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S. M. Zwemer, F. R. G. S.

Mohammed or Christ, illustrated, net 51.50

Introduction bj Rt. Rev. C. H. Stileman, M. A.^ somttimt

Bishop of Ptrsia

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Dr. Zwemer traces the collapse of Islam as a political
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El Azhar University dates from the time of the Fatimids. The original
mosque was built by Jauhar in 972 A.D. It is said to have about 10,000
students and a library of 19,000 volumes.

Princeton Theological Seminary MCMXV





'Childhood in the Moslem World," " Arabia, the Cradle of

Islam," "The Moslem Christ," "Zig-Zag Journeys

in the Camel Country," "Topsy-Turvy Land,"

etc., etc.



Fleming H. Revell Company


Copyright, 1916, by

New 'Ybrfc: jsfc'.'Fifti Avenue
Chicago: 17 N. Wabash Ave.
Toronto: 25 Richmond St., W.
London: 21 Paternoster Square
Edinburgh: 100 Princes Street

'TPHESE lecturei were delivered in
J- Miller Chapel, Princeton Theologi-
cal Seminary, October, 1915. They
were subsequently also delivered at the
Theological Seminary of the Reformed
Church in America, New Brunswick,
N. J.; and at the Theological Seminary
of the American Mission, Cairo, Egypt.


"The harvest is not benefited by confounding weeds with
wheat. Harmony is not enhanced by a premature recourse to
synthesis, before due scope has been given to discriminating
analysis. God is not honoured by attributing to His causation
what He only overrules, in working out His sovereign designs.
God is greater in permitting the exercise of free action, even
if opposed to His own will, and in yet finally accomplishing
His purpose, than if He were to exercise His sovereignty to the
extent of rendering every counter-current impossible, and
monopolizing the whole channel of history by the unchecked
flow of His own volition." S. W. KOELLE: "Mohammed and

* r lt surely is altogether false, if some, in modern times,
assert that Islam has a mission in this world, namely, of serv-
ing as a preparation of idolatrous nations for the faith in the
one true God. History most positively contradicts this as-
sertion. Islam has never operated to prepare the way for
Christianity, and least does so today." C. H. SCHABLING of


From heaven fought the stars,
From their courses they fought against Sisera.
That river Kishon swept them away, .**

The ancient river, the river Kishon. i Vv&* *

my soul, march on with strength. . /. V* %

The Song of Deborah. Judges 5:20-22. 7

EIE all other non- Christian systems and
philosophies Islam is a dying religion;
from the outset it had in it the germs
of death neither the character of the Koran
nor of its Prophet have in them the promise or
potency of life that will endure. Even Carlyle,
whose "The Hero as Prophet " is often quoted
as an apology for Islam, admitted this. In his
lecture on "The Hero as Poet" he said: "It
was intrinsically an error that notion of
Mahomet's, of his supreme Prophethood; and
has come down to us inextricably involved in
error to this day; dragging along with it such
a coil of fables, iniquities, intolerances, as
makes it a questionable step for me here and
now to say, as I have done, that Mahomet was
a true Speaker at all, and not rather an ambi-
tious charlatan, perversity and simulacrum ; no
Speaker, but a Babbler ! Even in Arabia, as I
compute, Mahomet will have exhausted himself
and become obsolete, while this Shakspeare,



this Dante may still be young. . . . His
Koran has become a stupid piece of prolix
absurdity ; we do not believe, like him, that God
wrote that!"

Moreover, at the present time there are in
Islam many evidences of decay. In 1899, a
company of delegates from the Moslem world
assembled in Mecca and gave fourteen days to
investigate the causes for the decay of Islam.
Fifty-seven reasons were given, including fatal-
ism, the opposition of science, the rejection of
religious liberty, neglect of education and in-
activity due to the hopelessness of the cause
itself. A leading Moslem editor in India wrote
in 1914: "We see that neither wealth nor
'education' nor political power can enable the
Muslims to achieve their national salvation.
Where then lies the remedy? Before seeking
the remedy we must ascertain the disease. But
the Muslims are not diseased, they have reached
a worse stage. A diseased man has still life
in him."

We find the same note of despair in the recent
volume of essays by an educated Indian Mos-
lem, S. Khuda Bukhsh, M.A. He speaks of the
"hideous deformity" of Moslem society and of
"the vice and immorality, the selfishness, self-
seeking, and hypocrisy which are corrupting it
through and through." Those who live among
Moslems and read Moslem newspapers and


books are more and more surprised that Islam
itself is not conscious of its strength but of its
weakness and decay, and that everywhere Mos-
lems are bemoaning a day of opportunity that
is lost. The Moslem pulpit and the Moslem
press in the great centres of Islam unite in a
wail of despair. "0 ye servants of God," said
a Cairo preacher last year, "the time has come
for Moslems to look after their affairs and to
regard their religion and conduct as a sick man
looks toward his remedy and the man who is
drowning toward dry land."

Moslems have long realized that the dead
weight of formality called tradition, the ac-
cumulation of many centuries, is an intolerable
burden. Frantic efforts have been made in
many quarters to save the ship by throwing
overboard much of this cargo. Others in their
despair have sought for a new pilot. Messiahs
and Mahdis have arisen and founded new sects
or started new movements. The progress of
western civilization and its impact has been
felt everywhere in the economic and social life
of Islam. We must add to all this the utter
collapse of Moslem political power in Africa,
Europe, and Asia. The stars from their courses
are fighting against Sisera, and the future is
dark for those who believe that Islam is the
hope of the world. We, however, believe that
when the crescent wanes the Cross will prove


dominant, and that the disintegration of Islam
is a divine preparation for the evangelization
of Moslem lands and the winning of Moslem
hearts to a new allegiance. Jesus Christ is
sufficient for them as He is for us. " When that
which is perfect is come, that which is in part
shall be done away."

The purpose of the lectures here given is
distinctly missionary, and in setting forth the
present-day conditions and needs of these mil-
lions, many of whom are groping toward the
light, our prayer is that the message may lead
to the surrender of life for the work of missions.
From all the seminaries where these lectures
were given a number of graduates have already
gone to the forefront of the battle in the Moslem
world, in Syria, Persia, India, Arabia, Egypt,
North Africa, and China. Their unfinished task
awaits fulfilment.

S. M. Z.










Main Minaret of El Azhar Mosque, Cairo Frontispiece



Interior of Main Court, El Azhar University,
Cairo 20

Facsimile Eeproduction of a Page from El
Bokhari 28

The Ceremony of El Dausa, Cairo, 1880 . . 38
One of the Prayer-Niches (Mihrab) of El Azhar 48

Mosque of the Prophet's Tomb, Interior, El
Medina 108

Eailway Station and Terminus of the Hejas Kail-
way, El Medina 134

Type of Modern Moslem School, Nampalli, India 152

Portion of a Curious Diagram Bridging Chasm
Between the Cross and the Crescent . . . 176

Mosque of the Prophet's Tomb, Exterior, El
Medina 214

St. David'i Building, Cairo, 1910 . 224



" The entire Dar ul Islam, or Islamic community, dis-
united and dismembered for generations, has now sunk into
such a state of spiritual torpor and political impotence that,
apart from fitful outbursts of fanaticism and spasmodic
paroxysms of savagery, any serious aggressions against Chris-
tian nations are out of the question, and the signs of its
approaching complete disintegration are rapidly multiplying.
If in some far-off places, such as the continent of Africa, Islam
has of late been spreading to some extent; this has been
effected by the notorious means of its propagandism, and can
only remind one of those sparse green twigs sometimes still
appearing at the extreme ends of half-dried-up boughs in
trees whose core has for long been decaying from old age."
8. W. KOELLB: "Mohammed and Mohammedanism."


And it came to pass the same night, that Jehovah
said unto him, Arise, get thee down into the camp;
for I have delivered it into thy hand. But if thou
fear to go down, go thou with Purah thy servant
down to the camp: and thou shalt hear what they
say; and afterward shall thy hands 6e strengthened
to go down into the camp. JUDGES 7: 9-11.

THE yoke of Islam is not easy and its bur-
den is not light. A religion of ritual
and outward forms always demands
punctilious observance from its devotees. Its
demands, if not high as regards moral stand-
ards, are heavy with cumbrous detail and con-
stant repetition. The daily round and common
task of a respectable Britisher in London would
be wholly disarranged, nay, become almost im-
possible, were he to follow the religious prac-
tices laid down as imperative in any book of
Fiqh. Yet it is this burden of outward observ-
ances and rigorous conformity to puerile de-
tail which rests on far the greater part of the
Moslem world, and which David Livingstone
called the " dead weight " of Islam. Even
those who have great hopes that Islam can be



reformed, like the Dutch scholar, Professor C.
Snouck Hurgronje, admit this. In his lectures
at Columbia University he said :

" Nothing could be more inconceivably remote than
Mecca. It represents the Islam of centuries ago. The
houses are impossible. All the conveniences to which
we are accustomed light, heat, water are as they
were in the Dark Ages. But one who has not been to
Mecca, who has not lived there in Mohammedan house-
holds and studied at the Mosques, cannot understand
Islam. My sojourn in Mecca for eight months was
like transposition into a city of the twelfth or thir-
teenth century. "

Perhaps ninety per cent of the Moslem world
still lives under such conditions in this Dark
Age. For them it is the Age, not of reformed
Islam, but of primitive belief and practice. The
reformed Mohammedan, like the reformed Jew,
has practically discarded the religion of his
fathers, but he is in the minority. The ortho-
dox Moslem is still bound hand and foot in the
grave clothes of Tradition. By tradition they
understand the record of what Mohammed said
and did or allowed.

What the Talmud is to Judaism that tra-
dition, i.e., the hadith or sunna, is to Moham-
medanism. One may as well expect to know
what Christianity in Mexico or in Spain is like
by a careful study of the New Testament as to *


learn the real character of Islam among the
masses in lands like Morocco, Egypt, and China,
from the text of the Koran. It is well known
that orthodox Moslems speak of the sources of
their religion, or the authorities on which it is
based, as four : the Koran, Tradition, ijmd and
kiyas. Ijmd is the unanimous consent of the
leading companions concerning any teaching
based on the Koran or on tradition : while kiyas
consists of deductions made by orthodox teach-
ers concerning questions that are in doubt, by
analogy, or, as Moslems express it, the opinions
of the learned concerning that which is not
mentioned in the Koran nor tradition by the
analogy of questions that are mentioned. The
Koran is called the verbal revelation (Wahi el
Matlu) ; tradition is called Wahi gheir el Matlu.
The first thing that surprises us in studying
the vast subject of Moslem tradition is the im-
mense number of collections of these sayings
of the Prophet. There are said to be 1,465 col-
lections of traditions, but fortunately only six
of them are counted classical or standard by
the orthodox school, namely, Muslim, Bokhari,
Tirmizi, Abu Daoud, An-Nasaei, and Ibn Ma-
jah. Abu Daoud, one of their number, states
in his massive work that he received as trust-
worthy only 4,800 traditions out of 500,000.
Yet these traditions have the highest authority
in Islam. According to Canon Sell, " An Or-


thodox Moslem places the Gospel in the same
rank as the Hadith ; that is, he looks upon them
as a record of what Jesus said and did, handed
down to us by His companions." There is not
a single Moslem sect, Shiah or Sunni, that looks
to the Koran only as the rule of faith and prac-
tice. Islam has never had a real Protestant
movement in this direction. Not only are the
five duties of pious Moslems carefully de-
scribed in these collections of tradition, but
their whole interpretation of the creed, of juris-
prudence, and of the Koran itself, are based on
its authority.

It is not surprising that tradition should have
had such power in the conservative East, and
especially in Arabia. Even before the Hejira,
Goldziher tells us, it was considered a virtue to
follow the sunna of one's forefathers. When
Islam came it was no longer possible to follow
the customs of heathen ancestors. Every be-
liever now took the conduct of the Prophet as a
model for himself in all the affairs of life. First
of all, they followed the practice of the Com-
panions of the Prophet who had themselves
witnessed his actions and heard his words.
Later on they had to be satisfied with the
tabi'un, or successors; in following genera-
tions they spoke of the successors of the suc-
cessors. Every tradition accepted by Moslems
necessarily retains this form of personal state-

Showing the dilapidated condition of the building.


ment and consists of two parts. The first part
is called the isnad or support, namely, the list
of names on which the tradition is based, its
pedigree. The second is called the main, or
actual text of the tradition quoted.

Notwithstanding the severe warning given by
Mohammed himself, regarding the invention or
corruption of tradition, many spurious tra-
ditions have been handed down. Out of
40,000 persons whose names are recorded in
Moslem books as handing down traditions, Al-
Bokhari acknowledges only 2,000 as re-
liable. Accordingly nineteen-twentieths of these
men were liars in his opinion. Moslem criti-
cism in regard to this course of authority has
been from the outset only external, and has
never troubled itself about the text, although
in a measure it criticised the isnad, or list of
authorities. Their principle of criticism even
here was unsound, for they were most particu-
lar in rejecting all doubtful characters of the
second and third generation, but never doubted
the veracity of the Companions of the Prophet.
Abu Huraira, Ibn Abbas, and Anas bin Malik
are the chief authorities collected in Bokhari.
According to Prince Leone Caetani 4,000 out
of the 7,000 traditions are referred to them.
Yet Ibn Abbas was only thirteen years old when
Mohammed died, and how could he remember in
detail and relate at random thousands of tradi-


tions in regard to the public and private life
of the Prophet? In regard to Abu Huraira,
even his real name is unknown to Moslems and
the surname, " Father of the Little Cat," is
supposed to have been given him on account of
his tenderness to cats. He is said to have had
an infallible memory and died at the age of
seventy-eight. The inexhaustible stock of his
information aroused suspicion as to his trust-
worthiness, even among Moslems. Spranger
calls him the extreme of pious humbug ; but we
must perhaps defend him in a measure, as many
of his sayings were attributed to him by later
collectors of tradition. As for Anas ibn Malik,
according to his own statement he was only ten
years old at the time of the battle of Badr, and
died at Busrah, some say, at the age of ninety-
seven and some say a hundred and seven years.
His reputation as a traditionist is none of the
highest, and Abu Hanif a, the founder of one of
the schools of theology in Islam, refused to
acknowledge his authority. If this is the char-
acter of the three leading traditionists, we may
judge of the remainder, who came after them
and were even more audacious in the manufac-
ture of tradition.

A whole science of so-called criticism of the
isnad has arisen in Islam. With reference to
the character of those who handed down tradi-
tions, they are classified as follows :


Hadith-es-Sahih, a genuine tradition, is one
which has been handed down by truly pious
persons who have been distinguished for their
integrity: Hadith-el-Hasan, a mediocre tradi-
tion, is one the narrators of which do not ap-
proach in moral excellence to those of the Sahih
class; Hadith-ed-Da'if, a weak tradition, is one
whose narrators are of questionable authority.

With reference to the original narrators there
are also three classes: Hadith-el-Marfu, an ex-
alted tradition, is a saying or an act, related or
performed by the Prophet himself and handed
down in a tradition; Hadith-el-Mauquf, a re-
stricted tradition, is a saying or an act, related
or performed by one of the ashab, or Compan-
ions of the Prophet ; Hadith-el-Maqtu ', an inter-
sected tradition, is a saying or an act related or
performed by one of the Tabi'un, or those who
conversed with the Companions of the Prophet.

Finally, traditions are also divided according
to the manner in which they have been trans-
mitted. Hadith-el-Mutawatir, an undoubted
tradition, is one which is handed down by very
many distinct chains of narrators; Hadith-el-
'Aziz, a rare tradition, is one related by one or
two lines of narrators ; Hadith-el-Gharib, a poor
tradition, is one related by only one narrator;
Khabar-el-wahid, a single saying, is a term also
used for a tradition related by one person and
handed down by one line of narrators. It is a


disputed point whether a Khabar Wahid can
form the basis of Moslem doctrine; Hadith-el-
Mursal is a tradition which any collector of tra-
ditions, such as Al-Bokhari and others, records
with the assertion, "the apostle of God said":
Riwayah is a hadith which commences with the
words "it is related/' without the authority
being given; Hadith- el-Mauzu', an invented tra-
dition, is one the untruth of which is beyond dis-
pute. This did not prevent its preservation and
publication however !

Because of such careful classification no Mos-
lem who considers himself orthodox will doubt
any statement that has been accepted by one
of the six great authorities, especially Al-
Bokhari. He even uses this for oath like the
Koran. To what extent the bondage to tradi-
tion remains can be judged from the statement
made by Sheikh Feroz-ud-Din Murad, Assistant
Professor of Physics at Aligarh College, India.
One would think that a scientist should have a
somewhat critical mind even in matters of re-
ligion. In an article on the "Precepts and Prac-
tices of the Prophet of Islam, " however, he
writes :

"With the purest of intentions, Imam Bukhari did
his best to criticize dispassionately and calmly the
character of the narrators and the subject-matter of
the Ahadis, with a view to get at the perfectly genuine


and correct Ahadis. For us and our successors the
task of sifting the truth about AkadAs has been very
much shorn of its difficulties. Believing that Sahih
Bukhari has deservedly secured the verdict of 'the
most correct book next to the Holy Quran/ our duty
is always to keep in view that none save the prophets
of God are innocent and free from errors, and then
to believe in the truth of any of the AJiadis pro-
nounced correct by Imam Bukhari only so long as we
do not possess solid grounds for doubting the correct-
ness of his investigation/'

At the great Azhar University the place occu-
pied by the study of tradition is characteris-
tically supreme. Nearly one-half of their large
library consists of collection of tradition and
commentaries on the same. Four extensive
commentaries on the traditions of Al-Bokhari
have been printed, one of them in eleven vol-
umes. For beginners they print a synopsis of
all the important traditions, and these popular
manuals have a large circulation. One can per-
haps get the best idea of Bokhari's work from
the table of contents of the first volume of
Houdas' French translation (Paris, 1903):

"1. How Mohammed's Revelation began.

2. Faith.

3. Science (11m).

4. Ablutions.

5. Washings.


6. Menstruation.

7. Washing with Sand.

8. Prayer.

9. The Hours of Prayer.

10. The Call to Prayer.

11. Friday Worship.

12. Prayers in Case of Danger.

13. The Two Moslem Feasts.

14. Interrupted Prayer.

15. Supplication.

16. Eclipses.

17. Prostrations during the Reading of the Koran.

18. On the Abridgment of Prayer.

19. Night Prayer.

20. The Benefit of Prayer in the Mosque at Mecca.

21. Category of Acts Permitted during Prayer.

22. Distractions in Prayer.

23. Funerals.

24. Alms.

25. Pilgrimage.

26. On Visiting Medina.

27. Hindrances to Pilgrimage.

28. The Expiation for Wrong Acts during the

29. The Merits of Al-Medina.

30. Fasting.

31. Prayer in Ramadhan.

32. The Excellence of the Night of Destiny.

33. Spiritual Meditation."

So much for the first volume of Al-Bokhari.
The other volumes deal with the Moslem Ritual


and Practice, Military Expeditions, The Inter-
pretation of the Koran, Marriage, Divorce, and
kindred subjects. The first tradition given in
Al-Bokhari is as follows and may be considered
typical of all the rest :

El Humaida Abdullah bin Zubeir related to
us that Sufyan told him that Yahya bin Saeed
el Ansari said, I was told by Mohammed ibn
Ibrahim that he heard Alkmah the son of Wakas-
al-Lethi saying, I heard Omar bin Khattab
(God bless him) in the pulpit saying, I heard
the apostle of God (upon him be prayer and
peace) say: "Truly all deeds are according to
intentions." 1

In addition to all the classes of tradition and
their divisions here given there is yet another
class. So far we have considered the words of
Mohammed, his actions or his permissions.
There are collections of traditions, however,
called hadith Ttudsi which are supposed to be the
actual word of God, although not found in the
Koran. Instead of beginning, "So said the
prophet, ' ' they begin, i ' God said. ' ' Here is an

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Online LibrarySamuel Marinus ZwemerThe disintegration of Islam [microform] → online text (page 1 of 13)