Thy prayer-mat stain with wine, if so
The Magian’s favour thou canst win,
For travellers in the land should know
The ways and customs of the inn.

THE Introduction. verse above quoted, like most Oriental poetic writings, is susceptible of a mystical and much higher interpretation than appears from a merely superficial perusal. It is peculiarly illustrative of the allegorical form under which the intellectual life of the Religious Philosopher is treated by the Persians, namely that of a journey, the ultimate object of which is the knowledge of the Infinite Majesty of God; a plan similar to that adopted with reference to the moral life by our own John Bunyan in the Pilgrim’s Progress. At the outset of their treatises the term Traveller is applied to the intellectual man only, but the word is afterwards used in a more general sense, just as in Christian writings man is not unfrequently called a Wayfarer; it becomes often identical with Disciple. M. Garcin de Tassy, in a work already referred to in the preface, has very appropriately quoted a verse of St Thomas illus­trating this point:

Ecce panis angelorum
Factus cibus viatorum.

To an elucidation of this system, and the technical terms employed therein, the following pages are devoted; but to avoid breaking the continuity of the account, I have endeavoured to present an epitome of the Oriental Mystic Philosophy from the point of view taken by the Mohammedan writers, from whom my information is chiefly derived. I must therefore premise that any dogmatical statements that may occur in the course of the work are not to be con­sidered as enunciations of my own opinion, but as an exposition of the views of those whose system I am attempting to expound.

The first part will contain an explanation of, 1, The terms Traveller, Road, Inns or Stages, and Goal. 2, The words Law, Doctrine, Truth, and the Perfect Man, according to the Oriental definition of them. 3, What is meant by Fellowship, Renunciation, Attraction and Devotion.

The second, the Sufiistic account of, 1, The Nature; 2, The Attributes; 3, The Works of God; 4, The Four Universal Sources.

The third, a definition of, 1, The Saintly; 2, The Prophetic Office.

The fourth, a dissertation on the Influence of Early Prejudice upon Belief.

The fifth, the Study of Man.

For the benefit of those who study oriental poetry I have added an Appendix, containing a glos­sary of allegorical and technical terms in use among the Sufiistic writers.