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that Muḥammad only tolerated the Christian religion, and that he expected the children of Christians to be brought up in the faith of Al-Islâm. In 632 Muḥammad ordered an expedition against Syria, but he died early in the month of June, at Madîna.
In personal appearance he was of medium height, and he had an upright carriage until his later years, when he began to stoop, and he walked fast. He laughed often and had a ready wit and a good memory; his manners were pleasing, and he was exceedingly gracious to inferiors. Of learning he had none, and he could neither read nor write. He was slow and dignified of speech, and prudent in judg. ment. He was not ashamed to mend his own clothes and shoes, and his humility was so great that he would ride upon an ass. He ate with his thumb and the first and second fingers, and he greatly liked bread cooked with meat, dates dressed with milk and butter, pumpkins, cucumbers, and undried dates; onions and garlic he abhorred. His garments were of different colours, but he loved white, although he was very fond of striped stuffs ; it is said that he once gave seventeen camels for a single 'garment. His hair was long, like his beard, but he clipped his moustache; he painted his eyelids with antimony, and greatly loved musk, ambergris, and camphor burnt on sweet-smelling woods. His life was simple, but his disposition was sensual, and his polygamous inclinations sorely tried the convictions of his followers. He was a staunch friend to his friends, and a bitter foe to his enemies, whom he often treated with great cruelty ; he had the reputation for sincerity, but at times he behaved with cunning and meanness; his urbanity hid a determination which few realized, and the sword was the real cause of the conversion of the nations to his views. The religion which he preached was, and is, intolerant and fanatical, and, although it has made millions of men believe in one God, and re
nounce the worship of idols, and abhor wine and strong drink, it has set the seal of his approval upon the unbridled gratification of sensual appetites, and has given polygamy and divorce a religious status and wide-spread popularity.
Al-Kur'ân* (the Koran, or Coran) is the name given to the revelations or instructions which Muhammad declared had been sent to him from God by the archangel Gabriel. During the lifetime of Muḥammad these revelations were written upon skins, shoulder-bones of camels and goals, palm leaves, slices of stone, or anything which was conrenient for writing upon, and then committed to memory by every true believer; they thus took the place of the poetical compositions which the Arabs had, from time immemorial, been accustomed to learn by heart. It is tolerably certain that copies of the revelations were multiplied as soon as they were uttered by the Prophet, and their number must have been considerable.
On the death of the Prophet, the Arabs of the south revolted, and Abu-Bakr was obliged to suppress the rebellion with a strong hand, but the false prophet Musailima had many adherents, and the fight was fierce and bloody, and many of those who best knew the Ķur'ân were slain. At this time the various sections of the book were not arranged in any order, and 'Omar, fearing that certain sections might be lost, advised Abu-Bakr to have all the revelations gathered together into one book. This was A.D. 633. By AbuBakr's orders, a young man called Zêd ibn-Thâbit, who had been Muḥammad's secretary and had learned Syriac and Hebrew, was entrusted with the task, and he collected the sections from every conceivable source, and made a fair copy of them in the order in which they have come down
* The word means "the reading,” or “what ought to be read.”
to us. This copy was given by 'Omar, the successor of Abu-Bakr, to his daughter Hafşa, one of the widows of the Prophet. Before long, however, variations sprang up in the copies which were made from that of Hafșa, and these variations became so numerous, and caused such serious disputes, that the Khalif ‘Othmân ordered Zêd ibn-Thâbit and three men of the Korêsh tribe to prepare a new recension of the Kur'ân. At length the new recension was finished, and copies were sent to Kûfa, Başra, Damascus, Mecca and Medina, and all the pre-existing versions were ruthlessly burnt. Hafşa's copy was restored to her, but it was afterwards destroyed by Merwân, the governor of Medîna.
The Arabs regard the language of the Kur'ân as extremely pure, and incomparable for beauty and eloquence; it is also thought to be under God's special protection, and therefore to be incorruptible. To explain the existence of slight variations, it was declared that the book was revealed in seven distinct dialects. The Ķur'ân contains 114 sections, each of which is called a súra ; some were revealed at Mecca, and others at Madina, and others were revealed partly at Mecca and partly at Madina. The number of verses in the whole book is given as 6,000, or 6,214, or 6,219, or 6,225, or 6,226, or 6,236, according to the authority followed; the number of words is said to be 77,639, or 99,464; and the number of letters 323,015, or 330,113, for, like the Jews,* the Arabs counted the letters of their Scriptures. At the head of each section, after the title, come the words, “In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate,” which formula, Sale thinks, was bor. rowed from the Magians.
That Muhammad, assisted by his friends, composed
* The number of times which each letter occurs in the Hebrew Bible will be found in the Vassoreth ha-Vassoreth of Elias Levita (ed. Ginsburg), p. 371
the Ķur'ân is certain, yet his followers declare that the first transcript of it existed in heaven, written upon the “Preserved Table” or Tablet from all eternity, and that it subsists in the very essence of God. A copy on paper was sent down to the lowest heaven by Gabriel, who revealed it to the Prophet piecemeal, but showed him the whole book, bound in silk and set with the gold and precious stones of Paradise, once a year. Hence the Ķur'ân is held in the greatest reverence by the Muḥammadans, who are said never to touch it unless they are ceremonially pure.
The Muḥammadans divide their religion, which they call "Islâm," into two parts, i. e., Imân, faith, or theory, and Din, religion, or practice; it is built on five fundamental points, one belonging to faith and four to practice. The confession of faith is, “There is no god but God," and “Muḥammad is the Apostle of God.” Under this point the Arabs comprehend :-1. Belief in God; 2. In His Angels; 3. In His Scriptures ; 4. In His Prophets; 5. In the Resurrection and Day of Judgment; 6. In God's absolute decree and predetermination both of good and evil. The four points of practice are:-1. Prayer and ablutions; 2. Alms; 3. Fasting ; 4. Pilgrimage to Mecca.
1. The belief in God is thus expressed :—“Say, God is one God; the eternal God; he begetteth not, neither is he begotten ; and there is not any one like unto him” (Sura cxii).
2. The Angels are beings of light who neither eat nor drink, and who are without sex ; they are without sin, and perform God's behests in heaven and upon earth, and adore Him. There are four Archangels, Gabriel, Michael, Azrael, the angel of death, and Isrâfêl, the angel who will sound the trumpet at the end of the world. Every believer is attended by two angels, one writing down his good actions, and the other his evil actions; the guardian angels are
variously said to be five, sixty, or a hundred and sixty. The angels Munkar and Nakîr examine the dead, and torture the wicked in their graves. The Jinn were created before Adam, and are beings of fire, who eat and drink and marry; they include Jann, Satans, ‘Afrîts, and Mârids. The head of them is ‘Azâzêl or Iblis, who was cast out of heaven because he refused to worship Adam.
3. The Scriptures are the uncreated word of God which He revealed to His Prophets ; of these alone remain, but in a corrupt state, the Pentateuch of Moses, the Psalms of David, the Gospels of Christ, and the Ķur'ân, which surpasses in excellence all other revelations. Ten books were given to Adam, fifty to Seth, thirty to Enoch, and ten to Abraham, but all these are lost.
4. The Prophets are in number 124,000 or 224,000, of whom 313 were Apostles ; among the Apostles of special importance are Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus Christ, and Muḥammad, who is declared to be the last, and greatest, and most excellent of them all. It is admitted that Christ is the Word of God, and the Messiah, but the Muḥammadans deny that He is the Son of God.
5. Resurrection and day of judgment. When the body is laid in the grave two angels, called Munkar and Nakir, appear there, and make the dead man sit upright, and question him as to his faith; if the answers are satisfactory he is allowed to rest in peace, but if not the angels beat him on the temples with iron maces, and having heaped earth upon the body, it is gnawed by ninety-nine dragons, each having seven heads. All good Muḥammadans have their graves made hollow and two stones placed in a suitable position for the two angels to sit upon. The souls of the just when taken from their bodies by the angel of death may be borne to heaven, but various opinions exist on this point. Some think that the souls remain near the graves either for seven days or for a longer