|THE APOLOGY OF AL KINDY.
|the message. If there be in the Arabic language no words to express the ideas, then the medium of communication, and therefore the message itself, is imperfect; if otherwise, the messenger." That not the former, but the latter, was the case, Al Kindy enforces by the congenial argument that there were poets, such as Imrul Cays, and men of eloquence and oratory, without number before Mahomet, whose productions surpassed his, both in conception and language. This was cast in the Prophet's teeth by the Meccans; for he turned round and called them 'a contentious race.' And, indeed, Mahomet himself admits as much when he attributes their compositions to magic.1 The introduction then of foreign expressions into the Coran must be owing to one of two things; either to the poverty of the Arabian vocabulary, while confessedly it is the richest and most copious of all tongues, or to the fact that different persons had a hand in the work; and our Author leaves his Friend on the horns of this dilemma.
"If, again, the claim put forth be that there is in
|THE CORAN: ITS STYLE AND PURPORT.
|the Coran a supernatural harmony and cadence of language, and beauty of conception; that will be determined by the accuracy of the measures, the purity and fitness of the composition, and the point and charm of thought and imagery. But thy book throughout is broken in its rhythm, confused in its composition, and in its flights of fancy unmeaning."
Yet once more, if the claim rest on the matter revealed in the Coran, Al Kindy asks what single truth we find there revealed, unknown to the ancients, and which indeed had not already been handled threadbare. "In our own day," he says, "mankind are pursuing every branch of knowledge to results unparalleled before; yet what had that to do with such superhuman conditions as were required for miracles like those of Moses or of Christ? The truth, in short, is that the Coran with its manifold defects could only have appeared a miracle of eloquence and learning in the eyes of rude ignorant tribes and barbarous races."
The three false prophets who appeared at the rise of Islam played the same game as Mahomet; and our Author had read passages given out by Moseilama, which would have drawn away the Moslems after him, if only he had had Helpers to support him like those of Mahomet.1