Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECTION 1.: OF THE ARABS BEFORE MUHAMMAD; OR, AS THEY EXPRESS IT, IN THE TIME OF IGNORANCE; THEIR HISTORY, * RELIGION, LEARNING, AND CUSTOMS. - The Quran, vol. 1
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SECTION 1.: OF THE ARABS BEFORE MUHAMMAD; OR, AS THEY EXPRESS IT, IN THE TIME OF IGNORANCE; THEIR HISTORY, * RELIGION, LEARNING, AND CUSTOMS. - Mohammed, The Quran, vol. 1 
A Comprehensive Commentary on the Quran: Comprising Sale’s Translation and preliminary Discourse, with Additional Notes and Emendations (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, and Co., 1896). 4 vols.
Part of: The Quran, 4 vols.
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OF THE ARABS BEFORE MUHAMMAD; OR, AS THEY EXPRESS IT, IN THE TIME OF IGNORANCE; THEIR HISTORY,* RELIGION, LEARNING, AND CUSTOMS.
The name Arabia.
The Arabs, and the country they inhabit, which themselves call Jazírat al Arab, or the Peninsula of the Arabians, but we Arabia, were so named from Araba, a small territory in the province of Tahama;1 to which Yarab the son of Qahtán, the father of the ancient Arabs, gave his name, and where, some ages after, dwelt Ismaíl the son of Abraham by Hagar. The Christian writers for several centuries speak of them under the appellation of Saracens, the most certain derivation of which word is from shark, the east, where the descendants of Joctan, the Qahtán of the Arabs, are placed by Moses,1 and in which quarter they dwelt in respect to the Jews.2
Limits of Arabia.
The name of Arabia (used in a more extensive sense) sometimes comprehends all that large tract of land bounded by the river Euphrates, the Persian Gulf, the Sindian, Indian, and Red Seas, and part of the Mediterranean: above two-thirds of which country, that is, Arabia properly so called, the Arabs have possessed almost from the Flood; and have made themselves masters of the rest, either by settlements or continual incursions; for which reason the Turks and Persians at this day call the whole Arabistán, or the country of the Arabs.
But the limits of Arabia, in its more usual and proper sense, are much narrower, as reaching no farther northward than the Isthmus, which runs from Aila to the head of the Persian Gulf, and the borders of the territory of Kúfa; which tract of land the Greeks nearly comprenended under the name of Arabia the Happy. The Eastern geographers make Arabia Petræa to belong partly to Egypt, and partly to Shám or Syria, and the Desert Arabia they call the Deserts of Syria.3
Proper Arabia is by the Oriental writers generally divided into five provinces,4 viz., Yaman, Hijaz, Taháma, Najd, and Yamáma; to which some add Bahrain, as a sixth, but this province the more exact make part of Irák;5 others reduce them all to two, Yaman and Hijáz, the last including the three other provinces of Taháma, Najd, and Yamáma.
The province of Yaman.
The province of Yaman, so called either from its situation to the right hand, or south of the temple of Makkah, or else from the happiness and verdure of its soil, extends itself along the Indian Ocean from Aden to Cape Rasalgat; part of the Red Sea bounds it on the west and south sides, and the province of Hijáz on the north.1 It is subdivided into several lesser provinces, as Hadramaut, Shihr, Omán, Najrán, &c., of which Shihr alone produces the frankincense.2 The metropolis of Yaman is Sanaa, a very ancient city, in former times called Ozal,* and much celebrated for its delightful situation; but the prince at present resides about five leagues northward from thence, at a place no less pleasant, called Hisn al Mawáhib, or the Castle of Delights.3
So-called Arabian produce brought from India.
Produce of Yaman.
This country has been famous from all antiquity for the happiness of its climate, its fertility and riches,4 which induced Alexander the Great, after his return from his Indian expedition, to form a design of conquering it, and fixing there his royal seat; but his death, which happened soon after, prevented the execution of this project.5 Yet, in reality, great part of the riches which the ancients imagined were the produce of Arabia, came really from the Indies and the coasts of Africa; for the Egyptians, who had engrossed that trade, which was then carried on by way of the Red Sea, to themselves, industriously concealed the truth of the matter, and kept their ports shut to prevent foreigners penetrating into those countries, or receiving any information thence; and this precaution of theirs on the one side, and the deserts, unpassable to strangers, on the other, were the reason why Arabia was so little known to the Greeks and Romans. The delightfulness and plenty of Yaman are owing to its mountains; for all that part which lies along the Red Sea is a dry, barren desert, in some places ten or twelve leagues over, but in return bounded by those mountains, which being well watered, enjoy an almost continual spring, and, besides coffee, the peculiar produce of this country, yield great plenty and variety of fruits, and in particular excellent corn, grapes, and spices. There are no rivers of note in this country, for the streams which at certain times of the year descend from the mountains, seldom reach the sea, being for the most part drunk up and lost in the burning sands of that coast.1
The soil of the other provinces is much more barren than that of Yaman; the greater part of their territories being covered with dry sands, or rising into rocks, interspersed here and there with some fruitful spots, which receive their greatest advantages from their water and palm-trees.
The Hijáz its boundaries.
The province of Hijáz, so named because it divides Najd from Taháma, is bounded on the south by Yaman and Taháma, on the west by the Red Sea, on the north by the deserts of Syria, and on the east by the province of Najd.2 This province is famous for its two chief cities, Makkah and Madína, one of which is celebrated for its temple, and for having given birth to Muhammad; and the other for being the place of his residence for the last ten years of his life, and of his interment.
Makkah, sometimes also called Bakkah, which words are synonymous, and signify a place of great concourse, is certainly one of the most ancient cities of the world: it is by some3 thought to be the Mesa of the Scripture,4 a name not unknown to the Arabians, and supposed to be taken from one of Ismaíl’s sons.5 It is seated in a stony and barren valley, surrounded on all sides with mountains.6 The length of Makkah from south to north is about two miles, and its breadth from the foot of the mountain Ajyad, to the top of another called Koaikaán, about a mile.1 In the midst of this space stands the city, built of stone cut from the neighbouring mountains.2 There being no springs at Makkah,3 at least none but what are bitter and unfit to drink,4 except only the well Zamzam, the water of which, though far the best, yet cannot be drank of any continuance, being brackish,* and causing eruptions in those who drink plentifully of it,5 the inhabitants are obliged to use rain-water, which they catch in cisterns.6 But this not being sufficient, several attempts were made to bring water thither from other places by aqueducts; and particularly about Muhammad’s time, Zubair, one of the principal men of the tribe of Quraish, endeavoured, at a great expense, to supply the city with water from Mount Arafat, but without success; yet this was effected not many years ago, being begun at the charge of a wife of Sulaimán the Turkish emperor.7 But long before this another aqueduct had been made from a spring at a considerable distance, which was, after several years’ labour, finished by the Khalífah al Muktadir.8
How the people of Makkah subsist.
The soil about Makkah is so very barren as to produce no fruits but what are common in the deserts, though the prince or Sharíf has a garden well planted at his castle of Marbaa, about three miles westward from the city, where he usually resides. Having therefore no corn or grain of their own growth, they are obliged to fetch it from other places;1 and Hásham, Muhammad’s great-grandfather, then prince of his tribe, the more effectually to supply them with provisions, appointed two caravans to set out yearly for that purpose, the one in summer, and the other in winter:2 these caravans of purveyors are mentioned in the Qurán. The provisions brought by them were distributed also twice a year, viz., in the month of Rajab, and at the arrival of the pilgrims. They are supplied with dates in great plenty from the adjacent country, and with grapes from Táyif, about sixty miles* distant, very few growing at Makkah. The inhabitants of this city are generally very rich, being considerable gainers by the prodigious concourse of people of almost all nations at the yearly pilgrimage, at which time there is a great fair or mart for all kinds of merchandise. They have also great numbers of cattle, and particularly of camels: however, the poorer sort cannot but live very indifferently in a place where almost every necessary of life must be purchased with money. Notwithstanding this great sterility near Makkah, yet you are no sooner out of its territory than you meet on all sides with plenty of good springs and streams of running water, with a great many gardens and cultivated lands.3
The temple of Makkah and the reputed holiness of this territory, will be treated of in a more proper place.
Madína or Yathrab.
Madína, which till Muhammad’s retreat thither was called Yathráb, is a walled city about half as big as Makkah,4 built in a plain, salt in many places, yet tolerably fruitful, particularly in dates, but more especially near the mountains, two of which, Ohod on the north, and Air on the south, are about two leagues distant. Here lies Muhammad interred1 in a magnificent building, covered with a cupola, and adjoining to the east side of the great temple, which is built in the midst of the city.2
The provinces of Tahama. Najd, and Yamáma founded.
The province of Taháma was so named from the vehement heat of its sandy soil, and is also called Gaur from its low situation; it is bounded on the west by the Red Sea, and on the other sides by Hijáz and Yaman, extending almost from Makkah to Aden.3
The province of Najd, which word signifies a rising country, lies between those of Yamáma, Yaman, and Hijáz, and is bounded on the east by Irák.4
The province of Yamáma, also called Arúd from its oblique situation, in respect of Yaman, is surrounded by the provinces of Najd, Tahama, Bahrain, Omán, Shihr, Hadramaut, and Saba. The chief city is Yamáma, which gives name to the province: it was anciently called Jaw, and is particularly famous for being the residence of Muhammad’s competitor, the false prophet Musailama.5
Two classes of Arabians.
The Arabians, the inhabitants of this spacious country, which they have possessed from the most remote antiquity, are distinguished by their own writers into two classes, viz., the old lost Arabians, and the present.
The former were very numerous, and divided into several tribes, which are now all destroyed, or else lost and swallowed up among the other tribes, nor are any certain memoirs or records extant concerning them:1 though the memory of some very remarkable events and the catastrophe of some tribes have been preserved by tradition, and since confirmed by the authority of the Qurán.
The ancient Arabians.
The garden of Iram.
The tribe of Ád were descended from Ád, the son of Aws,2 the son of Aram,3 the son of Sem, the son of Noah,* who, after the confusion of tongues, settled in al Ahqáf, or the winding sands in the province of Hadramaut, where his posterity greatly multiplied. Their first king was Shadád the son of Ád, of whom the Eastern writers deliver many fabulous things, particularly that he finished the magnificent city his father had begun, wherein he built a fine palace, adorned with delicious gardens, to embellish which he spared neither cost nor labour, proposing thereby to create in his subjects a superstitious veneration of himself as a god.4 This garden or paradise was called the garden of Iram, and is mentioned in the Qurán,5 and often alluded to by the Oriental writers. The city, they tell us, is still standing in the deserts of Aden, being preserved by Providence as a monument of divine justice, though it be invisible, unless very rarely, when God permits it to be seen, a favour one Colabah pretended to have received in the reign of the Khalífah Muáwiyah, who sending for him to know the truth of the matter, Colabah related his whole adventure: that as he was seeking a camel he had lost, he found himself on a sudden at the gates of this city, and entering it, saw not one inhabitant, at which, being terrified, he stayed no longer than to take with him some fine stones which he showed the Khalífah.1*
Destruction of the Ádites.
The latter Adites.
The descendants of Ád in process of time falling from the worship of the true God into idolatry, God sent the prophet Húd (who is generally agreed to be Heber2† ) to preach to and reclaim them. But they refusing to acknowledge his mission, or to obey him, God sent a hot and suffocating wind, which blew seven nights and eight days together, and entering at their nostrils passed through their bodies,3 and destroyed them all, a very few only excepted, who had believed in Húd and retired with him to another place.4 That prophet afterwards returned into Hadramaut, and was buried near Hasiq, where there is a small town now standing called Qabr Húd, or the sepulchre of Húd. Before the Ádites were thus severely punished, God, to humble them and incline them to hearken to the preaching of his prophet, afflicted them with a drought for four years, so that all their cattle perished, and themselves were very near it; upon which they sent Luqmán (different from one of the same name who lived in David’s time) with sixty others to Makkah to beg rain, which they not obtaining, Luqmán with some of his company stayed at Makkah, and thereby escaped destruction, giving rise to a tribe called the latter Ád, who were afterward changed into monkeys.1
Some commentators on the Qurán2 tell us these old Ádites were of prodigious stature, the largest being 100 cubits high, and the least 60; which extraordinary size they pretend to prove by the testimony of the Qurán.3
The tribe of Thamúd.
Destruction of the Thamudites.
The tribe of Thamúd were the posterity of Thamúd the son of Jathar4 the son of Aram, who falling into idolatry, the prophet Sálih was sent to bring them back to the worship of the true God. This prophet lived between the time of Húd and of Abraham, and therefore cannot be the same with the patriarch Sálih, as M. d’Herbelot imagines.5 The learned Bochart with more probability takes him to be Phaleg.6 A small number of the people of Thamúd hearkened to the remonstrances of Sálih, but the rest requiring, as a proof of his mission, that he should cause a she-camel big with young to come out of a rock in their presence, he accordingly obtained it of God, and the camel was immediately delivered of a young one ready weaned; but they, instead of believing, cut the hamstrings of the camel and killed her; at which act of impiety God, being highly displeased, three days after struck them dead in their houses by an earthquake and a terrible noise from heaven, which, some7 say, was the voice of Gabriel the archangel crying aloud, “Die, all of you.” Sálih, with those who were reformed by him, were saved from this destruction; the prophet going into Palestine, and from thence to Makkah,8 where he ended his days.
Rock-cut houses of the Thamúdites.
This tribe first dwelt in Yaman,1 but being expelled thence by Himyár the son of Sába, they settled in the territory of Hajr in the province of Hijáz, where their habitations cut out of the rocks, mentioned in the Qurán,2 are still to be seen, and also the crack of the rock whence the camel issued, which, as an eyewitness3 hath declared, is sixty cubits wide. These houses of the Thamúdites being of the ordinary proportion, are used as an argument to convince those of a mistake who make this people to have been of a gigantic stature.
4 The tragical destructions of these two potent tribes are often insisted on in the Qurán as instances of God’s judgment on obstinate unbelievers.
The tribe of Tasm.
The tribe of Tasm were the posterity of Lúd the son of Sem, and Jadís of the descendants of Jathar.5 These two tribes dwelt promiscuously together under the government of Tasm, till a certain tyrant made a law that no maid of the tribe of Jadís should marry unless first deflowered by him;6 which the Jadísians not enduring, formed a conspiracy, and inviting the king and chiefs of Tasm to an ehtertainment, privately hid their swords in the sand, and in the midst of their mirth fell on them and slew them all, and extirpated the greatest part of that tribe; however, the few who escaped obtaining aid of the king of Yaman, then (as is said) Dhu Habshán Ibn Aqrán,7 assaulted the Jadís and utterly destroyed them, there being scarce any mention made from that time of either of these tribes.8
The Amalekites conquer Lower Egypt.
The former tribe of Jorham (whose ancestor some pretend was one of the eight persons saved in the ark with Noah, according to a Muhammadan tradition9 ) was contemporary with Ád, and utterly perished.1 The tribe of Amalek were descended from Amalek the son of Eliphaz the son of Esau,2 though some of the Oriental authors say Amalek was the son of Ham the son of Noah,3 and others the son of Azd the son of Sem.4 The posterity of this person rendered themselves very powerful,5 and before the time of Joseph conquered the Lower Egypt under their king Walíd, the first who took the name of Pharaoh, as the Eastern writers tell us;6 seeming by these Amalekites to mean the same people which the Egyptian histories call Phœnician shepherds.7 But after they had possessed the throne of Egypt for some descents, they were expelled by the natives, and at length totally destroyed by the Israelites.8
Origin of the present Arabe.
The present Arabians, according to their own historians, are sprung from two stocks, Qahtán,* the same with Joctan the son of Eber,9 and Adnán, descended in a direct line from Ismail the son of Abraham and Hagar; the posterity of the former they call al Arab al Áriba,10i.e., the genuine or pure Arabs, and those of the latter al Arab al Mustáriba, i.e., naturalised or insititious Arabs, though some reckon the ancient lost tribes to have been the only pure Arabians, and therefore call the posterity of Qahtán also Mutáriba, which word likewise signifies insititious Arabs, though in a nearer degree than Mustáriba, the descendants of Ismaíl being the more distant graff.
Their posterity have no claim to be pure Arabs.
The posterity of Ismaíl have no claim to be admitted as pure Arabs, their ancestor being by origin and language an Hebrew; but having made an alliance with the Jorhamites, by marrying a daughter of Mudád, and accustomed himself to their manner of living and language, his descendants became blended with them into one nation. The uncertainty of the descents between Ismaíl and Adnán is the reason why they seldom trace their genealogies higher than the latter, whom they acknowledge as father of their tribes, the descents from him downwards being pretty certain and uncontroverted.1*
The genealogy of these tribes being of great use to illustrate the Arabian history, I have taken the pains to form a genealogical table from their most approved authors, to which I refer the curious.
Besides these tribes of Arabs mentioned by their own authors, who were all descended from the race of Sem, others of them were the posterity of Ham by his son Cush, which name is in Scripture constantly given to the Arabs and their country, though our version renders it Ethiopia; but, strictly speaking, the Cushites did not inhabit Arabia properly so called, but the banks of the Euphrates and the Persian Gulf, whither they came from Chuzestán or Susiana, the original settlement of their father.1 They might probably mix themselves in process of time with the Arabs of the other race, but the Eastern writers take little or no notice of them.
The Arabians were for some centuries under the government of the descendants of Qahtán; Yárab, one of his sons, founding the kingdom of Yaman, and Jorham, another of them, that of Hijáz.
The Himyár princes of Yaman.
The province of Yaman, or the better part of it, particularly the provinces of Saba and Hadramaut, was governed by princes of the tribe of Himyár, though at length the kingdom was translated to the descendants of Qahlán, his brother, who yet retained the title of King of Himyár, and had all of them the general title of Tubba, which signifies successor, and was affected to this race of princes as that of Cæsar was to the Roman emperors, and Khalífah to the successors of Muhammad. There were several lesser princes who reigned in other parts of Yaman, and were mostly, if not altogether, subject to the king of Himyár, whom they called the great king, but of these history has recorded nothing remarkable or that may be depended upon.2
The inundation of Aram.
The first great calamity that befell the tribes settled in Yaman was the inundation of Aram, which happened soon after the time of Alexander the Great, and is famous in the Arabian history.* No less than eight tribes were forced to abandon their dwellings upon this occasion, some of which gave rise to the two kingdoms of Ghassán and Hira. And this was probably the time of the migration of those tribes or colonies which were led into Mesopotamia by three chiefs, Baqr, Mudar, and Rabía, from whom the three provinces of that country are still named Diyár Baqr, Diyár Mudar, and Diyar Rabía.1 Abd-as-Shams, surnamed Saba, having built the city from him called Saba, and afterwards Márib, made a vast mound, or dam,2 to serve as a basin or reservoir to receive the water which came down from the mountains, not only for the use of the inhabitants, and watering their lands, but also to keep the country they had subjected in greater awe by being masters of the water. This building stood like a mountain above their city, and was by them esteemed so strong that they were in no apprehension of its ever failing The water rose to the height of almost twenty fathoms, and was kept in on every side by a work so solid, that many of the inhabitants had their houses built upon it. Every family had a certain portion of this water, distributed by aqueducts. But at length God, being highly displeased at their great pride and insolence, and resolving to humble and disperse them,† sent a mighty flood, which broke down the mound by night while the inhabitants were asleep, and carried away the whole city, with the neighbouring towns and people.3
Ethiopian conquest of Yaman.
Persian supremacy established.
The tribes which remained in Yaman after this terrible devastation still continued under the obedience of the former princes, till about seventy years before Muhammad, when the king of Ethiopia sent over forces to assist the Christians of Yaman against the cruel persecution of their king, Dhu Nuwás, a bigoted Jew, whom they drove to that extremity that he forcéd his horse into the sea, and so lost his life and crown,1 after which the country was governed by four Ethiopian princes successively, till Salif, the son of Dhu Yazan, of the tribe of Himyár, obtaining succours from Khusrú Anushirwán, king of Persia, which had been denied him by the emperor Heraclius, recovered the throne and drove out the Ethiopians, but was himself slain by some of them who were left behind. The Persians appointed the succeeding princes till Yaman fell into the hands of Muhammad, to whom Bázán, or rather Bádhán, the last of them, submitted, and embraced this new religion.2
The kingdom of Ghassán founded.
It has been already observed that two kingdoms were founded by those who left their country on occasion of the inundation of Aram: they were both out of the proper limits of Arabia. One of them was the kingdom of Ghassán. The founders of this kingdom were of the tribe of Azd, who, settling in Syria Damascena near a water called Ghassán, thence took their name, and drove out the Dajaamian Arabs of the tribe of Sálih, who before possessed the country;5 where they maintained their kingdom 400 years, as others say 600, or, as Abulfeda more exactly computes, 616. Five of these princes were named Hárith, which the Greeks write Aretas: and one of them it was whose governor ordered the gates of Damascus to be watched to take St. Paul.1 This tribe were Christians,* their last king being Jabalah the son of al Ayham, who, on the Arabs’ successes in Syria professed Muhammadism under the Khalífah Omar; but receiving a disgust from him, returned to his former faith, and retired to Constantinople.2
The kingdom of Hira.
The other kingdom was that of Hira, which was founded by Malik, of the descendants of Qablán3 in Chaldea or Irák; but after three descents the throne came by marriage to the Lakhmians, called also the Mundárs (the general name of those princes), who preserved their dominion, notwithstanding some small interruption by the Persians, till the Khalífat of Abu Baqr, when al Mundár al Maghrúr, the last of them, lost his life and crown by the arms of Khálid Ibn al Walíd. This kingdom lasted 622 years eight months.4 Its princes were under the protection of the kings of Persia, whose lieutenants they were over the Arabs of Irák, as the kings of Ghassán were for the Roman emperors over those of Syria.5
Jorhamites of the Hijáz.
They are expelled and finally destroyed.
Jorham the son of Qahtán reigned in Hijáz, where his posterity kept the throne till the time of Ismaíl; but on his marrying the daughter of Mudád, by whom he had twelve sons, Qidár, one of them, had the crown resigned to him by his uncles the Jorhamites,6 though others say the descendants of Ismaíl expelled that tribe, who retiring to Johainah, were, after various fortune, at last all destroyed by an inundation.7
Of the kings of Himyár, Hira, Ghassán, and Jorham, Dr. Pocock has given us catalogues tolerably exact, to which I refer the curious.1
The Phylarchic government of the Hijáz.
After the expulsion of the Jorhamites, the government of Hijáz seems not to have continued for many centuries in the hands of one prince, but to have been divided among the heads of tribes, almost in the same manner as the Arabs of the desert are governed at this day. At Makkah an aristocracy prevailed, where the chief management of affairs till the time of Muhammad was in the tribe of Quraish, especially after they had gotten the custody of the Kaabah from the tribe of Khuzáah.2
Besides the kingdoms which have been taken notice of, there were some other tribes which in latter times had princes of their own, and formed states of lesser note, particularly the tribe of Kinda;3 but as I am not writing a just history of the Arabs, and an account of them would be of no great use to my present purpose, I shall waive any further mention of them.
The government of Arabia after the time of Muhammad.
After the time of Muhammad, Arabia was for about three centuries under the Khalífahs his successors. But in the year 325 of the Hijra, great part of that country was in the hands of the Karmatians,4 a new sect who had committed great outrages and disorders even in Makkah, and to whom the Khalífahs were obliged to pay tribute, that the pilgrimage thither might be performed: of this sect I may have occasion to speak in another place. Afterwards Yaman was governed by the house of Thabátiba, descended from Ali, the son-in-law of Muhammad, whose sovereignty in Arabia some place so high as the time of Charlemagne. However, it was the posterity of Ali, or pretenders to be such, who reigned in Yaman and Egypt so early as the tenth century. The present reigning family in Yaman is probably that of Ayúb, a branch of which reigned there in the thirteenth century, and took the title of Khalífah and Imám, which they still retain.1* They are not possessed of the whole province of Yaman,2 there being several other independent kingdoms there, particularly that of Fartakh. The crown of Yaman descends not regularly from father to son, but the prince of the blood royal who is most in favour with the great ones, or has the strongest interest, generally succeeds.3
The governors of Makkah and Madína independent.
The governors of Makkah and Madína, who have always been of the race of Muhammad, also threw off their subjection to the Khalífahs, since which time four principal families, all descended from Hassan the son of Ali, have reigned there under the title of Sharíf, which signifies noble, as they reckon themselves to be on account of their descent. These are Banu Qádir, Banu Músa Thani, Banu Hásham, and Banu Kitáda;4 which last family now is, or lately was in the throne of Makkah, where they have reigned above 500 years.† The reigning family at Madína are the Banu Hásham, who also reigned at Makkah before those of Kitáda.1
The rulers of Yaman independent.
The kings of Yaman, as well as the princes of Makkah and Madína, are absolutely independent2 and not at all subject to the Turk, as some late authors have imagined3* These princes often making cruel wars among themselves, gave an opportunity to Selim I, and his son Sulaimán, to make themselves masters of the coasts of Arabia on the Red Sea, and of part of Yaman, by means of a fleet built at Sues: but their successors have not been able to maintain their conquests; for, except the port of Jidda, where they have a Pasha whose authority is very small, they possess nothing considerable in Arabia.1*
Arabian liberty preserved in all ages.
Thus have the Arabs preserved their liberty, of which few nations can produce so ancient monuments, with very little interruption, from the very Deluge; for though very great armies have been sent against them, all attempts to subdue them were unsuccessful. The Assyrian or Median empires never got footing among them.2 The Persian monarchs, though they were their friends, and so far respected by them as to have an annual present of frankincense,3 yet could never make them tributary;4 and were so far from being their masters, that Cambyses, on his expedition against Egypt, was obliged to ask their leave to pass through their territories;5 and when Alexander had subdued that mighty empire, yet the Arabians had so little apprehension of him, that they alone, of all the neighbouring nations, sent no ambassadors to him, either first or last; which, with a desire of possessing so rich a country, made him form a design against it, and had he not died before he could put it in execution,6 this people might possibly have convinced him that he was not invincible: and I do not find that any of his successors, either in Asia or Egypt, ever made any attempt against them.7 The Romans never conquered any part of Arabia properly so called; the most they did was to make some tribes in Syria tributary to them, as Pompey did one commanded by Sampsiceramus or Shams’alkerám, who reigned at Hems or Emesa;8 but none of the Romans, or any other nations that we know of, ever penetrated so far into Arabia as Ælius Gallus under Augustus Cæsar;9 yet he was so far from subduing it, as some authors pretend,10 that he was soon obliged to return without effecting anything considerable, having lost the best part of his army by sickness and other accidents.1 This ill success probably discouraged the Romans from attacking them any more; for Trajan, notwithstanding the flatteries of the historians and orators of his time, and the medals struck by him, did not subdue the Arabs; the province of Arabia, which it is said he added to the Roman empire, scarce reaching farther than Arabia Petræa, or the very skirts of the country. And we are told by one author,2 that this prince, marching against the Agarens who had revolted, met with such a reception that he was obliged to return without doing anything.
The religion of the Arabs before Muhammad.
The religion of the Arabs before Muhammad, which they call the state of ignorance, in opposition to the knowledge of God’s true worship revealed to them by their prophet, was chiefly gross idolatry; the Sabian religion having almost overrun the whole nation, though there were also great numbers of Christians, Jews, and Magians among them.
The Sabian religion described.
I shall not here transcribe what Dr. Prideaux3 has written of the original of the Sabian religion; but instead thereof insert a brief account of the tenets and worship of that sect. They do not only believe one God, but produce many strong arguments for his unity, though they also pay an adoration to the stars, or the angels and intelligences which they suppose reside in them, and govern the world under the Supreme Deity. They endeavour to perfect themselves in the four intellectual virtues, and believe the souls of wicked men will be punished for nine thousand ages, but will afterwards be received to mercy. They are obliged to pray three times4 a day; the first, half an hour or less before sunrise, ordering it so that they may, just as the sun rises, finish eight adorations, each containing three prostrations:5 the second prayer they end at noon, when the sun begins to decline, in saying which they perform five such adorations as the former: and the same they do the third time, ending just as the sun sets. They fast three times a year, the first time thirty days, the next nine days, and the last seven. They offer many sacrifices, but eat no part of them, burning them all. They abstain from beans, garlic, and some other pulse and vegetables.1 As to the Sabian Qibla, or part to which they turn their faces in praying, authors greatly differ; one will have it to be the north,2 another the south, a third Makkah, and a fourth the star to which they pay their devotions:3 and perhaps there may be some variety in their practice in this respect. They go on pilgrimage to a place near the city of Harran in Mesopotamia, where great numbers of them dwell, and they have also a great respect for the temple of Makkah, and the pyramids of Egypt;4 fancying these last to be the sepulchres of Seth, and of Enoch and Sabi his two sons, whom they look on as the first propagators of their religion; at these structures they sacrifice a cock and a black calf, and offer up incense.5 Besides the Book of Psalms, the only true Scripture they read, they have other books which they esteem equally sacred, particularly one in the Chaldean tongue which they call the Book of Seth, and which is full of moral discourses. This sect say they took the name of Sabian from the above mentioned Sabi, though it seems rather to be derived from צבא, Saba,6 or the host of heaven, which they worship.7 Travellers commonly call them Christians of St. John the Baptist, whose disciples also they pretend to be, using a kind of baptism, which is the greatest mark they bear of Christianity. This is one of the religions, the practice of which Muhammad tolerated (on paying tribute), and the professors of it are often included in that expression of the Qurán, “those to whom the Scriptures have been given,” or literally, the people of the book.*
Arab idolatry and starworship.
The idolatry of the Arabs then, as Sabians, chiefly consisted in worshipping the fixed stars and planets, and the angels and their images, which they honoured as inferior deities, and whose intercession they begged, as their mediators with God. For the Arabs acknowledged one supreme God, the Creator and Lord of the universe, whom they called Allah Taála, the most high God; and their other deities, who were subordinate to him, they called simply, al Ilahát, i.e., the goddesses; which words the Grecians not understanding, and it being their constant custom to resolve the religion of every other nation into their own, and find out gods of theirs to match the others’, they pretend that the Arabs worshipped only two deities, Orotalt and Alilat, as those names are corruptly written, whom they will have to be the same with Bacchus and Urania; pitching on the former as one of the greatest of their own gods, and educated in Arabia, and on the other because of the veneration shown by the Arabs to the stars.1
They acknowledged one supreme God.
That they acknowledged one supreme God, appears, to omit other proof, from their usual form of addressing themselves to him, which was this, “I dedicate myself to thy service, O God! Thou hast no companion, except thy companion of whom thou art absolute master, and of whatever is his.”2 So that they supposed the idols not to be sui juris, though they offered sacrifices and other offerings to them, as well as to God, who was also often put off with the least portion, as Muhammad upbraids them. Thus when they planted fruit-trees or sowed a field, they divided it by a line into two parts, setting one apart for their idols, and the other for God; if any of the fruits happened to fall from the idol’s part into God’s, they made restitution; but if from God’s part into the idol’s, they made no restitution. So when they watered the idol’s grounds, if the water broke over the channels made for that purpose, and ran on God’s part, they dammed it up again; but if the contrary, they let it run on, saying, they wanted what was God’s, but he wanted nothing.1 In the same manner, if the offering designed for God happened to be better than that designed for the idol, they made an exchange, but not otherwise.2
Muhammad restored primitive monotheism.
It was from this gross idolatry, or the worship of inferior deities, or companions of God, as the Arabs continue to call them, that Muhammad reclaimed his countrymen, establishing the sole worship of the true God among them; so that how much soever the Muhammadans are to blame in other points, they are far from being idolaters,* as some ignorant writers have pretended.
Origin of star-worship.
The worship of the stars the Arabs might easily be led into, from their observing the changes of weather to happen at the rising and setting of certain of them,3 which after a long course of experience induced them to ascribe a divine power to those stars, and to think themselves indebted to them for their rains, a very great benefit and refreshment to their parched country: this superstition the Qurán particularly takes notice of.4
The temple of Bait Ghumdán at Sanaa.
The ancient Arabians and Indians, between which two nations was a great conformity of religions, had seven celebrated temples, dedicated to the seven planets; one of which in particular, called Bait Ghumdán, was built in Sanaa, the metropolis of Yaman, by Dahaq, to the honour of al Zubarah or the planet Venus, and was demolished by the Khalífah Othman;1 by whose murder was fulfilled the prophetical inscription set, as is reported, over this temple, viz., “Ghumdán, he who destroyeth thee shall be slain.”2 The temple of Makkah is also said to have been consecrated to Zuhal, or Saturu.3
Different stars worshipped by different tribes.
Thus as to the stars and planets, the tribe of Himyár chiefly worshipped the sun; Misam,4 al Dabaráh, or the Bull’s-eye; Lakhm and Jedám, al Múshtari, or Jupiter; Tay, Suhail, or Canopus; Qais, Sirius, or the Dog-star; and Asad, Atárid, or Mercury,5 Among the worshippers of Sirius, one Abu Qabsha was very famous; some will have him to be the same with Waháb, Muhammad’s grandfather by the mother, but others say he was of the tribe of Khuzáah. This man used his utmost endeavours to persuade the Quraish to leave their images and worship this star; for which reason Muhammad, who endeavoured also to make them leave their images, was by them nicknamed the son of Abu Qabsha.6 The worship of this star is particularly hinted at in the Qurán.7
Angels or gods worshipped as intercessors.
Of the angels or intelligences which they worshipped, the Qurán8 makes mention only of three, which were worshipped under female names;9 at Lat, al Uzza, and Mínáh. These were by them called goddesses, and the daughters of God; an appellation they gave not only to the angels, but also to their images, which they either believed to be inspired with life by God, or else to become the tabernacles of the angels, and to be animated by them; and they gave them divine worship, because they imagined they interceded for them with God.
The idol al Lát.
Al Lát was the idol of the tribe of Thakíf who dwelt at Tayif, and had a temple consecrated to her in a place called Nakhla. This idol al Mughairah destroyed by Muhammad’s order, who sent him and Abu Sofián on that commission in the ninth year of the Hijra.1 The inhabitants of Tayif, especially the women, bitterly lamented the loss of this their deity, which they were so fond of, that they begged of Muhammad, as a condition of peace, that it might not be destroyed for three years, and not obtaining that, asked only a month’s respite; but he absolutely denied it.2 There are several derivations of this word, which the curious may learn from Dr. Pocock;3 it seems most probably to be derived from the same root with Allah, to which it may be a feminine, and will then signify the goddess.
The idol al Uzza.
Al Uzza, as some affirm, was the idol of the tribes of Quraish and Kinánah,4 and part of the tribe of Salim;5 others6 tell us it was a tree called the Egyptian thorn, or acacia, worshipped by the tribe of Ghatfán, first consecrated by one Dhálim, who built a chapel over it, called Boss, so contrived as to give a sound when any person entered. Khálid Ibn Walíd being sent by Muhammad in the eighth year of the Hijra to destroy this idol, demolished the chapel, and cutting down this tree or image, burnt it: he also slew the priestess, who ran out with her hair dishevelled, and her hands on her head as a suppliant. Yet the author who relates this, in another place says, the chapel was pulled down, and Dhálim himself killed by one Zuhair, because he consecrated this chapel with design to draw the pilgrims thither from Makkah, and lessen the reputation of the Kaabah. The name of this deity is derived from the root azza, and signifies the most mighty.
The idol Mínáh.
Mínáh was the object of worship of the tribes of Hudhail and Khuzáah,1 who dwelt between Makkah and Madína, and, as some say,2 of the tribes of Aws, Khazraj, and Thakíf also. This idol was a large stone,3 demolished by one Saad, in the eighth year of the Hijra, a year so fatal to the idols of Arabia. The name seems derived from mana, to flow, from the flowing of the blood of the victims sacrificed to the deity; whence the valley of Mína,4 near Makkah, had also its name, where the pilgrims at this day slay their sacrifices.5
Idols Wadd, Sawá, Yaghúth, Yäúq, and Nasr.
Before we proceed to the other idols, let us take notice of five more, which with the former three are all the Qurán mentions by name, and they are Wadd, Sawá, Yaghúth, Yäúq, and Nasr. These are said to have been antediluvian idols, which Noah preached against, and were afterwards taken by the Arabs for gods, having been men of great merit and piety in their time, whose statues they reverenced at first with a civil honour only, which in process of time became heightened to a divine worship.6
Wadd was supposed to be the heaven, and was worshipped under the form of a man by the tribe of Qalb in Daumat al Jandal.7
Sawá was adored under the shape of a woman by the tribe of Hamadan, or, as others8 write, of Hudhail in Rohat. This idol lying under water for some time after the Deluge, was at length, it is said, discovered by the devil, and was worshipped by those of Hudhail, who instituted pilgrimages to it.9
Yaghúth was an idol in the shape of a lion, and was the deity of the tribe of Madhaj and others who dwelt in Yaman.1 Its name seems to be derived from ghatha, which signifies to help.
Yäúq was worshipped by the tribe of Murád, or, according to others, by that of Hamadan,2 under the figure of a horse. It is said he was a man of great piety, and his death much regretted; whereupon the devil appeared to his friends in a human form, and undertaking to represent him to the life, persuaded them, by way of comfort, to place his effigies in their temples, that they might have it in view when at their devotions. This was done, and seven others of extraordinary merit had the same honours shown them, till at length their posterity made idols of them in earnest.3 The name Yäúq probably comes from the verb áqa, to prevent or avert.4
Nasr was a deity adored by the tribe of Himyár, or at Dhu’l Khalaah in their territories, under the image of an eagle, which the name signifies.
There are, or were, two statues at Bamiyan, a city of Cabul in the Indies, fifty cubits high, which some writers suppose to be the same with Yaghúth and Yäúq, or else with Mínáh and al Lát; and they also speak of a third standing near the others, but something less, in the shape of an old woman, called Nasram or Nasr. These statues were hollow within, for the secret giving of oracles;5 but they seem to have been different from the Arabian idols. There was also an idol at Súmenat in the Indies, called Lát or al Lát,* whose statue was fifty fathoms high, of a single stone, and placed in the midst of a temple supported by fifty-six pillars of massy gold: this idol Mahmúd Ibn Sabaqtaghín, who conquered that part of India, broke to pieces with his own hands.1
The worship of Hobai and other idols of the Kaabah.
Besides the idols we have mentioned, the Arabs also worshipped great numbers of others, which would take up too much time to have distinct accounts given of them; and not being named in the Qurán, are not so much to our present purpose: for besides that every housekeeper had his household god or gods, which he last took leave of and first saluted at his going abroad and returning home,2 there were no less than 360 idols,3 equalling in number the days of their year, in and about the Kaabah of Makkah: the chief of whom was Hobal,4 brought from Belka in Syria into Arabia by Amru Ibn Luhai, pretending it would procure them rain when they wanted it.5 It was the statue of a man, made of agate, which having by some accident lost a hand, the Quraish repaired it with one of gold: he held in his hand seven arrows without heads or feathers, such as the Arabs use in divination.6 This idol is supposed to have been the same with the image of Abraham,7 found and destroyed by Muhammad in the Kaabah, on his entering it, in the eighth year of the Hijra, when he took Makkah,8 and surrounded with a great number of angels and prophets, as inferior deities; among whom, as some say, was Ismaíl, with divining arrows in his hand also.9
The idols Asáf and Naílah of Safá and Marwa.
Asaf and Naílah, the former the image of a man, the latter of a woman, were also two idols brought with Hobal from Syria, and placed the one on Mount Safá, and the other on Mount Marwa.* They tell us Asáf was the son of Amru, and Nailah the daughter of Sahal, both of the tribe of Jorham, who committing whoredom together in the Kaabah, were by God converted into stone,1 and afterwards worshipped by the Quaraish, and so much reverenced by them, that though this superstition was condemned by Muhammad, yet he was forced to allow them to visit those mountains as monuments of divine justice.2
The dough-worship of the tribe of Hanífa.
I shall mention but one idol more of this nation, and that was a lump of dough worshipped by the tribe of Hanífa, who used it with more respect than the Papists do theirs, presuming not to eat it till they were compelled to it by famine.5
Origin of stone-worship.
Several of their idols, as Mínáh in particular, were no more than large rude stones, the worship of which the posterity of Ismaíl first introduced; for as they multiplied, and the territory of Makkah grew too strail for them, great numbers were obliged to seek new abodes; and on such migrations it was usual for them to take with them some of the stones of that reputed holy land, and set them up in the places where they fixed; and these stones they at first only compassed out of devotion, as they had accustomed to do the Kaabah. But this at last ended in rank idolatry, the Ismaílites forgetting the religion left them by their father so far as to pay divine worship to any fine stone they met with.4
Arab belief in a future life.
Some of the pagan Arabs believed neither a creation past, nor a resurrection to come, attributing the origin of things to nature, and their dissolution to age. Others believed both, among whom were those who, when they died, had their camel tied by their sepulchre, and so left, without meat or drink, to perish, and accompany them to the other world, lest they should be obliged, at the resurrection, to go on foot, which was reckoned very scandalous.5 Some believed a metempsychosis, and that of the blood near the dead person’s brain was formed a bird named Hámah, which once in a hundred years visited the sepulchre; though others say this bird was animated by the soul of him that is unjustly slain, and continually cries, Isqúni, Isqúni, i.e., “give me to drink”—meaning of the murderer’s blood—till his death be revenged, and then it flies away. This was forbidden by the Qurán to be believed.1
I might here mention several superstitious rites and customs of the ancient Arabs, some of which were abolished and others retained by Muhammad; but I apprehend it will be more convenient to take notice of them hereafter occasionally, as the negative or positive precepts of the Qurán, forbidding or allowing such practices, shall be considered.
Let us now turn our view from the idolatrous Arabs, to those among them who had embraced more rational religions.
The Magian religion adopted by some tribes.
The Persians had, by their vicinity and frequent intercourse with the Arabians, introduced the Magian religion among some of their tribes, particularly that of Tamím,2 a long time before Muhammad, who was so far from being unacquainted with that religion, that he borrowed many of his own institutions from it, as will be observed in the progress of this work. I refer those who are desirous to have some notion of Magism to Dr. Hyde’s curious account of it,3 a succinct abridgment of which may be read with much pleasure in another learned performance.4
Judaism introduced as a result of Roman persecution.
The Jews, who fled in great numbers into Arabia from the fearful destruction of their country by the Romans, made proselytes of several tribes, those of Kinánah, al Hárith Ibn Kaabah, and Kindah5 in particular, and in time became very powerful, and possessed of several towns and fortresses there. But the Jewish religion was not unknown to the Arabs, at least above a century before. Abu Qaríb Asad, taken notice of in the Qurán,1 who was king of Yaman, about 700 years before Muhammad,* is said to have introduced Judaism among the idolatrous Himyárites. Some of his successors also embraced the same religion, one of whom, Yusaf, surnamed Dhu Nuwás,2 was remarkable for his zeal and terrible persecution of all who would not turn Jews, putting them to death by various tortures, the most common of which was throwing them into a glowing pit of fire, whence he had the opprobrious appellation of the Lord of the Pit. This persecution is also mentioned in the Qurán.3
Christianity in Arabia.
Christianity had likewise made a very great progress among this nation before Muhammad. Whether St. Paul preached in any part of Arabia, properly so called,4 is uncertain; but the persecutions and disorders which happened in the Eastern Church soon after the beginning of the third century, obliged great numbers of Christians to seek for shelter in that country of liberty, who, being for the most part of the Jacobite communion, that sect generally prevailed among the Arabs.5 The principal tribes that embraced Christianity were Himyár, Ghassán, Rabía, Taghlab, Bahrá, Tunúkh,6 part of the tribes of Tay and Kudáa, the inhabitants of Najrán, and the Arabs of Hira.7 As to the two last, it may be observed that those of Najrán became Christians in the time of Dhu Nuwás,8 and very probably, if the story be true, were some of those who were converted on the following occasion, which happened about that time, or not long before. The Jews of Himyar challenged some neighbouring Christians to a public disputation, which was held sub dio for three days before the king and his nobility and all the people, the disputants being Cregentius, bishop of Tephra (which I take to be Dhafar) for the Christians, and Herbanus for the Jews. On the third day, Herbanus, to end the dispute, demanded that Jesus of Nazareth, if he were really diving, and in heaven, and could hear the prayers of his worshippers, should appear from heaven in their sight, and they would then believe in him: the Jews crying out with one voice, “Show us your Christ, alas! and we will become Christians.” Whereupon, after a terrible storm of thunder and lightning, Jesus Christ appeared in the air, surrounded with rays of glory, walking on a purple cloud having a sword in his hand, and an inestimable diadem on his head, and spake these words over the heads of the assembly “Behold I appear to you in your sight, I, who was crucified by your fathers.” After which the cloud received him from their sight. The Christians eried out, “Kyrie eleeson,” i.c., “Lord, have mercy upon us;” but the Jews were stricken blind, and recovered not till they were all baptized.1*
Numán, king of Hira, converted to Christianiry.
The Christians at Hira received a great accession by several tribes, who fled thither for refuge from the persecution of Dhu Nuwás. Al Numán, surnamed Abu Kabús, king of Hira, who was slain a few months before Muhammad’s birth, professed himself a Christia on the following occasion. This prince, in a drunken fit, ordered two of his intimate companions, who overcome with liquor had fallen asleop, to be buried alive. When he came to himself, he was extremely concerned at what he had done, and to expiate his crime, not only raised a monument to the memory of his friends, but set apart two days, one of which he called the unfortunate, and the other the fortunate day; making it a perpetual rule to himself, that whoever met him on the former day should be slain, and his blood sprinkled on the monument, but he that met him on the other day should be dismissed in safety, with magnificent gifts. On one of those unfortunate days there came before him accidentally an Arab of the tribe of Tay, who had once entertained this king when fatigued with hunting and separated from his attendants. The king, who could neither discharge him contrary to the order of the day, nor put him to death, against the laws of hospitality, which the Arabians religiously observe, proposed, as an expedient, to give the unhappy man a year’s respite, and to send him home with rich gifts for the support of his family, on condition that he found a surety for his returning at the year’s end to suffer death. One of the prince’s court, out of compassion, offered himself as his surety, and the Arab was discharged. When the last day of the term came, and no news of the Arab, the king, not at all displeased to save his host’s life, ordered the surety to prepare himself to die. Those who were by represented to the king that the day was not yet expired, and therefore he ought to have patience till the evening; but in the middle of their discourse the Arab appeared. The king, admiring the man’s generosity, in offering himself to certain death, which he might have avoided by letting his surety suffer, asked him what his motive was for so doing? to which he answered, that he had been taught to act in that manner by the religion he professed; and al Numán demanding what religion that was, he replied, the Christian. Whereupon the king desiring to have the doctrines of Christianity explained to him, was baptized, he and his subjects; and not only pardoned the man and his surety, but abolished his barbarous custom.1 This prince, however, was not the first king of Hira who embraced Christianity; al Mundár, his grandfather, having also professed the same faith, and built large churches in his capital.2
The extent of the Christian Church in Arabia.
Since Christianity had made so great a progress in Arabia, we may consequently suppose they had bishops in several parts, for the more orderly governing of the ehurches. A bishop of Dhafár has been already named, and we are told that Najrán was also a bishop’s see.3 The Jacobites (of which sect we have observed the Arabs generally were) had two bishops of the Arabs subject to their Mafrián,* or metropolitan of the East; one was called the bishop of the Arabs absolutely, whose seat was for the most part at Akula, which some others make the same with Kúfa,4 others a different town near Baghdád.5 The other had the title of bishop of the Scenite Arabs, of the tribe of Thaalab in Hira, or Hirta, as the Syrians call it, whose seat was in that city. The Nestorians had but one bishop, who presided over both these dioceses of Hira and Akula, and was immediately subject to their patriarch.6
Free thought and Zendiciam among the Quraiah.
These were the principal religions which obtained among the ancient Arabs; but as freedom of thought was the natural consequence of their political liberty and independence, some of them fell into other different opinions. The Quraish, in particular, were infected with Zendicism,7 an error supposed to have very near affinity with that of the Sadducees among the Jews, and, perhaps, not greatly different from Deism; for there were several of that tribe, even before the time of Muhammad, who worshipped one God and were free from idolatry,1 and yet embraced none of the other religions of the country.
Two classes of Arabs previous to Muhammad.
The Arabians before Muhammad were, as they yet are, divided into two sorts—those who dwell in cities and towns, and those who dwell in tents. The former lived by tillage, the cultivation of palm-trees, breeding and feeding of cattle, and the exercise of all sorts of trades,2 particularly merchandising,3 wherein they were very eminent, even in the time of Jacob. The tribe of Quraish were much addicted to commerce, and Muhammad, in his younger years, was brought up to the same business; it being customary for the Arabians to exercise the same trade that their parents did.4 The Arabs who dwelt in tents employed themselves in pasturage, and sometimes in pillaging of passengers; they lived chiefly on the milk and flesh of camels; they often changed their habitations, as the convenience of water and of pasture for their cattle invited them, staying in a place no longer than that lasted, and then removing in search of other.5 They generally wintered in Irak and the confines of Syria. This way of life is what the greater part of Ismaíl’s posterity have used, as more agreeable to the temper and way of life of their father; and is so well described by a late author,6 that I cannot do better than refer the reader to his account of them.
The dialects of the Arabic language.
The art of writing in Arabia.
The Arabic language is undoubtedly one of the most ancient in the world, and arose soon after, if not at, the confusion of Babel. There were several dialects of it, very different from each other: the most remarkable were that spoken by the tribes of Himyár and the other genuine Arabs, and that of the Quraish. The Himyáritic seems to have approached nearer to the purity of the Syriac than the dialect of any other tribe; for the Arabs acknowledge their father Yarab to have been the first whose tongue deviated from the Syriac (which was his mother tongue, and is almost generally acknowledged by the Asiatics to be the most ancient) to the Arabic. The dialect of the Quraish is usually termed the pure Arabic, or, as the Qurán, which is written in this dialect, calls it, the perspicuous and clear Arabic; perhaps, says Dr. Pocock, because Ismaíl, their father, brought the Arabic he had learned of the Jorhamites nearer to the original Hebrew. But the politeness and elegance of the dialect of the Quraish is rather to be attributed to their having the custody of the Kaabah, and dwelling in Makkah, the centre of Arabia, as well more remote from intercourse with foreigners, who might corrupt their language, as frequented by the Arabs from the country all around, not only on a religious account, but also for the composing of their differences, from whose discourse and verses they took whatever words or phrases they judged more pure and elegant; by which means the beauties of the whole tongue became transfused into this dialect. The Arabians are full of the commendations of their language, and not altogether without reason; for it claims the preference of most others in many respects, as being very harmonious and expressive, and withal so copious, that they say no man without inspiration can be perfect master of it in its utmost extent; and yet they tell us, at the same time, that the greatest part of it has been lost; which will not be thought strange if we consider how late the art of writing was practised among them. For though it was known to Job,1 their countryman, and also to the Himyárites (who used a perplexed character called al Musnad, wherein the letters were not distinctly separate, and which was neither publicly taught, nor suffered to be used without permission first obtained), many centuries before Muhammad, as appears from some ancient monuments, said to be remaining in their character; yet the other Arabs, and those of Makkah in particular, were, for many ages, perfectly ignorant of it, unless such of them as were Jews or Christians.1 Murámir Ibn Murra of Anbár, a city of Irák, who lived not many years before Muhammad, was the inventor of the Arabic character, which Bashar the Kindian is said to have learned from those of Anbár, and to have introduced at Makkah but a little while before the institution of Muhammadism. These letters of Murámir were different from the Himyáritic; and though they were very rude, being either the same with or very much like the Cufic,2 which character is still found in inscriptions and some ancient books, yet they were those which the Arabs used for many years, the Qurán itself being at first written therein; for the beautiful character they now use was first formed from the Cufic by Ibn Muklah, Wazír (or Visir) to the Khalífahs al Muktadir, al Qáhir, and al Rádi, who lived about three hundred years after Muhammad, and was brought to great perfection by Ali Ibn Bawáb,3 who flourished in the following century, and whose name is yet famous among them on that account; yet it is said, the person who completed it, and reduced it to its present form, was Yaqút al Mustásami, secretary to al Mustásam, the last of the Khalífahs of the family of Abbás, for which reason he was surnamed al Khattái, or the Scribe.
Arab accomplishments and learning.
Style of prose and poetry.
Honour bestowed on poets.
Poetic contests at the fair of Okátz
The accomplishments the Arabs valued themselves chiefly on were: 1. Eloquence, and a perfect skill in their own tongue; 2. Expertness in the use of arms and horsemanship; and 3. Hospitality.1 The first they exercised themselves in by composing of orations and poems. Their orations were of two sorts, metrical or prosaic, the one being compared to pearls strung, and the other to loose ones. They endeavoured to excel in both, and whoever was able, in an assembly, to persuade the people to a great enterprise or dissuade them from a dangerous one, or gave them other wholesome advice, was honoured with the title of Khatíb, or orator, which is now given to the Muhammadan preachers. They pursued a method very different from that of the Greek and Roman orators; their sentences being like loose gems, without connection, so that this sort of composition struck the audience chiefly by the fulness of the periods, the elegance of the expression, and the acuteness of the proverbial sayings; and so persuaded were they of their excelling in this way, that they would not allow any nation to understand the art of speaking in public except themselves and the Persians, which last were reckoned much inferior in that respect to the Arabians.2 Poetry was in so great esteem among them, that it was a great accomplishment, and a proof of ingenious extraction, to be able to express one’s self in verse with ease and elegance on any extraordinary occurrence; and even in their common discourse they made frequent applications to celebrated passages of their famous poets. In their poems were preserved the distinction of descents, the rights of tribes, the memory of great actions, and the propriety of their language; for which reasons an excellent poet reflected an honour on his tribe, so that as soon as any one began to be admired for his performances of this kind in a tribe, the other tribes sent publicly to congratulate them on the occasion and themselves made entertainments, at which the women assisted, dressed in their nuptial ornaments, singing to the sound of timbrels the happiness of their tribe, who had now one to protect their honour, to preserve their genealogies and the purity of their language, and to transmit their actions to posterity;1 for this was all performed by their poems, to which they were solely obliged for their knowledge and instructions, moral and economical, and to which they had recourse, as to an oracle, in all doubts and differences.2 No wonder, then, that a public congratulation was made on this account, which honour they yet were so far from making cheap, that they never did it but on one of these three occasions, which were reckoned great points of felicity, viz., on the birth of a boy, the rise of a poet, and the fall of a foal of generous breed. To keep up an emulation among their poets, the tribes had, once a year, a general assembly at Okátz,3 a place famous on this account, and where they kept a weekly mart or fair, which was held on our Sunday.4 This annual meeting lasted a whole month, during which time they employed themselves, not only in trading, but in repeating their poetical compositions, contending and vieing with each other for the prize; whence the place, it is said, took its name.5 The poems that were judged to excel were laid up in their kings’ treasuries, as were the seven celebrated poems, thence called al Muallaqát, rather than from their being hung up on the Kaabah, which honour they also had by public order, being written on Egyptian silk and in letters of gold; for which reason they had also the name of al Mudháhabát, or the golden verses.6
This fair suppressed by Muhammad.
The fair and assembly at Okátz were suppressed by Muhammad, in whose time, and for some years after, poetry seems to have been in some degree neglected by the Arabs, who were then employed in their conquests; which being completed, and themselves at peace, not only this study was revived,1 but almost all sorts of learning were encouraged and greatly improved by them. This interruption, however, occasioned the loss of most of their ancient pieces of poetry, which were then chiefly preserved by memory; the use of writing being rare among them in their time of ignorance.2 Though the Arabs were so early acquainted with poetry, they did not at first use to write poems of a just length, but only expressed themselves in verse occasionally; nor was their prosody digested into rules, till some time after Muhammad;3 for this was done, as it is said, by al Khalíl Ahmad al Faráhídi, who lived in the reign of the Khalífah Harún al Rashíd.4
Arab equestrian and military training.
The exercise of arms and horsemanship they were in a manner obliged to practise and encourage, by reason of the independence of their tribes, whose frequent jarrings made wars almost continual; and they chiefly ended their disputes in field battles, it being a usual saying among them that God had bestowed four peculiar things on the Arabs—that their turbans should be to them instead of diadems, their tents instead of walls and houses, their swords instead of entrenchments, and their poems instead of written laws.5
Their hospitality and liberality.
Hospitality was so habitual to them, and so much esteemed, that the examples of this kind among them exceed whatever can be produced from other nations. Hátim, of the tribe of Tay,6 and Hasan, of that of Fizárah,7 were particularly famous on this account; and the contrary vice was so much in contempt, that a certain poet upbraids the inhabitants of Wasat, as with the greatest reproach, that none of their men had the heart to give nor their women to deny.1
Nor were the Arabs less propense to liberality after the coming of Muhammad than their ancestors had been. I could produce many remarkable instances of this commendable quality among them,2 but shall content myself with the following. Three men were disputing in the court of the Kaabah which was the most liberal person among the Arabs. One gave the preference to Abdallah, the son of Jaafar, the uncle of Muhammad; another to Qais Ibn Saad Ibn Obádah; and the third gave it to Arábah, of the tribé of Aws. After much debate one that was present, to end the dispute, proposed that each of them should go to his friend and ask his assistance, that they might see what every one gave, and form a judgment accordingly. This was agreed to; and Abdallah’s friend, going to him, found him with his foot in the stirrup, just mounting his camel for a journey, and thus accosted him: “Son of the apostle of God, I am travelling and in necessity.” Upon which Abdallah alighted, and bade him take the camel with all that was upon her, but desired him not to part with a sword which happened to be fixed to the saddle, because it had belonged to Ali, the son of Abutálib. So he took the camel, and found on her some vests of silk and 4000 pieces of gold; but the thing of greatest value was the sword. The second went to Qais Ibn Saad, whose servant told him that his master was asleep, and desired to know his business. The friend answered that he came to ask Qais’s assistance, being in want on the road. Whereupon the servant said that he had rather supply his necessity than wake his master, and gave him a purse of 7000 pieces of gold, assuring him that it was all the money then in the house. He also directed him to go to those who had the charge of the camels, with a certain token, and take a camel and a slave and return home with them. When Qais awoke, and his servant informed him of what he had done, he gave him his freedom, and asked him why he did not call him, “For,” says he, “I would have given him more.” The third man went to Arábah, and met him coming out of his house in order to go to prayers, and leaning on two slaves, because his eyesight failed him. The friend no sooner made known his case, but Arábah let go the slaves, and clapping his hands together, loudly lamented his misfortune in having no money, but desired him to take the two slaves, which the man refused to do, till Arábah protested that if he would not accept of them he gave them their liberty, and leaving the slaves, groped his way along by the wall. On the return of the adventurers, judgment was unanimous, and with great justice, given by all who were present, that Arábah was the most generous of the three.
Nor were these the only good qualities of the Arabs; they are commended by the ancients for being most exact to their words1 and respectful to their kindred.2 And they have always been celebrated for their quickness of apprehension and penetration, and the vivacity of their wit, especially those of the desert.3
Their national defects and vices.
As the Arabs have their excellences, so have they, like other nations, their defects and vices. Their own writers acknowledge that they have a natural disposition to war, bloodshed, cruelty,* and rapine, being so much addicted to bear malice that they scarce ever forget an old grudge; which vindictive temper some physicians say is occasioned by their frequently feeding on camels’ flesh* (the ordinary diet of the Arabs of the desert, who are therefore observed to be most inclined to these vices), that creature being most malicious and tenacious of anger,1 which account suggests a good reason for a distinction of meats.
Strange apology for plundering propensity.
The frequent robberies committed by these people on merchants and travellers have rendered the name of an Arab almost infamous in Europe; this they are sensible of, and endeavour to excuse themselves by alleging the hard usage of their father Ismaíl, who, being turned out of doors by Abraham, had the open plains and deserts given him by God for his patrimony, with permission to take whatever he could find there; and on this account they think they may, with a safe conscience, indemnify themselves as well as they can, not only on the posterity of Isaac, but also on everybody else, always supposing a sort of kindred between themselves and those they plunder. And in relating their adventures of this kind, they think it sufficient to change the expression, and instead of “I robbed a man of such or such a thing,” to say “I gained it.”2 We must not, however, imagine that they are the less honest for this among themselves, or towards those whom they receive as friends; on the contrary, the strictest probity is observed in their camp, where everything is open and nothing ever known to be stolen.*1
The sciences in Arabia previous to Muhammad.
The sciences the Arabians chiefly cultivated before Muhammadism were three—that of their genealogies and history, such a knowledge of the stars as to foretell the changes of weather, and the interpretation of dreams.2 They used to value themselves excessively on account of the nobility of their families, and so many disputes happened on that occasion, that it is no wonder if they took great pains in settling their descents. What knowledge they had of the stars was gathered from long experience, and not from any regular study or astronomical rules.3 The Arabians, as the Indians also did, chiefly applied themselves to observe the fixed stars, contrary to other nations, whose observations were almost confined to the planets, and they foretold their effects from their influences, not their nature; and hence, as has been said, arose the difference of the idolatry of the Greeks and Chaldeans, who chiefly worshipped the planets, and that of the Indians, who worshipped the fixed stars. The stars or asterisms they most usually foretold the weather by were those they called Anwa, or the houses of the moon. These are twenty-eight in number, and divide the zodiac into as many parts, through one of which the moon passes every night;1 as some of them set in the morning, others rise opposite to them, which happens every thirteenth night; and from their rising and setting, the Arabs, by long experience, observed what changes happened in the air, and at length, as has been said, came to ascribe divine power to them; saying that their rain was from such or such a star; which expression Muhammad condemned, and absolutely forbade them to use it in the old sense, unless they meant no more by it than that God had so ordered the seasons, that when the moon was in such or such a mansion or house, or at the rising or setting of such and such a star, it should rain or be windy, hot or cold.2
The old Arabians, therefore, seem to have made, no further progress in astronomy, which science they afterwards cultivated with so much success and applause,* than to observe the influence of the stars on the weather and to give them names; and this it was obvious for them to do, by reason of their pastoral way of life, lying night and day in the open plains. The names they imposed on the stars generally alluded to cattle and flocks, and they were so nice in distinguishing them, that no language has so many names of stars and asterisms as the Arabic; for though they have since borrowed the names of several constellations from the Greeks, yet the far greater part are of their own growth, and much more ancient, particularly those of the more conspicuous stars, dispersed in several constellations, and those of the lesser constellations which are contained within the greater, and were not observed or named by the Greeks.1
Thus have I given the most succinct account I have been able of the state of the ancient Arabians before Muhammad, or, to use their expression, in the time of ignorance. I shall now proceed briefly to consider the state of religion in the East, and of the two great empires which divided that part of the world between them at the time of Muhammad’s setting up for a prophet, and what were the conducive circumstances and accidents that favoured his success.
[* ]Whilst regarding this Preliminary Discourse as a most masterly, and on the whole reliable, presentation of the peculiar doctrines, rites, ceremonies, customs, and institutions of Islám, we recognise the fact that more modern research has brought to light many things concerning the history of the ancient Arabs which greatly modify the statements made in the early paragraphs of this chapter. We therefore refer the reader to the most valuable works of M. C. de Perceval. Hist. des Arabes, a masterly digest of which may be found in the Introduction to Muir’s Life of Mahomet, chap. iii.; also to the works of Dr. Sprenger, Biography of the Prophet, &c. e. m. w.
[1 ]Pocock, Specim. Hist. Arab., p. 33.
[1 ]Gen. x. 30.
[2 ]See Pocock, Specim., 33, 34.
[3 ]Golius ad Alfragan, 78, 79
[4 ]Strabo says Arabia Felix was in his time divided into five kingdoms, l 16, p. 1129.
[5 ]Gol. ad Alfragan, 79.
[1 ]La Roque, Vovage de l’Arab. Heur., 121.
[2 ]Gol. ad Alfragan, 79, 87.
[* ]“Or this was the name of its builder; see Kamoos” (Lane). e. m. w.
[3 ]Voyage de l’Arab. Heur, 232.
[4 ]Vide Dionys. Perieges., v. 927, &c.
[5 ]Strabo, l. 10, p. 1132; Arrian, 161.
[1 ]Voyage de l’Arab. Heur., 121, 123, 153.
[2 ]Vide Gol. ad Alfrag., 98; Abulfeda, Descr. Arab., p. 5.
[3 ]R. Saadias in version. Arab. Pentat. Sefer Juchasin., 135 b.
[4 ]Gen. x. 30.
[5 ]Gol. ad Alfrag., 82; see Gen. xxv. 15.
[6 ]Gol., ib. 198. See Pitts’ Account of the Religion and Manners of the Muhammadans, p. 96.
[1 ]Sharíf al Edrisi apud Poc. Spec., p. 122.
[3 ]Gol. ad Alfragan, 99.
[4 ]Sharíf al Edrísi, ubi supra, 124.
[* ]Lane adds the following note:—“Sale here adds ‘being brackish,’ but Burckhardt says the water of the Zemzem ‘is heavy to the taste, and sometimes in its colour resembles milk; but,’ he adds, ‘it is perfectly sweet, and differs very much from that of the brackish wells dispersed over the town. When first drawn up, it is slightly tepid, resembling in this respect many other fountains of the Hejáz.’—Travels in Arabia, p. 144. I have also drunk the water of Zemzem brought in a china bottle to Cairo, and found it perfectly sweet.” e. m. w.
[5 ]Ibid. and Pitts, ubi supra, p. 107.
[6 ]Gol. ad Alfragan, 99.
[8 ]Sharif al Edrísi, ubi supra.
[1 ]Sharíf al Edrísi, ubi supra.
[2 ]Poc. Spec., p. 51.
[* ]Burckhardt says seventy-two miles. Travels in Arabia, p. 69. e. m. w.
[3 ]Sharíf al Edrísi, ubi supra, 125.
[4 ]Id., Vulgò Geogr. Nubiensis 5.
[1 ]Though the notion of Muhammad’s being buried at Makkah has been so long exploded, yet several modern writers, whether through ignorance or negligence I will not determine, have fallen into it I shall here take notice only of two; one is Dr. Smith, who having lived some time in Turkey, seems to be inexcusable: that gentleman in his Epistles De Moribus ac Institutis Turcarum, no less than thrice mentions the Muhammadans visiting the tomb of their prophet at Makkah, and once his being born at Madína—the reverse of which is true (see Epist. 1, p 22, Epist. 2. pp. 63, 64). The other is the publisher of the last edition of Sir J. Mandeville’s Travels, who on his author’s saying very truly (p. 50) that the said tomb was at Methone, i.e., Madina, undertakes to correct the name of the town, which is something corrupted, by putting at the bottom of the page, Makkah. The Abbot de Vertot, in his History of the Order of Malta (vol i. p. 410, ed. 8vo), seems also to have confounded these two cities together, though he had before mentioned Muhammad’s sepulchre at Madína. However, he is certainly mistaken, when he says that one point of the religion, both of the Christians and Muhammadans, was to visit, at least once in their lives, the tomb of the author of their respective faith. Whatever may be the opinion of some Christians, I am well assured the Muhammadans think themselves under no manner of obligation in that respect.
[2 ]Gol. ad Alfragan, 97; Abulfeda, Descr. Arab., p. 40.
[3 ]Gol., ubi supra, 95.
[4 ]Ibid., 94.
[5 ]Ibid., 95.
[1 ]Albufarag. p. 159.
[2 ]Or Uz. Gen. x. 22, 23.
[3 ]Vide Qurán, c. 89, v. 6. Some make Ad the son of Amalek, the son of Ham; but the other is the received opinion. See D’Herbel., 51.
[* ]This genealogy is given on the authority of Muslim tradition, or rather of Muslim adaptation of Jewish tradition to gratify Arab pride. As to its utter worthlessness, see note on p. 24. e. m. w.
[4 ]Vide Eund., 498
[5 ]Cap. 89.
[1 ]D’Herbei., 51.
[* ]For a full account of his adventure, see Lane’s translation of the Thousand and One Nights.e. m. w.
[2 ]The Jews acknowledge Heber to have been a great prophet. Seder Olam., p. 2.
[† ]I can find no authority for this “general belief,” excepting that of Muslim conjecture. The guesses of D’Herbelot and Bochart seem to be inspired by Muslim tradition, which has been shown to be for the most part, so far as genealogy is concerned, a forgery. Muir suggests that Húd may have been a Jewish emissary or Christian evangelist. Life of Mohamet, Introd., p. 139. e. m. w.
[3 ]Al Baidháwi.
[4 ]Poc. Spec., p. 35, &c.
[1 ]Poc. Spec., p. 36.
[2 ]Jaláluddin et Zamakhshari.
[3 ]Qurán, c. 7, v. 70.
[4 ]Or Gether, vide Gen. x. 23.
[5 ]D’Herbel., Bibl. Orient., 740.
[6 ]Bochart, Georg. Sac.
[7 ]See D’Herbel., 366.
[8 ]Ibn Shohnah.
[1 ]Poc. Spec., p. 57.
[2 ]Qurán, c. 15, v. 82.
[3 ]Abu Musa al Ashari.
[4 ]Vide Poc. Spec., p. 37.
[6 ]A like custom is said to have been in some manors in England, and also in Scotland, where it was called “culliage,” or “cullage,” having been established by K. Ewen, and abolished by Malcolm III. See Bayle’s Dict. Art. Sixte IV. Rem. H.
[7 ]Poc. Spec., p. 60.
[8 ]Ibid., p. 37, &c.
[9 ]Ibid., p 38.
[1 ]Ibn Shohnah.
[2 ]Gen. xxxvi. 12.
[3 ]Vide D’Herbelot, p. 110.
[4 ]Ibn Shohnah.
[5 ]Vide Numb. xxiv. 20.
[6 ]Mirát Caïnát.
[7 ]Vide Joseph, cont. Apion., l. i.
[8 ]Vide Exod. xvii. 18, &c.; 1 Sam. xv. 2, &c.; ibid., xxvii. 8, 9; 1 Chron. iv. 43.
[* ]Muir, in his Life of Mahomet (Introd., p. cl.), proves conclusively that this identification of the Arab Qahtán with the Joctan of Scripture is an extravagant fiction, and shows that the age of Qahtán must be fixed at a period somewhere between 800 and 500 He says: “The identification (alluded to above) is one of those extravagant fictions which the followers of Islám, in their zeal to accommodate Arab legend to Jewish scripture, has made in defiance of the most violent improbability, and the grossest anachronisms.” e. m. w
[9 ]R. Saad. in vers. Arab. Pentat. Gen. x. 25. Some writers make Qahtán a descendant of Ismaíl, but against the current of Oriental historians. See Poc. Spec., p. 39.
[10 ]An expression something like that of St. Paul, who calls himself “an Hebrew of the Hebrews” (Phil. iii. 5).
[1 ]Poc. Spec., p. 40.
[* ]On this subject we give the following extract from Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. i. p. cvii.:—
[1 ]Vide Hyde, Hist. Rel. vet. Pers., p. 37, &c.
[2 ]Poc. Spec., pp. 65, 66.
[* ]This event did not occur till about the beginning of the second century of the Christian era. See Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. i., Introd., p. clvii., and authorities cited there. e. m. w.
[1 ]Vide Gol. ad Alfrag., p. 232.
[2 ]Poc. Spec, p. 57.
[† ]This immigration was probably due chiefly to “the drying up of the Yemen commerce, and stoppage of the carrying trade,” owing to the Romans having opened up commercial intercourse between India and Egypt by way of the Red Sea. Muir’s Introd., Life of Mahomet. p. cxxxvii. e. m. w.
[3 ]Geogr. Nubiens, p. 52.
[1 ]See Prideaux’s Life of Mahomet, p. 61.
[2 ]Poc. Spec., pp. 63, 64.
[4 ]Al Jannábi and Ahmed Ibn Yusef.
[5 ]Poc. Spec., p. 76.
[1 ]2 Cor. xi. 32; Acts ix. 24.
[* ]This was true only of the last kings of the tribe, the conversion having probably taken place through political influence about the middle of the fourth century of our era. Muir’s Introd., Life of Mahomet, p. clxxxv. e. m. w.
[2 ]Vide Ockley’s History of the Saracens, vol. i. p. 174.
[3 ]Poc. Spec., p. 66.
[4 ]Ibid., p. 74.
[5 ]Ibid. and Procop. in Pers. apud Photium., p. 71, &c.
[6 ]Poc. Spec., p. 45.
[7 ]Ibid., p. 79.
[1 ]Poc. Spec., p. 55 sed.
[2 ]Vide ibid., p. 41, and Prideaux’s Life of Mahomet, p. 2.
[3 ]Vide Poe. Spec., p. 79, &c.
[4 ]Vide Elmacin. in Vita al Rádi.
[1 ]Voyage de l’Arab. Heur., p. 255.
[* ]There is no one family now ruling over the whole of Yaman. At present the Turks have at least nominal dominion in the northern part to about 17° 30′ north latitude. In Southern Yaman there is no paramount sovereign, the Záidí family having been deposed from the throne of Sanáa some years ago. The Sultán of Gáara, in Lower Jafiá, who is recognised as a sort of hierarch in those regions, exercises considerable authority under the title of Afífí. He is said to pronounce judgment by fire ordeals. His principal rival is the Sultán of Maár, in the district of Abíán, but he has thus far been able to maintain his position as the most respected judge in Southern Yaman. In addition to these there is the so-called six-finger dynasty (said to have twelve fingers and twelve toes) of the Osmám rulers in the region near Aden, who are subsidised by the English. These are also rivals of the Afífí. e. m. w.
[2 ]Ibid., pp. 153, 273.
[3 ]Ibid., p. 254.
[4 ]Ibid., p. 143.
[† ]The present Grand Sharíf of Makkah is Abdal Muttalib, who was deposed in 1858 by the Sultán of Turkey, and kept at Constantinople as a state prisoner for more than twenty years. His successor in office was assassinated at Jidda in 1880 by a fanatic, because, as is believed by some, he refused to recognise the Sultán of Turkey as the Khalífah (caliph or vicegerent of Muhammad). Strange to say, the Sultán reinstated the exiled Grand Sharíf. He is said to be a mortal enemy of the English. Yet he does not appear to be popular in Arabia, as an unsuccessful attempt was made on his life soon after his arrival at Makkah. e. m. w.
[1 ]Voyage de l’Arab. Heur., p. 145.
[2 ]Ibid., pp. 143, 148.
[3 ]Vide D’Herbel., Bibl. Orient., p. 477.
[* ]The defeat of the Wahábis by Ibrahím Pásha in 1818 brought a considerable portion of Arabia, comprising about two hundred thousand square miles, under Turkish suzerainty. The rule of the Turk, however, is for the most part merely nominal, and this becomes more so each year as the power of the Ottoman empire decreases. So far, however, as recognised, it extends over almost the whole of Hijáz, with Makkah, Madína, and Jidda, under semi-independent rulers, the northern part of Yaman, and about half of Ahra (with Palgrave’s Hofhoof) on the east coast. Madína is subject to the Grand Sharíf of Makkah.
[1 ]Voy. de l’Arab. Heur., p. 148.
[* ]See note above.
[2 ]Diodor. Sic., l. 2, p. 131.
[3 ]Herodot., l. 3, c. 97.
[4 ]Idem ib. c. 91. Diodor., ubi sup.
[5 ]Herodot., l. 3, c. 8 and 98.
[6 ]Strabo, l. 16, pp. 1076, 1132.
[7 ]Vide Diodor. Sic., ubi supra.
[8 ]Strabo, l. 16, p. 1092.
[9 ]Dion Cassius, l. 53, p m. 516.
[10 ]Huet, Hist. du Commerce et de la Navigation des Anciens, c. 50.
[1 ]See the whole expedition described at large by Strabo, l. 16, p. 1126, &c.
[2 ]Xiphilin., epit.
[3 ]Connect. of the Hist. of the Old and New Test., p. 1, bk. 3.
[4 ]Some say seven. See D’Herbelot, p. 726, and Hyde, De Rel. Vet. Pers., p. 128.
[5 ]Others say they use no incurvations or prostrations at all; vide Hyde, ibid.
[1 ]Abulfarag, Hist. Dynast., p. 281, &c
[2 ]Idem ibid.
[3 ]Hyde, ubi supra, p. 124, &c.
[4 ]D’Herbelot, ubi supra.
[5 ]See Greaves Pyramidog., pp. 6, 7.
[6 ]Vide Poc. Spec., p. 138.
[7 ]Thábit Ibn Kurrah, a famous astronomer, and himself a Sabian, wrote a treatise in Syriac concerning the doctrines, rites, and ceremonies of this sect; from which, it it could be recovered, we might expect much better information than any taken from the Arabian writers; vide Abulfarag, ubi supra.
[* ]For a better account of these Sabians, see note on chap. ii. v. 61. e. m. w.
[1 ]Vide Herodot., l. 3, c. 8; Arrian, pp. 161, 162; and Strabo, l. 16.
[2 ]Al Shahristáni.
[1 ]Nodhm al dorr.
[2 ]Al Baidháwi.
[* ]So far as the Qurán and the religion of Muhammad are concerned, a charge of idolatry would be a sign of ignorance. But when we take into account the reverence of Muslims for the Black Stone at Makkah, their worship of Walis or saints, and notably of Hasan and Husain, the charge is just. However, when this inconsistency of Muslims is made to appear as an argument against Islám, it is as absurd as the attempt of Muslims to establish the charge of idolatry against Christians by pointing to Roman Catholic image-worship. e. m. w.
[3 ]Vide post.
[4 ]Vide Poc. Spec., p. 163.
[2 ]Al Jannábi.
[4 ]This name seems to be corrupted, there being no such among the Arab tribes. Poc. Spec., p. 130.
[5 ]Abulfarag, p. 160.
[6 ]Poc. Spec., p. 132.
[7 ]Cap. 53, v. 1.
[8 ]Ibid., va. 19-28.
[1 ]Dr. Prideaux mentions this expedition, but names only Abu Sofián, and mistaking the name of the idol for an appellative, supposes he went only to disarm the Tayifians of their weapons and instruments of war. See his Life of Mahomet, p. 98.
[2 ]Abulfeda, Vit. Muham., p. 127.
[3 ]Poc. Spec., p. 90.
[4 ]Al Jauhari, apud eund., p. 91.
[5 ]Al Shah., ib.
[6 ]Al Firauz., ib.
[1 ]Al Jauhari.
[2 ]Al Shahristáni, Abulfeda, &c.
[3 ]Al Baidháwi, al Zamakhshari.
[4 ]Poc. Spec., p. 91, &c.
[6 ]Qurán, c. 71, v. 22; Comment. Persic.; vide Hyde, De Rel. Vet. Pers., p. 133.
[7 ]Al Jauhari, al Shahristáni.
[8 ]Idem, al Firauzábádi, and Safiu’ddin.
[9 ]Al Firauzáb.
[2 ]Al Jauhari.
[3 ]Al Firauzáb.
[4 ]Poc. Spec., p. 94.
[5 ]See Hyde, De Rel. Vet. Pers., p. 132.
[* ]Somnáth is the name of the idol, and is applied to the god Mahadev. This idol may have been called Lát or al Lát by the Muslim plunderer, Mahmúd, and his followers, but that it was ever so called by the Hindus is a mistake. e. m. w.
[1 ]D’Herbelot, Bibl. Orient., p. 512.
[2 ]Al Mustatraf.
[3 ]Al Jannab.
[4 ]Abulfed., Shahrist., &c.
[5 ]Poc. Spen., p. 95.
[7 ]Poc. Spec., p. 97.
[9 ]Ibn al Ashir., al Jannáb., &c.
[* ]Safá and Marwa “are two slightly elevated spots adjacent to theTemple of Mekkeh.”—Lane’s Kurán, p. 33. e. m. w.
[1 ]Poc. Spec., p. 98.
[2 ]Qurán, c. 2, v. 159.
[5 ]Al Mustatraf, al Jauhari.
[4 ]Al Mustatraf, al Jannábi.
[5 ]Abulfarag, p. 160.
[1 ]Vide Poc. Spec., p. 135.
[2 ]Al Mustatraf.
[3 ]In his Hist. Relig. Vet. Pers.
[4 ]Dr. Prideaux’s Connect of the Hist. of the Old and New Test., part i. book 4.
[5 ]Al Mustatraf.
[1 ]Chap. 50.
[* ]Here is another instance of the error into which the writers of last century were led by Muslim authors. This Abu Qaríb Asad flourished about the beginning of the third century of our era, and hence about four hundred years before Muhammad. See Introd. Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. i. p. clvi. e. m. w.
[2 ]See before, p 28, and Baronii, Annal. ad sec. vi.
[3 ]Chap. 85, vv. 4, 5.
[4 ]See Galat. i. 17.
[5 ]Abulfarag, p. 149.
[6 ]Al Mustatraf.
[7 ]Vide Poc. Spec., p. 137.
[8 ]Al Jannábi, apud Poc. Spec., p. 63.
[1 ]Vule Gregentii disput, cam Herbano Judæo
[* ]We can but wonder at the apparent credulity which could admit a story like this as anything more than a fabrication. The whole account of the persecution of Christians by Dhu Nuwás shows that Christianity had been introduced before his time e. m. w.
[1 ]Al Maidáni and Ahmad Ibn Yusaf, apud Poc. Spec., p. 72
[2 ]Abulfeda, apud eund., p. 74.
[3 ]Safiu’ddin, apud. Poc. Spec., p. 137.
[* ]Lane says “the Copts call their metropolitan Matran.”—Kurán, p. 39, note. e. m. w.
[4 ]A Bulfarag in Chross. Syriac, MS.
[5 ]Abulfeda in Descr. Iracæ.
[6 ]Vide Assemani, Bibl. Orient., tom. 2, in Dissert. de Monophysitis, and p. 245.
[7 ]Al Mustatraf, apud Poc. Spec., p. 136.
[1 ]Vide Reland, De Relig. Moham., p. 270; and Millium de Mohammedismo ante Moham., p. 311.
[2 ]These seem to be the same whom M. La Roque calls Moors. Voy. dans la Palestine, p. 110.
[3 ]See Prideaux’s Life of Mahomet, p. 6.
[4 ]Strabo, l. 16, p. 1129.
[5 ]Idem ibid., p. 1084.
[6 ]La Roque. Voy. dans la Palestine, p. 109, &c.
[1 ]Job xix. 23, 24.
[1 ]See Prideaux’s Life of Mahomet, pp. 29, 30
[2 ]A specimen of the Cufic character may be seen in Sir J. Chardin’s Travels, vol. iii. p. 119.
[3 ]Ibn Khaliqán. Yet others attribute the honour of the invention of this character to Ibn Muklah’s brother, Abdallah al Hassan, and the perfecting of it to Ibn Amíd al Kátib, after it had been reduced to near the present form by Abd’alhamid. Vide D’Herbel., Bibl. Orient., pp. 590, 108, and 194.
[1 ]Poc. Orat. ante Carmen Tograi, p. 10.
[2 ]Poc. Spec., p. 161.
[1 ]Ibn Rashik, apud Poc. Spec., p. 160.
[2 ]Poc. Orat. præfix. Carm. Tograi, ubi supra.
[3 ]Idem, Spec., p. 159.
[4 ]Geogr. Nub., p. 51.
[5 ]Poc. Spec., p. 159.
[6 ]Ibid., and p. 381. Et in calce Notar. in Carmen Tograi, p. 233.
[1 ]Jaláluddin al Soyú., apud Poc. Spec., p. 159, &c.
[2 ]Ibid., p. 160.
[3 ]Ibid., 161. Al Safadi confirms this by a story of a grammarian named Abu Jaafar, who sitting by the Mikyas or Nilometer in Egypt, in a year when the Nile did not rise to its usual height, so that a famine was apprenended, and dividing a piece of poetry into its parts or feet, to examine them by the rules of art, some who passed by not understanding him, imagined he was uttering a charm to hinder the rise of the river, and pushed him into the water, where he lost his life.
[4 ]Vide Clericum de Prosod. Arab., p. 2.
[5 ]Pocock, in calce Notar. ad Carmen Tograi.
[6 ]Vide Gentii Notas in Gulistan Sheikh Sadi, p. 486, &c.
[7 ]Poc. Spec., p. 48.
[1 ]Ibn al Hubaírah, apud Poc. in Not. ad Carmen Tograi, p. 107.
[2 ]Several may be found in D’Herbelot’s Bibl. Orient., particularly in the articles of Hasan the son of Ali, Maan Fadhal, and Ibn Yahya.
[1 ]Herodot., l. 3, c. 8.
[2 ]Strabo, l. 16, p. 1129.
[3 ]Vide D’Herbel., Bibl. Orient., p. 121.
[* ]On the authority of Lane I give the following from Burckhardt’s Notes on the Bedouins and Wahhabys, vol. i. p. 185:—“The Turk is cruel, the Arab of a more kind temper; he pities and supports the wretched, and never forgets the generosity shewn to him even by an enemy. Not accustomed to the sanguinary scenes that harden and corrupt an Osmanly’s heart, the Bedouin learns at an early period of life to abstain and to suffer, and to know from experience the healing power of pity and consolation.”—Kurán, p. 48, note. e. m. w.
[* ]This, again, according to Burckhardt, is a mistake, for he says that the slaughter of a camel rarely happens. (See his Notes on the Bedouins and Wahhabys, vol. i. p. 63; Lane’s Kurán, p. 48.) But the testimony of tradition to the fact that the Quraish, during their expedition against Muhammad which resulted in the battle of Badr, slaughtered nine camels daily, would seem to indicate that, whatever modern custom may be, the Arabs of Muhammad’s time indulged very freely in camels’ flesh. e. m. w.
[1 ]Vide Poc. Spec., p. 87; Bochart, Hierozoic., l. 2, c. 1.
[2 ]Voyage dans la Palest., p. 220, &c.
[* ]That this statement is incorrect is evident from the following remarks in Burckhardt’s Notes on the Bedouins and Wahhabys, vol. i. pp. 157, 158:—“The Arabs may be styled a nation of robbers, whose principal occupation is plunder, the constant subject of their thoughts. But we must not attach to this practice the same notions of criminality that we entertain respecting highwaymen, housebreakers, and thieves in Europe. The Arabian robber considers his profession as honourable, and the term haramy (robber) is one of the most flattering titles that could be conferred on a youthful hero. The Arab robs his enemies, his friends, and his neighbours, provided that they are not actually in his own tent, where their property is sacred. To rob in the camp or among friendly tribes is not reckoned creditable to a man, yet no stain remains upon him for such an action, which, in fact, is of daily occurrence. But the Arab chiefly prides himself on robbing his enemies, and on bringing away by stealth what he could not have taken by open force. The Bedouins have reduced robbery in all its branches to a complete and regular system, which offers many interesting details.”
[1 ]Voyage dans la Palest., p. 213, &c.
[2 ]Al Shahristáni, apud Poc. Orat., ubi sup., p. 9, and Spec., p. 164.
[3 ]Abulfarag, p. 161.
[1 ]Vide Hyde in not. ad Tabulas stellar fixar, Ulugh Beigh, p. 5.
[2 ]Vide Poc. Spec., p. 103. &c.
[* ]R. Bosworth Smith, in his Lectures on Muhammad and Muhammadanism, p. 216, makes the following statement on this subject:—
[1 ]Vide Hyde, ubi sup., p. 4.