have been contested; and the strife has too often led to cruel persecution, and even to bloody fields of battle. Such are the doctrines of the divine succession to the Caliphate; the eternity of the Corân, or its creation; predestination, or, free-will; and the imperceptibility of the Deity; or the beatific vision as interpreted by anthropomorphism.

But it would only lead us astray if we sat down to the study of the Corân, expecting to find there the traces of such-like dogmas, or indeed of any settled system of doctrine. The Corân was the reflex of Mahomet's own convictions, or rather of the teaching he desired to impress upon the minds of others. His ideas changed, as we have seen, upon many important points during the progress of his ministry. His deliverances were elicited by the events of the passing moment, and from them took their form and colouring. We must therefore accept his differing statements just as we find them, and should greatly err if we sought to draw them into any consistent shape and system.

Some doctrines, indeed, are inculcated throughout the Corân without variation or inconsistency. Such are the Divine unity, perfections, and all-pervading providence; the existence of good angels, as well as of Satan and the fallen angels; the immortality of the soul; the resurrection and retribution of good and evil; the sin of idolatry; the inspiration of Mahomet himself, and of the former prophets. Others, again, must be qualified by counter-statements, as predestination, salvation without works, and the reward of good works.


The teaching of the Corân is very simple. God has revealed himself in various ages, under different dispensations, through the instrumentality of inspired prophets. The dispensations varied in outward and accidental form; but the great catholic faith in the unity of God and Islâm (that is, submission to His will), underlies them all. The truth thus successively promulgated was as often lost or distorted by the ignorance and perversity of mankind. The mission of Mahomet was to establish the last of these dispensations; and, while at first professing to hold that his own teaching was simply concurrent with that of former revelations, in the end he caused it to obliterate and override them all.

The first condition of Islâm is belief in the creed; "There is no God but the Lord, and Mahomet is His Apostle." This at once sweeps away idolatry, and the "association with God" of other objects of worship; and it also establishes the Corân as the paramount rule of faith and practice. There is no priesthood in Islâm. Man deals immediately with the Deity. Mahomet is but a Prophet,

Sura XLVII., 20[19]

himself a sinner needing mercy and forgiveness. Salvation is promised to the believer; but he is at the same time bound to abstain from evil, and to do good works, and, in particular, to observe the ordinances of Islâm. These requirements, though few and simple, pervade the whole life of a Mussulman. The day opens with prayer at the dawn; with prayer the night closes in; and the ceremony is repeated three other times, at fixed intervals, during the day. Each prayer consists