By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Islâm
Author: Ali, Syed Ameer
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Islâm" ***





    By EDWARD CLODD, Author of _The Story of Creation_.


    By JAMES ALLANSON PICTON, Author of _The Religion of the


    By Professor GILES, LL.D., Professor of Chinese in the
    University of Cambridge.


    By JANE HARRISON, Lecturer at Newnham College, Cambridge,
    Author of _Prolegomena to Study of Greek Religion_.


    By AMEER ALI SYED, M.A., C.I.E., late of H.M.’s High Court of
    Judicature in Bengal, Author of _The Spirit of Islâm_ and _The
    Ethics of Islâm_.


    By Dr. A. C. HADDON, F.R.S., Lecturer on Ethnology at Cambridge


    By Professor W. M. FLINDERS PETRIE, F.R.S.


    By THEOPHILUS G. PINCHES, late of the British Museum.


    By Professor RHYS DAVIDS, LL.D., late Secretary of The Royal
    Asiatic Society.


    By Dr. L. D. BARNETT, of the Department of Oriental Printed
    Books and MSS., British Museum.


    By WILLIAM A. CRAIGIE, Joint Editor of the _Oxford English


    By Professor ANWYL, Professor of Welsh at University College,


    By CHARLES SQUIRE, Author of _The Mythology of the British


    By ISRAEL ABRAHAMS, Lecturer in Talmudic Literature in
    Cambridge University, Author of _Jewish Life in the Middle




    By W. G. ASTON, C.M.G.




    By S. B. SLACK, Professor at M’Gill University.


    By Professor J. H. LEUBA.




                      AMEER ALI, SYED, M.A., C.I.E.
                         THE BENGAL TENANCY ACT’

                         CONSTABLE & COMPANY LTD

                             _Published 1906_

                             _Reprinted 1909_


It is difficult, if not impossible, for any one not endowed with a spirit
of sympathy, or the faculty of transporting the mind to the social
conditions and moral needs of other times, to do justice to the Teacher
of another Faith, especially if that Faith is imagined to be in rivalry
with his own.

Generally speaking, the attitude of Christian writers towards Mohammed
and his religion is akin to that of the critical Jew towards the Teacher
of Nazareth, or of the philosophical Celsus towards Christianity.

In the brochure which the liberalism and enterprise of the publishers
enables me to place before the public, I have endeavoured to outline
from inside the essential teachings of Islâm and the prominent features
of its History. For a fuller and more developed treatment of its ethics
and philosophy, of the history of its civilisation and its work in
the advancement of culture and humanitarian science, I must refer the
student, with all diffidence, to my larger expositions.

It is to be hoped that this little book, by helping to give an insight
into Islâm as it is understood by its professors, may become the means of
removing some of the misapprehensions regarding its true aims and ideals,
which are undoubtedly the cause of much of the antipathy prevalent in the
West, and of the frequent incentives to a modern crusade.

A little more knowledge on both sides, a little more sympathy between two
religions which have a common aspiration—the elevation of mankind—will
largely conduce to the promotion of peace and good-will on earth.

                                                                AMEER ALI.




  CHAPTER I.—Foreword—Islâm, its meaning—Its Cardinal Principle—Belief
    in a Future Life—Conception of Evolution—Moral Responsibility—The
    Ethical Code of Islâm—Toleration—Position of Women—Bondsmen and
    Bondswomen—Intellectualism,                                        1-34

  CHAPTER II.—Mohammed—His Birth—His Call—The Persecution—The
    Hegira—Mohammed at Medîna—His Charter to the
    Christians—Conquest of Mecca—The Sermon on the Mount—The
    Fulfilment of the Mission—The Prophet’s Death,                    35-55

  CHAPTER III.—The Election of Abû Bakr as Caliph—His Allocution—His
    Injunction to the Troops—Revolt of the Tribes—War with
    Persia—Defeat of the Persians—War with Byzantium—Its
    Causes—Death of Abû Bakr—Election of Omar—Conquest of
    Syria—Capitulation of Jerusalem—Assassination of Omar—Election
    of Osmân—Conquest of Egypt—Death of Osmân—Election of
    Ali—Rebellion of Muâwiyah—Death of Ali—The Ommeyades—Butchery
    of Kerbela—The Martyrdom of Hussain—Conquest of Spain—The
    Abbassides—Destruction of Bagdad—The Title of the Ottoman
    Caliphs—The Ommeyade Caliphate of Spain—The Fatimide Caliphate
    of North Africa—The Crusades—Their Effect on Islâm—The
    Eruption of the Tartars—Destruction of Science and Learning in
    Islâm—Granada—The Sunni and Shiah Church—The Sects of
    Islâm—Ashaarïsm—Mutazalaism,                                      56-78

    SELECTED WORKS ON ISLÂM,                                             79



=Foreword.=—In the history of human development probably no subject is
more interesting than the gradual evolution of spiritual ideals, or the
endeavour to regulate man’s conduct in the ordinary relations of life by
determinate ethical standards.

Of all the great systems that aim at the elevation of mankind by an
appeal to their religious consciousness, the latest-born is the religion
preached by the Prophet of Arabia. The fundamental principles of right
and wrong are common to all moral creeds; it is in their vitalising
force, the life they infuse into humanity and the direction they give to
human energies, that we must seek for elements of differentiation. Some
have taken centuries to expand beyond their original circles, others have
had to absorb foreign conceptions time after time until their primitive
form became entirely changed before they could influence large masses of
people. The religion of Mohammed, unaided by any extraneous help, under
the impulse of a great and dominating Idea, within the space of eighty
years from its birth, had spread from the Indus to the Tagus, from the
Volga to the Arabian Sea. No Darius, Asoka, or Constantine came to its
assistance with royal mandates and imperial homage.

Under its influence a congeries of warring tribes consolidated into a
nation carried aloft for centuries the torch of knowledge. With the
fall of their empire, they ceased to be the preceptors of mankind. The
younger nations who succeeded to their heritage continued some of their
glory in arms, but less in arts and literature. They too declined in
power and influence, and now the greatest of them is but a shadow of its
former self. And yet, as an active living Faith Islâm has lost none of
its pristine force nor the magic hold it possesses over its followers.
In certain parts of the world it is spreading with greater rapidity than
any other creed, and its acceptance among the less advanced races has
invariably tended to raise them in the moral scale.

‘Had the Arabs,’ says an able writer, ‘propagated Islâm only, had they
only known that single period of marvellous expansion wherein they
assimilated to their creed, speech, and even physical type, more aliens
than any stock before or since, not excepting the Hellenic, the Roman,
the Anglo-Saxon, or the Russian, even so the Arabs would still make a
paramount claim on the Western mind.’ But the interest becomes deeper
‘when we remember that, not only as the head and fount of pure Semitism
they originated Judaism and largely determined both its character and
that of Christianity, but also the expansion of the Arabian conception
of the relations of man to God and man to man (the Arabian social
system, in a word) is still proceeding faster and further than any other

=Meaning of Islâm.=—Islâm is the name which the followers of the Arabian
Prophet give to their religion. It means peace, greeting, safety,
salvation. It does not involve, however, any idea of fatalism. In its
ethical sense it signifies _striving after righteousness_. Man is a free
agent within his limited sphere: the ordinances of God lay down the
eternal principles of human conduct. He has pointed out two courses—the
one leading away from Him, and that is _evil_; the other bringing man to
Him, and that is _good_. Every individual is free to choose and follow
whichever course he likes, and receives his deserts accordingly. ‘By a
soul and Him who balanced it, and breathed into it its wickedness and
its piety, blessed now is he who hath kept it pure, and undone is he who
hath corrupted it.’[2] But the mercy and help of God are always nigh to
direct the humble seeker for divine guidance to take the right path. The
faithful observance of one’s duty to his fellow beings is the preparation
for the future life, which every human being should strive for in this.

=The Cardinal Principle of Islâm.=—A belief in the unity, power, mercy,
and supreme love of the Creator is the cardinal principle of Islâm, for,
in its essence, it is pure Theism, coupled with some definite rules of
conduct without which no religion can exercise any abiding influence on
lower natures. The whole creation with its manifold phenomena, so varied
and yet so uniform, from the single blade of grass springing up in the
field to the mighty stars soaring in the firmament, is a proof of His
existence, His mercy, His love, and His divine Providence ‘God: there is
no God but He—the Living, the Eternal, no slumber seizeth Him. Whatsoever
is in Heaven or in Earth is His.’ ‘He created the sun, moon, and stars
and subjected them to law by His behests.’ ‘He taketh your souls in the
night and knoweth what the work of your day deserveth.’[3] ‘He it is who
ordaineth the day for awakening up to life.’[4] ‘In the alternations of
night and day, and in the ship which saileth on the sea laden with what
is profitable to mankind, and in the rain-water which God sendeth from
heaven, quickening again the dead earth, and the animals of all sorts
which cover its surface; and in the change of the winds and the clouds
balanced between heaven and earth, are signs to people of understanding.’
The God of Islâm is One and indivisible—‘the All-mighty, the All-knowing,
the All-just, the Lord of the worlds, the Author of the heavens and
earth, the Creator of life and death, in whose hand is dominion and
irresistible power; the great, all-powerful Lord of the glorious throne.
God is the Mighty, the Strong, the Most High, the Producer, the Maker,
the Fashioner, the Wise, the Just, the True, the Swift in reckoning, who
knoweth every ant’s weight of good and of ill that each man hath done,
and who suffereth not the reward of the faithful to perish.’ But the
All-mighty, the All-wise, is also ‘the King, the Holy, the Peaceful, the
Faithful, the Guardian over His servants, the Shelterer of the orphan,
the Guide of the erring, the Deliverer from every affliction, the Friend
of the bereaved, the Consoler of the afflicted; in His hand is good,
and He is the Generous Lord, the Gracious Hearer, the Near-at-hand, the
Compassionate, the Merciful, the Very Forgiving.’ ... ‘Forgiver of sin
and Receiver of penitence.’ ‘He knoweth the secret whisper, the hidden
and the manifest.’[5]

=Latitude to Human Conscience.=—Islâm implies the acceptance of Divine
Unity and the Mission of Mohammed; whoever acknowledges the verity of
these two conceptions is a Moslem (_Muslim_)—an Islâmist. Belief in
God’s providence carries with it obedience to His commandments, which
lay down the primary bases of human conduct; but failure to observe the
mere ritual or to conform to disciplinary rules does not exclude one
from Islâm or deprive him of the rights and privileges attached to its
profession. So long as the central doctrine of the Unity of God and
the message of the Prophet is recognised and accepted, Islâm allows the
widest latitude to the human conscience.

The Gospel of Islâm is the Koran—the BOOK—in which are embodied the
teachings and precepts of the Arabian Prophet.

From this first principle, the belief in God, spring all the duties human
beings owe to Him and to each other. The recognition by man of God’s
divine grace and mercy, and the constant remembrance of His benefactions
is the very essence of the Islâmic Faith. Thus it is enjoined, ‘Be
constant at prayer, for prayer preserveth from crimes and from that which
is blamable, and the remembrance of God is surely a most sacred duty.’[6]

=Insistence on the Remembrance of God.=—In order to make the remembrance
of the Eternal Giver of all-good a part of man’s daily life, certain
times in the day are set apart to offer Him thanksgiving, to pray for
help and guidance in the struggle with earthly passions, and to strive
to bring the human soul into communion with its Creator. The following
prayer will give an idea of the moral element in the teachings of Islâm.

=The Moral Element in Moslem Prayers.=—‘O Lord, I supplicate Thee for
firmness in faith and direction towards rectitude, and to assist me
in being grateful to Thee and in adoring Thee in every good way; and
I supplicate Thee for an innocent heart, which shall not incline to
wickedness; and I supplicate Thee for a true tongue and for that virtue
which Thou knowest; and I pray Thee to defend me from that vice which
Thou knowest, and for forgiveness of those faults which Thou knowest. O
my Defender! Assist me in remembering Thee and being grateful to Thee
and in worshipping Thee with the excess of my strength. O Lord! I have
injured my own soul, and no one can pardon the faults of Thy servants but
Thou; forgive me out of Thy loving kindness and have mercy on me; for
verily Thou art the forgiver of offences and the bestower of blessings on
Thy servants.’

=Rules for Devotions.=—Although the practice of the Teacher has
consecrated certain rules for the performance of the devotions, the
ritual of the Koran itself is astonishing in its simplicity.[7] The
forms were prescribed for disciplinary purposes and to maintain in Islâm
uniformity of practice and cohesiveness. But the main essentials are
purity of heart and forgetfulness of self. ‘It is not righteousness
that ye turn your faces in prayer towards the east or the west; but
righteousness is of him who believeth in God.... Who giveth money for
God’s sake unto his kindred, and unto orphans and the needy, and the
stranger, and those who ask, and for the redemption of captives; who
is constant at prayer and giveth alms; and of those who perform their
covenants when they have covenanted, and who behave themselves patiently
in hardship and adversity and in times of violence, these are they who
are the true.’

=Every Place Sacred to God.=—As God’s mercy and power pervade the
universe, and every spot is consecrated to His holy name, the orisons
may be offered at any place where the worshipper happens to be at the
appointed hour. A remembrance even, a humble prayer whispered in the
recesses of the heart, is enough to bring down the grace of the Lord, to
cleanse it from impurity and strengthen it for the battle of life. And
when the Moslem stands before his God, his first prayer is for divine
guidance. ‘Praise to God, the Lord of the Worlds, the compassionate and
merciful. The Sovereign of the Day of Judgment, to Thee we offer our
worship, and from Thee we seek help and succour. Guide us in the right
path, the path of those to whom Thou hast been gracious, and not of those
with whom Thou art angered or who have gone astray.’

=Purification.=—Physical cleanliness was an essential part of worship
in almost all the ancient theurgic creeds. In Islâm it is a natural
concomitant to the idea of moral purity, for no man is supposed to
approach God in a state of uncleanliness. And as an unclean body implies
an unclean mind, purification of those parts most likely to be soiled—the
hands, feet, and face—is considered necessary before devotional
exercise. But it is not indispensable; conditions may exist which may
render frequent ablutions impossible. The soldier on the battlefield,
the traveller in the desert, the denizen of a wintry land, and others
similarly circumstanced may offer their prayers without undergoing any
such formality. The rule, though thus liable to qualification, is most
beneficent in its tendency. It prevents the growth of that class which is
euphemistically described in England as ‘the great unwashed,’ whilst it
promotes in an eminent degree hygienic and sanitary conditions among the

At the same time it is especially inculcated that the Almighty can only
be approached in purity and humility of spirit, and that the most
important purification is the cleansing of the heart from all blamable
inclinations and frailties, and the mind from all vicious ideas and
thoughts which distract the attention from God.

=No Priesthood in Islâm.=—The absence of a specially interested class
to act as intermediaries between God and man differentiates Islâm from
all other creeds. In the Islâmic system every man is his own priest
and pleads for himself for forgiveness and mercy. ‘No sacrifice, no
ceremonial invented by vested interests is needed to bring the anxious
heart nearer to its Comforter.’[8]

Essentially a democratic creed, it recognises no distinction of race or
colour among its followers. High or low, rich or poor, white, yellow, or
black are on the same level in the sight of their Lord.

The democratic character of its appeal, its repudiation of all
adventitious barriers of caste, explain the powerful fascination it
exercises over divers races of mankind.

=Belief in a Future Life.=—Belief in a future life and accountability
for human actions in another existence are two principal doctrines of
the Islâmic creed. Both ideas take different shapes in different minds
according to individual culture and environment. Man is not a fortuitous
item in creation; nor does the cessation of life on earth mean an end
of the human soul. Physical death only releases it from its earthly
habiliments. The soul, which is an emanation from God, exists for ever.

=Judaism.=—Early Judaism does not show any trace of a belief in a future
life or in future rewards and punishment. It is only after the Babylonian
Captivity the Jewish mind rose to that conception, and the Zoroastrian
_Bihasht_ and _Duzakh_[9] became the prototypes of the Jewish hell and

=Zoroastrianism.=—Similarly the vivid descriptions of the kingdom of
Heaven contained in the Christian Scriptures are without doubt a reflex
of the Zoroastrian conception. Thus, at the time of Mohammed’s advent,
Jew, Christian, and Zoroastrian all looked to material rewards and
punishments in a future existence.[11] In Islâm the pains and joys of the
Hereafter were used as a lever for raising the people from the fetishism
and soulless life to which they had become wedded,—to a conception of
spiritual ideals and of the duties imposed by God on man.

=The Koranic Conception of a Future Existence.=—The pictures of a future
existence in the Koran are all drawn to suit the comprehension of the
people among whom and the age in which the New Gospel was preached. To
the famished, thirsty Arab of the desert what could be more comforting
or more consonant to his ideas of paradise than rivers of unsullied,
incorruptible water, or of milk and honey; or anything more acceptable
than unlimited fruit, luxuriant vegetation, inexhaustible fertility?
Large masses of Moslems, no doubt, accept in their literal sense all
the word-paintings of the Koran, a characteristic by no means confined
to the followers of Islâm. But it is a calumny even against those
Mussulman literalists to say that they look forward to sensual enjoyment
in the next world. The pictures in the Koran of the joys and pains
of after-life, although poetical and vivid, give no warrant for such
an assertion. ‘But those who are pious shall dwell in gardens amid
fountains; (they shall say unto them) Enter ye therein in peace and
security; and all rancour will We remove from their bosoms; they shall
sit as brethren face to face; weariness shall not affect them therein,
neither shall they be repelled thence for ever.’ ‘For those who do good
is excellent reward and superabundant addition; neither blackness nor
shame shall cover their faces. These are the inhabitants of Paradise;
therein do they abide for ever. But those who have wrought evil shall
receive the reward of evil equal thereunto.’... ‘Blessed are they who
fulfil the covenant of God and break not their compact; and who join
together what God hath bidden to be joined; and who fear their Lord and
dread an ill-reckoning; and who from a sincere desire to please their
Lord are constant amid trials, and observe prayers and give alms, in
secret and openly, out of what we have bestowed on them; and turn aside
evil with good; for them there is the recompense of that abode, gardens
of eternal habitation, into which they shall enter, together with such as
shall have acted rightly from among their fathers, their wives, and their
posterity, and the angels shall go in unto them by every portal (saying),
“Peace be with you! because you have endured with patience.”’ ‘Excellent
is the reward in that abode!’[12] ‘No soul knoweth the joy which is
secretly prepared for it as a reward for that it may have wrought.’[13]

=The Spirituality of Islâm.=—Thus behind the description of material
happiness portrayed in objects like trees, rivers, and beautiful
mansions, with fairy attendants lies a deeper meaning:—‘O thou soul which
art at rest, return unto thy Lord, pleased and pleasing Him; enter thou
among My servants; and enter thou My garden of felicity.’

=Sufi Ideas.=—A large section of Moslems, especially those inclined to
Sufiism, believe, however, that as the human soul is an emanation from
God, the highest joy would consist in its fusion with the Universal Soul,
whilst the greatest pain would be in a state of separation from the
Divine Essence.

=The Conception of Evolution.=—This idea, with the conception of
progressive evolution, has been expressed in a poem of untranslatable
beauty by the great poet of Islâmic mysticism which may be paraphrased
thus: ‘Dying from the inorganic we developed into the vegetable kingdom.
Dying from the vegetable we rose to the animal. And leaving the animal we
became men. Then why should we fear that death will lower us? The next
transition will make us angels. From angels we shall rise and become what
no mind can conceive; we shall merge in Infinity as in the beginning.
Have we not been told,[14] “All of us will return unto Him”?’[15]

=The Islâmic Conception of the Great Account.=—Human conduct in the
relations of life consists of a connected sequence of acts the effect of
none of which is isolated. The faithful observance of the primary rules
of ethics justly regarded as the Divine Laws, like their transgression,
stretches far into futurity. Every son of man is thus responsible to
his Lord for the use he makes of his life. He will be asked whether the
powers he had been endowed with were applied to promote the good and the
happiness of his fellow beings or to their detriment; and his reward or
punishment, his happiness or misery, will depend on the result of the
reckoning at the Great Account as to the manner in fact in which he had
obeyed the behests of his Creator.

=The Idea of Eternal Punishment Repellent to Islâm.=—The idea of eternal
punishment is repellent to Islâm. The Lord of the Worlds, who is swift
in meting out justice, is withal pitiful and compassionate. Mercy is His
chief attribute; with mercy is joined a supreme love which surpasseth
all other love of which the human mind has any conception. Justice is
tempered with mercy; and whatever punishment man undergoes here or
hereafter is only for purifying and fitting him to enter that state of
perfection which will bring him ‘nigh unto God.’

=Moral Responsibility.=—‘Just balances will He set up for the day of
Resurrection, neither shall any soul be wronged in aught; though were a
work but the weight of a grain of mustard seed We would bring it forth to
be weighed; and Our reckoning will suffice.’... ‘O our Lord! forgive us
then our sin, and hide away from us our evil deeds, and cause us to die
with the righteous.’...

‘And their Lord answereth them: I will not suffer the work of him among
you that worketh, whether of male or female, to be lost.’... ‘O My
servant, who have transgressed to your own injury, despair not of God’s
mercy, for all sins doth God forgive, gracious and merciful is He.’[16]
‘Seek pardon of your Lord and be turned unto Him, verily my Lord is
merciful, loving.’[17] ‘And your Lord saith, “Call upon Me and I will
hearken unto you.”’[18]

This is the pivot on which the Islâmic doctrine of future life turns, and
it is the only doctrinal point an Islâmist is required to accept. ‘All
the other elements caught up and syncretised from the floating traditions
of the races and peoples of the time are mere accessories.’[19]

Nor is the Islâmic belief in disharmony with scientific thought.
To quote a recent writer, ‘The religious doctrine of ceaseless
moral accountability is identical with the scientific doctrine of
ceaseless cause and effect. As science postulates matter and force
are indestructible, so religion postulates that the human soul is

=Suicide Unusual in Islâm.=—The belief that the human soul will have to
render to its Creator an account of how it has carried out in this life
the duties imposed on it has had one important result on Moslem society,
the significance of which has often escaped the notice of non-Moslem
writers. It has inspired the Moslem with a sense of dignity and feeling
of responsibility, which have made self-destruction practically unknown
in Islâm.

Suicide was as common among the pagan Arabs as it is now in Christendom.
Ecclesiasticism attempted to prevent self-destruction by attaching
the most cruel penalties to the offence. The body of a _felo-de-se_
could not be interred in consecrated ground; it could only be buried
surreptitiously in the dark hours of the night by the roadside where
four cross roads met, with a stake through it; his family were subjected
to ignominy. None of these forcible rules are needed in Islâm. The
belief that divine help is always nigh to relieve the distressed, to
help the suffering, to assist the forsaken, arrests the hand of the most
despondent or desperate, the most sick and weary with life, from taking
his or her own life. Whilst the idea of appearing in the presence of
the Almighty Judge before the Summons has come acts as the strongest
deterrent to self-destruction. The Moslem will fight even unto death, but
will never take his own life, which he regards as a trust from God. Never
backward or hesitant in the performance of his duty, he considers it an
act of cowardice to fly from personal danger or present unhappiness by
putting an end to his existence.

=Idea of Corporeal Resurrection.=—As in Christianity, some Moslems
believe in corporeal resurrection, others do not. Some believe that God
can be seen by corporeal sight, others entirely deny it. But all believe
that when the human souls are gathered up in the Great Account, the
Divine Presence will enfold the Universe.

These outlines represent in brief the Islâmic conception of man’s
relation to God. Regarding his duties towards himself and his fellow
beings it is probably more emphatic and certainly more explicit than
any other older system. It denounces self-indulgence, insists upon
self-discipline, and makes self-restraint a part of the religious law.

=The Ethical Code of Islâm.=—The ethical code of Islâm is summarised
as follows in the fourth chapter (_Sura_) of the Koran: ‘Come, I will
rehearse what your Lord hath enjoined on you: that ye assign not to Him
a partner; that ye be good to your parents; and that ye slay not your
children because of poverty; for them and for you We will provide; and
that ye come not near to pollutions, outward or inward; and that ye slay
not a soul whom God hath forbidden unless by right ... and draw not nigh
to the wealth of the orphan, save so as to better it ... and when ye
pronounce judgment then be just, though it be the affair of a kinsman.
And God’s compact fulfil ye; that is, what He hath ordained to you,
Verily this is My right way; follow it then.’... ‘Blessed are they who
believe and humbly offer their thanksgiving to their Lord ... who are
constant in their charity, and who guard their chastity, and who observe
their trust and covenants.... Verily, God bids you do justice and good
and give to kindred their due; and He forbids you to sin and do wrong and

=Fasting.=—Periodical fasting is prescribed as a lesson in the exercise
of the subjugation of the senses. Its practical usefulness is most
perceptible among coarser natures, for whom in reality it was intended as
a measure of discipline of the highest value. ‘O ye that have believed,
a fast is ordained to you ... that ye may practise piety, a fast of a
computed number of days. But he among you who shall be ailing, or on a
journey (shall fast) an equal number of other days; and they that are
able to keep it (and do not) shall make atonement by maintaining a poor

=Prohibition of Wine.=—Islâm characterises drink as ‘the mother of all
wickedness,’ and inebriation, a sin. The prohibition of drunkenness has
saved the lower strata of Mussulmans from the degradation and misery
which so constantly meet the eye in Western countries; and from the
crimes that are usually committed under its effect. We do not hear of
parents maddened by drink murdering their offspring; of human beings
turning into beasts under the influence of liquor.

=Asceticism.=—Men and women are not called upon to abandon the world or
to practise asceticism in order to attain heavenly life. God has placed
human beings on earth that they may work, do their duty by His creatures,
and further the Divine purpose. To withdraw oneself from the service of
man is to forsake the dictates of duty.

=The Dignity of Labour.=—The dignity of labour is recognised in express
terms; and the man who earns his living by ‘the sweat of his brow’ is a
far better being than one who does not work for his daily sustenance.

=Industry and Thrift.=—Industry and thrift are virtues just as
extravagance is a sin.

‘And let not thy hand be tied up to thy neck; nor yet open it with all
openness, lest thou sit thee down in rebuke and beggary.’ ‘And to him who
is of kin render his due, and also to the poor and to the wayfarer; yet
waste not wastefully.’

Ostentation and vain display of wealth are as reprehensible as
niggardliness. ‘Woe to them that make a show of piety and refuse help
to the needy.’ ‘He who spendeth his substance to be seen of men is like
a rock with thin soil over it, whereon the rain falleth and leaveth it
hard. But they who expend their substance to please God and establish
their souls are like a garden on a hill, on which the rain falleth and
it yieldeth its fruits twofold; and even if the rain doth not fall,
yet is there a dew.’ ‘Give of that which hath been given you before
the day cometh when there shall be no trafficking, nor friendship, nor
intercession.’ ‘Those who abstain from vanities and the indulgence of
their passions, give alms, offer prayers, and tend well their trusts and
their covenants, these shall be the heirs of eternal happiness.’

He who makes a provision for himself and for his family performs a
pious act; whilst the person whose thoughts are centred in his personal
indulgence and present enjoyment is unworthy of God’s favour.

=Envy Reprehended.=—The feeling of envy and the desire of mischief-making
are condemned in strong terms: ‘Covet not the gifts by which God hath
raised some of you above others.’[21] ‘He who shall mediate between men
for a good purpose shall be the gainer by it, but he who shall mediate
with an evil mediation shall reap the fruit of it. And God keepeth watch
over everything.’

=Truthfulness Commanded.=—Truthfulness is prescribed as a commandment
from God. ‘O ye Moslems, stand fast to justice, when ye bear witness
before God, though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your
kindred, whether the party be rich or poor. God is nearer than you to
both. Therefore follow not passion, lest ye swerve from truth.’

=Justice enjoined on Moslems.=—Justice is emphatically enjoined. ‘Judge
between men with truth and follow not thy passions.’ ‘Touch not the goods
of the orphan.’ ‘Perform your covenants and walk not proudly on the

=Filial Devotion.=—Filial devotion is placed in the first rank of duties.
‘Defer humbly to your parents; with humility and tenderness say, “O Lord,
be merciful to them even as they brought me up when I was helpless.”’
‘Show kindness to your parents, whether one or both of them attain to
old age with thee; and say not to them “Fie,” neither reproach them;
but speak to them both with respectful speech and tender affection.’
‘Moreover we have enjoined on man to show kindness to his parents. With
pain his mother beareth him; with pain she bringeth him forth; and he
saith, “O my Lord! Stir me up to be grateful for Thy favours wherewith
Thou hast favoured me and my parents, and to do good works which shall
please Thee; and prosper me in my offspring: for to Thee am I turned and
am resigned to Thy will.”’ ‘Reverence your mothers, be good to parents.’

=Charity.=—Those who are kind and compassionate to their fellow beings
are the favoured of God. Every act of kindness is charity. ‘Every soul
shall bear the good and the evil for which it has laboured; and God will
burden none beyond his power.’

‘Blessed is he who giveth away his substance that he may become pure,
and who offereth not favours to any one for the sake of recompense ...
but only as seeking approval of his Lord the most High.’ ‘Wouldst thou
be taught the _steep_ (path)? It is to ransom the captive, to feed the
hungry, the kindred, the orphan, and him whose mouth is in the dust.’ ‘Be
good to parents and to kindred and to orphans, and to the poor, and to
a neighbour, whether kinsman, or new comer, and to the slaves whom your
right hands hold.’

=Pride and Vanity Condemned.=—Pride and vanity are condemned as sins,
whilst forgiveness of offences, meekness, and humility are prescribed as
duties. ‘Verily God loveth not the proud, the vain boaster’; ‘Call on
Him with fear and longing’; ‘Verily the mercy of God is nigh unto the
righteous’; ‘Turn aside evil with that which is better’; ‘Be of those who
enjoin steadfastness and compassion on others’; ‘Forgiveness and kind
speech are better than favours with annoyance’; ‘Blessed are the patient,
the truthful, the lowly, and the charitable ... the forbearing who bridle
their anger and forgive—God loveth those who do good to others’; ‘The
servants of the Merciful are they that walk upon the earth softly; and
when the ignorant speak unto them, they reply “Peace” ... those that
invoke not with God any other God, and slay not a soul that God hath
forbidden otherwise than by right; and commit not fornication ... they
who bear not witness to that which is false; and when they pass by vain
sport they pass it by with dignity: who say, “O our Lord, grant us of
our wives and children such as shall be a comfort unto us, and make us
examples unto the pious,” these shall be the rewarded, for that they
persevered; and they shall be accosted in Paradise with welcome and
salutation. For ever therein,—a fair abode and resting-place!’ ‘Adhere to
those who forsake you; speak truth to your own heart; do good to every
one that does ill to you!’

Foulness is forbidden: ‘Truly my Lord hath forbidden filthy actions,
whether open or secret and iniquity and violence’; ‘Commit not adultery,
for it is a foul thing and an evil way’; ‘Let the believer restrain his
eyes from lust.’

Quarrelsomeness and public and private disturbance are prohibited. ‘And
commit not disorders on the well-ordered earth.’

Charity is not left to individual discretion, it is made part of the
legal prescriptions. Every man possessed of income has to contribute a
certain proportion of his wealth at the end of the year for the keep of
the poor and the distressed.

=Compulsion in Religion Forbidden.=—Compulsion in religion is strictly
forbidden. ‘What wilt thou force man to believe when belief can only
come from God?’ ‘Let there be no compulsion in religion.’ Whilst the
attitude towards other creeds is one of humanity and toleration. ‘Verily
those who believe [the Moslems] and those who are Jews, Christians, or
Sabæans, whoever hath faith in God and the last day (future existence),
and worketh that which is right and good—for them shall be the reward
with their Lord; there will come no fear on them; neither shall they be

=Human Duty to Animals.=—The new gospel does not overlook in its
teachings the duties of man towards the dumb creatures of God. Kind
treatment of animals and birds is part of the religion, and a provision
for their comfort is equal to charity to human beings. ‘There is no
beast on earth nor bird which flieth, but the same is a people like unto
you—unto God shall they return.’[23]

=Pilgrimage to Mecca (the Hajj).=—The ancient shrine of the Kaaba was
the honoured memorial of the Arab race. It was the centre of their
national life, and its foundation was traced back to Abraham and
Ishmael. Tradition had associated certain rites and ceremonies with
the pilgrimages the people of the peninsula were accustomed to make to
the Temple. Mohammed gave another meaning to the custom. To keep alive
the feeling of brotherhood among the Moslems all over the world and
perpetuate among the inhabitants of distant lands the memory of the spot
where the great Message was brought to mankind, they were directed,
circumstances permitting, to visit the Holy Shrine once in their lives.
Some of the old ceremonies, shorn of their pagan significance, were
retained; a few new ones, simple in meaning, were introduced; and the
_Hajj_ is now the common meeting ground of Moslems of divers races and

=Women.=—Women, to whom most of the older systems assigned a very
inferior position in relation to the stronger sex, obtained in Islâm the
place God meant them to occupy in the economy of creation. The right of
possessing property, of dealing with what was their own, of exercising
all the privileges and powers which belonged to them as sentient beings,
were accorded to them equally with the other sex. Marriage made no
difference in their status or capacity. And a Mussulman wife became as
competent to hold property and make dispositions as a single woman. Nor
were they denied a share in the patrimony of their parents or kinsfolk
in favour of their male relations. Marriage was declared ‘to be an
institution ordained for the protection of society, and in order that
human beings may guard themselves from foulness and unchastity.’

=Polygamy.=—Polygamy was recognised as lawful among all the nations
of antiquity; and its practice had received the sanction of the holy
personages of Judaism. As among the Kulin Brahmins, the Pagan Arabs put
no limit on the number of wives a man might have. In certain stages of
development polygamy is not an evil. The Arabian Prophet, with a true
conception of the social and moral conditions and necessities of the age
and the people, dealt with the question in a manner which harmonises with
the most advanced standard, and at the same time meets the needs and
requirements of the least progressed.

A Mussulman is allowed to marry one, two, three, or four wives, provided
he can deal with all of them ‘with equity.’ If that be not possible he
can marry but one.

Many of the best minds of Islâm have perceived in this rule a virtual
prohibition of polygamy. The moral effect of the institution on Mussulman
society as a whole can hardly be ignored: it has prevented the growth in
Mussulman countries, untainted by foreign social ideas, of that class
whose existence is alike an outrage on our humanity and a disgrace to
civilisation. Considering how the profession of the _hetairai_, honoured
among some nations, despised among others, but tolerated by most, has
flourished through all ages, it is no small credit to the Arabian
Teacher that it was so effectually stopped in Islâm.

=Divorce.=—As in the Jewish system, option was given to the husband to
dissolve the marriage tie. At the same time the act was pronounced to be
‘the most abominable in the sight of the Lord.’

=Bondsmen and Bondswomen.=—Only persons taken in lawful warfare were
permitted to be held in bondage. The emancipation of bonds-folk was
declared one of the highest acts of piety.[24] And any person who made
a provision for their ransom was the favoured of God. Traffic in human
beings was strictly forbidden, and the man who dealt in slaves was
pronounced to be the accursed of God. In a word, human chattelhood is
unknown in Islâm; and the institution which is called ‘slavery’ in Europe
and America has no existence in Mohammedan countries. In Islâm, parents
were not to be separated from children; brothers from brothers, or one
relation from another. The Moslem bondsman and bondswoman were members of
the master’s family; were on no account to be ill-treated; were to be fed
and clothed like the masters and mistresses. Once emancipated they could
intermarry with the master’s sons or daughters. Relations with bondswomen
were sanctioned by the Rabbinical Laws. They were common in Christian
communities, and were freely practised in the Southern States of North
America until very recent times by people who considered themselves and
were regarded by many others as highly civilised. Among them the issue of
a slave-woman was for ever a slave: the smallest taint of slave-blood,
however remote, subjected the unfortunate being to be sold as a slave.
Although the system of Mohammed, with the object of avoiding a drastic
solution, tolerated relations with bondswomen,—with far greater humanity
it declared that the issue of such connections were legitimate, and
that the bondswoman who bore children to her master was _ipso facto_
emancipated; that thenceforth she was no more his bondswoman, but ‘the
mother of his child.’

=Intellectualism.=—In the domains of intellect the teachings of Islâm
give every encouragement to the cultivation of the mind and make the
pursuit of knowledge a religious duty. ‘Acquire knowledge,’ said the
Prophet of Islâm, ‘because he who acquires it, performs an act of piety;
who speaks of it, praises the Lord; who seeks it, adores God; who
dispenses instruction in it, bestows alms; and who imparts it to its
fitting objects, performs an act of devotion to God. Knowledge enables
its possessor to distinguish what is forbidden from what is not; it
lights the way to Heaven; it is our friend in the desert, our society
in solitude, our companion when bereft of friends; it guides us to
happiness; it sustains us in misery; it is an ornament in the company
of friends; it serves as an armour against our enemies. With knowledge
the servant of God rises to the heights of goodness and to a noble
position, associates with the sovereigns of the world, and attains to
the perfection of happiness in the next.’ ‘The ink of the scholar is
more holy than the blood of the martyr.’ ‘He who leaves his home in
search of knowledge walks in the path of God.’ ‘He who travels in search
of knowledge, to him God shows the way to Paradise.’ ‘To listen to the
instructions of science and learning for one hour is more meritorious
than attending the funerals of a thousand martyrs—more meritorious than
standing up in prayer for a thousand nights.’[25]

This brief summary of the principal teachings of Islâm will probably
enable the reader to form a fairly accurate notion of the aims and
aspirations of the new Gospel and of its work in the elevation of mankind
in the moral and social scale. But the conception will hardly be clear
without some knowledge of the history of the Teacher or some idea of his
wonderful and engaging personality.


=Mohammed.=—Mohammed—the Praised—as his name implies, was born in Mecca
in the year 570 of the Christian era.[26] The foundation of this city
lies in the dim past. It was held by many tribes before it came into the
possession of the Koreish, the noblest of them all. Its famous temple,
now the holy shrine of the Kaaba, gave it pre-eminence over all the
cities of Arabia, and made it the commercial and religious capital of the
peninsula. At the time of the Prophet’s birth, the government of Mecca
was vested in a Decemvirate, of which his grandfather was the chief.
Mohammed’s father died before his birth; his mother when he was only six
years old.

The doubly orphaned child, bereft of all that parental tenderness which
forms the blessing of early childhood remained in his grandfather’s
charge for three years, when the death of the venerable patriarch threw
him on the care of his uncle—Abû Tâlib. Mohammed spent his youth as a
member of Abû Tâlib’s family.

=His Love of Solitude and Communion with God.=—Fond of solitude, he spent
many an hour in the desert in communion with the mighty living Soul of
the Universe. Deeply versed in the language of nature, ‘the signs of God’
around him, and the folklore and traditions of the people amongst whom he
lived, education in the conventional sense of the term he had none. And
the proud title of the ‘Unlearned Prophet’ was ever his.

Thus the orphan son of Âmina, the sweet lady with the sweet name, which
to this day evokes a pathetic remembrance in the heart of every Moslem,
grew from infancy to youth, and from youth to manhood with many thoughts
in his mind, brooding over the moral desolation that surrounded him,—for
his people were sunk in the grossest idolatry, wedded to outrageous
practices, given over to female infanticide. The religion and ways of
their Jewish and Christian neighbours were equally debased, barbarous,
and inhuman. In early manhood he made two journeys to Syria, where was
opened before him a page which naturally revolted a sensitive mind. He
found Christian sects rending each other to pieces; he saw the effect
of incessant wars and strifes on the people, their utter misery and
degradation. And he returned filled with pity and disgust.

=Marriage with Khadîja.=—In his twenty-fifth year he married Khadîja, a
widow of noble birth and much wealth, fifteen years his senior in age.
His marriage lifted him above the ordinary cares of this world. But
it did more. It gave him not only a loved wife, but a devoted friend
who brought him solace when he needed it most on his return torn and
distressed from his solitary meditations; who gave him comfort when
hunted by his enemies, who ever stood by his side in the darkest hours of
his ministry.

=Wins the Title of al-Amîn or the Trusty.=—For fifteen years he
thus lived leading a life which won him the love and respect of his
towns-folk, who, in their admiration for his character, bestowed on him
the title of _al-Amîn_—the Trusty. He spent most of his time in solitude,
in meditation, and musing. When ‘the Call’ came he was frightened.
Returning to his wife he told her the story of his vision, of his agony
at the thought that he was losing his mind. Her belief that he was to be
the destined Messenger of God to his people was balm to his heart; and
brought back the faith, the hope, the trust in God’s merciful Providence
and love for mankind. One night, when lying wrapt in thought, the Voice
of God spoke to his soul in unmistakable notes.

Henceforth his life is a record of unceasing struggle to reclaim the
Koreish and the surrounding people from idolatry and the practices of
heathenism, to teach them their duty to God and man. The first to accept
his mission were his beloved wife, his cousin Ali, the son of Abû Tâlib,
his uncle, the brave and chivalrous Hamza, the faithful Abû Bakr, and
several other men and women who knew him intimately and loved and revered
him. Most of them were people of position, wealth, and intelligence;
others were simple, honest folk in the lower walks of life.[27] They
were followed by Omar, at one time a staunch opponent, but after his
conversion a pillar of strength to the new Faith.

=Beginning of Persecution.=—Mohammed’s preachings evoked a furious
outburst of persecution against him and his followers, but he did not
falter in his purpose or flinch from the task God had imposed on him.
When the sufferings of his disciples became unbearable, he advised them
to seek refuge in the kingdom of the Negus, of whose tolerance and
hospitality he had heard reports. Some immediately availed themselves of
the advice and betook themselves to Abyssinia. But Koreishite hostility
pursued them even here. When the Meccan envoys arrived to demand the
delivery of the refugees, that they might be put to death for abjuration
of their old religion, the Negus sent for the exiles and asked them
whether the charge was true. The reply of the brother of Ali, who was
spokesman, is memorable in the history of Islâm. ‘O king, we were
plunged in the depth of ignorance and barbarism; we adored idols, we
lived in unchastity; we ate dead bodies and we spoke abominations; we
disregarded every feeling of humanity and the duties of hospitality and
neighbourhood; we knew no law but that of the strong, when God raised
among us a man of whose birth, truthfulness, honesty, and purity we
were aware; and he called us to the Unity of God, and taught us not to
associate anything with Him; he forbade us the worship of idols; and
enjoined us to speak the truth, to be faithful to our trusts, to be
merciful and to regard the rights of neighbours; he forbade us to speak
evil of women, or to eat the substance of orphans; he ordered us to fly
from vices and to abstain from evil; to offer prayers, to render alms, to
observe the fast. We have believed in him; we accept his teachings and
his injunctions to worship God and not to associate anything with Him.
For this reason our people have risen against us, have persecuted us in
order to make us forego the worship of God and to return to the worship
of idols of wood and stone and other abominations. They have tortured us
and injured us, until finding no safety among them we have come to thy

Whilst his disciples were seeking shelter in distant lands, Mohammed
remained steadfast at his post. Undeterred by the cruelties to which
he was subjected, he preached unceasingly amongst the Meccans and the
outsiders who came to the city on business or pilgrimage. He adjured them
‘by the noon-day brightness, by the night when she spreadeth her veil, by
the day when it appeareth in glory,’ by all the manifestations of nature
as the evidences of God, to abandon their evil ways and abominations. He
told them of ‘the day of reckoning when the deeds done by man in this
world shall be weighed before the Eternal Judge, when the children who
had been buried alive shall be asked for what crime they had been put
to death, and when Heaven and Earth shall be folded up and none be near
but God.’[28] The Koreish came several times to tempt him from his duty.
They offered him wealth, even to make him their king, to induce him to
desist from attacking their ancient deities and their old institutions.
His refusal to listen to their messages made them still more furious.

=Is Driven out of Tâyef.=—Finding the Koreish obdurate, he proceeded to
the neighbouring city of Tâyef, hoping to find the people there more
willing to give heed to his preachings. He found them even more bigoted
than the Meccans; they pelted him with stones and drove him from their
midst. Wounded and bleeding, Mohammed returned to pursue his mission in
his native city. His persistence led the Koreish to plan his murder. In
the meantime came an invitation to him from the rival city of Yathreb
to the north, some of whose inhabitants had already accepted Islâm. And
there he and his followers betook themselves for safety.

=The Hegira.=—On the 16th of July 622 A.C. the Prophet, accompanied by
Abû Bakr, left Mecca; and after three days wandering attended with many
dangers from the pursuing Koreish, enraged at his escape, they reached
Yathreb. This is the _Hijrat_, the exile of the Prophet.

Before this happened, the devoted and loving Khadîja had died. She had
borne him several children: the sons all died in infancy. Three daughters
survived. The youngest, Fâtima (_az-zahra_—the Beautiful), ‘Our Lady,’
married Ali, and from her are descended the nobility of Islâm, the
‘Syeds’ and ‘Sherifs.’[29]

=Mohammed at Medîna.=—At Yathreb the Teacher was received with wonderful
enthusiasm; the city changed its name and was henceforth the City of the
Prophet—_Medînat-un-Nabi_, or shortly Medîna. Special homes were allotted
to the exiles—the _Muhâjirîn_; whilst the Medinites received the noble
designation of Helpers—the _Ansâr_. A new brotherhood was created which
united the Exiles and the Helpers by a tie stronger than the tie of
blood—as many a later page in the history of Islâm proves.

=Mohammed’s Charter.=—Mohammed was now not merely a prophet, a preacher
of glad tidings, but the unanimously elected chief magistrate of a
prosperous city. His first act was to issue a charter defining the
duties of the citizens, and the obligations of the allied Jews who lived
in the neighbourhood, forbidding intestine warfare and bloodshed which
had hitherto torn Yathreb to pieces, and requiring all disputes to be
referred to the decision of the Prophet.[30]

=Beginning of the Commonwealth of Islâm.=—This was the beginning of the
Commonwealth of Islâm. A humble, unpretentious place of worship was
erected where Mohammed preached to enthusiastic throngs on charity,
brotherhood, and the duty man owed to God and his fellow creatures.

In conjunction with other tribes the Meccans made several attempts to
capture Medîna. They even seduced the neighbouring Jews to assist in
the design. The attacks were repulsed, and the safety of Medîna and the
progress of the new Gospel were permanently assured. The refractory and
treacherous Jewish clans were ordered to quit the Medinite territories;
one which had nearly brought destruction on the Moslems was more severely
dealt with. Expeditions were now sent out to repress the raids of hostile
tribes, and to punish crimes against unoffending people. They were
enjoined ‘in no case to use deceit or perfidy, or to kill a woman or
a child.’ They were told, ‘in avenging the injuries inflicted upon us,
molest not the harmless inmates of domestic seclusion, spare the weakness
of the female sex, injure not the infant at the breast or those who are
ill in bed. Abstain from demolishing the dwellings of the unresisting
inhabitants; destroy not the means of their subsistence, nor their fruit
trees, and touch not the palm.’

=Charter to the Christians.=—In the ninth year of the Hegira, the Prophet
granted to the Christians a charter which forms one of the noblest
monuments of enlightened tolerance: ‘To the Christians of Najrân and
the neighbouring territories the security of God and the pledge of
His Prophet are extended for their lives, their religion, and their
property—to the present as well as the absent and others besides; there
shall be no interference with [the practice of] their faith or their
observances; nor any change in their rights or privileges; no bishop
shall be removed from his bishopric; nor any monk from his monastery,
nor any priest from his priesthood, and they shall continue to enjoy
everything great and small as heretofore; no image or cross shall be
destroyed; they shall not oppress or be oppressed; they shall not
practise the rights of blood vengeance as in the Days of Ignorance;[31]
no tithes shall be levied from them, nor shall they be required to
furnish provision for the troops.’

=Truce with the Meccans.=—After great difficulty, a truce of ten years
was concluded with the Meccans. The Exiles seized the occasion to perform
the time-honoured pilgrimage to the Kaaba. To avoid coming in contact
with the hated Faithful, the heathen Koreish retired to the hills, whence
they watched the large concourse that came with the Prophet to visit
the Holy Shrine. The simple dignity and benevolence of Mohammed, the
quietness and purity of behaviour of his followers perceptibly affected
the Koreish; and before he left Mecca many came and accepted the Faith.
The same old pledge which had been exacted from the early converts was
taken from them. ‘They would not associate anything with God; they would
not commit larceny, adultery, or infanticide; they would not utter
falsehood, nor speak evil.’

=Embassies to Heraclius and the Chosroes.=—On his return from the
pilgrimage, Mohammed sent envoys to Heraclius the Emperor of the Greeks,
and to the Chosroes of Persia to invite them to Islâm. Heraclius
returned a polite reply; whilst the proud Persian tore the missive to
pieces and drove the messenger from his presence with contumely. ‘Thus
will the empire of the Khusrû [the Chosroes] be torn asunder,’ remarked
the Prophet on hearing of the incident. The fate of Persia is engraved on
the pages of history.[32]

Hardly a year was over before the Meccans broke the truce by murdering a
number of tribesmen allied to the Medinites. The reign of iniquity had
lasted long enough, and the time had arrived when the paganism of Mecca
should come to an end.

=Conquest of Mecca.=—In 630 A.C. the Prophet marched with ten thousand
men on the city from which he and his followers had been so cruelly
driven only nine years before. The proud Koreish were thoroughly
demoralised at the rapid approach of the Moslems and offered slight
resistance. The people who had pursued Mohammed with unrelenting hatred,
had subjected him and his followers to a fierce persecution, and had
all this time endeavoured by every means to compass their destruction,
were now at his mercy. But in the moment of the Faith’s triumph every
injury was forgotten, and the Koreish were treated with a kindness and
generosity which have but few parallels in history. Not a house was
robbed, not a citizen molested. The idols of the nation were, however,
relentlessly struck down. Weeping the heathens stood round, fully hoping
that the sacrilegious Moslems would be overwhelmed with some dire
calamity. But as one idol after another fell to pieces and no help came
from outside to stop the hands of the iconoclasts, they felt the force of
the words at which they were used to scoff: ‘Truth has come and falsehood
vanisheth, for verily it is evanescent.’ And they adopted Islâm in a body.

=Year of Deputations.=—The ninth year of the Hegira is famous in
the annals of Islâm for the number of deputations that arrived at
Medîna from all quarters to accept the Faith. They were received with
consideration and treated with hospitality. A written treaty guaranteeing
the privileges of the tribes was always granted to the deputies, who
went back to their homes accompanied by a disciple to teach the newly
converted people the duties of Islâm. To the missionaries whom he sent
to the provinces, Mohammed always gave the following admonition. ‘Deal
gently with the people, and be not harsh, cheer them, and contemn them
not. And ye will meet with many people of the Book[33] who will question
thee, ‘What is the key to Heaven?’ Reply to them, ‘The key to Heaven is
to testify to the truth of God, and to do good work.’

=The Final Pilgrimage.=—In the year 632 A.C., Mohammed, accompanied by
over one hundred thousand of his followers, made a final pilgrimage to
the Kaaba.

=The Sermon on the Mount.=—On this occasion standing on the Mount of
Arafât he delivered to the vast multitude his famous sermon, only part of
which has been preserved:—

‘Ye people! listen to my words, for I know not whether another year will
be vouchsafed to me after this year to find myself amongst you. Your
lives and property are sacred and inviolable amongst one another until
ye appear before the Lord, as this day and this month is sacred for all;
and remember ye shall have to appear before your Lord, who shall demand
from you an account of all your actions. Ye people, ye have rights over
your wives, and your wives have rights over you ... treat your wives with
kindness ... verily ye have taken them on the security of God, and made
them lawful unto you by the words of God.

‘And your bondsmen and bondswomen. See that ye feed them with such food
as ye eat yourselves, and clothe them with the stuff ye wear; and if they
commit a fault which ye are not inclined to forgive, then part from them,
for they are the servants of the Lord, and are not to be harshly treated.

‘Ye people! listen to my words, and understand the same. Know that all
Moslems are brothers unto one another. Ye are one brotherhood. Nothing
which belongs to another is lawful unto his brother, unless freely given
out of good will. Guard yourselves from committing injustice.

‘Let him that is present tell it unto him that is absent. Haply he that
shall be told may remember better than he who hath heard it.’

=The Last Days of the Prophet.=—On his return to Medîna he settled
the organisation of the provinces and the tribal communities. Whilst
delegates were despatched to every quarter to teach the people the
principles and duties of the Faith, to put an end to blood-feud,
infanticide, and the practices of heathenism.

The stress and strain of twenty-five years’ incessant labour was now
telling on a constitution which was by no means robust. Ever since he
had come to Medîna he had been engaged in an unceasing struggle with
paganism, a struggle in which was involved the very existence of the
little community over whom he was called to preside—a struggle from
which, says the Moslem, divine help alone enabled him to emerge with
safety. At the end, when success had crowned his ministry, and he saw
the hosts of Arabia flocking to the fold of God, it left him exhausted;
he felt that his work was finished and the end was near. Had it not been
told him, ‘When thou seest men enter in hosts the religion of God, then
utter thou the praise of thy Lord and implore His pardon, for He loveth
to turn in mercy to those who seek Him.’[34] The poison given to him
some years before by a Jewess was also undermining the system. But up
to the last he maintained his usual calmness and serenity of mind; and
officiated at the public prayers until within three days of his death.
The last time he appeared at the public service amidst the tears and
sobs of the people, he recommended to all the observance of religious
duties, and the practice of peace and good-will. He implored Heaven’s
mercy for all those present, and all who had fallen in the persecution
of their enemies, and concluded with the following words of the Koran,
‘The dwelling of the other life we will give unto them who do not seek
to exalt themselves on earth or to do wrong; for the happy issue shall
attend the pious.’

The exertion, however, was too much for the feeble frame, and on his
return to his apartments he lay down fainting on his bed, never to rise

=Death of the Prophet, 632 A.C.=—On Monday the 8th of June 632 A.C.,
whilst praying in whispers, the spirit of the Prophet took flight to ‘the
blessed companionship on high,’ the last words which fell from his lips.

Thus disappeared from the scene one of the greatest, if not in very truth
the greatest, of God’s servants, who have lived and worked for the good
of mankind. He found the bulk of his own people sunk in the grossest
fetishism, decimated by tribal feuds, addicted to infanticide and the
worst forms of pagan practices. Here and there individuals had broken
away from the old cults, but were still groping in darkness in search
of the road to truth and salvation, unsatisfied spirits to whom neither
Judaism nor Christianity brought any solution to the enigmas of life.

In less than a decade he not only stamped out the pagan ways and habits
which held the heart of Arabia, but infused into his folk a new life,
imparted to them a new conception of duty, of moral responsibilities of
which they had been wholly devoid before. The beneficence of his work
was not confined to his own countrymen. His words revived the religious
spirit of surrounding nations, whose moral abasement was equally

=Mohammed’s Character.=—Mohammed’s character has been described by many
hands in the West, mostly hostile. The picture is naturally not always
friendly. People do not easily put aside prejudices born of centuries
of political and religious antagonism. It may, therefore, be of some
interest to know the estimate of the Arabian Teacher formed by his
immediate followers and disciples, many of whom were unquestionably men
of great intelligence and moral vigour, who readily sacrificed for his
Teachings, at a time when he was only a humble and persecuted preacher,
wealth, position, and influence, and who, by their character and
environment, were not likely to be influenced by light or common worldly

His singular elevation of mind, his extreme delicacy and refinement of
feeling, his purity and truth, form the constant theme of the traditions.
Courteous to the great, affable to the humble, indulgent to his
inferiors, he won the love and admiration of all with whom he came in

The humble preacher had risen to be the arbiter of the destinies of a
nation, but the same humility of spirit, the same nobility of soul,
austerity of conduct and stern devotion to duty, which had won him
from his compatriots the designation of _al-Amîn_, ever formed the
distinguishing traits of his character. Whilst the virtual ruler of
Arabia, the equal of Chosroes and the Cæsars, ‘he visited the sick,
followed any bier he met, accepted the invitation of the lowliest, mended
his own clothes, milked his goats, and waited upon himself.’

‘He never first withdrew his hand out of another’s clasp and turned not
before the other had turned. His hand was the most generous, his breast
the most courageous, his tongue the most truthful; those who saw him were
filled with reverence, those who came near him loved him. Modesty and
kindness, patience, self-denial, and generosity pervaded his conduct and
riveted the affections of all round him. With the bereaved and afflicted
he sympathised tenderly ... he would stop in the streets listening to the
sorrows of the humblest. He would go to the houses of the lowliest to
console the stricken and comfort the heartbroken.’[35]

‘There is something so tender and womanly and withal so heroic about
the man,’ says Mr. Stanley Lane-Poole, ‘that one is in peril of finding
the judgment unconsciously blinded by the feeling of reverence and
well nigh love that such a nature inspires. He who, standing alone,
braved for years the hatred of his people, is the same who was never
the first to withdraw his hand from another’s clasp; the beloved of
children, who never passed a group of little ones without a smile from
his wonderful eyes and a kind word for them, sounding all the kinder in
that sweet-toned voice. The frank friendship, the noble generosity, the
dauntless courage and hope of the man, all tend to melt criticism in

‘He was an enthusiast, in that noblest sense when enthusiasm becomes the
salt of the earth, the one thing that keeps men from rotting whilst they
live.... He was an enthusiast when enthusiasm was the one thing needed to
set the world aflame, and his enthusiasm was noble for a noble cause. He
was one of those happy few who have attained the supreme joy of making
one great truth their very life-spring. He was the messenger of the One
God; and never to his life’s end did he forget who he was, or the message
which was the marrow of his being. He brought his tidings to his people
with a grand dignity sprung from the consciousness of his high office,
together with the most sweet humility, whose roots lay in the knowledge
of his own weakness.’


=Islâm after Mohammed.=—Nothing gives a better idea of the hold Mohammed
possessed over the hearts of his people than their sorrow when he lay
sick and dying, or the outburst of grief which rent the city at the news
of his death. At first they could hardly believe that the Master who had
led them from darkness into light, from death unto life, could really
be subject to the same laws as other beings. The words of the venerable
Abû Bakr allayed the excitement: ‘Mussulmans,’ said he, ‘if you adored
Mohammed, know that Mohammed is dead; if it is God that you adore, know
that He liveth, He never dies. Forget not this verse of the Koran,
“Mohammed is only a man charged with a Mission; before him there have
been men who received the heavenly mission and died”; nor this verse,
“Thou too, Mohammed, shall die as others have died before thee.”’

A great fabric had been built up, under divine guidance, by a
master-mind; its foundations were laid in the conscience of mankind. But
Islâm was yet in its infancy, at the mercy of hostile forces bent on its
destruction. To keep alive the Faith and maintain intact the structure
raised by him, it was necessary to elect, with all despatch, a successor
to the Prophet.

=Election of Abû Bakr as the Prophet’s Vicegerent.=—The choice fell on
Abû Bakr, who, by virtue of his age and position in Mecca, held a high
place in the estimation of the Arabs.

=His Allocution.=—After his election the venerable patriarch addressed
the following allocution to the people: ‘Ye people! now verily I am
charged with the cares of government over you, although I am not the
best amongst you. I need all your advice and all your help. If I do
well, support me; if I mistake, counsel me. To tell truth to a person
commissioned to rule is faithful allegiance; to conceal it is perfidy.
In my sight the powerful and the weak are alike, and to both I wish to
render justice.... Wherefore obey ye me, even as I obey the Lord and His
apostle: if I neglect the laws of God and the Prophet, I have no more
right to your obedience.’

=Revolt of the Tribes.=—No sooner was the death of the Prophet bruited
abroad than the tribes who had only recently adopted Islâm broke out in
revolt. The discipline of Islâm and its rules and principles were too
irksome to them. They repudiated their adhesion to the new religion and
reverted to paganism. Medîna was hemmed in again by surging hordes of
angry idolaters. Undaunted by his own danger, the aged Caliph sped on the
expedition to Syria the Prophet had prepared to seek reparation for the
murder of the Moslem envoy. Before sending them forth on their distant
errand, in the spirit of the Master, he gave to the captain of his army
the following injunction:—

=His Injunction to the Troops.=—‘See that thou avoidest treachery,
injustice, and oppression. Depart not in any wise from the right. Thou
shalt mutilate none, neither shalt thou kill child or aged man, nor any
woman. Destroy no palm-tree, nor burn any fields of corn. Cut not down
any tree wherein is food for man or beast. Slay not the flocks or herds
or camels, saving for needful sustenance. When thou makest a covenant,
stand to it, and be as good as thy word. Ye may eat of the meat which
the men of the land shall bring unto you in their vessels, making
mention thereon of the name of the Lord. As you go on you will find
some religious persons who live retired in monasteries, and propose to
themselves to serve God that way: let them alone, and neither kill them
nor destroy their monasteries. And the monks with shaven heads, if they
submit, leave them unmolested. Now march forward in the name of the Lord,
and may He protect you from sword and pestilence!’

How different this sounds to the command given to the ancient Jews: ‘Now
go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have and spare
them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep,
camel and ass.’[36]

The Moslems believed in the righteousness of their cause, and in divine
help in defence of their Faith; they were surrounded by formidable
enemies; the very existence of their new life depended on their energy
and self-sacrifice, but trust in God and enthusiasm led them to victory.
The Syrians received a well-merited chastisement, whilst the revolted
tribes were beaten back and gradually reduced to submission. Within the
space of a few months the entire peninsula acknowledged once more the
creed of Islâm.

=Death of Abû Bakr and Election of Omar.=—Abû Bakr held the reins of
office for less than two years. He died on the 22nd August 634 A.C., and
the great Omar was elected to the vicegerency of the Prophet.

=War with Persia—Its Cause.=—The pacification of the north-eastern
corner of Arabia brought the Moslems into collision with the kingdom
of Hira, a feudatory state subject to Persia. The raids from Hira led
to an expedition into that country which ended in its annexation. The
subjugation of Hira and Chaldæa brought the Persian forces into the field.

=Battle of Kâdessia, 636 A.C.=—The king of Persia was not willing to let
a valuable part of his kingdom go into the hands of the despised Arabs.
His pride was broken on the field of Kâdessia.

One of the first acts of the new Caliph was to prohibit any expedition
beyond the Zagros Mountains, which he considered should always form
the boundary between the Caliphate and the Persian dominions; but the
subjects of the King of Kings had not laid to heart the lessons of
Kâdessia, and harassed the Moslem territories by constant raids. The
Caliph was compelled to withdraw his prohibition, and an army marched
into Persia.

=Battle of Nehâwand, 642 A.C.=—The battle of Nehâwand shattered for ever
the empire of the Chosroes. ‘The administration of Persia was regulated
by an actual survey of the people, the cattle, and the fruits of the
earth; and this monument which attests the vigilance of the Caliphs might
have instructed the philosophers of every age.’[37]

A similar survey was made, under the Caliph’s orders, of Chaldæa and
Mesopotamia; peasants and proprietors alike were guaranteed in the
possession of their lands and in the free enjoyment of their religion;
the assessment was revised, and a network of canals for the improvement
of irrigation was taken in hand.

=War with Byzantium.=—In the west the defeat of the Syrians had led
Heraclius, the Byzantine Emperor, to send large armies to drive back the

=Battle of Yermuk, Aug. 634 A.C.—Battle of Ajnâdin, 636 A.C.=—The
victories of Yermuk and Ajnâdin put an end to Byzantine rule in Syria.

=Capitulation of Jerusalem.=—Jerusalem submitted to the Caliph in person.
Travelling with a single attendant, without escort and without any pomp
or ceremony, Omar arrived at Jâbia, where he was met by a deputation
of Christian notables. To them he accorded the free exercise of their
religion, and the possession of their churches, subject to a light tax.
Accompanied by the deputation, he proceeded towards Jerusalem, where he
was received by Sophronius the Patriarch. The Chief of Islâm and the
head of the Christians entered the sacred city together, conversing on
its antiquities. The Caliph declined to perform his devotions in the
church where he chanced to be at the hour of prayer, ‘for,’ he said to
the Patriarch, ‘had I done so, the Mussulmans in a future age might have
infringed the treaty under colour of imitating my example.’[38]

The critics of Islâm have indulged in many theories to explain the
marvellous victories of the Moslems over such great powers as Byzantium
and Persia. ‘Rhetorical expressions about the decaying condition of both
empires and the youthful energies of the Moslems are unsatisfying to the
inquirer who keeps the concrete facts before him.’[39] ‘Both Byzantium
and Persia had at their command genuine soldiers regularly armed and
disciplined. The traditions of Roman warfare were not yet entirely lost,
and the Persians still possessed their dreaded cuirassiers, before whom,
in better times, even the armies of Rome had often fled.... The Emperor
Heraclius was certainly the greatest man who had held the empire since
Constantine and Julian. He was an astute diplomatist, a very competent
general, and, as a soldier, bold even to rashness.’ How was it then that
‘the wretchedly armed Arabs, fighting not in regularly organised military
divisions, but by families and clans, and under leaders who never before
had faced disciplined troops,’ shattered the armies of both Chosroes and
Cæsar? And be it noted that in every battle—at Kâdessia, at Nehâwand,
Yermuk, and Ajnâdin—they were outnumbered sometimes as six to one.[40]
The Moslem explanation is Biblical in its simplicity: ‘God took the
heart out of the polytheists.’ The Christian historian offers divers
explanations, ‘yet the phenomenon continues mysterious as before.’[41]

The conquest of Persia had brought to Medîna many Magian fanatics
desirous of avenging on the Caliph the fall of their country. The
simplicity of life led by Omar and the utter absence of guards and
attendants favoured their design. One day, whilst sitting as usual in
the mosque listening to the petitions of the people, he was attacked and
mortally wounded by one of them.

=Death of Omar, 644 A.C.=—His death was an irreparable loss to Islâm.
His knowledge of the character of his people, his extraordinary breadth
of vision, his sagacity and vigour of mind, enabled him to exercise an
influence over the Arabs which none of his successors ever achieved.

=Election of Osmân.=—An aged member of the family of Ommeya,[42] named
Osmân, was now elected to the vacant chair.

=His Death, 656 A.C.=—His partiality for and favouritism towards his
kinsfolk gave rise to a mutiny in which he lost his life.

=Conquest of Egypt under Osmân.=—During Osmân’s Caliphate Byzantine
incursions from Alexandria into Syria had led the Moslem Government to
despatch an expedition into Egypt, which completed its conquest in two
battles. The addition of Northern Africa beyond Egypt was due to similar
causes. The same destiny which led the English from Bengal to the Punjab,
and still leads them on in Nigeria, led the Arabs from the confines of
Egypt to the shores of the Atlantic.

On Osmân’s tragical death, Ali, the cousin of the Prophet and the husband
of his daughter Fâtima, was elected to the Caliphate. The legitimate heir
to the spiritual headship of Islâm, as a temporal chief, Ali came before
his time. Chivalrous, brave, and gifted, his humanity and gentleness
were mistaken for weakness; and his short government was disturbed by
rebellions. The first was suppressed without difficulty; whilst engaged
in dealing with the second, headed by Muâwiyah, a kinsman of Osmân, who
held the governorship of Syria, Ali was assassinated by a zealot, one
of a body who wanted to bring peace to Islâm by the murder of both the
Caliph and the rebel governor.

=Death of Ali, 661 A.C.=—The latter escaped, but Ali fell a victim to
their fanaticism.

On the murder of Ali his eldest son, Hassan, was elected to the
Caliphate, but, fond of ease, he was easily induced to renounce the
dignity in favour of Muâwiyah.

=Accession of the Ommeyades to Power.=—With the death of Ali and the
renunciation of Hassan came to an end the Republic of Islâm. Up to this
time the office of Caliph was elective, and the government essentially
democratic. Muâwiyah, whilst retaining the form of election, made it in
reality hereditary and autocratic. The seat of government was removed
from Medîna to Damascus, where the head of the state surrounded himself
by Syrian mercenaries.

=The Butchery of Kerbela—The Martyrdom of Hussain.=—Muâwiyah died in 680
A.C., and was succeeded by his son Yezîd, the Domitian of the Arabs.
Hussain, the second son of the Caliph Ali, had never acknowledged the
title of Yezîd, whose vices he despised and whose character he abhorred;
and when the Moslems of Mesopotamia invited him to release them from
the Ommeyade yoke he felt it his duty to respond to their appeal.
Accompanied by his family and a few retainers he left for Irâk. On the
way, at a place called Kerbela, on the western bank of the Euphrates,
they were overtaken by an Ommeyade army, and, after a heroic struggle,
lasting over several days, were all slaughtered save the women and a
sickly child, also named Ali, who were carried as captives to Damascus.

The butchery of Kerbela caused a thrill of horror throughout Islâm, and
gave birth in Persia to an undying national sentiment.[43]

=Conquest of Spain, 712 A.C.=—Under Walid the fifth sovereign of this
family, Spain was conquered and added to the Caliphate. The seventh
Ommeyade ruler was the pious Omar II., deservedly called the Marcus
Aurelius of the Arabs.

The Ommeyades held the reins of government for nearly ninety years.

=The Rise of the House of Abbâs.=—In the middle of the eighth century
of the Christian era Western Asia was the scene of a great revolution,
which resulted in the downfall of the Ommeyades. The revolt was headed by
a descendant of Abbâs, an uncle of the Prophet. The contest between the
Ommeyades and Abbassides reminds us, in its bitterness and cruelty, of
the later quarrel between the White and the Red Rose of England.

=Foundation of the Ommeyade Caliphate in Spain, 756 A.C.=—The Abbassides
were successful and the Ommeyades were practically annihilated. Only
one solitary scion of this ill-fated family escaped to Spain, where he
founded the brilliant empire of Cordova. The Abbassides held the Eastern
Caliphate with its seat in Bagdad from 756 A.C. to 1258 A.C.

=Destruction of Bagdad.=—When Bagdad was destroyed by the Mongols, a
member of the Abbasside family succeeded in escaping to Cairo. Here he
was recognised as Caliph by the Sultan of Egypt, and was surrounded by
all the dignity attached to the pontifical office. The eighth Pontiff,
by a formal act, renounced the Caliphate in favour of Sultan Selim, the
great Ottoman conqueror.

=The Title of the Ottoman Caliphs.=—The title of the Sultans of Turkey to
the spiritual headship of Islâm is based on this renunciation, and on the
possession by them of the seal, mantle, and staff of the Prophet; and
their claim is recognised as valid by the whole of the Sunni world.

=Mansûr, the second Abbasside Caliph.=—The first eight Caliphs of the
house of Abbâs were men of great ability and force of character. Mansûr,
the second sovereign, was the real founder of the Abbasside polity and
system of administration, which became in after years the model for all
civilised Mussulman States, and which were copied in later times by the
Christian countries of Europe.

=Hârûn-ar-Rashîd and Mâmûn.=—Under Hârûn-ar-Rashîd, the hero of the
_Arabian Nights_, and his son Mâmûn the Caliphate of Bagdad attained its
zenith. It was indeed the Augustan age of the Arabs. But the achievements
of the Moslems in the domain of intellect extend over the whole period
during which the Abbassides exercised their suzerainty over Western Asia
and Egypt.

=The Ommeyade Caliphate of Spain.=—The Empire founded in Spain by the
Ommeyade Abdur Rahmân, surnamed _Dâkhil_ (the ‘Enterer’), rivalled that
of Bagdad in the glory of arms and learning. The eighth sovereign of this
dynasty, Abdur Rahmân (an-Nâsir), who assumed the title and dignity of
Caliph, was the most gifted monarch who has ever ruled over Spain. With
the disintegration of the Cordovan Caliphate, in the eleventh century
of the Christian era, the country split up into several small kingdoms,
until they were re-united under the ægis of the Almoravide monarchs of
North Africa.[44]

=The Fatimide Caliphate of North Africa.=—In the beginning of the tenth
century, a descendant of Ali, Obaidullah, surnamed _al-Mahdi_ (the
‘Guide’), founded the great Fatimide Empire of Northern Africa.

The Fatimides conquered Sicily and Calabria and held Genoa for a
considerable time. They were not only redoubtable conquerors but lavish
patrons of learning, arts, and sciences. They established colleges,
public libraries, and scientific institutes. To the central scientific
institute at Cairo[45] was attached a grand Lodge for initiating
candidates into the esoteric doctrines of _Ismailism_.[46] This Lodge
became the model of all the lodges created afterwards in Asia and
Europe. Among the Druses of Lebanon who follow this cult, the sixth
Fatimide Caliph, the eccentric al-Hakam, believed by them to be still
alive, receives divine honours.

With the death of the fourteenth sovereign of this house and the
assumption of power in Egypt by Saladin[47] the Fatimide dynasty
disappeared from the scene.

=The Rise of Learning and Philosophy in Islâm.=—Even in the early days of
the Caliphate, the pursuit of knowledge was not neglected at Medîna, and
all the energies of the Moslem nation were not taken up in the struggle
in which they had become involved with the surrounding nations. The
Caliph Ali lectured to large multitudes of people on various branches of

The sack of Medîna by the Ommeyades destroyed the primitive school. It
was revived by Ali’s great-grandson, Jaafar the Trusty, who died in 765
A.C. He is the real founder of speculative philosophy among the Moslems.
The thinkers and scholars who flourished later derived their inspiration
from him.

The Mutazalite or rationalistic school was founded by Wâsil, who died in
785 A.C. Mâmûn, the sixth Abbasside Caliph, was a strenuous upholder of
his doctrines.

=‘The Brothers of Purity.’=—Towards the close of the tenth century a
body of thinkers, whose researches extended to every department of the
human mind, and whose great aim was to introduce a spirit of eclecticism
in Islâm, established a brotherhood of intellect, which was to embrace
all men animated with the single purpose of promoting the moral and
intellectual welfare of the nation.

=The Crusades.=—The Crusades, which devastated Western Asia for two
centuries, and inflicted untold miseries on the unfortunate people
exposed to the merciless raids of the hordes of Europe who professed
‘the religion of peace,’ involved the Moslem nations in a life-and-death
struggle, during which intellectual development came to a standstill.

=Capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders, 1099 A.C.=—Tripoli, a famous seat
of learning in those days, was reduced to ashes; Antioch and other cities
were turned into shambles. On the 15th July 1099 Jerusalem was taken by
storm; and the triumph of the Cross was celebrated by a slaughter of
over seventy thousand people. Neither age nor sex met with mercy. The
squares, the streets, and the houses were strewn with the dead bodies of
men and women, and the mangled limbs of children. Many were burnt alive
under the portico of the principal mosque, the blood of the victims
‘reached the horses’ bridles.’ ‘The carnage,’ says Michaud, ‘lasted a
week: the few who escaped were reduced to horrible servitude.’

=Capture of Jerusalem by Saladin, 1187.=—In 1187 A.C. Saladin recaptured
the city. He released all prisoners, supplied them with food and money,
and allowed them to depart with a safe conduct; no woman was insulted; no
child was hurt; no person was slain.

=Eruption of the Tartars.=—Hardly had the Moslems recovered from the
destruction and havoc wrought by the Crusades, when the eruption of the
Mongolian savages from the steppes of Tartary, falling like an avalanche,
swept away all vestiges of culture and civilisation, and converted Middle
and Western Asia into a charnel-house. And although centuries have passed
since the sack of Bagdad and other famed centres of Moslem learning and
arts, Islâm has not regained yet its true life and progressive vitality.

After the fall of Cordova the continuity of Islâmic civilisation in
Spain was maintained, not only by the petty principalities which sprang
up in its place, but also by the Almoravide and Almohade sovereigns,
who reunited in their vigorous hands the greater part of the Ommeyade

=Granada.=—The break-up of the Almohade Empire, in 1227 A.C., led to
the gradual destruction by the Christian hordes of the minor Moslem
kingdoms. Granada alone, for nearly two centuries, held aloft the torch
of knowledge and civilisation. But the fires of the Inquisition had
already been lighted in Christian Spain by the ‘pious’ Ferdinand and the
‘saintly’ Isabella.

=The Fall of Granada—Destruction of Moslem Civilisation, 1498 A.C.=—And
when, after a heroic struggle, the city of the Banu-Nasr, the home of
culture, chivalry, and arts, capitulated to its Christian assailants, the
glory of Moorish Spain died with the martyrs who were burnt at the stake
or slaughtered like sheep regardless of age or sex, or suffocated in the
caverns to which they betook themselves for refuge.

=The Sunni Church.=—The spiritual allegiance of Christendom is divided
between four Churches; of the world of Islâm between two—the Sunni and
the Shiah. The foundation of the Sunni Church, which owns nowadays the
largest number of followers, was laid by Mansûr, the second Caliph of
the House of Abbâs.[48] And although the superstructure was completed
under his successors, its whole character and organisation are due to his

The wide extent of the Abbasside Caliphate helped in the diffusion of
its power and influence. At the present moment out of nearly seventy
millions of Mohammedans in India subject to the British Crown, fifty
belong to the Sunni Church. So do the Mussulmans of China, Tartary,
Afghanistan, Asiatic and European Turkey, Arabia, Egypt, Northern and
Central Africa, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Russia, Ceylon, the Straits and the
Malayan Peninsula. And almost all acknowledge the spiritual headship of
the Ottoman Sovereign.

=Shiahism.=—The Shiah Church traces its foundation to the Caliph Ali
and the immediate descendants of the Prophet, regarded as the rightful
expounders of his teachings. Some twenty millions of Indian Mussulmans
are Shiahs; Shiahism is also the State religion of Persia. There are
large numbers of Shiahs in the Hijaz, in Egypt and other parts of
the world, but always in a minority. The question of the title to the
spiritual and temporal headship of Islâm forms the chief point of
difference between the two churches. The Sunnis are the advocates of the
principle of election; the Shiahs of apostolical descent by appointment
and succession; and this difference, which is essentially of a dynastic
character,[49] gave birth to constant quarrels.

Signs, however, are not wanting that owing to the pressure of extraneous
circumstances both Sunnis and Shiahs have begun to realise the necessity
of greater harmony and goodwill.

=The Sects of Islâm.=—Difference of opinion concerning doctrines and
dogmas has given birth in Islâm, as it has in Christianity, to numerous

The Sunni Church is divided into four principal ‘persuasions’—the
Hanafi, Shâfeï, Mâliki and Hanbali—designated after their respective
founders. The followers of any one of these communions may validly offer
their prayers under the leadership of a member of another. Hanafïsm is
professed by the bulk of the Indian Mussulmans and Arabs, by the Afghans
and almost all Central Asian Moslems, the Turks and Egyptians.

The Shiah Church also is divided into several sub-sects, of which the
principal (the Asnâ-aasharia)[50] constitutes the state religion of

=Ashaarïsm.=—The philosophical side of Islâm is represented nowadays by
_Ashaarïsm_ and _Mutazalaism_. The first embodies the orthodox doctrines
of the Sunni Church. It holds to the belief in corporeal resurrection at
the Last Account, and affirms that the Koran is eternal and uncreated;
and that God will be visible in the next world to human sight. Whilst
maintaining that the evolution of principles ceased in the third and
fourth centuries of the Hegira, in order to bring the rules enunciated
by the great expounders of law and religion into conformity with the
change of times and conditions of society, it generally allows the widest
latitude in their interpretation and application.

With regard to the doctrine of free-will, it holds that there is neither
absolute compulsion nor absolute freedom, but ‘God does whatever He
pleases, for He is Sovereign Lord.’

=Mutazalaism.=—Mutazalaism, on the other hand, denies the doctrine of
corporeal resurrection and corporeal vision. It enunciates that the
Koran is the created word of God and not eternal, that God alone is
Eternal, that man is the ‘creative efficient of his actions, good and
bad, and gets reward and punishment in the future world by merit for
what he does’; ‘that the All-Wise does only that which is beneficial and
good.’ It further holds that the Divine ordinances which regulate the
conduct of men are the results of growth and development. It maintains
that the knowledge of God is within the province of reason, and with the
exception of Himself everything else is liable to change or to suffer


[1] Hogarth’s _Penetration of Arabia_, p. 7.

[2] Koran, sura xci.

[3] Sura vi. 59-60.

[4] Sura xl. 1.

[5] Sura vi. 95.

[6] Sura xxix. 44.

[7] See _The Spirit of Islâm_ (Pop. Ed.), p. 145.

[8] _The Spirit of Islâm_ (Pop. Ed.), p. 144.

[9] These terms are still in use among non-Arab Moslems to describe the
Arabian _Jinnat_ (‘garden’) and _Jehannum_ (‘hell’).

[10] Paradise itself seems to be the hellenised ‘firdous’ of the

[11] See _The Spirit of Islâm_, chapter on the ‘Idea of Future Life.’

[12] Sura xiii. 20-24.

[13] Sura xxxi.

[14] That is, in the Koran.

[15] The _Masnawi_ of Jalâl-ud-dîn of Rûm; see _The Spirit of Islâm_, p.

[16] Sura xxxix. 54.

[17] Sura xi. 92.

[18] Sura xi. 62.

[19] See _The Spirit of Islâm_, p. 236.

[20] An interesting pamphlet called _The Agreement between Science and
Religion_, by Orlando J. Smith (New York: Farrell).

[21] Sura iv. 36.

[22] Sura xvii. 36.

[23] Sura ii. 257, delivered at Medîna.

[24] See _The Spirit of Islâm_, chapter on ‘Slavery.’

[25] See _The Spirit of Islâm_, chapter on the ‘Literary and Scientific
Spirit of Islâm.’

[26] 29th August 570 A.C.

[27] Like Balâl, the first muezzin of Islâm, originally a negro slave.

[28] See _The Spirit of Islâm_, p. 24.

[29] About Mohammed’s marriages after the death of Khadîja, see _The
Spirit of Islâm_, pp. 193-198.

[30] See _The Spirit of Islâm_, p. 52.

[31] In the annals of Islâm the pre-Islâmite period is called by this

[32] See _Short History of the Saracens_, pp. 27-34.

[33] Jews and Christians.

[34] Koran, sura cx.

[35] The Mishkât.

[36] 1 Sam. xv. 3. Neither the lapse of ages nor the influence of
Christianity in the West has made much difference in the nature of the
ordinary man, since the Prophet of Israel gave this ferocious command to
his people. The passion for vengeance, the desire to strike fear, are as
strong as ever. The demands of rage, the dictates of expediency still
stifle the voice of pity, the claims of justice. Rapine and slaughter,
havoc and destruction, are still the gospel of the strong.

[37] Gibbon’s _Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire_, vol. vi. chap. i.
p. 298.

[38] _Short History of the Saracens_, p. 39.

[39] Nöldeke, _Sketches from Eastern History_, p. 76.

[40] At the battle of Yermuk the army of Heraclius numbered 240,000,
whilst the Saracens were only 40,000 all told. At Kâdessia 30,000 Arabs
were opposed to 100,000 Persians. At the battle of Medîna Sidonia, which
won Spain to the Caliphate, Târik had only 12,000 men against Roderick’s
host, at least five times as large.

[41] Nöldeke.

[42] The family of Hâshim and the family of Ommeya, distantly connected
with each other, were two of the most prominent in Mecca; and for a long
time there had existed among the latter a bitter feeling of hatred and
jealousy towards the Hâshimides on account of their pre-eminence and
worth. Mohammed belonged to the family of Hâshim; and the bulk of the
Ommeyades were amongst his foremost persecutors. Osmân was one of the few
among them who had accepted Islâm before the Hegira.

[43] For an account of this tragedy, see Gibbon, vol. vi. p. 279, and
_Short History of the Saracens_, pp. 83-87. Hussain was married to a
daughter of Yezdjard the last King of Persia. The life of the lad, saved
by the indomitable Arab courage of Zainab, the sister of Hussain, gave to
Islâm its nobility, for in him was united the blood of the Prophet with
that of the Sassanide monarchs of Persia.

[44] See _Short History of the Saracens_, chap. xxix.

[45] Cairo (_al-Kâhira_) was founded by one of the generals of al-Muiz
the contemporary and rival of an-Nâsir the Ommeyade Caliph of Cordova;
see _Short History of the Saracens_.

[46] See _The Spirit of Islâm_.

[47] See _Short History of the Saracens_, p. 348.

[48] See _Short History of the Saracens_.

[49] See _The Spirit of Islâm_.

[50] The Duo-decemian. So called as it recognises the spiritual headship
of the twelve Apostles of the House of Mohammed.

[51] For a full elucidation of their doctrines, see _The Spirit of


_Selections from the Koran_, by Stanley Lane-Poole.

_Studies in a Mosque_, by Stanley Lane-Poole.

_Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire_, vol. vi., by Gibbon.

_History of the Saracens_, by Simon Ockley.

_Mahommed and Mahommedanism_, by Bosworth Smith.

_The Spirit of Islâm_, by Ameer Ali (popular edition; Lahiri, Calcutta).

_A Short History of the Saracens_, by Ameer Ali (Macmillan).

_The Ethics of Islâm_, by Ameer Ali (Thacker, Calcutta and London).

_Heroes and Hero-Worship_ (Hero as a Prophet), by T. Carlyle.

_Mahomet_, by Barthelemy St. Hilaire.

_Mahommed’s Place in the Church_, by Ernest de Bunsen.

_The Future of Islâm_, by W. Scawen Blunt.

_Histoire des Arabes_, by Louis Amélie Sédillot.

_Histoire des Arabes_, by Caussin de Perceval.

_The Moors in Spain_, by Stanley Lane-Poole.

_The Preaching of Islâm_, by T. W. Arnold.

         Printed by T. and A. CONSTABLE, Printers to His Majesty
                    at the Edinburgh University Press

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Islâm" ***

Copyright 2023 LibraryBlog. All rights reserved.