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Scriptures, thus : "We (God) have sent a great number
of apostles before thee : the histories of some of whom
we have related unto thee, and the histories of others



140 ISLAM AND ITS FOUNDER.

we have not related unto thee." In face of the above
assertions, if his words are to bear a literal meaning,
we know not how to acquit Mahomet of something of
conscious misrepresentation ; for it is incredible that
he could, by any tortuous reasoning, construe the
results of his own study to mean direct inspiration,
or that the knowledge which he gained from human
agents was the teaching of God.

In the sixth sura we meet with certain positive
precepts regarding food, where " that which dieth of
itself, or blood poured forth, or swine's flesh, or that
slain in the name of some other god " are forbidden
as an abomination (Sura vii. ii8). The ancient rites
and ceremonies of the temple at Mecca, the pilgrimage,
the circuits round the Kaaba, the accustomed sacri-
fices and vows, are still to continue in force, except
only that the faithful " depart from the abomination
of idols in associating any other with God" (Sura
xxii. 27—32). The horrible practice of infanticide,
viz. burying their daughters alive, which prevailed
among certain of the Arab tribes, is condemned and
forbidden, and those who slay their children threatened
with perdition (Sura vi. 138, and Ixxxi. 8, 9).

To this period, " when visions of a journey north
ward flitted before his imagination,"! belongs the
story of the celebrated " Night Journey" [Lailat-al-
Miraj] of the prophet from Mecca to Jerusalem, on
the winged steed AI-Borac, and thence by a ladder of
light above the seven heavens to the very presence
of God, whom '' he saw by the Lote Tree, beyond
which there is no passing" (Sura liii. 13, 14). For
Muir, "Life of Mahomet," ii. 219.



ISLAM AND ITS FOUNDER. 141

the details of this revelation, ^ with all its later em-
bellishment of curious and extravagant fiction, dra\vn
from the legends of the Haggidah, and the dreams of
the Midrash and the Talmud, the prophet cannot, in
fairness, be made responsible. His simple account
of what was probably only a dream prompted by his
waking thoughts, is as follows : — " Praise be unto
Him, who transported his servant from the sacred
temple (at Mecca), to the farther temple (at Jerusalem),
the circuit of which we have blessed, that we might
show him some of our signs" (Sura xvii. i). I have
•already alluded to the repeated direction of Heaven
to the prophet " to withdraw from the unbelievers,"
which occurs in many of the suras, ^ revealed when
thoughts of a sanctuary at Medina were present to
his mind, and when he was on the eve of his depar-
ture from Mecca.

Lastly, we have proof that he was now begin
ning to extend his study from the books of the Old
to those of the New Testament ; if, indeed, it may be
assumed that he ever consulted the original texts,
and did not content himself with gaining his know-
ledge from apocryphal sources, which have distorted
his views and tinged his words with their own
colouring. It may, I think, be assumed that
Mahomet got his information chiefly through these
and Jewish channels, and hence we shall see no
cause to wonder that he has adopted the teaching of
those who " killed the Prince of Peace," and " desired

' For a curious account of the "night journey," vide Prideaux,
"Life of Mahomet," pp. 41-51 ; also Muir's "Life of Maho-
met," ii. 219-222; D'Herbelot, art. "Borak"; Lane, "Modem
Egyptians," ii. 225. ' Conf. Suras xliii. 89, vi. 112.



142 ISLAM AND ITS FOUNDER.

a murderer to be given unto them";i and find no
reason to marvel at his incorrect views of the Saviour,
and of the introduction into the Koran of pueriHties
and apocryphal stories found in the " Gospel of the
In fancy. ''2

If such were, indeed, the case,^ it would account
to some extent for his unwavering hostility to the
doctrine of the divine Sonship, the mystery of the
Holy Incarnation of Him whom the Jews crucified,
and which would form a constant theme of denial for
their unhallowed tongues. The Scriptural doctrine
of the Three Persons of the Godhead contained in the
Old Testament, and unfolded in the New, is, as
might have been anticipated, strongly condemned
and repudiated by Mahomet. Thus, " Believe in
God and His Apostles, and say not there be three
Gods ; forbear this, it will be better for you. God
is but one God" (Sura iv. 169); and again, "They are
certainly infidels, who say, God is the third of Three ;
for there is no God besides one God" (Sura v. 7).*

It will be well in this place to consider what the
teaching of the Koran is regarding the birth, the
attributes, the mission, and death of our blessed
Lord ; and for this purpose I consider it best to use
the words of the book itself. The nineteenth sura,

■ Acts iii. 14, 15.

* Vide Sale's " Koran," pp. 42, 118, notes.

' We cannot doubt that many reasons of the strongest kind
would induce Mahomet to keep the sources of his information,
and the names of his instructors (if such he had), as secret as
possible. That he was suspected of having teachers we know.

* It seems clear that Mahomet had no correct grasp of the
Christian doctrine of the tri-unity of the Godhead.



ISLAM AND ITS FOUNDER. 143

entitled " Mary" (Maryam), opens with an account
of " the mercy of the Lord to Zacharias," and tells of
his age and infirmities, his "fearing his nephews,"
his childless state, his prayers for an heir, who in the
person of John is granted him, and how that son
was endowed with "wisdom and purity of life."
Then is given the " story of Mary, when she retired
from her family to a place towards the East — and
We, God, sent Gabriel unto her — a messenger of the
Lord — to give her a holy Son" (Sura xix. i6 — 19).
Another account is, that " The Angels said, O Mary,
verily God sendeth thee good tidings, thou shalt bear
the JVord, proceeding from Himself ; His name shall
be Christ Jesus, the Son of Mary ; but she answered.
Lord, how shall I have a son, since I know no man"
(Sura iii. 40-42). The account thus continues, " She
preserved her virginity, and unto her we breathed of
our Spirit, ordaining her and her son for a sign unto
all creatures" (Suras xxi. 91, and Ixvii. 12).

" Wherefore she conceived Him ; and she re-
tired aside with Him in her womb to a distant
place ; and the pains of childbirth came upon her
near the trunk of a palm-tree. She said, Would to
God I had died before this, and had become a thing
forgotten and lost in oblivion" (Sura xix. 22, 23).
But she is comforted by God eats the ripe dates
which fall from the tree, and drinks of a rivulet
miraculously provided ; and then brings the child
to her people, carrying Him on her arm (Sura
xix. 28). They accuse her of incontinence, and she
makes signs to the infant to answer them, " where-
upon the child said. Verily I am the servant of



144 ISLAM AND ITS FOUNDER.

God ; ^ He hath given me the book of the Gospel,
and hath appointed me a prophet. And He hath
made me blessed — and dutiful towards my mother —
this is JesuSj the Son of Mary; the Word of Truth,
concerning whom they doubt. It is no*- meet for
God that He should have any Son; God forbid"
(Sura xix. 31-36).

Little information is given regarding the boyhood
and manner of life of Christ. " God," it is stated,
"strengthened Him with His Holy Spirit, ^ and
taught Him Scripture and wisdom and the law
and the Gospel, and appointed Him His apostle to
the children of Israel" (Sura iii. 43). The per-
formance of certain miracles is attributed to Him,
speaking to men in His cradle, making clay birds to
fly, giving sight to the blind, life to the dead, and
cleansing the lepers ; all done, not by His own
power, but " by the permission of God" (Sura iii.
4I5 and v. no).

The child Jesus, in His cradle, is made to utter
words which are meant to support the Mahometan
cultus, thus " Wheresoever I shall be : God hath
commanded me to observe prayer and to give alms
so long as I shall live " (Sura xix. 32). The feeding of
the multitudes in the wilderness and the institution
of the Last Supper are, it would seem, confounded in
the Koran : thus, " The apostles said, O Jesus, son of

' The first words put into the mouth of the child Jesus are
intended to make Him deny His divine Sonship ; and the promi-
nent way in \\hich His human nature is indicated in the words
" Son of Mary" is doubtless intended to serve the same purpose.

* Suras ii. 81, t. 109.



ISLAM AND ITS FOUNDER. I45

Mary, is thy Lord able to cause a table to descend
from heaven ? we desire to eat thereof, that we may
know that thou hast told us the trutli. And Jesus
said, O God. our Lord, cause a table to descend unto
us from heaven, that the day of its descent may be-
come a festival unto us" (Sura v. 112-114).

\Vith regard to the Death of our blessed Lord,
the Koran denies that He was really put to death : thus,
" And they " (the Jews) " say. Verily, we have slain
Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, the Apostle of God !
Yet they slew Him not, neither crucified Him, but He
was represented by one in His likeness ; they did not
really kill Him, but God took Him up unto Himself,
and God is mighty and wise" (Sura iv. 156). There
is a further account of the crucifixion : thus, " And
the Jews devised a stratagem against Him (Jesus) ;
but God devised a stratagem against them " ; and
this passage continues thus : " God said, O Jesus,
Verily I will cause thee to die, and I will take thee up
unto Me " (Sura iii. 47, 48). These apparently con-
tradictory passages have given much trouble to the
Mahometan commentators, who explain that " God's
stratagem " was in stamping the likeness of Jesus on
another person, who was apprehended, and suffered
the ignominious death in His stead. The death
which He is to suffer will, they say, occur " when He
shall return into the world before the Last Day."'

' At Medina, in the "Hujrah," or chamber where Mahomet
is buried, a vacant tomb is left for " Seyedna Isa-bin-Maryam "
(Jesus Christ) at his second coming, where, on the fulfihnent of
His mission, He is to be buried. Cf. Burton, "El Med. and
El Mec," ii. S9 ; Lane, "Modem Egyptians," i. 93.
L 2



146 ISLAM AND ITS FOUNDER.

The Saviour, they add, was allowed, after God took
Him up, to descend for the purpose of comforting His
mother and disciples, and telling them how the Jews
had been deceived ! Other explanations are given of
His death : that it was a spiritual death to all worldly
desires ; or a real one lasting a few hours.^ On this
head it should be added that certain heretical
Christian sects,^ at the very beginning of Christianity,
denied that Christ Himself suffered, but that Simon
the Cyrenean, or Judas, was crucified in His place.

Finally, the Koran, while acknowledging Christ
Jesus to be " honourable in this world and in the
world to come, and one of those who approach near
to the presence of God " (Sura ii. 40), asserts that
" He is no other than a servant whom God favoured
with the gift of prophecy " (Sura xliii. 59), and " is
not to be associated in that worship which is due to
God only" (Sura ix. 31). Such, then, is the teaching
of the Koran regarding the birth, the life, and the
death of our Lord and Saviour.

It is painful to read such words, but, such as
they are, they will give the Christian reader a just
conception of Mahomet's claim to inspiration, and
will satisfy him that the prophet of Mecca knew
nothing of the true nature of that Christianity about
which he ventures to write. Though he speaks of our
Lord always in terms of the highest respect, and makes
mention of certain of His miracles, he had no heart
to know the higher and more wondrous miracle of His

• Conf. Sale's " Koran," p. 43 ; Kasimirski, " Koran, "p. 60,
note.

* The Basilidians, the Cerinthians, and the Carpocratians.



ISLAM AND ITS FOUNDER. 147

pure life, and of His love which sought by the death
on the Cross " to bring many sons to glory." With
the strangest inconsistency he calls Him, " The Word
of Truth," yet refuses to listen to the gracious words
which fell from His lips ; acknowledges that He was
" strengthened by the Spirit of God," yet repudiates
the honours which He claims ; and thus we find His
divine nature attacked. His precious death denied,
and no allusion made to that Redemption which was
purchased by His sufiferings on Calvary.

Vain, however, and illusory are his, and all other
human efforts to explain away the clear teaching
of Scripture, to rob the Son of Man of His divine
honours, and to leave Him but an inferior and dele-
gated authority. The eternal purpose of God revealed
to man in the Word of Truth will still stand firm and
unshaken before such attacks, and vindicate its autho-
rity when they shall have all perished under the
weight of their own inconsistencies and errors.^

' It need hardly be remarked that repudiation of the divinity
of Christ, and the denial of His death, strike directly at the root
of our Christian faith. Christ's divinity once set aside, and His
mission lowered to that of an Apostle only, room would be left
for similar successors, and a plausible justification of Mahomet's
pretensions would be thus provided (conf. Bishop Horsley's
Sermons, vol. iii. pp. 12, 13). The greatest inconsistency is
manifest in the Koran, which, while acknowledging the autho-
rity of the Old and New Testaments, and professing only to be
a continuation of God's revealed will, yet virtually gives these
very Scriptures the lie, by repudiating all the leading dogmas
of the Christian faith.



CHAPTER VIII.

Mahomet's career at Medina. — [a.d. 622-632.]

We now return to take up the story of the prophet's
fortunes at Medina. He remained four days at
Coba ; and having satisfied himself that the general en-
thusiasm, and the curiosity to see the man whose name
was so great in Arabia had lulled the active passions
of contending faction, he made his almost triumphal
entry into Medina. Seated on his camel, he allowed
the animal unchecked to select the spot for his future
residence. The place thus chosen was a piece of waste
ground within the eastern limits of the city, and near
the house of one Abu Ayub,^ under whose roof he re-
sided for seven months. His table was amply sup-
plied by the voluntary offerings of the Faithful. The
Avork of erecting a mosque and suitable dwellings was
the first business of the prophet and his followers.
The ground, Avhich he bought, was cleared and le-
velled, and a temple, some hundred cubits square,
arose on the site where now stands the large and
beautiful mosque which bears his name.^

* This Abu Ayah was afterwards (A.D. 672) killed at the
siege of Constantinople, and gave his name to the "Mosque of
Ayoub," at the northern end of the Golden Horn.

^ For a detailed description of the Masjid-a!-Nabi at Medina,
Z7</^ Burton, " El Meccah and El Medinah," vol. ii. chap. xvi.



ISLAM AND ITS FOUNDER. 1 49

Round the temple rose, in process of time, apart-
ments for his wives as they were gradually added.
At first two only were built, one for Sawda, and a
second for Ayesha, then in her tenth year, who for the
consummation of her nuptials took possession, with
unostentatious pomp, of that chamber which was de-
stined to be the burial-place of her husband. Regular
services were commenced, Mahomet or some vicar
appointed by him leading the daily public prayers ;
whilst on Friday, at the mid-day office, all the Faithful
were expected to be present.

In his marriage with Ayesha, which took place in
the winter of A.D. 622-623, Mahomet gave practical
effect to his previous sanction of polygamy, on which
the following remarks may be made. It is not appa-
rent, from any facts we know, that Mahomet is per-
sonally to be blamed for the step he thus took. In
the histories of the Old Testament, of which he had
been no idle student, he would find numerous ex-
amples of its practice by patriarchs and kings, with
the tacit approval, certainly without the expressed
reprehension, of a higher power ; and though con-
demned by the purer teaching of Christianity, we
cannot assume that he was aware of this fact. More-
over, he found it sanctioned by the example of the
Jews, universally the custom in Arabia, and practised by
his most devoted followers ; and it may be concluded,
either that its practical working failed to impress him
with the desirability of interfering with its existence,
or, if in any way alive to its evils, that he shrank from
the task of setting himself in opposition to this, the
most cherished privilege of his pleasure-loving disciples.



150 ISLAM AND ITS FOUNDER.

Therefore, though it is to be doubted whether he
ever seriously contemplated the practical results of
his legislation on this subject, having in the Koran
sanctioned the practice of polygamy, he must be held
responsible for the long train of degrading conse-
quences which have followed the licence thus esta-
blished, " which has undoubtedly proved, in its ulti-
mate results, one of the greatest and most fearful evils
of the Mahometan system." ^

It may be well in this place to consider what the
teaching of the Koran is on the subject. In the
4th sura, entitled " Women," among various direc-
tions regarding their years of orphanage, inherit-
ances, chastity, and the forbidden degrees, permission
is given to the Faithful " to take two, or three, or four,
and not more " women as wives (verse 3), and in ad-
dition to these as concubines, the slave -girls, " which
their right hands possess " (Sura Ixx. 30),-^ that is,
purchased or made captive in war. In reality, the
number of wves is practically unlimited, as the Koran
allows an almost unchecked power of divorce and
exchange (Sura iv. 18). The action of the husband,
who is expressly stated to be superior to the wife, is

' Freeman, "History of the Saracens," p. 53.

^ Muir, " Life of Mahomet," ii. 140, note; iii. 305. So long as
this unUmited permission of cohabitation with their female slave
continues, it cannot be expected that there will be any hearty
attempt to put a stop to slaver}-, whatever form it takes, in
Mahometan countries. Though Mahomet, in some respects
undoubtedly ameliorated the condition of slaves, there is suffi-
cient proof that he looked upon it as a permanent institution
(cf. Sura xxiv. 33; Muir, iv. 239, 321 ; and Hughes, Notes on
Mahommedanism, p. 185).



ISLAM AND ITS FOUNDER. 151

nearly uncontrolled.- He may repudiate his wives
\vithout any assigned reason, and without warning ;
may, if apprehensive of disobedience, rebuke, imprison,
and strike them (Sura iv. 28) ; and against this the
dishonoured spouse has almost no means of redress.^

Exposed to the tyranny of her husband, and
treated as a kind of plaything, — a being formed for
lust and labour, to be capriciously flung aside on the
least provocation, or in a moment of anger, or for
mere dislike, — she is worse than a slave. Such a
system is intolerable, indeed, to a feeling heart, and
consistent only with that social degradation of the
sex which is its inseparable attendant. The very
caprice of the husband is encouraged by the permis-
sion granted of twice repudiating and twice receiving
back the same woman. If he a third time divorce
her, she cannot again become his wife till she have
married, cohabited with, and been divorced by some
other man (Sura ii. 230).

The majority of Mahometans, constrained by
poverty or custom, content themselves with one wife ;
and though such marriages may be, and doubtless are,
often happy ones, still the wife, under the licence of
the Koran, has continually hanging over her head the
apprehension of divorce, and this cannot but prove an
abiding source of uneasiness to her. However ex-
emplary and devoted her conduct, she may at any
moment be called upon to quit her home and her
children, and see her place occupied by some younger

' Lane, " Modern Egyptians," vol. i. it,() et scq.
- She can claim the balance of her dowry, generally a ver}'
insignificant sum, and maintenance for three months.



152 ISLAM AND ITS FOUNDER.

and more favoured stranger. Some Mahometans make
a habit of continually changing their wives. We read
of young men who have had twenty and thirty wives —
a new one every three months; and thus it comes
about that women are liable to be indefinitely trans-
ferred from one man to another, obliged to accept a
husband and a home wherever they can find one, or
in case of destitution, to which divorce may have re-
duced them, resort to other more degrading means
of living.

Further evils follow this pernicious system, which
cannot here be particularly recorded. Enough has
been said to show the practical working of the rules
of the Koran on the important subject of marriage
and divorce — rules which strike at the root of all
morality, brutalize man, degrade women, and render
the Christian ideal of domestic life an impossibility ;
and yet for them is claimed a divine origin, and they
are emphatically called " the ordinances of God de-
clared to people of understanding " 1 (Sura ii. 230).

On this subject it may be well to remark that the
popular idea of the exclusion of women from the
Paradise of Mahomet is quite erroneous. Though no
details of the delights in store for them are vouchsafed
by the prophet — for on this point he observes a pru-
dent reticence — we are informed that " God will lead
the believers of both sexes to the gardens of delight."^

' Conf. Dent. xxiv. 3, 4, for the purer and stricter regulations
of the Mosaic law of divorce. Conf. Sale, D. P., sec. vi. ; Muir,
iii. 300-307.

^ Conf. Sura xlviii. 5 ; iv. 123. The reader will call to mind
Gibbon's remarks on Mahomet's silence in this particular.



ISLAM AND ITS FOUNDER. 1 53

It cannot be imagined that Mahomet's arrival
in Medina, and his powerful position there, as the
actual prophet and prince over his own sect, and as
possessing a dominating authority in the city, proved
in all respects acceptable to those who either disbe-
lieved his claims, or viewed with jealousy the rising
power of the stranger. And so it was that, both
among the Jews, who were numerous at Medina, and
the Arabs, who still dallied with the old idolatry, ele-
ments of antagonism came to light. The "Disaffected,"^
as they are called, are bitterly inveighed against in
the Koran ; hell-fire, it is stated, is to be their por-
tion; and a whole sura (Ixii.) is devoted to an expo-
sition of their lying and their wicked conduct in
seeking " to set the inhabitants " against the prophet
of God.

With the Jews, on his first arrival, he made a
treaty of alliance, by which the free exercise of their
worship, and the possession of their rights and pro-
perty was guaranteed ; but it soon became apparent
that the two sects could not exist harmoniously side
by side. Mahomet's conduct in his dealings with the
rival religionists is very instructive. In his earlier
inspirations he had spoken of them as the chosen of
heaven, and their books as having divine authority,
and had, as we have seen, heaped together facts drawn
from their sacred canon to illustrate the truth of his
mission. He had acknowledged that a strict com-
pliance with the Mosaic ritual was compatible with
future salvation ; he had fixed upon their holy i)lace

' Sura iv. 144. The original ("Munaficun") is by Sale ren.
dered by the word "Hypocrites."



154 ISLAM AND ITS FOUNDER.

at Jerusalem as the Kibla of his faith ; and in many
ways sought to conciliate them and gain their weighty
testimony to the truth of his claims : but all had been
in vain ; he found that they disbelieved his assertions,
mocked at his revelations, and gave out that in their
prophetic books no authority for his pretensions was
to be found.

Mahomet was not without resource. He em-
ployed his old weapons against them ; accused
them of rejecting their Messiah ; asserted that they
systematically concealed all the passages foretelling
his appearance ; and that on them as on their fathers,
who had rejected the preaching of Noah and of
Abraham, was fallen a thick darkness, — eyes that
would not see, ears that would not hear the latest
message of Heaven delivered by his lips. To embit-
tered feelings succeeded menacing words ; and the
Jews of Medina soon felt the power and hostility of
the prophet's arm.-

Established thus in a position of security, Ma-
homet began to cast his eyes abroad upon other
scenes. His strength was to go forward, and to find
employment for the eager passions of his disciples,


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