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DR. WEIL has stated, in his Introduction to
these Legends, that he chiefly extracted them
from original Arabic records, which are still re-
ceived by Mohammedans as the inspired biog-
raphies of the ancient patriarchs and prophets.

It must still farther be added that the leading
ideas of these Mohammedan legends, i. e., their
prominent historical narratives, and the doc-
trines and precepts which they either state ex-
pressly or imply, are contained in the Koran.
In some instances it gives their minutest partic-
ulars. Indeed, it would seem as if these legends
formed part, at least, of what the founder of the
Mohammedan faith terms " the mother of the
book," indicating that they preceded his Koran
in order of time, and embodied the germ of that
faith which he subsequently developed.

This idea is suggested by the learned German
compiler, and is corroborated by the fact that


the legends were unknown to the Arabs before
Mohammed began to preach, while in the Ko-
ran he refers to them as already familiar to his

But, be this as it may, it is certain that the
fact of their leading ideas being found in the
Koran invests them with divine authority to the
faithful Moslem, for it is a primary article of his
creed that every thing contained in the Koran
is of Allah. On first reading these legends, it
"therefore occurred to the writer that they might
be a valuable acquisition, as an epitome of Mo-
hammedan theology and morals. And their
peculiar character, their constant allusion to
scriptural facts, with which most Bible readers
strongly identify themselves, their novel, and
gorgeous, and often sublime inventions, invest-
ing them at once with the fidelity of historical
detail, and the freshness and fascination of Ori-
ental fiction, seem to fit them especially for pop-
ular instruction. If it be asked what benefit
may be derived from promulgating the tenets of
a professedly erroneous system, it is replied that
a distinction ought to be observed between the
false systems that have ceased to be believed,


and those which are still maintained as divine
truths by any portion of mankind.

It may be questioned whether the former
ought at all to be taught, although there are
reasons why even the exploded mythology of
the ancients should be known ; but respecting
the second class, to which the religion of Mo-
hammed belongs, there should be but one opin-

Our Redeemer has committed to us, in part,
the propagation of his holy faith, by which alone
he declares that mankind shall attain to that ho-
liness, peace, and glory for which they have
been created. The exhibition, therefore, in the
stewards of the Gospel, of a false religion, in
which, as in the case before us, one hundred and
twenty millions of our immortal race are at this"
moment staking their all, can not but be impor-
tant, at once to awaken within us feelings of
deep and active charity for these benighted mul-
titudes, and to furnish us with the requisite in-
telligence for effectually combating their griev-
ous errors with the weapons of truth.

Should the public feel any interest in this
work, the translator proposes, in a future vol-


ume, to discuss the legendary principle at some
length, and to show the analogy of its practical
working in the Jewish, the Mohammedan, and
Roman Catholic systems of religion.


MOHAMMED has been frequently reproached
with having altered and added most arbitrarily
to the religious history of the Jews and Christ-
ians, two important considerations not being
sufficiently borne in mind. In the first place,
it is probable that Mohammed learned only late
in life to write, or even to read the Arabic, and
he was unquestionably ignorant of every other
spoken or written language, as is sufficiently ap-
parent from historical testimony : hence he was
unable to draw from the Old and New Testa-
ments for himself, and was entirely restricted to
oral instruction from Jews and Christians.

Secondly, Mohammed himself declared both
the Old and New Testaments, as possessed by
the Jews and Christians of his time, to have been
falsified ; and, consequently, his own divine mis-
sion could be expected to agree with those writ-
ings only in part. But the turning-point on
which the greater portion of the Koran hinges
the doctrine of the unity of God, a doctrine
which he embraced with the utmost consistency,
and armed with which he appeared as a prophet
before the pagan Arabs, who were addicted to


the most diversified Polytheism appeared to
him much obscured in the Gospels, and he was
therefore forced to protest against their genu-

But with regard to the writings of the Jews
of the Old Testament, which he had received
from the mouth of his Jewish contemporaries,
he was induced to believe, or, at least, pretend-
ed to believe, that they too had undergone many
changes, inasmuch as Ismael, from whom he
was sprung, was evMently treated therein as a
step-child, or as the son of a discarded slave,
whereas Abraham's paternal love and solicitude,
as well as the special favor of the Lord, were
the exclusive portion of Isaac and his descend-
ants. The predictions respecting the Messiah,
too, as declared in the writings of the Prophets,
appeared to him incompatible wi 4 h the faith in
himself as the seal of the Prophets. Moreover,
Mohammed was probably indebted for his reli-
gious education to a man who, abandoning the
religion of Arabia, his native country, had sought
refuge first in Judaism, and then in Christianity,
though even in the latter he does not seem to
have found perfect satisfaction. This man, a
cousin of his wife Kadidja, urged forward by an
irresistible desire after the knowledge of truth,
but, as his repeated apostasies would serve to
show, being of a skeptical nature, may have dis-


covered the errors that had crept into all the
religious system of his time; and having ex-
tracted from them that which was purely Divine,
and freed it from the inventions of men, may
have propounded it to his disciple, who, deeply
affected by its repeated inculcation, at length
felt within himself a call to become the restorer
of the old and pure religion. A Judaism with-
out the many ritual and ceremonial laws, which,
according to Mohammed's declaration, even
Christ had been called to abolish, or a Christian-
ity without the Trinity, crucifixion, and salvation
connected therewith this was the creed which,
in the early period of his mission, Mohammed
preached with unfeigned enthusiasm.

It would be out of place here to exhibit in
detail the rapidly-changing character both of
Mohammed and his doctrines ; but what has
been said appeared indispensable by way of in-
troduction to the legends in this work. With
the exception of a few later additions, these le-
gends are derived from Mohammed himself.
Their essential features are found even in the
Koran, and what is merely alluded to there is
carried out and completed by oral traditions.
Hence these legends occupy a twofold place in
Arabic literature. The whole circle of the tra-
ditions, from Adam to Christ, containing, as they
do in the view of Mussulmans, real and undis-


puted matters of fact, which are connected with
the fate of all nations, forms the foundation of
the universal history of mankind ; while, on the
other hand, they are especially made use of as
the biography of the Prophets who lived before
Mohammed. It is therefore highly important
to ascertain the ground from which the source
of these legends has sprung, and to show the
transformation which they underwent in order
to serve as the fulcrum for the propagation of
the faith in Mohammed.

Respecting the origin of these legends, it will
appear, from what has been said, that, with the
exception of that of Christ, it is to be found in
Jewish traditions, where, as will appear by the
numerous citations from the Midrash, they are
yet to be seen. Many traditions respecting the
Prophets of the Old Testament are found in the
Talmud, which was then already closed, so that
there can be no doubt that Mohammed heard
them from Jews, to whom they were known,
either by Scripture or tradition. For that these
legends were the common property both of
Jews and Arabs can not be presumed, inasmuch
as Mohammed communicated them to the Arabs
as something new, and specially revealed to
himself ; and inasmuch as the latter actually
accused him of having received instruction from
foreigners. Besides Warraka, who died soon


after Mohammed's first appearance as a proph-
et, we know of two other individuals, who were
xvell versed in the Jewish writings, and with
whom he lived on intimate terms, viz., Abd Al-
lah Ibn Salam, a learned Jew, and Salman the
Persian, who had long lived among Jews and
Christians, and who, before he became a Mus-
sulman, was successively a Magian, Jew, and
Christian. The monk Bahira, too, whom, how-
ever, according to Arabic sources, he only met
once, on his journey to Bozra, was a baptized
Jew. All these legends must have made a deep
impression on a religious disposition like that of
Mohammed, and have roused within him the
conviction that at various times, when the de-
pravity of the human race required it, GOD se-
lected some pious individuals to restore them
once more to the path of truth and goodness.
And thus it might come to pass that, having no
other object than to instruct his contemporaries
in the nature of the Deity, and to promote their
moral and spiritual improvement, he might de-
sire to close the line of the Prophets with him-

But these legends the more especially further-
ed his object, inasmuch as in all of them the
Prophets are more or less misunderstood and
persecuted by the infidels, but, with the aid of
God, are made to triumph in the end. They


were therefore intended by him to serve as a
warning to his opponents, and to edify and com-
fort his adherents. But the legend of Abraham
he must have seized and appropriated with pe-
culiar avidity, on account of its special use as a
weapon both against Jews and Christians, while,
at the same time, it imparted a certain luster to
all the nations of Arabia descending through
Ismael from Abraham.

It is difficult to find out with precision how
much of this last legend was known in Arabia
before Mohammed ; but it is probable, that as
soon as the Arabs became acquainted with the
Scriptures and traditions of the Jews, they em-
ployed them in tracing down to Mohammed the
origin both of their race and of their temple.
But that they possessed no historical information
respecting it will appear from me fact that, not-
withstanding their genealogical skill, they con-
fess themselves unable to trace Mohammed's
ancestry beyond the twentieth generation. It
is, however, quite evident, not only that the le-
gends of Abraham and Ismael, which related
much that was favorable to the latter, concern-
ing which the Bible was silent, but that all the
others in like manner were more or less changed
and amplified by Mohammed, and adapted to
his own purposes. We are, however, inclined
to ascribe these modifications to the men by


whom he was surrounded rather than to him-
self; for we consider him, at least during the
period of his mission, as the mere tool of certain
Arabian reformers rather than an independent
prophet, or, at all events, more as a dupe than
a deceiver. Yet to him unquestionably belongs
the highly poetical garb in which we find these
legends, and which was calculated to attract

O 7

and captivate the imaginative minds of the Arabs
much more than the dull Persian fables narrated
by his opponents.

In the legend of Christ, it is not difficult to
discover the views of a baptized Jew. He ac-
knowledges in Christ the living Word, and the
Spirit of GOD, in contradistinction to the dead
letter and the empty ceremonial into which Ju-
daism had then fallen. In the miraculous birth
of Christ there is nothing incredible to him, for
was not Adam, too, created by the word of the
Lord ? He admits all the miracles of the Gos-
pel, for had not the earlier prophets also worked
miracles? Even in the Ascension he finds
nothing strange, for Enoch and Elias were also
translated to heaven. But that a true prophet
should place himself and his mother on a level
with the Most High God is repugnant to his
views, and he therefore rejects this doctrine as
the blasphemous invention of the priests. He
refuses also, in like manner, to believe the Cru-


cifixion, because it appears to him to reflect
upon the justice of GOD, and to conflict with the
history of former prophets, whom He had de-
livered out of every danger.* " No man shall
suffer for the sins of his neighbor," says the Ko-
ran : hence, though Christ might have followed
out his designs without the fear of death, it
seemed to him impossible that the Lord should
have permitted Christ, the innocent, to die in so
shameful a manner for the sins of other men.
But he regards as a Savior every prophet who
by divine revelation, and an exemplary and pi-
ous life, restores man to the way of salvation
which Adam had abandoned at his fall ; and
such a savior he believed himself to be.

Now, as the legend of Abraham was valuable
to Mohammed on account of the pure and sim-
ple lesson which it inculcated, as well as for its
connection with the sacred things of Mecca, so
he valued the legend of Christ especially for its
promise of the Paraclete, which he believed, or
at least proclaimed himself to be, and to which
appellation the meaning of his own name at
least furnished him with a better claim than
some others who had arrogated it to themselves

* The reader is reminded of what our Savior says of all the
righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous
Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, the son of Barachias, who per-
ished between the temple and the altar. E. T.


before him. Here, again, we perceive that Mo-
hammed was probably misinformed both by
Jews and Christians, though perhaps from no
sordid motive. Some one, for instance, as
Maccavia has already observed, may have told
him that Christ had spoken of a peryclete a
word which is synonymous with Ahmed (the
much-praised one). At all events, in all the le-
gends of the Mussulmans, Mohammed is declared
even by the oldest prophets to be the greatest of
all that were to come (although there are fewer
traces of this found in the Koran) ; and wherever,
in the Jewish legends, Moses, Israel, and the
Thora are prominently brought forward, there
the Mussulmans place Mohammed, the Arabs,
and the Koran. The name to which they most
frequently appeal as their voucher is Kaab Alah-
bar, a Jew, who embraced Islamism during the
caliphate of Omar. As translations of the Koran
abound in the German language, it can not be
difficult for the reader to separate those portions
of these legends composed by Mohammed from
those which were afterward interpolated, but
which were ascribed to him, and descended to
posterity as sacred traditions.

The oral traditions respecting the ancient
prophets, which are put into Mohammed's mouth,
are so numerous, and some of them so contra-
dictory, that no historian or biographer has been


able to admit them all. It was therefore nec-
essary to select ; and in order to make them in
some degree complete, we were obliged to draw
from various sources, as it was only in this way
that the unity and roundness could be obtained
in which they are here presented to the reader.
Besides the Koran and the commentaries
upon it, the following MSS. have been made
use of for this little work :

1. The book Chamis, by Husein Ibn Moham-
med, Ibn Ahasur Addiarbekri (No. 279 of the
Arabian MSS. in the library of the Duke of
Gotha), which, as the introduction to the biog-
raphy of Mohammed, contains many legends re-
specting the ancient prophets, especially Adam,
Abraham, and Solomon.

2. The book Dsachirat Alulum wanatidjal
Alfuhum (storehouse of wisdom and fruits of
knowledge), by Ahmed Ibn Zein Alabidin AI-
bekri (No. 285 of the above-mentioned MSS.),
in which also the ancient legends from Adam
to Christ are prefixed to the History of Islam,
and more especially the lives of Moses and
Aaron minutely narrated.

3. A collection of legends by anonymous au-
thors. (No. 909 of the same collection.)

4. The Legends of the Prophets (Kissat Alan-
bija), by Muhammed Ibn Ahmed Alkissai. (No.
764 of the Arabic MSS. of the Royal Library
at Paris.)





NOAH, HUD, AND SALIH ......... 53












THE most authentic records of antiquity which
have come down to us state that Adam was
created on Friday afternoon, at the hour of

The four most exalted angels, Gabriel, Mi-
chael, Israfil, and Israil, were commanded to
bring from the four corners of the earth the
dust out of which Allah formed the body of
Adam, all save the head and heart. For these
He employed exclusively the sacred earth of
Mecca and Medina, from the very spots on
which, in later times, the holy Kaaba and the
sepulchre of Mohammed were erected. f

* The hour of Assr is between noon and evening, and is set
apart by the Mussulman for the performance of bis third daily

t Mohammed, the founder of Islam, was born in 571 A.D., at
Mecca, where the Kaaba, then an ancient temple, was held in
great veneration. In 622 the idolaters of Mecca compelled him
to emigrate to Medina, where he died in June, 632. Vide Gu-
tavus Weill. Mohamed der Prophet, fein Leben vnd seine Lehre,
&.c Stuttgart. 1843, Svo.


Even before it was animated, Adam's beauti-
ful form excited the admiration of the angels
who were passing by the gates of Paradise,
where Allah had laid it down. But Iblis covet-
ed man's noble form, and the spiritual and love-
ly expression of his countenance, and said, there-
fore, to his fellows, " How can this hollow piece
of earth be well pleasing in your sight? Noth-
ing but weakness and frailty may be expected
of this creature." When all the inhabitants of
heaven, save Iblis, had gazed on Adam in long
and silent wonder, they burst out in praises to
Allah, the creator of the first man, who was so
tall, that when he stood erect upon the earth
his head reached to the seventh heaven.

Allah then directed the angels to bathe the
Soul of Adam, which he had created a thousand
years before his body, in the sea of glory which
proceedeth from himself, and commanded her to
animate his yet lifeless form. The Soul hesita-
ted, for she was unwilling to exchange the
boundless heavens for this narrow home; but
Allah said, " Thou must animate Adam even
against thy will ; and as the punishment of thy
disobedience, thou shall one day be separated
from him also against thy will." Allah then,
breathed upon her with such violence that she
rushed through the nostrils of Adam into his
head. On reaching his eyes, they were opened,


and he saw the throne of Allah, with the in-
scription, " There is but one GOD, and Moham-
med is his Messenger." The Soul then pene-
trated to his ears, and he heard the angels prais-
ing Allah ; thereupon his own tongue was loosed,
and he cried, " Blessed be thou, my Creator, the
only One and Eternal !" and Allah answered,
" For this end wast thou created ; thou and thy
descendants shall worship me ; so shall ye ever
obtain grace and mercy." The Soul at last
pervaded all the limbs of Adam ; and when she
had reached his feet, she gave him the power to
rise ; but, on rising, he was obliged to shut his
eyes, for a light shone on him from the throne
of the Lord which he was unable to endure;
and pointing with one hand toward it, while
he shaded his eyes with the other, he inquired,
" O Allah ! what flames are those ?" " It is the
light of a prophet who shall descend from thee
and appear on earth in the latter times. By
my glory, only for his sake have I created thee
and the whole world.* In heaven his name is
Ahmed,f but he shall be called Mohammed on
earth, and he shall restore mankind from vice
and falsehood to the path of virtue and truth."

* The Midrash Jalkut (Frankfort on the O., 5469), says Rabb'i
Juda, teaches that the world was created on account of the mer-
its of Israel. R. Hosia says it was created on account of the Thora
(the Law) ; and R. Barachia, on account of the merits of Moses.

* The much-praised One.


All created things were then assembled be-
fore Adam, and Allah taught him the names of
all beasts, of birds, and of fish ; the manner in
which they are sustained and propagated, and
explained their peculiarities, and the ends of
their existence. Finally, the angels were con-
voked, and Allah commanded them to bow
down to Adam, as the most free and perfect of
His creatures, and as the only one that was ani-
mated by His breath. Israfil was the first to
obey, whence Allah confided to him the book
of Fate. The other angels followed his exam-
ple : Iblis alone was disobedient, saying*,' with
disdain, " Shall I, who am created of fire, wor-
ship a being formed of the dust?" He was
therefore expelled from heaven, and the en-
trance into Paradise was forbidden him.

Adam breathed more freely after the removal
of Iblis; and by command of Allah, he address-
ed the myriads of angels who were standing
around him, in praise of His omnipotence and
the wonders of His universe ; and on this occa-
sion he manifested to the angels that he far sur-
passed them in wisdom, and more especially in
the knowledge of languages, for he knew the
name of every created thing in seventy different

* When the Lord intended to create man, he consulted with
the angels, and said to them, " We will create man after our im-

EVE. 23

After this discourse, Allah presented him,
through Gabriel, with a bunch of grapes from
Paradise, and when he had eaten them he fell
into a deep sleep. The Lord then took a rib
from Adam's side, and formed a woman of it,
whom he called Hava [Eve], for he said, I have
taken her from (hai) the living. She bore a per-
fect resemblance to Adam ; but her features
were more delicate than his, and her eyes shone
with a sweeter luster, her hair was longer, and
divided into seven hundred braids ; her form
was lighter, and her voice more soft and pure.

While Allah was endowing Eve with every
female charm, Adam was dreaming of a second
human being resembling himself. Nor was this
strange, for had he not seen all the creatures
which had been presented to him in pairs ?
When, therefore, he awoke, and found Eve near
him, he desired to embrace her ; yet, although
her love exceeded his own, she forbade him, and
said, " Allah is my lord ; it is only with his per-
mission that I may be thine ! Besides, it is not

age." But they replied, " What is man, that thou art mindful of
him? What are his excellences?" He said, "His wisdom ex-
ceeds your own." He then took all kinds of wild beasts and
birds, and when he asked the angels to give their names, they
were not able to do. so. After the creation, he brought these ani-
mals to Adam, who, on being asked their names, replied imme-
diately, " This is an ox, this is an ass, that a horse, a camel," &c.
(Compare Geiger, Was hat Moharned aus dem Judenthum auf-
genommen, p. 99, &c.)


meet that a woman should be wedded without
a marriage gift." Adam then prayed the angel
Gabriel to intercede for him with Allah, that he
might obtain Eve for his wife, and to inquire
what marriage gift would be demanded'. The
angel soon returned, and said, " Eve is thine, for

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Online LibraryGustav WeilThe Bible, the Koran, and the Talmud, or, Biblical legends of the Mussulmans → online text (page 1 of 15)