Images de page
PDF
ePub

If, therefore, the working man's wife had to pay a little more in a week for her bread, and if she got her tea at exactly the same amount less, how much worse off was she at the end of the week? Lord Rosebery, in one of those utterances which he was fond of making and leaving there, suggested that the Government departments of this country ought to be entrusted to business men. How would a business man look at this? He would say: 'Our foreign corn comes from Russia and America, both of which buy nothing from us which they can possibly produce at home. Our tea comes largely from India, which is one of our best customers. Would it not, therefore, be simple commonsense to so adjust the taxation as to improve the buying power of the country which is our customer, and not to benefit the countries which are not our customers?""

P.S.-As I have been considering this question mainly from the Indian point of view, I have not ventured to deal with the revenue aspect, which, of course, must be adequately considered both in England and in India. In England, it is quite clear that the abolition, or at least the considerable reduction, of the tea duties is most likely to be undertaken as part of a general scheme for the readjustment of duties in general, such as that proposed by Mr. Chamberlain. And Indian preference for British manufactures will richly compensate the Mother Country for any loss of revenue from tea. In India, no time could be more opportune for reciprocal concessions to British industries, for the flourishing condition of the Indian finances is admittedly due very largely to the indirect burdens on Indian production to which I have alluded, which might be equitably compensated by British preference.

FACTS OF INTEREST AND CURIOUS POINTS
IN MOHAMMEDAN LAW.

BY C. D. STEEL, JUDGE U.P. AGRA AND OUDH.

A HOLIDAY task of Mohammedan law may not appear at first sight to be a very attractive one; but a perusal of Syed Amir Ali's "Mohammedan Law "* gives to a holiday that little extra zest which arises from the conviction that it has not only resulted in health and refreshment, but has also yielded something more of permanent use and interest. The distinction attained by the author is a guarantee of his trustworthiness. He is a Mutazala, one of those “Protestants of the Mussulmans" whose doctrines are spreading rapidly amongst the younger minds.

The book is quite remarkable for the amount of information it gives on matters of almost everyday mention among Europeans in India, concerning which the ideas of the great majority are, to say the least of it, extremely hazy. The author, for instance, quotes Mr. Justice Arnold's judgment in the Khoja case:

Struggle for the Caliphate." The general expectation of Islam had been that Ali, the first disciple, the beloved companion of the Apostle of God, the husband of his only surviving child Fatima, would be the first Caliph. It was not so to be. The influence of Ayesha, the young and favourite wife of Mahomet, a rancorous enemy of Fatima and of Ali, procured the election of her own father, Abubekr; to Abubekr succeeded Omar, and to him Osman, upon whose death, in the year 665 of our era, Ali was at last raised to the Caliphate.

Death of Ali.-" He was not even then unopposed; aided by Ayesha, Muawiyah, of the family of the Ommeiades,

* "Mohammedan Law, compiled from the Authorities in the Original Arabic," vol. i., third edition, by Syed Amir Ali, M.A., etc., barrister-atlaw, Judge of H.M. High Court of Judicature at Fort William in Bengal.

contested the caliphate with him, and while the strife was still doubtful, in the year 660 A.D., Ali was slain by a Kharejite, or Mussulman fanatic, in the mosque of Cufa, at that time the principal Mohammedan city on the right or west bank of the Euphrates, itself long since a ruin, at no great distance from the ruins of Babylon.

"This assassination of Ali caused a profound sensation in the Mohammedan world. He was, and deserved to be, deeply beloved, being clearly and beyond comparison the most heroic of that time fertile in heroes-a man brave and wise, and magnanimous and just, and self-denying in a degree hardly exceeded by any character in history. He was, besides, the husband of the only and beloved child of the apostle of God, and their two sons, Hassan and Hussain, had been the darlings of their grandfather, who had publicly given them the title of the foremost among the youth of Paradise.'

[ocr errors]

Hassan." Of these sons, Hassan, the elder, a saint and a recluse, on the death of his father, sold his birthright of empire to Muawiyah for a large annual revenue, which, during the remainder of his life, he expended in works of charity and religion at Medina. In the year 669 A.D. this devout and blameless grandson of the Apostle of God was poisoned by one of his wives, who had been bribed to that wickedness by Yezid, the son of Muawiyah, and the second. of the Ommeiade Caliphs of Damascus.

Hussain." There thus remained, as head of the direct lineage of the Apostle of God, Hussain, the younger son of Fatima and Ali, a brave and noble man in whom dwelt much of the spirit of his father.

Battle of Kerbela, 680 A.D.-"Eleven years after his brother's murder, in the year 680 of our era, yielding to the repeated entreaties of the chief of the people of Irak Arabi (or Mesopotamia), who promised to meet him with a host of armed supporters, Hussain set forth from Medina to Cufa to assert his right to the caliphate against the hated Ommeiades. He crossed the desert with only a feeble

train-his wife, his sister Fatima, two of his sons, and a few armed horsemen-when, on reaching Kerbela, then a desert station about a day's journey from the west bank of the Euphrates, and in the near neighbourhood of Cufa, he found drawn up to meet him a host, not of retainers but of foes. The narrative of what follows is among the most pathetic in all history. The noble son of Ali and Fatima, the favourite grandson of the Apostle of God, after deeds of valour, romantic even in an Arab of that age, fell pierced through and through with the arrows and javelins of the cowardly assailants who did not dare to come within the sweep of his arm. One of his sons and nephew had already been slain in his sight. His other son, his wife, and his sister, were carried away captive to Damascus. They smote off the head of the son of Ali and paraded it in triumph in the streets of Cufa. As it passed along, the brutal Obeidullah, the Governor of the city, struck the mouth of the dead man with his staff. 'Ah!' cried an aged Mussulman whom horror and just wrath made bold, ‘what foul deed is that? On those lips I have seen the lips of the Apostle of God.' This tragic event stirred the heart of Islam to its very depth."

Sources of Mohammedan Law.-The author states that "the grand superstructure of Islamic jurisprudence is founded on the Koranic laws and the traditional sayings of the Prophet; but much of the coping-stone was supplied at Baghdad, in Bokhara, in Syria, in Andalusia, and Persia. The fundamental bases (for Sunnis) are (1) the Koran; (2) the Hadis or Sunnat (traditions handed down from the Prophet); (3) the Ijmâa-ul-Ummat (concordance among the followers); and (4) the Kiyas (private judgment).

Shiahs.-"The Shiahs do not admit the genuineness of any tradition not received from the Ahl-ul-Bait (the 'People of the House') consisting of Ali and Fatima and their children, and repudiate entirely the validity of all decisions not passed by their own spiritual leaders and Imams. In the application of private or analytical judgment and in

drawing conclusions from the ancient precedents, they also differ widely from the Sunnis." It is pointed out how the schism between Sunnis and Shiahs originated with dynastic questions, and grew into a separation on doctrinal and legal points; and the bitterness between the two is attributed to the reception which the two accorded to the doctrine of the Imamate or "spiritual headship of the Mussulman Commonwealth." The Shiahs repudiate entirely the authority of the Jama'at (or the universality of the people) to elect a spiritual chief, who should supersede the rightful claims of the persons indicated by the Founder of the Faith; whilst the Sunnis regard the decisions of the assemblies, however obtained, as of œcumenical importance. Ali, when offered the caliphate on the death of Omar, on condition that he should govern in accordance with the precedents established by the two former Caliphs, declined it, declaring that in all cases respecting which he found no positive law or decision of the Prophet, he would rely upon his own judgment.

At first known simply as the Banu-Hashim, the partisans of Ali under Muawiyah began to be called "Shiahs" or "adherents"; whilst the partisans of Muawiyah were called Amawis. When the Abbasides acquired the dominion, the faction which advocated the principle of election in preference to hereditary succession adopted the name of Ahl-us-Sunnat wa'l Jama'at (“" People of the Traditions ard Assembly"). According to the Shiah doctrine, the oral precepts of the Prophet are in their nature supplementary to the Koranic ordinances, and their binding effect depends on the degree of harmony existing between them and the laws of the Koran.

Sunnis.-The Sunnis, on the other hand, base their doctrines on the entirety of the traditions. They regard the concordant decisions of successive Caliphs, and of the general assemblies (Ijmâa-ul-Ummat) as supplementing the Koranic rules and regulations and as almost equal in authority to them.

Four Schools of Sunnis.-The four distinctive juridical

« PrécédentContinuer »