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The decline of true religion in the Church.

IF we look into the ecclesiastical historians even from the third century, we shall find the Christian world to have then had a very different aspect from what some authors Church. have represented; and so far from being endued with active graces, zeal, and devotion, and established within itself with purity of doctrine, union, and firm profession of the faith,1 that on the contrary, what by the ambition of the clergy, and what by drawing the abtrusest niceties into controversy, and dividing and subdividing about them into endless schisms and contentions, they had so de­stroyed that peace, love, and charity from among them which the Gospel was given to promote, and instead thereof continually provoked each other to that malice, rancour, and every evil work, that they had lost the whole substance of their religion, while they thus eagerly contended for their own imaginations concerning it, and in a manner quite drove Christianity out of the world by those very controversies in which they disputed with each other about it.2 In these dark ages it was that most of those superstitions and corruptions we now justly abhor

1 Ricaut's State of the Ottoman Empire, p.187.

2 Prideaux's Preface to his Life of Mahomet.


in the Church of Rome were not only broached but established, which gave great advantages to the propa­gation of Muhammedism. The worship of saints and images, in particular, was then arrived at such a scanda­lous pitch that it even surpassed whatever is now practiced among the Romanists.1

Controversies in the Eastern Churches, and corruption of the clergy.

After the Nicene Council, the Eastern Church was engaged in perpetual controversies, and torn to pieces by the disputes of the Arians, Sabellians, Nestorians, and Eutychians, the heresies of the two last of which have been shown to have consisted more in the words and form of expression than in the doctrines themselves,2 and were rather the pretences than real motives of those freq­uent councils to and from which the contentious prelates were continually riding post, that they might bring every­thing to their own will and pleasure.3 And to support themselves by dependants and bribery, the clergy in any credit at court undertook the protection of some officer in the army, under the colour of which justice was publicly sold and all corruption encouraged.

In the Western Church Damasus and Ursicinus carried their contests at Rome for the episcopal seat so high, that they came to open violence and murder, which Viventius, the governor, not being able to suppress, he retired into the country, and left them to themselves, till Damascus prevailed. It is said that on this occasion, in the church of Sicininus, there were no less than one hundred and thirty-seven found killed in one day. And no wonder they were so fond of these seats, when they became by that means enriched by the presents of matrons, and went abroad in their chariots and sedans in great state, feasting sumptuously even beyond the luxury of princes, quite

1 Vide La Vie de Mahommed, par Boulainvilliers, p.219, &C

2 Vide Simon, Hist. Crit. de la Créance, &C., des Nations du Levant.

3 Ammian. Marcellin., I. 21. Vide etiam Euseb., Hist. Eccles.,I. 8,c. 1. Sulpic. Sever. in Hist. Sacr., p. 112, &C


contrary to the way of living of the country prelates, who alone seemed to have some temperance and modesty left.1

Evil influence of Roman emperors in the Church.

These dissensions were greatly owing to the emperors, and particularly to Constantius, who, confounding the pure and simple Christian religion with anile superstitions, and perplexing it with intricate questions, instead of reconciling different opinions, excited many disputes, which he fomented as they proceeded with infinite alter­cations.2 This grew worse in the time of Justinian, who, not to be behind the bishops of the fifth and sixth centuries in zeal, thought it no crime to condemn to death a man of a different persuasion from his own.3

This corruption of doctrine and morals in the princes and clergy was necessarily followed by a general depravity of the people;4 those of all conditions making it their sole business to get in oney by any means, and then to squander it away when they had got it in luxury and debauchery.5

Arabia famous for heresy.

But, to be more particular as to the nation we are now for writing of, Arabia was of old famous for heresies,6 which might be in some measure attributed to the liberty and independency of the tribes. Some of the Christians of that nation believed the soul died with the body, and was to be raised again with it at the last day:7 these Origen is said to have convinced.8 Among the Arabs it was that the heresies of Ebion, Beryllus, and the Nazaræans,9 and also that of the Collyridians, were broached, or at least pro­pagated; the latter introduced the Virgin Mary for GOD, or worshipped her as such, offering her a sort of twisted cake called collyris, whence the sect had its name.10

1 Ammian. Marcellin., lib. 27.

2 Idem, I, 21.

3 Procop. in Aneed., p. 60.

4 See an instance of the wickedness of the Christian army, even when they were under the terror of the Saracens, in Ockley's Hist. of the Sarac., vol. i. p.239.

5 Vide Boulainvil., Vie do Mahom., ubi sup.

6 Vide Sozomen., Hist. Eccles., 1.1, c. 16, 17. Sulpic. Sever., ubi supra.

7 Euseb., Hist. Eccles., 1.6, 0.33.

8 Idem ibid., c. 37.

9 Epiphan de Hæres., l. 2, Hær. 40.

10Idem ibid., I. 3; Hæres., 75,79.


Mariolatry and the doctrine of the Trinity.

This notion of the divinity of the Virgin Mary was also believed by some at the Council of Nice, who said there were two gods besides the Father, viz., Christ and the Virgin Mary, and were thence named Mariamites.1 Others imagined her to be exempt from humanity and deified; which goes but little beyond the Popish superstition in calling her the complement of the Trinity, as if it were imperfect without her. This foolish imagination is justly condemned in the Quran2 as idolatrous, and gave a handle to Muhammad to attack the Trinity itself.*

Arabia refuge for heretics.

Other sects there were of many denominations within the borders of Arabia, which took refuge there from the proscriptions of the imperial edicts, several of whose notions Muhammad incorporated with his religion, as may be observed hereafter.

The power of the Jews in Arabia, and Muhammad's treatment of them.

Though the Jews were an inconsiderable and despised people in other parts of the world, yet in Arabia, whither and many of them fled from the destruction of Jerusalem, they grew very powerful, several tribes and princes embracing their religion; which made Muhammad at first show great regard to them, adopting many of their opinions, doctrines, and customs, thereby to draw them, if possible, into his interest. But that people, agreeably to their wonted ob­stinacy, were so far from being his proselytes, that they were some of the bitterest enemies he had, waging con­tinual war with him, so that their reduction cost him infinite trouble and danger, and at last his life. This aversion of theirs created at length as great a one in him to them, so that he used them, for the latter part of his life, much worse than he did the Christians, and fre­quently exclaims against them in his Quran. His followers to this day observe the same difference between them and

* A careful study of the Quran will show that this is the only conception of a Trinity which found a place in Muhammad's mind.

E.M. W.

1 Elmacin. Eutych.

2 Cap. 5, V.77.


the Christians, treating the former as the most abject and contemptible people on earth.

Islam succeeds as a religion through political weakness of Rome and Persia

It has been observed by a great politician,1 that it is impossible a person should make himself a prince and found a state without opportunities. If the distracted state of religion favoured the designs of Muhammad on that side, the weakness of the Roman and Persian mon­archies might flatter him with no less hopes in any attempt on those once formidable empires, either of which, had they been in their full vigour, must have crushed Muhammadism in its birth; whereas nothing nourished it more than the success the Arabians met with enterprises against those powers, which success they failed not to attribute to their new religion and the divine assistance thereof.

Decline of the Roman empire.

The Roman empire declined apace after Constantine, whose successors were for the generality remarkable for their ill qualities, especially cowardice and cruelty. By Muhammad's time, the western half of the empire was overrun by the Goths, and the eastern so reduced by the Huns on the one side and the Persians on the other, that it was not in a capacity of stemming the violence of a powerful invasion. The Emperor Maurice paid tribute to the Khagan or king of the Huns; and after Phocas had murdered his master, such lamentable havoc there was among the soldiers, that when Heraclius came; not above seven years after, to muster the army, there were only two soldiers left alive of all those who had borne arms when Phocas first usurped the empire. And though Herac­lius was a prince of admirable courage and conduct, and had done what possibly could be done to restore the dis­cipline of the army, and had had great success against the Persians, so as to drive them not only out of his own dominions, but even out of part of their own; yet still the very vitals of the empire seemed to be mortally wounded,

1 Machiavelli, Princ., c. 6, p. 19.


that there could no time have happened more fatal to the empire or more favourable to the enterprises of the Arabs who seem to have been raised up on purpose by GOD to be a scourge to the Christian Church for not living answerably to that most holy religion which they had received.1

The general luxury and degeneracy of manners into which the Grecians were sunk also contributed not a little to the enervating their forces, which were still further drained by those two great destroyers, monachism and persecution.

The communism of Mazdak.

The Persians had also been in a declining condition for some time before Muhammad, occasioned chiefly by their intestine broils and dissensions, great part of which arose from the devilish doctrines of Manes and Mazdak. The opinions of the former are tolerably well known; the latter lived in the reign of Khusru Kobad, and pretended himself a prophet sent from GOD to preach a community of women and possessions, since all men were brothers and descended from the same common parents. This he imagined would put an end to all feuds and quarrels among men, which generally arose on account of one of the two. Kobad himself embraced the opinions of this impostor, to whom he gave leave, according to his new doctrine, to lie with the queen his wife; which permission Anushirwan, his son, with much difficulty prevailed on Mazdak not to make use of. These sects had certainly been the immediate ruin of the Persian empire, had not Anushirwan, as soon as he succeeded his father, put Maz­dak to death with all his followers, and the Manicheans also, restoring the ancient Magian religion.2

In the reign of this prince, deservedly surnamed the Just, Muhammad was born. He was the last king of Persia who deserved the throne, which after him was

1 Ockley's Hist. of the Saracens, vol.1. p.19, &C.

2 Vide Poc. Spec., p.70.


almost perpetually contended for, till subverted by the Arabs. His son Hormuz lost the love of his subjects by his excessive cruelty: having had his eyes put out by his wife's brothers, he was obliged to resign the crown to his son Khusru Parviz, who at the instigation of Bahram Chubin had rebelled against him, and was afterwards strangled. Parviz was soon obliged to quit the throne to Bahram, but obtaining succours of the Greek emperor Maurice, he recovered the crown; yet towards the latter end of a long reign he grew so tyrannical and hateful to his subjects, that they held private correspondence with the Arabs, and he was at length deposed, imprisoned, and slain by his son Shiru'yah.1 After Parviz no less than six princes possessed the throne in less than six years.

Decline of the Persian empire.

These domestic broils effectually brought ruin upon the Persians; for though they did rather by the weakness of the Greeks than their own force ravage Syria and sack Jerusalem and Damascus under Khusru Parviz, and, while the Arabs were divided and independent, had some power in the province of Yaman, where they set up the four last kings before Muhammad; yet, when attacked by the Greeks under Heraclius, they not only lost their new conquests, but part of their own dominions; and no sooner were the Arabs united by Muhammadism, than they beat them in every battle, and in a few years totally subdued them.

The political of Arabia consolidated under Muhammad.

As these empires were weak and declining, so Arabia, at Muhammad's setting up, was strong and flourishing; having been peopled at the expense of the Grecian empire, whence the violent proceedings of the domineering sects forced many to seek refuge in a free country, as Arabia then was, where they who could not enjoy tranquillity and their conscience at home found a secure retreat. The Arabians were not only a populous nation, but unac­quainted with the luxury and delicacies of tile Greeks and Persians, and inured to hardships of all sorts, living

1 Vide Teixeira, Relaciones de los Reyes de Persia, p.195, &C.


in a most parsimonious manner, seldom eating any flesh, drinking no wine, and sitting on the ground. Their poli­tical government was also such as favoured the designs of Muhammad; for the division and independency of their tribes were so necessary to the first propagation of his religion and the foundation of his power, that it would have been scarce possible for him to have effected either had the Arabs been united in one society. But when they had embraced his religion, the consequent union of their tribes was no less necessary and conducive to their future conquests and grandeur.

This posture of public affairs in the Eastern world, both as to its religious and political state, it is more than pro­bable Muhammad was well acquainted with, he having had sufficient opportunities of informing himself in those particulars in his travels as a merchant in his younger years; and though it is not to be supposed his views at first were so extensive as afterwards, when they were enlarged by his good fortune, yet he might reasonably promise himself success in his first attempts from thence. As he was a man of extraordinary parts and address, he knew how to make the best of every incident, and turn what might seem dangerous to another to his own advantage.

Muhammad's birth, nurture, marriage and fortune.

Muhammad came into the world under some disad­vantages, which he soon surmounted. His father, Abdallah, was a younger son of Abd al Mutallib, and dying very young and in his father's lifetime, left his widow and in­fant son in very mean circumstances, his whole substance consisting but of five camels and one Ethiopian she-slave.2 Abd al Mutallib was therefore obliged to take care of his grandchild Muhammad, which he not only did during his

1 He was not his eldest son, as Dr. Prideaux tells us, whose reflections built on that foundation must necessarily fail (see his Life of Mahomet, p. 9); nor yet his youngest son, as M. de Boulainvilliers (Vie de Mahommed, p.182, &c.) supposes; for Hamza and al Abbas were both younger than Abdallah.

2 Abulfeda, Vit. Moham., p. 2.


life, but at his death enjoined his eldest son, Abu Talib, who was brother to Abdallah by the same mother, to provide for him for the future; which he very affection­ately did, and instructed him in the business of a mer­chant, which he followed; and to that end he took him with him into Syria when he was but thirteen, and afterward recommended him to Khadijah, a noble and rich widow, for her factor, in whose service he behaved himself so well, that by making him her husband she soon raised him to an equality with the richest in Makkah.

He forms the design of reforming the religion of his countrymen.

After he began by this advantageous match to live at his ease it was that he formed a scheme of establishing a new religion, or, as he expressed it, of replanting the only true and ancient one, professed by Adam, Noah, Moses, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and all the prophets,1 by destroyin­g the gross idolatry into which the generality of his countrymen had fallen, and weeding out the corruptions and superstitions which the latter Jews and Christians had, as he thought, introduced into their religion, and reducing it to its original purity, which consisted chiefly in the worship of one only GOD.

Opinions as to probable motives of Muhammad.

Whether this was the effect of enthusiasm or only a design to raise himself to the supreme government of his country, I will not pretend to determine. The latter is the general opinion of Christian writers, who agree that ambition and the desire of satisfying his sensuality were the motives of his undertaking. It may be so, yet his first views, perhaps, were not so interested. His original design of bringing the pagan Arabs to the knowledge of the true GOD was certainly noble, and highly to be commended; for I cannot possibly subscribe to the assertion of a late learned writer,2 that he made that nation exchange their idolatry for another religion altogether as bad. Muhammad was no doubt fully satisfied in his conscience of the truth of his grand point, the unity of GOD, which was what

1 See Quran, C. 2.

2 Prideaux's Life of Mahomet, p. 76.


he chiefly attended to; all his other doctrines and institu­tions being rather accidental and unavoidable than premeditated and designed.

His hold on the doctrine of the unity of God.

Since, then, Muhammad was certainly himself persuaded of his grand article of faith, which, in his opinion, was violated by all the rest of the world, not only by the idolaters, but by the Christians, as well those who rightly worshipped Jesus as GOD, as those who superstitiously adored the Virgin Mary, saints, and images; and also by the Jews, who are accused in the Quran of taking Ezra for the son of GOD;1 it is easy to conceive that he might think it a meritorious work to rescue the world from such ignorance and superstition; and by degrees, with the help of a warm imagination, which an Arab seldom wants,2 to suppose himself destined by Providence for the effecting that great reformation. And this fancy of his might take still deeper root in his mind during the solitude he thereupon affected, usually retiring for a month in the year to a cave in Mount Hira, near Makkah. One thing which may be probably urged against the enthusiasm of this prophet of the Arabs is the wise conduct and great prudence he all along showed in pursuing his design which seem inconsistent with the wild notions of a hot-brained religionist.

Probably monomaniac on the subject of religion.

But though all enthusiasts or madmen do not behave with the same gravity and circumspection that he did, yet he will not be the first instance, by several, of a person who has been out of the way only quoad hoc, and in all other respects acted with the greatest decency and precaution.*

The terrible destruction of the Eastern Churches, once so glorious and flourishing, by the sudden spreading of Muhammadism, and the great successes of its professors against the Christians, necessarily inspire a horror of that * For a most able and satisfactory exposition of the character of Muhammad, we refer the reader to Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. iv. chap. xxxvii. E.M.W.

1 Quran, C. 10. v.37.

2 See Casaub. of Enthusiasm, p.148.


religion in those to whom it has been so fatal; and no wonder if they endeavour to set the character of its founder and its doctrines in the most infamous light.

He was ignorant of the pure doctrines of the Christian religion

But the damage done by Muhammad to Christianity seems to have been rather owing to his ignorance than malice; for his great misfortune was his not having a competent knowledge of the real and pure doctrines of the Christian religion, which was in his time so abominably corrupted that it is not surprising if he went too far, and resolved to abolish what he might think incapable of reformation.

His natural ambition is inflamed by success
It is scarce to be doubted but that Muhammad had a violent desire of being reckoned an extraordinary person, which he could attain to by no means more effectually than by pretending to be a messenger sent from GOD to inform mankind of his will. This might be at first his utmost ambition; and had his fellow-citizens treated him less injuriously, and not obliged him by their persecutions to seek refuge elsewhere, and to take up arms against them in his own defence, he had perhaps continued a private person, and contented himself with the veneration and respect due to his prophetical office; but being once got at the head of a little army, and encouraged by success, it is no wonder if he raised his thoughts to attempt what had never before entered into his imagin­ation.

His sensuality and doctrine of polygamy in accordance with the morality of his time.

That Muhammad was, as the Arabs are by complexion,1 a great lover of women, we are assured by his own confession ; and he is constantly upbraided with it by the controversial writers, who fail not to urge the number of women with whom he had to do, as a demonstration argument of his sensuality, which they think suffi­ciently proves him to have been a wicked man, and con­sequently an impostor. But it must be considered that polygamy, though it be forbidden by the Christian reli­gion, was in Muhammad's time frequently practised in

1 Ammian Marcell., l. 14, C. 4.


Arabia and other parts of the East, and was not counted an immorality, nor was a man worse esteemed on that account; for which reason Muhammad permitted the plurality of wives, with certain limitations, among his own followers, who argue for the lawfulness of it from several reasons, and particularly from the examples of persons allowed on all hands to have been good men, some of whom have been honoured with the divine correspondence. The several laws relating to marriages and divorces, and the peculiar privileges granted to Mu­hammad in his Quran, were almost all taken by him from the Jewish decisions, as will appear hereafter; and there­fore he might think those institutions the more just and reasonable, as he found them practised or approved by the professors of a religion which was confessedly of divine original.

A tolerable morality was necessary to the success of his enterprise

But whatever were his motives, Muhammad had certainly the personal qualifications which were necessary to accomplish his undertaking. The Muhammadan authors are excessive in their commendations of him, and speak much of his religious and moral virtues; as his piety, veracity, justice, liberality, clemency, humility, and absti­nence. His charity in particular, they say, was so con­spicuous, that he had seldom any money in his house, keeping no more for his own use than was just sufficient to maintain his family ; and he frequently spared even some part of his own provisions to supply the necessities of the poor; so that before the year's end he had generally little or nothing left.1 "GOD," says al Bokhari, "offered him the keys of the treasures of the earth, but he would not accept them." Though the eulogies of these writers are justly to be suspected of partiality, yet thus much, I think, may be inferred from thence, that for an Arab who had been educated in Paganism, and had but a very im­perfect knowledge of his duty, he was a man of at least

1 Vide Abulfeda Vit. Moham., p.144, &C.


tolerable morals, and not such a monster of wickedness as he is usually represented. And indeed it is scarce possible to conceive that a wretch of so profligate a character should ever have succeeded in an enterprise of this nature; a little hypocrisy and saving of appearances, at least, must have been absolutely necessary; and the sin­cerity of his intentions is what I pretend not to inquire into.

His intellectual gifts and suavity of manner

He had indisputably a very piercing and sagacious wit, and was thoroughly versed in all the arts of insinuation.1 The Eastern historians describe him to have been a man of an excellent judgment and a happy memory; and these natural parts were improved by a great experience and knowledge of men, and the observations he had made in his travels. They say he was a person of few words, of an equal, cheerful temper, pleasant and familiar in conversation, of inoffensive behaviour towards his friends, and of great condescension towards his in­feriors.2 To all which were joined a comely agreeable person and a polite address; accomplishments of no small service in preventing those in his favour whom he attemp­ted to persuade.

His ignorance of letters and the use he made of it.

As to acquired learning, it is confessed he had none at all; having had no other education what was customary in his tribe, who neglected, and perhaps despised, what we call literature, esteeming no language in comparison with their own, their skill in which they gained by use and not by books, and contenting themselves with improving their private experience by committing to memory such passages of their poets as they judged might be of use to them in life. This defect was so far from being prejudicial or putting a stop to his de­sign, that he made the greatest use of it; insisting that the writings which he produced as revelations from GOD could not possibly be a forgery of his own, because it was not

1 Vide Prid. Life of Mahomet, p.105.

2 Vide Abulfeda, ubi supra.


conceivable that a person who could neither write nor read should be able to compose a book of such excellent doctrine and in so elegant a style, and thereby obviating an objection that might have carried a great deal of weight.1 And for this reason his followers, instead of being ashamed of their master's ignorance, glory in it, as an evident proof of his divine mission, and scruple not to call him (as he is indeed called in the Quran itself2) the "illiterate prophet."

His scheme for the inauguration of his religion.

The scheme of religion which Muhammad framed, and the design and artful contrivance of those written revela­tions (as he pretended them to be) which compose his Quran, shall be the subject of the following sections: I shall therefore in the remainder of this relate, as briefly as possible, the steps he took towards the effecting of his enterprise, and the accidents which concurred to his success therein.

He begins with the conversion of his own household.

Before he made any attempt abroad, he rightly judged that it was necessary for him to begin by the conversion of his own household. Having therefore retired with his family, as he had done several times before, to the above­mentioned cave in Mount Hira, he there opened the secret of his mission to his wife Khadijah, and acquainted her that the Angel Gabriel had just before appeared to him, and told him that he was appointed the apostle of God: he also repeated to her a passage3 which he pretended had been revealed to him by the ministry of the angel, with those other circumstances of his first appearance which are related by the Muhammadan writers. Khadijah re­ceived the news with great joy,4 swearing by him in whose hands her soul was that she trusted he would be the prophet of his nation, and immediately commu­nicated what she had heard to her cousin, Waraqa Ibn

1 See Quran, C. 29, V.47. Prid. Life of Mahomet, p.28, &C.

2 Chap. 7.

3 This passage is generally agreed to be the first five verses of the 96th chapter.

4 I do not remember to have read in any Eastern author that Khadijah ever rejected her husband's pretences as delusions, or suspected him of any imposture. Yet see Prideaux's Life of Mahomet, P.11, &C.


Naufa1, who, being a Christian, could write in the Hebrew character, and was tolerably well versed in the Scriptures;1 and he as readily came into her opinion, assuring her that the same angel who had formerly appeared unto Moses was now sent to Muhammad.2 This first overture the prophet made in the month of Ramadhan, in the fortieth year of his age, which is therefore usually called the year of his mission.

Secret maneuvering

Encouraged by so good a beginning, be resolved to proceed, and try for some time what he could do by private persuasion, not daring to hazard the whole affair by exposing it too suddenly to the public. He soon made proselytes of those under his own roof, viz., his wife Khadijah, his servant Zaid Ibn Harith (to whom he gave his freedom3 on that occasion, which afterwards became a rule to his followers *), and his cousin and pupil Ali, the son of Abu Talib, though then very young; but this last, making no account of the other two, used to style himself the "first of believers."

Gains other converts from his own tribe.

The next person Muhammad applied to was Abdallah Ibn Abi Kuhafa, surnamed Abu Baqr, a man of great authority among the Quraish, and one whose interest he well knew would be of great service to him, as it soon appeared; for Abu Baqr being gained over, prevailed also on Othman Ibn Affan, Abd al Rahman Ibn Awf, Saad Ibn Abi Wakkas, Al Zubair

* Lane calls attention to the fact that "the conversion of a person after he has been made a slave does not entitle him to, and seldom obtains for him, his freedom" The "followers" of Muhammad referred to in the text probably designates only those who were his contemporaries. Certainly the "rule" is not observed by the holders of Slaves, black and white, in Turkey, Egypt, and other regions under Muslim government. E.M.W.

1 Vide. Poc. Spec. p. 157.

2 Vide. Abulfeda, Vit. Moham. P. 16, where the learned translator has mistaken the meaning of this passage.

3 For he was his purchased slave, as Abulfeda expressly tells us, and not his cousin-german, as M. Boulainvilliers asserts (Vie de Mah. p.273).


Ibn al Awam, and Talha Ibn Obaidullab, all principal men in Makkah, to follow his example.

At the end of three years he openly proclaims his doctrine.

These men were the six chief companions, who, with a few more, were converted in the space of three years, at the end of which Muhammad, having, as he hoped, a sufficient interest to support him, made his mission no longer a secret, but gave out that GOD had commanded him to admonish his near relations;1 and in order to do it with more conveni­ence and prospect of success, he directed Ali to prepare an entertainment, and invite the sons and descendants of Abd al Mutallib, intending then to open his mind to them. This was done, and about forty of them came; but Abu Lahab, one of his uncles, making the company break up before Muhammad had an opportunity of speaking, obliged him to give them a second invitation the next day; and when they were come, he made them the following speech: "I know no man in all Arabia who can offer his kindred a more excellent thing than I now do you. I offer you happiness both in this life and in that which is to come. GOD Almighty hath commanded me to call you unto him ; who therefore among you will be assisting to me herein, and become my brother and my vicegerent?"

His relatives reject his prophetic claims.

All of them hesitating and declining the matter, Ali at length rose up and declared that he would be his assistant, and vehemently threatened * those who should oppose him. Muhammad upon this embraced Ali with great demonstra­tions of affection, and desired all who were present to hearken to and obey him as his deputy, at which the

*The statement that Ali "vehemently threatened those who should oppose Muhammad is a mistake, which, says Lane (Kuran, p.62), "originated with Ganier, who, in his edition of Abu-l-Fida's Life of Mohammad, has given the original words of this speech with several errors, and thus rendered them - 'Egomet ita facium ; ego ipse dentes illio excutiam, aculos eruam, ventrem dissecabo, crura mutilabo, &c.' (p.19)." E.M.W.

1 Quran, C. 74. See the notes thereon.


company broke out into great laughter, telling Abu Talib that he must now pay obedience to his son.

Opposition aroused by his preaching.

This repulse, however, was so far from discouraging Muhammad, that he began to preach in public to the people, who heard him with some patience, till he came to upbraid them with the idolatry, obstinacy, and per­verseness of themselves and their fathers, which so highly provoked them that they declared themselves his enemies, and would soon have procured his ruin had he not been pro­tected by Abu Talib. The chief of he Quraish warmly solicited this person to desert his nephew, making frequent remonstrances against the innovations he was attempting, which proving ineffectual, they at length threatened him with an open rupture if he did not prevail on Muhammad to desist. At this Abu Talib was so far moved that he earnestly dissuaded his nephew from pursuing the affair any further, representing the great danger he and his friends must otherwise run. But Muhammad was not to be intimidated, telling his' uncle plainly "that if they set the sun against him on his right hand and the moon on his left, he would not leave his enterprise;

He is protected by Abu Talib.

and Abu Talib, seeing him so firmly resolved to proceed, used no further arguments, but promised to stand by him against all his enemies.1

First emigration to Abyssinia.

The Quraish, finding they could prevail neither by fair ­words nor menaces, tried what they could do by force and ill-treatment, using Muhammad's followers so very injuri­ously that it was not safe for them to continue at Makkah any longer: whereupon Muhammad gave leave to such of them as had not friends to protect them to seek for refuge elsewhere. And accordingly, in the fifth year of the prophet's mission, sixteen of them, four of whom were women, fled into Ethiopia; and among them Othman Ibn Affan and his wife Rakiah, Muhammad's daughter. This was the first flight; but afterwards several others followed

1 Abu1feda ubi supra.


them, retiring one after another, to the number of eighty­three men and eighteen women, besides children.1 These refugees were kindly received by the Najashi,2 or king of Ethiopia, who refused to deliver them up to those whom the Quraish sent to demand them, and, as the Arab writers unanimously attest, even professed the Muhammadan reli­gion.

Conversion of Hamza and Omar.

In the sixth year of his mission3 Muhammad had the pleasure of seeing his party strengthened by the con­version of his uncle Hamza, a man of great valour and merit, and of Omar Ibn al Khattab, a person highly esteemed, and once a violent opposer of the prophet. As persecution generally advances rather than obstructs the spreading of a religion, Islam made so great a progress among the Arab tribes, that the Quraish, to suppress it effectually, if possible, in the seventh year of Muhammad's mission,4 made a solemn league or covenant against the

Social ostracism of the Hashimites.

Hashimites and the family of al Mutallib, engaging themselves to contract no marriages with any of them, and to have no communication with them; and to give it the greater sanction, reduced it into writing, and laid it up in the Kaabah. Upon this the tribe became divided into two factions, and the family of Hashim all repaired to Abu Talib, as their head, except only Abd al Uzza, sur­named Abu Lahab, who, out of his inveterate hatred to his nephew and his doctrine, went over to the opposite party, whose chief was Abu Sofian ibn Harb, of the family of Ommeya.

The league against the Hashimites broken.

The families continued thus at variance for three years; but in the tenth year of his mission, Muhammad told his uncle Abu Talib that God had manifestly showed his disap­probation of the league which the Quraish had made against them, by sending a worm to eat out every word of the

1 Idem, Ibn Shohnah.

2 Dr. Prideaux seems to take this word for a proper name, but it is only the title the Arabs give to every king of this country. See his Life of Mahomet, p. 55.

3 Ibn Shohnah

4 Al Jannabi.


instrument except the name of GOD. Of this accident Muhammad had probably some private notice; for Abu Talib went immediately to the Quraish and acquainted them with it; offering, if it proved false, to deliver his nephew up to them; but in case it were true, he insisted that they ought to lay aside their animosity, and annul the league they had made against the Hashimites. To this they acquiesced, and going to inspect the writing, to their great astonishment found it to be as Abu Talib had said; and the league was thereupon declared void.

Death of Abu Talib abd Khadijah.

In the same year Abu Talib died, at the age of above fourscore; and it is the general opinion that he died an infidel though others say that when he was at the point of death he embraced Muhammadism, and pro­duce some passages out of his poetical compositions to confirm their assertion About a mouth, or, as some write, three days after the death of this great benefactor and patron, Muhammad had the additional mortification to lose his wife Khadijah, who had so generously made his fortune, For which reason this year is called the year of mourning.1

Renewed persecution.

On the death of these two persons the Quraish began to be more troublesome than ever to their prophet, and especially some who had formerly been his intimate friends; insomuch that he found himself obliged to seek for shelter else where, and first pitched upon Tayif, about

Seeks refuge in Tayif and is rejected.

sixty miles east from Makkah, for the place of his retreat. Thither therefore he went, accompanied by his servant Zaid, and applied himself to two of the chief of the tribe of Thakif, who were the inhabitants of that place; but they received them very coldly. however, he stayed there a month; and some of the more considerate and better sort of men treated him with a little respect; but the slaves and inferior people at length rose against him, and bringing him to the wall of the city, obliged him to depart

1 Abulfeda p.23. Ibn Shohnah.


and return to Makkah, where he put himself under the pro­tection of al Muta'm Ibn Adi.1

Makes converts of six men of Madina.

This repulse greatly discouraged his followers: however, Muhammad was not wanting to himself, but boldly continued to preach to the public assemblies at the pilgrimage, and gained several proselytes, and among them six of the inhabitants of Yathrab of the Jewish tribe of Khazraj, who on their return home failed not to speak much in commendation of their new religion, and exhorted their fellow-citizens to embrace the same.

Night Journey from Makkah to Jerusalem and heaven.

In the twelfth year of his mission it was that Muhammad gave out that he had made his night journey from Makkah to Jerusalem and thence to heaven,2 so much spoken of by all that write of him. Dr. Prideaux3 thinks he invented it either to answer the expectations of those who demanded some miracle as a proof of his mission, br else, by pretending to have conversed with GOD, to establish the authority of whatever he should think fit to leave behind by way of oral tradition, and make his sayings to serve the same purpose as the oral law of the Jews. But I do not find that Muhammad himself ever expected so great a regard should be paid to his sayings as his followers have since done; and seeing he all along disclaimed any power of performing miracles, it seems rather to have been a fetch of policy to raise his reputa­tion, by pretending to have actually conversed with GOD in heaven, as Moses had heretofore done in the mount, and to have received several institutions immediately from him, whereas before he contented himself with persuading that he had all by the ministry of Gabriel.

This device raises his credit.

However, this story seemed so absurd and incredible, that several of his followers left him upon it, and it had probably ruined the whole design, had not Abu Baqr vouched for his veracity, and declared that if Muhammad

1 Ibn Shohnah.

2 See the notes on the 17th chapter of the

3 Life of Mahomet, pp.41, 51, &c.


affirmed it to be true, he verily believed the whole. This happy incident not only retrieved the prophet's credit, but increased it to such a degree, that he was secure of being able to make his disciples swallow whatever he pleased to impose on them for the future. And I am apt to think this fiction, notwithstanding its extravagance, was one of the most artful contrivances Muhammad ever put in practice, and what chiefly contributed to the raising of his reputation to that great height to which it afterwards arrived.

The first pledge of Aqabah.

In this year, called by the Muhammadans the accepted year, twelve men of Yathrab or Madina, of whom ten were of the tribe of Khazraj, and the other two of that of Aws, came to Makkah, and took an oath of fidelity to Muhammad at al Aqabah, a hill on the north of that city. This oath was called the women's oath, not that any women were present at this time, but because a man was not thereby obliged to take up arms in defence of Muhammad or his religion; it being the same oath that was afterwards exacted of the women, the form of which we have in the Quran,1 and is to this effect; viz.: "That they should renounce all idolatry; that they should not steal, nor commit fornication, nor kill their children (as the pagan Arabs used to do when they apprehended they should not be able to maintain them2), nor forge calumnies; and that; they should obey the prophet in all things that were reasonable." When they had solemnly engaged to do all this Muhammad sent one of his disciples, named Musab Ibn Omar, home with them, to instruct them more fully he grounds and ceremonies of his new religion.

Missionary success at Madina.

Musa'b, being arrived at Madina, by the assistance of those who had been formerly converted, gained several proselytes, particularly Osaid Ibn Hudaira, a chief man of the city, and Sa'ad Ibn Mua'dh, prince of the tribe of Aws; Muhammadism spreading so fast, that there was

1 Cap. 60, V.12.

2 Vide Quran, c. 6 v. 151.


scarce a house wherein there were not some who had embraced it.

The second pledge of Aqabah.

The next year, being the thirteenth of Muhammad's mission, Musa'b returned to Makkah, accompanied by seventy-three men and two women of Madina, who had professed Islam, besides some others who were as yet unbelievers. On their arrival, they immediately sent to Muhammad, and offered him their assistance, of which he was now in great need, for his adversaries were by this time grown so powerful in Makkah, that he could not stay there much longer without imminent danger. Wherefore he accepted their proposal, and met them one night, by appointment, at al Aqabah above mentioned, attended by his uncle al Abba's, who, though he was not then a believer, wished his nephew well, and made a speech to those of Madina, wherein he told them, that as Muhammad was obliged to quit his native city and seek an asylum elsewhere, and they had offered him their protection, they would do well not to deceive him; and that if they were not firmly resolved to defend and not betray him, they had better declare their minds, and let him provide for his safety in some other manner. Upon their protesting their sincerity, Muhammad swore to be faithful to them, on condition that they should protect him against all insults as heartily as they would their own wives and families. They then asked him what recompense they were to expect if they should happen to be killed in his quarrel; he answered, Paradise. Whereupon they pledged their faith to him, and so returned home,1 after Muhammad had chosen twelve out of their number, who were to have the same authority among them as the twelve apostles of Christ had among his disciples.2

Islam thus far propagated by persuasion.

Hitherto Muhammad had propagated his religion by fair means, so that the whole success of. his enterprise, before his flight to Madina, must be attributed to per­-

1 Abulfeda, Vit. Moham., p.40, &c.

2 Ibu Ishak.


suasion only, and not to compulsion For before this second oath of fealty or inauguration at al Aqabah he had no permission to use any force at all; and in several places of the Quran, which he pretended were revealed during his stay at Makkah, he declares his business was only to preach and admonish; that he had no authority to compel any person to embrace his religion; and that whether people believed or not was none of his concern, but belonged solely unto GOD. And he was so far from allowing his followers to use force, that he exhorted them to bear patiently those injuries which were offered them on account of their faith; and when persecuted himself, chose rather to quit the place of his birth and retire to Madina, than to make any resistance.

Muhammad's moderation owing to his helplessness

But this great ­passiveness and moderation seems entirely owing to his want of power, and the great superiority of his opposers for the first twelve years of his mission; for no sooner was he enabled, by the assistance of those of Madina, to make head against his enemies, than he gave out that GOD had allowed him and his followers to defend themselves against the infidels; and at length, as his forces increased, he pre­tended to have the divine leave even to attack them, and to destroy idolatry, and set up the true faith by the sword; finding by experience that his designs would otherwise proceed very slowly, if they were not utterly overthrown, and knowing, on the other hand, that innovators, when they depend solely on their own strength, and can compel, seldom run any risk; from whence the politician observes it follows, that all the armed prophets have succeeded, and the unarmed ones have failed.* Moses, Cyrus, The-

* No sentiment could be further from the truth than this. Jesus and Buddha have more followers than any other "prophets" to-day. Even Islam has not depended on the sword for all its successes, e.g. the conversion of multitudes of Tartars, Hindus, Africans, &C Judaism was never a religion of the sword, and Christianity has ever prospered amidst the fires of persecution, and in spite of the sword. But see next paragraph. E.M.W.


seus, and Romulus would not have been able to estab­lish the observance of their institutions for any length of time had they not been armed.1 The first passage of the Quran which gave Muhammad the permission of defend­ing himself by arms is said to have been that in the twenty-second chapter; after which a great number to the same purpose were revealed.

He authorises the forcement of his doctrines by the sword.

That Muhammad had a right to take up arms for his own defence against his unjust persecutors may perhaps be allowed; but whether he ought afterwards to have made use of that means for the establishing of his religion is a question I will not here determine. How far the secular power may or ought to interpose in affairs of this nature, mankind are not agreed. The method of converting by the sword gives no very favourable idea of the faith which is so propagated, and is disallowed by everybody in those of another religion, though the same persons are willing to admit of it for the advancement of their own, supposing that though a false religion ought not to be established by authority, yet a true one may; and accordingly force is almost as constantly employed in these cases by those who have the power in their hands, The sword as it is constantly complained of by those who suffer the violence.

The sword declares Islam to be of human origin.

It is certainly one of the most convincing proofs that Muhammadism was no other than a human invention that it owed its progress and establishment

Christianity compared with it.

almost entirely to the sword and it is one of the strongest demonstrations of the divine original of Christianity that it prevailed against all the force and powers of the world by the mere dint of its own truth, after having stood the assaults of all manner of persecutions, as well as other oppositions, for 300 years together, and at length made the Roman emperors themselves submit thereto;2 after which time, indeed, this proof seems to fail, Christianity

1 Machiavelli, Princ., c. 6.

2 See Prideaux's Letter to the Deists, p. 220, &c.


being then established and Paganism abolished by public authority, which has had great influence in the propagation of, the one and destruction of the other ever since.1 But to return.

Emigration of Muslims to Madina

Muhammad having provided for the security of his companions as well as his own by the league offensive and defensive which he had now concluded with those of Madina, directed them to repair thither, which they accord­ingly did; but himself with Abu Baqr and Ali stayed behind, having not yet received the divine permission, as he pretended, to leave Makkah.

Consequent excitement among the Quraish

The Quraish, fearing the consequence of this new alliance, began to think it absolutely necessary to prevent Muhammad's escape to Madina, and having held a council thereon, after several milder expedients had been rejected, they came to a

They conspire against Muhammad.

resolution that he should be killed; and agreed that a man should be chosen out of every tribe for the execution of this design, and that each man should have a blow at him with his sword, that the guilt of his blood might fall equally on all the tribes, to whose united power the Hashimites were much inferior, and therefore durst not attempt to revenge their kinsman's death.*

* A deputation was sent at this time to Muhammad, but its object was not to assassinate him. This has been satisfactorily established by Muir in his Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. chap. vi. p.251. He says, "What was the decision as to their future course of action (i.e., of the Coreish), what the object even of the present deputation, it is impossible, amid the hostile and marvellous tales of tradition, to conclude. There is little reason to believe that it was assassination, although the traditionists assert that this was determined upon at the instigation of Abu Jahl, supported by the devil, who, in the person of an old man from Najd, shrouded in a mantle, joined the council. Mahomet himself, speaking in the Coran of the designs of his enemies, refers to them in these indecisive terms - 'And call to mind the unbelievers plotted against thee, that they might detain thee, or slay thee, or expel thee; yea, they plotted, but God plotted likewise, and

1 See Bayle's Dict. Hist., Art. Mahomet, Rem. O.


This conspiracy was scarce formed when by some means or other it came to Muhammad's knowledge, and he gave out that it was revealed to him by the Angel Gabriel, who had now ordered him to retire to Madina. whereupon, to amuse his enemies, he directed Ali to lie down in his place and wrap himself up in his green cloak, which he did, and Muhammad escaped miraculously, as they pretend,1 to Abu Baqr's house, unperceived by the conspirators, who had already assembled at the prophet's door. They in the meantime, looking through the crevice and seeing Mi; whom they took to be Muhammad himself, asleep, con­tinued watching there till morning, when Ali arose, and they found themselves deceived.

Muhammad escapes to Madina.
From Abu Baqr's house Muhammad and he went to a cave in Mount Thur, to the south-east * of Makkah, accompanied only by Amar Ibn Fuhairah, Abu Baqr's servant, and Abdallah Ibn Oraikat, an idolater, whom they had hired for a guide. In this cave they lay hid three days to avoid the search of their enemies, which they very narrowly escaped, and not without the assist­ance of more miracles than one; for some say that the Quraish were struck with blindness, so that they could not find the cave; others, that after Muhammad and his companions were got in, two pigeons laid their eggs at the entrance, and a spider covered the mouth of the cave with

\ God is the best of plotters' (Sura viii. ver. 30). Assuredly had assassina­tion been the sentence, and its immediate execution (as pretended by tradition) ordered by the council, Mahomet would have indicated the fact in clearer language than these alternative expressions. A resolution so fatal would unquestionably have been dwelt on at length, both in the Coran and traditions, and produced as a justi­fication (for such, indeed, it would have been) of all subsequent hostilities." E.M.W.

* Burckhardt says "south" (Travels in Arabia, p.176). So Lane in Kuran p. 74. E.M.W.

1 See the notes to chap. 8 and 36.


her web,1 which made them look no further.2* Abu Baqr, seeing the prophet in such imminent danger, became very sorrowful, whereupon Muhammad comforted him with these words, recorded in the Quran3: "Be not grieved, for GOD is with us." Their enemies being retired, they left the cave and set out for Madina by a by road, and having fortunately, or, as the Muhammadans tell us, miraculously, escaped some who were sent to pursue them, arrived safely at that city, whither Ali followed them in three days, after he had settled some affairs at Makkah.**

He builds a mosque at Medina.

The first thing Muhammad did after his arrival at Madina was to build a temple for his religious worship, and a house for himself, which he did on a parcel of ground which had before served to put camels in, or, as others tell us, for a burying-ground, and belonged to Sahal and Sohail the sons of Amru, who were orphans.5 This action Dr. Prideaux exclaims against, representing it as a flagrant instance of injustice, for that, says he, he violently

* "The verses in Sura viii. 30, about God plotting so as to deceive the Meccans, and in Sura ix. 40, about God assisting the two refugees the cave, have probably given rise to these tales." Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. p.257, note. E.M.W.

** "It is tbe general opinion of our chronologers that the first day of the Muslim era of 'the Flight' (or, more properly, 'the Emigration') was Friday the 16th of July A.D. 622.... This era does not commence from the day on which the prophet departed from Mekkeh (as is supposed by most of our authors who have mentioned this subject), but from the first day of the moon or month of Moharram preceding that event.... The flight itself ... commenced on the 22d of September." Lane in "Kuran," p.75. E.M.W.

1 It is observable that the Jews have a like tradition concerning David, when he fled from Saul into the cave; and the Targum paraphrases these words of the second verse of Psalm lvii., which was composed on occasion of that delivernce: "I will pray before the Most High GOD that performeth all things for me, in this manner; I will pray before the Most High GOD, who called a spider to weave a web for my sake in the mouth of the cave."

2 Al Baidhawi in Quran, c. 9. Vide D'Herbelot, Bibl. Orient., p. 445.

3 Cap. 9, v.40.

4 Abulfeda, Vit. Moh., p.50, Ebn Shohnah.

5 Abulfeda, ib. pp.52, 53.


dispossessed these poor orphans, the sons of an inferior artificer (whom the author he quotes1 calls a carpenter) of this ground, and so founded the first fabric of his worship with the like wickedness as he did his religion.2 But to say nothing of the improbability that Muhammad should act in - so impolitic a manner at his first-coming, the Muhammadan writers set this affair in a quite different light; one tells us that he treated with the lads about the price of the ground, but they desired he would accept it as a present;3 however, as historians of good credit assure us, he actually bought it,4 and the money was paid by Abu Baqr.5 Besides, had Muhammad accepted it as a present, the orphans were in circumstances sufficient to have afforded it; for they were of a very good family, of the tribe of Najjar, one of the most illustrious among the Arabs, and not the sons of a carpenter, as Dr. Prideaux's author writes, who took the word Najjar, which signifies a carpenter, for an appellative, whereas it is a proper name.6

Makes predatory raids on the caravans of the Quraish

Muhammad being securely settled at Madina, and able not only to defend himself against the insults of his enemies, but to attack them, began to send out small parties to make reprisals on the Quraish; the first party consisting of no more than nine men, who intercepted and plundered a caravan belonging to that tribe, and in the action took two prisoners. But what established his affairs very much, and was the foundation on which he built all his succeeding greatness, was the gaining of the battle of Badr, which was fought in the second year of the Hijra, and is so famous in the Muhammadan history.7 As my design is not to write the life of Muhammad, but only to describe the manner in which he carried on his enter­prise, I shall not enter into any detail of his subsequent

1 Disputatio Christiani contra Saracen., cap. 4.

2 Prideaux's Life of Mahomet, p.58.

3 Al Bokhari in Sonna.

4 Al Jannabi.

5 Ahmad Ibn Yusaf. de Vit Moh, pp.52, 53.

6 Vide Gagnier, not in Abulfed.

7 See the notes on the Quran, chap. 3, v.13.


battles and expeditions, which amounted to a considerable number. Some reckon no less than twenty-seven expedi­tions wherein Muhammad was personally present, in nine of which he gave battle, besides several other expeditions in which he was not present;1 some of them, however, will be necessarily taken notice of in explaining several passages of the Quran. His forces he maintained partly by the contributions of his followers for this purpose, which he called by the name of Zakat or alms, and the paying of which he very artfully made one main article of his religion; and partly by ordering a fifth part of the plunder to be brought into the public treasury for that purpose, in which matter he likewise pretended to act by the divine direction.

He goes to Makkah, but is not allowed to enter.

In a few years, by the success of his arms (notwithstanding he sometimes came off by the worst), he considerably raised his credit and power. In the sixth year of the Hijra he set out with 1400 men to visit the temple of Makkah, not with any intent of committing hostilities, but in a peaceable manner. However, when he came to al Hudaibiya, which is situate partly within and partly without the sacred territory, the Quraish sent to let him know that they would not permit him to enter Makkah, unless he forced his way; whereupon he called his troops about him, and they all took a solemn oath of fealty or homage to him, and he resolved to attack the city; but those of Makkah sending Aran Ibn Masud, prince of the tribe of Thakif, as their ambassador to desire peace, a truce was concluded between them for ten years, by which

The ten year's truce

any person was allowed to enter into league either with Muhammad or with the Quraish, as he thought fit.

Muslim veneration of their prophet.

It may not be improper, to show the inconceivable veneration and respect the Muhammadans by this time had for their prophet, to mention the account which the above-mentioned ambassador gave the Quraish, at his

1 Vide Abulfeda, Vit. Moh., P 158.


return, of their behaviour. He said he had been at the courts both of the Roman emperor and of the king of Persia, and never saw any prince so highly respected by his subjects as Muhammad was by his companions; for whenever he made the ablution, in order to say his prayers, they ran and catched the water that he had used; and whenever he spit, they immediately licked it up, and gathered up every hair that fell from him with great superstition.1 *

HE sends letters inviting foreign princes to embrace Islam

In the seventh year of the Hijra, Muhammad began to think of propagating his religion beyond the bounds of Arabia, and sent messengers to the neighbouring princes with letters to invite them to Muhammadism. Nor was this project without some success. Khusru Parviz, then king of Persia, received his letter with great disdain, and tore it in a passion, sending away the messenger very abruptly, which when Muhammad heard, he said, "GOD shall tear his kingdom." And soon after a messenger came to Muhammad from Badhan, king of Yaman, who was a dependent on the Persians,2 to acquaint him that he had received orders to send him to Khusru. Muhammad put off his answer till the next morning, and then told the messenger it had been revealed to him that night that Khusru was slain by his son Shiruyih, adding that he was well assured his new religion and empire should rise to as great a height as that of Khusru, and therefore bid him advise his master to embrace Muhammadism. The mes­senger being returned, Badhan in a few days received a letter from Shiruyih informing him of his father's death, and ordering him to give the prophet no further disturb­-

* These statements are manifest fabrications of a later period. Muir says, "There is no reason to believe that there was any such abject worship of Mahomet during his lifetime."- Life of Mahomet, vol. iv. p.30. E.M.W.

1 Abulfeda, Vit. Moh., p.85.

2 See before, p. 28.


ance; whereupon Badhan and the Persians with him turned Muhammadans.1 *

The emperor Heraclius, as the Arabian historians assure us, received Muhammad's letter with great respect, laying it on his pillow, and dismissed the bearer honourably. And some pretend that he would have professed this new faith had he not been afraid of losing his crown.2**

Muhammad wrote to the same effect to the king of Ethiopia, though he had been converted before, according to the Arab writers; and to Mukaukas, governor of Egypt, who gave the messenger a very favourable reception, and

Mukaukas presents to Muhammad

sent several valuable presents to Muhammad, and among the rest two girls, one of which, named Mary,3 became a great favourite with him He also sent letters of the like purport to several Arab princes, particularly one to al Harith Ibn Abi Shamir,4 king of Ghassan, who returning for answer that he would go to Muhammad himself, the prophet said, "May his kingdom perish;" another to Haudha Ibn Ali, king of Yamama, who was a Chris­tian, and having some time before professed Islam, had lately returned to his former faith; this prince sent back a very rough answer, upon which Muhammad cursing him, he died soon after; and a third to al Mundar Ibn

*This whole story of the conversion of Badhan, with all its miraculous surroundings, is a clear fabrication. The only element of truth allowable is that Badhan, taking advantage of a revolution in Persia, threw off his allegiance to that power, and, finding Muham­mad the leader of a powerful and growing faction in Arabia, was glad to gain his support by signifying his allegiance to him. E.M.W.

** This absurd pretension of the traditionists is described in full in Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. iv. chap. 20. E.M.W.

1 Abulfeda, Vit. Moh., p.92, &c.

2 Al Jannabi.

3 It is, however, a different name from that of the Virgin Mary, which the Orientals always write Maryam or Miriam, whereas this is written Mariya.

4 This prince is omitted in Dr. Pocock's list of the kings of Ghassan, Spec, p.77.


Sawa, king of Bahrain, who embraced Muhammadism, and all the Arabs of that country followea his example.1 *

Khalid and Amru converted.

The eighth year of the Hijra was a very fortunate year Muhammad. In the beginning of it Khalid Ibn al Walid and Amru Ibn al As, both excellent soldiers, the first of whom afterwards conquered Syria and other coun­tries, and the latter Egypt, became proselytes of Muhammadism.

The expedition to Syria.

­And soon after the prophet sent 3000 men against the Grecian forces to revenge the death of one of his ambassadors, who being sent to the governor of Bosra on the same errand as those who went to the above-mentioned princes, was slain by an Arab of the tribe of Ghassan at Muta, a town in the territory of Balka in Syria, about three days' journey eastward from Jerusalem, near which town they encountered. The Grecians being vastly superior in number (for, including the auxiliary Arabs, they had an army of 100,000 men), the Muhammadans were repulsed in the first attack, and lost successively three of their generals, viz., Zaid Ibn Harith, Muham­mad's freedman, Jaafar, the son of Abu Talib,and Abdal­lah Ibn Rawaha; but Khalid Ibn al Walid, succeeding to the command, overthrew the Greeks with a great slaughter, and brought away abundance of rich spoil;1** on occasion of which action Muhammad gave him the

* For a full and reliable account of the matters treated in this paragraph, see Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. iv. chap. 20, already referred to above. E.M.W.

** "Some accounts pretend that Khaled rallied the army, and either turned the day against the Romans or made it a drawn battle. But besides that the brevity of all the accounts is proof enough of a reverse, the reception of the army on its return to Medina admits of only one conclusion, viz., a complete, ignominious, and unretrieved discomfiture."- Muir's Life of Mahomet, vol. iv. p. 100 note. E.M.W.

1 Abulfeda, ubi sup., p.94, c.

2 Idem ib., pp.99, 100, &c.


honourable title of Saif min suyuf Allah, One of the Swords of GOD.1

The truce with the people of Makkah broken.

In this year also Muhammad took the city of Makkah, the inhabitants whereof had broken the truce concluded on two years before. For the tribe of Baq; who were confederates of the Quraish, attacking those of Khuzdah, who were allies of Muhammad, killed several of them, being supported in the action by a party of the Quraish themselves. The consequence of this violation was soon apprehended, and Abu Sufian himself made a journey to Madina on purpose to heal the breach and renew the truce,2 but in vain, for Muhammad, glad of this oppor­tunity, refused to see him; whereupon he applied to Abu Baqr and Ali but they giving him no answer, he was obliged to return to Makkah as he came.

Muhammad immediately gave orders for preparations to be made, that he might surprise the people of Makkah while they were unprovided to receive him. In a little time he began his march thither, and by the time he came near the city his forces were increased to 10,000 men.

Muhammad captures Makkah.

Those of Makkah being not in a condition to defend themselves against so formidable an army, surrendered at discretion, and Abu Sufian saved his life by turning Muhammadan. About twenty-eight of the idolaters were killed by a party under the command of Khalid; but this happened con­trary to Muhammad's orders, who, when he entered the town, pardoned all the Quraish on their submission, except only six men and four women, who were more obnoxious than ordinary (some of them having aposta­tised), and were solemnly proscribed by the prophet himself; but of these no more than three men and one woman were put to death, the rest obtaining pardon on

1 Al Bokhari in Sonna.

2 This circumstance is a plain proof that the Quraish had actually broken the truce, and that it was not a pretence of Muhammad's, as Dr. Prideaux insinuates. Life of Mahomet, p.94.


their embracing Muhammadism, and one of the women making her escape.1

The remainder of this year Muhammad employed in destroying the idols in and round about Makkah, sending several of his generals on expeditions for that purpose, and to invite the Arabs to Islam: wherein it is no wonder if they now met with success.

Many tribes converted.

The next year, being the ninth of the Hijra, the Mu­hammadans call "the year of embassies," for the Arabs had been hitherto expecting the issue of the war between Muhammad and the Quraish; but so soon as that tribe - the principal of the whole nation, and the genuine de­scendants of Ismail, whose prerogatives none offered to dispute - had submitted, they were satisfied that it was not in their power to oppose Muhammad, and therefore began to come in to him in great numbers, and to send embassies to make their submissions to him, both to Makkah, while he stayed there, and also to Madina, whither he returned this year.2 Among the rest, five kings of the tribe of Himyar professed Muhammadism, and sent ambassadors to notify the same.3

Ali's expedition to Yaman.

In the tenth year All was sent into Yaman to propagate the Muhammadan faith there, and as it is said, converted the whole tribe of Hamdan in one day.* Their example was quickly followed by all the inhabitants of that pro­vince, except only those of Najran, who, being Christians, chose rather to pay tribute.4

Thus was Muhammadism established and idolatry rooted out, even in Muhammad's lifetime (for he died the next year), throughout all Arabia, except only Yamama, where Musailama, who set up also for a pro-

* The arguments used to persuade the Yamanites were the swords of his Muslim followers E.M.W.

1 Vide Abulfeda ubi sup.,c. 51,52.

2 Vide Gagnier, not. ad Abulfeda, p. 121.

3 Abulfeda, ubi sup. p.128.

4 Ibid., p. 129.


phet as Muhammad's competitor, had a great party, and was not reduced till the Khalifat of Abu Baqr. And the Arabs being then united in one faith and under one prince, found themselves in a condition of making those conquests which extended the Muhammadan faith over so great a part of the world.

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