Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/100

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The followers of Mahomet, when they subdued Persia during the caliphate of Omar, introduced into that country the religion of their prophet, which has predominated there ever since.

The whole of the Mahometan religion may be reduced to seven points, two of which relate to faith, the other to ceremonies: 1. To profess that there is but one only God; 2. that Mahomet is his apostle; 3. to observe corporeal purifications; 4. to recite the stated prayer; 5. to give alms; 6. to fast during the month of Ramazan; 7. to perform a pilgrimage to Mecca. To these fundamental points of Islamism the Persians add another, which they place next to the second, and which consists in confessing that Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet, is the lieutenant of God. This article of faith, which is rejected with horror by the Turks, occasioned the grand schism which divides the Musulmans; the partisans of Ali being called by the Sunnites, or orthodox believers, Shias, or Shiites, that is, heretics.

The hatred of the Sunnites and Shiites increased in the sequel. Under the caliphs of the dynasty of the Abbassides, it frequently degenerated into fury; and it was considered a meritorious action in a man, to kill another of a contrary opinion to his own. The Shiites found warm protectors among the Abbassides, whose zeal, however, only paved the way to fresh scenes of carnage. How often have the streets of Bagdad, the city of peace, the Rome of the Mahometan world, been drenched with. the blood and strewed with the carcasses of its inhabitants!

The sect of the Shiites made great progress in Persia. The provinces bordering on the Caspian Sea, and the mountains which separate them from the centre of the kingdom, afforded an asylum to the descendants of Ali. The Bouides were Shiites, and Adhad-ad-daulah, the greatest prince of that house, even caused splendid tombs to be erected in honour of Ali and his son Hossein. The destruction of the caliphate of Bagdad by Holagou, put an end to the religious dissensions, or at least to the fanaticism which kept them up: a million of inhabitants