Bīrūnī, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad, Alberuni's India (v. 1)

(London :  Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.,  1910.)



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CHAPTER XI.                                  123

get a piece of good luck by accident or something at
which they had aimed, and when with this some of the
preconcerted tricks of the priests are brought into con¬
nection, the darkness in which they live increases
vastly, not their intelligence. They will rush to those
figures of idols, maltreating their own figures before
them by shedding their own blood and mutilating their
own bodies.

The ancient Greeks, also, considered the idols as
mediators between themselves and the First Cause, and
worshipped them under the names of the stars and the
highest substances. For they described the First Cause,
not with positive, but only with negative predicates,
since they considered it too high to be described by
human qualities, and since they wanted to describe it
as free from any imperfection. Therefore they could
not address it in worship.

When the heathen Arabs had imported into their
country idols from Syria, they also worshipped them,
hoping that they would intercede for them with God.

Plato says in the fourth chapter of the Book of Laws:
" It is necessary to any one who gives perfect honours
(to the gods) that he should take trouble with the
mystery of the gods and Sakinat, and that he should
not make special idols masters over the ancestral gods.
Further, it is the greatest duty to give honours as much
as possible to the parents while they live."

By mystery Plato means a special kind of devotion.
The word is much used among the Sabians of Harran,
the dualistic Manichaaans, and the theologians of the

Galenus says in the book De Indole Anirnce: " At
the time of the Emperor Commodus, between 500-510
years after Alexander, two men went to an idol-mer- Page 6c
chant and bargained with him for an idol of Hermes.
T'he one wanted to erect it in a temple as a memorial
of Hermes, the other wanted to erect it on a tomb as a
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