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THE BIOGRAPHY OF MAHOMET, AND RISE OF ISLAM.

SUPPLEMENT TO VOLUME THIRD.

The Portions of the Coran revealed during the first Five Years of Mahomet's Residence at Medina.

Retrospect of the character of the portions of the Coran revealed at Medina

WE have now readied a stage at which it may be useful to pause and review the character of the Revelations given forth by Mahomet as divine, during the first five years of his sojourn at Medina, and to consider the points in which they illustrate his life and the principles of Islam.

Mahomet, on his first arrival at Median, endeavours to stir up the Jews to gratitude, and to persuade them to bear evidence in his favour

The people most prominently addressed in the early Medina Suras are the Jews. Like the closing Sura at Mecca, these portions of the Coran abound in Jewish fable and legend, based upon the Old Testament and upon Rabbinical tradition. The marvellous interpositions of the Almighty in behalf of his people of old are recounted with the avowed view of stirring up the Jews of Medina to gratitude, and of inciting them to publish unreservedly the evidence which (Mahomet still continued to assert) their Scriptures contained in substantiation of his claims. They were appealed to in the following style: -

Ye Children or Israel! Remember my favour wherewith I have favoured you, and how that I have preferred you above all the world. And fear the day whereon no soul shall at all make satisfaction for another soul; nor shall intercession be accepted therefrom; neither shall compensation be received from it, - and they shall not be helped 1.

O Children of Israel! Remember the favour wherewith I have favoured you. And fulfill my Covenant; so will I fulfill your Covenant. And let ME be your dread. And believe in that which I reveal attesting the (Revelation) which is with you; and he not the first unbelievers therein; and sell not my signs for a small price: and let ME be your fear. And clothe not the Truth with Falsehood; neither conceal the Truth while ye know it.

Set ye up prayer, and give alms; and how ye down with them that bow themselves down.

What! will ye command men to do Justice, and forget your own selves, while yet ye read the Scripture?2 What! do ye not understand?3

1 S. ii. 47. These words are repeated again, with hardly any variation in v. 123.

2 i.e. The Old Testament.

3 S ii. 40.


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On their refusal to acknowledge him, Mahomet changes the style of his address to rebuke and reproach

But, excepting a few, the Jews refused to acknowledge the new Prophet. He had none or the signs of the Messiah, who was to come of the seed or Jacob and David, and not from amongst a strange people the progeny of Ishmael. They did not object to enter into a treaty with Mahomet of amenity and good neighbourhood, but they scorned to bow to his spiritual pretensions. Their refusal was set down to envy and malice. The Jews (thus argued Mahomet) could not brook that the prophetic dignity should pass from themselves to another people; they well knew the prophecies regarding Islam ; but they stifled their conviction; suppressed the plain declarations of their Scriptures, and perverted their meaning by "dislocating" the context, or by producing false glosses of the Rabbins. Their hearts were hardened ; and every avenue to conviction closed. It was vain to seek for their conversion through the Coran, for they had already shown themselves proof against the Word of God as revealed in the Old Testament4. They were following in the steps of their stiff-necked forefathers who slew the prophets, departed from the worship of the true God, and sought out inventions of their own creation. As an example or such rebukes, take the following passage

And verily WE gave Moses the Scripture and WE made Apostles to follow after him, and WE gave JESUS son of Mary evident miracles, and WE strengthened him with the holy Spirit.

Wherefore is it that so often as an Apostle cometh unto you with that which ye desire not, ye an puffed up; and some ye reject as Liars, and some ye put to death.

They say, Our hearts are uncircumcised; yes, the Lord hath cursed them for their Unbelief: Wherefore few there are that believe.

And when a Book5 cometh unto them from God, attesting that (Scripture) which is with them, - and truly they had aforetime been praying for assistance against the Unbelievers6, - yet when there came unto them that which they recognized7, they disbelieved the same. Wherefore the curse of God is on the Unbelievers.

Evil is that for which they have sold themselves, to reject what God hath revealed, out of rebellion against God for sending down a portion of his

4 S. ii. 75.

5 i.e. The Coran.

6 i.e., when oppressed by the Idolaters of Medina, &C, the Jews used to long and pray for the coming of the Messiah, who would vanquish their enemies for them. Vol. ii. 211.

7 i.e., Mahomet and the Coran.


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Favour upon such of his servants as he pleaseth8. Wherefore they have incurred wrath upon wrath; and for the Unbelievers there is prepared an ignominious Punishment.

And when it is unto them, Believe in that which is sent down, they say, We believe in that which God hath sent down to us; and they disbelieve in that which came after it, although it be the Truth attesting that (Scripture) which is with them. Say, - Why, therefore, have ye killed the Prophets of God aforetime, if ye are Believers?

And verily Moses came with evident Signs; then ye took the Calf thereupon, and became transgressors, &C9.

The Jews thus stirred up to hatred of Mahomet

This denunciation of the Jews, their malice, unbelief, and perversion of the truth, naturally aroused their hatred. They no longer put any faith in the trite asseveration of the Prophet that he was come to attest their scripture, and re-establish the divine doctrines it contained. The hope, once fondly cherished, that through the influence of their holy oracles which he thus professed to revere and follow, Mahomet would be guided towards the Truth, was now seen to be utterly fallacious. Their political inferiority, indeed, compelled them to cloke their hatred; but their real feelings transpired in various ways, and among others in expressions of double meaning, which greatly displeased and affronted Mahomet: -

Of the Jews there are that pervert words from their places, saying, We have heard and disobeyed, and Hear without hearing , and (RAINA) Look upon us10, twisting their tongues find reviling the Faith. But if they had said, We have heard and obeyed, and Hearken, and (ANTZORNA) Look upon us, it had been better for them; but God hath cursed them for their Unbelief; wherefore they shall not believe, excepting a few.

O ye to whom the Scripture hath been given, believe in what WE have sent down, attesting that (Revelation) which is with you, - before WE deface your countenances, turning the front backwards; or curse them as WE cursed those that broke the Sabbath11.

And two or three years later : -

O ye that believe! Take not as your friends those who make a laughing -

8 i.e., envious at the gift of prophecy being shared by the Arab nation.

9 S ii. 87.

10 The words used were terms of reproach and contempt in Hebrew, but were pronounced so as to appear innocent expressions in Arabic. They were addressed to Mahomet, or used in public in reference to him, so as to turn him into ridicule among themselves.

11 S. iv. 44. page 292

stock and a sport of your Religion, from among the people of the previous Scripture and the Infidels: and fear God, if ye Believers.

Say, - Ye people of the Scripture!12 Do ye keep aloof from us otherwise than because we believe in God, and in that which hath been sent down before, and because the greater part of you are evil?

Say, - Shall I announce unto you what is worse than that, as the Reward which is with God? He whom God hath cursed and against whom he is wroth, and hath made of them Monkeys and Swine13, these and the Worshippers of Idols, are in an evil case......Thou shalt see multitudes of them running greedily after wickedness and injustice, and eating what is forbidden. Alas for that which they work!

Wherefore do their Rabbins and their Priests restrain them not from uttering Wickedness, and eating that which is forbidden? Alas for that which they commit!

The Jews say, The hand of God is tied up. Their own hands are tied up, and they are cursed for what they say. Nay, bunt His hands. are both stretched out. He bestoweth as he pleaseth.. That which hath been revealed to thee from thy Lord, shall increase rebellion and impiety in many of them. We have cast amongst them enmity and hatred, until the Day of Judgment. So often as they shall kindle the fire of War, God shall extinguish the same; and they shall set themselves to do wickedness in the Earth. And God loveth not the wicked doers14.

They are accused of encouraging idolatry at Mecca

In one passage the Jews are even accused or encouraging the Coreish to continue in idolatry, by representing that it was preferable to the doctrine of Mahomet: -

Hast thou not seen those to whom a portion of the Scripture hath been given? They believe in false gods and idols. They say to the unbelievers, -- These are better directed in the right way than those that believe15.

These are they whom God hath cursed; and for him that God curseth, thou shalt find no helper.

Shall they, indeed, have any portion in the Kingdom, since, if they had, they would not part unto men with the least iota thereof? Do they envy them that which God bath given them of his bounty? And verily WE gave unto

12 i.e., Jews.

13 Alluding to the legendary punishment inflicted on the Israelites who broke the Sabbath day.

14 S. v. 66.

15 The commentators refer this passage to Huwey and Kab, Jewish chiefs, and their advice to the Coreish rather to hold on by their ancestral faith than join Mahomet. See also further on, v. 58, where the Jews are impugned for "going to judgment before Taghut," or idols. See Sale's notes on both passages; they are taken from the commentators, who delight in treasuring up all sorts of false and absurd stories against the Jews.


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the house or Abraham the Scripture, and Wisdom; and We gave them a great Kingdom. And there is or them that believeth in him16; an there is that turnmeth aside from him. But the raging fire of hell will suffice for such.

Verily, they that reject our Signs, -WE will surely cast them into the Fire. So, often as their skins are burned, we will change for them other skins, that they may fully taste the torment. For God is mighty and wise.

They that believe and do good works, WE shall introduce them into Gardens with rivers running beneath them; they small abide therein for ever. And there shall they have pure Wives: and WE shall lead them into grateful shades17.

The removal of the Jews form the scene

Eventually, as we have seen, Mahomet did not confine his communications with the Jewish tribes of Medina to mere rebuke and threats or the Divine wrath. He himself inflicted condign punishment upon them, till by exile and slaughter they were all removed from the scene. Such was the spirit of Islam. Judaism would not yield to its pretensions. And Mahomet, notwithstanding his liberal professions of respect for other creeds18, the still reiterated assurance that "he was only a public -preacher," 19 and his express guarantee that "there should be no constraint in Religion,"20 could not brook the profession of tenets opposed to his claims. The first step had now been taken for sweeping away from the Peninsula every creed but that of the Coran.

Is followed by the discontinuance in the Coran of Jewish legends and reference to the Jewish Scriptures

The disappearance of the Jews is followed by a corresponding change in the material of the Coran. The Revelations of Mahomet formed in no respect an abstract and systematic compilation. The Coran is purely concrete in its origin and progress. It grew up and formed itself, with all the peculiarities of the religious system and social code of Islam, out of the circumstances and feelings of the day. Hence, the necessity for referring to Jewish Scripture and history having passed away with the disappearance of the Jews themselves, we have no longer in the succeeding Suras those frequent allusions to the Old Testament and that constant repetition of biblical stories and Rabbinical legend; which are so prominent a feature in the middle stage of the Coran. The few notices which hereafter occur bear as

16 Ordinarily construed to mean Mahomet, though the connection is not clear.

17 S. iv. 49-53.

18 S. ii. 62.

19 S. iii. 20; v 101; xxiv. 55.

20 S ii. 257; iv. 79.


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But the Scriptures are still referred to with reverence

much upon the Christian, as upon the Jewish, sacred record. Both are still spoken of, though with extreme infrequency, yet with veneration and respect. And, as stated in the preceding volume, there is nowhere to be found throughout the Coran any imputation against the authority or genuineness of either21. But they pass practically into oblivion. The occasion for their mention had died away.

21 Vol. ii p.297. In proof of this position I must refer to the little work there quoted, The Testimony borne by the Coran to the Jewish and Christian Scriptures (Agra, 1856 ; Allahabad, 1860), where all the passages in the Coran bearing on the subject have been printed in extenso. I will briefly indicate here the texts on which the Mahometans chiefly rely for their charges against the genuineness of our Bible.

I pass over the passages in which the Jews are accused of "hiding the Signs of God," or "selling them for a small price;" for the meaning is evidently that the Jews merely refused to bring forward those texts which Mahomet believed to contain evidence in his favour. The renegade Jews applied the prophecies of the Messiah to Mahomet ; the staunch Jews denied such application; and herein lay the whole dispute. There is no imputation or hint that any passages were removed from the sacred Record. The Jews "concealed the testimony or God," simply because they declined to bring it forward. The expression, "to sell a thing for a small price" is metaphorical, and signifies abandoning a duty for a worldly and sordid motive; it is used also of the disaffected citizens of Medina. [It might far more truly have been applied to the renegade Jews who purchased their safety and prosperity by pandering their evidence to Mahomet's ambition.]

The passages in which "dislocation" or "perversion" is imputed are these: Sura, ii. 75; v.14; v.47; iv. 43. The latter verse has been quoted above, p. 291, and it well illustrates the meaning of tahrif, ordinarily but incorrectly translated interpolation; It signifies the perversion of a word or passage, by using it in a double or erroneous sense, or with a wrong contextual reference. The words Raina, &C - In the verse quoted, are examples given by Mahomet himself. So with the passages of their Scriptures which the Jews wrested from their proper signification; as expressed in S. ii. 75, "they perverted them, after they understood them."

Next comes S. iii. 77. They "twist their tongues in (reading) the Book, that ye may think it is out of the Book, though it is not out or the Book; and they say it is from God, and It is not from God." Twisting their tongues, is the same expression as in the verse above quoted, S. iv. 43. They read out passages which they pretended were from the Book, but were not (so Mahomet alleged); it was a deception of their tongues, not any corruption of their MSS.

So also S. ii.78. "And amongst them are ignorant persons who know not the Book, but only foolish stories ; these follow nought but their own


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The Coran becomes the depository of rules and comments in all departments of the theocratic government

I have already drawn attention to the Coran as a medium for the publication of "general orders" on victory or defeat, in rebuke of backwardness or cowardice, in applause of constancy and courage. But it was not merely in respect of military affairs, as the reader will have observed, that the Coran contains comments and commands. Scattered throughout its Suras, we have, to some extent, the archives of a theocratic government in all its departments. The conduct of the "disaffected," the treatment of allies, the formation of treaties, the acceptance or terms, and other political matters, not unfrequently found a place among the divine messages. Liberality in contributing towards the expenses of war, - the only object requiring a public purse, is continually inculcated. The elements of a code both criminal and civil are also introduced. Punishments for certain offences are specified, and a mass of legislation laid down for the tutelage of orphans, for marriage, divorce, sales, bargains, will; evidence,

imaginations: Wherefore woe unto those that write the Book with their hands; then they say, This is from God that they may sell It for a small advantage. Woe unto them for that which their hands have written, and woe unto them for that which they gain." Here reference is evidently made to the ignorant Jews who copied out legends, traditions, or glosses, from rabbinical books, and brought them forward as possessed of divine authority. Even if a more serious meaning were admitted, viz., that some unscrupulous Jews copied out passages from the writings of their rabbins, &C and brought them forward, pretending they were actual extracts from Scripture, the charge would indeed be one of fraud, but not by any means of corrupting the MSS. of the Old Testament.

These are, I believe, the main passages alleged to contain evidence of corruption or interpolation; and even if they were capable of a more serious construction, which I believe them not to be, they must be construed in accordance with the general tenor of the Coran, and the very numerous passages, contemporary and subsequent, In which "the Book," as current in the neighhourbood and elsewhere, is spoken of as a genuine and authoritative record, as containing the rule of faith and practice to be followed by Jews and Christians respectively, and as a divine record, belief in which is earnestly enjoined on the Moslems also. Assuredly such would not have been the language of Mahomet had he regarded either the Jewish or the Christian Scriptures as In any degree interpolated.

The similitude of an ass laden with books, employed by Mahomet to describe the Jews in reference to their Scriptures (S. lxii. 5), exactly illustrates the point of his charge against them they had indeed a precious charge in their possession, but they were ignorant of its value and use.


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usury, and other similar concerns. Further, there are copious instructions for the guidance of the Believer in his private life; and special provisions, some of which I have quoted at length, regulating the intercourse of Mahomet with his subjects, and with his own family. These all partake or the essential character of the Coran; that is to say, they are given forth as as divine ordinances; and the sentences ordinarily end with some such trite expression as: - "God is knowing and wise ;" "God is forgiving and merciful; " "Evil is the fate of the Transgressor.," &, to complete the rhythm, and to invest the record with an inspired and oracular character. Throughout this, which may be styled the administrative, portion of the Coran are interspersed religious teaching of a similar nature to that in former Suras, the inculcation of piety and virtue, dissuasion from infidelity and vice, and directions for the performance of social duties and religious ceremonies. In the exhortations and denunciations, the main charge is that the Jews, at first, and subsequently the "disaffected," usurp almost entirely the place heretofore occupied by the Idolaters of Mecca.

Though simple in his habits, Mahomet assumed the real power and dignity of a prince

The advancing power and dignity of Mahomet may be traced in the reverence and submission exacted by command of the Coran from all his followers. A kingly court was not in accordance with the customs of the people, or with the tastes and habits of Mahomet himself. The simple and artless life of an Arab Chief was not departed from at Medina; and it is this, which in vivid contrast with the state and luxury of the Caliphs his successor; induced tradition to cast around the Prophet's life an air of hardship and privation22. The delusion is manifest;

22 See note, Canon II. B. Vol. i. p. lx. The following traditions will illustrate the text : Mahomet on a certain occasion having hurt his hand, his attendants carried him into his house, and placed him on a bed plaited with ropes of palm-fibre, and put under his head a pillow of leather stuffed with the same material. Omar, seeing the marks of the corded bedding on his side, wept aloud. On Mahomet asking why he wept, he replied, "Verily, I called to mind how the Chosroes and the Caysar sit upon thrones of gold and wear garments of silk and brocade; and thou art in this sad condition !" What, Omar!" said the Prophet," art thou not content that thou shouldst have the portion of Futurity, and they the portion of this Life?" Now there were hung up on the wall bags of untanned leather, which filled the chamber with an unpalatable odour ; and Omar said, "If thou wilt, I will


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test; for Mahomet and his Companions enjoyed all that the resources of the land and the plunder of their enemies could yield; and if they maintained plain and frugal habits, it was not in consequence of want, but because magnificence and pomp were foreign and distasteful to the national mind. A row of modest houses, built or rude stone, covered in with rough palm-branches, the inner walls hung about with bags of ill-tanned leather for domestic use, formed an habitation for the

put these outside. "Nay," said Mahomet, "do not so, for they are the utensils of life" - i.e necessary for domestic purposes. - K. W. 90 .

On another Occasion, Mahomet having risen from sleep with the marks of the matting on his side, Abdallah, his attendant, rubbed the place, and said, "Let me, I pray thee, spread a soft covering for thee over this mat." "Not me," replied Mahomet. "What have I to do with the comforts of this life? The world and I, what connection is there between us? Verily, the world is no otherwise than as a tree unto me; when the traveller hath rested under its shade, he passeth on."- Ibid.

A woman or Medina, once entering Mahomet's apartment, saw his bedding to be only a piece of cloth doubled up. So she went home, and sent him a mattress stuffed with wool. But Mahomet gave Ayesha (who seemed inclined to keep it) no peace till she had returned it; telling her that, "he had no need or such luxuries, for that, if the Lord pleased, He would give him mountains of gold and silver." - Ibid. 89 .

Notwithstanding incidents like these, exaggerated by strong contrast with the subsequent luxury of the Moslems, it is evident that Mahomet had everything in abundance which he really desired, and which wealth or authority could procure. He sometimes gave a large price for his clothes : once he exchanged nineteen (others say seventeen) camels for a single dress and he bought a mantle for eight dinars. - Ibid. 89 .

I have mentioned in the text the articles of toilet which he carried with him in his campaigns. He had a collyrium - box, from which at bedtime he used to apply antimony to his eyelids, saying that it made the sight more piercing, and caused the hair to grow. The Governor of Egypt sent him a crystal goblet; and either this, or another jug from which he drank, was set in silver. He had also a copper vase, which he used in bathing.- Ibid. 94.

He was very fond of perfumes, and indulged, as Ayesha tells us, in men's scents," i.e. in musk and ambergris; he used also to burn camphor on odoriferous wood, and enjoy the fragrant smell. Anis, his servant (who had charge of his shoes and water-pot, p.93), says, "We used always to know when Mahomet had issued forth from his chamber by the odoriferous perfume that filled the air."-P. 76 . He never refused perfumes, from whatever hand, when offered as a present. - Ibid.

Such were the chief, perhaps the only, luxuries which Mahomet, from his previous habits, was able to appreciate.]


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Prophet and his wives far more desirable than the most splendid seragilo "ceiled with cedar and painted with vermilion." A mattress of date-fibre covered with leather was a luxury to the Arab incomparably greater than a stately "bed (if the wood of Lebanon, decked with tapestry." The trappings of a royal camp would have ill comported with the grave simplicity of Mahomet, while a narrow tent of leather afforded him accommodation; and his bag, containing an ivory comb, a tooth-pick, oil for his hair, and antimony for his eyes, supplied all the comforts within the compass of an Arab's imagination. The luxurious and pampered courtiers of Baghdad and Damascus wondered at the tales of their Prophet having mended his own sandals, and of their first Caliph having tended his own flock of goats, not reflecting that a more artificial state would have been at variance with everything around, and that the habits of three-score years had become a second life.

Honour and reverence paid to Mahomet; his perogatives

Nevertheless, in whatever constitutes real dignity and power, --- that which satisfies the cravings of pride and ambition, - Mahomet was not behind the most absolute Dictator, or the most pompous Sovereign. His word was absolute; to turn every difference or dispute must he referred23. On his appearance the assembly rose, and gave place to the Prophet and his chief Companions; the people were required to approach him reverently, to speak softly in his presence, and not to crowd around, or throng him24. They were not to visit his house unasked; and even when invited they must not linger long, or indulge familiarly in discourse with him25. If an interview were desired, it was prescribed that alms should previously, as a mark of reverence, be dispensed; but this rule, found too irksome, was withdrawn26. "The calling of the Apostle was not to be esteemed as the calling of one believer to the other;" it was to be implicitly and promptly obeyed. Those in attendance upon him were not to leave without permission first received27. His wives were withdrawn from the

23 S. iv. 57, 63, 67, 79; xlvii. 26; xxiv. 64.

24 S. lvii. 11; xlix. 2.

25 S. xxxiii. 50, quoted before.

26 S. lviii. 12.

27 S. xxiv. 63, 64. Hishami refers this passage to the attendance required at the digging of the Ditch; but it evidently has a more general bearing. See Sale in loco.


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vulgar gaze; none might communicate directly or familiarly with them, excepting their near relatives and domestic servants28. The Prophet was the favourite of Heaven; the true Believer but followed the example of God and of the heavenly hosts, when he invoked blessings upon Mahomet: --

Verily, God. and his angels Invoke blessings upon the Prophet. O ye that believe I do ye also invoke blessings upon him, and salute him with a (reverential) salutation.

Verily, they that trouble God and his Apostle, God hath cursed them in thin world, and in that which is to come: He hath prepared for them an ignominious punishment29.

The conceit that he is the favourite of heaven, a key to the special prerogatives claimed by him in the Coran

The vain conceit, that he was the Favourite of Heaven, once admitted into the heart of Mahomet (and cherished there, as the Christian may surmise, by some special Satanic suggestion), will, I think, be found the key to those strange Revelations which secured for the Prophet peculiar privileges, especially in his conjugal relations. In the self-complacency of these fatal and impious pretensions, he brought himself to believe that no immunity, or indulgence would be withheld from him; but that every wish and desire of his heart would be gratified, and that even by the direct interposition of the Almighty!

But no supernatural character asserted

Still, no supernatural character was claimed by Mahomet. He did not differ in the nature of his office (though he might in degree and dignity) from the former Prophets. Like other men he was mortal30; and equally with them needed to pray to God for the pardon of his sins31.

Irreverential manner in which the weekly service was at first observed

I have in a previous chapter observed that Mahomet did not contemplate the consecration of any day, like the Sabbath, to spiritual Worship. On Friday, appointed for general public

28 S. xxxiii. 50.

29 S. xxxiii. 53; see also S. lviii. 8 "They saints thee with the salutation wherewith God doth not salute thee"

30 S iii. 144.

31 S. xlvii. 20; xlviii. 2. In an earlier Meccan passage the doctrine of universal guilt is very plainly stated in these words - That if God were to visit sin according to its desert, no living thing would be left upon the earth. - S. xxxv. 46. But notwithstanding casual expressions of this nature, it is evident enough that Mahomet knew little of the "exceeding sinfulness" of sin, as made known in the Bible.


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prayer, business and merchandise might be transacted as much as on any other day. The weekly service, indeed, appears at first to have been treated with little respect. On a certain Friday, while Mahomet discoursed from the pulpit to a crowded assembly in the Mosque, the sound of drums announced the arrival of a Syrian Caravan, upon which the greater part of his audience hurried forth to meet it, and left Mahomet standing in the Pulpit nearly alone32 : -

O ye that believe! When the call to Prayer is raised on the day of Assembly33, then hasten to the commemoration of God, and leave off trafficking - that will be better for you, If ye knew it.

And when the Prayers are ended, then disperse over the land, and seek (gain) from the favour of God, and make frequent mention of God, that ye may prosper.

When they see Merchandising or Sport they break away, flocking thereto, and leave thee standing; say, that which is with God is better than Sport or Merchandise; and God is the best Supporter."34

Drunkenness common

In another passage we find Mahomet forbidding his followers to he present at prayer in a state of drunkenness : - "O ye that believe! draw not nigh unto prayers, while ye are drunken, until ye can understand that which ye say." This injunction, being connected with another of a general nature, may be viewed as additional evidence of the lax manner in which the devotions of the Moslems were at first performed, as well as of the prevalence of intemperance. In a previous passage the use of Wine had been discouraged, though not prohibited, on the ground that it was productive of greater injury than good

They will ask thee concerning Wine, and Casting lots35. SAY - In both there is great evil, and (also) advantages, to Mankind; but the evil of them is greater than the advantages of them36.

32 Such is the account given by the commentators, who are not, however, very particular about evidence or probability. But the passage in the Coran, as quoted in the text, implies some sort of occurrence of the kind.

33 Al Jumd, the Assembly, or Friday.

34 S. lxii. 9 to end.
Viz., against being present at Prayers In a state of legal Impurity. S. iv. 42.

35 Lit., Lots, Dice, or Games of chance.

36 S. ii. 219. See also in a late Meccan Sura, xvi. 67; speaking of God's goodness In the provision of pleasant and nutritious food, Mahomet says: -


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till wine was forbidden

But Mahomet at last perceived that the sanctions of his Religion were too weak to enforce a middle course, and that the imposition of entire abstinence was the only means by which he could check intemperance. The command against the use of wine was issued in the Fourth year of the Hegira, during the siege (it is said) of the Bani Nadhir

O ye that believe! Verily Wine, and the Casting or lots, and Images, and Divining-arrows, are an abomination from amongst the works of Satan: Shun them, therefore, that ye may prosper.

Verily, Satan seeketh that he may cast amongst you enmity and hatred through Wine and Games or chance, and hinder you from the remembrance or God and from Prayer. Will ye not, then, refrain? Obey God, and obey the Apostle; and beware! For if ye turn back, - Verily, Our Apostle's duty is but to deliver his Message publicly37.

Influence of Judaism still maintained in moulding the institutions of Mahomet

The influence of the Jewish law and ritual may still be traced in moulding the institutions of Mahomet. Usury is absolutely forbidden. The criminal code follows largely the Law of retaliation. Ceremonial purification before prayer is strictly enjoined, and in the absence of water sand must be used as a substitute38. An oath something resembling the curse of jealousy is permitted to a wife suspected by her husband of infidelity39. And generally

"And of the fruits or the Palm-tree, and Grapes, ye obtain Wine (lit, an inebriating drink) and good nourishment. Verily, therein is a Sign unto People that understand." Some hold from this that the moderate use of Wine is not prohibited. see Sale, in loco.

37 S. v. 99. Weil supposes that the first passage, reprehending men for going to prayer prayer intoxicated, may have been revealed subsequently to this second passage, as the former is in connection with the command for the use or sand in purification, which was promulgated during the expedition against the Bani Mustalick. The verse concerning sand, hoverer, is quite separate from that about Drunkenness; though placed in Juxta-position, they may have been revealed on entirely different occasions, and after the positive command here given against the use of Wine, Mahomet would not have noticed its contravention so lightly as he does in Sura iv.42. Little can be deduced from the Medina Suras in the way or context, especially in passages containing precepts, which are evidently thrown together by subjects, with little reference, in general, to chronology.

38 Sand is allowed as a substitute by the Jews; also by the Magi. Sale, Prel. Disc. p.125. The practice is called Tayammum; see the preceding note for occasion of its Institution, A. H. V.

39 S. xxiv. 4; Numbers, v. 11. There is no provision for any Judicial test, such as the bitter water of Jealousy; but the imprecation or God's curse on the swearer, if a liar (S. xxiv. 109) has some analogy to the oath mentioned in Numbers v. 24.


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in the relations established between the Sexes, a considerable degree or similarity may be traced to the injunctions of the Pentateuch.40

Coarseness of his instructions regarding marriage and divorce

As in all other matters, so in those referring to Marriage and Divorce, instead of laying down general principles, and leaving their application to each man's conscience and sense of propriety, Mahomet ventured upon particular and detailed instructions. Apart altogether from the correctness of these precepts, the coarse language in which they are expressed, and the indelicacy of the ideas conveyed, are a serious reproach to the Coran. Making every reasonable allowance for the rudeness of speech and sentiment current in Arabia41, much remains that must be set down to the pruriency of Mahomet's own mind, much that is offensive to purity of thought, and which has no doubt freely contributed toward the laxity of morals in the Mahometan world.

Corruption engendered thereby in Moslem literature

Further than this, the legislation of the Coran on these subjects has given birth to endless volumes, by Jurists and theologians, of interpretation, illustration, construction, corollary, supplement, -- a mass of corruption poisoning the mind and morals of every Mahometan student. Ingenuity and labour have been expended lavishly in describing and solving cases the very mention of which is repugnant to modesty, in drawing elaborate distinctions and demonstrating points of casuistry in a domain of thought which cannot even be approached without moral injury and contamination. The Arabic language, as moulded by the system which grew out of the precepts of Islam, is itself evidence of this defilement42. For these evils the Coran is responsible; and if there were no other indictment against

40 It will suffice to refer to Sale's Prel. Disc. pp. 157-160. From S. iv. 25 it would seem that Mahomet considered his rules regarding Marriage, &C to be "In accordance with the ordinances of those who have guidance before;" i.e. of the previous Prophets. Reverence for the Pentateuch, and the necessity of justifying what is there forbidden, no doubt dictated the excuse (Sura lix. 5) for cutting down the palm-trees of the B. Nadhir. See Deut. xx. 19, which I had overlooked when writing p. 213 of this volume.

41 See Canon III. c., vol.i. p. lxxxi.

42 This will be painfully evident from the most cursory glance into any Arabic dictionary. The fault is not inherent in the language, but in the


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its author, that alone would go far towards a verdict or condemnation.

Female slavery perpetuated

I have, in a previous chapter, adverted to the laxity of morals and corruption of manners encouraged by the licence of Polygamy and Divorce. There is no limit, as supposed by Sale43, to the number or slave-girls, with whom (irrespective of his four wives) a Moslem may, without any antecedent ceremony or any guarantee of continuance, cohabit. Female slavery, being a condition necessary to the legality of this illimitable indulgence, will never be put down, with a willing or hearty co-operation, by any Mussulman community.

Unmarried women, how affected by his system

It has often been asserted that the institutions of Mahomet have tended to elevate and improve the state of Woman. Yet, excepting in so far as she necessarily shared in the general elevation and improvement introduced by a purer religion, and more spiritual worship44, it is, to me very doubtful whether, in married life, her position was not rendered by Islam more dependent and degrading than before. I do not speak of unmarried and widowed females; for, if we put aside the depressing influence which the constraint and thraldom of the married state has exercised upon the sex at large, the unmarried free woman has nothing to complain of. And, in one particular, viz., the inheritance by the son of his father's wives, she was delivered by Mahomet from a gross and intolerable abuse45. No free woman can be forced, under the code of Islam, to marry against her will; and so long as she remains, single, she is the mistress of her own actions.

uses to which it has been turned by a licentious people, driven by the Coran to distinguish in repulsive detail what is licit from that which is illicit.

The improprieties of native Lexicons have been most gratuitously perpetuated in our European Dictionaries of the Arabic language. Why should this be so? A Sweeping reform is here loudly called for by Christian morality. We need none of these indelicacies; the vast mass are absolutely gratuitous; and whatever is indispensable can surely be veiled in decorous language.

43 Prel. Discourse, p. 156; see also his note on S. lxvi. v.1.

44 The notion that the female sex is overlooked in the rewards of the future life arose, apparently, from the incapability of providing them with enjoyments similar to those promised to the other sex. Not only is the idea of their exclusion from Paradise at variance with the whole tenor of the Coran, but it is contradicted by express passages. See S. iv. 123; xlviii. 5.

45 See S. iv. 18; also vol. ii. p.52.


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Married women and female slaves occupy an inferior and debased position

But in so far as the married state is concerned (which in the East embraces practically the whole sex during the greater part of their lives), the condition fixed by Mahomet for women is that of a dependent inferior creature, destined only for the service of her lord, liable to be cast off without the assignment of any reason, and without the notice of a single hour. While the husband possesses thus the power of divorce, absolute, immediate, unquestioned, no privilege of a corresponding nature has been reserved for the Wife46. She hangs on, however unwilling, neglected, or superseded, the perpetual slave of her lord, - if such be his will. When actually divorced, site can, indeed, claim her dower,- her hire, as it is called, in the too plain language of the Coran47; but the knowledge that a wife can make this claim is at the best a miserable security against capricious taste and in the case of female slave; even that imperfect check is wanting. The power of divorce is not the only power that may be arbitrarily exercised by the tyrannical husband: authority to confine and to beat his wives is distinctly vested in his discretion:

- "Men stand above Women, because of the superiority which God hath conferred on one of them over the other, and because of that which they expend of their wealth48. Wherefore let the good Women be obedient, preserving their purity in secret, in that wherein God preserveth them. But such us ye may fear disobedience49 from; rebuke them, and put them away in separate sleeping places, and chastise them50. But if they be obedient unto you, seek not against them an excuse (for severity);51 verily God

46 The Coran has not contemplated anywhere the contingency of divorce being claimed by the wife. The idea of any independent rights of the kind was entirely foreign to Mahomet's notions of the position of the sex. The Mahometan doctors have, indeed. determined that under a few rare contingencies divorce may be demanded; but they are so exceptional as hardly to deserve notice.

47 S. lxv. 28; iv. 23, et al.

48 i.e., In support of the women. The same superiority is asserted S. ii. 229.

49 Or, Provocation.

50 Lit, Strike them;

51 Lit., "Seek not against them a way".


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is lofty and great."52 The "exchanging of one wife for another," that is, the divorcing of one in order to marry another, is recognized in the Coran, with only this caution, that the dower stipulated at marriage be given in full to her that is put away53.

The position of married women impaired by Islam

Thus reafrained, secluded, degraded, the mere minister of enjoyment, liable at the caprice or passion of the moment, to be turned adrift, it would be hard to say that the position of a wife was improved by the code of Mahomet. I do not hesitate to decide that she was possessed of more freedom, and exercised a greater, a healthier, and more legitimate influence, under the pre-existing institutions of Arabia54.

Wretched condiction of female slaves

As regards female slaves under the thraldom of Mahometan masters, it is difficult to Conceive more signal degradation of the human species. They are treated as an inferior class of beings. Equally restricted as if they had entered the marriage state, they are expressly excluded from any title to conjugal rights55. They are purely at the disposal of their proprietors. The only redeeming feature is that when once a slave has borne

52 S. iv. 33.

53 "And if ye be desirous to exchange (or substitute) one wife in place of another wife, and ye have given one of them a talent, then take not away anything therefrom. What! will ye take it away falsely, and commit an open sin? And how can ye take it away, seeing that one of you hath gone in unto the other, and they have received from you a firm covenant." S. iv. 18. See also the same expression used in reference to Mahomet himself. S. xxxiii. 49.

54 It would be a gratuitous dishonour to Christian marriage to compare it with marriage under the Coran. Excepting where (from custom, or casual incident, and in spite of the Coran and the example or Mahomet) a husband may confine himself for life to one wife, there can be no points common to the two institutions. The idea of conjugal unity is utterly unknown to Mahometans, excepting when the Christian example is by chance followed; and even there, the continuance of the bond is purely dependent on the will of the husband. The wives have a separate interest, not only each in regard to her sister-wives, but even in regard to her husband; so much so, that, on the death of a son, the father and mother receive separate shares from the inheritance. In this respect I believe the morale of Hindoo Society, where Polygamy is less encouraged, to be sounder, in a very marked degree, than that of Mahometan society.

55 The subject is not one which I can explain or illustrate farther without offence to morality. The reader must believe at second hand that the whole system is vile and revolting.


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a child to her master, she cannot be sold, and at his death obtains her freedom56.

Divorce thrice repeated irrevocable. Revolting condition on which alone the original marriage can be reverted to.

In the rules regarding Divorce, there is one which (much as I might desire it) cannot be passed over in silence. A husband may twice divorce his wife, and each time receive her back again. But the formula of separation thrice repeated is irreversible. However unjust or injurious the action, how much soever the result of passion or of caprice, however it may affect the interests not only of an innocent wife, but also of her innocent children, however desirous the husband may be of undoing the wrong, --- the decision cannot be recalled ; the divorced wife can return to her husband but on one revolting condition, and that is that she shall first be married to another, and after cohabitation be divorced by him57. The tone of Mahometan manners may be imagined from the functions of the temporary husband hired to legalize re-marriage with a thrice-divorced wife, having passed into a proverb58. Such flagrant breach of

56 This is not provided for in the Coran, but rests on the precedent of Mahomet, who freed his own slave-girl, Mary, on her bearing a son to him. Such a slave is called Ommal Walad, or Mother of the child."

57 S. ii. 231. "And if he (a third time) divorce her, she shall not be lawful unto him after that, until she shall have married a husband other than he; and if the latter divorce her, then there shall be no sin in the two that they again return to each other, if they think that they can observe the limits appointed by God. These are the ordinances of God, which he manifesteth to people that understand."

58 "A thousand lovers, rather than one Mostahil. Many lovers or gallants cause less shame to a woman the one Mostahil. According to the Moslem law, a person who has (thrice) divorced his wife cannot remarry her until she has been married to some other man, who becomes her legitimate husband, cohabits with her for one night, and divorces her next morning; after which the first husband may again possess her as his wife. Such cases are of frequent occurrence - as men in the haste of anger often divorce their wives by the simple expression which (thrice repeated) cannot be retracted. In order to regain his wife a man hires (at no inconsiderable rate) some peasant, whom he chooses from the ugliest that can be found in the streets. A temporary husband of this kind is called Mostahil, and is generally most disgusting to the wife," &c. Burckhardt's Arabic Proverbs, p.21. Tradition and law books abound with fetid commentaries illustrative of this subject, and with checks against the intermediate marriage and cohabitation being merely nominal.


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decency, such cruel violation of the modesty of an unoffending wife, may be an abuse the full extent of which was not at the time contemplated by Mahomet; but it is not the less an abuse for which, as a direct result of the unnatural and revolting provision framed by him, Mahomet is justly responsible59.

Warlike spirit of the Coran

The fierce and warlike spirit of the Suras of this period has been perhaps sufficiently illustrated in the preceding chapters. I may here just refer to one passage which appears to me peculiarly demonstrative of the eager desire after plunder which Mahomet had stirred up, and which he soon found it difficult (so natural was it to the Arab) to restrain within expedient bounds. Only those, according to Mahomet's own principles, could be lawfully slain and plundered, who were disbelievers in his mission; but so insatiable had the thirst for spoil become, that cases now occurred of Moslems slaying persons, even after they had made profession of the Mahometan faith, on the pretext that they were insincere Believers. Stringent prohibition was required to guard against this abuse. Whoever trifled with the life of a

Some commentators hold the practice as described by Burckhardt to be illegal; whether legal or not, we may hope, for the interests of morality, that it is not so frequent as he represents it to be. But its existence is undoubted; and it has existed, in a more or less revolting form, ever since the verse which I have quoted was revealed. A case is mentioned by Tradition in which Mahomet himself insisted on the fulfilment of the condition of cohabitation with another husband, before the original union could be returned to, in language which I am willing to believe that prurient tradition has fabricated for him.

It must not be forgotten that all the immorality of speech and action connected with this shameful institution, and the outrage done to female virtue (not necessarily as a punishment for any fault of the wretched wife, but often from the passion and thoughtlessness of the husband himself), is chargeable solely and exclusively to the verse of the Coran quoted above. It is a sorry excuse that Mahomet wished thereby to check inconsiderate divorce: a good object is not to he sought for through such abominable means.

59 The severe epithets in the text are justified by the Twenty-fourth chapter of Numbers, at the beginning of which the case above supposed is described exactly, and the following judgment given:- "Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife after that she is defiled; for that is as abomination before the Lord; and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance." - Ver. 4.


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Believer, did so at the peril of his soul. After prescribing the penalty or penance for killing a Moslem unintentionally, the ordinance proceeds :-

But whosoever killeth a Believer wilfully, his reward shall be Hell : - for ever therein. God shall be wroth with him, and shall curse him: He hath prepared for him a great Punishment.

O ye that believe! When ye go forth (fighting) in the way of God, rightly discriminate, and say not to him that saluteth you60, Thou art not a Believer, - seeking the transitory things of this present Life, - whilst with God there is great spoil. And such were ye yourselves aforetime61. But God had Favour towards you. Wherefore carefully discriminate, for God is attentive to that which ye do62.

References to the Coreish and to idolatry

Though Mecca with its Idolaters has now faded in the distance, and references to the Coreish are mainly connected with their hostile inroads alone, yet we still find occasionally passages, after the old Meccan style, in reprobation of Idolatry, and menace of the city "which had east its Prophet out."63 Polytheism and Idolatry are denounced as the only unpardonable sin64. The tone of defiance becomes bolder and at times even exulting. Mahomet and his people are "to fight till opposition shall cease, and the Religion becometh God's alone."65 Until this glorious consummation is secured, "they are not to faint, neither invite to peace."66 A complete and speedy victory is promised. God is the stronger, and will prevail: Islam shall shortly be established triumphantly67.

Waverers threatened

Such as withdraw from Mecca, and rally around the standard of Mahomet, while the struggle is yet undecided, shall have a merit superior far to the merit of those who may join it after opposition shall have been beaten down68. The Waverers who, though persuaded of the truth of the new Faith, cannot make up their minds to abandon Mecca, are told that their excuse of inability will not be accepted of God, - "their habitation shall be Hell, - an evil journey is it thither!"69 But a word of comfort is added for

60 i.e., with the salutation peculiar to Islam, - which was held equivalent to professing oneself a Moslem.

61 i.e., ye were like those whom ye would now kill for their booty, at your first conversion, and before ye heartily engaged in the propagation of Islam.

62 S. iv. 93.

63 S. xlvii. 14.

64 S. iv. 46, 115.

65 S. ii. 191, et seq. ; viii. 39.

66 S. xlvii. 35.

67 S. v.60; lv. 83; lviii. 21; xxiv. 56.

68 lvii. 10.

69 S. iv. 96; see also v. 88; - where Emigration is made the test of faith.


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but the "weak" believers of Mecca comforted

those who though Believers were amongst "the Weak," and were withheld by real helplessness from leaving Mecca70. The rescue of such from their unhappy position is adduced as a powerful motive why their more fortunate brethren at Medina should fight bravely in the cause : -

Fight in the way or God, ye that sell the present Life for that which is to come. Whosoever fighteth in the way or God, whether he be slain or be Victorious, We shall surely give him a great Reward.

And what aileth you that ye fight not in tho way or God, and for the Weak amongst the men and women and children, who say, - O Lord! Deliver us out of this City, whose people are Oppressors; and grant us from thyself a Protector, and grant us from thyself a Defender71.

The style of this period tame, but with occasional touches of poetic fire

From the numerous examples I have given (so numerous, I fear, as to have been irksome to the reader) it will be evident that the style of the Coran, though varying greatly in force and vigour, has for the most part lost altogether the marks or vivid imagination and poetic fire which characterize the earlier Suras. It becomes tame and ordinary both in thought and language. Occasionally, indeed, we still find traces of the former spirit.

Instance of the latter

Here for instance is a description of the Deity which the followers of Mahomet are justly proud of : -

God! There is no God but he: the Living, the Eternal. Slumber doth not overtake him, neither Sleep. To him belongeth all that is in the Heavens and in the Earth. - Who is he that shall intercede before him, excepting by his permission? He knoweth that which is before them, and that which is behind them72, and they shall not comprehend anything of his knowledge, saving in so far as he pleaseth. His throne stretcheth over heaven and Earth, and the protection of them both is no burden unto him. He is the lofty and the Great.73.

Another example

In the following extract, the verses in which Infidelity is compared to a tempestuous Sea, of which the crested waves below mingle with the lowering clouds above, - a scene of impenetrable Darkness and Despair, - are to my apprehension amongst the grandest and most powerful in the whole Coran. The Sura belongs to the Fifth year of the Hegira; but part of it is in the best style of the Meccan period.

God Is the Light of the Heavens and the Earth. The likeness of his

70 S. iv. 96; see also v.88.

71 S. iv. 72, 73.

72 Lit., "That which is before their hands, and that which is behind their hands," i.e., the past and the future.

73 S. ii. 256.


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light is as the niche wherein is a Lamp (enclosed) in glass; -- the glass is a refulgent Star. It is lighted from a blessed tree, -- an Olive neither of the East nor or the West. Its Oil is near unto giving light, even if the fire did not touch it, - Light upon light. God directeth unto his light whom he pleaseth.

[here intervenes a description of the worship, and good works, of Believers.]

And those that disbelieve, their works are as the Serab in the plain: the thirsty man thinketh it to be water, until, when he cometh thereto, he doth not find it anything. - But he findeth God about him, and He will fulfil unto him his account. God is swift in taking account : -

- Or as the Darkness in a bottomless Sea : - Wave covereth it from above, wave upon wave. Above them are Clouds; darkness of one kind over another kind. When one stretcheth forth his hand, he hardly seeith it. And to whomsoever God doth not grant light, he shall have no light74.

What I seest thou not that unto God giveth praise everything that is in the heavens and in the Earth, and the Birds in a well-ordered line, - truly every one knoweth his prayer and his hymn of praise; and God knoweth whatsoever ye do.

And to God belongeth the kingdom of the Heavens and of the Earth; and unto God shall all return.

Seest thou not that God driveth the clouds along, then gathereth them together, then setteth them on heaps and thou seest the Rain issuing forth from between them. And me sendeth down from the heavens (as it were) mountains wherein is hail; and he striketh therewith whom he pleaseth, and averteth the same from whom he pleaseth, The brightness of his Lightning well-nigh taketh the sight away.

God coverteth the Night and the Day. Verily herein is a Monition unto those that are endowed with sight.

And God hath created every Beast out of water. Of them there is that goeth upon his belly; and of them there in that goeth upon two legs; and of them there is that goeth upon four. God createth that which he pleaseth. Verily God is over all things Powerful75.

74 The words expressive of the thick darkness overspreading the sea, and the rolling of wave over ware, are in the original very grand and descriptive: the translation is of course far from giving any adequate conception of their vividness and life. They are as follows : -

Ka tzulmatin fi bahrin lujji'in yaghshahu moujun min fouckihi moujun, min fouckihi sahabun, tzulmatin bazuha foucka bazin,

75 S. xxiv. 36 - 46.


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