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Progress of Islam from the fifth to the tenth Year of the Mission of Mahomet.

Return of the Abyssinian refugees, 615 A.D.

THREE months had not elapsed from the departure of the little band Abyssinia when standing the secure retreat and hospitable reception offered at the Najashy's Court, they again appeared in Mecca. Their return is linked with one of the strangest episodes in the life of the Prophet. Hishami contents himself with saying that they came back because tidings reached them of the conversion of the Coreish. Wackidi and Tabari give another story, of which the following is a close outline.

The Lapse of Mahomet

The aim of Mahomet had been the regeneration of his people. But he had fallen miserably short of Mahomet it.

He is down-cast and desires a reconciliation with his fellow citizens

The conversion of forty or fifty souls ill compensated the bitter alienation of the whole community. His heart was vexed and his spirit chafed by the violent opposition of the most respected and influential Chiefs. The prospect was dark; to the human eye, hopeless. Sad and dispirited, the

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Arabian Prophet longed for a reconciliation, and cast about how it could be effected.

Narrative by Wackidi and Tabari

"On a certain day, the chief men of Mecca, assembled in a group beside the Kaaba, discussed as was their wont the affairs of the city; When Mahomet appeared and, seating himself by them in a friendly manner, began to recite in their hearing the LIII. Sura1 , The chapter opens with a description of the first visit of Gabriel to Mahomet, and of a later vision of that angel, in which certain heavenly mysteries were revealed. It then proceeds2;-

And see ye not LAT and OZZA,
And MANAT the third besides?

Satan tempts Mahomet to an Idolatrous concession

"When he had reached this verse, the devil suggested an expression of the thoughts which for many a day had possessed his soul; and put into his mouth words of reconciliation and compromise, the revelation of which he had been longing for from God,3 namely;-

These are the exalted Females,
And verily their Intercession is to be hoped for.

1 Literally "Cast upon his tongue."

2 Tabari, p. 140.

-These words, however, do not occur in the second version given by Tabari, nor in the tradition of Wackidi.

3 Katib al Wackidi p. 89; Tabari, p. 140-142. Tabari gives throughout; the rendering of which would be "whose inter-

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The Coreish worship along with him

"The Coreish were surprised and delighted with this acknowledgment of their deities; and as Mahomet wound up the Sura with the closing words,-

Wherefore bow down before God, and serve Him,

the whole assembly prostrated themselves with one accord on the ground and worshipped. Waild alone, the son of Mughira, unable from the infirmities of age to bow down, took a handful of earth and worshipped, pressing it to his forehead4.

The people pleased

"And all the people were pleased at that which Mahomet had spoken, and they began to say,- Now we know that it is the Lord alone that giveth life and taketh it away, that createth and supporteth. These our goddesses make intercession with Him for us; and as thou hast conceded unto them a portion, we are. content to follow thee. But their words disquieted Mahomet, and he retired to his house. In the evening Gabriel visited him; dnd the Prophet recited the Sura unto him. And Gabriel said, What is this that thou hast done? thou hast repeated before the people words that I never gave unto thee.

Mahomet disowns the whole proceeding

So Mahomet grieved sore, and feared the Lord greatly; and he said, I have spoken of God that whole which He hath not said. But the Lord comforted

cession is pleasing unto God." Sprenger has in this instance quoted the MS. of Tabari. incorrectly in his valuable Notice of Tabari, in the Journal of the Asiatic Society, 1850, No ii. p. 129. The unusual phrase signifies delicate, swcan-like.

4 The same is related of Abu Oheiha, i.e. Saad, son of Al As. Katib al Wackidi, p. 39.

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His Prophet,5 and restored his confidence, and canceled the verse, and revealed the true reading thereof (as it now stands), namely,

And see ye not LAT and OZZA,
And MANAT the third beside?
What! Shall there be male progeny unto you, and female unto him?
That were indeed an unjust partition!
They are naught but names, which ye and your, Fathers have invented, &c.

The Coreish more bitter than ever

Now when the Coreish heard this, they spake among themselves, saying, Mahomet hath repented his favourable mention of the rank held by our goddesses before the Lord. He hath changed the same, and brought other words in its stead. So the two Satanic verses were in the mouth of every one of the unbelievers,6 and they increased their malice,7 and

5 Mahomet was consoled, tradition says, by the revelation of the 53rd and 54th verses of Sura xxii., which signified that all former prophets had been subject to the same evil suggestions of the devil; but the Sura in which they stand appears to have been revealed at a somewhat later period.

The passage is as follows: And we have not sent before thee any Apostle, nor any Prophet, but when he longed, Satan cast suggestions into his longing. But God shall cancel that which Satan suggesteth then shall God establish his revelations (and God is knowing and wise) ;-- that he may make what Satan hath suggested a trial unto those whose hearts are diseased and hardened, &C


7 It has been explained in a note to chap. i. of the Introduction, that the whole story, as given above, has been omitted by Ibn Hisham. See p. lxxiii. Canon II. L. But that it was contained in

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stirred them up to persecute the faithful with still greater severity."

This narrative founded on fact.

Pious Mussulmans of after days, scandalized at the lapse of their Prophet into so flagrant a concession to idolatry, would reject the whole story.8 But the authorities are too strong to be impugned. It is hardly possible to conceive how the tale, if not founded in truth, could ever have been invented. The stubborn fact remains, and is by all admitted, that the first refugees did return about this time from Abyssinia; and that they returned in consequence of a rumour that Mecca was converted. To this fact the narratives of Wackidi and Tabari afford the only intelligible clue. At the same time, it is by no means necessary that we should literally adopt the exculpatory version of Mahometan tradition; or seek, in the interposition of Satan and Gabriel, an explanation of actions to be equally accounted for by the natural workings of the Prophet's mind.

The concession was neither unpremeditated, nor immediately withdrawn.

It is obvious that the lapse was no sudden

Ibn Ishac's works (which Ibn Hisham professes to follow,) is evident from its being quoted by Tabari expressly from that author. See Sprenger's Note in the Calcutta Asiatic Journal, where the original passages are quoted at length.

8 That the scandal of the narrative has been the cause of its rejection is admitted even by orthodox Mahometan writers. The author of the biography Mawahib alladoniya, shows, in opposition to the assertion that the story is heretical, that it rests on unexceptionable tradition, and that the opposing authorities are groundless, being founded only on the suspicion that the facts are unlikely. See note above quoted.

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event. It was not a concession won by surprize, or an error of the tongue committed unawares, and immediately withdrawn. The hostility of his people had long pressed upon the spirit of Mahomet; and, in his inward musings, it is admitted even by orthodox tradition that he had been meditating the very expressions which, as is alleged, the devil prompted him to utter. Neither can we believe that the concession lasted but for a day. To outward appearance the reconciliation must have been consolidated and complete; and it must have continued at the least for some days, probably for many, to allow of the report going forth and reaching the exiles in a shape sufficient to inspire them with confidence. We are warranted therefore in assuming a far wider base and a more extensive action for the event, than are admitted by ex-parte tradition.

Mahomet tempted to it by the hope of gaining over his people.

The circumstances may be thus conceived. Up to this point, the religion of Mahomet was a spiritual system, of which Faith, and Prayer, and the inculcation of virtue, form the prominent features. Though the Kaaba and some of its rites may have been looked upon as founded by the patriarch Abraham, the existing worship as a whole was rejected by reason of its idolatry and corruption.9 Yet to this superstition, with all its practices, the

9 This may be concluded from the fact that in the Coran, as revealed up to this period, the observances of the Kaaba are never referred to or inculcated, as they frequently are at a subsequent stage.

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people were obstinately wedded; and, unless permission were given to join more or less the time-honoured institutions of Mecca with the true Faith, there was little hope of a general conversion. How far would the strong expediency of the case justify him to meet half way the prevailing system? How far was it the will of God to admit concession?

Considerations by which he may have been influenced.

Was not the worship of the Kaaba, after all, a Divine institution? The temple was built at command of God; the compassing of it symbolized the circling course of the heavenly bodies, and the obedience of all creation to the Deity. Love and devotion were nurtured by the kissing of the sacred Corner-stone: the slaying of sacrifices, a pious rite in commemoration of Abraham's readiness to offer up his son, signified a like submission;10 the pilgrimage to Arafat, the shaving of the head, and all the other popular observances were innocent, if not directly religious, in their tendency. But how shall he treat the Images of the Kaaba, and the gross idolatry rendered to them? In their present mind, the Coreish would never abandon these. But if (as they professed themselves ready) they would

10 Which of his sons Abraham made ready to sacrifice, is not specified in the Coran. We are not at liberty to assume, with Mahometan Doctors, that their Prophet meant Ishmael, nor even that he believed the place of sacrifice to have been the vicinity of Mecca. If, however, the current of ancient tradition among the Meccan Arabs already ran so, it is possible that Mahomet may have followed it, but without specification in the Coran, for fear of offending the Jews.

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acknowledge the one true God as the supreme Lord, and look to the Idols as symbolical only of his angels, what harm would result from their bare continuance? Incredible as the concession may appear, and utterly irreconcilable with his first principles of action, Mahomet acceded to it, and consented to maintain the Idols as the representatives of heavenly beings "whose intercession was to be hoped for with the Deity." The hurried and garbled notices of tradition give no farther insight into the compromise. If Mahomet stipulated for any safeguards against the abuses of idolatry, no trace of them can be now discovered. We only know that the arrangements, of whatever nature, gave perfect satisfaction to the chiefs and people, and produced a temporary union.

Error soon discovered;

But Mahomet was not long in perceiving the inconsistency into which he had been betrayed. The people still worshipped Images, and not God. No reasoning upon his part, no assurance from them, could dissemble the galling fact that the practice of idolatry continued as gross and rampant as ever.

and remedied by a complete disavowal.

His only safety now lay in disowning the concession. The devil had deceived him. The words of compromise were no part of the divine system received from God through his heavenly messenger. The lapse was thus remedied. The heretical verses spoken under delusion were cancelled, and others

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revealed in their stead, denying the existence of female Angels such as Lat and Ozza, and denouncing idolatry with a sentence of irrevocable condemnation. Henceforward the Prophet wages mortal strife with images in every shape. His system gathers itself up into a pure and stern theism; and the Coran begins to breathe (though as yet only in the persons of Moses and Abraham) intimations of an iconoclastic revenge.11

Idols reprobated.

Ever after, the intercession of idols is scouted as futile and absurd. Angels dare not to intercede with the Almighty;12 how much less the idols, who

... have no power over even the Husk of a date stone;
Upon whom if ye call, they hear not your calling,
And if they heard they would not answer you;
And in the Day of Judgment, they shall reject your deification of them.13

And the ruling of providence asserted to be with God only.

The following passage, produced shortly after his lapse, shows how Mahomet refuted his adversaries, and adroitly turned against them the concession they had made of the Supreme Deity of God alone.

And if thou askest them who created the Heavens and the Earth, they will surely answer God14. SAY, what think ye then? If the Lord be pleased to visit me with affliction, can those upon whom ye call besides God,- what! could they remove the visitation?

11 See Suras xxxvii. 92, xxi. 58; xx. 95.

12 Sura liii. 58; et passim.

13 xxxv. 14; xlvi. 4.

14 See also Sura xliii. 18; and other places in which the Meccans are represented as giving a similar reply.

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Or if He visit me with mercy, could they withhold His mercy? SAY, God sufficeth for me; in Him alone let those that put their trust, confide.15

The lapse, and danger of the compromise, keenly felt.

However short his fall, Mahomet retained a keen sense of his disgrace, and of the danger which lay in parkying with his adversaries;--

And truly they were near tempting thee aside from what we revealed unto thee, that thou shouldest fabricate regarding Us a different revelation; and then they would have taken thee for their friend.
And if it had not been that WE stablished thee, verily thou hadst nearly inclined unto them a little;
Then verily WE had caused thee to taste both of the punishment of Life, and the punishment of Death;
Then thou shouldest not have found against Us any Helper.16

Ever and anon the prophet is cautioned in the Coran to beware lest he should be induced to change the words of inspiration, out of a desire to deal gently with his people; or be deluded, by the pomp and numbers of the idolaters, into following after them and deserting the straight and narrow path indicated for him by God.17

Mahomet's position with the Meccans injured by the lapse.

But although Mahomet may have completely re-established his own convictions, and fully regained the confidence of his adherents, there is little doubt that the concession to idolatry, followed by a recantation so sudden and entire, seriously weakened his position with the people at large. They would not

15 Sura xxxix. 38

16 Sura xvii. 74-76.

17 See Suras lxviii. 8; xviii. 28; xiii. 40; xxxix. 15.

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readily credit the excuse, that words of error were "cast by the devil into the mouth of Mahomet."18 Even supposing it to have been so, what faith could be placed in the revelations of a Prophet liable to such influences? The Divine author of a true revelation must know beforehand all that he will at any subsequent period reveal. If the Coran were in truth His oracle, Mahomet would never be reduced to the petty shift of retracting as a mistake that which had once been given forth as a message from heaven. The Coreish laughed to scorn the futile endeavour of the Prophet to produce a union, and draw them away from idolatry. They addressed him thus ironically;-

And when they see thee, they receive thee no otherwise than scoffingly, - "Ah! is this he whom God hath sent an Apostle? verily he had nearly seduced us from our Gods, unless we had patiently persevered therein." But they shall know hereafter, when they see the torment, who bath erred moat from the right way.19

He can only reiterate his own conviction.

To the accusations triumphantly advanced by his adversaries, Mahomet could oppose simply the reiteration of his own assurance;-

And when We change one verse in place of another, (and God best knoweth that which he revealeth) they say,- "Verily thou plainly art a Fabricator." Nay! but the most of them understand not. SAY;- The Holy Spirit hath brought it down from the Lord, &c.

The Abyssinian emigrants return to Mecca, 615 A.D.

We have seen that it was the tidings of the reconciliation with the Coreish that induced the little

18 See Sura xxii. 53, quoted above p. 152, note.

19 Sura xvi. 101.

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band of emigrants, after a two months' residence in Abyssinia, to set out for Mecca.20 As they approached the city, a party of travellers returning from it communicated the information that Mahomet had withdrawn his concessions, and that the Coreish had resumed their oppression. After consulting for a moment what should now be done, they resolved to go forward and visit their homes;- If things came to the worst, they could but again escape to Abyssinia. So they entered Mecca, each under the protection of a relative or friend.21

The Second Emigration to Abyssinia, A.D. 615-616

The tidings brought by the emigrants of their kind reception by the Najashy, following upon the late events, annoyed the Coreish, and the persecution became hotter than ever.22 Wherefore Mahomet again recommended his followers to take refuge in Abyssinia. The first party of the new expedition thither set out probably about the sixth year of the mission; and thereafter at intervals small bodies of converts, accompanied sometimes

20 They emigrated in the month of Rajab, in the fifth year of Mahomet’s mission, and remained in Abyssinia the two succeeding months of Shaban and Ramdhan. The lapse and reconciliation with the Coreish happened in Ramdhan. The emigrants returned to Mecca in the following month, Shawwal, of the same year. Katib al Wackidi p. 39 ½.

21 All but Abdallah ibn al Masud, who is said to have had no patron or guardian, and to have again returned after a little space to Abyssinia Ibid. p. 39 ½.

22 Ibid.

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by their wives and children, joined the exiles, until they reached (without calculating their little ones) the number of 101. Of these, eighty-three were men. Amongst the women, eleven were of Coreish descent, and seven belonged to other tribes. Thirty-three of the men, with eight women, (including Othman and Rockeya, the daughter of Mahomet,) again returned to Mecca; most of these eventually emigrated to Medina. The rest of the refugees remained in Abyssinia for several years, and did not rejoin Mahomet until his expedition to Kheibar, in the seventh year of the Hegira.23

23 K. al Wac. p. 39 ½; Hishami, p. 92; Tabari, p. 129. Sprenger, though admitting that he thereby opposes all the early authorities, places the second emigration to Abyssinia later, viz. after the withdrawal of Mahomet and his followers into the Sheb, or quarter of Abu Talib; that is in the seventh year of his mission. His reason is that at the end of the sixth year there were not many more than fifty converts, whereas the second emigration to Abyssinia embraced as many as a hundred persons; and that it is not probable the number of Moslems should hare thus doubled in a few months.

But the number of emigrants to Abyssinia is given at 100, as the aggregate of all who from first to last proceeded thither. They did not all set out at once, but, as is distinctly said, in parties one after another, and probably at considerable intervals. The fact therefore that the total number exceeded 100, is not in the least inconsistent with the position that the first party was small, or that the whole of Mahomet's followers may not at the time of its departure have exceeded fifty.

Hishami (p. 114) has mixed up the return of the thirty-three emigrants belonging to the second Abyssinian expedition, with the much earlier return of the whole of the emigrants of the first expedition consequent upon the lapse of Mahomet.

Of those who returned from the second expedition there may be enumerated (besides Othman), Abu Hodzeifa, Abdallah ibn Jahsh,

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The Coreish endeavour to make Abe Talib abandon Mahomet;

Although Mahomet himself was not yet forced to quit his native city, he was nevertheless exposed to indignity insult, while the threatening attitude of his adversaries gave good ground for apprehension and anxiety. If; indeed, it had not been for the influence and stedfast protection of Abu Talib, it is clear that the hostile intentions of the Coreish would have imperilled the liberty, perhaps the life of Mahomet. A body of their Elders24 repaired to the aged Chief; and said:- This Nephew of thine hath spoken opprobriously of our gods and our religion: and hath abused us as fools, and given out that our forefathers were all astray. Now, avenge us thyself of our adversary; or, (seeing that thou art in the came case with ourselves,) leave him to its that we may take our satisfaction. But Abu Talib

Otba, Zobeir ibn al Awwam, Musab, Tuleib, Abd al Rahman. These all subsequently emigrated with Mahomet to Medina. Several of those who returned to Mecca were confined there (as is alleged) by their relatives, and thus prevented from joining Mahomet till after the first battle. One of them, Abdallab ibn Soheil, fled from the Coreish to Mahomet’s army at the battle of Badr.

Sakran was among those who returned from Abyssinia to Mecca, where he died. It was his widow Sauda, whom Mahomet first married after Khadija's death.

Othman revisited Mecca under the guardianship of Walid, son of Mughira, the great enemy of Islam.

24 They consisted of Walid ibn al Mughira, Otba and Sheyba sons of Rabia, Abu Jahl, Abu Sofian, As ibn Wail, &c. Probably the most violent of the opponents of Islam have been singled out, without much discrimination or authority by the biographers, for this office.

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answered them softly and in courteous words; so they turned and went away.. In process of time, as Mahomet would not change his proceedings, they went again to Abu Talib in great exasperation; and, reminding him of their former demand that he would restrain his nephew from his offensive conduct, added:-- and now verily we cannot have patience any longer with his abuse of us, our an- cestors, and our gods I wherefore either do thou hold him back from us, or thyself take part with him that the matter may be decided between us. Having thus spoken, they departed. And it appeared grievous to Abu Talib to break with his people, and be at enmity with them; neither did it please him to desert and surrender his nephew. Thus being in straits, he sent for Mahomet, and having communicated the saying of the Coreish, proceeded earnestly ;Therefore, save thyself and me also; and cast not upon me a burden heavier than I can sustain. Mahomet was startled and alarmed. He imagined that his uncle, finding himself unequal to the task, had resolved to abandon him. His high resolve did not fail him even at this critical moment. Firmly, he replied: - if they brought the Sun to my right hand, and the Moon to my left, to force me from my undertaking, verily, I would not desist therefrom- until the Lord made manifest my cause, or I perished in the attempt. But the thought of desertion by his kind protector overcame him. He burst into tears, and turned to

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Abu Talib persists in his protection

depart. Then Abu Talib called aloud:- "Son of my brother, Come back." So he returned. And Aba Talib said; - Depart in peace, my nephew! and say whatsoever thou desirest For, by the Lord! I will not, in any wise, give thee up for ever.25

25 I have chiefly here followed Hishami (p. 71) and Tabari (p. 124). But at p. 123, the latter makes the noble speech of Mahomet to be a reply to his uncle at a time when the latter had said to him before the Coreish,-" Verily thy people ask of thee a reasonable thing, that thou leave off to abuse their gods, and they will leave off to abuse thee and thy God." Katib al Wackidi, p. 38 ½.

There is some confusion as to the time when this scene occurred. There were probably several conferences ending in threats, and tradition has no doubt amplified them. One of these conferences is said to have occurred at Abu Talib's deathbed, several years later. The Coreish, hearing that Abu Talib lay at the point of death, sent a deputation in order that some compact should be made to bind both parties, after his decease should have removed all restraint upon Mahomet. They proposed accordingly that they should retain their ancient faith, and that Mahomet should promise to refrain from abuse or interference; in which case they on their part would agree not to molest him in his faith. Abu Talib called Mahomet, and communicated to him the reasonable request. Mahomet replied -" Nay, but there is one word, which if ye concede, you will thereby conquer Arabia, and reduce Ajam under subjection." "Good!" said Abu Jahl, " not one such word, but ten." Mahomet replied,-" Then say,-There is no God but the Lord, and abandon that which ye worship beside him." And they clapped their hands in rage;-" Dost thou desire, indeed, that we should turn our gods into one God? That were a strange affair!" And they began to say one to another, "This fellow is obstinate and impracticable. Ye will not get from him any concession that ye desire. Return, and let us walk after the faith of our forefathers till God determine the matter betwixt us and him." So they arose and departed. Hishami, p. 136.

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A scene at the Kaaba Abu Talib awes the Coreish

Some add the following incident. The same day, Mahomet disappeared and was no where to be found. Abu Talib, apprehensive of foul play, forthwith made ready a band of Hashimite youths each armed with a dirk, and set out for the Kaaba. By the way, he was stopped by the intelligence that Mahomet was safe in a house on Safa; so he returned with his people home. On the morrow, the aged Chief again made ready his party and, taking Mahomet with them, repaired to the Kaaba. There, standing before the assembly of the Coreish, he desired his young men to uncover that which they had by them; and each drew forth a sharp weapon. Then turning to the Coreish, he exclaimed - By the Lord I Had ye killed him, there had not remained one alive amongst you. You should have perished, or WE had been annihilated. The bold front of Abu Talib awed the Coreish, and repressed their insolence.26

Personal indignities sustained by Mahomet

Though the tendency of tradition is to magnify the insults of the unbelieving Meccans, yet apart from invective and abuse, we read of hardly any personal injury or suffering sustained by Mahomet himself, A few of the inveterate enemies of Islam, (Abu Lahab among the number,) who lived close by his house, used spitefully to throw unclean and offensive things at the Prophet, or upon his hearth as he cooked his food. Once they flung into his

26 Katib al Wackidi p. 38 ½.

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house the entrails of a goat which Mahomet, putting upon a stick, carried to the door, and called aloud; "Ye children of Abd Menaf! What sort of neighbourhood is this?" Then he cast it forth into the street.27 Two or three centuries afterwards, a little closet, a few feet square, was still shown at the entrance of Khadija’s house where, under the ledge of a projecting stone, the Prophet crouched down when he retired for prayer, to shelter himself from the missiles of his neighbours28. There is also a legend (but ill sustained,) of actual violence once offered to Mahomet in public. As he passed through the court of the Kaaba, he was suddenly surrounded by the Coreish, who "leaped upon him as one man," and seized his mantle. But Aba Bakr stood manfully by him' and called out; "Woe's me! Will ye slay a man because he saith that God is my Lord?" 'So they departed from him.29

In the sixth year of his mission, the cause of Mahomet was strengthened by the accession of two powerful citizens, HAMZA and OMAR.

Conversion of Hamza, 615 A.D.

The prophet was one day seated on the rising ground of Safa. Aba Jahl, coming up, accosted

27 Hishami, p. 184; Tabari, p. 148; Katib al Wackidi, p. 88. Besides Abu Lahab there are mentioned Ockba, son of Abu Mait; Al Hakam, son of Ab ul As; Adi the Thackifite; and Ibn al Asad, the Handalite; as living close by, and annoying the Prophet.

28 Tabari, p. 67.

29 Hishami, p. 77; Tabari p. 181. It is related that Abu Bakr had his beard pulled that day in the scuffle; and that Omm Kolthum saw him return with an injury on the crown of his head.

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him with a shower of taunts and reproaches; while Mahomet answered not a word. Both left the place, but a slave girl had observed the scene.30 It chanced that, shortly after, Hamza returned that way from the chase, his bow hanging from his shoulder, (for he was a hunter of renown); and the maid related to him with indignation the gross abuse of Abu Jahl. Hamza was at once the uncle of Mahomet and his foster-brother. His pride was offended, his rage kindled. He hurried on with rapid steps to the Kaaba; and there, in the Court of the holy House, found Abu Jahl sitting with a company of the Coreish. Hamza rushed upon him, saying - Ah! hast thou been abusing him, and I follow his religion; there (raising his bow and striking him violently,) return that if thou darest! The kinsmen of Abu Jahl started to his succour; but Abu Jahl motioned them away, saying, “Let him alone; for, indeed, I did revile his nephew shamefully." The profession of Islam, suddenly asserted by Hamza in the passion of the moment, was followed up by the deliberate pledging of himself to Mahomet, and a steady adherence ever after to his faith.31

30 The servant of the chief Abdallah ibn Jodaan, repeatedly mentioned before.

31 Hishami, p. 78; Tabari, p. 186; Katib al Wackidi, p. 179 ½. The latter mentions the facts very briefly, but adds the names of Adi, and Ibn al Asad, to that of Abu Jahl, as having abused Mahomet. The conversion, he says, occurred after Mahomet’s "entry into Arcam's house," in the sixth year of the mission.

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Conversion of Omar 615-616

The conversion of Omar took place at the close Omar 615-616. of the sixth year of Mahomet's mission.32 He was notorious for his enmity to Islam, and the harshness and violence with which he treated its professors. His sister Fatima and her husband Said (son of the "Enquirer" Zeid) were both converts, but secretly for fear of the Coreish. While Omar was threatening certain believers, a friend suggested to him that he had better begin at home, and hinted at the conversion of his sister and her husband. His wrath was aroused, and he proceeded forthwith to their house. They were listening to the twentieth Sura, which the slave Khobab recited to them from a manuscript. The persecutor drew near, and overheard the low murmur of the reading. At the noise of his steps, Khobab retired into a closet. What sound was that I heard just now? exclaimed Omar, entering angrily. "There was nothing; they replied. Nay; said he, swearing fiercely, I hear that ye are renegades! "But what, Oh Omar!" interposed his brother-in-law, "may there not be truth in another religion than thine?" The question confirmed the suspicions of Omar and, furiously

32 It occurred in Drul Hajj, the last month in the year. Katib al Wackidi, p. 232. It is there~ noted that the believers at that date amounted in all to forty men and ten women; or by other accounts, to forty-five men and eleven women.

A tradition has been quoted above (p. 118) that Omar was the last convert in the house of Arcam; and that the male converts then amounted to forty.

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exasperated, he sprang upon Said and kicked him. His sister flew to the rescue. In the struggle her face was wounded, and began to bleed. Stung by the insult, she could no longer contain herself; and called aloud ; - "Yes, we are converted; we believe in God and in his Prophet; now do thy worst upon us. When Omar saw her face covered with blood he was softened; and he asked to see the paper they had been reading. But his sister required that he should first cleanse himself; “for none," said she," but the pure may touch it." So Omar arose and mashed, and took the paper (for he could read); and when he had decyphered a part thereof; he exclaimed ; How excellent is this discourse, and gracious! Then came forth Khobab from his hiding place, and said ; - "Oh Omar! I trust that the Lord hath verily set thee apart for himself; in answer to his Prophet; it was but yesterday I heard him praying thus, - Strengthen Islam, Oh God, by Abul Hakam (Abu Jahl), or by Omar" Then said Omar, “Lead me unto Mahomet, that I may make known unto him my conversion. And he was directed to the house of Arcam. So Omar knocked at the door; and Hamza with others looked through a crevice, and started back, exclaiming that it was Omar. But Mahomet bade them let him in and, rising to meet him, seized his skirt and the belt of his sword, saying ; - "Wilt thou not refrain from persecuting, until the Lord send

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some calamity upon thee?" And Omar replied;- "Verily, I testify; that thou art the Prophet of God!" And Mahomet was filled with joy, and called aloud, GREAT IS THE LORD!33

33 Allahu Akbar I This exclamation is styled the Takbir, and is used on occasions of surprise, or the unexpected occurrence of any great event.

Hishami has two versions. One is similar to that given in the text; only it is stated that Omar was on his way to stay Mahomet, when he was diverted by an intimation of his sister's conversion. But this incident has probably been thrown in to add to the romantic colouring of the story. Besides its inherent improbability, it appears inconsistent with the immediately previous declaration in Hishami, that Omar was "softened" when he saw the believers preparing to emigrate to Abyssinia, and said,-" the Lord go with you." Hishami, p. 103.

The second version is entirely different. here is Omar's own alleged account'- "I was far from the faith, and a man given to strong drink. In quest of companions one night, I repaired to the shop of the spirit-dealer, but I did not find him. Then I said,I will go unto the Kaaba and compass it six or seven times. So I went; and I found Mahomet praying there with his face towards Syria (i.e. looking towards Jerusalem as his Kibla). Then I said, What if I stay and hear what he is saying; I will get me near unto him and listen, then I will startle and frighten him. So I went up towards the black stone, and hid myself behind the Kaaba curtain, and walked along softly between it and the wall, while the Prophet was praying and repeating the Coran, till I reached the spot directly before him - there was nothing betwixt him and me but the curtain. And when I heard him repeating the Coran my heart softened thereat, and I wept and was converted. And when he had ended, I followed him on his way to his house, which was in the Dar al Wackia (now in the possession of Muavia); and as I made up npon him, he heard my steps and recognized me, and thought that verily I had come to trouble him, until I unfolded unto him the truth. Then he praised God and said,- Verily, O Omar! God hath directed thee. And he touched my garment and prayed for me, that I might continue stedfast." Hishami, p. 106.

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Importance of these conversions

These conversions were a real triumph to Mahomet. Hamza and Omar both possessed, along with great bodily strength, an indomitable courage; which, added to their social advantages, gained for them an important influence at Mecca.34 The heroism of Hamza, in the cause of Islam, earned for him the title, familiar to the present day, of the Lion of God.

Omar described

Omar had so commanding a stature, that he rose far above the crowd, as if he had been mounted. He was stout and fair, and somewhat ruddy. Impulsive and precipitate, his anger was easily aroused; and men feared him because of his uncertain and impetuous temper. At the period of his conversion he was but six-and-twenty;35 yet so great and immediate was the influence of his accession upon the spread of Islam, that from this era is dated the commencement of its open and fearless profession at Mecca. Mahomet abandoned the house

This tradition is utterly inconsistent with the other. Yet it contains details which have all the freshness and semblance of truth, and there is no apparent reason why it should have been fabricated. It is a strong example of the strange uncertainty of unsupported tradition.

The version in the text is evidently the correct one, and is given both by Hishami and the Secretary of Wackidi, with some variations, which show that each had separate and independent authority for it. Hishami, p. 103; Katib al Wackidi, p. 231 ½.

34 For Hamza, Hishami, p. 78. For Omar, Katib al Wacckidi, p. 243.

35 "He was born four years before the great (last?) battle of Al Fijar, and was converted in Drul Hajj, six years after the mission, aged twenty-six. His son Abd-Allah was then only six years old." Latib al Wackidi, p. 232.

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of Arcam. The Moslems no longer concealed their worship within their own dwellings, but with conscious strength and defiant attitude, assembled in companies about the Kaaba, performed their rites of prayer, and compassed the Holy House.36 Their courage rose. Dread and uneasiness seized the Coreish.

Position and fears of the Coreish

The Coreish, indeed, had cause for alarm. They were disquieted by the hospitable reception and encouragement of the refugees at the Abyssinian Court. An embassy of two of their chief men, laden with costly presents, had made a fruitless attempt to obtain their surrender.37 What if the

36 Katib al Wackidi, p. 232; Hishami, pp. 105-108.

37 An account of this embassy is given by Hishami (pp. 96-100), also briefly by Tabari (p. 136). The statement of the former is related by Dr. Sprenger in considerable detail (p. 191). The outline of the story is as follows.

Omm Salmna (the widow of one of the refugees, afterwards married to Mahomet) states that die Coreish despatched Abdallah iba Abi Rabia and Amr ibn al As, with rare presents (including stores of precious leather), for the Najfashy. They first gained over the courtiers, then they presented their gifts to the Christian Prince, - saying, that "certain fools amongst their mm people had left their ancestral faith; they had not joined Christianity, but had set up a new religion of their own. They had therefore been deputed by die Coreish to fetch them back." The courtiers supported their prayer, but the king said he would enquire farther into the matter in the presence of the accused. Now the refugees had agreed that they would not garble their doctrine, but, come what might, say nothing more nor less than their Prophet had taught them. So on the morrow they were summoned into the royal presence, where were also the bishops with their books open before them.' The king enquired of die refugees the cause of their secession from the Coreish. Then Jafar (Mahomet's uncle) answered,

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Najashy should support them with an armed force, and seek to establish a Christian or reformed Faith

in the name of all, - "that they used to worship images, eat the dead, commit lewdness, disregard family ties, the duties of neigh- bourhood and hospitality, until that Mahomet arose a prophet;" he concluded by describing his system, and the persecutions which had forced them to flee to Abyssinia. On the king asking him to repeat some part of the Prophet's teaching, he recited Sura Maryam (S. xix. containing the births of John and Jesus, notices of Abraham, Moses, &c.); and the king wept until his beard became moist; and the bishops also wept so that their tears ran down upon their books, saying,-" Verily, this Revelation and that of Moses proceed from one and the same source." And the Najashy said to the refugees, "Depart in peace, for I will never give you up. "

Next day, it is added, Amr endeavoured to entrap the refugees into a declaration regarding Jesus offensive to the king. But the king fully concurred in their doctrine that Jesus was nothing more than "a servant of God, and his Apostle; His Spirit and His word, placed in the womb of Mary, the immaculate Virgin." So the Meccan embassy departed in bad case.

The above story is no doubt intended to meet certain passages in the Coran to the effect that the Jews and Christians wept for joy on hearing the Revelation of Mahomet, because of its correspondence with their own Scriptures. See Sura xvii. 108; xxviii. 43. A similar tale has been invented for the bishops of Najran; and also regarding an embassy of Christians from Abyssinia, who are said to have visited Mahomet at Mecca. Hishami, p. 124. So that not much reliance can be placed on this part of the narrative.

Two other incidents are related of the Najashy. One, that while the refugees were at his court, he was attacked by a claim- ant of the throne. The refugees were so concerned for the result, that they sent Zobeir (then quite a youth) over the Nile on an inflated skin, to watch the battle; and when he returned with tidings that the Najashy had discomfited his adversary, they rejoiced greatly.

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at Mecca, as one of his predecessors had done in Yemen? Apart even from foreign aid, there was ground for apprehension at home. The Moslem body no longer consisted of oppressed and despised out-casts, struggling for a weak and miserable existence. It was rather a powerful faction, adding daily to its strength by the accession of influential citizens. It challenged an open hostility. The victory of either party involved the annihilation of the other.

The Coreish cut off communications with the Moslems and their supporters

Influenced by such fears, the Coreish sought to stay the progress of secession from their ranks, by utterly severing the party of Mahomet from social and friendly communication with themselves. On the other hand, Abu Talib was supported in his defence of Mahomet by all his brothers (excepting

The Abyssinians are said to have risen up against their king on account of the favour he showed to the Mussulman doctrine. So the Najashy put into his pocket a scrap inscribed with the Mahometan creed, and when his people desired him to say "that Jesus was the Son of God," he responded thus (putting his hand upon his pocket) "Jesus never went beyond this " - apparently agreeing in what they said, but inwardly referring to the scrap! -a childish story.

Mahomet is said to have regarded him as a convert to Islam; and to have accordingly prayed for him at his death. A light is also related to have issued from his tomb.

There is probably a basis of truth for the general outline given in this note; but it would be difficult to draw a probable line between the real and the fictitious parts of it. Had the leaning towards Mahometan doctrine been really so great in Abyssinia, as is here represented, we should have heard more or its inhabitants in the troublous times immediately following Mahomet's decease.

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Abu Lahab,) and by the descendants generally of his grandfather Hashim, whether converts to Islam or not.38 Thus the religious struggle merged for a time into a civil feud between the Hashimites and the rest of the Coreish; and there were not wanting long-rooted political associations to add bitterness to the strife.

The Ban

To secure their purpose, the Coreish entered into a confederacy against the Hashimites; - That they would not marry their women, nor give their own in marriage to them; that they would sell nothing to them, nor buy aught from them ;-that dealings with them of every kind should cease. The ban was carefully committed to writing, and sealed with three seals. When all had bound themselves by it, the record was hung up in the Kaaba, and religious sanction thus given to its provisions.39

38 Katib al Wackidi, p. 40; Hishami; p. 72. Abu Talib summoned the house of Hashim to consult as to the defence of their kinsman Mahomet. All agreed to stand by him but Abu Lahab. Aba Talib was charmed with the noble spirit of his relatives, and recited a Casida (preserved by Ibn Ishac), in praise of the family. The verses, however, conclude with an eulogy on Mahomet as the chief and most noble of the stock-a sentiment which Abu Talib, not a convert to Islam, was not likely to have uttered. The Casida is evidently spurious, at least in part.

39 Katib al Wackidi p. 89 ½, 40; Tabari; p. 137; Hishami, p. 108. Mansur; son of Ikrima, wrote the document; and the hand with which he wrote it (at the prayer, adds Hishami, of Mahomet) withered and dried up. Hishami states that it was he also who suspended the deed in the Kaaba. Wackidi however gives another tradition, according to which it was never put in the Kaaba at all, but remained in the custody of Omm al Jalas, an aunt or cousin of Abu Jahl.

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The Sheb, or Quarter of Abu Talib

The Hashimites were unable to withstand the tide of public opinion which set in thus violently against them; and, apprehensive perhaps that it might be only the prelude of open attack, or of blows in the dark still more fatal, they retired into the secluded quarter of the city, known as the Sheb of Abu Talib.40 It was formed by one of the defiles. or indentations of the mountain, where the projecting rocks of Abu Cobeis pressed upon the eastern outskirts of Mecca. It was entered on the city side by a low gateway, through which a camel passed with difficulty. On all other sides it was detached from the town by cliffs and buildings.41

40 Sprenger (p. 194) holds that this movement was prior to, and independent of; the league of the Coreish (p. 189). But both Hishami and Wackidi distinctly connect the ban and the entry into Abu Talib's quarter as cause and effect And this is indeed the only intelligible statement of the facts.

41 Sheb signifies a defile, valley, glen, ravine. Thus the converts from Medina made their appointment to meet Mahomet in a glen, Sheb, leading into the valley of Mina; and the next day the enraged Coreish repaired to the Sheb of the Medina pilgrims, or the valley in which they were encamped. Katib al Wackidi, p. 42 ½. The valley at Ohod, where Talha saved Mahomet, is termed Sheb. Ibid. p. 221; Hishami, p. 262; Tabari, p. 375, where the top or exit from the valley is called "month of the Sheb."' Amr and his companion in their expedition to assassinate Abu Sofian, tied up their camels in one of the defiles (Sheb) near Mecca. Hishami, p. 451; Tabari, p. 405. So the end of a pass requiring to be guarded in the expedition of Dzat al Rika, is called "fam al Sheb." Tabari, p. 427. Before Cussey brought the Coreish into Mecca, they are said to have inhabited "the heights and defiles (Sheb) of the surrounding hills." Tabari, p. 29; Cnf C. & Perceval, vol. ii. p. 478.

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The Hashimites with Mahomet retire into the Sheb, 616-617 A.D.

On the first night of the first month of the seventh year of the prophetic life of Mahomet, the Hashimites, including the Prophet and his family, retired into the quarter of Abu Talib; and with them followed also the descendants of Al Muttalib, the brother of Hashim. Abu Lahab alone, instigated

Burton mentions a robber's gorge called "Shuab al Haj," the "Pilgrims' pass." In a note he adds,-" Shuab properly means a path through mountains, or; watercourse between hills. It is generally used in Arabia for a valley, and sometimes instead of Nakb, a pass." Pilgrimage, ii. 14.

The several quarters of Mecca skirting the foot of Abu Cobeis are still distinguished by the name Sheb: thus we have the Sheb Amir, the Sheb Maulad (quarter in which Mahomet was born); and the Sheb Ali. The latter was probably comprised in the Sheb of Aba Talib. Burkhardt’s Arabia, pp. 123-128. "On the east side, towards the mountain, and partly on its declivity, stands the quarter called Shah Aly, adjoining the Shab el Moled: here is shown the venerated place of Aly's nativity. Both these quarters called Shab (i.e. rock), are among the most ancient parts of the town, where the Koreysh formerly lived: they are even now inhabited principally by Sherifs, and do not contain any shops. The houses are spacious and in an airy situation." Ibid. p. 124.

It was into one of these quarters of the city situated in a defile, having behind it the steep ascent of the hill, and so built about as to be inaccessible on all sides, except by a narrow entrance from the city, that the Hashimites retired. These particulars enable us to understand the account of Hakim striking his camel to make it bow down and enter the narrow defile ; and the voices of the wailing children being heard in the parts of the city adjoining, but divided from, the Sheb.

Weil has misapprehended the meaning of" Sheb," and makes it a fortified castle outside Mecca. "Hielt es Abu Talib für gerathen, ihn mit einem Theile der Gläubigen aus Mekka zu entfernen, und in ein Wohlbefestigtes Schloss zu bringen." Mohammed, p. 61. So in his Einleitung, p. 9.

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by hatred of the new religion, went forth to the other party. The ban of separation was put rigorously in force. The Hashimites soon found themselves cut off from their supplies of corn and the other necessaries of life. They were not strong enough to send forth a caravan of their own; if parties of foreign merchants passed through, the Coreish instigated them to withhold their commodities, except at a most exorbitant price ;42 the Coreish themselves would sell nothing to them; and a great scarcity ensued. No one ventured forth from the Sheb, except at the season of pilgrimage, when all enmities throughout Arabia were hushed, and Mahomet and his party were free to join securely in the ceremonies.43 For two or three years, the attitude of both parties remained unaltered, and the failing stock of the Hashimites, replenished only by occasional and surreptitious ventures, reduced them to want and distress.

Their distress

The citizens could hear the voices of the half-famished children crying within the Sheb. Many hearts were softened at the sight

42 This is from Sprenger; but he does not give his authority, which I have not been able to trace (p. 194).

43 Katib al Wackidi, p. 40. It is not clear whether this retirement was voluntary on the part of the Hashimites, arising from their own alarm; or was directly forced upon them by the threats and menaces of the Coreish. Although they did not come forth from the Sheb into the city, they might still, we may conceive, issue from the quarter of Abu Talib, by clambering up the hill, and so getting out into the country. But they would be unable from the rugged and precipitous character of the rock to procure supplier in this way.

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of such hardships, and mourned over the hostilities which gave rise to them. Among these, and among the relatives of tile isolated band, were found some who ventured, in spite of the threats of the Coreish, to introduce, from time to time, provisions by stealth at night into the quarter of Abu Talib. Thus Hisham ibn Amr would conduct a camel laden with corn cautiously into the Sheb, and make over the burden to the hungry inmates.44a Hakim grandson of Khuweilid used also, though the attempt was sometimes perilous, to carry supplies to his aunt Khadija.44b

44aHisham belonged to the Bani Lowey, but he was the uterine brother of Fazila, a Hashimite:- "Now this man used to go with a camel to the children of Hashim and Muttalib, by night; and when he approached the entrance to their quarters he would let down the nose string of the camel from its head, and striking it on the side, would cause it to enter into the Sheb; making over to the inmates the corn wherewith it was laden." Hishami, p. 118.

44a "The Hashimites remained in this position for two or three years, till they became helpless. Not an article reached them, but covertly and by stealth, from such of the Coreish as were actuated by the ties of propinquity. On one occasion, Abn Jahl met Hakim, grandson of Khuweiled, and with him a slave carrying wheat for his aunt Khadija. Abu Jahl stopped him, and, swearing at him, threatened that if he would not desist he would disgrace him in Mecca. Abul Bokhtari came up and sought to quiet Abu Jahl, saying that it was natural and right for Hakim to take food for his aunt Abu Jahl would not listen, but fell upon Hakim; who, however, got the better of him, and forced him to retire kicked and wounded." Hishami, p. 109.

But stories tending to the abasement of Abu Jahl are related by the traditionists with such evident zest, that they are to be received by us with caution.

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Unfavourable effect or the seclusion on the cause of Mahomet.

Though the sympathies of many were called forth by the sufferings of the Hashimites, the cause of Islam itself did not advance during the period of this weary seclusion; for that seclusion had its full and expected effect in cutting off the mass of the people from the personal influence of Mahomet and of his converts. The efforts of the Prophet were necessarily confined to the conversion of the members of his own noble clan who, though unbelievers in his mission, had resolved to defend his person; and to the strengthening of his previous converts in the faith. Accordingly, we find in the portions of the Coran delivered at this time directions from God to retire from the unbelievers, and confine his preaching to his near kinsmen and to the faithful;--

Verily they are a rebellious people;
Wherefore turn from them, and thou shalt not be blamed.
And admonish; for admonition profiteth the believers.45

Invoke with GOD no other god, lest thou be of those consigned to torment.
And preach unto thy Relatives, those that be of nearer kin.
And conduct thyself gently unto the Believers that follow thee.
And if they disobey thee, Say, I am free from that which ye do.
And put thy trust in Him that is glorious and merciful.46

45 Sura li. 55.

46 Sura xxvi. 215-217. "Conduct thyself gently"-literally, Lower thy wings - - The same expression is used in Sura xv. 88:--

Stretch not forth thine eye unto the provision which we have given unto several of them, neither be covetous thereof.
But behave with gentleness (tower thy wings) unto the Believers;
And Say; Verily, I am a plain Preacher.

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The exemplary bearing of Mahomet under these trying circumstances, and the spirit of clanship uniting all that shut themselves up with him and Abu Talib, must undoubtedly have secured in some degree for the new religion itself, the general countenance

But it drew him closer to the Hashimites

of the Hashimites, and may perhaps have the helped to add some few followers from their ranks. But the weary years of confinement contributed probably no more important result.

Mahomet visits the fairs and assemblages of pilgrims

The time of pilgrimage alone afforded Mahomet a wider field. That interval of universal amnesty was turned, (as it had indeed already been before the ban,) to careful account in visiting and exhorting the various tribes that flocked to Mecca and the adjacent fairs. Thus the Prophet used to visit the great assemblages at Okatz, Mujanna, and Dzul Majaz, as well as the pilgrim encampments at Mecca and Mina. He warned them against idolatry; invited them to the worship and service of the One God; and promised them not only paradise here-after, but prosperity and, dominion upon earth, if they would believe.47 No one responded to his call.

And publish that which thou art commanded, and withdraw from the Idolaters.
Verily, we shall suffice for thee against the scoffers, those that get up with Gon other gods; but they will shortly know;
But do thou praise thy Lord with thanksgiving, and be among the Worshippers:—
And serve thy lord until death (or the certainty) overtake thee.

47 Hishami p. 139; Katib al Wackidi p. 41; Tabari, p. 155. Wackidi mentions Mahonmet’s frequenting the three fairs stated in the text, every year. There is some foreshadowing of the

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Abu Lahab would follow alter him, saying;- Believe him not, he is a lying renegade!48 And the tribes replied to Mahomet in sore and taunting words; - Thine own kindred and people should know thee best; wherefore, do they not believe and follow thee?

Is repulsed and dispirited

So the Prophet, repulsed and grieved, would look upwards and thus make his complaint unto God - Oh Lord, if Thou willedst, it would not be thus!49 But the prayer seemed to pass unheeded. victories of Islam in his supposed address, which rather throws doubt upon his having made any promise of worldly domination at this time. This was the alleged drift of his preaching: Ye people! Say, THERE IS NO GOD BUT THE LORD. Ye will be benefitted thereby. Ye will gain the rule of all Arabia, and of Ajam (foreign lands), and when ye die ye will reign as kings in Paradise.

The tribes whom he thus addressed are detailed both by Hishami and Wackidi, and include the Bani Kalb, Kinda, Harb, Odzra, Khassafa, Saasha, Ghassan, Hanifa; from the last of which he is related to have received the worst rebuff of all.

There would be numerous Christians and Jews at the faire, though they did not attend the Meccan pilgrimage.

48 "And behind him there followed a squint-eyed man, fat, having flowing locks on both sides, and clothed in raiment of fine Aden stuff. And when Mahomet had finished his preaching, this man would begin to address them, saying, that this fellow's only object was to draw them away from their gods and genii to his fancied revelations; wherefore follow him not, neither listen unto him. And who should this be but his uncle Abdal Ozza, Abu Lahab." Hishami, p. 140.

49 Katib al Wakidi, p. 41 ½.

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The Coran, as Revealed during this Period.

FOLLOWING the plan observed at the close of the last chapter I here propose to notice the character of the Suras, about twenty in number, assignable to the period just reviewed.50

Connection with Judaism

The new and lending feature of these chapters is the close connection springing up between Mahomet and the Jewish religion.

Jewish Scriptures appealed to

The Pentateuch is now constantly mentioned as a Revelation from God to Moses. The object of the Coran is "to attest" its origin and that or the succeeding Scriptures.51 The Jewish books contain "clear evidence" of the truth of the Coran, and of the mission of Mahomet52. Jewish witnesses are appealed to in proof that the New Dispensation is "foretold" in their sacred books, and that the Coran is in close conformity with their contents.

Testimony and feelings of the Jews towards Mahomet

The confidence with which Mahomet refers to the testimony of the Jews and of their Scriptures, is very remarkable. It leaves us no room to doubt that some amongst the Jews, possessed probably of an imperfect and superficial acquaintance with their own books and traditions, encouraged Mahomet in the idea that he might be, or positively affirmed that he was, that Prophet whom the

50 The approximate order of these will be given in an Appendix.

51 See Suras xlvi. 12, 30; xxxvii. 38; xxxii 24; x. 37, 93; vi. 93, et passim. The Coran is described as a book sent "to attest the preceeding Scriptures." So the Jews and Christians (severally and together but more especially, at this period, the former) are styled, "those to whom the Scriptures have been given." Thus it was the entire preceding Scriptures,—the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms, and subsequently the Gospel,— which Mahomet continually described himself as sent to "attest", "confirm", "fulfil."

A complete collection of all the passages of this nature in the Coran will he found in a treatise by the author;- "The testimony borne by the Coran to the Jewish and Christian Scriptures." Agra, 1856.

52 Sura xxvi. 195. "The Coran is borne witness to in the former Scriptures" &c.

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Lord their God should raise up unto them; of their brethren. His profound veneration for the Jewish Scriptures, to the implicit observance of which there was then fair ground for assuming that he had pledged himself in the Coran, would lull the apprehension of the Israelites, and draw them kindly towards him. "If this man," they would say, "hold firmly by the Law and the Prophets, and seek fervently the guidance of the GOD of our fathers, he will not go astray. Peradventure, the Lord willeth through him to lead the heathen Arabs unto salvation. Nay! What if (we erring in our interpretation of prophecy as to the Jewish lineage of our expected prophet,) this prove the very Messiah sprung from the seed of Abraham? In anywise let us wait, watching the result; and meanwhile encourage him in the love of the Word of GOD, and the seeking of His face in prayer." All rejoiced in the Jewish tendencies which had possessed his mind53. Some going farther bore a direct and unequivocal testimony to his mission54. It could have been to nothing short of such witness that he referred, when he said - They unto whom WE have given the Scripture recognize the Prophet,55 as they do their own children; and-

Verily this is a Revelation (rein the Lord or Creation;
The faithful Spirit hath descended with it
Upon thy heart, that thou mightest he a Warner,
In the tongue or simple Arabic.
And verily it is in the former Scriptures;
Was it not a Sign unto them that the learned among the children of Israel recognised it?
And if we had revealed it to a Foreigner;
And he had recited it unto them, they had not believed.56
SAY: What think ye, if this revelation be from God, end ye reject it, and a witness from amongst the Children of Israel hath witnessed unto the like thereof, and hath believed, and ye turn away scornfully?-Verily, God doth not direct the erring folk.57

53 "Those unto whom we have given the Book rejoice for that which bath been revealed unto thee" Sura xiii. 39.

54 See Sura xxxiv. 6; x. 93; vi. 14; xxviii. 53; xvii. 102, 108; xiii. 45.

55 Or "recognize the Coran." Sura vi. 20.

56 Sura xxvi. 191-198.

57 Sura xlvi. 10. "Unto the like thereof" that is, to its conformity with the Old Testament.

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Conjectures as to the "Witness".

Whether the "Witness," and other Jewish supporters of Mahomet, were among his professed followers, slaves perhaps, at Mecca; or were casual visitors there from Israelitish tribes; or belonged to the Jewish residents of Medina (with the inhabitants of which city the Prophet was on the point of establishing friendly relations), we cannot do more than conjecture.

The Jews supply Mahomet with materials for the Coran

But whoever his Jewish friends may have been, it is evident that they had a knowledge-rude and imperfect perhaps, but comprehensive, - of the outlines or Jewish history and tradition. These, distorted by rabbinical fable, and embellished or parodied by the Prophet's fancy, supplied the material for the Scriptural stories, which begin to form a chief portion of the Coran. The mixture of truth and fiction, of graphic imagery and of childish inanity, the repetition over and over again of the same tale in stereotyped expression, and the constant elaborate and ill-concealed effort to draw an analogy between himself and the former Prophets by putting the speech of his own day into their lips and those or their pretended opposers, fatigue and nauseate the patient reader of the Coran.

Correspondence, and disagreement, with the Old Testament

To those who have not studied the Revelation of Mahomet, the following examples may be useful as illustrating both its remarkable correspondence with the Jewish Scriptures, and the strange and fanciful deviations from them. The fabulous turn of the stories can often be tnced to Rabbinical legend.


God created Adam of clay, and commanded the angels to fall down and worship him.58 The devil, alleging his nobler formation from fire, refuted and fell.59 On receiving his sentence, he threatened God that he would seduce His new-created subjects; and, in tempting them to eat of the forbidden tree, he fulfilled his threat.60

58 Compare Ps. xcvii.; Hebrews, i. 6. "When he bringeth the first-born into the world, he saith, and let all the angels of God worship him."

59 "His ministers a flaming fire." Ps. civ. 4; Heb. i. 7.

60 Sura ii. 11-26; xx. 113; xxxviii. 70. The first of these passages may be quoted as a fair specimen or the half scriptural, half legendary style.

And verily WE created you, then fashioned you, then We said unto the Angels, "Fall down and worship Adam;" and they worshipped all, excepting Eblis, who was not one of the worshippers;-

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To the facts of Abel's history, is added the Jewish fiction that God, by sending a raven to scratch the ground, indicated to Cain that the corpse should be buried under the earth.61 It would

He said "what hindereth thee that thou worshippest not when I command thee?" He answered,- "I am better than he, Thou createdst me of Fire, and thou createdst him of clay."
He said, "Get thee down from Heaven; it shall not be given thee to behave arrogantly therein; get thee hence, verily, thou shalt be amongst the Despicable"
He said, "Respite me unto the Day when (all) shall be raised"
He said, "Verily, thou art of the number respited."
He said, "Now, for that Thou hast caused me to fall, I will lie in wait for them in the straight path;
Then I will fall upon them from before and from behind, and from their right hand and from their left; and Thou shalt not find the most part of them thankful"
He said, "Depart from hence, despised and driven off: for those of them that shall follow thee,- verily, I will fill hell with you together!
And thou, Adam, dwell thou and thy Wife in Paradise, and eat from whatever quarter ye will, but approach not this Tree, lest ye become of the number of the Transgressors!"
And the Devil tempted them both that he might discover that which was hidden from them of their Nakedness.
And he said, "Your Lord hath only forbidden you this Tree, lest ye should become Angels, or become immortal"
And he swore unto them, "Verily, I am unto you one that counselleth good."
And he misled them by ambitious Desire; and when they had tasted of the Tree, their Nakedness appeared unto them, and they began to sew together upon themselves the leaves of Paradise;
And their lord called unto them, "What! did I not forbid you this Tree, and say unto you that Satan was your manifest Enemy?"
They said, "Oh, our lord! We have injured our own Souls, and if Thou forgivest us not, and art not merciful unto us, we shall be numbered amongst the Damned."
He said, "Get ye down, the one of you an Enemy to the other; and there shall be unto you on the Earth an habitation and a provision for a season:"-
He said, "Therein shall ye live, and therein shall ye die, and from thence shall ye be taken forth."

The expression in the penultimate verse seems to be taken from Genesis iii. 15. "And I will put enmity," &c.

61 Sura v. 33. See Geiger's Was hat Mahommed aus Judenthume, &c., p. 103, where he quotes R. Elieser, Kap. 21, for the Jewish tradition to

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be a vain and unprofitable task to follow Mahomet through his labyrinth of truth, discrepancy, and fiction. It will suffice if I but allude to the stories of Abraham, who brake the idols of his people, and miraculously escaped the fire into which the Tyrant cast him :62 of the angel's visit, when "Sarah laughed" at the promise of a son; and the Patriarch, vainly pleading for Sodom, was told that though Lot would be saved, his wife was predestined to destruction 63 of Abraham's hand being stayed from the sacrifice of his son, who was ransomed by "a noble victim :"64 of Joseph, in envy of whose beauty the Egyptian women cut their hands with knives65 : of Jacob, who when the garment of Joseph was cut over him by the messengers from Egypt, recovered his long lost sight:66 of Mount Sinai held above the heads of the terrified Israelites to force their acceptance of the law: of the Seventy who, when struck dead upon the same mount, were quickened to life again;67 of David, whom the mountains joined in singing the praises of God: and of Solomon, on whose gigantic works the Genii and Devils were forced to labour at his bidding: of the Genii, who brought the throne of the Queen of Sheba to Solomon in "the twinkling of an eye," and of the lap-wing that flew to her with the royal summons:68 or the Jews who broke the Sabbath, and were changed into apes:69 of Ezekiel who quickened a great multitude

the same effect. But in the Jewish tradition the raven shows the mode of burial to Adam; in the Coran, to Cain the murderer.

62 Sura xxi. 52, &c. See the quotations from the Jewish Commentator Rabbah of similar legends, in Geiger, p. 124.

63 Sura xi.69; xv. 50; xxvii. 58,&c.

64 Sura xxxvii. 84. Which son it was not specified in the Coran. See above, p. 155, note.

65 Sura xii. Mahomet makes Joseph to have been inclined towards Potiphar's wife, and only saved from impending sin by a Divine Interposition; Sura xii. 25. So the Rabbin Jochanan; Geiger, p. 142. The ladies' cutting their hands is also mentioned in the Sepher Hayyashar. Ibid..

66 Sura xii. 93-96.

67 Sura ii. 55, 63, 93; iv. 153; vi 172. For the analogous rabbinical legend, see Geiger, p. 165.

68 Sura xxvii. 16-45; xxxiv. 10-14; xxxviii 18, 42. For the Jewish legends of similar nature, see Geiger, p. 185-187.

69 Sura vii. 164.

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of the dead :70 and of Ezra who with his ass was raised to life after they had been dead one hundred years71.
Some favourite passages in the sacred record are the subject of special amplification and frequent repetition. Such are the history of Moses, the catastrophe of the Flood, and the overthrow of Sodom, through which the Arabian Prophet, ever recurring to them with a wearisome reiteration, seeks to deal forth exhortation and warning to the Meccans. A true conception of these curious recitals can be gained only from a perusal of the Coran itself. If the render desire a specimen, and have patience and interest for the tedious detail, let him refer to the history of Moses in the twentieth and twenty-eighth Suras.

Time spent in study and composition

To acquire so minute a knowledge of considerable portions of the Jewish Scriptures, to assimilate these to his former materials, and to work them up into the elaborate and rhythmical Suras which begin now to extend to a considerable length, it was neces- sary to devote much time and careful study. The revelation is now seldom the spontaneous and impassioned eloquence of a burning Faith; it is rather the tame and laboured result of ordinary composition. For this end many a midnight hour must have been stolen from sleep. - though ostensibly devoted to prayer and the recitation of God's word. Such employment is probably referred to in passages like the following;-

Oh thou that art wrapped up?
Arise during the Night, excepting a small portion thereof:-
A Half of it; or diminish therefrom a little,
Or add thereto. And recite the Coran with well measured recitation.
Verily, We shall inspire thee with weighty words.
Verily, the hours of Night are the best for fervent maceration, and distinct utterance.
Truly by Day thou hast a protracted Labour.
And commemorate the name of thy Lord, and consecrate thyself solely unto Him.72

70 Sura ii. 244. The name of Ezekiel is not given. But the germ of the legend seems to lie in the vision of the Resurrection of the Dry Bones. Ezekiel, xxxvii 1-10. See Geiger, p. 193, who traces it to the Talmud Sanhed, p. 92.

71 Sura ii. 260. The name is not given, but commentators are argeed it was Ozair or Ezra. Both Sale (in loco) and Geiger, (p. 195) as well as Maracci (vol. i. p. 98) connect the story with Nehemiah's circuit of the ruined city. Nehemiah ii. 12.

72 Sura lxxiii. 1-7.

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Mahomet may have deceived himself into blending study and inspiration together

It is possilile that the convictions of Mahomet may have become so blended with his grand object and course of action, that the very study of the Coran, and effort to compose it, were regarded as his best season of devotion. But the stealthy and disingenuous manner in which he now availed himself of Jewish information, producing the result, not only as original, but as evidence of inspiration,73 begins to furnish proof of an active, though it may have been unconscious, course of dissimulation and falsehood, to be palliated only by the miserable apology of a pious end.

Imputations of his enemies

On this weak point his enemies were not slow to seize. They accused him of fabrication, and of being assisted therein by others; - "They are fables" said they "of the ancients which he hath had written down; they are dictated unto him morning and evening." To these most damaging imputations Mahomet could only answer; - "He hath revealed it who knoweth that which is hidden in heaven and in earth: He is forgiving and merciful 74."

Christian Scriptures little mentioned as yet

Up to this period there is hardly any mention of the Christian Scriptures. The available sources of information regarding them were probably as yet imperfect.

73 See Sura xxxviii. 70. The story Of Man's Creation, and the Fall of Satan, Is thus prefaced: - "I had no knowledge regarding the Heavenly Chiefs when they disputed; verily, it bath been revealed unto me for no other purpose than (to prove) that I am a public Preacher." So Sura xxviii. 45-47, regarding the story of Moses at the Mount. Also xli. 102; after relating the history of Joseph, he adds, “This is one of the secret histories, which we have revealed unto thee; thou was not present with them," &C Compare Sara xxv. 34: - "And they shall not come unto thee with any parable, (i.e. hard question,) but I will bring thee the truth, (in answer,) and a most excellent interpretation."

74 Sura xiv, 4-6.

The Life of Mahomet, Volume II [Table of Contents]