THE STORY OF MOHAMMED’S ASCENT INTO HEAVEN.
The Mohammedan writers are not agreed about the time of this transaction, nor as to the nature of it, whether it were only a vision or a real journey. The most received opinion is, that it was in the twelfth year of his mission; and the most orthodox belief is, that it was a real journey. I will give it in the words of Abulfeda, who took his relation out of Al Bokhari. “Hodba the son of Kaled said, that Hamman son of Jahia said, that Cottada had it from Anas the son of Malek the son of Sesa, that the prophet of God gave them a relation of his night-journey to heaven in these words: As I was within the inclosure of the Kaaba (or, as he sometimes told the story, as I lay upon a stone), behold one (Gabriel) came to me with another, and cut me open from the pit of the throat to the groin; this done, he took out my heart, and presently there was brought near me a golden basin full of the water of faith; and he washed my heart, stuffed it, and replaced it. Then was brought to me a white beast less than a mule but larger than an ass, I mounted him, and Gabriel went with me till I came to the first heaven of the world, and when he knocked at the door, it was said to him, ‘Who is there?’ he answered, ‘Gabriel;’ and ‘Who is with you?’ he answered, ‘Mohammed;’ then it was asked, ‘Has the apostle had his mission?’ he replied, ‘Yes;’ whereupon the wish was uttered, ‘May it be fortunate with him, he will now be very welcome;’ and the door was opened, and behold, there was Adam. Upon this Gabriel said to me, This is your father Adam, greet him;’ and I did so, and he returned the greeting, saying, ‘May my best son and the best prophet be prosperous.’ Then he went up with me to the second heaven, and as he knocked at the door a voice demanded, ‘Who is there?’ when he had answered, ‘Gabriel,’ he was further asked, ‘And who is with you?’ to which he replied ‘Mohammed;’ the voice again inquired, ‘Has the apostle had his mission?’ Upon his answering, ‘Yes,’ I again heard the words, ‘May it be fortunate to him, he will now be very welcome;’ and the door was opened, and behold there was Jahia (i. e. John) and Isa (Jesus), and they were cousins-german.’ Gabriel said to me, ‘These are Jahia and Isa, greet them,’ and I did so, and they greeting me in turn, said, ‘May our best brother and the best prophet be successful.”’ It would be nauseous to an English reader to repeat in the same manner, as my author does, the knocking at the doors, the same question and answer, and the exchange of greeting, through the following five heavens; it is sufficient to say that Mohammed being with Gabriel admitted into the third heaven, found Joseph there, Enoch in the fourth heaven, Aaron in the fifth, Moses in the sixth, and Abraham in the seventh; and that when he was near Moses, Moses wept, and being asked the reason of his weeping, said “It was because a young man, whose mission was posterior to his, would have a greater number of his nation enter into paradise, than he should of his countrymen.” “Then,” continued the prophet, “I was carried up to the tree Sedra, beyond which it is not lawful to go. The fruit thereof is as large as the water-pots of Hadjr, and the leaves as big as the ears of an elephant. I saw there also four rivers, and when I asked Gabriel, ‘What rivers are these?’ he answered, ‘Two of them run within paradise, and quite through it, the other two, which run on the outside of it, are the Nile and the Euphrates.’ Then he took me to the house of visitation, into which seventy thousand angels go every day. Here there were set before me three vessels, one of wine, another of milk, and the third of honey. I drank of the milk, whereupon Gabriel said to me, ‘This is the happiest [omen] for thee and thy nation.’” (Another tradition adds, “If you had chosen the wine, your nation would have strayed from the right way.” ) “Lastly, when I came to the throne of God, I was ordered to pray fifty times a day. In my return from thence, being near Moses, he asked me what I had been commanded to do; I told him to pray fifty times a day. ‘And are you able,’ said he, ‘to pray fifty times a day?’ and with an oath he declared, ‘I have made the experiment among men, for I have endeavoured to bring the children of Israel to it, but never could compass it. Go back then to your Lord, and beg an abatement for your nation.’ So I went back, and he took off ten prayers; and coming to Moses, he advised me as before, and I went back again and had ten more abated; then coming to Moses, he repeated the same advice; I therefore returned, and was commanded to pray ten times a day; upon Moses’s repeating what he had said before, I went back again, and was commanded to say prayers five times a day; and when Moses was informed of this last order, he would have had me go back again to my Lord and beg a still further abatement; I replied, ‘I have so often petitioned my Lord that I am ashamed;’ and so saying, I took my leave of him, and prayed for him.”
The foregoing account of Mohammed’s night journey is modest, in comparison of what some authors give us, who, from other traditions, add many other wonders. Thus they tell us, that the beast Alborac would not let Mohammed mount, till he had promised him a place in paradise; that then he took him quietly on his back, and in the twinkling of an eye, Gabriel leading him all the way by the bridle, carried him to Jerusalem; that there a number of the prophets and departed saints appearing at the gate of the temple, saluted him, and, attending him into the chief oratory, desired him to pray for them; that when he came out from thence, there was a ladder of light ready set for them, on which Gabriel and Mohammed went up to the heavens, having first tied Alborac to a ring, where he used to be tied by the prophets who had formerly ridden him. Besides all these wonders, in the first heaven, which was made of pure silver, Mohammed saw the stars hanging from it by chains of gold, (each star being as large as Mount Nobo near Mecca, ) and the angels keeping watch and ward in them, that the devils might not come near to listen and hear what was doing in heaven. As he went farther on, he saw a multitude of angels of every variety of shape, which presided over and interceded for the different kinds of birds and beasts in whose shape they severally appeared. Amongst those of the birds, there was a cock, the angel of the cocks, so large, that his feet standing upon the first heaven, his head reached up to the second, which, at the ordinary rate of travelling upon earth, was at a distance of a five hundred days’ journey. This he makes the distance of every one of the seven heavens from the heaven next above it. Other writers are still more extravagant, and say, the head of the cock reached through all the seven heavens, up to the throne of God: that his wings, which are large in proportion to his height, are decked with carbuncles and pearls: that every morning when God sings a hymn, this cock joins in it, and crows so loud as to be heard by all the creatures upon the earth, except men and fairies: and that upon hearing him all the cocks upon earth crow also. In the second heaven, which was all of pure gold, he saw an angel so large that his head reached up to the third heaven. The third heaven was all made of precious stones. There he found Abraham, who recommended himself to his prayers; and there also, he saw more angels than in either of the former heavens. One of them was of so prodigious a stature that the distance between his two eyes was equal to the length of a journey of 70,000 days. This, Gabriel told him was the angel of death, who had a table before him of an immense bigness, whereon he was continually writing down the names of those who were to be born, and blotting out the names of those who were to die. The fourth heaven was all of emerald; therein he found Joseph the son of Jacob, who desired him to pray for him. In this again the number of angels was greater than in the third heaven, and one of them, whose head reached to the fifth heaven, was always weeping for the sins of mankind, and the miseries they thereby bring upon themselves. The fifth heaven was made of adamant; here he found Moses, who desired his prayers. The sixth heaven was of carbuncle; here was John the Baptist, who also begged his prayers. In the seventh heaven, which was made of heavenly light, he found Jesus, whose prayers he desired for himself. Here, says Prideaux, Mohammed changes his style, and acknowledges Jesus for his superior; this Gagnier thinks improbable, as he taught Jesus to be no more than a creature, and pretended that he himself was the most perfect of all creatures. Perhaps it will solve this difficulty to observe, that this privilege of perfection was not yet granted to Mohammed. In this heaven were more angels than in all the rest of the heavens; and among them one, a very extraordinary angel, who had 70,000 heads, and in every head 70,000 mouths, in every mouth 70,000 tongues, and every tongue uttering 70,000 distinct voices, with which he was day and night incessantly praising God.
Gabriel having brought him thus far, told him he was not permitted to go any farther, and directed him to ascend the rest of the way by himself. He did so, going through water and snow, and other difficulties, till he heard a voice say, “Mohammed, salute thy Creator.” Ascending still higher, he came into a place of such exceeding brightness that his eyes could not bear it. Here was placed the throne of the Almighty, on the right side whereof was written, “La Ellah Ellalla, Mohammed resul Ellah.” “There is no God but God, Mohammed is the prophet of God.” The same inscription was also inscribed upon all the gates of the seven heavens. Having approached to the presence of God, as near as within two bow-shots, he saw him, he said, sitting upon his throne, with a covering of 70,000 veils upon his face. In token of his favour, God put forth his hand and laid it on him, which was of such exceeding coldness as to pierce to the very marrow of his back: that, after this, God talked familiarly with him, taught him many mysteries, instructed him in the whole of his law, gave him many things in charge concerning his teaching it. Moreover, he bestowed upon him several privileges, as that he should be the most perfect of all creatures; that, at the day of judgment, he should be advanced above all the rest of mankind, and that he should be the redeemer of all who believed in him. Then, returning to Gabriel, they both went back the same way they had come, passing successively through all the heavens. Upon arriving at Jerusalem, he found Alborac where he had been left tied, and was brought back by him to Mecca in the same manner as he had been carried from thence, and all this in the tenth part of a night.
On his relating this extravagant story to the people the next morning after the night on which he pretended it had happened, it was received by them, as it deserved, by a general shout of derision. Some laughed at it as ridiculous; others were moved with indignation at his attempting to impose upon them with so absurd and impudent a lie, and bade him ascend up to heaven before their eyes, and they would believe; while some even of his disciples were so shocked at so improbable a fiction, that they immediately left him. To prevent, therefore, further defection from him, Abubeker came forward and vouched for the truth of all Mohammed had related; and upon this account he received from the impostor the title of Assaddick, “the just man.” However, as this journey to heaven was a great stumbling-block even to his friends, Mohammed does not appear to have thought Abubeker’s asseveration sufficient, for he in two places of the Koran brings God himself to bear witness to the truth of the transactions of this night.
How absurd soever this story seems, Mohammed knew that he would be sure to find his account in it, if he could but once get it believed. It tended to raise his authority among his followers to that height, that they could never reject any doctrine he should afterwards advance, nor refuse obedience to whatever he should think proper to command. And here, in addition to the Koran, or written law, was laid a foundation for an oral law of a like kind to that which the Jews possess, consisting of the traditions of those directions which they say Moses received at the same time with the written law, during his forty days’ stay upon mount Sinai, and were by him dictated by word of mouth to those about him. Accordingly the Mohammedans pay as great a regard to many traditions of the sayings and actions of Mohammed, as to the Koran itself. And as the Jews have several books in which their oral law is recited and explained, so the Mohammedans have their Sunnah, or tradition; in which the sayings and doings of Mohammed, in any way referring either to religion or law, are narrated in the manner set down p. 20, from Al Bokhari, being generally carried up from the collector of the tradition through several hands to one of Mohammed’s intimate companions, who either had the saying from his own mouth, or was an eye-witness of the recorded fact. They have also many commentators upon that Sunnah.
We may observe here, that different traditions give different accounts of the places of the prophets, Abraham, Moses, &c. Gagnier too, has a much longer relation of the night journey taken from Abu Horaira, one of the six authors of traditions, who had every thing from the mouth of Mohammed himself. The following are some of the principal things mentioned by him, but not given in the other traditions; 1. Gabriel is made to appear in the form he was created in, with a complexion white as snow, and white hair finely plaited and hanging in curls about his shoulders, &c.; upon his forehead were two plates, on one was written, “There is no God but God;” on the other, “Mohammed is the apostle of God;” about him he had also ten thousand little perfume-bags full of musk and saffron; five hundred pair of wings; and from one wing to the other there was the distance of a journey of five hundred years. 2. Gaguier gives a fuller description of the beast Alborac; he had the face of a man, with a mane of fine pearls, &c., his very eyes two large emeralds, bright as stars, &c., while his two large wings were enamelled with pearls and precious stones, and were bordered with light; he had a human soul, and understood what was said, but could not speak; speech, however, was for once given to him, at this time, to enable him to ask Gabriel to intercede with Mohammed, that he might have a place in paradise, which the prophet promised him. 3. Gabriel made the prophet stop and alight upon Mount Sinai, and pray, after bowing twice; whereupon he got up again, and went on till he was over Bethlehem; there he was ordered to alight, and to say the prayer a second time with two bowings. 4. As he went along, he twice heard an earnest call to him to stop; and after this a young woman finely dressed accosted him, offered her hand, and told him she was entirely at his service: but Alborac continued his pace. Gabriel subsequently told him, that if he had obeyed the first call, his nation would all have become Jews; if the second, they would have been Christians: and that the woman who tempted him was the world; and that if he had stopped to answer her, his nation would have chosen the enjoyment of this world in preference to eternal happiness, and so have been cast into hell. 5. He met a fine looking old man of the most venerable aspect; he gave the prophet a tender embrace, by whom it was returned; Gabriel told him this was Islam. 6. They went to the temple of the resurrection (in Jerusalem), and met there a man with three pitchers, one of water, one of milk, the third of wine; Mohammed, being ordered to choose, drank of the milk; the consequence of which was that his nation would, to the day of resurrection, be always directed in the right way; but hearing that if he had drunk it all, none of his nation would ever have gone to hell, he begged he might take the milk again, and drink it all up: but Gabriel said, It is too late, the thing is determined. 7. A ladder with steps of gold and precious stones was placed where Jacob’s ladder had been formerly set, when he saw the angels going up and down; on this Gabriel ascended, hugging Mohammed close to his bosom, and covering him with his wings. 8. In the fifth heaven he saw an angel so large that he could have swallowed the seven heavens and seven earths as easily as a pea: and another angel of a most frightful aspect, who was the governor of hell, of which also the prophet had a sight. 9. In the sixth heaven he saw an angel, half snow and half fire; upon which he prayed him who could join together things so contrary to unite his several believers, in obedience to him. 10. In the seventh heaven the impostor has the impudence to say, he heard God and one of the angels alternately repeat the profession, “God is one, and Mohammed is his apostle.” 11. Gabriel stopped at the tree Sedra, as it was not permitted to any angel to go any further; but, upon Mohammed being frightened at his leaving him, the angel was ordered to conduct him further; which he did, till he came to a sea of light, where he consigned him to the angel who presided over it: then this angel took him and carried him to another sea of light, where another angel presided, of such a stature, that if every thing created in heaven and earth were put into his hand it would be but as a grain of mustard seed in a large field.
Then he was carried to a large black sea, and, going ashore, passed by several different choirs of angels, till he came to Asraphel, an angel with a million of wings, and a million of heads; in every head a million of mouths, &c. This angel supported the throne of God on the nape of his neck. Mohammed, being now commanded to look up, saw upon the throne everything that is contained in heaven and earth, in epitome. 12. Besides the angel of the cocks already mentioned, he also saw angels of such gigantic stature, that the distance from the centre of the earth to the seventh heaven would not equal the height of their ancles. Then he was conducted by a retinue of 70,000 angels within the 70,000 veils; and, the last veil of the unity being lifted up, saw 70,000,000 of angels prostrate, adoring the Supreme Being; besides 70,000 more, who had the care of the veils. Upon this there reigned a profound silence, till a voice exclaimed, “Mohammed, approach near to the powerful and glorious God:” upon which he advanced, at one step, a journey of five hundred years; and, the same command being twice repeated, he took two more such steps. At the next moment the ground he stood upon was lifted up, so that he was within the light of his Lord, and was quite absorbed by it and dazzled. Fearing he should be blinded, Mohammed shut his eyes, but God opened the eyes of his heart: and now, being with in the veil, he saw unutterable things without number. The Lord then laid one hand on his breast, and the other upon his shoulder, upon which a cold penetrated into his bowels, but at the same time he was regaled with an inexpressible sweetness, and an odour infinitely delightful. And now, the apostle was admitted to a conversation with his Creator, of which I shall notice only the principal points. Seeing a bloody sword suspended, he prayed it might not hang over his nation: and was answered, “I send thee with the sword, but thy nation shall not perish by the sword.” Next he begged that some degree of excellence might be given to him, as had been done to other prophets, as Abraham, Moses, &c., and was answered, there are two chapters in the Koran, which whoever reads shall have everything necessary in this world, and enter into paradise in the life to come: “As for you Mohammed, I have written your name in heaven along with my own: mention is never made of me either in heaven or earth, but you are mentioned also: no crier shall call to prayers without saying, ‘God is but one, and Mohammed is the apostle of God; nor will I accept any prayers if that profession is not made.’” He further desired pardon for his nation, and was promised a pardon for seventy thousand of them; and upon his beseeching that the number might be increased, God took three handfuls of infinitely small dust, and scattered it, indicating thereby that so many Mussulmans would be saved, that none but God alone should be able to tell their number.
The first person to whom Mohammed related his night-journey was Al Abbas, who advised him by all means to keep it to himself; for, said he, if you speak of it in public you will be called a liar, and be otherwise insulted. Omm Hana, daughter of Abu Taleb, earnestly besought him to the same purpose, and even laid hold of his vest to detain him; but he, angrily breaking from her, went and declared it in a large company, who received it with much derision. Besides many other taunts, Abu Jehel called out to him, saying, “Mohammed, you say you have been in the temple of Jerusalem, pray give us some description of it; as for me, I have been in it more than once.” Upon this, Mohammed whispered in the ear of Abubeker, that he was quite at a loss what to say; because it was in the night that he was there. Hearing this, Abubeker was in such a consternation that he fell to the ground; but Mohammed soon got out of his difficulty by the help of his friend Gabriel the angel, who, unseen by every body else, held in his view a model of the temple, which enabled him to answer all questions they put to him as to the number and situation of the doors, lamps, &c., so exactly and according to the truth, as to strike the hearers with astonishment. So much may suffice from Abu Horaira, whose tradition is accounted of great authority, and by every reader it will doubtless be deemed as credible, at least, as the other from Anas, son of Malek.
In the thirteenth year of Mohammed’s mission, Musaab son of Omair, with seventy men and eighteen women, believers, and some others not yet converted, came to Mecca, and promised the apostle to meet him at night at a place called Akaba. He went to them accompanied by his uncle Al Abbas, who, though he favoured his nephew’s interest, had not yet embraced Islamism. Al Abbas made a speech, wherein he recommended to them to stand by his nephew, whom they had invited to come among them. Mohammed proposed that they should take an oath to defend him as they would their wives and children; and when they demanded, “What shall we get, if we be killed upon your account?” he answered, “Paradise.” “Stretch out your hand then,” said they. Upon his complying, they took the oath and returned to Yathreb. Then the prophet ordered his converts among the people of Mecca, to get away secretly to Yathreb, while he himself should stay at Mecca, till he should receive the divine permission to leave it. Abubeker and Ali remained with him.
The Koreishites, finding the prophet had thus entered into a league with those of Yathreb, and that his party at Mecca stuck close to him, determined to assassinate him. Being informed of their designs, he made his escape by throwing, says my author, a handful of dust upon the heads of the infidels; but first having put his own green vest upon Ali, and ordered him to lie down in his place, which he did. The assassins peeped in through a crevice of the door, and seeing the green vest, thought themselves sure of him, till Ali came out in the morning; and then, finding their mistake, sent out parties in pursuit of him. Here Mohammed had a narrow escape. The pursuing party halted before the cave where he and Abubeker had hid themselves. During the three days they had lain hid here, a spider, they tell us, has spun its web over the mouth of the cave, and a pigeon laid two eggs near it. The sight of these objects convinced their enemies that the cave could not lately have been entered by man, and so they passed on without searching it. As soon as their pursuers had departed, they came out; and, by the help of a guide, got safe to Yathreb. Here they met with a kind reception, for some of the helpers, eager to entertain him, laid hold of the bridle of his camel; “Let her go,” said he, “she is obstinate:” at last, when she came to a certain place, she knelt, and the prophet alighting, walked on till he met Abu Ayub one of the helpers, who took his baggage off his camel, and received him into his house. He lived with Abu Ayub till he had built a house of his own, and settled there till his death. From this event the town lost its ancient name—Yathreb, and was called Medinato’l Nabi, “the town of the prophet,” and at last, Medina, “the town,” by way of eminence; in the same manner as London is often called the town. This Hejira, or Flight of Mohammed, is the era from which the Mohammedans date all their transactions.
Mohammed had hitherto propagated his religion by fair means only. During his stay at Mecca, he had declared his business was only to preach and admonish; and that whether people believed or not was none of his concern. He had hitherto confined himself to the arts of persuasion, promising, on the one hand, the joys of paradise to all who should believe in him, and who should, for the hopes of them, disregard the things of this world, and even bear persecution with patience and resignation: and, on the other, deterring his hearers from what he called infidelity, by setting before them both the punishments inflicted in this world upon Pharaoh and others, who despised the warnings of the prophets sent to reclaim them; and also the torments of hell, which would be their portion in the world to come. Now, however, when he had got a considerable town at his command, and a good number of followers firmly attached to him, he began to sing another note. Gabriel now brings him messages from heaven to the effect, that whereas, other prophets had come with miracles and been rejected, he was to take different measures, and propagate Islamism by the sword. And accordingly, within a year after his arrival at Medina, he began what was called the holy war. For this purpose, he first of all instituted a brotherhood, joining his Ansars or helpers, and his Mohajerins or refugees together in pairs; he himself taking Ali for his brother. It was in allusion to this, that Ali, afterwards when preaching at Cufa, said, “I am the servant of God, and brother to his apostle.”
In the second year of the Hejira, Mohammed changed the Kebla of the Mussulman, which before this time had been towards Jerusalem, ordering them henceforth to turn towards Mecca, when they prayed. In the same year, he also appointed the fast of the month Ramadan.
Mohammed having now a pretty large congregation at Medina, found it necessary to have some means of calling them to prayers; for this purpose he was thinking of employing a horn, or some instrument of wood, which should be made to emit a loud sound by being struck upon. But his doubts were settled this year by a dream of one of his disciples, in which a man appearing to him in a green vest recommended as a better way, that the people should be summoned to prayers by a crier calling out, “Allah acbar, Allah acbar,” &c.; “God is great, God is great, there is but one God, Mohammed is his prophet; come to prayers, come to prayers.” Mohammed approved of the scheme, and this is the very form in use to this day among the Mussulmans; who, however, in the call to morning prayers, add the words, “Prayer is better than sleep, prayer is better than sleep;” a sentiment not unworthy the consideration of those who are professors of a better religion.
The same year, the apostle sent some of his people to plunder a caravan going to Mecca; which they did, and brought back two prisoners to Medina. This was the first act of hostility committed by the Mussulmans against the idolaters. The second, was the battle of Beder. The history of the battle is thus given by Abulfeda:—“The apostle, hearing that a caravan of the Meccans was coming home from Syria, escorted by Abu Sofian at the head of thirty men, placed a number of soldiers in ambuscade to intercept it. Abu Sofian, being informed thereof by his spies, sent word immediately to Mecca, whereupon all the principal men, except Abu Laheb, who, however, sent Al Asum son of Hesham in his stead, marched out to his assistance, making in all 950 men, whereof 200 were cavalry. The apostle of God went out against them with 313 men, of whom seventy-seven were refugees from Mecca, the rest being helpers from Medina; they had with them only two horses and seventy camels, upon which they rode by turns. The apostle encamped near a well called Beder, from the name of the person who was owner of it, and had a hut made where he and Abubeker sat. As soon as the armies were in sight of each other, three champions came out from among the idolaters, Otha son of Rabia, his brother Shaiba, and Al Walid son of Otha; against the first of these, the prophet sent Obeidah son of Hareth, Hamza against the second, and Ali against the third: Hamza and Ali slew each his man and then went to the assistance of Obeidah, and having killed his adversary, brought off Obeidah, who, however, soon after died of a wound in his foot. All this while the apostle continued in his but in prayer, beating his breast so violently that his cloak fell off his shoulders, and he was suddenly taken with a palpitation of the heart; soon recovering, however, he comforted Abubeker, telling him God’s help was come. Having uttered these words, he forthwith ran out of his but and encouraged his men, and taking a handful of dust, threw it towards the Koreishites, and said, ‘May their faces be confounded;’ and immediately they fled. After the battle, Abdallah, the son of Masud, brought the head of Abu Jehel to the apostle, who gave thanks to God; Al As, brother to Abu Jehel, was also killed; Al Abbas also, the prophet’s uncle, and Ocail son of Abu Taleb, were taken prisoners. Upon the news of this defeat, Abu Laheb died of grief within a week.” Of the Mussulmans died fourteen martyrs, (for so they call all such as die fighting for Islamism.) The number of idolaters slain was seventy; among whom my author names one of chief note, Hantala son of Abu Sofian, and Nawfal brother to Kadija. Ali slew six of the enemy with his own hand.
The prophet ordered the dead bodies of the enemy to be thrown into a pit, and remained three days upon the field of battle dividing the spoil; on occasion of which a quarrel arose between the helpers and the refugees, and to quiet them, the 8th chapter of the Koran was brought from heaven. It begins thus, “They will ask thee concerning the spoils: say, The spoils belong to God and his apostle:” and again in the same chapter, “And know that whenever ye gain any, a fifth part belongeth to God, and to the apostle, and his kindred, and the orphans, and the poor.” The other four-fifths are to be divided among those who are present at the action. The apostle, when he returned to Safra in his way to Medina, ordered Ali to behead two of his prisoners.
The victory at Beder was of great importance to Mohammed: to encourage his men, and to increase the number of his followers, he pretended that two miracles were wrought in his favour, in this, as also in several subsequent battles:—1st, that God sent his angels to fight on his side, and 2nd, made his army appear to the enemy much greater than it really was. Both these miracles are mentioned in the Koran, chap. viii. Al Abbas said, he was taken prisoner by a man of a prodigious size (an angel, of course); no wonder, then, he became a convert.
“Ommia, the son of Abu’l Salat, was one of the chief of the unbelievers: being one who could read, he had objected to the mission of the prophet, and was arrived to that pitch of madness, as to hope to be received for an apostle himself. He had been in Syria when the battle was fought, and, as he was returning home, he was shown the well into which the carcases of the slain, and among these two of his near relations, had been thrown. In token of grief, he cut off the ears of his camel; and, standing by the well, recited a long elegy, of which the following lines are a part:
- “Have I not wailed th’heroic sons of nobles,
- Their wounded bodies and their fractured ribs,
- In the thick wood as mourns the lonely dove?
- Like her, with me, lament, ye mourning women,
- With sighs and groans, low sitting on the ground.
- Alas! the peers and princes of the people
- How fallen, at Beder and Al Kandali!
- All night exposed, lie there both old and young,
- Naked and breathless.
- Oh, what a change is come to Mecca’s vale!
- Even sandy desert plains are drenched in tears.”
As soon as the Mussulmans returned to Medina, the Koreishites sent to offer a ransom for their prisoners, which was accepted, and distributed among those who had taken them, according to the quality of the prisoners. Some had 1000 drachms for their share.. Those who had only a small or no part of the ransom Mohammed rewarded with donations, so as to content them all.
The Jews had many a treaty with Mohammed, and lived peaceably at Medina; till a Jew, having affronted an Arabian milk-woman, was killed by a Mussulman. In revenge for this, the Jews killed the Mussulman, whereupon a general quarrel ensued. The Jews fled to their castles; but after a siege of fifteen days, were forced to surrender at discretion. Mohammed ordered their hands to be tied behind them, determined to put them all to the sword, and was with great difficulty prevailed upon to spare their lives, and take all their property. Kaab, son of Ashraf, was one of the most violent among the Jews against Mohammed. He had been at Mecca, and, with some pathetic verses upon the unhappy fate of those who had fallen at Beder, excited the Meccans to take up arms. Upon his return to Medina, he rehearsed the same verses among the lower sort of people and the women. Mohammed being told of these under-hand practices, said, one day, “Who will rid me of the son of Ashraf?” when Mohammed, son of Mosalama, one of the helpers, answered, “I am the man, O apostle of God, that will do it:” and immediately took with him Salcan son of Salama, and some other Moslems, who were to lie in ambush. In order to decoy Kaab out of his castle, which was a very strong one, Salcan, his foster-brother, went alone to visit him in the dusk of the evening; and, entering into conversation, told him some little stories of Mohammed, which he knew would please him. When he got up to take his leave, Kaab, as he expected, attended him to the gate; and, continuing the conversation, went on with him till he came near the ambuscade, where Mohammed and his companions fell upon him and stabbed him.
Abu Sofian, meditating revenge for the defeat at Beder, swore he would neither anoint himself nor come near his women till he was even with Mohammed. Setting out towards Medina with two hundred horse, he posted a party of them near the town, where one of the helpers fell into their hands, and was killed. Mohammed, being informed of it, went out against them, but they all fled; and, for the greater expedition, threw, away some sacks of meal, part of their provision. From which circumstance this was called the meal-war.
Abu Sofian, resolving to make another and more effectual effort, got together a body of three thousand men, whereof seven hundred were cuirassiers and two hundred cavalry; his wife Henda, with a number of women, followed in the rear, beating drums, and lamenting the fate of those slain at Beder, and exciting the idolaters to fight courageously. The apostle would have waited for them in the town, but as his people were eager to advance against the enemy, he set out at once with one thousand men; but of these one hundred turned back, disheartened by the superior numbers of the enemy. He encamped at the foot of Mount Ohud, having the mountain in his rear. Of his nine hundred men only one hundred had armour on; and as for horses, there was only one besides that on which he himself rode. Mosaab carried the prophet’s standard; Kaled, son of Al Walid, led the right wing of the idolaters; Acrema, son of Abu Jehel, the left; the women kept in the rear, beating their drums. Henda cried out to them, “Courage, ye sons of Abdal Dari; courage! smite with all your swords.”
Mohammed placed fifty archers in his rear, and ordered them to keep their post. Then Hamza fought stoutly, and killed Arta, the standard-bearer of the idolaters; and as Seba, son of Abdal Uzza, came near him, Hamza struck off his head also; but was himself immediately after run through with a spear by Wabsha, a slave, who lurked behind a rock with that intent. Then Ebu Kamia slew Mosaab, the apostle’s standard-bearer; and taking him for the prophet cried out, “I have killed Mohammed.” When Mosaab was slain the standard was given to Ali.
At the beginning of the action, the Mussulmans attacked the idolaters so furiously that they gave ground, fell back, upon their rear, and threw it into disorder. The archers seeing this, and expecting a complete victory, left their posts, contrary to the express orders that had been given them, and came forward from fear of losing their share of the plunder. In the meantime, Kaled, advancing with his cavalry, fell furiously upon the rear of the Mussulmans, crying aloud at the same time, that Mohammed was slain. This cry, and the finding themselves attacked on all sides, threw the Mussulmans into such consternation, that the idolaters made great havoc among them, and were able to press on so near the apostle as to beat him down with a shower of stones and arrows. He was wounded in the lip, and two arrow-heads stuck in his face. Abu Obeidah pulled out first one and then the other; at each operation one of the apostle’s teeth came out. As Sonan Abu Saïd wiped the blood from off his face, the apostle exclaimed, “He that touches my blood, and handles it tenderly, shall not have his blood spilt in the fire” (of hell). In this action, it is said, Telhah, whilst he was putting a breast-plate upon Mohammed, received a wound upon his hand, which maimed it for ever. Omar and Abubeker were also wounded. When the Mussulmans saw Mohammed fall, they concluded he was killed, and took to flight; and even Othman was hurried along by the press of those that fled. In a little time, however, finding Mohammed was alive, a great number of his men returned to the field; and, after a very obstinate fight, brought him off, and carried him to a neighbouring village. The Mussulmans had seventy men killed, the idolaters lost only twenty-two.
The Koreishites had no other fruit of their victory but the gratification of a poor spirit of revenge. Henda, and the women who had fled with her upon the first disorder of the idolaters, now returned, and committed great barbarities upon the dead bodies of the apostle’s friends. They cut off their ears and noses, and made bracelets and necklaces of them; Henda pulled Hamza’s liver out of his body, and chewed and swallowed some of it. Abu Sofian, having cut pieces off the cheeks of Hamza, put them upon the end of his spear, and cried out aloud, “The success of war is uncertain; after the battle of Beder comes the battle of Ohud; now, Hobal, thy religion is victorious.” Notwithstanding this boasting, he decamped the same day. Jannabi ascribes his retreat to a panic; however that may have been, Abu Sofian sent to propose a truce for a year, which was agreed to.
When the enemy were retreated towards Mecca, Mohammed went to the field of battle to look for the body of Hamza. Finding it shamefully mangled, in the manner already related, he ordered it to be wrapped in a black cloak, and then prayed over it, repeating seven times, “Allah acbar,” &c. “God is great,” &c. In the same manner he prayed over every one of the martyrs, naming Hamza again with every one of them; so that Hamza had the prayers said over him seventy-two times. But, as if this were not enough, he declared that Gabriel had told him he had been received into the seventh heaven, and welcomed with this eulogium, “Hamza, the lion of God, and the lion of his prophet.”
The Mussulmans were much chagrined at this defeat. Some expressed a doubt of the prophet being as high in the divine favour as he pretended; since he had suffered such an overthrow by infidels. Others murmured at the loss of their friends and relations. To pacify them he used various arguments; telling them, the sins of some had been the cause of disgrace to all; that they had been disobedient to orders, in quitting their post for the sake of plunder; that the devil put it into the minds of those who turned back; their flight, however, was forgiven, because God is merciful; that their defeat was intended to try them, and to show them who were believers and who not; that the event of war is uncertain; that the enemy had suffered as well as they; that other prophets before him had been defeated in battle; that death is unavoidable. And here Mohammed’s doctrine of fate was of as great service to him as it was afterwards to his successors, tending as it did to make his people fearless, and desperate in fight. For he taught them; that the time of every man’s death is so unalterably fixed, that he cannot die before the appointed hour; and, when that is come, no caution whatever can prolong his life one moment; so that they who were slain in battle would certainly have died at the same time, if they had been at home in their houses; but, as they now died fighting for the faith, they had thereby gained a crown of martyrdom, and entered immediately into paradise, where they were in perfect bliss with their Lord.
In the beginning of the next year, Mohammed, hearing the Asadites had a design against the country about Medina, sent a party of fifty men to ravage their lands, who brought away a great number of sheep, and so many camels that every man had seven for his share. About this time, too, being informed that Sofian, son of Kaled, the Hodhailite, was raising men against him, he ordered Abdallah, son of Onais, a determined bravo, to go and assassinate him. Abdallah having performed this office, was rewarded by Mohammed with his walking-stick, which he carried about with him ever after, and ordered it to be buried with him.
Mohammed sent also Amru, with an assistant, to Mecca, to assassinate Abu Sofian; but the object of his visit being discovered, Amru, with his companion, was forced to flee, and returned to Medina without accomplishing his task. This year the prophet had a revelation, commanding him to prohibit wine and games of chance. Some say the prohibition was owing to a quarrel occasioned by these things among his followers.
This year also, the people of Edlo and Al-Kara, having sent a deputation to desire the prophet to send some Mussulmans to instruct them in his religion, he sent with them six men, of whom they treacherously massacred three, and took the other three prisoners. Of the prisoners, one was killed attempting to make his escape; the other two were sold to the Koreishites, who put them to a cruel death.
In the fifth year of the Hejira, Mohammed, informed by his spies of a design against Medina, surrounded it with a ditch, which was no sooner finished than the Meccans, with several tribes of Arabs, sat down before it, to the number of ten thousand men. The appearance of so great a force threw the Mussulmans into a consternation. Some were ready to revolt; and one of them exclaimed aloud, “Yesterday the prophet promised us the wealth of Cosroes and Cæsar, and now he is forced to hide himself behind a nasty ditch.” In the meantime, Mohammed, skilfully concealing his real concern, and setting as good a face upon the matter as he could, marched out with three thousand Mussulmans, and formed his army at a little distance behind the entrenchment. The two armies continued facing each other for twenty days, without any action, except a discharge of arrows on both sides. At length, some champions of the Koreishites, Amru son of Abdud, Acrema son of Abu Jehel, and Nawfal son of Abdallah, coming to the ditch, leaped over it; and, wheeling about between the ditch and the Moslem army, challenged them to fight. Ali readily accepted the challenge, and came forward against his uncle Amru, who said to him, “Nephew, what a pleasure am I now going to have in killing you.” Ali replied, “No; it is I that am to have a much greater pleasure in killing you.” Amru immediately alighted, and having hamstrung his horse, advanced towards Ali, who had also dismounted, and was ready to receive him. They immediately engaged, and, in turning about to flank each other, raised such a dust that they could not be distinguished, only the strokes of their swords might be heard. At last, the dust being laid, Ali was seen with his knee upon the breast of his adversary, cutting his throat. Upon this, the other two champions went back as fast as they came. Nawfal, however, in leaping the ditch, got a fall, and being overwhelmed with a shower of stones, cried out, “I had rather die by the sword than thus.” Ali hearing him, leaped into the ditch and despatched him. He then pursued after Acrema, and having wounded him with a spear, drove him and his companions back to the army. Here they related what had happened; which put the rest in such fear, that they were ready to retreat; and when some of their tents had been overthrown by a storm, and discord had arisen among the allies, the Koreishites, finding themselves forsaken by their auxiliaries, returned to Mecca. Mohammed made a miracle of this retreat; and published upon it this verse of the Koran, “God sent a storm, and legions of angels, which you did not see.”
Upon the prophet’s return into the town, while he was laying by his armour and washing himself, Gabriel came and asked him, “Have you laid by your arms? we have not laid by ours; go and attack them,” pointing to the Koraidites, a Jewish tribe confederated against him. Whereupon, Mohammed went immediately, and besieged them so closely in their castles, that after twenty-five days, they surrendered at discretion. He referred the settlement of the conditions to Saad, son of Moad; who being wounded by an arrow at the ditch, had wished he might only live to be revenged. Accordingly, he decreed, that all the men, in number between six and seven hundred, should be put to the sword, the women and children sold for slaves, and their goods given to the soldiers for a prey. Mohammed extolled the justice of this sentence, as a divine direction sent down from the seventh heaven, and had it punctually executed. Saad, dying of his wound presently after, Mohammed performed his funeral obsequies, and made an harangue in praise of him.
One Salam, a Jew, having been very strenuous in stirring up the people against the prophet, some zealous Casregites desired leave to go and assassinate him. Permission being readily granted, away they went to the Jew’s house, and being let in by his wife, upon their pretending they were come to buy provisions, they murdered him in his bed, and made their escape.
Towards the end of this year. Mohammed, going into the house of Zaid, did not find him at home, but happened to espy his wife Zainab so much in dishabille, as to discover beauties enough to touch a heart so amorous as his was. He could not conceal the impression made upon him; but cried out, “Praised be God, who turneth men’s hearts as he pleases!” Zainab heard him, and told it to her husband when he came home. Zaid, who had been greatly obliged to Mohammed, was very desirous to gratify him, and offered to divorce his wife. Mohammed pretended to dissuade him from it, but Zaid easily perceiving how little he was in earnest, actually divorced her. Mohammed thereupon took her to wife, and celebrated the nuptials with extraordinary magnificence, keeping open house upon the occasion. Notwithstanding this step gave great offence to many who could not bring themselves to brook that a prophet should marry his son’s wife; for he had before adopted Zaid for his son. To salve the affair, therefore, he had recourse to his usual expedient: Gabriel brought him a revelation from heaven, in which God commands him to take the wife of his adopted son, on purpose, that for ever after, believers might have no scruple in marrying the divorced wives or widows of their adopted sons; which the Arabs had before looked upon as unlawful. The apostle is even reproved for fearing men, in this affair, whereas, he ought to fear God. Koran, chap. xxxiii.
In the sixth year he subdued several tribes of the Arabs. Among the captives was a woman of great beauty, named Juweira, whom Mohammed took to wife, and by way of dowry, released all her kindred that were taken prisoners. About the same time a servant of Omar, fighting with one of the helpers, occasioned a quarrel between the helpers and the refugees; whereupon, Abdallah, son of Abu Solul, a Medinian unbeliever, reflected upon the refugees, as a people that would encroach upon the Medinians, if the latter did not prevent it in time, as now they might easily do. These words being reported to the prophet, Omar, who stood by, would have had him send some one to strike off the head of Abdallah; but his zeal was checked by the prophet asking, “Will not people say, ‘What, may Mohammed put to death those that are with him, as he pleases?’” Presently after, the son of Abdallah, who had heard of the affair, came in, and said, “O apostle of God, I am told you have some thoughts of condemning my father to death: if that be your intent, command me, and I will immediately bring you his head.” So well had this youth, who had embraced Islamism, been instructed in the humane doctrine taught in the Koran, chap. xlvii., in these words, “If ye meet with any unbelievers, strike off their heads, until ye have made a great slaughter of them: and bind them in strong bonds and give them their liberty freely, or take a ransom, until the weapons of war are laid down.” The apostle, who well knew when it was for his interest to appear merciful and placable, bade the young man be kind to his father, and not take anything amiss of him.
When Mohammed went upon any expedition, it was generally determined by lots which of his wives should go with him; at this time it fell to Ayesha’s lot to accompany him. Upon their return to Medina, Ayesha was accused of intriguing with one of the officers of the army, and was in great disgrace for about a month. The prophet was exceedingly chagrined to have his best beloved wife accused of adultery; but his fondness for her prevailed over his resentment, and she was restored to his favour upon her own; protestation of her innocence. This, however, did not quite satisfy the world, nor, indeed, was the prophet’s mind perfectly at ease on the subject, until Gabriel brought him a revelation, wherein Ayesha is declared innocent of the crime laid to her charge; while those who accuse believers of any crime, without proof, are severely reproved, and a command given, that whosoever accuses chaste women, and cannot produce four eye-witnesses, in support of the charge, shall receive eighty stripes. Koran, chap. xxiv. In obedience to this command, all those who had raised this report upon Ayesha were publicly scourged, except Abdallah, son of Abu Solul, who was too considerable a man to be so dealt with, notwithstanding he had been particularly industrious in spreading the scandal.
Mohammed being now increased in power, marched his army against Mecca, and a battle being fought on the march, wherein neither side gaining the advantage, a truce was agreed upon for ten years; on the following conditions:—All within Mecca; who were disposed, were to be at liberty to join Mohammed; and those who had a mind to leave him and return to Mecca, were to be equally free to do so; but, for the future, if any Meccans deserted to him, they should be sent back upon demand; and that Mohammed or any of the Mussulmans might come to Mecca, provided they came unarmed, and tarried not above three days at a time.
Mohammed was now so well confirmed in his power, that he took upon himself the authority of a king; and was, by the chief men of his army, inaugurated under a tree near Medina; and having, by the truce obtained for his followers, free access to Mecca, he ordained they should henceforward make their pilgrimages thither. Among the Arabs it had been an ancient usage to visit the Kaaba one e a year, to worship there the heathen deities. Mohammed, therefore, thought it expedient to comply with a custom with which they were pleased, and which, besides, was so beneficial to his native place, by bringing a great concourse of pilgrims to it; that when he afterwards came to be master of Mecca, he enforced the pilgrimage with most of the old ceremonies belonging to it, only taking away the idols, and abolishing this worship. Though he now took upon himself the sovereign command, and the insignia of royalty, he still retained the sacred character of chief pontiff of his religion, and transmitted both these powers to his caliphs or successors, who, for some time, not only ordered all matters of religion, but used, especially upon public occasions, to officiate in praying and preaching in their mosques. In process of time, this came to be all the authority the caliphs had left, for, about the year of the Hejira, 325, the governors of provinces seized the regal authority, and made themselves kings of their several governments. They continued, indeed, to pay a show of deference to the caliph, who usually resided at Bagdad, whom, however, they occasionally deposed. At this present time, most Mohammedan princes have a person in their respective dominions who bears this sacred character, and is called the mufti in Turkey, and in Persia the sadre. He is often appealed to as the interpreter of the law; but, as a tool of state, usually gives such judgment as he knows will be most acceptable to his prince.
Mohammed used at first, when preaching in his mosque at Medina, to lean upon a post of a palm-tree driven into the ground; but being now invested with greater dignity, by the advice of one of his wives, he had a pulpit built, which had two steps up to it, and a seat within. When Othman was caliph, he hung it with tapestry, and Moawiyah raised it six steps higher, that he might be heard when he sat down, as he was forced to do, being very fat and heavy; whereas his predecessors all used to stand.
Mohammed had now a dream, that he held in his hand the key of the Kaaba, and that he and his men made the circuits round it, and performed all the ceremonies of the pilgrimage. Having told his dream next morning, he and his followers were all in high spirits upon it, taking it for an omen that they should shortly be masters of Mecca. Accordingly, great preparations were made for an expedition to this city. The prophet gave it out that his only intent was to make the pilgrimage. He provided seventy camels for the sacrifice, which were conducted by 700 men, ten to each camel; as, however, he apprehended opposition from the Koreishites, he took with him his best troops, to the number of 1400 men, besides an incredible number of wandering Arabs from all parts. The Koreishites, alarmed at the march of the Mussulmans, got together a considerable force, and encamped about six miles from Mecca. Mohammed continued his march, but finding, by his spies, the enemy had posted their men, so as to stop the passes in his feints and counter-marches, came to a place where his camel fell upon her knees. The people said she was restive, but the prophet took it for a divine intimation that he should not proceed any farther in his intended expedition, but wait with resignation till the appointed time. He therefore turned back, and encamped without the sacred territory, at Hodaibia. The Koreishites sent three several messengers, the two last men of consequence, to demand what was his intention in coming thither. He answered, that it was purely out of a devout wish to visit the sacred house; and not with any hostile design. Mohammed also sent one of his own men to give them the same assurance; but the Koreishites cut the legs of his camel, and would also have killed the man, had not the Ahabishites interposed and helped him to escape. Upon this, he wished Omar to go upon the same errand; but he excused himself, as not being upon good terms with the Koreishites. At last, Othman was sent; who delivered his message, and was coming away, when they told him he might, if he wished, make his circuits round the Kaaba. But upon his replying he would not do so until the apostle of God had first performed his vow to make the holy circuits, they were so greatly provoked, that they laid him in irons. In the Mussulman army it was reported that he was killed, at which Mohammed was much afflicted, and said aloud, “We will not stir from hence till we have given battle to the enemy.” Thereupon, the whole army took an oath of obedience and fealty to the prophet, who, on his part, by the ceremony of clapping his hand one against the other, took an oath to stand by them as long as there was one of them left.
The Koreishites sent a party of eighty men towards the camp of the Mussulmans to beat up their quarters. Being discovered by the sentinels, they were surrounded, taken prisoners, and brought before Mohammed; who, thinking it proper at that time to be generous, released them. In return, Sohail son of Amru was sent to him with proposals of peace, which he agreed to accept. In wording the treaty, however, Ali had written, “Articles agreed upon between Mohammed the apostle of God, and Sohail son of Amru;” to this title Sohail objected, saying, “If I owned you for an apostle of God, I should be to blame to oppose you; write, therefore, your own name and your father’s,” Mohammed being in no condition to dispute the matter, bade Ali blot out the objectionable words, but he bluntly swore he would not so dishonour his glorious title. Upon this, Mohammed took the pen and blotted out the words himself, writing instead of them, son of Abdallah. This, my author says, was one of his miracles; for he never had learned to write. While they were drawing up the treaty, Abu Jandal, son of Sohail, who had embraced Islamism, and been confined by his father at Mecca, got loose, and came among the Mussulmans; and being discovered, was reclaimed by his father, in virtue of the articles. Sohail beat his son severely for this elopement; but Mohammed exhorted the young man to have patience, for God would soon give liberty and prosperity to him and all Mussulmans in his condition. Mohammed’s men were greatly disgusted at the disappointment they had met with; for, from his dream and the promises he had made them, they had expected nothing less than a complete victory; whereas, after a great deal of fatigue, they were now forced to be content with what they could not but regard as a dishonourable peace.
Mohammed had encamped without the precincts of Mecca, but so near the sacred territory; that he went thereon to say his prayers. He gave the word of command to his people, “Slay the victims and shave your heads;” but nobody stirred to do as he had bidden them. Upon his telling this to his wife Omm-Salama; she thus advised him: “Go among them, and say nothing to any body, but slay your camels and make your sacrifice; and send for your barber and shave your head:” he did so, and all his people immediately followed his example. The apostle having cried out, “God be merciful to the shaved heads;” they answered, “And to the shaved beards too, O apostle of God:” he repeated his prayer, and they repeated their response.
Mohammed, pretending he had a divine promise of a great booty, returned to Medina; and, having concluded a peace for ten years with the Koreishites, was the better enabled to attack the Jews, his irreconcilable enemies. Accordingly, he went to Khaibar, a strong town about six days’ journey northeast of Medina, and took that and several other strong places, whereto the Jews had retired, and carried a vast deal of treasure; this all fell into the hands of the Mussulmans. Being entertained at Khaibar, a young Jewess, to try, as she afterwards said, whether he were a prophet or not, poisoned a shoulder of mutton, a joint Mohammed was particularly fond of. One of those who partook of it at the table, named Rasher, died upon the spot; but Mohammed, finding it taste disagreeable, spat it out, saying, “This mutton tells me it is poisoned.” The miracle-mongers improve this story, by making the shoulder of mutton speak to him; but if it did, it spoke too late, for he had already swallowed some of it; and, of the effects of that morsel he complained in his last illness, of which he died three years after.
In this year, Jannabi mentions Mohammed’s being bewitched by the Jews. Having made a waxen image of him, they hid it in a well, together with a comb and a tuft of hair tied in eleven knots. The prophet fell into a very wasting condition, till he had a dream that informed him where these implements of witchcraft were, and accordingly had them taken away. In order to untie the knots, Gabriel read to him the two last chapters of the Koran, consisting of eleven verses; each verse untied a knot, and, when all were untied, he recovered.
This year Mohammed had a seal made with this inscription, “Mohammed, the apostle of God.” This was to seal his letters, which he now took upon him to write to divers princes, inviting them to Islamism. His first letter to this effect was sent to Badham, viceroy of Yemen, to be forwarded to Cosroes, king of Persia. Cosroes tore the letter, and ordered Badham to restore the prophet to his right mind, or send him his head. Cosroes was presently after murdered by his son Siroes; Badham with his people turned Mussulmans, and Mohammed continued him in his government.
He also sent a letter of the same purport to the Roman emperor, Heraclius. Heraclius received the letter respectfully, and made some valuable presents to the messenger. He sent another to Makawkas, viceroy of Egypt, who returned in answer, he would consider of the proposals, and sent, among other presents, two young maidens. One of these, named Mary, of fifteen years of age, Mohammed debauched. This greatly offended two of his wives, Hafsa and Ayesha, and to pacify them he promised, upon oath, to do so no more. But he was soon taken again by them transgressing in the same way. And now, that he might not stand in awe of his wives any longer, down comes a revelation which is recorded in the sixty-sixth chapter of the Koran, releasing the prophet from his oath, and allowing him to have concubines, if he wished: And the two wives of Mohammed, who, upon the quarrel about Mary, had gone home to their fathers, being threatened in the same chapter with a divorce, were glad to send their fathers to him to make their peace with him, and obtain his permission for their return. They were fain to come and submit to live with him upon his own terms.
Mohammed sent letters at the same time to the king of Ethiopia, who had before professed Islamism, and now in his answer repeated his profession of it. He wrote to two other Arabian princes, who sent him disagreeable answers, which provoked him to curse them. He sent also to Al Mondar, king of Bahrain, who came into his religion, and afterwards routed the Persians, and made a great slaughter of them. And now all the Arabians of Bahrain had become converts to his religion.
Among the captives taken at Khaibar, was Safia, betrothed to the son of Kenana, the king of the Jews. Mohammed took the former to wife, and put Kenana to the torture, to make him discover his treasure. In the action at Khaibar, it is said, Ali, having his buckler struck out of his hand, took one of the gates off its hinges, and used it for a buckler, till the place was taken. The narrator of this story asserts that he and seven men tried to stir the gate, and were not able.
One of the articles of the peace being, that any Mussulman might be permitted to perform his pilgrimage at Mecca, the prophet went to that city to complete the visitation of the holy places, which he could not do as he intended when at Hodaiba. Hearing, upon this occasion, the Meccans talking of his being weakened by the long marches he had made, to show the contrary, in going round the Kaaba seven times, he went the first three rounds in a brisk trot, shaking his shoulders the while, but performed the four last circuits in a common walking pace. This is the reason why Mussulmans always perform seven circuits round the Kaaba in a similar manner.
In the eighth year of the Hejira, Kaled son of Al Walid, Amru son of Al As, and Othman son of Telha, who presided over the Kaaba, became Mussulmans; this was a considerable addition to Mohammed’s power and interest. The same year Mohammed, having sent a letter to the governor of Bostra in Syria, as he had to others, and his messenger being slain there, sent Zaid, son of Hareth, with three thousand men to Muta in Syria, against the Roman army, which, with their allies, made a body of nearly one hundred thousand men. Zaid being slain, the command fell to Jaafar, and, upon his death, to Abdallah son of Rawahas, who was also killed. There upon the Mussulmans unanimously chose Kaled for their leader, who defeated the enemy, and returned to Medina with a considerable booty, on which account Mohammed gave him the title of the “Sword of God.”
The same year the Koreishites assisted some of their allies against the Kozaites, who were in alliance with Mohammed. This the latter resented as an infraction of the peace. Abu Sofian was sent to try to make up matters, but Mohammed would not vouchsafe to receive his explanation. But having made his preparation to fall upon them before they could be prepared to receive him, he advanced upon Mecca with about ten thousand men. Abu Sofian having come out of the town in the evening to reconnoitre, he fell in with Al Abbas, who, out of friendship to his countrymen, had ridden from the army with the hope of meeting some straggling Meccans whom he might send back with the news of Mohammed’s approach, and advise the Meccans to surrender. Al Abbas, recognizing Abu Sofian’s voice, called to him, and advised him to get up behind him, and go with him, and in all haste make his submission to Mohammed. This he did, and, to save his life, professed Islamism, and was afterwards as zealous in propagating as he had hitherto been in opposing it.
Mohammed had given orders to his men to enter Mecca peaceably, but Kaled meeting with a party who discharged some arrows at him, fell upon them, and slew twenty-eight of them. Mohammed sent one of his helpers to bid him desist from the slaughter; but the messenger delivered quite the contrary order, commanding him to show them no mercy. Afterwards, when Mohammed said to the helper, “Did not I bid you tell Kaled not to kill any body in Mecca?” “It is true,” said the helper, “and I would have done as you directed me, but God would have it otherwise, and God’s will was done.”
When all was quiet, Mohammed went to the Kaaba, and rode round it upon his camel seven times, and touched with his cane a corner of the black stone with great reverence. Having alighted, he went into the Kaaba, where he found images of angels, and a figure of Abraham holding in his hand a bundle of arrows, which had been made use of for deciding things by lot. All these, as well as three hundred and sixty idols which stood on the outside of the Kaaba, he caused to be thrown down and broken in pieces. As he entered the Kaaba, he cried with a loud voice, “Allah acbar,” seven times, turning round to all the sides of the Kaaba. He also appointed it to be the Kebla, or place toward which the Mussulmans should turn themselves when they pray. Remounting his camel, he now rode once more seven times round the Kaaba, and again alighting, bowed himself twice before it. He next visited the well Zemzem, and from thence passed to the station of Abraham. Here he stopped a while, and ordering a pail of water to be brought from the Zemzem, he drank several large draughts, and then made the holy washing called wodhu. Immediately all his followers imitated his example, purifying themselves and washing their faces. After this, Mohammed, standing at the door of the Kaaba, made an harangue to the following effect: “There is no other god but God, who has fulfilled his promise to his servant, and who alone has put to flight his enemies, and put under my feet every thing that is visible; men, animals, goods, riches, except only the government of the Kaaba and the keeping of the cup for the pilgrims to drink out of. As for you, O ye Koreishites, God hath taken from you the pride of paganism, which caused you to worship as deities our fathers Abraham and Ishmael, though they were men descended from Adam, who was created out of the earth.” Having a mind to bestow on one of his own friends the prefecture of the Kaaba, he took the keys of it from Othman the son of Telha, and was about to give them to Al Abbas, who had asked for them, when a direction came to him from heaven, in these words, “Give the charge to whom it belongs.” Whereupon he returned the keys by Ali to Othman, who, being agreeably surprised, thanked Mohammed; and made a new profession of his faith. The pilgrim’s cup, however, he consigned to the care of Al Abbas, in whose family it became hereditary.
The people of Mecca were next summoned to the hill Al Safa, to witness Mohammed’s inauguration. The prophet having first taken an oath to them, the men first, and then the women, bound themselves by oath to be faithful and obedient to whatsoever he should command them. After this, he summoned an extraordinary assembly, in which it was decreed, that Mecca should be henceforward an asylum or inviolable sanctuary, within which, it should be unlawful to shed the blood of man, or even to fell a tree.
After telling the Meccans they were his slaves by conquest, he pardoned and declared them free, with the exception of eleven men and six women, whom, as his most inveterate enemies, he proscribed, ordering his followers to kill them wherever they should find them. Most of them obtained their pardon by embracing Islamism, and were ever after, the most zealous of Mussulmans. One of these, Abdallah, who had greatly offended Mohammed, was brought to him by Othman, upon whose intercession Mohammed pardoned him. Before he granted his pardon, he maintained a long silence, in expectation, as he afterwards owned, that some of those about him would fall upon Abdallah and kill him. Of the women, three embraced Islamism, and were pardoned, the rest were put to death; one being crucified.
Mohammed now sent out Kaled and others, to destroy the idols which were still retained by some of the tribes; and to invite them to Islamism. Kaled executed his commission with great brutality. The Jodhamites had formerly robbed and murdered Kaled’s uncle as he journeyed from Arabia Felix. Kaled having proposed Islamism to them, they cried out, “they professed Sabæism.” This was what he wanted. He immediately fell upon them, killing some, and making others prisoners: of these, he distributed some among his men, and reserved others for himself. As for the latter, having tied their hands behind them, he put them all to the sword. On hearing of this slaughter, Mohammed lifted up his eyes, and protested his innocence of this murder; and immediately sent Ali with a sum of money to make satisfaction for the bloodshed; and to restore the plunder. Ali paid to the surviving Jodhamites as much as they demanded, and generously divided the overplus among them. This action Mohammed applauded; and afterwards reproved Kaled for his cruelty.
Upon the conquest of Mecca, many of the tribes of the Arabs came and submitted to Mohammed; but the Hawazanites, the Thakishites, and part of the Saadites, assembled to the number of 4000 effective men, besides women and children, to oppose him. He went against them at the head of 12,000 fighting men. At the first onset, the Mussulmans being received with a thick shower of arrows, were put to flight; but Mohammed, with great courage, rallied his men, and finally obtained the victory. Among the captives there was one who said she was the daughter of Mohammed’s nurse. The prophet, being satisfied by some mark of the truth of her pretensions, held out his cloak towards her, in token of his good will, and giving her leave to return home, furnished her liberally for her journey. The neat considerable action was the siege of Taïf, a town sixty miles east from Mecca. The Mussulmans set down before it; and, having made several breaches with their engines, marched resolutely up to them; but were vigorously repulsed by the besieged. Mohammed, having by an herald proclaimed liberty to all the slaves who should come over to him, twenty-three deserted, to each of whom he assigned a Mussulman for a comrade. So inconsiderable a defection did not in the least abate the courage of the besieged; so that the prophet began to despair of reducing the place, and, after a dream, which Abubeker interpreted unfavourably to the attempt, determined to raise the siege. His men, however, on being ordered to prepare for a retreat, began to murmur; whereupon, he commanded them to be ready for an assault the next day. The assault being made, the assailants were beaten back with great loss. To console them in their retreat, the prophet smiled, and said, “We will come here again, if it please God.” When the army reached Jesana, where all the booty taken from the Hawazanites had been left, a deputation arrived from that tribe, to beg it might be restored. The prophet having given them their option, between the captives or their goods, they chose to have their wives and children again. Their goods being divided among the Mussulmans, Mohammed, in order to indemnify those who had been obliged to give up their slaves, gave up his own share of the plunder, and divided it among them. To Malec, however, son of Awf, the general of the Hawazanites, he intimated, that if he would embrace Islamism, he should have all his goods as well as his family, and a present of 100 camels besides. By this promise, Malec was brought over to be so good a Mussulman, that he had the command given him of all his countrymen who should at any time be converts; and was very serviceable against the Thakishites.
The prophet, after this, made a holy visit to Mecca, where he appointed Otab, son of Osaid, governor, though not quite twenty years of age; Maad, son of Jabal, Imam, or chief priest, to teach the people Islamism; and direct them in solemnizing the pilgrimage. Upon his return to Medina, his concubine, Mary, brought him a son, whom he named Ibrahim; celebrating his birth with a great feast. The child, however, lived but fifteen months.
In the ninth year of the Hejira, envoys from all parts of Arabia, came to Mohammed at Medina, to declare the readiness of their several tribes to profess his religion. At this time also, Kaab, son of Zohair, who had been proscribed for writing some satirical verses upon Mohammed, came and made his peace, with a poem in his praise. It began thus:—
- “Now does my happiness draw near;
- Th’accepted day is in my view:”
Besides granting his pardon, Mohammed gave him his cloak off his back; which precious relic was purchased of his family by Moawiyah the caliph, at a high price, by whose successors it was worn on all solemn occasions, down to the irruption of the Tartars, in the year of the Hejira 656.
The same year, Mohammed, with an army of 30,000 men, marched towards Syria, to a place called Tobuc, against the Romans and Syrians, who were making preparation against him; but, upon his approach, retreated. The Mussulmans, in their march back towards Medina, took several forts of the Christian Arabs; and made them tributaries. Upon his return to Medina, the Thakishites, having been blockaded in the Taïf by the Mussulman tribes, sent deputies offering to embrace Islamism, upon condition of being allowed to retain a little longer an idol to which their people were bigotedly attached. When Mohammed insisted upon its being immediately demolished; they desired to be at least excused from using the Mussulman’ prayers, but to this he answered very justly, “That a religion without prayers was good for nothing.” At last they submitted absolutely.
During the same year, Mohammed sent Abubeker to Mecca, to perform the pilgrimage, and sacrifice in his behalf twenty camels. Presently afterwards, he sent Ali to publish the ninth chapter of the Koran, which, though so placed in the present confused copy, is generally supposed to have been the last that was revealed. It is called Barat, or Immunity; the purport of it is, that the associators with whom Mohammed had made a treaty, must, after four months’ liberty of conscience, either embrace Islamism, or pay tribute. The command runs thus:—“When those holy months are expired, kill the idolaters wherever ye shall find them.” Afterwards come these words, “If they repent, and observe the times of prayer and give alms, they are to be looked upon as your brethren in religion.” Thus we find the impostor, who at first pretended only to persuade, as soon as he thought himself sufficiently strong to compel men into his religion, declaring it not only lawful, but necessary to make converts by force of arms. For the publication of this doctrine, he could not have found a fitter instrument than his vizir Ali. The same chapter also orders, “That nobody should, not having on the sacred habit, perform the holy circuits round the Kaaba; and that no idolater should make the pilgrimage to Mecca.” In consequence, no person except a Mohammedan may approach the Kaaba, on pain of death.
The following account of Mohammed’s farewell pilgrimage, is from Jaber, son of Abdallah, who was one of the company:—“The apostle of God had not made the pilgrimage for nine years; (for when he conquered Mecca he only made a visitation.) In the tenth year of the Hejira, he publicly proclaimed his intention to perform the pilgrimage, whereupon, a prodigious multitude of people (some make the number near 100,000) flocked from all parts to Medina. Our chief desire was to follow the apostle of God, and imitate him. When we came to Dhul Holaifa, the apostle of God prayed in the mosque there; then mounting his camel, he rode hastily to the plain Baida, where he began to praise God in the form that professes his unity, saying, ‘Here I am, O God, ready to obey thee, thou hast no partner,’ &c. When he came to the Kaaba, he kissed the corner of the black stone, went seven times round, three times in a trot; four times walking, —then went to the station of Abraham, and coming again to the black stone, reverently kissed it. Afterwards he went through the gate of the sons of Madhumi to the hill Safa, and went up it, till he could see the Kaaba; when, turning towards the Kebla, he professed again the unity of God; saying, ‘There is no God but one, his is the kingdom, to him be praises, he is powerful above every thing,’ &c. After this profession he went down towards the hill Merwan, I following him all the way through the valley; he then ascended the hill slowly till he came to the top of Merwan; from thence he ascended mount Arafa. It being towards the going clown of the sun, he preached here till sunset; then going to Mosdalefa, between Arafa and the valley of Mena, he made the evening and the late prayers, with two calls to prayer, and two risings up. Then he lay down till the dawn, and having made the morning prayer, went to the inclosure of the Kaaba, where he remained standing till it grew very light. Hence he proceeded hastily, before the sun was up, to the valley of Mena; where, throwing up seven stones, he repeated at each throw, ‘God is great,’ &c. Leaving now the valley, he went to the place of sacrifice. Having made free sixty-three slaves, he slew sixty-three victims with his own hand, being then sixty-three years old; and then ordered Ali to sacrifice as many more victims as would make up the number to 100. The next thing the apostle did was to shave his head, beginning on the right side of it, and finishing it on the left. His hair, as he cut it off, he cast upon a tree, that the wind might scatter it among the people. Kaled was fortunate enough to catch a part of the forelock, which he fixed upon his turban; the virtue whereof he experienced in every battle he afterwards fought. The limbs of the victims being now boiled, the apostle sat down with no other companion but Ali, to eat some of the flesh, and drink some of the broth. The repast being over, he mounted his camel again and rode to the Kaaba; where he made the noon-tide prayer, and drank seven large draughts of the well Zemzem, made seven circuits round the Kaaba, and concluded his career between the hills Safa and Merwan.
“The ninth day of the feast, he went to perform his devotions on mount Arafa. This hill, situated about a mile from Mecca, is held in great veneration by the Mussulmans, as a place very proper for penitence. Its fitness in this respect is accounted for by a tradition, that Adam and Eve, on being banished out of paradise, in order to do penance for their transgression, were parted from each other; and after a separation of six score years, met again upon this mountain.” At the conclusion of this farewell pilgrimage, “as it was called, being the last he ever made, Mohammed reformed the calendar in two points. 1. In the first place, he appointed the year to be exactly lunar, consisting of twelve lunar months, whereas, before, in order to reduce the lunar to the solar year, they used to make every third year consist of thirteen months.. And secondly, whereas the ancient Arabians held four months sacred, wherein it was unlawful to commit any act of hostility, he took away that prohibition, by this command, “attack the idolaters in all the months of the year, as they attack you in all.” Koran, chap. ix.
In the 11th year of the Hejira there arrived an ambassage from Arabia Felix, consisting of about one hundred who had embraced Islamism. The same year, Mohammed ordered Osama to go to the place where Zaid his father was slain at the battle of Muta, to revenge his death. This was the last expedition he ever ordered, for, being taken ill two days after, he died within thirteen days. The beginning of his sickness was a slow fever, which made him delirious. In his frenzy he called for pen, ink, and paper, and said, “He would write a book that should keep them from erring after his death.” But Omar opposed it, saying the Koran is sufficient, and that the prophet, through the greatness of his malady, knew not what he said. Others, however, expressing a desire that he would write; a contention arose, which so disturbed Mohammed that he bade them all be gone. During his illness, he complained of the poisoned meat he had swallowed at Khaibar. Some say, when he was dying, Gabriel told him the angel of death, who never before had been, nor would ever again be so ceremonious towards any body, was waiting for his permission to come in. As soon as Mohammed had answered, “I give him leave;” the angel of death entered, and complimented the prophet, telling him, God was very desirous to have him, but had commanded he should take his soul or leave it, just as he himself should please to order: Mohammed replied, “Take it, then.” [According to the testimony of all the Eastern authors, Mohammed died on Monday the 12th Reby 1st, in the year 11 of the Hejira, which answers in reality to the 8th June, 632, a.d.]
On his death, there was great confusion among his followers: some said, “He was not dead, but only taken away for a season, and would return again as Jesus did;” and called out, “Do not bury the apostle of God, for he is not dead.” Omar was so strongly of this opinion, that he drew his sword, and swore he would cut any body in pieces who should say the prophet was dead. Abubeker, however, came in and said, “Do you worship Mohammed, or the God of Mohammed? the God of Mohammed is immortal; but as for Mohammed he is certainly dead:” he then proved, by several places in the Koran, that Mohammed was to die as well as other men; and not to return to life till the general resurrection. From this it is plain, that it is only a vulgar error to suppose the Mussulmans look for Mohammed’s return upon earth. This dispute was no sooner settled, than another and more violent contest arose about his burial. The refugees, who had accompanied him in his flight from Mecca, wished him to be buried there, in the place of his birth; the helpers or Medinians were for burying him at Medina, where he in his flight had been so kindly received. The dispute ran so high, that they were near coming to blows; when Abubeker put an end to it, by declaring, he had often heard Mohammed say, that prophets should be buried in the place where they died. Accordingly, his grave was dug under the bed whereon he lay, in the chamber of Ayesha. The Arabian writers are very particular to tell us every thing about the washing, and embalming his body; who dug his grave, who put him in, &c.
The person of Mohammed is minutely described by them. He was of a middle stature, had a large head, thick beard, black eyes, hooked nose, wide mouth, a thick neck, flowing hair. They also tell us that what was called the seal of his apostleship, a hairy mole between his shoulders, as large as a pigeon’s egg, disappeared at his death. Its disappearance seems to have convinced those who would not before believe it, that he was really dead. His intimate companion Abu Horaira said, he never saw a more beautiful man than the prophet. He was so reverenced by his bigoted disciples, they would gather his spittle up and swallow it.
The same writers extol Mohammed as a man of fine parts, and a strong memory, of few words, of a cheerful aspect, affable and complaisant in his behaviour. They also celebrate his justice, clemency, generosity, modesty, abstinence, and humility. As an instance of the last virtue, they tell us he mended his own clothes and shoes. However, to judge of him by his actions as related by these same writers, we cannot help concluding, that he was a very subtle and crafty man, who put on the appearance only of those good qualities; while the governing principles of his soul were ambition and lust. For we see him, as soon as he found himself strong enough to act upon the offensive, plundering caravans; and, under a pretence of fighting for the true religion, attacking, murdering, enslaving, and making tributaries of his neighbours, in order to aggrandize and enrich himself and his greedy followers and without scruple making use of assassination to cut off those who opposed him. Of his lustful, disposition, we have a sufficient proof, in the peculiar privileges he claimed to himself, of having as many wives as he pleased, and of whom he chose, even though they were within forbidden degrees of affinity. The authors who give him the smallest number of wives, own that he had fifteen; whereas the Koran allows no Mussulman more than four. As for himself, Mohammed had no shame in avowing that his chief pleasures were perfumes and women.
The Koran is held by the Mohammedans in the greatest veneration. The book must not be touched by any body but a Mussulman; nor even by a believer, except he be free from pollution. Whether the Koran be created or uncreated, has been the subject of a controversy fruitful of the most violent persecutions. The orthodox opinion is, that the original has been written from all eternity on the preserved table. Of this they believe, a complete transcript was brought down to the lower heaven (that of the moon), by the angel Gabriel and thence taken and shown to Mohammed, once every year of his mission; and twice in the last year of his life. They assert, however, that it was only piece-meal, that the several parts were revealed by the angel to the prophet, and that he immediately dictated what had been revealed to his secretary, who wrote it down. Each part, as soon as it was thus copied out, was communicated to his disciples, to get by heart; and was afterwards deposited in what he called the chest of his apostleship. This chest the prophet left in the custody of his wife Hafsa. How the present book was compiled, partly out of these detached scraps, and partly out of the memories of his companions, may be seen in our author at the end of the reign of Abubeker.
When we consider the way in which the Koran was compiled, we cannot wonder that it is so incoherent a piece as we find it. The book is divided into chapters; of these some are very long; others again, especially a few towards the end, very short. Each chapter has a title prefixed, taken from the first word, or from some one particular thing mentioned in it, rarely from the subject matter of it; for if a chapter be of any length, it usually runs into various subjects that have no connexion with each other. A celebrated commentator divides the contents of the Koran into three general heads: 1. Precepts or directions, relating either to religion, as prayers, fasting, pilgrimages; or to civil polity, as marriages, inheritances, judicatures. 2. Histories—whereof some are taken from the scriptures, but falsified with fabulous additions; others are wholly false, having no foundation in fact. 3. Admonitions: under which head are comprised exhortations to receive Islamism; to fight for it, to practise its precepts, prayer, alms, &c.; the moral duties, such as justice, temperance, &c., promises of everlasting felicity to the obedient, dissuasives from sin, threatenings of the punishments of hell to the unbelieving and disobedient. Many of the threatenings are levelled against particular persons, and those sometimes of Mohammed’s own family, who had opposed him in propagating his religion.
In the Koran, God is brought in saying, “We have given you a book.” By this it appears that the impostor published early, in writing, some of his principal doctrines, as also some of his historical relations. Thus, in his Life, p. 16, we find, his disciples reading the twentieth chapter of the Koran, before his flight from Mecca; after which he pretended many of the revelations in other chapters were brought to him. Undoubtedly, all those said to be revealed at Medina must be posterior to what he had then published at Mecca; because he had not yet been at Medina. Many parts of the Koran he declared were brought to him by the angel Gabriel, on special occasions, of which we have already met with several instances in his biography. Accordingly, the commentators on the Koran often explain passages in it by relating the occasion on which they were first revealed. Without such a key, many of them would be perfectly unintelligible.
There are several contradictions in the Koran. To reconcile these, the Mussulman doctors have invented the doctrine of abrogation, i. e. that what was revealed at one time was revoked by a new revelation. A great deal of it is so absurd, trifling, and full of tautology, that it requires no little patience to read much of it at a time. Notwithstanding, the Koran is cried up by the Mussulmans, as inimitable; and in the seventeenth chapter of the Koran, Mohammed is commanded to say, “Verily if men and genii were purposely assembled, that they might produce any thing like the Koran, they could not produce any thing like unto it, though they assisted one another.” Accordingly, when the impostor was called upon, as he often was, to work miracles in proof of his divine mission, he excused himself by various pretences, and appealed to the Koran as a standing miracle. Each chapter of the Koran is divided into verses, that is, lines of different length, terminated with the same letter, so as to make a different rhyme, but without any regard to the measure of the syllables.
The Mohammedan religion consists of two parts, faith and practice. Faith they divide into six articles: 1. A belief in the unity of God, in opposition to those whom they call associators; by which name they mean not only those who, besides the true God, worship idols, or inferior gods or goddesses, but the Christians also, who hold our blessed Saviour’s divinity, and the doctrine of the Trinity. 2. A belief of angels, to whom they attribute various shapes, names, and offices, borrowed from the Jews and Persians. 3. The Scriptures. 4. The prophets: on this head the Koran teaches that God revealed his will to various prophets, in divers ages of the world, and gave it in writing to Adam, Seth, Enoch, Abraham, &c.; but these books are lost: that afterwards he gave the Pentateuch to Moses, the Psalms to David, the Gospel to Jesus, and the Koran to Mohammed. The Koran speaks with great reverence of Moses and Jesus, but says the Scriptures left by them have been greatly mutilated and corrupted. Under this pretence, it adds a great many fabulous relations to the history contained in those sacred books, and charges the Jews and Christians with suppressing many prophecies concerning Mohammed (a calumny easily refuted, the Scriptures having been translated into various languages, long before Mohammed was born). 5. The fifth article of belief is the resurrection and day of judgment, while about the intermediate state Mohammedan divines have various opinions. The happiness promised to the Mussulmans in paradise is wholly sensual, consisting of fine gardens, rich furniture, sparkling with gems and gold, delicious fruits, and wines that neither cloy nor intoxicate; but above all, affording the fruition of all the delights of love in the society of women having large black eyes, and every trait of exquisite beauty, who shall ever continue young and perfect. Some of their writers speak of these females of paradise in very lofty strains; telling us, for instance, that if one of them were to look down from heaven in the night, she would illuminate the earth as the sun does; and if she did but spit into the ocean, it would be immediately turned as sweet as honey. These delights of paradise were certainly, at first, understood literally; however Mohammedan divines may have since allegorised them into a spiritual sense. As to the punishments threatened to the wicked, they are hell-fire, breathing hot winds, the drinking of boiling and stinking water, eating briars and thorns, and the bitter fruit of the tree Zacom, which in their bellies will feel like boiling pitch. These punishments are to be everlasting to all except those who embrace Islamism; for the latter, after suffering a number of years, in proportion to their demerits, will then, if they have had but so much faith as is equal to the weight of an ant, be released by the mercy of God, and, upon the intercession of Mohammed, admitted into paradise.
The 6th article of belief is, that God decrees everything that is to happen, not only all events, but the actions and thoughts of men, their belief or infidelity; that everything that has or will come to pass has been, from eternity, written in the preserved or secret table, which is a white stone of an immense size, preserved in heaven, near the throne of God. Agreeable to this notion, one of their poets thus expresses himself: “Whatever is written against thee will come to pass, what is written for thee shall not fail; resign thyself to God, and know thy Lord to be powerful; his decrees will certainly take place; his servants ought to be silent.”
Of their four fundamental points of practice, the first is prayer. This duty is to be performed five times in the twenty-four hours: 1. In the morning before sun-rise; 2. When moon is past; 3. A little before sunset; 4. A little after sunset; 5. Before the first watch of the night. Previous to prayer they are to purify themselves by washing. Some kinds of pollution require the whole body to be immersed in water, but commonly it is enough to wash some parts only, the head, the face and neck, hands and feet. In the latter ablution, called Wodhu, fine sand or dust may be used when water cannot be had; in such case, the palm of the hand being first laid upon the sand, is then to be drawn over the part required to be washed. The Mohammedans, out of respect to the divine Majesty before whom they are to appear, are required to be clean and decent when they go to public prayers in their mosques; but are yet forbidden to appear there in sumptuous apparel, particularly clothes trimmed with gold or silver, lest they should make them vain and arrogant. The women are not allowed to be in their mosques at the same time with the men; this they think would make their thoughts wander from their proper business there. On this account they reproach the Christians with the impropriety of the contrary usage. The next point of practice is alms-giving, which is frequently enjoined in the Koran, and looked upon as highly meritorious. Many of them have been very exemplary in the performance of this duty. The third point of practical religion is fasting the whole month Ramadan, during which they are every day to abstain from eating, or drinking, or touching a woman, from day-break to sunset; after that they are at liberty to enjoy themselves as at other times. From this fast an exception is made in favour of old persons and children. Those also that are sick, or on a journey; and women pregnant, or nursing, are also excused in this month. But then, the person making use of this dispensation must expiate the omission by fasting an equal number of days in some other month, and by giving alms to the poor. There are also some other days of fasting, which are, by the more religious, observed in the manner above described. The last practical duty is going the pilgrimage to Mecca, which every man who is able is obliged to perform once in his life. In the ceremonies of it they strictly copy those observed by Mohammed, described p. 58. A pilgrimage can be made only in the month Dulhagha; but a visitation to Mecca may be made at any other time of the year.
- According to a tradition from Ayesha, it must have been a dream, for she said he was in bed with her all that night.
- The author of the book of the most authentic traditions; an account will he given of him hereafter.
- Here Mohammed was mistaken, the Virgin Mary and Elizabeth were not sisters.
- Or Lotus tree.
- This house is the original whereof a copy was sent down to Adam, as is mentioned before.
- Here Prideaux observes, that the distance between a man’s eyes is in proportion to his height, as one to seventy-two. So that the height of this angel must have been four times as much as the height of all the seven heavens, and therefore he could not stand in one of them.
- The Mishcât-ul-Masábìh, or a collection of the most authentic traditions regarding the actions and sayings of Mohammed, translated from the original Arabic by Capt. A. N. Mathews, was published at Calcutta in 1809, in two volumes quarto.
- This famous doctor was, from Bokhara the place of his birth, or his chief residence, called Al Bokhari. His collection of traditions is of the greatest authority of all that have ever been made: he called it Al Sahih, i. e. “genuine,” because he separated the spurious ones from those that were authentic. He says, he has selected 7,275 of the most authentic traditions out of 100,000, all of which he looked upon to be true, having rejected 200,000 as being false.—D’Herbelot, Bokhari and Al Sahih.
- Vie de Mohammed.
- The six persons from whom the most authentic traditions come, are, 1. Ayesha, the prophet’s wife. 2. Abu Horaira, his particular friend. 3. Abu Abbas. 4. Ebn Omar, son of the Caliph Omar. 5. Giaber, son of Abdollas. 6. Anas, son of Malok.
- They agreed that a man should be chosen out of each of the confederated tribes for the execution of their project, and that each man should have a blow at him with his sword, in order to divide the guilt of the deed, and to baffle the vengeance of the Hashemites; as it was supposed, that with their inferior strength they would not dare, in the face of this powerful union, to attempt to avenge their kinsman’s blood. The prophet declared that the angel Gabriel had revealed to him this atrocious conspiracy.—Green’s Mohammed.
- Others say this was an artful contrivance of a pigeon’s nest and a spider’s web, so placed by the fugitives as to induce the supposition that the cave was empty.—Green’s Mohammed.
- Some Christian writers quoted by Prideaux, say, the ground belonged to two orphans, whom Mohammed violently dispossessed, to build a mosque thereon, for the exercise of his flew religion; Gagnier, brings Arab writers that say he bought the ground and paid for it.—Note in Abul-feda, p. 53.
- The people of Medina, in offering him an asylum, inquired whether, if he were recalled by his countrymen, he would not abandon his new allies? ‘All things,’ replied the admirable politician, are now common between us; your blood is as my blood, your ruin as my ruin: we are bound to each other by the ties of honour and of interest. I am your friend, and the enemy of your foes.’ ‘But,’ said his trembling disciples, ‘if we are killed in your service, what will be our reward?’ ‘Paradise,’ cried Mohammed. The martial spirit of his hearers was roused, their sensual passions were inflamed, and their faith was confirmed.” —Mills.
- It is the general opinion of our chronologists that the Mussulman era of “The Flight” (in Arabic, “el-Hijrah,” more correctly translated “The Emigration,”) was Friday, the 16th of July, a.d. 622.—Lane’s Modern Egyptians.
- This was partly out of aversion to the Jews, his mortal enemies, and partly to please the idolatrous Arabs, whose ancient Kebla was Mecca. See Sale’s Koran, chap. ii.
- The Persians add these words, “and Ali is the friend of God:” Kouli Khan, having a mind to unite the two different sects, ordered them to be omitted.—Fraser’s Life of Kouli Khan, p. 124.
- Abulfeda, Vit. Moham.
- An Arab of Kossay, named Ammer Ibn Lahay, is said to have first introduced idolatry among his countrymen; he brought the idol called Hobal, from Hyt in Mesopotamia, and set it up in the Kaaba. It was the Jupiter of the Arabians, and was made of red agate in the form of a man holding in his hand seven arrows without beads or feathers, such as the Arabs use in divination. At a subsequent period the Kaaba was adorned with three hundred and sixty idols, corresponding probably to the days of the Arabian year.—Burckhardt’s Arabia, pp. 163, 164.
- An opinion as ancient as Homer.—Iliad, vi. 487.
- Several stories have been told as the occasion of Mohammed’s prohibiting the drinking of wine. Busbequius says, “Mohammed, making a journey to a friend at noon, entered into his house, where there was a marriage feast; and sitting down with the guests, he observed them to be very merry and jovial, kissing and embracing one another, which was attributed to the cheerfulness of their spirits raised by the wine; so that he blessed it as a sacred thing in being thus an instrument of much love among men. But returning to the same house the next day, he beheld another face of things, as gore-blood on the ground, a hand cut off, an arm, foot, and other limbs dismembered, which he was told was the effect of the brawls and fightings occasioned by the wine, which made them mad, and in flamed them into a fury, thus to destroy one another whereon he changed his mind, and turned his former blessing into a curse, and forbade wine ever after to all his disciples.” Epist. 3. “This prohibition of wine hindered many of the prophet’s contemporaries from embracing his religion. Yet several of the most respectable of the pagan Arabs, like certain of the Jews and early Christians, abstained totally from wine, from a feeling of its injurious effects upon morals, and, in their climate, upon health; or, more especially from the fear of being led by it into the commission of foolish and degrading actions. Thus Keys, the son of Asim, being one night overcome with wine, attempted to grasp the moon, and swore that he would not quit the spot where he stood until he had laid hold of it. After leaping several times with the view of doing so, he fell flat upon his face; and when he recovered his senses, and was acquainted with the cause of his face being bruised, be made a solemn vow to abstain from wine ever after.” —Lane’s Arab. Nights, vol. i. pp. 217, 218.
- Tradition says, the prophet successfully employed his arts and emissaries in producing dissensions in the camp of his confederate enemies; and the remnant was thrown into confusion, and made powerless by the direct visitation of an angry God. While they lay encamped about the city, a remarkable tempest, supernaturally excited, benumbed the limbs of the besiegers, blew dust in their faces, extinguished their fires, overturned their tents, and put their horses in disorder. The angels, moreover, co-operated with the elements in discomfiting the enemy, and by crying, “Allah Acbar!” “God is great!” as their invisible legions surrounded the camp, struck them with such a panic, that they were glad to escape with their lives.—Green.
- This was the emancipated slave who was the third convert of Mohammed, see p. 14.
- Ayesha says, “When Mohammed intended to travel, he would throw up a piece of wood, on which was the name of each, and determine by it which of his wives to take with him.” —Mishcat, book xiii. chap. 10.
- The following elucidation of the above circumstance is given by Sale. “Mohammed having undertaken an expedition against the tribe of Mostalek, in the sixth year of the Hejira, took his wife Ayesha with him. On their return, when they were not far from Medina, the army removing by night, Ayesha, on the road, alighted from her camel, and stepped aside on a private occasion; but on her return, perceiving she had dropped her necklace, which was of onyxes of Dhafâr, she went back to look for it; and in the meantime her attendants, taking it for granted that she was got into her pavilion, set it again on the camel, and led it away. When she came back to the road, and saw her camel was gone, she sat down there, expecting that when she was missed, some would be sent back to fetch her; and in a little time she fell asleep. Early in the morning, Safwan Ebu al Moattel, who had stayed behind to rest himself, coming by, perceived somebody asleep; and found it was Ayesha; upon which he awoke her, by twice pronouncing with a low voice these words, ‘We are God’s, and unto him must we return.’ Ayesha immediately covered herself with her veil, and Safwan set her on his own camel, and led her after the army, which they overtook by noon, as they were resting. This accident had like to have ruined Ayesba, whose reputation was publicly called in question, as if she had been guilty of adultery with Safwan.” —Sale’s Koran, chap. xxiv. note.
- He once thought to have ordered the pilgrimage to Jerusalem; but finding the Jews so inveterate against him, thought it more advisable to oblige the Arabs.
- Gagnier, Vie de Mohammed, v. 2, p. 43. Sale on the Koran, p. 508.
- “An implicit belief in magic is entertained by almost all Mussulmans; and he among them, who denies its truth, they regard as a free-thinker, or an infidel. Some are of opinion that it ceased on the mission of Mohammed; but these are comparatively few. Many of the most learned Mussulmans, to the present age, have deeply studied it; and a much greater number of persons of inferior education (particularly schoolmasters) have, more or less, devoted their time and talents to the pursuit of this knowledge. Recourse is had to it for the discovery of hidden treasures, for alchymical purposes, for the acquisition of the knowledge of futurity, to procure offspring, to obtain the affection of a beloved object, to effect cures, to guard against the influence of the evil eye, to afflict or kill an enemy or a rival, and to attain various other objects of desire. Babil, or Babel, is regarded by the Mussulmans as the fountain head of the science of magic, which was, and, as most think, still is, taught there to mankind by two fallen angels, named Haroot and Maroot, who are there suspended by the feet in a great pit closed by a mass of rock. “Lane’s Arab. Nights, vol. i. pp. 66, 218. “From another fable of these two magicians, we are told that the angels in heaven, expressing their surprise at the wickedness of the sons of Adam, after prophets had been sent to them with divine commissions, God bid them choose two out of their own number, to be sent down to be judges on earth. Whereupon they pitched upon Haroot and Maroot, who executed their office with integrity for some time, in the province of Babylon; but whilst they were there, Zohara, or the planet Venus, descended, and appeared before them in the shape of a beautiful woman, bringing a complaint against her husband. As soon as they saw her they fell in love with her, whereupon she invited them to dinner, and set wine before them, which God had forbidden them to drink. At length, being tempted by the liquor to transgress the divine command, they became drunk, and endeavoured to prevail on her to satisfy their desires; to which she promised to consent upon condition that one of them should first carry her to heaven, and the other bring her back again. They immediately agreed to do so, but directly the woman reached heaven she declared to God the whole matter, and as a reward for her chastity she was made the morning star. The guilty angels were allowed to choose whether they would be punished in this life or in the other; and upon their choosing the former, they were hung up by the feet by an iron chain in a certain pit near Babylon, where they are to continue suffering the punishment of their transgression until the day of judgment. By the same tradition we also learn, that if a man has a fancy to learn magic, he may go to them and hear their voice, but cannot see them.” —See Sale’s Koran, chap. ii, and notes. Prideaux’s Life of Moham. &c. Lane says, “that the celebrated traditionist, Mujahid, is related to have visited these two angels under the guidance of a Jew. Having removed the mass of rock from the mouth of the pit, or well, they entered. Mujahid had been previously charged by the Jew not to mention the name of God in their presence; but when he beheld them, resembling in size two huge mountains, and suspended upside down, with irons attached to their hands and knees, he could not refrain from uttering the forbidden name, whereupon the two angels became so violently agitated, that they almost broke the irons which confined them, and Mujahid and his guide fled in consternation.” —Lane’s Arab. Nights, vol. i. p. 214.
- Thomas Moore, the poet, thus alludes to the circumstance in Lalla Rookh:—
- “And here Mohammed, born for love and guile,
- Forgets the Koran in his Mary’s smile;
- Then beckons some kind angel from above,
- With a new text to consecrate their love!”
- Veiled Prophet of Khorassan.
- “The death of Jaafar was heroic and memorable; he lost his right hand, he shifted the standard to his left, the left was severed from his body, he embraced the standard with his bleeding stumps, till he was transfixed to the ground with fifty honourable wounds. ‘Advance,’ cried Abdallah, who stepped into the vacant place, ‘advance with confidence; either victory or paradise is our own.’ The lance of a Roman decided the alternative; but the falling standard was rescued by Kaled, the proselyte of Mecca; nine swords were broken in his hand; and his valour withstood and reprised the superior numbers of the Christians. To console the afflicted relatives of his kinsman Jaafar, Mohammed represented that, in paradise, in exchange for the arms he had lost, he had been furnished with a pair of wings, resplendent with the blushing glories of the ruby, and with which he was become the inseparable companion of the archangel Gabriel, in his volitations through the regions of eternal bliss. Hence, in the catalogue of the martyrs, he has been denominated Jaaffer teyaur, the winged Jaaffer.” —Milman’s Gibbon, chap. 1.
- Gagnier, Note in Abulfeda, p. 130.
- There are different places where the pilgrims from various parts put off their clothes, and put on the sacred habit; which, being a penitential one, consists, according to Sale, of two coarse woollen wrappers. Bobovins, however, says, “It is made like a surplice;” if so, it is only one large wrapper, for it must not be sewed.—Vide Pocock, Spec. Hist. Arab. p. 316.
- Mohammed’s victims were camels: Jannabi apud Gagnier, Vie de Mohammed, vol. ii. p. 265; they may, however, be sheep or goats, but in this case they must be male; if camels or kine, female.—Sale, Prelim. Dis. p. 120.
- Ludovicus Patricius Romanus, who, feigning himself a Mussulman, was present at a pilgrimage, says, “The remains of the sacrificed sheep, after those who furnished them had eaten, were given to the poor, who usually assembled here in great numbers.” —Lib. 1. cap. 13.
- The mortal disease of the prophet was a bilious fever of fourteen days, which deprived him by intervals of the use of his reason. As soon as he was conscious of his danger, he edified his brethren by the humility of his penitence or his virtue. “If there be any man,” said the prophet from the pulpit, “whom I have unjustly scourged, I submit my own back to the lash of retaliation. Have I aspersed the reputation of a Mussulman? let him proclaim my faults in the face of the congregation. Has any one been despoiled of his goods? the little that I possess shall compensate the principal and interest of the debt.’ ‘Yes,’ replied a voice from the crowd, ‘I am entitled to three drachms of silver.’ Mohammed heard, and satisfied the demand with interest, thanking, at the time, his creditor for having accused him in this world, rather than at the day of judgment. ‘God,’ he added, ‘offers to mankind the enjoyment either of this world, or of the world come. I prefer eternal to temporal felicity.’”—Abulfeda.
- Gagnier, Note in Abulfeda, p. 140,??? and Vie de Mahom. vol. ii, p. 299. There are many ridiculous stories told of Mohammed, which being notoriously fabulous, are not introduced here. Two of the most popular are: That a tame pigeon used to whisper in his ear the commands of God. [The pigeon is said to have been taught to come and peck some grains of rice out of Mohammed’s ear, to induce people to think that he then received by the ministry of an angel, the several articles of the Koran, ] The other is, that after his death he was buried at Medina, and his coffin suspended by divine agency or magnetic power, between the ceiling and floor of the temple.
- Dr. Weil informs us in his Life of Mohammed, that according to the most authentic accounts, Mohammed left nine wives, for Kadija and Zainab had died before him; but others are mentioned in traditions, from whom he was either separated soon after marriage or before consummation. From Asma-bint-Numan, he refrained, because she was leprous; and from Amra-bint-Yezid, because when he was about to embrace her, she exclaimed, “I take my refuge in God in preference to thee;” for it seems she had been so recently converted to Islamism, that the approach of Mohammed made her shudder. The prophet replied to this speech by saying, “He who flies to God finds protection,” and immediately returned her to her friends. Gagnier makes an incorrect statement in reference to this circumstance, for he tells us that the separation was caused by Anna’s relapsing into idolatry, for which the prophet detesting her, sent her home, and afterwards said, “God, who protects me from evil, preserved me from her.” Another writer tells us, that her extreme beauty attracted the jealousy of Mohammed’s other wires, and they accordingly persuaded her to offer a long opposition to his advances, and to call God to her aid, pretending that this would increase the love of her husband, though they well knew that he excessively disliked such conduct. Abulfeda reckons altogether fifteen wives, four of whom, however, never shared connubial rites. Another writer says, that the apostle paid his addresses to thirty women, but with seven of these no marriage contract took place, and he only associated with twelve of the remainder. Mention is also made of one named Kuteila, who was brought from Hadramaut, by her brother, but did not reach Medina till after the death of Mohammed. Kuteila afterwards married a son of Abu Djahl’s, and this being told to Abubeker, he was going to burn the house over her head, on account of the prophet having prohibited his wives from marrying after his death. Omar, however, preserved her, by telling Abubeker that she did not belong to the “mothers of the faithful,” as the ambassador of God had never received her. Beside these wives, Mohammed lived with four female slaves. Two of these Makawkas sent him; one was a captive in war, and the other was given him by his wife Zainab.
- Mirza Ibrahim (translated by Lee) states, however, that the miracles recorded of Mohammed almost exceed enumeration. “Some of the doctors of Islamism have computed them at four thousand four hundred and fifty, whilst others have held that the more remarkable ones were not fewer than a thousand, some of which are almost universally accredited: as his dividing the moon into two parts; the singing of the gravel in his hand; the flowing of the water from between his fingers; the animals addressing him, and complaining before him; his satisfying a great multitude with a small quantity of food, and many others. The miracle of the speaking of the moon is thus related by Gagnier:— On one occasion Mohammed accepted a challenge to bring the moon from heaven in presence of the whole assembly. Upon uttering his command, that luminary, full-orbed, though but five days old, leaped from the firmament, and, bounding through the air, alighted on the top of the Kaaba, after having encircled it by seven distinct evolutions. She is said to have paid reverence to the prophet, addressing him in elegant Arabic, in set phrase of encomium, and concluding with the formula of the Mussulman faith. This done, the moon is said to have descended from the Kaaba, to have entered the right sleeve of Mohammed’s mantle, and made its exit by the left. After having traversed every part of his flowing robe, the planet separated into two parts, as it mounted to the air. Then these parts reunited in one round and luminous orb, as before.” The following very elaborate miracle is detailed in the Book of Aga Acber, as translated by Professor Lee:—“On a certain day, four companies of Pagans suddenly surrounded Mohammed, and called upon him for miracles. The first asked for one like the deluge; the second, for a sign like that of Moses, who suspended Mount Sinai over the heads of his followers; the third, for a miracle like Abraham’s, who was thrown in the fire and escaped unscorched; whilst the fourth begged for one like those of Jesus, who told what people had eaten or laid up in their houses. The prophet replied that the Koran was sufficient to confirm God’s judgment against unbelievers, and added that he could not exceed the commission he had received from above. Suddenly Gabriel descended and promised him that God would accede to the wishes of the pagans. Accordingly, in obedience to his directions, Mohammed told the first company to proceed to the foot of Mount Kabis, where they should see the miracle of Noah; and when they found themselves in danger, they were to betake themselves to Ali and his two sons Hasan and Hosein, who would appear for their deliverance. The second, he desired to go to the plain of Mecca, where they, should see the fire of Abraham; and if that affected them, they were to pray to a woman who would appear in the air. The third he directed to go to Kaaba, where they should behold the miracle of Moses, whilst Hamza would preserve them; and the fourth he persuaded to remain with him and Gabriel to hear the relations of their friends. Upon this communication three of the companies immediately dispersed. The first hastened to the foot of Mount Kabis, where suddenly several fountains boiled up under their feet; the rain fell in torrents, though the sky was cloudless, and the water soon rose to their chin. The affrighted pagans ascended the mountains, but the flood reached them there, and they momentarily expected drowning, when Ali and his sons appeared on the surface of the waters, and placed them in a place of safety. The deluge disappeared, and they returned to Mohammed, and entering his presence, they acknowledged the divinity of his mission, and embraced Islamism. In the meantime, the second company had departed for the plain of Mecca, which they had scarcely reached before the heavens were cleft asunder and the fire came down. The earth then opened, and clouds of flame ascended and spread till the whole world seemed enveloped. Every moment they expected to be consumed, when the form of Fatima appeared in the air, and letting down her veil, she directed them to hold by its slender threads, and upon obeying her commands, they were instantly borne away, and at length, let down in the court-yards of their own houses; whereupon they also returned to Mohammed and embraced his religion. In the same manner, the third company had betaken themselves to the Kaaba, and sat beneath its shade, when suddenly the temple was torn up from its foundations and suspended over their heads; they trembled with fear, but Hamza coming up, fixed his spear beneath the edifice, and commanded them to retire; and accordingly, they obeyed his orders, and the Kaaba returned to its proper position; whilst they themselves hastened to the prophet and declared their conversion to the true faith. As each of these companies returned, the prophet had addressed himself to Abu Jahl, one of the principal idolaters of the fourth company, who every time had required further proof of his miraculous powers. Accordingly, on the conversion of the third party, Mohammed again turned to Abu Jahl, and upon being asked for another miracle, he said, ‘I will now tell you what you have eaten, what you have laid up, and what you did while you were eating; and if you then refuse to believe, you shall find contempt and infamy in this world, and everlasting perdition in the next. Observe, as you sat in your house, you took a mouthful of roast fowl; but your brother came to the door and desired admittance, whereupon your greedy disposition alarmed you, and you hid the fowl beneath your skirt, and waited for his departure, when you despatched one half of the bird and hid the other.’ ‘It is false,’ said Jahl; but the prophet proceeded: ‘You have two hundred ashrefs of your own and ten thousand dirhems belonging to others, which have been deposited with you; these you have placed in a bag, and, to cheat your friends, you have hurled them in the earth.’ ‘This, too, is false,’ said Jahl, ‘the deposit was carried off by a thief.’ ‘Accuse not me with lying,’ said Mohammed, ‘the charge comes from above: Gabriel is at hand, and will bring forth the remainder of the bird.’ In a moment the fowl appeared, and upon being commanded to speak, it opened its mouth and confirmed the words of the prophet. Jahl declared the whole to be an illusion, when Mohammed stretched forth his hand, and restored the life and limbs of the half-eaten fowl. Even this miracle failed to satisfy the idolater, when the prophet desired Gabriel to go and fetch the buried money. This was instantly done, and to the shame and astonishment of Abu Jahl, Mohammed dispensed the purses to their rightful owners, and then offered him the remainder upon condition of his belief. ‘Never,’ said Jahl, and endeavoured to seize the purse, but by the prophet’s command, the roasted fowl seized the rebel, and mounting in the air, carried him away, and placed him upon the roof of his own house. Mohammed then divided the money among the poor of the faithful, and addressed his followers thus: ‘Friends and companions, your God has afforded you this miracle through the perverseness of Abul Jahl. The bird which has been restored to life is one of the birds of paradise, which are as large as camels; and for your sake it shall for ever fly about in that delicious place. Now should any one of the faithful, who sincerely loves Mohammed and his posterity, wish to eat one of these birds, it shall instantly come down.; the wings and feathers shall immediately be well plucked, and the flesh cooked for him without fire. One part shall be dressed with eggs, onions, &c.; the other nicely roasted. And when he has eaten as much as he wishes, and has said, Praise to God, the Lord of created beings, the bird shall be restored to life, and again fly about in paradise. Besides, the bird shall now plume itself upon its superior privileges, and shall say, Which of you is like me, of whom a friend of God has eaten a part?’”
- If we may believe the description of Ammianus Marcellinus, the impostor has here admirably adapted himself to the temper of his countrymen.
- For fuller descriptions of Mohammed’s heaven and hell, see Sale’s Koran, chaps. 55, 56, 77, &c.