Page images

Professor in the middle of 1842. The Professor replied, as we have before stated, in a very courteous manner, complimented Mr. Pfander on the uncommon merit of his productions, and informed him that he had set one of his pupils to furnish a reply.* The author of the book, therefore, is not the Shia Professor, but Syud Mahommed Hadi, whose father, and the present Mujtahid, are sons of the famous Syud Dildar Ali, who we believe gained great celebrity by his travels in Arabia, Persia, and other countries, and being a pillar of the Shia faith, and a man famed for his attainments, became the spiritual guide of the king, and the Mujtahid of Lucknow. The office would appear to be in some measure hereditary, and the incumbent is said to be enriched by the free will offerings of the Oude nobility, so that the position is not only a dignified but a lucrative


فقرات بعض القسيسين والاحبار :The work is entitled that is ، The كشف الا ستا رلكسر مفتاح الاسرار ونقض

6 The


81 curtain unveiled to display the Miftah ul Asrar, or key of secrets broken, and the doctrines of a certain Christian minister refuted.” It is written in very high Persian, and abounds with Arabic phrases; the author, indeed, frequently breaks into whole sentences and even pages of Arabic, especially where he reduces his reasoning to a logical form : he may probably have found that the technical and laconic language of the Arabians enabled him at times to express his ideas with greater exactness and precision, but the general effect is to give an appearance of pedantry and desire of display. The arrangement of the treatise is much the same as we recommended for a reply to the Saulat uz Zaigham; a quotation is made from the Miftah ul Asrar, comprising generally a whole chapter or division, and headed with the words, swali jlo “ thus writes the Christian," in large letters; at the close follows his reply, begun in a similar man

, " I


I say in reply أقول وبه نستعين ,ner with the words

* At the same time he forwarded, for Mr. Pfander's perusal, five tracts in refu. tation of the Christian religion; of these, one is a reply to the Dalail Wafiah, a tract which is noticed in Saulat uz Zaigham, but which we have not seen. Another is an account of some controversies with the Rev. William Bowley, of Chunar,-who we suspect is the same referred to in the Saulat, as “ William Padre." A third is a statement of disputation with “ Padre Joseph Wolff,” who is stated to have visited Lucknow, and proclaimed the advent of our Saviour as about to take place in 14 years; this is a topic which is more than once mentioned with exultation as a proof of the liability of Christians to err in the interpretation of their Scriptures.

قوله ,it with the title

from Him I seek assistance.” After his general remarks, if he has occasion to notice any passage in particular, he introduces


“ His words,” and proceeds to give his answer as above. This mode of reply we strongly recommend for imitation on similar occasions; the headings mark the alternations of text and commentary, as clearly as any division into chapters could, and the whole is a most convenient as well as strictly oriental mode of composition.

The line of attack shows the subtilty and skill of our adversaries. The Mujtahid, in his letter to Mr. Pfander, assumes that the turning point between

us is the doctrine of the Trinity. Now this is quite a mistake. The turning point is the genuineness and integrity of our Scriptures; when that is proved, the truth of the Christian religion and falsity of Mahommedanism follow quite independently of the Trinity or any other Christian doctrines; these are, indeed, valuable subsidiary arguments, for they prove the Koran to oppose previous revelation, but they are all involved in the soundness of the Scriptures, and till that is proved on our side, or disproved on the part of the Mahommedans, the argument must remain incomplete and unsatisfactory. To have rendered the present attack, therefore, in any degree a fair one, the author was bound either to have acknowledged the genuineness of the Bible, or proved its corruption; but instead of this, he passes over the Mizan ul Hagg, with the sneer, that its arguments had been formerly refuted, and that it might more aptly have been called the Mizan i Bátil,* and proceeds to analyze and discuss the contents of the Miftah ul Asrar. The unfair position gives him this advantage that it enables him to take up at pleasure the whole range of objections usually brought against us; the object of attack is the most profound and mysterious doctrines of Revelation ;—he appeals to reason to attest its absurdity and impossibility,—thence he insinuates the corruption of our Scriptures, and covertly advances other arguments to the same point. He proceeds farther, denies that our Scriptures, even as they stand, contain the disputed tenets, and, by throwing into the shade the stronger passages adduced by Mr. Pfander, by describing others as metaphorical, by applying a few to Mahommed, and explaining away the remainder, he in appearance destroys the amount of cumulative evidence which before appeared irresistible: but the most unjust and gratuitous portion of his books is that which rejects in toto, the Acts and Epistles, and assumes that the four Gospels alone are to be regarded as inspired,--the rest being of no more value than the Hyat ul Kulúb, or other Mahommedan Histories. Taking up such ground, and assuming to himself such unbounded license of dispensing with our evidence, it is not to be wondered that the Divinity of Christ and the Trinity are dogmatically rejected by the writer as unfounded and absurd, and pronounced to be the fabrications of a heated imagination. But we proceed to notice a few of his chief lines of reasoning and most remarkable arguments, which will probably prove interesting to many of the friends of native improvement.

* He says, however, in the course of his book, that he meditates a reply to the Mizan ul Hoqq, and we hope he will accomplish it. The integrity of the Scriptures is the ground upon which our closest struggle must take place, of which the Mussulmans are very shy; they hardly ever approach it fairly and openly, but delight in covert attacks.

The grand feature of his book, is, that he constitutes reason the supreme Judge, and that in the view of reason the Divinity of Christ and the Trinity are held to be absolute impossibilities. On both points he is directly at issue with Mr. Pfander, yet he regards his own positions as axiomatic, and proceeds quietly to draw his inferences from them. His work is therefore entirely beside the point ; it may be very profitable to those who accord in his axioms, but it cannot be regarded as any reply to the Miftah, until he strengthens his premises by argument and proof. The steps by which he advances to the supremacy of reason, are a mere frivolous quibble :-revelation cannot be proved without reason, because it must be communicated through a prophet, whose mission cannot be established until the existence and nature of the deity by whom he is commissioned be ascertained; and that can be done by reason alone; therefore, reason is prior to revelation, and to imagine anything proved by revelation which is contrary to reason is to imagine a thing to be proved by itself, which is absurd: and hence he deduces that revelation must bend to reason, and that anything in the former which opposes the latter, must be explained as metaphorical or abandoned altogether. From such premises, we need not be astonished to hear him confess, that were the Trinity or any (so called) impossibility contained in an acknowledged revelation, it must be rejected as incapable of proof; and that therefore if it were shown to exist in our Scriptures, the fact would prove their corruption not the truth of the doctrine. Our opponent thus enters the arena determined to resist the utmost possible amount of evidence; it was needless for him to have advanced farther; with a mind so prepared for the reception of truth, what advantage could be anticipated from discussion ?

* When the Acts are adduced in support of a doctrine, he applies to us the proverb aus bei Tuola " the fox saw his own tail," implying that they are a fabrication of the Christians, and therefore useless as evidence.

To the argument, that our reason is feeble, and that a thousand things about us are as incomprehensible as the divine mystery, he replies, that these things occur in creation and are therefore nothing to the point. Every thing that we can think of, he divides into three classes ;* —the self-existent being from whose nature the very idea of change or imperfection is barred; the impossible, or what cannot be imagined to exist; and the possible, of which the existence and non-existence are equally likely. But all the mysteries of nature he contends, belong to the third class, and being liable to change and composition cannot be regarded as analogies of the Divine nature; and real trinity in unity is included in the second category, and, therefore, the mysteries of nature, however incomprehensible, cannot affect its impossibility. He thus asserts that the doctrine in dispute is not incomprehensible but clearly impossible; and he accuses Mr. Pfander of confounding that which it is impossible to comprehend, with what we comprehend to be impossible ? t Thus by begging the question, he renders his reasoning inconclusive.

The Maulavi is fond of insinuating that Mr. Pfander has quite excluded reason from the argument, and feigns surprise that he should have recourse to that abstract reasoning which he has once renounced. Reason, he pretends, is abjured by us only for the occasion; in one sense indeed,—we do reject our own reason,-by taking up with that of the Devil. He taunts his opponent.--" at times you affect the extreme of piety, abandon your reason, and follow only the word ; at others, you hold the most extravagant absurdities, which you have fabricated out of your own head, and even in opposition to the Scripture !” Thus (p. 42) he takes Mr. Pfander to task for having mentioned the planets as hung in the air ; he proves from the Old Testament, the creation of a material Heavens, and accuses his adversary of substituting in their stead an empty

* viz.



كى الوجود ، ممتنع الوجود واجب الوجود •

ممکن تفرقه بين علم الادراك وادراک العلم هنوز جان گرفته است *

در مدرکه او ادراک

space, upon the mere hypothesis of our star-gazing philosophers, and in direct contradiction to the general voice of Astronomy and Revelation.* The Maulavi's views on this subject are most unfounded, and show that he cannot distinguish between the use and the abuse of reason; he can not, or will not, see that we may employ reason to ascertain the existence of the Deity (without presuming to search out the mysteries of His nature,) and to guide us in recognizing His revelation; here reason must stop, and henceforth her only legitimate office is to search into the contents and discover the meaning of the Divine record. Until this principle be admitted we have little to hope from Mahommedan discussion: we do not, however, believe that the sovereignty of reason in divine mysteries is held by our opponents from conviction, but that it is in most cases assumed for the nonce, as the surest and most expeditious mode of refuting our arguments. The Mahommedans, indeed, are extremely superstitious; they dare riot apply the rule to their own faith, and are more ready to incline towards credulity, than to exercise the unfettered license of reason.

In taking up the argument from Scripture, the Maulavi opposes to Christ's assumption of Divine attributes, his own express avowal of subordination; these attributes cannot be proved to exist in his nature independently and absolutely (which alone would imply Divinity,) for they are generally spoken of as derived from the Father, and this dependence is inadmissible in the idea of the Divine nature.

His union with the Father is stated to be a union of spirits, like that which subsists among believers, and the word “forsaken” pronounced upon the cross, is adduced as clearly proving the absence of any closer connection. He holds that there are two applications of the word God, one of which was, in the Old Testament, used towards prophets and princes, and in the New to Christ; and he dextrously adduces our Saviour's quotation, “ I said ye are Gods,” as perfectly conclusive upon this head. The argument of obeisance and adoration he treats in the same way, but does not explain how St. Thomas came to join them together in his act of worship. The “ wordand “spirit of God,” are explained in the usual manner, with nearly as much bigotry and quite as much absurdity, as the authors we have

* Not long after the publication of this book, Mr. Pfander received a note regarding it, from a learned Hindu resident of Lucknow, well versed apparently in Arabic

hilosophy: he discards the views of the Maulavi, and holds, that according to Grecian and Hindu Philosophy there is no material Heavens, and that a sect of Mahommedan Philosophers profess the same belief, though the remainder are bound to the opposite doctrine, as a part of their religious system.

« PreviousContinue »