very first sin that I did in Thy sight my desert was to be burnt in the fire of hell..'

It is clear that this sentiment is contrary to those Traditions which teach the efficacy of merit gained by reciting the fixed prayers and by fasting, visiting saints' tombs, and other such practices. But any one who is at all acquainted with the Traditions will feel no surprise at this, for many Traditions are opposed to one another, and many are doubtful, while some are not generally regarded as of authority.

The reason why so many people imagine that rites and ceremonies, fastings and washings, pilgrimages and other things which they think to be pleasing to God, will take away their sins is because they do not recognize the true heinousness of sin, but fancy that it is a light, trivial, outward thing. Hence they believe that, like a stain, it can be washed away with water, or that they can erase it by means of fasting and other outward acts. But this is not so. On the contrary, sin is man's opposition to God's will; not merely bad deeds but also every evil thought and improper longing and desire are sins. This fact, however, is so far from being recognized by Muslims that they do not consider a wicked purpose or an evil wish as sinful. Accordingly it is stated that God said to Muhammad: 'Whoever 1 from among thy people purposes to commit a sin and does not

1 Hayatu'l-Qulub, vol. ii, p. 77.

do it, I do not write that sin against him: and if he commits it, I write down a sin.' Thus, too, it is handed down from Imam Ja'far that Muhammad said: 'When 1 a man resolves upon a good work, although he do not perform that good deed, yet, merely because of that good intention, God Most High writes down in that man's book of deeds one good work: and, if he perform that good deed, God writes down ten good works. And, if any one wishes to commit a sin, and does not do it, against him He writes nothing: but, if he commits it, seven hours' respite is granted him, and the angel who writes the account and who stands on the right-hand side says to the angel standing on the left-hand side, who writes down evil deeds, "Do not make haste to write: Perchance this person may do such a good work that his sin may be blotted out, or perhaps he may repent, so that his sin may be forgiven": for God says, "Verily a good works drive away evil deeds".'

We have seen that the Traditions of the Sunnis contain many statements regarding the efficacy of repetitions of certain sentences, the merit acquired by even purposing to join in a jihad, by reciting the fixed prayers, and by such actions in general. It would, of course, have been easy to add to the number quoted. But, lest any one should fancy that only the Sunnis entertain such ideas, we now proceed to adduce a few more passages from recognized

1 'Ainu'l-Hayat, p. 80. 2 Sura xi. 116.