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MAHOBA—MAHOMET

(1098–1114), Lahore was the place of residence of the Ghaznevid sovereign.

Mahmud died at Ghazni in 1030, the year following his expedition to Persia. He is conspicuous for his military ardour, his ambition, strong will, perseverance, watchfulness and energy, combined with great courage and unbounded self-reliance. But his tastes were not exclusively military. His love of literature brought men of learning to Ghazni, and his acquaintance with moslem theology was recognized by the learned doctors.

The principal histories of Mahmud’s reign are—Kitāb-i-Yamīnī (Utbi); Tarīkh-us-Subuktigīn (Baihaki); Tabakāt i Nasiri (Minhāj el-Sirāj); Rauzat-us-Safa (Mir Khond); Habīb-us-Sivar (Khondamir). See Elliot, History of India; Elphinstone, History of India; and Roos-Keppel’s translation of the Tarīkh-i-Sultan Mahmūd-i-Ghaznavi (1901).


MAHOBA, an ancient town in India, in Hamirpur district of the United Provinces. Pop. (1901), 10,074. As the capital of the Chandel dynasty, who ruled over Bundelkhand from the 9th to the 13th century, the neighbourhood is covered with architectural antiquities, prominent among which are artificial lakes, formed by banking up valleys with masonry dams. The largest of these is more than 4 m. in circuit.


MAHOGANY, a dark-coloured wood largely used for household furniture, the product of a large tree indigenous to Central America and the West Indies. It was originally received from Jamaica; 521,300 ft. were exported from that island in 1753. It is known botanically as Swietenia Mahogani, and is a member of the order Meliaceae. It bears compound leaves, resembling those of the ash, and clusters of small flowers, with five sepals and petals and ten stamens which are united into a tube. The fruit is a pear-shaped woody capsule, and contains many winged seeds. The dark-coloured bark has been considered a febrifuge, and the seeds were used by the ancient Aztecs with oil for a cosmetic, but the most valuable product is the timber, first noticed by the carpenter on board Sir Walter Raleigh’s ship in 1595 for its great beauty, hardness and durability. Dr Gibbons brought it into notice as well adapted for furniture in the early part of the 18th century, and its use as a cabinet wood was first practically established by a cabinet-maker named Wollaston, who was employed by Gibbons to work up some mahogany brough to England by his brother. It was introduced into India in 1795, and is now cultivated in Bengal and as far north as Saharunpur.

The timber of species of Cedrela and Melia, other members of the order Meliaceae, are used as Mahogany, and the product of the West African Khaya senegalensis is known as African mahogany. There is some confusion between the product of these various trees. Herbert Stone (The Timbers of Commerce, 1904) says: “The various species of mahogany and cedar are so confusing that it is difficult to make precise statements as to their structure or origin. I know of no convincing proof that any of the American kinds met with on the English market are the wood of Swietenia Mahogani, nor that those shipped from Africa are the wood of Khaya senegalensis. These two genera are very nearly allied to Cedrela and Melia, and it is difficult to separate any of the four from the rest by the characters of the wood. After giving the most careful attention to every detail, I lean to the view that most if not all of the mahoganies commonly met are Cedrelas.”

Kiggelaria Dregeana (natural order Bixineae), a native of South Africa, is known as Natal mahogany.


MAHOMET (strictly Muḥammad, commonly also Mohammed), founder of the religious system called in Europe after him Mahommedanism, and by himself Islam or Ḥanifism. He died, according to the ordinary synchronism, on the 7th of June 632 (12 Rabia, a.h. 11), and his birthday was exactly sixty-three or sixty-five years earlier, the latter number being evidently an interpretation in lunar years of a number thought to refer to solar years. The lunar system was introduced into Arabia by Mahomet himself quite at the close of his career; that which existed before was certainly solar, as it involved the process of intercalation—which, however, seems to have been arbitrarily manipulated by priests, whence certain synchronisms cannot be got for the events in the Prophet’s career. The number 63 for the years of his life may rest on tradition, though it is unlikely that such matters were accurately noted; it can also be accounted for by a priori combination. A Meccan, it is said, became a full citizen at the age of 40; this then would be the age at which the mission might be started. The Medina period (of which count was kept) lasted ten to eleven years; for the Meccan period ten years would seem a likely length. Finally it was known that for some years—about three—the mission had been conducted secretly. The only event in contemporary history to which the Koran alludes in its earlier parts is the Persian conquest of Palestine in 616. Clearly Mahomet had begun to prophesy at that date.

Before the rise of Islam, Mahomet’s native place, Mecca, appears to figure nowhere in historical records, unless there be a reference to it in the “valley of Baca” (Psalm lxxxiv. 6). Its sacred, and therefore archaic, name is Bakkah; hence the identification His
Country.
of the name with that of the sanctuary Makoraba, known to the Greek geographers, is not philologically tenable; although so eminent a linguist as Dozy evolved a theory of the origin of the city from this name, which appears to be South Arabian for “sanctuary,” and has no connexion with Hebrew (as Doxy supposed). In the 3rd century of Islam the mythology of Mecca was collected and published in book form, but we learn little more from it than the names of tribes and places; it is clear that there was no record of the mode in which the community inhabiting the place had got there, and that little was remembered with the accuracy of the events which preceded the rise of its prophet. The city had a sanctuary, called the Cube (kaba), of which the nucleus was the “Black Stone,” probably to be identified with Allah, the god of the community; both still exist, or rather their legitimate subsitutes, as the Ka‛ba has been repeatedly reconstructed, and the original Black Stone was stolen by the Carmathians in the 4th century of Islam; they afterwards returned one, but it may or may not have been the same as that which the removed. At some time in the 6th century—said to have been the birth-year of the Prophet, but really much earlier—an Abyssinian invader raided Mecca with the view of abolishing this sanctuary; but for some reason had to desist. This expedition, known as the “Raid of the Elephant,” one of these animals being emplyed in it, seems to be of great importance for explaining the rise of Islam; for a sanctuary which can repel an invader acquires tremendous reputation. Some verses in the Koran which are perhaps not genuine, record the miracle whereby Allah repelled the “People of the Elephant.” The sanctuary was apparently in the possession of the tribe Koreish (Quraish), the origin of whose name is unknown, said to have come originally from Cutha in Mesopotamia. They were known (we are told) as the people of Allah, and, by wearing a badge, were sacrosanct throughout Arabia. If this be true, it was probably a privilege earned by the miraculous defence of the Ka‛ba, and is sufficient to account for the rise of Meccan commerce of which we hear much in the biography of the Prophet, and to which some verses of the earliest part of the Koran allude; for merchants who were safe from attacks by bandits would have an enormous advantage. The records seem, however, to be inconsistent with this assertion; and the growth of the Meccan commerce is sufficiently accounted for by the fact that after the Abyssinian invasion pilgrimage to the Ka‛ba became the practice of numerous Arab tribes, and for four months in the year (selected by Meccan priests) raiding was forbidden, in order to enable the pilgrimage to be safely made. In addition to this it would seem that all Mecca counted as sanctuary—i.e. no blood might under any circumstances be shed there. The community lived by purveying to pilgrims and the carrying trade; and both these operations led to the immigration of strangers.

There seems to be no doubt that Mahomet was himself a member of the tribe Koreish, and indeed too many of his relatives figure in history to permit of his parentage being questioned. His cousin ‛Ali, fourth caliph, was the son of Abū Ṭālib, whose name attests the Mahomet’s Family.historical character of the kindred name ‛Abd al-Moṭṭalib, Mahomet’s grandfather: for the fact that this name is in part enigmatical is certainly no argument against its genuineness. In the 3rd century of Islam