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Jewish Foundations of Islam

Fifth Lecture

Mohammed's Legislation

Charles Cutler Torrey


While Mohammed was in Mekka, before the flight to Yathrib, he was not in a position to put forth laws. He and his comparatively few adherents were barely tolerated by their fellow citizens, and their conduct was closely watched. It was made clear to them that while they remained in Mekka they must do as the Mekkans did. Mohammed himself, during all this time, can hardly have meditated any formal and definite prescription for his "Muslims" beyond faith in God and his prophet, simple rites of prayer, and the universally recognized duties of kinship, charity, and fair dealing. Even after the emigration, during the first year or thereabouts, while the Muhajirun ("immigrants") and the Ansar ("helpers" in Yathrib) and the prophet himself were getting their bearings, the time for formal legislation had not come.

There was another important consideration which postponed the necessity. It was not yet clear to Mohammed how he was to be received by the Jews and Christians, especially the former, now that he was established, with a greatly increased following, beyond the reach of persecution. The Jews had their laws and customs, which already were fairly well known to him. If he should be accepted by them as the Arabian Prophet, continuing the line of their own prophets and, as he repeatedly insists, "confirming what they had already received," then the Jewish regulations in some considerable part, might be normative for the Muslims. He instructed his followers to pray with their faces toward Jerusalem, and to abstain from certain foods which were prohibited in the Mosaic code. It was of course obvious to him that not all the Jewish dietary laws and religious observances could be prescribed for the Arabs; and aside from this he wished, as we have seen (p. 69), to retain every native rite and custom compatible with strict monotheism and civilized usage. The possibility of some compromise or mutual agreement, would have to be considered.

It is noteworthy that Mohammed's idea of the "people of the Book," as regards their influence in Arabia and their importance to his cause, does not appear to have been changed by his removal from the one city to the other; also, that the attitude of his Jewish hearers; as a whole toward his teaching (so far as can be shown by the allusions and addresses to them in the Koran) was substantially the same during his last years in Mekka was it was in Medina at the outset of his career in that city. The Jewish population of the Hijaz was both extensive and homogeneous, and the settlement at Mekka was by no means small. There was constant communication from city to city, and the Israelite estimate of the Arabian prophet was well understood and the same all the way from Mekka and Ta'if to Teima. Mohammed nevertheless had received considerable encouragement from certain Jews in Mekka. Some had accepted Islam; others, doubtless, had flattered him, or even hailed him as a prophet, in the hope of bringing him over to Judaism. He certainly exaggerates this Jewish support in such Mekkan passages as 13:36 ("Those to whom we gave the scriptures rejoice in that which has been revealed to thee"); 28:52f; 29:46; 46:9, etc. Other contemporary passages show that he had considerable controversy with the "men of the scriptures," though he tried to avoid it, and hoped that these stubborn opponents would soon see the light. Thus for example 6:20, 89, 148; 7:168; 28:48. "Contend with the people of the Book only in a mild way except with those who are a bad lot" (29:45).1 It is plain that he was desperately desirous of obtaining from the Jews some general and authoritative recognition, not merely the adherence of a few. The Jews of Mekka, for their part, had no reason to offer formal opposition to a small and persecuted sect. The strife between the adherents of the new revelation and the unbelievers of Qoreish may even have been entertaining to them. Mohammed very naturally persuaded himself that their prevailing indifference meant more than mere tolerance, and that the support which he had received from the minority would eventually be given by the majority.

The change came with the removal to Yathrib. It was not so much change in the attitude of the Jews as in Mohammed's comprehension of the attitude. A new political situation had suddenly arisen. The Muslims were in possession of the city, yet even now were a small force in th Hijaz; and sure to have trouble soon. The Jewish settlements in the outskirts of the city were large, wealthy, and in part well fortified. It was no time for long parleying. Mohammed was lord of the city (henceforth "Medina"; madinat an-Nabi, "the city of the Prophet"), and in a position to demand - as he certainly did - that the "people of the Book" should now at last join the evidently triumphing cause, acknowledge the authority of its leader, and profess faith in the new Arabian scripture which "confirmed" their own. Neutrality would be a great danger - as it proved to be. For the first time since Mohammed's first appearance as the Arabian prophet, a large and representative body of the Jews was compelled to "show its hand." It did so, and the reply was negative; they would not accept him as a prophet continuing their line, nor his book as in any way on a par with their own.

Mohammed could not accept this answer as final while there remained any possibility of gaining the support which had seemed to him indispensable. It is quite evident in the long and desperate argument which occupies a large part of the second Sura that he had not abandoned all hope. Some Jews in Medina, as in Mekka, came over to his side, while still others showed themselves undecided (2:70 f.). He continues to speak of their unbelievers as "a party" (2:95, 115, 141); and so also in some of the following Suras. He repeatedly reminds the children of Israel (e.g. in 2:44) that they had been preferred by God above all other human beings. There is also the remarkable utterance in 2:59: "Verily the Muslims, the Jews the Christians, the Sabi'ans, those who believe in God, and the last day, and who do who do what is right; they shall have their reward with their Lord; there shall come no fear upon them, nor shall they be grieved." The verse is repeated in 5:73; but Mohammed could not long continue to admit all that this seemed to declare, and presently (in 3:79) we read: "Whoever follows any other religion than Islam, it will not be accepted from him, and in the world to come he will be among the lost.

"The time came, not long after the Hijra, when it was clear to the prophet that he must stand on his own feet, with Islam definitely against all other religions, and bound to triumph over them by force as the famous coin-inscription, derived from the Koran, declares (9:33; 61:9). His failure to gain the support of the Jews was the most bitter disappointment of his career2. It became increasingly evident to him that he had nothing to expect from them but opposition. They now held a peculiar position in relation to the Muslim community. Mohammed was soon at war with the Mekkans, and in constant danger of trouble with the Bedouin Arabs, who merely wished to help the stronger side, for their own benefit. The Jews for a time held the balance of power. They were perfectly willing to see Mohammed's party wiped out by the Mekkan armies. They had no intention of taking up arms, but did not hesitate to stir up disaffection in the city, and to give secret aid to the enemy. Mohammed, for his part, was soon more than ready to come to open conflict with them, and in the end dealt with them ruthlessly.

The prophet cut loose from the Jews of Arabia, but by no means from Judaism. It was not merely that his Islam was still, and for all time, the faith of the Hebrew prophets; he was now the supreme ruler of a religious and social order which unquestionably must follow the pattern which God, through his prophets, had prescribed. Ever since the day when the conception of holy scripture, of a progressive divine revelation, and of the great line of prophets which he was to continue had dawned upon him, he had been eagerly interested in the laws and customs of the "people of the Book," and had done his best to become familiar with them. His Jewish teachers had taught him, and he could see for himself the vast superiority of their rules of life over the practices of pagan Arabs. Whether the Jews of Mekka and Medina were worthy of their inheritance, or not, the statutes of Moses and the oral legislation were the word of God and never to be set aside. They were indeed to be modified by divine prescription, as will presently appear. Now that the Arab prophet found himself called upon to legislate for his community, without the consultation which he probably had counted upon, he could only take his pattern from the one divinely ordered community of which I had first-hand knowledge.

We should expect to find in the Koran, at this juncture, that Muhammad turned his face toward the Christians, emphasizing their share in the great revelation, and perhaps also adopting some characteristic part of their ritual. We do in fact seem to find that he did both of the things. Soon after arriving at Medina he instituted the fast of Ramadan (2:181 ff.), very probably patterned on the Lenten fast of the Christians. In the third year of the Hijra, in the Sura entitled "The Family of Imran he devoted verses 30-59 to the Christians; and soon thereafter, in Sura 4, verses 155-157 and 169 f. The fifth Sura, entitled "The Table," i.e. the table of the Eucharist (112ff.), gives a large amount of space to the Christians and their beliefs; always exalting Jesus the Prophet, but controverting the tenets of his followers. It is abundantly evident, here as elsewhere, that he knew very little about the Christians, and hardly anything in regard to their scriptures. Whatever authority they possessed was essentially that of the Hebrew legislation; and it was here, of necessity that Mohammed sought and found his own guidance.

The need was not merely, nor chiefly, of prescriptions relating to the Muslim ritual; there was urgent and rapidly increasing demand for regulation of business transactions and other social relations. The Arabian scriptures were only begun. Mohammed's followers could not sit down and enjoy their new religion, for as yet they hardly knew what it was; they were full of questions and objections, brought forth by new circumstances. "Allah and his prophet" must be coordinated with the most important current events, and the practical problems which were constantly arising must have an authoritative solution. The Muslims must be told in the Koran why they defeated the Mekkans at Bedr, and why they themselves were defeated at Ohod; but also, what was prescribed for them in regard to blood revenge and retaliation, and how the spoils of war were to be divided. Laws regulating the Muslim family, such as those in the opening portion of the fourth Sura, were very soon demanded; and more than one Sura was required in order to shed a divine light on the most serious of the prophet's own domestic difficulties.

Both the amount and the quality of Mohammed's legislation in the Koran, especially in the regulation of the worldly affairs of public and private life, are remarkable. The laws bear eloquent testimony to his energy, his sincerity (often somewhat childlike), and his great fund of practical wisdom. An especially important feature is the very obvious relation which many of these enactments bear to the Biblical and rabbinical prescriptions. The extent to which the Koran is dependent on these earlier sources has not often been realized. The order is now not "the law and the prophets," but "the prophets and the law"; and in both great divisions the basis is as firm as an Arabian prophet could make it. When all has been said, however, the originality of the man remains more impressive than his dependence.

In one highly important passage (7:156) Mohammed plainly declares own legislation to be a revision and improvement of the Hebrew laws. There is one place only in the Koran where he makes mention of the tables" (alwah = luhoth) given to Moses at Sinai, and the whole context there is very significant. He mentions the forty days spent by Moses in the mount (Ex. 24:18), the seventy men afterward associated with him (Num. 11:16, 24), and, three times over (vss. 142, 149, 153), the heaven-sent tables containing "guidance and mercy for those who fear their Lord." The emphasis on the episode of the golden calf (145-152), like the subsequent catalogue of the sins of the Israelites (160-170), has for its purpose the teaching, insisted upon by Mohammed in his own lawgiving, that some of the statutes were given to the people because of their unworthiness to receive better ones3. Moses asks (154), "Wilt thou destroy us for what our foolish ones have done?" His Lord replies (155), "My chastisement shall fall on whom I will; but my mercy embrace all things, and I will write it down (156) for those who shall follow the Apostle, the Prophet of the goyim, whom they shall find described in the Law and the Gospel. He will enjoin upon them what is right, and forbid them what is wrong; he will make lawful for them the foods which are good, and prohibit for them those which are bad (cf. 3:44 etc.); and he will relieve them of their burden and the yokes which they have been carrying" - a phrase which brings to mind the words of St. Paul. But Mohammed, unlike Paul, was legislating.

We may now consider the Koranic precepts in some detail, giving attenion only to those which are either taken over directly from the Hebrew legislation or else appear to show its influence.

1. The Religious Legislation

This can be treated briefly, for the facts are well known, and have often been set forth. The "religion of Abraham," to which Mohammed so often appeals, was pure monotheism, in sharp opposition to idolatry. The first two commandments of the Hebrew Decalogue were foundation stones of Islam from the very first. Allah the one and only God; without image or likeness; destruction decreed upon all the idols and symbols of the pagans. The parallel between the Muslim shahada, "There is no god but Allah," and the Hebrew Shema' is hardly accidental. That which is especially significant is not the content, nor the form, but the religious use. Muhammad certainly had some acquaintance with the Jewish ritual, and must have been profoundly impressed by the emphasis laid on the declaration of Deut. 6:4f. It was not only the introduction to every formal service of prayer, and otherwise given very frequent repetition, but was also the Hebrew declaration of faith. "In reciting the first sentance of the Shema', a man takes upon him the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven" (Moore, Judaism, I, 465, quoting Mishna Ber. 2, 2). This is precisely Mohammed's conception of the shahada ("testimony"); see for examine Sura 3:16, "God witnesses that there is no god but he; and the angels and men who have knowledge, standing firm in the truth, declare, no god but he!" Cf. also 13:29, and Jonah's saving declaration (31:87), which rescued him from the whale's belly. There is to be added the Muslim tauhid, the confession of God's unity as in Sura 112:1, and in the cry (also battle-cry) ahad, ahad! of the believers, which is very strikingly reminiscent of the mighty ehad! which ends the first sentence of the Shema'. All in all, it seems highly probable that Mohammed's shahada was modeled directly upon the Hebrew formula.

As for the Decalogue as a whole, Mohammed does not give its laws any especial prominence. Each of the ten commandments has its counter-part in the Koran, however. He presumably (like many ancient and modern interpreters) thought of the third commandment as the prohibition of invoking the name of God in a false oath. See 2:224 f. and 5:91. The Jewish sabbath he had thrown overboard while he was in Mekka. The burden of one day in seven in which there could be no trading and no fighting was too heavy for his program. He chose to regard the sabbath law as one of those which were made severe for the sake of temporary discipline, saying in 16:124f4. "The sabbath was imposed only on those who were in disagreement concerning it; and verily thy Lord will judge between them, on the day of resurrection, concerning that about which they disagreed." For the Muslim day of prayer he selected the 'aruba (Day of Preparation) of the Jews. Whether he knew that the Christians in his part of the world observed the first day of the week (if indeed they did) is not to be learned from the Koran.

The borrowing for the Mohammedan ritual was not merely from statute law; time-honored custom was also laid under contribution. The matter of the qibla (that is, the direction in which the worshipper turns his face in prayer) has already received mention. Mohammed began by directing his adherents to face Jerusalem in prayer (cf. Dan. 6:11, I Esdr. 4:58, Tobit 3:11f., Judith 9:1); but when the Jews refused support, after the arrival in Medina, the order was changed in favor of the Ka'ba at Mekka. How keenly Mohammed felt the need of justifying this change, is shown by the length and the vehemence of his utterance in regard to it (2:136-146). He stood in awe of the Jews, and his argument is addressed (indirectly) to them, as well as to his own followers. "The foolish of the people will say, What has turned them from the qibla which they had? Say: The East and the West belong to Allah." He then exlains that God gave them the former prescription merely as a test, to separate the believers from the unbelievers. Henceforth all Muslims must turn their faces "toward the sacred Mosque," wherever they may be (139, 144f). Gabriel assures the prophet that this is the true and final perscripton, and that the Jews recognize it "as they recognize their own Sons," but will not admit it. "No amount of signs and wonders would make them follow your qibla, and you are not to follow their qibla" (140 f.).

The regulations concerning prayer are very obviously derived in the main Jewish usage. The facts relating to the latter are concisely stated, with full references, in Moore's Judaism, II, 216 f., 222. For the early Islamic usage see especially Mittwoch, Zur Entstehungsgeschichte des islamischen Gebets und Cultus (Abhandlungen der preuss. Akad., 913). In both rituals the preliminary ablutions are indispensable (Sura 5:8 etc.) In both, the worshipper prays standing, and then with certain prescribed genuflections and prostrations. The attitudes of the orthodox Muhammedan prayer, which in their essential features undoubtedly represent the prophet's own practice, are best described and pictured in E. W. Lane's Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians. There is in the Koran no prescription of the five daily prayers, and it is not clear that they were instituted by Mohammed.5 It is not like him to ordain a five-fold service even for one day in the week. What he commands in the Koran is characteristic. It is simple, reasonable, and like other features of the new legislation in its adaptation of an already existing ritual to Arabian conditions. The traditional Jewish prescription was three daily prayers, as e.g. in Dan. 6:11. In four passages (11:116, 17:80f, 50:38f, 76:25 f.), all from the Mekka period, the prophet directs his followers to pray three times in the day: in the morning, at eventide, and in the night time better suited to the Bedouin traveling under the stars than to the city-dweller.6 Not that prayer is in any way limited to these seasons. Like the Jewish legislators, the prophet reiterates that a man must pray often, whenever and wherever he feels the need; then letting nothing interfere with his devotions or take his thought from them. Prayer may be curtailed in time of danger, 4:102; cf. the Mishna Ber. iv, 4. In verse 104 (this being a Sura of the Medina period) it is said that the times of prayer have already been prescribed. The prayer must not be uttered in a loud voice, nor in a whisper, 17:110; so also Erub. 64a and Ber. 31a. The drunken man may not pray, 4:46; 50 Ber., ibid. The correspondence of the Koran with the Rabbinical precepts is noticeable throughout.

"Grace before meat" was always insisted upon in the Jewish laws. It had been customary in pagan Arabia to pronounce the tahlil over slaughtered beasts, and Mohammed takes account of this fact in his legislation; but it is quite evident that what he intended to prescribe for his adherents was an approximation to the Jewish custom. "Eat of the lawful and good food which Allah has provided for you, and thank the bounty of your Lord," 16:115; also 2:167, 5:6, 6.118ff., 22:35ff. The Mohammedan of modern times must at least say Bismillah ("In the name of God") before partaking of food; Lane, Manners and Customs, 1, 183. For the earliest period, a few lines from a little poem composed but a short time after the death of the prophet may serve for illustration. A notorious jailbird who had flown to a cave in the mountains, and for some time lived there in fierce partnership with a leopard, reproaches the beast for being no Muslim:7

In the steep mountain side a cave was waiting;
I share its shelter with a newfound friend,
Old Brownie, noble partner, fitting comrade-
Were but better able to unbend!

Our Conversation, when we meet, is silence,
And darting glances, sharp as any blade.
Each were a foe, saw he one sign of shrinking;
But like met like, and generous terms we made.

Down the rocks a water hole is hidden,
Where we must needs resort to quench our thirst.
Each in his turn, we near the spot with caution,
And give full time to him who gains it first.

The mountain goats afford us choice provision,
We share alike the booty of the chase.
I, true believer, eat mine with a blessing,
But, he ungodly wretch, will say no grace!

The primitive Mohammedan service of the "mosque" (masgid is an old Arabic word, common in the Nabataean inscriptions), consisting of prayer, reading from the Koran, and an address, was prescribed by the existing conditions; and yet presumably in the main (like the weekly day of worship) suggested to Mohammed by the service of the synagogue. That at any rate was close at hand and well known to him. After his time, the service was given a more elaborate form, apparently patterned on that of the Christians; see Becker in Islam, 3, 384. As soon as the Muslim would found its chief centers in Syria, Egypt, and Mesopotamia, the Christian praxis became very influential; but in the earlier time there is no feature of either ritual or terminology, in the mosque service, that can with any probability be attached to Christian usage.8

The fast of the month Ramadan (2:181 ff.) has already been mentioned as probably suggested to Mohammed by the Christian lenten season. It may be doubted whether he had any definite knowledge as to the manner in which the Christian fast was kept. The Jewish customs of fasting were of course known to him. The manner of fasting, abstaining altogether during the day, and eating and drinking after sundown, was Jewish. Another of the many proofs of Mohammed's truly extensive acquaintance with the Jewish ordinances is to be seen in 2:183, where the beginning of the new day (in the month of fasting) is defined as the time "when a white thread can be distinguished from a black thread"; a mode of determining which certainly is taken over directly from the rabbinical prescription in the Mishna (Ber. 1, 2), where it has reference to the uttering of the Shema'. The provision for the man who is ill or on a journey, permitting him to keep the fast at another time (2:180 f.), resembles the prescription of the "little passover" in Num. 9:9-11. The oft-repeated and apparently strongly supported tradition, according to which Mohammed at first ordered his followers to fast, like the Jews, on the Day of Atonement, but later substituted Ramadan, has been accepted as genuine by many modern scholars (Geiger, 36 ff, Nöldeke-Schwally, I, 179, Margoliouth, Mohammed, 250), but is of very doubtful validity. The subject of the prophet's break with the Jews was so interesting that it called forth numerous "traditions" of the sort (see Margoliouth, ibid.). If by his authority the month had been substituted for the day, the latter would certainly have been dropped altogether by the Muslims. The fast of the tenth of Moharram (Lane, Manners and Customs, II, 148 f.) must have arisen - like so much else! - after the time of Mohammad. The name, 'ashura, is Aramaic, and the fast coincided, exactly or nearly with the Jewish fast; but this is all that can be said with certainty.

The Pilgrimage to Mekka hardly requires mention, for it was a longest established Arabian custom; its adoption important to Mohammed not only for the sake of its appeal to the tribes, but also for the solidarity of Islam may be conjectured, however, that its incorporation in the Muslim ritual was also recommended to the prophet by the familiar picture of Jerusalem as the center of the world, the city toward which all pilgrims turn their faces.

2. The Social Legislation

In the social laws of the Koran, in the regulations touching the family, the Muslim community, business transactions, and the punishment of crime, influence of Jewish legislation, both earlier and later, appears very distinctly.

The duty of the child, and of the man in mature age, to revere his parents and to care for them, was a cardinal principle of Arabian family life, long before Mohammed's time. The poems and tales of the nomadic tribes give abundant illustration. The head of the family was honored and; obeyed, and the mother had her minor share of respect. Here again, however, Mohammed turns to the Hebrew decalogue for new authority. In several Suras of the Mekkan period he speaks of an ordinance long ago given by God to men. In 17:24 we read: "Your Lord ordained that you should serve no other god but him; and that you should do good to your father and mother, whether one or both of them attain to old age with you. In 13:13 and 46:14 likewise, the divine commandment is said to have been given "to mankind." It might seem superfluous to look for influence of previous legislation in regard to a duty so universally recognized as that of children to their parents. But Mohammed cannot have been ignorant of the fact that this one of the Ten Commandments was given especial weight by the Jews; and he must have been interested to know how the "people of the Book" interpreted the ordinance. It is obvious that with the command of monotheism heading the list, both in position and in importance, the only one of the remaining nine which could naturally be given the second place is the Fifth. This fact may sufficiently account for Mohammed's collocation of the two commandments (in 17:24); but it is more likely that he had been impressed by the ancient and oft-repeated rabbinic teaching. In both Talmud and oldest midrashim, "Honor thy father and mother" and "Honor the Lord" are expressly yoked together.

In other phases of the same subject the Koran and Jewish teaching are in an agreement which can hardly be altogether accidental. In Lev. 19:3 reverence for the mother is placed before that for the father; the order being doubtless intentional, as teaching the equality of the two parents in this regard. Here is the atmosphere of Palestine rather than of Arabia; but in two of the Koranic passages just cited (31:13; 46:14) the claim of the mother is the one dwelt upon, with mention of the discomfort of pregnancy, the pain of childbirth, the "thirty months" of nursing, and the subsequent care. The old Hebrew laws visited severe punishment on the disobedient son. In the Mohammedan legislation disobedience to parents ('uququ 'l-walidaini) is one of the seven great Sins (see Beidawi's comment on Sura 4:35). On the other hand, the Talmud, Yebamoth 5b, 6a, expressly declares that a son must not obey a paternal command which is contrary to the divine ordinances. Thus also; the Koran: 29:7, 'If your parents should urge you to join to my worship that of other gods, do not obey them, it is to me that you have to give account.' The same command is given in 31:14.

In general, the injunctions so often laid upon the son or daughter in the rabbinical writings are those which we find in the Koran. 'Speak kindly to your parents, submit to their will, and show your affection for them' (17:24 f.). The prophet Noah, when the deluge is about to begin, manifests his filial piety by praying for his parents (71:29); though the event shows that they were such old reprobates as to make his petition unavailing.

A cardinal Mohammedan duty, one of the five "pillars of Islam," is the giving of alms. No other practical duty is so constantly reiterated by the prophet throughout the Koran. This is indeed an obligation recognized in every civilized and half-civilized community. The poor, the helpless, the unfortunate, must be cared for. Generosity was a characteristic virtue of pre-Mohammedan Arabs. The two technical terms, however, adopted by the prophet for the exercise of Muslim charity are both borrowed from the North-Semitic vocabulary, and therefore doubtless point to North Semitic practice. The Koranic term zakat "righteousness" (originally "purity") is the Aramaic Click to Viewemployed in this general sense, virtuous conduct" and the like, by both Jews and Christians. The other term, sadaqa(t), is the Aramaic Click to ViewHebrew Click to Viewhaving the same meaning. We know that the latter term was widely used in Aramaic speech to mean "alms." It is used thus in the Koran, especially in the latest Suras, but only occasionally and somewhat indefinitely.9 As for zakat, the word constantly employed in all parts of the Koran, we direct evidence that its Aramaic prototype was ever used to mean "alms" among either Jews or Christians, prior to the spread of Islam in Western Asia. It may be that Mohammed himself originated in the case of this word the easy transition, "righteousness, meritorious action, alms giving," which had long ago taken place in the use of the other word. Far more probably, however, zakat had been given the meaning "alms" in the speech of the Arabian Jews--in regard to which we have very little knowledge. At the outset of Mohammed's public teaching we see him emplopying derivatives of the root zaka in a theological terminology which unquesstionably is of Jewish origin (see 80:3, 7; 87:14; 91:9; 92:18).

The great emphasis laid upon almsgiving by the Jewish teachers, from Daniel (4:24); and the book of Tobit (4:7-11, 16f.) onward, is faithfully reproduced in the Koran and the Muslim tradition. Sura 3:85f: Those who die in unbelief are not ransomed from hell by any amount of charity even though they have given the earth full of gold.' And then, adrressing the true believers: "You cannot attain to righteousness unless you expend of that which you love; and whatever you expend, God knows it." Thus also 57:7-12, and many other passages. Koran and hadith repeat the Jewish doctrine, that almsgiving atones for sin. Rabbi Judah is quoted in Baba Bathra 10 a as saying, "So great is almsgiving that it brings redemption near." With this may be compared a saying of 'Omar ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz10: "Prayer carries us half-way to God; fasting brings us to the door of his palace; and almsgiving procures for us admission." In such an interesting collection of moral and religious tales as the Hibbur Yaphe of Rabbi Nissim ben Jacob (11th century), the original Arabic of which is now being published by Professor Obermann, the reiteration of this teaching, that deeds of charity insure a place in the 'olam habba, is very noticeable. This is also true of the Mohammedan religious narratives, early and late.

It was always a fundamental principle of the Hebrew-Jewish teaching in regard to the bestowal of charity that the kindly feeling of the giver is of greater value than the gift (Moore, Judaism, II, 171 f.). Mohammed can hardly have failed to hear this doctrine, and it may be that we hear a conscious echo of it in Sura 2:265 f.: "Kindly speech and pardon of injury are better than charity followed by unkind treatment ... O you who believe, make not your almsgiving ineffectual by uttering reproaches, or by conduct that gives vexation." There are one or two early passages in the Koran, dealing with charity in general, that sound like a reminiscence of Old Testament prophecy, a bit out of Second Isaiah. In Sura 90:11 ff. the impious and selfish rich man is assailed. "He does not attempt the steep path. And how dost thou know what the steep path is? It is setting free the captives; giving food in the day of famine; to the orphan, him who is near of kin; or to the poor man who lies in the dust. It is to be of those who believe, who encourage one another to patience and to deeds of mercy." A similar utterance is 76:8.

Contributions for the support of the poor and helpless in Islam were at first voluntary, later compulsory. While the Muslims were in Mekka there was no need of a "community chest." Mohammed's exhortations to charity were for the benefit of the giver, rather than of the receiver; they had in view the comforts of the next world, rather than of the present. After the flight to Yathrib the conditions were very different. Contributions to a Muslim fund were indispensable from the first, and the need became more and more urgent. Not only the care of the poor, but the support of an increasing multitude of undertakings, peaceful and warlike, called for constant donations, from all who were able fo give. The Koran urges this duty with great and ever-increasing emphasis. A definite portion of certain gains made by the Muslims, such as the booty taken in warfare, was set aside for the common fund (8:42, and elsewhere): "Whatever booty you gain, the fifth part belongs to Allah and his prophet"; and the probable use of it is specified as aid to "kindred and orphans and the poor and the wayfarer." The origin of his prescription of "the fifth" is obscure. Professor Ginzberg has suggested to me the possibility of its derivation from the rabbinical ordinance which sets one-fifth as the maximum for charity. Thus Kethuboth 50a, "He who will spend (his property in charity) must not spend more than the fifth part"; that is, he must not squander his goods even for a worthy end. Similarly Jer Peah 15a, "It was the saying at Usha that a man may spend one-fifth of his property in alms-giving. This might perhaps have suggested to Mohammed the fraction which he adopts in his law. Another possibility has occurred to me, in consideration of the fact that the Koranic regulation is not concerned with individuals, but with wealth acquired by the state. The first Muslim to legislate concerning state property was the prophet Joseph, who instituted a communistic regime in Egypt, and designated a fifth part of the produce of the land for its ruler: "And Joseph made it a statute concerning the land of Egypt unto this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth" (Gen. 47:24-26). This certainly was well known to Mohammed; and it is at least an interesting parallel, that one-fifth of the wealth acquired by the Muslim state was to be turned over "to Allah and his prophet," to be adminisered as the latter saw fit. The ideas of Mohammed and his companions as to the proportion of a man's property which he might he expected to contribute "in the way of God" are nowhere in the Koran reflected more definitely than in the general prescription, that each must give all that he can spare" (2:217 f.). Very soon after the prophet's death, however, the zakat was made a definite tax, to be exacted from all Muslims.

In all this we may see combined the working of practical necessity; the duty of giving to God, recognized in every religion and in all parts of the world; and the undoubted influence of Jewish, and perhaps all Christian, enactments and customs. In particular, the Hebrew-Jewish law of tithes, which certainly was known to Mohammed, must have given suggestions to him, as well as to the lawgivers who followed him.

The law of retaliation, "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth," was obeyed in many parts of the ancient world. It is especially familiar in the early Semitic legislation, beginning with the Hammurabi Code and the Mosiac Law. In the history of the pre-Mohammedan Arabs, blood-revenge plays a very conspicuous part, as is well known. The Koran expressly appeals to the authority of the Hebrew scriptures in its legislation concerning these matters. In Sura 5:48 the Hebrew Torah is said to be a source of light and guidance; and verse 49 proceeds: "We prescribed for them in it that life should pay for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and for wounds retaliation (Ex. 21:23, 25); but if any one shall remit it as alms, this shall make atonement for the crime." The word Kaffara, "atonement," cannot fail to recall the Click to Viewof Ex 21:30, which in Mechilta (on 21:24) is expressly applied by Rabbi Isaac to the minor injuries here named, and is constantly used in the Talmud where these matters are dealt with. Certainly an Arabic term coined by the Jews of the Hijaz. Mohammed follows both the rabbinical authorities and old Arab custom in permitting payment instead of retaliation; but when this mode of restitution is made to include cases of deliberate murder, he agrees with his ancestors but not with the Old Testament. So also the special law concerning the killing of one Muslim by another (4:94) has no resemblance to Israelite legislation, but is based primarily on Arabian custom. The tendency of the Rabbis was always toward a milder interpretation of the law; there is no better illustration of the fact than the extended comment in Mechilta on these verses in Ex. 21. They knew that retaliation is likely to keep the door of revenge open rather than to close it. As Rabbi Dosethai hen Judah remarks, in Baba Qamma 83b: If the eye of the injured party is a large one, and the eye destroyed in exchange for it is a small one, is the matter settled?" The Arabs were hot-blooded people. In the processes of blood-revenge which brought on the celebrated War of Basus, al-Harith ibn 'Ubad demands: "Did you kill the youth Bujair in payment for Kulaib? Is the affair then settled?" The contemptuous answer is given: "I killed him for a shoestring of Kulaib!" "That," retorted al-Harith, "is putting the price of shoestrings too high"; and the war was on.11 Mohammed has something of this sort in mind when he says (Sura 22.59), "Whoever punishes with an injury like that which has been inflicted on him, and then is outraged again, God will surely help him." How this divine aid will he given, is not specified; probably the working principle would be that God helps those who help themselves.

Mohammed, while ruthless in dealing with his foes, was mild by nature. He not only allows payment, in camels, or sheep, or what not, for every sort of injury, including murder; but also repeatedly advises his followers to forgive instead of exacting the full penalty. The law of retaliation stood nevertheless. Not long after the migration to Medina, two young women of the Muslims engaged in a quarrel which began with words and ended with blows. One of the two, ar-Rubayyi' bint an-Nadr, member of an influential family, succeeded in knocking out one of the front teeth of her opponent. The family of the latter demanded vengeance according to the ancient law. It was a clear case, and Mohammed pronounced accordingly. But Anas, the brother of the culprit, arose in his wrath and swore to Mohammed, by Him who had sent him as a prophet that his sister's front not be broken out. Now Anas was a mighty Muslim - he fell, somewhat later not in the battle of Ohod, after performing prodigies of valor - and his protest, reinforced by the by the oath held up the execution of the sentence. Mohammed finally prevailed on the injured family to accept payment instead of retaliation (Bokhari, ed Krehl, II, 203f.).

When the Koran comes to deal with regulations concerning trade and the, transaction of business, we might expect to find very little evidence of influence from Jewish legislation. The city Arabs were traders of long experience. Mohammed himself had been a merchant. Aside from the local caravans and the through traffic threading the Hijaz, there were especially the four sacred months of the pagan Arabs and the great annual fair at 'Ukaz; portions of the year largely given over to peaceful trading among the tribes. The basal rules of commerce were of long standing, and hardly to be altered even by a prophet. There were nevertheless matters of importance, not regulated by any general Arabian laws concerning which some prescription was necessary or desirable. How should debtors be treated? Should the Muslim exact interest when making a loan to his fellow-Muslim? May a man pursue his trade on Friday as freely as on other days? Questions similar to these, and to still others with which the Koran deals, had been answered by the Hebrew lawgivers and interpreters; and it is from their decisions especially that Mohammed derives his own doctrine.

The general principles of fair dealing in bargains and commerce could be taken for granted. This subject was touched upon in a preceding lecture. No man in Arabia would have questioned, in theory, the rule that the same weights should be used in selling as in buying; or that an article of merchandise ought to be what its owner declares it to be. In practice, there were other maximas in other lands. Caveat emptor; "the buyer has need of a hundred eyes, the seller has need of but one." The Muslim community had especial need of definite rules. Mohammed saw the desirability of written contracts; and the Koran requires at least two witnesses to formal business documents, as well as in criminal cases (Sura 2:282). In ordinary bargains and loans no writing is required (2:283 f.); it is taken for granted that a man will stand by his word - as in the Jewish practice.

How to deal with the delinquent debtor, was not an easy question. The debtor is quite likely to regard himself as the injured party, if payment is requested, and to resent any attempt to collect the amount which is due. The creditor is always in the wrong. The way in which many of the Arabs were inclined to look at this matter can be seen in a series of poems collected in Buhturi's Hamasa, in each of which the joy of the debtor's triumph over his pursuer is shared by his friends. One of the delinquents a Bedouin whose creditor was a merchant of Medina, tells how the latter, armed with the promissory paper and accompanied by several companions, caught him at last in the city. He managed to slip out of their hands, and ran "at a speed no bird could equal." He heard one of them say: "No use; impossible to catch him; let the Bedouins go to hell." He shouted back: "Payment postponed! Fold up the paper, and keep the mice away from it." (Hamasa, ed. Cheikho, pp.263 f.) Another sings complacently (ibid. 261, bottom):

He counted, on the fingers of his hands,
The dinars which he fondly thought to gain.
Better might he have tried to count the years
That must elapse while he pursues in vain.
He looks for usury; ah, lucky man,
If e'er he sees his principal again!

Still another describes with enthusiasm the preparation which he has made for the expected visit of his creditors (ibid., 263): "I have ready an excellent cudgel of arzan wood, thick, strong, with projecting knots."

The verses, and others like them, were recited, handed about, and preserved in anthologies, chiefly because of the popular sympathy with this under dog," the poor debtor. If the creditor had a surplus which he could lend (with or without interest), is it not evident that he could get along without it? Hebrew and Arabian lawgivers felt this pressure. The warm-hearted legislation of Deuteronomy would cancel all debts in the seventh year. (Deut. 15:1f.). Mohammed was naturally unable to make any use of this law for his Arabian commonwealth; but where he introduces the subject of debts in the Koran (2:280) a sabbatical year seems hardly neccssary. He says: "If the debtor is in straitened circumstances, let the matter wait until, easier times; but if you remit the debt as alms, it is better for you." The actual Mohammedan legal practice, however, alms from the first, corresponded to the ancient Hebrew usage. The debtor may be imprisoned (cf. Matt. 5:25); he may be compelled to do work in discharge of the debt - the usual recourse where the delinquent is able-bodied; but in no case could free-born Hebrew or Muslim be reduced by his fellows to the status of a mere slave.

In regard to usury, also, the old Hebrew enactments are repeated in the Koran. The Muslim must not exact interest from his fellow-believer, but there is no such restriction when he is dealing with non-Muslims (cf. 2:276-279 with Ex. 22:25 and Deut. 23:19). As in the Jewish usage, the law is concerned not merely with loans of money, but with all bartering or other business transaction in which one seeks profit by another's loss. If the Hebrew takes interest from his brother, Deut. 23:20 declares that God will not prosper his business; and in Sura 30:38 we read: "Whatever you put out at interest, to gain increase from the property of others, will have no increase from God." If debts are witnessed, there must be no bribery of witnesses or judges (2:282; 2:184).

In regard to business transactions on Friday, Mohammed of course legislates for people who were primarily traders rather than tillers of the soil. He could have no use for anything like the strict Jewish law of the sabbath; his prescription would more nearly resemble the looser practice of the Christians. He only insists that trading must cease during the Friday service in the mosque; and he refers with some bitterness to his own unpleasant experience on the occasion when his audience deserted him, because of the arrival of a caravan at Medina, when he was in the midst of a sermon. And it would seem that something of the sort had happened more than once. Gabriel says to Mohammed (62:11), "When they saw an opportunity of trade, or some diversion, they flocked out to it and left you standing. Say to them: That which is with God is better than any diversion or trading!" The view has often been expressed, by the more devout Mohammedan teachers, that the whole day Friday should be kept free from worldly business, and devoted to the business of the life to come.

In the early Mohammedan laws relating to marriage and divorce, concubines, adultery, and the various family relations, there is comparatively little evidence of Jewish influence. The chief determining factor were old Arabian practice, obvious requirement, and Mohammed's own, rather strong leanings.

Sura 4:26f. gives a list of the near relatives with whom marriage is not permitted; and in 24:31 are enumerated those members of the household in whose presence women may be unveiled, or even unclad. Comparison of these lists with those in Lev. 18:6-18 and 20:1 11-21 shows almost perfect agreement. Mohammed indeed prohibits marriage with a niece, which in the Old Testament is permitted. It here seems plain that he was acquainted with the Hebrew laws (Roberts, Social Laws of the Qoran, p. 14). The Muslims are permitted to marry Jewish and Christian women, but not the pagan Arabs. As to marriage with slaves, the law is substantially that of Deut. 20:10-14.

The very unsatisfactory legislation of Islam regarding divorce has little resemblance to the Jewish ordinances. The general statement as to the ground of divorce, namely the man's dissatisfaction with his wife (e.g. 2, 226f.), is not unlike that in Deut. 24:1; and in the Koran, as in the Jewish law, the right of divorce was given on1y to the husband. It is nevertheless hardly to he claimed that Mohammed and his followers were here guided by the Hebrew-Jewish enactments. There are on the other hand two definite prescriptions in the Koran which certainly were derived from the Talmud. The period of waiting in the case of a divorce wife is three months (Sura 2:228; cf. the Mishna, Yebamoth iv, 10); and the pescribed time for a woman to give suck to her child is two full years (Sura 2:233 cf. Kethuboth 60a).

Adultery was severely dealt with, as generally in the ancient world. The punishment prescribed in the Koran is flogging; doubtless the most natural form of punishment, and yet possibly suggested to Mohammed by the rabbinic law. The Mishna, Kerithuth 11, 4 prescribes forty stripes for the convicted female, slave; and the Koran (4:30) raises the number while the penalty for free men and women is twice the latter amount (24:2). There is to be noticed also the much discussed verse which in the judgement of the best scholars, ancient and modern, once stood in the Koran, but was afterwards removed, as either abrogated or else not belonging to the original text (i.e. of Sura 33; see Nöldeke-Schwally, Geschichte des Qorans, pp.248 ff.). The verse reads: "If a man and a woman, both of full age, commit the crime, stone them relentlessly; the punishment ordained of God." This sounds like Mohammed, and indeed the only reasonable supposition is that he himself composed it. Just when and where, however, did God ordain the penalty of stoning for this crime? In the New Testament, John 8:35, the scribes and Pharisees are quoted as saying to Jesus: "This woman has been taken in adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such; what then sayest thou?" The Mosaic law known to us does not contain the ordinance, however. Has a verse been removed from the Pentateuch as well as from the Koran? Nor is this all. The passage in John containing the episode of the woman has been removed from the Gospel, as not having formed part of the original text. A strange fate seems to have pursued this particular statute!12

As to the status of children in the family and in the Muslim community there is a general resemblance, as would be expected, between the presriptions of the Koran and the Israelite codes. We may see here the moral influence of the practice in the Jewish communities of Mekka and Medina, rather than imitation of specific enactments. The emphasis placed by Mohammed, from the very first on the care of the orphan, is fully as strong as in the Old Testament. He also gives to the daughters of the family, as well as to the other female members, a status such as his countrymen had never given them. In the usage of the pagan Arabs the inferiority of daughters to sons was much more pronounced than it was among their Jewish neighbors. Mohammed put a stop to the barbarous practice of doing away with undesired female infants by burying them alive; he also gave to the Muslim women an altogether new standing through his legislation.

The laws of inheritance in the Koran are especially noteworthy in this regard. The custom of the pagan Arabs had excluded the daughter, the widow, and every other female relative from any right to the family property. In the Hebrew law, on the contrary, there is the incident of the daughters of Zelophehad, Num. 27:1 ff., and the resulting legislation in vss. 8-11, specifying the successive heirs of one who dies leaving no son. It is noteworthy that the order of succession given in the Koran is the same as in the Hebrew law. Mohammed, however, goes still further in permitting the female relatives to benefit, as may be seen in Sura 4:12-15, and again, vs. 175. The sons and daughters of a female slave, if they have been acknowledged by the father of the family, may inherit in like manner.

The Hebrew and Mohammedan laws in regard to slavery resemble each other in many particulars. The Semites, as a race, have always shown the inclination to treat slaves leniently; as their legislation, from the Code of Hammurabi onward, bears witness. It must be borne in mind that with the Mohammedans, even more than with the Hebrews, the slave's religion was an important factor in determining his treatment. In the old Hebrew community, the slave who had accepted circumcision, even though not a proselyte, was a sharer in certain religious privileges, and was accordingly not on the same footing as one who had refused the rite and who therefore, according to the rabbinical law, must be sold to a Gentile master after the expiration of a certain time. In the Mohammedan house, the slave was very likely to be a Muslim, and must be treated as such. There was never lack of harsh and even barbarous treatment, it is needless to say; and much of it, doubtless, was richly deserved; but we certainly have reason to believe that undue severity was the exception, not the rule, in both the Israelite and the Muslim community.

There remains one class of laws to be noticed briefly, namely those dealing with food and drink. In the legislation concerning food, Mohammed shows great interest in the Jewish laws, and evidently intends in a general way to imitate them. Conditions and customs in Arabia necessitated some differences, however. The laws of Israel are now superseded by the Muslim enactments: "The food of the people of the Book is lawfull for you, and yours for them" (5:7). In 6:147 he specifies some of the Jewish prohibitions: "To those who were Jews we forbade everything that has a solid hoof; and of cattle and sheep we prohibited the fat, save that which is in their backs or their entrails, or attached to the bone." He insists, however, both here and in other passages, that these prohibitions were not originally given, but were of the nature of a punishment. Thus 4:158, "Because of the wrongdoing of the Jews we forbade them things which we had made lawful for them." 3:87, "All food was lawful to the children of Israel, except what Israel made unlawful to himself before the Law was revealed." In 2:167f., 6:146, and 16:116, Mohammed enumerates things forbidden to Muslims: flesh of what is found dead, blood, swine's flesh, food offered to idols. 5:4 adds to this list: "What has been strangled, killed by a blow or a fall, or by goring; that of which wild beasts have eaten; and whatever has been slaughtered on heathen altars."13 In 2:168, 5:5, and 16:116 Mohammed characteristically makes the exception, that if a man is forced to eat some one of these things, driven by his sore need of food, it is no sin. The Talmud, as well known, says the same.

'The Mohammedan prohibition of wine drinking (which really means, the drinking of any intoxicating beverage) has an interesting history. The ancient Hebrews looked upon drunkenness as one of the serious evils. The story of Noah is an early illustration. One of the later writers says, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging," and there are other similar utterances. The Hebrew ideal, however, was always temperance, by the man's exercise of self-control. "Wine that maketh glad the heart of man" is classed as a blessing, - and has a very honorable place in the scriptures. Such a saint as Rabbi Meir (if the popular tales can be credited) might become intoxicated, under suitable circumstances, without damage to his reputation.14

The legislation of the Koran in regard to strong drink shows a change of attitude. At the outset Mohammed held the liberal view represented by the Hebrew scriptures and the subsequent Jewish custom. In Sura 16:67-71 the prophet gives a list of the special blessings freely given by God to men, enumerating four: water, milk, wine and honey. Sura 47:16 assures the true believers that they shall have plenty of wine in paradise. But in 2:216 and 5:92f. this approval begins to be qualified. How the change came about, what reflection or what happenings may have influenced him, it probably is useless to conjecture. Even here, in the latter years of his career, the prohibition is at first quite mild. 2:216: "They will ask you about wine, and al-maisir" (a form of gambling). "Say In them both is sin 15 and profit to men; but the sin of both is greater than the profit." 4:46 suggests a religious community in which prohibition, if really existing, was recognized as imperfectly effective: "O you believers! Come not to prayer when you are drunk, until you know what you are saying." This injunction may have had its origin in the prophet's experience, or (like so many other prescriptions regarding prayer) have been taken over from the Mishnic law, Ber. 31 a. The passage 5:92 f., in one of the very latest Suras, has a much more decided sound: "O you who be1ieve! Verily wine, and al-maisir ... are an abomination, of Satan's work avoid them then, that haply you may prosper. Satan desires to put enemity and hatred among you by wine and al-maisir, and to turn you away from the remembrance of God, and from prayer."

After the prophet's death, the prohibition was sharpened in Muslim law, perhaps especially under the rule of the stern and ascetic caliph Omar. There is nothing in the possible influence of non-Muslim communities or practices to account for this. As far as Christian usage is concerned, we know that some of the Arabs who preferred Christianity to Islam were taunted with making the choice because within that fold they could enjoy their intoxicating drink unmolested. Early traditions begin to put a very strong emphasis on the law forbidding wine. An old Egyptian hadith puts into the mouth of the prophet a list of prohibitions which bears considerable resemblance to certain modern enactments. A solemn curse is pronounced on any one "who drinks wine, or gives it to drink; sells it, or buys it; carries it, or has it brought to him; presses it out, or has another press it out for him; takes possession of it, or profits from its price" (Ibn 'Abd al-Hakam's Futuh Misr, 264 f.). Another tradition of the same early period makes Mohammed declare that wine-drinking is "the chief of sins"! (ibid., 271). It is plain that popular resistance to the increasing rigor of the law was the cause of this exaggeration.

Still another outwardly authentic hadith, also of Egyptian origin, provides an illustrative ancedote. A man named Dailam, of the tribe of Jaishan, narrates as follows (ibid., 303). "I came to the prophet, and said to him, O Prophet of God, we live in a region where it is very cold in winter, and we make a strong drink from grain; is that permitted? He said, Does it not intoxicate? I answered, Surely! Then it is forbidden, he said. But I came to him a second time, with the same question; and he gave the same answer. I returned, however, once more, and said: See now O Prophet of God; how, if they refuse to give it up, because the habit has got possession of them? He answered, Whenever you find a man is overcome by the habit, kill him!

"The history of this law is like that of not a few others in Islam. New circumstances and needs wrought changes. The varied influence of Judaism (and also, perhaps even more strikingly, of Christianity) continued to be potent in the generations subsequent to the death of the prophet. The laws and customs of the "people of the Book" did not cease to make their profound impression; and considerable portions of the Jewish haggada, in particular, were taken over into the Muslim literature and carried back, in pseudo-tradition, to the Companions, or to the prophet himself. The orthodox tradition itself grew up under the influence of the Jewish tradition. All this is of very minor importance, however, in comparison with the undeniable fact, that the very foundations of Mohammedanism were laid deep in an Arabian Judaism which was both learned and authoritative, altogether worthy of its Palestinian and Babylonian ancestry.

1 [i.e. the professed enemies who are merely trying to make trouble; the same phrase in 2:145. There is no sufficient reason for supporting that the clause here quoted refers to the hostile activity of the Jews in Medina, and thus permits taking up arms against them (Nöldeke-Schwally, 155). Mohammed and his adherents had encountered plenty of disagreeable hostility while he was in Mekka, and even Gabriel would not require the Muslims to answer boorish insults politely].

2 [Ahrens, "Christliches im Qoran" (ZDMG. lx), 155 ff., seems hardly to appreciate this].

3 [Thus, for example, 4:158; and compare Mark 10:5, Matt. 19:81].

4 [In a former lecture I gave my reasons for thinking Nöldeke, Schwally mistaken in assigning to the Medina period].

5 [Goldziher, ZDMG. 53 (1899), p. 385; Jewish Encycl., "Islam," p. 653; suggested that the five daily prayers were instituted under the influence of the five prayer times of the Persians. This seems hardly probable. Simon Duran, in his Qesheth u-Magen (c. 1400), ed. Steinschneider, 1881 P. 14, asserted that the Muslims borrowed the custom from the Jews, because "there are five prayers on the Yom ha-Kippurim." Joseph Sambari, in his Chronicle 17th century, Bedlelan MS., fol. 7, repeats this from Duran. (I owe these latter references to say for my former pupil, Dr. Philip Grossman, who is preparing the Chronicle for publication.) It seems more likely that the wish to surpass the Jews in devotion, and at the same time to compensate for an inconvenient nocturnal salat al-justa (see below), produced this series of prayer seasons soon after the death of the prophet].

6 [Is it not altogether probable (in spite of the commentators) that the "salat al-wusta of 2.239 intends this nocturnal prayer?]

7 [Nöldeke, Delectus Vet. Carm. Arab., p.50.]

8 [Brockelmann, in the Sachau Festschrift, 214-320n, argues acutely for the Christian origin of the technical term for the initiation of the prayer service, iqamat as-salat deriving it from the Syriac terminology. It is a tangled problem, for the verb in question has very wide and varied use in both languages, and the development in the one is almost always paralleled in the other. The fact of borrowing seems to be established by Brockelmann; but this conclusion does not touch the earliest Muslim usage, which is, and should be kept, quite distinct. Whatever adoption of the Christian formula there was, must have taken place in the time of the Omayyads. In the Koran, Mob. uses the verb qum as the technical term, "pray," in several passages: see 2:239, 4:103.9:85, 109 (twice); and cf. 18:13. The term probably had its origin simply in the worshipper's attitude (see above), and it is significant that in the Jewish terminology 'amida was thus used (Mittwoch, op cit.; cf. Geiger, 84f.). The varied Koranic use of aqima is in every case most naturally explained as purely native Arabic.]

9 [This subject is very well treated by R. Roberts, The Social Laws of the Qoran, (London, 1925), who takes account also of the Jewish practice]

10 [In 58:14 there is a clear distinction between the zakat, which is definitely prescribed, and the sadaqa, which is not. On both terms see especially Snouck Hurgronje in the Revue de l'histoire des Religions, vol. 30 (1894), 163-167; Nöldeke, Neue Beiträge zur semitischen Sprachwissenschaft, 25.]

11 [Quoted in Robert's Social Laws of the Qoran p. 74].

12 [Hamasa, ed. Freytag, 251 f.]

13 [The difficulties are by no means insurmountable, however. Mohammed (if the words are really his) was thinking of the mode of punishment rather than of the particular crime; and in the Johannine passage the difficulty may be overcome by supposing a betrothed woman (Deut. 22-24)].

14 [The most of these prohibitions were all but universal in the ancient civilized world. See 2150 Mishna Chullin. 3, Bab. Chullin. 39ff.]

15 [See The Arabic Original of the Hibbur Yaphe. ed. Obermann. pp. 121-123].

16 [Our Koran text says: "great sin," but the objection to the adjective kebir, on stylistic grounds is well taken (Nöldeke-Schwally, 182, note 3) The word was added later, hardly by the prophet himself].


Hilda Stich Stroock lectures at the Jewish Institute of Religion.


Essays by Charles Cutler Torrey

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