|34||THE APOLOGY OF AL KINDY.|
upon all occasions, he bestows the most contumelious epithets. While giving honour to the Hāshimites as chief amongst the Coreish, he not the less vaunts the superior and kingly dignity of the Beni Kinda, as the blue blood of the Arabs, acknowledged to have been supreme over the whole Peninsula; and he apologises from his own standpoint as an Ishmaelite, whenever the argument leads him to prefer the lineage of Isaac: to that of Ishmael. The repeated assertion of his own learning, experience, and knowledge of mankind and of the various systems of religion and philosophy, is also in keeping with the vein of conscious superiority, tinged with a slight spice of vanity, which runs throughout the Apology.
Add to this that, amidst much that is crude in our view, and even illogical, the work is characterised throughout by a singular command of the Arabic language, and that the argument rises at times,as in the passage on Jehād and Martyrdom,to a high pitch of impassioned eloquence, and it must be evident that the writer was a man of remarkable learning and attainments. The Apologist, therefore, could have been no obscure individual. There seems not any ground whatever for doubting that he was in reality what he professes naturally and consistently throughout the Apology to be, a scion of the noble Kinda tribe, belonging further to a branch which had clung unwaveringly to their ancestral faith. For the suspicion of a pious fraud in the assumption of that character, there is not, so far as I can see, any reasonable ground
|ITS AGE AND AUTHORSHIP.||35|
whatever; nor (even if internal evidence admitted the hypothesis) would there have been any sensible advantage in adopting that position.
To sum up, then; I hold that the work may take its stand, on internal evidence, as a composition certainly of the era at which it professes to have been written. Further, there is the strongest probability, amounting almost to certainty, that it is the genuine production of a learned Christian, a man of distinction at the court of Al Mānūn bearing the tribal title of Al Kindy. And still further, there is a fair presumption that the Apology was written as a reply to the Appeal which is prefixed to the Apology,an apology addressed bonā fide to his friend by the Moslem Abdallah al Hāshimy, the Caliph's cousin.
There are good grounds for this belief apart altogether from the evidence of Al Bīrūni. But that evidence, as we have seen, is conclusive of the fact that the work was current in the fourth century of the Hégira, and that it was so under a title corresponding with the account of the authorship as recited in the brief Preface to the Apology. Al Bīrūni's testimony is, to my mind, chiefly valuable as serving to remove a doubt which must occur to the most casual reader; and that is, whether any one could have dared, at the Metropolis of Islam, to put forth a production written in so fearless and trenchant a spirit against Islam; and whether, this having been done, the obnoxious treatise would not have been immediately suppressed. Religion and the civil power are, in the Mahometan system, so welded together, that the