As this prince belonged, like Firdousi, to the Shiah sect, while Mahmud and Maimandi were Sunnites, and as he was also politically opposed to the sultan, Hasan Maimandi did not fail to make the most of this incident, and accused the poet of disloyalty to his sovereign and patron, as well as of heresy.
Large "incense trees" resembling our Christmas trees, formed of incense-sticks and pastils and osselets, and alight all over, are borne by the Shiah Mussulmans in the solennial procession of the Mohurrum, in commemoration of the martyrdom of the sons of Ali.
The singularly complex population is composed of Christians, Maronites, and Orthodox Eastern and Uniate; of Moslems, both Sunni and Shiah (Metawa]i); and of Druses.
Outwardly they are Mussulmans of the Shiah branch, but most of them show little veneration for either Prophet or Koran, and the religion of some of them seems to be a mixture of Ali-Illahism involving a belief in successive incarnations combined with mysterious, ancient, heathen rites.
The Mahommedans of the Persian Gulf region belong to the following denominations :- Sunni, Shiah, Ibadhi, Wahabi and Khojah.
Bahrein is Sunni, but has a large Shiah population of Persian origin.
They are descended from Hindus of Sind and Kach, who were converted from Hinduism to the Ismaili form of the Shiah faith in the 15th century of the Christian era.
The other was Saadat Ali Khan, a Persian, and therefore a Shiah, who was appointed subandar or nawab of Oudh about 1720.
In accordance with the constitution the shah must belong to the Shiah faith, and his successor must be his eldest son, or next male in succession, whose mother was a Kajar princess.
ReligionAbout 9,000,000 of the population are Mahommedans of the Shiah faith, and 800,000 or 900,000, principally Kurds in north-western Persia, are said to belong to the other great branch of Islam, the Sunni, which differs from the former in religious doctrine and historical belief, and is the state religion of the Turkish Empire and other Mahommedan countries.
At this time not only was there religious fanaticism at work to stir up the mutual hatred ever existing between Sunni and Shiah, but the intrigue of European courts was probably directed towards the maintenance of an hostility which deterred the sultan from aggressive operations north and west of Constantinople.
In religion all except some Tatars and Mongols and the Baluchis have conformed to the national Shiah faith.
It is curious that the same survival of Christian ceremonial should be found amongst the Sarikoli, a Shiah people of Aryan descent akin to the Tajiks of Badakshan, as may be traced amongst the Kirghiz.