with that school among the Mahometans, which had engrafted its teaching upon
the Greek philosophy.1
Far otherwise was it with the Jewish faith. By reason of his hostile relations
with the Jews at Medina, it is true that Mahomet hated and denounced the whole
race with a bitterness which he never displayed towards the Christian. But his
book and his system were not the less cast in a thoroughly Jewish type. The
histories and legends, the precepts and ceremonial, of the Coran are largely
adopted from the Old Testament and Rabbinical tradition. Islam, thus
sympathising closely with Judaism, was capable of copious illustration from
it. Indeed, a large portion of the Coran cannot be properly understood without
some knowledge of the biblical and rabbinical sources which inspired the
Prophet. The Jewish converts, then, were not severed, like the Christian, from
all sympathy with their old traditions. And these, easily accessible to the
Mahometan commentators and genealogists, were eagerly devoured and reproduced
by them, often in a distorted form so as to suit their own ends and the
national taste. Hence the flood of Jewish tale and legend which forms a
distinguishing mark of the literature of Islam.
This important consideration is well known to the Mahometans themselves. Ibn
Khaldûn thus writes:
The Arabs were a people without literature or science, rude and unlearned.
When that longing after knowledge which is natural to humanity arose in their
hearts, they betook themselves to the People of the previous Book, and sought
information from them. These were the adherents of the Tourāt (Old
Testament) consisting of the Jews and such Christians as adopted their faith.
But the adherents of the Tourāt who lived amongst the Arabs were as rude as
the Arabs themselves, and possessed on such subjects no other knowledge than
that gained from tribes who professed to follow the Scriptures. Amongst the
most important of these were the Himyarite (Christian) converts to Judaism.
Although these, on coming over to Islam, adhered rigidly to Mahometan
doctrine, yet, in all things not dependent on Moslem dogma, they held also to
their old teaching, especially