review of Christian sources by notice of the Balance,
briefly mentioned in the Qur'an,1 but surrounded by a vast variety of Coptic
tales. Two Egyptian books (one of ancient date placed in the tombs to be
read by the dead) are quoted at length; a wonderful Egyptian picture
exhibits how the Balance weighs the spirits, good and bad; and strange
sights are given of Adam and Abraham in the Heavens beyond.
Chapter v. relates many things from ancient Zoroastrian and even Hindu writings. Persia, far ahead of Arabia, had a sensible influence upon it, and
much of what is Oriental in the Qur'an and Tradition is evidently derived
from Pehlavi and other Eastern sources. Thus we have the marvels of the
Seven heavens, seen by the Prophet on his ascent from Jerusalem; the
Houries; Azāzīl and other spirits coming up from Hades; the Light of Muhammad, the bridge of Sirāt, etc. all illustrated by the author's
marvellous knowledge of Eastern literature, beliefs, and history. The
Prophet must have learned all these things from the foreigners who
frequented Medina. Suspected of this, he indignantly replied that his tongue
was not foreign, but pure Arabic alone.2
The concluding chapter tells us of a few inquirers in Arabia, called
Hanefites, just before the time of Muhammad. There were four at Mecca, of
whom one became a Christian, another a Muslim, and a third joined
Caesar. The fourth, Waraca, was first a Jew and then a Christian. One of
these, a pious devotee, worshipped yearly in a cave near Mecca, and no doubt
influenced the Prophet, who used to visit the same place for quiet and lonely
The Sources of Islam, our Author in conclusion shows, have been altogether
human and misleading. They all passed through the Prophet's mind as he composed
the Qur'an, which thus bears throughout the impress of his own heart and
character. One good thing there is in it, namely, a thorough testimony to the
Gospel and "Torah"; all true Muslims are accordingly invited to
study both, and thus through our Saviour Christ obtain the true promises of
their father Abraham.
The Sources is a noble work, and reflects high distinction on the writer.
Hitherto much labour has been spent in showing the falsity and errors of Islam,
as has been ably done by Pfander and others. It has remained for our Author
not only to conceive a new, and perhaps more thorough and effective, mode of
treating the so-called divine and eternal faith, but also in doing so to prove
its Sources to be of purely human origin; and that in so masterly and effective
a way that it seems impossible for good Muslims to resist the conclusion drawn.
And for all this the thanks of the Christian world are eminently due to the Rev.
W. St. Clair-Tisdall.