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that grave and ceremonious politeness, which was one of the peculiarities of his country. He shewed great veneration for the rich and powerful ; but was full of condescension and affability even to the poorest citizens. The artifice of his views was thus concealed by an appearance of frankness where it was required, or by a courtesy which was imputed to personal friendship or universal benevolence. It was thus that be ingratiated himself into the good opinion of his countrymen, and at length obtained a mastery over their thoughts and actions, like that which magicians are supposed to exercise over the spirits of the earth and air, whom they have subdued to work their will and do their bidding

6. The genius of Mahomet was of a highly contemplative kind, and he had doubtless improved it by his travels as a merchant into the neighbouring countries, and by his intercourse with the pilgrims who came from all parts of the east to visit Mecca. From them, and from the active resources of a mind naturally enquiring and intelligent, he learnt much of the political state and character of the surrounding governments, and the theory and practice of the Jews and Christians. He thus saw enough of the old and new religion of the world to be able to mould and shape a creed after his own fashion, but which was to have something in common with both these systems.

7. To carry out more perfectly and to mature the plan, which he had probably long cherished, of becoming the founder of another religion, and the head of a mighty empire, he retired to a solitary cave in the neighbourhood of Mecca, called the Hera. Here annually, during the fasting season of the year, called Ramadam, he withdrew from the world, to indulge in those beguiling dreams of enthusiasm with which he was afterwards to lead captive the minds of his followers. Spending the day in abstinence and prayer, he came home at night to relate to his wife the mysterious visions and miraculous revelations with which he pretended to have been favoured in his retirement. The angel Gabriel was, according to his account, his frequent visitant, and he had been addressed by him as the Apostle of God. The substance of the book termed the Koran was thus (as he alleged) delivered to him in parts; and fragments of this revelation were, from time to time, repeated by the prophet,


whose disciple, afterwards wrote the snbstance of them opon palm leaveu, or perhapu on the skins of animals. The originated this work, which contains, in a large volume, a collection of those fables and observations, political, moral or religious, that form the basis of the creed of the disciples of Mahomet to the present day.

8. The general design of this skilful performance, which is still regarded as the standard of the classical Arabian dialect, in to inculcate the belief and worship of one eternal invisible God; and, with certain laws and ceremonies, to enforce the doctrine of future rewards and punishments, temporal and eternal. But all this doctrine and revelation is made subservient to the purpose of bringing mankind to acknowledge Mahomet as the prophet and ambassador of God, and one commissioned to extablish and propagate his religion by force-to act as chief pontiff in spiritual, and supreme prince in temporal matters.

9. The first convert of the pretended prophet was his wifo, who listened with fervour to his revelations, and readily believed the truth of his mission, naturally cherishing the glory of her husband. Zeid, an affectionate servant tempted by the prospect of freedom (as may be supposed), was his next disciple. The third was Ali, son of his uncle and guardian Abu-Taleb, who at that time was little more than a boy, but with the spirit of a hero.

The fourth was Abu-Beker one of the leading men in Mecca. Through his persuasion, ten of the most respectable citizens were added to the number of proselytes. The principal of these were Othman, Abdal-Rahman, Saad and Ab-Zobeir: all of them became afterwards the bravest of his warriors, and their faith was rewarded with riches and honours.

10. During the space of three years, fourteen persons were all that the prophet could reckon up among the number of the true believers. His doctrines were not, however, as yet taught in public ; for though he professed to havo many revelations, ho feared the opposition and persecution of the Koreish. In the fourth year his courage rose to a higher pitch under the encouragement of Abu-Beker, and ho resolved to declare his mission more publicly. For this purpose he gavo a banquet to forty guests of the race to

* Some say the shoulder-bones of mutton.

my vizir ?"*

which he belonged (A.D. 609). "Friends and kinsmen," said Mahomet to the assembly,—“I know no man in Arabia who can make to his relations a better proposal than I now make to you. I offer you, and I alone can offer, the most precious of gifts, the treasures of this world and of the world to come.

God has commanded me to call you to his service. Who among you will be my companion and

No answer was returned, until at length the silence of doubt or astonishment was broken by the youthful Ali, who exclaimed, “O prophet, I am the man; whosoever rises against thee, I will dash out his teeth, tear out his eyes, break his legs, rip up his belly. O prophet, I will be thy minister.” A sentence more significant of the future career of such a man as Mahomet, and of the means by which his triumphs were to be accomplished, was perhaps never uttered. Mahomet understood it to be prophetic, and embraced his nephew with transport; and while his uncle checked this enthusiasm and began to reason with him, the intrepid fanatic cried out that Ali was now his brother, his deputy and khalif, and that all remonstrances were vain. When the company laughed, some of them saying to AbuTaleb—“Thou must now obey thine own son,” the firmness of Mahomet continued unmoved by ridicule or persecution. -“Should you place,” said he, “the sun on my right hand, and the moon on my left, you would not divert me from my



11. Mahomet now began publicly to preach in earnest the doctrines of the Koran (A.D. 609). But the people of Mecca were strongly addicted to the worship of idols, and the elders of the city affected to despise such a reformer. Abu-Taleb even exhorted the pilgrims not to listen to the tempter, or to his impious novelties. He still, however, protected his nephew from the resentment of the Koreish, who went so far at length in their opposition to the new prophet, as to proscribe his race. They suspended a decree in the sacred temple, making it criminal for any to buy or sell, or marry with the children of Hashem; and that they should be pursued with implacable hatred until the person of Mahomet was delivered (A.D. 613) over to the justice of the gods. In the seventh year of his mission, his cause had advanced

* This word means vicegerent or minister.


A new

so feebly, that the most helpless or timid of his disciples, consisting of eighty-three men, and eighteen women, retired to Ethiopia. He himself thought it necessary to withdraw to some of the castles of his uncle, where he might be more

About this time, however, his uncle Hamza, and also Omar, man of reputation, who had before strongly opposed him, joined the number of his adherents. Shortly after this he lost his uncle, Abu-Taleb and also Cadijah, bis wife, so that the Mahometans have given to this year

the name of “the year of mourning” (A.D. 622).

12. After the death of Abu-Taleb the cause of the prophet became, to all appearance, still more desperate. governor succeeded to the principality of Mecca. AbuSophian was a zealous votary of the idols, and a mortal foe of the race of Hashem. He placed himself therefore at the head of a party, who determined upon the death of Mahomet. It was resolved in an assembly of the Koreishites, that a sword from each tribe should be buried in his heart, to divide the guilt of his blood, and to baffle the vengeance of the Hashemites. But the conspiracy was revealed to the prophet, and fight was his only resource. He escaped in the dead of night with Abu-Beker, leaving Ali to personate him by lying in his bed, covered with a green mantle, which he had usually worn. Waiting till morning to perpetrate the deed, the conspirators discovered the trick, and a respect for the heroic piety of the youth made them spare his life. Still pursuing their design, the Koreish, on leaving AbuBeker's house, explored every haunt in the neighbourhood, and at length arrived at the entrance of the cavern, where the fugitives were concealed. A spider's web, and a pigeon's nest at the mouth of the cave, made the pursuers believe (as it is said) that the place could not be the refuge of human beings, and no search was made for them here. The faith of the enthusiast, was still strong in the imagined favour of heaven, notwithstanding his persecution. When he entered the place of refuge, with the trembling AbuBeker, the latter observed, as if conscious of impending danger, “ There are only two of us here!" “No," replied Mahomet, “there is a third, even God himself; he will defend

The event did not at least falsify the prediction. As soon as their pursuers had left the spot, Mahomet and his companion again mounted their camels, and taking a circui



tous path, they arrived at Medina, on the sixteenth day after this flight from Mecca.

13. At a short distance from the town, in which there were numerous converts, they were met by a large body of the inhabitants, with a turban unrolled and carried as a standard before him; and, attended by a number of brave followers, Mahomet now made a public entry into a place where he was soon after acknowledged as a master and chieftain.

This event in the life of Mahomet, termed in the Arabic tongue, The Hegira, or Flight, constitutes that memorable period, which the Mahometan nations have for twelve centuries regarded as the grand era of their religion. From this their lunar year begins, and from this all other events of their chronology are dated. It corresponds with the year of our Lord 622.

14. The affairs of Mahomet took a new turn from the time that his fortunes appeared to be quite desperate. His expulsion from bis native city was the first step in a series of fortunate events, which followed him through the remaining ten years of his life. Medina (it will be observed) had, before this, formed an alliance with the pretended apostle, and embraced his doctrines. Some of her noblest citizens had been converted, by hearing him preach during their pilgrimage to the Caaba, and the result was a confederation, in which seventy-three men, and two women, pledged themselves to him by an oath, that if he should be banished, they would obey him as a leader, and defend him to the last extremity. At the ratification of this treaty it was naturally asked, " Will you not abandon your new allies, if you are recalled by your country?” “ All things," replied Mahomet, with a smile, are now common between us; your blood is as my blood, your ruin as my ruin, we are bound together by the ties of honour and interest. I am your friend, and the enemy

of foes." “ But if we are killed in your service, what,” exclaimed the deputies of Medina, “will be our reward ?" “Paradise," replied the prophet. This declaration satisfied all parties in the city, who thus unanimously embraced the profession of his religion. They therefore rejoiced in his exile, and impatiently awaited his arrival. Medina soon became the rallying place of his followers ;


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