Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/112

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93
PERSIA.

cemetery. Many Persians even inflict voluntary wounds on themselves, in commemoration of the sufferings of the Imams, and in expiation of their own sins.

On the 28th of Jefer, the death of the Imam Hassan, brother of Hossein, is celebrated, but with less pomp, though with the same ceremonies.

Mr. Scott Waring mentions a festival celebrated by the Persians for the death of the caliph Omar. They erect a large platform, on which they fix an image, disfigured and deformed as much as possible. Addressing themselves to the image, they begin to revile it for having supplanted All, the lawful successor of the Prophet: at length, having exhausted all their expressions of abuse, they suddenly attack the image with stones and sticks, fill they have shattered it into pieces. The inside is hollow and full of sweetmeats, which are greedily devoured by the mob who attend the ceremony.

We shall say nothing of the festivals instituted in commemoration of some of Mahomet's miracles, such as the cleaving of the moon, the parturition of the stone, the speaking camel, &c. The reader who is not intimately acquainted with the history of that impostor, may not be aware that one of the chief miracle attributed to him is that of cleaving the moon in two. The parturition of the stone is not less surprising. A poor man, having lost a camel, which was all that he possessed, was overwhelmed with grief. Mahomet, moved with compassion, struck a stone; a camel instantly sprang from it, and he gave the animal to the poor fellow. The story of the camel seems to be an allegory, in which the Arab is exhorted to have compassion on that useful animal when it is grown old. A wealthy merchant of Medina kept several camels for his commercial pursuits, and when age and hard work had reduced their strength, he turned them out to shift for themselves. A camel which had experienced this treatment, went to Mahomet and complained to him of the injustice and cruelty of his master. Mahomet sent for the merchant reprimanded him for his conduct, and commanded him in future to keep every camel worn out in his service till its death.