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It has been said that the Arabs believed in Reincarnation before

Mohammed forbade it. Some, however, think that the Koran was written

only after the death of the Prophet, and that the latter committed

nothing to writing, but taught by word of mouth. Besides, it is clear

that Mohammedanism is an offshoot of Zoroastrianism and Christianity.

Like these, it teaches the Unity of the Whole, the divine Presence in

all creatur
s and things (Ubiquity), Predestination, which is only

one form of Karma, and Resurrection, which expresses one phase of


Mohammed, like all great mystics, had discovered or learnt many of the

truths of esotericism. The verses of the Koran that refer to the

"Companions of the Cave"[218] indicate that he knew more than he

taught in public, and that there may be some ground for certain

Asiatic nations holding the exaggerated belief that he was an

Avatar,[219] the tenth incarnation of the Aum--the Amed, the

Nations' Desire.[220] He was a Disciple.

Had there not been in the heart of Islamism a strong germ of esoteric

teaching, Sufism could never have sprung from it. The Sufis are the

saints of Mohammedanism, they are those who aspire after the union of

the individual "I" with the cosmic "I," of man with God; they are

frequently endowed with wonderful powers, and their chiefs have almost

always been thaumaturgists.

The New Koran, a modern exposition of part of the secret doctrine of

Islam, shows the correctness of this view. In it we find the following

passages on the subject of Palingenesis:

"And when his body falleth off altogether, as an old fish-shell, his

soul doeth welt by the releasing, and formeth a new one instead.

"The disembodied spirits of man and beast return as the clouds to

renew the young streamlets of infancy....

"When a man dieth or leaveth his body, he wendeth through the gate of

oblivion and goeth to God, and when he is born again he cometh from

God and in a new body maketh his dwelling; hence is this saying:

"The body to the tomb and the spirit to the womb....

"This doctrine is none other than what God hath taught openly from the

very beginning....

"For truly the soul of a man goeth not to the body of a beast, as some


"But the soul of the lower beast goeth to the body of the higher, and

the soul of the higher beast to the body of the savage, and the soul

of the savage to the man....

"And so a man shall be immortal in one body and one garment that

neither can fade nor decay.

"Ye who now lament to go out of this body, wept also when ye were born

into it...."[221]

"The person of man is only a mask which the soul putteth on for a

season; it weareth its proper time and then is cast off, and another

is worn in its stead....

"I tell you, of a truth, that the spirits which now have affinity

shall be kindred together, although they all meet in new persons and


In Asiatic Researches, Colebrooke states that the present Mohammedan

sect of the Bohrahs believes in metempsychosis, as do the Hindus,

and, like the latter, abstains from flesh, for the same reason.

Thus we find the doctrine of Reincarnation at the heart of all the

great religions of antiquity. The reason it has remained in a germinal

state in recent religions--Christianity and Islamism--is that in the

latter Mohammed did not attain to the degree of a Hierophant, and in

all likelihood the race to which he brought light did not greatly need

to become acquainted with the law relating to the return to earth

life; whereas in the former the real teachings of the Christ were lost

when the Gnostics were exterminated, and Eusebius and Irenaeus, the

founders of exoteric Christianity, unable to grasp the spirit,

imposed the letter throughout the religion.