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´╗┐Title: Mohammed, The Prophet of Islam
Author: Hayes, H. E. E. (Herbert Edward Elton)
Language: English
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MOHAMMED

A Popular Essay on the Life of the Prophet of Islam

by

H. E. E. HAYES



  There is no God but God,
  and Mohammed is the Apostle of God.

                    (_Moslem Creed._)



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PREFACE.


So-called Moslem missionaries are spreading through the Press such
idealistic and false views of the religion and character of Mohammed,
that we need to be on our guard against them.

Unbiased historians have stated that there is much that is deplorable
in the life of the prophet of Islam. And it is certain that his
teaching has increased the degradation of the nations that have come
under its influence.

Much of the literature that is being circulated in England by the
"Moslem missionaries," claims that Moslem women are better off, so far
as property rights go, than their Christian sisters. However true this
may be, it does not lift them out of the degradation of polygamy and
concubinage, with a capricious system of divorce, which makes them the
victims of the selfish baseness of their husbands and masters, which
Mohammed himself sanctioned.

The following essay, it is hoped, will help to counteract the false
ideas that are being scattered abroad, and lead those who read to
study more deeply the problems and sorrows of millions of the Moslem
subjects of our Gracious King.

The prayers of all Christians are asked on behalf of these millions,
and for those who labour to preach the "unsearchable riches of Christ"
amongst them.

H.E.E. HAYES.

GREENHITHE:

July, 1914.



MOHAMMED

The Prophet of Islam.

By H.E.E. HAYES.

INTRODUCTION.


Just as the character of Jesus is stamped upon the religion which
originated in His Person, so is the character of Mohammed impressed
upon the system which he, with marvellous ingenuity, founded. The
practical influence of Islam upon individual lives produces results
that reflect unmistakably the character of its founder, and a careful
study of the tenets of the system in relation to its history enable
the student to estimate the real worth of the man.

As the Apostle of God, Mohammed is the ideal of every true Moslem. His
life is the standard by which the lives of his followers are tested,
although he himself confesses that his life was not holy. In the
Koran, and the earlier traditions, he is pictured as being in no way
better than his fellows, and as weak and liable to error as the
poorest of his contemporaries. Yet later tradition minimises his
faults and weakness, and surrounds his person with a halo of glory
that makes him appear sinless and almost divine. All the doubtful
incidents of his life are either eliminated and ignored, or
assiduously supported and defended by his pious, misguided followers.

It is a point in his favour that he never claimed infallibility for
his actions or opinions; and his habit of attempting to cover or
justify his glaring faults by suitable revelations, although
indefensibly immoral, reveals the fact that he was conscious of his
own shortcomings. When he was at the zenith of his power, "revelation"
became merely an instrument of self glorification, licensing him in
every whim and fancy, because it gave him, as the prophet of God,
exemption from all law and order. His scheme was characteristically
ingenious and immoral. Had he known of the divine effulgence with
which he was afterwards encircled by his fanatical followers, he
would, in all probability, have strongly discountenanced it. The
incongruous sanctity with which his commonplace utterances and petty
actions were invested would have caused fear lest it became derogatory
to his creed of divine unity.



TRADITION.


As a source of information, the traditions are obviously unreliable,
for they are coloured by the excessive zeal and irrational bias of
men whose judgment was warped by irrepressible fanaticism. They
attributed to their hero elements that are grotesquely impossible. His
advent was in their estimation, so portentous that it was celebrated
by events which, for the time, upset all natural law. And his whole
life has been linked with miraculous happenings of a most ludicrous
type. More reasonable men have exalted the prophet because they have
convinced themselves that he was what he ought to have been. This may
account for the pious confidence of some of the more intelligent, who,
accepting tradition as historical, have exalted their hero to the
ideal, and have received the imagined glory as real. This tendency to
exalt their master is well illustrated by the maxim of Shafy--"In the
exaltation of Mohammed it is lawful to exaggerate"--a maxim invaluable
to men who were seeking to glorify the prophet, and the usefulness of
which was fully appreciated by the legislators and doctors when they
were called upon to cope with the new relations and exigencies that
came into being after his death. The conquests and progress of Islam
necessitated almost daily the framing of new rules, while in the
application of the old, constant modification and adaptation were
required. To meet these needs, actual or supposed sayings and actions
of the prophet were eagerly sought after, and, in time, with the
growth of a professional body of traditionalists, all legitimate
sources being exhausted, that which was doubtful, and even disputed,
was accepted as authentic and reliable. Imagination augmented the
legitimate springs of information, and the result was an exhaustive
accumulation of precedents for every possible circumstance.

Sprenger, in his essay on "Tradition," regarding the value and nature
of the material needed for compiling a life of Mohammed, says:

     "During the stir and activity of the first sixty years, thousands
     and thousands occupied themselves with handing down traditions. In
     every mosque they committed them to memory, and rehearsed them in
     every social gathering. All such knowledge was the common property
     of the nation; it was learned by heart and transmitted orally. It
     possessed, therefore, in the highest possible degree, the elements
     of life and plasticity. Bunson has discovered the divinity of the
     Bible in its always having been the people's book. If this
     criterion be decisive, then no religion has better claim to be
     called the 'vox Dei,' because none is in so full a sense the 'vox
     populi.' The creations of the period we have been considering
     possess this character for hundreds of millions of our fellow men;
     for modern Islamism is as far removed from the spirit in which the
     Coran was composed, as Catholicism is from the spirit of the
     Gospel; and modern Islamism is grounded upon tradition. But in
     tradition we find nothing but the Ideal, Invention, Fancy,
     Historical facts, however they may have been floating among the
     people in the days if Ibn 'Abbas, and the other founders of
     genealogy, were trodden under feet, because men wished to remove
     every barrier which stood in the way of self-glorification. And of
     the thousand inventions which every day gave birth to, only those
     were recognised as true which most flattered the religious and
     national pride ..."

He also goes on to say:

     "The time of creative activity, the gestation era of Moslem
     knowledge, passed away. Hajjaj choked the young life in its own
     blood, and the Abbaside dynasty, with kingly patriotism, sold the
     dearly-bought conquests of the nation, first to the Persians, and
     then to Turkish slaves, with the view of procuring an imaginary
     security for their throne. And thus there arose for the spiritual
     life also a new period. Already Wackidi had begun to work up into
     shape the mass of his traditionary stores, and busy himself in the
     department of scholastic industry. In the schools one could as
     little affect now the material tradition, or alter its nature, as
     attempt to change the organism of the new-born child. However
     arbitrary might be the invention of the 'Miraj' (Mahomed's heavenly
     journey), and other fabrications of the first century, they still
     formed in this way the positive element and soul of religious,
     political and social life. The schools, as always, confined their
     exertions to collecting, comparing, abbreviating, systematising,
     and commenting. The material was altogether divine; and any
     unprejudiced historical inquiry, any simple and natural
     interpretation of the Coran, any free judgment on tradition or its
     origin, was condemned as apostasy. The only task that remained was
     to work up, in scholastic form, the existing material; and in this
     way was developed a literature of boundless dimensions, which yet
     at bottom possessed nothing real. The whole spiritual activity of
     the Mohamedans, from the time of the prophet to the present day, is
     a dream; but it is a dream in which a large portion of the human
     race have lived; and it has all the interest which things relating
     to mankind always possess for man."

Sir William Muir agrees with these views, subject to two
considerations. He says:--

     "The tendency to glorify Mohammed and the reciters of the
     traditions was considerably modified by the mortal strife which
     characterised the factions that opposed one another at the period,
     where, in attempting to depreciate one another, they would not be
     averse to perpetuating traditions in support of their contentions;
     such partisanship secured no insignificant body of historical fact,
     which otherwise would have been lost."

He also points out that in a state of society circumscribed and
dwarfed by the powerful Islamic system, which proscribed the free
exercise of thought and discussion, tradition can scarcely be said to
be the "vox populi." The growth and development of tradition, the
flagrant distortion of historical fact, the ethical code of Islam, may
well give rise to a questioning of the validity of the prophet's
arrogant claims, and by their very methods of defence the apologists
of Islam exhibit its weakness and inadequacy to meet the religious
needs of man. The natural bias of Mohammed is evident throughout the
Coran. His conceptions of God, of the future life, and of the duty of
man, are all influenced by his consuming master passion. In all his
writings there are lacking those characteristics which distinguish the
true prophet--the messenger of God--from those to whom he is sent.
This will be apparent by contrasting his views with those of any of
the Old Testament prophets. They were eminently men prepared for their
high calling by lofty yet practical communion with God--men whose
message was inspired by a vision of Divine Majesty, and an impressive
conception of the justice and awful purity of Jehovah. Men who called
the nation to righteousness of life by a stirring appeal to
conscience, and an unfaltering denunciation of the evils of the time.
Their spiritual aspirations, therefore, by far surpass the loftiest
ideals of the prophet of Islam, while their ethical conceptions
infinitely transcend all that Mohammed dreamed of. The voice of the
Eternal is clearly heard in the earnest utterances that fell from
their lips, and through all their prophecies the willingness of Divine
Mercy to reason with men in spite of their erring ways, is apparent.

Three characteristic elements are perceived in their preaching--a very
keen and practical conscience of sin; an overpowering vision of God;
and a very sharp perception of the politics of their day. Of these
elements, Mohammed's teaching possesses only the last.



MOHAMMED'S CONCEPTION OF GOD


His conception of God is essentially deistical. The intimate personal
communion, so characteristic of the Old Testament, is unknown and
unrealised: hence there is little, if anything, in his system that
tends to draw men nigh to God. Attempts to remedy this characteristic
defect have been vainly made by the dervish orders, which, while
acknowledging the claims of Mohammed and his book, have introduced
methods not sanctioned by the system, by which they attempt to find
the communion with the Unseen, for which their souls crave. These
methods are very much akin to the efforts of the devotees of Hinduism.
There is, therefore, lacking amongst Moslems that need which grows out
of personal relationship with the Divine--that need which leads to
moral transformation and spiritual intensity on the part of those who
enjoy such fellowship. The Creator exists apart from His handiwork. He
has predetermined the actions of men. They are destined to eternal
bliss or destruction by an Inflexible Will, so that there is no need
for Divine Interference in their affairs. "God is in His heaven, and
the world is working out its end according to His unalterable decree."

Because of this gross conception, Palgrave has designated the system
"The Pantheism of Force," and says:

     "Immeasurably and eternally exalted above, and dissimilar from all
     creatures, which he levelled before Him on one common plane of
     instrumentality and inertness, God is One in the totality of
     omnipotent and omnipresent action, which acknowledges no rule,
     standard or limit, save His own sole and absolute will. He
     communicates nothing to His creatures, for their seeming power and
     act ever remain His alone, and in return He receives nothing from
     them; for whatever they may be, that they are in Him, by Him, and
     from Him only. And, secondly, no superiority, no distinction, no
     pre-eminence, can be lawfully claimed by one creature ever its
     fellow, in the utter equalisation of their unexceptional servitude
     and abasement; all are alike tools of the one solitary Force which
     employs them to crush or to benefit, to truth or to error, to
     honour or shame, to happiness or misery, quite independently of
     their individual fitness, deserts, or advantages, and simply
     because 'He wills it,' and 'as He wills it ...'

     "One might at first sight think that this tremendous Autocrat, this
     uncontrolled and unsympathising Power, would be far above anything
     like passions, desires, or inclinations. Yet such is not the case,
     for He has, with respect to His creatures, one main feeling and
     source of action, namely, jealousy of them, lest they should
     perchance attribute to themselves something of what is His alone,
     and thus encroach on His all engrossing kingdom. Hence He is ever
     more prone to punish than to reward; to inflict pain than to bestow
     pleasure; to ruin than to build. It is His singular satisfaction to
     let created beings continually feel that they are nothing else than
     His slaves, His tools, and contemptible tools also; that thus they
     may the better acknowledge His superiority, and know His power to
     be above their power, His cunning above their cunning, His will
     above their will, His pride above their pride--or, rather, that
     there is no power, cunning, will, or pride save His own.

     "But He Himself, sterile in His inaccessible height, neither loving
     nor enjoying aught save His own and self-measured decree, without
     son, companion, or counsellor, is no less barren of Himself than
     for His creatures, and His own barrenness and lone egoism in
     Himself is the cause and rule of His indifferent and unregarding
     despotism around. The first note is the key of the whole tune, and
     the primal idea of God runs through and modifies the whole system
     and creed that centres in Him."

Contrast this summary with the teaching of the Old Testament prophets,
the following quotations of which are but a small sample:--

     "Come, now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord. Though your
     sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow; though they be
     red like crimson, they shall be as wool."

     "Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, saith your God. Speak ye
     comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her that her warfare is
     accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned."

     "The spirit of the Lord God is upon me: because the Lord has
     anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek. He hath sent me
     to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives,
     and the opening of the prison to them that are bound, etc."

     "As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you, saith
     the Lord."

     "Who is a god like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth
     by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth
     not His anger for ever, because He delighteth in mercy. He will
     turn again; He will have compassion upon us. He will subdue our
     iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all our sins into the depths of the
     sea."

     "He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord
     require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk
     humbly with thy God."

     "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He
     knoweth them that trust in Him."

In the light of such lofty teaching, the conceptions of Mohammed
appear gross and degraded. His asceticism and contemplation never
brought him a vision of God that overwhelmed him and purified as by
fire. He knew the Creator only from what he heard from the lips of
sinful, ignorant men, whose ideas of Deity were base and ignoble.
These ideas, and the passions that made up such a large portion of his
life, obscured his vision, warped his judgment, and led him to
postulate a God that inhabited not a Holy Spiritual Realm, but a
grossly carnal and sensuous paradise.

Millions have been brought beneath his sway because his system panders
to the natural inclinations of man. Spiritual insight is blinded by
carnal desire; conduct is influenced by unbridled license; bigotry and
hatred are fostered by his policy of intoleration; and his followers
are enslaved by a tyranny that blights the reason, because it
discountenances inquiry, and places an insurmountable barrier in the
way of all human progress.

In studying the life of Mohammed, the cause of his failure to uplift
humanity will be clearly seen. His early sincerity, if sincerity it
can be named, was absorbed by his consuming ambition. Had it been
otherwise he might have had his name inscribed with the honourable
ones of the earth--those men whose claims are ratified by their happy
effects. As it is, his name is linked with those whose deeds cause a
shudder of horror and repulsion to all who love honesty, purity, and
truth.



I.--EARLY LIFE.


Mohammed was born in Mecca, a town in Arabia, about seventy miles
inland from the Red Sea. His father, who died 570 A.D., a few months
before the child was born, was a member of the Banu Hashim clan. His
family, although well connected, was a humble one, possessing but
little wealth. On the death of his mother some six years later, the
child was taken by his grandfather, 'ABD-EL-MUTTALIB, who took care of
him for two years. Then he was adopted by his uncle, ABU TALIB, who
employed him to look after his flocks and herds.

From his earliest years, Mohammed must have been brought into contact
with the religious life of Mecca, for his grandfather was custodian of
the Kaaba, or temple, and would frequently take the boy with him on
his official visits to the place. The numerous images of the gods set
up in the temple would be familiar objects to the future prophet,
whose iconoclastic zeal was eventually to bring about their
destruction. His lonely shepherd life favoured the cultivation of the
contemplative habits of his manhood, and played no unimportant part in
the development of those characteristics which eminently fitted him
for the life he was to lead. Nature had endowed him with the essential
abilities of a commander of men, and his early environment provided a
training that enabled him to exercise those gifts most advantageously.

The population of Arabia at this time consisted of numerous
independent nomadic tribes, who were often at enmity one with another.
Political unity there was none, while each tribe had its own patron,
or god, which was considered to be responsible for everything
concerning the tribe's welfare. Where tribes were united, or at peace,
there the individual gods were supposed to be friendly. Even in Mecca,
which for many years had been occupied by a settled community, there
was no political or judicial organisation. The existing order was
maintained by a form of patriarchal government, under which system it
was possible for the head of a tribe or clan, to protect the life of
any individual he chose to befriend.

The religious beliefs and customs were evidently gross materialistic
corruptions of what had once been a purely spiritual worship. Mohammed
had been preceded by men who had from time to time, in spite of the
moral and intellectual darkness, been so endowed with spiritual
perception as to recognise and bewail the hollowness and degradation
of the Pagan system. Some, indeed, had been conscientious enough to
utter words of condemnation; others had gone so far as to despise and
ridicule its claims. So that when Mohammed was born the people were in
a condition of religious uncertainty. Many elements contributed to
this unrest. Travellers learned that the more prosperous nations had
rejected the age long sanctions of Paganism; earnest, thoughtful men
could not but recognise its inadequacy to satisfy the religious
aspirations of their fellows; Jews and Christians, who had settled in
the country, had introduced views that appealed to those who were
dissatisfied with the old methods of thought; while the need for
social and political unity called for a force that would unite the
scattered tribes in the pursuit of common ideals. Thus was the land
prepared for the mighty revolution that was to come--a revolution that
made one great nation of the various tribes, and turned their warlike
instincts and characteristic fanaticism, which before had been
dissipated by wasteful internecine strife, into one definite channel,
until it became a menace to the whole world. A change so potent, that,
in the lifetime of one man, it was able to obliterate partly by
absorption, and chiefly by annihilation, the sanctions and beliefs of
centuries, and which fostered a hatred so bitter, and a brotherhood so
strong, between man and man, that by its sanction the dearest,
tenderest, and strongest ties of humanity have been broken, while
those who for years had lived in enmity were united in bonds stronger
than death. Under its malevolent influence, children have ruthlessly
slain their parents, believing that thus would they merit heaven. And
men of different race have fought side by side under one banner,
hurling themselves with fanatical heroism upon their enemies,
believing that to die in such a way meant the winning of an immortal
crown.

During his boyhood, Mohammed had plenty of opportunities for observing
the condition of affairs, and, thanks to his privilege of travelling
with the caravans, was even able to notice the contrast between the
conditions of his own people and those of the more peaceable,
prosperous nations. He frequently attended upon his uncle in the
fighting that often occurred between the tribes, and so gained the
knowledge of military strategy which proved to be so useful at a later
time. Margoliouth suggests that the two most important lessons the
"prophet" learned at this time were the necessity of settling affairs
of blood by some expedient less wasteful, and more satisfactory than
that which was illustrated by the war of Fizar, and that war should be
regarded not as a game, but as a mode of obtaining decisive results.

The varied experiences he passed through on his caravan journeys did
much to influence his future policy; indeed, it appears that all
influences brought to bear upon his early life were forces that
moulded and equipped him for the office he was to fill. He was keenly
observant, and wonderfully accurate in his inferences, especially in
his estimate of the characters of men with whom he had to deal. He
seemed to lack initiative, for he was always reluctant to take action
in any important undertaking; but once the initial step was taken, he
pressed forward with indomitable courage. In his business transactions
he proved himself to be shrewd and tactful, and by his fidelity,
patience, and self-confidence, gained the respect and esteem of his
immediate fellows.

Khadijah, a rich widow, having entrusted Mohammed with the control of
an important caravan, and finding how admirably he had performed his
part, wisely concluded that her interests would be furthered if he had
a share in them. Hence their marriage, which happy arrangement proved
to be mutually blessed and successful. It vastly improved Mohammed's
social standing, raising him to a position of equality with the
leading men of the city. For many years he was content to live quietly
as an ordinary citizen, engrossed in the accumulation of wealth by
legitimate trading.



II.--THE "CALL" TO THE PROPHETIC OFFICE.


It has not been recorded how first he began to yield to the impulses
that eventually led him to assume the role of reformer, but it is
certain that at the age of forty he was the leader of a secret
society, which had for its object the political and religious unity of
the Arab people. He knew that far-reaching changes were necessary in
every department of national policy before his ideal could be
realised. Unity was the secret of power and prosperity. This he had
learned through contact with other nations. His dealing with Jews and
Christians had given rise to a deep appreciation of the value of a
monotheistic faith in the consolidation of a people, and he was
convinced that political unity would be achieved only where there was
religious unity. With masterly insight he laid his plans accordingly,
and because of the extreme conservatism was obliged to formulate them
in strict secrecy. Unfortunately, owing to his untrustworthy sources
of information, his policy was founded upon false bases. His distorted
conception of truth led him to establish a system of false philosophy
and theology so framed as to allow of no alteration or adaptation. In
his elaboration of the system, he depended much upon his own
meditative habits, and no doubt thought it all out in the loneliness
of the mountains, to which he frequently retired for the observance of
certain ascetic customs of the Pagans. Thus his scheme of reform
crystallised into definite shape, and his call to the prophetic office
became a fixed idea.

He felt certain that success lay in the determined proclamation of one
god as opposed to the many of the Arab pantheon, and the more he
pondered over this Being, of whom he had heard from the Jews and
Christians, the greater became his certainty. God was supreme and
omnipotent; of that there could be no doubt. But how to convince the
people was a difficulty that needed much careful thought and cautious
propagation. Jews and Christians could boast of prophets--of men
inspired to speak with the voice of God--but the Arabs had had no one
who had spoken with such authority. Why had they been so neglected?
Surely they needed to hear the Divine voice, and that need was never
greater than now, when all was unrest and dissention. Where was the
man who would fill the office? Who would be willing to face the odds,
and declare against evil by proclaiming the good and the true? Such
must have been the questions that exercised Mohammed's mind. Then came
the thought--"Why should not I be the messenger?" And this so grew
upon him that he was convinced of his "call." The possession of this
idea made him sincere in his purpose at first, but after the tide had
turned in his favour, that sincerity was marred--nay, eclipsed--by an
inflated notion of self-importance, and a consuming ambition to which
every virtue and good feeling was subordinated, until at last he was
able, with superb arrogance, to bracket his name with Deity, making
the confession of his claim as important as the confession of the
Unity of God. Wherein his inconsistency and falsity is chiefly
apparent, for confession of Unity is insufficient without recognition
of Mohammed's apostleship!

Ascetic practices tend to lead to physical disorders, which generally
upset the mind and lead to mental and moral distemper. Judgment is
warped because the functions of the mind are thrown out of gear. The
varied departments of consciousness act with ungoverned caprice, with
the result that fantastical fancies and visions are interpreted to be
realties, which become misleading and deceptive. Thus may be explained
the visit of the Archangel Gabriel to Mohammed, but it can hardly be
conceived that it will account for the ingenious method of revelation
which he received. Some people believe it to have been inspired by
Satan; it must ever remain a matter of speculation.

The necessity of a _piecemeal_ revelation could not at this time have
been apparent to the prophet. But we may give him the credit of the
policy of abrogation which he afterwards adopted, for such a policy
was necessary to enable him to cover or justify his actions which,
like those of even the best of men, were marked by inconsistency.



III.--BIRTH OF THE ISLAMIC SOCIETY.


Being firmly convinced of his call, Mohammed, with characteristic
caution, began to propagate his principles, for years being content to
deal secretly with individuals, beginning with those of his own
household. His wife acknowledged and encouraged his claim, and
gradually he gathered around him an increasing circle of devoted
followers, some of whom had more confidence in him and his pretensions
than he had himself. This was particularly true of ABU BAKR, a rich
and popular merchant of Mecca, who, having acknowledged the claims of
the prophet, followed him with implicit obedience and unwavering
devotion. He threw himself whole-heartedly into the work of
proselytising, and the progress of early days, although slow, was
largely due to his indefatigable energy.

As the membership of the new society increased, rules were framed,
based upon the "revelations" which Mohammed now periodically received,
and each member was compelled to subscribe to the most stringent
regulations. Idolatry was strongly condemned and the unity of God
emphatically asserted. Certain Jewish and Christian religious
ordinances were imposed as a condition of membership, while unswerving
loyalty to the prophet was demanded. License was given to the members
to practice outwardly the old rites and ceremonies of Paganism, in
order to arouse no suspicion, but the existence of such a society, in
spite of all precautions, could not long remain unnoticed, and the
time came when the prophet and his followers were compelled to make
public confession of their faith. Persecution followed, in which the
poorer members suffered more than their richer brethren. Mohammed
himself received the protection of the head of his clan, and for eight
or ten years carried on a campaign of words. Margoliouth, in his life
of Mohammed, likens the prophet to a player in a game of cards, who,
having received a good hand, plays his cards with consummate skill. He
took advantage of every opportunity in strengthening his position, and
having a clear-cut policy before him, subordinated everything to its
furtherance. He was a powerful preacher, but owing to his ungovernable
temper, was not so successful in debate; hence he produced a
"revelation" forbidding him to engage in public controversy! He showed
great diligence in seeking information that enabled him to produce his
revelations in a style consistent with his claims. Being entirely
dependent on hearsay, he obtained but a sadly distorted account of
truth. The Koran is full of glaring errors, which, for centuries, have
baffled the ingenuity of the Moslem doctors. Yet the prophet
presumptuously claimed that his, being the last "revelation," was the
most important, and more reliable, and the differences that were
apparent were due to the corruption in time of the text of the former
"revelations"--_i.e._, the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures!

He was evidently much perplexed by the divisions and controversies
that existed within the Christian Church, and considered that the
images and pictures then in use were little better than the idols of
his own people. With no means of testing and verifying his knowledge,
he accepted all that tended to enhance his own position, and his chief
regret seems to have been his inability, in reply to the taunts of his
enemies, to point to any element of the miraculous in his career. In
the revelations, he frequently expressed views and opinions which
flatly contradicted what he had formerly stated, and when challenged
as to his inconsistency, defended it by claiming that it was not he
who had changed his mind, but God, whose ways no man could question or
understand!

In time, the position of the new sect became so intolerable that many
were compelled to flee, and numbers went into Abyssinia, where they
were well received. Mohammed himself, thanks to his relatives'
protection, could still afford to remain in Mecca. In spite of the
opposition, his influence gradually increased, and was considerably
strengthened by the conversion of Omar, a citizen famed for his skill
in military strategy and courage. Not long afterwards, Khadijah, the
prophet's wife died. She had wielded a strong, healthy influence over
her husband, and had cheered him on in times of discouragement and
failure. Islam owes not a little to her life and influence, and were
it more widely recognised, might possibly lead to an improvement of
the position of the poor unfortunate daughters of the system, who are
enslaved and degraded to a saddening degree. After Khadijah's death,
Mohammed took full advantage of the polygamous sanctions of Paganism,
and even abused the privilege when it conflicted with his own
inclinations. Margoliouth attempts to defend the many marriages on the
ground of political expediency, which may be conceded in only a few
cases. In most instances they were due to selfish desire and
inordinate affection. Particularly is this true in the case of the
prophet's marriage with his adopted son's wife, which was a gross
violation of Arab law.

On the death of his protector, Mohammed was compelled to seek refuge
elsewhere, but not before he had made inconsistent concessions to the
pagan leaders. In these concessions he retreated entirely from the
strong iconoclastic attitude he had hitherto adopted, going so far as
to produce a revelation that claimed to reconcile the One True God to
the gods of the Pagan pantheon. This compromise, no matter how wise
and statesmanlike it may appear to be, clearly indicates the falsity
of Mohammed's claim, and enables us to estimate the value of his
pretensions. His action was strongly condemned by many of his
followers, and probably under the influence of their opinion, he
produced an apologetic revelation abrogating the concession, and
admitting it to have been a mistake!

He endeavoured to escape the persecution in Mecca by taking refuge in
Taif, but was so badly treated there when his views became known, that
he was glad to return, and upon promising to confine his proselytising
efforts to strangers, was allowed to stay under the protection of one
of the leading citizens. He carried on his work among strangers with
such success, that before long a strong community had grown up in the
town of Medinah. The rapid increase of this section of his disciples
may be accounted for by the very unsettled condition of the place.
Civil and religious strife had been for a long time aggravated by the
aggressive attitude of a large section of Jews, so that circumstances
were more favourable to the reception and growth of Islam than in
Mecca, where there was more peaceful organisation, and where the
existence of the ancient Kaaba, or dwelling place of the gods, made
men more jealous of their old religion.

In the appointment of a man to lead the new community, Mohammed
exhibited his characteristic insight into the abilities of men. He
selected a follower thoroughly convinced of his master's claims, whose
zeal in the earlier days had led him to forsake friends and family by
flight into Abyssinia--a man full of enthusiasm and energy. In a
comparatively short time the new religion became quite popular, and
idolatry was despised. An incident indicative of the progress is seen
in the visit of seventy of the Medinah disciples to Mohammed in Mecca.
They met him secretly in the mountains, by night, and made solemn,
binding vows of allegiance, in which they promised "to fight men of
all colour in order to defend the faith." It is highly probable that
at this meeting the prophet was invited to join them in Medinah, but
for the present he preferred his native town.

Somehow the story of the night meeting leaked out, with the result
that persecution was redoubled, and many of the less wealthy followers
were forced to flee to Medinah. They were there well received and
cared for, and were afterwards honoured by being designated the
"refugees," while those who received them were similarly honoured in
being named the "helpers." Thus the brotherhood of believers insisted
on by Mohammed began to assume practical form, and men of different
tribes were united in one common bond--a brotherhood so powerful that
its enemies in Mecca were filled with alarm. They had no longer to
deal with a man whose views could be despised. They were menaced by a
growing force that threatened to overwhelm them. Steps were taken to
overthrow the danger, and elaborate arrangements were made for the
assassination of the prophet. He somehow obtained news of the plot,
and escaped the would-be murderers, who came while he was supposed to
be in bed, by climbing through a window. Accompanied by the faithful
Abu Bakr and a few of his more intimate followers, he made his way to
one of the mountain caves, where he stayed until the immediate danger
had passed. Then the little company commenced the journey to Medinah,
a task so fraught with danger and hardship that Mohammed shrank from
it, in spite of the Meccan evil, and was compelled to attempt it only
by the pressure of his friends.

The facts concerning his entry into Medinah are obscure and uncertain,
but there is no doubt that his advent was hailed with delight by the
"helpers" and "refugees." Hospitality was freely offered, and, owing
to the prophet's independent spirit, reluctantly accepted. One of his
earliest actions after arrival was to consolidate his forces by
strengthening the brotherhood, making the obligations of his followers
to one another, and himself, more binding than the ties of blood.



IV.--GROWTH AND PROGRESS.


He now found himself the acknowledged head of a large growing community,
which looked to him for guidance in all its affairs--religious, social,
and political. Proudly, and with true Eastern despotism, he took upon
himself the dignities of prophet, priest, and king. He needed no one with
whom to share these functions. His was the sole right--his alone. His
ambitions were being realised. The striving of years, the disappointment,
doubts, and fears that had so tormented him were well repaid, and could be
forgotten in the glamour that now surrounded him. Enthusiastic and
fanatical votaries crowded around him with loyal acclamation. Pampered and
petted with excessive adulation, can it be wondered that he had visions of
power hitherto undreamed of? His scheme of national reform paled into
insignificance in the light of possibility. He saw himself the leader of a
world-wide conquest--the promoter of a prodigious scheme of universal
reform. He was not merely the messenger of the Arab people, but the
mouthpiece of God to the whole wide world. And by the Divine Power that
possessed him would receive the humble homage of proud and mighty nations,
whose haughty monarchs would bow in lowly submission to his imperious
will! Prophetic insight, regal authority, judicial administration were his
by divine right, to be enforced, if needs be, at the point of the Islamic
sword.

As his position improved, so his ideals deteriorated. His early piety
was modified by the lust of worldly power. In place of patient pacific
methods of propagation, he adopted a cruel, ruthless, warlike policy,
and it was not long--perhaps owing to the extreme poverty which
afflicted the new community--before the would-be prophet became the
leader of a robber host. Yet even in spite of the glamour that
surrounded him, and the questionable behaviour that characterised this
period of his life, we catch occasional glimpses of that which reveals
the working of nobler instincts in his mind. Had his environment been
other than it was, Mohammed had been indeed a hero in the world's
history. Ignorance of truth led him to place himself under the
mysterious power of hallucination. The lonely brooding of the cave had
produced that which had urged him into a position of bondage. He was
the slave of a false idea, which so possessed him that he pressed
onward, in spite of all that stood in his way, whether it was good or
bad. It exerted an irresistible influence over all his impulses,
leading him into actions in every way indefensible. When fair means
failed, he adopted foul, and so succeeded beyond his highest dreams.

The first Mosque, or meeting place, was built very soon after his
arrival in Medinah, and he entered upon his priestly functions. As a
matter of policy, he adopted many of the Jewish rites. These, however,
he soon changed, for as the number of his followers increased, and he
grew more and more independent of Jewish aid, he made every effort to
show his natural aversion to the ancient people, who scorned his
prophetic pretensions. In place of praying towards Jerusalem, his
followers were commanded to turn their faces towards Mecca. The Fast
of Atonement was abolished in favour of the month of Ramadan, while in
substitution for the Jewish rite of sacrifice, the pagan slaying of
victims was observed.

A considerable difference is to be noticed between the "revelations"
of this period and those of Mecca. The latter were concerned with
denunciations of idolatry; proofs of the Divine unity and attributes;
legendary stories, and occasional lurid pictures of heaven and hell.
The former are generally of a legislative character, mingled with the
domestic affairs of the prophet, and guidance as to his military
policy. The method of recording them, too, seems to have been
systematised, for it is certain that a body of professional scribes
were engaged in this work, and evidence is not wanting to show that
these scribes were allowed to express the revelations in their own
particular style. Discrepancies and inconsistencies abounded, but
Mohammed seems to have allowed that he was not responsible, and to
have stated that God had a perfect right to alter as He pleased, and
even to apologise for errors! The policy of abrogation has its
sanction in the text, "Whatever verses we cancel or cause thee to
forget, we give thee better in their stead, or the like thereof."

In his warlike policy, the prophet's strategy reflects most
discreditably upon his character, everything that was honourable and
virtuous being sacrificed to the passion for conquest. When he needed
help, he pretended friendship to those he hated; and then, becoming
strong enough to be independent, did not hesitate, upon the slightest
provocation or pretext, to turn his sword against them. This is
particularly true of his treatment of the Jews, whom he at first
befriended, but afterwards treated with barbarous injustice.

Within a very few months of their arrival in Medinah, the need of some
method of support, other than the charity of the helpers, presented
itself. The number of refugees was still increasing, and the demand
for the ordinary necessities of life exceeded the supply. Mohammed, to
his credit, shared the misery of his followers, and proved himself to
be generous even when in want. In order to meet the need, the policy
of despoiling the wealthy Meccan caravans was conceived, and carried
out with some degree of success. The prophet at first exhibited a
feeling of repugnance against such warfare, especially when the
ancient pacific regulations of certain sacred months were violated.
But the benefits of the revenue accruing led him, some time
afterwards, to produce revelations sanctioning hostilities even in the
sacred months. The early successes provided the community with more
wealth than was needed, and, arousing the avarice of many of those who
were opposed to the prophet, led them to throw in their lot with him.
Having seared his conscience by acknowledging the righteousness of the
robber policy, it was easy for him to persuade himself that it was all
part of the purpose of God to prosper his claims. All who would not
acknowledge him were the enemies of God, and had no rights to property
or to life. He began to preach the holiness of war against all
unbelievers. He fanned the avaricious fanaticism of his followers into
a flame of religious enthusiasm, and they became soldier priests,
whose deaths on the battlefield were glorious martyrdoms, which gave
them immediate entrance into a paradise where all their inclinations
could be indulged to an unlimited degree. It is not to be wondered
that an army of such men could put three times their number of Meccans
not so inspired to flight. This is what actually happened in the
battle of Badr. Mohammed had received news of the possibility of
capturing a particularly rich Meccan caravan, and decided to make the
attempt. News of his plans reached the Meccans, who determined to
frustrate, if possible, the designs of their enemy. A thousand men
were rapidly organised into a defensive and punitive force, and sent
out to overwhelm the three hundred Moslems. They were by no means
skilled in military strategy, little better than a disorderly horde;
whereas the Moslems, under the masterly guidance of Mohammed, seem to
have exhibited clever organisation. It has been said that the rigid
prayer ritual enforced by Mohammed, at the risk of Divine punishment,
had a disciplinary effect, and produced results very similar to those
obtained by military drill. The Meccan host was put to flight,
discipline, and steadfastness of purpose determined the victory. The
Moslems returned to Medinah, carrying in triumph many prisoners, and
considerable booty. The revelation produced after this, speaks of it
as the "Day of deliverance," and Mohammed rejoices because the stigma
of powerlessness to show evidence of miracle in his life, is removed,
for he accounts for the victory by direct intervention of God in his
favour. The effect of the victory on the surrounding tribes was highly
favourable to the prophet. Many of the chiefs sought to ally
themselves to him, but he received their offers solely on condition
that they would embrace Islam. Few accepted, and those who did not
before long regretted it.

For about a year after his success, his power and influence increased,
until the whole of the tribes between Mecca and Medinah had been won
over. Then came a defeat. The Meccans had been nursing their
bitterness, and at last, just over two years after the victory of
Badr, it found its outlet in an expedition again Mohammed. The Moslem
forces were rallied, and under the prophet's leadership sallied forth
to meet the Meccans. A fierce battle ensued, in which at first the
Moslems had the advantage, and the Meccans were forced to fly. But
they had learned many lessons in the fight at Badr, and had posted
some of their cavalry in such a position that, when the Moslem order
was disturbed in their pursuit of the enemy, they made a charge upon
their rear. The fleeing Meccans turned, and the Moslems found
themselves between two attacks. Then came the cry that Mohammed was
killed! Instead of increasing the Moslem disorder by discouragement,
it made them fight more doggedly, for the majority were so committed
to Islam that they cared not for life if their prophet was dead. This
prevented what must otherwise have meant absolute victory on the part
of the Meccans, and a number of them, with Mohammed, who was only
wounded, were able to retire to Medinah. The Meccans were quite
satisfied with the result, considering that the stigma of their defeat
at Badr had been wiped out. Later on, when Mohammed had sufficiently
recovered of his wounds, he made a public appearance in the Mosque,
where he was able to persuade his followers that their apparent defeat
was really a victory! The general who is able to persuade his forces
that there is victory, even where there seems to be defeat, is one who
will inspire them to fight against apparently impossible odds. They
will, indeed, never suffer defeat, but will fight on until annihilated
by capture or death. The secret of success even in the more pacific
engagements of life lies in this principle--to be undaunted in
ardour, in spite of failure; to recognise in failure a step towards
ultimate success. Let a man be possessed with these, and victory is
within his grasp, whether he recognises it or not.

After this, Mohammed did not scruple to employ the system of warfare
by assassination, if warfare it can be called. Some tribes, emboldened
by the report of the Meccan success, began to treat Moslem emissaries
with scant courtesy, and went so far as to murder some. Mohammed
retaliated by sending men to balance the scales in the same criminal
way, particularly in treating with the Jews. An idea had grown up in
his mind that these people had determined to murder him. This, with
matters of minor importance, already referred to, at last led to an
organised attempt to subjugate them. A large, influential tribe was
besieged; their date trees, lands, and property wantonly destroyed.
Eventually the whole tribe surrendered, and were glad to march away
with what possessions their camels could carry. This led to a
combination of other Jewish tribes, which laid siege to Medinah. The
siege was not successful, and barbarous treatment was meted out to the
besiegers. After much skirmishing and general fighting, a number of
the Jews who had been captured were decapitated, while their women and
children were enslaved. Those who were unwilling to embrace Islam,
were compelled to pay tribute. So the prosperity and success of Islam
was assured. The Jews were no longer bold enough to cause the prophet
any anxiety as to the validity of his prophetic claims, nor were they
of a mind that would arouse fear as to their fighting abilities. They
were true descendants of Isaac and Jacob, who were both men of peace,
and were not qualified for success in war against the posterity of the
active warlike Ishmael and Esau.

Freed from all anxiety in this direction, the prophet, realising that
the security of Medinah could never be assured while the Meccans were
opposed to him, began to formulate plans for the conquest of their
city. His first step was to try and conciliate them, with a view to
sending a pilgrim band into the city, but the citizens were far too
cautious and suspicious to allow that. At last, however, they were
prevailed upon to receive his son-in-law, Omar, who succeeded in
persuading a section of the Meccans of the injustice of barring the
Holy Temple to those who, although their enemies, were, after all,
their kinsmen. This led to a treaty, in which Mohammed brought shame
upon his followers because of his concessions. The arrangements were
that for ten years, peace between the prophet and the Meccans should
be maintained, and that within a year a party of the Moslems were to
be allowed to make a pilgrimage to the Kaaba.

The humiliation to which the prophet compelled his followers to submit
gave rise to considerable indignation, which was allayed only when he
himself submitted to the shaving of his head and the offering of
sacrifice. He knew that the humiliation was worthy of the advantage
gained--indeed, it was but the furtherance of his policy, in which no
action that was expedient could possibly be disgraceful. To him such
a treaty involved no sacred obligation to his enemies. He was God's
prophet, and as such was free of all obligation to those who did not
follow him, a principle deeply rooted in Islam, which makes the
violation of all virtuous relations with unbelievers highly
meritorious.



V.--WORLD CONQUEST.


Not long after the treaty with the Meccans, Mohammed revealed the fact
that he had elaborated a scheme of world conquest, by sending
representatives to earthly monarchs of whom he had heard. His
messengers carried letters bearing the seal, "Mohammed, Prophet of
God," and urging the addressees to acknowledge his claims by embracing
Islam. These overtures were in some cases favourably received; in
others with contempt; but, of course, did not lead to compliance with
the demands, except, perhaps, on the part of a few of the rulers of
some Arabic tribes.

The eighth year of the flight is famous in the history of the
prophet's life, because his followers, for the first time, came into
conflict with the forces of the Christian empire. The battle of Mutah
resulted in defeat of the Moslems, and, consequently, details have
been suppressed. It was part of Mohammed's policy to counteract the
demoralising influence of defeat by immediately attempting a fight in
which victory was assured. This, to my mind, justified war on any
pretext or grievance. In this case he conceived the idea of invading
Mecca, and, although minor incidents justify his decision to a slight
degree, his breach of the treaty adds to the evidence that is
derogatory to his character.

The pilgrimage of the year before had been organised by him with the
view of impressing the Meccans of his power, and was decidedly
successful. When he with his ten thousand troops approached the city,
fear caused submission on the part of the leader of the city forces,
and after some slight skirmishing with a section of the community,
which preferred to show active disapproval of the ignominious
surrender, the city was won. Every idolatrous element of the Kaaba
worship was swept away, and, although its pagan associations were
negatived, it was sanctified to the service of Islam, and is still its
only altar. The city was invested with a more sacred significance than
it had ever occupied under the pagan system. It was never again to be
defiled by the spilling of human blood, the prophet insisting upon
this with admirable inconsistency! He showed his gratification in many
acts of statesmanlike condescension, and seems at this time to have
considered himself to be the ruler of all Arabs. Although it is
improbable that Mohammed was aware of it, the significance he attached
to the Holy City, by teaching that the Caaba was a heavenly built
edifice, was to become the means of consolidating his system, in spite
of national and racial distinctions. In its precincts, pilgrims from
India, Persia, China, Russia, Turkey, and other lands where Islam has
its devotees, mingle with the wild Bedouin of the desert in one common
brotherhood, and worship, in unity of faith and form, Allah, the great
and merciful.

After its capture, the fierce warlike Bedouin nomadic tribes made
strenuous and courageous attempts to win back the city, but the Moslem
forces were invariably successful, and, in time, Mohammed returned to
Medinah more triumphant than ever. Eventually Taif, which had
successfully resisted a siege, submitted peacefully to the prophet's
claims, and the subjugation of the whole of Arabia followed.

An ingenious system of taxation was imposed upon all tribes submitting
to Mohammed. The natural prejudice that universally exists against
taxation (!) was overcome, because it was instituted as a religious
rather than a statutory obligation. Thus the regular payments of alms
became one of the five acts of faith imposed upon all believers. The
other acts are: confession of creed, prayer, fasting, and pilgrimage.



VI.--MOHAMMED AND WOMEN.


The prophet's domestic life exerted considerable influence upon his
religion; effects of which are to be seen in the Mohammedan home of
to-day. His numerous marriages afforded experience which led to the
framing of many "divine" laws referring to women. As has already been
hinted, Kadijah, his first wife, exercised considerable influence over
his prophetic career. She evidently had a strong affection for him,
which feeling was heartily reciprocated. She had a personality strong
enough to curb his natural passion, and to preserve her place in spite
of it in his regard. Her encouragement and support when success and
failure were trembling in the balance, urged him to persist in the
development of his ideas. He was faithful to her during their married
life, and to her memory afterwards, and promised her, upon her
deathbed, that she should share his heavenly chamber after his death,
with the Mother of Jesus and the sister of Moses. Within a month of
her death he was betrothed to Ayesha, a child of seven. He did not
actually marry her until she was nine years of age, and during the
interval consoled himself by wedding a widow who had acted as nurse to
one of his daughters. This marriage seems to have been more a matter
of convenience than of affection on his part, and in later days she
was able to keep her position as his wife only by the yielding of
certain of her privileges to other members of the harem.

Seven months after his arrival in Medinah, during the time of poverty,
the marriage with Ayesha was celebrated, the child of nine being
united to the man of fifty-three! a marriage defended on the ground of
political expediency, whereby the devotion of Abu Bakr, the child's
father was strengthened. She seems to have been second only to
Khadijah in the prophet's affections, and exercised a petty tyranny
over him, which was submitted to even when it affected his
revelations. She excited the envy of the other wives because of her
privileges, and in spite of intrigue, was able to hold her own. She
was extremely sarcastic in regard to some of the revelations, and even
went so far on one occasion as to jeer the prophet on his faithfulness
in recording them. This sarcasm was prompted by jealousy, because of
Mohammed's marriage with Zainab, which was so illegal as to cause him
to throw the responsibility on God. Zainab was the wife of the
prophet's adopted son Zaid, who, having discovered his foster-father's
love, thought it wise to divorce her in his favour. The revelation
Mohammed produced seems to have been held over until his critics had
been mollified by some victory--hence the sarcasm!

During the raiding of the Jews, Mohammed was considerably disturbed by
the desire of the wives to accompany him on the expeditions. He eased
the difficulty by arranging that one only should go with him on each
expedition, and should obtain the favour by lot. Ayesha got into
difficulty on one of these expeditions. She dropped a necklace and
remained behind the returning party in order to seek for it. A youth
who, too, had loitered behind, found it, and accompanied her back to
the camp. Her enemies were not slow to take advantage of this incident
to prejudice her before the prophet. He was deeply hurt, and in face
of the surge of public opinion, sent her back to her parents. The
complications arising out of the divorce would probably have alienated
the sympathies of Abu Bakr, her father, so with his usual diplomacy,
Mohammed produced a revelation, in which God declared Ayesha innocent
of any cause for divorce! It was through Ayesha, too, that the prophet
conceived the idea of praying for deliverance from the torment of the
grave, for she casually remarked one day that she had heard a Jewish
woman speaking about torment after death. Through all her life with
the prophet she proved herself to be strong in character, and a
fitting mate for a man of Mohammed's type.

Other wives did not play such an important part in the prophet's life
work. He seems to have exhibited his taste for beauty in all his
selections. Keud was the daughter of a man of considerable wealth and
influence, and, like Zainab, was one of the Abyssinian refugees. In
the expedition against Khaibah, Mohammed's greed was excited by the
sight of some valuable ornaments belonging to one of his vanquished
enemies. He sought to gain possession of them by marrying the daughter
of the owner, Safiyyah, whose husband and brother had both been killed
in the battle that had been fought. She accepted the prophet's offer,
and contented herself for her losses in the squabbles of his harem.
His other wives were Juwairijah, Hafsah, Um Salmah, Um Kabibah,
another of the Abyssinian refugees, and Zainab, widow of his cousin.
The last wife was Maimunah, who is said to have offered herself to him
when he was considering the invasion of Mecca. A Coptic (Christian)
slave girl, Mary, and Rihanah, a Jewess, were added to the harem, but
went through no form of marriage with him. Mary was sent as a present
from one of the Coptic rulers in answer to the prophet's letter,
urging the claims of Islam; while Rihanah, whose husband was one of
the many who were cruelly slaughtered by decapitation after a victory
over the Jews, was at nightfall, almost immediately after the
massacre, taken to the prophet's tent. It is evident that the prophet
had many opportunities of still further increasing his harem, for many
women offered themselves; while the relatives of handsome widows would
make no arrangements for the re-marriage of the bereaved ones until
they had been offered to the prophet and refused.

It cannot be expected that things could always run smoothly with so
many women possessing rights to his attention, and there is much
evidence to show that Mohammed was often disturbed by the difficulty
of pleasing all. His relations to the feminine sex, as may be
expected, led to a very low estimate of the position of women. Hence
the utter degradation to which they are subjected in Islam. Although
he did not practice it, he sanctioned wife beating. Divorce was made
easy for the men, who could cast off their wives any time they so
desired. Thus it is quite common to-day for women to steal from their
husbands in order to provide for themselves in case of divorce. The
evil of such a system is apparent. It makes the women mere slaves at
the mercy of the caprice of their husbands. The polygamy and
concubinage which is sanctioned in the Koran, has degraded the women
to a degree that may be imagined, and certainly has not, as some
authorities contend, abolished other evils. It is true that he
improved slightly the condition of women in his day, giving them
privileges they had not up to that time enjoyed, and by those who
endeavour to picture him as a hero, his failure to arrive at a true
estimate of the position of women is covered by the statement that it
was impossible for him to grapple with a hopeless problem. It is
encouraging to know that, with the growing influence of Western
Christian civilisation, the condition of women in Moslem lands is
gradually improving, although the village folk still consider us to be
weak in character because we are courteous in our behaviour to them.
In Egypt, Government schools for girls are being organised, and
throughout the whole Moslem world education is spreading. The religion
of Mohammed is so clearly defined that it can never be reformed. The
only hope for the nations that are under its sway is that with the
advance of western civilisation there may be a yielding to the
influence of Christianity. It cannot be possible to enjoy the
blessings of the West while men are tyrannised by a non-progressive
religion of the East.

Just before he died Mohammed organised an expedition against the
Romans, and this in spite of sickness unto death. He had made his last
pilgrimage to Mecca, and had delivered what may be termed his final
charge to his followers. The whole tone of his address seems to have
been influenced by the thought of the proximity of death. He
emphasised the doctrines he had inculcated, showing that the Islamic
brotherhood removed all that tended to social inequality. The rich man
was no better than the poor; the aristocrat who boasted of his
ancestry, no more important in the sight of God than the lowliest
beggar. The only difference that could exist between man and man was a
difference in degree of piety. Property rights he recognised as
regarding believers, and evidently implied that unbelievers possessed
no such rights. He asked respect and humane treatment for women, and
undoubtedly manifested a desire for a better condition of affairs than
he in his lifetime had been able to establish. The subsequent illness
was probably due to the strain and anxiety of this pilgrimage. Ayesha,
the girl wife, tended him. The many stories that have been told of
these last days are not at all reliable, but it is certain that for
five days he was quite helpless and delirious. On the 7th of June, 632
A.D., ten years after the flight from Mecca, he died in the arms of
Ayesha, leaving a work that wrought havoc in the Christian Church for
centuries, and which, inspired by his immortal spirit, still exists in
unyielding enmity against the faith of the meek and lowly Nazarene,
whose native soil, in the providence of God, is owned by Islam's son.
Never again will be heard the clash of steel on steel as Christian
tries to vanquish Moslem. Those days are happily past and gone. Carnal
weapons cannot avail against spiritual forces. The eternal, peaceable
Spirit of Jesus is slowly but surely permeating the gloom of Islam. We
see the resultant disintegration, and hope for that great day when,
led by the broken and contrite spirit of their leader, the hosts of
Islam shall bow before the King of Kings, recognising what, in time,
they were impelled to deny--Unity in Trinity, the at present
unrevealed mystery of Deity.

Britain, the greatest Moslem power of the world, needs to change her
policy in regard to Christian missionary work amongst Moslems, if she
is desirous of promoting the welfare of those benighted people. She
must give freedom to the heralds of the Cross who labour in the lands
of the Crescent. And the prayers of her people must ascend on behalf
of the sons and daughters of Islam who sit in darkness and the shadow
of death.





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