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Extension of Islam and Early Converts, from the assumption by Mahomet of the prophetical office to the date of the first Emigration to Abyssinia

Position of Mahomet in his forty-fourth year

The weary region of uncertainty and speculation has been left behind. Towards the forty-fourth year of his age we find Mahomet, now emerged from doubt and obscurity, clearly and unequivocally asserting that he had been ordained a Prophet to call the Arabs to the Lord, reciting, his warnings and exhortations as messages that emanated direct from the mouth of God, and implicitly believing (to all outward appearance) his inspiration and mission to be divine. We find him already surrounded by a little band of followers, all animated by ardent devotion to himself and earnest belief in God as his guide and inspirer.

Earliest converts

It is strongly corroborative of Mahomet's sincerity that the earliest converts to Islam were his bosom friends and the people of his household; who, intimately acquainted with his private life, could not fail otherwise to have detected those

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discrepancies which, more or less, invariably exist between the professions of the hypocritical deceiver abroad, and his actions at home.


The faithful KHADIJA has already been made known to the reader, as the sharer in the enquiries of her husband, and probably the first convert to his doctrines. "So Khadija believed" (runs the simple tradition), "and attested the truth of that which came to him from God. Thus was the Lord minded to lighten the burden of his Prophet; for he heard nothing that grieved him touching his rejection by the people, but he had recourse unto her, and she comforted, re-assured, and supported him."1


ZEID, the former slave, and Ms wife Omm Ayman (or Baraka), the nurse of Mahomet, have also been noticed. Though Zeid was now a free man, yet being the adopted son of Mahomet and Ms intimate friend, it is probable that he lived in close connection with his family, if not actually an ostensible member of it He, too, 'was one of the earliest believers.2


ALI. The little Ali had now reached the age of thirteen, or fourteen years, and already gave tokens of the wisdom and judgment which distinguished his

1 Hishami, p.68. He promised her a palace in Paradise, formed out of a gigantic pearl, "wherein there would be neither strife nor toil."

2 Hishami, p.66.

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after life. Though possessed of indomitable courage, he was meditative and reserved, and lacked the stirring energy which would have rendered him a valuable and effective propagator of Islam. He grew up from a child in the faith of Mahomet, and his earliest associations strengthened the convictions of matured age. It is said that as Mahomet was once engaged with the lad in prayer, in one of the glens near Mecca, whither they retired to avoid the jeers of their neighbours, Abu Talib chanced to pass by, and said to Mahomet, "My nephew! what is this new faith I see thee following?" - "Oh, my uncle I This is the religion of God, and of His angels, and of His prophets; the religion of Abraham. The Lord hath sent me an Apostle unto his servants; and thou, my uncle, art the most worthy of all that I should address my invitation unto, and the most worthy to assist the Prophet of the Lord." Abu Talib replied, "I am not able, my nephew, to separate from the religion and the customs of my fore-fathers, but I swear that so long as I live, no one shall dare to trouble thee." Then, turning to his son, the little Ali, who had professed a similar faith and the resolution to follow Mahomet, he said, "Well, my son, he will not invite thee, to aught but that which is good; wherefore thou art free to cleave unto him.3

3 Hishami, p.66; Tabari, p. 108. This conversation, like most of the atones of the period, is of a type moulded by subsequent

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To the family group it is hardly necessary to add the aged cousin of Khadija, WARACA, whose profession of Christianity aud support of Mahomet have been already mentioned; because it is agreed by all that he died before Mahomet had entered upon his public ministry.

Abu Bakr

In the little circle there was on belonging to another branch of the Coreish, who, after Khadija, may claim precedence in conversion to Islam. ABU BAKR, of the Bani Taym, had long been a familiar friend of Mahomet; with him he probably had lamented the gross darkness of Mecca, and sought after a better faith. He lived in the same quarter of the city as Khadija.4 When Mahomet removed thither the intimacy became closer, and the attachment of Abu Bakr was soon rivetted by implicit faith in his friend as the apostle of God. Ayesha, his daughter (born about this period, and destined while yet a girl to be the Prophet's bride), "could not remember the time when both her parents Mahometan ideas. The tale has however been admitted. into the text because in itself not improbable. The facts are at any rate in accordance with Aba Talib's character, and his constant support of Mahomet.

4 Both Aba Bakr and Khadija lived in the quarter now called Zuckack al Hajar. See the plan of Mecca in chap. ii. p. 5. This street "comprises the birth place or Fatima, the daughter of Mahommed, and of Abu Bakr, the Prophet's successor." Burkhardt's Travels, p.126.

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were not true believers,5 and when Mahomet did not daily visit her father's house morning and evening."6 Of Abu Bakr, the Prophet said, "I never invited any to the faith who displayed not hesitation and perplexity-excepting only Abu Bakr; who, when I had propounded unto him Islam, tarried not, neither was perplexed."7

His appearance and character

The character and appearance of this Chief of Islam, and bosom friend of Mahomet, demand a detailed description. Abu Bala was about, two years younger than the Prophet; short in stature, and of a small spare frame; the eyes deeply seated under a high projecting forehead. His complexion was fair, and his face thin, so that you could see the veins upon it.8 Shrewd and intelligent, he yet wanted the originality of genius; his nature

5 Katib al Wackidi, p.211,'. Asma, Ayesha's sister (but by another mother) is related to hare said the same thing of her father, Aba Bakr. Ibid.

6 Ibid.

7 Hishami, p.67.

8 This description is from the Katib al Wackidi. It must, however, be remembered (as has already been remarked in the case of Mahomet, vide chap. II. p.15,) that the personal details preserved by tradition are those of his later life. The "loosely banging clothes" and "flaccid hips," described by the Secretary, were probably not characteristic of his manhood, and have therefore not been adopted in the text. lie had little hair on his body; the joints of his fingers were small and fine. At the emigration to Medina, his hair was the whitest among Mahomet's followers; but he used to dye it.

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was mild and sympathetic, but not incapable of firm purpose where important interests were concerned. Impulse and passion rarely prompted his actions; he was guided by reason and calm conviction. Faithful and unvarying in his attachment to the Prophet, he was known (and is to the present day familiar throughout the realms of Islam), as AL SADICK, "the True9." He was also styled Al Awwah, "the Sighing," from his tender and compassionate heart.

His generosity and popularity

Abu Bakr was a diligent and successful merchant, and being frugal and simple in his habits, possessed at his conversion about 40,000 dirhems. His generosity was rare, his charity unwearying. The greater part of his fortune was expended in the purchase of such unfortunate slaves as from their inclination to the new faith were persecuted by the unbelieving Meccans; so that but 5,000 dirhems were left when, ten or twelve years after, he emigrated

9 Some say he was so called because he bore testimony to the truth of Mahomet's heavenly journey. He was called also Al Atick from his handsome countenance (Hish. p.67); or because Mahomet so named him as one preserved from hell-fire, Katib al Wackidi, p. 211 1/2. His proper name was Abdallah, son of Othman Abu Cahafa. It is not clear when he obtained the name of Abu Bakr. If, as appears probable, it was given him because his daughter Ayesha was Mahomet's only virgin bride then it could not have been till after the emigration to Medina, when the Prophet, by marrying many widows, had given a distinction and peculiarity to his marriage with Ayesha.

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with the Prophet to Medina. Abu Bakr was unusually familiar with the history of the Coreish, who often referred to him for genealogical information. His judgment was calm and impartial, his conversation agreeable, his demeanour affable and engaging; his society and advice were therefore much sought after by the Coreish, and he was popular throughout the city.10

Abu Bakr's influence gains five early converts;

To gain such a man as a staunch adherent of his claims was for Mahomet a most important step. Abu Bakr's influence was freely surrendered to the cause of Islam, and five of the earliest converts are attributed to his exertions and example. Three were but striplings.

Saad, Zobeir, Talha,

Saad, the son of Abu Wackkas, converted in his sixteenth or seventeenth year, was the nephew of Amina11. Zobeir, son of Al Awwam,

10 The authorities for these details of Abu Bakr are Katib al Wackidi, pp. 211 1/2-215; Hishami p. 67; Tabari, p. 112. Sprenger (pp. 170, 171,) has ably and faithfully drawn his character. I quite agree with him in considering "the faith of Abu Bakr the greatest guarantee of the sincerity of Mohammed in the beginning of his career ;"----and, indeed, in a modified sense, throughout his life.

11 The mother of Mahomet. See Katib al Wackidi; pp. 205-207 1/2. Saad pursued at Mecca the trade of manufacturing arrows. He died at Al Ackick, ten Arabian miles from Medina, (whither they carried him for burial,) A.H. 50 or 55, aged about seventy. These dates would make him still younger at the period or conversion than is represented by the Secretary. But throughout this stage we must bear in mind that (according to Canon II. c. Introduction, chap. I. p. lxii.) the tendency of tradition is to

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probably still younger, was at once the nephew of Khadija, and the son of Mahomet's aunt Safia.12 About the same age was Tahla, the renowned warrior of after days, and related to Abu Bakr himself.13

Othman son or Affan, and Abd al Rahmin

The fourth was Othman son of Affan (successor of Abu Bakr and Omar in the Caliphate), who,

place the conversion of the leaders of Islam earlier than it actually occurred. It is therefore not improbable that Saad's conversion may have taken place a few years later that the period referred to in the text; or, occurring at the period specified, he may have died more advanced in years than is admitted by tradition.

12 Zobeir was the grandson or Khuweilid, Khadiga's father. He was also the grandson of Abd al Muttalib by his daughter Safin. He was assassinated, A.H. 36, aged sixty-four, according to others sixty-seven. Katib al Wackidi, pp. 197 1/2-200. He was a butcher; and his father a grain merchant or, as others have it, a tailor.

13 Talha, son of Obeidalla was a Coreishite, of the Bani Taym. His grandfather was a brother of the grand-father of Abu Bakr. He was killed in the battle of the Camel, A.D. 36, aged sixty-two or sixty-four. He would thus be, at the period referred to in the text, fifteen or sixteen years old. The Katib al Wackidi tells an absurd story that when at Bostra with a caravan, a monk enquired of them whether "Ahmed had yet appeared at Mecca"- And who is Ahmed?" they asked. "He is the son of Abdallah, the son of Abd al Muttalib," replied the monk; "this is the month in which he is to arise; and he will emigrate from Mecca to the country of date trees, and the stony salt land (Medina). Ye should haste away to meet him!" Talha set forth at once for Mecca, and was told on his arrival that Mahomet had put forward prophetical claims, and that Abu Bakr had declared for him. So Talha believed, and accompanied Abu Bakr to Mahomet, and the Prophet rejoiced when he heard the story of the Monk.

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though of the Ommeyad stock, was a grandson by his mother of Ab al Muttalib. Rockeya, being now, or shortly after, free from her connection with Otba, the son of the hostile Abu Lahab, Mahomet gave her in marriage to Othman, whose wife she continued until her death some ten or twelve years afterwards. Othman was at this period between thirty and forty years of age.14 The fifth was Abd

Talha may possibly hare heard some Syrian monk speak of the evil of idolatry &C. and been thus prepared to follow Mahomet's doctrine. But the details of the story as given by the Secretary are too absurd to need refutation.

Nowfal, a brother of Khadija, persecuted Abu Bakr and Talha, and bound them together with a rope, whence they received the name of Al Caranein, "the Bound." Katib al Wackidi, p. 220 ˝; Hishami, p. 75. The latter authority calls Nowfal one of the devils of the Coreish ;-the former calls him their lion. He was killed at Badr.

14 The account given by the Katib al Wackidi of Othman's conversion is that he and Talha followed Zobeir into the house of Mahomet, who propounded to them the principles of Islam, and recited the Coran; whereupon they believed. And Othman said, "Oh Prophet! I have come lately from Syria, and as I was asleep on the way between Al Maan and Al Zurcka, one cried to me, Arise, thou sleeper! Verily, Ahmed hath appeared at Mecca; Be we arrived, and forthwith heard the tidings of thee." This is of a piece with the story of Talha,-the one probably invented to rival the other.

Othman was early exposed to persecution. His uncle, Al Hakam, grandson of Omeyd, seized and bound him, saying, "Dost thou prefer a new religion to that of thy fathers? I swear I will not loose thee until thou givest up this new faith thou art following after." Othman said;-" By the Lord, I will never abandon it!" So when Al Hakam saw his firmness in the faith, he let him go. Katib al Wackidi, p.189.

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al Rahman, son of Awf; of the Bani Zohra,15 about ten years younger than the Prophet, and a man of wealth and character. Abd al Rahman, Othman, and Talha were, like Abu Bakr, merchants or traders; and the pursuit of the same profession may have occasioned community of interest among them.

Four other converts with Abd al Rahmin

Abd al Rahman is said to have been accompanied on his first visit to the house of Mahomet by four companions, who simultaneously with him embraced Islam; Obeida, son of Mahomet’s uncle, Harith;16 Abu Salma, of the Bani Makhzum;17 Abu Obeida, son of Al Jarrah, subsequently a warrior of

Othman, son of Matzun

note;18 and Otman, son of Matzun. It is related that the latter had already abandoned wine before his conversion, and was with difficulty persuaded by Mahomet to renounce the asperities of an ascetic life. The family of Othman appear to have been

He was subsequently called Abu Abdallah, after a son by Rockeya; when about six years of age, this child had his eye pecked out by a bird, fell sick, and died, A.H. 4.

Having succeeded Abu Bakr in the Caliphate, he was murdered, A.H. 36, aged seventy-fire (or according to others) eighty-two, which would make him at the time of the emigration to Medina, thirty-nine or forty-six years of age; and at the period under consideration from thirty to thirty-five.

15 The same tribe as that of Amina the mother of Mahomet.

16 Obeida was killed at Badr: he was ten years older than Mahomet. Katib al Wackidi; p.188.

17 He emigrated twice to Abyssinia with his wife Omm Salma. He was wounded at the battle of Ohod, and died shortly after, when Mahomet married his widow. Katib al Wackidi; p.225 ˝.

18 Ibid. p.261.

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well inclined to Islam, for we find two brothers, a son, and other relatives of his in the list of early believers.19

Converted slaves, Bilal

Of the slaves ransomed by Abu Bakr from persecution, for their adherence to the new doctrine, the foremost is BILAL, the son of an Abyssinian slave girl. He was tall, dark, and gaunt, with negro features and bushy hair. Mahomet honoured and distinguished him as "the first fruits of Abyssinia;" and to this day he is renowned throughout the Moslem world as the first Muadzzin, or crier to prayer.20 Amr ibn Foheira, after being purchased and released from severe trial, was employed by Abu Bakr in tending his flocks.21 Abdallah ibn Masod, "small

19 He belonged to the Coreshite stock of the Bani Jumh. He wished to renounce the privileges of conjugal life. But Mahomet forbade this, and recommended him to imitate his own practice in this respect, saying that the Lord had not sent His prophet with a monkish faith. Ibid. p.258. The particulars which Mahomet is there represented as stating regarding his own habits are strongly illustrative or his character; but the grossness of language and idea which pervades the passage precludes farther detail.

His brothers were Abdallah and Cudama. His son emigrated to Abyssinia. Mumir, another Jumhite, is also mentioned as converted at this stage. The whole family or Othman ibn Matzun, with their wires and children, emigrated to Medina at the Hegira.

20 He belonged to the Bani Jumh Katib al Wackidi; p.224.

21 A son (by a former husband) of Abu Bakr's wife (the mother of Ayesha) was his owner. Ibid., p. 223 1/2.

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in body, but weighty in faith," constant attendant of Mahomet at Medina ;23 and Khobab, son of

Meccan slaves susceptible of religious impression

Aratt, a blacksmith, were also converted at this period.24 The slaves of Mecca were peculiarly accessible to the solicitations of the Prophet. As foreigners they were generally familiar either with Judaism or Christianity. Isolated from the influences of hostile partizanship, persecution alienated them from the Coreish, and misfortune made their hearts susceptible of spiritual impressions.25

23 He belonged to the Bani Tamim; and was attached to the Bani Zohra, but whether in the capacity of an attendant or con- federate is not stated. He was once at Medina climbing up a date tree, and his companions were indulging in pleasantry at the erpense of his spare legs, when Mahomet used the expression quoted in the text. He was sallow, with his hair smoothed down. Ibid. p.207 1/2. On what authority Weil (p.50) calls him a dwarf ”der Zwerg," is not stated.

24 Khobab was of the Bani Tamim, having been sold as a prisoner at Mecca to Omm Anmar (or Omm Siba), whose trade (Mutter quac feminas circuincidit) was so offensively proclaimed at Ohod by Hamza, when he cliallenged her son Siba. It is related of Khobab that when he claimed a debt from Al As ibn Wail, the latter, who was a denier of the resurrection, deferred him ironically for payment to the judgment day. Ibid. p.210 ˝.

25 Sprenger says, "The excitement among the slaves, when Mahomet first assumed his office, was so great that Abdallah ibn Jodaan, who had one hundred of these sufferers, found it necessary to remove them from Mecca, lest they should all become converts", p.159. This, however, appears to be an exaggerated statement, as well as that preceding it, viz., that "two of them died as martyrs." There is no good evidence of there having been any martyr before the Hegira. The only case of martyrdom alleged. by early authority during that period, will be considered below.

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Thirteen other early believers

In addition to the twenty persons who have now been noticed as among the first confessors of the new faith, the Katib al Wackidi enumerates at least thirteen others as having believed "before the entry of the Prophet into the house of Arcam;" - by which expression the biographers mark the few earliest years of Islam. Among these thirteen we observe the youthful son Sa'id,20 and several of the relatives of the aged enquirer Zeid, who was already some time dead, but whose remarkable life has been above alluded to as possibly paving the way for Mahomet. The wife of Said, Fatima, a cousin of the same family, and her brother Zeid, son of Khattab,21 were likewise among the early converts. There was also among the number Obeidallah, son of Jahsh, himself one of the "Four enquirers." On the persecution becoming hot, he emigrated with his wife Omm Habiba (subsequently married to Mahomet), and

20 Katib al Wakidi p.255 ˝. He died A.H. 50 or 51, aged above seventy; so that at this period he was little more than a boy.

21 Ibid. 254 ˝. He was an elder brother of the famous Omar. Khuneis, the husband of Omar's daughter Hafsa, was also at this date a believer. He was one of the emigrants to Abyssinia He died about two years after the Hegari, when Mahomet married his widow. Ibid. p. 257 ˝. Wackidi, a confederate of the same family (Ibid.), and Amir ibn Rabia the freed man and adopted son of Khattab (Omar's father), are likewise among the earliest converts. The latter shortly after emigrated with his wife to Abyssinia. Ibid. p.256, These facts show the close connection between the family and relatives of the "Enquirer" Zeid, and the new religion.

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others of his family, to Abyssinia, where he was converted to Christianity, and died in that faith.28 It is interesting to note among these converts Abu Hodzeifa,29 son of Otba, the father-in-law of Abu Sofian, a family inveterately opposed to Mahomet. We find also the name of Arcam, whose house will shortly be mentioned as memorable in the annals of Islam.30

28 Obeidallah was Maliomet's cousin by his mother Omeima daughter of Abd al Muttalib. He belonged to the Bani Dudan, a collateral branch of the Coreish. Two of his brothers, Abdallah and Abu Ahmed, were also converted "before the entry into Arcam's house." He was the brother of the famous Zeinab, who was married to Zeid, Mahomet's freedman, and was afterwards divorced by him that the Prophet himself might take her to wife.

The whole family of the Bani Dudan were very favourable to Islam; for it is related that at the Hegira they all emigrated to Medina, men, wonien and children, locking up their houses. Katib al Wackidi, p. 195 ˝. It is remarkabic that this tribe were confederates of Harb and Abu Sofian, the opponents of Mahomet ;- the influence of Islam thus frequently over-leaping and baffling political combinations of Mecca.

29 Ibid. p. 194 ˝. He challenged his father at Badr to single combat. His sister Hind (wife of Aba Sofian) retorted in satirical verses, taunting him with his squint, and with the barbarity of offering to fight with his father. He was an ill-favoured man, with projecting teeth. He twice fled to Abyssinia with the Moslem emigrants, and his wife Sahla there bore him a son whom he called Muhammad.

30 Arcam belonged to the Bani Makhzum. Besides the above, the following are noted by the Katib al Wackidi as converts before the entry into Arcam's house. Khalid ibn Said and his brother Amr. They emigrated to Abyssinia, the former with his wife Hamaniya; Tabari, p.118. Sprenger (p. 172) makes Khalid the

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Several female converts

Besides this early group of three-and-thirty individuals, the wives and daughters of some of the converts are mentioned as faithful and earnest professors of Islam31. It is, indeed, in conformity with the analogy of religious movements in all ages, that women should take a forward part, if not in direct and public acts of assistance, yet in the encouragement and exhortation which are perhaps of even greater value. On the other hand, in estimating

fifth convert; but there is so great a tendency in each party and family vain-gloriously to represent its own leaders or ancestors as the earliest believers, that little dependance can be placed on such assertions of priority. Hatib ibn Amr (of the Bani Amr ibn Lowry) was a convert of the same stage. Katib al Wackidi, p.260.

Two others descended from families allied to the Coreish, Amr ibn Abasa, and Abu Dzarr Ghifari; are also said to have been converted at this period, but to have left Mahomet and returned to their tribes. They rejoined Mahomet after the retreat of the Meccans from the siege of Medina. The accounts however are so vague and unlikely as to lead to the suspicion that they were imagined or fabricated by descendants who wished to assume for their families a precedence in the faith.

31 The following are mentioned by Hishami, p. 68 ;- Fatima, wife of Said, already noticed in the text: Asma and Ayesha, daughters of Abu Bakr; (the latter, however, if actually born, could have been only an infant at this period): Asma, wife of Ayash ibn Abi Rabia: Asma, wife of Jafar Mahomet's cousin; Fatima, wife of Hatib, mentioned in the preceding note: Fokeiha, wife of Hattab, his brother: Ramlah, wife of Muttalib ibn Azhar: Amina, wife of Khalid, noticed in the last note. Some of these indeed (as Ayesha) belong to later dates. But it is probable also that the list is incomplete. The depreciative notions of feminine worth current in the east lead the Biographers chiefly to mention the women only in connection with their more famous husbands, fathers, or brothers.

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the number of the early converts, we must not forget that their ranks have been unduly swelled by the traditions of those whose piety or ambition have imagined or invented a priority in the faith for their own ancestors or patrons. Weighing both considerations, we shall not greatly err if we conclude that,

Converts during the first three or four years estimated at forty

in the first three or four years after the assumption by Mahomet of his prophetic office, the converts to his faith amounted to nearly forty souls.

Steps by which this success was attained

By what degrees, under the influence of what motives or arguments, and at what precise periods, these individuals, one by one, gave in their adhesion to the claims of Mahomet, we can scarcely determine, farther than has been done in the general outline already before the reader. It is usual among traditionists to assign to the Prophet three years of secret preaching and private solicitation, after which an open call was made to the Coreish at large. But we hardly find grounds for this theory when we bring it to the surer test of the Coran. It is probable that the preliminary term of doubt and enquiry, which we sought to trace in the preceding chapter, has been confounded by tradition with the actual assumption of the prophetic office. The truth we may conjecture to be as follows. An interval of pious musing, and probably of expostulation with others, preceded the fortieth year of Mahomet's life. About that year the resolution to "recite" in God's

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name (in other words, the conviction of inspiration), was fully adopted. For some succeeding period his efforts would be naturally directed to individual persuasion and entreaty; but there is nothing to warrant the belief that the prophetic claim, once assumed, was ever confined within the limits of a narrow circle, or held a secret not to be divulged to the people of Mecca. it was after this that the Prophet received (as he imagined) the command to "preach:"32 and forthwith his appeal was made to the whole community of Mecca. Gradually

32 That is Sura lxxiv. Mahometan biographers refer to Sura XXVI. V. 218, as the first call to preach. Katib al Wackidi, pp. 13 and 88; Tabari, p.114. The latter passage is as follows:

And preach to thy more near kinsfolk.
And lower thy wing to the believers that follow thee.
And if they rebel against thee, &C

The tradition that the passage, Sara xxvi., v.213, was the first call to preach, (Katib al Wackidi pp.18 and 68; Tabari, p.114) appears entirely erroneous. That verse is not only contained in a late Sura, but itself bean evidence of persecution, of development, and of believers already numerous. It was probably revealed while the Prophet with his relatives was shut up in the "Sheb" or Quarter of Abu Talib, as will be related in the next chapter, and while his preaching was necessarily confined to them.

The stories also of the Prophet taking his stand upon Mount Safa, summoning his iclatives family by family, and addressing to them the divine message; of the contemptuous reply of Abu Lahab (see above, p.80, note); of the miraculous dinner at which Mahomet propounded his claim to his relatives, Ali alone standing forth as his champion and "Vizier," &C are all apocryphal

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his followers increased, and the faith of each (though little more than the reflection of his own conviction) was accepted by Mahomet as a new and independent evidence of his mission, emanating from Him who alone can turn the heart. Success made the sphere of Islam to expand before him: and that which was primarily intended for Mecca and Arabia alone, soon embraced, in the ever-widening circle of its call, the whole human race.

Persecution caused by the attachment of the people to the national Idolatry

An important change now occurred in the relations of Mahomet with the citizens of Mecca. Their hostility was aroused, and believers were subjected to persecution and indignity. The main ground of this opposition was simply an hereditary attachment to the established system of idolatry. There was no antagonism of a privileged caste, or of a priesthood supported by the temple ;- no "craftsmen of Diana" deriving their livelihood from the shrine. But there was the universal and deep-seated affection for practices associated from infancy with the life of the Meccan, and the proud devotion to a system which made his city the foremost in

and owe their origin to the above or other similar passages in the Coran which it was desired to illustrate, or to Alyite prepossessions. See some of these accounts in Tabari, pp. 115-118. At the miraculous dinner, food was prepared hardly sufficient for one person, but served to their content for a company of forty.

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all Arabia. These advantages he would not lightly abandon.

Weakness of Mahomet's position

Whether the idolatry of Mecca would not have Mahomet's succumbed without a struggle before such preaching position. as Mahomet's, sustained by reasonable evidence, may be matter for speculation. That which now imparted to the national faith strength and obstinacy was the equally weak position of its unexpected antagonist. Amidst the declamation and rhetoric of the Arabian Prophet there was absolutely no proof whatever (excepting his own convictions) advanced in support of the divine commission. Idolatry might be wrong, but what guarantee had the idolater that Islam was not equally fallacious? This was the sincere, and for many years the invincible objection of the Meccans; and the conviction, though no doubt mingled with hatred and jealousy, and degenerating often into intolerance and cruel spite, was the real spring of their long-sustained opposition.

Advantages accruing from opposition to the cause of Mahomet

Persecution, though it may sometimes have deterred the timid from joining his ranks, was eventually of unquestionable service to Mahomet. It furnished a plausible excuse for casting aside the garb of toleration; for opposing force to force against those who "obstructed the ways of the Lord;" and at last for the compulsory conversion of unbelievers. Even before the Hegira it forced the adherents of the Prophet in self-defence into a closer union, and made them stand forth with a bolder

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aim and more resolute front. The severity and injustice of the Meccans, overshooting the mark, aroused personal and family sympathies; unbelievers sought to avert or to mitigate the sufferings of the followers of the Prophet, and in so doing were. sometimes themselves gained over to his side.33

Period at which it commenced

It was not, however, till three or four years of his ministry had elapsed, that any general opposition was organized against Mahomet. Even after he had begun publicly to preach, and his followers had multiplied, the Coreish did not gainsay his doctrine. They would only point slightingly at him as he passed, and say : There goeth the Man of the children of Abd al Muttalib, to speak unto the people about the Heavens. But, adds tradition, when the Prophet began to abuse their idols, and to assert the perdition of their ancestors who bad all died in unbelief, then they became displeased and began to treat him with contumely.34

Once formed, it grew rapidly

Hostility, once excited, soon showed itself in acts of violence. Saad, it is related, having retired for prayer with a group of believers - to one of the valleys near Mecca, some of his neighbours passed unexpectedly by. A sharp contention arose between them, followed by blows. Saad struck one of his

33 The conversion of Hamza is in point. He was led (as we shall see in the following chapter,) to embrace Islam through indignation at the abuse bestowed by Abu Jahl upon Mahomet.

34 Katib at Wackidi p.38; Hishami, p.69; Tabari; p.120.

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opponents with a camel goad; and this, they say, was "the first blood shed in Islam35."

Mahomet occupies, for the purpose of his mission, the house of Arcam, AD. 613.

It was probably about this time,- the fourth year of his mission,-that, in order to prosecute his endeavours peaceably and without interruption, Mahomet took possession of the house of Arcam, (a convert already noticed,) situated a short distance to the south of his own dwelling, upon the gentle rise of Safa. Fronting the Kaaba to east, it was in a frequented position; and all pilgrims, in the prescribed walk between Safa and Marwa, must needs pass often before it36. Thither were conducted all who began to show any leaning towards Islam, and there Mahomet expounded to them his way more perfectly37. Thus of one and another of the believers

35 Hishami, p.70; Tabari, p.114. The story is not given by Wackidi, and is open to some suspicion. Saad is famous as "the first who shot an arrow” in the Mussulman wars. Katib al Wackidi, p. 98 ˝-205 ˝. His friends, desirous to go a little farther and show that he was the first also to shed blood for Islam, may have supposed, magnified, or invented this tale.

36 The house possesses so peculiar an interest in the earliest annals of Islam, that I will here note the particulars given re- garding it by the Secretary of Wackidi, p.226.

37 The house of Arcam at Mecca was on Safa, the same which the Prophet occupied in the beginning or Islam. In it he invited the people to Islam. And a great multitude believed therein."

In after days, Arcam devoted it to the divine service in a deed which Wackidi himself saw, and of which the following extract

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Conversions there

it is recorded that "he was converted after the entry into the house of Arcam, and the preaching there " - or, that "he was brought unto Mahomet in the house of Arcam, and the Prophet recited

contains a copy;-

"And the house of Arcam was called the house of Islam; and Arcam devoted it (to God) under the trust of his children; and I (Wackidi) read the document of consecration, as follows ;-In the name of the Lord, the Compassionate, the Merciful -this is what Arcam hath determined regarding the house which bordereth upon Safa, that it is devoted, as a part of the sacred place. It shall not be sold, neither shall it be inherited. Witnessed by Hisham ibn al As and his freedman."

The descendants of Arcam continued to possess the house, either occupying it themselves, or taking rent for it, until the Caliphate of Abu Jafar. when Mohammad, Hasan's grandson, rebelled in Medina, Abdallah the grandson of Arcam sided with him, and Abu Jafar caused him to be put in prison and in irons. Then the Caliph sent a message to Abdallah, now above eighty years of age, promising him a full pardon if he would sell him the house of Arcam. Abdallah objected that it was devoted property ;- but at last, partly through intimidation, partly tempted by the large price, he sold his share in it for 17,000 dinars; and his relatives did likewise. Thus it became the property of the Caliph. Afterwards Mahdi gave it to Kheizaran (the slave girl, mother of Musa and Harun,) who enlarged it. And it was called after her name. Ibid.

There is nothing to show clearly on what footing Mahomet occupied this building ;-whether continuously with his family, or only as a place of retreat where, sheltered from the observation and annoyances of the Meccans, he could pursue his teaching un- molested. From several incidental notices of converts remaining there concealed during the day, and slipping away in the evening, the latter appears to be the more probable view.

Omar, who was converted at the close of the 6th year of Mahomet's mission, is said to have been the last who was brought

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the Coran unto him, and explained the doctrines of Islam, and he was converted and embraced the faith.". So famous was it as the birth-place of conversion, that it was afterwards styled the House of Islam38.

Converts among the connexions of Omar; son of Khattab

Four sons of Abul Bokeir, a confederate of the family of Khattab, were the first to believe, and "swear allegiance to Mahomet," in this house39. Hence we may conclude that, although Omar, son of Khattab, was not yet converted, the leaven of the new doctrine was doubtless spreading rapidly among his connections.

Story of Musab;

The story of Musab ibn Omeir, a great grandson of Hashim, will illustrate some of the obstacles to the progress of Islam. His wife was a sister of Obeidalla son of Jahsh,40 and it was probably

to this house. Tradition states that the male converts had then reached the number of forty; and that they quitted the house of Arcam because the influence of Omar enabled them to dispense with secrecy. V. Ibn Hajar, p.49.

38 Dar ul Islam;-

39 Abul Bokeir was descended from Kinana through an off-shoot more ancient than the Coreish. This family is included among the Dudan branch, which emigrated en masse to Medina at the Hegira. Katib al Wackidi, pp. 196, 256 ˝.

The remarkable expression in the text is the same as that for doing homage or swearing fealty to a Leader or Chief. "Ackil and his three brothers were converted in the house of Arcam, and they were the first to swear allegiance to Mahomet therein ;"- The "swearing allegiance to Mahomet" was probably a general declaration of faith and submission to his teaching. Possibly it may have been only the retrospective application by the traditionists of an after practice and phrase to a period when as yet there was no actual homage done to Mahomet.

40 Before noticed, at p.109, as a convert who embraced Christianity in Abyssinia.

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through the influence of her family that he visited the house of Arcam, listened to the exhortations of Mahomet, and embraced his doctrine. But he feared publicly to confess the change; for his tribe, and his mother who doated upon him, (and through whose fond attention he was noted as the most handsomely dressed youth in Mecca), were inveterately opposed to Mahomet. His conversion being at last noised abroad, his family seized and kept him in durance; but he escaped, and proceeded to Abyssinia with the first Moslem emigrants. When he returned from thence, he had become so altered and wretched that his mother had not the heart to abuse him. At a latter period, having been deputed by Mahomet to teach the converts at Medina, he revisited Mecca in company with them. His mother was apprised of his arrival, and sent to him saying:- "Ah, disobedient son! wilt thou enter a city in which thy mother dwelleth, and not first visit her?" "Nay, verily; he replied "I shall never visit the house of any one before the Prophet of God." So, after he had greeted and conferred with Mahomet, he went to his mother, who thus accosted him:- "Well! I suppose thou art still a renegade." He answered,- "I follow the Prophet of the Lord, and the true faith of Islam." "Art thou then well satisfied with the miserable way thou hast fared in the land of Abyssinia, and now again at Yathreb?" But he perceived that she was meditating his imprisonment, and exclaimed,- "What! wilt thou

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force a man from his religion? If ye seek to confine me, I will assuredly slay the first person that layeth hands upon me." His mother said;- "Then depart from my presence;" and she began to weep. Musab was moved and said;- "Oh, my mother! I give thee affectionate counsel. Testify that there is no god but the Lord, and that Mahomet is his servant and messenger." And she replied; "By the sparkling Stars!41 I shall never make a fool of myself by entering into thy religion. I wash my hands of thee and thy concerns, and cleave steadfastly unto mine own faith."42

and of Tuleib

There were social causes on the other hand to aid the spread of the new doctrine. These may be exemplified (though we anticipate a year or two) by the conversion of Tuleib a maternal cousin of Mahomet.43 This young man having been gained over in the house of Arcam, went to his mother and told her that he now believed in the true God, and followed his Prophet. She replied that he did very right in assisting his cousin; "And, by the Lord!" she added, "if I had strength to do that

41 Compare Sara lxxxvi. 3. where a similar oath will be found

42 Katib al Wackidi, p. 201 et seq. Musab was killed at Ohod, where he displayed a valour and contempt of suffering almost incredible.

43 His mother was Orwa, daughter of Abd al Muttalib. Katib al Wackidi, p. 202˝.

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which men do, I would myself defend and protect him." "But, my mother! what hindereth thee from believing and following him? And truly thy brother Hamza hath believed." She replied, "I wait to see what my sisters do. I shall verily be like unto them." "But, I beseech thee, mother, by the Lord! wilt thou not go unto him and salute him, and testify thy faith?" And she did so; and thenceforward she assisted the cause of Mahomet by her speech, and by stirring up her sons to aid him and to fulfil his commands.44

Further slave converts
Shortly after Mahomet began to occupy the house of Arcam, several slaves allied themselves to him. Of these, Yasar and Jabr, are mentioned, by the commentators of the Coran, as the parties accused by the Coreish of instructing the Prophet. The latter was the Christian servant of a family from Hadhramaut, and the Prophet is said to have sat much at his cell.45 The former, better known

44 Tuleib was killed in the battle of Ajnadein A.H.13, aged thirty-five. At the period of his conversion, say in the sixth or seventh year of Mahomet's mission, he would be about sixteen years of age. He went to Abyssinia in the second emigration, but nothing notable is related of him in after life.

45 Hishami, p. 125; Sprenger, p. 162. He must have died before the emigration to Medina, as we do not hear anything farther of him. The imputation of learning from Jabr is probably of a later date than the events in this chapter; for in the Suras given forth at the present period there was scarcely any mention of the Sacred Scriptures.

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Yasar, or Abu Fokeiha;

under the name of Abu Fokeiha,46 was subjected to great persecution, but probably died some time before the Hegira. His daughter Fokeiha was married to Hattab, a convert, whom we find with others of his family among the subsequent emigrants to Abyssinia.47


A more important convert, styled by Mahomet "the first fruits of Greece;" was Suheib son of Sinan. His home was at Mousal, or some neighbouring Mesopotamian village. His father, or his uncle, had been the Persian governor of Obolla.' A Grecian band made an incursion into Mesopotamia, and carried him off while yet a boy to Syria, perhaps to Constantinople. Bought afterwards by a party of the Bani Kalb, he was sold at Mecca to Abdalla ibn Jodaan, who gave him freedom, and took him under his protection. A fair and very ruddy complexion marked his northern birth, and broken

46 Dr. Sprenger, (Ibid.) seems to have overlooked this, when he states that "the name of Yasar does not appear among the followers" of Mahomet. He is frequently mentioned as one of the converts who suffered most severely in the early persecutions. See Katib al Wackidi, p.227. We do not find him noticed in the later history, and hence may conclude that he died at Mecca during this period.

47 Hattab (see above, p.8), Hatib, and Mumir, are mentioned by Hishimi (whom Sprenger follows), as sons of Harith, of the Bani Jumh. The Katib al Wackidi assigns this genealogy to Mumir (p.259 ˝), but makes Hatib and Hattab to be sons of Amr, of an entirely different tribe, the Bani Amir ibn Lowey (p. 260).

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Arabic betrayed a Grecian education. By traffic he acquired considerable wealth at Mecca; but having embraced Islam, and being left by the death of Abdalla without a patron, he suffered much at the hands of the unbelieving Coreish. It is probable that Mahomet gained some knowledge of Christianity from him, and he may be the same to whom the Meccans at a latter period referred as the source of his Scriptural information ;- and indeed WE know that they say, VERILY A CERTAIN MAN TEACHETH HIM. But the tongue of him whom they intend is foreign, whereas this Revelation is in pure Arabic.48 At the general emigration to Medina, the people of Mecca endeavoured to prevent Suheib's departure; but he bargained to relinquish the whole of his property, if they would let him go free. Mahomet, when he heard of it, exclaimed ; - Suheib, verily, hath made a profitable bargain.49

48 Sura xvi. p.103, which is one of the latest Meccan Suras. The same imputation will be found in Suras of a somewhat earlier date; as Sura xliv. p.4; xxv. p.4.

The family of Suheib maintained that he fled from Constantinople to Mecca after reaching the years of maturity; and that he voluntarily placed himself under the guardianship of Abdallah. Katib al Wackidi, p. 222. Sprenger concludes that they held him to be "a native of the Greek empire" (p.162); but this does not appear from the authority quoted.

The description of Suheib is given in considerable detail. He was a little below middle stature, and had much hair. Ibid. p.222 1/2.

49 Ibid. "When he was about to emigrate the Meccans said unto him, thou camest hither in need and penury; but thy wealth

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Another freed slave, Ammar, used to resort to the house of Arcam and simultaneously with Suheib, embraced Islam. His father Yasir, a stranger from Yemen, his mother Sommeya, and his brother Abdallah, were also believers.50

hath increased with us, until thou hast reached thy present prosperity; and now thou art departing, not thyself only, but with all thy property. By the Lord that shall not be! And he said, If I relinquish my property until ye leave me free to depart? And they agreed thereto. So he parted with all his goods. And when that was told unto Mahomet, he said, VERILY SUHEIB HATH TRAFFICKED TO PROFIT." Another version states that when on his flight he was pursued by the Meccans, he turned round on his camel and swore that if they persisted he would shoot every arrow in his quiver at them, and then take to his sword. So they, knowing him to be one of the best archers in Mecca, left him and returned.

Suheib had some humour. After his flight he reached Medina in the season of fresh dates; and being weary and hungry, he commenced devouring them eagerly. But he suffered from ophthalmia in one of his eyes, and the Prophet asked why he ate dates as they were injurious to that disease; he replied, Verily I am eating them on the side only of the eye that is well; and the Prophet smiled thereat. Suheib then asked Abu Bakr why they had deserted and left him at Mecca to be imprisoned, adding that "he had been forced to buy his life with his wealth;" whereupon Mahomet made use of the weighty saying in the text. Upon the same occasion was produced Sura ii. 207 - And of men there is one who buyeth his left, through the desire of those things that be pleasing unto God, &C Katib al Wackidi, p.223. He died A.H. 33, aged seventy, and was buried at Backi, the cemetery of Medina.

50 Yasir belonged to a tribe in Yemen of the Madhij or Cahlan stock. He with two brothers visited Mecca to seek out their maternal relatives. Instead of returning to Yemen he remained behind with his patran Abu Hodzeifa, who gave him in marriage his slave girl Sommeya. She bore to him Ammar (freed by Aub Hodzeifa) and Abdallah.

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Story of the blind man, Abdallah ibn Omm Maktum

The following incident will illustrate at once the anxiety of Mahomet to gain over the principal men of

"After Yasir" Sommeya married Azrack, a Greek slave, belonging to a man of Taif, and to him she bore Salma. It is not easy to explain this, for at the time referred to in the text (i.e. 614 or 615 A.D.) Yasir was alive, and is mentioned as having with his wife joined the cause of Mahomet and suffered severe persecution. The second marriage of Sommeya, and the birth of Salma, were consequently after this period. But Ammar, her son by Yasir, was at least one year (perhaps four) older than Mahomet; that is he was now at lent forty-six years of age. Consequently, his mother (who had moreover borne to Yasir a son, Horeith, older than Ammar, Katib al Wackidi p.227), must have been at this time sixty years old. Yet we are to believe that she married, and bore a son, after that age!

The Secretary of Wackidi has a tradition that Sommeya suffered martyrdom at the hands of Abu Jahl:

(after a day of persecution) when it was evening, Abu Jahl came and abused Sommeya, and used filthy language towards her, and stabbed (or reviled?) her, and killed her. And she was the first martyr in Islam, - excepting Bilal, who counted not his life dear unto him in the service of the Lord; so that they tied a rope about his neck and made the children run backwards and forwards, pulling him between the two hills of Mecca (Abu Cobeis and Ahmar, marg. gloss.); and Bilal kept saying, ONE, ONE! I only God!" Katib al Wackidi p.224.

The story of this martyrdom is certainly apocryphal. I. This is the only place we find it mentioned in the early biographers; whereas had it really occurred, it would have been trumpeted forth by every collector and biographer in innumerable traditions and versions. There is certainly no danger of the perils and losses of the early Moslems being under-estimated or lost sight of by tradition. II. The tendency to exaggerate persecution would readily lead the descendants of the family to attribute

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the Coreish, and when he was rejected, the readiness with which he turned to the poor and uninfluential.

Sommeya's death (which we may conclude happened before the Hegira) to Abu Jahl’s ill treatment, with which it had probably little or nothing to do. See Introduction, p. lx, Canon II.a. The double signification of the word (abuse and stabbing) may have formed a starting point for the story. The manner in which it was subsequently expanded and embellished will be seen by a reference to Sale's note on Sura xvi. p.106. III. The desire to heap contumely on Abu Jahl would lead to the same result. Introduction, p. lviii., Canon I. G. IV. Bilal, in the above extract, is also noticed as the first martyr, though he long survived these persecutions, and died a natural death. This certainly is in favour of a metaphorical and not an exact and literal interpretation of the passage. V. The chronological difficulty, above stated, still remains. Repeated traditions speak of Yasir, Sommeya, and Ammar (Father, Mother and Son), being all tormented together, and in that predicament seen by Mahomet as he passed by, Katib al Wackidi, p. 227 1/2; and the manner in which this is mentioned clearly implies that Sommeya was at the time the wife of Yasir. Yet "after Yasir" (apparently after his death) she married Azrack. How then are we to understand that she died under persecution? It may be suggested (1), that her marriage with Arrack was a previous interlude in her married life with Yasir, to whom she again returned as wife; but this is unlikely and is not the natural meaning of the expressions used ; - or (2), that her marriage to Azrack and her martyrdom may have occurred at a later period. But this, too, is out of the question; for she bore Arrack a son, and must have survived the period of hot persecution. On the whole the evidence for the martyrdom is totally insufficient. Arrack belonged to Taif, and wan one of the slaves who at the siege of that city (some fifteen years later), fled over to Mahomet's camp. It is natural to conclude that Sommeya, after Yasir's death, married Arrack, and lived at Taif.

Some accounts represent Ammar as one of the emigrants to Abyssinia, but others state this to be doubtful. He was killed in the battle of Siffin, A.H. 37, aged ninety-one or ninety-four. He was at one period appointed, by Omar, Governor of Cufa

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"The Prophet was engaged in deep converse with the Chief Walid; for he greatly coveted his conversion. Then a blind man Abdallah ibn Omm Maktum chanced to pass that way, and asked to hear the Coran. And Mahomet was displeased at the interruption, and spake roughly unto him. Other men likewise came up and still farther occupied his attention. So he turned from the blind man frowningly, and left him.51 But the heart of Mahomet smote him, because he had thus slighted one whom God perhaps had chosen, and paid court to one whom God had reprobated. As usual the vivid conception of the moment is framed into a divine Revelation, which at once affords relief to his own mind, and ample amends to the neglected enquirer.-

Sura lxxx


The Prophet frowned and turned aside,
Because the Blind man came to him.
And what shall cause thee to know whether haply he may not be purified?
Or whether he might not be admonished, and the Admonition profit him?
As for the Man that is rich,
Him thou receivest graciously;
And it is not thy concern that he is not purified.
But he that cometh unto thee earnestly enquiring,
And trembling anxiously,
Him dost thou neglect.
Nay! but it (the Coran) is an Admonition;
And he that willeth remembereth the same, &C.

51 Hishami, p. 113.

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Persecution of converted slaves

The jealousy and enmity of the Coreish were aggravated by the continued success of the new sect, which now numbered more than fifty followers. The brunt of their wrath fell upon the converted slaves, as well as upon the strangers and believers of the lower classes who had no patron or protector. These were seized and imprisoned; or they were exposed, in the glare of the mid-day sun, upon the scorching gravel of the Meccan valley.52 The torment was enhanced by intolerable thirst, until the wretched sufferers hardly knew what they said. 53 If under this torture they reviled Mahomet and acknowedged the idols of Mecca, they were refreshed by draughts of water brought for the purpose to the spot, and then taken to their homes. Bilal alone escaped the shame of recantation. In the depth of his anguish, the persecutors could force from him but one expression,--AHAD! AHAD! "ONE, ONE, only God!" On such an occasion,54

52 M. Caussin de Perceval, in here rendering the two Arabic words Ramd-ha and Bat-ha as names of plates, has made a curious and for him a rare mistake. Vol. i. p. 386. The words signify "gravel," and "valley."

53 It is added that they used to encase them in coats of mail. The torture thus inflicted by the heated metal can be understood only by those who know the power of a tropical sun beating upon and sand and rocks. There is however a constant tendency to magnify these sufferings, and we have to check. See Introduction, Canon II. B.

54 Abu Bakr paid for him seven (according to others five) owckeas. When it was told to Mahomet he said, "Wilt thou give

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Abu Bakr passed by, and secured the liberty of conscience to the faithful slave by purchasing his freedom. Some of the others retained the scars of sores and wounds thus inflicted to the end of their lives. Khobab and Ammar used to exhibit with pride and exultation the marks of their suffering and constancy to a wondering generation, in which glory and success had well nigh effaced the memory of persecution.55

Converts permitted to dissemble

Towards those who under such trying circumstances renounced their faith, Mahomet exhibited much commiseration. He even encouraged them to dissemble in order that they might escape the torment

me a share in him?" To which Abu Bakr replied that he could not because he had already released him. Katib al Wackidi, p. 224. Hishami gives the following particulars. Waraca used to pass by while Bilal was being tormented, and intended to buy him. At last Abu Bacr, whose house was in the same quarter, said to his master, - Dost thou not fear God that thou treatest the poor creature thus? – "Nay," replied his master, - "it is thou that hast perverted him; it is for thee to deliver him from this plight." So Abu Bakr bargained to give for him another black slave, much stronger than Bilal. Hashami, p.89.

Abu Bakr bought and freed, besides Bilal, six male and female slaves, converts to Islam. His father, seeing that they were all poor weak creatures, told him that he had much better redeem able-bodied men who would be fit to help his cause; but Abu Bakr replied that he had done as God had put it in his heart to do.

55 Besides these two, the names of five others are given amongst those who suffered severe persecution of this nature: viz. Suheib, Amr ibn Foheira, Abu Fokeiha, and the father and mother of Ammar. For the vain-glorious boasting of Ammar, see Katib al Wackidi, p, 227 1/2; and of Khobab, who displayed his scars before Omar when Caliph, Ibid. p. 210 1/2.

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The prophet happening to pass by Ammar, as he sobbed and wiped his eyes, enquired of him what was the matter: "Evil; Oh Prophet! They would not let me go until I had abused thee, and spoken well of their gods." But how dost thou find thy heart? "Secure and steadfast in the faith." then, replied Mahomet, if they repeat their cruelty, repeat thou also thy words. A special exception for such unwilling deniers of Islam, was even provided in the Coran.56

Mahomet safe under Abu Talib's guardianship

Mahomet himself was safe under the shadow of the respected and now venerable Abu Talib, who though unconvinced by the claims of the Prophet, scrupulously acknowledged those of the kinsman, and withstood resolutely every approach of the Coreish to detach him from his guardianship.

Position of the converts connected with influential families

Abu Bakr, too, and those who could claim affinity with any powerful family of Mecca, though exposed perhaps to contumely and reproach, were generally secure from personal injury. The chivalrous feeling which makes common cause among the members and connections of an Arab family, and

56 See Sura xvi. p.106. Whoever deineth God after that he hath believed (EXCEPTING HIS WHO IS FORCIBLY COMPELLED THERETO, HIS HEART REMAINING STEADFAST IN THE FAITH) on such resteth the wrath of God. See also Sura xxxix. p.53, where repentant apostates from Islam ("those who have transgressed against their own souls") are exhorted not to despair of the mercy of God. The story of Ammar is given from various sources by the Katib al Wackidi, p. 227 1/2, and seems authentic.

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arouses the fiery impetuosity of all against the injurers of one, deterred the enemies of Islam from open and. violent persecution.57 Such immunity, however, depended in part on the good will of the convert's family and friends. Where the entire family or tribe were inimical to the new religion, there would always be the risk of insult and injury. Thus, when the Bani Makhzum were minded to chastise Walid (among others of their number) for joining Islam, they repaired to his brother Hisham, a violent opposer of the Prophet, and demanded his permission; this he readily gave, but added, - "Beware of killing him; for if ye do, ! 8hall verily slay in his stead the chieftest among you.58

First emigration to Abyssinia, A.D. 618

To escape these indignities, and the danger of perversion, Mahomet now recommended such of his followers as were without protection, to seek an asylum in a foreign land. Yonder, pointing to the west, lieth a country wherein no one is wronged -a land of righteousness. Depart thither; and there remain until it pleaseth the Lord to open you way before you. Abyssinia was well known to the Meccans as a market for the goods of Arabia; and

57 See a notice of this state of society in chap. iv. of the Introduction, p. ccxliii.

58 Hishami, p. 91. Walid and Hisham were sons of the famous Walid iba al Moghira, already mentioned as one of the chief men of Mecca, and a violent opponent of Mahomet.

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the Court of the Najashy (or king,) was the ordinary destination of one of their annual caravans.59 In the month of Rajab, in the fifth year of Mahomet's ministry 60 eleven men, some mounted, some on foot, and four of them accompanied by their wives, set out for the port of Shueiba;61 where finding two vessels about to sail, they embarked in haste, and were conveyed to Abyssinia for half a dinar a-piece. The Meccans are said to have pursued them, but they had already left the port. Among the emigrants were Othman son of Affan followed by his wife Rockeya the Prophet's daughter, and Abd al Rahman, both as merchants already perhaps acquainted with the country. The youths Zobeir and Musab were also of the number. The party was headed by Othman son of Matzun, as its leader.62 They met with a kind reception from the Najashy and his people. The period of exile was passed in peace and in comfort.

Bearing and advantages of this emigration

This is termed the first "hegira" or flight to Abyssinia, as distinguished from the later and more

59 Then Mahomet gave commandment to them to go forth to the land of Abyssinia. Now a just king was there, Al Najashy. It was a land with which the Coreish used to do merchandize, because they found therein abundance of food, protection, and good traffic." Tabari, p.127.

60 November, 615 A.D., by the calculations of M. Caussin de Perceval.

61 the ancient port of Mecca, not far from Jiddah.

62 See Katib al Wackidi, p. 38 1/2; Tabari, p.127; Hishami, p.91; Sprenger, p.182; and Caussin de Perceval, vol. i. 383.

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extensive emigration thither. On this occasion the emigrants were few, but the part they acted was of deep importance in the history of Islam. It convinced the Meccans of the sincerity and resolution of the converts, and proved their readiness to undergo any loss and any hardship rather than abjure the faith of Mahomet. A bright example of self-denial was exhibited to the believers generally, who were led to regard peril and exile in "the cause of God," as a glorious privilege and distinction. It suggested that the hostile attitude of their fellow citizens, together with the purity of their own faith, might secure for them within the limits of Arabia itself a sympathy and hospitality as cordial as that afforded by the Abyssinians; and thus it gave birth to the idea of a greater "hegira," the emigration to Medina. Finally, it turned the attention of Mahomet more closely and more favourably to the Christian religion. If an Arab asylum had not at last offered itself at Medina, the Prophet himself might have emigrated to Abyssinia, and Mohametanism might have dwindled, like Montanism, into an ephemeral Christian heresy.

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The Coran, during the period in this Chapter.

Substance and composition of the Coran throw light on Mahomet's history

To complete the view of Islam and its Prophet during the period to which this chapter relates, it is needful that we should examine the portions of the Coran given forth in it; for their purport, and even their style, will throw an important light upon the inner, as well as the external, struggles of Mahomet

A change observable daring this period

To the two or three years intervening between the commission to preach and the first emigration to Abyssinia, may be assigned about twenty of the Suras as they now stand. During even this short time a marked change may be traced both in the sentiments and the composition of the Coran63.

Gradual decline of life and spirit

At first, like a mountain stream, the current dashes headlong, pure, wild, impetuous. Such are the fragments described, and quoted, in the Third chapter. As we advance, the style becomes calmer and more uniform; yet ever and anon a tumultuous rhapsody, like the unexpected cataract, interposes thrilling words of ardent conviction and fervid aspiration64. Advancing still, though the dancing stream sometimes sparkles and the foam deceives the eye, we trace a rapid decline in the vivid energy of

63 The Suras of this period consist of about twenty. Their supposed order will be given In an Appendix.

64 Throughout this period we find the same wild oaths, noticed in the earlier Suras, constantly recurring. See Suras lxxxi, lxxxiv, xxxv, xxxvii, lxxv, lxx., 40, lvi, 47. See above p.121, note.

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natural inspiration, and even the mingling with it of grosser elements. There is yet, indeed, a wide difference from the turbid, tame, and sluggish course of later days; but the tendency towards it cannot be mistaken. The decay or life is now supplied by artificial expedients. Elaborate periods, and the measured cadence of a rhyming prose, convey too often only unmeaning truisms or silly fiction. Although we still meet with powerful reasonings against idolatry, and the burning words of a living faith, yet the chief substance of the Coran begins to be composed of native legends expanded by the Prophet's imagination; pictures of heaven and hell, the resurrection and the judgment day; and dramatic scenes in which the righteous and the damned, angels, genii and infernal spirits, converse in language framed adroitly as arguments in the cause of Mahomet.

The Suras become longer

The Suras gradually extend in length. In the preceding stage a whole Sura seldom exceeds the quarter of a page. In the present period a simple Sura occupies one, and sometimes two pages.65

Theory of inspiration farther developed

The theory of inspiration is more fully developed. The Almighty, from whom Revelation alone proceeds, is the sole authority also for its collection, recitation, and correct explanation. On these points, Mahomet must wait for heavenly direction. He

65 It is interesting to watch the gradual lengthening of the Suras. Flugel's beautiful quarto edition forms an excellent standard for doing so. The number of verses, from their varying length, is not an exact test; but that of the lines and pages of the printed volume is. The twenty-two Sura first revealed contain an average of only five lines each. The next twenty Suras, (those referred to in the present chapter,) sixteen lines while some of them comprise nearly two parts, each of twenty-two lines. From this period to the Hegira, the average length of the fifty Suras revealed is three pages and nine lines; some being seven and eight, and one nearly twelve pages long. The average length of the twenty-one Sura given forth after the Hegira is five pages; the longest Is Sura Bacr (ii.) which has 22 1/2 pages The iii. iv. and v. Suras have 14 ˝, 13 ˝, and 11, pages respectively.

Up to within a short time of the emigration to Medina, the Suras appear to have been produced generally entire at one time, as we now find them. Subsequently it became Mahomet's practice to throw together. according to their subject matter, verses given forth at various times, -which is one reason why the later Suras are or such great length. See vii. chap. i. or the Introduction.

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must not be hasty in repeating the Divine words, for "the Coran is revealed by a gradual revelation ;",66 and it is the prerogative of the Lord to prescribe what shall be remembered, and what forgotten67. How much soever the Prophet may have sincerely believed, or persuaded himself to believe, that this regulating influence was exercised by the Deity, the doctrine offered an irresistible temptation to suit the substance of the Coran to the varying necessities of the hour. It led eventually to the open assertion (which so damaged his cause in the eyes of unbelievers) that where two passages were irreconcilably opposed in their meaning, the earlier was abrogated by the later.

A heavenly original assigned to the Coran

Notwithstanding this apparent fallibility, we begin to find a disposition to claim for the Coran a superstitious reverence by ascribing to it not Divine inspiration only, but a heavenly original. "Truly, it is the glorious Coran, IN THE PRESERVED TABLET."68

Suras lxxx,and xcvii

"It in an admonition in revered pages;
Exalted, pure;
Written by scribes honorable and just"69

66 Verily, WE send down the Coran by degrees unto them. The Oordoo translation of Abu al Cadir has - "slowly and gently."

67 "We shall cause thee to rehearse (the Revelation,) and thou shalt not forget, excepting that which the Lord shall please; for He knoweth that which is public and that which is hid; and WE shall facilitate unto thee that which is easy." Sura lxxxvii 6, 7.

In another passage, Mahomet is thus addressed by the Deity; - "And move not thy tongue in the repetition of the Coran, that thou shouldest be hasty therewith. Verily upon US devolveth the collection thereof; and the recitation thereof; and when WE shall have recited it unto thee, then follow thou the recitation thereof. Farther, upon US devolveth the explanation thereof." Sure lxxv. 17-19. So in another Sura, we find the following verse; - "And be not hasty in reciting the Coran, before that the revelation thereof hath been completed And say, Oh Lord! increase knowledge unto me!" Sure xx 112.

68 Sura lxxxv. 21. Meaning according lo Sale's paraphrastic translation, - "the original whereof is written in a table kept in Heaven"

69 Sure lxxx. 13, 14. "Being transcribed from the preserved table, kept pure and uncorrupted from the hands of evil spirits, and touched only by the Angels." Zamakshari, as quoted by Sale. The Scribes apparently mean the Angels.

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Verily WE caused it to descend on the Night of Power,
And what shall make thee to know what the NIGHT OF POWER is?
The Night of Power excelleth a thousand months:
On it the Angels and THE SPIRIT descend by their Lord's command upon every errand.
It is Peace until that breaking of the Morn.70

The" holy spirit," came to signify Gabriel

It was not clear what ideas Mahomet to "the Spirit" here spoken of. 71 They were perhaps indefinite It was a phrase he had heard used, but with different meanings, by the Jews and Christians. That "the Holy Ghost" (however interpreted) was intended by the term, appears probable from the repeated use, though at a later date, of the expression - "God strengthened Him (Jesus) by the Holy Spirit72 . But eventually there can be no doubt that the "Holy Spirit," in the acceptation of Mahomet, came to signify the Angel Gabriel. He had learned, and he believed, that Jesus was "born of the Virgin Mary, by the power of the holy Ghost;" and either knowingly rejecting the divinity of that blessed Person, or imperfectly informed as to his nature, he seems to have confounded Gabriel announcing the conception, with the holy Spirit that overshadowed Mary. The two expressions became, in the phraseology of the Coran, synonymous.

Visions of Gabriel

Gabriel, the " Spirit," was the Messenger that communicated to Mahomet the words of God, and sometimes appeared to him

70 Thus abruptly does the xcvii. Sura open and close. It is a fragment of five verses only. That which God is said in the first verse to have sent down in this night may either signify, with Sale and the commentators, the Coran; or more probably a clear and vivid view of Divine truth which that night burst upon his mind. The "Night or Power" is the famous Lailat al Cadr, of which so much has been made in after days.

71 The only two other places in which "the Spirit" Is mentioned in the revelations of this period, are Sura lxxxviii. 37; and lxx. 5. In both "the Spirit" is, in connection with the Angels, alluded to as present at the Day of Judgment.

72 See Sura ii. 87, 254 -

, - the expression is the same in both passages. So Sura lviii 22: "He hath strengthened them (believers) with His Spirit" - in later periods of the Coran the same Verb is used to imply the communication of supernatural help, as by Angels in battle; Suras ix. 42, vii. 65, 1ii.13, viii 25.

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in a material form. The traditional account of the vision of Gabriel at the commencement of his inspiration, has been noticed in the preceding chapter. It is perhaps to this apparition the Prophet alludes in an early Sura of the present period:--

Sura lxxxi

And I swear by the Sint which is retrograd
By that which goeth forward, and that which disappeareth.
By the Night when it closeth in,
By the Morn when it breaketh!
I swear that this verily is the word or an honoured Messenger;
Powerful; and, in presence of the Lord of the Throne, of great dignity:
Obeyed there and faithful.
And your Companion is not mad.
Truly he hath seen him in the clear Horizon; And he entertaineth not suspicion regarding the Unseen; Neither is this the word of a rejected73 Devil
Whither then are ye going?
Verily this is no other than an Admonition to all creatures,-
To him amongst you that willeth to walk uprightly.
But ye shalt not will, unless the Lord willeth -The Lord of Creation!74

Growth of the doctrine of predestination

The concluding verses show that Mahomet already contemplated his mission as embracing the whole world. But the vivid conviction of its heavenly origin contrasted strangely with the apathy and unbelief around him; and hence is springing, up a belief in the Divine decree of election and reprobation, which alone could account for these spiritual phenomena ;- ye shall not will unless the Lord willeth.75 Again in the very strength of the asseveration that he was not deceived, and that his inspiration was not that of a "rejected devil," do we not trace the symptoms of a lurking suspicion that all night possibly not be right?

Teaching and precepts

The teaching of the Coran is, up to this stage, very simple Belief in the Unity of God, and in Mahomet as His messenger, in

73 Literally driven away, and therefore unable to over-hear the secrets of Heaven.

74 Sura lxxxi vv. 15 to end.

75 We find the doctrine of predestination appearing in almost the same words in another Sura of this period. Verily this is a Warning. And whose willeth taketh the way unto his Lord; and ye shall not will unless the Lord willeth, for God is knowing and wise. He causeth such as He willeth to enter into his mercy. But as for the unjust, He hath prepared for them a grievous punishment. Sura lxxvi. v.25 to end.

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the resurrection of the dead, and retribution or the good and evil,76 are perhaps the sole doctrines insisted upon; and the only duties to be observed, prayer77 and charity, honesty in weights and measures,: truthfulness in testimony, chastity,78 and the faithful observance of covenants.

Renunciation of Idolatry

It is doubtful whether, at this period, Mahomet inculcated the rites of the Meccan system as divine. The absence of allusion to them inclines to the opinion that they formed at least no part of his positive teaching. There was at any rate a clear and conclusive renunciation of idolatry: -

Sura cix


SAY, Oh, ye unbelievers!
I worship not that which ye worship,
And ye do not worship that which I worship?
I shall never worship that which ye worship,
Neither will ye worship that which I worship.
To you be your Religion; to me my Religion.

76 Sura lxx. 26.

77 lxxvi. 7, 25: lxx. 23-33. The times of prayer are as yet only mentioned generally as Morning, Evening, and Night.

78 Sura lxxiii. 1-5; lv. 8. The former opens with a fine philippie against those who defraud in weights and measures "What! do these think that they shall not be raised, on the great day! The day on which mankind shall stand before at Lord of all creatures?"

79 Sura lxx. 29-32. Among other features of the Believer, his chastity is thus described,

-And they are continent,

Except as regardeth their Wives, and that which their right hands possess
For in respect of them they shall be blameless.
But he that lusteth after more than that, verily they are the transgressors.
It is to be especially noted that at this early period Mahomet, (according apparently to the loose custom of the country,) admitted slave girls to be lawful concubines, besides ordinary wives. Bond women with whom cohabitation is thus approved are him specified by the same phrase as that afterwards used at Medina for female slaves taken captive in war, or obtained by purchase, viz, that which your right hands possess. The principle was not at this time abused by Mahomet himself, for he was now living chastely with a single wife of advanced age. Though therefore the license was in after days largely taken advantage of both for his own indulgence, and as holding out an inducement to his followers to fight in the hope of capturing females who would then be, lawful concubines as "that which their right hand possessed," yet these were not the original motives for the rule. It was in fact one of the earliest compromises or adaptations by which Mahomet fitted his system to the usages and wants of those about him.

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This Sura is said to have been revealed when the aged Walid pressed Mahomet to the compromise that his God should be worshipped in conjunction with their deities, or alternately every year80 . Whatever the occasion, it breathes a spirit of uncompromising hostility to idolatry.

The Paradise of Mahomet

The vivid pictures or Heaven and Hell, placed to increase their effect in close juxtaposition, are now painted in colours of material joy and torment; which, however to our conceptions absurd and childish, were well calculated to effect a deep impression upon the simple Arab mind. Best and passive enjoyment; verdant gardens watered by murmuring rivulets, wherein the believers clothed in garments of green silk and brocades with silver ornaments, repose beneath the wide-spreading shade upon couches well furnished with cushions and carpets, drink the sweet waters of the fountain, and quaff aromatic wine (such as the Arab loved) placed in goblets before them, or handed round in silver cups resplendent as glass by beautiful youths; while clusters of fruit hang close and invite the hand to gather them;---such is the frequently repeated and glowing scene, framed to captivate the inhabitant of the thirsty and sterile Mecca81 .

The Houries of Paradise

And another element is soon added to complete the Paradise the pleasure-loving Arab:-

Verily for the Pious Is a blissful abode;
Gardens and Vineyards,
And Damsels with swelling bosoms, of an equal age,
And a full Cup"82.

In the oft described shady garden “ with fruits and meats, and beakers of wine causing not the head to ache; neither disturbing the reason," these damsels of Paradise are introduced as "lovely large-eyed Girls83, resembling pearls hidden in their shells, a reward

80 Hishami, p. 79, Tabari, p. 139.

81 These descriptions are literally copied from the Coran. Cnf. Suras lxxxviii 8; lxxxxiii 22; lxxvii 41; lxxvi 12. The wine is in one passage spoken of as sealed with musk, and spiced with ginger.

82 Sura lxxviii 30.

83 Huries. Sura lii. 20; lvi. 24. This is the earliest mention of the Houries, or black-eyed Girls or Paradise, so famous in the Mahometan

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for that which the faithful have wrought. Verily we have created them of a rare creation; we have made them Virgins, fascinating, of an equal age."

Further description or Paradise,

The following passage will illustrate the artificial style and unworthy materialism, into which the fire or early inspiration was now degenerating. It is taken from a psalm with a fixed alternating versicle throughout, quaintly addressed in the dual number both to Men and Genii. To suit the rhyme the objects are introduced in pairs, excepting the Damsels, whose number may not thus be limited.

Sura lv

This is the Hell which the wicked deny;
They shall pass to and fro between the same and scalding Water.
Which then of the Signs of your Lord will ye deny?
But to him that dreadeth the appearing of his Lord, there shall be two Gardens.
Which then of the Signs of your Lord will ye deny?
Planted with shady trees,
Which then of the Signs of your Lord will ye deny?
Through each of them shall two fountains flow,
Which then of the Signs of your Lord will ye deny?
And In each shall there be of every fruit two kinds,
Which then of the Signs of your Lord will ye deny?
They shall repose on brocade lined Carpets, the fruits of the two gardens hanging those by,
Which then of the Signs of your Lord will ye deny?
In them shall be modest Girls, refraining their looks, whom before them no Man shall have deflowered, neither any Genius,
Which then of the Signs of your Lord will ye deny?
Like as if they were rubies or pearls84.

system, and which other creeds have singled out as the distinguishing feature of Islam. They were not thought of; at least not introduced into the revelation, till four or five years after Mahomet had assumed the office or Prophet.

84 Sura lv. 43, &C. - The above is the reward of the highest class of believers. Another set of gardens and females is immediately after described for the common faithful.

And besides these, there shall be two other Gardens,
Which then of the Signs of your Lord will ye deny?
Of a dark green; Which then of the Signs of your Lord will ye deny?
In each, two Fountains of welling Water.
Which then of the Signs of your Lord will ye deny?

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Passages regarding the Huries revealed when Mahomet lived chastely with Khadija alone

It is very remarkable that the notices in the Coran of this voluptuous Paradise are alniost entirely confined to a time when, whatever the tendency of his desires, Mahomet was living chaste and temperate with a single wife of threescore years of age.1 Gibbon characteristically observes that "Mahomet has not specified the male companions of the female elect, lest he should either alarm the jealousy of the former husbands, or disturb their felicity by the suspicion of an everlasting marriage." The remark, made in raillery, is pregnant with reason, and aims a fatal blow (if any were needed) at the Paradise of Islam. Faithful women will renew their youth in heaven as well as faithful men; why should not

In each fruits, and the Palm and the Pomegranate.
Which then or the Signs of your Lord will ye deny?
In them shall be Women, amiable, lovely;
Which then of the Signs of your Lord will ye deny?
Large-eyed Houries kept within Pavilions; Which then of the Signs of your Lord will ye deny?
Whom no Man shall have deflowered before them, nor any Genius;
Which then of the Signs of your Lord will ye deny?
The Believers shall recline upon green rugs, and lovely carpets,
Which then of the Signs of your Lord will ye deny?

So at a somewhat later date; - "And close unto the believers shall be modest damsels refraining their looks, like ostrich eggs delicately covered," Sura xxxvii. 49. In a passage of the same period, the faithful are said to be "married" to these" large-eyed Houries." Sura xliv. 53. See also Sura xxxviii 53.

In four other places of a still later date, and probably after Khadija's death, the Wives of believers (their proper wives of this world apparently) are spoken of as entering into paradise with their husbands. Did Mahomet deem it possible that the earthly wives might still remain united to their husbands in Paradise, in spite of their new black-eyed rivals? Suras xxxvi. 55; xliii 68; xiii. 25; xi 9.

85 It is note-worthy that in the Medina Suras, that is in all the voluminous revelations of the ten years following the Hegira, women are only twice referred to as constituting one or the delights of Paradise; and on both occasions in these simple words;-and to them (believers,) there shall be therein pure wives. Sura ii. 25; iv. 55. Was it what the soul of Mahomet had at that period no longings after what he had then even to satiety the enjoyment of? Or that a closer contact with Jewish principles and morality repressed the budding pruriency of the Revelation, and covered with merited confusion the picture of his sensual Paradise which had been drawn at Mecca?

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their good works merit an equal and analogous reward? But Mahomet shrank from this legitimate conclusion.

The Hell of the Coran,

The Hell of Mahomet is no less material and gross than his heaven. The drink of the damned is boiling water and filthy corruption. When cast into the Pit, they hear it roar wildly like the braying of an ass. "Hell boileth over, it almost bursteth with fury: the smoke, rising in three columns, affordeth neither shade nor protection, but casteth forth great sparks like castles, or as it were yellow camels.86

Sura lvi

And the companions of the Left Hand, how miserable they!
In scorching Blasts, and scalding Water;
And the shade or Smoke
That is not cold nor is it grateful.
Verily before that, they lived in Pleasure;
And they were bent upon great Wickedness
And they need to say,
What! after we have died and become dust and bones, shall we be raised?
Or our Fathers that preceded us?
SAY, yes, verily, the Former and the Latter
Shall be gathered at the time of the appointed Day.
Then shall you, oh ye that err and reject the Truth!
Eat assuredly of the Tree of ZACKRUM,
Filling your bellies therewith,
And drinking thereupon boiling water;
As a thirsty Camel drinketh.
This shall be your entertainment on the Day Or Reckoning!

Sura lvi.42-58.

Threats of temporal judgment

The menace of a nearer vengeance in this life begins to loom darkly forth, yet mingled mysteriously with the threats of the Judgment-day and Hell, thus:-

Suras lxxvii, lxxviii and lxii

The Day of separation!
And what shall make thee know what the DAY OF SEPARATION meaneth?
Woe on that day unto the deniers of the Truth!
What! have we not destroyed the former Nations?
Wherefore we shall cause the latter to follow them.
Thus shall we deal with the wicked People!
Woe on that day unto the deniers of the Truth.87

86 See Suras lxxxviii. I; lxxviii 23; Ixxvii 30; lxvii 6.

87 Sura lxxvii. 13, 19.

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Verily, we warn you of a Punishment close at hand,-
The day whereon a man shall see that which his hands have wrought!
And the unbeliever. shall say, Oh! would that I were dust!88

What! are ye secure that he who dwelleth in the Heavens will not cause the Earth to swallow you up, and she shall quake?
Or that he will not send upon you an overwhelming Blast, and then ye shall know or what nature is my warning?
And verily the Nations that preceded these, denied the Truth; and how awful was my Vengeance!89

Defiance of the Meccans,

But the men of Mecca scoffed at this threat, and defied the preacher to bring it into execution.

Sura lxvii

And they say, When shall this promised Vengeance be, if ye speak the Truth?
SAY; "Nay, verily, the knowledge thereof is with God alone; for me I am but a plain Warner."
But when they see it, the countenance or those who disbelieved shall fall
And it shall be said, This is that which ye have been calling for.
SAY; "What think ye? Whether the Lord destroy me and those that be with me or have mercy upon us, who shall deliver the Unbelievers from a dreadful punishment?" 90

Objections of opponent and answers thereto, entered in the Coran

We begin also to find detailed in the Coran the arguments used by the Meccans against the Prophet, and the mode in which he replied to them. The progress of incredulity can thus be followed, and the very expressions employed by either party traced.

Resurrection derided.

The Resurrection of the body was derided by his fellow-citizens as an idle imagination. When the Prophet sought to illustrate the raising of the dead by the analogies of Nature, and the power of God in creation, he was scouted as a Sorcerer or Magician, who would pretend that a living body could be produced from dust and dead men's bones.

The Coran impugned

The Coran was denounced at one time as a bare-faced imposture, as Fables of the Ancients91 borrowed from the foreigners at Mecca, and dressed up to suit the occasion; at other times as the

88 Sura lxxviii. 39.

89 Sura lxvii. 16.

90 Ibid. 25.

91 Sura lxxxiii. 13, Sprenger has an ingenious,. and impossible theory that Asatir is a corruption of Historiae.

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effusion or a phrenzied poet,92 or the incoherent drivelling of an insane fool.


Jeers and jests were the ordinary weapons by which the believers were mailed:--

Sura lxxxiii

Verily, the Sinners laugh the Faithful to scorn.
When they pass by them, they wink at one another.
And when they turn aside unto their own people, they turn aside jesting scurrilously.
And when they see them, they say, Verily, THESE are the erring ones.
But they are not sent to be keepers over them.
Wherefore one day the Faithful shall laugh the Unbelievers to scorn,
Lying upon couches, they shall behold them in Hell.93

Patience and stedfastness inculcated

Amid the derision and the plots of the Meccans, patience is in the Coran inculcated on the Prophet. His followers are exhorted to stedfastness and resignation, and in one passage are reminded of the constancy of the Christian martyrs in Najran.94

92 Mahomet disliked nothing so much as being called a poet, and rejected the equivocal honour of the appellation. He probably felt it his weakest point; conscious of the labour he bestowed on the versification and cadence of his revelations which he would have the world believe, and perhaps himself believed, to be the results and the marks of divine inspiration.

He affected at Medina to be unable to distinguish poctry from prose; and even when put right he continued to transpose the words of a couplet which the Mussulmans sang as they laboured at the building of their Mosque. The lines were,---

The termination illa aish al akhira, rhymes with al ansar w’al muhajira. But Mahomet would insist on repeating the last line with the words transposed ; - thus al muhajira w’al ansar, al ansar w'al muhajiran destroying the rhyme. Hishami, p.173.

93 Sura lxxxiii 29-34.

94 Sura lxxxv.---

By the Heavens with their Zodiacal Signs;
By the threatened Day!
By the Witness and the Witnessed!
Damned be the Diggers of the pits filled with burning Fuel, when they sat around the same.
And they were witnesses of that which they did unto the Believers.

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Jewish and Christian Scriptures not yet referred to

There is at this period hardly any allusion to Jewish and Christian Scripture or legend95. The Coran did not yet rest its claim upon the evidence of previous Revelation, and the close correspondence therewith of its own contents.

The language of Islam becomes fixed

The peculiar phraseology of the new faith was already becoming fixed. The dispensation of Mahomet was distinguished as ISLAM, that is the surrender of the soul to God; his followers as MUSSALMANS (those who surrender themselves), or as Believers; 96 his opponents as KAFIRS, that is, rejecters of the divine message, or as MUSHRIKEN, namely such as associate companions or sharers with the Deity. Faith, Repentance, Heaven, Hell, Prayer, Almsgiving, and many other terms of the religion, soon acquired their stereotyped meaning. The naturalization in Arabia of Judaism and Christianity (but chiefly of the former), provided a ready and extensive fund of theological words and phrases which, if not already in actual current use, were at least widely known in a sense approaching that which Mahomet attached to them.97

And they tormented them no otherwise than because they believed in God the Mighty and the Glorious.
Verily they who persecute the Believers, male and female, and repent them not,
For such the torment of Hell is prepared, and a burning anguish, &C.

The "diggers of the pit." were the Jewish persecutors of Yemen, Dzu Nowas and his followers. See Introduction, chap-iii. p. clxii.

95 See Suras lxxxv. 18; lxxxvii. 18; lxxiii. 14. These passages contain passing references to Abraham; Moses, and Pharaoh.

96 Thus in Sura lxxxv. v.10, we have and for male and female believers. "Moslems" occurs frequently; and "female Moslems," in Sura lxvi. 5.

97 See remarks on the prevalence of Jewish legends and expressions, in Introduction, chap. II. p. cxxv. and chap. iii. p. ccxviii. It is difficult to over-estimate the advantages which Mahomet thus possessed in having the tacit acquiescence of the Meccans in the truth of former Revelations, and in being able to appropriate the treasury of apt and ready terms already current as expressive of the spiritual ideas he wished to attach to them, or at least containing the germ capable of easy development.

This the phrase, "the merciful, the compassionate" affixed by Mahomet to the name of God, though not actually in use, was known among the

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These remarks have been almost entirely confined to the portion of the Coran produced by Mahomet during the period reviewed in the present chapter. By thus connecting the several periods of his active life with die Saran belonging to them, the enquirer is beat able to trace the development of the religious system, and to observe what bearing the external circumstances of the Arabian Prophet may have had upon the peculiarities of his creed.

idolatrous Meccans, as we see by the treaty of Hodeibia. In dictating to the scribed the terms of this truce, Mahomet commenced, "In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate" The Meccans interrupted him, saying:-" Nay, as for God, we acknowledge him, but as for the Compassionate and Merciful, we acknowledge him not" Then said the Prophet: "Write, in thy name Oh God!"

Geiger has examined ingenuously and carefully the Mahometan terms borrowed from Judaism in his Was hat Mohammed aus dem Judenthums aufgenommen. See also for some analogous remarks, Havernick's Introductian to Old Testament, p.116; vol 28, Clark’s For. Theo. Lib.

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