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witnesses. It is true that the whole Moslem world was impelled by the same tendency to magnify Mahomet without regard to reason or consistency. None would have dared to question a miracle for its inherent improbability, or on a critical conclusion as to the, insufficiency of the evidence; the attempt at so dangerous a precedent would have placed the critic in jeopardy of his life. So far, then, as relates to the exaltation of the Prophet, there would have been none to question. But almost every tradition is connected also at some point with an individual, a family, or a tribe, whose memory was affected for good or evil by the story. And here the factions and jealousies which pervaded the very earliest Mahometan society would come into play as an important check upon any deviation from the truth. We may be very certain that no tradition affecting Abu Sofiân or Abbâs, Othmân or Aly, would escape the narrowest criticism by some opposing party, in so far as its interests were concerned. And since every communication with Mahomet handed down by tradition casts a halo around the Companion so honoured, we have in this fact alone a very, important restraint upon the licence of legend and episode,— a restraint effective in proportion to the earliness of the period at which the tradition first took fixed shape. Hence in point of fact it is generally possible, with more or less of certainty, to separate the grain of fact from the husk of overlying fiction in which it has been handed down; and through the divine effulgence encircling the Prophet, to distinguish, dimly it may be but yet with some assurance, the outlines of the man. 

From this digression we return to trace the development of Biographical research. The study of the Sunna, embracing as it did the habits and usage of the Prophet, had already broken ground in this direction, when in the second half of the first century we find persons devoting themselves entirely to the events and chronology of his life. Orwa, born within fourteen years of Mahomet's death, a near relative of Ayesha and a copious narrator of her traditions, was the first who systematically attempted the task. We have remains of his letters on the subject; but it seems doubtful whether he wrote any regular 


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