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Universal pronouncing dictionary of biography and mythology (Volume 2) online

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Modi, mo'de, or MoSi, written also Mode, [that is,
"the Courageous," from a root cognate with the Danish
mod and German muth, " courage,"] a son of Thor, des-
tined to survive the destruction of the world at Ragna-
rock. In the renovated world he will share with Magni
the possession of their father's hammer, (mjblnir,) and
direct their efforts towards putting an end to all strife.

Modigliano, mo-del-yi'no, (GiAN FRANCESCO,) an
Italian painter, sometimes called FRANCESCO DA FORLI,
born at Forll about 1550. His works are principally
historical pieces of a religious character, some of which
have great merit.

Mo'dl-us, (FRANC.OIS,) a Flemish philologist and
Jurist, born near Bruges in 1536; died in 1597.

Mod-jes'ka, (HELENA,) a Polish actress, born at
Cracow about 1843. She married M. Modjeska when
she was seventeen years old. After his death in 1865
she married one Chlapowski, a journalist, and after her
great success upon the Warsaw stage they removed to
California, where she first appeared in an English-
speaking part in 1877, since which time she has won
many triumphs.

Moe, mo'eh, (JoRGEN ENGEBRETSEN,) a Norwegian
poet, born at Hole, in Sigdal, April 22, 1813. He was
educated in the University of Christiania, and from
1845 to '853 was professor of divinity in the national
military school. In 1875 he was appointed Bishop of
Christiansand. He published "Songs, Ballads, and
Staves," (1840,) "Norske Folke-eventyr," (1841; pre-

pared partly by Asbjornsen, except in later editions,) "I
Bronden og i Tjernet," (1851,) " En liden Julegave," (" A
Little Christmas-Gift," 1859,) etc. Died at Christian-
sand, March 27, 1882.

Moebius. See MOBIUS.

Moehler. See MOHLER.

Moehsen. See MOHSEN.

Moellendorf. See MOLLENDORF.

Moeller. See MOLLER.

Moerike. See MORIKE.

Mceris, mee'ris, or Myris, mi'ris, [Gr. Moijif or
Mupif,] a king of Egypt, who, according to Herodotus,
reigned about 1400 B.C. He is said to have been a pa-
cific monarch, and to have adorned the kingdom with
many monuments and temples, at Thebes, Edfou, etc.

Mceris .SHius, mee'ris ee'H-us, a Greek lexicog-
rapher, surnamed ATTICISTA, is supposed to have lived
in the time of Adrian. His only work extant is a " Lexi-
con Atticum," or vocabulary of Attic and Hellenic

See FABRICIUS, " Bibliotheca Graca."

Moeaer. See MOSER.

Mof'fat, (JAMES CLEMENT,) D.D., a Scottish-Ameri-
can clergyman, born at Glencree, in Galloway, May 30,
1811. He came to America in 1833, and graduated at
Princeton College in 1835, and afterwards studied at
Yale College. He was then for two years a tutor at
Princeton, professor of Greek and Latin in Lafayette
College, 1839-41, of Latin and history in Miami Univer-
sity, 1841-52, professor of Greek and Hebrew in Cin-
cinnati, 1852-53, of Latin in Princeton, 1853-54, and of
Greek, 1854-61, and professor of church history at Prince-
ton after 1861. Among his works are " Introduction to
the Study of /Esthetics," (1856,) " Life of Chalmers,"
"Comparative History of Religions," (1871,) "Summer
Ramble in Scotland," (1873,) " Alwyn, a Poem," (1875.)
"The Church in Scotland, a History," (1882,) "General
Church History in Brief," (1884,) etc. Died in 1890.

Mof fat, (ROBERT,) a Scottish missionary, born near
Edinburgh in 1795, set out for Africa about 1816. He
Bpent more than twenty years in the southern part of
that country, and about 1840 published " Missionarj
Labours and Scenes in Southern Africa." He also
translated the New Testament and Psalms into the
Bechuana tongue. Mr. Moffat was father-in-law of the
African explorer, Dr. Livingstone. Died Aug. 10, 1883.

Mogilas, mo-Hee'lis, (PETROS,) a Russian prelate, of
a Wallachian family, born about 1600. He studied in
Paris, became a monk in 1625, and in 1632 was conse-
crated Metropolitan of Kieff. He prepared a " Cate-
chism," (1645,) and the celebrated "Orthodox Confes-
sion" of 1640, adopted as a standard by the patriarchs
and synods of the Greek Church. Died in 1647.

Mohallal, mo-hil'lal, (Ada-Ben-Rebiah,) an Ara-
bian poet, born at Diarbekir, lived about 600 A.D. He
irst fixed the rules and metre of Arabian poetry. He
was an uncle of the poet Amrool-Kais.

Mo-ham'med or Ma-hom'et,* written also Mo-
lamed and Muhammed, [Arabic pron. mo-ham'-
med ; Fr. MAHOMET, mi'o'ma' ; Ger. MOHAMMED, mo-
lam'mft, or MUHAMMED, moo-ham'met ; It. MAOMETTO,
ml-o-met'to, or MACOMETTO, ma-ko-met'to ; Lat. MO-
HAM'MED or (rarely) MOHAM'MEDES, (gen. of both, Mo
JAMMEDIS,) or MUHAMMED ; Port MAFOMA, mS-fo'mi ;
Sp. MAHOMET, ma-o-mSt',] a celebrated religious teacher
and pretended prophet, the founder of one of the most
widely diffused religions of the globe, was born at Mecca
about 570 A.D. The year of his birth is not positively
ascertained ; the authorities are divided between 571 and
569, but the former date appears to be generally regarded
as the more probable one. Both his parents belonged
o the Koreish, at that time the most influential of all
he Arabian tribes. His father, Abdallah, who was of
he family of Hashem, was regarded as the handsomest
outh of his time. He married A'minah, of the noble
amily Zohrah. Their only child was Mohammed, the

* This name is often pronounced, especially by the poets, mah'-

-met'ormaTio-met, an accentuation derived, in all probability, from

be French. (See Introduction, page 13.) Nfahom'et (with the accent

n the penultima) is not only the prevailing English pronunciation,

ut it corresponds more nearly with the Arabic.

as k; c as j; g hard; g as /; G, H, K.,guttural; N, nasal; R, trilled; s as z; th as in this.

Explanations, p. 23. (




future prophet Aminah possessed, it is said, a pecu-
liarly nervous temperament, and used to fancy, while
between sleeping and waking, that she was visited by
spirits. It is probable that Mohammed inherited from
his mother his constitutional tendency to epilepsy, as well
as his most remarkable mental peculiarities. Many mar-
vellous stories are told of the circumstances attending
his birth. It is related, among other things, that his
mother experienced none of the pangs of travail. As
soon as her child was born, he raised his eyes to heaven,
exclaiming, "There is no God but God, and I am his
prophet I" That same night the fire of Zoroaster, which,
guarded by the Magi, had burned uninterruptedly for
more than a thousand years, was suddenly extinguished,
and all the idols in the world fell down.t

When his son was only two months old, Abdallah
died ; (according to some accounts, he died two months
before the birth of Mohammed.) Aminah for a short
time nursed her infant herself, but sorrow soon dried
the fountains of her breast, and the young child was
committed to the care of Haleemah, (Haltmah,) a shep-
herd's wife, with whom he remained about five years. It
is related that when Haleemah showed the child to a
celebrated soothsayer, (Kahin,) who was an idolater, the
latter exclaimed, " Kill this child !" Haleemah snatched
away her precious charge and fled. Afterwards the
Kahin explained to the excited multitude : " I swear by
all the gods," said he, "that this child will kill those
who belong to your faith ; he will destroy your gods,
and he will be victorious over you." When Mohammed
was four years old, he was seized, while at play, with a
nervous fit, which was supposed to be epilepsy. As this
disease was ascribed to supernatural influence, his nurse
was alarmed, and was anxious to return him to hia
mother ; but she was at last prevailed on to keep him
somewhat longer. When he had completed his sixth
year, his mother died. For the next two years he lived
with his grandfather, Abd-el-MoSttalib, who appears to
have regarded him with great fondness. At his death,
Abd-el-M6ottalib recommended the orphan to the care
of his son, the noble-minded Aboo-Tilib.

When only twelve years old, Mohammed accompanied
his uncle on a trading expedition to Syria, Near Bostra
they met with an Arabian monk named BaheerS or Ser-
gius. It is said that Aboo-TSlib, for some reason not
explained, found it necessary to send the young Mo-
hammed home again, and that Sergius took charge of
him and accompanied him to Mecca. Early Christian
biographers assert that Mohammed received his revela-
tions from this monk ; and he himself tells us in the
Koran that he was accused of having been taught by a
foreigner. It is not improbable that on his different
journeys to Syria he learned many facts respecting the
religions of Western Asia ; but how far the knowledge
of such facts influenced his future career must ever
remain a subject of conjecture.

When Mohammed was twenty-five years of age, his
uncle, Aboo-TSIib, proposed to him that he should take
charge of the merchandise which Khadijah, (or Khadee'-
jah,) a rich widow of Mecca, was about to send to the
markets of Syria. He accepted the proposal, and appears
to have fulfilled his charge with judgment and with entire
fidelity. Khadijah was so well pleased with him on his
return that she offered him her hand. Although she
was forty (lunar) years of age, and he but twenty-five, it
was considered by the family of Mohammed as a very
desirable connection. Their nuptials were celebrated
with a magnificent feast and great rejoicings. This mar-
riage raised Mohammed to an equal position with the
wealthiest inhabitants of Mecca. His moral character,
moreover, appears to have inspired universal esteem
and confidence, and he was generally known by the sur-
name of El-Ameen, (El-Amin,) or "'the Faithful." For
several years after his marriage he continued his com-
mercial journeys, visiting, with the caravans, the Arabian
fairs and markets of Syria. But, being now above the
necessity of anxiously toiling for a subsistence, he had
leisure to give free scope to the natural tendency of his

t It may be proper to observe that some of the most wonderful
of these stories are not found in the earlier accounts of Mohammed's
life, and are clearly the inventions of a later age.

mind, which inclinea him to religious meditation and
speculation. " He had," says Carlyle, " no school learn-
ing ; of the thing we call school learning, none at all.
The art of writing was but just introduced into Arabia ;
'.t seems to be the true opinion that Mahomet never
could write. Life in the desert, with its experiences,
was all his education."

Until his fortieth year Mohammed appears to have
been a devout worshipper of the gods of his fathers.
About this rime he began to entertain serious scruples
respecting the worship of idols. His followers ascribe
the change to a divine revelation ; but others have sug-
gested that his scruples were probably excited by a more
extensive acquaintance with the Jewish and Christian
Scriptures, which he may have acquired from his wife's
cousin, War'Jka, who had, it is said, once been a Jew
and afterwards became a Christian, and who made withal
some pretensions to astrology. Supposing these con-
jectures to have a basis of train, it was perhaps fortunate
for the new prophet's claims to an original revelation
that Waraka died a short time before Mohammed pub-
licly proclaimed his divine mission. But, however his
thoughts may have been first directed to the subject of
religion, there is every reason to believe that he was, at
least in the early part of his career, sincere and unselfish
in his desire to convert his countrymen to a better faith.
He appears to have thought long and deeply, and to
have had many mental struggles, before he resolved to
announce himself as a divine teacher. He was of a
nervous and melancholic temperament, and there were
times, during the period of doubt and conflict which
preceded the annunciation of his great mission, when
he was strongly tempted to commit suicide by throwing
himself down from a precipice. (See Sprenger's " Life,"
p. 105.) In all his trials he found a great support in his
faithful wife Khadtjah, who was the first, as he himself
declared, among all his nation that believed in him.
" God thus ordained it," says Ibn IshSk, " that his duties
might be made easy to him ; for, as often as he had to
hear reproachful language, or was accused of falsehood,
or was cast down, she cheered him up and inspired him
with courage, saying, 'Thou speakest the truth.'" We
may well suppose, with Carlyle, that "of all the kind-
nesses she had done him, this of believing the earnest,
struggling word which he now spoke was the greatest."
For a considerable time Mohammed preached his new
doctrines respecting the unity and glorious attributes of
God to his household and intimate friends only. In three
years he had made, we are told, only fourteen converts ;
but among these were the high-spirited, devoted, and
indomitable Alee, (Ali.) who was afterwards surnamed
the "ever-victorious Lion of God," (see ALEE,) and
Aboo-Bekr, whose character for good sense, benevolence,
and straightforward integrity contributed not a little to the
respectability and ultimate success of the new religion.

In the fourth year of his mission, in obedience, as he
alleges, to an exp'ress command from heaven, Mohammed
resolved to make a public declaration of his faith. He
addressed himself to the Koreish and others, asking
them, " If I were to tell you that there is an army on the
other side of that mountain, would you believe me ?"
" Yes," they answered, " for we do not consider thee to
be a liar." He then said, " I come to warn you ; and if
you do not believe me, a great punishment will befall
you ;" he told them they must renounce idolatry, and
make a profession of the one true God ; that unless they
did so they could have no true happiness in this life nor
salvation in the life to come. He formally separated him-
self from the polytheists, and publicly condemned their
religion. A powerful opposition was in consequence
organized against him, his uncle, Aboo Lahab, (lah'hab,)
and Aboo-Sofiln, (of the family of Omeyyah,) the prin-
cipal leader of the Koreishites, being among the number
of his bitterest enemies. Not only the prophet himself,
but his disciples were for a time in extreme danger ; he
owed his life to the influence of the powerful family of
HSshem, and especially to the magnanimity, courage,
and indomitable firmness of his uncle, Aboo-Talib, who,
although he refused to accept the new faith, resolved, at
whatever cost, to protect his kinsman. Every form of
persuasion and menace was tried upon him in vain. To

, e, i, 6, u, y, long; 4, e, 6, same, less prolonged; a, e, I, 6, ii, y, short: a, e, i, o, ottcurt; far, fall, fit; mSt; n6t; good; moon;




the hostile Koreishites, who urged him to give up to
their vengeance the blasphemer of his country's gods,
he answered with indignant scorn, and declared that if
they should slay his nephew the lives of the chiefs of
their tribe should pay for the life of Mohammed. They
were thunder-struck at his boldness and awed by his
invincible determination. But, while they hesitated to
provoke the vengeance of the Hashemites by laying
violent hands upon Mohammed, they persecuted his
disciples in a hundred ways, insulting and imprisoning
those of the better class, and starving and torturing such
as had no wealth, position, or family connections to pro-
tect them. Under the pressure of this persecution many
converts to the new faith apostatized ; and Mohammed,
fearing that others might desert him, advised some of his
followers to leave Mecca and seek refuge in Abyssinia,
which was ruled, he said, by a just and pious king. The
subsequent conduct of the Abyssinian monarch proved
that the confidence of the prophet was not misplaced.

In spite of all opposition, the new doctrines continued
to spread. In the sixth year of Mohammed's mission
two important conversions took place, the prophet's
kinsman Hamzah, surnamed, on account of his bravery,
the " Lion of God," and Omar, who had at first been a
bitter opponent of the Islam, but afterwards became one
of its most zealous and powerful defenders. (See OMAR.)

Ten years after the commencement of his mission,
(that is, about 619 A.D.,) Mohammed lost by death his
generous and faithful wife, Khadijah, and his noble-
minded uncle and protector, Aboo-Talib. He appears
to have been greatly cast down by these severe afflictions,
and seldom went out of his house. Meanwhile, his
enemies seemed to have become more exasperated than
ever by the failure of all their efforts to prevent the
spread of the new religion. In this extremity, his uncle,
Aboo-Lahab, who had hitherto been one of his most
determined and bitter opponents, but upon whom now
devolved the duty of protecting his kinsman, came for-
ward with singular magnanimity and said to Mohammed,
"Go wheresoever thou wilt, and do what thou wast ac-
customed to do when Aboo-Talib was alive : I swear by
the gods of my country that no harm shall befall thee
while I live." But a few days afterwards some one said
to Aboo-Lahab, " Do you know what your nephew says
of your father? he says he is in hell." Aboo-Lahab
asked Mohammed if the charge was true. The prophet
had the hardihood to answer, " Your father died an
idolater ; and every idolater goes to hell." Upon this,
Aboo-Lahab withdrew his protection.

So long as Khadijah lived, Mohammed maybe said to
have been a strict monogamist. Shortly after her death
the daughter of Hakeem and wife of Othman asked the
prophet why he did not marry. "Whom shall I marry?"
said he. She replied, "If thou wishest a virgin, take
Ayeshah, the daughter of Aboo-Bekr; if a widow, take
Sawdah, the daughter of Zamah, she believes in thee."
He instantly replied, " I will marry them both."

After Mohammed was abandoned by Aboo-Lahab,
another uncle, El-Abbas, (the brother of Aboo-Talib,
and ancestor of the Abbasside caliphs,) became his pro-
tector. Meanwhile the faith which had been rejected at
Mecca was eagerly embraced in the neighbouring city
of Medina. A numerous and powerful deputation from
the mcst influential families of the latter city waited on
the prophet, and in a solemn covenant promised, with
n oath, that if he would come and live with them they
would protect him as they would protect their own wives
nd children. The offer of this powerful aid did not
come a moment too soon. His enemies, headed by
Aboo-Sofian, had been unremitting in their efforts to
procure his destruction. At length it was formally and
publicly resolved that he should be slain. In order to
baffle the vengeance of the Hashemites, and to divide
the guilt of his death, it was agreed that one man from
every family should at the same moment plunge his
sword into the heart of their victim. Nothing now re-
mained for him but death or instant flight. At the dead
of night, accompanied by his faithful friend Aboo-Bekr,
he silently escaped from his house. The generous and de-
voted Alee, covered with the shawl of the prophet, laid
himself down on the bed of his master. Meanwhile

Mohammed and Aboo-Bekr had fled to the cave of Thor,
about a league from Mecca : there they remained three
days. According to one account, their enemies, after
exploring every hiding-place in the vicinity, came to the
mouth of the cave. But, a spider having providentially
spread her web over the entrance, the Koreishites, deem-
ing it impossible that Mohammed could have entered
there, turned back from their pursuit. Perhaps a more
probable explanation is that as the Koreishites knew
Medina to be the destination of the fugitives, they never
suspected that they could be concealed in the cave of
Thcr, which lay in an opposite direction. While they
were in the cave, Aboo-Bekr, contrasting their weakness
with the strength of their enemies, said, trembling, " We
are but two." "No," replied Mohammed, "there is a
third : it is God himself." On the fourth night the
prophet and his companion left their hiding-place, and,
riding on camels which the servant of Aboo-Bekr had
brought, arrived safely at Medina sixteen days after his
flight from Mecca. His approach having been made
known, several hundred of the citizens went out to meet
him. He was welcomed with loud acclamations; and
he who a few days before had left his native city as a
fugitive, with a price upon his head, now entered Medina
more like a king returning victorious from battle than
an exile seeking a place of refuge. This separation or
flight of Mohammed from the city of his nativity (called
in Arabic Hej'rah or Hij'rah*) marks the commence-
ment of the Mohammedan era.t

After Mohammed's arrival at Medina, a marked change
took place in his policy. He had hitherto asserted liberty
of conscience and opposed religious violence. He now
maintained that the Islam should, if necessary, be de-
fended and propagated by the sword. "The sword,"
said he, " is the key of heaven and of hell : a drop of
blood shed in the cause of God, or a night spent in arms,
is of more avail than two months of fasting and prayer ;
whoever falls in battle, his sins are forgiven him, and at
the day of judgment the loss of his limbs shall be sup-
plied by the wings of cherubim." He was not long in
carrying his new principles into practice. His arch-
enemy, Aboo-Sofian, had, with only thirty or forty fol-
lowers, conducted a rich caravan of a thousand camels
to the marts of Syria. The prophet resolved to inter-
cept it on its return. Aboo-Sofian, having been informed
of his design, dispatched a messenger to Mecca and
obtained a reinforcement of nearly a thousand men. Mo-
hammed's troops amounted to considerably less than
half that number. The hostile forces met in the vale
of Bedr, (or Bedder,) about twenty miles from Medina.
Mohammed was placed on a throne or pulpit whence
his eye could command the field of battle. His followers,
being outnumbered, were sorely pressed. At that critical
moment the prophet started from his throne, mounted
his horse, and threw a handful of dust into the air towards
the Koreishites, crying, " Let their faces be covered with
confusion !" Both armies heard his voice ; the Koreish-
ites were stricken with terror, while the Mussulmans,
assured of victory, rushed forward with an enthusiasm
that was irresistible. Some of the Moslem writers state
that when the prophet cast dust into the air three thou-
sand angelic warriors on white and black steeds made
their appearance and swept his foes before them like a
whirlwind. Seventy of the Koreishites were killed, and
about the same number taken prisoners. Among the
slain was Aboo-Jahl, perhaps the most bitter and fero-
cious of all the enemies of Islam. His head was brought
to Mohammed, who exclaimed with exultation, " This man
was the Pharaoh of our people." So great was the terror
and hatred he had inspired that even after his death his
name was never mentioned, it is said, by true believers
without the addition, " May he be accursed of God !"

This word is often, but less correctly, written Hegira : it has,

Koperly speaking, but two syllables. The vowel i has doubtless
en added by the Italians or Germans to indicate the sound of/', (or

CHatTieja, for Aboo-Jahl Abu-GjaJll, etc.

t The era of the Hejrah is not calculated from the very day of
Mohammed's flight, but from the beginning of the lunar year in
which it occurred, namely, July 16, 622 A.D.

< as/: casj; gharJ: gas ;', G, H, V., guttural; N, nasal; ^trillrd: sasi; *hasinrtif. (jy=See Explanations, p. 13.)




The prophet's success at Bedr was the first of that
wonderful series of victories which, by spreading the
new faith to the borders of China on the east and to the
Atlantic Ocean on the west, were destined to change the
face of the world. The Islamites were less successful
in a second encounter with their foes, near Mount Ohod,
six miles north of Medina. Mohammed himself was
wounded in the face with a javelin, two of his teeth were
shattered with a stone, and seventy of the faithful, in-
cluding Hamzah, the prophet's uncle, were left dead on
the field of battle. But his enemies gained no perma-
nent advantage. The Koreishites signally failed in an
attempt to take Medina by siege. The Islam constantly
gained new adherents. " Caled [Khaled] and Amrou,"
says Gibbon, " the future conquerors of Syria and Egypt,
most seasonably deserted the sinking cause of idolatry."
Soon after, Mecca itself was taken by the followers of
the prophet, who, led by Khaled, (surnamed afterwards,
on account of his valour, the " Sword of God,") entered
the city in three divisions. The chiefs of the Koreish
were prostrate at the feet of the prophet. " What mercy,"

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Online LibraryJoseph ThomasUniversal pronouncing dictionary of biography and mythology (Volume 2) → online text (page 155 of 425)