FAKIR, filer', or DERVISH, the name of a class of religious devotees of the Moham medan faith, all leading a life of poverty and generally practising mendicancy. The Arabic word Faqir signifies °poor* used in a sense of °poor* in the sight of God. The Persian word Dartuesh is derived from dor, i.e., those who beg from door to door. The observance of strict forms of fasting and acts of piety give them a character of sanctity among the people. They live partly in monasteries, partly alone, and from their number the imams are gen erally chosen. Throughout Turkey they are freely received, even at the tables of persons of the highest rank. There are, throughout Asia, multitudes of these devotees, monastic and ascetic, not ony among the Mohammedans, but also among the followers of Brahma. They trace their ultimate origin to Abu or Ali Bekr, and in Egypt all are under the rule of a supposed direct descendant of the latter. There are 32 religious orders now existing in the Turkish Empire, many of which are scarcely known beyond its limits: but others, such as the Nakshbendies and Mevlevies, are common in Persia and India and Morocco. All these com munities are properly stationary, though some of them send out a portion of their members to collect alms. In fact, all religious faqirs are divided into two great classes, the ba shar (within the law) or those who govern their conduct according to the principles of Islam; and the be shay (without the law), or those who do not live their lives according to the principles of any religious creed. All these orders, except the Nakshbendies, are considered as living in seclusion from the world; but that order is entirely composed of persons who, without quitting the world, bind themselves to a strict observance of certain forms of devotion, and meet once a week to perform them to gether. Each order has its peculiar statutes, exercises and habits. Since the orders are secret, it is impossible to discover the exact nature of these.
The numerous orders of dervishes are all divided by Europeans into two great classes, the dancing and the howling dervishes. The
former are the Mevlevies, and are held in much higher estimation than the other class. They are the wealthiest of all the religious bodies of the Turkish Empire. The dancing of these dervishes is conducted to sounds of music. The movement at first is slow, but as the dervishes become excited it grows in animation, until at last the actors are exhausted, and are obliged to sit down. After a while they rise up again and resume their dancing, which is repeated several times. The whole is concluded by a sermon. The howling dervishes accompany their dancing with loud vociferations of the name of Allah, and violent contortions of the body such as are seen in persons seized with epileptic fits. In former times these dervishes, after working themselves up into a frenzy, used to cut and torture themselves in various ways with apparent delight. The sheiks of all orders have the credit of possessing miraculous powers. The interpretation of dreams, the cure of diseases and the removal of barrenness are the gifts for which the dervishes are most in repute. See Stmszu.
None of the fakirs are bound by oath to re main in any particular community. Return to the world is also permitted them, but this privilege is rarely used. The head of the con vent is called shaikh, and he is appointed by the general of the order. They reside usually in the city which contains the ashes of the founders of their orders, and are subordinate to the Mufti of the capital who has jurisdic tion over them. In Turkey the Shaikhu '1 Islam has the right of removing the generals of the various orders. The Mufti has also the right . . to confirm the shaikhs who may be nominated by any of the generals of the orders. Consult Lane,