The Akhiri Char-shambab is the last Wednesday of the month Suffur, 1m which Mahomed in his last illness felt a little better, and bathed for the last time.
The Bari Wafat, or great death, is commemor ative of the demise of Mahomed, on the 12th-13th of Rabi-ul-Awal, A.H. 11.
Muhammadans speak reverentially of the dead. They will say, Rahlat farmaia, he has taken depart ure ; Intikal kia, has made a change ; Guzr gala, has passed away ; and they believe in the con sciousness of the departed while awaiting resurrec tion in the tomb.
Amongst those who crave for other aids to salvation, some seek the spiritual advice of a man, who is reckoned a pir, or religious teacher, and by certain, secret words and signs are initiated as his murid or disciples. Others, even men of rank, adopt the darvesh or fakir life of the religious mendicant devotee, often attended with solemn rites of investiture, and followed by the severest of ascetic lives ; but the bulk of these mendicants are,•in India, idle, dissipated men, and a few are of very degraded habits. They arrange them selves into the followers of certain pir or spiritual guides, and those generally met with in India are the Kadria or Ba-nawa, Chastia, Shutaria, Tab qatia or Madaria, Mallang, Rafai or Gurz-mar, Jalalia,ISohagia, Naksh-bandia, and Bawa Piray. All these have their own rules and customs. Some of them are ascetic devotees, eating if given to eat, but never begging ; some largely use intoxicating fluids and vegetable narcotics ; some, as the Sa]ik, have wives ; the Majzub and Azad have no ,wives ; and some Calandar marry, and some do not. There are, among Muhammadans in India, good, devout men, leading pure and holy lives, earnestly seeking for the truth, culti vating literature assiduously ; but they are com pelled by the multitude of ordinary people to re tire into the peaceful shade, as the purity of their lives begets for them the objectionable name of Wahabee. The Muhammadans in India, when their limited education is considered, are but little superstitious. They believe in Mahomed as an intercessor, and in the second coming of Christ. They believe that at death the soul will be judged, and that the angels Nakir and Mankir will visit' it in the tomb to question as to the life on earth. They believe that all must cross the Pul-i-Sirat, a bridge for the good, but a sharp sword to the wicked ; they believe. in a purgatory called Iraf, and in places of future rewards and punishments, and they picture the latter as fearful. But the idea' of • a heavenly place as enunciated in the Koran, is the ; grossest that any race has eves promulgated or given• credence to. The wild hunter tribes of America have sublime notions of a future life ; Hebrews were in conflict as to the immortality of the soul ; the Buddhists believe in absorption or annihilation, as a release from all the troubles and trials of a mundane existence ; and Christians believe the future to be a spiritual life ; but the doctrines taught in the Koran as to the occupations in heaven are wholly confined to that book and its believers. For there, the Koran
says (1v. 393-394), they shall repose on couches, the linings whereof shall be of thick silk inter woven with gold; and the fruit of the two gardens shall be near at hand to gather. Which, there fore, of your Lord's benefits will ye ungratefully deny ? ' Therein shall receive them beautiful damsels, refraining their eyes from beholding any besides their spouses, whom no man shall have deflowered before them, neither any genius (which, therefore, of your Lord's benefits will be ungratefully deny ?) ; having complexions like rubies and pearls. . . . And besides these, there shall be two other gardens, . . . of a dark green. In each of them shall be two fountains, pouring forth plenty of water ; . . . in each of them shall be fruits and palm trees and pomegranates. . . . Therein shall be agreeable and beauteous damsels, . . . having fine black eyes, and kept in pavilions from public view ; . . . whom no man shall have deflowered before their destined spouses, or any genius. . . . Therein shall they delight themselves, lying on green cushions and beautiful carpets.' Such is the heaven of the Koran. Yet Mahomed was a monotheist and an iconoclast. And before the final struggle, lifting up his voice, he ex claimed, `May God be far from those who make the tombs of his servants places of prayers.' The very last words he was heard to utter as he ex pired, as if in answer to an unseen visitor, were, ' In the company of the blest on high.' The tombs of Muhammadan have usually been of earth, or unbaked brick, but every material is employed, and names are even engraved on the tombs. The tombstone of a man is distin guished by a raised part in the centre, and that of a woman by a depression. The prevalent form in India for the tombs of the rich is a dark or black tombstone, with verses of the Koran en graved on it, and covered by a cupola. Some of these are very magnificent. Those of the Adal Shahi dynasty at Bijapur and Gogi have attracted much attention, as also have those of the Bah mani dynasty at Kulburga and Beder, and Kutub Shahi dynasty at Golconda. The cupolas at Roza, where Aurangzeb also is buried, have not any display, and that of Aurangzeb himself is the least ostentatious. His daughter's tomb at Aurang abad is magnificent ; and many of the tombs at Heidi and Agra are great structures. That of Mumtaz Begum, known as the Taj Mahal, is particularly remarkable. Reformers amongst the Muhammadans consider that unbaked brick or earth should alone be used.