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and system of the Arabian Prophet, which developed the Sunna; just as it was the ceremonial element in the Mosaic law which, exaggerated and distorted by the legal letter-loving spirit of the Jews, led to the endless washing of cups and pots, the tithing of mint and cummin, and all the mazes of rabbinical tradition. Unlike the Christian Scripture which, prescribing principles, leaves their application to the circumstance of the day and the conscience of the individual, the Coran contains minute instructions on rites and ceremonies, and on social and domestic obligations. It was the ceremonial spirit of Mahomet and his Coran, which stamped its formal and ritualistic impress on the Moslem world, and thus gave rise to the Sunna. After the Prophet's death, new relations and contingencies were continually arising, for which the Coran had provided no directions; conquest and growing civilisation added daily to the necessity for fresh rules, and for new adaptations of the old. To supply this need, resort was had to the actual or supposed sayings and practice of the Prophet; these were eagerly sought after from the lips of the Companions of the Prophet, or of any who at second hand could trace a tradition to one of those Companions; and thus by the aid of analogy and of fictitious traditions, was provided an exhaustive treasury of precedents for every possible case. 

It is true that Mahomet never claimed for his own opinions or actions infallibility. But if he erred on any material point, a dream, an intimation from Gabriel, or a verse revealed for the purpose, was supposed to correct the aberration; so that, as Sprenger shows, the aberration was in point of fact only temporary. He might have added that the image of the Prophet, after he had passed away, was soon encircled with a divine effulgence which he never anticipated; and that his commonest sayings and minutest actions became eventually invested with a celestial sanctity which he would probably have been the last himself to countenance. 

Sprenger thinks that the Moslems of the earliest era were freer and bolder than those of later times in expressing their views, and in interpreting the sayings of Mahomet according to the spirit rather than the letter. This may be doubted. The thraldom of Islam was as powerful, the sword of its inquisition 


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