 


4. Joshua. 


Moses. 


5. Asaph. 


Solomon. 


6. Simon-is-Saf. 


Jesus. 


(Cephas) 




7. AH. 


Mohammed. 



THE RELIGIOUS SYSTEM OF THE NUSAIRIS 141 

BAB 
(door) 

Gabriel. 

Yayeel-Ibn-Fatin. 

Ham-Ibn-Koosh. 

Dan-Ibn-Usbaoot. 

Abdullah-Ibn-Simaan. 

Rozabah-Ibn-il-Merzaban. 

Salman-il-Farisee. 

After All, the Deity manifested Himself in the Imaums, 
His posterity, AH himself being the first Imaum, or Imaum 
of Imaums as he is styled. To Him all divine attributes 
are ascribed, and to Him all prayers are made. 

The secret of the Trinity described above is represented 
by a sign, token, or mark to the true believers, namely, 
the three letters Ain t Mim, Sin, the three initial letters of 
AH, Mohammed, and Salman. 

Among the many worlds known to GOD are two, the 
Great Luminous World, which is the Heaven, " the Light 
of Light/' and the little earthly world, the residence of men. 
A Nusairi has to believe in the existence in the Luminous, 
Spiritual World of seven hierarchies, each with seven degrees, 
which have their representatives in the earthly world. They 
are: (i) Abwah, or doors, 400 in number; (2) Aytam, 
orphans or disciples, 500 in number ; (3) Nukaba, princes 
or chiefs, (the companions of Moses, and properly so called) 
600 ; (4) Nudjaba, or excellent, 700 ; (5) Mokhtassen, or 
peculiars, 800 ; (6) Mukhliseen, or pure in faith, 900 ; 
(7) Mwntaheenen, or tried, who are 1,100 in number, the 
total being thus 5,000. 

In this world they have their representatives in twelve 
Nukaba, and also twenty-eight Nudjaba, who, besides 
theiir earthly names, have names in the world of light, 
najn&lyt those of the twenty-eight mansions, or stations of 
the moon. They have also their counterparts in apostles 
and prophets, who are moreover representatives of the 
Deity, as being inhabited by a partial emanation from Him. 

This earthly world in like manner contains seven degrees 
of believers ; (i) Mukarrabeen, near ones, 14,000 in number ; 



142 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

(2) Qherubims, 15,000 ; (3) Rooheyeen, spiritual, 16,000 ; 
(4) Mukaddaseen, sanctified, 17,000 ; (5) Saiyeen, ascetics, 
18,000 ; (6) Mustameen listeners, 19,000 ; (7) Lahiheen, 
followers, 20,000. In all, 119,000. 

The mystery of the faith of the Unitarians, the mystery 
of mysteries, and chief article of the faith of the true believers, 
is the veiling of the Deity in light, that is, in the eye of 
the Sun, and his manifestation in his servant Abd-in-Noor. 
Light is described as the eternal Maana, or meaning, which 
is concealed in light ; the Deity thus concealed in light 
manifests himself in Abd-in-Noor, the " servant of light," 
which is wine ; this wine being consecrated and drunk 
by the true believers, the initiated, in the Kuddas, or 
Sacrament, the great mystery of the Nusairis. 

The Nusairis believe that all souls were created from 
the essence which inhabits all beings, and that, after a 
certain number of transmigrations, those of true believers 
become stars in the great world of light. 

When a Nusairi attains the age of manhood he is initiated 
into the mysteries of his religion, and becomes a participator 
in its rites, and acquainted with its secret prayers, signs, 
and watch-words, by all of which the initiated are bound 
up into a Freemasonic body of Ukhwan, or brethren. The 
ritual of this initiation ceremony is given in a later chapter. 

A proof of the influence of Zoroaster and the Magians 
on the religion of the Nusairis may be traced in the attribu- 
tion of light as the symbol of the Deity. 

Ali is usually alluded to and addressed as our Lord, 
Ameer-ilrMoomeneen, Prince of the True Believers, but 
another favourite term of address is Ameer-in-Nahal, Prince 
of Bees, that is the angels, or true believers, who are styled 
bees because they choose out the best flowers, that is, 
follow the best instruction. 

Next to the seven great manifestations of the Deity, 
and twelve lesser manifestations in the Imaums, a con- 
spicuous part of the Nusairi religious system is the Aytam, 
or orphans, signifying the disciples who have lost their 
master. These are the second of the seven spiritual hierarchies 
of which the Doors are the first and they are generally 
connected with the Door, though the series sometimes 



THE RELIGIOUS SYSTEM OF THE NUSAIRIS 148 

commences with the names of All, thus : " His Name, His 
Door, His Aytam, and the people of His Holy Hierarchies. 
As a Nusairi is required to believe in the chain of divine 
appearances from Abel to Ali, and in the chain of Imaums, 
from the first Hassan to the last, so he is required to believe 
that there have always existed five Aytam, five being the 
consecrated number in this case. The five orphans in the 
time of Adam, when Gabriel was the Door, were the five 
angels, Michael, Israfeel, Azrael, Malik and Rudwan, 
and these are the types of the successive appearances of 
the Aytam. Thus it is said : " There are no angels but 
the five angels, the orphans." 

The Nusairis believe that there were five worlds, that is 
ages, before that of man, and that during them the world 
was successively inhabited by five kinds of beings, worshippers 
of Ali, called the Djann, the Bann, the Tumm, the Ramm, 
and the Djahn. 

The Nusairis, as mentioned before, have, from the very 
first, been believers in the transmigration of souls, in common 
with others of the secret sects of the East. Hamza, the 
apostle of the Druses, directs his anathemas against them, 
because they carry the doctrine to such an extent as to say 
" that the souls of the enemies of Ali will pass into dogs, 
and other unclean brutes, till they enter fire, to be burnt, 
and beaten under the hammer." After refuting this doctrine 
of transmigration into animals, he concludes, " and whoever 
believes in metempsychosis, like the Ansaireeh, the followers 
of the Maana, in the person of Ali son of Abu-Talib, and who 
stands up for it, suffers the loss both of this world and the 
next." Metempsychosis, which is called by Mussulman 
authorities Tanasukh, is called by the Nusairis Taknees, 
or Tadjaiyul, that is the coming in successive " djeels," 
or generations. The Jesuit missionaries say on this point : 
" The Ansaireeh further admit the metempsychosis, and 
say that the same soul passes from one body into another, 
as many as seventy times; but with this difference, that 
the soul of a good man enters into a body more perfect 
than his own, and the soul of a vicious man passes into the 
body of an unclean animal." 

A Nusairi believes that after he has become purified, 



144 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

in passing through different incarnations, he becomes a 
star in heaven, the first centre of humanity. For this 
reason they pray that Ali will clothe the brethren in envelopes 
of light. 

The religious literature of the Nusairis includes a Manual 
of Instructions, and a Catechism, both of which are largely 
quoted by Lyde and Taylor, quoting, in their turn, from 
Von Hammer and Catafago. Lyde had obtained possession 
of a MS. copy of this Manual, which apparently corresponds 
to the Manual referred to by Sulaiman, from which copious 
extracts, with regard to the Initiation ceremonies, will be 
found in the next chapter. The Nusairis also acknowledge 
the Tawrah, the Old Testament or Law ; the Andjeel or 
Gospel ; the Zuboor, or Psalms ; and the Koran. But they 
speak in all of 114 books, among which they include those 
attributed to Seth, Enoch, Noah and Abraham, in the 
Syriac. 1 ' Various MSS. that have fallen into the hands of 
Europeans show that there are books among the 'Nusairis, 
and that these moreover agree in all main points. 

The Catechism, which in many points is identical with 
the Manual, was sent with a French version, by M. Catafago, 
Dragoman of the Prussian Consul-General at Beyrout, 
to the King of Prussia, and a translation of the Catechism, 
by Dr. Wolff, was issued in the Journal of the German 
Oriental Society for 1845-6, from which Lyde has translated 
the more important portions.* The original MS. is in thirty- 
eight leaves, large octavo, and is called " The Book of In- 
struction in the Ansaireeh Religion." 

The introduction contains an invocation of the Eternal 
GOD, and a thanksgiving " for the communication of His 
divine secret, and the truth of the holy religion," which 
consists in the perception of His great Name, and of His 
holy Door, through the person of the Abd-in-Noor, which 
he has assumed for the sake of His saints, who know Him ; 
also a thanksgiving for all the benefits received from GOD. 
Then follow two portions of the Catechism : one theoretical, 

Some extracts from The Booh of Enoch and The Apocalypse of 
Abraham are given in the Appendix, from the very excellent edition 
of these Apocryphal books prepared for the S.P.C.K, by Canons Box and 
Charles. 

* Asian Mystery, pp. 271 ff. 



THE RELIGIOUS SYSTEM OF THE NUSAIRIS 145 

which speaks of instruction, and the other practical, which 

speaks of customs and ceremonies. The theoretical part 

declares, in the form of question and answer, a belief in the 

divinity of Ali-Ibn-Abu-Talib, through his own testimony, 

and from a discourse by Mohammed himself, which ends 

thus : He (AH) is my Lord and yours." Ali is declared 

to have concealed himself in Mohammed in the period of 

his change of shapes, that is in the seventh manifestation 

previously referred to, when he took Mohammed as his 

" Veil." Then follow declarations as to the Maana, the 

Ism, and the Bab, and the sixty-three names of the Ism, 

which spiritually taken, denote the Maana, and personally 

the Ism those of which the Godhead has made use to 

manifest Himself in the persons of the prophets and apostles, 

the first three being Adam, Enoch, and Kanaan. The 

Bab is also said to be the perfect soul, the Holy Ghost, 

the angel Gabriel, etc. It is also stated that while the 

name of Ali is given to the Deity by the Arabs, He himself 

has taken the name of Aristotle, and in the Christian Gospel 

is called Elias, while the Indians know Him as Kankara. 

Then are recited the names of the seven hierarchies, and 

their degrees, as given above. Then come some questions 

and answers referring to doctrines of the Eucharistic 

celebrations and Masses, which I give in full, as they have 

not been previously alluded to. 

LXXV. Is it true that the Messiah was crucified, as 
the Christians assert ? Ans. No ; the Jews were deceived 
by a resemblance. (Koran iii. 163.) 

LXXVI. What is the Mass? Ans. The consecration 
of the wine, which is drunk to the health of the Nakeeb or 
Nadjeeb. 

LXXVIL What is the Offering (Korban ') ? Ans. The 
consecration of the bread, which the true believers take 
in their hand for the souls of their brethren, and on that 
account the Mass is read. 

LXXVIII. Who reads the Mass, and brings the offer- 
ing ? Ans. Your great Imauras and preachers. 

LXXIX. -What is the great secret (mystery) of God ? 

* Cf. Mark vii. u. 
10 



146 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

Ans. The flesh and the blood, of which Jesus has said : 
" This is my flesh and my blood ; eat and drink thereof, 
for it is eternal life. 11 

LXXX. Where do the souls of your brethren, the 
true believers, go when they leave their graves ? Ans. Into 
the great world of light. 

LXXXI. What will happen to the godless and polythe- 
ists ? Ans. They will have all torments to suffer in all ages. 

LXXXIL What is the mystery of the faith of the 
Unitarians ? What is the mystery of mysteries and chief 
article of faith of the true believers ? Ans. It is the veiling 
of our Lord in light, that is, in the eye of the sun, and 
his manifestation in his servant, Abd-in-Noor. 

LXXXIIL What will happen to those who doubt this 
mystery, after they have once acknowledged it ? Ans. They 
will be reprobated. 

LXXXIV. What are the stipulations which the believer 
must enter on, if he will receive the secret of secrets ? 
Ans. He must, before all things, assist his brethren with 
all his means ; he must give them the fifth part of his 
goods ; he must pray at the appointed hours ; fulfil his 
obligations ; give to all their dues ; obey his Lord, invoke 
Him, thank Him, often pronounce His name, in all points 
submit himself to His will, and keep himself from everything 
that may displease Him. 

LXXXV. What must the believer keep himself from ? 
Ans. From affronting or injuring his brethren. 

LXXX VI. Is the believer allowed to make known to 
anyone the secret of secrets ? Ans. Only to those of 
his religion, else he will lose the favour of God. 

LXXXVIL What is the first mass ? Ans. It is that 
which is spoken of before the prayer of Nurooz. 

LXXXVIIL What is the prayer of Nurooz 1Ans. 
The words of consecration of the wine in the chalice. 1 

LXXXIX. Say that prayer. Ans, Among other 
things it is said : " Drink of this pure wine, for one day 
its lights will be covered with thick clouds." 

XC. What is the consecrated wine called which the 
believers drink ? Ans. Abd-in-Noor. 

See Appendix, " The Feast of Nurooz." 



THE RELIGIOUS SYSTEM OF THE NUSAIRIS 147 

XCI. Wherefore so ? Ans. Because GOD has mani- 
fested Himself in the same. 

XCII. What is the concealed secret of GOD, which 
stands between the K and N ? Ans. Light, according 
to His word : " Let there be light, and there was light." x 

XCIII. What is light ? Ans. The eternal Maana, which 
is concealed in light. 

XCIV. If our Lord is concealed in light where does he 
manifest himself ? Ans. In the wine, as it is said in the 
Nurooz. 

XCV. Why does the believer direct his face, when he 
prays, towards the sun ? Ans. Know that the sun is the 
light of lights. 

XCVI. Why do we say that our Lord makes turnings 
(transmigrations) and revolutions ? Ans. He does so, and 
manifests Himself periodically in all revolutions and periods, 
from Adam to the son of Abu-Talib. (It will be realized 
this is no answer at all.) 

XCVII. What do the outer and inner word denote ? 
Ans. The inner, the Godhead of our Lord ; the outer, his 
manhood. Outwardly we say that He is spoken of as " Our 
Lord Ali, son of Abu-Talib " : and this denotes inwardly 
the Maana, the Ism, and the Bab ; one gracious and com- 
passionate GOD. 

The practical portion of the Catechism gives a general 
formula for prayer, a formula for mass, and the ritual of 
reception into the sect. 

Some very interesting and important details with regard 
to the religious rites, doctrines, and history of the Nusairis 
are given in a work published at Beirut in 1863, the author 
being a former member of the sect. The Book of Sulaiman's 
First Ripe Fruit, in which are disclosed many of the mysteries 
of the Nusairian religion, was written by Sulaiman Effendi, 
of Adhanah, and edited for him by Dr. Van Dyck, a mission- 
ary at Beirut. An exhaustive review, with copious extracts 
from the original Arabic, was prepared for the American 

J The letters K and N represent the word " be " in Arabic, and since 
this word was used in the creation of light, light is called the secret of God, 
which is concealed between the K and the N. 



148 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

Oriental Society by Mr. Edward E. Salisbury, who had 
previously contributed some interesting papers on the Syrian 
sects, and was published in the Society's Journal for 1864. 
" This tract was written,'* says Dr. Van Dyck, " by a Nusairi, 
who first doubted his own religion and became a Jew, then 
a Moslem, then a Greek, then a Protestant. He was taken 
as a conscript, and sent from Adhanah to Damascus, where 
he was released. He came to Beirut, and wrote this tract. 
He then went to Ladikia, and remained some months with 
Rev. J. R. Dodds, Missionary of the Associated Reformed 
Church : and then returned to have his tract printed at 
his own expense." In this, and the following chapter, 
are given the most interesting portions of Mr. Salisbury's 
review. 

The work is divided into sections, of which the first 
describes the author's initiation as a Nusairi, and embraces 
what purports to be a complete Nusairian prayer-book, with 
important explanations, and historical notes : the second 
section is chiefly an enumeration of some of the principal 
festivals of the sect : the third gives a detailed report of 
the ceremonies observed, and the liturgical forms used on 
those occasions, and includes some statistics of the sect : 
the fourth treats of the important Nusairian doctrines of 
a fall from virtue and happiness in a pre-existent state : 
the fifth consists entirely of specimens of Nusairian poetry : 
the sixth is a statement, by the author, of certain fundamental 
principles of the sect : the seventh is a narrative of the 
circumstances under which the author discovered its deeper 
mysteries, of his own conversion, first to Judaism and then 
to Christianity, and of the treatment which he met with in 
consequence from his co-religionists : and the eighth, and 
last, is wholly controversial, being an argument against 
the doctrines and rites of the Nusairis. 

The author begins by informing us that he was born in 
Antioch in A.H. 1250, or A.D. 1834-5, and lived there to the 
age of seven years, when he was taken to Adhanah ; and 
that his initiation took place when he was eighteen years 
old, the appointed time being from the age of eighteen to 
twenty. 

The initiation ceremonies are thus described. On a 



THE RELIGIOUS SYSTEM OF THE NUSAIRIS 149 

certain day there was a general gathering of high and low 
of the Nusairis of Adhanah, belonging to that division of the 
sect known as Northerners, 1 before whom he was summoned, 
when he was presented with a glass of wine. One whom he 
describes as the Pursuivant, or Director of Ceremonies, 
took a place at his side, and said to him : " Say thou : 
By the mystery of thy beneficence, O my Uncle and lord, 
thou crown of my head, I am thy pupil, and let thy sandal 
be upon my head/' When he had drunk the wine, the 
Imaum turned towards him, and asked : " Wouldst thou 
take up the sandals of those here present, to do honour to 
thy Lord ? " to which he replied, " Nay, but only the 
sandal of my lord ; " whereupon the company laughed at 
his want of docility. Then the Minister (Deacon), being so 
directed by the assembly, brought to them the sandal of 
the Pursuivant : and when they had uncovered the Candidate's 
head, they laid it thereon, and put over it a white rag : 
after which the Pursuivant began to pray over him that 
he might receive the mystery. When this prayer was 
ended, the sandal was taken from his head, he was enjoined 
secrecy, and all dispersed. This is what is called the Betoken- 
ing Adoption. 

After forty days, another assembly was convened, another 
cup of wine was drunk by the Candidate, and he was directed 
to say : "In the faith of the mystery of Ain-Mim-Sin," 
which Sulaiman thus explains : Ain stands for Ali, or the 
Archetypal Deity : Mim for Mohammed, or the Expressed 
Deity, or the Intermediary : Sin for Salman-al-Farsi, or 
the Communicator. The Candidate was charged by the 
Imaum to pronounce the cabalistic word composed of these 
three letters, namely AMS, five hundred times a day. As 
before, secrecy was enjoined, and the so-called King's 
Adoption was now accomplished. 

Another interval of probation, lasting seven months 
(often extended to nine) having passed away, the Candidate 
was called before another assembly, in whose presence he 
stood at a respectful distance. Then a Deputy rose in 
the assembly, having the Pursuivant on his right, and 
another official on his left, each with a cup of wine in his 

1 One of the four divisions of the Nusairis, see p. 154. 



150 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

hand ; all, turning to the Imaum, chanted the third 
Melody. After this, the whole assembly, facing the Second 
Preceptor on the Deputy's left, known as the Dignitary, 
chanted to him the following : "I inquire after the traits 
of nobleness where dwell they ? To thee have certain 
men pointed me. By the reality of Mohammed and his 
race, compassionate one who comes to kiss thy hands. 
Thou art my goal, let not my thought of thee prove vain : 
account us to-day as depending upon thee/' 

After this, they placed their hands on the Preceptor's 
and sat down. Then the Preceptor stood up, took the 
Deputy's cup from his hand, bowed his head in worship, 
and read the Chapter of " Bowing of the Head " (see p. 159). 
Having recited this litany, he raised his head, and read the 
Chapter of the " Ain " (see p. 161). After this, he stood 
with his face towards the Imaum, and said : " Hail, hail, 
hail, O my lord Imaum ! " To this the Imaum replied, 
" May it be well with thee, and those around thee ! Thou 
hast done that which these here assembled have not done ; 
for thou hast taken in thy hand the cup, hast drunk, hast 
bowed the head, and saluted ; and to God is humble worship 
due. But what is thy desire, and what wouldst them ? " 

To this the Dignitary answered : " I would have an 
evening of the countenance of my Master " : then retiring, 
he looked towards the heavens, and came back to the 
assembly, and said : " Hail, hail, hail, O my lord," to 
which the Imaum replied as before : " What is thy desire, 
and what wouldst thou ? The Dignitary said : "I have a 
desire, and would it might be sanctioned." The Imaum 
replied : " Go to, I sanction it." The Dignitary then 
stepped aside from the assembly, and approached the 
Candidate, to give him an opportunity to kiss his hands and 
feet : which being done, he returned, and said : " Hail, hail, 
hail, O my lord Imaum." Then the Imaum said to him 
again : " What is thy wish, and what wouldst thou ? " 
To this he answered : "A person has presented himself 
to me in the way." Again the Imaum spoke ; " Hast 
thou not heard what was said by our elect lord : ' As for 
the nightmare duty, no man of might can take it patiently? ' " 
The Dignitary replied : " I have a stout heart, no fear for 



THE RELIGIOUS SYSTEM OF THE NUSAIRIS 151 

me " then after regarding the Candidate, he turned towards 
the assembly, and said : " This person, named so-and-so, 
has come to be initiated in your presence." The Imaum 
then inquired: "Who directed him to us?" To this the 
Dignitary replied " The Eternal Archetypal Deity, the august 
Expressed Deity, and the honoured Communicator, signified 
by the word AMS." The Imaum said : " Bring him, that 
we may see him " ; whereupon the Preceptor took him by 
the right hand, and led him towards the Imaum. 

On his approach, the Imaum stretched out his feet, 
which the Candidate kissed, and also his hands, and said 
to him : " What is thy desire, and what wouldst thou, O 
young man ? " Thereupon the Pursuivant arose, and station- 
ing himself at the Candidate's side, instructed him to say : 
" I ask for the mystery of your faith, O multitudes of 
believers." Then, eyeing him with a stern look, the Imaum 
said : " What impels thee to seek from us this mystery, 
crowned with pearls large and small, which only a familiar 
angel, or a commissioned prophet, can support ? Know, 
O my child, that there are many angels, but that only the 
Familiars can support this mystery ; and that the prophets 
are numerous, but that only the Commissioned can support 
this mystery : and that there are many believers, but that 
only the Approved can support this mystery. Wilt thou 
suffer the cutting off of thy head, hands and feet, and not 
disclose this august mystery ? " To this the Candidate replied : 
" Yes." Thereupon the Imaum said : " I wish thee to furnish 
a hundred sponsors," at which those present interposed : 
" The rule, O our lord Imaum " and he said, " In deference 
to you, let there be twelve sponsors." Then the Second 
Preceptor stood up, and kissed the hands of the twelve 
sponsors, and the Candidate kissed their hands. Then 
the sponsors rose, and said : " Hail, hail, hail, O my lord 
Imaum," and the Imaum said, " What is your desire, ye 
nobles ? " To this they replied : " We have come to be 
sponsors for this Candidate." Then the Imaum inquired : 
" In case he discloses this mystery, will ye bring him to 
me, that we may cut him in pieces and drink his blood ? " 
They answered : " Yes," and he added : " I am not satisfied 
with your sponsorship alone nay, but I would have two 



162 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

persons of consideration to be responsible for you." So 
one of the sponsors ran, with the Candidate after him, and 
kissed the hands of the two required sponsors, whose hands 
the Candidate also kissed. 

After this the two selected sponsors stood up, with their 
hands on their breasts ; and the Imaum turned towards 
them, and said : " God give you a good evening, O sponsors, 
respected and pure, men of mark, and no sucklings ! But 
what would ye ? " They replied : " We have come to be 
sponsors for the twelve sponsors, and also for this person." 
The Imaum replied : "In case, then, he runs off before 
having fully learned our forms of prayer, or discloses this 
mystery, will ye two bring him to me, that we may take his 
life ? " They replied : " Yes," and the Imaum spoke again : 
" Sponsors are perishable, and sponsors for sponsors abide 
not I would have from him something that will last." 
They then gave way, and the Imaum said to the Candidate : 
" Come near to me, O young man ; " so he approached him, 
and at the same time the Imaum adjured him, by all the 
heavenly bodies, that he would not disclose this mystery : 
and afterwards gave into his right hand the Book of the 
Summary, while the Pursuivant, stationed at his side, 
instructed him to say : " Be thou extolled ! Swear me, O 
my lord Imaum, to this august mystery, and thou shalt 
be clear of any failure in me." 

Taking 1 the book from him, the Imaum said : " O, my 
child, I swear thee, not in respect to money, or suretyship 
nay, but in respect only to the mystery of GOD, as our 
chiefs and lords have sworn us." This action and these 
words he repeated three times ; after which the Candidate 
placed his hand upon the Summary three times, making 
oath thereby to the Imaum, that he would not disclose 
this mystery so long as he should live. 

After this the Imaum said : " Know, O my child, that 
the earth will not suffer thee to be buried in it, shouldst 
thou disclose this mystery ; and thy return will not be to 
enter into human vestments nay, but, when thou diest, 
thou wilt enter into vestments of degrading transformation, 
from which there will be no deliverance for thee, for ever." 
Then they seated the Candidate among them, and uncovering 



THE RELIGIOUS SYSTEM OF THE NUSAIRIS 158 

his head, put a veil over it ; the sponsors placed their hands 
upon his head, and began to pray : first, they read the 
Chapters of Victory, Bowing the Head, and the Ain : then, 
after drinking some wine, they read also the Chapter of 
Salutation, and raised their hands from off his head. Next 
the Introducing Dignitary took hold of him, and made 
him salute the First Preceptor and then, taking a cup of 
wine in his hand, gave him drink, and instructed him to 
say : " In GOD'S name, by the help of GOD, and in the 
faith of the mystery of Lord Abu Abdallah, possessor of 
divine knowledge, in the faith of the mystery of his blessed 
memorial, in the faith of his mystery-God give him happi- 
ness." After this the assembly then dispersed. 



CHAPTER XVII 

THE RELIGIOUS SYSTEM OF THE NUSAIRIS : 
CONTINUED 

THE Dignitary then took the young votary to his own house, 
where he taught him the " Formula of Disburdening " 
(see p. 171), and also made him acquainted with the various 
forms of prayer, to the number of sixteen, in which the 
Nusairis pay divine honours to Ali. Each of these forms 
of prayer is called a chapter, with a particular name, indicative 
of its contents ; and in several cases the so-called prayer 
has little or none of the tone of supplication, being for the 
most part, or wholly, a recital, and that without any special 
propriety, apparently, in reference to devotion. The whole 
collection, to which the general title of Dustur, i.e. "The 
Canon," is given, provides a good insight into the Nusairi 
beliefs. 

The first chapter, called " The Commencement/ 1 is 
thus explained by Sulaiman. He observes that, according 
to Nusairian doctrines, GOD is visible, and yet not wholly 
definable, whence the expression, which occurs in this 
chapter, " O manifest, O limit of all aims, Thou who art 
hidden,* yet unclothed, whose lights arise out of Thee and 
set in Thee, from Thee come forth, and to Thee return." He 
also here alludes to a separation of the Nusairis into four 
divisions : i, those who pay homage to the Heavens, whom 
he calls Northerners ; 2, adorers of the Moon, whom he calls 
elsewhere Kalazians : 1 3, worshippers of the twilight : and 
4, worshippers of the air. By the first of these parties the 
passage just quoted is understood to point to the heavens, 

1 Probably so named after Sheikh Mohammed Bin Kalazu, who is quoted 

later. 



THE RELIGIOUS SYSTEM OF THE NUSAIRIS 155 

" out of which," said they, " the stars arise, and in which 

they set ; and which are visible, yet undefmable, as to their 

prime configuration, except by the Expressed Deity." 

But the second party, in support of their adoration of the 

moon, allege that other expression of this chapter : " Thy 

brilliant appearance/ 1 saying " that the moon is manifest 

to sight, while as for the dark part of it, that represents the 

being of Ali-Ibn-Abu-Talib, which is veiled from our eyes, 

which we now see as a dark object, though, when we are 

purified from these bodily vestments, and exalted among 

the stars, through our faith, we shall behold it in sapphire 

splendour/' The worshippers of the twilight argue, in 

their own favour, from the expression " whose lights arise 

out of thee," etc., saying that all the lights of heaven make 

their appearance from out of the East, and revolve and 

set in the West ; and they may be seen to pray with their 

faces turned towards the sun as it is rising or setting, in 

the belief that the twilight-reddening of the sky creates 

the sun, according to the words of Sheikh Ali the Magian, 

in the so-called " Legacy " left to them by him : "By the full 

moon, whose lights from her sun come forth ; and by her 

sun, production of the morning beam/' The worshippers 

of the air have also their own argument from this chapter, 

appealing to the expression : " O Thou who art He," which 

by a slight change of reading, they make to mean " O Thou 

who art the air." 

The second chapter, called " The Canonization of 
Ibn-al-Wali," is a prayer for deliverance from seven kinds 
of degrading transformation, together with their subdivisions, 
embracing all kinds of cattle and wild beasts, and other 
forms of living creatures ; and it is believed that these 
seven degrees of transformation are the seven floors of Hell 
mentioned in the Koran : * " And it has seven entrances, 
with a part divided off to each." Thus the sinner, in this 
petition, with humble heart, and spirit submissive to his 
lord Ali-Ibn-Abu-Talib, intercedes for salvation therefrom. 
The third chapter is called " The Canonization of Abu 
Said," and is a prayer to the Prince of Bees, Ali the Bounteous, 
imploring the aid of the Elect Five, the Revealing Six, 

1 Koran xv. 44. 



156 SECRET SECTS OF SYRJA 

the Seven Twinkling Stars, the Eight Strong Bearers of 
the Throne, the Nine gifted with Mohammed-quality, the 
Ten Chanticleers of Holiness, the Eleven Ascension-points 
of Communicator-quality, and the Twelve Strings of Imaum- 
ship. 

The " Elect Five " are the times of prayer prescribed to 
the Nusairis. These are that of Mohammed, at mid-day ; 
of Fatimah, in the afternoon ; of Hassan, son of Ali-Ibn- 
Abu-Talib, at sunset ; of Hussain, brother of Hassan, in 
the evening ; and of Muhsin, Mystery of Obscurity, at day- 
break. Whoever is not conversant with the names of 
these five persons, and with the times of prayer called after 
them, prays in vain. 

The " Revealing Six " are the six beings, namely, Salman 
and the Five Incomparables, mentioned in the Chapter 
of Victory (the 6th), or the six days of creation, or the 
manifestations of GOD to Abraham, Moses, and other of 
the prophets. 

The " Seven Twinkling Stars " are Saturn, Mars, and 
the rest. 

The " Eight Strong Bearers of the Throne " are the 
eight Kabalistic words, that is, the names of the Five 
Incomparables and Talib, Akil, and Jafa at-Taiyar. 

The " Nine Gifted with Mohammed-quality " are names 
of certain of the Strings of Imaumship, from Mohammed 
Ibn Abdallah to Mohammed aj-Jawad. 

The " Ten Chanticleers of Holiness " are the Five Incom- 
parables, together with Naufal, Abu-1-Harith, Mohammed 
Ibn al-Hana-fiyah, Abu Barzah, and Abdallah Bin Madhlah, 
whom the Nusairis believe to be the largest of the stars, 
each having rule over a number of other stars. As al-Khusaibi 
says in his " Diwan," all the stars are castles of the heavens, 
mystically, except the ten just mentioned, the Chanticleers, 
whose cock is Salman al-Farsi. In the secret books of the 
Northerners, such as the " Book of the Greeks " and others, 
the cock is said to be Mohammed Bin Abdallah. 

The " Eleven Ascension-points of Communicator- 
quality " are Ruzbah Ibn al-Marzaban, Abu-1-Ala Rashid 
al-Hajari; Kankar Ibn Abu Khalid al-Kabuli, Yahya 
Bin Mu'amraar, Jabir Bin Yazid aj-Jufi, Mohammed Ibn 



THE RELIGIOUS SYSTEM OF THE NUSAIRIS 157 

Abu Zainab al-Kahili, al-Mufadhdhal Bin Umar, Umar 
Bin al-Mufadhdhal, Mohammed Bin Nusair al-Bakri an- 
Numarri, Dihyah Bin Khalfiah al-Kalbi, and Umm Salamah. 
The " Twelve Strings of Imaumship " are Mohammed 
al-Mustafi, al-Hassan al-Mujtabi, al-Hussain the martyr 
of Karbala, Ali Zain al-Abidin, Mohammed al-Bakir, Ja' far 
as-Sadik, Musa al Kazim, Ali ai-Ridha, Mohammed al- 
Jawad, Ali al-Hadi, al-Hassan al-Askari, and Mohammed 
Bin al-Hassan al-Hujjah. 

The fourth chapter is called "The Pedigree." The 
Nusairian religion originated with Mohammed Bin Nusair ; 
he was followed by Mohammed Ibn Jindab, to whom 
succeeded Abdallah al-Jannan al Junbulan, of Persia. 
Then came al-Hussain Bin Hamdan al-Khusaibi, whom 
the Nusairis esteem superior to all his successors, who 
taught far and wide, and perfected their prayers. 

He taught that the Messiah was Adam, and Enos, and 
Kainan, and Mahalalil, and Yared, and Enoch, and Methuse- 
lah, and Lamech, and Noah, and Shem, and Arphaxad, and 
Ya'rab, and Hud, and Salih, and Lukman, and Lot, and 
Abraham, and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the Prince 
that is Pharaoh, who lived in the days of Joseph ; also 
Moses, and Aaron, and Caleb, and Ezekiel, and Samuel, 
and David, and Solomon, and Job, and al-Khadir, and 
Alexander, and Saul, and Daniel, and Mohammed. His 
general teaching seems to have been that each prophet 
who has appeared in the world was an incarnation of the 
Messiah ; and that the same is true of certain heathen sages, 
such as Plato, Galen, Socrates, and Nero ; also of certain 
wise men amongst the Persians, and the Arabs before 
Mohammed, such as Ardeshir, Sapor, Luwai, Murrah, Kilab, 
Hashim, Abd Manaf, and others. Moreover, he taught 
that the mothers of the prophets of past times, and their 
wives were incarnations of Salman al-Farsi, excepting the 
wife of Noah and the wife of Lot ; and that Salman was 
incarnate, also, in the eleven named in the third chapter, 
and in the Queen of Sheba, and the wife of Potiphar ; ani 
has appeared in some inanimate objects, as well as in certain 
wild animals, such as the wolf supposed to have eaten 
Joseph, and in winged creatures, such as the hoopoe, the 



158 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

crow, the bee and others. Besides all this, he taught that 
Ali-Ibu-Abn-Talib was Abel, Seth, Joseph, Joshua, Asaph, 
Simon Peter, Aristotle, and Hermes ; and has been incarnated 
in certain wild animals, such as the dog of the Companions 
of al-Kahf, the camel of Salih, and the cow which Moses 
commanded to be sacrificed. 1 His disciples numbered 
fifty-one, of whom five were men of note, namely, Mohammed 
Bin Ali aj-Jali, Ali Bin Isa, aj-Jasri, al-Iraki, and al-Katani ; 
and whoever derives his instruction by a line of descent 
from either of these is regarded by the Nusairis as al- 
Khusaibi's brother. 

To al-Husain Bin Hamdan al-Khusaibi succeeded Maimun 
Bin Kasmin at-Tabarani, a disciple of Mohammed Bin Ali 
aj-Jali, and author of many Nusairian books, among which is 
the " Summary of Festivals," noted for its revilings of Abu- 
Bekr, Omar, and Othman, whom it calls the three Adversaries, 
they being considered by the Nusairis as incarnations of 
Satan. The same author also composed the " Book of 
Proofs of Divine Knowledge pertaining to the Questions/' 
in which it is said that the wolf supposed to have eaten 
Joseph was Abd ar-Rahman Bin Muljam al-Muradi, not 
Salman al-Farisi as other Nusairis believe ; and the "Book 
of the Compound on the Duties of Pupils " ; and another 
book, against the religion of Ali Bin Karmat, and Ali Bin 
Kushkah ; and many others. 

The fifth chapter, called " The Victory/ 1 is understood 
by the leaders among the Nusairis to signify that Mohammed 
is connected with Ali by night, and separated from him by 
day, taking the Sun to be Mohammed ; and they believe 
that Mohammed created lord Salman. These three are 
their Most Holy Trinity, Ali being the Father, Mohammed 
the Son, and Salman al-Farisi the Holy Ghost. They also 
declare that lord Salman created the Five Incomparables, 
and that the Five Incomparables created this whole world 
as it now exists, and that all the government of the heavens 
and the earth is in the hands of these Five Incomparables 
al-Mikdad presiding over thunder-bolts, lightning-flashes 
and earthquakes ; Abu-dh-Dharr superintending the gyration 
of the stars and constellations ; Abdallah Bin Rawahah, 
x Koran xviii. 8 ff. ; vii. 71 ff. ; ii. 63 ff. 



THE RELIGIOUS SYSTEM OF THE NUSAIRIS 159 

whom they believe to be the same as Azrael, being charged 
with the winds, and with the arrest of human spirits ; Othman 
having charge of human diseases, the heat of the body and 
stomachs ; and Khanbar who is the introducer of spirits 
into bodies. 

The sixth chapter is called " The Bowing of the Head," 
and is relied on by the Northerners as containing doctrines 
adverse to the worship which the Kalazians render to the 
Moon, arguing from an expression in this chapter " Thou 
producer of the morning sun and creator of the luminous 
full moon " that the moon is a created thing. To this the 
Kalazians reply that All created the moon in order to inhabit 
it, as a man builds a house to dwell in, or makes a seat to sit 
upon ; for they hold that the dark part of the moon repre- 
sents the Adorable One, who, they also believe, has hands, 
feet, a body, and a head, and on his head a crown, and in his 
hand a sword, which is the notched blade of Mohammed. 

The seventh chapter is called " The Salutation/' and causes 
much dispute between the Northerners and the Kalazians ; 
for while the former conclude the long string of salutations 
enjoined by the phrase " I believe in the lordship of 
Mohammed," the Kalazians say, " in the lordship of Ali, 
the Gracious, and accuse their opponents of ascribing 
lordship to Mohammed and Ali, indifferently. The 
Northerners reply to this charge by saying that Mohammed 
and Ali are allied, not alien, to one another ; that while 
the First Cause is Ali, Mohammed is also a Creator : and 
that the Kalazians cannot consistently charge them with 
error in ascribing lordship to the latter, inasmuch as they 
themselves maintain the doctrine of a Trinity which is held 
by the Northerners. A long dispute is thus carried on, of 
which the above is only an outline. 

Fourteen " Orders " are mentioned in this seventh chapter. 
The first seven include the Communicators, the Incompar- 
ables, the Pursuivants, the Familiars, the Dignitaries, the 
Purified, and the Approved, numbering five thousand 
angels, who constitute what the Nusairis call the great 
light-world. They believe them to be referred to in the 
Koran as the " Seven Heavens "* and to have existed before 

1 Koran xxiii. 88. 



160 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

the creation of the world, and to be stars outside of the Milky 
Way. The other seven include the Offerers, Cherubs, 
Spirituals, Sanctified, Ramblers, Listeners, and Attendants, 
numbering one hundred and nineteen thousand, who consti- 
tute the so-called " little spirit- world, supposed to be intended 
by the " Seven Earths" in the Koran. 1 These the Nusairis 
believe to be the stars of the Milky Way, or spirits purified 
from the flesh through their acknowledgment of AMS, 
and of every manifestation of the Deity, from Abel to Ali- 
Ibn-Abu-Talib, agreeably to these words in the Diwan of 
their lord Sheik Ali as-Suwairi : 

" Why dost thou not apprehend the parable of light ? 
Lo, GOD proposes to us a plain parable : GOD is the Light 
of the upper world, the heavens, and of the earthly world." 
This parable is to be found in the Koran, where we read : 
" GOD is the Light of the heavens and the earth ; His 
light is as a lamp in a little window," etc. * 

The eighth chapter is called " The Betokening." It is 
a confession of unity, and points out how to combat those 
who revile Abu Bekr, Omar, Othman, and the rest, and all 
sects which maintain that Ali-Ibn-Abu-Talib, or the prophets, 
either ate, drank, had sexual intercourse, or were born 
of women ; for the Nusairis believe that these descended 
from heaven without bodies, and that the bodies which 
they inhabited were but semblances. Also how to hide 
one's religion from those who are not Nusairis, it being 
a principle with this sect not to disclose their opinions or 
usages, even to save their lives. 

By this chapter are to be distinguished the four parties 
among the Nusairis : for those who adore the heavens and 
the twilight, when they recite it, place the right hand upon 
the breast, applying the inner part of the thumb to the 
middle finger; the worshippers of the moon either spread 
out the hand, with the thumb erect, so that it has the shape 
of the new moon, or else place both hands upon the breast, 
opening them wide, with the fingers of one upon the other, 
and the two thumbs erect, so as in this way to represent 
the shape of the new moon ; while the worshippers of the 
air place one hand upon the breast, lifting up the forefingers, 
> Koran Ixv 12, Koran xxiv, 35. 



THE RELIGIOUS SYSTEM OF THE NUSAIRIS 161 

and applying the inner part of the end of the thumb to the 
inside of the middle finger. 

All Nusairis, on finishing the recitation of this chapter, 
kiss the inner parts of the ends of their fingers three times, 
and raise them to their heads. 

The ninth chapter is called " The Ain of Ali," and treats 
of the mystery of the Ain. 

The tenth chapter is called " The Covenant." " I 
testify that GOD is true ; that His word is true ; that the 
plain truth is Ali Ibn Abu Talib with the bald temples, 
the mysterious ; that Hell is the abode of unbelievers : 
that the garden is a pleasure ground for believers, where 
water meanders beneath the throne, and upon the throne 
is seated the Lord of all worlds, and the bearers of the 
throne are the Noble Eight, who present to him the oblation 
of my exercises, in this my state of discipline, and of the 
exercises of all believers. In the faith of the mystery of 
covenant of Ain-Mim-Sin." 

The eleventh chapter is called " The Testimony " : or, 
by the common people, " The Mountain." " GOD certifies, 
the angels, also, and all imbued with knowledge bear 
witness, that there is no GOD besides Him, the doer of justice ; 
that there is no GOD besides Him, the mighty, the wise* 
Verily, religion in GOD'S sight is Islam. O our Lord save 
us by Thy revelation, cause us to follow the Messenger, 
and so record us among those who firmly testify to Ain- 
Mim-Sin. 

" I testify that I am a Nusairi in religion, a Jandabi in 
counsel, a Junbulani in habitude, a Khusaibi in doctrine, 
a Jali as to maxims, a Maimuni in legal science ; and I 
stand fast in expectation of the splendid recurrence, the 
brilliant return, the withdrawal of the veil, the lighting up 
of the thick cloud, the manifestation of that which is unseen, 
the showing forth of the hidden, and the appearance of 
Ali-Ibn-Abu-Talib from amid the sun, arresting every soul, 
with the lion beneath him, the Dhu-1-Fakar in his hand, the 
angels behind him, and lord Salman before him, while water 
wells up from between his feet, and lord Mohammed cries 
out, saying : ' Behold your Sovereign, Ali-Ibn-Abu-Talib ! 
Acknowledge him, glorify him, magnify him, exalt him, 

11 



SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

Behold your creator and provider ! Disown him not ! Bear 
me witness, O my lords, that this is my religion and my faith, 
whereto I commit myself, whereby I live, wherein I shall 
die. ^Ali-Ibn-Abu-Talib lives, and will not die ; in his hand is 
destiny, and absolute dominion ; in his gift are hearing, 
seeing, and understanding. Peace be to us from the 
remembrance of them/ " 

The Kalazians claim that expression " and the appearance 
of Ali-Ibn-Abu-Talib from amid the sun," in this chapter, 
as evidence of the correctness of their doctrine, remarking 
that the moon comes forth to view out of the sunset-sky. 
The worshippers of the twilight, on account of this expression, 
fancy that the twilight comes forth from the midst of the 
sun, while, at the same time, maintaining that the twilight- 
reddening of the sun creates the sun. The Northerners say 
that " the sun " is, here, a metonymy for Fatimah, the 
daughter of Asad, whose child was Ali-Ibn-Abu-Talib ; 
for it is the belief of the Northerners, universally, that both 
she and Fatimah the daughter of Mohammed were the 
Expressed Deity, that is, Mohammed, who, as they hold, 
is represented in the sun. 

The twelfth chapter, called "The Imaum Chapter/' 
implies that the Nusairis adore a seen, present, not an 
incommunicative Deity ; and that this Deity is Ali-Ibn- 
Abu-Talib, whom the Northerners believe to be presented 
to view in the whole heavens, and the Kalazians suppose 
to be the moon, each party, accordingly, interpreting the 
chapter to suit its own views. 

The thirteenth chapter is called " The Journeying 
Chapter." " Let whatsoever is in the heavens, and what- 
soever is on the earth, glorify GOD, the Mighty, the Wise ! 
With the return of morning doth GOD'S whole realm give 
glory. In the name of GOD, by the help of GOD, and in 
the faith of the mystery of lord Abu Abdallah, whose 
religion whosoever conforms to, and whose worship whosoever 
adopts, GOD brings him to the knowledge of Himself ; and 
whose religion whosoever does not conform to, and whose 
religion whosoever does not adopt, has GOD'S curse upon 
him. By the mystery of the Chief, and his peculiar children, 
may GOD give happiness to them all." 



THE RELIGIOUS SYSTEM OF THE NUSAIRIS 163 

When the Nusairis find mention made, in their secret 
books, of any city, they interpret it figuratively as signifying 
the heavens, and suppose its inhabitants to be stars, agreeably 
to what is explicitly laid down in the Egyptian Missive, 
and other books. f 

The fourteenth chapter is called " The Reverenced House," 
and originated with the primitive Nusairis, who used 
it as a method of introduction to the performance of 
pilgrimage. That is to say, it refers to the house which 
the Koran commands should be visited, and its under- 
pinnings, roof, and enclosures, as signifying, metaphorically, 
an acquaintance with persons represented thereby, agreeably 
to what is said by Sheikh Ibrahim-at-Tusi, in his " Poem of 
the Letter Ain " " O, the change of GOD'S house ! which is 
His Intermediary ; of as-Safa, which is al-Mikdad, tamer 
of the Adversary ; of Marwah, whereof Abu-dh-Dharr is 
the memorable personation ; of the ceremonies of the 
house, which are Salsal, submissive to the Deity ; its 
enclosing steps, how changed do they present them- 
selves ! The door-ring of the house is Ja'far, star in the 
ascendant." 

The house signifies the Lord Intermediary, the Mim ; 
as-Safa, al-Mikdad ; the two steps, al-Hassan and al-Hussain ; 
the door-ring, acquaintance with Ja'far as-Sadik ; al-Marwah, 
acquaintance with Abu dh-Dharr ; and the sacred place of 
ceremony, acquaintance with Salman al-Farisi. Such inter- 
pretations are distinctly presented in very many books of 
the Nusairis ; and an acquaintance with the several persons 
named stands, with them, for the completion of pilgrimage. 
Moreover, that acquaintance is understood by the Nusairis 
to be obtainable by sight, in conformity with what is their 
belief, universally, that the sun is Mohammed. 

The zeal of the Moslems in visiting Mecca seems to 
the Nusairis idle and blameworthy ; and one of their chiefs 
has expressed himself to this effect in the following words : 

" Cursed be all who forbid the drinking of wine, and all 
the Syrians, and the pilgrims." 

In the Book of Summary of Festivals we find the following 
passage :* " They have assigned to thee a grave, and 

1 Journale Asiatique, IVe, Serie xi, 153. 



164 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

suppose thee to be buried in it ; but in truth they practise 
deceit." 

Again, it is said in the " Book of Confirmation," by Sheikh 
Mohammed al-Kalazi, quoting from the " Book of Light 
Handling," which the Nusairis believe to have been composed 
by Jafar as-Sasik, the words of Jafar, when he was inquired 
of by af-Mufadhdhal with reference to the edifice which 
the Moslems are so zealous in visiting, imagining it to be 
GOD'S house : " Such visitation is the sum and substance 
of unbelief ; that edifice is a prop of idols, even as it is of 
stone, like idols, and people are well nigh dolts in visiting 
it, and short of understanding." 

To this al-Kalazi adds : " So I give them for answer, 
as to this matter, that the practice should be abandoned ; 
and besides, there are places of pilgrimage, and trees, 
innumerable, which they may visit, nearer than the Kaabah ; 
so idle a proceeding verifies in them the words of the poet^ 
who says : ' Thou boast est, O my brother, of strange things : 
of a jaundiced physician administering to his fellow men : 
of a weaver who is always naked of clothing : and of an 
oculist prescribing collyrium, who is himself blind ; f and 
those of another poet : ' The physician sets himself to 
administer to others, and forgets his own pain-stricken 
heart/" 

The fifteenth chapter is called " The Chapter of the 
Intermediary." The sixteenth chapter is called " The 
Chapter of Pursuivants." It recites the names of certain 
Pursuivant-lords, whom Mohammed chose as disciples, 
which it is unnecessary to give here. 



CHAPTER XVIII 
RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS OF THE NUSAIRIS 

IN the second and third sections of his book Sulaiman gives 
us information as to the festivals of the Nusairis ; the 
prayers used at them ; the various offices of the three Orders 
of chiefs, namely Imaums, Pursuivants and Dignitaries, 
and their respective duties and mutual relations with the 
congregations of the believers. In his description of the 
ceremonies observed on festival occasions he introduces 
various liturgical forms not usually known. 

Sulaiman remarks that these annual celebrations had 
an ancient origin, and are carefully perpetuated ; the 
necessary expenses are borne by the wealthier members 
of the sect, every rich Nusairi binding himself to defray 
the cost of one, two or three of the celebrations, according 
to the measure of his zeal. In towns they are held in the 
evening, for the sake of secrecy, but this precaution is not 
always observed in the country villages. He also states 
that the Nusairi villagers give themselves up to special 
festivity on their New Year's Day, the ist of Second Kanum, 
or January, and show less regard for certain seasons observed 
with special ceremonies among the Moslems as well as 
themselves, while the inhabitants of towns avoid such 
discrimination, lest the Moslems should find them out. 

The following list of Nusairian festivals, drawn up, 
apparently, in the order of their estimation, is given by the 
author, with the distinct understanding of it not including 
all. 

1. Festival of al-Ghadir, on the i8th of Dhu-1-Hajjah. 

2. of al-Udhhiyah, on the loth of Dhu-1-Haj jah. 

(This is a memorial of Ismail Ibn Hajir.) 



166 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

3. Festival of al-Maharjan, on the i6th of First Tishrin. 

4. of Al-Barbarah, on the I4th of Second 

Tishrin. 

5. ,, after an interval of a week from the last. 

6. ,, after an interval of a week from the last. 

7. ,, of the Birth-time of lord Messiah, on the 

I5th of First Kanum. 

8. ,, of the Baptism, on the 6th of Second Kanum. 

9. of I7th Adhar. 

10. of ist Nisan. 

11. ,, of 4th Nisan. 
ii. of I5th Nisan. 

13. ,, of gth of First Rabi, called the 2nd Ghadir. 

14. ,, on the night of the I5th of Sha'ban. 

In connection with this list certain other festivals are 
enumerated, without specification of the times when they 
are celebrated, namely, the Festival of John the Baptist, 
and of John Chrysostom, the Festival of Palms and of the 
Element, and the Festival of Mary Magdalene. The following 
seasons of special observance are also mentioned : the 
first night of Ramadhan, and the seventeenth, nineteenth, 
twenty-first and twenty-third nights of that month. The 
whole enumeration by Sulaiman agrees, for the most part, 
with Catafago's list, published in the Journal Asiatique for 
1848, * though each author names some celebrations not 
noticed by the other. 

When a festival-day arrives, the men assemble at the 
house of the master of the festival, that is, the person at 
whose expense it is celebrated ; and the Imaum takes a 
seat among them. Then there is placed before him a piece 
of white cloth, on which are laid mahlab berries, camphor, 
candles, and myrtle or olive leaves. 

A vessel filled with wine of pressed grapes, or figs, is 
brought forward, and two Pursuivants seat themselves on 
eitjier side of the Imaum. Then the Master of the Festival 
designates another Pursuivant to act as the minister of 
the occasion, and coming forward kisses the Imaum's hand, 
and the hand of each of the Pursuivants seated by his side, 

1 Journal Asiatique, IVe, Serie xi, 149-55. 



RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS OF THE NUSAIRIS 167 

as well as that of the Pursuivant selected to perform the 
service. The latter then rises, and places his two hands 
upon his breast, saying : " May God grant you a good 
evening, my lords, and a pleasant and happy morning ! 
Is it your pleasure that I minister for you at this blessed 
festival (or, blessed time), over the cup of so-and-so, the 
Master of the Ceremonies ? God bless him." To this 
those present reply : " Yes " whereupon the Pursuivant, 
making his obeisance to the assembly, by kissing the ground, 
takes in his hand some myrtle leaves, and distributes them, 
reciting, meanwhile, the following, called the " Myrtle 
String " : " God hath said : ' If he is one of those promoted 
to honour, he shall have rest, and gentle puffs of air, and a 
garden of delight ' I ; O God, let thy benediction rest upon 
the names of the myrtle personations, namely, Sa'sa'h 
Bin Sahan, Zaid Bin Suhan al-Abdi, the most excellent and 
meritorious Ammar Bin Yasir, Mohammed Ibn-Abu-Bekr, 
and Mohammed Ibn - Abu - Hudhaifah may divine bene- 
dictions rest upon them all/' 

These words are likewise recited by all present, who 
rub in their hands, meanwhile, the myrtle leaves, and smell 
them. Afterwards, the Pursuivant takes a basin of water, 
puts into it some mahlab berries and camphor, and reads 
a mass, as follows : 

" THE PERFUME MASS " 

" O, ye believers, have regard to this, your Demigod, 
in whose presence ye are assembled, and put away hatred 
from your hearts, and doubt and malice from your breasts, 
that your worship may be perfected by acquaintance with 
your Indicator, that your invocation may be accepted, and 
that our Lord, and yours, may honour your hospitality. 
Know ye that Ali-Ibn-Abu-Talib abides with you, is present 
among you, hearing and seeing, and that he knows whatso- 
ever is above the seven heavens, as well as whatsoever is 
beneath the ground, and is acquainted with secret thoughts, 
the mighty one, the forgiving. Beware, beware, brothers, 
of being merry and laughing aloud, in prayer-time, as do 
the fools ; for such behaviour invalidates ceremonies, brings 

' Koran Ivi, 87, 88. 



168 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

on catastrophes, and impairs what is virtuous in conduct. 
But hearken to and hear the commands of the lord Imaum ; 
for he stands among you, as it were, in the majesty of the 
infinite, the supreme, the omniscient One. We, being thus 
minded, have mingled for you this perfume, as the heavens 
are blended with the seven signs of Imaumship, on the 
peerless necklace of souls existing in substance, disencumbered 
of fleshly, human, bald-templed form. With those seven 
regale ye your chaste souls, pure from all wicked deeds. 
Therewith doth the Mim endow the Sin in every age, and 
at all times I affirm it on oath so that he is Ali, a God, 
to whom sincere worship is due, beside whom all beings 
invoked by men are a lie (seeing that to worship the creature 
is an idle fancy), for he let him be exalted, and let his 
state be magnified ! is, in the height of his dignity, the 
all-informed, the omniscient, the august Supreme." 

He then pours upon the Imaum's hand a spoonful of 
the perfumed water, and gives the basin to the Dignitary, 
that he may do the same upon the hand of each person 
present. While the Dignitary is thus going the round, 
he reads the following, called 

THE PERFUME STRING 

" God hath said : ' The unbelievers see that the heavens 
and the earth were each a solid mass, and that we have 
ruptured them, and, by means of water, produced every 
living thing will they not then believe P' 1 Glory be to 
him who vivifies the lifeless, in a land of freezing cold. By 
the power of our Lord, the almighty Supreme omnipotent 
is God ! omnipotent is God ! " 

All present likewise recite this formula, laving their 
faces the while. Then the Pursuivant takes a censer, 
and stands up, and reads the second mass : 

THE INCENSE MASS 

" The mass of incense, and of exhaled odours, circling 

about in the reverenced house, in the dwelling of our God, 

a dwelling of joy and gladness. Someone says that our 

chief and lord, Mohammed Bin Sinan az-Zahiri peace be 

Koran, xxi, 31. 



RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS OF THE NUSAIRIS 169 

to us from him was accustomed to stand up for the Friday 
prayer, every day and night, once or twice, taking in his 
hand a ruby, or, as is also said, a sapphire, or, according 
to another report, a chrysolite, which was consecrated to 
the brilliant Fatimah, and incensing cups, with perfection 
of cheer, incensing the servant of light, therewith, amid 
festive decoration and glitter. Know ye, O believers, that 
the light is Mohammed, and the night Salman. Incense 
your cups, and light your lamps, and say all of you : Praise 
be to God, praise be to God, for favour unsurpassed, and 
whose mystery defying penetration has been bestowed 
upon us bountiful, noble, exalted, august is he ! Believe 
and be assured, O believers, that the person of the servant 
of light is free to you, among yourselves, and forbidden 
to you in the company of others." 

In a note to this formula, the author says that what is 
meant here by " the servant of light " is wine ; that is, 
wine is here presented as an image of Ali. 

After this the Pursuivant incenses the Imaum, as well 
as the two seated by his side, and gives the censer to the 
Dignitary, so that he may incense the rest of the Assembly. 1 
While going his round, this official recites what is called 

THE INCENSE STRING 

" O GOD, give benediction and peace to our Lord 
Mohammed, the elect, and his sons. May the divine bene- 
diction rest upon them all." 

The receivers of the incense also recite this formula. 
Afterwards the Pursuivant takes a cup in his hand, and, 
standing up, reads the third mass ; the " Call to Prayer." 
This, though a very beautiful recital of adoration, is a 
repetition of most of the " Perfume Mass/' and need not be 
given here. He then presents the cup to the Imaum, and, 
filling another, gives it to the person seated on the Imaum's 
right, and hands a third to the one seated on his left ; each 
of whom recites the following : "I testify that my Lord, 
and thine, is the Prince of Bees, Ali-Ibn-Abu-Talib, who 

1 An account of these ceremonies, in most points corroborating Sulaiman's, 
is given in Lyde's Asian Mystery, as given to the author by a young Nusairi 
Initiate. 



170 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

is unconditioned, imperishable, unchangeable ; and I testify 
that his Intermediary is lord Mohammed, and his Communi- 
cator lord Salman ; and the Communicator proceeds not 
from between the Archetypal Deity and the Expressed 
Deity." After this the presenter of the cup says to each : 
" Take, O my brother, this cup in thy right hand, and ask 
help of thy Lord, Ali-Ibn-Abu-Talib, thy ruler and helper." 
To this each communicant replies : " Give, O my brother, 
that which is in thy right hand, and ask help of thy Lord 
and Creator, thy ruler and helper in matters of thy religion 
may GOD make it to flourish with His affluence, by the 
suretyship of Mohammed and his race." Afterwards, the 
Pursuivant rises, and placing his hands upon his breast 
says : " May GOD grant you a good evening, O brothers, 
and a pleasant morning, O people of the faith ! Forgive 
us any errors or negligences ; for man is so called only 
because he lapses into error, and absolute perfection pertains 
only to our Lord, the glorious Ali, who is omniscient." 
He then kisses the ground, and sits down. 

Then the Imaum, facing the assembly, says : " May GOD 
grant you a good evening, O brothers, and a pleasant morning, 
O people of the faith. Is it your pleasure that I should 
minister for you, on this blessed day, over the cup of the 
Master of Ceremonies ! GOD bless him ? " He kisses the 
ground, which the assembly also do, striking two octaves 
with the words : " We accept thee as our chief and lord." 
The Imaum then says : " It is a tradition on the authority 
of our lord Ja'far as-Sadik, the reticent and declarer, the 
render and binder, 1 that he said : ' At prayer- time it is 
forbidden either to take, to give, to sell, to buy, to report 
the news, to whisper, to be noisy, to be restless, or to tell 
stories, over the myrtle : but let there be silence, listening 
attention, and saying of Amen/ Know ye, O brothers, 
that if anyone wears upon his head a black turban, or carries 
on his finger a kishtban, or at his waist a two-edged knife, 
his prayer is hindered : and the greatest of sins is to fail 
in duty over the myrtle ; for what is binding upon a messenger 
if not manifest vigilance ? " Then he kisses the ground, 
saying : " This homage to GOD, and to you, O brothers ! " 
1 Another reference to the fructification of the earth. 



RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS OF THE NUSAIRIS 171 

after which all who are present prostrate themselves, kiss 
the ground, raise their hands to their heads, and say : "To 
GOD let him be exalted -be thy homage paid, O our 
chief and lord ! " 

Afterwards the Imaum reads the " Formula of Dis- 
burdening." 

After a long string of terrible curses against individuals, 
which it is unnecessary to give here, the Formula goes on : 

" Do thou curse the Hanifite, Shafiite, Malikite, and 
Hanbalite sects, and those who play with apes, and catch 
hold of black serpents, together with all Christians and 
Jews, and everyone who believes that Ali-Ibn-Abu-Talib 
ate, or drank, or was born, or had sexual intercourse may 
GOD curse them. Moreover, lay thou the curse upon John 
Marun the Patriarch, 1 the execrable, and upon all those 
who feed on thy bounties, while they worship not thee ; 
and do thou rid us of them utterly, as flesh is cleared from 
a bone, by the suretyship of Ali, Mohammed and Salman, 
and by the favour of Ain-Mim-Sin." 

Then he wipes his hand upon his breast, saying to those 
present : " We disburden ourselves of these vile Satans, 
the heretics, in dependence on the favour of Ain-Mirn-Sin," 
which those assembled repeat, kissing one another's hands 
to the right and left : after which the Imaum reads the 
Chapter of the Opening, and the Chapter of the Two 
Deficiencies, together with all that follows, up to the 
Chapter of the Sun and the Chapter of Broad Sunshine, 2 
and also the throne- verSe, 3 and other verses of the Koran, 
at his pleasure. When he has done reading, after reciting 
a prayer, the Imaum goes on with certain other forms, 
glorifying and adoring Ali, and recites many masses. All 
then raise their hands to their breasts, and recite the Chapter 
of Betokening (see p. 160), each party performing the action 
of raising hands in his own way, as explained in the notes 
on that chapter. When this recitation is over, the Imaum 
takes in his hands a cup of wine, and reads a tradition 
authorized by al-Hussain Bin Hamdan al-Khusaibi, in which 

* The first patriarch of the Maronites, who held office about A,D. 700 ; 
see Assemanni Bibl. Orient., i. 496. 

* Koran i. and Ixxxiii-xciii. s Ibid. ii. 256. 



172 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

All is set forth as the one true GOD : afterwards he directs 
the assembly to bow the head, which they do while reciting 
the Sixth Chapter (see p. 159) ; then he takes the cup which 
is in the hand of him who sits on his right, and mingles 
its wine with his own, saying, as he mingles ; " Seest thou 
yonder ? Seest thou ? delightsomcness ! O great 
magnificence ! They are arrayed in green silk gauze and 
brocade, and their Lord gives them pure wine to drink. 
Verily this is your portion ; your zeal will surely be re- 
compensed." 

Next he recites the Ninth Chapter (see p. 161), the assembly 
repeating after him, and then drinks a little from one of 
the two cups, and presents it to him who sits on his right. 
Then he takes the third cup l from him who sits on his 
left, drinks a little of that, and gives it back to him, and 
presents the cup which he still retains to the ministering 
Pursuivant : and so the cups pass round among them, 
from one to another ; and as they are offered, each offerer 
kisses the hand of the receiver, saying to him : "Be thou 
extolled ! drink, O my brother and lord, in the faith of 
the mystery of Ain-Mim-Sin " ; whereupon he takes the 
cup, and drinks, saying to the offerer : " May God give thee 
to drink, O my brother and lord." To this the offerer 
replies : " May GOD cheer thee through thy fellowship 
of the cup, and thy draught, and cause thee to attain to 
thy goal, and that which thou seekest after ! " When the 
offering of the cup is over, the assembly pronounce an 
14 Amen " ; then the Imaum reads some verses from the 
Koran as follows : " TSM those are marks of the Plain 
Book. Perchance thou wearest thyself out with "grief, 
because they are not believers : if we please, we will reveal 
to them a sign from heaven to which their necks will bow,"* 
adding : " To GOD, O believers, bend." 

When this direction has been obeyed by the recitation of 
the Sixth Chapter, as before, the Chapter of Salutation 
(see p. 159) is read by the Imaum, and repeated by the 

1 The various libations mentioned in the course of this ceremony might 
well be the source of the introduction of similar repeated libations in the 
ritual of Knights Templar. 

* Koran xxvi. 1-3. 



RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS OF THE NUSAIRIS 178 

assembly, after which the Imaum reads the Second Mass 
of " The Incense String/' (see p. 169) and then concludes 
his prayer with three Melodies by al-Hussain Bin Hamdan 
al-Khusaibi, the assembly repeating them after him. 

Then, facing the assembly, he says : " Forgive us, O 
brothers, any errors or negligences, and addition or omission ; 
for all men are prone to negligence and forgetfulness, and 
absolute perfection pertains only to your Master the 
Exalted to the Glorious One, whose knowledge is all 
surpassing. This homage to GOD and to you, O brothers, 
O believers ! " He then kisses the ground, and the assembly 
also kiss it, responding to him : "To GOD be thy homage 
paid O our Chief and Lord." After this, all standing up, 
they kiss the hands of one another, on the right and left, 
and near by and, at the same moment, the candles are ex- 
tinguished, as it is day, and the Master of the Festival gives 
alms to the Imaum and the ministering Pursuivant, which 
are called dirhams, as well as to all who have joined in the 
recitations. 

Then the Imaum takes in his hand the Summary, and 
reads a little of it to the assembly and bids them bend, 
which they do as before ; and after that directs the one 
who sits on his right to read the Right-hand Invocation 
and then directs all to recite the Chapter of Salutation 
(see p. 159), and when this is finished, bids him who 
sits on his left to read the Left-hand Invocation, and 
at the close says : " This homage to GOD, and to you, 
O brothers, all ye who are present/' He again kisses the 
ground, while the assembly do likewise, and also kiss the 
hands of one another, on the right and left ; whereupon 
the Imaum stands up, and uncovers his head ; the assembly 
do the same ; he directs them to recite the Chapter of 
The Opening, 1 saying " The Chapter of the Opening, O 
brothers, has to do with the subversion of the dynasty of 
Othman, and the succour of the people of al-Khusaibi, 
the Nusairis." Frequently, to this petition is added a petition 
to Ali for the overthrow of all Moslem rulers, 

In conclusion, the Ministers rise and place food before 
the assembly, presenting most of it to the Imaum, who 

Koran i. 



174 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

distributes a little to those near him ; after which they all 
eat, and disperse. 

Having thus recounted the ceremonies usually observed 
at the festivals of the Nusairis, Sulaiman also specifies 
some customs which are peculiar to certain occasions. At 
the festivals in the month of Nisan, of the ijth of Adhar, 
and of the i6th of First Tishrin, when they begin their prayers, 
there is placed before the Imaum a large basin of water, 
with twigs of olive, myrtle, or willow in it ; and as soon 
as prayers are over, all uncover their heads, and the Dignitary 
stands up and sprinkles over them some of the water, and 
distributes a few of the twigs, which they place in their 
bee-hives to obtain good luck. Whenever they recite the 
Chapter of the Bowing of the Head (see p. 159), they bend 
to the ground, excepting on the day of al-Ghadir, when in 
reading it, they raise their heads heavenwards. 



CHAPTER XIX 

FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES AND DEEPER 
MYSTERIES OF THE NUSAIRI RELIGION 

ALL the Nusairis believe, says Sulaiman, that the spirits of 
the chiefs of the Moslems, firmly grounded in the science 
of their religion, assume, at death, the bodily forms of asses ; 
that Christian ministers enter into the bodies of swine : 
that Jewish rabbis take the form of male apes ; and as 
for the wicked of their own sect, that their spirits enter 
into the bodies of quadrupeds used for food, sceptics of 
note excepted who, after death, are changed into male 
apes. Persons of mixed character, partly good and partly 
bad, become invested with human bodies in other sects. 
When a professor of some other belief apostatizes, and is 
united with them, they hold that in past incarnations he 
was one of themselves, and that his birth within the pale of 
that faith which he abandons was consequent upon some 
crime which he had committed. 

No member of any alien sect is admitted into their 
fraternity, for the first time, unless he be a Persian, the 
Persians being believers in the divinity of Ali-Ibn-Abu- 
Talib like themselves. There is little doubt the progenitors 
were from Persia and Irak. " In Jewish history they are 
said to have originated in Palestine," goes on this author, 
" and this statement is not groundless, inasmuch as they 
hold many principles in common with people of that 
country, such as the worship of the sun and the moon. 
But, unquestionably, Magians are found among ttyem, so 
that their worship may be of Magian origin, and they may 
be practising in the present time rites which are none other 
than Magian. 

176 



176 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

" As for one of their faith by birth, who apostatizes, 
their judgment respecting the separatist is that his mother 
was an adulteress among them, being of that sect whose 
creed he adopts. They simulate all sects, and, on meeting 
with Moslems, swear to them that they likewise fast and 
pray. But their fasting is after a worthless manner : and, 
if they enter a mosque in company with Moslems, they 
recite no prayer, but lowering and raising their voices in 
imitation of their companions, curse Abu Bekr, Omar, 
Othman, and other persons. The simulation of sects is 
set forth by them, allegorically, as follows : ' We, say they, 
are the body, and all other sects are the clothings ; but 
whatever sort of clothing a man may put on, it injures 
him not ; and whosoever does not thus simulate is a fool, 
for no reasonable person will go naked in the market-place/ 
I will specify, however, a token by which the dissembler 
may be recognized : when a Nusairi disavows the worship 
of Ali-Ibn-Abu-Talib it may be known that he sets light by 
his belief, since he could not so express himself without 
having abandoned his religion ; or, when a Nusairi reveals 
his form of prayer, it is certain that he has apostatized, 
for thus says their lord al-Khusaibi : ' Whoever discloses 
our testimony is forbidden our garden ; and if anyone 
says to you ' Disclose, and be guiltless, hasten away.' 

" A token by which members of the sect recognize one 
another is as follows : If a stranger comes among his fellow- 
believers, he inquires : ' I have a relative : do you know 
him ? ' To this they reply : ' What is his name ? ' He 
then says ' His name is al-Hussain/ when they rejoin : 
' Ibn Hamdan/ and he adds ' al-Khusaibi/ 1 

" A second token consists in their saying to the stranger : 
' Thy uncle was unsettled for how many periods ? ' To 
which if he replies ' Sixteen/ they receive him. 2 A third 
is the question : ' If thy uncle should thirst, whence wouldst 
thou give, him to drink ? ' To this the answer is : ' From 
the fountain of Ali-quality/ A fourth token is this inquiry : 

1 Here we have, in all probability, the source of the Masonic custom 
of " lettering or halving " passwords in perambulating the Lodge during 
certain ceremonies. 

An allusion to the successive stages of divine manifestation down to 
All, sixteen in number. 



MYSTERIES OF THE NUSAIRI RELIGION 177 

' Should thine uncle's feet sink in the sand, whither wouldst 
thou direct him ? ' , The answer to this is : 'To the 
Serpent of Mu'awiyah/ 1 A fifth question is : ' Should 
thine uncle annoy where wouldst thou meet him ? ' The 
answer being: 'In the Pedigree Chapter' (see p. 157). 
Then comes the following dialogue : ' Four, two fours, 
three and two, and as many more, twice over, in thy religion, 
what place have they ? ' The answer to this is : 'In 
the Journeying Chapter ' (see p. 162). ' Portion them out 
to me, wilt thou ? ' ' Seventeen of them of Irak, seven- 
teen of Syria, and seventeen unknown/ ' Where are they 
to be found ? ' 'At the gate of the city of Harran/ 
' What is their employment ? ' ' They receive justly, and 
render justly/ The binding adjuration among the 
Nusairis, universally, is to place one's hand in that of another, 
saying : ' I adjure thee by thy faith, in the faith of the 
covenant of Ali the Prince of Believers and by the covenant 
of Ain-Mim-Sin ; ' this makes it obligatory to speak the 
truth. Another form is to moisten a finger with one's 
spittle, and place it on the other's neck, saying : ' I am 
absolved of my sins, and lay them on thy neck ; and I 
adjure thee, by the foundation of thy religion, by the 
mystery of the covenant of Ain-Mim-Sin, that thou tell 
me the whole truth touching such and such a matter/ 
which also debars from falsehood. The latter form of 
adjuration is more established with the Northerners than 
with the Nusairis of other parties ; whoever takes it falsely, 
supposes himself to assume all the sins of the adjurer. 

" All the Nusairis imagine the eminent chiefs of their 
sect to have no sexual intercourse with their wives : but 
they make passes over them, by which they conceive. But 
among the Imaums of the Kalazians conjugal communism 
is said to be a law of hospitality, supported in part by a 
figurative interpretation of Koran xxxiii, 49, and partly 
by inference from one of ten rules of life attributed to Ja'far 
as-Sadik, enjoining upon every believer to gratify his fellow- 
believers as he would gratify himself, which the Northerners 
understand to require only a readiness to impart of one's 

* Meaning, of course, Ali, the biter of the heel, as it were, of Mu^wiyah, 
who nevertheless brought to an end his temporal dominion. '' 

12 



178 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

knowledge and property to a fellow-believer. It is also 
worthy of notice that the common people among the Nusairis 
regard their Imaums as infallible, and as having bodies not 
subject to the ordinary necessities of flesh and blood. 

" If anyone who has abjured their faith passes by when 
they are at prayer, that prayer is spoiled, and they repeat 
it over again. They must not pray at all on the same day 
that they hear a story told." 

After Sulaiman had been three years an Initiate he 
bribed one of the chiefs of the party of Northerners to 
disclose to him the hidden mystery, his advance in the sect 
being hindered by a suspicion of his holding even then 
heretical opinions. 

The chief undertook to present to Sulaiman proofs of 
the divinity of the heavens, instancing the Prophet's words 
in the Koran : " Whithersoever ye turn, there is GOD'S 
presence GOD is omnipresent, omniscient," 1 to which he 
added : " Know thou that in the name of Ali there are 
three letters, and that the words for the heavens, the twilight, 
the glimmering day, and the arching sun all have three 
letters which is a plain proof of the correctness of our 
doctrine. Hast thou not read the Chapter of Testimony in 
the Dustur, which says : ' He is immeasurable, illimitable, 
incomprehensible, inscrutable ? ' 2 And know thou, O my 
son, that sight cannot reach to the limit of the heavens, 
nor can anyone behold them in their prime configuration, 
that is, their real aspect, save only the Expressed Deity. 

" ' Know thou also/ continued the chief, ' that the dog 
of the Companions of al-Kahf was an impersonation of 
Ali-Ibn-Abu-Talib ; that he appeared to the seven youths 
who had fled from the Emperor Decian in the form of a 
dog, in order to try their faith and to prove them : and 
that, inasmuch as they believed in hin, they were elevated 
to the heavens, and became stars. Previously, he appeared 
to the Children of Israel in the form of a cow, when they 
had grievously sinned, and the earth had wellnigh swallowed 
them up, and so they who believed were delivered, while 
the doubting were engulfed in the earth, such as Korah 
and his company. In the Koran, this cow is said to have 
* Koran ii. 109. * See the Chapter of Testimony, p. 161. 



MYSTERIES OF THE NUSAIRI RELIGION 179 

been sacrificed, by which is meant that she was perfectly 
recognized. He appeared also to the people of Salih, in 
the form of a camel, which they mutilated, that mutilation 
signifying a rejection, on account of which they perished, 
and their city was turned upside down. Many other of 
his manifestations we leave unnoticed." 

Shortly after this interview, his doubts as to the truth 
of the Nusairian tenets increasing, Sulaiman renounced 
his faith altogether, and became a Jew, and subsequently 
a Christian. 



CHAPTER XX 

THE "HOUSE OF WISDOM 1 ' AT CAIRO, AND 
THE FOUNDING OF THE DRUSE SECT BY 
EL DORAZI AND HAMZEH 

DURING the reign of the Abbasside dynasty, Abu Mohammed 
Abdallah, who claimed to be a descendant of Ali by Fatimah, 
the daughter of the Prophet, and who claimed the Caliphate 
for this reason, succeeded in detaching from the sway of 
the Abbassides, who were then living in magnificent Oriental 
luxury on the banks of the Tigris, the whole of Arabia, 
Syria, Egypt, and the provinces west of it. He was the 
founder of the Fatimite dynasty, and established his throne 
at Cairo. Upholding Ismael as the founder of his " Path," 
and one of his descendants as the seventh Imaum, he took 
vigorous steps for the propagation of his system. 

" No history of the Fatimites," says Ameer Ali, 1 " can 
be complete without some mention of the extraordinary 
propaganda established by them, for in their desire to 
promote the diffusion of knowledge among their subjects, 
they did not ignore the political advantages of obtaining 
proselytes to their sect. To the central Dar-ul-Likmat, 
' House of Science,' was attached a Grand Lodge, where 
the candidates for initiation into the esoteric doctrines of 
Ismaelism were instructed. Twice a week, every Monday 
and Wednesday, the Dai-ud-Daawat, the Grand Prior of 
the Lodge, convened meetings, which were frequented 
by both men and women, dressed in white, occupying 
separate seats. These assemblages were named Majalis- 
ul-Likmat, or ' philosophical conferences.' Before the in- 
itiation the Dai-ud-Daawat waited on the Imaum (the Caliph), 

1 A Short History of the Saracens, p. 615. 
180 



THE " HOUSE OF WISDOM'* AT CAIRO 181 

the Grand Master, and read to him the discourse he proposed 
to deliver to the neophytes, and received his sign manual 
on the cover of the manuscript. After the lecture 1:he pupils 
kissed the hands of the Grand Prior, and reverently touched 
the signature of the Master with their foreheads. Makrisi's 
account of the different degrees of initiation adopted in 
the Lodge * forms an invaluable record of Freemasonry. 
In fact, the Lodge at Cairo became the model of all the 
Lodges created afterwards in Christendom." 

In this last assertion I am myself greatly in agreement, 
as it seems exceedingly evident, in considering the rituals 
and ceremonies of these Syrian secret sects, that herein 
are to be found very many of the foundations of our modern 
rituals, in many of the degrees allied to Freemasonry, as 
well as primarily in the three degrees of the Craft. 

Abu Ali el-Hakem li-Amr-illah, usually known as El 
Hakem, the sixth of the Fatimite dynasty, was born in 
A.D. 985 (A.H. 375) and succeeded to his father's throne 
at the early age of eleven. All historians agree that his 
reign, which extended to a period of twenty-five years, 
is distinguished only for its folly and tyranny, and he is 
stigmatized as an impious and bloodthirsty monster, the 
sanity of whose mind appears to be very doubtful. Many 
pages could be filled with even a condensed account of his 
awful cruelties. Anyone doubting the exclusive claims of Ali 
to divinity and the caliphate was promptly massacred. 

About the year 1017 a Persian named Mohammed Ibn 
Ismail el-Dorazi came to the court of Egypt. He was 
graciously received by El Hakem, and appointed to one of 
the first offices in the state. Dorazi appears to have published 
assertions of divinity previously claimed in private by 
Hakem, and ventured to read these in the principal mosque, 
in the presence of a large multitude. Though supported 
by the whole strength, public and secret, of the Caliph, 
who was to be made the object of adoration, the new 
doctrines were most unfavourably received by the turbulent 
and fanatical mob. Dorazi had to fly, to escape their 
threatened violence, and he was sent by Hakem to Wady 

1 Further details of these degrees, as given by Makrisi, will be found 
in Chapter XII, in dealing with the Karmathians, 



182 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

el-Teim, the great valley which separates the Lebanon 
from Hermon, with the view of making proselytes among 
the people of that region. The inhabitants of that valley, 
already belonging to the Batenite, or Schiite secret sect, 
appear to have been prepared to receive a new and modified 
form of their Ismaelian religion. Dorazi gave his name to 
the Druse nation, as is generally accepted, although Colonel 
Churchill says that some of the Druse Akkals, or priests, 
prefer it to the Arab word " Durs," which signifies clever, 
or industrious ; while others deduce it from " Turs/' 
or shield, because, they say, in the days of Nouradeen and 
Saladin they were selected to watch and defend the Syrian 
coast, from Beyrout to Sidon. 

But Dorazi is held in no respect by the Druses, although 
they accept, and retain, the doctrine of the divinity of 
Hakem which he thus promulgated amongst them. But 
the power of his position aroused in him ambitious designs. 
He attempted to introduce heretical innovations into the 
very doctrines he had been sent to inculcate, and seems 
to have aimed at converting the influence of a missionary 
into the independence of a rival prophet. 

However, after his departure from Cairo, another Persian 
appeared, and took his place. This was Hamzeh Ibn- Ahmed, 
surnamed El-Hady, who may be regarded as the real founder 
of the Druse religion. Hakem had succeeded in establishing 
in Egypt a belief in his own divinity, and obtained something 
like sixteen thousand converts. Hamzeh became successively 
his follower, his vizier, the director of the new sect, and an 
object of veneration almost as great as Hakem himself. 

The disciple whom Hamzeh sent to replace Dorazi was 
named Moktana Baha-edeen. He it was who may be said 
to have placed the Druse religion on the basis on which it 
at present stands. His numerous tracts and epistles have 
ever been the chief subjects of study and contemplation 
in the Druse Khalwehs. 

" Nevertheless, the teaching of Dorazi was too seducing 
in its tendency to be ever entirely abandoned by many 
who had once reconciled themselves to a system of theology, 
which, under the imposing epithet of the Mysteries, threw 
a cloak over the indulgence of the worst passions of human 



THE "HOUSE OF WISDOM " AT CAIRO 188 

nature. The schism was never eradicated, and to this 
day the Druses are divided into two sects, who, although 
bound together in a common faith in the Hakim and Hamzeh, 
are actuated, respectively, in their conduct, by the purer 
and more orthodox moral and religious teaching of Baha- 
edeen, or by the dark and unscrupulous libertinism of 
Dorazi. The former, it is but just to say, form a great 
majority ; the latter are ever ready for the indulgence and 
committal of every kind of lust and atrocity." * 

Dorazi, however, exercised his authority for a sufficient 
number of years to enable him to stamp his name on the 
sect which first arose under his auspices ; and to this circum- 
stance it is owing that all the followers of the doctrines 
preached by Hamzeh, instead of being called Hamzeites 
as they might and ought to have been, are called Druses. 

" Into that system," says the Earl of Carnarvon,* " Ham- 
zeh introduced every element of ^strength or attraction. The 
Mohammedan was reconciled by the profession of Unitarian- 
ism ; the Schiites, or followers of Ali, were already enlisted by 
sympathy for a Fatimite Caliph ; the Sufeistic, or mystical 
sects, which then, as ever, had their seat in Persia, and the 
far East, were allured by the esoteric doctrines and allegorical 
interpretations, whose existence must have easily betrayed 
itself to the initiated ; even the Karmathites, the Ismaelis, 
the Ansairis, were is some degree influenced by the ties 
of blood and locality, and the Christian was only required, by 
a simple process of conversion, to apply the familiar precepts 
of the Gospel to the faith of Hakem and Hamzeh. Thus blend- 
ing the doctrines of the Pentateuch, the Christian Gospel, 
the Koran, and the Sufee allegories, men were taught that 
seven mighty prophets in succession, whose order numbered 
not only Adam, Noah, Abraham and Moses, but also our 
Saviour, had guided and instructed the world in its various 
periods, and that their ministrations were closed by 
Mohammed, the Prophet of Mecca, and Mohammed the son 
of Ismael, the author and head of the last and mystical 
development of the Faith." 

" The real facts of the case are," says Chasseaud,3 " that 

1 Churchill, The Druses and the Maronites, p. 12. 
a Recollections of the Druses of the Lebanon, p. 60. 
3 Chasseaud, The Druses of the Lebanon, p. 369, 



184 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

the Druse creed possessing items of every acknowledged 
religion is itself a marvellous fable, evidently collected from 
every -existing creed, and yet so badly arranged that it 
contains in itself no plausible theory, and nothing that will 
admit of investigation. They tamely submit to the supposed 
superior knowledge of their Akkals, men, in reality, possessed 
of but little knowledge, and who might meet with a parallel 
in the professors of a faith in many lands claiming to greater 
civilisation than the Lebanon. 

" The word Akkal, which means sober or quiet, is very 
properly applied to the people who bear that name ; for, 
in reality, the Akkals are the more quiet, good, and sober 
part of the Druse population ; their whole lives are devoted 
to doing good, and they meet several times in the week 
in their Khalwehs, or sacred edifices, (or, as we should say, 
their Lodge-rooms,) where they discuss their creed, and give 
each other good advice." 

So much for the description from a non-Masonic point of 
View. It would seem clear, from the ceremonies of initiation 
into the sect described in a later chapter, as experienced 
by an American traveller who had been admitted a member 
of the sect, that these Akkals have attained to higher degrees 
in that Order of Masonry which has been preserved amongst 
these Syrian peoples from the very earliest periods of the 
world's history. 

The class of Akkals is not necessarily restricted to the 
male part of the population ; women are often admitted, 
provided they are of certain age, and are prepared to subject 
themselves to the same system of self-denial which character- 
izes the men. The following is the course of pro- 
ceeding which is adopted when a person is desirous of joining 
the Order. A necessary preliminary is, that the person who is 
a candidate for the honour of admission into the sacred corps 
should intimate his intention to an Akkal, upon which a 
special meeting is held. This is a very solemn affair, and 
the ordeal one of the strictest imaginable. An inquiry 
takes place into the general character and conduct of the 
aspirant ; his whole life is passed in review ; his habits 
criticized, and everything that is known respecting him 
fully discussed, 



THE "HOUSE OF WISDOM" AT CAIRO 185 

Supposing him not to have been guilty of any crime, 
and to be well recommended, the next step is that he should 
be made acquainted with the requisitions of the Druse 
religion, which are then clearly set before him ; and he is 
informed that to be worthy of becoming an Akkal, he must 
forthwith abandon every vice, and relinquish all the idle 
habits he may hitherto have indulged in. He must not 
smoke, or drink wine or spirits ; neither must he take 
snuff ; he must be content to wear the plainest apparel 
(this is perhaps aimed at the fairer portion of the Akkal 
society) ; and, in short, laying aside every thought of 
splendour and luxury, must only consider how he can best 
show, in his demeanour and life, a firm devotion to the simple 
habits and sacred principles of the Order of which he now 
desires to become an adopted member. 

But this is not enough ; the capability to lead a holy 
life is not always equal to the desire. A temporary excite- 
ment of religious tendencies, a more than ordinary warmth 
of imagination, a sudden calamity, may for a time awaken 
the stings of conscience, and affect the tenderest sensibilities 
of the heart ; but the good impressions too often yield 
before the force of temptation, and the dormant energies 
which have been aroused for the moment sink back into 
their wonted lethargy ; or a zeal untempered by knowledge 
proves that we have undertaken a burden too heavy for 
us to bear, and that we had better not have put our hand 
to the plough if we cannot forbear to look back. 

The wise Akkals, therefore, are not satisfied with the best 
of promises. They require a little proof, and to this end 
they allow the candidate for admission into their ranks a 
certain fixed period, varying in duration according to the 
man's previous life, before the lapse of which he is expected 
to have made up his mind finally as to his capability of 
conforming faithfully, for the rest of his life, to the tenets 
of so strict and severe a profession. During this period 
of probation all his actions and pursuits are closely watched 
and scrupulously noted ; and should he, at the end of this 
allotted time, still evince a desire to become an Akkal, 
he is then admitted into the Khalwehs, and suffered to kttend 
of their religious meetings an4 listen to an exposition 



186 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

of their creed and doctrines. Twelve months are now 
devoted to his religious education, at the end of which time 
he is considered to be sufficiently tried and instructed to 
assume the title of Akkal. Then the ceremony of donning 
the white turban takes place, for by this white turban the 
Akkals are recognized ; and he is thereupon admitted into 
all the mysteries of the faith, and becomes one of the initiated 
brethren. 

The sect is divided into the three degrees, Profanes, 
Aspirants and Wise. A Druse who has entered the second 
may return to the first degree, but incurs death if he reveals 
what he has learned. Heckethorn J refers to the allegation 
that they worship a calf's head in their secret meetings, 
but agrees that it is more probable " this effigy represents 
the principle of falsehood and evil, Iblis, the rival and 
enemy of Hakim. The Druses have been accused, as 
mentioned above, in common with other Syrian (and probably 
all other) secret sects, of licentious orgies, and they are said 
by Bespier, in his Remarks on Ricaut (an English diplomatist 
who wrote in 1700) to marry their own daughters ; but 
according to other evidence, including that of neighbouring 
Christians, a young Druse, as soon as he is initiated, gives 
up all dissolute habits, and becomes, at least in appearance, 
quite another man, meriting, as in other initiations, the 
title of " new-born." 

According to Druse traditions, the world was, at the 
appearance of GOD, in the form of Hakim three thousand, 
four hundred and thirty million years old, and they believe, 
like certain sects in England and America, that the millennium 
is close at hand. 

Every village has its meeting place (Khalweh), where 
religious and political affairs are discussed every Thursday 
night, the Wise, men and women, attending. The resolutions 
passed at such meetings are communicated to the district 
meetings, which again report to the general assembly in 
the town of Baklin, on Mount Lebanon. This was the fortified 
seat of government until, in the last century, Deir-el-Kammar 
(the Moon-Monastery), was built as the Lebanon metropolis. 
At the general assembly the questions raised at the district 
* Heckethorn, Secret Societies, vol. i. p. 128. London, 1874, 



THE "HOUSE OF WISDOM 5 * AT CAIRO 

meetings are discussed, and the deputies from the different 
villages who have attended, on their return home, announce 
the decisions arrived at ; so that the Druses, in fact, have 
a regular family council, to which, however, the Wise only 
are admitted, the uninitiated never being consulted in political 
or social matters. The Wise often retire into hermitages, 
whereby they acquire great honour and influence. Heckethorn 
puts the number of Druses as not exceeding fifty or sixty 
thousand occupying in the Lebanon upwards of forty large 
towns and villages, and nearly two hundred and thirty 
villages with a mixed population of Druses and Christians, 
whilst in the Anti-Lebanon they are also possessed of nearly 
eighty exclusively Druse villages. 



CHAPTER XXI 
THE RELIGION OF THE DRUSES 

" BEFORE we enter on an exposition of the religion of the 
Druses," says Dr. Wortabet, 1 who is a standard authority 
on the Druses, from his many years' residence as a missionary 
of the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland in their 
district, " we shall premise a few remarks on the source 
from which it is derived. And we think there can be no hesi- 
tation as to the real origin of the tenets which were collected 
and incorporated by Hamzeh into his religion, because the 
authority of history in this matter is both explicit and 
unmistakable. About two centuries after the rise of 
Mohammedanism, several sects flourished in Persia and on 
the eastern confines of Irak, under the general name of 
Batenites, or Mystics. This name is derived partly from 
the recondite nature of their creed, which, on the principle 
of allegorization, raised from old and existing religions a 
new fabric different from them all, and partly, perhaps, 
from their outward profession of the prevailing and dominate 
religion of Islam in the East. Among them the Karmathians, 
by their sword, won the highest degree of celebrity and 
eminence of position. After subduing all Arabia, Syria and 
Irak, and threatening to capture the royal city of the successors 
of Mohammed, they were defeated by the Abbassides, 
and their religion and position reduced to their original 
narrow limits, but not, however, until their principles had 
been diffused throughout the extensive tract of country 
which they had overrun with their sword. The other 
kindred sects were supported by feeble numbers, and their 

* Wortabet, Researches into the Religions of Syria, pp. 297 ff, London, 1860* 

16$ 



THE RELIGION OF THE DRUSES 189 

influence out of their own communion could not have been 
much. It was from the doctrines of these sects that both 
El Dorazi and Hamzeh took the religion of the Druses. 
Both were Persians, and, according to the testimony of 
historians, learned Batenite doctors. But in arriving at 
this conclusion the greatest satisfaction may perhaps be 
obtained by comparing the Druse with the Batenite doctrines, 
observing the close resemblance between them, and in some 
cases the complete identity, and tracing the relation of 
the one to the other, as we trace a developed theory to the 
primary idea or ideas which gave rise to it." 

But the religion of the Druses can be traced to a still 
more remote source. For the Batenites have evidently 
borrowed many of their doctrines from the philosophers of 
ancient times, especially the Persian, as improved by Zoro- 
aster systems, which were so prevalent before the Christian 
era, which subsequently to it misled some of the Christian 
doctors, and tainted or gave rise to many of the heresies of 
the Christian religion, and which continued to exercise their 
fascination on some of the philosophers who professed 
Mohammedanism . 

Six volumes, containing one hundred and eleven treatises 
or epistles, form the sacred books of the Druses, each volume 
taking its name from the title of the first treatise. They 
were written by Hamzeh and his coadjutors, the other four 
ministers, in which they attempt to imitate the style of the 
Koran ; but the performance ranks far inferior to the rich 
eloquence, forcible expression, and classic Arabic in which 
Mohammed composed his book. It is said that a seventh 
volume was presented to them by a native Christian traveller, 
who found it in one of the libraries of Egypt, and for which 
they evinced much gratitude ; but no one, apparently, 
has ever seen the book, though the statement is probably 
quite true. These books contain a discussion of their 
doctrines, controversial treatises, and epistles to particular 
persons. To these have been added, in later times, other 
books written by some of their learned men, in explanation 
of their creed, on the morality enjoined by their religion, 
and on their future hopes and expectations ; but they are 
held ifi a much lower estimation as to authority and respect! 



190 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

than the six books. None are allowed the privilege of 
possessing or reading them but such as have been inducted 
into the mysteries of their religion, and who form that class 
among them known by the name of Akkal, or initiated. 

If a stranger asks for admission to a Thursday meeting he 
will never be refused. Only if he is a Christian, the Akkal 
will open a Bible and read from it ; and if a Mohammedan, 
he will hear a few chapters of the Koran, and the ceremony 
will end with this. They will wait until he is gone, and then 
shutting fast the doors of their convent, take to their own 
rites and books, passing for this purpose into their subter- 
ranean sanctuaries. " The Druses remain, even more than 
the Jews, a peculiar people/' says Colonel Churchill, one of 
the few fair and strictly impartial writers. " They marry 
within their own race ; they are rarely if ever converted ; 
they adhere tenaciously to their traditions, and they baffle 
all efforts to discover their cherished secrets. . . . The 
bad name of that Caliph whom they claim as their founder 
is fairly compensated for by the pure lives of many whom 
they honour as saints, and by the heroism of their feudal 
leaders." 

As to the uninitiated, they are never allowed to even see 
the sacred writings, and none of them have the remotest 
idea where these are kept. There are missionaries in Syria, 
who boast of having in their possession a few copies. The 
volumes alleged to be the correct expositions from these 
secret books (such as the translation by Petis de la Crixo, 
in 1701, from the works presented by Nasr-Allah to the 
King of France), are nothing more than a compilation of 
* f secrets," known, more or less, to every inhabitant of the 
southern ranges of Lebanon and Anti-Libanus. They were 
the work of an apostate Dervish, who was expelled from the 
sect Hanafi, for improper conduct the embezzlement of 
the money of widows and orphans. The ExposJ de la 
Religion des Druses, in two volumes, by Sylvestre de Sacy 
(1828) is another network of hypotheses. A copy of this 
work was to be found, in 1870, on the window-sill of one of 
their principal Khalwehs, or places of religious meeting. 
To the inquisitive question of an English traveller, as to 
their rites, an Akkal, a venerable old man, who spoke English 



THE RELIGION OF THE DRUSES 191 

as well as French, opened the volume of de Sacy, and, 
offering it to his interlocutor, remarked, with a benevolent 
smile ; " Read this instructive and truthful book ; I could 
explain to you neither better nor more correctly the secrets 
of GOD and our Blessed Hamzeh, than it does." The traveller 
understood the hint. 

Mackenzie says they settled at Lebanon about the tenth 
century, and " seem to be a mixture of Kurds, Marid- Arabs, 
and other semi-civilized tribes. Their religion is compounded 
of Judaism, Christianity, and Mohammedanism. They have 
a regular Order of priesthood and a kind of hierarchy . . . 
there is a regular system of passwords and signs. . . . 
Twelve months' probation, to which either sex is admitted, 
preceded initiation." 

Madame Blavatsky, in quoting the above, says it shows 
" how little even persons as trustworthy as Mr. Mackenzie 
really know of these mystics/' 

" Mosheim, who know^ as much, or we should rather 
say as little, as any others, is entitled to the merit of candidly 
admitting that ' their religion is peculiar to themselves, 
and is involved in some mystery/ We should say it was 
rather ! 

" That their religion exhibits traces of Magianism and 
Gnosticism is natural, as the whole of the Ophite esoteric 
philosophy is at the bottom of it. But the characteristic 
dogma of the Druses is the absolute unity of GOD. He is 
the essence of life, and, although incomprehensible and 
invisible, is to be known through occasional manifestations 
in human form. Like the Hindus, they hold that He was 
incarnated more than once on earth. Hamzeh was the 
precursor of the last manifestation to be (the tenth avatar), 
not the inheritor of Hakcm, who is yet to come. Hamzeh 
was the personification of the ' Universal Wisdom/ Boha- 
eddin in his writings calls him Messiah. The whole number 
of his disciples, or those who at different ages of the world 
have imparted wisdom to mankind, which the latter as 
invariably have forgotten and rejected in course of time, 
is one hundred and sixty-four (164, the Kabalistic s.d.k). 
Therefore, their stages or degrees of promotion after initiation 
are five ; the first three degrees are typified by the ' three 



192 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

feet of the candlestick of the inner Sanctuary, which holds 
the light of the five elements ; ' the last two degrees, the 
most important and terrifying in their solemn grandeur, 
belonging to the highest Orders ; and the whole five degrees 
emblematically represent the said five mystic Elements. 
The ' three feet are the holy Application, the Opening, 
and the Phantom,' says one of their books, on man's inner 
and outer soul, and his body ; a phantom, a passing shadow. 
The body, or matter, is also called the ' Rival/ for ' he is 
the minister of sin, the Devil ever creating dissentions 
between the Heavenly Intelligence (spirit) and the soul, 
which he tempts incessantly/ Their ideas on trans- 
migration are Pythagorean and Kabalistic. The spirit, 
or Temeami (the divine soul), was in Elijah and John the 
Baptist ; and the soul of Jesus was that of Hamzeh ; that 
is to say, of the same degree of purity and sanctity. Until 
their resurrection, by which they understand the day when 
the spiritual bodies of men will be absorbed into GOD'S 
own essence and being (the Nirvana of the Hindus), the souls 
of men will keep their astral forms, except the few chosen 
ones who, from the moment of their separation from their 
bodies, begin to exist as pure spirits. The life of man 
they divide into soul, body, and intelligence, or mind. It 
is the latter which imparts and communicates to the soul 
the divine spark from its Hamzeh (Christos)/' 

The fundamental parts of the Druse religion may there- 
fore be thus summed up : (i) The Knowledge of GOD, 
especially with regard to His manifestations in human form. 
(2) The Knowledge of the Universal Mind, the highest 
and noblest creating intelligence, yet the servant and slave 
of GOD. His name in the time of Jesus was Lazarus : in 
the time of Mohammed, Salman al-Farisee : in the time of 
El Hakim, Hamzeh. (3) The Knowledge of the other four 
Spiritual Ministers the Universal Soul ; the Word, or the 
Ambassador of Power ; The Preceder, or the Right Wing ; 
the Succeeder, or the Left Wing. These took the human 
forms of Ismael, Mohammed, Salman and Ali. (5) The 
Knowledge of the Seven Ethical Commandments, as intro- 
duced by Hamzeh Veracity ; Love of the Brethren ; For- 
saking the Worship of Idols ; Repudiation of Devils and 



THE RELIGION OP THE DRUSES 198 

Delusions ; Acknowledging the Unity of God at all times ; 
Consent to the Actions of GOD (or, as stated by some writers, 
Secrecy in Religion, which is probably more correct) ; 
Implicit resignation to the Will of GOD. 

The Druses believe that though some degree of rewards 
and punishments is distributed to men, first during their 
lives, and then in the various fortunes or misfortunes which 
meet the soul in its transmigrations, yet the good and the 
wicked will not receive their just measure of desert until 
the last Judgment-day, or the Resurrection. By these 
terms, however, the Druses do not understand a real 
resurrection of the bodies which have long mouldered in 
death, an actual judgment scene, and another world in 
which the soul and body shall live through all eternity. 
They simply mean by these expressions that a universal 
and just system of rewards and punishments will be 
observed in a particular stage in the history of the world, 
which may be conveniently called the judgment-day, 
metaphorically the end, or mystically the Resurrection. 

" In any account of the Druses," says Wortabet, 1 " that 
which claims the first consideration is the complete secrecy 
in which they have kept their religion for a period over eight 
hundred years. Nothing but the actual plunder of their 
houses and places of religious meetings has brought their 
sacred books to light. For this watchful solicitude we 
have a sufficient reason in the view which is held in their 
books of all other religions and of their founders. Had 
the general body of the Mohammedans known that their 
venerable Prophet was regarded by this people as an incar- 
nation of the Evil One, who had first transmigrated through 
the bodies of Noah, Moses, and Jesus, who they revere as 
the apostles of GOD, they would certainly, in the time of 
their bygone power, have exterminated the Druses from 
the face of the earth, and they would even now, if they 
knew all, bear eternal hatred against them. It required, 
therefore, but little sagacity to show the Druses their real 
interest, and to indicate their wisest policy in this matter ; 
and so far from impugning the religions of others, they 
have actually assumed outwardly the Mohammedan religion, 

* Rtst arches info (hi Religions of Syria, pp. 327 ft 

18 



194 SECRET SECTS OF SYRIA 

and under this cover have effectually succeeded in deceiving 
men as to what they really believed for nearly nine hundred 
years. This outward profession, however, does not criminate 
them in the least before Him whom they believe to be GOD ; 
but it is rather a precept of their religion." 

It is, perhaps, with this object in view that they have 
divided themselves into the two well-known classes Akkal 
(the Initiated) and Juhhal (the Uninitiated). By the former 
is designated that class of persons who are admitted into 
the secrets of religion, and indoctrinated in its mystical 
meanings. The Uninitiated are excluded both from the 
knowledge of religion, and the meetings which are conse- 
crated to its service. No other present advantages are 
either gained or lost by belonging to the first or second 
class ; but thus another effectual precaution is adopted 
to keep the world in ignorance of their belief. On this 
subject Hamzeh says : " Keep away wisdom (religion) from 
those who are not worthy of it ; but take care not to exclude 
those who deserve it. For he who keeps it away from the 
worthy defiles his faith and religion ; and he who delivers 
it to the unworthy corrupts his confidence in the truth, 
Take heed, then, that ye do not deliver it to those who 
are unworthy of it, and see that ye are concealed in the 
prevailing religion." 1 

When a Druse desires to be initiated into his religion, 
he is required to bind himself solemnly by the following 

covenant : " I, , the son of , in sound reason, 

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