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408
MAHOMET

the principles of Islam, and to collect the Alms; quite towards the end of his life he appears to have sent persons to the provinces to act as judges, with instructions to judge according to the Koran, and where that failed, the practice (sunna), i.e. the practice of the community, for which a later generation substituted the practice of the Prophet. There were, therefore, no regular payments to permanent officials; and the taxation called Alms, which developed into an income-tax, but was at first a demand for voluntary contributions, was wholly for the support of the poor Moslems; it might not be used for the maintenance of the state, i.e. Mahomet and his family. For them, and, for public business, e.g. the purchase of war material and gratuities to visitors, provision was made out of the booty, of which Mahomet claimed one-fifth (the chieftain's share had previously, we are told, been one-fourth), while the remainder—or at least the bulk of it—was distributed among the fighting men; the Prophet appears to have prided himself on the justice of his distribution on these occasions, and doubtless won popularity thereby, though we hear occasionally of grumbling; for difficulties occurred when a defeated tribe embraced Islam, and so could claim equality with their conquerors, or when portions of the spoil were irregularly employed by Mahomet to allay resentment: the persons whose allegiance was thus purchased were euphemistically termed “those whose hearts were united.” What afterwards proved the main source of revenue in Islamic states dates from the taking of Khaibar; for the rent paid to the state by tolerated communities for the right to work their land developed long after Mahomet's time into a poll-tax for Unbelievers (see Caliphate, e.g. B. § 8 and Mahommedan Institutions), and a land-tax for all owners of land. Immediately after the taking of Khaibar certain communities, of which the most notable was Fadak, sent tribute before they had been attacked and reduced; their land was regarded by Mahomet as his private domain, but after his death it was withdrawn from his heirs by his successor Abū Bekr, in virtue of a maxim that Prophets left no inheritance, which in the opinion of Fāṭima was contrary to Koranic doctrine, and invented by Ayesha's father expressly for the purpose of excluding her and her husband from their rights; and this is likely to have been the case.

As a military organizer Mahomet, as has been seen, was anxious to adopt the most advanced of contemporary methods, and more than once is said to have scandalized the Arabs by foreign innovations, as at a later time the Moslem chiefs who first used gunpowder scandalized their co-religionists. The unit in his armies seems to have been, as of old, the tribe, under its natural leader; that he introduced no more scientific division, and nothing like a hierarchy of officers was perhaps due to the difficulty of reconciling such a system with the equality of all Moslems.

As has been seen, the Koran only assumed the character of a civil code as the need for one arose; and for some time after Mahomet's arrival at Medina old-fashioned methods of settling disputes continued in use, and doubtless in accordance with precedent where such was known. For difficult cases, even in Arab opinion, divine inspiration was required; and since Mahomet naturally claimed to be in sole enjoyment of this, his utterances soon became the unique source of law, though he did not at first think of organizing a code. Such a plan is said to have occurred to him, and he even wished to dictate a code upon his deathbed; but his friends supposed or professed to suppose him to be delirious. A table regulating the “Alms” was left by him, it is said, in the possession of Abū Bekr; but other traditions assign another origin to this document.

Just as there were no regular officials for the arrangement of business, so there were none for its execution; when punishment was to be administered, any follower of Mahomet might be called upon to administer it. In the case of the massacre of the Banū Quraiẓah care was taken to see that some of the heads were struck off by their former allies, in order that the latter might be unable at any time to bring a demand for vengeance. The Prophet hoped by the mere terror of his name to make complete security reign throughout Arabia, and there is no evidence that any system of policing either it or even Medina occurred to him.

Until the death of Khadija the Prophet's private life seems to have been normal and happy, for though the loss of his sons in infancy is said to have earned him a contemptuous epithet,Domestic Life. he was fortunate in his adoption of Zaid b. Ḥarithah, apparently a prisoner ransomed by Khadija or one of her relatives, who appears as dutiful almost to excess and competent in affairs. The marriages of his daughters seem all to have been happy, with, curiously, the exception of that between Fāṭima and Ali. His domestic troubles, to which an unreasonable amount of space seems to be devoted, even in the Koran, began after the Migration, when, probably in the main for political reasons, he instituted a royal harem. One of these political motives was the principle which long survived, that the conquest of a state was consummated by possession of the former monarch's wife, or daughter; another, as has been seen, the desire to obtain the securest possible hold on his ministers. In his marriage with the daughter of his arch-enemy Abū Sofiān, before the latter's conversion, we can see a combination of the two. Few, therefore, of these marriages occasioned scandal; yet public morality seemed to be violated when the Prophet took to himself the wife of his adopted son Zaid, whose name has in consequence the honour of mention in the Koran in the revelation which was delivered in defence of this act. Its purpose was, according to this, to establish the difference between adoptive and real filiation. Serious trouble was occasioned by a charge of adultery brought against the youthful favourite Ayesha, and this had to be refuted by a special revelation; the charge, which was backed up apparently by Ali, seems to have been connected with some deeper scheme for causing dissension between the Prophet and his friends. Yet another revelation is concerned with a mutiny in the harem organized by Omar's daughter Hafsa, owing to undue favour shown to a Coptic concubine (Mary, mother of a son called Ibrahim, who died in infancy; his death was marked by an eclipse, January 27, 632); and various details of factions within the harem are told us by Mahomet's biographers.

Of the members of this harem the only prominent one is Ayesha, married to the Prophet shortly after the Flight, when she had scarcely passed the period of infancy, but who appears to have been gifted with astuteness and ambition that were quite beyond her years, and who maintained her ascendancy over the Prophet in spite of the fact that many carping criticisms of his revelations are attributed to her. Some of this may have been due to the obligations (including pecuniary obligations) under which her father had laid Mahomet; but her reputation seems to have been greatly enhanced by the sending down of a revelation to exonerate her (A.H. 6), for which she thanked God and not the Prophet. Each accession to the harem rendered the building of a house or room necessary for the newcomer's accommodation; a fact in which Robertson Smith perhaps rightly saw a relic of the older system whereby the tent was the property of women. The trouble noticed above seems to have arisen from the want of a similar arrangement in the case of slave girls, with whom Mahomet's system permits cohabitation. When Mahomet, whether in consequence of the fatigue incurred by the “Farewell Pilgrimage,” or, as others thought, by the working of some poison put into his food some years before by a Jewess of Khaibar, was attacked by the illness which proved fatal, it was to the house of Ayesha that he was transferred (from that of another wife) to be nursed; and he apparently died in the arms of the favourite, on whose statements we have to rely for what we know of his last hours.

The traditional description of Mahomet is “of middle height, greyish, with hair that was neither straight nor curly; with a large head,General Characteristics. large eyes, heavy eyelashes, reddish tint in the eyes, thick-bearded, broad-shouldered, with thick hands and feet”; he was in the habit of giving violent expression to the emotions of anger and mirth. The supposition that he at any time suffered from physical weakness seems absolutely refuted by his career as a leader of difficult, dangerous and wearisome expeditions, from his migration to Medina until his death; indeed, during his last years he exhibited a capacity for both physical and intellectual activity which implies a high degree of both health and strength; and without these the previous struggle at Mecca could scarcely have been carried on. The supposition that he was liable to fits (epileptic or cataleptic) was intended to account for certain of the phenomena supposed to accompany the delivery of revelations; some of these however rest on very questionable authority: and the greater number of the revelations give evidence of careful preparation rather than spontaneity.

The literary matter ascribed to the Prophet consists of (1) the Koran (q.v.); (2) certain contracts, letters and rescripts preserved by his biographers; (3) a number of sayings on a vast variety of topics, collected by traditionalists. The references in the Koran to a form of literature called “Wisdom” (ḥikmah) suggest that even in the Prophet's time some attempts had been made to collect or at least preserve some of the last; the general uncertainty of oral tradition and the length of time which elapsed before any critical treatment of it was attempted, and the variety of causes, creditable and discreditable, which led to the wilful fabrication of prophetic utterances,