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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/479

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MOHAMMED


425


MOHAMMED


his own system. After this, it is hardly necessary to say that, in Zwemer's opinion, Mohammed fell very far short of the most elementary requirements of Scriptural morality. Quoting John.stone, Zwemer concludes by remarking that the judgment of these modern scholars, however harsh, rests on evidence which "comes all from the lips and the pens of his own devoted adherents. . . . And the followers of the prophet can scarcely complain if, even on such evi- dence, the verdict of history goes against him ".

II. The System. — A. Geographical Extent, Divisions, and Distribution of Mohammedans. — After Moham- med's death Mohammedanism aspired to become a world power and a universal religion. The weakness of the Byzantine Empire, the unfortunate rivalry between the Greek and Latin Churches, the schisms of Nestorius and Eutyches, the ■ failing power of the Sassanian dynasty of Persia, the lax moral code of the new religion, the power of the sword and of fanaticism, the hope of plunder and the love of conquest — all these factors combined with the genius of the caliphs, the successors of Mohammed, to effect the conquest, in considerably less than a century, of Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, Egypt, North Africa, and the South of Spain. The Moslems even crossed the Pyrenees, threatening to stable their horses in St. Peter's at Rome, but were at last defeated by Charles Martel at Tours, in 732, just one hundred years from the death of Mohammed. This defeat arrested their western conquests and saved Europe. In the eighth and ninth centuries they conquered Persia, Afghanistan, and a large part of India, and in the twelfth century they had already become the absolute masters of all Western Asia, Spain and North Africa, Sicily, etc. They were finally conquered by the Mongols and Turks, in the thirteenth century, but the new con- querors adopted Mohammed's religion and, in the fifteenth century, overthrew the tottering Byzantine Empire (1453). From that stronghold (Constanti- nople) they even threatened the German Empire, but were successfully defeated at the gates of Vienna, and driven back across the Danube, in 1683.

Mohammedanism now comprises various theologi- cal schools and political factions. The Orthodox (Sunni) uphold the legitimacy of the succession of the first three caliphs, Abu Bakr, Omar, and ITthman, while the Schismatics (Shiah) champion the Divine right of Ali as against the succession of these caliphs whom they call "usurpers", and whose names, tombs, and memorials they insult and detest. The Shiah number at present about twelve million adherents, or about one-twentieth of the whole Mohammedan world, and are scattered over Persia and India. The Sunni are subdivided into four principal theological schools, or sects, viz., the Hanifites, found mostly in Turkey, Central Asia, and Northern India; the Sha- fiites in Southern India and Egypt; the Malikites, in Morocco, Barbary, and parts of Arabia; and the Han- balites in Central and Eastern Arabia and in some parts of Africa. The Shiah are also subdivided into various, but less important, sects. Of the proverbial seventy-three sects of Islam, thirty-two are assigned to the Shiah. The principal differences between the -two are: (1) as to the legitimate successors of Mo- hammed; (2) the Shiah observe the ceremonies of the month of fasting, Muharram, in commemoration of Ali, Hasan, Husain, and Bibi Fatimah, whilst the Sunnites only regard the tenth day of that month as sacred, and as being the day on which God created Adam and Eve; (3) the Shiah permit temporary mar- riages, contracted for a certain sum of money, whilst the Sunnites maintain that Mohammed forbade them; (4) the Shi'itcs include the Fire-Worshippers among the "People of the Book", whilst the Sunnttes ac- knowledge only Jews, Christians, and Moslems as such; (5) several minor differences in the ceremonies of-


prayer and ablution; (6) the Shiah admit a principle of religious compromise in order to escape persecution and death, whilst the Suuni regard this as apostasy.

There are also minor sects, the principal of which are the Aliites, or Fatimites, the Asharians, Azaragites, Babakites, Babis, Idrisites, Ismailians and Assassins, Jabrians, Kaissanites, Karmathians, Kharijites, fol- lowers of the Mahdi, Mu'tazilites, Qadrians, Safrians, Sifatians, Sufis, Wahabis, and Zaidites. The dis- tinctive features of these various sects are political as well as religious; only three or four of them now possess any influence. In spite of these divisions, however, the principal articles of faith and morality, and the ritual, arc sul)stantiallj- uniform.



Page of Koran MS., Suha (Chapter) lv From a manuscript in the Royal Library, Berlin

According to the latest and most reliable accounts (1907), the number of Mohammedans in the world is about 233 millions, although some estimate the num- ber as high as 300 millions, others, again, as low as 175 millions. Nearly 60 millions are in Africa, 170 millions in Asia, and about 5 millions in Europe. 'Their total number amounts to about one-fourth of the population of Asia, and one-seventh that of the whole world. Their geographical distribution is as follows:

Asia. — India, 62 millions; other British possessions (such as Aden, Bahrein, Ceylon, and Cyprus), about one million and a half; Rus,sia (Asiatic and European), the Caucasus, Russian Turkestan, and the Amitf region, about 13 millions; Pliilippine Islands, 350,000; Dutch East Indies (including Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Celebes, etc.) about 30 milhons; French posse.ssions in Asia (Pondicherry, Annam, Cambodia, Cochin- China, Tongking, Laos), about one million and a half; Bokhara, 1,200,000; Khiva, 800,000; Persia, 8,800,0(10; .Mghauistan, 4,000,000; China and Chinese Turkestan, 30,(10(1,000; Japan and Formosa, 30,000; Korea, 10,000; Siam, 1,000,000; Asia Minor, 7,179,- 000; Armenia and Kurdistan, 1,795,000; Mesopo- tamia, 1,200,000; Syria, 1,100,000; Arabia, 4,500,000.

Total, 170,000,000

Africa. — Egypt, 9,000,000; Tripoli, 1,2.50,000; Tunis, 1,700,000; Algeria, 4,000,000; Morocco, 5,6(10,000; Eritrea, 1.50,000; Anglo-Egvptian Sudan, 1,(100,0(10; Scnegambia-Niger, 18,000,(100; Abys.sinia, 3.50,000; Kamerun, 2,009,000; Nigeria, 6,000,000;