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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/481

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MOHAMMED


427


MOHAMMED


be so overwhelming that God will give to everyone the potentialities of a hundred individuals. To each individual a large mansion will be assigned, and the very meanest will have at his disposal at least 80,000 servants and seventy-two wives of the girls of Para- dise. While eating they will be waited on by 300 attendants, the food being served in dishes of gold, whereof 300 shall be set before him at once, contain- ing each a different kind of food, and an inexhausti- ble supply of wine and liquors. The magnificence of the garments and gems is conformable to the deli- cacy of their diet. For they will be clothed in the richest silks and brocades, and adorned with bracelets of gold and silver, and crowns set with ]>earls, and will make use of silken carpets, couches, pillows, etc., and in order that they may enjoy all these pleasures, God will grant them perpetual youth, beauty, and vigour. Music and singing will also be ravishing and everlasting" (WoUaston, "Muhammed, His Life and Doctrines").

The Mohammedan doctrine of predestination is equivalent to fatalism. They believe in God's ab- solute decree and predetermination both of good anrl of evil; viz., whatever has been or shall be in the world, whether good or bad, proceeds entirely from the Divine will, and is irrevocably fbced and recorded from all eternity. The possession and the exercise of our own free will is, accordingly, futile and useless. The absurdity of this doctrine was felt by later Mohammedan theologians, who sought in vain by various subtile distinctions to minimize it.

(2) Practice. — The five pillars of the practical and of the ritualistic side of Islam are the recital of the Creed and prayers, fasting, almsgiving, and the pil- grimage to Mecca. The formula of the Creed has been given above, and its recital is necessary for salva- tion. The daily prayers are five in number: before sunrise, at midday, at four in the afternoon, at sun- set, and shortly before midnight. The forms of prayer and the postures are prescribed in a very lim- ited Koranic liturgy. All prayers must be made looking towards Mecca, and must be preceded by washing, neglect of which renders the prayers of no effect. Public prayer is made on Friday in the mosque, and is led by an imam. Only men attend the public prayers, as women seldom pray even at home. Prayers for the dead are meritorious and commended. Fasting is commended at all seasons, but ]jrescribed only in the month of Ramadan. It begins at sunrise and ends at sunset, and is very rig- orous, especially when the fasting season falls in sum- mer. At till' end I if Ramadan comes the great fea.st- day, generally called Hairam, or Fitr, i. e., "Breaking of the Fast". The other great festival is that of Azha, borrowed with modifications from the Jewish Day of Atonement. Almsgiving is highly com- mended: on the feast-day after Ramadan it is oblig- atory, and is to be directed to the "faithful" (Mo- hammedans) only. Pilgrimage to Mecca once in a lifetime is a duty incumbent on every free Moslem of sufficient means and bodily strength; the merit of it cannot be obtained by deputy, and the ceremonies are strictly similar to those performed by the Prophet himself (see Mecca). Pilgrimages to the tombs of saints are very common nowadays, especially in Persia and India, although they were absolutely for- bidden by Mohammed.

(2) Morals. — It is hardly necessary here to em- phasize the fact that the ethics of Islam are far in- ferior to those of Judaism and even more inferior to those of the New Testament. Furthermore, we can- not agree w'th Noldeke when he maintains that, al- though in many respects the ethics of Islam are not to be compared even with such Christianity as pre- vailed, and still prevails, in the East, nevertheless, in other ])oints, the new faith — simple, robust, in the vigour of its youth — far surpassed the religion of the


Syrian and Egyptian Christians, which was in a stag- nating condition, and steadily sinking lower and lower into the depths of barbarism (op. cif ., WoUaston, 71, 72). The history and the develojiment, as well as the past and present religious, social, and ethical con- dition of all the Christian nations and countries, no matter of what sect or school they may be, as com- pared with these of the various Mohammedan coun- tries, in all ages, is a sufficient refutation of Noldcke's assertion. That in the ethics of Islam there is a great deal to admire and to approve, is beyond dispute; but of originality or superiority, there is none. Wliat is really good in Mohammedan ethics is either common- I)lace or borrowed from some other religions, whereas what is characteristic is nearly always imperfect or wicked.

The principal sins forbidden by Mohammed are idolatry and apostasy, adultery, false witness against a brother Moslem, games of chance, the drinking of wine or other intoxicants, usury, and divination by arrows. Brotherly love is confined in Islam to Mo- hammedans. Any form of idolatry or apostasy is severely punished in Islam, but the violation of any of the other ordinances is generally allowed to go un- punished, unless it seriou.sly confhcts with the social welfare or the political order of the State. Among other prohibitions mention must be made of the eat- ing of blood, of swine's flesh, of whatever dies of itself, or is slain in honour of any idol, or is strangled, or killed by a blow, or a fall, or by another beast. In case of dire necessity, however, these restrictions may be dispensed with. Infanticide, extensively prac- tisi'il by I he pre-Islamic Arabs, is strictly forbidden by MiilianiMicd, as is akso the sacrificing of children to idols in fultilment of vows, etc. The crime of infanti- cide commonly took the form of burying newborn females, lest the parents should be reduced to jioverty by providing for them, or else that they might avoid the sorrow and disgrace which would follow, if their daughters should be made captives or become scanda- lous bj' their behaviour.

Religion and the State are not separated in Islam. Hence Mcihainmcdan jurisprudence, civil and crim- inal, is mainly based on the Koran and on the "Tra- ditions". Thousands of judicial decisions are at- tributed to Mohammed and incorporated in the va- rious collections of Hadith. Mohammed commanded reverence and obedience to parents, and kindness to wives and slaves. Slander and backbiting are strongly denounced, although false evidence is al- lowed to hide a Moslem's crime and to save his repu- tation or life. As regards marriage, polygamy, and divorce, the Koran explicitly (sura iv, v. 3) allows four lawful wives at a time, whom the hu.sband may divorce whenever he pleases. Slave-mistresses and concu- bines are permitted in any number. At present, however, owing to economic reasons, concubinage ia not as commonly practised as Western popular opin- ion seems to hold. Seclasion of wives is commanded, and in case of unfaithfulness, the wife's evidence, either in her own defence or against her husband, is not admitted, while that of the husbantl invariably is. In this, as in other judicial cases, the evidence of two women, if admitted, is sometimes allowed to be worth that of one man. The man is allowed to repudiate his wife on the slightest pretext, but the woman is not permitted even to separate herself from her hus- band unless it be for ill-usage, want of projier mainte- nance, or neglect of conjugal duty; and even then she generally loses her dowTy, which she does not if di- vorced by her hiisband, unless she has been guilty of immodesty or notorious disobedience. Both husband and wife are explicitly forbidden by Mohammed to seek divorce on .any slight occasion or the protniiting of a whim, but this warning was not heeded either by Mohammed himself or by his followers. A divorced wife, in order to ascertain the ijaternity of a possible