judicature; and was there promoted to an honourable post, implying that he
possessed more than usual intelligence and ability. The work of such a man may
fairly be viewed as a guage of the religious mind of Moslem India. And hence,
as an index of the ideas and dogmas against which we have to contend, too much
stress cannot be laid upon such writings. It is incumbent upon us to know well
our adversaries' ground; and it is only by such inquiries as the present, that
we can hope to reconnoitre it.
It is very sad to find, amongst educated men, such an utter want of the
faculty of historical criticism, as we see here. With persons of this class,
our great difficulty will lie in placing before them the means for
discriminating the grains of truth from the masses of fabricated traditions.
The Bombay biography has but alluded to the subject. Even for the unbiassed
mind and intelligence of the European, the work of disentangling truth from
falsehood in these latter-day traditions, is one encompassed by great
difficulties: how much more difficult then to lead the Mohammedans themselves
to true principles of criticism! It is however a task towards which much has
been contributed already, by the studies of our learned men; and we should not
shrink from its further prosecution.
The study is also useful in pressing upon us the necessity of extreme care,
that the historical details placed before our fellow-subjects are thoroughly
correct. Under the best possible auspices, they will receive our advances with
distrust and our criticisms with incredulity. But if we give to them such
histories as our English Lives of Mohammed have generally been, we
shall put ourselves in an incomparably worse position. Perceiving want of
accuracy in our narratives, and imperfection in our means of information, they
will naturally doubt all our assertions, and summarily deny our conclusions.
But if, on the contrary, we carefully avail ourselves of the original sources