J. W. H. (James William Hampson) Stobart.

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A MAP tniilu.n-aie ISLAMISM



BY ,' . '













New York : Pott, Young, & Co.





3rd Octolcr, 1S76.


I AM SO much indebted to the researches of
others for the contents of this little Manual,
that I scarcely know where to begin my ac-
knowledgments. My especial thanks are due
to Sir W. Muir, for the valuable aid of his
work * — confessedly the best on the subject, —
which I have taken as my guide in these pages.
Sale's translation is used in the quotations from
the Koran, and from his " Preliminary Dis-
course" and " Notes" I have freely quoted. I
have also found valuable aid in the writings of
Freeman {TJic Saracens), Forster {GeograpJiy
of Arabia), Kasimirski {Koran), Irving {Life
of MaJiomct), Monier Williams {Indian Wis-
dom), Lane {Modern Egyptians, &c), Burton
{El Mecca and El Medineh), Kennedy, the Rev.
J. {Christianity and the Religions of India),
Hughes, the Rev. T. P. {Notes on MuJiamvia-
danisni), Lamartine, Prideaux, Deutsch, Bos-
worth Smith, Gibbon, and others who have
written on the subject.

* " Life of Mahomet," 4 vols. 4to. London.
B 2



I have thought best to retain the spelling
« Mahomet," " Koran," " Caliph," " Wahabee,"
&c., as being naturalized in our language, and as
likely to hold their place till some uniform
system of transliteration is generally adopted.^

With regard to the contents of this book, I
am not conscious that any important matter
connected with Islam, or regarding its founder,
has been omitted. In treating of the leading
features of the Mahometan system I have sought
to state facts and results, rather than to attribute
motives ; and, whilst compromising nothing of
the truth, have endeavoured to avoid every-
thing which would appear like partisanship or

Sincerely trusting that I may not, in any
particular, have neglected the golden rule of
Christian Charity in speaking of " the great
antagonistic Creed," and fully conscious of the
imperfections of my work, whose aim is to be
a popular exposition of the subject, I now
submit it to the indulgent criticism of the

J. W. H. S.

Clifton, 5M July, 1876.

' We meet with " Muhammad," " Mohammed," " Moham-
mad"; Quran, Coran, Al-coran, C-kooran, &c. The verse-
numbers are those of Kasimirski.



I. — Geography, Early History, and Peopling

OF Arabia 5

II. — Ancient Religious Observances of the

Arabs, and Ancestry of Mahomet , 29

III. — Birth of Mahomet, and Life to his Fortieth

Year.— [A.D. 570-610.] 45

IV. — Mahomet's Legation, and the first Esta-
blishment OF Islam. — [A.D. 610-617.] 69

V. — Early Teaching at Mecca 86

VI. — Last Years of Mahomet at Mecca. — [A.D.

617-622.] 123

VII. — The Latest Teaching at Mecca 135

VIII. — Mahomet's Career at Medina. — [A.D. 622-

632.] 148

IX. — Mahomet's Teaching at Medina 1S5

X. — Islam 196

XI. — Spread of Islam 208

XII. — Conclusion 227




"Jezeret-ul-Arab," or the Chersonese of Arabia,
is the name given by its inhabitants to the great
peninsula which, bordered by the Red Sea, the
Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf, and the deserts
which extend to the Euphrates, stretches, in round
numbers, from the 12th to the 34th degree of north
latitude. Its length, from the Mediterranean to the
Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb, is about 1,400 miles, its
breadth across the neck of the peninsula is 800 miles,
whilst its coast-line on the Indian Ocean approaches
1,200 miles. " Although Arabia is not greatly inferior
in extent to India, it does not possess a single
navigable river." ^ Few of its streams reach the
ocean. Most of them exist only when swelled by the
periodic rains, and, as a rule, lose themselves in the
sandy plains. Arabia forms a part of that barren and
nearly rainless region, of which the Sahara, in Africa,
and the deserts of Shamo, in Thibet, form the western

' Muir, I. cxlvi.


and eastern boundaries. It embraces, within its
extent, strange varieties of scenery and soil, — barren
hills, vast sandy deserts uninhabited and uninhabit-
able, a rock-bound coast, stretches of excellent pas-
turage and fertile wadies, which, contrasted with the
bleak wilderness around, charm the traveller with an
unspeakable freshness and verdure.

The name Arabia was often used by old writers in
a wide sense. Thus it is applied by Pliny to part of
Mesopotamia; by Herodotus (ii. 12) to Syria, and to the
coast of the Red Sea between it and the Nile valley.
The general division of Arabia, by Greek and Roman
writers, is into Arabia Deserta and Arabia Felix. This
latter epithet is probably only a mistaken translation
of " El Yemen," — the land on the right hand, that is,
of the south, for the Orientals faced east ; as con-
trasted with Syria, which in Arabic is called " El
Sham," or the country to the left of Mecca. The
third division, Arabia Petraea, that is, Arabia of
Petra, first appears in Ptolemy, applied to the Sinai
district. Arabia Deserta was inhabited entirely by
nomad tribes — Scenitae — tent-men, and Saraceni.
Arabia Felix was occupied by more settled tribes, as
the Sabsei, &c. Their principal port was Aden, the
Arabias Emporium of Ptolemy. The Arabians were
never subdued, properly speaking, as a nation.
Indeed, their innumerable tribal and political divi-
sions, and the nature of the country, rendered their
subjugation to a foreign power next to impossible.
They gave to the Great King, as allies, not as sub-
jects, a gift of one thousand talents of frankincense
(Herodotus, iii. 97).


The Emperor Augustus (B.C. 24) sent an expe-
dition of Arabian discovery and conquest, under
^lius Gallus, the Roman governor of Egypt; of
ivhich PHny and Strabo have left accounts. The
latter was a personal friend of the commander, and
his narration may probably be relied upon. Great
difference of opinion exists as to the geographical
interpretation of the accounts extant. The expedi-
tion embarked from Cleopatris, the modem Suez,
and, after a voyage of fifteen days, landed at " Leuke
Kome," a port of the Hejaz, on the Arabian shore
of the Red Sea. Partly owing to sickness, which
delayed the army a year, and the treachery of
the Arabian (Nabathean) King of Petra — Obodas,
and his minister Syllseus, who for six months led the
force alternately through deserts and fertile tracts, the
expedition failed. Among other places which were
taken and destroyed was Mariaba — a city six miles
in circumference. Thence they proceeded to Mar-
syaba, the siege of which, from the strength of its
fortifications and the scarcity of water, they were
obliged to raise. They retreated, and in tAvo months
reached " Nera Kome," whence they embarked and
landed at Myos Hormus, in Egypt. Mr. Forster^ has
sought, with apparent success, to identify these
places ; but Sir W. Muir thinks it " impossible to

' Vol. ii. sec. 6 : "Leuke Kome"=El Hailra, or Horan, north
ofYembo. "Nera Kome "=Yembo of the Calingii, or Beni
Khaled. " Mariaba," identified with Mareb in Bahrein, on the
Persian Gulf ; not Mareb, the capital of the Sabeans, in Yemen.
" Marsyaba "=Sabbia, or Sabe, north of Jebel, Climax Mons,
in Wadi Najran.


recognize any of the to\^ais through which the expe-
dition passed." ^

The Emperor Trajan (A.D. 105) made Arabia.
from Damascus (El Sham) to the Red Sea, including
the kingdom of Nabathea, a province under the
governor of Syria, Cornelius Palma. Petra was its
chief town ; but it gradually sank with the loss of its
caravan trade, and Bostra grew into importance. In
the third century it was divided into two provinces,
with these two towns as their respective capitals.

South Arabia (Yemen) has, from time to time,
felt the influence of political vicissitude and foreign
subjection, to which allusion will hereafter be made ;
but, generally speaking, Arabia, protected by the
deserts of sand and sea which surround it, has but
partially, and that only on its border lands, been
subjected to those political revolutions which have
affected the neighbouring countries ; and its peoples
present the picture of a race still, after centuries,
retaining nationally the characteristics of their primi-
tive condition, unchanged by successive deluges of
alien immigration or foreign conquest.

A nearly continuous range of lofty hills and
mountains runs down the peninsula, irregularly parallel
to the Red Sea. In some places the hills approach
the coast, whilst here and there they recede, so as to
leave a broad margin of low land. From this longitudi-
nal chain, three other ranges extend. In the north
the Jebel Shammar, running eastward from about the
head of the Gulf of Akaba ; in the centre Jebel Ared,


extending from near Mecca to the Persian Gulf; in
the south irregular ranges of generally barren moun-
tains overlooking the sea, extend from the Straits of
Bab-el-Mandeb through the provinces of Hadhramaut
and Oman.

Between the ranges of Jebel Shammar and Jebel
Ared lies the high central land of Najd. It is a
lofty plateau or steppe, rising to the height of some
9,000 feet, its water-shed generally being from west
to east. It is a fertile country, and produces the finest
breed of horses in Arabia.

The Hejaz, lying between Najd and the Red Sea,
and running along the latter, includes the sacred
cities of Mecca and Medina, with their respective
ports of Jiddah and Yembo. It is about loo miles
broad, the land generally rising to the granite peaks
of Jebel Kora, whence eastward is the high land of
Najd. It is the holy land of Islam. It was conquered
by Muhammad Ali, of Egypt, and in 1S40 incor-
porated with the empire of Turkey.

The south-western portion of the peninsula is the
fertile Yemen, where perennial streams flow from the
mountains to the sea. It is rich in corn-fields and
coffee-gardens, and its soil and vegetation entitle it to
the name it bears of "Arabia Felix." North of Yemen
lies the district of Najran. Politically, Yemen is
under the government of an Imam who resides at
Sana : its chief port is IMocha.

Hadhramaut lies along the south coast, which,
though presenting from the sea a nearly uniform aj)-
pearance of barrenness and desolation, is a short dis-
tance inland fruitful in the highest degree. A glowing


description of it is to be found in Wellsted's " Travels
in Arabia" (vol. i. pp. 115, 116). He says that the
country about Minna, in the Jebel-el-Akhdar, or green
mountains of Oman, abounds in the most luxuriant
cultivation. Verdant fields of grain stretch for miles ;
streams of water flowing in every direction, groves of
citron, almond, and orange trees, and a happy, con-
tented peasantry, make up a picture worthy of Araby
the blest.

The chief towns of Oman are Rostok and
Muscat. The Imam of the latter town exercises
sway in Oman, and as far into the interior as he
can make his influence felt. South of Yamama lies
the great dessert of Akhaf, which extends from
near Mecca to Oman. On its border -lands the
neighbouring tribes find, after the periodic rains,
pasturage for their flocks and herds. Some of its
arid tracts are reported never to have been explored.
It is called by the Bedouins " Roba-el-Khaly," the
empty abode. The only habitable spot in its dreary
expanse of sand is Wadi-Jebryn, by which place the
Arabs of Najd travel An winter to Hadhramaut.
Along the Persian Gulf lies the province of Bahrein.

Arabia is a land of drought and barrenness.
Some of its desert sandy wastes and granite hills are
refreshed by scarcely a single shower in the year ; at
other times violent rains rapidly fill the tanks and
wadies, and give rise to a luxuriant and intermittent
vegetation. The date-palm is almost the only tree,
and the weary traveller, as he traverses the country,
finds but scanty shelter from the glaring sun. Aromatic
herbs and a coarse undergrowth take the place of our


grassy fields, and afford excellent pasturage to vast
flocks, and to a noble breed of horses. In the
higher lands, where well watered, a greater luxuriance
prevails. Coffee, dates, and other fruits, cotton,
balsam, myrrh, and frankincense are, together with
" dhurra," which takes the place of corn, its staple
products and exports. Arabia has no native indus-
try, but is dependent on other countries for manu-
factured commodities. Its intellectual supremacy
has long since departed ; though schools exist
throughout the country, little is taught beyond the
reading of the Koran, a little elementary arithmetic,
and science.

The mode of life of the Arabs is of three
kinds : either they are nomadic (Bedouin), obtaining
their livelihood from the rearing of camels, horses,
cattle, and sheep, pitching their tents within certain
limits, where water and pasturage are most abundant ;
or they are engaged in the transport of mer-
chandise along the trading routes through the
desert, in search of which employment they travel
over the country with their camels ; or they are
sedentary, dwelling in towns either inland or on
the seaboard, and engage in commerce with the in-
terior or with the ports on the coast, on the opposite
shores of Africa and Persia, or with India. In
ancient times commercial intercourse was confined
almost exclusively to the land, for in those days the
trader trusted to the treacherous ocean as little as
possible ; and the spices and precious wares of Arabia
and India were conveyed to the northern marts on the
" ship of the desert " by settled routes, the halting-


places being fixed at regular intervals, where shade,
water, and provender were to be obtained. Here the
weary traveller and his more wearied beasts of burden
could rest and refresh themselves. At some of these
halting-places regular towns in time arose, supported
by the traffic which in many cases had called them
into existence.

There appear to have been t^vo chief routes ,
one from Yemen through the Hejaz, passing Mecca
and Petra, chiefly supplying Egypt and Palestine ;
and another from Hadhramaut by the Persian Gulf,
and thence branching off to the Euphrates valley, cxnd
chief towns of Syria, — Damascus and Tyre.

The prophet Ezekiel (B.C. 600), c. xxvii., in
taking up the lamentation of Tyrus, speaks of its
traffic with Arabia, the multitude of its wares (v. 16),
its spices and gold (v. 22), and mentions some of the
ports of Yemen and Hadhramaut, Haran, and Canneh
and Eden, which retain their names to this day.

The western caravan route was in use in Ma-
homet's time, and his great-grandfather Hashim
died at Gaza when on a mercantile expedition to
Syria. Eventually the growing skill in navigation
during Roman times annihilated the caravan trade,
and substituted the sea route. The holy city of
Mecca felt the loss of this inland traffic, but in its
shrine — the Kaaba, — universally recognized as a place
of pilgrimage throughout the peninsula, it possessed an
element of life unknown at Petra ; and with the rise
and progress of Islam continued to flourish, and still
thrives on the stream of pilgrims who visit it.

Living thus in tents, or in temporary dwellings,


and leading a free, wandering life, the Arab is simple
and temperate in his habits and wants. He is
generous and reverential in his mode of thought,
acute and imaginative, delighting in eloquence,
and easily touched by the charms of poetry. He
is sudden and quick in honour, addicted to re-
venge as a sacred duty, yet strongly bound by the
laws of hospitality. His character has its dark side
too. He is careless of human life, and considers
every stranger who is not of his kindred or tribe, or
an ally, an enemy, whom, if occasion require, he will
not scruple to circumvent by the blackest treachery.
He is, as a rule, bigoted and selfish, and prone to
debauchery ; his reverence degenerates into fanati-
cism, and he is regardless of suffering in others.
Cleanliness and the ordinary laws of sanitation are
ignored. Burckhardt draws a deplorable picture of
the filthy state of Mecca during his visit.

The remote ancestry of the Arab race has been
represented as involved in much obscurity. Historians
and geographers, in seeking to fix it with any degree
of accuracy, have as their guides the following sources
of information : —

(i) The Scripture record in the Old Testament.

(2) The records of Greek and Roman writers.

(3) The present names of places, regions, and

(4) Information regarding the local habits and
characteristics supplied by modern travellers.

(5) Arab traditions, and the writings of their own

Of the above, the Scripture records are the


only sure guides in any attempt to penetrate the
darkness of their early history. From classical
sources information of high value is also to be
derived, and the names of places, regions, and
nations, either obsolete or still remaining, form
data of very great authority in this field of investiga-
tion. Tradition has, especially with such a nation,
its value ; but the Arab genealogies and their own
accounts of their early ancestry are so mixed up
with fabulous details, their chronology is so evidently
manufactured, contradictory and foolish, as to merit
little credence.

From such authorities the industry of modern
research seems to have set in clear light the ancestry
of this ancient people, and demonstrated the strict
and literal accuracy, regarding the post-diluvian peo-
pling of the world, of the Mosaic records, and of the
other scattered notices to be found throughout the
books of the Old Testament.^

Any information derived from ethnological or
geogi'aphical sources which illustrates and confirms
the Mosaic record cannot fail to be of the highest
value to the Christian reader ; and an intimate know-
ledge of Arabia in its past and present state, its tradi-
tions and tribal occupations and local nomenclature,
its monuments and antiquities, will be found satisfac
torily to sustain the sacred account of the distribution
of mankind after the Flood, and has paramount claims
on the Christian scholar and theologian.

For however firm our belief in the authenticity

' On this subject the reader should consult "The Geography
of Arabia," by the Rev. Mr. Forster.


of the books of the Old Testament as the only sure
and authentic guide in the study of the early history
of our race, still, when we find living memorials and
undesigned confirmations of the same in Arabia, we
cannot but receive the same with feelings of grateful
recognition. From the authorities mentioned above,
it may be shown that the Arab race is sprung from
the five great patriarchal stocks of (i) Gush, (2) Shem,
(3) Ishmacl, (4) Keturah, and (5) Esau.

The limits of this work and its especial object
induce me, reluctantly, to abandon the attempt to
give the reader any detailed account of the settle-
ments in Arabia of the children of Gush and Shem,
of Esau and Keturah. The Old Testament records,
by incidental allusions, afford the most literal proofs
of their migration thither.^ Of Gushite settlements
the clearest traces are still to be found on the coast of
the Persian Gulf, and in the province of Oman. In
the word Ghuzestan, or the land of Gush ; in the names
Asabi or Sabi (Seba), the Hammseum Littus of Pliny
(Ham), the island of Aval (Havilah), the chief of the
Bahrein group, and in Regma (Raamah), and Dadena
(Dedan), probable memorials of the ancient Scripture
names still remain.^ Sale, in his " Preliminary Dis-
course," says, " Others of the Arabs were the posterity
of Ham by his son Gush, which name is in the
Scripture constantly given to the Arabs and their
country, though our version renders it Ethiopia ; but,

* Conf. Num. xii. i (margin) ; Ezek. xxviii. 20-22 ; Ps. Ixxii.
10 ; Job i. 15 ; Habak. iii. 7 ; iv. 39-41.
' Conf. Gen. x. 6-8; Forster, i. 73; IMuir, i. ex.


Strictly speaking, the Cushites ^ did not inhabit Arabia,
properly so called, but the banks of the Euphrates
and the Persian Gulf, whither they came from Chu-
zestan, or Susiana, the original settlement of their
father " (p. 9).

Very ancient tradition pronounces the great existing
race of the Beni Kahtan to be the descendants of Shem,
the stock of the patriarch Eber by his second son Joktan.^
This cherished tradition of the Arab race, which
claims the patriarch Joktan (or Kahtan) as the ancestor
of the race (which has spread from near Mecca in the
Hejaz, throughout the whole of Yemen and the south
coast of Oman, and is found also in the Najd, having
dominated over all other races in those parts), is sup-
ported by strong evidence in the names of places
and localities still existing. It may be clearly shown
that the very names given in the Old Testament are
to be identified in the settlement of the great Semitic
race, and thus that here again the sacred record,
Arab tradition, the statements of the classical writers,
and modern geography are unanimous in their inde-
pendent testimony.

The descendants of Abraham by Keturah, and
of Esau,3 gained a strong and permanent footing in
the northern parts of the peninsula and on the shores

• On the identity of the name "Midianite" and "Cushite"
see Forster, vol. i. p. 12, ei seq.

9 Conf. D'Herbelot, art. "Arab," i. p. 34S ; W. Irving,
"Life of Mahomet," p. 112; Forster, i. 77-175 ; Muir, "The
Life of Mahomet," i. p. cvii(x). ; Lamartine, " Hist, de T,"
i. p. 370 ; Sale, P. D., p. i.

^ Gen. XXV. 1-6 ; xxxvi. 1-43.


of the Gulf of Akaba ; and frequent reference to
them as peoples of Arabia is to be found in the pro-
phetic books of the Old Testament.^ The greatness
of the race of Esau, as foretold in Scripture, was
abundantly fulfilled in after-times. It is allowed by
the best authorities ^ that the great Arab nation of
Amalek was descended from the grandson of Esau ;
and the richness and fertility of their possessions is
referred to by a recent traveller.^ The name of this
race is still imprinted on the shores of the Red Sea, in
"Ras Edom" and ''Jezeret Edom," a cape and island
of the Hejaz. The existence of the Edomite settle-
ments found there, in Yemen, and on the Persian
Gulf, supports the statement of the classical writers
that the Edomites are identical with the ancient
Idumeans, who commanded the navigation of the
Erythrean Sea, and renders the suggestion probable
that the name of this great commercial nation was
once imposed upon the waters of the Indian Ocean.*
As the reputed ancestor of the prophet of Mecca
the descendants of Ishmael deserve particular
notice.^ Few can read without emotion the story
of the expulsion of Hagar and her son Ishmael
(born B.C. 1910); how they wandered in the
A\'ilderness of Beersheba solitary and in exile ; how,

' Isaiah, xxi. 13.

" Muir, I. cxiii., notes.

^ Robinson, "Bib. Res.," ii. 55I, 552.

* " When the Adites sent messengers to the Kaaba to implore
for rain, Mecca was in the hands of the tribe of Amalek" (Sale's
"Koran," p. 124).

* Conf. Forster, i. 176-316.

C 2


when the water in her bottle was spent, she cast the
child under one of the shrubs of the desert, lest she
should see him die ; and yet, how, from this the depth
of her anguish, God's providence was fulfilled how
her eyes were opened, and she saw the well of water ;
and how that son, for whom the aged Patriarch had
besought the Almighty (before the birth of the chosen
seed) " that he might dwell before Him," was blessed
exceedingly, and became a great nation, his children
being, " by their towns and by their castles, twelve

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