Imagini ale paginilor

The Koran.


glory of God as the reward of the righteous, 18 but the extraordinary attraction of Islam was based on the literal interpretation of these sensuous promises; later traditions have taken care to satiate the greedy expectations of the faithful with fabulous delineations of this paradise.19


The most objectionable doctrine in the Koran is the denial of free-will in man. The destiny of each person is predetermined and recorded, so that the course of life is related to this record as the acting is to the text of a dramatic poem. 20 Damnation is decreed for those on whom it falls by an irrevocable counsel of God; for, continues the Koran, had Allah so willed it, all men would have believed, but without His will no soul would attain to faith. The doctrine of predestination was always maintained by the orthodox, and although the more liberal sects clearly recognized the incompatibility of preordination and punishment with Divine justice and mercy, and held milder views, the weak-minded mass of believers adhered to the letter. On account of this doctrine no priesthood could ever gain ascendancy in the society of Islam, for there was nothing to bind or to loose. Moreover, the Caliphs and their successors were always at the head of the faithful.22

In addition to the Koran, the Sunna, or book of customs and legal practice, wherever it does not stand in contradiction with revelation, has full authority, and contains ordinances on social and criminal matters, as well as precepts with regard to food and apparel. In addition to this, legal force is imputed to the Record, or Hadyth, which contains such traditional utterances of the Prophet as can be traced back through good witnesses to himself. 23

In Persia these legal authorities were not recognized, and hence arose a division among the faithful into the Sunnites, adherents of the Sunna, and the apostates, or Shyites.

18 See Koran, Sura lxxv.

19 Comp. the description of Paradise in M. Wolff's Mohammedanische Eschatologie. 1872.

20 Sprenger, Das Leben des Mohammed, vol. ii. p. 307.

21 Koran, Sura x., also lxxvi.

22 Ibid.


p. 280.

Kremer, Ideen des Islâm, p. 9.

Sprenger, Das Leben des Mohammed, vol. iii. p. 77.


Shortly after its establishment Islam overran Egypt and Northern Africa; at the beginning of the eighth century it passed over the Straits of Gibraltar, and maintained itself in Western Europe until the fall of Granada, in 1492. In the same century in which it was driven back from Spain to Africa, it succeeded in gaining a footing in Southern Europe in the eastern peninsula, and in 1453 it obtained the dominion over the straits which divide our quarter of the world from Asia Minor.

In the beginning of the eighth century the Arabs pushed their conquests into the territory of the Indus, but their principalities of Mooltan and Mansora soon fell off from the Chalifate. Arab communities existed in all the towns on the coast of Malabar, though Islam was then merely tolerated in those regions. It was was only in the year A.D. 1000 that it obtained a firm footing in India among the Ghazuwids,24 and under Baber, the founder of the kingdom of the Great Moguls, the chief power in the peninsula fell into the hands of Mohammedan princes. In Sumatra the doctrine of the Prophet first became predominant in 1206 in the kingdom of Atschin, and in the kingdom of Malacca shortly after its foundation in the year 1253, while in Java it did not supplant Buddhism until after the fall of the state of Madschapahit, in 1478. It reached the island of Celebes in 1512, yet the Buginese were still vainly resisting its spread even in 1640. Islam still continues its progress eastwards. Its furthest limit in that direction is a small mosque at Dobo in the Aru Islands, a ́ dependency of New Guinea. 25 But in New Guinea itself there are many new converts among the Papuans. 26

In Africa the doctrine of the Prophet was first naturalized in the Mediterranean districts. It made its way across the desert into Bornou between 1086 and 1097, but early in the same century it had spread to the great kingdom of Sonrhay, on the middle Niger, and in the beginning of the thirteenth century it extended to the rulers of Melli on the Upper Niger. 27 It reached Wadai, Darfur,

24 Reinaud, Geographie d'Aboulféda. Introduction.

25 Wallace, Malay Archipelago, vol. ii. p. 276.

26 Otto Finsch, Neu-Guinea.

27 Heinrich Barth, Nord- und Centralafrika.

Spread of Islam.


and Kordofan only in the beginning and the middle of the seventeenth century. 28 Whether the Tuareg were formerly Christians, as Barth conjectures, requires further confirmation, and, again, whether in the former kingdom of Ghana, lying westwards of Timbuctoo, Christianity succumbed to Islam only in 1075, and in Nubia, where according to reliable records it still prevailed in the first half of the fourteenth century.29 Even at present Islam is slowly expelling Christianity from Abyssinia. Within our times the Fellatah have carried it to Adamaua, far into the interior of pagan Africa. The doctrine of the Prophet imposes no change of habits on the Africans. The negro who embraces Islam is assured that he rises higher, and by reason of his purer doctrine is earer to God than the Christians. Lastly, in Africa the promulgators of the doctrine of the Prophet are poor and unpaid, whereas the missionaries, although they preach contempt for riches, surround themselves with profusion. In the opinion of a clear-sighted observer, these are the reasons why the Christian religion gives way to Islam among the negroes. 3o This doctrine has recently been victorious in China. It had early been diffused there; partly by way of Kashgar and the fertile districts on the southern slopes of the Thianshan, partly by sea, following the great mercantile routes to the places on the coast, until towards the end of the ninth century, on the downfall of the Thang dynasty, a persecution of foreigners and the extermination of the Mohammedans took place. A short time ago a governor established himself at Talifu, in the south-west of the Celestial Kingdom, among the Mohammedan Chinese, and seized a portion of the province of Yunnen. The English who had entered into commercial transactions with this infant state by way of Burmah, were full of praise of the honesty and morality of the Panthays, as these new adherents of Islam were named.32 According to more recent accounts the Chinese again destroyed this new creation in 1872.

28 Waitz, Anthropologie.

29 Fr. Kunstmann, Afrika vor den Entdeckungen der Portugiesien. 1853. 30 Gerhard Rohlfs in Ausland. 1870.

31 Peschel, Geschichte der Erdkunde.

32 A. Bowers, Bhamo Expedition. 1871.


"KNOWLEDGE of the natural characters of different regions of the world," says Von Humboldt, in one of the most profound passages of his Physiognomy of Plants, "is an essential part of the history of the human race and of its culture. For although the beginning of this culture is not determined by physical influences alone, yet its direction and the national character, the gloomy or cheerful temper of mankind, depend largely on climatic conditions. The sky of Greece had great influence on its inhabitants! The colonists in the beautiful and favoured districts between the Euphrates, the Halys, and the Egean Sea began early to recognize moral loveliness and tender feelings. When Europe had sunk back into barbarism, and religious enthusiasm had suddenly brought the sacred East into prominence, our forefathers again brought home from those genial valleys more gentle manners. The poetry of the Greeks and the ruder songs of the primitive people of the north mainly owe their peculiar character to the forms of the plants and animals, to the mountain valleys which surrounded the poet, and to the air which he breathed. Turning only to familiar objects, we all feel different emotions in the dark shade of beech-trees, on hills crowned with scattered fif-trees, or on the grassy plain where the wind rustles through the trembling foliage of the birch. These plants of our native land severally evoke in our minds melancholy, elevating, or gladsome images. The influence of the physical upon the moral world, the mysterious interaction of the sensible and of that which lies beyond the senses, endows the study of nature, when raised to higher points of view, with a peculiar charm which is as yet too little recognized."

It would be a pleasant task carefully to trace the inward con nection betwixt the greatest events in human society and the scenes in which they occurred. No one could better help us in our preparation for such researches than Buckle, according to whom, nothing is simpler and more intelligible than the reaction of the place of abode upon the mental phenomena. Where nature terrifies man by portentous objects of alarm, the imagination

Influence of Locality on Character.


is more fully developed than the intellect, and belief in miracles is most luxuriant. "Italy, Spain, and Portugal," says Buckle, "are, of all countries in Europe, most frequently visited by earthquakes; earthquakes intimidate the mind of man, consequently the belief in the interference of supersensual powers with the physical order of the world has been more stubbornly maintained among the inhabitants of Southern Europe than in other parts." The terrible catastrophe which befel Lisbon more than a hundred years ago, although it stands alone in magnitude, may in some degree justify us in considering Portugal among the countries in which earthquakes most frequently occur, but Spain, although not entirely exempt, is not a country either specially or even severely visited by earthquakes. Japan, which so often trembles under the trident of Poseidon, is peopled by a cheerful race of men, given to tricks and jests, and heedless on subjects of religion. Russia, again, is almost entirely free from earthquakes, yet Italy has long been cleansed from a system of exorcism such as still prevails in the Greek Church.

"In the tropics," Buckle continues, "nature appears still more violent and terrible in contrast with human pusillanimity, and hence among the inhabitants of India the imagination is preëminently peopled with illusions. There," he says, "obstacles of every sort were so numerous, so alarming, and apparently so inexplicable, that the difficulties of life could only be solved by constantly appealing to the direct agency of supernatural causes. There the terrified imagination beheld such visions of horror as Civa, or his consort Durga-Kali, the palms of whose hands were constantly reddened with fresh blood, and whose necks were adorned with a string of human skulls."


As Indian culture was especially developed in Hindostan proper, that is to say, in the district of the Ganges, exclusive of Bengal, nature, according to Buckle's views, ought there above all. to have filled the minds of the population with sensations of fear and awe. Earthquakes do not occur, indeed, but they are replaced by terrific hurricanes. The Bay of Bengal is certainly the source of those cyclones or circular storms which have visited

1 History of Civilization.

« ÎnapoiContinuă »