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

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piness with her at Medina.

Rockeya and 0mm Colthum, his second and
third daughters, were married to Otba and Oteiba,
sons of Abu Lahab. On the assumption of the pro-
phetic office, the latter, as we have seen, became one
of Mahomet's bitterest opponents, and influenced his
sons to repudiate their wives. Rockeya was then
given to Othman-ibn-Afifan. She was, as we shall
see, with her husband, one of the emigrants to Abys-
sinia, and died ten or twelve years after her second
marriage at Medina. Omm Colthum, repudiated as
above mentioned, was, on the death of Rockeya,
also united to Othman-ibn-Affan. She died before
Zeinab. Fatima, between whom and Ali an attach-
ment had gradually sprung up, was left behind at
Mecca on Mahomet's flight, but joined him after-
wards at Medina, and was married to her betrothed.
^Vithin two years she gave birth successively to two
sons, Hasan and Hosein, who were born in the years
A.D. 625 and 626.

To avoid the indignities and persecution to which
many of his followers were exposed, Mahomet ad-
vised them to seek protection in a foreign land.
The suggestion was adopted, and in the fifth year of
his mission, eleven men, four of them with their
wives, embarked at Shueiba, a port near Jiddah,
and found a welcome asylum at the court of Abys-
sinia. Three months afterwards the fugitives returned,
having received a report of the conversion of the
Coreish to the new doctrines. This proving', without



foundation, a second emigration took place about the
year A.D. 6i6. Small bodies of converts from time
to time joined themselves to the little band in
Abyssinia, till their number amounted to about one
hundred. Some returned afterwards to Mecca, and
the rest joined Mahomet at Medina, in the seventh
year of the Hejira.

The report which had reached the fugitives con-
cerning the conversion of the Coreish arose from
the following circumstance. It is said that at the
time of their first departure a season of deep de-
pression fell upon Mahomet. For years he had
suffered the scorn and malice of his opponents ;
he had preached and prayed, and yet but fifty
converts had been the fruits of his five years' mis-
sion. Barren as had been the results of the past,
in the future he had before him a dark, cheerless
prospect of continued opposition, of contumely, and
perhaps of eventual failure. His heart and soul were
wearied with waiting, and he longed, if it were pos-
sible, for a reconciliation. One day, whilst sitting by
the Kaaba, he uttered, in the hearing of his oppo-
nents, words of compromise regarding their gods
Al-Lat and Al-Ozza and Manah that " their interces-
sion might be hoped for with God." These words were
listened to with surprise by the idolaters who were
present, and a reconciliation seemed possible ; but
within a few days the concession he had made was
by the prophet attributed to a suggestion of the Evil
One, was uncompromisingly withdrawn, and the idol-
worship condemned and reprobated, thus : — " What
think ye of Al-Lat, and Al-Ozza, and Manah that


Other third goddess ? . . . . they are no other than
empty names, which ye and your fathers have named
goddesses" (Sura liii. 19 — 23).

And, again : — " What think ye ? Show me what
part of the earth the idols which ye invoke, besides
God, have created ? Bring me a book of Scripture
revealed before this, or some footstep of ancient
knowledge, to countenance your idolatrous practices ;
if ye be men of veracity" (sura xlvi. 14, 15), where
he asserts that no system of Scriptural belief ever
countenanced idol-worship.

The trumpet of the prophet having given thus no
uncertain sound, his ships were burnt on the strand,
and the door of any compromise with the idolaters shut
for ever. That he had strangely vacillated he long
remembered, and felt often afterwards a deep con-
sciousness of the danger he had run. In one of
the later Meccan suras he thus writes : — " It wanted
little, but the unbelievers had tempted thee to
swerve from the instructions which we had revealed
unto thee, that thou shouldst devise concerning us a
different thing ; and then would they have taken thee
for their friend ; and unless we had confirmed thee,
thou hadst certainly been very near inclining unto
them a little" (Koran, sura xviii. 75, 76).^

Doubtless this circumstance did him and his
cause harm, gave his enemies a handle to reproach
him \vith want of consistency, to call him a " Fabri-
cator" and a "Forger,"^ and induced them to assume
an attitude of more decided hostility to him than
before. Finding that Mahomet was not to be alarmed,

' On this see Sale's note ad loc.
^ Suras xlvi. 6, 7 ; xvi. 103.
G 2


or brought to change his proceedings, they made an
attempt to alienate from him the powerful and steady
protection of his uncle, Abu Talib ; and for this pur-
pose sent to'him a deputation of the most powerful and
violent opponents of Islam. They represented to
Abu Talib, who was still an adherent of the old super
stition, that his nephew had spoken opprobriously
of their idols, " saying that they be no gods which are
made with hands," and had condemned their reli-
gion ; moreover, that he had abused them as fools,
and also given out that their forefathers had all gone
astray;^ and they requested that Mahomet might be
left to them to be dealt with.

Abu Talib, with courteous and gentle words,
refused to accede to their request, but representing
matters firmly to his nephew, besought him that he
would not lay on him a burden greater than he could
bear. Mahomet was moved to tears by what he
thought might end in his being abandoned by his
guardian and protector, yet protested that neither the
sun, nor the moon, nor death itself, could force him
from his undertaking without the permission of God.
Won by his courage and determination, Abu Talib
bid him depart in peace, with the assurance that he
would not abandon him for ever.^

The circumstances of the conversion of Hamza,
called, from his heroism, the " Lion of God,"
have been related above. It was about this time
(A.D. 6x6) that there was added to the faith a man
who plays a distinguished part in the history of
Islam — Omar-ibn-Al-Khattab — afterwards the second

' Muir, ii. 162.

» Id.ii. 168; W. Irving, p. 45.


Caliph, whose gigantic stature, prodigious strength,
and valiant courage rendered him a fit companion to
Hamza. He was at the time twenty-six years of
age, was a Coreishite, descended from Ada — a brother
of Morrah, and notorious for his enmity to the new
faith. Aroused by the castigation which his near
relative Abu Jahl had received at the hands of
Hamza, he set out to seek revenge ; but on the way it
was hinted to him that his own sister — Fatima — had
not escaped the taint of conversion. To her house,
therefore, he went, and at the door overheard her
and her husband reading the Koran. ^ Springing in,
he wounded his sister in the face, but was induced to
listen to the words they had been reading, on learning
that the prophet had been praying for him, and for
his conversion to the faith of those whom he had
hitherto treated with such violence. The part of the
Koran was as follows : — " We have not sent down.
the Koran unto thee that thou shouldst be unhappy ;
but for an admonition unto him who feareth God ;
being sent down from Him who created the earth
and the lofty heavens. The Merciful sitteth on his
throne ; unto Him belongeth whatsoever is in heaven
and on earth, and whatsoever is between them, and
v/hatsoever is under the earth. If thou pronounce
thy prayer with a loud voice, know that it is not
necessary in respect to God ; for He knoweth that
which is secret, and what is yet more hidden. God !
there is no God but He ; He hath most excellent
names" (Sura xx. 1-7).

' This fact proves that copies of the Suras were in use for
private reading and devotion.


The words sank deep into his heart, and, iu
true keeping with his impulsive nature, he without
hesitation went to the " house of Arcam," obtained
admission, made the confession of faith, and was
added to the number of beUevers. The adhesion of
such men greatly strengthened Mahomet's position ;
"no one dared to approach or molest the Prophet,
being deterred by the looks of those terrible men of
battle Hamza and Omar, who, it is said, glared upon
their enemies like two lions that had been robbed of
their young." ^ We also read that " the Moslems no
longer concealed their worship within their own
dwellings, but with conscious strength and defiant
attitude assembled in companies about the Kaaba,
performed their rites of prayer, and compassed the
holy house," while " dread and uneasiness seized the
Coreish." 2

Now that the followers of IMahomet had no longer
need secretly to profess and practise their reHgion,
converts of social power and influence were from
time to time added to their number. But the hostile
chiefs of the Coreish were not idle, and soon entered
into a solemn confederacy to place a social and civil
ban upon the new sect The terms of this league
were that they would neither intermarry with the
proscribed, nor sell to or buy from them anything,
and that they would entirely cease from all inter-
course with them. Heavily, indeed, did this ostra-
cism weigh upon those who fell under it. To avoid
personal violence, they withdrew (A.D. 617) to

' W. Irving, p. 49. ^ Muir, ii. 172.


what is called the Sheb or quarter of Abu Talib,
a secluded part of Mecca, lying under the rocks of
the Abu Cobeis. A low gateway cut them off from
the outer world, and within they had to suffer all
the privations of a beleaguered garrison. No one
could venture forth except in the sacred months,
when all hostile feelings and acts had to be laid
aside. Supplies at other times were with difficulty
obtained, could be purchased, indeed, only from the
foreign traders, and at exorbitant prices. "The citizens
could hear the voices of the half-famished children
inside the Sheb " ; ^ and this state of endurance
on the one side, and persecution on the other,
went on for some three years. Mahomet, in the
intervals of the holy months, went forth and mingled
with the pilgrims to Mecca, and at the annual
fairs sought to propagate among them the especial
doctrines of his sect, the abhorrence of idolatry,
and the worship of the one true God. But few
heeded him : they taunted him with the disbelief
of his own kindred and townsfolk, and so, disheart-
ened, but not dismayed, he returned to those devoted
few, by whose faith he was comforted, and among whom
he sought strength from God. Shut up thus with his
disciples, whose hearts and affections he had won,
and whose belief was confirmed by his own patient
endurance and faith, we may now consider what was
the nature of those doctrines, and of that teaching
which could so firmly knit to himself the devotion of
his loyal followers.

' Muir, ii. 175.


EARLY TEACHING AT MECCA. — [a.D. 6 10-6 1 7.]

The Koran, or inspired book of the Moslems, con-
sists of one hundred and fourteen chapters or Suras,
which vary much in length, some containing only a few
lines, whilst the longest (the second) has as many as
two hundred and eighty-six verses. It is made up of
those revelations which Mahomet professed from time
to time to have received direct from God, which he
repeated to those about him, and of which, according
to strict Mahometan doctrine, every word is of divine
command. It is also by the Moslems considered the
fountain head of all science, of all knowledge, and of
all law. When made known, the different chapters, or
parts of chapters — for it was seldom that an entire
one was revealed at once — were by his followers com-
mitted to memory, or written down on palm-leaves,
white stones, pieces of leather, shoulder-blades of the
sheep and camel ; and these in later years were put
into a chest in the prophet's house, and subse-
quently came into the keeping of Haphsa, one of his
wives. Copies of the suras, as they appeared, were, it
seems, made for the private devotions of his followers.
•No complete copy of the several revelations which
make up the present Koran appears to have existed


during the lifetime of Mahomet ; but during the
caliphate of Abu Bekr, his successor, and at the sug-
gestion of Omar, a copy was written out by the
prophet's secretary, Zeid-ibn-Thabit.

This was doubtless found an easy task, for having
been in daily religious use, the different chapters
were indelibly impressed on the accurate and re-
tentive memory of the faithful. Indeed, a know-
ledge of the Koran in those early days, in addition to
its being fraught with spiritual blessings, was consi-
dered the highest title to nobility : and certain of the
prophet's contemporaries, as is the case at the present
day, were able to repeat the whole book by heart.
The copy made by Zeid was retained by Omar
during his caliphate, and by him made over to his
successor Othman. During his reign it was disco-
vered that differences of reading had gradually crept
into many of the copies made from Zeid's edition.
These were all called in by the Caliph, a careful
recension made, copies sent to the chief cities of the
empire, and the incorrect manuscripts destroyed. Un-
fortunately the sequence of the chapters in the Koran,
though asserted to be that prescribed by the prophet,
does not follow the chronological order in which they
were given, and is devoid of any intelligible arrange-
ment, the revelations promulgated at Mecca before
the Hejira, and afterwards at Medina, being thrown
together apparently in the most careless and perplex-
ing manner.^ Yet there are ample and sufilicient

' In Rodwell's "Translation of theKoran," the chronological
order in which they are thought to have been revealed is pre-


grounds for believing that the existing Koran consists
of the genuine words, and is the original composition
of the prophet, as learned or transcribed under his
own instruction (Muir, i. c. sec. i).

The whole of the Koran, therefore, as most pro-
bably the original delivered by the lips of Maho-
met, forms a clear index to his own feelings, and
ought to give an insight into the varying influence
of external circumstances, were it found possible to
arrange approximately the different chapters in the
order and at the particular times when they were pub-
lished. As it is, the chronological sequence of the
different suras is to be gathered alone from the sub-
ject matter, and from clear references to passing
events which may be discovered in them. Those
which are considered the earliest are also the shortest,
and are distinguished by their " wild and rhapsodical
language, the counterpart of his internal struggles
after the truth." ^ For it would seem that the reli-
gious emotions of Mahomet, and his early specula-
tions unburdened themselves in strains of impas-
sioned poetry; and of these fugitive pieces many
which his followers had committed to memory after-
wards found their way into the Koran. ^

Eighteen of the chapters are assigned to that
period of his career when, though he believed him-
self moved by a higher power to warn and admonish,

• Muir, ii. 58.

^ For an account of the exegesis of the Koran, according to
their modem divines, the reader should consult "Notes onMu-
hammadanism," by the Rev. T. P. Hughes (N. Quran), p. 11,
ei seq.


he had not received that direct commission to
"preach openly," of which mention has aheady been

Of the eighteen ^ suras of this early period, the fol-
lowing extracts are specimens : —

Chapter ciii., entitled "The Afternoon." "In the
name of the most merciful God.^ By the afternoon ;
verily, man employeth himself in that which will
prove of loss : except those who believe, and do that
which is right, and who mutually recommend the
truth, and mutually recommend perseverance unto
each other " (conf. Psalm xxxix. 6).

Chapter c, entitled " The War-horses which run
swiftly." This chapter is cast in a highly poetic
strain; it invokes the war-horses which run swiftly
and pant to the battle, whose hoofs strike fire and
surprise the enemy in the early dawn, to bear witness
that " man is ungrateful to his Lord " ; but that the
hidden thoughts of men's hearts will be brought to
light, and that when the graves give up their dead,
God will be fully informed concerning them {conf.
Eccles. xii. 13, 14).

Chapter i., entitled "The Preface or Introduc-
tion." " Praise be to God, the Lord of all crea-
tures ; the most merciful, the King of the day of
Judgment. Thee do we worship, and of Thee do we
beg assistance. Direct us in the right way, in the

' The eighteen suras are numbered in the Koran as under : —
103, 100, 99, 91, 106, I, loi, 92, 102, 104, 82, 92, 105, 89, 90
93, 94, io8. (Muir, ii. Appendix.)

' All the suras except the 9th — the last revealed — begin with
this invocation.


way of those to whom Thou hast been gracious ; not
of those against whom Thou art incensed, ^ nor of
those who go astray." This chapter, which is here
given in full, bears the title of " Al Fatihat," or the
beginning; and is also called "The Seven Verses,"
"The Mother of the Book," and is held in great
veneration by the Mahometans, and regularly repeated
in their public and private devotions. It is a prayer
for the guidance of God, and is directed to be re-
peated frequently (conf. Sura xv. 87).

Chapter xcix., entitled " The Earthquake," teaches
the doctrine that God at the last day will reward men
according to the deeds they have done ; and this is in-
sisted on in various other parts of the Koran. Thus :
" Verily, if any do a good action God will recom-
pense it in His sight with a great reward " (conf.
Sura iv.). Again, "Verily, whoso doeth evil, and is
compassed with his iniquities, they shall be com-
panions of hell fire" (Sura ii. 75). Yet, it must be
observed, that Mahomet has also declared that no
person's good works will be sufficient to gain him
admittance to Paradise, and that he himself would
be saved, not by his merits, but by the mercy of

Chapter ci., entitled "The Striking." This is
a powerful and vivid picture of the last day, and
is so called because it will strike the hearts of
all creatures with terror. " In that day we shall

' Supposed to allude to the Jews and Christians. As a rule,
Mahomet speaks of the Christians much more tenderly than of
the Jews ; and we shall find that this feeling veiy much regu-
lated his conduct towards the two.


be like moths scattered abroad, and the mountains
shall become like carded wool of various colours
driven by the wind. Moreover, he whose balance
shall be heavy with good works shall lead a pleasing
life ; but as to him whose balance shall be light, his
dwelling shall be in the pit of hell. It is a burning

Chapter xcv. speaks of the original purity, the irmo-
cence, and the fall of man, and the vile condition of
all, "Except those who believe and work righteousness,
for they shall receive an endless reward. What,
therefore, shall cause thee to deny the day of
judgment after this ? Is not God the most wise

Chapter cii. reproves those emulously desirous of
multiplying riches and children till they visit the
grave. Tells them that hereafter their folly will be
made manifest in hell (Sura xii. 13-21).

Chapter civ. " Woe to every slanderer and back-
biter who heapeth up riches, and thinketh they can
render him immortal. He shall be cast into ' Al
Hotama,' the fire of hell kindled by God."

Chapter Ixxxii., entitled " The Cleaving in sunder,"^
refers to the last judgment. "When the heaven shall
be cloven asunder ; and when the stars shall be scat-
tered;- and when the seas shall be suffered to join their
waters ; and when the graves ^ shall be turned upside
down ; every soul shall know what it hath committed,
and what it hath omitted. O man ! what hath seduced
thee against thy gracious Lord, who hath created thee,

' 2 Peter iii. 10. '^ St. Matt. xxiv. 29.

' St. John V. 28, 29; Eccles. xii. 13. 14.


and put thee together, and rightly disposed thee ? In
what form He pleased hath He fashioned thee.^ Assur-
edly. But ye deny the last judgment as a falsehood.
Verily, there are appointed over you guardian angels,
honourable in the sight of God, writing down your
actions,^ who know that which you do. The just
shall surely be in a place of delight ; but the wicked
shall surely be in hell ; they shall be cast therein to
be burned on the day of judgment, and they shall not
be absent therefrom for ever.^ What shall cause
thee to understand what the day of judgment is ? It
is a day .on which one soul shall not be able to ob-
tain an)1:hing on behalf of another soul ; and the
command on that day shall be God's." The reader
will notice, from the references in the note below, how
Scriptural much of the above is. The statement in
the concluding paragraph, that " one soul shall not be
able to obtain anything on behalf of another soul,"
is consistently sustained throughout the Koran, and
amounts to a direct denial of the Redemption.

Chapter cv. is a short song of victory, on the
defeat of Abraha, who, in the year of IMahomet's
birth, advanced towards Mecca to destroy the Kaaba.
It is entitled " The Elephant," from the animal upon
which Abraha rode; and is quoted here at length,
as perhaps the earliest specimen of the way in which
fabulous traditional stories are introduced into the
Koran, with the supposed authority of inspiration : —

' Ps. cxix. 73, and cxxxix. i6 ; Romans ix. 20.
^ Gen. xlviii. 16; Ps. xci. 11, 12, and Ivi. 8; St. Matt. x\'iii.
10 ; Phil. iv. 3 ; Rev. iii. 5 ; xiii. 8 ; xx. 12, 13.
' Rev. xiv. II.


" Hast thou not seen how thy Lord dealt with the
masters of the elephant? Did He not make their
treacherous design an occasion of drawing them into
error; and send against them flocks of birds, which cast
down upon them stones of baked clay ; and rendered
them like the leaves of corn eaten by cattle ?" The
commentators say that flocks of birds, like swallows,
pursued the retreating host, and destroyed it in the
manner related above. They also assert that on each
stone was written the name of its intended victim !
The Koran, itself, gives a similar account of the way
in which the inhabitants of Sodom were destroyed
(Sura XV. 74) : — " We turned those cities upside
down, and we rained upon them stones of baked
clay, one following another, and being marked."

Chapter xc, entitled "The Territory," tells that
there are two highways — the path of good and the
path of evil. The former is likened to a cliff, of
which the ascent is difficult; for "it is to free the
captive, or to feed in the day of famine the orphan
who is of kin, or the poor man who lieth on the
ground." They who do this " shall be the com-
panions of the right hand," "but they who shall
disbelieve in our signs shall be the companions
of the left hand, and over them shall be arched

In Chapter xciii., he comforts his heart with
a remembrance of the goodness and mercy which
have followed him. "By the brightness of the
morning, and by the night when it groweth dark, thy
Lord hath not forsaken thee, neither doth He hate
thee. Verily, the life to come shall be better for


thee than this present life ; and thy Lord shall give
thee a reward with which thou shalt be well pleased.
Did He not find thee an orphan, and hath He not
taken care of thee ? And did He not find thee
wandering in error, and hath He not guided thee
into the truth?"

Such, then, is a somewhat detailed view of those
"revelations" which he asserted to have come to
him before he received the direct announcement of
the angel Gabriel, that he was the chosen prophet
of the Lord, and was directed to preach openly ; and
it will be admitted that, as far as they go, there is
nothing in their morality to which we, as Christians,
need take exception. In them we find him seeking
direction from that gracious Lord, the God of all
creatures, who knows the secrets of all hearts, and
who, when the graves are opened, will bring to light
every secret thing written in the book of His remem-

We meet with the statement that men will be

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Online LibraryJ. W. H. (James William Hampson) StobartIslam & its founder → online text (page 6 of 18)