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Page:Early Christianity in Arabia.djvu/165

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153
IN ARABIA.

and the evident absurdity of the greater part of their anecdotes is sufficient to justify us in rejecting the whole. One portion was most likely invented by the impostor himself, the other, perhaps the greater, was the work of his followers.[1] Amongst the igno-

    tories of Muhammed, was not compiled within two or three centuries of the time in which he lived. Abulfeda, who is the best authority, was king of Hamah, and was born in the year 672 of the Hegira, and died in 733. The Greek historians who were nearly contemporary with Muhammed, give no particulars of his life. Nicephorus, who was born about a.d. 758, and wrote the Byzantine history from the death of Maurice, does not give any account of Muhammed, but says that A.D. 631, the Saracens broke out from Æthribus (Αιθριβου—Yatreb) a region of Arabia Felix, and invaded the surrounding regions, (p. 15,) and that in 634 they invaded the district of Antioch, and committed many atrocities, but were defeated. (p. 16.) At pp. 17, 18, he gives a brief history of the invasion of Syria by Omar. The later writers, Theophanes, Zonaras, Euthymius, &c. have taken all they say of him from Saracen information.

  1. The following may be taken as a tolerable specimen of their compositions—Un jour Abdo'llah (the father of Muhammed) raconta à son père un miracle des plus surprenans: "ô mon père," dit-il, "après m'être promené dans le champ des cailloux de la Mecque, comme j'étois au haut du mont Yatreb, il sortit incontinent de mon dos deux lumières, dont l'une s'éleva vers l'orient, et l'autre vers l'occident. En même tems ces deux lumières, après avoir fait dans l'air plusieurs cercles, entrelacés l'un dans l'autre, se rejoignirent ensemble en forme d'une nuée subtile et raréfiée, qui s'envolant vers le ciel, y entra et disparut à mes yeux: Un moment après, cette nuée sortit du ciel, elle ce rapprocha de moi en un clein d'œil; et comme je m'assis au même lieu, saisi d'étonnement, j'entendis une voix, comme sortant de dessous moi, et qui me dit: Paix soit à toi, ô Abdo'llah, dans le dos du quel est renfermée la lumiére Mahomed.