228 The CORÂN

which allusion is so constantly made in the Corân. Mecca and Medîna were not situated in a corner of the world where other Scriptures than those commonly in use elsewhere could have been intended. Jews and Christians inhabited various parts. of Arabia, as Yemen, Najrân, Tayma, Dûma, &c., and from all quarters they resorted yearly to the fairs at Ocâtz, Mujanna, Dzul-Majâz, &c. Mercantile journeys were made from Mecca frequently to Syria, Yemen, and Abyssinia, where Christianity was established and Judaism known. Some Arabs even reached the courts of the Kaiser and the Chosroes. Shortly before the assumption of the prophetic office by Mahomet, Othmân-ibn-Huweirith, a citizen of Mecca, repaired to Constantinople, from whence he returned a baptized Christian. The Christian courts of Hîra, and of the Ghassânide dynasty, both adjoining Arabia on the north, were frequented by the Arabs. Mahomet himself had been twice to Syria. Above a hundred of his followers found a safe and hospitable refuge at the Christian court of the Abyssinian Negûs (Najâshy), both before and after the Hejira. Mahomet had Jewish and Christian adherents at Medîna, among the converts to Islâm. In the 6th year of the Hejira, embassies were despatched by Mahomet to the Roman and Persian courts, to Abyssinia and Egypt, to the Ghassânide prince, and to other Christian chiefs.

There was thus no want of communication between Mahomet and the Jews and Christians of every quarter of the civilised world. When, therefore, he speaks of "the Book" or "the Scriptures" which the Jews and


Christians were in the habit of reading, the precepts of which they were religiously to observe, and by the Judgments of which they were always to be guided, he means, and cannot but mean, the Old and the New Testaments preserved amongst the whole body of the Jews and Christians, read in their Churches, Synagogues, and Monasteries, and studied in their private houses.


The Jews are frequently accused in the Corân of being a rebellious and stiff-necked people as their fathers had been, and of perverting the meaning of their sacred books.

When Mahomet went to Medîna, he expected to find the Jews, who resided in considerable numbers in the neighbourhood, favourable to his cause; and he entered into a close treaty with them, a copy of which or at least the substance of it, is recorded in the histories of his life. But the Jews, finding that Mahomet believed in the Messiahship of Jesus, and in other doctrines diametrically opposed to their own faith, became hostile to his cause, and refused to acknowledge that there was any prophecy whatever in their Scriptures that applied to him. They held that their Messiah was to be of Jewish, and not of Ishmaelite descent; and they utterly rejected the Arabian prophet. Thus a deadly enmity grew up between them. Mahomet caused several of his bitterest opponents to be assassinated. At last he openly warred against them, expatriated two whole tribes, the Bani Nadhîr and Bani Caynocâa, and having slain all the males