« PreviousContinue »
as tall as Adam, who was sixty cubits high. They will be endowed with the beauty of Joseph, the perfection of Jesus, and the eloquence of Mohammed. At each meal, they will be served with three hundred different kinds of food, on plates of gold. Bells hanging on the Tree of Happiness will be set in motion by breezes from God's throne, as often as they desire music. All their capacities for enjoyment will be a hundred fold greater than they were in this life. Each one will have a hareem of seven thousand Hoories, and eleven thousand women; the most perfect of whom are more beautiful than the Hoories. When Saduk, one of the twelve inspired Imams, was asked whether a husband and wife, who were true believers, would resume the matrimonial bond in another world, he replied, that if the man was superior to the woman in excellence, he would decide whether she should be of the number of his wives or not; but if the woman was more excellent, she would choose whether or not she would have him for a husband.
Some of the traditional sayings of Mohammed have great moral excellence. The following, for example: “All the sons of Adam are equal, like the teeth of a comb. One has no preëminence over another, except that which is imparted by a religious life.” “Every good act is charity. Giving water to the thirsty is charity. Putting a wanderer in the right path is charity. Removing stones and thorns from the road is charity. Exhorting your fellow men to virtuous deeds is charity. Smiling in your brother's face is charity. A man's true wealth hereafter is the good he does 'in this world. When he dies, mortals will ask what property he left behind him; but angels will inquire of him: What good deeds hast thou sent before thee?" An aged woman and an African convert were once very much troubled, because he told them there were no old women in Paradise, and no black people; but they were comforted by his afterward explaining that all the good became eternally young and fair when they left this world
It is related of his grandson, Hasan, that a slave wbu upset on him a dish of boiling hot food, fell on his knees
virtuoshe road is ch charity. Remity:
in great fear, and repeated from the Koran: “Paradise is for those who bridle their anger." Hasan answered: “I am not angry.” “And for those who forgive men,” continued the slave. “I forgive you,” was the mild response. The culprit finished the sacred sentence, by repeating: "For God loveth the beneficent." The master replied: "I give you your freedom, and four hundred pieces of silver."
SECTS.—Mohammed declared that revelations from God to man would cease with him; and he commanded that any one should be put to death who afterward claimed to be a prophet. He predicted that many such would arise, and that his followers would divide into many sects. It happened as he had very naturally foreseen. After his death, there were many who professed to be inspired messengers, and strove hard to equal his power over the minds of men. One said he was Moses returned in the flesh; another that he was John the Baptist. Their contending claims produced a great deal of disturbance and bloodshed. Several of the tribes manifested a strong tendency to return to idolatry; and considerable time elapsed before they were all united in one faith. After their power was consolidated, they divided into various sects. The first great division arose from political as well as religious causes. Those who asserted that Ali was the only legitimate successor of Mohammed, denied the authority of the caliphs who preceded him. To the simple creed, “There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is the prophet of God;" they added "and Ali is the vicegerent of God." They reject the Sonna, and accuse their opponents of having expunged from the Koran many sentences favourable to the claims of Ali. The Sonnites retort upon them the charge of altering the Koran, and of publishing fabulous traditions to glorify Ali and his family. They call them Shiites, or Sheabs, which signifies Heretics; a name by which they have become generally known to Europeans. Their theological doctrines are the same. But when the Sonnites perform ablution before prayers, they begin at the elbow and wash down to the fingers; whereas the Sheahs begin at the tips of the fingers and wash upward to the elbow. This has given rise to very hot controversies; being considered a question of as much importance as sprinkling and immersion among Christians. The animosity between these two sects is so great, that they consider it more meritorious to destroy each other, than to exterminate infidels. When Sheahs, on their pilgrimage to Mecca, pass through countries inhabited by Sonpites, they generally conform to their customs, and call themselves by their name; otherwise, scenes of violence and bloodshed occur continually. Both sects claim to be the only true interpreters of the Koran. Arabs, Turks, and Tartars are Sonnites. The Persians, and some East Indians, are adherents of Ali. The hostility between Turks and Persians is mainly caused by this sectarian feud. The Sonnites are divided into many sects. The four principal differ concerning some matters of practice, but agree on points of faith; therefore they do not deny to each other the possibility of salvation; which they all agree to do toward numerous minor sects deemed heret
There are seventy or eighty sects among the Sheahs. One small sect maintains that God was incarnated in the person of Ali; these do not perform pilgrimages to Mecca, but to Meschid, where Ali was buried; they neglect many of the purifications and fasts observed by orthodox Mohammedans, have no buildings for public worship, and perform their religious ceremonies in a very simple way. One small sect in Syria believe in the transmigration of souls, have consecrated plants and animals, and introduce the sexual emblems of Hindostan into their worship. The head of ecclesiastical and civil affairs in Persia was called the Imam. All the sects of Sheahs believe that Ali, and the twelve Imams who succeeded him, were directly inspired by God; therefore their decisions were to be accepted as permanent rules of life. Some asserted that the essence of God was incarnated in all of them. The last of these Imams was peculiarly celebrated for his sanctity, and was called Mahedi, which signifies The Guide. He retired to a cave near Bagdad, and the time and place of his death were unknown. This gave rise to a belief, still entertained by many, that he is living, and will appear in the last days, to establish the faith of Islam throughout the world. At different periods, a number of prophets have arisen claiming to be this Mohammedan Messiah.
A book called the Gospel of Barnabas is in great repute among them. It is supposed to be one of the Apocryphal Gospels, used by the Eastern churches, translated and modified by some Christian, who became a Moslem. It represents Christ as foretelling that God would send a prophet by the name of Mohammed, to perfect the dispensation he had brought to men. It declares that an unbelieving Jew, while watching Jesus to prevent his escape, was suddenly transformed into such an exact likeness of him, that even the Virgin Mary herself was deceived. This man was crucified, and Christ was taken up into heaven alive. But seeing his mother and his disciples so overwhelmed with grief, he appeared to them, and told them the stratagem God had devised. He foretold that a prophet greater than himself, named Mohammed, would be sent to lead men into the truth. He also promised to appear on earth again in the last days, and destroy a false prophet named Dejal, and a wild boar that would devastate the earth. He would burn the Christian Gospels, which ungodly priests had falsified, and the crosses they worshipped as gods, and help to subject the whole earth to Mohammed. In consequence of this communication, the Virgin Mary lived and died in the faith of Islam. It is the universal belief that when Mahedi appears, Jesus will come to his assistance; that he will perform his devotions in the mosque, will exterminate the Jews who rejected him, and the Christians who worshipped him as God; that he will marry and have chil. dren, and remain on the earth forty years, during which there will be universal peace and plenty. In the royal stable at Ispahan, two horses were always kept saddled; one for the use of Mahedi, the other for Jesus.
The idea of atonement for sin, by any kind of sacrifice, forms no part of the system of Mohammed; it being one of his favourite maxims that “a man cannot die for his neighbour.” But in general, questions which excite controversy elsewhere have caused disputes among his followers. Some deny the personality of God; others affirm that he is in the likeness of a man. Mohammed said: “ The heart of a believer is between the fingers of The Merciful.” Some say that a preacher who should stretch forth his finger while he read that text would deserve to have it cut off; because he might thereby convey the idea that God had fingers. The doctrine of predestination is fully believed by orthodox sects. But it shocks the minds of many, who draw from it an inference that God is the author of evil; and this they are so reluctant to admit, that they are not even willing to say He created infidels. Out of this question has arisen much discussion whether the doctrine that infants are foredoomed to eternal punishment can be reconciled with the justice and mercy of God. The comparative importance of faith and works is another dividing topic. Some maintain that if a true believer in Mohammed commits a crime and dies without repentance, he must surely be damned to all eternity; though his punishment will be lighter than that of an infidel who commits the same crime. This is regarded as impious doctrine by the orthodox, who say God forgives everything but infi. delity. Some sects maintain that this world will never be destroyed, and that there is no other heaven or hell. It is generally supposed that departed souls are waiting in some intermediate state, not very clearly defined. Some think they are with Adam in the lower heaven, because when the Prophet made his miraculous Night Journey, he said he saw souls destined to heaven on Adam's right hand, and those destined to hell on his left. The prevail. ing faith is that bodies will rise at the day of resurrection, and souls will be re-united with them. But some, who