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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.
Vol. 1 of a 4 volume edition of the Quran based upon Sale’s translation of 1734 with later commentary and notes by Wherry. Vol. 1 contains Sale’s lengthy introduction.
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In presenting to the public the first volume of A Comprehensive Commentary on the Qurán, I think it necessary to make a brief statement as to the reasons which have led to the publication of this work, and the object sought to be attained thereby.
The idea of preparing such a work grew out of the wants which I felt in the pursuit of my own study of the Qurán, and in the work of a missionary among Muslims. The time required to gather up the results of the labours of various writers on Islám; the difficulty of preserving these results in a form suitable for convenient reference; and the still greater difficulty of bringing the truth thus acquired to bear on the minds of Muslims, owing to the absence of any medium whereby the proof-texts, referred to in the English works by chapter and verse, may be found in the original copies current among Muhammadans, where no such mode of reference is used;—all these suggested the great need of a work which would remove in some degree at least these obstacles to the study of the Qurán, and thus promote a better knowledge of Islám among missionaries.
It will thus be seen that I have not laboured simply to make a book. I have endeavoured to provide for a felt want. My object has been to gather up in a few volumes the results of the labours of those who have endeavoured to elucidate the text of the Qurán, adding the results of my own study. It is in this sense that this work is entitled a Comprehensive Commentary. Though primarily intended for the use of those who, like myself, are engaged in missionary work among Muhammadans, it is hoped that it will render valuable service to others.
The plan adopted in the preparation of this work is as follows:—
I. To present Sale’s translation of the Qurán in the form of the Arabic original, indicating the Sipára, Súrat, Ruqú of the Sipára, Ruqú of the Súrat, &c., as they are in the best Oriental editions.
II. To number the verses as they are in the Roman Urdú edition of Maulvi Abdul Qádir’s translation. This arrangement will be of special benefit to missionaries in India.
III. To exhibit in the notes and comments the views of the best Muslim commentators. For these I am indebted for the most part to Sale, the Tafsír-i-Raufi, the Tafsír-i-Hussaini, the Tafsír-i Fatah-ar-Rahmán, and the notes on Abdul Qádir’s Urdú translation of the Qurán. Sale’s notes have been almost entirely drawn (with the aid of Maracers work in Latin) from the standard writings of Baidháwi, the Jalálaín, and Al Zamakhshari. I have also culled much from some of the best European writers on Islám, a list of whose works may be found below.
IV. To the above is prefixed Sale’s Preliminary Discourse, with additional notes and emendations. And the last volume will contain a complete Index, both to the text of, and the notes on, the Qurán, which will enable the reader to acquaint himself with the teaching of the Quran on any particular subject, with a very small amount of labour.
In regard to the spelling of proper names, I have invariably Romanised the original form of the words, except when quoting from living authors, in which case I have felt obliged to retain the spelling peculiar to each writer.
In order to facilitate the study of individual chapters, and to help a better understanding of the various “revelations,” I have prefixed to each chapter a brief introduction, showing the circumstances under which the revelations were made, the date of their publication by Muhammad, and also giving a brief analysis of each chapter as to its teaching.
As to the matter of the notes, the reader will perceive occasional repetition. This is due in part to the repetitions of the text, and partly in order to call special attention to certain doctrines of the Qurán, e.g., its testimony to the genuineness and credibility of the Christian Scriptures current in the days of Muhammad; the evidence it affords to its own character as a fabrication; its testimony to the imposture of the Arabian prophet, in his professing to attest the Former Scriptures, while denying almost every cardinal doctrine of the same,—in his putting into the mouth of God garbled statements as to Scripture history, prophecy, and doctrine, to suit the purposes of his prophetic pretensions,—and in his appealing to Divinity to sanction his crimes against morality and decency.
The need of emphasising facts of this kind has grown out of the attempt of certain apologists for Islám to ignore these unpleasant truths, and to exhibit to the present generation an ideal Muhammad, no less unlike the prophet of Arabia than the Muhammad of Christian bigotry and misrepresentation. My endeavour has been to show what the Qurán actually teaches on these subjects.
On the other hand, I have endeavoured to remove, as far as known to me, the misapprehensions, and consequent misrepresentations, of the doctrines of the Qurán, popular among Christians, believing that every such error strengthens the prejudices of Muhammadans, and thereby aids the cause it seeks to overthrow, whilst justifying similar misrepresentation from the Muslim side. Everywhere I have endeavoured to advance the cause of truth, to show just what the Qurán teaches, and so by stating fairly the issues of the controversy with Islám, to advance the great cause of bringing its votaries to a knowledge of Him to whom all the prophets of God pointed as the Son of God and the Saviour of sinners.
Finally, whilst I desire to express my obligations to all those, now living, whose writings I have consulted or used in the preparation of this volume, I wish specially to make thankful acknowledgment of the help afforded me by Sir William Muir, in permitting me to make use of his most valuable works on Muhammad and the Qurán in the preparation of this work. My thanks are also due to the Rev. P. M. Zenker, C.M.S. missionary, Agra, for much valuable assistance in gathering material from sources inaccessible to me.
Without further preface, and earnestly desiring the blessing of Him who is The only Sinless Prophet of Islám, and the only Saviour of fallen men, I commend this volume to the reader.
E. M. W.
In reading the Romanised form of Arabic proper names, the reader should pronounce—
In reading the fractional sign R , R , &c., in the margin to the text of the Qurán, understand by the figures above the line the Ruqá of the Súrat or chapter, and by the figures below the line the Ruqú of the Sipára. The terms Ruba, Nisf, and Suls mark the fourth, half, and three-fourths of a Sipára.
I imagine it almost needless either to make an apology for publishing the following translation, or to go about to prove it a work of use as well as curiosity. They must have a mean opinion of the Christian religion, or be but ill grounded therein, who can apprehend any danger from so manifest a forgery: and if the religious and civil institutions of foreign nations are worth our knowledge, those of Muhammad, the lawgiver of the Arabians, and founder of an empire which in less than a century spread itself over a greater part of the world than the Romans were ever masters of, must needs be so; whether we consider their extensive obtaining, or our frequent intercourse with those who are governed thereby. I shall not here inquire into the reasons why the law of Muhammad has met with so unexampled a reception in the world (for they are greatly deceived who imagine it to have been propagated by the sword alone), or by what means it came to be embraced by nations which never felt the force of the Muhammadan arms, and even by those which stripped the Arabians of their conquests, and put an end to the sovereignty and very being of their Khalífahs; yet it seems as if there was something more than what is vulgarly imagined in a religion which has made so surprising a progress. But whatever use an impartial version of the Qurán may be of in other respects, it is absolutely necessary to undeceive those who, from the ignorant or unfair translations which have appeared, have entertained too favourable an opinion of the original, and also to enable us effectually to expose the imposture; none of those who have hitherto undertaken that province, not excepting Dr. Prideaux himself, having succeeded to the satisfaction of the judicious, for want of being complete masters of the controversy. The writers of the Romish communion, in particular, are so far from having done any service in their refutations of Muhammadism, that by endeavouring to defend their idolatry and other superstitions, they have rather contributed to the increase of that aversion which the Muhammadans in general have to the Christian religion, and given them great advantages in the dispute. The Protestants alone are able to attack the Qurán with success; and for them, I trust, Providence has reserved the glory of its overthrow. In the meantime, if I might presume to lay down rules to be observed by those who attempt the conversion of the Muhammadans, they should be the same which the learned and worthy Bishop Kidder has prescribed for the conversion of the Jews, and which may, mutatis mutandis, be equally applied to the former, notwithstanding the despicable opinion that writer, for want of being better acquainted with them, entertained of those people, judging them scarce fit to be argued with. The first of these rules is, To avoid compulsion, which, though it be not in our power to employ at present, I hope will not be made use of when it is. The second is, To avoid teaching doctrines against common sense; the Muhammadans not being such fools (whatever we may think of them) as to be gained over in this case. The worshipping of images and the doctrine of transubstantiation are great stumbling-blocks to the Muhammadans, and the Church which teacheth them is very unfit to bring those people over. The third is, To avoid weak arguments; for the Muhammadans are not to be converted with these, or hard words. We must use them with humanity, and dispute against them with arguments that are proper and cogent. It is certain that many Christians who have written against them have been very defective this way: many have used arguments that have no force, and advanced propositions that are void of truth. This method is so far from convincing, that it rather serves to harden them. The Muhammadans will be apt to conclude we have little to say when we urge them with arguments that are trifling or untrue. We do but lose ground when we do this; and instead of gaining them, we expose ourselves and our cause also. We must not give them ill words neither: but must avoid all reproachful language, all that is sarcastical and biting: this never did good from pulpit or press. The softest words will make the deepest impression: and if we think it a fault in them to give ill language, we cannot be excused when we imitate them. The fourth rule is, Not to quit any article of the Christian faith to gain the Muhammadans. It is a fond conceit of the Socinians that we shall upon their principles be most like to prevail upon the Muhammadans: it is not true in matter of fact. We must not give up any article to gain them: but then the Church of Rome ought to part with many practices and some doctrines. We are not to design to gain the Muhammadans over to a system of dogma, but to the ancient and primitive faith. I believe nobody will deny but that the rules here laid down are just: the latter part of the third, which alone my design has given me occasion to practise, I think so reasonable, that I have not, in speaking of Muhammad or his Qurán, allowed myself to use those opprobrious appellations, and unmannerly expressions, which seem to be the strongest arguments of several who have written against them. On the contrary, I have thought myself obliged to treat both with common decency and even to approve such particulars as seemed to me to deserve approbation; for how criminal soever Muhammad may have been in imposing a false religion on mankind, the praises due to his real virtues ought not to be denied him; nor can I do otherwise than applaud the candour of the pious and learned Spanhemius, who, though he owned him to have been a wicked impostor, yet acknowledged him to have been richly furnished with natural endowments, beautiful in his person, of a subtle wit, agreeable behaviour, showing liberality to the poor, courtesy to every one, fortitude against his enemies, and above all a high reverence for the name of God; severe against the perjured, adulterers, murderers, slanderers, prodigals, covetous, false witnesses, &c., a great preacher of patience, charity, mercy, beneficence, gratitude, honouring of parents and superiors, and a frequent celebrator of the divine praises.
Of the several translations of the Qurán now e tant, there is but one which tolerably represents the sense of the original; and that being in Latin, a new version became necessary, at least to an English reader. What Bibliander published for a Latin translation of that book deserves not the name of a translation; the unaccountable liberties therein taken, and the numberless fault, both of omission and commission, leaving scarce any resemblance of the original. It was made near six hundred years ago, being finished in 1143, by Robertus Retenensis, an Englishman, with the assistance of Hermannus Dalmata, at the request of Peter, Abbot of Clugny, who paid them well for their pains.
From this Latin version was taken the Italian of Andrea Arrivabene, notwithstanding the pretences in his dedication of its being done immediately from the Arabic; wherefore it is no wonder if the transcript be yet more faulty and absurd than the copy.
About the end of the fifteenth century, Johannes Andreas, a native of Xativa in the kingdom of Valencia, who from a Muhammadan doctor became a Christian priest, translated not only the Qurán, but also its glosses, and the seven books of the Sonna, out of Arabic into the Arragonian tongue, at the command of Martin Garcia, Bishop of Barcelona and Inquisitor of Arragon. Whether this translation were ever published or not I am wholly ignorant; but it may be presumed to have been the better done for being the work of one bred up in the Muhammadan religion and learning; though his refutation of that religion, which has had several editions, gives no great idea of his abilities.
Some years within the last century, Andrew du Ryer, who had been consul of the French nation in Egypt, and was tolerably skilled in the Turkish and Arabic languages, took the pains to translate the Qurán into his own tongue; but his performance, though it be beyond comparison preferable to that of Retenensis, is far from being a just translation, there being mistakes in every page, besides frequent transpositions, omissions, and additions, faults unpardonable in a work of this nature. And what renders it still more incomplete is the want of Notes to explain a vast number of passages, some of which are difficult, and others impossible to be understood, without proper explications, were they translated ever so exactly, which the author is so sensible of that he often refers his reader to the Arabic commentators.
The English version is no other than a translation of Du Ryer’s, and that a very bad one; for Alexander Ross, who did it, being utterly unacquainted with the Arabic, and no great master of the French, has added a number of fresh mistakes of his own to these of Du Ryer, not to mention the meanness of his language, which would make a better book ridiculous.
In 1698 a Latin translation of the Quran, made by Father Lewis Marracci, who had been confessor to Pope Innocent XI., was published at Padua, together with the original text, accompanied by explanatory notes and a refutation. This translation of Marracci’s, generally speaking, is very exact; but adheres to the Arabic idiom too literally to be easily understood, unless I am much deceived, by those who are not versed in the Muhammadan learning. The notes he has added are indeed of great use, but his refutations, which swell the work to a large volume, are of little or none at all, being often unsatisfactory, and sometimes impertinent. The work, however, with all its faults, is very valuable, and I should be guilty of ingratitude did I not acknowledge myself much obliged thereto; but still, being in Latin, it can be of no use to those who understand not that tongue.
Having therefore undertaken a new translation, I have endeavoured to do the original impartial justice, not having, to the best of my knowledge, represented it, in any one instance, either better or worse than it really is. I have thought myself obliged, indeed, in a piece which pretends to be the Word of God, to keep somewhat scrupulously close to the text, by which means the language may, in some places, seem to express the Arabic a little too literally to be elegant English: but this, I hope, has not happened often; and I flatter myself that the style I have made use of will not only give a more genuine idea of the original than if I had taken more liberty (which would have been much more for my ease), but will soon become familiar; for we must not expect to read a version of so extraordinary a book with the same ease and pleasure as a modern composition.
In the Notes my view has been briefly to explain the text, and especially the difficult and obscure passages, from the most approved commentators, and that generally in their own words, for whose opinions or expressions, where liable to censure, I am not answerable; my province being only fairly to represent their expositions, and the little I have added of my own, or from European writers, being easily discernible. Where I met with any circumstance which I imagined might be curious or entertaining, I have not failed to produce it.
The Preliminary Discourse will acquaint the reader with the most material particulars proper to be known previously to the entering on the Qurán itself, and which could not so conveniently have been thrown into the Notes. And I have taken care, both in the Preliminary Discourse and the Notes, constantly to quote my authorities and the writers to whom I have been beholden; but to none have I been more so than to the learned Dr. Pocock, whose Specimen Historiæ Arabum is the most useful and accurate work that has been hitherto published concerning the antiquities of that nation, and ought to be read by every curious inquirer into them.
As I have had no opportunity of consulting public libraries, the manuscripts of which I have made use throughout the whole work have been such as I had in my own study, except only the Commentary of Al Baidháwi and the Gospel of St. Barnabas. The first belongs to the library of the Dutch Church in Austin Friars, and for the use of it I have been chiefly indebted to the Rev. D Bolten, one of the ministers of that church: the other was very obligingly lent me by the Rev. Dr. Holme, Rector of Hedley in Hampshire; and I take this opportunity of returning both those gentlemen my thanks for their favours. The merit of Al Baidháwi’s commentary will appear from the frequent quotations I have made thence; but of the Gospel of St. Barnabas (which I had not seen when the little I have said of it in the Preliminary Discourse, and the extract I had borrowed from M. de la Monnoye and M. Toland, were printed off), I must beg leave to give some further account.
The book is a moderate quarto, in Spanish, written in a very legible band, but a little damaged towards the latter end. It contains two hundred and twenty-two chapters of unequal length, and four hundred and twenty pages; and is said, in the front, to be translated from the Italian by an Arragonian Muslim named Mustafa de Aranda. There is a preface prefixed to it, wherein the discoverer of the original MS., who was a Christian monk, called Fra Marino, tells us that having accidentally met with a writing of Irenæus (among others), wherein he speaks against St. Paul, alleging, for his authority, the Gospel of St. Barnabas, he became exceeding desirous to find this Gospel; and that God, of his mercy, having made him very intimate with Pope Sixtus V., one day, as they were together in that Pope’s library, his Holiness fell asleep, and he, to employ himself, reaching down a book to read, the first he laid his hand on proved to be the very Gospel he wanted: overjoyed at the discovery, he scrupled not to hide his prize in his sleeve, and on the Pope’s awaking, took leave of him, carrying with him that celestial treasure, by reading of which he became a convert to Muhammadism.
This Gospel of Barnabas contains a complete history of Jesus Christ from his birth to his ascension; and most of the circumstances in the four real Gospels are to be found therein, but many of them turned, and some artfully enough, to favour the Muhammadan system. From the design of the whole, and the frequent interpolations of stories and passages wherein Muhammad is spoken of and foretold by name, as the messenger of God, and the great prophet who was to perfect the dispensation of Jesus, it appears to be a most barefaced forgery. One particular I observe therein induces me to believe it to have been dressed up by a renegade Christian, slightly instructed in his new religion, and not educated a Muhammadan (unless the fault be imputed to the Spanish, or perhaps the Italian translator, and not to the original compiler); I mean the giving to Muhammad the title of Messiah, and that not once or twice only, but in several places: whereas the title of the Messiah, or, as the Arabs write it, al Masíh, i.e., Christ, is appropriated to Jesus in the Qurán, and is constantly applied by the Muhammadans to him, and never to their own prophet. The passages produced from the Italian MS. by M de la Monnoye are to be seen in this Spanish version almost word for word.
But to return to the following work. Though I have freely censured the former translations of the Qurán, I would not therefore be suspected of a design to make my own pass as free from faults: I am very sensible it is not; and I make no doubt that the few who are able to discern them, and know the diffienlty of the undertaking, will give me fair quarter. I likewise flatter myself that they, and all considerate persons, will excuse the delay which has happened in the publication of this work, when they are informed that it was carried on at leisure times only, and amidst the necessary avocations of a troublesome profession.
The name Arabia.
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, and in which quarter they dwelt in respect to the Jews.
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.
Proper Arabia is by the Oriental writers generally divided into five provinces, 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; 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.
It is subdivided into several lesser provinces, as Hadramaut, Shihr, Omán, Najrán, &c., of which Shihr alone produces the frankincense. 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.
So-called Arabian produce brought from India.
Produce of Yaman.
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. 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.
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.
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.
thought to be the Mesa of the Scripture, a name not unknown to the Arabians, and supposed to be taken from one of Ismaíl’s sons. It is seated in a stony and barren valley, surrounded on all sides with mountains. 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. In the midst of this space stands the city, built of stone cut from the neighbouring mountains. There being no springs at Makkah, at least none but what are bitter and unfit to drink, 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, the inhabitants are obliged to use rain-water, which they catch in cisterns. 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. 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.
How the people of Makkah subsist.
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: 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.
The temple of Makkah and the reputed holiness of this territory, will be treated of in a more proper place.
Madína or Yathrab.
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 interred 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.
The provinces of Tahama. Najd, and Yamáma founded.
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.
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.
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: 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 son of Aram, 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. This garden or paradise was called the garden of Iram, and is mentioned in the Qurán, 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.
Destruction of the Ádites.
The latter Adites.
) 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, and destroyed them all, a very few only excepted, who had believed in Húd and retired with him to another place. 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.
Some commentators on the Qurán 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.
The tribe of Thamúd.
Destruction of the Thamudites.
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. The learned Bochart with more probability takes him to be Phaleg. 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, some 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, where he ended his days.
Rock-cut houses of the Thamúdites.
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, are still to be seen, and also the crack of the rock whence the camel issued, which, as an eyewitness 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.
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.
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; 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, assaulted the Jadís and utterly destroyed them, there being scarce any mention made from that time of either of these tribes.
The Amalekites conquer Lower Egypt.
) was contemporary with Ád, and utterly perished. The tribe of Amalek were descended from Amalek the son of Eliphaz the son of Esau, though some of the Oriental authors say Amalek was the son of Ham the son of Noah, and others the son of Azd the son of Sem. The posterity of this person rendered themselves very powerful, 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; seeming by these Amalekites to mean the same people which the Egyptian histories call Phœnician shepherds. 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.
Origin of the present Arabe.
the same with Joctan the son of Eber, 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,i.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 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.
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 inundation of Aram.
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. Abd-as-Shams, surnamed Saba, having built the city from him called Saba, and afterwards Márib, made a vast mound, or dam, 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.
Ethiopian conquest of Yaman.
Persian supremacy established.
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.
This kingdom of the Himyárites is said to have lasted 2020 years, or, as others say, above 3000, the length of the reign of each prince being very uncertain.
The kingdom of Ghassán founded.
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. 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.
The kingdom of Hira.
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. 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.
Jorhamites of the Hijáz.
They are expelled and finally destroyed.
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.
Of the kings of Himyár, Hira, Ghassán, and Jorham, Dr. Pocock has given us catalogues tolerably exact, to which I refer the curious.
The Phylarchic government of the Hijáz.
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; 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.
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. They are not possessed of the whole province of Yaman, 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.
The governors of Makkah and Madína independent.
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.
The rulers of Yaman independent.
and not at all subject to the Turk, as some late authors have imagined 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.
Arabian liberty preserved in all ages.
The Persian monarchs, though they were their friends, and so far respected by them as to have an annual present of frankincense, yet could never make them tributary; 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; 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, 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. 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; 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; yet he was so far from subduing it, as some authors pretend, that he was soon obliged to return without effecting anything considerable, having lost the best part of his army by sickness and other accidents. 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, 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.
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 times 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: 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. 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, another the south, a third Makkah, and a fourth the star to which they pay their devotions: 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; 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. 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, or the host of heaven, which they worship. 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.
They acknowledged one supreme God.
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. 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.
Muhammad restored primitive monotheism.
as some ignorant writers have pretended.
Origin of star-worship.
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.
The temple of Bait Ghumdán at Sanaa.
by whose murder was fulfilled the prophetical inscription set, as is reported, over this temple, viz., “Ghumdán, he who destroyeth thee shall be slain.” The temple of Makkah is also said to have been consecrated to Zuhal, or Saturu.
Different stars worshipped by different tribes.
Thus as to the stars and planets, the tribe of Himyár chiefly worshipped the sun; Misam, 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, 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. The worship of this star is particularly hinted at in the Qurán.
Angels or gods worshipped as intercessors.
makes mention only of three, which were worshipped under female names; 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.
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. There are several derivations of this word, which the curious may learn from Dr. Pocock; 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.
and part of the tribe of Salim; others 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.
who dwelt between Makkah and Madína, and, as some say, of the tribes of Aws, Khazraj, and Thakíf also. This idol was a large stone, 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, near Makkah, had also its name, where the pilgrims at this day slay their sacrifices.
Idols Wadd, Sawá, Yaghúth, Yäúq, and Nasr.
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.
Sawá was adored under the shape of a woman by the tribe of Hamadan, or, as others 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.
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. 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, 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. The name Yäúq probably comes from the verb áqa, to prevent or avert.
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; 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.
The worship of Hobai and other idols of the Kaabah.
there were no less than 360 idols, equalling in number the days of their year, in and about the Kaabah of Makkah: the chief of whom was Hobal, brought from Belka in Syria into Arabia by Amru Ibn Luhai, pretending it would procure them rain when they wanted it. 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. This idol is supposed to have been the same with the image of Abraham, found and destroyed by Muhammad in the Kaabah, on his entering it, in the eighth year of the Hijra, when he took Makkah, 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.
The idols Asáf and Naílah of Safá and 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, 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.
The dough-worship of the tribe of Hanífa.
Origin of stone-worship.
Arab belief in a future life.
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.
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.
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, a succinct abridgment of which may be read with much pleasure in another learned performance.
Judaism introduced as a result of Roman persecution.
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, 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, 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.
Christianity in Arabia.
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. The principal tribes that embraced Christianity were Himyár, Ghassán, Rabía, Taghlab, Bahrá, Tunúkh, part of the tribes of Tay and Kudáa, the inhabitants of Najrán, and the Arabs of Hira. As to the two last, it may be observed that those of Najrán became Christians in the time of Dhu Nuwás, 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.
Numán, king of Hira, converted to Christianiry.
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.
The extent of the Christian Church in Arabia.
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, others a different town near Baghdád. 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.
Free thought and Zendiciam among the Quraiah.
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, and yet embraced none of the other religions of the country.
Two classes of Arabs previous to Muhammad.
particularly merchandising, 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. 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. 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, 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.
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. 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, 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, 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 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. 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; 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. 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, a place famous on this account, and where they kept a weekly mart or fair, which was held on our Sunday. 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. 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.
This fair suppressed by Muhammad.
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. 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; 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.
Arab equestrian and military training.
Their hospitality and liberality.
and Hasan, of that of Fizárah, 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.
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, 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 words and respectful to their kindred. And they have always been celebrated for their quickness of apprehension and penetration, and the vivacity of their wit, especially those of the desert.
Their national defects and vices.
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, which account suggests a good reason for a distinction of meats.
Strange apology for plundering propensity.
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.
The sciences in Arabia previous to Muhammad.
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. 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; 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.
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.
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.
The decline of true religion in the Church
that on the contrary, what by the ambition of the clergy, and what by drawing the abtrusest niceties into controversy, and dividing and subdividing about them into endless schisms and contentious, they had so destroyed that peace, love, and charity from among them which the Gospel was given to promote, and instead thereof continually provoked each other to that malice, rancour, and every evil work, that they had lost the whole substance of their religion, while they thus eagerly contended for their own imaginations concerning it, and in a manner quite drove Christianity out of the world by those very controversies in which they disputed with each other about it. In these dark ages it was that most of those superstitions and corruptions we now justly abhor in the Church of Rome were not only broached but established, which gave great advantages to the propagation of Muhammadism. The worship of saints and images, in particular, was then arrived at such a scandalous pitch that it even surpassed whatever is now practised among the Romanists.
Controversies in the Eastern Churches, and corruption of the clergy.
and were rather the pretences than real motives of those frequent councils to and from which the contentious prelates were continually riding post, that they might bring everything to their own will and pleasure. And to support themselves by dependants and bribery, the clergy in any credit at court undertook the protection of some officer in the army, under the colour of which justice was publicly sold and all corruption encouraged.
In the Western Church Damasus and Ursicinus carried their contests at Rome for the episcopal seat so high, that they came to open violence and murder, which Viventius, the governor, not being able to suppress, he retired into the country, and left them to themselves, till Damasus prevailed. It is said that on this occasion, in the church of Sicininus, there were no less than one hundred and thirty-seven found killed in one day. And no wonder they were so fond of these seats, when they became by that means enriched by the presents of matrons, and went abroad in their chariots and sedans in great state, feasting sumptuously even beyond the luxury of princes, quite contrary to the way of living of the country prelates, who alone seemed to have some temperance and modesty left.
Evil influence of Roman emperors in the Church.
This grew worse in the time of Justinian, who, not to be behind the bishops of the fifth and sixth centuries in zeal, thought it no crime to condemn to death a man of a different persuasion from his own.
This corruption of doctrine and morals in the princes and clergy was necessarily followed by a general depravity of the people; those of all conditions making it their sole business to get money by any means, and then to squander it away when they had got it in luxury and debauchery.
Arabia famous for heresy.
which might be in some measure attributed to the liberty and independency of the tribes. Some of the Christians of that nation believed the soul died with the body, and was to be raised again with it at the last day: these Origen is said to have convinced. Among the Arabs it was that the heresies of Ebion, Beryllus, and the Nazaræans, and also that of the Collyridians, were broached, or at least propagated; the latter introduced the Virgin Mary for God, or worshipped her as such, offering her a sort of twisted cake called collyris, whence the sect had its name.
Mariolatry and the doctrine of the Trinity
Others imagined her to be exempt from humanity and deified; which goes but little beyond the Popish superstition in calling her the complement of the Trinity, as if it were imperfect without her. This foolish imagination is justly condemned in the Qurán as idolatrous, and gave a handle to Muhammad to attack the Trinity itself.
Arabia refuge for heretics.
Other sects there were of many denominations within the borders of Arabia, which took refuge there from the proscriptions of the imperial edicts, several of whose notions Muhammad incorporated with his religion, as may be observed hereafter.
The power of the Jews in Arabia, and Muhammad’s treatment of them.
Though the Jews were an inconsiderable and despised people in other parts of the world, yet in Arabia, whither many of them fled from the destruction of Jerusalem, they grew very powerful, several tribes and princes embracing their religion; which made Muhammad at first show great regard to them, adopting many of their opinions, doctrines, and customs, thereby to draw them, if possible, into his interest. But that people, agreeably to their wonted obstinacy, were so far from being his proselytes, that they were some of the bitterest enemies he had, waging continual war with him, so that their reduction cost him infinite trouble and danger, and at last his life. This aversion of theirs created at length as great a one in him to them, so that he used them, for the latter part of his life, much worse than he did the Christians, and frequently exclaims against them in his Qurán. His followers to this day observe the same difference between them and the Christians, treating the former as the most abject and contemptible people on earth.
Islám succeeds as a religion through political weakness of Rome and Persia.
that it is impossible a person should make himself a prince and found a state without opportunities. If the distracted state of religion favoured the designs of Muhammad on that side, the weakness of the Roman and Persian monarchies might flatter him with no less hopes in any attempt on those once formidable empires, either of which, had they been in their full vigour, must have crushed Muhammadism in its birth; whereas nothing nourished it more than the success the Arabians met with in their enterprises against those powers, which success they failed not to attribute to their new religion and the divine assistance thereof.
Decline of the Roman empire.
The general luxury and degeneracy of manners into which the Grecians were sunk also contributed not a little to the enervating their forces, which were still further drained by those two great destroyers, monachism and persecution.
The communism of Mazdak.
Decline of the Persian empire.
After Parvíz no less than six princes possessed the throne in less than six years. These domestic broils effectually brought ruin upon the Persians; for though they did rather by the weakness of the Greeks than their own force ravage Syria and sack Jerusalem and Damascus under Khusrú Parvíz, and, while the Arabs were divided and independent, had some power in the province of Yaman, where they set up the four last kings before Muhammad; yet, when attacked by the Greeks under Heraclius, they not only lost their new conquests, but part of their own dominions; and no sooner were the Arabs united by Muhammadism, than they beat them in every battle, and in a few years totally subdued them.
The political power of Arabia consolidated under Muhammad.
As these empires were weak and declining, so Arabia, at Muhammad’s setting up, was strong and flourishing; having been peopled at the expense of the Grecian empire, whence the violent proceedings of the domineering sects forced many to seek refuge in a free country, as Arabia then was, where they who could not enjoy tranquillity and their conscience at home found a secure retreat. The Arabians were not only a populous nation, but unacquainted with the luxury and delicacies of the Greeks and Persians, and inured to hardships of all sorts, living in a most parsimonious manner, seldom eating any flesh, drinking no wine, and sitting on the ground. Their political government was also such as favoured the designs of Muhammad; for the division and independency of their tribes were so necessary to the first propagation of his religion and the foundation of his power, that it would have been scarce possible for him to have effected either had the Arabs been united in one society. But when they had embraced his religion, the consequent union of their tribes was no less necessary and conducive to their future conquests and grandeur.
This posture of public affairs in the Eastern world, both as to its religious and political state, it is more than probable Muhammad was well acquainted with, he having had sufficient opportunities of informing himself in those particulars in his travels as a merchant in his younger years; and though it is not to be supposed his views at first were so extensive as afterwards, when they were enlarged by his good fortune, yet he might reasonably promise himself success in his first attempts from thence. As he was a man of extraordinary parts and address, he knew how to make the best of every incident, and turn what might seem dangerous to another to his own advantage.
Muhammad’s birth, nurture, marriage, and fortune.
of Abd al Mutallib, and dying very young and in his father’s lifetime, left his widow and infant son in very mean circumstances, his whole substance consisting but of five camels and one Ethiopian she-slave. Abd al Mutallib was therefore obliged to take care of his grandchild Muhammad, which he not only did during his life, but at his death enjoined his eldest son, Abu Tálib, who was brother to Abdallah by the same mother, to provide for him for the future; which he very affectionately did, and instructed him in the business of a merchant, which he ollowed; and to that end he took him with him into Syria when he was but thirteen, and afterward recommended him to Khadíjah, a noble and rich widow, for her factor, in whose service he behaved himself so well, that by making him her husband she soon raised him to an equality with the richest in Makkah.
He forms the design of reforming the religion of his countrymen.
by destroying the gross idolatry into which the generality of his countrymen had fallen, and weeding out the corruptions and superstitions which the latter Jews and Christians had, as he thought, introduced into their religion, and reducing it to its original purity, which consisted chiefly in the worship of one only God.
Opinions as to probable motives of Muhammad
His hold on the doctrine of the unity of God.
Probably a monomaniac on the subject of religion.
that he made that nation exchange their idolatry for another religion altogether as bad. Muhammad was no doubt fully satisfied in his conscience of the truth of his grand point, the unity of God, which was what he chiefly attended to; all his other doctrines and institutions being rather accidental and unavoidable than premeditated and designed. Since, then, Muhammad was certainly himself persuaded of his grand article of faith, which, in his opinion, was violated by all the rest of the world, not only by the idolaters, but by the Christians, as well those who rightly worshipped Jesus as God, as those who superstitiously adored the Virgin Mary saints, and images; and also by the Jews, who are accused in the Qurán of taking Ezra for the son of God; it is easy to conceive that he might think it a meritorious work to rescue the world from such ignorance and superstition; and by degrees, with the help of a warm imagination, which an Arab seldom wants, to suppose himself destined by Providence for the effecting that great reformation. And this fancy of his might take still deeper root in his mind during the solitude he thereupon affected, usually retiring for a month in the year to a cave in Mount Hira, near Makkah. One thing which may be probably urged against the enthusiasm of this prophet of the Arabs is the wise conduct and great prudence he all along showed in pursuing his design, which seem inconsistent with the wild notions of a hot-brained religionist. But though all enthusiasts or madmen do not behave with the same gravity and circumspection that he did, yet he will not be the first instance, by several, of a person who has been out of the way only quoad hoc, and in all other respects acted with the greatest decency and precaution.
He was ignorant of the pure doctrines of the Christian religion
The terrible destruction of the Eastern Churches, once so glorious and flourishing, by the sudden spreading of Muhammadism, and the great successes of its professors against the Christians, necessarily inspire a horror of that religion in those to whom it has been so fatal; and no wonder if they endeavour to set the character of its founder and its doctrines in the most infamous light. But the damage done by Muhammad to Christianity seems to have been rather owing to his ignorance than malice; for his great misfortune was his not having a competent knowledge of the real and pure doctrines of the Christian religion, which was in his time so abominably corrupted, that it is not surprising if he went too far, and resolved to abolish what he might think incapable of reformation.
His natural! ambition is inflamed by success.
It is scarce to be doubted but that Muhammad had a violent desire of being reckoned an extraordinary person, which he could attain to by no means more effectually than by pretending to be a messenger sent from God to inform mankind of his will. This might be at first his utmost ambition; and had his fellow-citizens treated him less injuriously, and not obliged him by their persecutions to seek refuge elsewhere, and to take up arms against them in his own defence, he had perhaps continued a private person, and contented himself with the veneration and respect due to his prophetical office; but being once got at the head of a little army, and encouraged by success, it is no wonder if he raised his thoughts to attempt what had never before entered into his imagination.
His sensuality and doctrine of polygamy in accordance with the morality of his time
a great lover of women, we are assured by his own confession; and he is constantly upbraided with it by the controversial writers, who fail not to urge the number of women with whom he had to do, as a demonstrative argument of his sensuality, which they think sufficiently proves him to have been a wicked man, and consequently an impostor. But it must be considered that polygamy, though it be forbidden by the Christian religion, was in Muhammad’s time frequently practised in Arabia and other parts of the East, and was not counted an immorality, nor was a man worse esteemed on that account; for which reason Muhammad permitted the plurality of wives, with certain limitations, among his own followers, who argue for the lawfulness of it from several reasons, and particularly from the examples of persons allowed on all hands to have been good men, some of whom have been honoured with the divine correspondence. The several laws relating to marriages and divorces, and the peculiar privileges granted to Muhammad in his Qurán, were almost all taken by him from the Jewish decisions, as will appear hereafter; and therefore he might think those institutions the more just and reasonable, as he found them practised or approved by the professors of a religion which was confessedly of divine original.
A tolerable morality was necessary to the success of his enterprise.
“God,” says al Bokhári, “offered him the keys of the treasures of the earth, but he would not accept them.” Though the eulogies of these writers are justly to be suspected of partiality, yet thus much, I think, may be inferred from thence, that for an Arab who had been educated in Paganism, and had but a very imperfect knowledge of his duty, he was a man of at least tolerable morals, and not such a monster of wickedness as he is usually represented. And indeed it is scarce possible to conceive that a wretch of so profligate a character should ever have succeeded in an enterprise of this nature; a little hypocrisy and saving of appearances, at least, must have been absolutely necessary; and the sincerity of his intentions is what I pretend not to inquire into.
His intellectual gifts and suavity of manner.
The Eastern historians describe him to have been a man of an excellent judgment and a happy memory; and these natural parts were improved by a great experience and knowledge of men, and the observations he had made in his travels. They say he was a person of few words, of an equal, cheerful temper, pleasant and familiar in conversation, of inoffensive behaviour towards his friends, and of great condescension towards his inferiors. To all which were joined a comely agreeable person and a polite address; accomplishments of no small service in preventing those in his favour whom he attempted to persuade.
His ignorance of letters and the use he made of it
And for this reason his followers, instead of being ashamed of their master’s ignorance, glory in it. as an evident proof of his divine mission, and scruple not to call him (as he is indeed called in the Qurán itself ) the “illiterate prophet.”
His scheme for the inauguration of his religion
The scheme of religion which Muhammad framed, and the design and artful contrivance of those written revelations (as he pretended them to be) which compose his Qurán, shall be the subject of the following sections: I shall therefore in the remainder of this relate, as briefly as possible. the steps he took towards the effecting of his enterprise, and the accidents which concurred to his success therein.
He begins with the conversion of his own household
which he pretended had been revealed to him by the ministry of the angel, with those other circumstances of his first appearance which are related by the Muhammadan writers. Khadíjah received the news with great joy, swearing by him in whose hands her soul was that she trusted he would be the prophet of his nation, and immediately communicated what she had heard to her cousin, Waraqa Ibn Naufal, who, being a Christian, could write in the Hebrew character, and was tolerably well versed in the Scriptures: and he as readily came into her opinion, assuring her that the same angel who had formerly appeared unto Moses was now sent to Muhammad. This first overture the prophet made in the month of Pamadhán, in the fortieth year of his age, which is therefore usually called the year of his mission.
Gains other couverts, from his own tribe.
At the end of three years he openly proclaims his doctrine.
His relatives reject his prophetic clairus,
on that occasion, which afterwards became a rule to his followers ). and his cousin and pupil Ali, the son of Abu Tálib, though then very young; but this last, making no account of the other two, used to style himself the “first of believers.” The next person Muhammad applied to was Abdallah Ibn Abi Kuháfa, surnamed Abu Baqr, a man of great authority among the Quraish, and one whose interest he well knew would be of great service to him, as it soon appeared; for Abu Baqr being gained over, prevailed also on Othmán Ibn Affán, Abd al Rahmán Ibn Awf, Saad Ibn Abi Wakkás, Al Zubair Ibn al Awám, and Talha Ibn Obaidullah, all principal men in Makkah, to follow his example. These men were the six chief companions, who, with a few more, were converted in the space of three years, at the end of which Muhammad, having, as he hoped, a sufficient interest to support him, made his mission no longer a secret, but gave out that God had commanded him to admonish his near relations; and in order to do it with more convenience and prospect of success, he directed Ali to prepare an entertainment, and invite the sons and descendants of Abd al Mutallib, intending then to open his mind to them. This was done, and about forty of them came; but Abu Lahab, one of his uncles, making the company break up before Muhammad had an opportunity of speaking, obliged him to give them a second invitation the next day; and when they were come, he made them the following speech: “I know no man in all Arabia who can offer his kindred a more excellent thing than I now do you. I offer you happiness both in this life and in that which is to come. God Almighty hath commanded me to call you unto him; who therefore among you will be assisting to me herein, and become my brother and my vicegerent?” All of them hesitating and declining the matter, Ali at length rose up and declared that he would be his assistant, and vehemently threatened those who should oppose him. Muhammad upon this embraced Ali with great demonstrations of affection, and desired ali who were present to hearken to and obey him as his deputy, at which the company broke out into great laughter, telling Abu Tálib that he must now pay obedience to his son.
Opposition aroused by his preaching.
He is protected by Abu Tálib.
First emigration to Abyssinia.
These refugees were kindly received by the Najáshi, or king of Ethiopia, who refused to deliver them up to those whom the Quraish sent to demand them, and, as the Arab writers unanimously attest, even professed the Muhammadan religion.
Conversion of Hamza and Omar
Social ostracism of the Háshimites.
Muhammad had the pleasure of seeing his party strengthened by the conversion of his uncle Hamza, a man of great valour and merit, and of Omar Ibn al Khattáb, a person highly esteemed, and once a violent opposer of the prophet. As persecution generally advances rather than obstructs the spreading of a religion, Islám made so great a progress among the Arab tribes, that the Quraish, to suppress it effectually, if possible, in the seventh year of Muhammad’s mission, made a solemn league or covenant against the Háshimites and the family of al Mutallib, engaging themselves to contract no marriages with any of them, and to have no communication with them; and to give it the greater sanction, reduced it into writing, and laid it up in the Kaabah. Upon this the tribe became divided into two factions, and the family of Háshim all repaired to Abu Tálib, as their head, except only Abd al Uzza, surnamed Abu Lahab, who, out of his inveterate hatred to his nephew and his doctrine, went over to the opposite party, whose chief was Abu Sofián Ibn Harb of the family of Ommeya.
The league against the Háshimites broken.
The families continued thus at variance for three years; but in the tenth year of his mission, Muhammad told his uncle Abu Tálib that God had manifestly showed his disapprobation of the league which the Quraish had made against them, by sending a worm to eat out every word of the instrument except the name of God. Of this accident Muhammad had probably some private notice; for Abu Tálib went immediately to the Quraish and acquainted them with it; offering, if it proved false, to deliver his nephew up to them; but in case it were true, he insisted that they ought to lay aside their animosity, and annul the league they had made against the Háshimites. To this they acquiesced, and going to inspect the writing, to their great astonishment found it to be as Abu Tálib had said, and the league was thereupon declared void.
Death of Abu Talib and Khadíjah.
Seeks refuge in Tayif and is rejected.
Makes converts of six men of Madina
This repulse greatly discouraged his followers: however, Muhammad was not wanting to himself, but boldly continued to preach to the public assemblies at the pilgrimage, and gained several proselytes, and among them six of the inhabitants of Yathrab of the Jewish tribe of Khazraj, who on their return home failed not to speak much in commendation of their new religion, and exhorted their fellow-citizens to embrace the same.
Night journey from Makkah to Jerusalem and heaven.
so much spoken of by all that write of him. Dr. Prideaux thinks he invented it either to answer the expectations of those who demanded some miracle as a proof of his mission, or else, by pretending to have conversed with God, to establish the authority of whatever he should think fit to leave behind by way of oral tradition, and make his sayings to serve the same purpose as the oral law of the Jews. But I do not find that Muhammad himself ever expected so great a regard should be paid to his sayings as his followers have since done; and seeing he all along disclaimed any power of performing miracles, it seems rather to have been a fetch of policy to raise his reputation, by pretending to have actually conversed with God in heaven, as Moses had heretofore done in the mount, and to have received several institutions immediately from him, whereas before he contented himself with persuading that he had all by the ministry of Gabriel.
This device raises his credit
However, this story seemed so absurd and incredible, that several of his followers left him upon it, and it had probably ruined the whole design, had not Abu Baqr vouched for his veracity, and declared that if Muhammad affirmed it to be true, he verily believed the whole. This happy incident not only retrieved the prophet’s credit, but increased it to such a degree, that he was secure of being able to make his disciples swallow whatever he pleased to impose on them for the future. And I am apt to think this fiction, notwithstanding its extravagance, was one of the most artful contrivances Muhammad ever put in practice, and what chiefly contributed to the raising of his reputation to that great height to which it afterwards arrived.
The first pledge of Aqabah
and is to this effect, viz.: “That they should renounce all idolatry; that they should not steal, nor commit fornication, nor kill their children (as the pagan Arabs used to do when they apprehended they should not be able to maintain them ), nor forge calumnies; and that they should obey the prophet in all things that were reasonable.” When they had solemnly engaged to do all this, Muhammad sent one of his disciples, named Musáb Ibn Omair, home with them, to instruct them more fully in the grounds and ceremonies of his new religion.
Missionary success at Madína.
Musáb, being arrived at Madína, by the assistance of those who had been formerly converted, gained several prosolytes, particularly Osaid Ibn Hudaira, a chief man of the city, and Saad Ibn Muádh, prince of the tribe of Aws; Muhammadism spreading so fast, that there was scarce a house wherein there were not some who had embraced it.
The second pledge of Aqabah.
after Muhammad had chosen twelve out of their number, who were to have the same authority among them as the twelve apostles of Christ had among his disciples.
Islám thus far propagated by persuasion.
Muhammad’s moderation owing to his helplessness.
Moses, Cyrus, Theseus, and Romulus would not have been able to establish the observance of their institutions for any length of time had they not been armed. The first passage of the Qurán which gave Muhammad the permission of defending himself by arms is said to have been that in the twenty-second chapter; after which a great number to the same purpose were revealed.
He authorises the enforcement of his doctrines by the sword.
The sword declares Islám to be of human origin.
Christianity compared with it
after which time, indeed, this proof seems to fail, Christianity being then established and Paganism abolished by public authority, which has had great influence in the propagation of the one and destruction of the other ever since. But to return.
Emigration of Muslims to Madina.
Consequent excitement among the Quraish.
They conspire against Muhammad,
This conspiracy was scarce formed when by some means or other it came to Muhammad’s knowledge, and he gave out that it was revealed to him by the Angel Gabriel, who had now ordered him to retire to Madína. Whereupon, to amuse his enemies, he directed Ali to lie down in his place and wrap himself up in his green cloak, which he did, and Muhammad escaped miraculously, as they pretend, to Abu Baqr’s house, unperceived by the conspirators, who had already assembled at the prophet’s door. They in the meantime, looking through the crevice and seeing Ali, whom they took to be Muhammad himself, asleep, continued watching there till morning, when Ali arose, and they found themselves deceived.
Muhammad escapes to Madína.
of Makkah, accompanied only by Amar Ibn Fuháirah, Abu Baqr’s servant, and Abdallah Ibn Oraikat, an idolater, whom they had hired for a guide. In this cave they lay hid three days to avoid the search of their enemies, which they very narrowly escaped, and not without the assistance of more miracles than one; for some say that the Quraish were struck with blindness, so that they could not find the cave; others, that after Muhammad and his companions were got in, two pigeons laid their eggs at the entrance, and a spider covered the mouth of the cave with her web, which made them look no further. Abu Baqr, seeing the prophet in such imminent danger, became very sorrowful, whereupon Muhammad comforted him with these words, recorded in the Qurán: “Be not grieved, for God is with us.” Their enemies being retired, they left the cave and set out for Madína by a by-road, and having fortunately, or, as the Muhammadans tell us, miraculously, escaped some who were sent to pursue them, arrived safely at that city, whither Ali followed them in three days, after he had settled some affairs at Makkah.
He builds a mosque at Madína.
This action Dr. Prideaux exclaims against, representing it as a flagrant instance of injustice, for that, says he, he violently dispossessed these poor orphans, the sons of an inferior artificer (whom the author he quotes calls a carpenter) of this ground, and so founded the first fabric of his worship with the like wickedness as he did his religion. But to say nothing of the improbability that Muhammad should act in so impolitic a manner at his first-coming, the Muhammadan writers set this affair in a quite different light; one tells us that he treated with the lads about the price of the ground, but they desired he would accept it as a present; however, as historians of good credit assure us, he actually bought it, and the money was paid by Abu Baqr. Besides, had Muhammad accepted it as a present, the orphans were in circumstances sufficient to have afforded it; for they were of a very good family, of the tribe of Najjár, one of the most illustrious among the Arabs, and not the sons of a carpenter, as Dr. Prideaux’s author writes, who took the word Najjár, which signifies a carpenter, for an appellative, whereas it is a proper name.
Makes predatory raids on the caravans of the Quraish
As my design is not to write the life of Muhammad, but only to describe the manner in which he carried on his enterprise, I shall not enter into any detail of his subsequent battles and expeditions, which amounted to a considerable number. Some reckon no less than twenty-seven expeditions wherein Muhammad was personally present, in nine of which he gave battle, besides several other expeditions in which he was not present; some of them, however, will be necessarily taken notice of in explaining several passages of the Qurán. His forces he maintained partly by the contributions of his followers for this purpose, which he called by the name of Zakát or alms, and the paying of which he very artfully made one main article of his religion; and partly by ordering a fifth part of the plunder to be brought into the public treasury for that purpose, in which matter he likewise pretended to act by the divine direction.
He goes to Makkah, but is not allowed to enter.
The ten years’ truce
In a few years, by the success of his arms (notwithstanding he sometimes came off by the worst), he considerably raised his credit and power. In the sixth year of the Hijra he set out with 1400 men to visit the temple of Makkah, not with any intent of committing hostilities, but in a peaceable manner. However, when he came to al Hudaibiya, which is situate partly within and partly without the sacred territory, the Quraish sent to let him know that they would not permit him to enter Makkah, unless he forced his way; whereupon he called his troops about him, and they all took a solemn oath of fealty or homage to him, and he resolved to attack the city; but those of Makkah sending Arau Ibn Masud, prince of the tribe of Thakíf, as their ambassador to desire peace, a truce was concluded between them for ten years, by which any person was allowed to enter into league either with Muhammad or with the Quraish, as he thought fit.
Muslim veneration of their prophet.
He sends letters inviting foreign princes to embrace Islam
to acquaint him that he had received orders to send him to Khusrú. Muhammad put off his answer till the next morning, and then told the messenger it had been revealed to him that night that Khusrú was slain by his son Shirúyih adding that he was well assured his new religion and empire should rise to as great a height as that of Khusrú, and therefore bid him advise his master to embrace Muhammadism. The messenger being returned, Badhán in a few days received a letter from Shirúyih informing him of his father’s death, and ordering him to give the prophet no further disturbance; whereupon Badhán and the Persians with him turned Muhammadans.
The emperor Heraclius, as the Arabian historians assure us, received Muhammad’s letter with great respect, laying it on his pillow, and dismissed the bearer honourably. And some pretend that he would have professed this new faith had he not been afraid of losing his crown.
Mukauicas’ presents to Muhammad
became a great favourite with him. He also sent letters of the like purport to several Arab princes, particularly one to al Harith Ibn Abi Shamir, king of Ghassán, who returning for answer that he would go to Muhammad himself, the prophet said, “May his kingdom perish;” another to Haudha Ibn Ali, king of Yamáma, who was a Christian, and having some time before professed Islám, had lately returned to his former faith; this prince sent back a very rough answer, upon which Muhammad cursing him, he died soon after; and a third to al Mundár Ibn Sáwa, king of Bahrain, who embraced Muhammadism, and all the Arabs of that country followed his example.
Khálid and Amru converted
The expedition to Syria.
on occasion of which action Muhammad gave him the honourable title of Saif min suyúf Allah, One of the Swords of God.
The truce with the people of Makkah broken.
but in vain, for Muhammad, glad of this opportunity, refused to see him; whereupon he applied to Abu Baqr and Ali, but they giving him no answer, he was obliged to return to Makkah as he came.
Muhammad captures Makkah.
The remainder of this year Muhammad employed in destroying the idols in and round about Makkah, sending several of his generals on expeditions for that purpose, and to invite the Arabs to Islám: wherein it is no wender if they now met with success.
Many tribes converted.
Among the rest, five kings of the tribe of Himyár professed Muhammadism, and sent ambassadors to notify the same.
Ali’s expedition to Yaman.
Their example was quickly followed by all the inhabitants of that province, except only those of Najrán, who, being Christians, chose rather to pay tribute.
Arabia accepts Islám.
Thus was Muhammadism established and idolatry rooted out, even in Muhammad’s lifetime (for he died the next year), throughout all Arabia, except only Yamáma, where Musailama, who set up also for a prophet as Muhammad’s competitór, had a great party, and was not reduced till the Khalífat of Abu Baqr. And the Arabs being then united in one faith and under one prince, found themselves in a condition of making those conquests which extended the Muhammadan faith over so great a part of the world.
Import of the word qaraa.
words of the same origin and import; which observation seems to overthrow the opinion of some learned Arabians, who would have the Qurán so named because it is a collection of the loose chapters or sheets which compose it—the verb karaa signifying also to gather or collect; and may also, by the way, serve as an answer to those who object that the Qurán must be a book forged at once, and could not possibly be revealed by parcels at different times during the course of several years, as the Muhammadans affirm, because the Qurán is often mentioned and called by that name in the very book itself. It may not be amiss to observe, that the syllable Al in the word Alqurán is only the Arabic article, signifying the, and therefore ought to be omitted when the English article is prefixed.
Other names applied to the Qurán.
It is also called al Musháf, the volume, and al Kitáb, the Book, by way of eminence, which answers to the Biblia of the Greeks; and al Dhikr, the admonition, which name is also given to the Pentateuch and Gospels.
Divisions of the Qurán.
Titles of the chapters.
These chapters are not in the manuscript copies distinguished by their numerical order, though for the reader’s ease they are numbered in this edition, but by particular titles, which (except that of the first, which is the initial chapter, or introduction to the rest, and by the old Latin translator not numbered among the chapters) are taken sometimes from a particular matter treated of or person mentioned therein, but usually from the first word of note, exactly in the same manner as the Jews have named their Sedárim; though the words from which some chapters are denominated be very far distant, towards the middle, or perhaps the end of the chapter, which seems ridiculous. But the occasion of this seems to have been, that the verse or passage wherein such word occurs was, in point of time, revealed and committed to writing before the other verses of the same chapter which precede it in order: and the title being given to the chapter before it was completed or the passages reduced to their present order, the verse from whence such title was taken did not always happen to begin the chapter. Some chapters have two or more titles, occasioned by the difference of the copies.
Some of the chapters having been revealed at Makkah and others at Madína, the noting this difference makes a part of the title; but the reader will observe that several of the chapters are said to have been revealed partly at Makkah and partly at Madína; and as to others, it is yet a dispute among the commentators to which place of the two they belong.
The verses of the chapters.
Every chapter is subdivided into smaller portions, of very unequal length also, which we customarily call verses; but the Arabic word is Ayát, the same with the Hebrew Ototh, and signifies signs or wonders; such as are the secrets of God, his attributes, works, judgments, and ordinances, delivered in those verses; many of which have their particular titles also, imposed in the same manner as those of the chapters.
Notwithstanding this subdivision is common and well known, yet I have never yet seen any manuscript wherein the verses are actually numbered; though in some copies the number of verses in each chapter is set down after the title, which we have therefore added in the table of the chapters And the Muhammadans seem to have some scruple in making an actual distinction in their copies, because the chief disagreement between their several editions of the Qurán consists in the division and number of the verses and for this reason I have not taken upon me to make any such division.
The seven principal editions of the Quran.
Number of verses, words, &c.
and the same number of letters, viz., 323,015; for the Muhammadans have in this also imitated the Jews, that they have superstitiously numbered the very words and letters of their law; nay, they have taken the pains to compute (how exactly I know not) the number of times each particular letter of the alphabet is contained in the Qurán.
Other divisions of the Qurán.
but the Qurán is more usually divided into thirty sections only, named Ajzá, from the singular Juz, each of twice the length of the former, and in the like manner subdivided into four parts. These divisions are for the use of the readers of the Qurán in the royal temples, or in the adjoining chapels where the emperors and great men are interred. There are thirty of these readers belonging to every chapel, and each reads his section every day, so that the whole Qurán is read over once a day. I have seen several copies divided in this manner, and bound up in as many volumes; and have thought it proper to mark these divisions in the margin of this translation by numeral letters.
This auspicatory form, and also the titles of the chapters, are by the generality of the doctors and commentators believed to be of divine original, no less than the text itself; but the more moderate are of opinion they are only human additions, and not the very word of God.
The letters A.L.M., &c.
and suppose the letters to stand for as many words expressing the names and attributes of God, his works, ordinances, and decrees; and therefore these mysterious letters, as well as the verses themselves, seem in the Qurán to be called signs. Others explain the intent of these letters from their nature or organ, or else from their value in numbers, according to another species of the Jewish Cabbala called Gematria; the uncertainty of which conjectures sufficiently appears from their disagreement. Thus, for example, five chapters, one of which is the second, begin with these letters, A.L.M., which some imagine to stand for Allah latíf majíd, “God is gracious and to be glorified;” or, Ana li minni, “To me and from me,” viz., belongs all perfection and proceeds all good; or else for Ana Allah álam, “I am the most wise God,” taking the first letter to mark the beginning of the first word, the second the middle of the second word, and the third the last of the third word; or for “Allah, Gabriel, Muhammad,” the author, revealer, and preacher of the Qurán. Others say that as the letter A belongs to the lower part of the throat, the first of the organs of speech; L to the palate, the middle organ; and M to the lips, which are the last organs; so these letters signify that God is the beginning, middle, and end, or ought to be praised in the beginning, middle, and end of all our words and actions: or, as the total value of those three letters in numbers is seventy-one, they signify that in the space of so many years, the religion preached in the Qurán should be fully established. The conjecture of a learned Christian is, at least, as certain as any of the former, who supposes those letters were set there by the amanuensis, for Amar li Muhammad, i.e., “at the command of Muhammad,” as the five letters prefixed to the nineteenth chapter seem to be there written by a Jewish scribe for koh yaas, i.e., “Thus he commanded.”
The language of the Qurán.
and therefore insisted on as a permanent miracle, greater than that of raising the dead, and alone sufficient to convince the world of its divine original.
its elegance of style elaimed to be miraculous.
to produce even a single chapter that might be compared with it I will mention but one instance out of several, to show that this book was really admired for the beauty of its composure by those who must be allowed to have been conrpetent judges. A poem of Lábíd Ibn Rabia, one of the greatest wits in Arabia in Muhammad’s time, being fixed up on the gate of the temple of Makkah, an honour allowed to none but the most esteemed performances none of the other poets durst offer anything of their own in competition with it. But the second chapter of the Qurán being fixed up by it soon after. Lábid himself (then an idolater), on reading the first verses only, was struck with admiration, and immediately professed the religion taught thereby, declaring that such words could proceed from an inspired person only. This Lábíd was afterwards of great service to Muhammad in writing answers to the satires and invectives that were made on him and his religion by the infidels, and particularly by Amri al Qais, prince of the tribe of Asad, and author of one of those seven famous poems called al Muallaqat.
The style the composition.
The style of the Qurán is generally beautiful and fluent, especially where it imitates the prophetic manner and Scripture phrases. It is concise and often obscure, adorned with bold figures after the Eastern taste, enlivened with florid and sententious expressions, and in many places, especially where the majesty and attributes of God are described, sublime and magnificent; of which the reader cannot but observe several instances, though he must not imagine the translation comes up to the original, notwithstanding my endeavours to do it justice.
Though it be written in prose, yet the sentences generally conclude in a long continued rhyme, for the sake of which the sense is often interrupted, and unnecessary repetitions too frequently made, which appear still more ridiculous in a translation, where the ornament, such as it is, for whose sake they were made, cannot be perceived. However, the Arabians are so mightily delighted with this jingling, that they employ it in their most elaborate compositions, which they also embellish with frequent passages of, and allusions to, the Qurán, so that it is next to impossible to understand them without being well versed in this book.
The influence of this style on Muhammad’s hearers.
He must have a very bad ear who is not uncommonly moved with the very cadence of a well-turned sentence; and Muhammad seems not to have been ignorant of the enthusiastic operation of rhetoric on the minds of men; for which reason he has not only employed his utmost skill in these his pretended revelations, to preserve that dignity and sublimity of style which might seem not unworthy of the majesty of that Being whom he gave out to be the Author of them, and to imitate the prophetic manner of the Old Testament; but he has not neglected even the other arts of oratory, wherein he succeeded so well, and so strangely captivated the minds of his audience, that several of his opponents thought it the effect of witchcraft and enchantment, as he sometimes complains.
Design of the Qurán
The doctrine of the Qurán regarding religion and revelation
The use made of Old Testament history in the Qurán.
The great doctrine, then, of the Qurán is the unity of God, to restore which point Muhammad pretended was the chief end of his mission; it being laid down by him as a fundamental truth that there never was nor ever can be more than one true orthodox religion. For though the particular laws or ceremonies are only temporary, and subject to alteration according to the divine direction, yet the substance of it being eternal truth, is not liable to change, but continues immutably the same. And he taught that whenever this religion became neglecte or corrupted in essentials, God had the goodness to re-inform and re-admonish mankind thereof by several prophets, of whom Moses and Jesus were the most distinguished, till the appearance of Muhammad, who is their seal, no other being to be expected after him. And the more effectually to engage people to hearken to him great part of the Qurán is employed in relating examples of dreadful punishments formerly inflicted by God on those who rejected and abused his messengers; several of which stories, or some circumstances of them, are taken from the Old and New Testament, but many more from the apocryphal books and traditions of the Jews and Christians of those ages, set up in the Qurán as truths in opposition to the Scriptures, which the Jews and Christians are charged with having altered; and I am apt to believe that few or none of the relations or circumstances in the Qurán were invented by Muhammad, as is generally supposed, it being easy to trace the greatest part of them much higher, as the rest might be, were more of those books extant, and it was worth while to make the inquiry.
The other part of the Qurán is taken up in giving necessary laws and directions, in frequent admonitions to moral and divine virtues, and above all to the worshipping and reverencing of the only true God, and resignation to his will; among which are many excellent things intermixed not unworthy even a Christian’s perusal.
The use made of the Qurán by Muhammad in emergency.
But besides these, there are a great number of passages which are occasional, and relate to particular emergencies. For whenever anything happened which perplexed and gravelled Muhammad, and which he could not otherwise get over, he had constant recourse to a new revelation, as an infallible expedient in all nice cases; and he found the success of this method answer his expectation. It was certainly an admirable and politic contrivance of his to bring down the whole Qurán at once to the lowest heaven only, and not to the earth, as a bungling prophet would probably have done; for if the whole had been published at once, innumerable objections might have been made, which it would have been very hard, if not impossible, for him to solve; but as he pretended to have received it by parcels, as God saw proper that they should be published for the conversion and instruction of the people, he had a sure way to answer all emergencies, and to extricate himself with honour from any difficulty which might occur. If any objection be hence made to that eternity of the Qurán which the Muhammadans are taught to believe, they easily answer it by their doctrine of absolute predestination, according to which all the accidents for the sake of which these occasional passages were revealed were predetermined by God from all eternity.
Muhammad the author of the Qurán
However, they differed so much in their conjectures as to the particular persons who gave him such assistance, that they were not able, it seems, to prove the charge; Muhammad, it is to be presumed, having taken his measures too well to be discovered. Dr. Prideaux has given the most probable account of this matter, though chiefly from Christian writers, who generally mix such ridiculous fables with what they deliver, that they deserve not much credit.
The divine original of the Qurán.
from whence Gabriel revealed it to Muhammad by parcels, some at Makkah, and some at Madína, at different times, during the space of twenty-three years, as the exigency of affairs required; giving him, however, the consolation to chow him the whole (which they tell us was bound in silk, and adorned with gold and precious stones of paradise) once a year; but in the last year of his life he had the favour to see it twice. They say that few chapters were delivered entire, the most part being revealed piecemeal, and written down from time to time by the prophet’s amanuenses in such or such a part of such or such a chapter till they were completed, according to the directions of the angel. The first parcel that was revealed is generally agreed to have been the first five verses of the ninety-sixth chapter.
Original MSS. of the Qurán.
observing no order of time, for which reason it is uncertain when many passages were revealed.
Collected into one volume by Abu Baqr.
From this relation it is generally imagined that Abu Baqr was really the compiler of the Qurán; though for aught appears to the contrary, Muhammad left the chapters complete as we now have them, excepting such passages as his successor might add or correct from those who had gotten them by heart; what Abu Baqr did else being perhaps no more than to range the chapters in their present order, which he seems to have done without any regard to time, having generally placed the longest first.
These copies when made were dispersed in the several provinces of the empire, and the old ones burnt and suppressed. Though many things in Hafsa’s copy were corrected by the above-mentioned supervisors, yet some few various readings still occur, the most material of which will be taken notice of in their proper places.
Various readings: how they originated.
in the Arabic character made Muqrís, or readers whose peculiar study and profession it was to read the Qurán with its proper vowels, absolutely necessary. But these, differing in their manner of reading, occasioned still further variations in the copies of the Qurán, as they are now written with the vowels: and herein consist much the greater part of the various readings throughout the book. The readers whose authority the commentators chiefly allege, in admitting these various readings, are seven in number.
The doctrine of abrogation
There being some passages in the Qurán which are contradictory, the Mùhammadan doctors obviate any objection from thence by the doctrine of abrogation; for they say that God in the Qurán commanded several things which were for good reasons afterwards revoked and abrogated.
Passages abrogated are distinguished into three kinds: the first where the letter and the sense are both abrogated; the second, where the letter only is abrogated, but the sense remains; and the third, where the sense is abrogated, though the letter remains.
Of the first kind were several verses which, by the tradition of Malik Ibn Ans, were in the prophet’s lifetime read in the chapter of Repentance, but are not now extant, one of which, being all he remembered of them, was the following: “If a son of Adam had two rivers of gold, he would covet yet a third; and if he had three he would covet yet a fourth (to be added) unto them neither shall the belly of a son of Adam be fihed but with dust. God will turn unto him who shall repent” Another instance of this kind we have from the tradition of Abdallah Ibn Masúd, who reported that the prophet gave him a verse to read which he wrote down; but the next morning, looking in his book, he found it was vanished, and the leaf blank: this he acquainted Muhammad with, who assured him the veise was revoked the same night.
Of the second kind is a verse called the verse of Stoning, which, according to the tradition of Omar, afterwards Khalífah, was extant while Muhammad was living, though it be not now to be found. The words are these: “Abhor not your parents, for this would be ingratitude in you. If a man and woman of reputation commit adultery, ye shall stone them both; it is a punishment ordained by God; for God is mighty and wise.”
Of the last kind are observed several verses in sixty-three different chapters, to the number of 225; such as the precepts of turning in prayer to Jerusalem, fasting after the old custom, forbearance towards idolaters, avoiding the ignorant, and the like. The passages of this sort have been carefully collected by several writers and are most of them remarked in their proper places.
The Qurán believed to be eternal.
and the followers of Isa Ibn Subaih Abu Músa, surnamed al Muzdár, who stuck not to accuse those who held the Qurán to be uncreated of infidelity, as asserters of two eternal beings.
This point was controverted with so much heat that it occasioned many calamities under some of the Khalífahs of the family of Abbás, al Mámún making a public edict declaring the Qurán to be created, which was confirmed by his successors al Mutasim and al Wáthik, who whipped, imprisoned, and put to death those of the contrary opinion. But at length al Mutawakkil, who succeeded al Wáthik, put an end to these persecutions by revoking the former edicts, releasing those that were imprisoned on that account, and leaving every man at liberty as to his belief in this point.
Al Ghazáli’s opinion as to the Quran
by which he seems to mean no more than that the original idea of the Qurán only is really in God, and consequently co-essential and co-eternal with him, but that the copies are created and the work of man.
Opinion of al Jahidh.
and sometimes into a beast; which seems to agree with the notion of those who assert the Qurán to have two faces, one of a man, the other of a beast; thereby, as I conceive, intimating the double interpretation it will admit of, according to the letter or the spirit.
Muslim exegetical rules.
The Qurán being the Muhammadans’ rule of faith and practice, it is no wonder its expositors and commentators are so very numerous. And it may not be amiss to take notice of the rules they observe in expounding it.
One of the most learned commentators distinguishes the contents of the Qurán into allegorical and literal. The former comprehends the more obscure, parabolical, and enigmatical passages, and such as are repealed or abrogated; the latter those which are plain, perspicuous, liable to no doubt, and in full force.
To explain these severally in a right manner, it is necessary from tradition and study to know the time when each passage was revealed, its circumstances, state, and history, and the reasons or particular emergencies for the sake of which it was revealed; or, more explicitly, whether the passage was revealed at Makkah or at Madína; whether it be abrogated, or does itself abrogate any other passage; whether it be anticipated in order of time or postponed; whether it be distinct from the context or depends thereon; whether it be particular or general; and, lastly, whether it be implicit by intention or explicit in words.
Muslim reverence for the Qurán
which, lest they should do by inadvertence, they write these words on the cover or label, “Let none touch it but they who are clean.” They read it with great care and respect, never holding it below their girdles. They swear by it, consult it in their weighty occasions, carry it with them to war, write sentences of it on their banners, adorn it with gold and precious stones, and knowingly suffer it not to be in the possession of any of a different persuasion.
have taken care to have their Scriptures translated not only into the Persian tongue, but into several others, particularly the Javan and Malayan, though out of respect to the original Arabic these versions are generally (if not always) interlineary.
Islám the one true orthodox belief.
and is used as the proper name of the Muhammadan religion, which they will also have to be the same at bottom with that of all the prophets from Adam.
Under pretext that this eternal religion was in his time corrupted, and professed in its purity by no one sect of men, Muhammad pretended to be a prophet sent by God to reform those abuses which had crept into it, and to reduce it to its primitive simplicity; with the addition, however, of peculiar laws and ceremonies, some of which had been used in former times, and others were now first instituted. And he comprehended the whole substance of his doctrine under these two propositions or articles of faith, viz., that there is but one God, and that himself was the apostle of God; in consequence of which latter article, all such ordinances and institutions as he thought fit to establish must be received as obligatory and of divine authority.
Five points of Imán and Dín.
The Muhammadans divide their religion, which, as I just now said, they call Islám, into two distinct parts: Imán, i.e., faith or theory, and Dín, i.e., religion or practice; and teach that it is built on five fundamental points, one belonging to faith, and the other four to practice.
First fundamental point of Islám.
The first is that confession of faith which I have already mentioned, that “there is no god but the true God, and that Muhammad is his apostle,” under which they comprehend six distinct branches, viz., 1. Belief in God; 2. In his angels; 3. In his Scriptures; 4. In his prophets; 5. In the resurrection and day of judgment; and, 6. In God’s absolute decree and predetermination both of good and evil.
Four points of religion.
relating to practice are: 1. Prayer, under which are comprehended those washings or purifications which are necessary preparations required before prayer; 2. Alms; 3. Fasting; and, 4. The pilgrimage to Makkah. Of each of these I shall speak in their order.
The God of Islam the true God
Nor shall I here enter into any of the Muhammadan controversies concerning the divine nature and attributes, because I shall have a more proper opportunity of doing it elsewhere.
Belief in the doctrine of angels required.
or asserts any distinction of sexes among them. They believe them to have pure and subtle bodies, created of tire; that they neither eat nor drink, nor propagate their species; that they have various forms and offices: some adoring God in different postures others singing praises to him, or interceding for mankind They hold that some of them are employed in writing down the actions of men, others in carrying the throne of God and other services.
Gabriel, Michael, Azrael, Isráfíl, and guardian angels
and the angel of revelations, supposing him to be honoured by God with a greater confidence than any other, and to be employed in writing down the divine decrees; Michael, the friend and protector of the Jews; Azrael, the angel of death, who separates men’s souls from their bodies; and Isráfíl, whose office it will be to sound the trumpet at the resurrection. The Muhammadans also believe that two guardian angels attend on every man to observe and write down his actions, being changed every day, and therefore called al Muaqqibát, or the angels who continually succeed one another.
This doctrine borrowed from the Jews.
The ancient Persians firmly believed the ministry of angels, and their superintendence over the affairs of this world (as the Magians still do), and therefore assigned them distinct charges and provinces, giving their names to their months and the days of their months. Gabriel they called Sarosh and Raván Bakhsh, or the giver of souls, in opposition to the contrary office of the angel of death, to whom among other names they gave that of Murdád, or the giver of death; Michael they called Beshter, who according to them provides sustenance for mankind. The Jews teach that the angels were created of fire; that they have several offices; that they intercede for men, and attend them. The angel of death they name Dúma, and say he calls dying persons by their respective names at their last hour.
Belief concerning Satan.
and fell, according to the doctrine of the Qurán, for refusing to pay homage to Adam at the command of God.
Concerning the Genii.
but of a grosser fabric than angels, since they eat and drink, and propagate their species, and are subject to death. Some of these are supposed to be good and others bad, and capable of future salvation or damnation, as men are; whence Muhammad pretended to be sent for the conversion of genii as well as men. The Orientals pretend that these genii inhabited the world for many ages before Adam was created, under the government of several successive princes, who all bore the common name of Solomon; but falling at length into an almost general corruption, Iblís was sent to drive them into a remote part of the earth, there to be confined; that some of that generation still remaining, were by Tahmúrath, one of the ancient kings of Persia, who waged war against them, forced to retreat into the famous mountains of Qáf. Of which successions and wars they have many fabulous and romantic stories. They also make different ranks and degrees among these beings (if they be not rather supposed to be of a different species), some being called absolutely Jin, some Pari or fairies. some Dev or giants, others Taqwíms or fates.
Agrees with Jewish belief in Shedím.
However, the Shedím, they tell us, agree in three things with the ministering angels, for that, like them, they have wings, and fly from one end of the world to the other, and have some knowledge of futurity; and in three things they agree with men, like whom they eat and drink, are propagated, and die. They also say that some of them believe in the law of Moses, and are consequently good, and that others of them are infidels and reprobates.
The former Scriptures.
Alleged corruption of Jewish and Christian Scriptures
Muslim Psalter and Gospel of Barnabas
Muslim use of spurious Gospels.
and some instances of such pretended corruptions, both in that book and the two others, are produced by Muhammadan writers, wherein they merely follow their own prejudices, and the fabulous accounts of spurious légends. Whether they have any copy of the Pentateuch among them different from that of the Jews or not, I am not entirely satisfied, since a person who travelled into the East was told that they had the books of Moses, though very much corrupted; but I know nobody that has ever seen them. However, they certainly have and privately read a book which they call the Psalms of David in Arabic and Persian, to which are added some prayers of Moses, Jonas, and others. This Mr. Reland supposes to be a translation from our copies (though no doubt falsified in more places than one); but M D’Herbelot says it contains not the same Psalms which are in our Psalter, being no more than an extract from thence mixed with other very different pieces. The easiest way to reconcile these two learned gentlemen is to presume that they speak of different copies. The Muhammadans have also a Gospel in Arabic, attributed to St. Barnabas, wherein the history of Jesus Christ is related in a manner very different from what we find in the true Gospels, and correspondent to those traditions which Muhammad has followed in his Qurán. Of this Gospel the Moriseoes in Africa have a translation in Spanish; and there is in the library of Prince Eugene of Savoy a manuscript of some antiquity containing an Italian translation of the same Gospel, made, it is to be supposed, for the use of renegades. This book appears to be no original forgery of the Muhammadans, though they have no doubt interpolated and altered it since, the better to serve their purpose; and in particular, instead of the Paraclete or Comforter, they have in this apocryphal Gospel inserted the word Periclyte, that is, the famous or illustrious, by which they pretend their prophet was foretold by name that being the signification of Muhammad in Arabic; and this they say to, justify that passage of the Qurán where Jesus Christ is formally asserted to have foretold his coming, under his other name of Ahmad, which is derived from the same root as Muhammad, and of the same import. From these or some other forgeries of the same stamp it is that the Muhammadans quote several passages of which there are not the least footsteps in the New Testament. But after all, we must not hence infer that the Muhammadans, much less all of them, hold these copies of theirs to be the ancient and genuine Scriptures themselves. If any argue, from the corruption which they insist has happened to the Pentateuch and Gospel, that the Qurán may possibly be corrupted also, they answer that God has promised that he will take care of the latter, and preserve it from any addition or diminution; but that he left the two other to the care of men. However, they confess there are some various readings in the Qurán, as has been observed.
Besides the books above mentioned, the Muhammadans also take notice of the writings of Daniel and several other prophets, and even make quotations thence; but these they do not believe to be divine scripture, or of any authority in matters of religion.
The prophets recognised by Islám.
The first place they give to the revealers and establishers of new dispensations, and the next to the apostles.
In this great number of prophets they not only reckon divers patriarchs and persons named in Scripture, but not recorded to have been prophets (wherein the Jewish and Christian writers have sometimes led the way ), as Adam, Seth, Lot, Ismaíl, Nun, Joshua, &c., and introduce some of them under different names, as Enoch, Heber, and Jethro, who are called in the Qurán Idrís, Húd, and Shuaib, but several others whose very names do not appear in Scripture (though they endeavour to find some persons there to fix them on), as Sálih, Khidhar, Dhu’l Kifl, &c. Several of their fabulous traditions concerning these prophets we shall occasionally mention in the notes on the Qurán.
Muhammad appeals to the Bible in proof of his mission.
His followers also fail not to produce several texts even from our present copies of the Old and New Testament to support their master’s cause.
Doctrine of the resurrection
The next article of faith required by the Qurán is the belief of a general resurrection and a future judgment. But before we consider the Muhammadan tenets in those points, it will be proper to mention what they are taught to believe concerning the intermediate state, both of the body and of the soul, after death.
Concerning the soul after death.
The examination of the sepulchre is not only founded on an express tradition of Muhammad, but is also plainly hinted at, though not directly taught, in the Qurán, as the commentators agree. It is therefore believed by the orthodox Muhammadans in general, who take care to have their graves made hollow, that they may sit up with more ease while they are examined by the angels; but is utterly rejected by the sect of the Mutazilites, and perhaps by some others.
This belief borrowed from the Jews.
They say that the angel of death coming and sitting on the grave, the soul immediately enters the body and raises it on his feet; that he then examines the departed person, and strikes him with a chain half of iron and half of fire; at the first blow all his limbs are loosened, at the second his bones are scattered, which are gathered together again by angels, and the third stroke reduces the body to dust and ashes, and it returns into the grave. This rack or torture they call Hibbút haqqeber, or the beating of the sepulchre, and pretend that all men in general must undergo it, except only those who die on the evening of the Sabbath, or have dwelt in the land of Israel.
If it be objected to the Muhammadans that the cry of the persons under such examination has never been heard, or if they be asked how those can undergo it whose bodies are burnt or devoured by beasts or birds, or otherwise consumed without burial; they answer, that it is very possible notwithstanding, since men are not able to perceive what is transacted on the other side the grave, and that it is sufficient to restore to life any part of the body which is capable of understanding the questions put by the angels.
The state of Al Barzakh: various opinions.
it enters into that state which they call Al Barzakh, or the interval between death and the resurrection. If the departed person was a believer, they say two angels meet it, who convey it to heaven, that its place there may be assigned, according to its merit and degree. For they distinguish the souls of the faithful into three classes: the first of prophets, whose souls are admitted into paradise immediately; the second of martyrs, whose spirits, according to a tradition of Muhammad, rest in the crops of green birds which eat of the fruits and drink of the rivers of paradise; and the third of other believers, concerning the state of whose souls before the resurrection there are various opinions. For, 1. Some say they stay near the sepulchres, with liberty, however, of going wherever they please; which they confirm from Muhammad’s manner of saluting them at their graves, and his affirming that the dead heard those salutations as well as the living, though they could not answer. Whence perhaps proceeded the custom of visiting the tombs of relations, so common among the Muhammadans. 2. Others imagine they are with Adam in the lowest heaven, and also support their opinion by the authority of their prophet, who gave out that in his return from the upper heavens in his pretended night journey, he saw there the souls of those who were destined to paradise on the right hand of Adam, and of those who were condemned to hell on his left. 3. Others fancy the souls of believers remain in the well Zamzam, and those of infidels in a certain well in the province of Hadramant, called Burhút; but this opinion is branded as heretical. 4. Others say they stay near the graves for seven days; but that whither they go afterwards is uncertain. 5. Others that they are all in the trumpet whose sound is to raise the dead. 6. And others that the souls of the good dwell in the forms of white birds under the throne of God. As to the condition of the souls of the wicked, besides the opinions that have been already mentioned, the more orthodox hold that they are offered by the angels to heaven, from whence being repulsed as stinking and filthy, they are offered to the earth, and being also refused a place there, are carried down to the seventh earth, and thrown into a dungeon, which they call Sajín, under a green rock, or, according to a tradition of Muhammad, under the devil’s jaw, to be there tormented till they are called up to be joined again to their bodies.
The resurrection of the body: opinions of Muslims.
and called by some the opinion of the philosophers); and others, who allow man to consist of body only, that it will be merely corporeal; the received opinion is, that both body and soul will be raised, and their doctors argue strenuously for the possibility of the resurrection of the body, and dispute with great subtlety concerning the manner of it. But Muhammad has taken care to preserve one part of the body, whatever becomes of the rest, to serve for a basis of the future edifice, or rather a leaven for the mass which is to be joined to it. For he taught that a man’s body was entirely consumed by the earth, except only the bone called al Ajb, which we name the os coceygis, or rumpbone; and that as it was the first formed in the human body, it will also remain uncorrupted till the last day, as a seed from whence the whole is to be renewed: and this he said would be effected by a forty days’ rain which God should send, and which would cover the earth to the height of twelve cubits, and cause the bodies to sprout forth like plants. Herein also is Muhammad beholden to the Jews, who say the same things of the bone Luz, excepting that what he attributes to a great rain will be effected, according to them, by a dew impregnating the dust of the earth.
Signs of the resurrection day.
Lesser signs of its approach.
2. The advancing of the meanest persons to eminent dignity. 3. That a maid-servant shall become the mother of her mistress (or master), by which is meant either that towards the end of the world men shall be much given to sensuality, or that the Muhammadans shall then take many captives. 4. Tumults and seditions. 5. A war with the Turks. 6. Great distress in the world, so that a man when he passes by another’s grave shall say, “Would to God I were in his place.” 7. That the provinces of Irák and Syria shall refuse to pay their tribute. And, 8. That the buildings of Madína shall reach to Aháb or Yaháb.
The greater signs are:
2. The appearance of the beast, which shall rise out of the earth, in the temple of Makkah, or on Mount Safá, or in the territory of Táyif, or some other place. This beast they say is to be sixty cubits high: though others, not satisfied with so small a size, will have her reach to the clouds and to heaven when her head only is out; and that she will appear for three days, but show only a third part of her body. They describe this monster, as to her form, to be a compound of various species, having the head of a bull, the eyes of a hog, the ears of an elephant, the horns of a stag, the neck of an ostrich, the breast of a lion, the colour of a tiger, the back of a cat, the tail of a ram, the legs of a camel, and the voice of an ass. Some say this beast is to appear three times in several places, and that she will bring with her the rod of Moses and the seal of Solomon; and being so swift that none can overtake or escape her, will with the first strike all the believers on the face and mark them with the word Múmin, i.e., believer; and with the latter will mark the unbelievers, on the face likewise, with the word Káfir, i.e., infidel, that every person may be known for what he really is. They add that the same beast is to demonstrate the vanity of all religions except Islám, and to speak Arabic. All this stuff seems to be the result of a confused idea of the beast in the Revelation.
3. War with the Greeks, and the taking of Constantinople by 70,000 of the posterity of Isaac, who shall not win that city by force of arms, but the walls shall fall down while they cry out, “There is no god but God: God is most great!” As they are dividing the spoil, news will come to them of the appearance of Antichrist, whereupon they shall leave all, and return back.
4 The coming of Antichrist, whom the Muhammadans call al Masíh al Dajjál, i.e., the false or lying Christ, and simply al Dajjál. He is to be one-eyed, and marked on the forehead with the letters K.F.R., signifying Káfir, or infidel. They say that the Jews give him the name of Messiah Ben David, and pretend he is to come in the last days and to be lord both of land and sea, and that he will restore the kingdom to them. According to the traditions of Muhammad, he is to appear first between Irák and Syria, or according to others, in the province of Khurasán; they add that he is to ride on an ass, that he will be followed by 70,000 Jews of Ispahán, and continue on earth forty days, of which one will be equal in length to a year, another to a month, another to a week, and the rest will be common days; that he is to lay waste all places, but will not enter Makkah or Madína, which are to be guarded by angels; and that at length he will be slain by Jesus, who is to encounter him at the gate of Lud. It is said that Muhammad foretold several Antichrists, to the number of about thirty, but one of greater note than the rest.
5. The descent of Jesus on earth. They pretend that he is to descend near the white tower to the east of Damascus when the people are returned from the taking of Constantinople; that he is to embrace the Muhammadan religion marry a wife; get children, kill Antichrist, and at length die after forty years’ or, according to others, twenty-four years’, continuance on earth. Under him thay say there will be great security and plenty in the world, all hatred and malice being laid aside; when lions and camels, bears and sheep, shall live in peace, and a child shall play with serpents unhurt.
6. War with the Jews, of whom the Muhammadans are to make a religious slaughter, the very trees and stones discovering such of them as hide themselves, except only the tree called Gharkad, which is the tree of the Jews.
The cruption of Gog and Magog, or, as they are called in the East, Yájúj and Májúj, of whom many things are related in the Quran and the traditions of Muhammad. These barbarians, they tell us, having passed the lake of Tiberias, which the vanguard of their vast army will drink dry, will come to Jerusalem, and there greatly distress Jesus and his companions; till at his request God will destroy them, and fill the earth with their carcases, which after some time God will send birds to carry away, at the prayers of Jesus and his followers. Their bows, arrows, and quivers the Muslims will burn for seven years together; and at last God will send a rain to cleanse the earth, and to make it fertile.
8. A smoke which shall fill the whole earth.
9. An eclipse of the moon. Muhammad is reported to have said that there would be three eclipses before the last hour; one to be seen in the East, another in the West, and the third in Arabia.
10. The returning of the Arabs to the worship of al Lát and al Uzza and the rest of their ancient idols, after the decease of every one in whose heart there was faith equal to a grain of mustard-seed, none but the very worst of men being left alive. For God, they say, will send a cold odoriferous wind, blowing from Syria Damascena, which shall sweep away the souls of all the faithful, and the Qurán itself, so that men will remain in the grossest ignorance for a hundred years.
11. The discovery of a vast heap of gold and silver by the retreating of the Euphrates, which will be the destruction of many.
12. The demolition of the Kaabah or temple of Makkah by the Ethiopians.
13. The speaking of beasts and inanimate things.
14. The breaking out of fire in the province of Hijáz; or, according to others, in Yaman.
15. The appearance of a man of the descendants of Qahtán, who shall drive men before him with his staff.
16. The coming of the Mahdí or director, concerning whom Muhammad prophesied that the world should not have an end till one of his own family should govern the Arabians, whose name should be the same with his own name, and whose father’s name should also be the same with his father’s name, who should fill the earth with righteousness. This person the Shiites believe to be now alive, and concealed in some secret place till the time of his manifestation; for they suppose him to be no other than the last of the twelve Imáms, named Muhammad Abu’l Qásim, as their prophet was, and the son of Hasan al Askarí, the eleventh of that succession. He was born at Sarmaurái in the 255th year of the Hijra. From this tradition, it is to be presumed, an opinion pretty current among the Christians took its rise, that the Muhammadans are in expectation of their prophet’s return.
17. A wind which shall sweep away the souls of all who have but a grain of faith in their hearts, as has been mentioned under the tenth sign.
The blast of the resurrection trump.
Effects of the first blast.
though some doubt whether it be to precede the resurrection or not. They who suppose it will precede, think that all kinds of animals, forgetting their respective natural fierceness and timidity, will run together into one place, being terrified by the sound of the trumpet and the sudden shock of nature.
Effects of the second blast
when all creatures, both in heaven and earth, shall die or be annihilated, except those which God shall please to exempt from the common fate; and this, they say, shall happen in the twinkling of an eye, nay, in an instant, nothing surviving except God alone, with paradise and hell, and the inhabitants of those two places, and the throne of glory. The last who shall die will be the angel of death.
Effects of the third blast
shall, at God’s command, call together all the dry and rotten bones, and other dispersed parts of the bodies, and the very hairs, to judgment. This angel having, by the divine order, set the trumpet to his mouth, and called together all the souls from all parts, will throw them into his trumpet, from whence, on his giving the last sound, at the command of God, they will fly forth like bees, and fill the whole space between heaven and earth, and then repair to their respective bodies, which the opening earth will suffer to arise; and the first who shall so arise, according to a tradition of Muhammad, will be himself. For this birth the earth will be prepared by the rain above mentioned, which is to fall continually for forty years, and will resemble the seed of a man, and be supplied from the water under the throne of God, which is called living water; by the efficacy and virtue of which the dead bodies shall spring forth from their graves, as they did in their mother’s womb, or as corn sprouts forth by common rain, till they become perfect; after which breath will be breathed into them, and they will sleep in their sepulchres till they are raised to life at the last trump.
Length of the judgment-day.
and in another 50,000. To reconcile this apparent contradiction, the commentators use several shifts: some saying they know not what measure of time God intends in those passages; others, that these forms of speaking are figurative and not to be strictly taken, and were designed only to express the terribleness of that day, it being usual for the Arabs to describe what they dislike as of long continuance, and what they like as the contrary; and others suppose them spoken only in reference to the difficulty of the business of the day, which, if God should commit to any of his creatures, they would not be able to go through it in so many thousand years; to omit some other opinions which we may take notice of elsewhere.
Having said so much in relation to the time of the resurrection, let us now see who are to be raised from the dead, in what manner and form they shall be raised, in what place they shall be assembled, and to what end, according to the doctrine of the Muhammadans.
Resurrection to be general
Manner of the rising of the dead.
unless we interpret these words, as some do, not so much of the outward dress of the body, as the inward clothing of the mind, and understand thereby that every person will rise again in the same state as to his faith or infidelity, his knowledge or ignorance, his good or bad works. Muhammad is also said to have further taught, by another tradition, that mankind shall be assembled at the last day distinguished into three classes. The first, of those who go on foot; the second, of those who ride; and the third, of those who creep grovelling with their faces on the ground. The first class is to consist of those believers whose good works have been few; the second of those who are in greater honour with God, and more acceptable to him; whence Ali affirmed that the pious when they come forth from their sepulchres shall find ready prepared for them white-winged camels with saddles of gold, wherein are to be observed some footsteps of the doctrine of the ancient Arabians; and the third class, they say, will be composed of the infidels, whom God shall cause to make their appearance with their faces on the earth, blind, dumb, and deaf. But the ungodly will not be thus only distinguished; for, according to a tradition of the prophet, there will be ten sorts of wicked men on whom God shall on that day fix certain discretory remarks. The first will appear in the form of apes; these are the professors of Zendicism: the second in that of swine; these are they who have been greedy of filthy lucre and enriched themselves by public oppression: the third will be brought with their heads reversed and their feet distorted; these are the usurers: the fourth will wander about blind; these are unjust judges: the fifth will be deaf, dumb, and blind, understanding nothing; these are they who glory in their own works: the sixth will gnaw their tongues, which will hang down upon their breasts, corrupted blood flowing from their mouths like spittle, so that everybody shall detest them; these are the learned men and doctors, whose actions contradict their sayings: the seventh will have their hands and feet cut off; these are they who have injured their neighbours: the eighth will be fixed to the trunks of palm trees or, stakes of wood; these are the false accusers and informers: the ninth will stink worse than a corrupted corpse; these are they who have indulged their passions and voluptuous appetites, but refused God such part of their wealth as was due to him: the tenth will be clothed with garments daubed with pitch; and these are the proud, the vainglorious, and the arrogant.
The place of final judgment.
End of the resurrection.
shall be judged on this great day, when the unarmed cattle shall take vengeance on the horned, till entire satisfaction shall be given to the injured.
State of the resurrected pending judgment.
and they will be all bathed in sweat. From this inconvenience, however, the good will be protected by the shade of God’s throne; but the wicked will be so miserably tormented with it, and also with hunger, and thirst, and a stifling air, that they will cry out, “Lord, deliver us from this anguish, though thou send us into hell-fire.” What they fable of the extraordinary heat of the sun on this occasion, the Muhammadans certainly borrowed from the Jews, who say, that for the punishment of the wicked on the last day that planet shall be drawn from its sheath, in which it is now put up, lest it should destroy all things by its excessive heat.
Muhammad’s intercession in the judgment.
The great day of assizes.
and will command the prophets to bear witness against those to whom they have been respectively sent. Then every one will be examined concerning all his words and actions, uttered and done by him in this life; not as if God needed any information in those respects, but to oblige the person to make public confession and acknowledgment of God’s justice. The particulars of which they shall give an account, as Muhammad himself enumerated them, are—of their time, how they spent it; of their wealth, by what means they acquired it and how they employed it; of their bodies, wherein they exercised them; of their knowledge and learning, what use they made of them. It is said, however, that Muhammad has affirmed that no less than 70,000 of his followers should be permitted to enter paradise without any previous examination, which seems to be contradictory to what is said above. To the questions we have mentioned each person shall answer, and make his defence in the best manner he can, endeavouring to excuse himself by casting the blame of his evil deeds on others, so that a dispute shall arise even between the soul and the body, to which of them their guilt ought to be imputed, the soul saying, “O Lord, my body I received from thee; for thou createdst me without a hand to lay hold with, a foot to walk with, an eye to see with, or an understanding to apprehend with, till I came and entered into this body; therefore, punish it eternally, but deliver me.” The body, on the other side, will make this apology:—“O Lord, thou createdst me like a stock of wood, having neither hand that I could lay hold with, nor foot that I could walk with, till this soul, like a ray of light, entered into me, and my tongue began to speak, my eye to see, and my foot to walk; therefore, punish it eternally, but deliver me.” But God will propound to them the following parable of the blind man and the lame man, which, as well as the preceding dispute, was borrowed by the Muhammadans from the Jews: —A certain king, having a pleasant garden, in which were ripe fruits, set two persons to keep it, one of whom was blind and the other lame, the former not being able to see the fruit nor the latter to gather it; the lame man, however, seeing the fruit, persuaded the blind man to take him upon his shoulders; and by that means he easily gathered the fruit, which they divided between them. The lord of the garden, coming some time after, and inquiring after his fruit, each began to excuse himself; the blind man said he had no eyes to see with, and the lame man that he had no feet to approach the trees. But the king, ordering the lame man to be set on the blind, passed sentence on and punished them both. And in the same manner will God deal with the body and the soul. As these apologies will not avail on that day, so will it also be in vain for any one to deny his evil actions, since men and angels and his own members, nay, the very earth itself, will be ready to bear witness against him.
Time allotted to the trial.
Some, explaining those words so frequently used in the Qurán, “God will be swift in taking an account,” say that he will judge all creatures in the space of half a day, and others that it will be done in less time than the twinkling of an eye.
The account books delivered.
which will be bound behind their backs, their right hand being tied up to their necks.
The great balance described.
Nor will any one have cause to complain that God suffers any good action to pass unrewarded, because the wicked for the good they do have their reward in this life, and therefore can expect no favour in the next.
Notions of books and balance borrowed from Jews and Magians.
as of the balance wherein they shall be weighed; and the Scripture itself seems to have given the first notion of both. But what the Persian Magi believe of the balance comes nearest to the Muhammadan opinion. They hold that on the day of judgment two angels, named Mihr and Sarosh, will stand on the bridge we shall describe by and by, to examine every person as he passes; that the former, who represents the divine mercy, will hold a balance in his hand to weigh the actions of men; that according to the report he shall make thereof to God, sentence will be pronounced, and those whose good works are found more ponderous, if they turn the scale but by the weight of a hair, will be permitted to pass forward to paradise; but those whose good works shall be found light will be by the other angel, who represents God’s justice, precipitated from the bridge into hell.
Mutual retaliation of the creatures and of men.
Fate of the brutes and genii.
wicked men being reserved to more grievous punishment, so that they shall cry out, on hearing this sentence passed on the brutes, “Would to God that we were dust also!” As to the genii, many Muhammadans are of opinion that such of them as are true believers will undergo the same fate as the irrational animals, and have no other reward than the favour of being converted into dust; and for this they quote the authority of their prophet. But this, however, is judged not so very reasonable, since the genii, being capable of putting themselves in the state of believers as well as men, must consequently deserve, as it seems, to be rewarded for their faith, as well as to be punished for infidelity. Wherefore some entertain a more favourable opinion, and assign the believing genii a place near the confines of paradise, where they will enjoy sufficient felicity, though they be not admitted into that delightful mansion. But the unbelieving genii, it is universally agreed, will be punished eternally, and be thrown into hell with the infidels of mortal race. It may not be improper to observe, that under the denomination of unbelieving genii, the Muhammadans comprehend also the devil and his companions.
Passing the bridge over hell.
This notion also borrowed from the Magians.
It is true the Jews speak likewise of the bridge of hell, which they say is no broader than a thread; but then they do not tell us that any shall be obliged to pass it except the idolaters, who will fall thence into perdition.
The seven apartments of hell and their inmates.
The first, which they call Jahannam, they say will be the receptacle of those who acknowledged one God, that is, the wicked Muhammadans, who, after having there been punished according to their demerits, will at length be released. The second, named Ladhwá, they assign to the Jews; the third, named Hutama, to the Christians; the fourth, named al Saír, to the Sabians; the fifth, named Saqar, to the Magians; the sixth, named al Jahím, to the idolaters; and the seventh, which is the lowest and worst of all, and is called al Háwíya, to the hypocrites, or those who outwardly professed some religion, but in their hearts were of none. Over each of these apartments they believe there will be set a guard of angels, nineteen in number, to whom the damned will confess the just judgment of God, and beg them to intercede with him for some alleviation of their pain, or that they may be delivered by being annihilated.
Proportion of suffering in hell.
Final restoration of Muslim culprits
Cleansing the infernals.
Muhammad indebted to Jews and Magians for his notions of hell and the state of the lost.
though they vary in other particulars. The former place an angel as a guard over each of these infernal apartments, and suppose he will intercede for the miserable wretches there imprisoned, who will openly acknowledge the justice of God in their condemnation. They also teach that the wicked will suffer a diversity of punishments, and that by intolerable cold as well as heat, and that their faces shall become black; and believe those of their own religion shall also be punished in hell hereafter, according to their crimes (for they hold that few or none will be found so exactly righteous as to deserve no punishment at all), but will soon be delivered thence, when they shall be sufficiently purged from their sins by their father Abraham, or at the intercession of him or some other of the prophets. The Magians allow but one angel to preside over all the seven hells, who is named by them Vanánd Yazád, and, as they teach, assigns punishments proportionate to each person’s crimes, restraining also the tyranny and excessive cruelty of the devil, who would, if left to himself, torment the damned beyond their sentence. Those of this religion do also mention and describe various kinds of torments, wherewith the wicked will be punished in the next life, among which, though they reckon extreme cold to be one, yet they do not admit fire, out of respect, as it seems, to that element, which they take to be the representation of the divine nature; and, therefore, they rather choose to describe the damned souls as suffering by other kinds of punishments, such as an intolerable stink, the stinging and biting of serpents and wild beasts, the cutting and tearing of the flesh by the devils, excessive hunger and thirst, and the like.
The partition al Araf.
They call it al Urf, and more frequently in the plural al Aráf, a word derived from the verb arafa, which signifies to distinguish between things, or to part them; though some commentators give another reason for the imposition of this name, because, they say, those who stand on this partition will know and distinguish the blessed from the damned by their respective marks or characteristics; and others say the word properly intends anything that is high raised or elevated, as such a wall of separation must be supposed to be. The Muhammadan writers greatly differ as to the persons who are to be found on al Aráf. Some imagine it to be a sort of limbo for the patriarchs and prophets, or for the martyrs and those who have been most eminent for sanctity, among whom, they say, there will be also angels in the form of men. Others place here such whose good and evil works are so equal that they exactly counterpoise each other, and therefore deserve neither reward nor punishment; and these, they say, will, on the last day, be admitted into paradise, after they shall have performed an act of adoration, which will be imputed to them as a merit, and will make the scale of their good works to overbalance. Others suppose this intermediate space will be a receptacle for those who have gone to war without their parents’ leave, and therein suffered martyrdom, being excluded paradise for their disobedience, and escaping hell because they are martyrs. The breadth of this partition wall cannot be supposed to be exceeding great, since not only those who shall stand thereon will hold conference with the inhabitants both of paradise and of hell, but the blessed and the damned themselves will also be able to talk to one another.
If Muhammad did not take his notions of the partition we have been describing from Scripture, he must at least have borrowed it at second-hand from the Jews, who mention a thin wall dividing paradise from hell.
The refreshing water of al Kauthar.
This is the first taste which the blessed will have of their future and now near-approaching felicity.
Though paradise be so very frequently mentioned in the Qurán, yet it is a dispute among the Muhammadans whether it be already created, or be to be created hereafter: the Mutazilites and some other sectaries asserting that there is not at present any such place in nature, and that the paradise which the righteous will inhabit in the next life will be different from that from which Adam was expelled. However, the orthodox profess the contrary, maintaining that it was created even before the world, and describe it, from their prophet’s traditions, in the following manner.
that it will be laden with pomegranates, grapes, dates, and other fruits of surprising bigness, and of tastes unknown to mortals. So that if a man desire to eat of any particular kind of fruit, it will immediately be presented to him, or if he choose flesh, birds ready dressed will be set before him according to his wish. They add that the boughs of this tree will spontaneously bend down to the hand of the person who would gather of its fruits, and that it will supply the blessed not only with food, but also with silken garments, and beasts to ride on ready saddled and bridled, and adorned with rich trappings, which will burst forth from its fruits; and that this tree is so large, that a person mounted on the fleetest horse would not be able to gallop from one end of its shade to the other in a hundred years.
The rivers of paradise.
As plenty of water is one of the greatest additions to the pleasantness of any place, the Qurán often speaks of the rivers of paradise as a principal ornament thereof. Some of these rivers, they say, flow with water, some with milk, some with wine, and others with honey, all taking their rise from the root of the tree Túba: two of which rivers, named al Kauthar and the river of life, we have already mentioned. And lest these should not be sufficient, we are told this garden is also watered by a great number of lesser springs and fountains, whose pebbles are rubies and emeralds, their earth of camphire, their beds of musk, and their sides of saffron, the most remarkable among them being Salsabíl and Tasním.
Glories of the Húr al oyún.
But all these glories will be eclipsed by the resplendent and ravishing girls of paradise, called, from their large black eyes, Húr al oyún, the enjoyment of whose company will be a principal felicity of the faithful. These, they say, are created not of clay, as mortal women are, but of pure musk, being, as their prophet often affirms in his Qurán, free from all natural impurities, defects, and inconveniences incident to the sex, of the strictest modesty, and secluded from public view in pavilions of hollow pearls, so large, that, as some traditions have it, one of them will be no less than four parasangs (or, as others say, sixty miles) long, and as many broad.
Names of the abode of bliss.
The name which the Muhammadans usually give to this happy mansion is al Jannat, or the garden; and sometimes they call it, with an addition, Jannat-ul-Firdaus, the garden of paradise, Jannat-ul-Adan, the garden of Eden (though they generally interpret the word Eden, not according to its acceptation in Hebrew, but according to its meaning in their own tongue, wherein it signifies a settled or perpetual habitation), Jannat-ul-Mawá, the garden of abode, Jannat-ul-Naím, the garden of pleasure, and the like; by which several appellations some understand so many different gardens, or at least places of different degrees of felicity (for they reckon no less than a hundred such in all), the very meanest whereof will afford its inhabitants so many pleasures and delights, that one would conclude they must even sink under them, had not Muhammad declared, that in order to qualify the blessed for a full enjoyment of them, God will give to every one the abilities of a hundred men.
The two fountains at the gate of paradise, celestial attendance, &c.
The mercy of God, the ground; works, the measure of the rewards of the righteous
mention two fountains springing from under a certain tree near the gate of paradise, and say that the blessed will also drink of one of them to purge their bodies and carry off all excrementitious dregs, and will wash themselves in the other. When they are arrived at the gate itself, each person will there be met and saluted by the beautiful youths appointed to serve and wait upon him, one of them running before, to carry the news of his arrival to the wives destined for him; and also by two angels, bearing the presents sent him by God, one of whom will invest him with a garment of paradise, and the other will put a ring on each of his fingers, with inscriptions on them alluding to the happiness of his condition. By which of the eight gates (for so many they suppose paradise to have) they are respectively to enter, is not worth inquiry; but it must be observed that Muhammad has declared that no person’s good works will gain him admittance, and that even himself shall be saved, not by his merits, but merely by the mercy of God. It is, however, the constant doctrine of the Qurán that the felicity of each person will be proportioned to his deserts, and that there will be abodes of different degrees of happiness; the most eminent degree being reserved for the prophets, the second for the doctors and teachers of God’s worship, the next for the martyrs, and the lower for the rest of the righteous, according to their several merits. There will also some distinction be made in respect to the time of their admission, Muhammad (to whom, if you will believe him, the gates will first be opened) having affirmed that the poor will enter paradise five hundred years before the rich: nor is this the only privilege which they will enjoy in the next life, since the same prophet has also declared, that when he took a view of paradise, he saw the majority of its inhabitants to be the poor, and when he looked down into hell, he saw the greater part of the wretches confined there to be women.
The great feast of God.
though others suppose that a definite number is here put for an indefinite, and that nothing more is meant thereby than to express a great multitude of people.
Rewards of the faithful described.
From this feast every one will be dismissed to the mansion designed for him, where (as has been said) he will enjoy such a share of felicity as will be proportioned to his merits, but vastly exceed comprehension or expectation, since the very meanest in paradise (as he who, it is pretended, must know best has declared) will have eighty thousand servants, seventy-two wives of the girls of paradise, besides the wives he had in this world, and a tent erected for him of pearls, jacinths, and emeralds, of a very large extent; and, according to another tradition, will be waited on by three hundred attendants while he eats, will be served in dishes of gold, whereof three hundred shall be set before him at once, containing each a different kind of food, the last morsel of which will be as grateful as the first; and will also be supplied with as many sorts of liquors in vessels of the same metal; and, to complete the entertainment, there will be no want of wine, which, though forbidden in this life, will yet be freely allowed to be drunk in the next, and without danger, since the wine of paradise will not inebriate, as that we drink here. The flavour of this wine we may conceive to be delicious without a description, since the water of Tasním and the other fountains which will be used to dilute it is said to be wonderfully sweet and fragrant. If any object to these pleasures, as an impudent Jew did to Muhammad, that so much eating and drinking must necessarily require proper evacuations, we answer, as the prophet did, that the inhabitants of paradise will not need to ease themselves, nor even to blow their nose, for that all superfluities will be discharged and carried off by perspiration, or a sweat as odoriferous as musk, after which their appetite shall return afresh.
The magnificence of the garments and furniture promised by the Qurán to the godly in the next life is answerable to the delicacy of their diet; for they are to be clothed in the richest silks and brocades chiefly of green, which will burst forth from the fruits of paradise, and will be also supplied by the leaves of the tree Túba; they will be adorned with bracelets of gold and silver, and crowns set with pearls of incomparable lustre; and will make use of silken carpets, litters of a prodigious size, couches, pillows, and other rich furniture embroidered with gold and precious stones.
Ability of the faithful to enjoy.
That we may the more readily believe what has been mentioned of the extraordinary abilities of the inhabitants of paradise to taste these pleasures in their height, it is said they will enjoy a perpetual youth; that in whatever age they happen to die, they will be raised in their prime and vigour, that is, of about thirty years of age, which age they will never exceed (and the same they say of the damned); and that when they enter paradise they will be of the same stature with Adam, who, as they fable, was no less than sixty cubits high. And to this age and stature their children, if they shall desire any (for otherwise their wives will not conceive), shall immediately attain, according to that saying of their prophet, “If any of the faithful in paradise be desirous of issue, it shall be conceived, born, and grown up within the space of an hour.” And in the same manner, if any one shall have a fancy to employ himself in agriculture (which rustic pleasure may suit the wanton fancy of some), what he shall sow will spring up and come to maturity in a moment.
Lest any of the senses should want their proper delight, we are told the ear will there be entertained, not only with the ravishing songs of the angel Isráfíl, who has the most melodious voice of all God’s creatures, and of the daughters of paradise; but even the trees themselves will celebrate the divine praises with a harmony exceeding what ever mortals have heard; to which will be joined the sound of the bells hanging on the trees, which will be put in motion by the wind proceeding from the throne of God, so often as the blessed wish for music; nay, the very clashing of the golden-bodied trees, whose fruits are pearls and emeralds, will surpass human imagination; so that the pleasures of this sense will not be the least of the enjoyments of paradise.
The spiritual enjoyments of heaven.
That we may know wherein the felicity of those who shall attain the highest degree will consist, Muhammad is reported to have said that the meanest of the inhabitants of paradise will see his gardens, wives, servants, furniture, and other possessions take up the space of a thousand years’ journey (for so far and farther will the blessed see in the next life) but that he will be in the highest honour with God who shall behold his face morning and evening; and this favour al Ghazáli supposes to be that additional or superabundant recompense promised in the Qurán, which will give such exquisite delight, that in respect thereof all the other pleasures of paradise will be forgotten and lightly esteemed; and not without reason, since, as the same author says, every other enjoyment is equally tasted by the very brute beast who is turned loose into luxuriant pasture. The reader will observe, by the way, that this is a full confutation of those who pretend that the Muhammadans admit of no spiritual pleasure in the next life, but make the happiness of the blessed to consist wholly in corporeal enjoyments.
Muhammad indebted to Jews and Magians for his notions of paradise.
They also say it has three gates, or, as others will have it, two, and four rivers (which last circumstance they copied, to be sure, from those of the Garden of Eden), flowing with milk, wine, balsam, and honey. Their Behemoth and Leviathan, which they pretend will be slain for the entertainment of the blessed, are so apparently the Balám and Nún of Muhammad, that his followers themselves confess he is obliged to them for both. The Rabbins likewise mention seven different degrees of felicity, and say that the highest will be of those who perpetually contemplate the face of God. The Persian Magi had also an idea of the future happy estate of the good, very little different from that of Muhammad. Paradise they called Bahisht, and Mínu, which signifies crystal, where they believe the righteous shall enjoy all manner of delights, and particularly the company of the Hurán-i-bahisht, or black-eyed nymphs of paradise, the care of whom, they say, is committed to the angel Zamiyád; and hence Muhammad seems to have taken the first hint of his paradisiacal ladies.
Christian and Muslim notions of the future state compared.
As it is scarce possible to convey, especially to the apprehensions of the generality of mankind, an idea of spiritual pleasures without introducing sensible objects, the Scriptures have been obliged to represent the celestial enjoyments by corporeal images, and to describe the mansion of the blessed as a glorious and magnificent city, built of gold and precious stones, with twelve gates, through the streets of which there runs a river of water of life, and having on either side the tree of life, which bears twelve sorts of fruits and leaves of a healing virtue. Our Saviour likewise speaks of the future state of the blessed as of a kingdom where they shall eat and drink at his table. But then these descriptions have none of those puerile imaginations which reign throughout that of Muhammad, much less any the most distant intimation of sensual delights, which he was so fond of; on the contrary, we are expressly assured that “in the resurrection they will neither marry nor be given in marriage, but will be as the angels of God in heaven.” Muhammad, however, to enhance the value of paradise with his Arabians, chose rather to imitate the indecency of the Magians than the modesty of the Christians in this particular, and lest his beatified Muslims should complain that anything was wanting, bestows on them wives, as well as the other comforts of life; judging, it is to be presumed, from his own inclinations, that, like Panurgus’s ass, they would think all other enjoyments not worth their acceptance if they were to be debarred from this.
The description of paradise in the Qurán to be understood in a literal sense.
), this might, perhaps, make some atonement; but the contrary is so evident from the whole tenor of the Qurán, that although some Muhammadans, whose understandings are too refined to admit such gross conceptions, look on their prophet’s descriptions as parabolical, and are willing to receive them in an allegorical or spiritual acceptation, yet the general and orthodox doctrine is, that the whole is to be strictly believed in the obvious and literal acceptation; to prove which I need only urge the oath they exact from Christians (who they know abhor such fancies) when they would bind them in the most strong and sacred manner; for in such a case they make them swear that if they falsify their engagement, they will affirm that there will be black-eyed girls in the next world and corporeal pleasures.
The rewards of Muslim women.
reported to hold that women have no souls, or, if they have, that they will perish, like those of brute beasts, and will not be rewarded in the next life. But whatever may be the opinion of some ignorant people among them, it is certain that Muhammad had too great a respect for the fair sex to teach such a doctrine; and there are several passages in the Qurán which affirm that women, in the next life, will not only be punished for their evil actions, but will also receive the rewards of their good deeds, as well as the men, and that in this case God will make no distinction of sexes. It is true the general notion is that they will not be admitted into the same abode as the men are, because their places will be supplied by the paradisiacal females (though some allow that a man will there also have the company of those who were his wives in this world, or at least such of them as he shall desire ), but that good women will go into a separate place of happiness, where they will enjoy all sorts of delights; but whether one of those delights will be the enjoyment of agreeable paramours created for them, to complete the economy of the Muhammadan system, is what I have nowhere found decided. One circumstance relating to these beatified females, conformable to what he had asserted of the men, he acquainted his followers with in the answer he returned to an old woman, who, desiring him to intercede with God that she might be admitted into paradise, he told her that no old woman would enter that place; which setting the poor woman a crying, he explained himself by saying that God would then make her young again.
The decrees of God.
God having secretly predetermined not only the adverse and prosperous fortune of every person in this world, in the most minute particulars, but also his faith or infidelity, his obedience or disobedience, and consequently his everlasting happiness or misery after death, which fate or predestination it is not possible by any foresight or wisdom to avoid.
Use made of this doctrine by Muhammad.
and deterring them from disobeying or rejecting him as an impostor by setting before them the danger they might thereby incur of being, by the just judgment of God, abandoned to seduction, hardness of heart, and a reprobate mind, as a punishment for their obstinacy.
As this doctrine of absolute election and reprobation has been thought by many of the Muhammadan divines to be derogatory to the goodness and justice of God, and to make God the author of evil, several subtle distinctions have been invented and disputes raised to explicate or soften it, and different sects have been formed, according to their several opinions or methods of explaining this point, some of them going so far as even to hold the direct contrary position of absolute free will in man, as we shall see hereafter.
Prayer or sulat.
Of the four fundamental points of religious practice required by the Qurán the first is prayer, under which, as has been said, are also comprehended those legal washings or purifications which are necessary preparations thereto.
Ceremonial purifications required.
It is performed with certain formal ceremonies, which have been described by some writers, but are much easier apprehended by seeing them done than by the best description.
These were borrowed from the Jews.
who in process of time burdened the precepts of Moses in this point with so many traditionary ceremonies, that whole books have been written about them, and who were so exact and superstitious therein, even in our Saviour’s time, that they are often reproved by him for it. But as it is certain that the pagan Arabs used lustrations of this kind long before the time of Muhammad, as most nations did, and still do in the East, where the warmth of the climate requires a greater nicety and degree of cleanliness than these colder parts, perhaps Muhammad only recalled his countrymen to a more strict observance of those purifying rites, which had been probably neglected by them, or at least performed in a careless and perfunctory manner. The Muhammadans, however, will have it that they are as ancient as Abraham, who, they say, was enjoined by God to observe them, and was shown the manner of making the ablution by the Angel Gabriel in the form of a beautiful youth. Nay, some deduce the matter higher, and imagine that these ceremonies were taught our first parents by the angels.
The practice of religion based on cleanliness.
That these expressions may be the better understood, al Ghazáli reckons four degrees of purification, of which the first is, the cleansing of the body from all pollution, filth, and excrements; the second, the cleansing of the members of the body from all wickedness and unjust actions; the third, the cleansing of the heart from all blamable inclinations and odious vices; and the fourth, the purging a man’s secret thoughts from all affections which may divert their attendance on God: adding, that the body is but as the outward shell in respect to the heart, which is as the kernel. And for this reason he highly complains of those who are superstitiously solicitous in exterior purifications, avoiding those persons as unclean who are not so scrupulously nice as themselves, and at the same time have their minds lying waste, and overrun with pride, ignorance, and hypocrisy. Whence it plainly appears with how little foundation the Muhammadans have been charged by some writers with teaching or imagining that these formal washings alone cleanse them from their sins.
Lustration with sand instead of water allowed.
and then they perform this duty by clapping their open hands on the sand, and passing them over the parts, in the same manner as if they were dipped in water. But for this expedient Muhammad was not so much indebted to his own cunning as to the example of the Jews, or perhaps that of the Persian Magi, almost as scrupulous as the Jews themselves in their lustrations, who both of them prescribe the same method in cases of necessity; and there is a famous instance in ecclesiastical history of sand being used, for the same reason, instead of water, in the administration of the Christian sacrament of baptism, many years before Muhammad’s time.
Minor points of purification.
of which last I will add a word or two, lest I should not find a more proper place.
The Muslim doctrine of circumcision.
yet highly proper and expedient. The Arabs used this rite for many ages before Muhammad, having probably learned it from Ismaíl, though not only his descendants, but the Himyárites, and other tribes, practised the same. The Ismaílites, we are told, used to circumcise their children, not on the eighth day, as is the custom of the Jews, but when about twelve or thirteen years old, at which age their father underwent that operation; and the Muhammadans imitate them so far as not to circumcise children before they be able, at least, distinctly to pronounce that profession of their faith, “There is no god but God; Muhammad is the apostle of God;” but pitch on what age they please for the purpose, between six and sixteen or thereabouts. Though the Muslim doctors are generally of opinion, conformably to the Scripture, that this precept was originally given to Abraham, yet some have imagined that Adam was taught it by the Angel Gabriel, to satisfy an oath he had made to cut off that flesh which, after his fall, had rebelled against his spirit; whence an odd argument has been drawn for the universal obligation of circumcision. Though I cannot say the Jews led the Muhammadans the way here, yet they seem so unwilling to believe any of the principal patriarchs or prophets before Abraham were really uncircumcised, that they pretend several of them, as well as some holy men who lived after his time, were born ready circumcised, or without a foreskin, and that Adam, in particular, was so ereated; whence the Muhammadans affirm the same thing of their prophet.
Prayer the key of paradise.
begged, at least, that they might be dispensed with as to their saying of the appointed prayers, he answered, “That there could be no good in that religion wherein was no prayer.”
The hours of prayer.
Manner of performing the service of prayer.
For this institution he pretended to have received the divine command from the throne of God himself, when he took his night journey to heaven; and the observing of the stated times of prayer is frequently insisted on in the Qurán, though they be not particularly prescribed therein. Accordingly, at the aforesaid times, of which public notice is given by the Muadhdhíns, or Criers, from the steeples of their mosques (for they use no bell), every conscientious Muslim prepares himself for prayer, which he performs either in the mosque or any other place, provided it be clean, after a prescribed form, and with a certain number of phrases or ejaculations (which the more acrupulous count by a string of beads) and using certain postures of worship; all which have been particularly set down and described though with some few mistakes, by other writers, and ought not to be abridged, unless in some special cases, as on a journey, on preparing for battle, &c.
For the regular performance of the duty of prayer among the Muhammadans, besides the particulars above mentioned, it is also requisite that they turn their faces, while they pray, towards the temple of Makkah, the quarter where the same is situate being, for that reason, pointed out within their mosques by a niche, which they call al Mihráb, and without by the situation of the doors opening into the galleries of the steeples: there are also tables calculated for the ready finding out their Qibla, or part towards which they ought to pray, in places where they have no other direction.
But what is principally to be regarded in the discharge of this duty, say the Muslim doctors, is the inward disposition of the heart, which is the life and spirit of prayer; the most punctual observance of the external rites and ceremonies before mentioned being of little or no avail, if performed without due attention, reverence, devotion, and hope; so that we must not think the Muhammadans, or the considerate part of them at least, content themselves with the mere opus operatum, or imagine their whole religion to be placed therein.
Regulations as to apparel and women in time of prayer.
The other is, that they admit not their women to pray with them in public, that sex being obliged to perform their devotions at home, or if they visit the mosques, it must be at a time when the men are not there; for the Muslims are of opinion that their presence inspires a different kind of devotion from that which is requisite in a place dedicated to the worship of God.
The institution of prayer borrowed from the Jews.
The Jews are directed to pray three times a day, in the morning, in the evening, and within night, in imitation of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and the practice was as early, at least, as the time of Daniel. The several postures used by the Muhammadans in their prayers are also the same with those prescribed by the Jewish Rabbins, and particularly the most solemn act of adoration, by prostrating themselves so as to touch the ground with their forebead; notwithstanding, the latter pretend the practice of the former, in this respect, to be a relic of their ancient manner of paying their devotions to Baalpeor. The Jews likewise constantly pray with their faces turned towards the temple of Jerusalem, which has been their Qibla from the time it was first dedicated by Solomon; for which reason Daniel, praying in Chaldea, had the windows of his chamber open towards that city; and the same was the Qibla of Muhammad and his followers for six or seven months, and till he found himself obliged to change it for the Kaabah. The Jews, moreover, are obliged by the precepts of their religion to be careful that the place they pray in, and the garments they have on when they perform their duty, be clean: the men and women also among them pray apart (in which particular they were imitated by the Eastern Christians); and several other conformities might be remarked between the Jewish public worship and that of the Muhammadans.
Almsgiving the second fundamental act of religious practice.
or because they purify the remaining part of one’s substance from pollution and the soul from the filth of avarice; and Sadaqa, because they are a proof of a man’s sincerity in the worship of God. Some writers have called the legal alms tithes, but improperly, since in some eases they fall short, and in others exceed that proportion.
The giving of alms is frequently commanded in the Quran, and often recommended therein jointly with prayer; the former being held of great efficacy in causing the latter to be heard of God: for which reason the Khalífah Omar Ibn Abd al Azíz used to say “that prayer carries us half-way to God, fasting brings us to the door of his palace, and alms procures us admission.” The Muhammadans, therefore esteem almsdeeds to be highly meritorious, and many of them have been illustrious for the exercise thereof. Hasan, the son of Ali and grandson of Muhammad, in particular, is related to have thrice in his life divided his substance equally between himself and the poor, and twice to have given away all he had; and the generality are so addicted to the doing of good, that they extend their charity even to brutes.
Laws relating to legal alms.
of wheat, barley, dates, raisins, rice, or other provisions commonly eaten.
Appropriation of legal alms.
The legal alms were at first collected by Muhammad himself, who employed them as he thought fit, in the relief of his poor relations and followers, but chiefly applied them to the maintenance of those who served in his wars, and fought, as he termed it, in the way of God. His successors continued to do the same, till, in process of time, other taxes and tributes being imposed for the support of the government, they seem to have been weary of acting as almoners to their subjects, and to have left the paying them to their consciences.
Jewish and Muslim almsgiving compared.
are greatly recommended by their Rabbins, and preferred even to sacrifices, as a duty the frequent exercise whereof will effectually free a man from hell-fire, and merit everlasting life; wherefore, besides the corners of the field and the gleanings of their harvest and vineyard, commanded to be left for the poor and the stranger by the law of Moses, a certain portion of their corn and fruits is directed to be set apart for their relief, which portion is called the tithes of the poor. The Jews likewise were formerly very conspicuous for their charity. Zaccheus gave the half of his goods to the poor; and we are told that some gave their whole substance: so that their doctors at length decreed that no man should give above a fifth part of his goods in alms. There were also persons publicly appointed in every synagogue to collect and distribute the people’s contributions.
The duty of fasting.
The fast of Ramadhán.
or sunset. And this injunction they observe so strictly, that while they fast they suffer nothing to enter their mouths, or other parts of their body, esteeming the fast broken and null if they smell perfumes, take a clyster or injection, bathe, or even purposely swallow their spittle; some being so cautious that they will not open their mouths to speak, lest they should breathe the air too freely: the fast is also deemed void if a man kiss or touch a woman, or if he vomit designedly. But after sunset they are allowed to refresh themselves, and to eat and drink, and enjoy the company of their wives till daybreak; though the more rigid begin the fast again at midnight. This fast is extremely rigorous and mortifying when the month of Ramadhán happens to fall in summer, for the Arabian year being lunar, each month runs through all the different seasons in the course of thirty three years, the length and heat of the days making the observance of it much more difficult and uneasy then than in winter.
The reason given why the month of Ramadhán was pitched on for this purpose is, that on that month the Qurán was sent down from heaven. Some pretend that Abraham, Moses, and Jesus received their respective revelations in the same month.
The rule of fasting for the sick, &c
This also borrowed from the Jews.
from daybreak until sunset, and the stars begin to appear, spending the night in taking what refreshments they please. And they allow women with child and giving suck, old persons, and young children to be exempted from keeping most of the public fasts.
Voluntary fasts of Muslims
Ashúra borrowed from the Jewish day of atonement.
Among the more commendable days is that of Ashúra, the tenth of Muharram, which, though some writers tell us it was observed by the Arabs, and particularly the tribe of Quraish, before Muhammad’s time, yet, as others assure us, that prophet borrowed both the name and the fast from the Jews, it being with them the tenth of the seventh month, or Tisri, and the great day of expiation commanded to be kept by the law of Moses. Al Kazwíni relates that when Muhammad came to Madína, and found the Jews there fasted on the day of Ashúra, he asked them the reason of it; and they told him it was because on that day Pharaoh and his people were drowned, Moses and those who were with him escaping: whereupon he said that he bore a nearer relation to Moses than they, and ordered his followers to fast on that day. However it seems afterwards he was not so well pleased in having imitated the Jews herein; and therefore declared that, if he lived another year, he would alter the day, and fast on the ninth, abhorring so near an agreement with them.
Pilgrimage to Makkah.
and the same is expressly commanded in the Qurán. Before I speak of the time and manner of performing this pilgrimage, it may be proper to give a short account of the temple of Makkah, the chief scene of the Muhammadan worship; in doing which I need be the less prolix, because that edifice has been already described by several writers, though they, following different relations, have been led into some mistakes, and agree not with one another in several particulars: nor, indeed, do the Arab authors agree in all things, one great reason whereof is their speaking of different times.
The temple of Makkah described.
but more probably from its quadrangular form, and Bait Allah, i.e., the house of God, being peculiarly hallowed and set apart for his worship. The length of this edifice, from north to south, is twenty-four cubits, its breadth from east to west twenty three cubits, and its height twenty-seven cubits: the door, which is on the east side, stands about four cubits from the ground; the floor being level with the bottom of the door. In the corner next this door is the black stone, of which I shall take notice by and by. On the north side of the Kaabah, within a semicircular enclosure fifty cubits long, lies the white stone, said to be the sepulchre of Ismail, which receives the rain-water that falls off the Kaabah by a spout, formerly of wood, but now of gold. The Kaabah has a double roof, supported within by three octangular pillars of aloes wood, between which, on a bar of iron; hang some silver lamps. The outside is covered with rich black damask, adorned with an embroidered band of gold, which is changed every year, and was formerly sent by the Khalífahs, afterwards by the Sultáns of Egypt, and is now provided by the Turkish emperors. At a small distance from the Kaabah, on the east side, is the Station or Place of Abraham, where is another stone much respected by the Muhammadans, of which something will be said hereafter.
The Kaabah, at some distance, is surrounded, but not entirely, by a circular enclosure of pillars, joined towards the bottom by a low balustrade, and towards the top by bars of silver. Just without this inner enclosure, on the south, north, and west sides of the Kaabah, are three buildings which are the oratories, or places where three of the orthodox sects assemble to perform their devotions (the fourth sect, viz., that of al Sháfaí, making use of the Station of Abraham for that purpose), and towards the south-east stands the edifice which covers the well Zamzam, the treasury, and the cupola of al Abbás.
All these buildings are enclosed, a considerable distance, by a magnificent piazza, or square colonnade, like that of the Royal Exchange in London, but much larger, covered with small domes or cupolas, from the four corners whereof rise as many minarets or steeples, with double galleries and adorned with gilded spires and crescents, as are the cupolas which cover the piazza and the other buildings Between the pillars of both enclosures hang a great number of lamps, which are constantly lighted at night. The first foundations of this outward enclosure were laid by Omar, the second Khalifah, who built no more than a low wall, to prevent the court of the Kaabah, which before lay open, from being encroached on by private buildings; but the structure has been since raised, by the liberality of many succeeding princes and great man, to its present lustre.
Within this compass of ground it is not lawful to attack an enemy or even to hunt or fowl, or cut a branch from a tree: which is the true reason why the pigeons at Makkah are reckoned sacred, and not that they are supposed to be of the race of that imaginary pigeon which some authors, who should have known better, would persuade us Muhammad made pass for the Holy Ghost.
The antiquity of the Kasbah.
yet the Muhammadans are generally persuaded that the Kasbah is almost coeval with the world: for they say that Adam, after his expulsion from paradise, begged of God that he might erect a building like that he had seen there, called Bait al Mámúr, or the frequented house, and al Duráh, towards which he might direct his prayers, and which he might compass, as the angels do the celestial one. Whereupon God let down a representation of that house in curtains of light, and set it in Makkah, perpendicularly under its original, ordering the patriarch to turn towards it when he prayed, and to compass it by way of devotion. After Adam’s death, his son Seth built a house in the same form of stones and clay, which being destroyed by the Deluge, was rebuilt by Abraham and Ismail, at God’s command, in the place where the former had stood, and after the same model, they being directed therein by revelation.
The present building.
After this edifice had undergone several reparations, it was, a few years after the birth of Muhammad, rebuilt by the Quraish on the old foundation, and afterwards repaired by Abdullah Ibn Zubair, the Khalífah of Makkah, und at length again rebuilt by al Haláj Ibn Yusaf in the seventy-fourth year of the Hijra with some alterations, in the form wherein it now remains. Some years after, however, the Khalífah Harún al Rashíd (or as others write, his father, al Mahdi, or his grandfather, al Mansúr) intended again to change what had been altered by al Hajáj, and to reduce the Kaabah to the old form in which it was lett by Abdullah, but was dissuaded from meddling with it, lest so holy a place should become the sport of princes, and being new modelled after every one’s fancy, should lose that reverence which was justly paid it. But notwithstanding the antiquity and holiness of this building, they have a prophecy, by tradition from Muhammad, that in the last times the Ethiopians shall come and utterly demolish it, after which it will not be rebuilt again for ever.
The Black stone described.
being that which looks towards Basra, about two cubits and one-third, or, which is the same thing, seven spans from the ground. This stone is exceedingly respected by the Muhammadans, and is kissed by the pilgrims with great devotion, being called by some the right hand of God on earth. They fable that it is one of the precious stones of paradise, and fell down to the earth with Adam, and being taken up again, or otherwise preserved at the Deluge, the Angel Gabriel afterwards brought it back to Abraham when he was building the Kaabah. It was at first whiter than milk, but grew black long since by the touch of a menstruous woman, or, as others toll us, by the sins of mankind, or rather by the touches and kisses of so many people the superficies only being black and the inside still remaining white. When the Karmatians, among other profanations by them offered to the temple of Makkah, took away this stone, they could not be prevailed on, for love or money, to restore it, though those of Makkah offered no less than five thousand pieces of gold for it. However, after they had kept it twenty-two years, seeing they could not thereby draw the pilgrims from Makkah, they sent it back of their own accord, at the same time bantering its devotees by telling them it was not the true stone; but, as it is said, it was proved to be no counterfeit by its peculiar quality of swimming on water.
The stone in Abraham’s Place
and that it served him for a scaffold, rising and falling of itself as he had occasion, though another tradition says he stood upon it while the wife of his son Ismaíl, whom he paid a visit to, washed his head. It is now enclosed in an iron chest, out of which the pilgrims drink the water of Zamzam, and are ordered to pray at it by the Qurán. The officers of the temple took care to hide this stone when the Karmatians took the other.
The well Zamzam.
and some pretend it was so named from her calling to him, when she spied it, in the Egyptian tongue, Zam, zam, that is, “Stay, stay,” though it seems rather to have had the name from the murmuring of its waters. The water of this well is reckoned holy, and is highly reverenced, being not only drunk with particular devotion by the pilgrims, but also sent in bottles, as a great rarity, to most parts of the Muhammadan dominions. Abdullah, surnamed al Háfidh, from his great memory, particularly as to the traditions of Muhammad, gave out that he acquired that faculty by drinking large draughts of Zamzam water, to which I really believe it as efficacious as that of Helicon to the inspiring of a poet.
Fame of the pilgrimage to Makkah
ought once, at least, in his life to go on pilgrimage; nor are women excused from the performance of this duty. The pilgrims meet at different places near Makkah, according to the different parts from whence they come, during the months of Shawwál and Dhu’l Qaada, being obliged to be there by the beginning of Dhu’l Hajja, which month, as its name imports, is peculiarly set apart for the celebration of this solemnity
The sacred habit put on.
(though they are allowed to fish ), which precept is so punctually observed, that they will not kill even a louse or a flea, if they find them on their bodies: there are some noxious animals, however, which they have permission to kill during the pilgrimage, as kites, ravens, scorpions, mice, and dogs given to bite. During the pilgrimage it benoves a man to have a constant guard over his words and actions, and to avoid all quarrelling or ill language, and all converse with women and obscene discourse, and to apply his whole intention to the good work he is engaged in.
Visiting the temple, &c
that I may be excused if I but just mention the most material circumstances thereof.
In compassing the Kaabah, which they do seven times, beginning at the corner where the black stone is fixed, they use a short, quick pace the three first times they go round it, and a grave, ordinary pace the four last; which, it is said, was ordered by Muhammad, that his followers might show themselves strong and active, to cut off the hopes of the infidels, who gave out that the immoderate heats of Madina had rendered them weak But the aforesaid quick pace they are not obliged to use every time they perform this piece of devotion but only at some particular times. So often as they pass by the black stone, they either kiss it, or touch it with their hand, and kiss that.
The running between Safá and Marwa is also performed seven times, partly with a slow pace, and partly running; for they walk gravely till they come to a place between two pillars; and there they run, and afterwards walk again; sometimes looking back, and sometimes stopping, like one who has lost something, to represent Hagar seeking water for her son; for the ceremony is said to be as ancient as her time.
On the ninth of Dhu’l Hajja, after morning prayer, the pilgrims leave the valley of Miná, whither they come the day before, and proceed in a tumultuous and rushing manner to Mount Arafát, where they stay to perform their devotions till sunset: then they go to Muzadalífah, an oratory between Arafát and Miná, and there spend the night in prayer and reading the Quran. The next morning, by daybreak they visit al Mashar al Harám, or the sacred monument, and departing thence before sunrise, haste by Batn Muhassir to the valley of Miná, where they throw seven stones at three marks or pillars, in imitation of Abraham, who, meeting the devil in that place, and being by him disturbed in his devotions, or tempted to disobedience, when he was going to sacrifice his son, was commanded by God to drive him away by throwing stones at him, though others pretend this rite to be as old as Adam, who also put the devil to flight in the same place and by the same means.
Sacrifices and sacred offerings.
The sacrifices being over, they shave their heads and cut their nails, burying them in the same place: after which the pilgrimage is looked on as completed, though they again visit the Kaabah, to take their leave of that sacred building.
The ceremonies of pilgrimage borrowed arom Arabneathenism.
whereas, before his time, they performed that piece of devotion naked, throwing off their clothes as a mark that they had cast off their sins, or as signs of their disobedience towards God.
Object of the pilgrimage.
Some, however, have endeavoured to find out some reasons for the abitrary injunctions of this kind, and one writer, supposing men ought to imitate the heavenly bodies, not only in their purity but in their circular motion, seems to argue the procession round the Kaabah to be therefore a rational practice. Reland has observed that the Romans had something like this in their worship, being ordered by Numa to use a circular motion in the adoration of the gods, either to represent the orbicular motion of the world, or the perfecting the whole office of prayer to that God who is maker of the universe, or else in allusion to the Egyptian wheels, which were hieroglyphics of the instability of human fortune.
Muhammad’s concession to Arab custom and superstition.
Yet whoever seriously considers how difficult it is to make people submit to the abolishing of ancient customs, how unreasonable soever, which they are fond of, especially where the interest of a considerable party is also concerned, and that a man may with less danger change many things than one great one, must excuse Muhammad’s yielding some points of less moment to gain the principal. The temple of Makkah was held in excessive veneration by all the Arabs in general (if we except only the tribes of Tay and Khuzáah and some of the posterity of al Hárith Ibn Qaab, who used not to go in pilgrimage thereto), and especially by those of Makkah, who had a particular interest to support that veneration; and as the most silly and insignificant things are generally the objects of the greatest superstition, Muhammad found it much easier to abolish idolatry itself than to eradicate the superstitious bigotry with which they were addicted to that temple and the rites performed there; wherefore, after several fruitless trials to wean them therefrom, he thought it best to compromise the matter, and rather than to frustrate his whole design, to allow them to go on pilgrimage thither, and to direct their prayers thereto, contenting himself with transferring the devotions there paid from their idols to the true God, and changing such circumstances therein as he judged might give scandal. And herein he followed the example of the most famous legislators, who instituted not such laws as were absolutely the best in themselves, but the best their people were capable of receiving; and we find God himself had the same condescendence for the Jews, whose nardness of heart he humoured in many things, giving them therefore statutes that were not good, and judgmonts whereby they should not live.
Having in the preceding section spoken of the fundamental points of the Muhammadan religion, relating both to faith and to practice, I shall in this and the two following discourses speak in the same brief method of some other precepts and institutions of the Qurán which deserve peculiar notice, and first of certain things which are thereby prohibited.
The drinking of wine and spirituous liquors forbidden.
Some indeed, have imagined that excess therein is only forbidden, and that the moderate use of wine is allowed by two passages in the same book; but the more received opinion is, that to drink any strong liquors, either in a lesser quantity or in a greater, is absolutely unlawful; and though libertines indulge themselves in a contrary practice, yet the more conscientious are so strict, especially if they have performed the pilgrimage to Makkah, that they hold it unlawful not only to taste wine, but to press grapes for the making of it, to buy or to sell it, or even to maintain themselves with the money arising by the sale of that liquor. The Persians, however, as well as the Turks are very fond of wine; and if one asks them how it comes to pass that they venture to drink it, when it is so directly forbidden by their religion, they answer, that it is with them as with the Christians, whose religion prohibits drunkenness and whoredom as great sins, and who glory, notwithstanding, some in debauching girls and married women, and others in drinking to excess.
Question as to coffee and tobacco.
because the fumes of it have some effect on the imagination. This drink, which was first publicly used at Aden in Arabia Felix, about the middle of the ninth century of the Hijra, and thence gradually introduced into Makkah, Madína, Egypt Syria, and other parts of the Levant, has been the occasion of great disputes and disorders, having been sometimes publicly condemned and forbidden, and again declared lawful and allowed. At present the use of coffee is generally tolerated, if not granted, as is that of tobacco, though the more religious make a scruple of taking the latter, not only because it inebriates, but also out of respect to a traditional saying of their prophet (which, if it could be made out to be his, would prove him a prophet indeed), “That in the latter days there should be men who should bear the name of Muslims, but should not be really such; and that they should smoke a certain weed, which should be called tobacco.” However, the Eastern nations are generally so addicted to both, that they say, “A dish of coffee and a pipe of tobacco are a complete entertainment;” and the Persians have a proverb that coffee without tobacco is meat without salt.
Opium and bang (which latter is the leaves of hemp in pills or conserve) are also by the rigid Muhammadans esteemed unlawful, though not mentioned in the Qurán, because they intoxicate and disturb the understanding as wine does, and in a more extraordinary manner: yet these drugs are now commonly taken in the East; but they who are addicted to them are generally looked upon as debauchees.
The reason why wine-drinking was prohibited.
but the true reasons are given in the Qurán, viz., because the ill qualities of that liquor surpass its good ones, the common effects thereof being quarrels and disturbances in company, and neglect, or at least indecencies, in the performance of religious duties. For these reasons it was that the priests were, by the Levitical law, forbidden to drink wine or strong drink when they entered the tabernacle, and that the Nazarites, and Rechabites, and many pious persons among the Jews and primitive Christians, wholly abstained therefrom; nay, some of the latter went so far as to condemn the use of wine as sinful. But Muhammad is said to have had a nearer example than any of these, in the more devout persons of his own tribe.
Lots and games of chance for bidden
in the same passages, and for the same reasons, as wine. The word al maisar, which is there used, signifies a particular manner of casting lots by arrows, much practised by the pagan Arabs, and performed in the following manner. A young camel being bought and killed, and divided into ten or twenty-eight parts, the persons who cast lots for them, to the number of seven, met for that purpose; and eleven arrows were provided, without heads or feathers, seven of which were marked, the first with one notch, the second with two, and so on, and the other four had no mark at all. These arrows were put promiscuously into a bag, and then drawn by an indifferent person, who had another near him to receive them, and to see he acted fairly; those to whom the marked arrows fell won shares in proportion to their lot, and those to whom the blanks fell were entitled to no part of the camel at all, but were obliged to pay the full price of it. The winners, however, tasted not of the flesh, any more than the losers, but the whole was distributed among the poor; and this they did out of pride and ostentation, it being reckoned a shame for a man to stand out, and not venture his money on such an occasion. This custom, therefore, though it was of some use to the poor and diversion to the rich, was forbidden by Muhammad, as the source of great inconveniences, by occasioning quarrels and heart-burnings, which arose from the winners insulting of those who lost.
Chess allowable under restrictions
because it depends wholly on skill and management, and not at all on chance: but then it is allowed under certain restrictions, viz., that it be no hindrance to the regular performance of their devotions, and that no money or other thing be played for or betted; which last the Turks, being Sunnis, religiously observe, but the Persians and Moguls do not. But what Muhammad is supposed chiefly to have disliked in the game of chess was the carved pieces, or men, with which the pagan Arabs played, being little figures of men, elephants, horses, and dromedaries; and these are thought, by some commentators, to be truly meant by the images prohibited in one of the passages of the Qurán quoted above. That the Arabs in Muhammad’s time actually used such images for chessmen appears from what is related in the Sunnat of Ali, who, passing accidentally by some who were playing at chess, asked, “What images they were which they were so intent upon?” for they were perfectly new to him, that game having been but very lately introduced into Arabia, and not long before into Persia, whither it was first brought from India in the reign of Khusrú Anushirwán. Hence the Muhammadan doctors infer that the game was disapproved only for the sake of the images: wherefore the Sunnis always play with plain pieces of wood or ivory; but the Persians and Indians, who are not so scrupulous, continue to make use of the carved ones.
The Muhammadans comply with the prohibition of gaming much better than they do with that of wine; for though the common people, among the Turks more frequently, and the Persians more rarely, are addicted to play, yet the better sort are seldom guilty of it.
Gaming, at least to excess, has been forbidden in all well-ordered states. Gaming-houses were reckoned scandalous places among the Greeks, and a gamester is declared by Aristotle to be no better than a thief: the Roman senate made very severe laws against playing at games of hazard, except only during the Saturnalia; though the people played often at other times, notwithstanding the prohibition: the civil law forbade all pernicious games, and though the laity were, in some cases, permitted to play for money, provided they kept within reasonable bounds, yet the clergy were forbidden to play at tables (which is a game of hazard), or even to look on while others played. Accursius, indeed is of opinion they may play at chess, notwithstanding that law, because it is a game not subject to chance, and being but newly invented in the time of Justinian, was not then known in the Western parts. However, the monks for some time were not allowed even chess.
As to the Jews, Muhammad’s chief guides, they also highly disapprove gaming: gamesters being severely censured in the Talmud, and their testimony declared invalid.
Divining by arrows forbidden.
was that of divining by arrows. The arrows used by them for this purpose were like those with which they cast lots, being without heads or feathers, and were kept in the temple of some idol, in whose presence they were consulted. Seven such arrows were kept at the temple of Makkah; but generally in divination they made use of three only, on one of which was written, “My Lord hath commanded me,” on another, “My Lord hath forbidden me,” and the third was blank. If the first was drawn, they looked on it as an approbation of the enterprise in question; if the second, they made a contrary conclusion; but if the third happened to be drawn, they mixed them and drew over again, till a decisive answer was given by one of the others. These divining arrows were generally consulted before anything of moment was undertaken; as when a man was about to marry or about to go a journey, or the like. This superstitious practice of divining by arrows was used by the ancient Greeks, and other nations; and is particularly mentioned in Scripture, where it is said that “the king of Babylon stood at the parring of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination; he made his arrows bright” (or, according to the version of the Vulgate, which seems preferable in this place, “he mixed together or shook the arrows”), “he consulted with images,” &c.; the commentary of St. Jerome on which passage wonderfully agrees with what we are told of the aforesaid custom of the old Arabs: “He shall stand” says he, “in the highway, and consult the oracle after the manner of his nation, that he may cast arrows into a quiver, and mix them together, being written upon or marked with the names of each people, that he may see whose arrow will come forth, and which city he ought first to attack.”
Laws concerning meats.
In which particulars Muhammad seems chiefly to have imitated the Jews, by whose law, as is well known, all those things are forbidden; but he allowed some things to be eaten which Moses did not, as camels’ flesh in particular. In cases of necessity, however, where a man may be in danger of starving, he is allowed by the Muhammadan law to eat any of the said prohibited kinds of food; and the Jowish doctors grant the same liberty in the same case. Though the aversion to blood and what dies of itself may seem natural, yet some of the pagan Arabs used to eat both: of their eating of the latter some instances will be given hereafter; and as to the former, it is said they used to pour blood, which they sometimes drew from a live camel, into a gut, and then broiled it in the fire, or boiled it, and ate it: this food they called Muswadd, from Aswad, which signifies black; the same nearly resembling our black puddings in name as well as composition. The eating of meat offered to idols I take to be commonly practised by all idolaters, being looked on as a sort of communion in their worship, and for that reason esteemed by Christians, if not absolutely unlawful, yet as what may be the occasion of great scandal; but the Arabs were particularly superstitious in this matter, killing what they ate on stones erected on purpose around the Kaabah, or near their own houses, and calling, at the same time, on the name of some idol. Swine’s flesh, indeed, the old Arabs seem not to have eaten; and their prophet, in prohibiting the same, appears to have only confirmed the common aversion of the nation. Foreign writers tell us that the Arabs wholly abstained from swine’s flesh, thinking it unlawful to feed thereon, and that very few, if any, of those animals are found in their country, because it produces not proper food for them; which has made one writer imagine that if a hog were carried thither, it would immediately die.
Of usury and certain superstitions customs
I presume Muhammad also followed the Jews, who are strictly forbidden by their law to exercise it among one another, though they are so infamously guilty of it in their dealing with those of a different religion; but I do not find the prophet of the Arabs has made any distinction in this matter.
Several superstitious customs relating to cattle, which seem to have been peculiar to the pagan Arabs, were also abolished by Muhammad. The Qurán mentions four names by them given to certain camels or sheep, which for some particular reasons were left at free liberty, and were not made use of as other cattle of the same kind. These names are Bahira, Sáiba, Wasíla, and Hámi: of each whereof in their order.
The customs relating to the Bahira, Sáiba, Wasíla and Hámí explained.
These, however, are not all the opinions concerning the Bahíra; for some suppose that name was given to a she-camel, which, after having brought forth young five times, if the last was a male, had her ear slit, as a mark thereof, and was let go loose to feed, none driving her from pasture or water, nor using her for carriage; and other tell us that when a camel had newly brought forth, they used to slit the ear of her young one, saying, “O God, if it live, it shall be for cur use, but if it die, it shall be deemed rightly slain;” and when it died they ate it.
Sáiba signifies á she-camel turned loose to go where she will. And this was done on various accounts: as when she had brought forth females ten times together; or in satisfaction of a vow, or when a man had recovered from sickness, or returned safe from a journey, or his camel had escaped some signal danger either in battle or otherwise. A camel so turned loose was declared to be Sáiba, and, as a mark of it, one of the vertebræ or bones was taken out of her back, after which none might drive her from pasture or water, or ride on her. Some say that the Sáiba, when she had ten times together brought forth females, was sunered to go at liberty, none being allowed to ride on her, and that her milk was not to be drank by any but her young one, or a guest, till she died; and then her flesh was eaten by men as well as women, and her last female young one had her ear slit, and was called Bahíra, and turned loose as her dam had been.
This appellation, however, was not so strictly proper to female camels, but that it was given to the male when his young one had begotten another young one: nay, a servant set at liberty and dismissed by his master was also called Sáiba; and some are of opinion that the word denotes an animal which the Arabs used to turn loose in honour of their idols, allowing none to make use of them thereafter, except women only.
Wasíla is, by one author, explained to signify a she-camel which had brought forth ten times, or an ewe which had yeaned seven times, and every time twins; and if the seventh time she brought forth a male and a female, they said, “Wusilat akháha,” i.e., “She is joined,” or, “was brought forth with her brother,” after which none might drink the dam’s milk, except men only; and she was used as the Sáiha Or Wasíla was particularly meant of sheep; as when an ewe brought forth a female, they took it to themselves, but when she brought forth a male, they consecrated it to their gods, but if both a male and a female, they said, “She is joined to her brother” and did not sacrifice that male to their gods: or Wasíla was an ewe which brought forth first a male and then a female, on which account, or because she followed her brother, the male was not killed; but if she brought forth a male only, they said, “Let this be an offering to our gods.” Another writes, that if an ewe brought forth twins seven times together, and the eighth time a male, they sacrificed that male to their gods; but if the eighth time she brought both a male and a female, they used to say, “She is joined to her brother,” and for the female’s sake they spared the male, and permitted not the dam’s milk to be drunk by women. A third writer tells us, that Wasíla was an ewe, which having yeaned seven times, if that which she brought forth the seventh time was a male they sacrificed it, but if a female, it was suffered to go loose, and was made use of by women only; and if the seventh time she brought forth both a male and a female, they held them both to be sacred, so that men only were allowed to make any use of them, or to drink the milk of the female: and a fourth describes it to be an ewe which brought forth ten females at five births one after another, i.e., every time twins, and whatever she brought forth afterwards was allowed to men, and not to women &c.
Hámi was a male camel used for a stallion, which, if the females had conceived ten times by him, was afterwards freed from labour, and let go loose, none driving him from pasture or from water; nor was any allowed to receive he least benefit from him, not even to shear his hair.
These things were observed by the old Arabs in honour of their false gods, and as part of the worship which they paid them, and were ascribed to the divine institution; but are all condemned in the Qurán, and declared to be impious superstitions.
Muhammad prohibits infanticide.
the birth of a daughter being, for these reasons, reckoned a great misfortune, and the death of one as a great happiness. The manner of their doing this is differently related: some say that when an Arab had a daughter born, if he intended to bring her up, he sent her, clothed in a garment of wool or hair, to keep camels or sheep in the desert; but if he designed to put her to death, he let her live till she became six years old, and then said to her mother, “Perfume her, and adorn her, that I may carry her to her mothers;” which being done the father led her to a well or pit dug for that purpose, and having bid her to look down into it, pushed her in headlong, as he stood behind her, and then filling up the pit, levelled it with the rest of the ground; but others say, that when a woman was ready to fall in labour, they dug a pit, on the brink whereof she was to be delivered, and if the child happened to be a daughter, they threw it into the pit, but if a son, they saved it alive. This custom, though not observed by all the Arabs in general, was yet very common among several of their tribes, and particularly those of Quraish and Kinda; the former using to bury their daughters alive in Mount Abu Dalama, near Makkah. In the time of ignorance while they used this method to get rid of their daughters, Sásaá, grandfather to the celebrated poet al Farazdak, frequently redeemed female children from death, giving for every one two she-camels big with young, and a he-camel; and hereto al Farazdak alluded when, vaunting himself before one of the Khalífahs of the family of Omayyah, he said, “I am the son of the giver of life to the dead;” for which expression being censured, he excused himself by aileging the following words of the Qurán, “He who saveth a soul alive, shall be as if he had saved the lives of all mankind.” The Arabs, in thus murdering of their children, were far from being singular; the practice of exposing infants and putting them to death being so common among the ancients, that it is remarked as a thing very extraordinary in the Egyptians, that they brought up all their children; and by the laws of Lycurgus no child was allowed to be brought up without the approbation of public officers. At this day, it is said, in China, the poorer sort of people frequently put their children, the females especially, to death with impunity.
This wicked practice is condemned by the Qurán in several passages; one of which, as some commentators judge, may also condemn another custom of the Arabians, altogether as wicked, and as common among other nations of old, viz., the sacrificing of their children to their idols; as was frequently done, in particular, in satisfaction of a vow they used to make, that if they had a certain number of sons born, they would offer one of them in sacrifice.
Several other superstitious customs were likewise abrogated by Muhammad, but the same being of less moment, and not particularly mentioned in the Quran, or having been occasionally taken notice of elsewhere I shall say nothing of them in this place
The Muhammadan civil law is founded on the precepts and determinations of the Qurán, as the civil laws of the Jews were on those of the Pentateuch; yet being variously interpreted, according to the different decisions of their civilians, and especially of their four great doctors, Abu Hanífa, Málik, al Shafai, and Ibn Hanbal, to treat thereof fully and distinctly in the manner the curiosity and usefulness of the subject deserves, would require a large volume; wherefore the most that can be expected here is a summary view of the principal institutions, without minutely entering into a detail of particulars. We shall begin with those relating to marriage and divorce.
Laws regulating polygamy.
is allowed by the Qurán, every one knows, though few are acquainted with the limitations with which it is allowed. Several learned men have fallen into the vulgar mistake that Muhammad granted to his followers an unbounded plurality; some pretending that a man may have as many wives, and others as many concubines, as he can maintain; whereas, according to the express words of the Qurán, no man can have more than four, whether wives or concubines; and if a man apprehend any inconvenience from even that number of ingenuous wives, it is added, as an advice (which is generally followed by the middling and inferior people), that he marry one only, or, if he cannot be contented with one, that he take up with his she-slaves, not exceeding, however, the limited number; and this is certainly the utmost Muhammad allowed his followers: nor can we urge, as an argument against so plain a precept, the corrupt manners of his followers, many of whom, especially men of quality and fortune, indulge themselves in criminal excesses; nor yet the example of the prophet himself, who had peculiar privileges in this and other points, as will be observed hereafter. In making the above-mentioned limitation, Muhammad was directed by the decision of the Jewish doctors, who, by way of counsel, limit the number of wives to four, though their law confines them not to any certain number.
Law concerning divorce.
whereas Muhammad, to prevent his followers from divorcing their wives on every light occasion, or out of an inconstant humour, ordained that if a man divorced his wife the third time (for he might divorce her twice without being obliged to part with her, if he repented of what he had done), it should not be lawful for him to take her again until she had been first married and bedded by another, and divorced by such second husband. And this precaution has had so good an effect that the Muhammadans are seldom known to proceed to the extremity of divorce, notwithstanding the liberty given them, it being reckoned a great disgrace so to do; and there are but few, besides those who have little or no sense of honour, that will take a wife again on the condition enjoined. It must be observed that, though a man is allowed by the Muhammadan, as by the Jewish law, to repudiate his wife even on the slightest disgust, yet the women are not allowed to separate themselves from their husbands, unless it be for ill-usage, want of proper maintenance, neglect of conjugal duty, impotency, or some cause of equal import; but then she generally loses her dowry, which she does not if divorced by her husband, unless she has been guilty of impudicity or notorious disobedience.
When a woman is divorced, she is obliged, by the direction of the Qurán, to wait till she hath had her courses thrice, or, if there be a doubt whether she be subject to them or not, by reason of her age, three months, before she marry another; after which time expired, in case she be found not with child, she is at full liberty to dispose of herself as she pleases; but if she prove with child, she must wait till she be delivered; and during her whole term of waiting she may continue in the husband’s house, and is to be maintained at his expense, it being forbidden to turn the woman out before the expiration of the term, unless she be guilty of dishonesty. Where a man divorces a woman before consummation, she is not obliged to wait any particular time, nor is he obliged to give her more than one-half of her dower. If the divorced woman have a young child, she is to suckle it till it be two years old; the father, in the meantime, maintaining her in all respects: a widow is also obliged to do the same, and to wait four months and ten days before she marry again.
These rules are also copied from those of the Jews, according to whom a divorced woman or a widow cannot marry another man till ninety days be past, after the divorce or death of the husband; and she who gives suck is to be maintained for two years, to be computed from the birth of the child, within which time she must not marry, unless the child die, or her milk be dried up.
Laws concerning adultery and fornication.
and an unmarried woman guilty of fornication scourged with a hundred stripes and banished for a year. A she-slave, if convicted of adultery, is to suffer but half the punishment of a free woman, viz., fifty stripes and banishment for six months, but is not to be put to death. To convict a woman of adultery, so as to make it capital, four witnesses are expressly required, and those, as the commentators say, ought to be men; and if a man falsely acense a woman of reputation of whoredom of any kind, and is not able to support the charge by that number of witnesses, he is to receive fourscore stripes, and his testimony is to be held invalid for the future. Fornication, in either sex, is by the sentence of the Qurán to be punished with a hundred stripes.
If a man accuse his wife of infidelity, and is not able to prove it by sufficient evidence, and will swear four times that it is true, and the fifth time imprecate God’s vengeance on him if it be false, she is to be looked on as convicted, unless she will take the like oaths and make the like imprecation in testimony of her innocency; which if she do, she is free from punishment, though the marriage ought to be dissolved.
What the law of the Quran owes to Judaism
The penalty of simple fornication was scourging, the general punishment in cases where none is particularly appointed; and a betrothed bondmaid, if convicted of adultery, underwent the same punishment, being exempted from death because she was not free. By the same law no person was to be put to death on the oath of one witness; and a man who slandered his wife was also to be chastised, that is, scourged, and fined one hundred shekels of silver. The method of trying a woman suspected of adultery where evidence was wanting, by forcing her to drink the bitter water of jealousy, though disused by the Jews long before the time of Muhammad, yet, by reason of the oath of cursing with which the woman was charged, and to which she was obliged to say “Amen,” bears great resemblance to the expedient devised by the prophet on the like occasion.
The institutions of Muhammad relating to the pollution of women during their courses, the taking of slaves to wife, and the prohibiting of marriage within certain degrees, have likewise no small affinity with the institutions of Moses; and the parallel might be carried farther in several other particulars.
daughters, and aunts, both on the father’s side and on the mother’s, and held it a most scandalous thing to marry two sisters, or for a man to take his father’s wife; which last was, notwithstanding, too frequently practised, and is expressly forbidden in the Qurán.
Peculiar privileges of Muhammad as to marriage.
and this he pretended to have been the privilege of the prophets before him. Another was that he might alter the turns of his wives, and take such of them to his bed as he thought fit, without being tied to that order and equality which others are obliged to observe. A third privilege was that no man might marry any of his wives, either such as he should divorce during his lifetime, or such as he should leave widows at his death; which last particular exactly agrees with what the Jewish doctors have determined concerning the wives of their princes; it being judged by them to be a thing very indecent, and for that reason unlawful, for another to marry either the divorced wife or the widow of a king: and Muhammad, it seems, thought an equal respect, at least, due to the prophetic as to the regal dignity, and therefore ordered that his relicts should pass the remainder of their lives in perpetual widowhood.
Laws concerning inheritance.
To prevent such injuries for the future, Muhammad ordered that women should be respected, and orphans have no wrong done them; and in particular that women should not be taken against their wills, as by right of inheritance, but should themselves be entitled to a distributive part of what their parents, husbands, and near relations should leave behind them, in a certain proportion.
The general rule to be observed in the distribution of the deceased’s estate is, that a male shall have twice as much as the female; but to this rule there are some few exceptions; a man’s parents, for example, and also his brothers and sisters, where they are entitled not to the whole but a small part of the inheritance, being to have equal shares with one another in the distribution thereof, without making any difference on account of sex. The particular proportions, in several cases, distinctly and sufficiently declare the intention of Muhammad, whose decisions, expressed in the Qurán, seem to be pretty equitable preferring a man’s children first, and then his nearest relations.
Law concerning wills.
Though there be no express law to the contrary, yet the Muhammadan doctors reckon it very wrong for a man to give away any part of his substance from his family, unless it be in legacies for pious uses; and even in that case a man ought not to give all he has in charity, but only a reasonable part in proportion to his substance. On the other hand, though a man make no will, and bequeath nothing for charitable uses, yet the heirs are directed, on the distribution of the estate, if the value will permit, to bestow something on the poor, especially such as are of kin to the deceased and to the orphans.
The first law, however, laid down by Muhammad touching inheritances was not very equitable; for he declared that those who had fled with him from Makkah, and those who had received and assisted him at Madína, should be deemed the nearest of kin, and consequently heirs to one another, preferably to and in exclusion of their relations by blood; nay, though a man were a true believer, yet if he had not fled his country for the sake of religion and joined the prophet, he was to be looked on as a stranger, but this law continued not long in force, being quickly abrogated.
Children of concubines legitimate.
It must be observed that among the Muhammadans the children of their concubines or slaves are esteemed as equally legitimate with those of their legal and ingenuous wives, none being accounted bastards except such only as are born of common women and whose fathers are unknown.
Law concerning private contracts.
For the preventing of disputes, all contracts are directed to be made before witnesses, and in case such contracts are not immediately executed, the same ought to be reduced into writing in the presence of two witnesses at least, who ought to be Muslims and of the male sex; but if two men cannot be conveniently had, then one man and two women may suffice. The same method is also directed to be taken for the security of debts to be paid at a future day; and where a writer is not to be found, pledges are to be taken. Hence, if people trust one another without writing witnesses, or pledge, the party on whom the demand is made is always acquitted if he denies the charge on oath, and swears that he owes the plaintiff nothing, unless the contrary be proved by very convincing circumstances.
Murder and its penalty
is yet, by the same book, allowed to be compounded for, on payment of a fine to the family of the deceased, and freeing a Muslim from captivity; but it is in the election of the next of kin, or the revenger of blood, as he is called in the Pentateuch, either to accept of such satisfaction or to refuse it; for he may, if he pleases, insist on having the murderer delivered into his hands, or be put to death in such manner as he shall think fit. In this particular Muhammad has gone against the express letter of the Mosaic law, which declares that no satisfaction shall be taken for the life of a murderer; and he seems, in so doing, to have had respect to the customs of the Arabs in his time, who, being of a vindictive temper, used to revenge murder in too unmerciful a manner, whole tribes frequently engaging in bloody wars on such occasions, the natural consequence of their independency, and having no common judge or superior.
Manslaughter and its penalty.
The fine for a man’s blood is set in the Sunnat at a hundred camels, and is to be distributed among the relations of the deceased according to the laws of inheritance; but it must be observed that though the person slain be a Muslim, yet if he be of a nation or party at enmity, or not in confederacy with those to whom the slayer belongs, he is not then bound to pay any fine at all, the redeeming a captive being, in such case, declared a sufficient penalty. I imagine that Muhammad, by these regulations, laid so heavy a punishment on involuntary manslaughter, not only to make people beware incurring the same, but also to humour, in some degree, the revengeful temper of his countrymen, which might be with difficulty, if at all, prevailed on to accept a lighter satisfaction. Among the Jews, who seem to have been no less addicted to revenge than their neighbours, the manslayer who had escaped to a city of refuge was obliged to keep himself within that city and to abide there till the death of the person who was high priest at the time the fact was committed, that his absence and time might cool the passion and mitigate the resentment of the friends of the deceased; but if he quitted his asylum before that time, the revenger of blood, if he found him, might kill him without guilt; nor could any satisfaction be made for the slayer to return home before the prescribed time
Penalty for theft.
which, at first sight, seems just enough; but the law of Justinian, forbidding a thief to be maimed, is more reasonable; because stealing being generally the effect of indigence, to cut off that limb would be to deprive him of the means of getting his livelihood in an honest manner. The Sunnat forbids the inflicting of this punishment, unless the thing stolen be of a certain value. I have mentioned in another place the further penalties which those incur who continue to steal, and of those who rob or assault people on the road.
Law of retaliation.
is also approved by the Qurán; but this law, which seems to have been allowed by Muhammad to his Arabians for the same reasons as it was to the Jews, viz., to prevent particular revenges, to which both nations were extremely addicted, being neither strictly just nor practicable in many cases, is seldom put in execution, the punishment being generally turned into a mulct or fine, which is paid to the party injured. Or rather, Muhammad designed the words of the Qurán relating thereto should be understood in the same manner as those of the Pentateuch most probably ought to be—that is, not of an actual retaliation, according to the strict literal meaning, but of a retribution proportionable to the injury; for a criminal had not his eyes put out nor was a man mutilated according to the law of Moses, which, besides, condemned those who had wounded any person, where death did not ensue, to pay a fine only, the expression “eye for eye and tooth for tooth” being only a proverbial manner of speaking, the sense whereof amounts to this, that every one shall be punished by the judges according to the heinousness of the fact.
Penalty for petty crimes.
have recourse to stripes or drubbing, the most common chastisement used in the East at this day, as well as fermerly; the cudgel, which, for its virtue and efficacy in keeping, their people in good order and within the bounds of duty, they say came down from heaven, being the instrument wherewith the judge’s sentence is generally executed.
Distinction between civil and ecclesiastical law.
The command to war against infidels.
Jewish doctrine concerning war in defence of religion.
Opinions of Christian Crusaders on the same subject.
and declared to be of high merit in the sight of God, those who are slain fighting in defence of the faith being reckoned martyrs, and promised immediate admission into paradise. Hence this duty is greatly magnified by the Muhammadan divines, who call the sword the key of heaven and hell, and persuade their people that the least drop of blood spilt in the way of God, as it is called, is most acceptable unto him, and that the defending the territories of the Muslims for one night is more meritorious than a fast of two months; on the other hand, desertion, or refusing to serve in these holy wars, or to contribute towards the carrying them on, if a man has ability, is accounted a most heinous crime, being frequently declaimed against in the Qurán. Such a doctrine, which Muhammad ventured not to teach till his circumstances enabled him to put it in practice, it must be allowed, was well calculated for his purpose, and stood him and his successors in great stead: for what dangers and difficulties may not be despised and overcome by the courage and constancy which these sentiments necessarily inspire? Nor have the Jews and Christians, how much soever they detest such principles in others, been ignorant of the force of enthusiastic heroism, or omitted to spirit up their respective partisans by the like arguments and promises. “Let him who has listed himself in defence of the law,” says Maimonides, “rely on him who is the hope of Israel, and the saviour thereof in the time of trouble; and let him know that he fights for the profession of the divine unity: wherefore let him put his life in his hand, and think neither of wife nor children, but banish the memory of them from his heart, having his mind wholly fixed on the war. For if he should begin to waver in his thoughts, he would not only confound himself, but sin against the law; nay, the blood of the whole people hangeth on his neck; for if they are discomfited, and he has not fought stoutly with all his might, it is equally the same as if he had shed the blood of them all; according to that saying, Let him return, lest his brethren’s heart fail as his own.” To the same purpose doth the Kabala accommodate that other passage, “Cursed be he who doth the work of the Lord negligently, and cursed be he who keepeth back his sword from blood. On the contrary, he who behaveth bravely in battle, to the utmost of his endeavour, without trembling, with intent to glorify God’s name, he ought to expect the victory with confidence, and to apprehend no danger or misfortune, but may be assured that he will have a house built him in Israel, appropriated to him and his children for ever; as it is said, God shall certainly make my lord a sure house, because he hath fought the battles of the Lord, and his life shall be bound up in the bundle of life with the Lord his God.” More passages of this kind might be produced from the Jewish writers, and the Christians come not far behind them. “We are desirous of knowing, says one, writing to the Franks engaged in the holy war, “the charity of you all; for that every one (which we speak not because we wish it) who shall faithfully lose his life in this warfare shall be by no means denied the kingdom of heaven.” And another gives the following exhortation: “Laying aside all fear and dread, endeavour to act effectually against the enemies of the holy faith and the adversaries of all religions; for the Almighty knoweth if any of you die, that he dieth for the truth of the faith, and the salvation of his country, and the defence of Christians; and therefore he shall obtain of him a celestial reward.” The Jews, indeed, had a divine commission, extensive and explicit enough, to attack, subdue, and destroy the enemies of their religion; and Muhammad pretended to have received one in favour of himself and his Muslims in terms equally plain and full; and therefore it is no wonder that they should act consistently with their avowed principles; but that Christians should teach and practice a doctrine so opposite to the temper and whole tenor of the Gospel seems very strange; and yet the latter have carried matters further, and shown a more violent spirit of intolerance than either of the former.
Laws of war among Muslims.
that I need say very little of them. I shall, therefore, only observe some conformity between their military laws and those of the Jews.
While Muhammadism was in its infancy the opposers thereof taken in battle were doomed to death without mercy; but this was judged too severe to be put in practice when that religion came to be sufficiently established, and past the danger of being subverted by its enemies. The same sentence was pronounced not only against the seven Canaanitish nations, whose possessions were given to the Israelites, and without whose destruction, in a manner, they could not have settled themselves in the country designed them, but against the Amalekites and Midianites, who had done their utmost to cut them off in their passage thither. When the Muhammadans declare war against a people of a different faith, they give them their choice of three offers, viz., either to embrace Muhammadism, in which case they become not only secure in their persons, families, and fortunes, but entitled to all the privileges of other Muslims; or to submit and pay tribute, by doing which they are allowed to profess their own religion, provided it be not gross idolatry or against the moral law; or else to decide the quarrel by the sword, in which last case, if the Muslims prevail, the women and children which are made captives become absolute slaves, and the men taken in battle may either be slain, unless they turn Muhammadans, or otherwise disposed of at the pleasure of the prince. Herewith agree the laws of war given to the Jews which relate to the nations not devoted to destruction; and Joshua is said to have sent even to the inhabitants of Canaan, before he entered the land, three schedules, in one of which was written, “Let him fly who will;” in the second, “Let him surrender who will;” and in the third, “Let him fight who will;” though none of those nations made peace with the Israelites (except only the Gibeonites, who obtained terms of security by stratagem, after they had refused those offered by Joshua), “it being of the Lord to harden their hearts, that he might destroy them utterly.”
Law regulating the division of spoils.
reserving thereout, in the first place, one-fifth part for the uses after mentioned; and, in consequence hereof, he took himself to be authorised, on extraordinary occasions, to distribute it as he thought fit, without observing an equality. Thus he did, for example, with the spoil of the tribe Hawázín taken at the battle of Hunain, which he bestowed by way of presents on those of Makkah only, passing by those of Madína, and highly distinguishing the principal Quraish, that he might ingratiate himself with them after he had become master of their city He was also allowed in the expedition against those of al Nadhir to take the whole booty to himself, and to dispose thereof as he pleased, because no horses or camels were made use of in that expedition, but the whole army went on foot; and this became thence-forward a law; the reason of which seems to be, that the spoil taken by a party consisting of infantry only should be considered as the more immediate gift of God, and therefore properly left to the disposition of his apostle According to the Jews, the spoil ought to be divided into two equal parts, one to be shared among the captors, and the other to be taken by the prince, and by him employed for his own support and the use of the public. Moses, it is true, divided one-half of the plunder of the Midianites among those who went to battle, and the other half among all the congregation; but this, they say, being a peculiar case, and done by the express order of God himself, must not be looked on as a precedent. It should seem, however, from the word of Joshua to the two tribes and a half, when he sent them home into Gilead after the conquest and division of the land of Canaan, that they were to divide the spoil of their enemies with their brethren after their return; and the half which was in succeeding times taken by the king was in all probability taken by him as head of the community, and representing the whole body. It is remarkable that the dispute among Muhammad’’s men about sharing the booty at Badr arose on the same occasion as did that among David’s soldiers in relation to the spoils recovered from the Amalekites, those who had been in the action insisting that they who tarried by the stuff should have no part of the spoil; and that the same decision was given in both cases, which became a law for the future, to wit, that they should part alike.
God’s fifth of the spoils—how to be used.
which words are variously understood. Al Sháfíi was of opinion that the whole ought to be divided into five parts; the first, which be called God’s part, to go to the treasury, and be employed in building and repairing fortresses, bridges, and other public works, and in paying salaries to magistrates, civil officers, professors of learning, ministers of public worship, &c.; the second part to be distributed among the kindred of Muhammad, that is, the descendants of his grandfather Hásham, and of his great-uncle al Mutallib, as well the rich as the poor, the children as the adult, the women as the men, observing only to give a female but half the share of a male; the third part to go to the orphans; the fourth part to the poor, who have not wherewithal to maintain themselves the year round, and are not able to get their livelihood; and the fifth part to travellers who are in want on the road, notwithstanding they may be rich men in their own country. According to Málik Ibn Ans, the whole is at the disposition of the Imám or prince, who may distribute the same at his own discretion, where he sees most need. Abu’l Aliya went according to the letter of the Quran, and declared his opinion to be that the whole should be divided into six parts, and that God’s part should be applied to the service of the Kaabah; while others supposed God’s part and the apostle’s to be one and the same. Abu Hanífa thought that the share of Muhammad and his kindred sank at that prophet’s death, since which the whole ought to be divided among the orphans, the poor, and the traveller. Some insist that the kindred of Muhammad entitled to a share of the spoils are the posterity of Hásham only; but those who think the descendants of his brother al Mutallib have also a right to a distributive part, allege a tradition in their favour purporting that Muhammad himself divided the share belonging to his relations among both families; and when Othmán Ibn Assán and Jubair Ibn Matam (who were descended from Abd-as-shams and Naufal, the other brothers of Hásham) told him that though they disputed not the preference of the Háshamites, they could not help taking it ill to see such difference made between the family of al Mutallib and themselves, who were related to him in an equal degree, and yet had no part in the distribution, the prophet replied that the descendants of al Mutallib had forsaken him neither in the time of ignorance nor since the revelation of Islám, and joined his fingers together in token of the strict union between them and the Hashamites. Some exclude none of the tribe of Quraish from receiving a part in the division of the spoil, and make no distinction between the poor and the rich; though, according to the more reasonable opinion, such of them as are poor only are intended by the text of the Quran, as is agreed in the case of the stranger; and others go so far as to assert that the whole fifth commanded to be reserved belongs to them only, and that the orphans and the poor, and the traveller, are to be understood of such as are of that tribe. It must be observed that immovable possessions, as lands, &c., taken in war, are suoject to the same laws as the movable, excepting only that the fifth part of the former is not actually divided, but the income and profits thereof, or of the price thereof, if sold, are applied to public and pious uses, and distributed once a year, and that the prince may either take the fifth part of the land itself, or the fifth part of the income and produce of the whole, as he shall make his election.
The four sacred months.
“A great argument,” says a learned writer, “of a humane disposition in that nation, who being, by reason of the independent governments of their several tribes, and for the preservation of their just rights, exposed to frequent quarrels with one another, had yet learned to cool their inflamed breasts with moderation, and restrain the rage of war by stated times of truce.”
This institution obtained among all the Arabian tribes, except only those of Tay and Khuzáah, and some of the descendants of al Hárith Ibn Kaab (who distinguished no time or place as sacred), and was so religiously observed, that there are but few instances in history (four, say some, six, say others ) of its having been transgressed; the war which were carried on without regard thereto being therefore termed impious One of those instances was in the war between the tribes of Quraisl and Qais Ailán, wherein Muhammad himself served under his uncles, being then fourteen or, as others say, twenty years old.
The months which the Arabs held sacred were al Muharram, Rajab Dhu’l Qáada, and Dhu’l Hajja; the first, the seventh the eleventh, and the twelfth in the year. Dhu’l Hajja being the month wherein they performed the pilgrimage to Makkah, not only that month, but also the preceding and the following, were for that reason kept inviolable, that every one might safely and without interruption pass and repass to and from the festival. Rajab is said to have been more strictly observed than any of the other three, probably because in that month the pagan Arabs used to fast; Ramadhan, which was afterwards set apart by Muhammad for that purpose, being in the time of ignorance dedicated to drinking in excess. By reason of the profound peace and security enjoyed in this month, one part of the provisions brought by the caravans of purveyors annually set out by the Quraish for the supply of Makkah, was distributed among the people; the other part being, for the like reason, distributed at the pilgrimage.
Their observance among Muslims
which forbid war to be waged during those months against such as acknowledge them to be sacred, but grant, at the same time, full permission to attack those who make no such distinction, in the sacred months as well as in the profane.
Regulations concerning Muharram.
thereby avoiding to keep the former, which they supposed it lawful for them to profane, provided they sanctified another month in lieu of it, and gave public not e thereof at the preceding pilgrimage. This transferring the observation of a sacred month to a prolane month is what is truly meant by the Arabic word al Nasi, and is absolutely condemned and declared to be an impious innovation in a passage of the Quran which Dr Prideaux, misled by Golius, imagines to relate to the prolonging of the year by adding an intercalary month thereto. It is true the Arabs, who imitated the Jews in their manner of computing by lunar years, had also learned their method of reducing them to solar years by intercalaring a month sometimes in the third and sometimes in the second year, by which ineans they fixed the pilgrimage of Makkah (contrary to the original institution) to a certain sesson of the year, viz., to antumn, as most convenient for the pilgrims, by reason of the temperateness of the weather and the plenty of provisions; and it is also true that Muhammad forbade such intercalation by a passage in the same chapter of the Qurán; but then it is not the passage above mentioned, which prohibits a different thing, but one a little before it, wherein the number of months in the year, according to the ordinance of God is declared to be twelve; whereas, if the intercalation of á month were allowed, every third or second year would consist of thirteen, contrary to God’s appointment.
Friday instituted as a sacred day
but Muhammad seems to have preferred that day chiefly because it was the day on which the people used to be assembled long before his time, though such assemblies were had, perhaps, rather on a civil than a religious account. However it be, the Muhammadan writers bestow very extraordinary encomiums on this day, calling it the prince of days, and the most excellent day on which the sun rises; pretending also that it will be the day whereon the last judgment will be solemnised; and they esteem it a peculiar honour to Islám that God has been pleased to appoint this day to be the feast-day of the Muslims; and granted them the advantage of having first observed it.
Though the Muhammadans do not think themselves bound to keep their day of public worship so holy as the Jews and Christians are certainly obliged to keep theirs, there being a permission, as is generally supposed, in the Quran, allowing them to return to their employments or diversion after divine service is over; yet the more devout disapprove the applying of any part of that day to worldly affairs, and require it to be wholly dedicated to the business of the life to come.
The two principal annual feasts.
or principal annual feasts. The first of them is called in Arabic, Íd ul Fitr, i.e., The feast of breaking the fast, and begins the first of Shawwál, immediately succeeding the fast of Ramadhán; and the other is called Íd ul Qurbán, or Íd ul Adhá, i.e., The feast of the sacrifice, and begins on the tenth of Dhu’l Hajja, when the victims are slain at the pilgrimage of Makkah. The former of these feasts is properly the lesser Bairám, and the latter the greater Bairám; but the vulgar, and most authors who have written of the Muhammadan affairs, exchange the epithets, and call that which follows Ramadhán the greater Bairám, because it is observed in an extraordinary manner, and kept for three days together at Constantinople and in other parts of Turkey, and in Persi, for five or six days, by the common people, at least, with great demonstrations of public joy, to make themselves amends, as it were, for the mortification of the preceding month; whereas, the feast of sacrifices, though it be also kept for three days, and the first of them be the most solemn day of the pilgrimage, the principal act of devotion among the Muhammadans is taken much less notice of by the generality of people, who are not struck therewith, because the ceremonies with which the same is observed are performed at Makkah, the only scene of that solemnity.
Before we take a view of the sects of the Muhammadans, it will be necessary to say something of the two sciences by which all disputed questions among them are determined viz., their Scholastic and Practical Divinity
and, therefore, in the partition of the sciences this is generally left out, as unworthy a place among them. The learned Maimonides has laboured to expose the principles and systems of the scholastic divines, as frequently repugnant to the nature of the world and the order of the creation, and intolerably absurd.
Its origin and use
and while it keeps within those bounds is allowed to be a commendable study, being necessary for the defence of the faith; but when it proceeds farther, out of an itch of disputation, it is judged worthy of censure.
This is the opinion of al Gházali, who observes a medium between those who have too high a value for this science, and those who absolutely reject it. Among the latter was al Sháfíi, who declared that, in his judgment, if any man employed his time that way, he deserved to be fixed to a stake and carried about through all the Arab tribes, with the following proclamation to be made before him: “This is the reward of him who, leaving the Qurán and the Sunnat, applied himself to the study of scholastic divinity.” Al Ghazáli, on the other hand, thinks that as it was introduced by the invasion of heresies, it is necessary to be retained in order to quell them; but then in the person who studies this science he requires three things—diligence, acuteness of judgment, and probity of manners; and is by no means for suffering the same to be publicly explained. This science, therefore, among the Muhammadans, is the art of controversy, by which they discuss points of faith concerning the essence and attributes of God, and the conditions of all possible things, either in respect to their creation or final restoration, according to the rules of the religion of Islám.
The other science is practical divinity or jurisprudence, and is the knowledge of the decisions of the law which regard practice, gathered from distinct proofs.
the depravity of men’s manners, however, has made this knowledge of the laws so very requisite, that it is usually called-the Science, by way of excellence, nor is any man reekoned learned who has not applied himself thereto.
Points of faith subjec to scholastic discussion.
The first basis relates to the attributes of God and his unity consistent therewith. Under this bead are comprehended the questions concerning the eternal attributes which are asserted by some and denied by others; and also the explication of the essential attributes and attributes of action, what is proper for God to do, and what may be affirmed of him and whal it is impossible for him to do. These things are controverted between the Asharians, the Karámians, the Mujassamians or Corporalists, and the Mutazilites.
The second basis regards predestination and the justice thereof, which comprises the questions concerning Gon’s purpose and decree man’s compulsion or necessity to act and his co-operation in producing actions by which he may gain to himself good or evil, and also those which concern Gon’s willing good and evil, and what things are subject to his power, and what to his knowledge; some maintaining the affirmative, and others the negative. These points are disputed among the Qadríans the Najríans, the Jabrians the Asharíans, and the Karámians.
The third basis concerns the promises and threats, the precise acceptation of names used in divinity, and the divine decisions, and comprehends questions relating to faith, repentance, promises, threats, forbearance, infidelity and error. The controversies under this head are on foot between the Murjians, the Waidians, the Mutazilites the Asharians, and the Karámians.
The fourth basis regards history and reason, that is, the just weight they ought to have in matters belonging to faith and religion and also the mission of the prophets and the office of the Imám or chief pontiff. Under this head are comprised all casuistical questiens relating to the moral beauty or turpitude of actions; inquiring whether things are allowed or forbidden by reason of their own nature or by the positive law; and also questions concerning the preference of actions, the favour or grace of God, the innocence which ought to attend the prophetical office, and the conditions requisite in the office of Imám; some asserting it depends on right of succession, others on the consent of the faithful; and also the method of transferring it with the former, and of confirming it with the latter. These matters are the subjects of dispute between the Shíahs, the Mutazilites, the Karamians and the Asharíans.
The sects of Islam.
The former, by a general name are called Sunnis or Traditionists, because they acknowledge the authority of the Sunnat, or collection of moral traditions of the sayings and actions of their prophet, which is a sort of supplement to the Qurán, directing the observance of several things omitted in that book and in name as well as design answering to the Mishna of the Jews.
Divisions of the Sunnís: the four orthodox sects.
The founders of these sects are looked upon as the great masters of jurisprudence, and are said to have been men of great devotion and self-denial, well versed in the knowledge of those things which belong to the next life and to man’s right conduct here, and directing all their knowledge to the glory of God. This is al Ghazáli’s encomium of them, who thinks it derogatory to their honour that their names should be used by those who, neglecting to imitate the other virtues which make up their character, apply themselves only to attain their skill and follow their opinions in matters of legal practice.
He ended his life in prison at Baghdád where he had been confined because he refused to be made qádi or judge, on which account he was very hardly dealt with by his superiors, yet could not be prevailed on, either by threats or illtreatment, to undertake the charge, “choosing rather to be punished by them than by God,” says al Ghazáli, who adds, that when he excused himself from accepting the office by alleging that he was unfit for it, being asked the reason, he replied, “If I speak the truth, I am unfit; but if I tell a lie, a liar is not fit to be a judge.” It is said that he read the Qurán in the prison where he died no less than 7000 times.
The Hanífites are called by an Arabian writer the followers of reason, and those of the three other sects, followers of tradition, the former being principally guided by their own judgment in their decisions, and the latter adhering more tenaciously to the traditions of Muhammad.
The sect of Abu Hanífa heretofore obtained chiefly in Irák, but now generally prevails among the Turks and Tartars: his doctrine was brought into great credit by Abu Yúsuf, chief-justice under the Khalífahs al Hádi and Harún al Rashíd.
Málik Ibn Ans and his sect.
or 95, and died there in 177, 178, or 179 (for so much do authors differ). This doctor is said to have paid great regard to the traditions of Muhammad. In his last illness, a friend going to visit him, found him in tears, and asking him the reason of it, he answered, “How should I not weep? and who has more reason to weep than I? Would to God that for every question decided by me according to my own opinion I had received so many stripes! then would my accounts be easier. Would to God I had never given any decision of my own!” Al Ghazáli thinks it a sufficient proof of Málik’s directing his knowledge to the glory of God, that being once asked his opinion as to forty-eight questions, his answer to thirty-two of them was, that he did not know; it being no easy matter for one who has any other view than God’s glory to make so frank a confession of his ignorance.
The doctrine of Málik is chiefly followed in Barbary and other parts of Africa.
Muhammad Ibn Idris al Shafíi.
He died in 204, in Egypt, whither he went about five years before. This doctor is celebrated for his excellency in all parts of learning, and was much esteemed by Ibn Hanbal, his contemporary, who used to say that “he was as the sun to the world, and as health to the body.” Ibn Hanbal, however, had so ill an opinion of al Sháfíi at first, that he forbade his scholars to go near him; but some time after one of them, meeting his master trudging on foot after al Sháfíi, who rode on a mule, asked him how it came about that he forbade them to follow him, and did it himself; to which Ibn Hanbal replied, “Hold thy peace; if thou but attend his mule thou wilt profit thereby.”
Al Sháfíi is said to have been the first who discoursed of jurisprudence, and reduced that science into a method; one wittily saying, that the relators of the traditions of Muhammad were asleep till al Sháfíi came and waked them. He was a great enemy to the scholastic divines, as has been already observed. Al Ghazáli tells us that al Sháfíi used to divide the night into three parts, one for study, another for prayer, and the third for sleep. It is also related of him that he never so much as once swore by God, either to confirm a truth or to affirm a falsehood; and that being once asked his opinion, he remained silent for some time, and when the reason of his silence was demanded, he answered, “I am considering first whether it be better to speak or to hold my tongue.” The following saying is also recorded of him, viz., “Whoever pretends to love the world and its Creator at the same time is a liar.” The followers of this doctor are from him called Sháfíites, and were formerly spread into Mawara’lnahr and other parts eastward but are now chiefly of Arabia and Persia.
Ahmad Ibn Hanbal.
Ibn Hanbal in process of time attained a great reputation on account of his virtue and knowledge; being so well versed in the traditions of Muhammad in particular, that it is said he could repeat no less than a million of them. He was very intimate with al Sháfíi, from whom he received most of his traditionary knowledge, being his constant attendant till his departure for Egypt. Refusing to acknowledge the Qurán to be created, he was, by order of the Khalífah al Mutasim, severely scourged and imprisoned. Ibn Hanbal died at Baghdád, in the year 241, and was followed to his grave by eight hundred thousand men and sixty thousand women. It is related, as something very extraordinary, if not miraculous, that on the day of his death no less than twenty thousand Christians, Jews, and Magians embraced the Muhammadan faith. This sect increased so fast and became so powerful and bold, that in the year 323, in the Khalífat of al Rádi, they raised a great commotion in Baghdád, entering people’s houses, and spilling their wine, if they found any, and beating the singing-women they met with, and breaking their instruments; and a severe edict was published against them before they could be reduced to their duty; but the Hanbalites at present are not very numerous, few of them being to be met with out of the limits of Arabia.
Heretical sects of Muhammadans.
The first controversies relating to fundamentals began when most of the companions of Muhammad were dead; for in their days was no dispute, unless about things of small moment, if we except only the dissensions concerning the Imams, or rightful successors of their prophet, which were stirred up and fomented by interest and ambition; the Arabs’ continual employment in the wars during that time allowing them little or no leisure to enter into nice inquiries and subtle distinctions. But no sooner was the ardour of conquest a little abated than they began to examine the Qurán more nearly; whereupon differences in opinion became unavoidable, and at length so greatly multiplied, that the number of their sects, according to the common opinion, are seventy-three. For the Muhammadans seem ambitious that their religion should exceed others even in this respect, saying, that the Magians are divided inte seventy sects, the Jews into seventy-one, the Christians into seventy-two, and the Muslims into seventy-three as Muhammad had foretold: of which sects they reckon one to be always orthodox and entitled to salvation.
This latter was the scholar of Hasan of Basra, in whose school a question being proposed, whether he who had committed a grievous sin was to be deemed an infidel or not, the Khárijites (who used to come and dispute there) maintaining the affirmative, and the orthodox the negative, Wásil, without waiting his master’s decision, withdrew abruptly, and began to publish among his fellow-scholars a new opinion of his own, to wit, that such a sinner was in a middle state; and he was thereupon expelled the school; he and his followers being thenceforth called Mutazilites, or Separatists.
The several sects which have arisen since this time are variously compounded and decompounded of the opinions of four chief sects, the Mutazilites, the Sifátians, the Khárijites, and the Shiites.
and the same they affirined of his other attributes (though all the Mutazilites do not understand these words in one sense); and hence this sect were also named Muattalites, from their divesting God of his attributes; and they went so far as to say that to affirm these attributes is the same thing as to make more eternals than one, and that the unity of God is inconsistent with such an opinion; and this was the true doctrine of Wásil their master, who declared that whoever asserted an eternal attribute asserted there were two Gods. This point of speculation concerning the divine attributes was not ripe at first, but was at length brought to maturity by Wásil’s followers after they had read the books of the philosophers. 2. They believed the Word of God to have been created in subjecto (as the schoolmen term it), and to consist of letters and sound, copies thereof being written in books to express or imitate the original. They also went farther, and affirmed that whatever is created in subjecto is also an accident and liable to perish. 3. They denied absolute predestination, holding that God was not the author of evil, but of good only, and that man was a free agent. which being properly the opinion of the Qadarians, we defer what may be further said thereof till we come to speak of that sect. On account of this tenet and the first, the Mutazilites look on themselves as the defenders of the unity and justice of God. 4. They held that if a professor of the true religion be guilty of a grievous sin and die without repentance, he will be eternally damned, though his punishment will be lighter than that of the infidels. 5. They denied all vision of God in paradise by the corporeal eye and rejected all comparisons or similitudes applied to God.
Various divisions of this sect.
and are subdivided into several inferior sects, amounting, as some reckon, to twenty, which mutually brand one another with infidelity. The most remarkable of them are:—
As to the Qurán’s being created he made some distinction, holding the Word of God to be partly not in subjecto (and therefore uncreated) as when he spake the word Kum i.e., fiat at the creation, and partly in subjecto, as the precepts prohibitions, &c. Marracci mentions an opinion of Abu Hudail’s concerning predestination, from an Arab writer, which being by him expressed in a manner not very intelligible. I choose to omit.
He held God’s Word to be created in subjecto. as in the preserved table, for example, the memory of Gabriel Muhammad, &c. This sect, if Marracci has given the true sense of his author, denied that God could be seen in paradise without the assistance of corporeal eyes, and held that man produced his acts by a power superadded to health of body and soundness of limbs, that he whe was guilty of a mortal sin was neither a believer nor an infidel, but a transgressor (which was the original opinion of Wásil), and if he died in his sins, would be doomed to hell for eternity: and that God conceals nothing of whatever he knows from his servants
Abu Hásham took the Mutazilite form of expression that “God knows by his essence” in a different sense from others, supposing it to mean that God hath or is endued with a disposition which is a known property or quality posterior or accessory to his existence. His followers were so much afraid of making God the author of evil that they would not allow him to be said to create an infidel, because, according to their way of arguing, an infidel is a compound of infidelity and man, and God is not the creator of infidelity. Abu Hásham and his father, Abu Ali al Jubbái, were both celebrated for their skill in scholastic divinity.
Of his opinion as to the Qurán’s being created we have spoken elsewhere.
he also farther asserted that there are two Gods or Creators—the one eternal, viz., the most high God, and the other not eternal, viz., Christ —which opinion, though Dr. Pocock urges the same as an argument that he did not rightly understand the Christian mysteries, is not much different from that of the Arians and Soeinians. 2. That there is a successive transmigration of the soul from one body into another, and that the last body will enjoy the reward or suffer the punishment due to each soul; and 3. That God will be seen at the resurrection, not with the bodily eyes, but those of the understanding.
who differed from his brethren in that he imagined that the damned would not be eternally tormented in hell, but would be changed into the nature of fire, and that the fire would of itself attract them, without any necessity of their going into it. He also taught that if a man believed God to be his Lord and Muhammad the apostle of God, he became one of the faithful, and was obliged to nothing farther. His peculiar opinion as to the Qurán has been taken notice of before
he went so directly counter to the opinion of those who abridged God of the power to do evil, that he affirmed it possible for God to be a liar and unjust. He also pronounced him to be an infidel who thrust himself into the supreme government; nay, he went so far as to assert men to be infidels while they said “There is no God but God,” and even condemned all the rest of mankind as guilty of infidelity; upon which Ibrahim Ibn al Sandi asked him whether paradise, whose breadth equals that of heaven and earth, was created only for him and two or three more who thought as he did? to which it is said he could return no answer.
and a principal man among the Mutazilites. He differed in some things from the general opinion of that sect, carrying man’s free agency to a great excess, making it even independent; and yet he thought God might doom an infant to eternal punishment, but granted he would be unjust in so doing. He taught that God is not always obliged to do that which is best for if he pleased he could make all men true believers. These sectaries also held that if a man repent of a mortal sin and afterwards return to it, he will be liable to suffer the punishment due to the former tranagression.
for which reason some use the denomination of Qadarians as more extensive than the other, and comprehend all the Mutazilites under it This sect deny absolute predestination, saying that evil and injustice ought not to be attributed to God, but to man, who is a free agent, and may therefore be rewarded or punished for his actions, which God has granted him power either to do or to let alone. And hence it is said they are called Qadarians because they deny al Qadr, or God’s absolute decree; though others, thinking it not so proper to affix a name to a sect from a doctrine which they combat, will have it come from Qadr or Qudrat, i.e., power, because they assert man’s power to act freely. Those, however, who give the name of Qadarians to the Mutazilites are their enemies, for they disclaim it, and give it to their antagonists, the Jabarians who likewise refuse it as an infamous appellation, because Muhammad is said to have declared the Qadarians to be the Magians of his followers But what the opinion of these Qadarians in Muhammad’s time was is very uncertain. The Mutazilites say the name belongs to those who assert predestination and make God the author of good and evil, viz. the Jabarians; but all the other Muhammadan seets agree to fix it on the Mutazilites, who, they say, are like the Magians in establishing two principles, Light, or God the author of good: and Darkness or the devil, the author of evil; but this cannot absolutely be said of the Mutazilites, for they (at least the generality of them) ascribe men’s good deeds to God, but their evil deeds to themselves; meaning thereby that man has a free liberty and power to do either good or evil, and is master of his actions; and for this reason it is that the other Muhammadans call them Magians because they assert another author of actions besides God. And indeed it is a difficult matter to say what Muhammad’s own opinion was in this matter; for on the one side the Qurán itself is pretty plain for absolute predestination, and many sayings of Muhammad are recorded to that purpose, and one in particular wherein he introduces Adam and Moses disputing before God in this manner: “Thou,” says Moses, “art Adam whom God created, and animated with the breath of life and caused to be worshipped by the angels, and placed in paradise, from whence mankind have been expelled for thy fault,” whereto Adam answered, “Thou art Moses, whom God chose for his apostle, and intrusted with his Word by giving thee the tables of the law, and whom he vouchsafed to admit to discourse with himself: how many years dost thou find the law was written before I was created?” Says Moses, “Forty” “And dost thou not find,” replied Adam, “these words therein, ‘And Adam rebelled against his Lord and transgressed’?” which Moses confessing, “Dost thou therefore blame me,” continued he, “for doing that which God wrote of me that I should do forty years before I was created? nay, for what was decreed concerning me fifty thousand years before the creation of heaven and earth?” In the conclusion of which dispute Muhammad declared that Adam had the better of Moses. On the other side it is urged in the behalf of the Mutazilites, that Muhammad declaring that the Qadarians and Murjians had been cursed by the tongues of seventy prophets, and being asked who the Qadarians were, answered, “Those who assert that God predestinated them to be guilty of rebellion, and yet punishes them for it.” Al Hasan is also said to have declared that God sent Muhammad to the Arabs while they were Qadarians or Jabarians, and laid their sins upon God: and to confirm the matter, this sentence of the Qurán is quoted: “When they commit a filthy action, they say, We found our fathers practising the same, and God hath commanded us so to do: Say, Verily God commandeth not filthy actions.”
However, at length, by giving various explications and interpretations of these attributes, they divided into many different opinions: some, by taking the words in the literal sense, fell into the notion of a likeness or similitude between God and created beings; to which it is said the Karaites among the Jews, who are for the literal interpretation of Moses’s law had shown them the way: others explained them in another manner, saying that no creature was like God, but that they neither understood nor thought it necessary to explain the precise signification of the words, which seem to affirm the same of both, it being sufficient to believe that God hath no companion or similitude. Of this opinion was Málik Ibn Ans, who declared as to the expression of God’s sitting on his throne, in particular, that though the meaning is known, yet the manner is unknown; and, that it is necessary to believe it, but heresy to make any questions about it.
The sects of the Sifátians are:—
i.e., he is posed.
Opinions regarding the attributes of God.
Their views of sin.
This was also the opinion of Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, and David al Ispaháni, and others, who herein followed Málik Ibn Ans, and were so cautious of any assimilation of God to created beings, that they declared whoever moved his hand while he read these words, “I have created with my hand,” or stretched forth his finger in repeating this saying of Muhammad, “The heart of the believer is between two fingers of the Merciful,” ought to have his hand and finger cut off; and the reasons they gave for not explaining any such words were, that it is forbidden in the Qurán, and that such explications were necessarily founded on conjecture and opinion, from which no man ought to speak of the attributes of God, because the words of the Quran might by that means come to be understood differently from the author’s meaning: nay, some have been so superstitiously scrupulous in this matter as not to allow the words hand, face, and the like, when they occur in the Quran to be rendered into Persian or any other language, but require them to be read in the very original words and this they call the safe way 2. As to predestination, they held that God hath one eternal will, which is applied to whatsoever he willeth, both of his own actions and those of men, so far as they are created by bini, but not as they are acquired or gained by them; that he willeth both their good and their evil, their profit and their hurt, and as he willeth and knoweth, he willeth concerning men that which he knoweth, and hath commanded the pen to write the same in the Preserved Table and this is his decree and eternal immutable counsel and purpose. They also went so far as to say that it may be agreeable to the way of God that man should be commanded what he is not able to perform. But while they allow man some power, they seem to restrain it to such a power as cannot produce anything new; only God, say they, so orders his providence that he creates, after or under and together with every created or new power, an action which is ready whenever a man wills it and sets about it; and this action is called Casb, i.e., Acquisition, being in respect to its creation, from God, but in respect to its being produced, employed, and acquired, from man. And this being generally esteemed the orthodox opinion, it may not be improper farther to explain the same in the words of some other writers. The elective actions of men, says one, fall under the power of God alone; nor is their own power effectual thereto, but God causeth to exist in man power and choice; and if there be no impediment, he causeth his action to exist also, subject to his power, and joined with that and his choice; which action, as created, is to be ascribed to God, but as produced, employed, or acquired to man. So that by the acquisition of an action is properly meant a man’s joining or connecting the same with his power and will, yet allowing herein no impression or influence on the existence thereof, save only that it is subject to his power. Others, however, who are also on the side of al Ashari, and reputed orthodox, explain the matter in a different manner and grant the impression or influence of the created power of man on his action, and that this power is what is called Acquisition. But the point will be still clearer if we hear a third author, who rehearses the various opinions or explications of the opinion of this sect in the following words, viz.:Abu’l Hasan al Ashari asserts all the actions of men to be subject to the power of God, being created by him, and that the power of man hath no influence at all on that which he is empowered to do, but that both the power and what is subject thereto fall under the power of God. Al Qádhi Abu Baqr says that the essence or substance of the action is the effect of the power of God, but its being either an action of obedience, as prayer, or an action of disobedience, as fornication, are qualities of the action, which proceed from the power of man. Abdal Málik, known by the title of Imám al Haramain, Abu’l Husain of Basra, and other learned men, held that the actions of men are effected by the power which God hath created in man, and that God causeth to exist in man both power and will, and that this power and will do necessarily produce that which man is empowered to do; and Abu Isháq al Isfarayain taught that that which maketh impression or hath influence on an action is a compound of the power of God and the power of man. The same author observes that their ancestors, perceiving a manifest difference between those things which are the effects of the election of man and those things which are the necessary effects of inanimate agents, destitute both of knowledge and choice, and being at the same time pressed by the arguments which prove that God is the Creator of all things, and consequently of those things which are done by men, to conciliate the matter, chose the middle way, asserting actions to proceed from the power of God and the acquisition of man, God’s way of dealing with his servants being, that when man intendeth obedience, God createth in him an action of obedience; and when he intendeth disobedience, he createth in him an action of disobedience; so that man seemeth to be the effective producer of his action, though he really be not. But this, proceeds the same writer, is again pressed with its difficulties, because the very intention of the mind is the work of God, so that no man hath any share in the production of his own actions: for which reason the ancients disapproved of too nice an inquiry into this point, the end of the dispute concerning the same being, for the most part, either the taking away of all precepts, positive as well as negative, or else the associating of a companion with God, by introducing some other independent agent besides him. Those, therefore, who would speak more accurately, use this form: There is neither compulsion nor free liberty but the way lies between the two: the power and will in man being both created by God, though the merit or guilt be imputed unto man. Yet, after all, it is judged the safest way to follow the steps of the primitive Muslims, and, avoiding subtle disputations and too curious inquiries, to leave the knowledge of this matter wholly unto God. 3 As to mortal sin, the Asharíans taught, that if a believer guilty of such sin die without repentance his sentence is to be left with God, whether he pardon him out of mercy, or whether the prophet intercede for him (according to that saying recorded of him. “My intercession shall be employed for those among my people who shall have been guilty of grievous crimes”) or whether be punish him in proportion to his demerit and afterwards, through his mercy, admit him into paradise but that it is not to be supposed he witl remain for ever in hell with the infidels, seeing it is declared that whoevertshall have faith in his heart but of the weight of an ant, shall be delivered from hell-fire. And this is generally received for the orthodox doctrine in this point, and is diametrically opposite to that of the Mutazilites.
These were the more rational Sifátians, but the ignorant part of them, not knowing how otherwise to explain the expressions of the Qurán relating to the declarative attributes, fell into most gross and absurd opinions, making God corporeal and like created beings. Such were—
supposing him to be a figure composed of members or parts, either spiritual or corporeal, and capable of local motion, of ascent and descent, &c. Some of this sect inclined to the opinion of the Hulúlians, who believed that the divine nature might be united with the human in the same person; for they granted it possible that God might appear in a human form, as Gabriel did; and to confirm their opinion they allege Muhammad’s words, that he saw his Lord in a most beautiful form, and Moses talking with God face to face. And
The Karamians or Mujassamians.
The more sober among them, indeed, when they applied the word “body” to God, would be understood to mean that he is a self-subsisting being, which with them is the definition of body; but yet some of them affirmed him to be finite, and circumscribed, either on all sides, or on some only (as beneath, for example), according to different opinions; and others allowed that he might be felt by the hand and seen by the eye. Nay, one David al Jawári went so far as to say that his deity was a body composed of flesh and blood, and that he had members, as hands, feet, a head, a tongue, eyes, and ears; but that he was a body, however, not like other bodies, neither was he like to any created being: he is also said further to have affirmed that from the crown of the head to the breast he was hollow, and from the breast downward solid, and that he had black curled hair. These most blasphemous and monstrous notions were the consequence of the literal acceptation of those passages in the Qurán which figuratively attribute corporeal actions to God, and of the words of Muhammad when he said that God created man in his own image, and that himself had felt the fingers of God, which he laid on his back, to be cold. Besides which, this sect are charged with fathering on their prophet a great number of spurious and forged traditions to support their opinion, the greater part whereof they borrowed from the Jews, who are accused as naturally prone to assimilate God to men, so that they describe him as weeping for Noah’s flood till his eyes were sore. And, indeed, though we grant the Jews may have imposed on Muhammad and his followers in many instances, and told them as solemn truths things which themselves believed not or had invented, yet many expressions of this kind are to be found in their writings; as when they introduce God roaring like a lion at every watch of the night, and crying, “Alas! that I have laid waste my house, and suffered my temple to be burnt, and sent my children into banishment among the heathen,” &c.
The Jabarians and their various denominations.
They take their denomination from al jabr, which signifies necessity or compulsion; because they hold man to be necessarily and inevitably constrained to act as he does by force of God’s eternal and immutable decree. This sect is distinguished into several species, some being more rigid and extreme in their opinion, who are thence called pure Jabarians, and others more moderate, who are therefore called middle Jabarians. The former will not allow men to be said either to act or to have any power at all, either operative or acquiring, asserting that man can do nothing, but produces all his actions by necessity, having neither power, nor will, nor choice, any more than an inanimate agent; they also declare that rewarding and punishing are also the effects of necessity; and the same they say of the imposing of commands. This was the doctrine of the Jahmians, the followers of Jahm Ibn Safwán, who likewise held that paradise and hell will vanish or be annihilated after those who are destined thereto respectively shall have entered them, so that at last there will remain no existing being besides God; supposing those words of the Qurán which declare that the inhabitants of paradise and of hell shall remain therein for ever to be hyperbolical only, and intended for corroboration, and not to denote an eternal duration in reality. The moderate Jabarians are those who ascribe some power to man, but such a power as hath no influence on the action; for as to those who grant the power of man to have a certain influence on the action, which influence is called Acquisition, some will not admit them to be called Jabarians, though others reckon those also to be called middle Jabarians, and to contend for the middle opinion between absolute necessity and absolute liberty, who attribute to man Acquisition or concurrence in producing the action, whereby he gaineth commendation or blame (yet without admitting it to have any influence on the action), and therefore make the Asharians a branch of this sect. Having again mentioned the term Acquisition, we may perhaps have a clearer idea of what the Muhammadans mean thereby when told that it is defined to be an action directed to the obtaining of profit or the removing of hurt, and for that reason never applied to any action of God, who acquireth to himself neither profit nor hurt. Of the middle or moderate Jabarians were the Najarians and the Dirárians The Najarians were the adherents of al Hasan Ibn Muhammad al Najár, who taught that God was he who created the actions of men, both good and bad, and that man acquired them, and also that man’s power had an influence on the action, or a certain co-operation, which he called Acquisition; and herein he agreed with al Asharí. The Dirárians were the disciples of Dirár Ibn Amru, who held also that men’s actions are really created by God, and that man really acquired them. The Jabarians also say that God is absolute hard of his creatures, and may deal with them according to his own pleasure, without rendering account to any, and that if he should admit all men without distinction into paradise, it would be no impartiality, or if he should cast them all into hell, it would be no injustice. And in this particular likewise they agree with the Ashariáns, who assert the same, and say that reward is a favour from God, and punishment a piece of justice; obedience being by them considered as a sign only of future reward, and transgression as a sign of future punishment.
These teach that the judgment of every true believer, who hath been guilty of a grievous sin, will be deferred till the resurrection; for which reason they pass no sentence on him in this world, either of absolution or condemnation. They also hold that disobedience with faith hurteth not, and that, on the other hand, obedience with infidelity profiteth not. As to the reason of their name the learned differ, because of the different significations of its root, each of which they accommodate to some opinion of the sect. Some think them so called because they postpone works to intention, that is, esteem works to be inferior in degree to intention and profession of the faith; others because they allow hope, by asserting that disobedience with faith hurteth not, &c.; others take the reason of the name to be their deferring the sentence of the heinous sinner till the resurrection; and others their degrading of Ali, or removing him from the first degree to the fourth; for the Murjians, in some points relating to the office of Imám, agree with the Khárijites. This sect is divided into four species, three of which, according as they happen to agree in particular dogmas with the Khárijites, the Qadarians, or the Jabarians, are distinguished as Murjians of those sects, and the fourth is that of the pure Murjians, which last species is again subdivided into five others. The opinions of Muqátil and Báshar, both of a sect of the Murjians called Thaubánians, should not be omitted. The former asserted that disobedience hurts not him who professes the unity of God and is endued with faith, and that no true believer shall be cast into hell. He also taught that God will surely forgive all crimes besides infidelity, and that a disobedient believer will be punished at the day of resurrection on the bridge laid over the midst of hell, where the flames of hell-fire shall catch hold on him, and torment him in proportion to his disobedience, and that he shall then be admitted into paradise. The latter held that if God do cast the believers guilty of grievous sins into hell, yet they will be delivered thence after they shall have been sufficiently punished; but that it is neither possible nor consistent with justice that they should remain therein for ever; which, as has been observed, was the opinion of al Asharí.
The first who were so called were twelve thousand men who revolted from Ali, after they had fought under him at the battle of Saffain, taking offence at his submitting the decision of his right to the Khalifat, which Muáwiyah disputed with him, to arbitration, though they themselves had first obliged him to it. These were also called Muhaqqimites, or Judiciarians, because the reason which they gave for their revolt was that Ali had referred a matter concerning the religion of God to the judgment of men, whereas the judgment, in such case, belonged only unto God. The heresy of the Khárijites consisted chiefly in two things:—1. In that they affirmed a man might be promoted to the dignity of Imám or prince though he was not of the tribe of Quraish, or even a freeman, provided he was a just and pious person, and endued with the other requisite qualifications; and also held that if the Imám turned aside from the truth, he might be put to death or deposed; and that there was no absolute necessity for any Imám at all in the world. 2. In that they charged Ali with sin, for having left an affair to the judgment of men which ought to have been determined by God alone; and went so far as to declare him guilty of infidelity and to curse him on that account. In the 38th year of the Hijra, which was the year following the revolt, all these Khárijites who persisted in their rebellion, to the number of four thousand, were cut to pieces by Ali, and, as several historians write, even to a man; but others say nine of them escaped, and that two fled into Omán, two into Karman, two into Sajistán, two into Mesopotamia, and one to Tel Mawrun, and that these propagated their heresy in those places, the same remaining there to this day. The principal sects of the Khárijites, besides the Muhaqqimites above mentioned, are six, which, though they greatly differ among themselves in other matters, yet agree in these, viz., that they absolutely reject Othmán and Ali, preferring the doing of this to the greatest obedience, and allowing marriages to be contracted on no other terms; that they account those who are guilty of grievous sins to be infidels: and that they hold it necessary to resist the Imám when he transgresses the law. One sect of them deserves more particular notice, viz.—
Peculiar views of the Wáidians.
which opinion of theirs, as has been observed, occasioned the first rise of the Mutazilites. One Jaafar Ibn Mubashshar, of the sect of the Nudhámians, was yet more severe than the Wáidians, pronouncing him to be a reprobate and an apostate who steals but a grain of corn.
The Shíahs and their distinguishing doctrines.
nay some, thence called Imámians, go so far as to assert that religion consists solely in the knowledge of the true Imám. The principal sects of the Shíahs are five, which are subdivided into an almost innumerable number, so that some understand Muhammad’s prophecy of the seventy odd sects of the Shíahs only Their general opinions are—1. That the peculiar designation of the Imám, and the testimonies of the Qurán and Muhammad concerning him, are necessary points 2. That the Imáms ought necessarily to keep themselves free from light sins as well as more grievous. 3. That every one ought publicly to declare who it is that he adheres to, and from whom he separates himself, by word, deed, and engagement, and that herein there should be no dissimulation. But in this last point some of the Zaidians, a sect so named from Zaid, the son of Ali surnamed Zain al Ábidin, and great-grandson of Ali, dissented from the rest of the Shíahs As to other articles wherein they agreed not, some of them came pretty near to the notions of the Mutazilites, others to those of the Mushábbihites, and others to those of the Sunnís Among the latter of these Muhammad al Bákir, another son of Zain al Ábidín’s, seems to claim a place, for his opinion as to the will of God was that God willeth something in us and something from us, and that what he willeth from us he hath revealed to us; for which reason he thought it preposterous that we should employ our thoughts about these things which God willeth in us, and neglect those which he willeth from us: and as to God’s decree, he held that the way lay in the middle, and that there was neither compulsion nor free liberty. A tenet of the Khattábians, or disciples of one Abu’l Khattáb, is too peculiar to be omitted. These maintained paradise to be no other than the pleasures of this world, and hell-fire to be the pains thereof, and that the world will never decay: which proposition being first laid down, it is no wonder they went further, and declared it lawful to indulge themselves in drinking wine and whoring, and to do other things forbidden by the law, and also to omit doing the things commanded by the law.
Their veneration of Ali and his descendants.
The sects of these are various, and have various appellations in different countries. Abdallah Ibn Saba (who had been a Jew, and had asserted the same thing of Joshua the son of Nun) was the ringleader of one of them. This man gave the following salutation to Ali, viz., “Thou art Thou,” i.e., thou art God: and hereupon the Ghuláites became divided into several species, some maintaining the same thing, or something like it, of Ali, and others of some of one of his descendants, affirming that he was not dead, but would return again in the clouds and fill the earth with justice. But how much soever they disagreed in other things, they unanimously held a metempsychosis, and what they call al Hulúl, or the descent of God on his creatures, meaning thereby that God is present in every place, and speaks with every tongue, and appears in some individual person; and hence some of them asserted their Imáms to be prophets, and at length gods. The Nusairians and the Isháqians taught that spiritual substances appear in grosser bodies, and that the angels and the devil have appeared in this manner. They also assert that God hath appeared in the form of certain men; and since, after Muhammad, there hath been no man more excellent than Ali, and, after him, his sons have excelled all other men, that God hath appeared in their form, spoken with their tongue, and made use of their hands; for which reason, say they, we attribute divinity to them. And to support these blasphemies they tell several miraculous things of Ali, as his moving the gates of Khaibar, which they urge as a plain proof that he was endued with a particle of divinity and with sovereign power, and that he was the person in whose form God appeared, with whose hands he created all things, and with whose tongue he published his commands; and therefore they say he was in being before the creation of heaven and earth. In so impious a manner do they seem to wrest those things which are said in Scripture of Christ by applying them to Ali. These extravagant fancies of the Shíahs, however, in making their Imáms partakers of the divine nature, and the impiety of some of those Imáms in laying claim thereto, are so far from being peculiar to this sect, that most of the other Muhammadan sects are tainted with the same madness, there being many found among them, and among the Súfis especially, who pretend to be nearly related to heaven, and who boast or strange revelations before the credulous people. It may not be amiss to hear what al Ghazáli has written on this occasion. “Matters are come to that pass,” says he, “that some boast of an union with God, and of discoursing familiarly with him, without the interposition of a veil, saying, ‘It hath been thus said to us,’ and ‘We have thus spoken,’ affecting to imitate Husain al Halláj, who was put te death for some words of this kind uttered by him, he having said (as was proved by credible witnesses), ‘I am the Truth,’ or A’bu Yazíd al Bastámi, of whom it is related that be often used the expression, Subháni,’ i.e., ‘Praise be unto me!’ But this way of talking is the cause of great mischief among the common people, insomuch that husbandmen; neglecting the tillage of their land, have pretended to the like privileges, nature being tickled with discourses of this kind, which furnish men with an excuse for leaving their occupations, under pretence of purifying their souls, and attaining I know not what degrees and conditions. Nor is there anything to hinder the most stupid fellows from forming the like pretensions and catching at such vain expressions; for whenever what they say is denied to be true, they fail not to reply that our unbelief proceeds from learning and logic; affirming learning to be a veil, and logic the work of the mind; whereas what they tell us appears only within, being discovered by the light of truth. But this is that truth the sparks whereof have flown into several countries and occasioned great mischiefs; so that it is more for the advantage of God’s true religion to put to death one of those who utter such things than to bestow life on ten others.”
Main points of difference between the Shiahs and the Sunnis
It may be proper, however, to mention a word or two of the great schism at this day subsisting between the Sunnis and the Shiahs, or partisans of Ali, and maintained on either side with implacable hatred and furious zeal. Though the difference arose at first on a political occasion, it has, notwithstanding, been so well improved by additional circumstances and the spirit of contradiction, that each party detest and anathematise the other as abominable heretics, and farther from the truth than either the Christians or the Jews. The chief points wherein they differ are—1. That the Shíahs reject Abu Baqr, Omar, and Othman, the three first Khalífahs, as usurpers and intruders; whereas the Sunnís acknowledge and respect them as rightful Imams. 2. The Shíahs prefer Ali to Muhammad, or at least esteem them both equal. but the Sunnís admit neither Alí nor any of the prophets to be equal to Muhammad. 3. The Sunnís charge the Shíahs with corrupting the Quran and neglecting its precepts, and the Shíahs retort the same charge on the Sunnís. 4. The Sunnís receive the Sunnat, or book of traditions of their prophet, as of canonical authority, whereas the Shíahs reject it as apocryphal and unworthy of credit. And to these disputes, and some others of less moment, is principally owing the antipathy which has long reigned between the Turks, who are Sunnis and the Persians who are of the sect of Ali. It seems strange that Spinoza, had he known of no other schism among the Muhammadans, should yet never have heard of one so publicly notorious as this between the Turks and Persians; but it is plain he did not, or he would never have assigned it as the reason of his preferring the order of the Muhammadan Church to that of the Roman, that there have arisen no schisms in the former since its birth.
Muslim false prophets.
As success in any project seldom fails to draw in imitators, Muhammad’s having raised himself to such a degree of power and reputation by acting the prophet induced others to imagine they might arrive at the same height by the same means. His most considerable competitors in the prophetic office were Musailama and al Aswad, whom the Muhammadans usually call “the two liars”
Claim of Musailama to the prophetic office.
but on his return home, considering that he might possibly share with Muhammad in his power, the next year he set up for a prophet also, pretending to be joined with him in the commission to recall mankind from idolatry to the worship of the true God; and he published written revelations in imitation of the Qurán, of which Abulfaragius has preserved the following passage, viz.: “Now hath God been gracious unto her that was with child, and hath brought forth from her the soul which runneth between the peritonæum and the bowels.” Musailama, having formed a considerable party among those of Hunaifa, began to think himself upon equal terms with Muhammad, and sent him a letter, offering to go halves with him, in these words: “From Musailama the apostle of God, to Muhammad the apostle of God. Now let the earth be half mine and half thine.” But Muhammad, thinking himself too well established to need a partner. wrote him this answer: “From Muhammad the apostle of God, to Musailama the liar. The earth is God’s: he giveth the same for inheritance unto such of his servants as he pleaseth; and the happy issue shall attend those who fear him.” During the few months which Muhammad lived after this revolt, Musailama rather gained than lost ground, and grew very formidable, but Abu Baqr, his successor, in the eleventh year of the Hijra, sent a great army against him, under the command of that consummate general, Khálid Ibn al Walíd, who engaged Musailama in a bloody battle, wherein the false prophet, happening to be slain by Wahsha, the negro slave who had killed Hamza at Ohod, and by the same lance, the Muslims gained an entire victory ten thousand of the apostates being left dead on the spot, and the rest returning to Muhammadism.
Al Aswad the second of “the two liars
This man was likewise an apostate from Muhammadism, and set up for himself the very year that Muhammad died. He was surnamed Dhu’l Hamár, or the master of the asses, because he used frequently to say, “The master of the asses is coming unto me;” and pretended to receive his revelations from two angels named Suhaiq and Shuraiq. Having a good hand at legerdemain and a smooth tongue, he gained mightily on the multitude by the strange feats which he showed them and the eloquence of his discourse; by these means he greatly increased his power, and having made himself master of Najrán and the territory of al Táyif, on the death of Badhán, the governor of Yaman for Muhammad, he seized that province also, killing Shahr, the son of Badhán, and taking to wife his widow, whose father, the uncle of Firúz the Dailamite, he had also slain. This news being brought to Muhammad, he sent to his friends and to those of Hamdán, a party of whom, conspiring with Qais Ibn’ Abd al Yaghúth, who bore al Aswad a grudge, and with Firuz and al Aswad’s wife, broke by night into his house, where Firúz surprised him and cut off his head. While he was despatching he roared like a bull; at which his guards came to the chamber door, but were sent away by his wife, who told them the prophet was only agitated by the divine inspiration. This was done the very night before Muhammad died. The next morning the conspirators caused the following proclamation to be made, viz., “I bear witness that Muhammad is the apostle of God, and that Aihala is a liar;” and letters were immediately sent away to Muhammad, with an account of what had been done; but a messenger from heaven outstripped them, and acquainted the prophet with the news, which he imparted to his companions but a little before his death, the letters themselves not arriving till Abu Baqr was chosen Khalífah. It is said that Muhammad, on this occasion, told those who attended him that before the day of judgment thirty more impostors, besides Musailama and al Aswad, should appear, and every one of them set up for a prophet. The whole time, from the beginning of al Aswad’s rebellion to his death, was about four months.
In the same eleventh year of the Hijra, but after the death of Muhammad, as seems most probable, Tulaiha Ibn Khuwailid set up for a prophet, and Sajáj Bint al Mundár for a prophetess.
Tulaiha and Sajáj.
Sajáj, surnamed Omm Sádir, was of the tribe of Tamím, and the wife of Abu Qahdála, a soothsayer of Yamánia. She was followed not only by those of her own tribe, but by several others. Thinking a prophet the most proper husband for her, she went to Musailama, and married him, but after she had stayed with him three days, she left him and returned home. What became of her afterwards I do not find. Ibn Shohnah has given us part of the conversation which passed at the interview between those two pretenders to inspiration, but the same is a little too immodest to be translated.
In succeeding ages several impostors from time to time started up, most of whom quickly came to nothing, but some made a considerable figure, and propagated sects which continued long after their decease. I shall give a brief account of the most remarkable of them in order of time.
Hakím Ib Hásham and his practices.
originally of Merú in Khurasán, who had been an under-secretary to Abu Muslim, the governor of that province, and afterwards turned soldier, passed thence into Mawaralnahr, where he gave himself out for a prophet. He is generally named by the Arab writers al Mukanna, and sometimes al Burkaí, that is, “the veiled,” because he used to cover his face with a veil or a gilded mask, to conceal his deformity, having lost an eye in the wars, and being otherwise of a despicable appearance; though his followers pretended he did it for the same reason as Moses did, viz., lest the splendour of his countenance should dazzle the eyes of the beholders. He made a great many proselytes at Nakhshab and Kash, deluding the people with several juggling performances, which they swallowed for miracles, and particularly by causing the appearance of a moon to rise out of a well for many nights together; whence he was also called, in the Persian tongue, Sázindah-mah, or the moonmaker. This impious impostor, not content with being reputed a prophet, arrogated divine honours to himself, pretending that the deity resided in his person; and the doctrine whereon he built this was the same with that of the Ghuláites above mentioned, who affirmed a transmigration or successive manifestation of the divinity through and in certain prophets and holy men, from Adam to these latter days (of which opinion was also Abu Muslim himself ); but the particular doctrine of al Mukanna was that the person in whom the deity had last resided was the aforesaid Abu Muslim, and that the same had, since his death, passed into himself. The faction of al Mukanna, who had made himself master of several fortified places in the neighbourhood of the cities above mentioned, growing daily more and more powerful, the Khalífah was at length obliged to send an army to reduce him at the approach whereof al Mukanna retired into one of his strongest fortresses, which he had well provided for a siege, and sent his emissaries abroad to persuade people that he raised the dead to life and knew future events. But being straitly besieged by the Khalífah’s forces, when he found there was no possibility for him to escape, he gave poison in wine to his whole family, and all that were with him in the castle; and when they were dead he burnt their bodies, together with their clothes, and all the provisions and cattle; and then, to prevent his own body being found, he threw himself into the flames, or, as others say, into a tub of aquafortis, or some other preparation, which consumed every part of him, except only his hair, so that when the besiegers entered the place they found no creature in it, save one of al Mukanna’s concubines, who, suspecting his design, had hid herself, and discovered the whole matter. This contrivance, however, failed not to produce the effect which the impostor designed among the remaining part of his followers; for he had promised them that his soul should transmigrate into the form of a grey-headed man riding on a greyish beast, and that after so many years he would return to them, and give them the earth for their possession: the expectation of which promise kept the sect in being for several ages after under the name of Mubayyidites, or, as the Persians call them, Safaid jámahghián, i.e., the clothed in white, because they wore their garments of that colour, in opposition, as is supposed, to the Khalífahs of the family of Abbás, whose banners and habits were black. The historians place the death of al Mukanna in the 162d or 163d year of the Hijra.
Bábik and his cruelties
The sectaries of Bábik which remained after his death seem to have been entirely dispersed, there being little or no mention made of them by historians.
Mahmúd Ibn Faraj.
The Karmatians and their founder
Doctrines and practices.
From the year above mentioned the Karmatians, under several leaders, gave almost continual disturbance to the Khalífahs and their Muhammadan subjects for several years, committing great disorders and outrages in Chaldea, Arabia, Syria, and Mesopotamia, and at length establishing a considerable principality, the power whereof was in its meridian in the reign of Abu Dháhir famous for his taking of Makkah, and the indignities by him offered to the temple there, but which declined soon after his time and came to nothing.
The Bátinites, which name is also given to the Ismaílians by some authors, and likewise to the Karmatians, were a sect which professed the same abominable principles, and were dispersed over several parts of the East. The word signifies Esoterics, or people of inward or hidden light or knowledge.
Abu’l Tayyab Ahmad prophetical career.
Bába and his sect.
I could mention several other impostors of the same kind which have arisen among the Muhammadans since their prophet’s time, and very near enough to complete the number foretold by him; but I apprehend the reader is by this time tired as well as myself, and shall therefore, here conclude this discourse, which may be thought already too long for an introduction.
The chapters of the Qurán are entitled Suras. Muir, in his Life of Mahomet, Introduction, p. 7, says, “Weil has a learned note (Mohammed, p. 361) on the meaning of the word Sura as used by Mahomet. It was probably at first employed to designate any portion of his revelation, or a string of verses; but it soon afterwards, even during Mahomet’s lifetime, acquired its present technical meaning.”
This chapter is held in the highest esteem among all Muslims, “who,” says Sale, “give it several other honourable titles; as the chapter of prayer, of praise, of thanksgiving, of treasure, &c. They esteem it as the quintessence of the whole Qurán, and often repeat it in their devotions, both public and private, as the Christians do the Lord’s Prayer”
The author of the Tafsír-i-Raufi declares that “he who has read the Fátihat has, as it were, read the whole Qurán.” According to this author, its separate clauses contain the sum of the divine attributes, ascriptions of praise, promises to believers, and threatenings of judgment against infidels, &c., as contained in the Qurán. Muslims always say Amen after this prayer.
The following transliteration will give the English reader an idea of the rhyming prose in which the Qurán is written:—
Muir regards this as the daily prayer of Muhammad during his search for light, previous to his assumption of the prophetic office. “It was afterwards recast to suit the requirements of public worship.” - Life of Mahomet, vol. i. p. 59.
Muslims are here met with a difficulty as to the divine authorship of their Scriptures, arising out of the form of address in this chapter. The orthodox belief in regard to the origin of the Qurán is that it was copied literally from the divine original, which is engraved on the Luh-í-Mohfúz, or Preserved Table close by the throne of God. The speaker throughout is God. It is God’s Word. But this chapter contains a prayer apparently suitable for sinful men groping after divine light and heavenly guidance. As the text stands, the chapter clearly claims a human origin, and would express very well the desire of the Makkan reformer. Muslim commentators, however, avoid this difficulty by explaining this chapter as an inspired model of prayer, revealed to instruct the faithful how to pray, and they understand it as introduced by the word “say.” Abdul Qádir says, “God has enunciated this chapter in the language of his servants, in order that they might thus address him.”
To us it seems that in the mind of a Muhammadan, boasting of the absolute perfection and purity of the text of the Qurán, and stickling for the very jots and tittles of the text, the omission of this word—a word without which the status of this whole chapter is changed—should arouse serious objection to such a mode of avoiding a difficulty.
As to the prayer itself, the Christian reader cannot but admire its spirit. It is throughout earnest and devout. Interpreting its language in a Christian manner, any one might respond to it “Amen”
Supposing this prayer to express the feelings and aspirations of the Makkan reformer at the time it was written, we could hardly regard him as a deliberate impostor. Had he continued his search after truth in the spirit of this prayer, how different would have been his religion from that which he proclaimed in later years!
Concerning the formula, “In the name of the most merciful God,” Savary says, “It is prefixed to all the chapters (with the exception of one). It is expressly recommended in the Qurán. The Muhammadans pronounce it whenever they slaughter an animal, and at the commencement of their reading, and of all important actions. Giaab, one of their celebrated authors, says that when these words were sent down from heaven, the clouds fled on the side of the east, the winds were lulled, the sea was moved, the animals erected their ears to listen, and the devils were precipitated from the celestial spheres.”
It is almost certain that Muhammad horrowed the idea of the Bismilluh from the Jews and Sabains. The latter intróduced their writings with the words, “Banám i yazdàn bakhshaishgar dádár,” i.e., In the name of God the merciful and the just.
Rodwell says, “This formula is of Jewish origin. It was in the first instance taught to the Koreisch by Omayah of Taief, the poet, who was a contemporary with, but somewhat older than, Muhammad, and who, during his mercantile journeys into Arabia Petræa and Syria, had made himself acquainted with the sacred books and doctrines of Jews and Christians. Mahammad adopted and constantly used it.”
The two terms, “Rahman,” the merciful, and “Rahím,” the blessed, have nearly the same meaning. The Tafsír-i-Raufi explains the former as only applicable to God, while the latter may be applied to the creature as well as to God. Others explain the former epithet as applicable to God as exercising mercy towards his creatures, the latter as applicable to the mercy inherent in God.
∥ Praise be to God, the Lord of all creatures; (2) the most merciful, (3) the king of the day of judgment. (4) Thee do we worship, and of thee do we beg assistance. Direct us in the right way, in the way of those to whom thou hast been gracious; not of those against whom thou art incensed, nor of those who go astray.
“The title of this chapter was occasioned by the story of the red heifer” (in vers. 66-73) —Sale.
“In this Sura are collected the passages composed in the first two or three years of Mahomet’s stay at Medina. The greater part relates to the Jews, with biblical and rabbinical stories, notice of the change of the Kibla, &c. The disaffected citizens are also denounced in it. There is likewise much matter of a legislative character, produced during the first Medina stage, with additions and interpolations from the revelations of later stages.”—Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. iii, Appendix.
The following is a brief analysis of this chapter, based for the most part on Noeldeke’s Origine et Compositions Surarum Quranicarum ipsiusque Quráni, showing Makkan and Madina revelations, probable date of composition, and principal topics treated.
These are found in verses 21-38, 164-172, and probably 254-257, 285, and 286. They belong to the period of Muhammad’s mission previous to the Hijra.
These make up the bulk of the chapter, and are found in verses 1-20, 39-153, 173-253, and 258-284.
As to the date of composition, verses 1-20, 39-153, 173-185, 203-253, and 258-284, belong to the interval between the Hijra and the early part of a.h. 2. Verses 154-163 were revealed soon after the battle of Badr, a.h. 2. Verses 186, 187, belong to a.h. 3, and verses 188-202 must be referred to a period shortly before the pilgrimage to Makkah in a.h. 7.
|Unbelievers and hypocrites reproved||verses||1-20|
|Exhortation to the worship of the true God||verses||21-38|
|Jews and Christians urged to accept the claim of Muhammad to be a prophet of God||verses||39-102|
|The opposition of Jews and Christians to Muhammad’s prophetic pretensions combated||verses||102-112|
|The doctrine of abrogation enunciated||verses||113|
|A Qibla declared to be unnecessary||verses||115|
|The Jews denounced and the religion of Abraham declared to be the true Islám||verses||116-141|
|The Jews finally abandoned and the Arabs accepted by the adoption of Makkah as the Qibla of Islám||verses||142-153|
|The bereaved friends of those slain at Badr comforted||verses||154-163|
|Makkans exhorted to faith in God, and directed to observe the law respecting forbidden meats||verses||164-172|
|Law concerning lawful and unlawful food (delivered at Madina)||verses||173-176|
|The sum of Muslim duty||verses||177|
|The law of retaliation||verses||178, 179|
|The law concerning bequests||verses||180-182|
|The law concerning fasting||verses||183-185|
|The fast of Ramadhán||verses||186, 187|
|The pilgrimage to Makkah and war for the faith||verses||188-202|
|Hypocrites and true believers contrasted||verses||203-206|
|Exhortation to a hearty acceptance of Islám||verses||207, 208|
|The doom of infidels pronounced||verses||209|
|The Jews reproached||verses||210-212|
|Suffering to be patiently endured||verses||213|
|Sundry laws relating to almsgiving, war, wine, lots, orphans, marriage, women, oaths, and divorce||verses||214-242|
|The duty of warring in defence of religion enjoined by precept, and illustrated by the history of former prophets||verses||243-253|
|The Throne Verse||verses||254-257|
|The doctrine of the resurrection illustrated||verses||258-260|
|Exhortation and encouragement to almsgiving||verses||261-274|
|The law concerning contracts and debts||verses||278-284|
|The prophet’s confession and prayer||verses||285, 286|
A. L. M. There is no doubt in this book; it is a direction to the pious, who believe in the mysteries of faith, who observe the appointed times of prayer, and distribute alms out of what we have bestowed on them, and who believe in that revelation, which hath been sent down unto thee and that which hath been sent down unto the prophets before thee, and have firm assurance of the life to come: (5) these are directed by their Lord, and they shall prosper. As for the unbelievers, it will be equal to them whether thou admonish them, or do not admonish them; they will not believe. God hath sealed up their hearts and their hearing; a dimness covereth their sight, and they shall suffer a grievous punishment.
There are some who say, We believe in God, and the last day; but are not really believers: they seek to deceive God, and those who do believe, but they deceive themselves only, and are not sensible thereof. There is an infirmity in their hearts, and God hath increased that infirmity; and they shall suffer a most painful punishment, because they have disbelieved. When one saith unto them, Act not corruptly in the earth; they reply, Verily we are men of integrity. (12) Are not they themselves corrupt doers? but they are not sensible thereof. And when one saith unto them, Believe ye as others believe; they answer, Shall we believe as fools believe? Are not they themselves fools? but they know it not. When they meet those who believe, they say, We do believe: but when they retire privately to their devils, they say, We really hold with you, and only mock at those people:God shall mock at them, and continue them in their impiety; they shall wander in confusion. These are the men who have purchased error at the price of true direction: but their traffic hath not been gainful, neither have they been rightly directed. They are like unto one who kindleth a fire, and when it hath enlightened all around him, God taketh away their light and leaveth them in darkness, they sball not see; (18) they are deaf, dumb, and blind, therefore will they not repent. Or like a stormy cloud from heaven, fraught with darkness, thunder, and lightning, they put their fingers in their ears because of the noise of the thunder, for fear of death; God encompasseth the infidels: the lightning wanteth but little of taking away their sight; so often as it enlighteneth them, they walk therein, but when darkness cometh on them, they stand still: and if God so pleased he would certainly deprive them of their hearing and their sight, for God is mighty.
O men of Makkah, serve your Lord who hath created you, and those who have been before you: peradventure ye will fear him; who hath spread the earth as a bed for you, and the heaven as a covering, and hath caused water to descend from heaven, and thereby produced fruits for your sustenance. Set not up therefore any equals unto God, against your own knowledge. If ye be in doubt concerning that revelation which we have sent down unto our servant, produce a chapter like unto it, and call upon your witnesses besides God, if ye say truth. But if ye do it not, nor shall ever be able to do it; justly fear the fire whose fuel is men and stones, prepared for the unbelievers. But bear good tidings unto those who believe, and do good works, that they shall have gardens watered by rivers; so often as they eat of the fruit thereof for sustenance, they shall say, This is what we have formerly eaten of; and they shall be supplied with several sorts of fruit having a mutual resemblance to one another. There shall they enjoy wives subject to no impurity, and there shall they continue for ever. Moreover, God will not be ashamed to propound in a parable a gnat, or even a more despicable thing: for they who believe will know it to be the truth from their Lord; but the unbelievers will say, What meaneth God by this parable? he will thereby mislead many, and will direct many thereby: but he will not mislead any thereby, except the transgressors, (27) who make void the covenant of God after the establishing thereof, and cut in sunder that which God hath commanded to be joined, and act corruptly in the earth: they shall perish. How is it that ye believe not in God? Since ye were dead, and he gave you life; he will hereafter cause you to die, and will again restore you to life; then shall ye return unto him. It is he who hath created for you whatsoever is on earth, and then set his mind to the ereation of heaven, and formed it into seven heavens; he knoweth all things.
When thy Lord said unto the angels, I am going to place a substitute on earth; they said, Wilt thou place there one who will do evil therein, and shed blood? but we celebrate thy praise, and sanctify thee. God answered, Verily I know that which ye know not: (31) and he taught Adam the names of all things, and then proposed them to the angels, and said, Declare unto me the names of these things if ye say truth. They answered, Praise be unto thee; we have no knowledge but what thou teachest us, for thou art knowing and wise. God said, O Adam, tell them their names. And when he had told them their names, God said, Did I not tell you that I know the secrets of heaven and earth, and know that which ye discover, and that which ye conceal? And when we said unto the angels, Worship Adam; they all worshipped him, except Iblis, who refused, and was puffed up with pride, and became of the number of unbelievers. And we said, O Adam, dwell thou and thy wife in the garden, and eat of the fruit thereof plentifully wherever ye will; but approach not this tree, lest ye become of the number of the transgressors. But Satan caused them to forfeit paradise, and turned them out of the state of happiness wherein they had been; whereupon we said, Get ye down, the one of you an enemy unto the other; and there shall be a dwelling-place for you on earth, and a provision for a season. And Adam learned words of prayer from his Lord, and God turned unto him, for he is easy to be reconciled and merciful. We said, Get ye all down from hence; hereafter shall there come unto you a direction from me, and whoever shall follow my direction, on them shall no fear come, neither shall they be grieved; but they who shall be unbelievers, and accuse our signs of falsehood, they shall be the companions of hell-fire, therein shall they remain for ever.
O children of Israel, remember my favour wherewith I have favoured you; and perform your covenant with me, and I will perform my covenant with you; and revere me: and believe in the revelation which I have sent down, confirming that which is with you, and be not the first who believe not therein, neither exchange my signs for a small price; and fear me Clothe not the truth with vanity, neither conceal the truth against your own knowledge; observe the stated times of prayer, and pay your legal alms, and bow down yourselves with those who bow down. Will ye command men to do justice, and forget your own souls? yet ye read the book of the law: do ye not therefore understand? Ask help with perseverance and prayer; this indeed is grievous unless to the humble, who seriously think they shall meet their Lord, and that to him they shall return.
O children of Israel, remember my favour wherewith I have favoured you, and that I have preferred you above all nations; dread the day wherein one soul shall not make satisfaction for another soul, neither shall any intercession be accepted from them, nor shall any compensation be received, neither shall they be helped. Remember when we delivered you from the people of Pharaoh, who grievously oppressed you, they slew your male children, and let your females live: therein was a great trial from your Lord. (49) And when we divided the sea for you and delivered you, and drowned Pharaoh’s people while ye looked on. And when we treated with Moses forty nights; then ye took the calf for your God, and did evil; yet afterwards we forgave you, that peradventure ye might give thanks. And when we gave Moses the book of the law, and the distinction between good and evil, that peradventure ye might be directed. And when Moses said unto his people, O my people, verily ye have injured your own souls, by your taking the calf for your God; therefore be turned unto your Creator, and slay those among you who have been guilty of that crime: this will be better for you in the sight of your Creator: and thereupon he turned unto you, for he is easy to be reconciled, and merciful. And when ye said, O Moses, we will not believe thee, until we see God manifestly; therefore a punishment came upon you, while ye looked on; then we raised you to life after ye had been dead, that peradventure ye might give thanks. And we caused clouds to overshadow you, and manna and quails to descend upon you, saying, Eat of the good things which we have given you for food: and they injured not us, but injured their own souls. And when we said, Enter into this city, and eat of the provisions thereof plentifully as ye will; and enter the gate worshipping, and say, Forgiveness! we will pardon you your sins, and give increase unto the well-doers. But the ungodly changed the expression into another, different from what had been spoken unto them; and we sent down upon the ungodly indignation from heaven, because they had transgressed.
And when Moses asked drink for his people, we said, Strike the rock with thy rod; and there gushed thereout twelve fountains according to the number of the tribes, and all men knew their respective drinking-place. Eat and drink of the bounty of God, and commit not evil on the earth, acting unjustly. And when ye said, O Moses, we will by no means be satisfied with one kind of food; pray unto thy Lord therefore for us, that he would produce for us of that which the earth bringeth forth, herbs and cucumbers, and garlic, and lentils, and onions; Moses answered, Will ye exchange that which is better, for that which is worse? Get ye down into Egypt, for there shall ye find what ye desire: and they were smitten with vileness and misery, and drew on themselves indignation from God. This they suffered, because they believed not in the signs of God, and killed the prophets unjustly; this, because they rebelled and transgressed.
Surely those who believe, and those who Judaize, and Christians, and Sabians, whoever believeth in God, and the last day, and doth that which is right, they shall have their reward with their Lord;there shall come no fear on them, neither shall they be grieved. Call to mind also when we accepted your covenant, and lifted up the mountain of Sinai over you, saying, Receive the law which we have given you, with a resolution to keep it, and remember that which is contained therein, that ye may beware. After this ye again turned back, so that if it had not been for God’s indulgence and mercy towards you, ye had certainly been destroyed. Moreover ye know what befell those of your nation who transgressed on the Sabbath day; We said unto them, Be ye changed into apes, driven away from the society of men. And we made them an example unto those who were contemporary with them, and unto those who came after them, and a warning to the pious. And when Moses said unto his people, Verily God commandeth you to sacrifice a cow; they answered. Dost thou make a jest of us! Moses said, God forbid that I should be one of the foolish. (67) They said, Pray for us unto thy Lord, that he would show us what cow it is. Moses answered, He saith, She is neither an old cow, nor a young heifer, but of a middle age between both: do ye therefore that which ye are commanded. They said, Pray for us unto thy Lord, that he would show us what colour she is of. Moses answered, He saith, She is a red cow, intensely red, her colour rejoiceth the beholders. (69) They said, Pray for us unto thy Lord, that he would further show us what cow it is, for several cows with us are like one another and we, if God please, will be directed. Moses answered, He saith, She is a cow not broken to plough the earth, or water the field, a sound one, there is no blemish in her. They said, Now hast thou brought the truth. Then they sacrificed her; yet they wanted but little of leaving it undone.
And when ye slew a man, and contended among yourselves concerning him, God brought forth to light that which ye concealed. For we said, Strike the dead body with part of the sacrificed cow: so God raiseth the dead to life, and showeth you his signs, that peradventure ye may understand. Then were your hearts hardened after this, even as stones, and exceeding them in hardness: for from some stones have rivers bursted forth, others have been rent in sunder, and water hath issued from them, and others have fallen down for fear of God. But God is not regardless of that which ye do. Do ye therefore desire that the Jews should believe you? yet a part of them heard the word of God, and then perverted it, after they had understood it, against their own conscience. And when they meet the true believers, they say, We believe: but when they are privately assembled together, they say, Will ye acquaint them with what God hath revealed unto you, that they may dispute with you concerning it in the presence of your Lord? Do ye not therefore understand? (76) Do not they know that God knoweth that which they conceal as well as that which they publish? ∥ But there are illiterate men among them, who know not the book of the law, but only lying stories, although they think otherwise. And woe unto them, who transcribe corruptly the book of the Law with their hands, and then say, This is from God: that they may sell it for a small price. Therefore woe unto them because of that which their hands have written; and woe unto them for that which they have gained. They say, The fire of hell shall not touch us but for a certain number of days. Answer, Have ye received any promise from Godto that purpose? for God will not act contrary to his promise: or do ye speak concerning God that which ye know not? Verily whoso doth evil, and is encompassed by his iniquity, they shall be the companions of hell-fire, they shall remain therein forever: but they who believe and do good works, they shall be the companions of paradise, they shall continue therein forever.
Remember also, when we accepted the covenant of the children of Israel, saying, Ye shall not worship any other except God, and ye shall show kindness to your parents and kindred, and to orphans, and to the poor, and speak that which is good unto men, and be constant at prayer, and give alms. Afterwards ye turned back, except a few of you, and retired afar off. And when we accepted your covenant, saying, Ve shall not shed your brother’s blood, nor dispossess one another of your habitations; then ye confirmed it, and were witnesses thereto. Afterwards ye were they who slew one another, and turned several of your brethren out of their houses, mutually assisting each other against them with injustice and enmity; but if they come captives unto you, ye redeem them: yet it is equally unlawful for you to dispossess them. Do ye therefore believe in part of the book of the law, and reject other part thereof? But whoso among you doth this, shall have no other reward than shame in this life, and on the day of resurrection they shall be sent to a most grievous punishment; for God is not regardless of that which ye do. These are they who have purchased this present life, at the price of that which is to come; wherefore their punishment shall not be mitigated, neither shall they be helped.
We formerly delivered the book of the law unto Moses, and caused apostles to succeed him, and gave evident miracles to Jesus the son of Mary, and strengthened him with the holy spirit. Do ye therefore, whenever an apostle cometh unto you with that which your souls desire not, proudly reject him, and accuse some of imposture, and slay others? The Jews say, Our hearts are uncircumcised: but God hath cursed them with their infidelity; therefore few shall believe. And when a book came unto them from God, confirming the scriptures which were with them, although they had before prayed for assistance against those who believed not, yet when that came unto them which they knew to be from God, they would not believe therein: therefore the curse of God shall be on the infidels. For a vile price have they sold their souls, that they should not believe in that which God hath sent down; out of envy, because God sendeth down his favours to such of his servants as he pleaseth: therefore they brought on themselves indignation on indignation; and the unbelievers shall suffer an ignominious punishment. When one saith unto them, Believe in that which God hath sent down; they answer, We believe in that which hath been sent down unto us: and they reject what hath been revealed since, although it be the truth, confirming that which is with them. Say, Why therefore have ye slain the prophets of God in times past, if ye be true believers? Moses formerly came unto you with evident signs, but ye afterwards took the calf for your god and did wickedly. And when we accepted your covenant, and lifted the mountain of Sinai over you, saying, Receive the law which we have given you, with a resolution to perform it, and hear; they said, We have heard, and have rebelled: and they were made to drink down the calf into their hearts for their unbelief. Say, A grievous thing hath your faith commanded you, if ye be true believers? Say, If the future mansion with God be prepared peculiarly for you, exclusive of the rest of mankind, wish for death, if ye say truth; but they will never wish for it, because of that which their hands have sent before them; God knoweth the wicked-doers; (95) and thou shalt surely find them of all men the most covetous of life, even more than the idolaters: one of them would desire his life to be prolonged a thousand years, but none shall reprieve himself from punishment, that his life may be prolonged: God seeth that which they do.
Say, Whoever is an enemy to Gabriel (for he hath caused the Qurán to descend on thy heart, by the permission of God, confirming that which was before revealed, a direction, and good tidings to the faithful); (97) whosoever is an enemy to God, or his angels, or his apostles, or to Gabriel, or Michael, verily God is an enemy to the unbelievers. And now we have sent down unto thee evident signs, and none will disbelieve them but the evil-doers. (99) Whenever they make a covenant, will some of them reject it? yea, the greater part of them do not believe. And when there came unto them an apostle from God, confirming that scripture which was with them, some of those to whom the scriptures were given cast the book of God behind their backs, as if they knew it not: and they followed the device which the devils devised against the kingdom of Solomon, and Solomon was not an unbeliever; but the devils believed not; they taught men sorcery, and that which was sent down to the two angels at Babel, Hárút and Márút; yet those two taught no man until they had said, Verily we are a temptation, therefore be not an unbeliever. So men learned from those two a charm by which they might cause division between a man and his wife; but they hurt none thereby, unless by God’s permission, and they learned that which would hurt them, and not profit them; and yet they knew that he who bought that art should have no part in the life to come, and woful is the price for which they have sold their souls, if they knew it. (102) But if they had believed, and feared God, verily the reward they would have had from God would have been better, if they had known it.
The Jews say, The Christians are grounded on nothing; and the Christians say, The Jews are grounded on nothing; yet they both read the scriptures. So likewise say they who know not the scripture, according to their saying. But God shall judge between them on the day of the resurrection, concerning that about which they now disagree. Who is more unjust than he who prohibiteth the temples of God, that his name should be remembered therein, and who hasteth to destroy them? Those men cannot enter therein, but with fear: they shall have shame in this world, and in the next a grievous punishment. To Godbelongeth the east and the west; therefore whithersoever ye turn yourselves to pray, there is the face of God; for God is omnipresent and omniscient. They say, God hath begotten children: God forbid! To him belongeth whatever is in heaven, and on earth; all is possessed by him, the Creator of heaven and earth; and when he dreceeth a thing, he only saith unto it, Be, and it is. And they who know not the scriptures say, Unless God speak unto us, or thou show us a sign, we will not believe. So said those before them, according to their saying: their hearts resemble each other. We have already shown manifest signs unto people who firmly believe; we have sent thee in truth, a bearer of good tidings and a preacher; and thou shalt not be questioned concerning the companions of hell. But the Jews will not be pleased with thee, neither the Christians, until thou follow their religion; say, The direction of God is the true direction. And verily if thou follow their desires, after the knowledge which hath been given thee, thou shalt find no patron or protector against God. They to whom we have given the book of the Qurán, and who read it with its true reading, they believe therein; and whoever believeth not therein, they shall perish.
O children of Israel, remember my favour wherewith I have favoured you, and that I have preferred you before all nations; (123) and dread the day wherein one soul shall not make satisfaction for another soul, neither shall any compensation be accepted from them, nor shall any intercession avail, neither shall they be helped. Remember when the Lord tried Abraham by certain words, which he fulfilled: God said, Verily I will constitute thee a model of religion unto mankind; he answered, And also of my posterity; God said, My covenant doth not comprehend the ungodly. And when we appointed the holy house of Makkah to be a place of resort for mankind, and a place of security; and said, Take the station of Abraham for a place of prayer; and we covenanted with Abraham and Ismaíl, that they should cleanse my house for those who should compass it, and those who should be devoutly assiduous there, and those who should bow down and worship. (126) And when Abraham said, Lord, make this a territory of security, and bounteously bestow fruits on its inhabitants, such of them as believe in God and the last day; God answered, And whoever believeth not, I will bestov on him little; afterwards I will drive him to the punishment of hell-fire; an ill journey shall it be! And when Abraham and Ismaíl raised the foundations of the house, saying,Lord, accept it from us, for thou art he who heareth and knoweth: Lord, make us also resigned unto thee, and of our posterity a people resigned unto thee, and show us our holy ceremonies, and be turned unto us, for thou art easy to be reconciled, and merciful. Lord, send them likewise an apostle from among them, who may declare thy signs unto them, and teach them the book of the Qurán and wisdom, and may purify them; for thou art mighty and wise.
Who will be averse to the religion of Abraham, but he whose mind is infatuated? Surely we have chosen him in this world, and in that which is to come he shall be one of the righteous. (131) When his Lord said unto him, Resign thyself unto me; he answered, I have resigned myself unto the Lord of all creatures. And braham bequeathed this religion to his children, and Jacob did the same, saying, My children, verily God hath chosen this religion for you, therefore die not, unless ye also be resigned. (133) Were ye present when Jacob was at the point of death? when he said to his sons, Whom will ye worship after me? They answered, We will worship thy God, and the God of thy fathers Abraham, and Ismaíl, and Isaac, one God, and to him will we be resigned. That people are now passed away, they have what they have gained, and ye shall have what ye gain; and ye shall not be questioned concerning that which they have done. They say, Become Jews or Christians that ye may be directed. Say, Nay, we follow the religion of Abraham the orthodox, who was no idolater. Say, We believe in God, and that which hath been sent down unto us, and that which hath been sent down unto Abraham, and Ismaíl, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and that which was delivered unto Moses, and Jesus, and that which was delivered unto the prophets from their Lord: We make no distinction between any of them, and to God are we resigned. Now if they believe according to what ye believe, they are surely directed, but if they turn back, they are in schism. God shall support thee against them, for he is the hearer, the wise The baptism of Godhave we received, and who is better than God to baptize? him do we worship. Say, Will ye dispute with us concerning God, who is our Lord, and your Lord? we have our works, and ye have your works, and unto him are we sincerely devoted. Will ye say, truly Abraham, and Ismaíl and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes were Jews or Christians? Say, are ye wiser, or God? And who is more unjust than he who hideth the testimony which he hath received from God? But God is not regardless of that which ye do. (141) That people are passed away, they have what they have gained, and ye shall have what ye gain, nor shall ye be questioned concerning that which they have done.
From what place soever thou comest forth, turn thy face towards the holy temple; and wherever ye be, thitherward turn your faces, lest men have matter of dispute against you; but as for those among them who are unjust doers, fear them not, but fear me, that I may accomplish my grace upon you, and that ye may be directed. As we have sent unto you an apostle from among you, to rehearse our signs unto you, and to purify you, and to teach you the book of the Qurán and wisdom, and to teach you that which ye knew not: therefore remember me, and I will remember you, and give thanks unto me, and be not unbelievers.
And say not of those who are slain in fight for the religion of God, that they are dead; yea, they are living: but ye do not understand. We will surely prove you by afflicting you in some measure with fear, and hunger, and decrease of wealth, and loss of lives, and scarcity of fruits: but bear good tidings unto the patient, who, when a misfortune befalleth them, say, We are God’s, and unto him shall we surely return. (158) Upon them shall be blessings from their Lord and mercy, and they are the rightly directed. Moreover Safá and Marwah are two of the monuments of God: whoever therefore goeth on pilgrimage to the temple of Makkah or visiteth it, it shall be no crime in him, if he compass them both. And as for him who voluntarily performeth a good work; verily God is grateful and knowing. They who conceal any of the evident signs, or the direction which we have sent down, after what we have manifested unto men in the scripture, God shall curse them; and they who curse shall curse them. But as for those who repent and amend, and make known what they concealed, I will be turned unto them, for I am easy to be reconciled and merciful. Surely they who believe not, and die in their unbelief, upon them shall be the curse of God, and of the angels, and of all men; they shall remain under it forever, their punishment shall not be alleviated, neither shall they be regarded. Your God is one God; there is no God but He, the most merciful.
Now in the creation of heaven and earth, and the vicissitude of night and day, and in the ship which saileth in the sea, laden with what is profitable for mankind, and in the rain water which God sendeth from heaven, quickening thereby the dead earth, and replenishing the same with all sorts of cattle, and in the change of winds, and the clouds that are compelled to do service between heaven and earth, are signs to people of understanding: yet some men take idols beside God, and love them as with the love due toGod; but the true believers are more fervent in love towards God. Oh, that they who act unjustly did perceive, when they behold their punishment, that all power belongeth unto God, and that he is severe in punishing. When those who have been followed shall separate themselves from their followers, and shall see the punishment, and the cords of relation between them shall be cut in sunder; the followers shall say, If we could return to life, we would separate ourselves from them, as they have now separated themselves from us. So God will show them their works; they shall sigh grievously, and shall not come forth from the fire of hell.
O men, eat of that which is lawful and good on the earth; and tread not in the steps of the devil, for he is your open enemy. (170) Verily he commandeth you evil and wickedness, and that you should say that of God which ye know not. And when it is said unto them who believe not, Follow that which God hath sent down; they answer, Nay, but we will follow that which we found our fathers practise. What? though their fathers knew nothing, and were not rightly directed? The unbelievers are like unto one who crieth aloud to that which heareth not so much as his calling, or the sound of his voice. They are deaf, dumb, and blind, therefore do they not understand O true believers, eat of the good things which we have bestowed on you for food, and return thanks unto God, if ye serve him. Verily he hath forbidden you to eat that which dieth of itself, and blood and swine’s flesh, and that on which any other name but God’s hath been invocated. But he who is forced by necessity, not lusting, nor returning to transgress, it shall be no crime in him if he eat of those things, for God is gracious and merciful. Moreover they who conceal any part of the scripture which God hath sent down unto them, and sell it for a small price, they shall swallow into their bellies nothing but fire; God shall not speak unto them on the day of resurrection, neither shall he purify them, and they shall suffer a grievous punishment. These are they who have sold direction for error, and pardon for punishment: but how great will their suffering be in the fire! This they shall endure, because God sent down the book of the Qurán with truth, and they who disagree concerning that book are certainly in a wide mistake.
It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces in prayer towards the east and the west, but righteousness is of him who believeth in God and the last day and the angels, and the scriptures, and the prophets; who giveth money for God’s sake unto his kindred, and unto orphans, and the needy, and the stranger, and those who ask, and for redemption of captives; who is constant at prayer, and giveth alms and of those who perform their covenant, when they have covenanted, and who behave themselves patiently in adversity, and hardships, and in time of violence; these are they who are true, and these are they who fear God. O true believers, the law of retaliation is ordained you for the slain: the free shall die for the free, and the servant for the servant, and a woman for a woman; but he whom his brother shall forgive may be prosecuted, and obliged to make satisfaction according to what is just, and a fine shall be set on him with humanity. This is indulgence from your Lord, and mercy. And he who shall transgress after this, by killing the murderer, shall suffer a grievous punishment. And in this law of retaliation ye have life, O ye of understanding, that peradventure ye may fear. It is ordained you, when any of you is at the point of death, if he leave any goods, that he bequeath a legacy to his parents, and kindred, according to what shall be reasonable. This is a duty incumbent on those who fear God. But he who shall change the legacy, after he hath heard it bequeathed by the dying person, surely the sin thereof shall be on those who change it, for God is he who heareth and knoweth. Howbeit he who apprehendeth from the testator any mistake or injustice, and shall compose the matter between them, that shall be no crime in him, for God is gracious and merciful.
O true believers, a fast is ordained you, as it was ordained unto those before you, that ye may fear God. A certain number of days shall ye fast: but he among you who shall be sick, or on a journey, shall fast an equal number of other days. And those who can keep it, and do not, must redeem their neglect by maintaining of a poor man. And he who voluntarily dealeth better with the poor man than he is obliged, this shall be better for him. But if ye fast, it will be better for you, if ye knew it. The month of Ramadhán shall ye fast, in which the Qurán was sent down from heaven, a direction unto men, and declarations of direction, and the distinction between good and evil. Therefore, let him among you who shall be present in this month, fast the same month; but he who shall be sick, or on a journey, shall fast the like number of other days. God would make this an ease unto you, and would not make it a difficulty unto you; that ye may fulfil the number of days, and glorify God, for that he hath directed you, and that ye may give thanks. When my servants ask thee concerning me, Verily I am near; I will hear the prayer of him that prayeth, when he prayeth unto me: but let them hearken unto me, and believe in me, that they may be rightly directed. It is lawful for you, on the night of the fast, to go in unto your wives; they are a garment unto you, and ye are a garment unto them. God knoweth that ye defraud yourselves therein, wherefore he turneth unto you, and forgiveth you. Now, therefore, go in unto them; and earnestly desire that which God ordaineth you, and eat and drink, until ye can plainly distinguish a white thread from a black thread by the daybreak: then keep the fast until night, and go not in unto them, but be constantly present in the places of worship. These are the prescribed bounds of God, therefore draw not near them to transgress them. Thus God declareth his signs unto men, that ye may fear him. Consume not your wealth among yourselves in vain; nor present it unto judges, that ye may devour part of men’s substance unjustly, against your own consciences.
They will ask thee concerning the phases of the moon: Answer, They are times appointed unto men, and to show the season of the pilgrimage to Makkah. It is not righteousness that ye enter your houses by the back parts thereof, but righteousness is of him who feareth God. Therefore enter your houses by their doors; and fear God, that ye may be happy. And fight for the religion of God against those who fight against you; but transgress not by attacking them first, for God loveth not the transgressors. And kill them wherever ye find them, and turn them out of that whereof they have dispossessed you; for temptation to idolatry is more grievous than slaughter; yet fight not against them in the holy temple, until they attack you therein; but if they attack you, slay them there. This shall be the reward of infidels. But if they desist, God is gracious and merciful. Fight therefore against them, until there be no temptation to idolatry, and the religion be God’s; but if they desist, then let there be no hostility, except against the ungodly. A sacred month for a sacred month, and the holy limits of Makkah, if they attack you therein, do ye also attack them therein in retaliation; and whoever transgresseth against you by so doing, do ye transgress against him in like manner as he hath transgressed against you, and fear God, and know that God is with those who fear him. Contribute out of your substance toward the defence of the religion of God, and throw not yourselves with your own hands into perdition; and do good, for God loveth those who do good. Perform the pilgrimage of Makkah, and the visitation of God; and, if ye be besieged, send that offering which shall be the easiest; and shave not your heads, until your offering reacheth the place of sacrifice. But, whoever among you is sick, or is troubled with any distemper of the head must redeem the shaving his head, by fasting, or alms, or some offering. When ye are secure from enemies, he who tarrieth in the visitation of the temple of Makkah until the pilgrimage, shall bring that offering which shall be the easiest. But he who findeth not anything to offer, shall fast three days in the pilgrimage, and seven when ye are returned: they shall be ten days complete. This is incumbent on him whose family shall not be present at the holy temple. And fear God, and know that God is severe in punishing.
The pilgrimage must be performed in the known months: whosoever therefore purposeth to go on pilgrimage therein, let him not know a woman, nor transgress, nor quarrel in the pilgrimage. The good which ye do, God knoweth it. Make provision for your journey; but the best provision is piety; and fear me, O ye of understanding. It shall be no crime in you, if ye seek an increase from your Lord,by trading during the pilgrimage. And when ye go in procession from Arafát remember God near the holy monument; and remember him for that he hath directed you, although ye were before this of the number of those who go astray. Therefore go in procession from whence the people go in procession, and ask pardon of God, for God is gracious and merciful. And when ye have finished your holy ceremonies, remember God, according as ye remember your fathers, or with a more reverent commemoration. There are some men who say, O Lord, give us our portion in this world; but such shall have no portion in the next life; and there are others who say, O Lord, give us good in this world and also good in the next world, and deliver us from the torment of hell fire. They shall have a portion of that which they have gained: God is swift in taking an account.
Remember God the appointed number of days, but if any haste to depart from the valley of Mína in two days, it shall be no crime in him. And if any tarry longer, it shall be no crime in him, in him who feareth God. Therefore fear God, and know that unto him ye shall be gathered. There is a man who causeth thee to marvel by his speech concerning this present life, and calleth God to witness that which is in his heart, yet he is most intent in opposing thee; and when he turneth away from thee, he hasteth to act corruptly in the earth, and to destroy that which is sown, and springeth up: but God loveth not corrupt doing. (205) And if one say unto him, Fear God; pride seizeth him, together with wickedness; but hell shall be his reward, and an unhappy couch shall it be. There is also a man who selleth his soul for the sake of those things which are pleasing unto God; and God is gracious unto his servants. O true believers, enter into the true religion wholly, and follow not the steps of Satan, for he is your open enemy. If ye have slipped after the declarations of our will have come unto you, know that God is mighty and wise. Do the infidels expect less than that God should come down to them overshadowed with clouds, and the angels also? but the thing is decreed, and to God shall all things return.
Ask the children of Israel how many evident signs we have showed them; and whoever shall change the grace of God after it shall have come unto him, verily God will be severe in punishing him. The present life was ordained for those who believe not, and they laugh the faithful to scorn; but they who fear God shall be above them, on the day of the resurrection: for God is bountiful unto whom he pleaseth without measure. Mankind was of one faith, and God sent prophets bearing good tidings, and denouncing threats, and sent down with them the scripture in truth, that it might judge between men of that concerning which they disagreed: and none disagreed concerning it, except those to whom the same scriptures were delivered, after the declarations ofGod’swill had come unto them, out of envy among themselves. And God directed those who believed, to that truth concerning which they disagreed, by his will: for God directeth whom he pleaseth into the right way. Did ye think ye should enter paradise, when as yet no such thing had happened unto you, as hath happened unto those who have been before you? They suffered calamity, and tribulation, and were afflicted; so that the apostle, and they who believed with him, said: When will the help of Godcome? Is not the help of God nigh? They will ask thee what they shall bestow in alms: Answer, The good which ye bestow, let it be given to parents, and kindred, and orphans, and the poor and the stranger. Whatsoever good ye do, God knoweth it. War is enjoined you against the infidels; but this is hateful unto you: yet perchance ye hate a thing which is better for you, and perchance ye love a thing which is worse for you: but God knoweth and ye know not.
They will ask thee concerning the sacred month, whether they may war therein: Answer, To war therein is grievous; but to obstruct the way of God, and infidelity towards him and to keep men from the holy temple, and to drive out his people from thence, is more grievous in the sight of God, and the temptation to idolatry is more grievous than to kill in the sacred months. They will not cease to war against you, until they turn you from your religion, if they be able: but whoever among you shall turn back from his religion, and die an infidel, their works shall be vain in this world, and the next; they shall be the companions of hell-fire, they shall remain therein forever. But they who believe, and who fly for the sake of religion, and fight in God’s cause, they shall hope for the mercy of God; for God is gracious and merciful. They will ask thee concerning wine and lots: Answer, In both there is great sin, and also some things of use unto men; but their sinfulness is greater than their use. They will ask thee also what they shall bestow in alms: Answer, What ye have to spare. Thus God showeth his signs unto you, that peradventure ye might seriously think of this present world, and of the next. They will also ask thee concerning orphans: Answer, To deal righteously with them is best; and if ye intermeddle with the management of what belongs to them, do them no wrong; they are your brethren: God knoweth the corrupt dealer from the righteous; and if God please, he will surely distress you, for God is mighty and wise. Marry not women who are idolaters, until they believe: verily a maidservant who believeth is better than an idolatress, although she please you more. And give not women who believe in marriage to the idolaters, until they believe: for verily a servant who is a true believer is better than an idolater, though he please you more. They invite unto hell-fire, but God inviteth unto paradise and pardon through his will, and declareth his signs unto men, that they may remember.
They will ask thee also concerning the courses of women: Answer, They are a pollution: therefore separate yourselves from women in their courses, and go not near them, until they be cleansed. But when they are cleansed, go in unto them as God hath commanded you, for God loveth those who repent, and loveth those who are clean. Your wives are your tillage; go in therefore unto your tillage in what manner soever ye will: and do first some act that may be profitable unto your souls; and fear God, and know that ye must meet him; and bear good tidings unto the faithful. Make not God the object of your oaths, that ye will deal justly, and be devout, and make peace among men; for God is he who heareth and knoweth. God will not punish you for an inconsiderate word in your oaths; but he will punish you for that which your hearts have assented unto: God is merciful and gracious. They who vow to abstain from their wives are allowed to wait four months: but if they go back from their vow, verily God is gracious and merciful; and if they resolve on a divorce, God is he who heareth and knoweth. The women who are divorced shall wait concerning themselves until they have their courses thrice, and it shall not be lawful for them to conceal that which God hath created in their wombs, if they believe in God and the last day; and their husbands will act more justly to bring them back at this time, if they desire a reconciliation. The women ought also to behave towards their husbands in like manner as their husbands should behave towards them, according to what is just: but the men ought to have a superiority over them. God is mighty and wise.
Ye may divorce your wives twice; and then either retain them with humanity, or dismiss them with kindness. But it is not lawful for you to take away anything of what ye have given them, unless both fear that they cannot observe the ordinance of God. And if ye fear that they cannot observe the ordinance of God, it shall be no crime in either of them on account of that for which the wife shall redeem herself. These are the ordinances of God; therefore transgress them not; for whoever transgresseth the ordinances of God, they are unjust doers. But if the husband divorce her a third time, she shall not be lawful for him again, until she marry another husband. But if he also divorce her, it shall be no crime in them if they return to each other, if they think they can observe the ordinances of God, and these are the ordinances of God; he declareth them to people of understanding. But when ye divorce women, and they have fulfilled their prescribed time, either retain them with humanity or dismiss them with kindness; and retain them not by violence, so that ye transgress; for he who doth this surely injureth his own soul. And make not the signs of God a jest: but remember God’s favour towards you, and that he hath sent down unto you the book of the Qurán, and wisdom admonishing you thereby; and fear God, and know that God is omniscient.
But when ye have divorced your wives, and they have fulfilled their prescribed time, hinder them not from marrying their husbands, when they have agreed among themselves according to what is honourable. This is given in admonition unto him among you who believeth in God, and the last day. This is most righteous for you, and most pure. God knoweth, but ye know not. Mothers after they are divorced shall give suck unto their children two full years, to him who desireth the time of giving suck to be completed; and the father shall be obliged to maintain them and clothe them in the meantime, according to that which shall be reasonable. No person shall be obliged beyond his ability. A mother shall not be compelled to what is unreasonable on account of her child, nor a father on account of his child. And the heir of the father shall be obliged to do in like manner. But if they choose to wean the child before the end of two years, by common consent and on mutual consideration, it shall be no crime in them. And if ye have a mind to provide a nurse for your children, it shall be no crime in you, in case ye fully pay what ye offer her, according to that which is just. And fear God, and know that God seeth whatsoever ye do. Such of you as die, and leave wives, their wives must wait concerning themselves four months and ten days, and when they shall have fulfilled their term, it shall be no crime in you, for that which they shall do with themselves, according to what is reasonable. God well knoweth that which ye do. (235) And it shall be no crime in you, whether ye make public overtures of marriage unto such women, within the said four months and ten days, or whether ye conceal such your designs in your minds: God knoweth that ye will remember them. But make no promises unto them privately, unless ye speak honourable words; and resolve not on the knot of marriage until the prescribed time be accomplished; and know that God knoweth that which is in your minds, therefore beware of him and know that God is gracious and merciful.
But if ye divorce them before ye have touched them, and have already settled a dowry on them, ye shall give them half of what ye have settled, unless they release any part, or he release part in whose hand the knot of marriage is; and if ye release the whole, it will approach nearer unto piety. And forget not liberality among you, for God seeth that which ye do. Carefully observe the appointed prayers, and the middle prayer, and be assiduous therein, with devotion towards God. (239) But if ye fear any danger, pray on foot or on horseback; and when ye are safe remember God, how he hath taught you what as yet ye knew not. And such of you as shall die and leave wives, ought to bequeath their wives a year’s maintenance, without putting them out of their houses: but if they go out voluntarily, it shall be no crime in you, for that which they shall do with themselves, according to what shall be reasonable: God is mighty and wise. And unto those who are divorced, a reasonable provision is also due: this is a duty incumbent on those who fear God. (242) Thus God declareth his signs unto you, that ye may understand.
Hast thou not considered those who left their habitations (and they were thousands), for fear of death? And God said unto them, Die; then he restored them to life, for God is gracious towards mankind; but the greater part of men do not give thanks. Fight for the religion of God, and know that God is he who heareth and knoweth. Who is he that will lend unto God on good usury? verily he will double it unto him manifold; for God contracteth and extendeth his hand as he pleaseth, and to him shall ye return. Hast thou not considered the assembly of the children of Israel, after the time of Moses; when they said unto their prophet Samuel, Set a king over us, that we may fight for the religion of God.The prophet answered, If ye are enjoined to go to war, will ye be near refusing to fight? They answered, And what should ail us that we should not fight for the religion of God, seeing we are dispossessed of our habitations and deprived of our children? But when they were enjoined to go to war, they turned back, except a few of them: and God knew the ungodly. And their prophet said unto them, Verily God hath set Tálút, king over you: they answered How shall he reign over us, seeing we are more worthy of the kingdom than he, neither is he possessed of great riches? Samuel said, Verily God hath chosen him before you, and hath caused him to increase in knowledge and stature, for God giveth his kingdom unto whom he pleaseth; God is bounteous and wise. And their prophet said unto them, Verily the sign of his kingdom shall be, that the ark shall come unto you: therein shall be tranquillity from your Lord, and the relics which have been left by the family of Moses and the family of Aaron; the angels shall bring it. Verily this shall be a sign unto you, if ye believe.
And when Tálút departed with his soldiers he said, Verily God will prove you by the river; for he who drinketh thereof shall not be on my side (but he who shall not taste thereof he shall be on my side), except he who drinketh a draught out of his hand. And they drank thereof, except a few of them. And when they had passed the river, he and those who believed with him, they said, We have no strength to-day, against Jálút and his forces. But they who considered that they should meet Godat the resurrection said, How often hath a small army discomfited a great one, by the will of God! and God is with those who patiently persevere. (250) And when they went forth to battle against Jálút and his forces, they said. O Lord, pour on us patience, and confirm our feet, and help us against the unbelieving people. Therefore they discomflted them, by the will of God, and David slew Jálút. And God gave him the kingdom and wisdom, and taught him his will; and if God had not prevented men, the one by the other, verily the earth had been corrupted; but God is beneficent towards his creatures. These are the signs of God: we rehearse them unto thee with truth, and thou art surely one of those who have been sent byGod.
These are the apostles; we have preferred some of them before others; some of them hath God spoken unto, and hath exalted the degree of others of them. And we gave unto Jesus the son of Mary manifest signs, and strengthened him with the holy spirit. And if God had so pleased, they who came after those apostles would not have contended among themselves, after manifest signs had been shown unto them. But they fell to variance; therefore some of them believed, and some of them believed not; and if God had so pleased, they would not have contended among themselves; but God doth what he will
O true believers, give alms of that which we have bestowed unto you, before the day cometh wherein there shall be no merchandising, nor friendship, nor intercession. The infidels are unjust doers. Goo! there is no God but he; the living, the self-subsisting: neither slumber nor sleep seizeth him; to him belongeth whatsoever is in heaven, and on earth. Who is he that can intercede with him, but through his good pleasure? He knoweth that which is past, and that which is to come unto them, and they shall not comprehend anything of his knowledge, but so far as he pleaseth. His throne is extended over heaven and earth, and the preservation of both is no burden unto him. He is the high, the mighty. Let there be no violence in religion. Now is right direction manifestly distinguished from deceit: whoever therefore shall deny Tághút, and believe in God, he shall surely take hold on a strong handle, which shall not be broken; God is he who heareth and seeth. (257) God is the patron of those who believe; he shall lead them out of darkness into light: but as to those who believe not, their patrons are Tághút; they shall lead them from the light into darkness; they shall be the companions of hell-fire, they shall remain therein for ever.
Hast thou not considered him who dispured with Abraham concerning his Lord, because God had given him the kingdom? When Abraham said, My Lord is he who giveth life and killeth: he answered, I give life and I kill. Abraham said, Verily God bringeth the sun from the east, now do thou bring it from the west. Whereupon the infidel was confounded: for God directeth not the ungodly people. Or hast thou not considered how he behaved who passed by a city which had been destroyed, even to her foundations? He said, How shall God quicken this city, after she hath been dead? And God caused him to die for an hundred years, and afterwards raised him to life. AndGod said, How long hast thou tarried here? He answered, A day, or part of a day. God said, Nay, thou hast tarried here a hundred years. Now look on thy food and thy drink, they are not yet corrupted; and look on thine ass: and this have we done that we might make thee a sign unto men. And look on the bones of thine ass, how we raise them, and afterwards clothe them with flesh. And when this was shown unto him, he said, I know that God is able to do all things. And when Abraham said, O Lord, show me how thou wilt raise the dead: God said, Dost thou not yet believe? He answered, Yea, but I ask this that my heart may rest at ease. God said, Take therefore four birds, and divide them; then lay a part of them on every mountain; then call them, and they shall come swiftly unto thee: and know that God is mighty and wise.
They who lay out their substance for the religion of God, and afterwards follow not what they have so laid out by reproaches or mischief, they shall have their reward with their Lord; upon them shall no fear come, neither shall they be grieved. (263) A fair speech and to forgive is better than alms followed by mischief. God is rich and merciful. (264) O true believers, make not your alms of none effect by reproaching or mischief, as he who layeth out what he hath to appear unto men to give alms, and believeth not in God and the last day. The likeness of such a one is as a flint covered with earth, on which a violent rain falleth, and leaveth it hard. They cannot prosper in anything which they have gained, for God directeth not the unbelieving people. (265) And the likeness of those who lay out their substance from a desire to please God, and for an establishment for their souls, is as a garden on a hill, on which a violent rain falleth, and it bringeth forth its fruits twofold; and if a violent rain falleth not on it, yet the dew falleth thereon: and God seeth that which ye do. Doth any of you desire to have a garden of palm-trees and vines, through which rivers flow, wherein ye may have all kinds of fruits, and that he may attain to old age, and have a weak offspring? then a violent fiery wind shall strike it, so that it shall be burned. Thus God declareth his signs unto you, that ye may consider.
O true believers, bestow alms of the good things which ye have gained, and of that which we have produced for you out of the earth, and choose not the bad thereof, to give it in alms, such as ye would not accept yourselves, otherwise than by connivance: and know that God is rich and worthy to be praised. The devil threateneth you with poverty, and commandeth you filthy covetousness; but God promiseth you pardon from himself and abundance: God is bounteous and wise. (269) He giveth wisdom unto whom he pleaseth; and he unto whom wisdom is given hath received much good: but none will consider, except the wise of heart. (270) And whatever alms ye shall give, or whatever vow ye shall vow, verily God knoweth it; but the ungodly shall have none to help them. If ye make your alms to appear, it is well; but if ye conceal them, and give them unto the poor, this will be better for you, and will stone for your sins; and God is well informed of that which ye do. The direction of them belongeth not unto thee; but God directeth whom he pleaseth. The good that ye shall give in alms shall redound unto yourselves; and ye shall not give unless out of desire of seeing the face of God. And what good thing ye shall give in alms, it shall be repaid you, and ye shall not be treated unjustly; unto the poor who are wholly employed in fighting for the religion of God, and cannot go to and fro on the earth; whom the ignorant man thinketh rich, because of their modesty: thou shalt know them by this mark, they ask not men with importunity; and what good ye shall give in alms, verily God knoweth it.
They who distribute alms of their substance night and day, in private and in public, shall have their reward with the Lord; on them shall no fear come, neither shall they be grieved. They who devour usury shall not arise from the dead, but as he ariseth whom Satan hath infected by a touch: this shall happen to them because they say, Truly selling is but as usury: and yet God hath permitted selling and forbidden usury. He therefore who when there cometh unto him an admonition from his Lord abstaineth from usury for the future, shall have what is past forgiven him, and his affair belongeth unto God. But whoever returneth to usury, they shall be the companions of hell-fire, they shall continue therein forever. (276) God shall take his blessing from usury, and shall increase alms: for God loveth no infidel, or ungodly person. But they who believe and do that which is right, and observe the stated times of prayer, and pay their legal alms, they shall have their reward with their Lord: there shall come no fear on them, neither shall they be grieved. O true believers, fear God, and remit that which remaineth of usury, if ye really believe; (279) but if ye do it not, hearken unto war, which is declared against you from God and his apostle: yet if ye repent, ye shall have the capital of your money. Deal not unjustly with others, and ye shall not be dealt with unjustly. If there be any debtor under a difficulty of paying his debt, let his creditor wait till it be easy for him to do it; but if ye remit it as alms, it will be better for you, if ye knew it. And fear the day wherein ye shall return unto God; then shall every soul be paid what it hath gained, and they shall not be treated unjustly.
O true believers, when ye bind yourselves one to the other in a debt for a certain time, write it down; and let a writer write between you according to justice, and let not the writer refuse writing according to what God hath taught him; but let him write, and let him who oweth the debt dictate, and let him fear God his Lord, and not diminish aught thereof. But if he who oweth the debt be foolish, or weak, or be not able to dictate himself, let his agent dictate according to equity; and call to witness two witnesses of your neighbouring men; but if there be not two men, let there be a man and two women of those whom ye shall choose for witnesses: if one of those women should mistake, the other of them will cause her to recollect. And the witnesses shall not refuse, whensoever they shall be called. And disdain not to write it down, be it a large debt, or be it a small one, until its time of payment: this will be more just in the sight of God, and more right for bearing witness, and more easy, that ye may not doubt. But if it be a present bargain which ye transact between yourselves, it shall be no crime in you, if ye write it not down. And take witnesses when ye sell one to the other, and let no harm be done to the writer, nor to the witness; which if ye do, it will surely be injustice in you: and fear God, and God will instruct you, for God knoweth all things. And if ye be on a journey, and find no writer, let pledges be taken: but if one of you trust the other, let him who is trusted return what he is trusted with, and fear God his Lord. And conceal not the testimony, for he who concealeth it hath surely a wicked heart: God knoweth that which ye do.
Whatever is in heaven and on earth is God’s; and whether ye manifest that which is in your minds, or conceal it, God will call you to account for it, and will forgive whom he pleaseth, and will punish whom he pleaseth; for God is almighty. The apostle believeth in that which hath been sent down unto him from his Lord, and the faithful also. Every one of them believeth in God, and his angels, and his scriptures, and his apostles: we make no distinction at all between his apostles. And they say, We have heard, and do obey; we implore thy mercy, O Lord, for unto thee must we return. God will not force any soul beyond its capacity: it shall have the good which it gaineth, and it shall suffer the evil which it gaineth. O Lord, punish us not if we forget or act sinfully: O Lord, lay not on us a burden like that which thou hast laid on those who have been before us; neither make us, O Lord, to bear what we have not strength to bear, but be favourable unto us, and spare us, and be merciful unto us. Thou art our patron, help us therefore against the unbelieving nations.
printed by ballantyne, manson and co. edinburgh and london.