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Title: Two Old Faiths - Essays on the Religions of the Hindus and the Mohammedans
Author: Muir, William, 1819-1905, Mitchell, J. Murray (John Murray), 1815-1904
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Transcriber's Note:

The footnotes marked with lower-case letters were originally sidenotes
which referred to sentences within the paragraph. I placed them at the
end of chapters to avoid confusion with the footnotes marked with numbers,
which were footnotes in the original and are at the end of the text.







NEW YORK CHAUTAUQUA PRESS C.L.S.C. Department, 150 Fifth Avenue 1891

     The required books of the C.L.S.C. are recommended by a Council of
     Six. It must, however, be understood that recommendation does not
     involve an approval by the Council, or by any member of it, of
     every principle or doctrine contained in the book recommended.

       *       *       *       *       *

     These essays have been selected from the admirable series of
     _Present Day Tracts_, published by the Religious Tract Society,
     London, and are reprinted with permission.


THE HINDU RELIGION.                                   PAGE

Outline of the Essay                                     7

Introduction                                             9

The Vedas                                               12

Philosophy, and Ritualism                               31

Reconstruction--Modern Hinduism                         43

Contrast with Christianity                              58

Hinduism in Contact with Christianity                   68


Outline of the Essay                                    83

Introduction                                            85

The Rapid Spread of Islam                               87

Why the Spread of Islam was Stayed                     125

Low Position of Islam in the Scale of Civilization     129



The place of Hinduism--which is professed by about a hundred and ninety
millions in India--among the religions of the world, and its great
antiquity, are pointed out.

The comparative simplicity of the system contained in the Vedas, the
oldest sacred books of the Hindus, its almost entire freedom from the
use of images, its gradual deterioration in the later hymns, its gradual
multiplication of gods, the advance of sacerdotalism, and the increasing
complexity of its religious rites are set forth.

The philosophical speculation that was carried on, the different
philosophical schools, the Buddhist reaction, its conflict with
Brahmanism, its final defeat, and its influence on the victorious system
are discussed.

The religious reconstruction represented by the Puranas, their
theological character, the modern ritual, the introduction and rise of
caste, and the treatment of women are then considered.

A contrast is drawn between the leading characteristics of Hinduism and
those of Christianity, and the effect of Christian ideas on modern
Hinduism is exhibited. The history of the Brahmo Somaj under Keshub
Chunder Sen is given at some length.



[Sidenote: Hinduism deserving of study.
Its antiquity.]
The system of religious belief which is generally called Hinduism is, on
many accounts, eminently deserving of study. If we desire to trace the
history of the ancient religions of the widely extended Aryan or
Indo-European race, to which we ourselves belong, we shall find in the
earlier writings of the Hindus an exhibition of it decidedly more
archaic even than that which is presented in the Homeric poems. Then,
the growth--the historical development--of Hinduism is not less worthy
of attention than its earlier phases. It has endured for upward of three
thousand years, no doubt undergoing very important changes, yet in many
things retaining its original spirit. The progress of the system has not
been lawless; and it is exceedingly instructive to note the development,
and, if possible, explain it.

We are, then, to endeavor to study Hinduism chronologically. Unless he
does so almost every man who tries to comprehend it is, at first,
overwhelmed with a feeling of utter confusion and bewilderment. Hinduism
spreads out before him as a vast river, or even what seems at first

            "a dark
    Illimitable ocean, without bound,
    Without dimension, where length, breadth, and height,
    And time, and place are lost."

[Sidenote: The discussion chronological.]
But matters begin to clear up when he begins at the beginning, and notes
how one thing succeeded another. It may not be possible as yet to trace
all the windings of the stream or to show at what precise points in its
long course it was joined by such and such a tributary; yet much is
known regarding the mighty river which every intelligent man will find
it profitable to note and understand.

[Sidenote: The Christian's duty in relation to the subject.]
The Christian ought not to rest satisfied with the vague general idea
that Hinduism is a form of heathenism with which he has nothing to do,
save to help in destroying it. Let him try to realize the ideas of the
Hindu regarding God, and the soul, and sin, and salvation, and heaven,
and hell, and the many sore trials of this mortal life. He will then
certainly have a much more vivid perception of the divine origin and
transcendent importance of his own religion. Farther, he will then
extend a helping hand to his Eastern brother with far more of
sensibility and tenderness; and in proportion to the measure of his
loving sympathy will doubtless be the measure of his success. A yearning
heart will accomplish more than the most cogent argument.

[Sidenote: The purpose of the Tract.]
In this Tract we confine ourselves to the laying down of great leading
facts and principles; but these will be dwelt upon at sufficient length
to give the reader, we trust, an accurate conception of the general
character and history of Hinduism. We shall also briefly contrast the
system with Christianity.

The history of Hinduism may be divided into three great periods, each
embracing, in round numbers, about a thousand years.



[Sidenote: The most ancient writings of India.]
Regarding the earliest form of Hinduism we must draw our conceptions
from the Veda, or, to speak more accurately, the four Vedas. The most
important of these is the Rig Veda; and internal evidence proves it to
be the most ancient. It contains above a thousand hymns; the earliest of
which may date from about the year 1500 B.C. The Hindus, or, as they
call themselves, the Aryas, had by that time entered India, and were
dwelling in the north-western portion, the Panjab. The hymns, we may
say, are racy of the soil. There is no reference to the life led by the
people before they crossed the Himalaya Mountains or entered by some of
the passes of Afghanistan.

It would be very interesting if we could discover the pre-Vedic form of
the religion. Inferentially this may, to some extent, be done by
comparing the teachings of the Vedas with those contained in the books
of other branches of the great Aryan family--such as the Greeks, the
Romans, and, above all, the Iranians (ancient Persians).

The ancient Hindus were a highly gifted, energetic race; civilized to a
considerable extent; not nomadic; chiefly shepherds and herdsmen, but
also acquainted with agriculture. Commerce was not unknown; the river
Indus formed a highway to the Indian Ocean, and at least the Phenicians
availed themselves of it from perhaps the seventeenth century B.C., or
even earlier.

[Sidenote: The hymns are strongly religious.
They are a selection.
Pre-eminently sacerdotal.
Present the religious thought of the ancient Hindus.]
As soon as we begin to study the hymns of the Veda we are struck by
their strongly religious character. Tacitly assuming that the book
contains the whole of the early literature of India, many writers have
expressed themselves in strong terms regarding the primitive Hindus as
religious above all other races. But as we read on we become convinced
that these poems are a selection, rather than a collection, of the
literature; and the conviction grows that the selection has been made by
priestly hands for priestly purposes. An acute critic has affirmed that
the Vedic poems are "pre-eminently sacerdotal, and in no sense
popular."[1] We can thus explain a pervading characteristic of the book
which has taken most readers by surprise. There is a want of simplicity
in the Veda. It is often most elaborate, artificial, overrefined--one
might even say, affected. How could these be the thoughts, or those the
expressions, of the imperfectly civilized shepherds of the Panjab? But
if it be only a hymn-book, with its materials arranged for liturgical
purposes, the difficulty vanishes.[2] We shall accordingly take it for
granted that the Veda presents only the religious thought of the ancient
Hindus--and not the whole of the religious thought, but only that of a
very influential portion of the race. With all the qualifications now
stated, the Veda must retain a position of high importance for all who
study Indian thought and life. The religious stamp which the compilers
of the Veda impressed so widely and so deeply has not been obliterated
in the course of thirty centuries.

[Sidenote: Their religion is Nature-worship.]
The prevailing aspect of the religion presented in the Vedic hymns may
be broadly designated as Nature-worship.

[Sidenote: Physical phenomena in India.
Their effect on the religion.]
All physical phenomena in India are invested with a grandeur which they
do not possess in northern or even southern Europe. Sunlight, moonlight,
starlight, the clouds purpled with the beam of morning or flaming in the
west like fiery chariots of heaven; to behold these things in their full
magnificence one ought to see them in the East. Even so the sterner
phenomena of nature--whirlwind and tempest, lightning and thunder, flood
and storm-wave, plague, pestilence, and famine; all of these oftentimes
assume in the East a character of awful majesty before which man cowers
in helplessness and despair. The conceptions and feelings hence arising
have from the beginning powerfully affected the religion of the Hindus.
Every-where we can trace the impress of the grander manifestations of
nature--the impress of their beneficence, their beauty, their might,
their mystery, or their terribleness.

[Sidenote: The deities are "the bright ones," according to the language
of the sacred books of India.]
The Sanskrit word for god is _deva_, which means _bright, shining_. Of
physical phenomena it was especially those connected with light that
enkindled feelings of reverence. The black thunder-cloud that enshrouded
nature, in which the demon had bound the life-giving waters, passed
away; for the glittering thunder-bolt was launched, and the streams
rushed down, exulting in their freedom; and then the heaven shone out
again, pure and peaceful as before. But such a wonder as the dawn--with
far-streaming radiance, returning from the land of mystery, fresh in
eternal youth, and scattering the terrors of the night before her--who
could sufficiently admire? And let it be remembered that in the Hindu
mind the interval between admiration and adoration is exceedingly small.
Yet, while it is the dawn which has evoked the truest poetry, she has
not retained the highest place in worship.

[Sidenote: Fire much worshiped.]
No divinity has fuller worship paid him than Agni, the Fire (_Ignis_).
More hymns are dedicated to him than to any other being. Astonishment at
the properties of fire; a sense of his condescension in that he, a
mighty god, resides in their dwellings; his importance as the messenger
between heaven and earth, bearing the offerings aloft; his kindness at
night in repelling the darkness and the demons which it hides--all these
things raised Agni to an exalted place. He is fed with pure clarified
butter, and so rises heavenward in his brightness. The physical
conception of fire, however, adheres to him, and he never quite ceases
to be the earthly flame; yet mystical conceptions thickly gather round
this root-idea; he is fire pervading all nature; and he often becomes
supreme, a god of gods.

[Sidenote: Soma highly exalted.
Soma becomes a very mighty god.]
All this seems natural enough; but one is hardly prepared for the high
exaltation to which Soma is raised. Soma is properly the juice of a
milky plant (_asclepias acida_, or _sarcostemma viminale_), which, when
fermented, is intoxicating. The simple-minded Aryas were both astonished
and delighted at its effects; they liked it themselves; and they knew
nothing more precious to present to their gods. Accordingly, all of
these rejoice in it. Indra in particular quaffs it "like a thirsty
stag;" and under its exhilarating effects he strides victoriously to
battle. Soma itself becomes a god, and a very mighty one; he is even the
creator and father of the gods;[3] the king of gods and men;[4] all
creatures are in his hand. It is surely extraordinary that the Aryas
could apply such hyperbolical laudations to the liquor which they had
made to trickle into the vat, and which they knew to be the juice of a
plant they had cut down on the mountains and pounded in a mortar; and
that intoxication should be confounded with inspiration. Yet of such
aberrations we know the human mind is perfectly capable.

[Sidenote: Connection with Persian, Greek, and Roman systems.
Varuna, the god of heaven.
The sublimity of the Vedic description of him.]
We have first referred to Agni and Soma, as being the only divinities of
highest rank which still retain their physical character. The worship
paid to them was of great antiquity; for it is also prescribed in the
Persian Avesta, and must have been common to the Indo-Iranian branch of
the Aryan race before the Hindus entered India. But we can inferentially
go still further back and speak of a deity common to the Greeks, Romans,
Persians, and Hindus. This deity is Varuna, the most remarkable
personality in the Veda. The name, which is etymologically connected
with [Greek: Ouranos], signifies "the encompasser," and is applied to
heaven--especially the all-encompassing, extreme vault of heaven--not
the nearer sky, which is the region of cloud and storm. It is in
describing Varuna that the Veda rises to the greatest sublimity which it
ever reaches. A mysterious presence, a mysterious power, a mysterious
knowledge amounting almost to omniscience, are ascribed to Varuna. The
winkings of men's eyes are numbered by him. He upholds order, both
physical and moral, throughout the universe.

[Sidenote: Contrast with the laudations of Agni and Soma.
The loftier conceptions of divinity the earlier.]
The winds are his breath, the sun his eye, the sky his garment. He
rewards the good and punishes the wicked. Yet to the truly penitent he
is merciful. It is absolutely confounding to pass from a hymn that
celebrates the serene majesty and awful purity of Varuna to one filled
with measureless laudations of Soma or Agni. Could conceptions of
divinity so incongruous co-exist? That they could not spring up in the
same mind, or even in the same age, is abundantly manifest. And, as we
have mentioned, the loftier conceptions of divinity are unquestionably
the earlier. It is vain to speak, as certain writers do, of religion
gradually refining itself, as a muddy stream can run itself pure;
Hinduism resembles the Ganges, which, when it breaks forth from its
mountain cradle at Hardwar, is comparatively pellucid, but, as it rolls
on, becomes more and more muddy, discolored, and unclean.[5]

[Sidenote: Indra.
His achievements.]
Various scholars affirm that Varuna, in more ancient pre-Vedic times,
held a position still higher than the very high one which he still
retains. This is probable; indeed, it is certain that, before later
divinities had intruded, he held a place of unrivaled majesty. But, in
the Vedas, Indra is a more conspicuous figure. He corresponds to the
Jupiter Pluvius of the Romans. In north-western India, after the burning
heat, the annual return of the rains was hailed with unspeakable joy; it
was like life succeeding death. The clouds that floated up from the
ocean were at first thin and light; ah! a hostile demon was in them,
carrying off the healing waters and not permitting them to fall; but the
thunder-bolt of Indra flashed; the demon was driven away howling, and
the emancipated streams refreshed the thirsty earth. Varuna was not
indeed dethroned, but he was obscured, by the achievements of the
warlike Indra; and the supersensuous, moral conceptions that were
connected with the former gradually faded from the minds of the people,
and Varuna erelong became quite a subordinate figure in the Pantheon.

[Sidenote: Number and relations of deities uncertain.]
The deities are generally said in the Veda to be "thrice eleven" in
number. We also hear of three thousand three hundred and thirty-nine.
There is no _system_, no fixed order in the hierarchy; a deity who in
one hymn is quite subordinate becomes in another supreme; almost every
god becomes supreme in turn; in one hymn he is the son of some deity and
in another that deity's father, and so (if logic ruled) his own
grandfather. Every poet exalts his favorite god, till the mind becomes
utterly bewildered in tracing the relationships.

We have already spoken of Agni, Varuna, and Indra, as well as Soma. Next
to these in importance may come the deities of light, namely, the sun,
the dawn, and the two Asvina or beams that accompany the dawn. The winds
come next. The earth is a goddess. The waters are goddesses. It is
remarkable that the stars are very little mentioned; and the moon holds
no distinguished place.

[Sidenote: Hardly any fetichism in the Rig Veda.]
In the religion of the Rig Veda we hardly see fetichism--if by fetichism
we mean the worship of small physical objects, such as stones, shells,
plants, etc., which are believed to be charged (so to speak) with
divinity, though this appears in the fourth Veda--the Atharva. But even
in the Rig Veda almost any object that is grand, beneficent, or terrible
may be adored; and implements associated with worship are themselves
worshiped. Thus, the war-chariot, the plow, the furrow, etc., are
prayed to.

[Sidenote: Early tendency toward pantheism.]
A pantheistic conception of nature was also present in the Indian mind
from very early times, although its development was later. Even in the
earliest hymns any portion of nature with which man is brought into
close relation may be adored.[6]

[Sidenote: Reverence of the dead.]
We must on no account overlook the reverence paid to the dead. The
_pitris_ (_patres_) or fathers are frequently referred to in the Veda.
They are clearly distinguished from the _devas_ or gods. In later
writings they are also distinguished from men, as having been created
separately from them; but this idea does not appear in the Veda. Yama,
the first mortal, traveled the road by which none returns, and now
drinks the Soma in the innermost of heaven, surrounded by the other
fathers. These come also, along with the gods, to the banquets prepared
for them on earth, and, sitting on the sacred grass, rejoice in the
exhilarating draught.

[Sidenote: The subjects of the hymns of the Rig Veda.]
The hymns of the Rig Veda celebrate the power, exploits, or generosity
of the deity invoked, and sometimes his personal beauty. The praises
lavished on the god not only secured his favor but increased his power
to help the worshiper.

[Sidenote: The holiest prayer.]
There is one prayer (so called) which is esteemed pre-eminently holy;
generally called--from the meter in which it is composed--the
Gayatri.[7] It may be rendered thus:

     "Let us meditate on that excellent glory of the Divine Son (or
     Vivifier); may he enlighten our understandings!"

It has always been frequently repeated in important rites.

[Sidenote: Atharva Veda.
Inferior morally and spiritually to the Rig Veda.
Explanation of deterioration.]
So far we have referred almost exclusively to the Rig Veda. The next in
importance is the Atharva, sometimes termed the Brahma Veda; which we
may render the Veda of incantations. It contains six hundred and seventy
hymns. Of these a few are equal to those in the Rig Veda; but, as a
whole, the Atharva is far inferior to the other in a moral and spiritual
point of view. It abounds in imprecations, charms for the destruction of
enemies, and so forth. Talismans, plants, or gems are invoked, as
possessed of irresistible might to kill or heal. The deities are often
different from those of the Rig Veda. The Atharva manifests a great
dread of malignant beings, whose wrath it deprecates. We have thus
simple demon-worship. How is this great falling-off to be explained? In
one of two ways. Either a considerable time intervened between the
composition of the two books, during which the original faith had
rapidly degenerated, probably through contact with aboriginal races who
worshiped dark and sanguinary deities; or else there had existed from
the beginning two forms of the religion--the higher of which is embodied
in the hymns of the Rig Veda, and the lower in the Atharva. We believe
the latter explanation to be correct, although doubtless the
superstitions of the aborigines must all along have exerted an influence
on the faith of the invaders.

[Sidenote: The offerings.]
The offerings presented to the gods consisted chiefly of clarified
butter, curdled milk, rice-cakes, and fermented Soma juice, which was
generally mixed with water or milk. All was thrown into the fire, which
bore them or their essences to the gods. The Soma was also sprinkled on
the sacred grass, which was strewn on the floor, and on which the gods
and fathers were invited to come and seat themselves that they might
enjoy the cheering beverage. The remainder was drunk by the officiating
priests. The offerings were understood to nourish and gratify the gods
as corporeal beings.

[Sidenote: Animal victims.]
Animal victims are also offered up. We hear of sheep, goats, bulls,
cows, and buffaloes being sacrificed, and sometimes in large numbers.
But the great offering was the Asvamedha, or sacrifice of the horse. The
body of the horse was hacked to pieces; the fragments were dressed--part
was boiled, part roasted; some of the flesh was then eaten by the
persons present, and the rest was offered to the gods. Tremendous was
the potency--at least as stated in later times--of a hundred such
sacrifices; it rendered the offerer equal or superior to the gods; even
the mighty Indra trembled for his sovereignty and strove to hinder the
consummation of the awful rite.

[Sidenote: Human sacrifice.]
Human sacrifice was not unknown, though there are very few allusions to
it in the earlier hymns.

[Sidenote: Sacrifice deemed of very high importance.]
Even from the first, however, the rite of sacrifice occupies a very high
place, and allusions to it are exceedingly frequent. The observances
connected with it are said to be the "first religious rites." Sacrifice
was early believed to be expiatory; it removed sin. It was
substitutionary; the victim stood in place of the offerer. All order in
the universe depends upon it; it is "the nave of the world-wheel."
Sometimes Vishnu is said to be the sacrifice; sometimes even the Supreme
Being himself is so. Elaborated ideas and a complex ritual, which we
could have expected to grow up only in the course of ages, appear from
very early times. We seem compelled to draw the inference that sacrifice
formed an essential and very important part of the pre-Vedic faith.[8]

In the Veda worship is a kind of barter. In exchange for praises and
offerings the deity is asked to bestow favors. Temporal blessings are
implored, such as food, wealth, life, children, cows, horses, success in
battle, the destruction of enemies, and so forth. Not much is said
regarding sin and the need of forgiveness. A distinguished scholar[9]
has said that "the religious notion of sin is wanting altogether;" but
this affirmation is decidedly too sweeping.

[Sidenote: No image-worship.
No public worship.]
The worship exemplified in the Veda is not image-worship. Images of the
fire, or the winds, or the waters could hardly be required, and while
the original nature-worship lasted, idols must have been nearly unknown.
Yet the description of various deities is so precise and full that it
seems to be probably drawn from visible representations of them. Worship
was personal and domestic, not in any way public. Indeed, two men
praying at the same time had to pray quite apart, so that neither might
disturb the other. Each dealt with heaven, so to speak, solely on his
own behalf.

[Sidenote: No temples.]
We hear of no places set apart as temples in Vedic times.

[Sidenote: The treatises on ritual.]
A Veda consists of two parts called _Mantra_ or _Sanhita_, and
_Brahmana_. The first is composed of hymns. The second is a statement of
ritual, and is generally in prose. The existing Brahmanas are several
centuries later than the great body of the hymns, and were probably
composed when the Hindus had crossed the Indus, and were advancing along
the Gangetic valley. The oldest may be about the date of 800 or 700 B.C.

[Sidenote: Growth of priestly power.
Schools for the study of sacred books, rites, and
The Brahmanas are very poor, both in thought and expression. They have
hardly their match in any literature for "pedantry and downright
absurdity."[10] Poetical feeling and even religious feeling seem gone;
all is dead and dry as dust. By this time the Sanskrit language had
ceased to be generally understood. The original texts could hardly
receive accessions; the most learned man could do little more than
interpret, or perhaps misinterpret, them. The worshiper looked on; he
worshiped now by proxy. Thus the priest had risen greatly in importance.
He alone knew the sacred verses and the sacred rites. An error in the
pronunciation of the mystic text might bring destruction on the
worshiper; what could he do but lean upon the priest? The latter could
say the prayers if he could not pray. All this worked powerfully for the
elevation of the Brahmans, the "men of prayer;" they steadily grew into
a class, a caste; and into this no one could enter who was not of
priestly descent. Schools were now found necessary for the study of the
sacred books, rites, and traditions. The importance which these attach
to theology--doctrine--is very small; the externals of religion are all
in all. The rites, in fact, now threw the very gods into the shade;
every thing depended on their due performance. And thus the Hindu ritual
gradually grew up into a stupendous system, the most elaborate, complex,
and burdensome which the earth has seen.

[Sidenote: Moral character of the Veda.]
It is time, however, to give a brief estimate of the moral character of
the Veda. The first thing that strikes us is its inconsistency. Some
hymns--especially those addressed to Varuna--rise as high as Gentile
conceptions regarding deity ever rose; others--even in the Rig
Veda--sink miserably low; and in the Atharva we find, "even in the
lowest depth, a lower still."

[Sidenote: Indra supersedes Varuna.]
The character of Indra--who has displaced or overshadowed
Varuna[11]--has no high attributes. He is "voracious;" his "inebriety is
most intense;" he "dances with delight in battle." His worshipers supply
him abundantly with the drink he loves; and he supports them against
their foes, ninety and more of whose cities he has destroyed. We do not
know that these foes, the Dasyus, were morally worse than the intrusive
Aryas, but the feelings of the latter toward the former were of
unexampled ferocity. Here is one passage out of multitudes similar:

     "Hurl thy hottest thunder-bolt upon them! Uproot them! Cleave them
     asunder! O, Indra, overpower, subdue, slay the demon! Pluck him up!
     Cut him through the middle! Crush his head!"

[Sidenote: Deterioration begins early.]
Indra, if provided with Soma, is always indulgent to his votaries; he
supports them _per fas et nefas_. Varuna, on the other hand, is grave,
just, and to wicked men severe.[12] The supersession of Varuna by Indra,
then, is easily understood. We see the principle on which it rests
stated in the Old Testament. "Ye cannot serve the Lord," said Joshua to
the elders of Israel; "for he is a holy God." Even so Jeremiah points
sorrowfully to the fact that the pagan nations clung to their false
gods, while Israel was faithless to the true. As St. Paul expresses it,
"they did not like to retain God in their knowledge." Unless this
principle is fully taken into account we cannot understand the
historical development of Hinduism.

[Sidenote: Varuna the only divinity possessed of pure and elevated
The Veda frequently ascribes to the gods, to use the language of Max
Müller, "sentiments and passions unworthy of deity." In truth, except in
the case of Varuna, there is not one divinity that is possessed of pure
and elevated attributes.



[Sidenote: Speculation begins.
Rise of asceticism.
They are pantheistic.]
During the Vedic period--certainly toward its conclusion--a tendency to
speculation had begun to appear. Probably it had all along existed in
the Hindu mind, but had remained latent during the stirring period when
the people were engaged in incessant wars. Climate, also, must have
affected the temperament of the race; and, as the Hindus steadily
pressed down the valley of the Ganges into warmer regions, their love of
repose and contemplative quietism would continually deepen. And when the
Brahmans became a fully developed hierarchy, lavishly endowed, with no
employment except the performance of religious ceremonies, their minds
could avoid stagnation only by having recourse to speculative thought.
Again, asceticism has a deep root in human nature; earnest souls,
conscious of their own weakness, will fly from the temptations of the
world. Various causes thus led numbers of men to seek a life of
seclusion; they dwelt chiefly in forests, and there they revolved the
everlasting problems of existence, creation, the soul, and God. The
lively Greeks, for whom, with all their high intellectual endowments, a
happy sensuous existence was nearly all in all, were amazed at the
numbers in northern India who appeared weary of the world and
indifferent to life itself. By and for these recluses were gradually
composed the Aranyakas, or forest treatises; and out of these grew a
series of more regular works, called Upanishads.[13] At least two
hundred and fifty of these are known to exist. They have been called
"guesses at truth;" they are more so than formal solutions of great
questions. Many of them are unintelligible rhapsodies; others rise
almost to sublimity. They frequently contradict each other; the same
writer sometimes contradicts himself. One prevailing characteristic is
all-important; their doctrine is pantheism. The pantheism is sometimes
not so much a coldly reasoned system as an aspiration, a yearning, a
deep-felt need of something better than the mob of gods who came in the
train of Indra, and the darker deities who were still crowding in. Even
in spite of the counteracting power of the Gospel mysticism has run
easily into pantheism in Europe, and orthodox Christians sometimes slide
unconsciously into it, or at least into its language.[14] But, as has
been already noted, a strain of pantheism existed in the Hindu mind from
early times.

Accordingly, these hermit sages, these mystic dreamers, soon came to
identify the human soul with God. And the chief end of man was to seek
that the stream derived from God should return to its source, and,
ceasing to wander through the wilderness of this world, should find
repose in the bosom of the illimitable deep, the One, the All. The
Brahmans attached the Upanishads to the Veda proper, and they soon came
to be regarded as its most sacred part. In this way the influence these
treatises have exercised has been immense; more than any other portion
of the earlier Hindu writings they have molded the thoughts of
succeeding generations. Philosophy had thus begun.

[Sidenote: Six philosophic schools.]
The speculations of which we see the commencement and progress in the
Upanishads were finally developed and classified in a series of writings
called the six Sastras or _darsanas_. These constitute the regular
official philosophy of India. They are without much difficulty reducible
to three leading schools of thought--the Nyaya, the Sankhya, and the

Roundly, and speaking generally, we may characterize these systems as
theistic, atheistic, and pantheistic respectively.

[Sidenote: The Nyaya.]
It is doubtful, however, whether the earlier form of the Nyaya was
theistic or not. The later form is so, but it says nothing of the moral
attributes of God, nor of his government. The chief end of man,
according to the Nyaya, is deliverance from pain; and this is to be
attained by cessation from all action, whether good or bad.

[Sidenote: The Sankhya.]
The Sankhya declares matter to be self-existent and eternal. Soul is
distinct from matter, and also eternal. When it attains true knowledge
it is liberated from matter and from pain. The Sankhya holds the
existence of God to be without proof.

[Sidenote: The Vedanta.]
But the leading philosophy of India is unquestionably the Vedanta. The
name means "the end or scope of the Veda;" and if the Upanishads were
the Veda, instead of treatises tacked on to it, the name would be
correct; for the Vedanta, like the Upanishads, inculcates pantheism.

The form which this philosophy ultimately assumed is well represented in
the treatise called the Vedanta Sara, or essence of the Vedanta. A few
extracts will suffice to exhibit its character. "The unity of the soul
and God--this is the scope of all Vedanta treatises." We have frequent
references made to the "great saying," _Tat twam_--that is, That art
thou, or Thou art God; and _Aham Brahma_, that is, I am God. Again it is
said, "The whole universe is God." God is "existence (or more exactly an
existent thing[15]), knowledge, and joy." Knowledge, not a knower; joy,
not one who rejoices.

[Sidenote: It teaches absolute idealism.]
Every thing else has only a seeming existence, which is in consequence
of ignorance (or illusion). Ignorance makes the soul think itself
different from God; and it also "projects" the appearance of an external

"He who knows God becomes God." "When He, the first and last, is
discerned, one's own acts are annihilated."

Meditation, without distinction of subject and object, is the highest
form of thought. It is a high attainment to say, "I am God;" but the
consummation is when thought exists without an object.

There are four states of the soul--waking, dreaming, dreamless sleep,
and the "fourth state," or pure intelligence. The working-man is in
dense ignorance; in sleep he is freed from part of this ignorance; in
dreamless sleep he is freed from still more; but the consummation is
when he attains something beyond this, which it seems cannot be
explained, and is therefore called the fourth state.

[Sidenote: Doctrine of "the Self."
Inconsistent statements.]
The name, which in later writings is most frequently given to the "one
without a second,"[16] is Atman, which properly means self. Much is said
of the way in which the self in each man is to recover, or discover, its
unity with the supreme or real self. For as the one sun shining in the
heavens is reflected, often in distorted images, in multitudes of
vessels filled with water, so the one self is present in all human
minds.[17] There is not--perhaps there could not be--consistency in the
statements of the relation of the seeming to the real. In most of the
older books a practical or conventional existence is admitted of the
self in each man, but not a real existence. But when the conception is
fully formulated the finite world is not admitted to exist save as a
mere illusion. All phenomena are a play--a play without plot or purpose,
which the absolute plays with itself.[18] This is surely transcendent
transcendentalism. One regrets that speculation did not take one step
more, and declare that the illusion was itself illusory. Then we should
have gone round the circle, and returned to _sensus communis_. We must
be pardoned if we seem to speak disrespectfully of such fantastic
speculations; we desire rather to speak regretfully of the many
generations of men which successively occupied themselves with such
unprofitable dreams; for this kind of thought is traceable even from
Vedic days. It is more fully developed in the Upanishads. In them occurs
the classical sentence so frequently quoted in later literature, which
declares that the absolute being is the "one [thing] without a

[Sidenote: The Gita.]
The book which perhaps above all others has molded the mind of India in
more recent days is the Bhagavad Gita, or Song of the Holy One. It is
written in stately and harmonious verse, and has achieved the same task
for Indian philosophy as Lucretius did for ancient Epicureanism.[20] It
is eclectic, and succeeds, in a sort of way, in forcing the leading
systems of Indian thought into seeming harmony.

[Sidenote: Intellectual pride.]
Some have thought they could discern in these daring speculations
indications of souls groping after God, and saddened because of the
difficulty of finding him. Were it so, all our sympathies would at once
be called forth. But no; we see in these writings far more of
intellectual pride than of spiritual sadness. Those ancient dreamers
never learned their own ignorance. They scarcely recognized the
limitations of the human mind. And when reason could take them no
farther they supplemented it by dreams and ecstasy until, in the Yoga
philosophy, they rushed into systematized mysticisms and magic far more
extravagant than the wildest _theurgy_ of the degraded Neoplatonism of
the Roman Empire.

A learned writer thus expresses himself:

     "The only one of the six schools that seem to recognize the
     doctrine of divine providence is the Yoga. It thus seems that the
     consistent followers of these systems can have, in their perfected
     state, no religion, no action, and no moral character."[21]

[Sidenote: Indian philosophy a sad failure.]
And now to take a brief review of the whole subject. The Hindu sages
were men of acute and patient thought; but their attempt to solve the
problem of the divine and human natures, of human destiny and duty, has
ended in total failure. Each system baseless, and all mutually
conflicting; systems cold and cheerless, that frown on love and virtuous
exertion, and speak of annihilation or its equivalent, absorption, as
our highest hope: such is the poor result of infinite speculation. "The
world by wisdom knew not God." O, that India would learn the much-needed
lesson of humility which the experience of ages ought to teach her!

[Sidenote: Sacerdotalism.
The tyranny of sacerdotalism.]
While speculation was thus busy Sacerdotalism was also continually
extending its influence. The Brahman, the man of prayer, had made
himself indispensable in all sacred rites. He alone--as we have
seen--knew the holy text; he alone could rightly pronounce the words of
awful mystery and power on which depended all weal or woe. On all
religions occasions the priest must be called in, and, on all occasions,
implicitly obeyed. For a considerable time the princes straggled against
the encroachments of the priests; but in the end they were completely
vanquished. Never was sacerdotal tyranny more absolute; the proudest
pope in mediæval times never lorded it over Western Christendom with
such unrelenting rigor as the Brahmans exercised over both princes and
people. The feeling of the priests is expressed in a well-known stanza:

     "All the world is subject to the gods; the gods are subject to the
     holy texts; the holy texts are subject to the Brahman; therefore
     the Brahman is my god."

Yes, the sacred man could breathe the spell which made earth and hell
and heaven itself to tremble. He therefore logically called himself an
earthly god. Indeed, the Brahman is always logical. He draws conclusions
from premises with iron rigor of reasoning; and with side-issues he has
nothing to do. He stands upon his rights. Woe to the being--god or
man--who comes in conflict with him!

[Sidenote: Ritual becomes extravagant.]
The priests naturally multiplied religious ceremonies, and made ritual
the soul of worship. Sacrifice especially assumed still more and more
exaggerated forms--becoming more protracted, more expensive, more
bloody. A hecatomb of victims was but a small offering. More and more
awful powers were ascribed to the rite.

[Sidenote: Reaction.]
But the tension was too great, and the bow snapped. Buddhism arose. We
may call this remarkable system the product of the age--an inevitable
rebellion against intolerable sacerdotalism; and yet we must not
overlook the importance of the very distinct and lofty personality of
Buddha (Sakya Muni) as a power molding it into shape.

[Sidenote: Buddhism.
Moral elements of this system.
Conflict with Brahmanism.
Victory of Brahmanism.]
Wherever it extended it effected a vast revolution in Indian thought.
Thus in regard to the institution of caste, Buddha did not attack it; he
did not, it would appear, even formally renounce it; as a mere social
institution he seems to have acknowledged it; but then he held that all
the _religious_ were freed from its restrictions. "My law," said he, "is
a law of mercy for all;" and forthwith he proceeded to admit men of
every caste into the closest fellowship with himself and his followers.
Then, he preached--he, though not a Brahman--in the vernacular
languages--an immense innovation, which made his teachings popular. He
put in the forefront of his system certain great fundamental principles
of morality. He made religion consist in duty, not rites. He reduced
duty mainly to mercy or kindness toward all living beings--a marvelous
generalization. This set aside all slaughter of animals. The mind of the
princes and people was weary of priestcraft and ritualism; and the
teaching of the great reformer was most timely. Accordingly his doctrine
spread with great rapidity, and for a long time it seemed likely to
prevail over Brahmanism. But various causes gradually combined against
it. Partly, it was overwhelmed by its own luxuriance of growth; partly,
Brahmanism, which had all along maintained an intellectual superiority,
adopted, either from conviction or policy, most of the principles of
Buddhism, and skillfully supplied some of its main deficiencies. Thus
the Brahmans retained their position; and, at least nominally, their
religion won the day.



[Sidenote: Revival, in an altered form, of Hinduism.
Only the position of the Brahman and the restrictions of
caste retained.]
But the Hinduism that grew up, as Buddhism faded from Indian soil, was
widely different from the system with which early Buddhism had
contended. Hinduism, as it has been developed during the last thousand
or twelve hundred years, resembles a stupendous far-extended building,
or series of buildings, which is still receiving additions, while
portions have crumbled and are crumbling into ruin. Every conceivable
style of architecture, from that of the stately palace to the meanest
hut, is comprehended in it. On a portion of the structure here or there
the eye may rest with pleasure; but as a whole it is an unsightly,
almost monstrous, pile. Or, dismissing figures, we must describe it as
the most extraordinary creation which the world has seen. A jumble of
all things; polytheistic pantheism; much of Buddhism; something
apparently of Christianity, but terribly disfigured; a science wholly
outrageous; shreds of history twisted into wild mythology; the bold
poetry of the older books understood as literal prose; any local deity,
any demon of the aborigines, however hideous, identified with some
accredited Hindu divinity; any custom, however repugnant to common sense
or common decency, accepted and explained--in a word, later Hinduism has
been omnivorous; it has partially absorbed and assimilated every system
of belief, every form of worship, with which it has come in contact.
Only to one or two things has it remained inflexibly true. It has
steadily upheld the proudest pretensions of the Brahman; and it has
never relaxed the sternest restrictions of caste. We cannot wonder at
the severe judgment pronounced on Hinduism by nearly every Western
author. According to Macaulay, "all is hideous and grotesque and
ignoble;" and the calmer De Tocqueville maintains that "Hinduism is
perhaps the only system of belief that is worse than having no religion
at all."[22]

When a modern Hindu is asked what are the sacred books of his religion
he generally answers: "The Vedas, the Sastras (that is, philosophical
systems), and the Puranas." Some authorities add the Tantras.

The modern form of Hinduism is exhibited chiefly in the eighteen
Puranas, and an equal number of Upapuranas (minor Puranas).[23]

[Sidenote: The Puranas.]
When we compare the religion embodied in the Puranas with that of Vedic
times we are startled at the magnitude of the change. The Pantheon is
largely new; old deities have been superseded; other deities have taken
their place. There has been both accretion from without and evolution
from within. The thirty-three gods of the Vedas have been fantastically
raised to three hundred and thirty millions. Siva, Durga, Rama, Krishna,
Kali--unknown in ancient days--are now mighty divinities; Indra is
almost entirely overlooked, and Varuna has been degraded from his lofty
throne and turned into a regent of the waters.

[Sidenote: New deities, rites, and customs.]
The worship of the Linga (phallus) has been introduced. So has the great
dogma of Transmigration, which has stamped a deeper impress on later
Hindu mind than almost any other doctrine. Caste is fully established,
though in Vedic days scarcely, if at all, recognized. The dreadful
practice of widow-burning has been brought in, and this by a most
daring perversion of the Vedic texts. Woman, in fact, has fallen far
below the position assigned her in early days.

[Sidenote: The Trimurtti, a triad of gods.]
One of the notable things in connection with the reconstruction of
Hinduism is the position it gives to the Trimurtti, or triad of
gods--Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva. Something like an anticipation of this
has been presented in the later Vedic times: fire, air, and the sun
(Agni, Vayu, and Surya) being regarded by the commentator[24] as summing
up the divine energies. But in the Vedas the deities often go in pairs;
and little stress should be laid on the idea of a Vedic triad. That
idea, however, came prominently forward in later days. The worship both
of Vishnu and Siva may have existed, from ancient times, as popular
rites not acknowledged by the Brahmans; but both of these deities were
now fully recognized. The god Brahma was an invention of the Brahmans;
he was no real divinity of the people, and had hardly ever been actually
worshiped. It is visual to designate Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva as
Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer respectively; but the generalization
is by no means well maintained in the Hindu books.

[Sidenote: The Avatara.]
The Puranas are in general violently sectarian; some being Vishnuite,
others Sivite. It is in connection with Vishnu, especially, that the
idea of incarnation becomes prominent. The Hindu term is _Avatara_,
literally, _descent_; the deity is represented as descending from heaven
to earth, for vindication of the truth and righteousness, or, to use the
words ascribed to Krishna,

     For the preservation of the good, and the destruction of the wicked,
     For the establishment of religion, I am born from age to age.

[Sidenote: The "descents" of Vishnu.]
The "descents" of Vishnu are usually reckoned ten. Of these by far the
most celebrated are those of Rama and Krishna. The great importance
attached to these two deities has been traced to the influence of
Buddhism. That system had exerted immense power in consequence of the
gentle and attractive character ascribed to Buddha. The older gods were
dim, distant, and often stern; some near, intelligible, and loving
divinity was longed for. Buddha was a brother-man, and yet a
quasi-deity; and hearts longing for sympathy and succor were strongly
attracted by such a personality.

[Sidenote: The god Rama.]
The character of Rama--or Ramachandra--is possessed of some high
qualities. The great poem in which it is described at fullest
length--the Ramayana of Valmiki--seems to have been an alteration, made
in the interests of Hinduism, of early Buddhist legends; and the
Buddhist quality of gentleness has not disappeared in the history.[25]
Rama, however, is far from a perfect character. His wife Sita is
possessed of much womanly grace and every wifely virtue; and the
sorrowful story of the warrior-god and his faithful spouse has appealed
to deep sympathies in the human breast. The worship of Rama has seldom,
if ever, degenerated into lasciviousness. In spite, however, of the
charm thrown around the life of Rama and Sita by the genius of Valmiki
and Tulsida,[26] it is Krishna, not Rama, that has attained the greatest
popularity among the "descents" of Vishnu.

[Sidenote: Krishna.
His early life a travesty of the life of Christ, according to
the Gospel of the Infancy.]
Very different morally from that of Rama is the character of Krishna.
While Rama is but a partial manifestation of divinity Krishna is a full
manifestation; yet what a manifestation! He is represented as full of
naughty tricks in his youth, although exercising the highest powers of
deity; and, when he grows up, his conduct is grossly immoral and
disgusting. It is most startling to think that this being is by grave
writers--like the authors of the Bhagavad Gita and the Bhagavata
Purana--made the highest of the gods, or, indeed, the only real God.
Stranger still, if possible, is the probability that the early life of
Krishna--in part, at least--is a dreadful travesty of the early life of
Christ, as given in the apocryphal gospels, especially the Gospel of the
Infancy. The falling off in the apocryphal gospels, when compared with
the canonical, is truly sad; but the falling off even from the
apocryphal ones, in the Hindu books, is altogether sickening.[27]

A very striking characteristic of modern Hinduism is what is termed
_bhakti_, or devotion. There are three great ways of attaining to
salvation: _karma marga_, or the way of ceremonial works; _jnana
marga_, or the way of knowledge, and _bhakti marga_, or the way of

[Sidenote: Doctrine of _bhakti_ introduced.
Influence of the system.
Mixed with Buddhist elements.
Exaltation of the _guru_.]
The notion of trust in the gods was familiar to the mind of India from
Vedic days, but the deity was indistinct and unsympathetic, and there
could hardly be love and attachment to him. But there now arose the
doctrine of _bhakti_ (devotion), which resolved religion into emotion.
It came into the Hindu system rather abruptly; and many learned men have
traced its origin to the influence of Christianity. This is quite
possible; but perhaps the fact is hardly proved. Contact with
Christianity, however, probably accelerated a process which had
previously begun. At all events, the system of _bhakti_ has had, and
still has, great sway in India, particularly in Bengal, among the
followers of Chaitanya, and the large body of people in western India
who style themselves _Vaishnavas_ or _Bhaktas_ (devotees). The popular
poetry of Maharashtra, as exemplified in such poets as Tukarama, is an
impassioned inculcation of devotion to Vithoba of Pandharpur, who is a
manifestation of Krishna. Into the _bhakti_ system of western India
Buddhist elements have entered; and the school of devotees is often
denominated Bauddha-Vaishnava. Along with extravagant idolatry it
inculcates generally, at least in the Maratha country, a pure morality;
and the latter it apparently owes to Buddhism. Yet there are many sad
lapses from purity. Almost of necessity the worship of Krishna led to
corruption. The hymns became erotic; and movements hopeful at their
commencement--like that of Chaitanya of Bengal, in the sixteenth
century--soon grievously fell off in character. The attempt to make
religion consist of emotion without thought, of _bhakti_ without
_jnana_, had disastrous issues. Coincident with the development of
_bhakti_ was the exaltation of the _guru_, or religious teacher, which
soon amounted to deification--a change traceable from about the twelfth
century A.D.

[Sidenote: Explanations of Krishna's evil deeds.]
When pressed on the subject of Krishna's evil deeds many are anxious to
explain them as allegorical representations of the union between the
divinity and true worshipers; but some interpret them in the most
literal way possible. This is done especially by the followers of
Vallabha Acharya.[28] These men attained a most unenviable notoriety
about twenty years ago, when a case was tried in the Supreme Court of
Bombay, which revealed the practice of the most shameful licentiousness
by the religious teachers and their female followers, and this as a part
of worship! The disgust excited was so great and general that it was
believed the influence of the sect was at an end; but this hope
unhappily has not been realized.

[Sidenote: Reforms attempted.
Failure of all reforms.]
Reformers have arisen from time to time in India; men who saw the
deplorable corruption of religion, and strove to restore it to what they
considered purity. Next to Buddha we may mention Kabir, to whom are
ascribed many verses still popular. Probably the doctrine of the unity
of God, as maintained by the Mohammedans, had impressed him. He opposed
idolatry, caste, and Brahmanical assumption. Yet his monotheism was a
kind of pantheism. His date may be the beginning of the fifteenth
century. Nanak followed and founded the religion of the Sikhs. His
sacred book, the _Granth_, is mainly pantheistic; it dwells earnestly on
devotion, especially devotion to the _guru_. The Sikhs now seem slowly
relapsing into idolatry. In truth, the history of all attempts at
reformation in India has been most discouraging. Sect after sect has
successively risen to some elevation above the prevalent idolatry; and
then gradually, as by some irresistible gravitation, it has sunk back
into the _mare magnum_ of Hinduism. If we regard experience,
purification from within is hopeless; the struggle for it is only a
repetition of the toil of Sisyphus, and always with the same sad issue.
Deliverance must come from without--from the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

[Sidenote: Influence of the Tantras.
Worship of the Sakti.]
We mentioned the Tantras as exerting great influence in later days.[29]
In these the worship of Siva, and, still more, that of his wife, is
predominant. The deity is now supposed to possess a double nature--one
quiescent, one active; the latter being regarded as the _Sakti_ or
energy of the god, otherwise called his wife. The origin of the system
is not fully explained; nor is the date of its rise ascertained. The
worship assumes wild, extravagant forms, generally obscene, sometimes
bloody. It is divided into two schools--that of the right hand and that
of the left. The former runs into mysticism and magic in complicated
observances, and the latter into the most appalling licentiousness. The
worship of the Sakti, or female principle, has become a most elaborate
system. The beings adored are "the most outrageous divinities which man
has ever conceived."[30] Sorcery began early in India; but it is in
connection with this system that it attains to full development. Human
sacrifices are a normal part of the worship when fully performed. We
cannot go farther into detail. It is profoundly saddening to think that
such abominations are committed; it is still more saddening to think
that they are performed as a part of divine worship. Conscience,
however, is so far alive that these detestable rites are practiced only
in secret, and few, if any, are willing to confess that they have been
initiated as worshipers.

[Sidenote: Modern ritual.]
We have not yet said much about the ritual of modern days. It is
exceedingly complicated. In the case of the god Siva the rites are as
follows, when performed by a priest in the temple:

     [Sidenote: Worship of Siva.]
     The Brahman first bathes, then enters the temple and bows to the
     god. He anoints the image with clarified butter or boiled oil;
     pours pure water over it; and then wipes it dry. He grinds some
     white powder, mixing it with water; dips the ends of his three
     forefingers in it and draws them across the image. He sits down;
     meditates; places rice and _durwa_ grass on the image--places a
     flower on his own head, and then on the top of the image; then
     another flower on the image, and another, and another--accompanying
     each act with the recitation of sacred spells; places white powder,
     flowers, bilva-leaves, incense, meat-offerings, rice, plantains,
     and a lamp before the image; repeats the name of Siva, with
     praises, then prostrates himself before the image. In the evening
     he returns, washes his feet, prostrates himself before the door,
     opens the door, places a lamp within, offers milk, sweet-meats, and
     fruits to the image, prostrates himself before it, locks the door,
     and departs.

Very similar is the worship paid to Vishnu:

     [Sidenote: Worship of Vishnu.]
     The priest bathes, and then awakes the sleeping god by blowing a
     shell and ringing a bell. More abundant offerings are made than to
     Siva. About noon, fruits, roots, soaked peas, sweet-meats, etc.,
     are presented. Then, later, boiled rice, fried herbs, and spices;
     but no flesh, fish, nor fowl. After dinner, betel-nut. The god is
     then left to sleep, and the temple is shut up for some hours.
     Toward evening curds, butter, sweet-meats, fruits, are presented.
     At sunset a lamp is brought, and fresh offerings made. Lights are
     waved before the image; a small bell is rung; water is presented
     for washing the mouth, face, and feet, with a towel to dry them. In
     a few minutes the offerings and the lamp are removed; and the god
     is left to sleep in the dark.

The prescribed worship is not always fully performed. Still, sixteen
things are essential, of which the following are the most important:

     "Preparing a seat for the god; invoking his presence; bathing the
     image; clothing it; putting the string round it; offering perfumes;
     flowers; incense; lamps; offerings of fruits and prepared eatables;
     betel-nut; prayers; circumambulation. An ordinary worshiper
     presents some of the offerings, mutters a short prayer or two,
     when circumambulating the image, the rest being done by the

We give one additional specimen of the ritual:

     "As an atonement for unwarily eating or drinking what is forbidden
     eight hundred repetitions of the Gayatri prayer should be preceded
     by three suppressions of the breath, water being touched during the
     recital of the following text: 'The bull roars; he has four horns,
     three feet, two heads, seven hands, and is bound by a three-fold
     cord; he is the mighty, resplendent being, and pervades mortal

The bull is understood to be justice personified. All Brahmanical
ceremonies exhibit, we may say, ritualism and symbolism run mad.

[Sidenote: Caste.]
The most prominent and characteristic institution of Hinduism is caste.
The power of caste is as irrational as it is unbounded; and it works
almost unmixed evil. The touch--even the shadow--of a low caste man
pollutes. The scriptural precept, "Honor all men," appears to a true
Hindu infinitely absurd. He honors and worships a cow; but he shrinks
with horror from the touch of a Mhar or Mang. Even Brahmans, if they
come from different provinces, will not eat together. Thus Hinduism
separates man from man; it goes on dividing and still dividing; and new
fences to guard imaginary purity are continually added.

[Sidenote: Treatment of women.
The whole treatment of women has gradually become most tyrannical and
unjust. In very ancient days they were held in considerable respect;
but, for ages past, the idea of woman has been steadily sinking lower
and lower, and her rights have been more and more assailed. The burning
of widows has been prohibited by enactment; but the awful rite would in
many places be restored were it not for the strong hand of the British
government. The practice of marrying women in childhood is still
generally--all but universally--prevalent; and when, owing to the zeal
of reformers, a case of widow-marriage occurs, its rarity makes it be
hailed as a signal triumph. Multitudes of the so-called widows were
never really wives, their husbands (so-called) having died in childhood.
Widows are subjected to treatment which they deem worse than death; and
yet their number, it is calculated, amounts to about twenty-one
millions! More cruel and demoralizing customs than exist in India in
regard to women can hardly be found among the lowest barbarians. We are
glad to escape from dwelling on points so exceedingly painful.



The immense difference between the Hindu and Christian religions has
doubtless already frequently suggested itself to the reader. It will not
be necessary, therefore, to dwell on this topic at very great length.
The contrast forces itself upon us at every point.

[Sidenote: The Aryas and Israelites--their probable future, about 1500 B.C.
Contrast of their after-history.]
When, about fifteen centuries B.C., the Aryas were victoriously
occupying the Panjab, and the Israelites were escaping from the "iron
furnace" of Egypt, if one had been asked which of the two races would
probably rise to the highest conception of the divine, and contribute
most largely to the well-being of mankind, the answer, quite possibly,
might have been, the Aryas. Egypt, with its brutish idolatries, had
corrupted the faith of the Israelites, and slavery had crushed all
manliness out of them. Yet how wonderful has been their after-history!
Among ancient religions that of the Old Testament stands absolutely
unique, and in the fullness of time it blossomed into Christianity. How
is the marvel to be explained? We cannot account for it except by
ascribing it to a divine election of the Israelites and a providential
training intended to fit them to become the teachers of the world.
"Salvation is of the Jews."

The contrast between the teachings of the Bible and those of the Hindu
books is simply infinite.

[Sidenote: Hindu theology compared with Christian.]
The conception of a purely immaterial Being, infinite, eternal, and
unchangeable, which is that of the Bible regarding God, is entirely
foreign to the Hindu books. Their doctrine is various, but, in every
case, erroneous. It is absolute pantheism, or polytheism, or an
inconsistent blending of polytheism and pantheism, or atheism.

Equally striking is the contrast between Christianity and Hinduism as to
the attributes of God. According to the former, he is omnipresent;
omnipotent; possessed of every excellence--holiness, justice, goodness,
truth. According to the chief Hindu philosophy, the Supreme is devoid of
attributes--devoid of consciousness. According to the popular
conception, when the Supreme becomes conscious he is developed into
three gods, who possess respectively the qualities of truth, passion,
and darkness.

[Sidenote: Conception of God.]
"God is a Spirit." "God is light." "God is love." These sublime
declarations have no counterparts in Hindustan.

He is "the Father of spirits," according to the Bible. According to
Hinduism, the individual spirit is a portion of the divine. Even the
common people firmly believe this.

Every thing is referred by Hinduism to God as its immediate cause. A
Christian is continually shocked by the Hindus ascribing all sin to God
as its source.

[Sidenote: The object of worship.]
The adoration of God as a Being possessed of every glorious excellence
is earnestly commanded in the Bible. "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy
God; and him only shalt thou serve." In India the Supreme is never
worshiped; but any one of the multitudinous gods may be so; and, in
fact, every thing can be worshiped _except_ God. A maxim in the mouth of
every Hindu is the following: "Where there is faith, there is God."
Believe the stone a god and it is so.

[Sidenote: The sense of sin.]
Every sin being traced to God as its ultimate source, the sense of
personal guilt is very slight among Hindus. Where it exists it is
generally connected with ceremonial defilement or the breach of some one
of the innumerable and meaningless rites of the religion. How unlike in
all this is the Gospel! The Bible dwells with all possible earnestness
on the evil of sin, not of ceremonial but moral defilement--the
transgression of the divine law, the eternal law of right.

[Sidenote: Atonement.]
How important a place in the Christian system is held by atonement, the
great atonement made by Christ, it is unnecessary to say. Nor need we
enlarge on the extraordinary power it exercises over the human heart, at
once filling it with contrition, hatred of sin, and overflowing joy. We
turn to Hinduism. Alas! we find that the earnest questionings and higher
views of the ancient thinkers have in a great degree been ignored in
later times. Sacrifice in its original form has passed away. Atonement
is often spoken of; but it is only some paltry device or other, such as
eating the five products of the cow, going on pilgrimage to some sacred
shrine, paying money to the priests, or, it may be, some form of bodily
penance. Such expedients leave no impression on the heart as to the true
nature and essential evil of sin.

[Sidenote: Salvation.
Salvation, in the Christian system, denotes deliverance, not only from
the punishment of sin, but from its power, implying a renovation of the
moral nature. The entire man is to be rectified in heart, speech, and
behavior. The perfection of the individual, and, through that, the
perfection of society, are the objects aimed at; and the consummation
desired is the doing of the will of God on earth as it is done in
heaven. Now, of all this, surely a magnificent ideal, we find in
Hinduism no trace whatever.

[Sidenote: Views of life.
The great tenet of Hinduism.]
Christianity is emphatically a religion of hope; Hinduism may be
designated a religion of despair. The trials of life are many and great.
Christianity bids us regard them as discipline from a Father's hand, and
tells us that affliction rightly borne yields "the peaceable fruits of
righteousness." To death the Christian looks forward without fear; to
him it is a quiet sleep, and the resurrection draws nigh. Then comes the
beatific vision of God. Glorified in soul and body, the companion of
angels and saints, strong in immortal youth, he will serve without let
or hinderance the God and Saviour whom he loves. To the Hindu the trials
of life are penal, not remedial. At death his soul passes into another
body. Rightly, every human soul animates in succession eighty-four lacs
(8,400,000) of bodies--the body of a human being, or a beast, or a bird,
or a fish, or a plant, or a stone, according to desert. This weary, all
but endless, round of births fills the mind of a Hindu with the greatest
horror. At last the soul is lost in God as a drop mingles with the
ocean. Individual existence and consciousness then cease. The thought is
profoundly sorrowful that this is the cheerless faith of countless
multitudes. No wonder, though, the great tenet of Hinduism is
this--_Existence is misery._

[Sidenote: The future of the race.
The struggle between good and evil.]
So much for the future of the individual. Regarding the future of the
race Hinduism speaks in equally cheerless terms. Its golden age lies in
the immeasurably distant past; and the further we recede from it the
deeper must we plunge into sin and wretchedness. True, ages and ages
hence the "age of truth" returns, but it returns only to pass away again
and torment us with the memory of lost purity and joy. The experience of
the universe is thus an eternal renovation of hope and disappointment.
In the struggle between good and evil there is no final triumph for the
good. We tread a fated, eternal round from which there is no escape; and
alike the hero fights and the martyr dies in vain.

It is remarkable that acute intellectual men, as many of the Hindu
poets were, should never have grappled with the problem of the divine
government of the world.

[Sidenote: The future of the Aryan race.]
Equally notable is the unconcern of the Veda as to the welfare and the
future of even the Aryan race. But how sublime is the promise given to
Abraham that in him and his seed all nations of the earth should be
blessed! Renan has pointed with admiration to the confidence entertained
at all times by the Jew in a brilliant and happy future for mankind. The
ancient Hindu cared not about the future of his neighbors, and doubtless
even the expression "human race" would have been unintelligible to him.
Nor is there any pathos in the Veda. There is no deep sense of the
sorrows of life. Max Müller has affixed the epithet "transcendent" to
the Hindu mind. Its bent was much more toward the metaphysical, the
mystical, the incomprehensible than toward the moral and the practical.
Hence endless subtleties, more meaningless and unprofitable than ever
occupied the mind of Talmudist or schoolman of the Middle Ages.

[Sidenote: The words of St. Paul illustrated by Hinduism.]
But finally, on this part of the subject, the development of Indian
religion supplies a striking comment on the words of St. Paul:

     "The invisible things of God are clearly seen, being understood
     from the things that are made. But when they knew God they
     glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in
     their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened."

[Sidenote: Moral power.]
Hinduism is deplorably deficient in power to raise and purify the human
soul, from having no high example of moral excellence. Its renowned
sages were noted for irritability and selfishness--great men at cursing;
and the gods for the most part were worse. Need we say how gloriously
rich the Gospel is in having in the character of Christ the realized
ideal of every possible excellence?

[Sidenote: Ethical effect of Hinduism.
The people better than their religion.]
_Summa religionis est imitari quem colis_: "It is the sum of religion to
imitate the being worshiped;"[33] or, as the Hindus express it: "As is
the deity such is the devotee." Worship the God revealed in the Bible,
and you become god-like. The soul strives, with divine aid, to "purify
itself even as God is pure." But apply the principle to Hinduism. Alas!
the Pantheon is almost a pandemonium. Krishna, who in these days is the
chief deity to at least a hundred millions of people, does not possess
one elevated attribute. If, in the circumstances, society does not
become a moral pesthouse it is only because the people continue better
than their religion. The human heart, though fallen, is not fiendish. It
has still its purer instincts; and, when the legends about abominable
gods and goddesses are falling like mildew, these are still to some
extent kept alive by the sweet influences of earth and sky and by the
charities of family life. When the heart of woman is about to be swept
into the abyss her infant's smile restores her to her better self. Thus
family life does not go to ruin; and so long as that anchor holds
society will not drift on the rocks that stand so perilously near.
Still, the state of things is deplorably distressing.

[Sidenote: The doctrine of incarnation.]
The doctrine of the incarnation is of fundamental importance in
Christianity. It seems almost profanation to compare it with the Hindu
teaching regarding the Avataras, or descents of Vishnu. It is difficult
to extract any meaning out of the three first manifestations, when the
god became in succession a fish, a boar, and a tortoise. Of the great
"descents" in Rama and Krishna we have already spoken. The ninth Avatara
was that of Buddha, in which the deity descended for the purpose of
deceiving men, making them deny the gods, and leading them to
destruction. So blasphemous an idea may seem hardly possible, even for
the bewildered mind of India; but this is doubtless the Brahmanical
explanation of the rise and progress of Buddhism. It was fatal error,
but inculcated by a divine being. Even the sickening tales of Krishna
and his amours are less shocking than this. When we turn from such
representations of divinity to "the Word made flesh" we seem to have
escaped from the pestilential air of a charnel-house to the sweet, pure
breath of heaven.



[Sidenote: Attempted reforms.]
We have used the word _reformer_ in this Tract. We formerly noted that,
in India, there have arisen from time to time men who saw and sorrowed
over the erroneous doctrines and degrading rites of the popular system.

In quite recent times they have had successors. Some account of their
work may form a fitting conclusion to our discussion.

[Sidenote: Advance of Christianity in India.]
With the large influx into India of Christian ideas it was to be
expected that some impression would be made on Hinduism. We do not refer
to conversion--the full acceptance of the Christian faith. Christianity
has advanced and is advancing in India more rapidly than is generally
supposed; but far beyond the circle of those who "come out and are
separate" its mighty power is telling on Hinduism. The great fundamental
truths of the Gospel, when once uttered and understood, can hardly be
forgotten. Disliked and denied they may be; but forgotten? No. Thus
they gradually win their way, and multitudes who have no thought of
becoming Christians are ready to admit that they are beautiful and true;
for belief and practice are often widely separated in Hindu minds.

[Sidenote: The Brahma Samaj.]
But it was to be expected that the new ideas pouring into India--and
among these we include not only distinctively Christian ideas, but
Western thought generally--would manifest their presence and activity in
concrete forms, in attempted reconstructions of religion. The most
remarkable example of such a reconstruction is exhibited in the Brahmo
Somaj (more correctly Brahma Samaj)--which may be rendered the "Church
of God."

[Sidenote: Rammohun Roy.
Effect of Christianity upon him.]
It is traceable to the efforts of a truly distinguished man, Rammohun
Roy. He was a person of studious habits, intelligent, acute, and deeply
in earnest on the subject of religion. He studied not only Hinduism in
its various forms, but Buddhism, Mohammedanism, and Christianity. He was
naturally an eclectic, gathering truth from all quarters where he
thought he could find it. A specially deep impression was made on his
mind by Christianity; and in 1820 he published a book with the
remarkable title, _The Precepts of Jesus the Guide to Peace and
Happiness_. Very frequently he gave expression to the sentiment that the
teachings of Christ were the truest and deepest that he knew. Still, he
did not believe in Christ's divinity.

[Sidenote: Debendernath Tagore.
Keshub Chunder Sen.
Formation of a new Samaj.]
In January, 1830, a place of worship was opened by Rammohun Roy and his
friends. It was intended for the worship of one God, without idolatrous
rites of any kind. This was undoubtedly a very important event, and
great was the interest aroused in connection with it. Rammohun Roy,
however, visited Britain in 1831, and died at Bristol in 1833; and the
cause for which he had so earnestly labored in India languished for a
time. But in the year 1841 Debendernath Tagore, a man of character and
wealth, joined the Brahmo Somaj, and gave a kind of constitution to it.
It was fully organized by 1844. No definite declaration, however, had
been made as to the authority of the Vedas; but, after a lengthened
period of inquiry and discussion, a majority of the Somaj rejected the
doctrine of their infallibility by 1850. "The rock of intuition" now
began to be spoken of; man's reason was his sufficient guide. Still,
great respect was cherished for the ancient belief and customs of the
land. But in 1858 a new champion appeared on the scene, in the
well-known Keshub Chunder Sen. Ardent, impetuous, ambitions--full of
ideas derived from Christian sources[34]--he could not brook the slow
movements of the Somaj in the path of reform. Important changes, both
religious and social, were pressed by him; and the more conservative
Debendernath somewhat reluctantly consented to their introduction.
Matters were, however, brought to a crisis by the marriage of two
persons of different castes in 1864. In February, 1865, the progressive
party formally severed their connection with the original Somaj; and in
August, 1869, they opened a new place of worship of their own. Since
this time the original or Adi Somaj has been little heard of, and its
movement--if it has moved at all--has been retrogressive. The new
Somaj--the Brahmo Somaj of India, as it called itself--under the
guidance of Mr. Sen became very active. A missionary institute was set
up, and preachers were sent over a great part of India. Much was
accomplished on behalf of women; and in 1872 a Marriage Act for members
of the Somaj was passed by the Indian legislature, which legalized union
between people of different castes, and fixed on fourteen as the lowest
age for the marriage of females. These were important reforms.

Mr. Sen's influence was naturally and necessarily great; but in opposing
the venerable leader of the original Somaj he had set an example which
others were quite willing to copy.

[Sidenote: Discontent growing.]
Several of his followers began to demand more radical reforms than he
was willing to grant. The autocracy exercised by Mr. Sen was strongly
objected to, and a constitution of the Somaj was demanded. Mr. Sen
openly maintained that heaven from time to time raises up men endowed
with special powers, and commissioned to introduce new forms or
"dispensations" of religion; and his conduct fully proved that he
regarded himself as far above his followers. Complaints became louder;
and although the eloquence and genius of Keshub were able to keep the
rebellious elements from exploding it was evident, as early as 1873,
that a crisis was approaching. This came in 1878, when Mr. Sen's
daughter was married to the Maharaja of Kuch Behar. The bride was not
fourteen, and the bridegroom was sixteen. Now, Mr. Sen had been earnest
and successful in getting the Brahmo Marriage Act passed, which ruled
that the lowest marriageable age for a woman was fourteen, and for a man
eighteen. Here was gross inconsistency. What could explain it?
"Ambition," exclaimed great numbers; "the wish to exalt himself and his
daughter by alliance with a prince." But Mr. Sen declared that he had
consented to the marriage in consequence of an express intimation that
such was the will of heaven. Mr. Sen denied miracles, but believed in
inspiration; and of his own inspiration he seems to have entertained no
doubt. We thus obtain a glimpse into the peculiar working of his mind.
Every full conviction, every strong wish of his own he ascribed to
divine suggestion. This put him in a position of extreme peril. It was
clear that an enthusiastic, imaginative, self-reliant nature like his
might thus be borne on to any extent of fanaticism.

[Sidenote: Revolt; a third Samaj.
"New Dispensation."]
A great revolt from Mr. Sen's authority now took place, and the Sadharan
Samaj was organized in May, 1878. An appeal had been made to the members
generally, and no fewer than twenty-one provincial Samajes, with more
than four hundred members, male and female, joined the new society.
This number amounted to about two thirds of the whole body. Keshub and
his friends denounced the rebels in very bitter language; and yet, in
one point of view, their secession was a relief. Men of abilities equal,
and education superior, to his own had hitherto acted as a drag on his
movements; he was now delivered from their interference and could deal
with the admiring and submissive remnant as he pleased. Ideas that had
been working in his mind now attained rapid development. Within two
years the flag of the "New Dispensation" was raised; and of that
dispensation Mr. Sen was the undoubted head. Very daring was the
language Mr. Sen used in a public lecture regarding this new creation.
He claimed equality for it with the Jewish and Christian dispensations,
and for himself "singular" authority and a divine commission.

[Sidenote: Its creed.]
In the Creed of the New Dispensation the name of Christ does not occur.
The articles were as follows:

     _a._ One God, one Scripture, one Church. _b._ Eternal progress of
     the soul. _c._ Communion of prophets and saints. _d._ Fatherhood
     and motherhood of God. _e._ Brotherhood of man and sisterhood of
     woman. _f._ Harmony of knowledge and holiness, love and work, yoga
     and asceticism in their highest development. _g._ Loyalty to

[Sidenote: Omission of Christ's name.]
The omission of Christ's name is the more remarkable because Mr. Sen
spoke much of him in his public lectures. He had said in May, 1879,
"None but Jesus, none but Jesus, none but Jesus ever deserved this
precious diadem, India; and Jesus shall have it." But he clearly
indicated that the Christ he sought was an Indian Christ; one who was "a
Hindu in faith," and who would help the Hindus to "realize their
national idea of a yogi" (ascetic).

[Sidenote: "Motherhood of God."]
Let it be noted that, from the beginning of his career, Mr. Sen had
spoken earnestly of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of
man--though, these great conceptions are not of Hindu origin. It is
difficult to see why, in later days, he insisted so much on the
"motherhood of God." Perhaps it was a repetition--he probably would have
called it an exaltation--of the old Hindu idea, prevalent especially
among the worshipers of Siva, that there is a female counterpart--a
Sakti--of every divinity. Or, possibly, it may have been to conciliate
the worshipers of Durga and Kali, those great goddesses of Bengal.

[Sidenote: Public proclamation said to be from God.]
A public proclamation was soon issued, purporting to be from God
himself, as India's mother. The whole thing was very startling; many,
even of Keshub's friends, declared it blasphemous. Next, in the "Flag
Ceremony," the flag or banner of the New Dispensation received a homage
scarcely distinguishable from worship. Then--as if in strict imitation
of the ancient adoration of Agni, or Fire--a pile of wood was lighted,
clarified butter poured on it, and prayers addressed to it, ending
thus--"O, brilliant Fire! in thee we behold our resplendent Lord." This
was, at least, symbolism run wild; and every one, except those who were
prepared to follow their leader to all lengths, saw that in a land like
India, wedded to idolatry, it was fearfully perilous.

[Sidenote: "Apostolic Durbar."]
In March, 1881, Mr. Sen and his friends introduced celebrations which,
to Christian minds, seemed a distressing caricature of the Christian
sacraments. Other institutions followed; an Apostolic Durbar (Court of
Apostles), for instance, was established. There was no end to Mr. Sen's

In a public lecture delivered in January, 1883, on "Asia's message to
Europe," he elaborately expounded the idea that all the great religions
are of Asiatic origin, and that all of them are true, and that the one
thing required to constitute the faith of the future--the religion of
humanity--is the blending of all these varied Oriental systems into one.

[Sidenote: Inconsistencies between Mr. Sen's public and private
Mr. Sen's policy of reserve.]
It was not easy to reconcile Mr. Sen's public utterances with his
private ones--though far be it from us to tax him with insincerity.
Thus, in an interview extending over two hours, which the writer and two
missionary friends had with him a week or so before the lecture now
referred to, he said he accepted as true and vital all the leading
doctrines of the Christian faith, with the exception of the resurrection
of Christ. But another fundamental difference remained--he avowedly
dissented from the orthodox creed in rejecting the miraculous element in
Scripture. At an interview I had with him some time before he earnestly
disclaimed all intention to put Christ on a level with Buddha or
Mohammed. "I am educating my friends," he said, "to understand and
approve of Christianity; I have not yet said my last word about Christ."
It is a solemn question, Had he said it when his career was ended? If
so, it was far from a satisfactory word. His policy of reserve and
adaptation had probably kept him from uttering all that was in his
heart; but it was a sorely mistaken policy. Had he temporized less he
would have accomplished more.

Since the death of Mr. Sen there has been a violent dispute between his
family and the "Apostolic Durbar," on one side, and one of his ablest
followers, on the other; and the New Dispensation will probably split in
two, if it does not perish altogether.

[Sidenote: The Sadharan Samaj.]
In the meantime, the Sadharan Samaj, which broke off from Keshub's party
in 1878, has been going on with no small vigor. Vagaries, either in
doctrine or rites, have been carefully shunned; its partisans profess a
pure Theistic creed and labor diligently in the cause of social reform.
Their position is nearly that of Unitarian Christianity, and we fear
they are not at present approximating to the full belief of the Church

[Sidenote: Movements in western India.
Tenets of the Prarthana Sabha.]
Very similar in character to the Brahmo Somaj is the Prarthana Somaj in
western India. As far back as 1850, or a little earlier, there was
formed a society called the Prarthana Sabha (Prayer-meeting). Its
leading tenets were as follows:

     1. I believe in one God. 2. I renounce idol-worship. 3. I will do
     my best to lead a moral life. 4. If I commit any sin through the
     weakness of my moral nature I will repent of it and ask the pardon
     of God.

The society, after some time, began to languish; but in 1867 it was
revived under the name of Prarthana Somaj. Its chief branches are in
Bombay, Poona, Ahmedabad, and Surat.

[Sidenote: Arya Samaj.]
An interesting movement called the Arya Samaj was commenced a few years
ago by a Pandit--Dayanand Sarasvati. He received the Vedas as fully
inspired, but maintained that they taught monotheism--Agni, Indra, and
all the rest being merely different names of God. It was a desperate
effort to save the reputation of the ancient books; but, as all Sanskrit
scholars saw at a glance, the whole idea was a delusion. The Pandit is
now dead; and the Arya Samaj may not long survive him.

At the time we write we hear of an attempt to defend idolatry and caste
made by men of considerable education.

[Sidenote: Theosophists.]
The so-called "Theosophists" have, for several years, been active in
India. Of existing religions, Buddhism is their natural ally. They are
atheists. A combination which they formed with the Arya Samaj speedily
came to an end.

Lastly, the followers of Mr. Bradlaugh are diligent in supplying their
books to Indian students.

Poor India! No wonder if her mind is bewildered as she listens to such
a Babel of voices. The state of things in India now strikingly resembles
that which existed in the Roman Empire at the rise of Christianity; when
East and West were brought into the closest contact, and a great
conflict of systems of thought took place in consequence.

But even as one hostile form of gnostic belief rose after another, and
rose only to fall--and as the greatest and best-disciplined foe of early
Christianity--the later Platonism--gave way before the steady,
irresistible march of gospel truth, so--we have every reason to hope--it
will be yet again. The Christian feels his heart swell in his breast as
he thinks what, in all human probability, India will be a century, or
even half a century, hence. O what a new life to that fairest of Eastern
lands when she casts herself in sorrow and supplication at the feet of
the living God, and then rises to proclaim to a listening world

    "Her deep repentance and her new-found joy!"

May God hasten the advent of that happy day!



The progress of Islam was slow until Mohammed cast aside the precepts of
toleration and adopted an aggressive, militant policy. Then it became
rapid. The motives which animated the armies of Islam were
mixed--material and spiritual. Without the truths contained in the
system success would have been impossible, but neither without the sword
would the religion have been planted in Arabia, nor beyond. The
alternatives offered to conquered peoples were Islam, the sword, or
tribute. The drawbacks and attractions of the system are examined. The
former were not such as to deter men of the world from embracing the
faith. The sexual indulgences sanctioned by it are such as to make Islam
"the Easy way."

The spread of Islam was stayed whenever military success was checked.
The Faith was meant for Arabia and not for the world, hence it is
constitutionally incapable of change or development. The degradation of
woman hinders the growth of freedom and civilization under it.

Christianity is contrasted in the means used for its propagation, the
methods it employed in grappling with and overcoming the evils that it
found existing in the world, in the relations it established between the
sexes, in its teaching with regard to the respective duties of the civil
and spiritual powers, and, above all, in its redeeming character, and
then the conclusion come to that Christianity is divine in its origin.



       *       *       *       *       *


[Sidenote: Islam pre-eminent in its rapid spread.]
Among the religions of the earth Islam must take the precedence in the
rapidity and force with which it spread. Within a very short time from
its planting in Arabia the new faith had subdued great and populous
provinces. In half a dozen years, counting from the death of the
founder, the religion prevailed throughout Arabia, Syria, Persia, and
Egypt, and before the close of the century it ruled supreme over the
greater part of the vast populations from Gibraltar to the Oxus, from
the Black Sea to the river Indus.

[Sidenote: Propagation far quicker than of Christianity.]
In comparison with this grand outburst the first efforts of Christianity
were, to the outward eye, faint and feeble, and its extension so gradual
that what the Mohammedan religion achieved in ten or twenty years it
took the faith of Jesus long centuries to accomplish.

[Sidenote: Object of the Tract.]
The object of these few pages is, _first_, to inquire briefly into the
causes which led to the marvelous rapidity of the first movement of
Islam: _secondly_, to consider the reasons which eventually stayed its
advance; and, _lastly_, to ascertain why Mohammedan countries have kept
so far in the rear of other lands in respect of intellectual and social
progress. In short, the question is how it was that, Pallas-like, the
faith sprang ready-armed from the ground, conquering and to conquer, and
why, the weapons dropping from its grasp, Islam began to lose its
pristine vigor, and finally relapsed into inactivity.



[Sidenote: Two periods in the mission of Mohammed.]
The personal ministry of Mohammed divides itself into two distinct
periods: first, his life at Mecca as a preacher and a prophet; second,
his life at Medina as a prophet and a king.

[Sidenote: I. Ministry at Mecca, A.D. 609-622.
Success at Mecca limited.]
It is only in the first of these periods that Islam at all runs parallel
with Christianity. The great body of his fellow-citizens rejected the
ministry of Mohammed and bitterly opposed his claims. His efforts at
Mecca were, therefore, confined to teaching and preaching and to the
publishing of the earlier "Suras," or chapters of his "Revelation."
After some thirteen years spent thus his converts, to the number of
about a hundred and fifty men and women, were forced by the persecution
of the Coreish (the ruling tribe at Mecca, from which Mohammed was
descended) to quit their native city and emigrate to Medina.[35] A
hundred more had previously fled from Mecca for the same cause, and
found refuge at the court of the Negus, or king of Abyssinia; and there
was already a small company of followers among the citizens of Medina.
At the utmost, therefore, the number of disciples gained over by the
simple resort to teaching and preaching did not, during the first twelve
years of Mohammed's ministry, exceed a few hundreds. It is true that the
soil of Mecca was stubborn and (unlike that of Judea) wholly unprepared.
The cause also, at times, became the object of sustained and violent
opposition. Even so much of success was consequently, under the peculiar
circumstances, remarkable. But it was by no means singular. The progress
fell far short of that made by Christianity during the corresponding
period of its existence,[36] and indeed by many reformers who have been
the preachers of a new faith. It gave no promise whatever of the
marvelous spectacle that was about to follow.

[Sidenote: II. Change of policy at Medina, A.D. 622-632.
Arabia converted from Medina at the point of the sword.]
Having escaped from Mecca and found a new and congenial home in Medina,
Mohammed was not long in changing his front. At Mecca, surrounded by
enemies, he taught toleration. He was simply the preacher commissioned
to deliver a message, and bidden to leave the responsibility with his
Master and his hearers. He might argue with the disputants, but it must
be "in a way most mild and gracious;" for "in religion" (such was his
teaching before he reached Medina) "there should be neither violence nor
constraint."[37] At Medina the precepts of toleration were quickly cast
aside and his whole policy reversed. No sooner did Mohammed begin to be
recognized and obeyed as the chief of Medina than he proceeded to attack
the Jewish tribes settled in the neighborhood because they refused to
acknowledge his claims and believe in him as a prophet foretold in their
Scriptures; two of these tribes were exiled, and the third exterminated
in cold blood. In the second year after the Hegira[a], or flight from Mecca
(the period from which the Mohammedan era dates), he began to plunder
the caravans of the Coreish, which passed near to Medina on their
mercantile journeys between Arabia and Syria. So popular did the cause
of the now militant and marauding prophet speedily become among the
citizens of Medina and the tribes around that, after many battles fought
with varying success, he was able, in the eighth year of the Hegira[b] to
re-enter his native city at the head of ten thousand armed followers.
Thenceforward success was assured. None dared to oppose his pretensions.
And before his death, in the eleventh year of the Hegira[c], all Arabia,
from Bab-el-Mandeb and Oman to the confines of the Syrian desert, was
forced to submit to the supreme authority of the now kingly prophet and
to recognize the faith and obligations of Islam.[38]

[Sidenote: Religion of Mohammed described.]
This _Islam_, so called from its demanding the entire "surrender" of the
believer to the will and service of God, is based on the recognition of
Mohammed as a prophet foretold in the Jewish and Christian
Scriptures--the last and greatest of the prophets. On him descended the
Koran from time to time, an immediate revelation from the Almighty.
Idolatry and polytheism are with iconoclastic zeal denounced as sins of
the deepest dye; while the unity of the Deity is proclaimed as the grand
and cardinal doctrine of the faith. Divine providence pervades the
minutest concerns of life, and predestination is taught in its most
naked form. Yet prayer is enjoined as both meritorious and effective;
and at five stated times every day must it be specially performed. The
duties generally of the moral law are enforced, though an evil laxity is
given in the matter of polygamy and divorce. Tithes are demanded as alms
for the poor. A fast during the month of Ramzan must be kept throughout
the whole of every day; and the yearly pilgrimage to Mecca--an ancient
institution, the rites of which were now divested of their heathenish
accompaniments--maintained. The existence of angels and devils is
taught, and heaven and hell are depicted in material colors--the one of
sensuous pleasure, the other of bodily torment. Finally, the
resurrection, judgment, and retribution of good and evil are set forth
in great detail. Such was the creed--"_There is no god but the_
Lord, _and_ Mohammed _is his prophet_"--to which Arabia now became

[Sidenote: Arabia apostatizes; but is speedily reconquered and
reclaimed, A.D. 633.]
But immediately on the death of Mohammed the entire peninsula relapsed
into apostasy. Medina and Mecca remained faithful; but every-where else
the land seethed with rebellion. Some tribes joined the "false
prophets," of whom four had arisen in different parts of Arabia; some
relapsed into their ancient heathenism; while others proposed a
compromise--they would observe the stated times of prayer, but would be
excused the tithe. Every-where was rampant anarchy. The apostate tribes
attacked Medina, but were repulsed by the brave old Caliph Abu Bekr, who
refused to abate one jot or tittle, as the successor of Mohammed, of the
obligations of Islam. Eleven columns were sent forth under as many
leaders, trained in the warlike school of Mohammed. These fought their
way, step by step, successfully; and thus, mainly through the wisdom and
firmness of Abu Bekr and the valor and genius of Khalid, "the Sword of
God," the Arab tribes, one by one, were overcome and forced back into
their allegiance and the profession of Islam. The reconquest of Arabia
and re-imposition of Mohammedanism as the national faith, which it took
a whole year to accomplish, is thus described by an Arabian author, who
wrote at the close of the second century of the Mohammedan era:

     After his decease there remained not one of the followers of the
     prophet that did not apostatize, saving only a small company of his
     "Companions" and kinsfolk, who hoped thus to secure the government
     to themselves. Hereupon Abu Bekr displayed marvelous skill, energy,
     and address, so that the power passed into his hands.... And thus
     he persevered until the apostate tribes were all brought back to
     their allegiance, some by kindly treatment, persuasion, and craft;
     some through terror and fear of the sword; and others by the
     prospect of power and wealth as well as by the lusts and pleasures
     of this life. And so it came to pass that all the Bedouin tribes
     were in the end converted outwardly, but not from inward

[Sidenote: The Arabs thus reclaimed were, at the first, sullen.]
The temper of the tribes thus reclaimed by force of arms was at the
first strained and sullen. But the scene soon changed. Suddenly the
whole peninsula was shaken, and the people, seized with a burning zeal,
issued forth to plant the new faith in other lands. It happened on this

[Sidenote: Roused by war-cry, they issue from the peninsula, A.D. 634,
_et. seq._
The opposing forces.
Arab enthusiasm.]
The columns sent from Medina to reduce the rebellious tribes to the
north-west on the Gulf of Ayla, and to the north-east on the Persian
Gulf, came at once into collision with the Christian Bedouins of Syria
on the one hand and with those of Mesopotamia on the other. These again
were immediately supported by the neighboring forces of the Roman and
Persian empires, whose vassals respectively they were. And so, before
many months, Abu Bekr found his generals opposed by great and imposing
armies on either side. He was, in fact, waging mortal combat at one and
the same moment with the Kaiser and the Chosroes, the Byzantine emperor
and the great king of Persia. The risk was imminent, and an appeal went
forth for help to meet the danger. The battle-cry resounded from one end
of Arabia to the other, and electrified the land. Levy after levy, _en
masse_, started up at the call from every quarter of the peninsula, and
the Bedouin tribes, as bees from their hive, streamed forth in swarms,
animated by the prospect of conquest, plunder, and captive damsels, or,
if slain in battle, by the still more coveted prize of the "martyr" in
the material paradise of Mohammed. With a military ardor and new-born
zeal in which carnal and spiritual aspirations were strangely blended,
the Arabs rushed forth to the field, like the war-horse of Job, "that
smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains and the
shouting." Sullen constraint was in a moment transformed into an
absolute devotion and fiery resolve to spread the faith. The Arab
warrior became the missionary of Islam.

[Sidenote: Arabs, a military body, subsidized and mobilized by Omar.]
It was now the care of Omar, the second caliph or ruler of the new-born
empire, to establish a system whereby the spirit militant, called into
existence with such force and fervor, might be rendered permanent. The
entire Arabian people was subsidized. The surplus revenues which in
rapidly increasing volume began to flow from the conquered lands into
the Moslem treasuries were to the last farthing distributed among the
soldiers of Arabian descent. The whole nation was enrolled, and the name
of every warrior entered upon the roster of Islam. Forbidden to settle
anywhere, and relieved from all other work, the Arab hordes became, in
fact, a standing army threatening the world. Great bodies of armed men
were kept thus ever mobilized, separate and in readiness for new

[Sidenote: Mission of Islam described by Fairbairn.]
The change which came over the policy of the Founder of the Faith at
Medina, and paved the way for this marvelous system of world-wide rapine
and conversion to Islam, is thus described by a thoughtful and sagacious

     Medina was fatal to the higher capabilities of Islam. Mohammed
     became then a king; his religion was incorporated in a State that
     had to struggle for its life in the fashion familiar to the
     rough-handed sons of the desert. The prophet was turned into the
     legislator and commander; his revelations were now laws, and now
     military orders and manifestoes. The mission of Islam became one
     that only the sword could accomplish, robbery of the infidel became
     meritorious, and conquest the supreme duty it owed to the world....

     The religion which lived an unprospering and precarious life, so
     long as it depended on the prophetic word alone, became an
     aggressive and victorious power so soon as it was embodied in a

[Sidenote: And by von Kremer.]
Another learned and impartial authority tells us:

     The Mussulman power under the first four caliphs was nothing but a
     grand religio-political association of Arab tribes for universal
     plunder and conquest under the holy banner of Islam, and the
     watch-word, "There is no god but the Lord, and Mohammed is
     his apostle." On pretext of spreading the only true religion the
     Arabs swallowed up fair provinces lying all around, and, driving a
     profitable business, enriched themselves simultaneously in a
     worldly sense.[41]

[Sidenote: Religious merit of "fighting in the ways of the Lord."]
The motives which nerved the armies of Islam were a strange combination
of the lower instincts of nature with the higher aspirations of the
spirit. To engage in the Holy War was the rarest and most blessed of all
religious virtues, and conferred on the combatant a special merit; and
side by side with it lay the bright prospect of spoil and female slaves,
conquest and glory. "Mount thy horse," said Osama ibn Zeid to Abu Bekr
as he accompanied the Syrian army a little way on its march, out of
Medina. "Nay," replied the caliph, "I will not ride, but I will walk and
soil my feet a little space in the ways of the Lord. Verily, every
footstep in the ways of the Lord is equal in merit to manifold good
works, and wipeth away a multitude of sins."[42] And of the "martyrs,"
those who fell in these crusading campaigns, Mohammed thus described the
blessed state:

     Think not, in any wise, of those killed in the ways of the Lord, as
     if they were dead. Yea, they are alive, and are nourished with
     their Lord, exulting in that which God hath given them of his
     favor, and rejoicing in behalf of those who have not yet joined
     them, but are following after. No terror afflicteth them, neither
     are they grieved.--Sura iii.

[Sidenote: Material fruits of Moslem crusade.]
The material fruits of their victories raised the Arabs at once from
being the needy inhabitants of a stony, sterile soil, where, with
difficulty, they eked out a hardy subsistence, to be the masters of rich
and luxuriant lands flowing with milk and honey. After one of his great
victories on the plains of Chaldea, Khalid called together his troops,
flushed with conquest, and lost in wonder at the exuberance around them,
and thus addressed them: "Ye see the riches of the land. Its paths drop
fatness and plenty, so that the fruits of the earth are scattered abroad
even as stones are in Arabia. If but as a provision for this present
life, it were worth our while to fight for these fair fields and banish
care and penury forever from us." Such were the aspirations dear to the
heart of every Arab warrior. Again, after the battle of Jalola, a few
years later, the treasure and spoil of the Persian monarch, captured by
the victors, was valued at thirty million of dirhems (about a million
sterling). The royal fifth (the crown share of the booty) was sent as
usual to Medina under charge of Ziad, who, in the presence of the Caliph
Omar, harangued the citizens in a glowing description of what had been
won in Persia, fertile lands, rich cities, and endless spoil, besides
captive maids and princesses.

[Sidenote: Rich booty taken in the capital of Persia, A.D. 637.]
In relating the capture of Medain (the ancient Ctesiphon) tradition
revels in the untold wealth which fell into the hands of Sad, the
conqueror, and his followers. Besides millions of treasure, there was
endless store of gold and silver vessels, rich vestments, and rare and
precious things. The Arabs gazed bewildered at the tiara, brocaded
vestments, jeweled armor, and splendid surroundings of the throne. They
tell of a camel of silver, life-size, with a rider of gold, and of a
golden horse with emeralds for teeth, the neck set with rubies, the
trappings of gold. And we may read in Gibbon of the marvelous banqueting
carpet, representing a garden, the ground of wrought gold, the walks of
silver, the meadows of emeralds, rivulets of pearls, and flowers and
fruits of diamonds, rubies, and rare gems. The precious metals lost
their conventional value, gold was parted with for its weight in silver;
and so on.[43]

[Sidenote: Success in battle ascribed to divine aid.]
It is the virtue of Islam that it recognizes a special providence,
seeing the hand of God, as in every thing, so pre-eminently also in
victory. When Sad, therefore, had established himself in the palace of
the Chosroes he was not forgetful to render thanks in a service of
praise. One of the princely mansions was turned for the moment into a
temple, and there, followed by his troops, he ascribed the victory to
the Lord of Hosts. The lesson accompanying the prayers was taken from a
Sura (or chapter of the Koran) which speaks of Pharaoh and his riders
being overwhelmed in the Red Sea, and contains this passage, held to be
peculiarly appropriate to the occasion:

    "How many gardens and fountains did they leave behind,
      And fields of corn, and fair dwelling-places,
    And pleasant things which they enjoyed!
      Even thus have We made another people to inherit the same."[44]

[Sidenote: "Martyrdom" in the field coveted by Moslem crusaders.
The Moslem crown of martyrdom.]
Such as fell in the conflict were called martyrs; a halo of glory
surrounded them, and special joys awaited them even on the battlefield.
And so it came to pass that the warriors of Islam had an unearthly
longing for the crown of martyrdom. The Caliph Omar was inconsolable at
the loss of his brother, Zeid, who fell in the fatal "Garden of Death,"
at the battle of Yemama: "Thou art returned home," he said to his son,
Abdallah, "safe and sound, and Zeid is dead. Wherefore wast not thou
slain before him? I wish not to see thy face." "Father," answered
Abdallah, "he asked for the crown of martyrdom, and the Lord granted it.
I strove after the same, but it was not given unto me."[45] It was the
proud boast of the Saracens in their summons to the craven Greeks and
Persians that "they loved death more than their foes loved life."
Familiar with the pictures drawn in the Koran of the beautiful
"houries" of Paradise,[46] the Saracens believed that immediate fruition
on the field of battle was the martyr's special prize. We are told of a
Moslem soldier, four-score years of age, who, seeing a comrade fall by
his side, cried out, "O Paradise! how close art thou beneath the arrow's
point and the falchion's flash! O Hashim! even now I see heaven opened,
and black-eyed maidens all bridally attired, clasping thee in their fond
embrace." And shouting thus the aged warrior, fired again with the ardor
of youth, rushed upon the enemy and met the envied fate. For those who
survived there was the less ethereal but closer prospect of Persian,
Greek, or Coptic women, both maids and matrons, who, on "being taken
captive by their right hand," were forthwith, according to the Koran,
without stint of number, at the conqueror's will and pleasure. These,
immediately they were made prisoners, might (according to the example
of Mohammed himself at Kheibar) be carried off without further ceremony
to the victor's tent; and in this respect the Saracens certainly were
nothing loath to execute upon the heathen the judgment written in their
law. So strangely was religious fanaticism fed and fostered in the
Moslem camp by incentives irresistible to the Arab--fight and foray, the
spoil of war and captive charms.

[Sidenote: Martial passages from Koran recited on field of battle.]
The courage of the troops was stimulated by the divine promises of
victory, which were read (and on like occasions still are read) at the
head of each column drawn up for battle. Thus, on the field of Cadesiya[d],
which decided the fate of Persia, the Sura _Jehad_, with the stirring
tale of the thousand angels that fought on the Prophet's side at Bedr
was recited, and such texts as these:

_Stir up the faithful unto battle. If there be twenty steadfast among
you they shall put two hundred to flight of the unbelievers, and a
hundred shall put to flight a thousand. Victory is from the Lord. He is
mighty and wise. I the Lord will cast terror into the hearts of the
infidels. Strike off their heads and their fingers' ends. Beware lest ye
turn your back in battle. Verily, he that turneth his back shall draw
down upon himself the wrath of God. His abode shall be hell fire; an
evil journey thither._

And we are told that on the recital of these verses "the heart of the
people was refreshed and their eyes lightened, and they felt the
tranquillity that ensueth thereupon." Three days they fought, and on the
morning of the fourth, returning with unabated vigor to the charge, they
scattered to the winds the vast host of Persia.[47]

[Sidenote: Defeat of Byzantine army on the Yermuk, A.D. 634.]
Nor was it otherwise in the great battle of the Yermuk, which laid Syria
at the feet of the Arabs. The virgin vigor of the Saracens was fired by
a wild fanatical zeal "to fight in the ways of the Lord," obtaining thus
heavenly merit and a worldly prize--the spoil of Syria and its fair
maidens ravished from their homes; or should they fall by the sword, the
black-eyed houries waiting for them on the field of battle. "Of warriors
nerved by this strange combination of earth and heaven, of the flesh and
of the spirit, of the incentives at once of faith and rapine, of
fanatical devotion to the prophet and deathless passion for the sex, ten
might chase a hundred half-hearted Romans. The forty thousand Moslems
were stronger far than the two hundred and forty thousand of the enemy."
The combat lasted for weeks; but at the last the Byzantine force was
utterly routed, and thousands hurled in wild confusion over the beetling
cliffs of the Yermuk into the yawning chasm of Wacusa.[48]

[Sidenote: Islam planted by aid of material force.]
Such, then, was the nature of the Moslem propaganda, such the agency by
which the faith was spread, and such the motives at once material and
spiritual by which its martial missionaries were inspired. No wonder
that the effete empires of Rome and Persia recoiled and quivered at the
shock, and that province after province quickly fell under the sway of
Islam. It is far from my intention to imply that the truths set forth by
the new faith had nothing to do with its success. On the contrary, it
may well be admitted that but for those truths success might have been
impossible. The grand enunciation of the Divine Unity, and the duty of
an absolute submission to the same; the recognition of a special
providence reaching to the minutest details of life; the inculcation of
prayer and other religious duties; the establishment of a code in which
the leading principles of morality are enforced, and the acknowledgment
of previous revelations in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, told
not only on the idolaters of Arabia and the fire-worshipers of Persia,
but on Jews and Samaritans and the followers of a debased and
priest-ridden Christianity. All this is true; but it is still not the
less true that without the sword Islam would never have been planted
even in Arabia, much less ever have spread to the countries beyond. The
weapons of its warfare were "carnal," material, and earthly; and by them
it conquered.

[Sidenote: Alternatives offered to the conquered nations: Islam, the
Sword, or Tribute.]
The pressure brought to bear on the inhabitants of the countries overrun
by Saracen arms was of the most stringent character. They were offered
the triple alternative--Islam, the Sword, or Tribute. The first brought
immediate relief. Acceptance of the faith not only stayed the enemy's
hand, and conferred immunity from the perils of war, but associated the
convert with his conquerors in the common brotherhood and in all the
privileges of Islam.

[Sidenote: Acceptance of Islam, immediate relief from the sword.]
Reading the story of the spread of Islam, we are constantly told of this
and that enemy, that "being beaten, he _believed_ and embraced the
faith." Take as an example of an every-day occurrence the story of
Hormuzan. A Persian prince of high rank long maintained a border
warfare against the Moslems. At last he was taken prisoner and sent in
chains to Medina. As he was conducted into the Great Mosque, Omar
exclaimed, "Blessed be the Lord, that hath humbled this man and the like
of him!" He bade them disrobe the prisoner and clothe him in sackcloth.
Then, whip in hand, he upbraided him for his oft-repeated attacks and
treachery. Hormuzan made as if fain to reply; then gasping, like one
faint from thirst, he begged for water to drink. "Give it him," said the
caliph, "and let him drink in peace." "Nay," cried the wretched captive,
trembling, "I fear to drink, lest some one slay me unawares." "Thy life
is safe," said Omar, "until thou hast drunk the water up." The words
were no sooner said than Hormuzan emptied the vessel on the ground. "I
wanted not the water," he said, "but quarter, and thou hast given it
me." "Liar!" cried Omar, angrily, "thy life is forfeit." "But not,"
interposed the by-standers, "until he drink the water up." "Strange,"
said Omar, "the fellow hath deceived me; and yet I cannot spare the life
of one who hath slain so many noble Moslems. I swear that thou shalt not
gain by thy deceit unless thou wilt forthwith embrace Islam." Upon
that, "_believing_, he made profession of the true faith upon the spot;"
and thenceforth, residing at Medina, he received a pension of the
highest grade.[49]

[Sidenote: Tribute and humiliation.
Disabilities imposed on Jews and Christians.]
On the other hand, for those who held to their ancestral faith there was
no escape from the second or the third alternative. If they would avoid
the sword, or, having wielded it, were beaten, they must become
tributary. Moreover, the payment of tribute is not the only condition
enjoined by the Koran. "Fight against them (the Jews and Christians)
until they pay tribute with the hand, _and are humbled_."[50] The
command fell on willing ears. An ample interpretation was given to it.
And so it came to pass that, though Jews and Christians were, on the
payment of tribute, tolerated in the profession of their ancestral
faith, they were yet subjected (and still are subjected) to severe
humiliation. The nature and extent of the degradation to which they were
brought down, and the strength of the inducement to purchase exemption
and the equality of civil rights, by surrendering their religion, may be
learned from the provisions which were embodied in the code named _The
Ordinance of Omar_, which has been more or less enforced from the
earliest times. Besides the tribute and various other imposts levied
from the "People of the Book,"[51] and the duty of receiving Moslem
travelers quartered upon them, the dress of both sexes must be
distinguished by broad stripes of yellow. They are forbidden to appear
on horseback, and if mounted on a mule or ass their stirrups must be of
wood, and their saddles known by knobs of the same material. Their
graves must not rise above the level of the soil, and the devil's mark
is placed upon the lintel of their doors. Their children must be taught
by Moslem masters, and the race, however able or well qualified,
proscribed from any office of high emolument or trust. Besides the
churches spared at the time of conquest no new buildings can be erected
for the purposes of worship; nor can free entrance into their holy
places at pleasure be refused to the Moslem. No cross must remain in
view outside, nor any church-bells be rung. They must refrain from
processions in the street at Easter, and other solemnities; and from any
thing, in short, whether by outward symbol, word, or deed, which could
be construed into rivalry, or competition with the ruling faith. Such
was the so-called _Code of Omar_. Enforced with less or greater
stringency, according to the intolerance and caprice of the day, by
different dynasties, it was, and (however much relaxed in certain
countries) it still remains, the law of Islam. One must admire the rare
tenacity of the Christian faith, which, with but scanty light and hope,
held its ground through weary ages of insult and depression, and still
survives to see the dawning of a brighter day.[52]

[Sidenote: Continuing inducements in times of peace.]
Such, then, was the hostile attitude of Islam militant in its early
days; such the pressure brought to bear on conquered lands for its
acceptance; and such the disabilities imposed upon recusant Jews and
Christians. On the one hand, rapine, plunder, slavery, tribute, civil
disability; on the other, security, peace, and honor. We need not be
surprised that, under such constraint, conquered peoples succumbed
before Islam. Nor were the temporal inducements to conversion confined
to the period during which the Saracens were engaged in spreading Islam
by force of arms. Let us come down a couple of centuries from the time
of Mohammed, and take the reign of the tolerant and liberal-minded
sovereign, Al Mamun.

[Sidenote: Evidence of Al Kindy in second century of Hegira, A.D. 830.
Speech of Al Mamun.]
Among the philosophers of all creeds whom that great caliph gathered
around him at Bagdad was a noble Arab of the Nestorian faith, descended
from the kingly tribe of the Beni Kinda, and hence called _Al Kindy_. A
friend of this Eastern Christian, himself a member of the royal family,
invited Al Kindy to embrace Islam in an epistle enlarging on the
distinguished rank which, in virtue of his descent, he would (if a true
believer) occupy at court, and the other privileges, spiritual and
material, social and conjugal, which he would enjoy. In reply the
Christian wrote an apology of singular eloquence and power, throwing a
flood of light on the worldly inducements which, even at that
comparatively late period, abounded in a Moslem state to promote
conversion to Islam. Thus Al Mamun himself, in a speech delivered before
his council, characterizes certain of his courtiers accused as secret
adherents of the Zoroastrian faith:

     "Though professing Islam, they are free from the same. This they do
     to be seen of me, while their convictions, I am well aware, are
     just the opposite of that which they profess. They belong to a
     class which embrace Islam, not from any love of this our faith, but
     thinking thereby to gain access to our court, and share in the
     honor, wealth, and power of the realm. They have no inward
     persuasion of that which they outwardly profess."[53]

[Sidenote: Converts from sordid motives.]
Again, speaking of the various classes brought over to Islam by sordid
and unworthy motives, Al Kindy says:

     Moreover, there are the idolatrous races--Magians and Jews--low
     people aspiring by the profession of Islam to raise themselves to
     riches and power and to form alliances with the families of the
     learned and honorable. There are, besides, hypocritical men of the
     world, who in this way obtain indulgences in the matter of marriage
     and concubinage which are forbidden to them by the Christian faith.
     Then we have the dissolute class given over wholly to the lusts of
     the flesh. And lastly there are those who by this means obtain a
     more secure and easy livelihood.[54]

[Sidenote: Al Kindy contrasts the Christian confessor with the Moslem
The Christian confessor and the Moslem martyr.]
Before leaving this part of our subject it may be opportune to quote a
few more passages from Al Kindy, in which he contrasts the inducements
that, under the military and political predominance of Islam, promoted
its rapid spread, and the opposite conditions under which Christianity
made progress, slow, indeed, comparatively, but sure and steady. First,
he compares the Christian confessor with the Moslem "martyr:"

     I marvel much, he says, that ye call those _martyrs_ that fall in
     war. Thou hast read, no doubt, in history of the followers of
     Christ put to death in the persecutions of the kings of Persia and
     elsewhere. Say, now, which are the more worthy to be called
     martyrs, these, or thy fellows that fall fighting for the world and
     the power thereof? How diverse were the barbarities and kinds of
     death inflicted on the Christian confessors! The more they were
     slain the more rapidly spread the faith; in place of one sprang up
     a hundred. On a certain occasion, when a great multitude had been
     put to death, one at court said to the king, "The number of them
     increaseth instead of, as thou thinkest, diminishing." "How can
     that be?" exclaimed the king. "But yesterday," replied the
     courtier, "thou didst put such and such a one to death, and lo,
     there were converted double that number; and the people say that a
     man appeared to the confessors from heaven strengthening them in
     their last moments." Whereupon the king himself was converted. In
     those days men thought not their lives dear unto them. Some were
     transfixed while yet alive; others had their limbs cut off one
     after another; some were cast to the wild beasts and others burned
     in the fire. Such continued long to be the fate of the Christian
     confessors. No parallel is found thereto in any other religion; and
     all was endured with constancy and even with joy. One smiled in the
     midst of his great suffering. "Was it cold water," they asked,
     "that was brought unto thee?" "No," answered the sufferer, "it was
     one like a youth that stood by me and anointed my wounds; and that
     made me smile, for the pain forthwith departed."

     Now tell me seriously, my friend, which of the two hath the best
     claim to be called a _martyr_, "slain in the ways of the Lord:" he
     who surrendereth his life rather than renounce his faith; who, when
     it is said, Fall down and worship the sun and moon, or the idols of
     silver and gold, work of men's hands, instead of the true God,
     refuseth, choosing rather to give up life, abandon wealth, and
     forego even wife and family; or he that goeth forth, ravaging and
     laying waste, plundering and spoiling, slaying the men, carrying
     away their children into captivity, and ravishing their wives and
     maidens in his unlawful embrace, and then shall call it "Jehad in
     the ways of the Lord!" ... And not content therewith, instead of
     humbling thyself before the Lord, and seeking pardon for the crime,
     thou sayest of such a one slain in the war that "he hath earned
     paradise," and thou namest him "a martyr in the ways of the

And again, contrasting the spread of Islam, "its rattling quiver and its
glittering sword," with the silent progress of Christianity, our
apologist, after dwelling on the teaching and the miracles of the
apostles, writes:

     They published their message by means of these miracles; and thus
     great and powerful kings and philosophers and learned men and
     judges of the earth hearkened unto them, without lash or rod, with
     neither sword nor spear, nor the advantages of birth or
     "Helpers;"[56] with no wisdom of this world, or eloquence or power
     of language, or subtlety of reason; with no worldly inducement, nor
     yet again with any relaxation of the moral law, but simply at the
     voice of truth enforced by miracles beyond the power of man to
     show. And so there came over to them the kings and great ones of
     the earth. And the philosophers abandoned their systems, with all
     their wisdom and learning, and betook them to a saintly life,
     giving up the delights of this world together with their
     old-established usages, and became followers of a company of poor
     men, fishers and publicans, who had neither name nor rank nor any
     claim other than that they were obedient to the command of the
     Messiah--he that gave them power to do such wonderful works.[57]

[Sidenote: The apostles compared with the chiefs of Islam.]
And yet once more, comparing the apostles with the military chiefs of
Islam, Al Kindy proceeds:

     After the descent of the Holy Ghost and the gift of tongues the
     apostles separated each to the country to which he was called. They
     wrote out in every tongue the holy Gospel, and the story and
     teaching of Christ, at the dictation of the Holy Ghost. So the
     nations drew near unto them, believing their testimony; and, giving
     up the world and their false beliefs, they embraced the Christian
     faith as soon as ever the dawn of truth and the light of the good
     tidings broke in upon them. Distinguishing the true from the false,
     and error from the right direction, they embraced the Gospel and
     held it fast without doubt or wavering, when they saw the wonderful
     works and signs of the apostles, and their lives and conversation
     set after the holy and beautiful example of our Saviour, the traces
     whereof remain even unto the present day.... How different this
     from the life of thy Master (Mohammed) and his companions, who
     ceased not to go forth in battle and rapine, to smite with the
     sword, to seize the little ones, and ravish the wives and maidens,
     plundering and laying waste, and carrying the people into
     captivity. And thus they continue unto this present day, inciting
     men to these evil deeds, even as it is told of Omar the Caliph. "If
     one among you," said he, "hath a heathen neighbor and is in need,
     let him seize and sell him." And many such things they say and
     teach. Look now at the lives of Simon and Paul, who went about
     healing the sick and raising the dead, by the name of Christ our
     Lord; and mark the contrast.[58]

[Sidenote: Such are the conclusions of a native of Chaldea.]
Such are the reflections of one who lived at a Mohammedan court, and
who, moreover, flourishing as he did a thousand years ago, was
sufficiently near the early spread of Islam to be able to contrast what
he saw and heard and read of the causes of its success with those of the
Gospel, and had the courage to confess the same.

[Sidenote: Hinderances or inducements inherent in the faith itself.]
Apart, now, from the outward and extraneous aids given to Islam by the
sword and by the civil arm I will inquire for a moment what natural
effect the teaching of Islam itself had in attracting or repelling
mankind. I do not now speak of any power contained in the truths it
inculcated to convert to Islam by the rousing and quickening of
spiritual impulses; for that lies beyond my present purpose, which is to
inquire whether there is not in material causes and secular motives
enough in themselves to account for success. I speak rather of the
effect of the indulgences granted by Islam, on the one hand, as
calculated to attract; and of the restraints imposed and sacrifices
required, on the other, as calculated to repel. How far, in fact, did
there exist inducements or hinderances to its adoption inherent in the
religion itself?

[Sidenote: Requirements of Islam: prayer.
Prohibition of wine, games of chance, and usury.
Fast of Ramzan.]
What may be regarded as the most constant and irksome of the obligations
of Islam is the duty of prayer, which must be observed at stated
intervals, five times every day, with the contingent ceremony of
lustration. The rite consists of certain forms and passages to be
repeated with prescribed series of prostrations and genuflexions. These
must be repeated at the right times--but anywhere, in the house or by
the wayside, as well as in the mosque; and the ordinance is obligatory
in whatever state of mind the worshiper may be, or however occupied. As
the appointed hour comes round the Moslem is bound to turn aside to
pray--so much so that in Central Asia we read of the police driving the
backward worshiper by the lash to discharge the duty. Thus, with the
mass of Mussulmans, the obligation becomes a mere formal ceremony, and
one sees it performed anywhere and every-where by the whole people, like
any social custom, as a matter of course. No doubt there are exceptions;
but with the multitude it does not involve the irksomeness of a
spiritual service, and so it sits lightly on high and low. The Friday
prayers should as a rule be attended in the mosque; but neither need
there be much devotion there; and, once performed, the rest of the day
is free for pleasure or for business.[59] The prohibition of wine is a
restriction which was severely felt in the early days of the faith; but
it was not long before the universal sentiment (though eluded in some
quarters) supported it. The embargo upon games of chance was certainly
unpopular; and the prohibition of the receipt of interest was also an
important limitation, tending as it did to shackle the freedom of
mercantile speculation; but they have been partially evaded on various
pretexts. The fast throughout the month of Ramzan was a severer test;
but even this lasts only during the day; and at night, from sunset till
dawn, all restrictions are withdrawn, not only in respect of food, but
of all otherwise lawful gratifications.[60]

[Sidenote: Little that is unpopular in these ordinances.]
There is nothing, therefore, in the requirements and ordinances of
Islam, excepting the fast, that is very irksome to humanity, or which,
as involving any material sacrifice, or the renunciation of the
pleasures or indulgences of life, should lead a man of the world to
hesitate in embracing the new faith.

[Sidenote: Indulgences allowed in the matter of wives and concubines.]
On the other hand, the license allowed by the Koran between the
sexes--at least in favor of the male sex--is so wide that for such as
have the means and the desire to take advantage of it there need be no
limit whatever to sexual indulgence. It is true that adultery is
punishable by death and fornication with stripes. But then the Koran
gives the believer permission to have four wives at a time. And he may
exchange them--that is, he may divorce them at pleasure, taking others
in their stead.[61] And, as if this were not license enough, the divine
law permits the believer to consort with all female slaves whom he may
be the master of--such, namely, as have been taken in war, or have been
acquired by gift or purchase. These he may receive into his harem
instead of wives, or in addition to them; and without any limit of
number or restraint whatever he is at liberty to cohabit with them.

[Sidenote: Polygamy, concubinage, and divorce. Practice at the rise of
A few instances taken at random will enable the reader to judge how the
indulgences thus allowed by the religion were taken advantage of in the
early days of Islam. In the great plague which devastated Syria seven
years after the prophet's death Khalid, the Sword of God, lost _forty_
sons. Abdal Rahman, one of the "companions" of Mohammed, had issue by
sixteen wives, not counting slave-girls.[62] Moghira ibn Shoba, another
"companion," and governor of Kufa and Bussorah, had in his harem eighty
consorts, free and servile. Coming closer to the Prophet's household, we
find that Mohammed himself at one period had in his harem no fewer than
nine wives and two slave-girls. Of his grandson Hasan we read that his
vagrant passion gained for him the unenviable sobriquet of _The
Divorcer_; for it was only by continually divorcing his consorts that he
could harmonize his craving for fresh nuptials with the requirements of
the divine law, which limited the number of his free wives to four. We
are told that, as a matter of simple caprice, he exercised the power of
divorce seventy (according to other traditions ninety) times. When the
leading men complained to Aly of the licentious practice of his son his
only reply was that the remedy lay in their own hands, of refusing Hasan
their daughters altogether.[63] Such are the material inducements, the
"works of the flesh," which Islam makes lawful to its votaries, and
which promoted thus its early spread.

[Sidenote: Practice in modern times.
The Malays of Penang.
Lane's testimony concerning Egypt.
The princess of Bhopal's account of Mecca.]
Descending now to modern times, we still find that this sexual license
is taken advantage of more or less in different countries and conditions
of society. The following examples are simply meant as showing to what
excess it is possible for the believer to carry these indulgences,
_under the sanction of his religion_. Of the Malays in Penang it was
written not very long ago: "Young men of thirty to thirty-five years of
age may be met with who have had from fifteen to twenty wives, and
children by several of them. These women have been divorced, married
others, and had children by them." Regarding Egypt, Lane tells us: "I
have heard of men who have been in the habit of marrying a new wife
almost every month."[64] Burkhardt speaks of an Arab forty-five years
old who had had fifty wives, "so that he must have divorced two wives
and married two fresh ones on the average every year." And not to go
further than the sacred city of Mecca, the late reigning princess of
Bhopal, in central India, herself an orthodox follower of the Prophet,
after making the pilgrimage of the holy places, writes thus:

     Women frequently contract as many as ten marriages, and those who
     have only been married twice are few in number. If a woman sees her
     husband growing old, or if she happen to admire any one else, she
     goes to the Shereef (the spiritual and civil head of the holy
     city), and after having settled the matter with him she puts away
     her husband and takes to herself another, who is, perhaps,
     good-looking and rich. In this way a marriage seldom lasts more
     than a year or two.

And of slave-girls the same high and impartial authority, still writing
of the holy city and of her fellow-Moslems, tells us:

     Some of the women (African and Georgian girls) are taken in
     marriage; and after that, on being sold again, they receive from
     their masters a divorce, and are sold in their houses--that is to
     say, they are sent to the purchaser from their master's house on
     receipt of payment, and are not exposed for sale in the
     slave-market. They are only _married_ when purchased for the first
     time.... When the poorer people buy (female) slaves they keep them
     for themselves, and change them every year as one would replace old
     things by new; but the women who have children are not sold.[65]

[Sidenote: Islam sanctions a license between the sexes which
Christianity forbids.
The laws of Christianity deter men from carnal indulgences.
Islam the "Easy Way."]
What I desire to make clear is the fact that such things may be
practiced _with the sanction_ of the Scripture which the Moslem holds to
be divine, and that these same indulgences have from the first existed
as inducements which helped materially to forward the spread of the
faith. I am very far, indeed, from implying that excessive indulgence in
polygamy is the universal state of Moslem society. Happily this is not
the case. There are not only individuals, but tribes and districts,
which, either from custom or preference, voluntarily restrict the
license given them in the Koran; while the natural influence of the
family, even in Moslem countries, has an antiseptic tendency that often
itself tends greatly to neutralize the evil.[66] Nor am I seeking to
institute any contrast between the morals at large of Moslem countries
and the rest of the world. If Christian nations are (as with shame it
must be confessed) in some strata of society immoral, it is in the teeth
of their divine law. And the restrictions of that law are calculated,
and in the early days of Christianity did tend, in point of fact, _to
deter men_ devoted to the indulgences of the flesh from embracing the
faith.[67] The religion of Mohammed, on the other hand, gives direct
sanction to the sexual indulgences we have been speaking of. Thus it
panders to the lower instincts of humanity and makes its spread the
easier. In direct opposition to the precepts of Christianity it "makes
provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof." Hence Islam has
been well called by its own votaries the _Easy Way_. Once more, to quote
Al Kindy:

     Thou invitest me (says our apologist to his friend) into the "Easy
     way of faith and practice." Alas, alas! for our Saviour in the
     Gospel telleth us, "When ye have done all that ye are commanded,
     say, We are unprofitable servants; we have but done that which was
     commanded us." Where then is our merit? The same Lord Jesus saith,
     "How strait is the road which leadeth unto life, and how few they
     be that walk therein! How wide the gate that leadeth to
     destruction, and how many there be that go in thereat!" Different
     this, my friend, from the comforts of thy wide and easy gate, and
     the facilities for enjoying, as thou wouldst have me, the pleasures
     offered by thy faith in wives and damsels![68]


[a] A.D. 623.

[b] A.D. 630.

[c] A.D. 632.

[d] A.D. 635.



[Sidenote: Islam stationary in area, and in civilization retrograde.]
Having thus traced the rapid early spread of Islam to its proper source,
I proceed to the remaining topics, namely, the causes which have checked
its further extension, and those likewise which have depressed the
followers of this religion in the scale of civilization. I shall take
the former first--just remarking here, in respect of the latter, that
the depression of Islam is itself one of the causes which retard the
expansion of the faith.

[Sidenote: The Arabs ceased, in second century, to be a crusading
As the first spread of Islam was due to the sword, so when the sword was
sheathed Islam ceased to spread. The apostles and missionaries of Islam
were, as we have seen, the martial tribes of Arabia--that is to say, the
grand military force organized by Omar, and by him launched upon the
surrounding nations. Gorged with the plunder of the world, these began,
after a time, to settle on their lees and to mingle with the ordinary
population. So soon as this came to pass they lost the fiery zeal which
at the first had made them irresistible. By the second and third
centuries the Arabs had disappeared as the standing army of the
caliphate, or, in other words, as a body set apart for the dissemination
of the faith. The crusading spirit, indeed, ever and anon burst
forth--and it still bursts forth, as opportunity offers--simply for the
reason that this spirit pervades the Koran, and is ingrained in the
creed. But with the special agency created and maintained during the
first ages for the spread of Islam the incentive of crusade ceased as a
distinctive missionary spring of action, and degenerated into the common
lust of conquest which we meet with in the world at large.

[Sidenote: With cessation of conquest, Islam ceased to spread.]
The extension of Islam, depending upon military success, stopped
wherever that was checked. The religion advanced or retired, speaking
broadly, as the armed predominance made head or retroceded. Thus the
tide of Moslem victory, rushing along the coast of Africa, extinguished
the seats of European civilization on the Mediterranean, overwhelmed
Spain, and was rapidly advancing north, when the onward wave was stemmed
at Tours; and as with the arms, the faith also of Islam was driven back
into Spain and bounded by the Pyrenees. So, likewise, the hold which
the religion seized both of Spain and Sicily came to an end with
Mussulman defeat. It is true that when once long and firmly rooted, as
in India and China, Islam may survive the loss of military power, and
even flourish. But it is equally true that in no single country has
Islam been planted, nor has it anywhere materially spread, saving under
the banner of the Crescent or the political ascendency of some
neighboring State. Accordingly, we find that, excepting some barbarous
zones in Africa which have been raised thereby a step above the
groveling level of fetichism, the faith has in modern times made no
advance worth mentioning.[69]

From the Jewish and Christian religions there has (again speaking
broadly) been no secession whatever to Islam since the wave of Saracen
victory was stayed, excepting by the force of arms. Even in the palmy
days of the Abbasside caliphs, our apologist could challenge his
adversary to produce a single conversion otherwise than by reason of
some powerful material inducement. Here is his testimony:

     [Sidenote: Al Kindy's challenge to produce a Christian convert to
     Islam apart from material inducements.]
     Now tell me, hast thou ever seen, my Friend, (the Lord be gracious
     unto thee!) or ever heard of a single person of sound mind--any one
     of learning and experience, and acquainted with the Scriptures,
     renouncing Christianity otherwise than for some worldly object to
     be reached only through thy religion, or for some gratification
     withheld by the faith of Jesus? Thou wilt find none. For, excepting
     the tempted ones, all continue steadfast in their faith, secure
     under our most gracious sovereign, in the profession of their own



[Sidenote: Social and intellectual depression.]
I pass on to consider why Mohammedan nations occupy so low a position,
halting as almost every-where they do, in the march of social and
intellectual development.

[Sidenote: Islam intended for the Arabs.
Wants the faculty of adaptation.]
The reason is not far to find. Islam was meant for Arabia, not for the
world; for the Arabs of the seventh century, not for the Arabs of all
time; and being such, and nothing more, its claim of divine origin
renders change or development impossible. It has within itself neither
the germ of natural growth nor the lively spring of adaptation. Mohammed
declared himself a prophet to the Arabs;[71] and however much in his
later days he may have contemplated the reformation of other religions
beyond the Peninsula, or the further spread of his own (which is
doubtful), still the rites and ceremonies, the customs and the laws
enjoined upon his people, were suitable (if suitable at all) for the
Arabs of that day, and in many respects for them alone. Again, the code
containing these injunctions, social and ceremonial, as well as
doctrinal and didactic, is embodied with every particularity of detail,
as part of the divine law, in the Koran; and so defying, as sacrilege,
all human touch, it stands unalterable forever. From the stiff and rigid
shroud in which it is thus swathed the religion of Mohammed cannot
emerge. It has no plastic power beyond that exercised in its earliest
days. Hardened now and inelastic, it can neither adapt itself nor yet
shape its votaries, nor even suffer them to shape themselves to the
varying circumstances, the wants and developments, of mankind.

[Sidenote: Local ceremonies: pilgrimage.
Fast of Ramzan.]
We may judge of the local and inflexible character of the faith from one
or two of its ceremonies. To perform the pilgrimage to Mecca and Mount
Arafat, with the slaying of victims at Mina, and the worship of the
Kaaba, is an ordinance obligatory (with the condition only that they
have the means) on all believers, who are bound to make the journey even
from the furthest ends of the earth--an ordinance intelligible enough in
a local worship, but unmeaning and impracticable when required of a
world-wide religion. The same may be said of the fast of Ramzan. It is
prescribed in the Koran to be observed by all with undeviating
strictness during the whole day, from earliest dawn till sunset
throughout the month, with specified exemptions for the sick and
penalties for every occasion on which it is broken. The command, imposed
thus with an iron rule on male and female, young and old, operates with
excessive inequality in different seasons, lands, and climates. However
suitable to countries near the equator, where the variations of day and
night are immaterial, the fast becomes intolerable to those who are far
removed either toward the north or the south; and still closer to the
poles, where night merges into day and day into night, impracticable.
Again, with the lunar year (itself an institution divinely imposed), the
month of Ramzan travels in the third of a century from month to month
over the whole cycle of a year. The fast was established at a time when
Ramzan fell in winter, and the change of season was probably not
foreseen by the Prophet. But the result is one which, under some
conditions of time and place, involves the greatest hardship. For when
the fast comes round to summer the trial in a sultry climate, like that
of the burning Indian plains, of passing the whole day without a morsel
of bread or a drop of water becomes to many the occasion of intense
suffering. Such is the effect of the Arabian legislator's attempt at
circumstantial legislation in matters of religious ceremonial.

[Sidenote: Political and social depression owing to relations between
the sexes.]
Nearly the same is the case with all the religions obligations of Islam,
prayer, lustration, etc. But although the minuteness of detail with
which these are enjoined tends toward that jejune and formal worship
which we witness every-where in Moslem lands, still there is nothing in
these observances themselves which (religion apart) should lower the
social condition of Mohammedan populations and prevent their emerging
from that normal state of semi-barbarism and uncivilized depression in
which we find all Moslem peoples. For the cause of this we must look
elsewhere; and it may be recognized, without doubt, in the relations
established by the Koran between the sexes. Polygamy, divorce, servile
concubinage, and the veil are at the root of Moslem decadence.

[Sidenote: Depression of the female sex.
In respect of married life the condition allotted by the Koran to woman
is that of an inferior dependent creature, destined only for the
service of her master, liable to be cast adrift without the assignment
of a single reason or the notice of a single hour. While the husband
possesses the power of a divorce--absolute, immediate, unquestioned--no
privilege of a corresponding nature has been reserved for the wife. She
hangs on, however unwilling, neglected, or superseded, the perpetual
slave of her lord, if such be his will. When actually divorced she can,
indeed, claim her dower--her _hire_, as it is called in the too plain
language of the Koran; but the knowledge that the wife can make this
claim is at the best a miserable security against capricious taste; and
in the case of bondmaids even that imperfect check is wanting. The power
of divorce is not the only power that may be exercised by the tyrannical
husband. Authority to _confine_ and to _beat_ his wives is distinctly
vested in his discretion.[72] "Thus restrained, secluded, degraded, the
mere minister of enjoyment, liable at the caprice or passion of the
moment to be turned adrift, it would be hard to say that the position of
a wife was improved by the code of Mohammed."[73] Even if the privilege
of divorce and marital tyranny be not exercised, the knowledge of its
existence as a potential right must tend to abate the self-respect, and
in like degree to weaken the influence of the sex, impairing thus the
ameliorating and civilizing power which she was meant to exercise upon
mankind. And the evil has been stereotyped by the Koran for all time.

[Sidenote: Principal Fairbairn on home-life under Islam.]
I must quote one more passage from Principal Fairbairn on the lowering
influence of Moslem domestic life:

     The God of Mohammed ... "spares the sins the Arab loves. A religion
     that does not purify the home cannot regenerate the race; one that
     depraves the home is certain to deprave humanity. Motherhood is to
     be sacred if manhood is to be honorable. Spoil the wife of sanctity
     and for the man the sanctities of life have perished. And so it has
     been with Islam. It has reformed and lifted savage tribes; it has
     depraved and barbarized civilized nations. At the root of its
     fairest culture a worm has ever lived that has caused its blossoms
     soon to wither and die. Were Mohammed the hope of man, then his
     state were hopeless; before him could only be retrogression,
     tyranny, and despair."[74]

[Sidenote: Demoralizing influence of servile concubinage.]
Still worse is the influence of servile concubinage. The following is
the evidence of a shrewd and able observer in the East:

     All zenana life must be bad for men at all stages of their
     existence.... In youth it must be ruin to be petted and spoiled by
     a company of submissive slave-girls. In manhood it is no less an
     evil that when a man enters into private life his affections should
     be put up to auction among foolish, fond competitors full of
     mutual jealousies and slanders. We are not left entirely to
     conjecture as to the effect of female influence on home-life when
     it is exerted under these unenlightened and demoralizing
     conditions. That is plainly an element _lying at the root of all
     the most important features that differentiate progress from

[Sidenote: Deteriorating influence of relations established between the
Such are the institutions which gnaw at the root of Islam and prevent
the growth of freedom and civilization. "By these the unity of the
household is fatally broken and the purity and virtue of the family tie
weakened; the vigor of the dominant classes is sapped; the body politic
becomes weak and languid, excepting for intrigues, and the throne itself
liable to fall a prey to a doubtful or contested
succession"[76]--contested by the progeny of the various rivals crowded
into the royal harem. From the palace downward polygamy and servile
concubinage lower the moral tone, loosen the ties of domestic life, and
hopelessly depress the people.

[Sidenote: The veil.]
Nor is the veil, albeit under the circumstances a necessary precaution,
less detrimental, though in a different way, to the interests of Moslem
society. This strange custom owes its origin to the Prophet's jealous
temperament. It is forbidden in the Koran for women to appear unveiled
before any member of the other sex with the exception of certain near
relatives of specified propinquity.[77] And this law, coupled with other
restrictions of the kind, has led to the imposition of the _boorka_ or
_purdah_ (the dress which conceals the person and the veil) and to the
greater or less seclusion of the harem and zenana.

[Sidenote: Society vitiated by the withdrawal of the female sex.
Mohammedan society, thus truncated, incapable of progress.
The defects of Mohammedan society.]
This ordinance and the practices flowing from it must survive, more or
less, so long as the Koran remains the rule of faith. It may appear at
first sight a mere negative evil, a social custom comparatively
harmless; but in truth it has a more debilitating effect upon the Moslem
race perhaps than any thing else, for by it _woman is totally withdrawn
from her proper place in the social circle_. She may, indeed, in the
comparatively laxer license of some lands be seen flitting along the
streets or driving in her carriage; but even so it is like one belonging
to another world, veiled, shrouded, and cut off from intercourse with
those around her. Free only in the retirement of her own secluded
apartments, she is altogether shut out from her legitimate sphere in the
duties and enjoyments of life. But the blight on the sex itself from
this unnatural regulation, sad as it is, must be regarded as a minor
evil. The mischief extends beyond her. The tone and framework of society
as it came from the Maker's hands are altered, damaged, and
deteriorated. From the veil there flows this double injury. The bright,
refining, softening influence of woman is withdrawn from the outer
world, and social life, wanting the gracious influences of the female
sex, becomes, as we see throughout Moslem lands, forced, hard,
unnatural, and morose. Moreover, the Mohammedan nations, for all
purposes of common elevation and for all efforts of philanthropy and
liberty, are (as they live in public and beyond the inner recesses of
their homes) but a truncated and imperfect exhibition of humanity. They
are wanting in one of its constituent parts, the better half, the
humanizing and the softening element. And it would be against the nature
of things to suppose that the body, thus shorn and mutilated, can
possess in itself the virtue and power of progress, reform, and
elevation. The link connecting the family with social and public life is
detached, and so neither is _en rapport_, as it should be, with the
other. Reforms fail to find entrance into the family or to penetrate the
domestic soil where alone they could take root, grow into the national
mind, live, and be perpetuated. Under such conditions the seeds of
civilization refuse to germinate. No real growth is possible in free and
useful institutions, nor any permanent and healthy force in those great
movements which elsewhere tend to uplift the masses and elevate mankind.
There may, it is true, be some advance, from time to time, in science
and in material prosperity; but the social groundwork for the same is
wanting, and the people surely relapse into the semi-barbarism forced
upon them by an ordinance which is opposed to the best instincts of
humanity. Sustained progress becomes impossible. Such is the outcome of
an attempt to improve upon nature and banish woman, the help-meet of
man, from the position assigned by God to her in the world.

[Sidenote: Yet the veil necessary under existing circumstances.]
At the same time I am not prepared to say that in view of the laxity of
the conjugal relations inherent in the institutions of Islam some such
social check as that of the veil (apart from the power to confine and
castigate) is not needed for the repression of license and the
maintenance of outward decency. There is too much reason to apprehend
that free social intercourse might otherwise be dangerous to morality
under the code of Mohammed, and with the example before men and women of
the early worthies of Islam. So long as the sentiments and habits of the
Moslem world remain as they are some remedial or preventive measure of
the kind seems indispensable. But the peculiarity of the Mussulman
polity, as we have seen, is such that the sexual laws and institutions
which call for restrictions of the kind as founded on the Koran are
incapable of change; they must co-exist with the faith itself, and last
while it lasts. So long, then, as this polity prevails the depression of
woman, as well as her exclusion from the social circle, must injure the
health and vitality of the body politic, impair its purity and grace,
paralyze vigor, retard progress in the direction of freedom,
philanthropy, and moral elevation, and generally perpetuate the normal
state of Mohammedan peoples, as one of semi-barbarism.

To recapitulate, we have seen:

[Sidenote: Recapitulation.]
_First._ That Islam was propagated mainly by the sword. With the tide of
conquest the religion went forward; where conquest was arrested made no
advance beyond; and at the withdrawal of the Moslem arms the faith also
commonly retired.

_Second._ The inducements, whether material or spiritual, to embrace
Islam have proved insufficient of themselves (speaking broadly) to
spread the faith, in the absence of the sword, and without the influence
of the political or secular arm.

_Third._ The ordinances of Islam, those especially having respect to the
female sex, have induced an inherent weakness, which depresses the
social system and retards its progress.

[Sidenote: Contrast with Christianity.]
If the reader should have followed me in the argument by which these
conclusions have been reached the contrast with the Christian faith has
no doubt been suggesting itself at each successive step.

[Sidenote: Christianity not propagated by force.]
Christianity, as Al Kindy has so forcibly put it, gained a firm footing
in the world without the sword, and without any aid whatever from the
secular arm. So far from having the countenance of the State it
triumphed in spite of opposition, persecution, and discouragement. "My
kingdom," said Jesus, "is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this
world, then would my servants fight that I should not be delivered to
the Jews; but now is my kingdom not from hence.... For this end came I
into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Every one that
is of the truth, heareth my voice."[78]

[Sidenote: Nor by worldly inducements.]
The religion itself, in its early days, offered no worldly attractions
or indulgences. It was not, like Islam, an "easy way." Whether in
withdrawal from social observances deeply tainted with idolatry, the
refusal to participate in sacrificial ceremonies insisted on by the
rulers, or in the renunciation of indulgences inconsistent with a
saintly life, the Christian profession required self-denial at every

[Sidenote: Adaptive principles and plastic faculty of Christianity.]
But otherwise the teaching of Christianity nowhere interfered with the
civil institutions of the countries into which it penetrated or with any
social customs or practices that were not in themselves immoral or
idolatrous. It did not, indeed, neglect to guide the Christian life. But
it did so by the enunciation of principles and rules of wide and
far-reaching application. These, no less than the injunctions of the
Koran, served amply for the exigencies of the day. But they have done a
vast deal more. They have proved themselves capable of adaptation to the
most advanced stages of social development and intellectual elevation.
And, what is infinitely more, it may be claimed for the lessons embodied
in the Gospel that they have been themselves promotive, if indeed they
have not been the immediate cause, of all the most important reforms and
philanthropies that now prevail in Christendom. The principles thus laid
down contained germs endowed with the power of life and growth which,
expanding and flourishing, slowly it may be, but surely, have at the
last borne the fruits we see.

[Sidenote: Examples: slavery.
Relations between the sexes.]
Take, for example, the institution of slavery. It prevailed in the Roman
Empire at the introduction of Christianity, as it did in Arabia at the
rise of Islam. In the Moslem code, as we have seen, the practice has
been perpetuated. Slavery must be held permissible so long as the Koran
is taken to be the rule of faith. The divine sanction thus impressed
upon the institution, and the closeness with which by law and custom it
intermingles with social and domestic life, make it impossible for any
Mohammedan people to impugn slavery as contrary to sound morality or for
any body of loyal believers to advocate its abolition upon the ground
of principle. There are, moreover, so many privileges and gratifications
accruing to the higher classes from its maintenance that (excepting
under the strong pressure of European diplomacy) no sincere and hearty
effort can be expected from the Moslem race in the suppression of the
inhuman traffic, the horrors of which, as pursued by Moslem
slave-traders, their Prophet would have been the first to denounce. Look
now at the wisdom with which the Gospel treats the institution. It is
nowhere in so many words proscribed, for that would, under the
circumstances, have led to the abnegation of relative duties and the
disruption of society. It is accepted as a prevailing institution
recognized by the civil powers. However desirable freedom might be,
slavery was not inconsistent with the Christian profession: "Art thou
called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made
free, use it rather."[e] The duty of obedience to his master is enjoined
upon the slave, and the duty of mildness and urbanity toward his slave
is enjoined upon the master. But with all this was laid the seed which
grew into emancipation. "_Our Father_," gave the key-note of freedom.
"Ye are _all_ the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." "There is
neither bond nor free, ... for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."[f] "He that
is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman."[g] The
converted slave is to be received "not now as a servant, but above a
servant, a brother beloved."[h] The seed has borne its proper harvest. Late
in time, no doubt, but by a sure and certain development, the grand
truth of the equality of the human race, and the right of every man and
woman to freedom of thought and (within reasonable limit of law) to
freedom of action, has triumphed; and it has triumphed through the
Spirit and the precepts inculcated by the Gospel eighteen hundred years
ago. Nor is it otherwise with the relations established between the
sexes. Polygamy, divorce, and concubinage with bondmaid's have been
perpetuated, as we have seen, by Islam for all time; and the ordinances
connected therewith have given rise, in the laborious task of defining
the conditions and limits of what is lawful, to a mass of prurient
casuistry defiling the books of Mohammedan law. Contrast with this our
Saviour's words, "_He which made them at the beginning made them male
and female.... What therefore God hath joined together let not man put
asunder_."[i] From which simple utterance have resulted monogamy and (in
the absence of adultery) the indissolubility of the marriage bond. While
in respect of conjugal duties we have such large, but sufficiently
intelligible, commands as "to render due benevolence,"[j] whereby, while
the obligations of the marriage state are maintained, Christianity is
saved from the impurities which, in expounding the ordinances of
Mohammed, surround the sexual ethics of Islam, and cast so foul a stain
upon its literature.

[Sidenote: Elevation of woman.]
Take, again, the place of woman in the world. We need no injunction of
the veil or the harem. As the temples of the Holy Ghost, the body is to
be kept undefiled, and every one is "to possess his vessel in
sanctification and honor."[k] Men are to treat "the elder women as mothers;
the younger as sisters, with all purity."[l] Women are to "adorn themselves
in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety."[m] These, and such
like maxims embrace the whole moral fitness of the several relations and
duties which they define. They are adapted for all ages of time and for
all conditions of men. They are capable of being taken by every
individual for personal guidance, according to his own sense of
propriety, and they can be accommodated by society at large with a due
reference to the habits and customs of the day. The attempt of Mohammed
to lay down, with circumstantial minuteness, the position of the female
sex, the veiling of her person, and her withdrawal from the gaze of man,
has resulted in seclusion and degradation; while the spirit of the
Gospel, and injunctions like that of "giving honor to the wife as to the
weaker vessel,"[n] have borne the fruit of woman's elevation, and have
raised her to the position of influence, honor, and equality which
(notwithstanding the marital superiority of the husband in the ideal of
a Christian family) she now occupies in the social scale.

[Sidenote: Relations with the State.
Christianity leaves humanity free to expand.]
In the type of Mussulman government which (though not laid down in the
Koran) is founded upon the spirit of the faith and the precedent of the
Prophet the civil is indissolubly blended with the spiritual authority,
to the detriment of religious liberty and political progress. The
_Ameer_, or commander of the faithful, should, as in the early times, so
also in all ages, be the _Imam_, or religious chief; and as such he
should preside at the weekly cathedral service. It is not a case of the
Church being subject to the State, or the State being subject to the
Church. Here (as we used to see in the papal domains) the Church is the
State, and the State the Church. They both are one. And in this we have
another cause of the backwardness and depression of Mohammedan society.
Since the abolition of the temporal power in Italy we have nowhere in
Christian lands any such theocratic union of Cæsar and the Church, so
that secular and religious advance is left more or less unhampered;
whereas in Islam the hierarchico-political constitution has hopelessly
welded the secular arm with the spiritual in one common scepter, to the
furthering of despotism, and elimination of the popular voice from its
proper place in the concerns of State.

[Sidenote: The Koran checks progress.]
And so, throughout the whole range of political, religious, social, and
domestic relations, the attempt made by the founder of Islam to provide
for all contingencies, and to fix every thing aforehand by rigid rule
and scale, has availed to cramp and benumb the free activities of life
and to paralyze the natural efforts of society at healthy growth,
expansion, and reform. As an author already quoted has so well put it,
"_The Koran has frozen Mohammedan thought; to obey it is to abandon

[Sidenote: Is Islam suitable for any nation?]
Writers have indeed been found who, dwelling upon the benefits conferred
by Islam on idolatrous and savage nations, have gone so far as to hold
that the religion of Mohammed may in consequence be suited to certain
portions of mankind--as if the faith of Jesus might peaceably divide
with it the world. But surely to acquiesce in a system which reduces the
people to a dead level of social depression, despotism, and
semi-barbarism would be abhorrent from the first principles of
philanthropy. With the believer, who holds the Gospel to be "good
tidings of great joy, _which shall be to all people_,"[o] such a notion is
on higher grounds untenable; but even in view of purely secular
considerations it is not only untenable, but altogether unintelligible.
As I have said elsewhere:

     The eclipse in the East, which still sheds its blight on the
     ancient seats of Jerome and Chrysostom, and shrouds in darkness the
     once bright and famous sees of Cyprian and Augustine, has been
     disastrous every-where to liberty and progress, equally as it has
     been to Christianity. And it is only as that eclipse shall pass
     away and the Sun of righteousness again shine forth that we can
     look to the nations now dominated by Islam sharing with us those
     secondary but precious fruits of divine teaching. Then with the
     higher and enduring blessings which our faith bestows, but not till
     then, we may hope that there will follow likewise in their wake
     freedom and progress, and all that tends to elevate the human

[Sidenote: No sacrifice for sin or redemptive grace.]
Although with the view of placing the argument on independent ground I
have refrained from touching the peculiar doctrines of Christianity, and
the inestimable benefits which flow to mankind therefrom, I may be
excused, before I conclude, if I add a word regarding them. The
followers of Mohammed have no knowledge of God as a _Father_; still less
have they knowledge of him as "_Our_ Father"--the God and Father of the
Lord Jesus Christ. They acknowledge, indeed, that Jesus was a true
prophet sent of God; but they deny his crucifixion and death, and they
know nothing of the power of his resurrection. To those who have found
redemption and peace in these the grand and distinctive truths of the
Christian faith, it may be allowed to mourn over the lands in which the
light of the Gospel has been quenched, and these blessings blotted out,
by the material forces of Islam; where, together with civilization and
liberty, Christianity has given place to gross darkness, and it is as if
now "there were no more sacrifice for sins." We may, and we do, look
forward with earnest expectation to the day when knowledge of salvation
shall be given to these nations "by the remission of their sins, through
the tender mercy of our God, whereby the Dayspring from on high hath
visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow
of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."[p]

[Sidenote: Contrast between divine and human work.]
But even apart from these, the special blessings of Christianity, I ask,
which now of the two faiths bears, in its birth and growth, the mark of
a divine hand and which the human stamp? Which looks likest the
handiwork of the God of nature, who "hath laid the measures of the
earth," and "hath stretched the line upon it,"[q] but not the less with an
ever-varying adaptation to time and place? and which the artificial

     [Sidenote: Islam.]
     "As a reformer, Mohammed did indeed advance his people to a certain
     point, but as a prophet he left them fixed immovably at that point
     for all time to come. As there can be no return, so neither can
     there be any progress. The tree is of artificial planting. Instead
     of containing within itself the germ of growth and adaptation to
     the various requirements of time, and clime, and circumstance,
     expanding with the genial sunshine and the rain from heaven, it
     remains the same forced and stunted thing as when first planted
     twelve centuries ago."[81]

[Sidenote: Christianity compared by Christ to the works of nature.]
Such is Islam. Now what is Christianity? Listen to the prophetic words
of the Founder himself, who compares it to the works of nature:

     "_So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the

     "_And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should
     spring and grow up, he knoweth not how._

     "_For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself: first the blade,
     then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear._"[r]

And again:

     "_Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God, or with what
     comparison shall we compare it?_

     "_It is like a grain of mustard-seed, which, when it is sown in the
     earth, is less than all seeds that be in the earth;_

     "_But when it is sown, it groweth up and becometh greater than all
     herbs, and shooteth out great branches, so that the fowls of the
     air may lodge under the shadow of it._"[s]

[Sidenote: Islam the work of man; Christianity the work of God.]
Which is _nature_, and which is _art_, let the reader judge. Which bears
the impress of man's hand, and which that of Him who "is wonderful in
counsel, and excellent in working?"

In fine, of the Arabian it may be said:

     "_Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further, and here shall thy
     proud waves be stayed._"

But of Christ:

     "_His name shall endure forever: his name shall be continued as
     long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall
     call him blessed._

     "_He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river
     unto the ends of the earth._

     "_Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth
     wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name forever: and let
     the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen, and Amen._"[t]


[e] 1 Cor. vii, 21.

[f] Gal. iii, 26, 28.

[g] 1 Cor. vii, 22.

[h] Philemon 16.

[i] Matt. xix, 4.

[j] 1 Cor. vii, 3.

[k] 1 Thess. iv, 4.

[l] 1 Tim. v, 2.

[m] 1 Tim. ii, 9.

[n] 1 Pet. iii, 7.

[o] Luke ii, 10.

[p] Luke i, 77-79.

[q] Job xxxviii, 5.

[r] Mark iv, 26-28.

[s] Mark iv, 30-32.

[t] Psa. lxxii, 17, 8, 18, 19.

     THE END.


[1] Barth.

[2] Bergaigne, in his able treatise, _La Religion Védique_,
insists earnestly on what he calls the "liturgical contamination of the
myths." See vol. iii, p. 320.

[3] R.V., ix, 42, 4.

[4] R.V., ix, 97, 24.

[5] The religion of the Indo-European race, while still united,
"recognized a supreme God; an organizing God; almighty, omniscient,
moral.... This conception was a heritage of the past.... The supreme God
was originally the God of heaven." So Darmesteter, _Contemporary
Review_, October, 1879. Roth had previously written with much learning
and acuteness to the same effect.

[6] Muir's _Sanskrit Texts_, v, 412.

[7] R.V., iii, 62, 10.

[8] The rites, says Haug, "must have existed from times
immemorial."--_Aitareya Brâhmana_, pp. 7, 9.

[9] Weber, _History of Indian Literature_, p. 38.

[10] Max Müller, _Ancient Sanskrit Literature_, p. 389.

[11] "The haughty Indra takes precedence of all gods." R.V., 1,

[12] "These two personages [Indra and Varuna] sum up the two
conceptions of divinity, between which the religious consciousness of
the Vedic Aryans seems to oscillate."--Bergaigne, _La Religion Védique_,
vol. iii, p. 149.

[13] The meaning of the term is not quite certain. _Sessions_,
or _Instructions_, may perhaps be the rendering. So Monier Williams.

[14] For example, Wordsworth:

                       "Thou, Thou alone
    Art everlasting, and the blessed Spirits
    Which Thou includest, as the sea her waves."
                    --_Excursion_, book iv.

[15] Or, the thing that really is--the [Greek: ontôs on].

[16] _Ekamadvitiyam._

[17] This illustration is in the mouth of every Hindu disputant
at the present day.

[18] Barth, p. 75.

[19] _Ekamadvitiyam._

            Volui tibi suaviloquenti
    Carmine Pierio rationem exponere nostram
    Et quasi Musæo dulci contingere melle.

[21] Dr. J. Muir, in _North British Review_, No. xlix, p. 224.

[22] _Miscellaneous Writings_ (Macmillan, 1861), vol. i, p.

[23] But the truth is that every man is accounted a good Hindu
who keeps the rules of caste and pays due respect to the Brahmans. What
he believes, or disbelieves, is of little or no consequence.

[24] Yaska, probably in the fifth century B.C.

[25] Weber thinks that Christian elements may have been
introduced, in course of time, into the representation.

[26] His Ramayana was written in Hindi verse in the sixteenth

[27] When Jhansi was captured in the times of the great mutiny
English officers were disgusted to see the walls of the queen's palace
covered with what they described as "grossly obscene" pictures. There is
little or no doubt that these were simply representations of the acts of
Krishna. Therefore to the Hindu queen they were religious pictures. When
questioned about such things the Brahmans reply that deeds which would
be wicked in men were quite right in Krishna, who, being God, could do
whatever he pleased.

[28] Born probably in 1649.

[29] Raja Narayan Basu (Bose), in enumerating the sacred books
of Hinduism, excluded the philosophical systems and included the
Tantras. He was and, we believe, is a leading man in the Adi Brahma

[30] Barth, as above, p. 202.

[31] So writes Vans Kennedy, a good authority. The rites,
however, vary with varying places.

[32] _Asiatic Researches_, v, p. 356.

[33] Cicero.

[34] We learned from his own lips that among the books which
most deeply impressed him were the Bible and the writings of Dr.

[35] See _Life of Mohammed_, p. 138. Smith & Elder.

[36] _Life of Mohammed_, p. 172, where the results are

[37] _Life of Mohammed_, p. 341; Sura ii, 257; xxix, 46.

[38] The only exceptions were the Jews of Kheibar and the
Christians of Najran, who were permitted to continue in the profession
of their faith. They were, however, forced by Omar to quit the
peninsula, which thenceforward remained exclusively Mohammedan.

"Islam" is a synonym for the Mussulman faith. Its original meaning is
"surrender" of one's self to God.

[39] _Apology of Al Kindy, the Christian_, p. 18. Smith &
Elder, 1882. This remarkable apologist will be noticed further below.

[40] Principal Fairbairn: "The Primitive Polity of Islam,"
_Contemporary Review_, December, 1882, pp. 866, 867.

[41] Herr von Kremer, _Culturgeschichte des Orients_, unter den
Chalifen, vol. i, p. 383.

[42] _Annals of the Early Caliphate_, p. 9. Smith & Elder,

[43] Gibbon's _Decline and Fall_, chapter li, and _Annals of
the Early Caliphate_, p. 184.

[44] _Ibid._; and Sura xliv, v. 25. _We_--that is, the Lord.

[45] _Annals of the Early Caliphate_, p. 46.

[46] See, for example, Sura lxxviii: "Verily for the pious
there is a blissful abode: gardens and vineyards; and damsels with
swelling bosoms, of a fitting age; and a full cup. Lovely large-eyed
girls, like pearls hidden in their shells, a reward for that which the
faithful shall have wrought. Verily We have created them of a rare
creation, virgins, young and fascinating.... Modest damsels averting
their eyes, whom no man shall have known before, nor any Jinn," etc.

The reader will not fail to be struck by the materialistic character of
Mohammed's paradise.

[47] See Sura _Jehad_; also _Annals of the Early Caliphate_, p.
167, _et. seq._

[48] _Annals of the Early Caliphate_, p. 105, _et. seq._

[49] See _Annals_, etc., p. 253.

[50] Sura ix, v. 30.

[51] So Jews and Christians as possessing the Bible are named
in the Koran.

[52] See _Annals_, etc., p. 213.

[53] _The Apology of Al Kindy_, written at the court of Al
Mamun A.H. 215 (A.D. 830), with an essay on its age and authorship, p.
12. Smith & Elder, 1882.

[54] _Ibid._, p. 34.

[55] _Apology_, p. 47, _et. seq._

[56] Alluding to the "_Ansar_," or mortal "Helpers" of Mohammed
at Medina. Throughout, the apologist, it will be observed, is drawing a
contrast with the means used for the spread of Islam.

[57] _Apology_, p. 16.

[58] _Apology_, p. 57.

[59] I am not here comparing the value of these observances
with those of other religions. I am inquiring only how far the
obligations of Islam may be held to involve hardship or sacrifice such
as might have retarded the progress of Islam by rendering it on its
first introduction unpopular.

[60] See Sura ii, v. 88.

[61] Sura iv, 18. "Exchange" is the word used in the Koran.

[62] Each of his widows had 100,000 golden pieces left her.
_Life of Mohammed_, p. 171.

[63] "These divorced wives were irrespective of his concubines
or slave-girls, upon the number and variety of whom there was no limit
or check whatever."--_Annals_, p. 418.

[64] Lane adds: "There are many men in this country who, in the
course of ten years, have married as many as twenty, thirty, or more
wives; and women not far advanced in age have been wives to a dozen or
more husbands successively." Note that all this is entirely within the
religious sanction.

[65] _Pilgrimage to Mecca_, by her highness the reigning Begum
of Bhopal, translated by Mrs. W. Osborne (1870), pp. 82, 88. Slave-girls
cannot be _married_ until freed by their masters. What her highness
tells of women _divorcing_ their husbands is of course entirely _ultra
vires_, and shows how the laxity of conjugal relations allowed to the
male sex has extended itself to the female also, and that in a city
where, if anywhere, we should have expected to find the law observed.

[66] In India, for example, there are Mohammedan races among
whom monogamy, as a rule, prevails by custom, and individuals exercising
their right of polygamy are looked upon with disfavor. On the other
hand, we meet occasionally with men who aver that rather against their
will (as they will sometimes rather amusingly say) they have been forced
by custom or family influence to add by polygamy to their domestic
burdens. In Mohammedan countries, however, when we hear of a man
confining himself to _one wife_, it does not necessarily follow that he
has no slaves to consort with in his harem. I may remark that
slave-girls have by Mohammedan laws no conjugal rights whatever, but are
like playthings, at the absolute discretion of their master.

[67] The case of the Corinthian offender is much in point, as
showing how the strict discipline of the Church must have availed to
make Christianity unpopular with the mere worldling.

[68] [Sidenote: Laxity among nominal Christians.]
_Apology_, p. 51. I repeat, that in the remarks I have made under this
head, no comparison is sought to be drawn betwixt the morality of
nominally Christian and Moslem peoples. On this subject I may be allowed
to quote from what I have said elsewhere: "The Moslem advocate will urge
... the social evil as the necessary result of inexorable monogamy. The
Koran not only denounces any illicit laxity between the sexes in the
severest terms, but exposes the transgressor to condign punishment. For
this reason, and because the conditions of what is licit are so
accommodating and wide, a certain negative virtue (it can hardly be
called continence or chastity) pervades Mohammedan society, in contrast
with which the gross and systematic immorality in certain parts of every
European community may be regarded by the Christian with shame and
confusion. In a purely Mohammedan land, however low may be the general
level of moral feeling, the still lower depths of fallen humanity are
unknown. The 'social evil' and intemperance, prevalent in Christian
lands, are the strongest weapons in the armory of Islam. We point, and
justly, to the higher morality and civilization of those who do observe
the precepts of the Gospel, to the stricter unity and virtue which
cement the family, and to the elevation of the sex; but in vain, while
the example of our great cities, and too often of our representatives
abroad, belies the argument. And yet the argument is sound. For, in
proportion as Christianity exercises her legitimate influence, vice and
intemperance will wane and vanish, and the higher morality pervade the
whole body; whereas in Islam the deteriorating influences of polygamy,
divorce, and concubinage have been stereotyped for all time."--_The
Koran: its Composition and Teaching, and the Testimony it bears to the
Holy Scriptures_, p. 60.

[69] [Sidenote: Alleged progress of Islam in Africa.]
Much loose assertion has been made regarding the progress of Islam in
Africa; but I have found no proof of it apart from armed, political, or
trading influence, dogged too often by the slave-trade; to a great
extent a social rather than a religious movement, and raising the fetich
tribes (haply without intemperance) into a somewhat higher stage of
semi-barbarism. I have met nothing which would touch the argument in the
text. The following is the testimony of Dr. Koelle, the best possible
witness on the subject:

"It is true the Mohammedan nations in the interior of Africa, namely,
the Bornuese, Mandengas, Pulas, etc., invited by the weak and
defenseless condition of the surrounding negro tribes, still
occasionally make conquests, and after subduing a tribe of pagans, by
almost exterminating its male population and committing the most
horrible atrocities, impose upon those that remain the creed of Islam;
but keeping in view the whole of the Mohammedan world this fitful
activity reminds one only of these green branches sometimes seen on
trees, already, and for long, decayed at the core from age."--_Food for
Reflection_, p. 37.

[70] _Apology_, p. 34.

[71] _Annals_, pp. 61, 224.

[72] Sura iv, v. 33.

[73] _Life of Mohammed_, p. 348.

[74] _The City of God_, p, 91. Hodder & Stoughton, 1883.

[75] _The Turks in India_, by H.G. Keene, C.S.I. Allen & Co.,

[76] _Annals_, etc., p. 457.

[77] See Sura xxxiv, v. 32. The excepted relations are:
"Husbands, fathers, husbands' fathers, sons, husbands' sons, brothers,
brothers' sons, sisters' sons, the captives which their right hands
possess, such men as attend them and have no need of women, or children
below the age of puberty."

[78] John xviii, 36, 37.

[79] Dr. Fairbairn, _Contemporary Review_, p. 865.

[80] _The Early Caliphate and Rise of Islam_, being the Rede
Lecture for 1881, delivered before the University of Cambridge, p. 28.

[81] _The Koran_, etc., p. 65.

Transcriber's Note: The following section was originally at the
beginning of the text.

The Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle.

STUDIES FOR 1891-92.

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