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SHIGATSE—SHI'ITES

The Golden Chapel on the south side is rich late Perpendicular, with a roof of fan-tracery, showing signs of the original decoration in colours. The mansion of Boscobel is famous as the house in which Charles II. was concealed in 1651 after an adventurous journey from Worcester, where his arms had failed before those of Cromwell. The secret chamber which hid him is preserved, but he also found refuge in a tree of the forest which then surrounded Boscobel. A tree close to the house still bears the name of Charles's oak, but tradition goes no further than to assert that it grew from an acorn of the original tree. White Ladies was a Cistercian nunnery; and the slight remains are Norman. The pleasant wooded district was formerly part of Brewood Forest, which extended into Staffordshire.

SHIGATSE, one of the largest towns in Tibet, next in importance to Lhasa, the capital. The town, which is at the confluence of the Nyang chu with the Tsangpo, contains about 9000 inhabitants (exclusive of priests), and is about ¾ m. long by a ½ m. broad. About 1 m. to the north-east is situated a monastery called Konkaling, whilst to the south-west is the far-famed Tashilhunpo monastery, the residence of one of the great high priests of Tibet, co-equal with the Dalai-Lama of Lhasa. Between the Tashilhunpo monastery and the city is the Thom or open market, where all the business of the place is daily transacted. A wall about 1 m. in circumference surrounds the Tashilhunpo monastery, within which are numerous temples and houses, four of the larger temples being decorated with gilded spires. A great wealth of jewels and precious metal is said to enrich the numerous idols of Tashilhunpo. The monastery maintains 3300 priests. The city is protected by a fort which stands on a low hill to the north-west, and a garrison of 1000 Tibetan soldiers is quartered here. The municipal government is in the hands of two dēpen assisted by resident Jongpons. The soil around Shigatse is rich and productive, the elevation being between 11,000 and 12,000 ft. Shigatse lay to the west of the British route of advance on Lhasa in 1904, but it was visited by Captain Rawling on his way to open the market at Gartok.

SHIGNAN and ROSHAN, two small hill states E. of the Badakshan province of Afghanistan. They extend eastwards from the Panja, where it forms the eastern boundary of Badakshan to the Pamirs. The native rulers of Roshan and Shignan claim descent from Alexander the Great, of whom legends are still current in the country about the upper Oxus. The two states were conquered by Abdur Rahman in 1882, but were assigned to Russia by the Durand agreement of 1893. Since that agreement Russia has retired from all districts previously occupied by her on the left bank of the Panja, or upper Oxus.

SHI'ITES (from Arab. shi‘a, a party, and then a sect), the name of one of the two great religious divisions of Islam. The Shiites hold that the imāmate and caliphate belong to the house of Mahomet (Muḥammad) alone, and so to ‘Alī, Mahomet's son-in-law, and his successors. After the arbitration on the claims of ‘Alī and Moawīyā to the caliphate (A.D. 658), two great parties emerged from the strife of feeling caused in the East by the deposition of ‘Alī.[1] Those who were known as the Khārijites, being mainly country Arabs, were democratic, and claimed that the office of caliph was elective, and that the caliph might be chosen from any Arab Moslem family. In strong opposition to these stood the party afterwards called the Shiites, who regarded ‘Alī and his descendants as the only rightful caliphs. For them the caliphate was a God-given office, and not one to be given by human appointment. Belief in this was an ordinance of God, an article of the faith. He who did not accept it as such was an unbeliever. Moreover, the party consisted largely of Persians who on their conversion to Islam brought with them many of the doctrines of their old faith, religious and political. Among these was the belief in the divinity of the sovereign and the duty of worshipping him. Gnostic elements, which may have come from the old religion of Babylonia, were also introduced. The idea of an absolute personal and hereditary monarchy was thus developed among the subjects of ‘Alī. But in Islam there is no separation between politics and theology. The theological position of the Shiites was that the superhuman power of Mahomet descended to the members of his house (‘Alī and his children), so that they could interpret the will of God and tell future events. The imām was infallible and a mahdi or guide for life. What the imām gained the Koran lost, and many of the Shiites held the Mu‘tazilite or rationalistic opinion of the created nature of the sacred book.

The growth of the Shiites was fostered by the great discontent of the eastern half of the caliphate with Omayyad rule (see Caliphate, and Persia: History). Before long an active propaganda was started, and leaders (often adventurers) arose who formed parties and founded sects of their own in the ranks of the Shiites. One of the earliest of these was ‘Abdallah ibn Ṣabā (founder of the Ṣabā‘īyya), who in the caliphate of Othman had preached the return of Mahomet (founded on Koran xxviii. 84), had been concerned in the assassination of Othman, and had proclaimed the divinity of ‘Alī, but had been disowned and punished by him. On ‘Alī's death he declared the thunder to be the voice, and the lightning the scourge of the translated caliph, and announced that his divine power had passed to his successors, the imāms.

Another sect, the Kaisānīyya, followed Kaisān, a freedman of ‘Alī, in believing in the superhuman knowledge of Mahommed ibn Hanafīyya, a son of ‘Alī but not by Fatima. Religion for these was obedience not to law but to a person. When the doctrine of a hidden imām arose, they differed from the Ṣabā‘īyya in expecting his return from his place of concealment on earth, not from heaven. Among them an adventurer Mokhtar (Mukhtār) had a large following for a time. He taught the mutability both of the knowledge and of the will of God—a development of Mahomet's own teaching. He claimed to fight to avenge the death of Hosain (see Hasan and Hosain) and to serve Maḥommed ibn Hanafīyya, who, however, disowned him. He was killed in 687. Some of the Shiite leaders, as Abu Moslim, when renounced by the members of the house of ‘Alī, transferred their allegiance to the house of ‘Abbās (see Rāwendis). The success of the Abbasids in supplanting the Omayyads was largely due to the help of the Shiites, and the early Abbasid caliphs, to the time of Motawakkil, were half-Shiites of a lax order. Shahrastānī (q.v.) in his Book on the Sects (Kitāb Milal wan-Niḥal, ed. Cureton, pp. 109 ff.; Haarbrücker's translation, vol. i. pp. 164 ff.) divides the Shiites into five main divisions: the Kaisānīyya, the Zaidīyva, the Imāmīyya, the Ghālīyya and the Isma‘īlīyya. Of these the Ghālīyya are represented by the followers of Ibn Ṣabā (see above), and the Kaisānīyya have been already described. These parties as such have now ceased to exist, the others still remain; The Zaidites or Zaidīyya are the followers of Zaid, a grandson of Hosain, and are the most moderate of the Shiites, for though holding that the imāmate belongs only to the descendants of ‘Alī by Fatima, and that any of these might be imām (even though two or three should be in existence at the same time), they allow that circumstances might justify the appointment of another caliph for the time. Thus they acknowledge the imāmate of Abu Bekr and Omar, though ‘Alī was more entitled to the office. One branch of the Zaidites held Tabaristan from 864 until overturned by the Samanids in 928; another branch, arising about 893 in Yemen, has remained there until the present day. The Isma‘īlites or Isma‘īlīyya are the followers of Isma‘īl, the elder son of Ja‘far us-Sadīq, the sixth imām (see table below). He was rejected as successor by his father for drinking wine, and his party might soon have disappeared if he had not served as imām for the adventurous sceptic ‘Abdallah ibn Maimūn (for his propaganda see Carmathians). Owing to the success of this man the Isma‘īlites have given rise to the Carmathians (q.v.), the Fatimites (q.v.), the Assassins (q.v.) and the Druses (q.v.).

At the present time the Isma‘īlīyya still exist in small numbers, chiefly about Surat and Bombay. The Imāmīyya believe that each imām has been definitely named by his predecessor. This party broke up into numerous divisions, and imāms manifest or hidden secured each his own following. The most important of these parties is that of the Twelve (the Ithna‘asharīyya), who accept and follow the twelve descendants of ‘Alī numbered in the accompanying table.

  1. For these and following events see Caliphate.