beautiful fruits and leaves like the ears of an elephant. This, said Gabriel, is the last heaven; and lo! four rivers, two within, and two without. What are these, O Gabriel, I asked? — Those within, he said, are the rivers of Paradise; and those seen without, are the Nile and the Euphrates. Then a dwelling-place was prepared for me; and then they brought me vessels of wine and milk and honey. So I took the milk, and he said, This is food for thee and thy people.1

Much more of the same kind of Muslim stories, as of Adam wailing, etc., might be given; but enough and to spare has been quoted for comparison with the Sources which follow, from which it has all been derived.

I. And First as to Muhammad's Mirāj or Ascent to heaven. We begin with a Pehlavi book called Artā Vīrāf nāmak, written in the days of Ardashīr, some four hundred years before the Hegira. We are there told that, the Zoroastrian faith fading away, the Magi of Persia sought to revive it in the people's hears, by sending a Zoroastrian of the above name up to heaven, with the view of bringing down tidings of what was going on there. This messenger ascended from one heaven to another, and having seen it all, was commanded by Ormazd to return to the earth, and tell it to his people. The result is contained in the above named book, of which we shall briefly quote a few passages, freely translated, to shew how far the Muslim account corresponds with the imaginary details below: —

Our first advance upwards was to the Lower heaven; ..... and there we saw the Angel of those Holy ones, giving

1 Mishkāt al Masābih

forth a flaming light, brilliant and lofty. And I asked Sarosh the holy and Āzar the angel:— "What is this place; and these, who are they?" We are then told that Artā ascended similarly to the Second and Third heavens, and to many others beyond.1

Rising from a gold-covered throne, Bahman the Archangel led me on, till he and I met Ormazd with a company of angels and heavenly leaders, all adorned so brightly that I had never seen the like before. My leader said: This is Ormazd. I sought to salaam to him, and he said he was glad to welcome me from the passing world to that bright and undefiled place. Then he bade Sarosh and the Fire-angel to shew me the blessed place prepared for the holy, and that also for the punishment of the wicked. After which they carried me along till I beheld the Archangels and the other Angels.

At the last, says Artā, my Guide and the Fire-angel having shewed me Paradise, took me down to Hell; and from that dark and dreadful place, carried me upward to a beautiful spot where were Ormazd and his company of angels. I desired to salute him, on which he graciously said:— "Artā Vīrāf, go thou to the material world; thou hast seen and now knowest Ormazd, for I am he; whosoever is true and righteous, him I know." When Ormazd began thus to speak, I became confused in mind, because I saw a brilliant light but no appearance of a body, and forthwith I perceived the unseen must be Ormazd himself.

There is no doubt a singular resemblance between the ascent of this Magian messenger, and that also told of Muhammad, to the heaven above. In the fabulous Zerdashtnama there is also an account of Zoroaster having ages before ascended to the heavens, after having received permission to visit hell, where he found Ahriman (the devil). It is remarkable that similar tales are not confined to Persia, but extend to India, where they are recorded in the Sanskrit poems.

1 One of the angels noticed above is said to have led Artā aloft, just as we are told that Gabriel guided Muhammad upwards.