HISTORY of the CHRISTIAN CHURCH*
MOHAMMEDANISM IN ITS RELATION TO CHRISTIANITY.136
"There is no God but God, and Mohammed is his apostle."—The Koran.
"There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all."—1 Tim. ii. 5, 6.
§ 38. Literature.
See A. Sprenger’s Bibliotheca Orientalis Sprengeriana. Giessen, 1857.
W. Muir.: Life of Mahomet, Vol. I., ch. 1. Muir discusses especially the value of Mohammedan traditions.
Ch. Friedrici: Bibliotheca Orientalis. London (Trübner & Co.) 1875 sqq.
1. The Koran or AL-Koran. The chief source. The Mohammedan Bible, claiming to be given by inspiration to Mohammed during the course of twenty years. About twice as large as the New Testament. The best Arabic MSS., often most beautifully written, are in the Mosques of Cairo, Damascus, Constantinople, and Paris; the largest, collection in the library of the Khedive in Cairo. Printed editions in Arabic by Hinkelmann (Hamburg, 1694); Molla Osman Ismael (St. Petersburg, 1787 and 1803); G. Flügel (Leipz., 1834); revised by Redslob (1837, 1842, 1858). Arabice et Latine, ed. L. Maraccius, Patav., 1698, 2 vols., fol. (Alcorani textus universus, with notes and refutation). A lithographed edition of the Arabic text appeared at Lucknow in India, 1878 (A. H. 1296).
The standard English translations: in prose by Geo. Sale (first publ., Lond., 1734, also 1801, 1825, Philad., 1833, etc.), with a learned and valuable preliminary discourse and notes; in the metre, but without the rhyme, of the original by J. M. Rodwell (Lond., 1861, 2d ed. 1876, the Suras arranged in chronological order). A new transl. in prose by E. H. Palmer. (Oxford, 1880, 2 vols.) in M. Müller’s "Sacred Books of the East." Parts are admirably translated by Edward W. Lane.
French translation by Savary, Paris, 1783, 2 vols.; enlarged edition by Garcin de Tassy, 1829, in 3 vols.; another by M. Kasimirski, Paris, 1847, and 1873.
German translations by Wahl (Halle, 1828), L. Ullmann (Bielefeld, 1840, 4th ed. 1857), and parts by Hammer von Purgstall (in the Fundgruben des Orients), and Sprenger (in Das Leben und die Lehre des Mohammad).
2. Secondary sources on the Life of Moh. and the origin of Islâm are the numerous poems of contemporaries, especially in Ibn Ishâc, and the collections of the sayings of Moh., especially the Sahih (i.e. The True, the Genuine) of Albuchârî (d. 871). Also the early Commentaries on the Koran, which explain difficult passages, reconcile the contradictions, and insert traditional sayings and legends. See Sprenger, III. CIV. sqq.
II. Works On The Koran.
Th. Nöldeke: Geschichte des Quorâns, (History of the Koran), Göttingen, 1860; and his art. in the "Encycl. Brit., 9th ed. XVI. 597–606.
Garcin de Tassy: L’Islamisme d’après le Coran l’enseignement doctrinal et la pratique, 3d ed. Paris, 1874.
Gustav Weil: Hist. kritische Einleitung in den Koran. Bielefeld und Leipz., 1844, 2d ed., 1878.
Sir William Muir: The Corân. Its Composition and Teaching; and the Testimony it bears to the Holy Scriptures. (Allahabad, 1860), 3d ed., Lond., 1878.
Sprenger, l.c., III., pp. xviii.-cxx.
III. Biographies of Mohammed.
1. Mohammedan biographers.
Zohri (the oldest, died after the Hegira 124).
Ibn Ishâc (or Ibni Ishak, d. A. H. 151, or a.d. 773), ed. in Arabic from MSS. by Wüstenfeld, Gött., 1858–60, translated by Weil, Stuttg., 1864.
Ibn (Ibni) Hishâm (d. A. H. 213, a.d. 835), also ed. by Wüstenfeld, and translated by Weil, 1864.
Katib Al Waquidi (or Wackedee, Wackidi, d. at Bagdad A. H. 207, a.d. 829), a man of prodigious learning, who collected the traditions, and left six hundred chests of books (Sprenger, III., LXXI.), and his secretary, Muhammad Ibn Sâad (d. A. H. 230, a.d. 852), who arranged, abridged, and completed the biographical works of his master in twelve or fifteen for. vols.; the first vol. contains the biography of Moh., and is preferred by Muir and Sprenger to all others. German transl. by Wellhausen: Muhammed in Medina. From the Arabic of Vakidi. Berlin, 1882.
Tabari (or Tibree, d. A. H. 310, a.d. 932), called by Gibbon "the Livy of the Arabians."
Muir says (I., CIII.): "To the three biographies by Ibn Hishâm, by Wackidi, and his secretary, and by Tabari, the judicious historian of Mahomet will, as his original authorities, confine himself. He will also receive, with a similar respect, such traditions in the general collections of the earliest traditionists—Bokhâri, Muslim, Tirmidzi, etc.,—as may bear upon his subject. But he will reject as evidence all later authors." Abulfeda (or Abulfida, d. 1331), once considered the chief authority, now set aside by much older sources.
*Syed Ahmed Khan Bahador (member of the Royal Asiatic Society): A Series of Essays on the Life of Mohammed. London (Trübner & Co.), 1870. He wrote also a "Mohammedan Commentary on the Holy Bible." He begins with the sentence: "In nomine Dei Misericordis Miseratoris. Of all the innumerable wonders of the universe, the most marvellous is religion."
Syed Ameer Ali, Moulvé (a Mohammedan lawyer, and brother of the former): A Critical Examination of the Life and Teachings of Mohammed. London 1873. A defense of Moh. chiefly drawn from Ibn-Hishâm (and Ibn-al Athîr (1160–1223).
2. Christian Biographies.
Dean Prideaux (d. 1724): Life of Mahomet, 1697, 7th ed. Lond., 1718. Very unfavorable.
Count Boulinvilliers: The Life of Mahomet. Transl. from the French. Lond., 1731.
Jean Gagnier (d. 1740): La vie de Mahomet, 1732, 2 vols., etc. Amsterd. 1748, 3 vols. Chiefly from Abulfeda and the Sonna. He also translated Abulfeda.
*Gibbon: Decline and Fall, etc. (1788), chs. 50–52. Although not an Arabic scholar, Gibbon made the best use of the sources then accessible in Latin, French, and English, and gives a brilliant and, upon the whole, impartial picture.
*Gustav Weil: Mohammed der Prophet, sein Leben und seine Lehre. Stuttgart, 1843. Comp. also his translation of Ibn Ishâc, and Ibn Hishâm, Stuttgart, 1864, 2 vols.; and his Biblische Legenden der Muselmänner aus arabischen Quellen und mit jüd. Sagen verglichen. Frcf., 1845. The last is also transl. into English.
Th. Carlyle: The Hero as Prophet, in his Heroes Hero- Worship and the Heroic in History. London, 1840. A mere sketch, but full of genius and stimulating hints. He says: "We have chosen Mahomet not as the most eminent prophet, but as the one we are freest to speak of. He is by no means the truest of prophets, but I esteem him a true one. Farther, as there is no danger of our becoming, any of us, Mahometans, I mean to say all the good of him I justly can. It is the way to get at his secret."
Washington Irving: Mahomet and His Followers. N. Y., 1850. 2 vols.
George Bush: The Life of Mohammed. New York (Harpers).
*SIR William MUIR (of the Bengal Civil Service): The Life of Mahomet. With introductory chapters on the original sources for the biography of Mahomet, and on the pre-Islamite history of Arabia. Lond., 1858–1861, 4 vols. Learned, able, and fair. Abridgement in 1 vol. Lond., 1877.
*A. Sprenger: First an English biography printed at Allahabad, 1851, and then a more complete one in German, Das Leben und die Lehre des Mohammad. Nach bisher grösstentheils unbenutzten Quellen. Berlin, 1861–’65, 2d ed. 1869, 3 vols. This work is based on original and Arabic sources, and long personal intercourse with Mohammedans in India, but is not a well digested philosophical biography.
*Theod. Nöldeke: Das Leben Muhammeds. Hanover, 1863. Comp. his elaborate art. in Vol. XVIII. of Herzog’s Real-Encycl., first ed.
E. Renan: Mahomet, et les origines de l’islamisme, in his "Etudes de l’histoire relig.," 7th ed. Par., 1864.
Barthélemy Saint-Hilaire: Mahomet et le Oran. Paris, 1865. Based on Sprenger and Muir.
Ch. Scholl: L’Islam et son Fondateur. Paris, 1874.
R. Bosworth Smith (Assistant Master in Harrow School): Mohammed and Mohammedanism. Lond. 1874, reprinted New York, 1875.
J. W. H. Stobart: Islam and its Founder. London, 1876.
J. Wellhausen: Art. Moh. in the "Encycl. Brit." 9th ed. vol. XVI. 545–565.
IV. History Of The Arabs And Turks.
Jos. von Hammer-Purgstall: Geschichte des osmanischen Reiches. Pesth, 1827–34, 10 vols. A smaller ed. in 4 vols. This standard work is the result of thirty years’ labor, and brings the history down to 1774. By the same: Literaturgeschichte der Araber. Wien, 1850–’57, 7 vols.
*G. Weil: Gesch. der Chalifen. Mannheim, 1846–5l, 3 vols.
*Caussin de Perceval: Essai sur l’histoire des Arabes. Paris, 1848, 3 vols.
*Edward A. Freeman (D. C. L., LL. D.): History and Conquests of the Saracens. Lond., 1856, 3d ed. 1876.
Robert Durie Osborn (Major of the Bengal Staff Corps): Islam under the Arabs. London., 1876; Islam under the Khalifs of Baghdad. London, 1877.
Sir Edward S. Creasy: History of the Ottoman Turks from the Beginning of their Empire to the present Time. Lond., 2d ed. 1877. Chiefly founded on von Hammer’
Th. Nöldeke: Geschichte der Perser und Araber zur Zeit der Sasaniden. Aus der arabischen Chronik des Tabari übersetzt. Leyden, 1879.
Sir Wm. Muir: Annals of the Early Caliphate. London 1883.
V. Manners And Customs Of The Mohammedans.
Joh. Ludwig Burckhardt: Travels in Nubia, 1819; Travels in Syria and Palestine, 1823; Notes on the Bedouins, 1830.
*Edw. W. Lane: Modern Egyptians. Lond., 1836, 5th ed. 1871, in 2 vols.
*Rich. F. Burton: Personal narrative of a Pilgrimage to El Medinah and Meccah, Lond. 1856, 3 vols.
C. B. Klunzinger: Upper Egypt: its People and its Products. A descriptive Account of the Manners, Customs, Superstitions, and Occupations of the People of the Nile Valley, the Desert, and the Red Sea Coast. New York, 1878. A valuable supplement to Lane.
Books of Eastern Travel, especially on Egypt and Turkey. Bahrdt’s Travels in Central Africa (1857), Palgrave’s Arabia (1867), etc.
VI. Relation Of Mohammedanism To Judaism.
*Abraham Geiger: Was hat Mohammed aus dem Judenthum aufgenommen? Bonn, 1833.
Hartwig Hirschfeld: Jüdische Elemente im Koran. Berlin, 1878.
VII. Mohammedanism as a Religion, and its Relation to Christianity.
L. Maracci: Prodromus ad refutationem Alcorani. Rom., 1691, 4 vols.
S. Lee: Controversial Tracts on Christianity and Mahometanism. 1824.
J. Döllingber (R.C.): Muhammed’s Religion nach ihrer innern Entwicklung u. ihrem Einfluss auf das Leben der Völker. Regensb. 1838.
A. Möhler (R.C.): Das Verhältniss des Islam zum Christenthum (in his "Gesammelte Schriften"). Regensb., 1839.
C. F. Gerock: Versuch einer Darstellung der Christologie des Koran. Hamburg and Gotha, 1839.
J. H. Newman (R.C.): The Turks in their relation to Europe (written in 1853), in his "Historical Sketches." London, 1872, pp. 1–237.
Dean Arthur P. Stanley: Mahometanism and its relations to the Eastern Church (in Lectures on the "History of the Eastern Church." London and New York, 1862, pp. 360–387). A picturesque sketch.
Dean Milman: History of Latin Christianity. Book IV., chs.1 and 2. (Vol. II. p. 109).
Theod. Nöldeke: Art. Muhammed und der Islam, in Herzog’s "Real-Encyclop." Vol. XVIII. (1864), pp. 767–820.’
*Eman. Deutsch: Islam, in his "Liter. Remains." Lond. and N. York, 1874, pp. 50–134. The article originally appeared in the London "Quarterly Review" for Oct. 1869, and is also printed at the end of the New York (Harper) ed. of R. Bosworth Smith’s Mohammed. Reports of the General Missionary Conference at Allahabad, 1873.
J. Mühleisen Arnold (formerly chaplain at Batavia): Islam: its History, Character, and Relation to Christianity. Lond., 1874, 3d ed.
Gustav. Rösch: Die Jesusmythen des Islam, in the "Studien und Kritiken." Gotha, 1876. (No. III. pp. 409–454).
Marcus Dods: Mohammed, Buddha, and Christ. Lond. 2d ed. 1878.
Ch. A. Aiken: Mohammedanism as a Missionary Religion. In the "Bibliotheca Sacra," of Andover for 1879, p. 157.
Archbishop Trench: Lectures on Mediaeval Church History (Lect. IV. 45–58). London, 1877.
Henry H. Jessup (Amer. Presbyt. missionary at Beirut): The Mohammedan Missionary Problem. Philadelphia, 1879.
Edouard Sayous: Jésus Christ d’après Mahomet. Paris 1880.
G. P. Badger: Muhámmed in Smith and Wace, III. 951–998.
§ 39. Statistics and Chronological Table.
Estimate of the Mohammedan Population (According to Keith Johnston).
In Asia, 112,739,000
In Africa, 50,416,000
In Europe, 5,974,000
Mohammedans Under Christian Governments.
England in India rules over 41,000,000
Russia in Central Asia rules over 6,000,000
France in Africa rules over 2,000,000
Holland in Java and Celebes rules over 1,000,000
a.d. Chronological Survey.
570. Birth of Mohammed, at Mecca.
610. Mohammed received the visions of Gabriel and began his career as a prophet. (Conversion of the Anglo-Saxons).
622. The Hegira, or the flight of Mohammed from Mecca to Medina. Beginning of the Mohammedan era.
632. (June 8) Death of Mohammed at Medina.
632. Abû Bekr, first Caliph or successor of Mohammed
636. Capture of Jerusalem by the Caliph Omar.
640. Capture of Alexandria by Omar.
711. Tharyk crosses the Straits from Africa to Europe, and calls the mountain Jebel Tharyk (Gibraltar).
732. Battle of Poitiers and Tours; Abd-er-Rahman defeated by Charles Martel; Western Europe saved from Moslem conquest.
786–809. Haroun al Rashîd, Caliph of Bagdad. Golden era of Mohammedanism. Correspondence with Charlemagne).
1063. Allp Arslan, Seljukian Turkish prince.
1096. The First Crusade. Capture of Jerusalem by Godfrey of Bouillon.
1187. Saladin, the Sultan of Egypt and scourge of the Crusaders, conquers at Tiberias and takes Jerusalem, (1187); is defeated by Richard Coeur de Lion at Askelon, and dies 1193. Decline of the Crusades.
1288–1326. Reign of Othman, founder of the Ottoman (Turkish) dynasty.
1453. Capture of Constantinople by Mohammed II., "the Conqueror," and founder of the greatness of Turkey. (Exodus of Greek scholars to Southern Europe; the Greek Testament brought to the West; the revival of letters.)
1492. July 2. Boabdil (or Alien Abdallah) defeated by Ferdinand at Granada; end of Moslem rule in Spain. (Discovery of’ America by Columbus).
1517. Ottoman Sultan Selim I. conquers Egypt, wrests the caliphate from the Arab line of the Koreish through Motawekkel Billah, and transfers it to the Ottoman Sultans; Ottoman caliphate never acknowledged by Persian or Moorish Moslems. (The Reformation.)
1521–1566. Solyman II., "the Magnificent," marks the zenith of the military power of the Turks; takes Belgrade (1521), defeats the Hungarians (1526), but is repulsed from Vienna (1529 and 1532).
1571. Defeat of Selim II. at the naval battle of Lepanto by the Christian powers under Don John of Austria. Beginning of the decline of the Turkish power.
1683. Final repulse of the Turks at the gates of Vienna by John Sobieski, king of Poland, 2Sept. 12; Eastern Europe saved from Moslem rule.
1792. Peace at Jassy in Moldavia, which made the Dniester the frontier between Russia and Turkey.
1827. Annihilation of the Turko-Egyptian fleet by, the combined squadrons of England, France, and Russia, in the battle of Navarino, October 20. Treaty of Adrianople, 1829. Independence of the kingdom of Greece, 1832.
1856. End of Crimean War; Turkey saved by England and France aiding the Sultan against the aggression of Russia; Treaty of Paris; European agreement not to interfere in the domestic affairs of Turkey.
1878. Defeat of the Turks by Russia; but checked by the interference of England under the lead of Lord Beaconsfield. Congress of the European powers, and Treaty of Berlin; independence of Bulgaria secured; Anglo-Turkish Treaty; England occupies Cyprus—agrees to defend the frontier of Asiatic Turkey against Russia, on condition that the Sultan execute fundamental reforms in Asiatic Turkey.
1880. Supplementary Conference at Berlin. Rectification and enlargement of the boundary of Montenegro and Greece.
§ 40. Position of Mohammedanism in Church History.
While new races and countries in Northern and Western Europe, unknown to the apostles, were added to the Christian Church, we behold in Asia and Africa the opposite spectacle of the rise and progress of a rival religion which is now acknowledged by more than one-tenth of the inhabitants of the globe. It is called "Mohammedanism" from its founder, or "Islâm," from its chief virtue, which is absolute surrender to the one true God. Like Christianity, it had its birth in the Shemitic race, the parent of the three monotheistic religions, but in an obscure and even desert district, and had a more rapid, though less enduring success.
But what a difference in the means employed and the results reached! Christianity made its conquest by peaceful missionaries and the power of persuasion, and carried with it the blessings of home, freedom and civilization. Mohammedanism conquered the fairest portions of the earth by the sword and cursed them by polygamy, slavery, despotism and desolation. The moving power of Christian missions was love to God and man; the moving power of Islâm was fanaticism and brute force. Christianity has found a home among all nations and climes; Mohammedanism, although it made a most vigorous effort to conquer the world, is after all a religion of the desert, of the tent and the caravan, and confined to nomad and savage or half-civilized nations, chiefly Arabs, Persians, and Turks. It never made an impression on Europe except by brute force; it is only encamped, not really domesticated, in Constantinople, and when it must withdraw from Europe it will leave no trace behind.
Islâm in its conquering march took forcible possession of the lands of the Bible, and the Greek church, seized the throne of Constantine, overran Spain, crossed the Pyrenees, and for a long time threatened even the church of Rome and the German empire, until it was finally repulsed beneath the walls of Vienna. The Crusades which figure so prominently in the history of mediaeval Christianity, originated in the desire to wrest the holy land from the followers of "the false prophet," and brought the East in contact with the West. The monarchy and the church of Spain, with their architecture, chivalry, bigotry, and inquisition, emerged from a fierce conflict with the Moors. Even the Reformation in the sixteenth century was complicated with the Turkish question, which occupied the attention of the diet of Augsburg as much as the Confession of the Evangelical princes and divines. Luther, in one of his most popular hymns, prays for deliverance from "the murdering Pope and Turk," as the two chief enemies of the gospel137; and the Anglican Prayer Book, in the collect for Good Friday, invokes God "to have mercy upon all Turks," as well as upon "Jews, Infidels, and Heretics."138
The danger for Western Christendom from that quarter has long since passed away; the "unspeakable" Turk has ceased to be unconquerable, but the Asiatic and a part of the East European portion of the Greek church are still subject to the despotic rule of the Sultan, whose throne in Constantinople has been for more than four hundred years a standing insult to Christendom.
Mohammedanism then figures as a hostile force, as a real Ishmaelite in church history; it is the only formidable rival which Christianity ever had, the only religion which for a while at least aspired to universal empire.
And yet it is not hostile only. It has not been without beneficial effect upon Western civilization. It aided in the development of chivalry; it influenced Christian architecture; it stimulated the study of mathematics, chemistry, medicine (as is indicated by the technical terms: algebra, chemistry, alchemy); and the Arabic translations and commentaries on Aristotle by the Spanish Moors laid the philosophical foundation of scholasticism. Even the conquest of Constantinople by the Turks brought an inestimable blessing to the West by driving Greek scholars with the Greek Testament to Italy to inaugurate there the revival of letters which prepared the way for the Protestant Reformation.
Viewed in its relation to the Eastern Church which it robbed of the fairest dominions, Mohammedanism was a well-deserved divine punishment for the unfruitful speculations, bitter contentions, empty ceremonialism and virtual idolatry which degraded and disgraced the Christianity of the East after the fifth century. The essence of true religion, love to God and to man, was eaten out by rancor and strife, and there was left no power of ultimate resistance to the foreign conqueror. The hatred between the orthodox Eastern church and the Eastern schismatics driven from her communion, and the jealousy between the Greek and Latin churches prevented them from aiding each other in efforts to arrest the progress of the common foe. The Greeks detested the Latin Filioque as a heresy more deadly than Islâm; while the Latins cared more for the supremacy of the Pope than the triumph of Christianity, and set up during the Crusades a rival hierarchy in the East. Even now Greek and Latin monks in Bethlehem and Jerusalem are apt to fight at Christmas and Easter over the cradle and the grave of their common Lord and Redeemer, unless Turkish soldiers keep them in order!139
But viewed in relation to the heathenism from which it arose or which it converted, Mahommedanism is a vast progress, and may ultimately be a stepping-stone to Christianity, like the law of Moses which served as a schoolmaster to lead men to the gospel. It has destroyed the power of idolatry in Arabia and a large part of Asia and Africa, and raised Tartars and Negroes from the rudest forms of superstition to the belief and worship of the one true God, and to a certain degree of civilization.
It should be mentioned, however, that, according to the testimony of missionaries and African travelers, Mohammedanism has inflamed the simple minded African tribes with the impure fire of fanaticism and given them greater power of resistance to Christianity. Sir William Muir, a very competent judge, thinks that Mohammedanism by the poisoning influence of polygamy and slavery, and by crushing all freedom of judgment in religion has interposed the most effectual barrier against the reception of Christianity. "No system," he says, "could have been devised with more consummate skill for shutting out the nations over which it has sway, from the light of truth. Idolatrous Arabs might have been aroused to spiritual life and to the adoption of the faith of Jesus; Mahometan Arabia is, to the human eye, sealed against the benign influences of the gospel .... The sword of Mahomet and the Coran are the most fatal enemies of civilization, liberty, and truth."140
This is no doubt true of the past. But we have not yet seen the end of this historical problem. It is not impossible that Islâm may yet prove to be a necessary condition for the revival of a pure Scriptural religion in the East. Protestant missionaries from England and America enjoy greater liberty under the Mohammedan rule than they would under a Greek or Russian government. The Mohammedan abhorrence of idolatry and image worship, Mohammedan simplicity and temperance are points of contact with the evangelical type of Christianity, which from the extreme West has established flourishing missions in the most important parts of Turkey. The Greek Church can do little or nothing with the Mohammedans; if they are to be converted it must be done by a Christianity which is free from all appearance of idolatry, more simple in worship, and more vigorous in life than that which they have so easily conquered and learned to despise. It is an encouraging fact that Mohammedans have, great respect for the Anglo-Saxon race. They now swear by the word of an Englishman as much as by the beard of Mohammed.
Islâm is still a great religious power in the East. It rules supreme in Syria, Palestine, Asia Minor, Egypt, North Africa, and makes progress among the savage tribes in the interior of the Dark Continent. It is by no means simply, as Schlegel characterized the system, "a prophet without miracles, a faith without mysteries, and a morality without love." It has tenacity, aggressive vitality and intense enthusiasm. Every traveller in the Orient must be struck with the power of its simple monotheism upon its followers. A visit to the Moslem University in the Mosque El Azhar at Cairo is very instructive. It dates from the tenth century (975), and numbers (or numbered in 1877, when I visited it) no less than ten thousand students who come from all parts of the Mohammedan world and present the appearance of a huge Sunday School, seated in small groups on the floor, studying the Koran as the beginning and end of all wisdom, and then at the stated hours for prayer rising to perform their devotions under the lead of their teachers. They live in primitive simplicity, studying, eating and sleeping on a blanket or straw mat in the same mosque, but the expression of their faces betrays the fanatical devotion to their creed. They support themselves, or are aided by the alms of the faithful. The teachers (over three hundred) receive no salary and live by private instruction or presents from rich scholars.
Nevertheless the power of Islâm, like its symbol, the moon, is disappearing before the sun of Christianity which is rising once more over the Eastern horizon. Nearly one-third of its followers are under Christian (mostly English) rule. It is essentially a politico-religious system, and Turkey is its stronghold. The Sultan has long been a "sick man," and owes his life to the forbearance and jealousy of the Christian powers. Sooner or later he will be driven out of Europe, to Brusa or Mecca. The colossal empire of Russia is the hereditary enemy of Turkey, and would have destroyed her in the wars of 1854 and 1877, if Catholic France and Protestant England had not come to her aid. In the meantime the silent influences of European civilization and Christian missions are undermining the foundations of Turkey, and preparing the way for a religious, moral and social regeneration and transformation of the East. "God’s mills grind slowly, but surely and wonderfully fine." A thousand years before Him are as one day, and one day may do the work of a thousand years.
§ 41. The Home, and the Antecedents of Islâm.
On the Aborigines of Arabia and its religious condition before Islam, compare the preliminary discourse of Sale, Sect.1 and 2; Muir, Vol. I. ch. 2d; Sprenger, I. 13–92, and Stobart, ch. 1.
The fatherland of Islâm is Arabia, a peninsula between the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf. It is covered with sandy deserts, barren hills, rock-bound coasts, fertile wadies, and rich pastures. It is inhabited by nomadic tribes and traders who claim descent from five patriarchal stocks, Cush, Shem, Ishmael, Keturah, and Esau. It was divided by the ancients into Arabia Deserta, Arabia Petraea (the Sinai district with Petra as the capital), and Arabia Felix (El-Yemen, i.e. the land on the right hand, or of the South). Most of its rivers are swelled by periodical rains and then lose themselves in the sandy plains; few reach the ocean; none of them is navigable. It is a land of grim deserts and strips of green verdure, of drought and barrenness, violent rains, clear skies, tropical heat, date palms, aromatic herbs, coffee, balsam, myrrh, frankincense, and dhurra (which takes the place of grain). Its chief animals are the camel, "the ship of the desert," an excellent breed of horses, sheep, and goats. The desert, like the ocean, is not without its grandeur. It creates the impression of infinitude, it fosters silence and meditation on God and eternity. Man is there alone with God. The Arabian desert gave birth to some of the sublimest compositions, the ode of liberty by Miriam, the ninetieth Psalm by Moses, the book of Job, which Carlyle calls "the grandest poem written by the pen of man."
The Arabs love a roaming life, are simple and temperate, courteous, respectful, hospitable, imaginative, fond of poetry and eloquence, careless of human life, revengeful, sensual, and fanatical. Arabia, protected by its deserts, was never properly conquered by a foreign nation.
The religious capital of Islâm, and the birthplace of its founder—its Jerusalem and Rome—is Mecca (or Mekka), one of the oldest cities of Arabia. It is situated sixty-five miles East of Jiddah on the Red Sea, two hundred and forty-five miles South of Medina, in a narrow and sterile valley and shut in by bare hills. It numbered in its days of prosperity over one hundred thousand inhabitants, now only about forty-five thousand. It stands under the immediate control of the Sultan. The streets are broad, but unpaved, dusty in summer, muddy in winter. The houses are built of brick or stone, three or four stories high; the rooms better furnished than is usual in the East. They are a chief source of revenue by being let to the pilgrims. There is scarcely a garden or cultivated field in and around Mecca, and only here and there a thorny acacia and stunted brushwood relieves the eye. The city derives all its fruit—watermelons, dates, cucumbers, limes, grapes, apricots, figs, almonds—from Tâif and Wady Fatima, which during the pilgrimage season send more than one hundred camels daily to the capital. The inhabitants are indolent, though avaricious, and make their living chiefly of the pilgrims who annually flock thither by thousands and tens of thousands from all parts of the Mohammedan world. None but Moslems are allowed to enter Mecca, but a few Christian travellers—Ali Bey (the assumed name of the Spaniard, Domingo Badia y Leblich, d. 1818), Burckhardt in 1814, Burton in 1852, Maltzan in 1862, Keane in 1880—have visited it in Mussulman disguise, and at the risk of their lives. To them we owe our knowledge of the place.141
The most holy place in Mecca is Al-Kaaba, a small oblong temple, so called from its cubic form.142 To it the faces of millions of Moslems are devoutly turned in prayer five times a day. It is inclosed by the great mosque, which corresponds in importance to the temple of Solomon in Jerusalem and St. Peter’s cathedral in Rome, and can hold about thirty-five thousand persons. It is surrounded by colonnades, chambers, domes and minarets. Near it is the bubbling well Zemzem, from which Hagar and Ishmael are said to have quenched their burning thirst. The Kaaba is much older than Mecca. Diodorus Siculus mentions it as the oldest and most honored temple in his time. It is supposed to have been first built by angels in the shape of a tent and to have been let down from heaven; there Adam worshipped after his expulsion from Paradise; Seth substituted a structure of clay and stone for a tent; after the destruction by the deluge Abraham and Ishmael reconstructed it, and their footsteps are shown.143 It was entirely rebuilt in 1627. It contains the famous Black Stone,144 in the North-Eastern corner near the door. This is probably a meteoric stone, or of volcanic origin, and served originally as an altar. The Arabs believe that it fell from Paradise with Adam, and was as white as milk, but turned black on account of man’s sins.145 It is semi-circular in shape, measures about six inches in height, and eight inches in breadth, is four or five feet from the ground, of reddish black color, polished by innumerable kisses (like the foot of the Peter-statue in St. Peter’s at Rome), encased in silver, and covered with black silk and inscriptions from the Koran. It was an object of veneration from time immemorial, and is still devoutly kissed or touched by the Moslem pilgrims on each of their seven circuits around the temple.146
Mohammed subsequently cleared the Kaaba of all relics of idolatry, and made it the place of pilgrimage for his followers. He invented or revived the legend that Abraham by divine command sent his son Ishmael with Hagar to Mecca to establish there the true worship and the pilgrim festival. He says in the Koran: "God hath appointed the Kaaba, the sacred house, to be a station for mankind," and, "Remember when we appointed the sanctuary as man’s resort and safe retreat, and said, ’Take ye the station of Abraham for a place of prayer.’ And we commanded Abraham and Ishmael, ’Purify my house for those who shall go in procession round it, and those who shall bow down and prostrate themselves.’ "147
Arabia had at the time when Mohammed appeared, all the elements for a wild, warlike, eclectic religion like the one which he established. It was inhabited by heathen star-worshippers, Jews, and Christians.
The heathen were the ruling race, descended from Ishmael, the bastard son of Abraham (Ibrahim), the real sons of the desert, full of animal life and energy. They had their sanctuary in the Kaaba at Mecca, which attracted annually large numbers of pilgrims long before Mohammed.
The Jews, after the destruction of Jerusalem, were scattered in Arabia, especially in the district of Medina, and exerted considerable influence by their higher culture and rabbinical traditions.
The Christians belonged mostly to the various heretical sects which were expelled from the Roman empire during the violent doctrinal controversies of the fourth and fifth centuries. We find there traces of Arians, Sabellians, Ebionites, Nestorians, Eutychians, Monophysites, Marianites, and Collyridians or worshippers of Mary. Anchorets and monks settled in large numbers in Wady Feiran around Mount Serbal, and Justinian laid the foundation of the Convent of St. Catharine at the foot of Mount Sinai, which till the year 1859 harbored the oldest and most complete uncial manuscript of the Greek Scriptures of both Testaments from the age of Constantine. But it was a very superficial and corrupt Christianity which had found a home in those desert regions, where even the apostle Paul spent three years after his conversion in silent preparation for his great mission.
These three races and religions, though deadly hostile to each other, alike revered Abraham, the father of the faithful, as their common ancestor. This fact might suggest to a great mind the idea to unite them by a national religion monotheistic in principle and eclectic in its character. This seems to have been the original project of the founder of Islâm.
It is made certain by recent research that there were at the time and before the call of Mohammed a considerable number of inquirers at Mecca and Medina, who had intercourse with Eastern Christians in Syria and Abyssinia, were dissatisfied with the idolatry around them, and inclined to monotheism, which they traced to Abraham. They called themselves Hanyfs, i.e. Converts, Puritans. One of them, Omayah of Tâif, we know to have been under Christian influence; others seem to have derived their monotheistic ideas from Judaism. Some of the early converts of Mohammed as, Zayd (his favorite slave), Omayab, or Umaijah (a popular poet), and Waraka (a cousin of Chadijah and a student of the Holy Scriptures of the Jews and Christians) belonged to this sect, and even Mohammed acknowledged himself at first a Hanyf.148 Waraka, it is said, believed in him, as long as he was a Hanyf, but then forsook him, and died a Christian or a Jew.149
Mohammed consolidated and energized this reform-movement, and gave it a world-wide significance, under the new name of Islâm, i.e. resignation to God; whence Moslem (or Muslim), one who resigns himself to God.
§ 42. Life and Character of Mohammed.
Mohammed, an unschooled, self-taught, semi-barbarous son of nature, of noble birth, handsome person, imaginative, energetic, brave, the ideal of a Bedouin chief, was destined to become the political and religious reformer, the poet, prophet, priest, and king of Arabia.
He was born about a.d. 570 at Mecca, the only child of a young widow named Amina.150 His father Abdallah had died a few months before in his twenty-fifth year on a mercantile journey in Medina, and left to his orphan five camels, some sheep and a slave girl.151 He belonged to the heathen family of the Hàshim, which was not wealthy, but claimed lineal descent from Ishmael, and was connected with the Koreish or Korashites, the leading tribe of the Arabs and the hereditary guardians of the sacred Kaaba.152 Tradition surrounds his advent in the world with a halo of marvellous legends: he was born circumcised and with his navel cut, with the seal of prophecy written on his back in letters of light; he prostrated himself at once on the ground, and, raising his hands, prayed for the pardon of his people; three persons, brilliant as the sun, one holding a silver goblet, the second an emerald tray, the third a silken towel, appeared from heaven, washed him seven times, then blessed and saluted him as the "Prince of Mankind." He was nursed by a healthy Bedouin woman of the desert. When a boy of four years he was seized with something like a fit of epilepsy, which Wâckidi and other historians transformed into a miraculous occurrence. He was often subject to severe headaches and feverish convulsions, in which he fell on the ground like a drunken man, and snored like a camel.153 In his sixth year he lost his mother on the return from Medina, whither she had taken him on camel’s back to ’visit the maternal relations of his father, and was carried back to Mecca by his nurse, a faithful slave girl. He was taken care of by his aged grandfather, Abd al Motkalib, and after his death in 578 by his uncle Abu Tâlib, who had two wives and ten children, and, though poor and no believer in his nephew’s mission, generously protected him to the end.
He accompanied his uncle on a commercial journey to Syria, passing through the desert, ruined cities of old, and Jewish and Christian settlements, which must have made a deep impression on his youthful imagination.
Mohammed made a scanty living as an attendant on caravans and by watching sheep and goats. The latter is rather a disreputable occupation among the Arabs, and left to unmarried women and slaves; but he afterwards gloried in it by appealing to the example of Moses and David, and said that God never calls a prophet who has not been a shepherd before. According to tradition—for, owing to the strict prohibition of images, we have no likeness of the prophet—he was of medium size, rather slender, but broad-shouldered and of strong muscles, had black eyes and hair, an oval-shaped face, white teeth, a long nose, a patriarchal beard, and a commanding look. His step was quick and firm. He wore white cotton stuff, but on festive occasions fine linen striped or dyed in red. He did everything for himself; to the last he mended his own clothes, and cobbled his sandals, and aided his wives in sewing and cooking. He laughed and smiled often. He had a most fertile imagination and a genius for poetry and religion, but no learning. He was an "illiterate prophet," in this respect resembling some of the prophets of Israel and the fishermen of Galilee. It is a disputed question among Moslem and Christian scholars whether he could even read and write.154 Probably he could not. He dictated the Koran from inspiration to his disciples and clerks. What knowledge he possessed, he picked up on the way from intercourse with men, from hearing books read, and especially from his travels.
In his twenty-fifth year he married a rich widow, Chadijah (or Chadîdsha), who was fifteen years older than himself, and who had previously hired him to carry on the mercantile business of her former husband. Her father was opposed to the match; but she made and kept him drunk until the ceremony was completed. He took charge of her caravans with great success, and made several journeys. The marriage was happy and fruitful of six children, two sons and four daughters; but all died except little Fâtima, who became the mother of innumerable legitimate and illegitimate descendants of the prophet. He also adopted Alî, whose close connection with him became so important in the history of Islâm. He was faithful to Chadijah, and held her in grateful remembrance after her death.155 He used to say, "Chadijah believed in me when nobody else did." He married afterwards a number of wives, who caused him much trouble and scandal. His favorite wife, Ayesha, was more jealous of the dead Chadijah than any of her twelve or more living rivals, for he constantly held up the toothless old woman as the model of a wife.
On his commercial journeys to Syria, he became acquainted with Jews and Christians, and acquired an imperfect knowledge of their traditions. He spent much of his time in retirement, prayer, fasting, and meditation. He had violent convulsions and epileptic fits, which his enemies, and at first he himself, traced to demoniacal possessions, but afterwards to the overpowering presence of God. His soul was fired with the idea of the divine unity, which became his ruling passion; and then he awoke to the bold thought that he was a messenger of God, called to warn his countrymen to escape the judgment and the damnation of hell by forsaking idolatry and worshipping the only true God. His monotheistic enthusiasm was disturbed, though not weakened, by his ignorance and his imperfect sense of the difference between right and wrong.
In his fortieth year (a.d. 610), he received the call of Gabriel, the archangel at the right hand of God, who announced the birth of the Saviour to the Virgin Mary. The first revelation was made to him in a trance in the wild solitude of Mount Hirâ, an hour’s walk from Mecca. He was directed "to cry in the name of the Lord." He trembled, as if something dreadful had happened to him, and hastened home to his wife, who told him to rejoice, for he would be the prophet of his people. He waited for other visions; but none came. He went up to Mount Hirâ again—this time to commit suicide. But as often as he approached the precipice, he beheld Gabriel at the end of the horizon saying to him: "I am Gabriel, and thou art Mohammed, the prophet of God. Fear not!" He then commenced his career of a prophet and founder of a new religion, which combined various elements of the three religious represented in Arabia, but was animated and controlled by the faith in Allah, as an almighty, ever-present and working will. From this time on, his life was enacted before the eyes of the world, and is embodied in his deeds and in the Koran.
The revelations continued from time to time for more than twenty years. When asked how they were delivered to him, he replied (as reported by Ayesha): "Sometimes like the sound of a bell—a kind of communication which was very severe for me; and when the sounds ceased, I found myself aware of the instructions. And sometimes the angel would come in the form of a man, and converse with me, and all his words I remembered."
After his call, Mohammed labored first for three years among his family and friends, under great discouragements, making about forty converts, of whom his wife Chadijah was the first, his father-in-law, Abu Bakr, and the young, energetic Omar the most important. His daughter Fatima, his adopted son Alî, and his slave Zayd likewise believed in his divine mission. Then he publicly announced his determination to assume by command of God the office of prophet and lawgiver, preached to the pilgrims flocking to Mecca, attacked Meccan idolatry, reasoned with his opponents, answered their demand for miracles by producing the Koran "leaf by leaf," as occasion demanded, and provoked persecution and civil commotion. He was forced in the year 622 to flee for his life with his followers from Mecca to Medina (El-Medina an-Nabî, the City of the Prophet), a distance of two hundred and fifty miles North, or ten days’ journey over the sands and rocks of the desert.
This flight or emigration, called Hégira or Hidshra, marks the beginning of his wonderful success, and of the Mohammedan era (July 15, 622). He was recognized in Medina as prophet and lawgiver. At first he proclaimed toleration: "Let there be no compulsion in religion;" but afterwards he revealed the opposite principle that all unbelievers must be summoned to Islâm, tribute, or the sword. With an increasing army of his enthusiastic followers, he took the field against his enemies, gained in 624 his first victory over the Koreish with an army of 305 (mostly citizens of Medina) against a force twice as large, conquered several Jewish and Christian tribes, ordered and watched in person the massacre of six hundred Jews in one day,156 while their wives and children were sold into slavery (627), triumphantly entered Mecca (630), demolished the three hundred and sixty idols of the Kaaba, and became master of Arabia. The Koreish were overawed by his success, and now shouted: "There is but one God, and Mohammed is his prophet." The various tribes were melted into a nation, and their old hereditary feuds changed into a common fanatical hatred of the infidels, as the followers of all other religions were called. The last chapter of the Koran commands the remorseless extermination of all idolaters in Arabia, unless they submit within four months.
In the tenth year of the Hegira, the prophet made his last pilgrimage to Mecca at the head of forty thousand Moslems, instructed them in all important ordinances, and exhorted them to protect the weak, the poor, and the women, and to abstain from usury. He planned a large campaign against the Greeks.
But soon after his return to Medina, he died of a violent fever in the house and the arms of Ayesha, June 8, 632, in the sixty-third year of his age, and was buried on the spot where he died, which is now enclosed by a mosque. He suffered great pain, cried and wailed, turned on his couch in despair, and said to his wives when they expressed their surprise at his conduct: "Do ye not know that prophets have to suffer more than all others? One was eaten up by vermin; another died so poor that he had nothing but rags to cover his shame; but their reward will be all the greater in the life beyond." Among his last utterances were: "The Lord destroy the Jews and Christians! Let his anger be kindled against those that turn the tombs of their prophets into places of worship! O Lord, let not my tomb be an object of worship! Let there not remain any faith but that of Islâm throughout the whole of Arabia .... Gabriel, come close to me! Lord, grant me pardon and join me to thy companionship on high! Eternity in paradise! Pardon! Yes, the blessed companionship on high!"157
Omar would not believe that Mohammed was dead, and proclaimed in the mosque of Medina: "The prophet has only swooned away; he shall not die until he have rooted out every hypocrite and unbeliever." But Abu Bakr silenced him and said: "Whosoever worships Mohammed, let him know that Mohammed is dead; but whosoever worships God, let him know that the Lord liveth, and will never die." Abu Bakr, whom he had loved most, was chosen Calif, or Successor of Mohammed.
Later tradition, and even the earliest biography, ascribe to the prophet of Mecca strange miracles, and surround his name with a mythical halo of glory. He was saluted by walking trees and stones; he often made by a simple touch the udders of dry goats distend with milk; be caused floods of water to well up from the parched ground, or gush forth from empty vessels, or issue from betwixt the fingers; he raised the dead; he made a night journey on his steed Borak through the air from Mecca to Jerusalem, from Jerusalem to paradise and the mansions of the prophets and angels, and back again to Mecca.158 But he himself, in several passages of the Koran, expressly disclaims the power of miracles; he appeals to the internal proofs of his doctrine, and shields himself behind the providence of God, who refuses those signs which might diminish the merit of faith and aggravate the guilt of unbelief.159
Character of Mohammed.
The Koran, if chronologically arranged, must be regarded as the best commentary on his character. While his followers regard him to this day as the greatest prophet of God, he was long abhorred in Christendom as a wicked impostor, as the antichrist, or the false prophet, predicted in the Bible, and inspired by the father of lies.
The calmer judgment of recent historians inclines to the belief that he combined the good and bad qualities of an Oriental chief, and that in the earlier part of his life he was a sincere reformer and enthusiast, but after the establishment of his kingdom a slave of ambition for conquest. He was a better man in the period of his adversity and persecution at Mecca, than during his prosperity and triumph at Medina. History records many examples of characters rising from poverty and obscurity to greatness, and then decaying under the sunshine of wealth and power. He degenerated, like Solomon, but did not repent, like the preacher of "vanity of vanities." He had a melancholic and nervous temperament, liable to fantastic hallucinations and alternations of high excitement and deep depression, bordering at times on despair and suicide. The story of his early and frequent epileptic fits throws some light on his revelations, during which he sometimes growled like a camel, foamed at his mouth, and streamed with perspiration. He believed in evil spirits, omens, charms, and dreams. His mind was neither clear nor sharp, but strong and fervent, and under the influence of an exuberant imagination. He was a poet of high order, and the Koran is the first classic in Arabic literature. He believed himself to be a prophet, irresistibly impelled by supernatural influence to teach and warn his fellow-men. He started with the over-powering conviction of the unity of God and a horror of idolatry, and wished to rescue his countrymen from this sin of sins and from the terrors of the judgment to come; but gradually he rose above the office of a national reformer to that of the founder of a universal religion, which was to absorb the other religions, and to be propagated by violence. It is difficult to draw the line in such a character between honest zeal and selfish ambition, the fear of God and the love of power and glory.
He despised a throne and a diadem, lived with his wives in a row of low and homely cottages of unbaked bricks, and aided them in their household duties; he was strictly temperate in eating and drinking, his chief diet being dates and water; he was not ashamed to milk his goats, to mend his clothes and to cobble his shoes; his personal property at his death amounted to some confiscated lands, fourteen or fifteen slaves, a few camels and mules, a hundred sheep, and a rooster. This simplicity of a Bedouin Sheikh of the desert contrasts most favorably with the luxurious style and gorgeous display of Mohammed’s successors, the Califs and Sultans, who have dozens of palaces and harems filled with eunuchs and women that know nothing beyond the vanities of dress and etiquette and a little music. He was easy of access to visitors who approached him with faith and reverence; patient, generous, and (according to Ayesha) as modest and bashful "as a veiled virgin." But towards his enemies he was cruel and revengeful. He did not shrink from perfidy. He believed in the use of the sword as the best missionary, and was utterly unscrupulous as to the means of success. He had great moral, but little physical courage; he braved for thirteen years the taunts and threats of the people, but never exposed himself to danger in battle, although he always accompanied his forces.
Mohammed was a slave of sensual passion. Ayesha, who knew him best in his private character and habits, used to say: "The prophet loved three things, women, perfumes and food; he had his heart’s desire of the two first, but not of the last." The motives of his excess in polygamy were his sensuality which grew with his years, and his desire for male offspring. His followers excused or justified him by the examples of Abraham, David and Solomon, and by the difficulties of his prophetic office, which were so great that God gave him a compensation in sexual enjoyment, and endowed him with greater capacity than thirty ordinary men. For twenty-four years he had but one wife, his beloved Chadijah, who died in 619, aged sixty-five, but only two months after her death he married a widow named Sawda (April 619), and gradually increased his harem, especially during the last two years of his life. When he heard of a pretty woman, says Sprenger, he asked her hand, but was occasionally refused. He had at least fourteen legal wives, and a number of slave concubines besides. At his death he left nine widows. He claimed special revelations which gave him greater liberty of sexual indulgence than ordinary Moslems (who are restricted to four wives), and exempted him from the prohibition of marrying near relatives.160 He married by divine command, as he alleged, Zeynab, the wife of Zayd, his adopted son and bosom-friend. His wives were all widows except Ayesha. One of them was a beautiful and rich Jewess; she was despised by her sisters, who sneeringly said: "Pshaw, a Jewess!" He told her to reply: "Aaron is my father and Moses my uncle!" Ayesha, the daughter of Abû Bakr, was his especial favorite. He married her when she was a girl of nine years, and he fifty-three years old. She brought her doll-babies with her, and amused and charmed the prophet by her playfulness, vivacity and wit. She could read, had a copy of the Koran, and knew more about theology, genealogy and poetry than all the other widows of Mohammed. He announced that she would be his wife also in Paradise. Yet she was not free from suspicion of unfaithfulness until he received a revelation of her innocence. After his death she was the most sacred person among the Moslems and the highest authority on religious and legal questions. She survived her husband forty-seven years and died at Medina, July 13, 678, aged sixty-seven years.161
In his ambition for a hereditary dynasty, Mohammed was sadly disappointed: he lost his two sons by Chadijah, and a third one by Mary the Egyptian, his favorite concubine.
To compare such a man with Jesus, is preposterous and even blasphemous. Jesus was the sinless Saviour of sinners; Mohammed was a sinner, and he knew and confessed it. He falls far below Moses, or Elijah, or any of the prophets and apostles in moral purity. But outside of the sphere of revelation, he ranks with Confucius, and Cakya Muni the Buddha, among the greatest founders of religions and lawgivers of nations.
§ 43. The Conquests of Islâm.
"The sword," says Mohammed, "is the key of heaven and hell; a drop of blood shed in the cause of Allah, a night spent in arms, is of more avail than two months of fasting or prayer: whosoever falls in battle, his sins are forgiven, and at the day of judgment his limbs shall be supplied by the wings of angels and cherubim." This is the secret of his success. Idolaters had to choose between Islâm, slavery, and death; Jews and Christians were allowed to purchase a limited toleration by the payment of tribute, but were otherwise kept in degrading bondage. History records no soldiers of greater bravery inspired by religion than the Moslem conquerors, except Cromwell’s Ironsides, and the Scotch Covenanters, who fought with purer motives for a nobler cause.
The Califs, Mohammed’s successors, who like him united the priestly and kingly dignity, carried on his conquests with the battle-cry: "Before you is paradise, behind you are death and hell." Inspired by an intense fanaticism, and aided by the weakness of the Byzantine empire and the internal distractions of the Greek Church, the wild sons of the desert, who were content with the plainest food, and disciplined in the school of war, hardship and recklessness of life, subdued Palestine, Syria, and Egypt, embracing the classical soil of primitive Christianity. Thousands of Christian churches in the patriarchal dioceses of Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria, were ruthlessly destroyed, or converted into mosques. Twenty-one years after the death of Mohammed the Crescent ruled over a realm as large as the Roman Empire. Even Constantinople was besieged twice (668 and 717), although in vain. The terrible efficacy of the newly invented "Greek fire," and the unusual severity of a long winter defeated the enemy, and saved Eastern and Northern Europe from the blight of the Koran. A large number of nominal Christians who had so fiercely quarreled with each other about unfruitful subtleties of their creeds, surrendered their faith to the conqueror. In 707 the North African provinces, where once St. Augustin had directed the attention of the church to the highest problems of theology and religion, fell into the hands of the Arabs.
In 711 they crossed from Africa to Spain and established an independent Califate at Cordova. The moral degeneracy and dissensions of the Western Goths facilitated their subjugation. Encouraged by such success, the Arabs crossed the Pyrenees and boasted that they would soon stable their horses in St. Peter’s cathedral in Rome, but the defeat of Abd-er Rahman by Charles Martel between Poitiers and Tours in 732—one hundred and ten years after the Hegira—checked their progress in the West, and in 1492—the same year in which Columbus discovered a new Continent—Ferdinand defeated the last Moslem army in Spain at the gates of Granada and drove them back to Africa. The palace and citadel of the Alhambra, with its court of lions, its delicate arabesques and fretwork, and its aromatic gardens and groves, still remains, a gorgeous ruin of the power of the Moorish kings.
In the East the Moslems made new conquests. In the ninth century they subdued Persia, Afghanistan, and a large part of India. They reduced the followers of Zoroaster to a few scattered communities, and conquered a vast territory of Brahminism and Buddhism even beyond the Ganges. The Seliuk Turks in the eleventh century, and the Mongols in the thirteenth, adopted the religion of the Califs whom they conquered. Constantinople fell at last into the hands of the Turks in 1453, and the magnificent church of St. Sophia, the glory of Justinian’s reign, was turned into a mosque where the Koran is read instead of the Gospel, the reader holding the drawn scimetar in his hand. From Constantinople the Turks threatened the German empire, and it was not till 1683 that they were finally defeated by Sobieski at the gates of Vienna and driven back across the Danube.
With the senseless fury of fanaticism and pillage the Tartar Turks have reduced the fairest portions of Eastern Europe to desolation and ruin. With sovereign contempt for all other religions, they subjected the Christians to a condition of virtual servitude, treating them like "dogs," as they call them. They did not intermeddle with their internal affairs, but made merchandise of ecclesiastical offices. The death penalty was suspended over every attempt to convert a Mussulman. Apostasy from the faith is also treason to the state, and merits the severest punishment in this world, as well as everlasting damnation in the world to come.
After the Crimean war in 1856, the death penalty for apostasy was nominally abolished in the dominions of the Sultan, and in the Berlin Treaty of 1878 liberty of religion (more than mere toleration) was guaranteed to all existing sects in the Turkish empire, but the old fanaticism will yield only to superior force, and the guarantee of liberty is not understood to imply the liberty of propaganda among Moslems. Christian sects have liberty to prey on each other, but woe to them if they invade the sacred province of Islâm.162
A Mohammedan tradition contains a curious prophecy that Christ, the son of Mary, will return as the last Calif to judge the world.163 The impression is gaining ground among the Moslems that they will be unable ultimately to withstand the steady progress of Christianity and Western civilization. The Sultan, the successor of the Califs, is a mere shadow on the throne trembling for his life. The dissolution of the Turkish empire, which may be looked for at no distant future, will break the backbone of lslâm, and open the way for the true solution of the Eastern question—the moral regeneration of the Lands of the Bible by the Christianity of the Bible.
§ 44. The Koran, and the Bible.
"Mohammed’s truth lay in a sacred Book,
Christ’s in a holy Life."—Milnes (Palm-Leaves).
The Koran164 is the sacred book, the Bible of the Mohammedans. It is their creed, their code of laws, their liturgy. It claims to be the product of divine inspiration by the arch-angel Gabriel, who performed the function assigned to the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures.165 The Mohammedans distinguish two kinds of revelations: those which were literally delivered as spoken by the angel (called Wahee Matloo, or the word of God), and those which give the sense of the inspired instruction in the prophet’s own words (called Wahee Ghair Matloo, or Hadees). The prophet is named only five times, but is addressed by Gabriel all through the book with the word Say, as the recipient and sacred penman of the revelations. It consists of 114 Suras166 and 6,225 verses. Each Sura (except the ninth) begins with the formula (of Jewish origin): "In the name of Allah, the God of Mercy, the Merciful."167
The Koran is composed in imperfect metre and rhyme (which is as natural and easy in the Arabic as in the Italian language). Its language is considered the purest Arabic. Its poetry somewhat resembles Hebrew poetry in Oriental imagery and a sort of parallelism or correspondence of clauses, but it loses its charm in a translation; while the Psalms and Prophets can be reproduced in any language without losing their original force and beauty. The Koran is held in superstitious veneration, and was regarded till recently as too sacred to be translated and to be sold like a common book.168
Mohammed prepared and dictated the Koran from time to time as he received the revelations and progressed in his career, not for readers, but for hearers, leaving much to the suggestive action of the public recital, either from memory or from copies taken down by his friends. Hence its occasional, fragmentary character. About a year after his death, at the direction of Abu-Bakr, his father-in-law and immediate successor, Zayd, the chief ansar or amanuensis of the Prophet, collected the scattered fragments of the Koran "from palm-leaves, and tablets of white stone, and from the breasts of men," but without any regard to chronological order or continuity of subjects. Abu-Bakr committed this copy to the custody of Haphsa, one of Mohammed’s widows. It remained the standard during the ten years of Omar’s califate. As the different readings of copies occasioned serious disputes, Zayd, with several Koreish, was commissioned to secure the purity of the text in the Meccan dialect, and all previous copies were called in and burned. The recension of Zayd has been handed down with scrupulous care unaltered to this day, and various readings are almost unknown; the differences being confined to the vowel-points, which were invented at a later period. The Koran contains many inconsistencies and contradictions; but the expositors hold that the later command supersedes the earlier.
The restoration of the chronological order of the Suras is necessary for a proper understanding of the gradual development of Islâm in the mind and character of its author.169 There is a considerable difference between the Suras of the earlier, middle, and later periods. In the earlier, the poetic, wild, and rhapsodical element predominates; in the middle, the prosaic, narrative, and missionary; in the later, the official and legislative. Mohammed began with descriptions of natural objects, of judgment, of heaven and hell, impassioned, fragmentary utterances, mostly in brief sentences; he went on to dogmatic assertions, historical statements from Jewish and Christian sources, missionary appeals and persuasions; and he ended with the dictatorial commands of a legislator and warrior. "He who at Mecca is the admonisher and persuader, at Medina is the legislator and the warrior, who dictates obedience and uses other weapons than the pen of the poet and the scribe. When business pressed, as at Medina, poetry makes way for prose,170 and although touches of the poetical element occasionally break forth, and he has to defend himself up to a very late period against the charge of being merely a poet, yet this is rarely the case in the Medina Suras; and we are startled by finding obedience to God and the Apostle, God’s gifts and the Apostle’s, God’s pleasure and the Apostle’s, spoken of in the same breath, and epithets, and attributes, applied to Allah, openly applied to Mohammed, as in Sura IX."171
The materials of the Koran, as far as they are not productions of the author’s own imagination, were derived from the floating traditions of Arabia and Syria, from rabbinical Judaism, and a corrupt Christianity, and adjusted to his purposes.
Mohammed had, in his travels, come in contact with professors of different religions, and on his first journey with camel-drivers he fell in with a Nestorian monk of Bostra, who goes by different names (Bohari, Bahyra, Sergius, George), and welcomed the youthful prophet with a presage of his future greatness.172 His wife Chadijah and her cousin Waraka (a reputed convert to Christianity, or more probably a Jew) are said to have been well acquainted with the sacred books of the Jews and the Christians.
The Koran, especially in the earlier Suras, speaks often and highly of the Scriptures; calls them "the Book of God," "the Word of God," "the Tourât" (Thora, the Pentateuch), "the Gospel" (Ynyil), and describes the Jews and Christians as "the people of the Book," or "of the Scripture," or "of the Gospel." It finds in the Scriptures prophecies of Mohammed and his success, and contains narratives of the fall of Adam and Eve, Noah and the Deluge, Abraham and Lot, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Moses and Joseph, John the Baptist, the Virgin Mary and Jesus, sometimes in the words of the Bible, but mostly distorted and interspersed with rabbinical and apocryphal fables.173
It is quite probable that portions of the Bible were read to Mohammed; but it is very improbable that he read it himself; for according to the prevailing Moslem tradition he could not read at all, and there were no Arabic translations before the Mohammedan conquests, which spread the Arabic language in the conquered countries. Besides, if he had read the Bible with any degree of care, he could not have made such egregious blunders. The few allusions to Scripture phraseology—as "giving alms to be seen of men," "none forgiveth sins but God only"—may be derived from personal intercourse and popular traditions. Jesus (Isa) is spoken of as "the Son of Mary, strengthened by the Holy Spirit." Noah (Nûh), Abraham (Ibrahym), Moses (Mûsa), Aaron (Harun), are often honorably mentioned, but apparently always from imperfect traditional or apocryphal sources of information.174
The Koran is unquestionably one of the great books of the world. It is not only a book, but an institution, a code of civil and religious laws, claiming divine origin and authority. It has left its impress upon ages. It feeds to this day the devotions, and regulates the private and public life, of more than a hundred millions of human beings. It has many passages of poetic beauty, religious fervor, and wise counsel, but mixed with absurdities, bombast, unmeaning images, low sensuality. It abounds in repetitions and contradictions, which are not removed by the convenient theory of abrogation. It alternately attracts and repels, and is a most wearisome book to read. Gibbon calls the Koran "a glorious testimony to the unity of God," but also, very properly, an "endless, incoherent rhapsody of fable and precept and declamation, which seldom excites a sentiment or idea, which sometimes crawls in the dust, and is sometimes lost in the clouds."175 Reiske176 denounces it as the most absurd book and a scourge to a reader of sound common sense. Goethe, one of the best judges of literary and poetic merit, characterizes the style as severe, great, terrible, and at times truly sublime. "Detailed injunctions," he says, "of things allowed and forbidden, legendary stories of Jewish and Christian religion, amplifications of all kinds, boundless tautologies and repetitions, form the body of this sacred volume, which to us, as often as we approach it, is repellent anew, next attracts us ever anew, and fills us with admiration, and finally forces us into veneration." He finds the kernel of Islâm in the second Sura, where belief and unbelief with heaven and hell, as their sure reward, are contrasted. Carlyle calls the Koran "the confused ferment of a great rude human soul; rude, untutored, that cannot even read, but fervent, earnest, struggling vehemently to utter itself In words;" and says of Mohammedanism: "Call it not false, look not at the falsehood of it; look at the truth of it. For these twelve centuries it has been the religion and life-guidance of the fifth part of the whole kindred of mankind. Above all, it has been a religion heartily believed." But with all his admiration, Carlyle confesses that the reading of the Koran in English is "as toilsome a task" as he ever undertook. "A wearisome, confused jumble, crude, incondite; endless iterations, long-windedness, entanglement; insupportable stupidity, in short, nothing but a sense of duty could carry any European through the Koran. We read it, as we might in the State-Paper Office, unreadable masses of lumber, that we may get some glimpses of a remarkable man." And yet there are Mohammedan doctors who are reported to have read the Koran seventy thousand times! What a difference of national and religious taste! Emanuel Deutsch finds the grandeur of the Koran chiefly in its Arabic diction, "the peculiarly dignified, impressive, sonorous nature of Semitic sound and parlance; its sesquipedalia verba, with their crowd of prefixes and affixes, each of them affirming its own position, while consciously bearing upon and influencing the central root, which they envelop like a garment of many folds, or as chosen courtiers move round the anointed person of the king." E. H. Palmer says that the claim of the Koran to miraculous eloquence, however absurd it may sound to Western ears, was and is to the Arab incontrovertible, and he accounts for the immense influence which it has always exercised upon the Arab mind, by the fact, "that it consists not merely of the enthusiastic utterances of an individual, but of the popular sayings, choice pieces of eloquence, and favorite legends current among the desert tribes for ages before this time. Arabic authors speak frequently of the celebrity attained by the ancient Arabic orators, such as Shâibân Wâil; but unfortunately no specimens of their works have come down to us. The Qur’ân, however, enables us to judge of the speeches which took so strong a hold upon their countrymen."177
Of all books, not excluding the Vedas, the Koran is the most powerful rival of the Bible, but falls infinitely below it in contents and form.
Both contain the moral and religious code of the nations which own it; the Koran, like the Old Testament, is also a civil and political code. Both are oriental in style and imagery. Both have the fresh character of occasional composition growing out of a definite historical situation and specific wants. But the Bible is the genuine revelation of the only true God in Christ, reconciling the world to himself; the Koran is a mock-revelation without Christ and without atonement. Whatever is true in the Koran is borrowed from the Bible; what is original, is false or frivolous. The Bible is historical and embodies the noblest aspirations of the human race in all ages to the final consummation; the Koran begins and stops with Mohammed. The Bible combines endless variety with unity, universal applicability with local adaptation; the Koran is uniform and monotonous, confined to one country, one state of society, and one class of minds. The Bible is the book of the world, and is constantly travelling to the ends of the earth, carrying spiritual food to all races and to all classes of society; the Koran stays in the Orient, and is insipid to all who have once tasted the true word of the living God.178 Even the poetry of the Koran never rises to the grandeur and sublimity of Job or Isaiah, the lyric beauty of the Psalms, the sweetness and loveliness of the Song of Solomon, the sententious wisdom of the Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes.
A few instances must suffice for illustration.
The first Sura, called "the Sura of Praise and Prayer," which is recited by the Mussulmans several times in each of the five daily devotions, fills for them the place of the Lord’s Prayer, and contains the same number of petitions. We give it in a rhymed, and in a more literal translation:
"In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate!
Praise be to Allah, who the three worlds made,
The Merciful, the Compassionate,
The King of the day of Fate,
Thee alone do we worship, and of Thee alone do we ask aid.
Guide us to the path that is straight —
The path of those to whom Thy love is great,
Not those on whom is hate,
Nor they that deviate! Amen.179
"In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.
Praise be to God, Lord of the worlds!
The Compassionate, the Merciful!
King on the day of judgment!
Thee only do we worship, and to Thee do we cry for help.
Guide Thou us on the right path,
The path of those to whom Thou art gracious;
Not of those with whom Thou art angered,
Nor of those who go astray."180
We add the most recent version in prose:
"In the name of the merciful and compassionate God.
Praise belongs to God, the Lord of the worlds, the merciful, the compassionate, the ruler of the day of judgment! Thee we serve and Thee we ask for aid. Guide us in the right path, the path of those Thou art gracious to; not of those Thou art wroth with; nor of those who err."181
As this Sura invites a comparison with the Lord’s Prayer infinitely to the advantage of the latter, so do the Koran’s descriptions of Paradise when contrasted with St. John’s vision of the heavenly Jerusalem:
"Joyous on that day shall be the inmates of Paradise in their employ;
In shades, on bridal couches reclining, they and their spouses:
Therein shall they have fruits, and whatever they require —
’Peace!’ shall be the word on the part of a merciful Lord.
But be ye separated this day, O ye sinners!"182
* * * * * * *
"The sincere servants of God
A stated banquet shall they have
Of fruits; and honored shall they be
In the gardens of delight,
Upon couches face to face.
A cup shall be borne round among them from a fountain,
Limpid, delicious to those who drink;
It shall not oppress the sense, nor shall they therewith be drunken,
And with them are
the large-eyed ones with modest refraining glances,
fair like the sheltered egg."183
§ 45. The Mohammedan Religion.
lslâm is not a new religion, nor can we expect a new one after the appearance of that religion which is perfect and intended for all nations and ages. It is a compound or mosaic of preëxisting elements, a rude attempt to combine heathenism, Judaism and Christianity, which Mohammed found in Arabia, but in a very imperfect form.184 It is professedly, a restoration of the faith of Abraham, the common father of Isaac and of Ishmael. But it is not the genuine faith of Abraham with its Messianic hopes and aspirations looking directly to the gospel dispensation as its goal and fulfilment, but a bastard Judaism of Ishmael, and the post-Christian and anti-Christian Judaism of the Talmud. Still less did Mohammed know the pure religion of Jesus as laid down in the New Testament, but only a perversion and caricature of it such as we find in the wretched apocryphal and heretical Gospels. This ignorance of the Bible and the corruptions of Eastern Christianity with which the Mohammedans came in contact, furnish some excuse for their misbelief and stubborn prejudices. And yet even the poor pseudo-Jewish and pseudo-Christian elements of the Koran were strong enough to reform the old heathenism of Arabia and Africa and to lift it to a much higher level. The great and unquestionable merit of Islâm is the breaking up of idolatry and the diffusion of monotheism.
The creed of Islâm is simple, and consists of six articles: God, predestination, the angels (good and bad), the books, the prophets, the resurrection and judgment with eternal reward and eternal punishment.
Monotheism is the comer-stone of the system. It is expressed in the ever-repeated sentence: "There is no god but God (Allâh, i.e., the true, the only God), and Mohammed is his prophet (or apostle)."185 Gibbon calls this a "compound of an eternal truth and a necessary fiction." The first clause certainly is a great and mighty truth borrowed from the Old Testament (Deut. 6:4); and is the religious strength of the system. But the Mohammedan (like the later Jewish, the Socinian, and the Unitarian) monotheism is abstract, monotonous, divested of inner life and fulness, anti-trinitarian, and so far anti-Christian. One of the last things which a Mohammedan will admit, is the divinity of Christ. Many of the divine attributes are vividly apprehended, emphasized and repeated in prayer. But Allah is a God of infinite power and wisdom, not a God of redeeming love to all mankind; a despotic sovereign of trembling subjects and slaves, not a loving Father of trustful children. He is an object of reverence and fear rather than of love and gratitude. He is the God of fate who has unalterably foreordained all things evil as well as good; hence unconditional resignation to him (this is the meaning of Islâm) is true wisdom and piety. He is not a hidden, unknowable being, but a God who has revealed himself through chosen messengers, angelic and human. Adam, Noah, Abraham Moses, and Jesus are his chief prophets.186 But Mohammed is the last and the greatest.
The Christology of the Koran is a curious mixture of facts and apocryphal fictions, of reverence for the man Jesus and denial of his divine character. He is called "the Messiah Jesus Son of Mary," or "the blessed Son of Mary."187 He was a servant and apostle of the one true God, and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, i.e., the angel Gabriel (Dshebril), who afterwards conveyed the divine revelations to Mohammed. But he is not the Son of God; for as God has no wife, he can have no son.188 He is ever alone, and it is monstrous and blasphemous to associate another being with Allah.
Some of the Mohammedan divines exempt Jesus and even his mother from sin, and first proclaimed the dogma of the immaculate conception of Mary, for which the apocryphal Gospels prepared the way.189 By a singular anachronism, the Koran confounds the Virgin Mary with Miriam," the sister of Aaron" (Harun), and Moses (Ex. xv. 20; Num. xxi. 1). Possibly Mohammed may have meant another Aaron (since he calls Mary, "the sister of Aaron but not "of Moses"); some of his commentators, however, assume that the sister of Moses was miraculously preserved to give birth to Jesus.190
According to the Koran Jesus was conceived by the Virgin Mary at the appearance of Gabriel and born under a palm tree beneath which a fountain opened. This story is of Ebionite origin.191 Jesus preached in the cradle and performed miracles in His infancy (as in the apocryphal Gospels), and during His public ministry, or rather Allah wrought miracles through Him. Mohammed disclaims the miraculous power, and relied upon the stronger testimony of the truth of his doctrine. Jesus proclaimed the pure doctrine of the unity of God and disclaimed divine honors.
The crucifixion of Jesus is denied. He was delivered by a miracle from the death intended for Him, and taken up by God into Paradise with His mother. The Jews slew one like Him, by mistake. This absurd docetic idea is supposed to be the common belief of Christians.192
Jesus predicted the coming of Mohammed, when he said: "O children of Israel! of a truth I am God’s apostle to you to confirm the law which was given before me, and to announce an apostle that shall come after me whose name shall be Ahmed!"193 Thus the promise of the Holy Ghost, "the other Paraclete," (John xiv. 16) was applied by Mohammed to himself by a singular confusion of Paracletos (paravklhto") with Periclytos (perivkluto", heard all round, famous) or Ahmed (the glorified, the illustrious), one of the prophet’s names.194
Owing to this partial recognition of Christianity Mohammed was originally regarded not as the founder of a new religion, but as one of the chief heretics.195 The same opinion is expressed by several modern writers, Catholic and Protestant. Döllinger says: "Islâm must be considered at bottom a Christian heresy, the bastard offspring of a Christian father and a Jewish mother, and is indeed more closely allied to Christianity than Manichaeism, which is reckoned a Christian sect."196 Stanley calls Islâm an "eccentric heretical form of Eastern Christianity," and Ewald more correctly, "the last and most powerful offshoot of Gnosticism."197
The Ethics of IslÂm.
Resignation (Islâm) to the omnipotent will of Allah is the chief virtue. It is the most powerful motive both in action and suffering, and is carried to the excess of fatalism and apathy.
The use of pork and wine is strictly forbidden; prayer, fasting (especially during the whole month of Ramadhân), and almsgiving are enjoined. Prayer carries man half-way to God, fasting brings him to the door of God’s palace, alms secure admittance. The total abstinence from strong drink by the whole people, even in countries where the vine grows in abundance, reveals a remarkable power of self-control, which puts many Christian nations to shame. Mohammedanism is a great temperance society. Herein lies its greatest moral force.
But on the other hand the heathen vice of polygamy and concubinage is perpetuated and encouraged by the example of the prophet. He restrained and regulated an existing practice, and gave it the sanction of religion. Ordinary believers are restricted to four wives (exclusive of slaves), and generally have only one or two. But Califs may fill their harems to the extent of their wealth and lust. Concubinage with female slaves is allowed to all without limitation. The violation of captive women of the enemy is the legitimate reward of the conqueror. The laws of divorce and prohibited degrees are mostly borrowed from the Jews, but divorce is facilitated and practiced to an extent that utterly demoralizes married life.
Polygamy and servile concubinage destroy the dignity of woman, and the beauty and peace of home. In all Mohammedan countries woman is ignorant and degraded; she is concealed from public sight by a veil (a sign of degradation as well as protection); she is not commanded to pray, and is rarely seen in the mosques; it is even an open question whether she has a soul, but she is necessary even in paradise for the gratification of man’s passion. A Moslem would feel insulted by an inquiry after the health of his wife or wives. Polygamy affords no protection against unnatural vices, which are said to prevail to a fearful extent among Mohammedans, as they did among the ancient heathen.198
In nothing is the infinite superiority of Christianity over Islâm so manifest as in the condition of woman and family life. Woman owes everything to the religion of the gospel.
The sensual element pollutes even the Mohammedan picture of heaven from which chastity is excluded. The believers are promised the joys of a luxuriant paradise amid blooming gardens, fresh fountains, and beautiful virgins. Seventy-two Houris, or black-eyed girls of blooming youth will be created for the enjoyment of the meanest believer; a moment of pleasure will be prolonged to a thousand years; and his faculties will be increased a hundred fold. Saints and martyrs will be admitted to the spiritual joys of the divine vision. But infidels and those who refuse to fight for their faith will be cast into hell.
The Koran distinguishes seven heavens, and seven hells (for wicked or apostate Mohammedans, Christians, Jews, Sabians, Magians, idolaters, hypocrites). Hell (Jahennem=Gehenna) is beneath the lowest earth and seas of darkness; the bridge over it is finer than a hair and sharper than the edge of a sword; the pious pass over it in a moment, the wicked fall from it into the abyss.
Slavery is recognized and sanctioned as a normal condition of, society, and no hint is given in the Koran, nor any effort made by Mohammedan rulers for its final extinction. It is the twin-sister of polygamy; every harem is a slave-pen or a slave-palace. "The Koran, as a universal revelation, would have been a perpetual edict of servitude." Mohammed, by ameliorating the condition of slaves, and enjoining kind treatment upon the masters, did not pave the way for its abolition, but rather riveted its fetters. The barbarous slave-trade is still carried on in all its horrors by Moslems among the negroes in Central Africa.
War against unbelievers is legalized by the Koran. The fighting men are to be slain, the women and children reduced to slavery. Jews and Christians are dealt with more leniently than idolaters; but they too must be thoroughly humbled and forced to pay tribute.
§ 46. Mohammedan Worship.
"A simple, unpartitioned room,
Surmounted by an ample dome,
Or, in some Iands that favored he,
With centre open to the sky,
But roofed with arched cloisters round,
That mark the consecrated bound,
And shade the niche to Mecca turned,
By which two massive lights are burned;
With pulpit whence the sacred word
Expounded on great days is heard;
With fountains fresh, where, ere they pray,
Men wash the soil of earth away;
With shining minaret, thin and high,
From whose fine trellised balcony,
Announcement of the hour of prayer
Is uttered to the silent air:
Such is the Mosque—the holy place,
Where faithful men of every race
Meet at their ease and face to face."
(From Milnes, "Palm Leaves.")
In worship the prominent feature of Islâm is its extreme iconoclasm and puritanism. In this respect, it resembles the service of the synagogue. The second commandment is literally understood as a prohibition of all representations of living creatures, whether in churches or elsewhere. The only ornament allowed is the "Arabesque," which is always taken from inanimate nature.199
The ceremonial is very simple. The mosques, like Catholic churches, are always open and frequented by worshippers, who perform their devotions either alone or in groups with covered head and bare feet. In entering, one must take off the shoes according to the command: "Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." Slippers or sandals of straw are usually provided for strangers, and must be paid for. There are always half a dozen claimants for "backsheesh"—the first and the last word which greets the traveller in Egypt and Syria. Much importance is attached to preaching.200
Circumcision is retained from the Jews, although it is not mentioned in the Koran. Friday is substituted for the Jewish Sabbath as the sacred day (perhaps because it was previously a day for religious assemblage). It is called the prince of days, the most excellent day on which man was created, and on which the last judgment will take place; but the observance is less strict than that of the Jewish Sabbath. On solemn occasions sacrifice, mostly in the nature of a thank-offering, is offered and combined with an act of benevolence to the poor. But there is no room in Islâm for the idea of atonement; God forgives sins directly and arbitrarily, without a satisfaction of justice. Hence there is no priesthood in the sense of a hereditary or perpetual caste, offering sacrifices and mediating between God and the people.201 Yet there are Mufties and Dervishes, who are as powerful as any class of priests and monks. The Mussulmans have their saints, and pray at their white tombs. In this respect, they approach the Greeks and Roman Catholics; yet they abhor the worship of saints as idolatry. They also make much account of religious processions and pilgrimages. Their chief place of pilgrimage is Mecca. Many thousands of Moslems from Egypt and all parts of Turkey pass annually through the Arabian desert to worship at the holy Kaaba, and are received in triumph on their return. The supposed tomb of Moses, also, which is transferred to the Western shore of the Dead Sea, is visited by the Moslems of Jerusalem and the neighboring country in the month of April.
Prayer with prostrations is reduced to a mechanical act which is performed with the regularity of clock work. Washing of hands is enjoined before prayer, but in the desert, sand is permitted as a substitute for water. There are five stated seasons for prayer: at day-break, near noon, in the afternoon, a little after sunset (to avoid the appearance of sun-worship), and at night-fall, besides two night prayers for extra devotion. The muëddin or muëzzin (crier) announces the time of devotion from the minaret of the mosque by chanting the "Adan" or call to prayer, in these words:
God is great!" (four times). "I bear witness that there is no god but God" (twice). "I bear witness that Mohammed is the Apostle of God" (twice). "Come hither to prayers!" (twice). "Come hither to salvation!" (twice). "God is great! There is no other God!" And in the early morning the crier adds: "Prayer is better than sleep!"
A devout Mussulman is never ashamed to perform his devotion in public, whether in the mosque, or in the street, or on board the ship. Regardless of the surroundings, feeling alone with God in the midst of the crowd, his face turned to Mecca, his hands now raised to heaven, then laid on the lap, his forehead touching the ground, he goes through his genuflexions and prostrations, and repeats the first Sura of the Koran and the ninety-nine beautiful names of Allah, which form his rosary.202 The mosques are as well filled with men, as many Christian churches are with women. Islâm is a religion for men; women are of no account; the education and elevation of the female sex would destroy the system.
With all its simplicity and gravity, the Mohammedan worship has also its frantic excitement of the Dervishes. On the celebration of the birthday of their prophet and other festivals, they work themselves, by the constant repetition of "Allah, Allah," into a state of unconscious ecstacy, "in which they plant swords in their breasts, tear live serpents with their teeth, eat bottles of glass, and finally lie prostrate on the ground for the chief of their order to ride on horseback over their bodies."203
I will add a brief description of the ascetic exercises of the "Dancing" and "Howling" Dervishes which I witnessed in their convents at Constantinople and Cairo in 1877.
The Dancing or Turning Dervishes in Pera, thirteen in number, some looking ignorant and stupid, others devout and intensely fanatical, went first through prayers and prostrations, then threw off their outer garments, and in white flowing gowns, with high hats of stiff woolen stuff, they began to dance to the sound of strange music, whirling gracefully and skilfully on their toes, ring within ring, without touching each other or moving out of their circle, performing, in four different acts, from forty to fifty turnings in one minute, their arms stretched out or raised to heaven their eyes half shut, their mind apparently lost in a sort of Nirwana or pantheistic absorption in Allah. A few hours afterward I witnessed the rare spectacle of one of these very Dervishes reeling to and fro in a state of intoxication on the street and the lower bridge of the Golden Horn.
The Howling Dervishes in Scutari present a still more extraordinary sight, and a higher degree of ascetic exertion, but destitute of all grace and beauty. The performance took place in a small, plain, square room, and lasted nearly two hours. As the monks came in, they kissed the hand of their leader and repeated with him long prayers from the Koran. One recited with melodious voice an Arabic song in praise of Mohammed. Then, standing in a row, bowing, and raising their heads, they continued to howl the fundamental dogma of Mohammedanism, Lâ ilâha ill’ Allâh for nearly an hour. Some were utterly exhausted and wet with perspiration. The exercises I saw in Cairo were less protracted, but more dramatic, as the Dervishes had long hair and stood in a circle, swinging their bodies backward and forward in constant succession, and nearly touching the ground with their flowing hair. In astounding feats of asceticism the Moslems are fully equal to the ancient Christian anchorites and the fakirs of India.
§ 47. Christian Polemics against Mohammedanism. Note on Mormonism.
See the modern Lit. in § 38.
For a list of earlier works against Mohammedanism, see J. Alb. Fabricius: Delectus argumentorum et syllabus scriptorum, qui veritatem Christ. Adv. Atheos, ... Judaeos et Muhammedanos ... asseruerunt. Hamb., 1725, pp. 119 sqq., 735 sqq. J. G. Walch: Bibliotheca Theolog. Selecta (Jenae, 1757), Tom. I. 611 sqq. Appendix to Prideaux’s Life of Mahomet.
Theod. Bibliander, edited at Basle, in 1543, and again in 1550, with the Latin version of the Koran, a collection of the more important works against Mohammed under the title: Machumetis Saracenorum principis ejusque successorum vitae, doctrinae, ac ipse Alcoran., I vol. fol.
Richardus (about 1300): Confutatio Alcorani, first publ. in Paris, 1511.
Joh. de Turrecremata: Tractatus contra principales errores perfidi Mahometis et Turcorum. Rom., 1606.
Lud. Maraccius (Maracci): Prodromus ad refutationem Alcorani; in quo, per IV. praecipuas verae religionis notas, mahumetanae sectae falsitas ostenditur, christianae religionis veritas comprobatur. Rom. (typis Congreg. de Propaganda Fide), 1691. 4 vols., small oct.; also Pref. to his Alcorani textus universus, Petav., 1698, 2 vols. fol.
Hadr. Reland: De Religione Mohammedica. Utrecht, 1705; 2nd ed. 1717; French transl., Hague, 1721.
W. Gass: Gennadius und Pletho. Breslau, 1844, Part I., pp. 106–181. (Die Bestreitung des Islâm im Mittelalter.)
The argument of Mohammedanism against other religions was the sword. Christian Europe replied with the sword in the crusades, but failed. Greek and Latin divines refuted the false prophet with superior learning, but without rising to a higher providential view, and without any perceptible effect. Christian polemics against Mohammed and the Koran began in the eighth century, and continued with interruptions to the sixteenth and seventeenth.
John of Damascus, who lived among the Saracens (about a.d. 750), headed the line of champions of the cross against the crescent. He was followed, in the Greek Church, by Theodor of Abukara, who debated a good deal with Mohammedans in Mesopotamia, by Samonas, bishop of Gaza, Bartholomew of Edessa, John Kantakuzenus (or rather a monk Meletius, formerly a Mohammedan, who justified his conversion, with the aid of the emperor, in four apologies and four orations), Euthymius Zigabenus, Gennadius, patriarch of Constantinople. Prominent in the Latin church were Peter, Abbot of Clugny (twelfth century), Thomas Aquinas, Alanus ab Insulis, Raimundus LulIus, Nicolaus of Cusa, Ricold or Richard (a Dominican monk who lived long in the East), Savonarola, Joh. de Turrecremata.
The mediaeval writers, both Greek and Latin, represent Mohammed as an impostor and arch-heretic, who wove his false religion chiefly from Jewish (Talmudic) fables and Christian heresies. They find him foretold in the Little Horn of Daniel, and the False Prophet of the Apocalypse. They bring him in connection with a Nestorian monk, Sergius, or according to others, with the Jacobite Bahira, who instructed Mohammed, and might have converted him to the Christian religion, if malignant Jews had not interposed with their slanders. Thus he became the shrewd and selfish prophet of a pseudo-gospel, which is a mixture of apostate Judaism and apostate Christianity with a considerable remnant of his native Arabian heathenism. Dante places him, disgustingly torn and mutilated, among the chief heretics and schismatics in the ninth gulf of Hell,
"Where is paid the fee
By those who sowing discord win their burden."204
This mediaeval view was based in part upon an entire ignorance or perversion of facts. It was then believed that Mohammedans were pagans and idolaters, and cursed the name of Christ, while it is now known, that they abhor idolatry, and esteem Christ as the highest prophet next to Mohammed.
The Reformers and older Protestant divines took substantially the same view, and condemn the Koran and its author without qualification. We must remember that down to the latter part of the seventeenth century the Turks were the most dangerous enemies of the peace of Europe. Luther published, at Wittenberg, 1540, a German translation of Richard’s Confutatio Alcorani, with racy notes, to show "what a shameful, lying, abominable book the Alcoran is." He calls Mohammed "a devil and the first-born child of Satan." He goes into the question, whether the Pope or Mohammed be worse, and comes to the conclusion, that after all the pope is worse, and the real Anti-Christ (Endechrist). "Wohlan," he winds up his epilogue, "God grant us his grace and punish both the Pope and Mohammed, together with their devils. I have done my part as a true prophet and teacher. Those who won’t listen may leave it alone." Even the mild and scholarly Melanchthon identifies Mohammed with the Little Horn of Daniel, or rather with the Gog and Magog of the Apocalypse, and charges his sect with being a compound of "blasphemy, robbery, and sensuality." It is not very strange. that in the heat of that polemical age the Romanists charged the Lutherans, and the Lutherans the Calvinists, and both in turn the Romanists, with holding Mohammedan heresies.205
In the eighteenth century this view was gradually corrected. The learned Dean Prideaux still represented Mohammed as a vulgar impostor, but at the same time as a scourge of God in just punishment of the sins of the Oriental churches who turned our holy religion "into a firebrand of hell for contention, strife and violence." He undertook his "Life of Mahomet" as a part of a "History of the Eastern Church," though he did not carry out his design.
Voltaire and other Deists likewise still viewed Mohammed as an impostor, but from a disposition to trace all religion to priestcraft and deception. Spanheim, Sale, and Gagnier began to take a broader and more favorable view. Gibbon gives a calm historical narrative; and in summing up his judgment, he hesitates whether "the title of enthusiast or impostor more properly belongs to that extraordinary man .... From enthusiasm to imposture the step is perilous and slippery; the daemon of Socrates affords a memorable instance how a wise man may deceive himself, how a good man may deceive others, how the conscience may slumber in a mixed and middle state between self-illusion and voluntary fraud."
Dean Milman suspends his judgment, saying: "To the question whether Mohammed was hero, sage, impostor, or fanatic, or blended, and blended in what proportions, these conflicting elements in his character? the best reply is the reverential phrase of Islâm: God knows.’ "206
Goethe and Carlyle swung from the orthodox abuse to the opposite extreme of a pantheistic hero-worshiping over-estimate of Mohammed and the Koran by extending the sphere of revelation and inspiration, and obliterating the line which separates Christianity from all other religions. Stanley, R. Bosworth Smith, Emanuel Deutsch, and others follow more or less in the track of this broad and charitable liberalism. Many errors and prejudices have been dispelled, and the favorable traits of Islâm and its followers, their habits of devotion, temperance, and resignation, were held up to the shame and admiration of the Christian world. Mohammed himself, it is now generally conceded, began as an honest reformer, suffered much persecution for his faith, effectually destroyed idolatry, was free from sordid motives, lived in strict monogamy during twenty-four years of his youth and manhood, and in great simplicity to his death. The polygamy which disfigured the last twelve years of his life was more moderate than that of many other Oriental despots, Califs and Sultans, and prompted in part by motives of benevolence towards the widows of his followers, who had suffered in the service of his religion.207
But the enthusiasm kindled by Carlyle for the prophet of Mecca has been considerably checked by fuller information from the original sources as brought out in the learned biographies of Weil, Nöldeke, Sprenger and Muir. They furnish the authentic material for a calm, discriminating and impartial judgment, which, however, is modified more or less by the religious standpoint and sympathies of the historian. Sprenger represents Mohammed as the child of his age, and mixes praise and censure, without aiming at a psychological analysis or philosophical view. Sir William Muir concedes his original honesty and zeal as a reformer and warner, but assumes a gradual deterioration to the judicial blindness of a self-deceived heart, and even a kind of Satanic inspiration in his later revelations. "We may readily admit," he says, "that at the first Mahomet did believe, or persuaded himself to believe, that his revelations were dictated by a divine agency. In the Meccan period of his life, there certainly can be traced no personal ends or unworthy motives to belie this conclusion. The Prophet was there, what he professed to be, ’a simple Preacher and a Warner;’ he was the despised and rejected teacher of a gainsaying people; and he had apparently no ulterior object but their reformation .... But the scene altogether changes at Medina. There the acquisition of temporal power, aggrandizement, and self-glorification mingled with the grand object of the Prophet’s previous life; and they were sought after and attained by precisely the same instrumentality. Messages from heaven were freely brought forward to justify his political conduct, equally with his religious precepts. Battles were fought, wholesale executions inflicted, and territories annexed, under pretext of the Almighty’s sanction. Nay, even baser actions were not only excused but encouraged, by the pretended divine approval or command .... The student of history will trace for himself how the pure and lofty aspirations of Mahomet were first tinged, and then gradually debased by a half unconscious self-deception, and how in this process truth merged into falsehood, sincerity into guile,—these opposite principles often co-existing even as active agencies in his conduct. The reader will observe that simultaneously with the anxious desire to extinguish idolatry and to promote religion and virtue in the world, there was nurtured by the Prophet in his own heart a licentious self-indulgence; till in the end, assuming to be the favorite of Heaven, he justified himself by ’revelations’ from God in the most flagrant breaches of morality. He will remark that while Mahomet cherished a kind and tender disposition, ’Weeping with them that wept,’ and binding to his person the hearts of his followers by the ready and self-denying offices of love and friendship, he could yet take pleasure in cruel and perfidious assassination, could gloat over the massacre of entire tribes, and savagely consign the innocent babe to the fires of hell. Inconsistencies such as these continually present themselves from the period of Mahomet’s arrival at Medina; and it is by, the study of these inconsistencies that his character must be rightly comprehended. The key, to many difficulties of this description may be found, I believe, in the chapter ’on the belief of Mahomet in his own inspiration.’ When once he had dared to forge the name of the Most High God as the seal and authority of his own words and actions, the germ was laid from which the errors of his after life freely and fatally developed themselves."208
Note on Mormonism.
The Book of Mormon. First printed at Palmyra, N. Y., 1830. Written by the Prophet Mormon, three hundred years after Christ, upon plates of gold in the "Reformed Egyptian" (?) language, and translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith, Jun., with the aid of Urim and Thummim, into English. As large as the Old Testament. A tedious historical romance on the ancient inhabitants of the American Continent, whose ancestors emigrated from Jerusalem b.c. 600, and whose degenerate descendants are the red Indians. Said to have been written as a book of fiction by a Presbyterian minister, Samuel Spalding.
The Doctrines and Covenants of The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah Territory. Contains the special revelations given to Joseph Smith and Brigham Young at different times. Written in similar style and equally insipid as the Book of Mormon.
A Catechism for Children by Elder John Jaques. Salt Lake City. 25th thousand, 1877.
We cannot close this chapter on Oriental Mohammedanism without some remarks on the abnormal American phenomenon of Mormonism, which arose in the nineteenth century, and presents an instructive analogy to the former. Joseph Smith (born at Sharon, Vt., 1805; shot dead at Nauvoo, in Illinois, 1844), the first founder, or rather Brigham Young (d. 1877), the organizer of the sect, may be called the American Mohammed, although far beneath the prophet of Arabia in genius and power.
The points of resemblance are numerous and striking: the claim to a supernatural revelation mediated by an angel; the abrogation of previous revelations by later and more convenient ones; the embodiment of the revelations in an inspired book; the eclectic character of the system, which is compounded of Jewish, heathenish, and all sorts of sectarian Christian elements; the intense fanaticism and heroic endurance of the early Mormons amidst violent abuse and persecution from state to state, till they found a refuge in the desert of Utah Territory, which they turned into a garden; the missionary zeal in sending apostles to distant lands and importing proselytes to their Eldorado of saints from the ignorant population of England, Wales, Norway, Germany, and Switzerland; the union of religion with civil government, in direct opposition to the American separation of church and state; the institution of polygamy in defiance of the social order of Christian civilization. In sensuality and avarice Brigham Young surpassed Mohammed; for he left at his death in Salt Lake City seventeen wives, sixteen sons, and twenty-eight daughters (having had in all fifty-six or more children), and property estimated at two millions of dollars.209
The government of the United States cannot touch the Mormon religion; but it can regulate the social institutions connected therewith, as long as Utah is a Territory under the immediate jurisdiction of Congress. Polygamy has been prohibited by law in the Territories under its control, and President Hayes has given warning to foreign governments (in 1879) that Mormon converts emigrating to the United States run the risk of punishment for violating the laws of the land. President Garfield (in his inaugural address, March 4, 1881) took the same decided ground on the Mormon question, saying: "The Mormon church not only offends the moral sense of mankind by sanctioning polygamy, but prevents the administration of justice through the ordinary instrumentalities of law. In my judgment it is the duty of Congress, while respecting to the uttermost the conscientious convictions and religious scruples of every citizen, to prohibit within its jurisdiction all criminal practices, especially of that class which destroy the family relations and endanger social order. Nor can any ecclesiastical organization be safely permitted to usurp in the smallest degree the functions and powers of the National Government."
His successor, President Arthur, in his last message to Congress, Dec. 1884, again recommends that Congress "assume absolute political control of the Territory of Utah," and says: "I still believe that if that abominable practice [polygamy] can be suppressed by law it can only be by the most radical legislation consistent with the restraints of the Constitution." The secular and religious press of America, with few exceptions, supports these sentiments of the chief magistrate.
Since the annexation of Utah to the United States, after the Mexican war, "Gentiles" as the Christians are called, have entered the Mormon settlement, and half a dozen churches of different denominations have been organized in Salt Lake City. But the "Latter Day Saints" are vastly in the majority, and are spreading in the adjoining Territories. Time will show whether the Mormon problem can be solved without resort to arms, or a new emigration of the Mormons.
* Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997. This material has been carefully compared, corrected¸ and emended (according to the 1910 edition of Charles Scribner's Sons) by The Electronic Bible Society, Dallas, TX, 1998.
136 Mahomet and Mahometanism, is the usual, but Mohammad, Muhammad, or Mohammed, Mohammedanism, is the more correct spelling in English. Sale, Deutsch, B. Smith, Khan Bahador, and others, spell Mohammed; Sprenger, Mohammad; Nöldeke, Muhammed; Gibbon, Carlyle and Muir, retain Mahomet. The word means: the Praised, the Glorified, the Illustrious; but according to Sprenger and Deutsch, the Desired, perhaps with reference to the Messianic interpretation of "the Desire of all nations," Hagg. 2:7. See on the name, Sprenger, I. 155 sqq., and Deutsch, p. 68 note.
137 "Erhalt uns,Herr, bei deinem Wort,
Und steur’ des Papst’s und Türken Mord."
138 The words "all Jews, Turks, Infidels, and Heretics," were inserted by the framers of the Prayer Book in the first edition (1547); the rest of the collect is translated from the old Latin service. In the middle ages the word "infidel" denoted a Mohammedan. The Mohammedans in turn call Christians, Jews, and all other religionists, "infidels" and "dogs."
139 Archbishop Trench, l.c. p. 54: "We can regard Mohammedanism in no other light than as a scourge of God upon a guilty church. He will not give his glory to another. He will not suffer the Creator and the creature to be confounded; and if those who should have been witnesses for the truth, who had been appointed thereunto, forsake, forget, or deny it, He will raise up witnesses from quarters the most unlooked for, and will strengthen their hands and give victory to their arms even against those who bear his name, but have forgotten his truth." Similarly Dr. Jessup, l.c. p. 14: "The Mohammedan religion arose, in the providence of God, as a scourge to the idolatrous Christianity, and the pagan systems of Asia and Africa—a protest against polytheism, and a preparation for the future conversion to a pure Christianity of the multitude who have fallen under its extraordinary power." Carlyle calls the creed of Mohammed "a kind of Christianity better than that of those miserable Syrian Sects with the head full of worthless noise, the heart empty and dead. The truth of it is imbedded in portentous error and falsehood; but the truth makes it to be believed, not the falsehood: it succeeded by its truth. A bastard kind of Christianity, but a living kind; with a heart-life in it; not dead, chopping, barren logic merely."
140 Life of Mahomet, IV. 321, 322.
141 See Ali Bey’s Travels in Asia and Africa, 1803-1807 (1814, 3 vols.); the works of Burckhardt, and Burton mentioned before; and Muir, I. 1-9.
142 The Cube-house or Square house, Maison carrée. It is also called Beit Ullah, (Beth-el), i.e. House of God. It is covered with cloth. See a description in Burckhaxdt, Travels, Lond., 1829, p. 136, Burton II. 154, Sprenger II. 340, and Khan Ballador’s Essay on the History of the Holy Mecca (a part of the work above quoted). Burckhardt gives the size: 18 paces long, 14 broad, 35 to 40 feet high. Burton: 22 paces (= 55 English feet) long, 18 paces (45 feet) broad.
143 Baliador says, l.c.: "The most ancient and authentic of all the local traditions of Arabia ... represent the temple of the Kaaba as having been constructed in the 42d century a. m., or 19th century b.c., by Abraham, who was assisted in his work by his son Ishmael." He quotes Gen. xii. 7; xiii. 18 in proof that Abraham raised "altars for God’s worship on every spot where he had adored Him." But the Bible nowhere says that he ever was in Mecca.
144 It is called in Arabic Hhajera el-Assouád, the Heavenly Stone. Muir II. 35.
145 Bahador discredits this and other foolish traditions, and thinks that the Black Stone was a Piece of rock from the neighboring Abba Kobais mountain, and put in its present place by Ishmael at the desire of Abraham.
146 See pictures of the Kaaba and the Black Stone, in Bahador, and also in Muir, II. 18, and description, II. 34 sqq.
147 Rodwell’s translation, pp. 446 and 648. Sprenger, II. 279, regards the Moslem legend of the Abrahamic origin of the Kaaba worship as a pure invention of Mohammed, of which there is no previous trace.
148 Sprenger I. 45: "Die bisher unbekannt gebliebenen Hanyfen waren die Vorläufer des Mohammad. Er nennt sich selbst einen Hanyf, und während der ersten Periode seines Lehramtes hat er wenig anderes gethan, als ihre Lehre bestätigt."
149 According to Sprenger, I. 91 sqq., he died a Christian; but Deutsch, l.c., p. 77, says: "Whatever Waraka was originally, he certainly lived and died a Jew." He infers this from the fact that when asked by Chadijah for his opinion concerning Mohammed’s revelations, he cried out: "Koddus! Koddus! (i.e., Kadosh, Holy). Verily this is the Namus (i.e., novmo", Law) which came to Moses. He will be the prophet of his people."
150 We know accurately the date of Mohammed’s death (June 8, 632), but the year of his birth only by reckoning backwards; and as his age is variously stated from sixty-one to sixty-five, there is a corresponding difference in the statements of the year of his birth. De Sacy fixes it April 20, 571, von Hammer 569, Muir Aug. 20, 570, Sprenger between May 13, 567, and April 13, 571, but afterwards (I. 138), April 20, 571, as most in accordance with early tradition.
151 According to Ihn Ishâk and Wâckidi. Bahador adopts this tradition, in the last of his essays which treats of "the Birth and Childhood of Mohammed." But according to other accounts, Abdallah died several months (seven or eighteen) after Mohammed’s birth. Muir. I. 11; Sprenger, I. 138.
152 On the pedigree of Mohammed, see an essay in the work of Syed Ahmed Khan Bahador, and MuirI1. 242-271. The Koreish were not exactly priests, but watched the temple, kept the keys, led the processions, and provided for the pilgrims. Hâshim, Mohammed’s great-grandfather (b. a. d. 442), thus addressed the Koreish: "Ye are the neighbors of God and the keepers of his house. The pilgrims who come honoring the sanctity of his temple, are his guests; and it is meet that ye should entertain them above all other guests. Ye are especially chosen of God and exalted unto this high dignity; wherefore honor big guests and refresh them." He himself set an example of munificent hospitality, and each of the Koreish contributed according to his ability. Muir I. CCXLVII.
153 Sprenger has a long chapter on this disease of Mohammed, which he calls with Schönlein, hysteria muscularis I. 207-268.
154 Sprenger discusses the question, and answers it in the affirmative, Vol. II. 398 sqq. The Koran (29) says: "Formerly [before I sent down the book, i.e. the Koran] thou didst not read any book nor write one with thy right hand!" From this, some Moslems infer that after the reception of the Koran, he was supernaturally taught to read and write; but others hold that he was ignorant of both. Syed Ahmed Khan Bahador says: "Not the least doubt now exists that the Prophet was wholly unacquainted with the art of writing, being also, as a matter of course (?), unable to read the hand-writing of others; for which reason, and for this only, be was called Ummee" (illiterate).
155 Sprenger attributes his faithfulness to Chadyga (as he spells the name) not to his merit, but to his dependence. She kept her fortune under her own control, and gave him only as much as he needed.
156 So Sprenger,III. 221. Others give seven hundred and ninety as the number of Jews who were beheaded in a ditch.
157 See Sprenger, III. 552 sqq., Muir, IV. 270 sqq.
158 This absurd story, circumstantially described by Abulfeda, is probably based on a dream which Mohammed himself relates in the Koran, Sura 17, entitled The Night Journey: "Glory be to Him who carried his servant by night from the sacred temple of Mecca to the temple that is remote" [i.e. in Jerusalem]. In the Dome of the Rock on Mount Moriah, the hand-prints of the angel Gabriel are shown in the mysterious rock which attempted to follow Mohammed to its native quarry in Paradise, but was kept back by the angel!
159 See an interesting essay on the "Miracles of Mohammed" in Tholuck’s Miscellaneous Essays (1839), Vol. I., pp. 1-27. Also Muir, I., pp. 65 sqq.; Sprenger, II. 413 sqq.
160 He speaks freely of this subject in the Koran, Sur. 4, and 33. In the latter (Rodman’s transl., p. 508) this scandalous passage occurs: "O Prophet! we allow thee thy wives whom thou hast dowered, and the slaves whom thy right hand possesseth out of the booty which God hath granted thee, and the daughters of thy uncle, and of thy paternal and maternal aunts who fled with thee to Medina, and any believing woman who hath given herself up to the Prophet, if the Prophet desired to wed her, a privilege for thee above the rest of the faithful." Afterwards in the same Sura (p. 569) he says: "Ye must not trouble the Apostle of God, nor marry his wives after him forever. This would be a grave offence with God."
161 Sprenger, III. 61-87, gives a full account of fourteen wives of Mohammed, and especially of Ayesha, according to the list of Zohry and Ibn Saad. Sprenger says, p. 37: "Der Prophet hatte keine Wohnung für sich selbst. Sein Hauptquartier war in der Hütte der Ayischa und die öffentlichen Geschäfte verrichtete er in der Moschee, aber er brachte jede Nacht bei einer seiner Frauen zu und war, wie es scheint, auch ihr Gast beim Essen. Er ging aber täglich, wenn er bei guter Laune war, bei allen seinen Frauen umher, gab jeder einen Kuss, sprach einige Worte und spielte mit ihr. Wir haben gesehen, dass seine Familie neun Hütten besass, dies war auch die, Anzahl der Frauen, welche er bei seinem Tode hinterliess. Doch gab es Zeiten, zu denen sein Harem stärker war. Er brachte dann einige seiner Schönen in den Häusern von Nachbarn unter. Es kam auch vor, dass zwei Frauen eine Hütte bewohnten. Stiefkinderwohnten, so lange sie jung waren, bei ihren Müttern."
162 If Protestant missionaries enjoy more toleration and liberty in Turkey than in Roman Catholic Austria and in Greek Catholic Russia, it must be understood with the above limitation. Turkish toleration springs from proud contempt of Christianity in all its forms; Russian and Austrian intolerance, from despotism and bigoted devotion to a particular form of Christianity.
163 Among the traditional sayings of Mohammed is this (Gerock, l.c., p. 132): "I am nearest to Jesus, both as to the beginning and the end; for there is no prophet between me and Jesus; and at the end of time he will be my representative and my successor. The prophets are all brethren, as they have one father, though their mothers are different. The origin of all their religions is the same, and between me and Jesus there is no other prophet!’
164 Arabic qurân, i.e. the reading or that which should be read, the book. It is read over and over again in all the mosques and schools.
165 Sura 53 (Rodwell, p. 64):
"The Koran is no other than a revelation revealed to him:
One terrible in power [Gabriel, i.e. the Strong one of God]
taught it him.
Endued with wisdom, with even balance stood he
In the highest part of the horizon.
He came nearer and approached,
And was at the distance of two bows, or even closer,—
And he revealed to his servant what he revealed."
I add the view of a learned modern Mohammedan, Syed Ahmed Khan Babador, who says (l.c., Essay on the Holy Koran): "The Holy Koran was delivered to Mohammed neither in the form of graven tablets of stone, nor in that of cloven tongues of fire; nor was it necessary that the followers of Mohammed, like those of Moses, should be furnished with a copy or counterpart, in case the original should be lost. No mystery attended the delivery of it, for it was on Mohammed’s heart that it was engraven, and it was with his tongue that it was communicated to all Arabia. The heart of Mohammed was the Sinai where he received the revelation, and his tablets of stone were the hearts of true believers."
166 Sura means either revelation, or chapter, or part of a chapter. The Mohammedan commentators refer it primarily to the succession of subjects or parts, like the rows of bricks in a wall. The titles of the Suras are generally taken from some leading topic or word in each, as "The Sun," "The Star," "The Charges," "The Scattering," "The Adoration," "The Spider," "Women," "Hypocrites," "Light," "Jonas," "The Cave," "The Night Journey," "The Cow," "The Battle," "The Victory."
167 "Bismillahi ’rrahonani ’rrahim." According to the Ulama (the professors of religion and law), "God of mercy" means merciful in great things; "the Merciful" means merciful in small things. But, according to E. W. Lane, "the first expresses an occasional sensation, the second a constant quality!" In other words, the one refers to acts, the other to a permanent attribute.
168 These scruples are gradually giving way, at least in India, where "printed copies, with inter-lineal versions in Persian and Urdoo—too literal to be intelligible—are commonly used." Muir, The Corân, p. 48. The manuscript copies in the mosques, in the library of the Khedive in Cairo, and in many European libraries, are equal in caligraphic beauty to the finest mediaeval manuscripts of the Bible.
169 The present order, Says Muir (Corân, p. 41), is almost a direct inversion of the natural chronological order; the longest which mostly belong to the later period of Mohammed, being placed first and the shortest last. Weil, Sprenger, and Muir have paid much attention to the chronological arrangement. Nöldeke also, in his Geschichte des Qôrans, has fixed the order of the Suras, with a reasonable degree of certainty on the basis of Mohammedan traditions and a searching analysis of the text; and he has been mainly followed by Rodwell in his English version.
170 The ornament of metre and rhyme, however, is preserved throughout.
171 Rodwell, p. X. Comp. Deutsch, l.c., p. 121.
172 Muir, Life of Moh., I. 35; Stanley, p. 366.
173 See a collection of these correspondences in the original Arabic and in English in Sir William Muir’s Coran, pp. 66 sqq. Muir concludes that Mohammed knew the Bible, and believed in its divine origin and authority.
174 Muir (Life, II. 313, 278) and Stanley (p. 366) adduce, as traces of a faint knowledge of the Canonical Gospels, the account of the birth of John the Baptist in the Koran, and the assumption by Mohammed of the name of Paracletus under the distorted form of Periclytus, the Illustrious. But the former does not strike me as being taken from St. Luke, else he could not have made such a glaring chronological mistake as to identify Mary with Miriam, the sister of Moses. And as to the promise of the Paraclete, which only occurs in St. John, it certainly must have passed into popular tradition, for the word occurs also in the Talmud. If Mohammed had read St. John, he must have seen that the Paraclete is the Holy Spirit, and would have identified him with Gabriel, rather than with himself. Palmer’s opinion is that Mohammed could neither read nor write, but acquired his knowledge from the traditions which were then current in Arabia among Jewish and Christian tribes. The Qur’ân, I., p. xlvii.
175 Decline and Fall of the R. E., Ch. 50.
176 As quoted in Tholuck.
177 The Qur’ân, Introd. I., p. 1.
178 On this difference Ewald makes some good remarks in the first volume of his Biblical Theology (1871), p. 418.
179 Translated by Lieut. Burton.
180 Rodwell, The Korân (2nd ed., 1876), p. 10.
181 E. H. Palmer, The Qur’ân, Oxford, 1880, Part I., p. 1.
182 · Sura 36 (in Rodwell, p. 128).
183 · The ostrich egg carefully protected from dust. Sura 37 (in Rodwell, p 69). Brides and wives always figure in the Mohammedan Paradise.
184 Luther said of the religion of the Turks: "Also ist’s ein Glaub zusammengeflickt aus der Jüden, Christen und Heiden Glaube." Milman (II. 139) calls Mohammedanism "the republication of a more comprehensive Judaism with some depraved forms of Christianity." Renan describes it as "the least original" of the religious creations of humanity. Geiger and Deutsch (both Hebrews) give prominence to the Jewish element. "It is not merely parallelisms," says Deutsch, "reminiscences, allusions, technical terms, and the like, of Judaism, its lore and dogma and ceremony, its Halacha and Haggadah (which may most briefly be rendered by ’Law’ and ’Legend’), which we find in the Koran; but we think Islâm neither more nor less than Judaism as adapted to Arabia—plus the apostleship of Jesus and Mohammed. Nay, we verily believe that a great deal of such Christianity as has found its way into the Koran, has found it through Jewish channels" (l.c. p. 64).
185 Lâ ilâha ill’ Allâh, wa Muhammeda rrasúlà ’llâh. Allâh is composed of the article al, "the," and ilâh, "a god," and is equivalent to the Hebrew Eli and Elohim. He was known to the Arabs before Mohammed, and regarded as the chief god in their pantheon.
186 A similar idea is presented in the pseudo-Clementine Homilies.
187 Mesich Isa ben Mariam.
188 In rude misconception or wilful perversion, Mohammed seems to have understood the Christian doctrine of the trinity to be a trinity of Father, Mary, and Jesus. The Holy Spirit is identified with Gabriel. "God is only one God! Far be it from his glory that he should have a son!" Sura 4, ver. 169; comp. 5, ver. 77. The designation and worship of Mary as "the mother of God" may have occasioned this strange mistake. There was in Arabia in the fourth century a sect of fanatical women called Collyridians (Kollurivde"), who rendered divine worship to Mary. Epiphanius, Haer. 79.·
189 As the Protevangelium Jacobi, the Evang. de Nativitate Mariae, the Evang. Infantis Servatoris, etc. Gibbon (ch. 50) and Stanley (p. 367) trace the doctrine of the immaculate conception directly to the Koran. It is said of Mary: "Remember when the angel said: ’O Mary! verily hath God chosen thee, and purified thee, and chosen thee above the women of the worlds.’ " But this does not necessarily mean more than Luke i. 28. The Koran knows nothing of original sin in the Christian sense.
190 Gerok, l.c. pp. 22-28. This would be a modification of the rabbinical fable that ordinary death and corruption had as little power over Miriam as over Moses, and that both died by the breath of Jehovah.
191 Rösch (l.c., p. 439) Die Geburtsgeschichte Jesu im Koran ist nichts anderes als ein mythologischer Mythus aus Ezech. 47 mit eingewobenen jüdischen Zügen, der seine Heimath im Ebionismus hat."
192 Sura 4. This view of the crucifixion is no doubt derived from apocryphal sources. The Gnostic sect of Basilides supposed Simon of Cyrene, the Evangel. Barrabae, Judas, to have been that other person who was crucified instead of Jesus. Mani (Epist. Fund.) says that the prince of darkness was nailed to the cross, and wore the crown of thorns.
193 Sura 61.
194 The Moslems refer also some other passages of Scripture to Mohammed and his religion, e.g. Gen. xvi. 10; xvii. 20; xxi. 12, 13; xxvii. 20 (the promise of God to bless Hagar and Ishmael); Deut. xviii. 15, 18 (the promise to raise up a prophet like Moses); Isa. xxi. 67 (where Mohammed is supposed to be meant by the "rider on the camel," as distinct from Jesus, "the rider on the ass"); John iv. 21; 1 John iv. 23 (where he is the spirit that is of God, because he proclaimed that Jesus was a true man, not God); Deut. xxxii.2 (where Sinai is said to mean the Jewish, Seir the Christian, and Paran the Mohammedan revelation).
195 So by John of Damascus and the mediaeval writers against Islâm. Peter of Clugny speaks of "haereses Saracenorum sive Ismaelitarum."Comp. Gass, Gennadius und Pletho, p. 109.
196 Lectures on the Reunion of Churches, p. 7 (transl. by Oxenham, 1872).
197 Die Lehre der Bibel von Gott, Vol. I. (1871), p. 418.
198 Rom. i. 24sqq. See the statements of Dr. Jessup of Beirût, l.c., p. 47.
199 The lions in the court of the Alhambra farm an exception.
200 For an interesting description of a sermon from the pulpit of Mecca, see Burton’s Pilgrimage, II. 314; III. 117, quoted by Stanley, p. 379. Burton says, he had never and nowhere seen so solemn, so impressive a religious spectacle. Perhaps he has not heard many Christian sermons.
201 Gibbon’s statement that "the Mohammedan religion has no priest and no sacrifice;" is substantially correct.
202 They are given in Arabic and English by Palmer, l.c. I., Intr, p. lxvii. sq. The following are the first ten:
1. ar-Ra’hmân, the Merciful.
2. ar-Ra’hîm, the Compassionate.
3. al-Mâlik, the Ruler.
4 . al-Quaddûs, the Holy.
5. as-Salâm, Peace.
6. al-Mû’min, the Faithful.
7. al-Muhâimun, the Protector.
8. al-Haziz the Mighty.
9. al-Gabbâr, the Repairer.
10. al-Mutakabbir, the Great.
203 Description of Dean Stanley from his own observation in Cairo, l.c., p. 385.
204 Inferno, Canto XXVIII. 22 sqq. (Longfellow’s translation):
"A cask by losing centre-piece or cant
Was never shattered so, as I saw one
Rent from the chin to where one breaketh wind.
Between his legs were hanging down his entrails;
His heart was visible, and the dismal sack
That maketh excrement of what is eaten.
While I was all absorbed in seeing him,
He looked at me, and opened with his hands
His bosom, saying: ’See now how I rend me;
How mutilated, am, is Mahomet;
In front of me doth Ali weeping go,
Cleft in the face from forelock unto chin;
And all the others whom thou here beholdest
Sowers of scandal and of schism have been
While living, and therefore are thus cleft asunder.’ "
205 Maracci, Vivaldus, and other Roman writers point out thirteen or more heresies in which Mohammedanism and Lutheranism agree, such as iconoclasm, the rejection of the worship of saints, polygamy (in the case of Philip of Hesse), etc. A fanatical Lutheran wrote a book to prove that "the damned Calvinists hold six hundred and sixty-six theses (the apocalyptic number) in common with the Turks!" The Calvinist Reland, on the other hand, finds analogies to Romish errors in the Mohammedan prayers for the dead, visiting the graves of prophets, pilgrimages to Mecca, intercession of angels, fixed fasts, meritorious almsgiving, etc.
206 Lat. Christianity, II. 120.
207 The Mohammedan apologist, Syed Ameer Ali (The Life and Teachings of Mohammed, London, 1873, pp. 228 sqq.), makes much account of this fact, and entirely justifies Mohammed’s polygamy. But the motive of benevolence and generosity can certainly not be shown in the marriage of Ayesha (the virgin-daughter of Abu-Bakr), nor of Zeynab (the lawful wife of his freedman Zeyd), nor of Safiya (the Jewess). Ali himself must admit that "some of Mohammed’s marriages may possibly have arisen from a desire for male offspring." The motive of sensuality he entirely ignores.
208 Life of Mah., IV. 317, 322.
209 As stated in the New York Tribune for Sept. 3, 1877.