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care for the poor to the command to feed the hungry, and to clothe the naked. 20 Many other points which may perplex us in the doctrines of the Gospels may perhaps be founded on a misapprehension on the part of the disciples; the sense of the words spoken in Syriac may have suffered more or less in the translation into Greek, or the obscurity of the metaphors may still be cleared up on better acquaintance with the East, as has been the case with the camel and the eye of the needle. It is due to misrepresentations that Christianity is sometimes regarded as less enlightened than Buddhism, which is said to have gained four hundred millions of adherents without proclaiming either a recompense for good works or a punishment for bad actions. We have already described the true state of the case. The Buddhism of the four hundred millions is destitute neither of a glorious heaven nor of a hell with imaginative tortures. Even in its primitive purity the transmigration of souls acted as a terror to the transgressors of its commandments, for the son of Asoka was barbarously blinded only because, according to Buddhist interpretation, in a former existence he had put out the eyes of hundreds of gazelles.22
BEFORE the appearance of their prophet the tribes of the Arabian peninsula were still in the shackles of fetishism. They worshipped stones, rocks, trees, and images, and also the sun, moon, and constellations.1 Mohammed himself confesses that in his
20 Mark vii. 7. Μάτην δὲ σέβονταί με, διδάσκοντες διδασκαλίας ἐντάλματα ἀνθρώπων.
21 The lamented Lady Duff Gordon writes (Letters from Egypt): "Yesterday I saw a camel go through the eye of a needle, i.e., the low-arched door of an enclosure. He must kneel and bow his head to creep through, and thus the rich man must humble himself."
In the oases of Southern Algeria, the small doors near the great gates in the walls are also called the eye of the needle (E Desor, Aus Sahara und Atlas).
22 Bournouf, Introduction à l'histoire du Buddhisme.
1 L. Krehl, Religion der vorislamischen Araber. Leipzic, 1863.
youth he adored the gods of his fathers. The meteoric stone in the Ka'aba at Mecca had long been the object of pilgrimages in connection with which fairs were held, and in order not to deprive his native city of this source of profit, Mohammed condescended to incorporate the worship of this stone into his religious system. The existence of invisible and supernatural beings, jins and angels, was also believed, and endeavours were made to obtain their good-will by worship. Even in very early times the Bedouins acknowledged a creator of the heavens and a ruler of the world under the denomination of Allah, a name derived from the verb lah, which signifies trembling and shining. On other grounds its relationship to the Hebrew El, or Eloah, and with Alâhah, the old Arabic name for the sun, is also conjectured.3 A future life was denied, so that it was Mohammed's doctrine of resurrection which especially repelled the higher classes of his countrymen.+
The prophet, who was left an orphan at an early age, and was in his youth obliged to adopt the humble occupation of a sheep and goat-herd, improved his position in life by marrying at twentyfour a rich widow at least fourteen years older than himself. He suffered all his life from hysterical attacks, and for that reason alone would have been regarded by the races of Africa, Northern Asia, and America as a powerful Shaman. Like all such, he also firmly believed that his revelations were extraneous, and that a higher power spoke by him. When in advancing years his enthusiasm gradually subsided, and practice gave him the power of evoking at will convulsive ecstasies, which were so great as to produce foaming at the mouth, he delivered revelations for the most trivial purposes. Before bringing home his eighth wife, she required that her marriage should be decreed by the word of God, which was given at her demand.5 Having sworn to another of his wives to reject a Coptic lady whom he loved, but afterwards repenting of his promise, he procured a revelation from God assuring him that such oaths to women were not obligatory.
2 A. Sprenger, Das Leben des Mohammed, vol. i. p. 250.
A. Sprenger, Das Leben des Mohammed, vol. i. p. 358.
5 Der Korân, Sura xvi.
For instance, see Von Kremer, Ideen des Islam, pp. 80, 81,
youth, self-deceived by Shamanism, was at an older age transformed into a crafty impostor. To reconcile the miracle of revelation with reality, it was supposed that the will of God was made known to the Prophet only in its purport, and that time was required to clothe the meaning in that poetical prose which soon so deeply affected the minds of the believers, that pious Moslems, on unexpectedly hearing the menaces of a verse of the Koran, repeatedly fell down unconscious from mere terror, and are even said to have died in consequence. Mohammed, as a proof of the Divine nature of his inspirations, advised the sceptics, if they believed the Koran was devised by him alone, to try to write even one or two Suras like his.8
The Koran itself contains one hundred and fourteen psalms or Suras, differing in length from a single verse to the dimensions of a sermon. Narratives of judicial punishments taken from biblical and ancient Arabic legends, are mixed up, as in a heap devoid of order, with social ordinances and the actual Divine revelations. By arranging them according to the date of their origin we can gain an insight into the growth and development of the new faith, which is merely a recoining of Jewish and Christian thoughts. The predecessors of the Prophet among the Arabs were the Hanyfes, who worshipped a creator and expected a resurrection of the dead, followed by a judgment of moral acts. Mohammed called himself a Hanyfe, and Abraham the founder of Hanyfism, which in his mouth meant a purified monotheism, which is well called Islâm, a significant word which implies direct opposition to atheism as well as polytheism.9 The Prophet was profoundly influenced by the dogmas of the Ebronite Jewish Christians at Jerusalem and Pella, who recognized only the first Gospel as genuine, and rejected the doctrines of the incarnation and redemption. 10 Mohammed himself visited Jerusalem more than once; he honoured Christ and his sister, as he deemed the Holy Ghost, and even the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary was included in his dogmas." The Prophet at first attempted
7 Von Kremer, Ideen des Islâm.
9 Sprenger, Das Leben des Mohammed, vol. i. p. 72.
Koran, Sura x.
Influence of Christianity on Mohammed.
to found a Jewish Christian community among the Arabs. he was probably never able to read, it often happened that he made erroneous appeals to the Old Testament and the Gospels. When he was reproached with such mistakes, he took refuge in the evasion which has from that time been maintained by all Moslems, that the revelations in the Old and New Testaments are of Divine origin, but from vile and interested motives had been so distorted and corrupted by Jews and Christians, that it was necessary that they should be revealed again to the Prophet, fresh and unfalsified. "To thee, Mohammed,” it is said in the fifth Sura, 66 we have given the book of truth, which confirms the law of Moses and the Gospel. Had God so willed it, he would have made of you, ye peoples, one nation, but he has separated you by different laws in order to try the obedience of each to the law which is revealed to him."12 Later, however, there was no more question of such tolerance and equality. On the 16th of January, 624, the Prophet decreed an alteration of the Kibla, or direction in which prayers were to be said; the face was previously turned towards Jerusalem, but henceforth it was to be directed towards Mecca, although, as if to quiet his own conscience, the Prophet adds in the same Sura which inculcates this ordinance "Direct your prayer where ou will, God is there, for God is omnipresent and omniscient."13 Against Christian dogmas, and especially against the doctrine of the Trinity, he directed the 112th Sura, which contains the entire creed of the Moslem, and is to be repeated at the most sacred moment of the pilgrimage, while kissing the black stone of the Ka'aba. It runs, "Speak! God is one! The eternal God! He does not beget, he is not begotten! No creature is like unto him!"
The moral decrees enacted by the Prophet on the strength of his Divine mission, were arranged in imitation of the Sinaitic laws, in the following two series, each of five precepts:-1. To acknowledge no other gods but God; 2. to show respect to parents; 3. not to kill children on account of dread of starvation ; 4. to preserve chastity; 5. to protect the life of others except where justice demands the contrary. To this first series are attached as injunc
12 See Koran, Sura cxi.
13 Sura xx.-xxiv.
tions; 6. inviolability of the property of orphans; 7. just weights and measures; 8. no overburdening of slaves; 9. impartiality of judges; 10. sacredness of oaths and of the covenant with God. 14 The Mosaic law certainly surpasses this decalogue in point of simplicity. The Prophet obviously racked his brains in order to reach the normal number, and after all inserted mere police regulations. The consecration of the Sabbath was not ordained: Mohammed maintained that it was imposed upon the Jews only on account of their perversity, because they persevered in the celebration of the Saturday, and not as Moses wished of the Friday. 15
The authorization of four lawful wives and an unlimited number of female slaves betrays the weakness of the Prophet, who set no bounds to his own love of pleasure. But it would be unjust to regard polygamy as the essential contrast between Islam and our own religion. Long before Christianity, monogamy was the law among many nations, and still is so among pagan races; moreover, in the earliest times it was possible while belonging to the Christian Church to have several wives. In common with all nations in a low state of civilization, the Arabs in the time of their heathenism had imposed upon themselves highly complicated dietary prohibitions. The Prophet limited these interdicts to the flesh of swine, of hunted animals, and of blood. 16
To procure credence for his revelations, the Prophet endeavoured to alarm his followers by the threats of the resurrection and a day of judgment. In this the fiery force of his poetic language was of service, and he neglected no opportunity of recalling the judgments already accomplished in biblical and ancient Arabic legends. On the other hand, in wearisome reiteration, he promised the believers and the righteous an Elysium, according to the popular taste-a shady garden with bubbling fountains, delicious fruits, luxurious couches, and a race of houris who united every charm that could eternally satisfy eternal desire. It is true the Koran contains passages which reduce these entrancing descriptions to the level of metaphors adapted to human comprehension," that others represent the contemplation of the