Why Do Talismans Own Their Virtue?

Decent Essays

‘You have escaped death a second time, young man’ said the princess, ‘Now tell me to what [do] talismans own their virtue?’
The young man answered from his horse: ‘O, princess, they owe their sublime virtues and miraculous effects to the letters which compose them; for there is no letter in the language which is not governed by a spirit, ray or emanation of the virtue of Allah. The spirits of the intellect communicate with those of the soul and those of the senses. Letters form words and words form sentences; and the sentences written on talismans are nothing but a collection of spirits which, though they may astonish the ordinary man, do not trouble the wise; for the wise know the power of words and are aware that words govern the whole world. …show more content…

It is an instinctive and fundamental feature to understanding human existence within this cosmological and occultist framework. In the Islamic world such desires could be seen clashing with Islam’s central conviction: total submission to the will of Allah. It may appear obvious to neglect the occult which allows one to draw on such hidden forces, however the paradoxical reality is far more complex; as throughout Islamic history either total condemnation or fervour was felt towards the occult science. As with the mundane nature of human existence, what one desires on earth can inadvertently conflict with one's religious duty and the ultimate otherworldly aspiration; Heaven. This passage from the Arabian Nights exemplifies the supernatural dimension of the occult, and in this case discussing talisman. The young man acknowledges that what makes talisman virtuous, is the magical features of the letters and Allah’s will which makes talisman talismanic. He goes on to explain that the letters of talisman are written into the fabric of the world, thus the intellects are not astounded by the power of talisman, whereas the ordinary would. The story of the Wisdom below the Severed Heads gives us insight into the society of Mamlūk audience as …show more content…

An evaluation of what astrology and talisman constitute of should be considered. There are copious definitions, however cogitating the Oxford Dictionary, it defines astrology as a study of the movement and relative position of celestial bodies interpreted as having an influence on human affairs and the natural world. In this manner, astrology is a branch of astronomy, in that it aims to calculate and understand the movement of the celestial heavenly bodies, however both disciples differ in their motives. Astronomy seeks to scientifically study these celestial bodies to gain an understanding of the cosmos. Whereas, astrology seeks the knowledge of what is and what is to be, through crafting zodiacal readings/horoscopes in a bid to surpass fate and gain an insight into the untold futures which have yet to unfold. Talisman, with the use of the science of letters (ilm al- huruf) to give its magical properties, can be defined as any object that is imbued with protective powers, be it on paper or an amulet. A distinction ought to be made between talisman and amulets, as both are interchangeably used, however inaccurately so. Talisman comprises of less resilient materials such as paper, but has richer magical inscriptions and symbols, while amulets are made of durable materials like metal or

Get Access