Sigismund Wilhelm Koelle.

Mohammed and Mohammedanism, critically considered online

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Many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

Matt. xxiv. ii.

Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, whic)
Jesus Christ. i Cor. in. n.




Critically congitiereti


S. W. KOELLE, Ph.Dr.








[All rights reseri'ed.}


A NEW work on Mohammed and Mohammedanism
seems to require some words of explanation to the reading
public whose attention it claims. There exists already a
goodly number of such works, both in the English language
and in other European languages. It stands to reason that
any further addition should be able to justify itself, either
by opening fresh sources of information, or by placing old
materials into a new and clearer light. Is this possible?
Have the previous works, with the widely diverging results
of their investigations, wholly exhausted the topic, or have
they left room, if not for startling discoveries, at least for the
useful gleanings of earnest and painstaking followers ? One
of my English predecessors wrote, fifteen years ago, that the
treatment of the subject ' hardly now admits of originality.'
Probably many are of the same opinion. But I would in
all modesty, and yet with confidence, appeal to the judg-
ment of any qualified reader, whether the following work
possesses a degree of independence and originality sufficient
to vindicate its place amongst all the more or less meri-
torious productions by which it has been preceded. It is
true, the historical data exist for all alike, and we cannot
multiply them at will ; but in their investigation and utilisa-
tion there remains a wide field for the play of a variety of
talents and of sundry measures of judgment.

As in nature, so in history, objects assume a different
aspect according to the standpoint from which they are
contemplated. In the suitability of the different stand-
points also there is a gradation from the worst to the best.


As a rule, the higher and freer the standpoint, the more
serviceable it is for obtaining a correct view. He would be
a bold man who affirmed that he had so entirely exhausted
the momentous subject of Islam and its Prophet, as to leave
nothing more to be done by those who follow after. Taking
for granted that my predecessors, whose merits I gratefully
acknowledge, rather wished to encourage than prohibit
further research, I kept my eyes open, whilst following in
the way they had trodden, and judged for myself, as they
had done before me. The intelligent reader, by accompany-
ing me on the stern and bracing march of research, will be
able to say, whether I have succeeded in observing here and
there what had been left unnoticed by those who went before
me, and in occasionally placing in a fuller and truer light
what was already known.

I would especially invite the thoughtful reader to direct
his attention to the manner in which I have traced the
development of Mohammed into the prophet he became ; to
the inward harmony which I have shown to exist between
his Meccan and Medinan periods, notwithstanding their out-
ward dissimilarity ; to the large mythical element in the
Moslem biographies which I have laid bare, together with
the leading idea from which it sprang ; and to the peculiar
character of the Mohammedan opposition to Christianity and
Christendom, which I have pointed out in its fundamental
principle and in its practical manifestation throughout the
course of its history. It appears to me almost impossible
that any judicious reader could honestly and impartially
ponder the grave array of data and records which I unroll
before him, without becoming convinced, with me, of the
designedly and deeply antichristian character of the entire
system of Islamism.

Many have wondered at the haughty complacency and
air of superiority with which the devout Mohammedans are
wont to look down upon Christianity and its professors.
Often the scanty success of Christian Missionary efforts


amongst Mussulmans has been discussed as something
strange, and calling for explanation. But leaving aside
the intimate union between the secular and the religious
in the Islamic system, which places the sword of coercion
in its hand, and looking only at the transcendent halo of the
mythical Mohammed, as it is set forth in my Second Book,
who can wonder any longer that if such a Mohammed sits
enthroned in the hearts of the Mohammedans, they should
see in Christ but scant ' comeliness and beauty ' that they
'should desire Him'? What a mass of superstitious rubbish
has to be swept away from the path of the pious Moslem,
before his vision can become unimpeded and free enough to
perceive the all-surpassing spiritual majesty of Him who
could say, ' He who hath seen me hath seen the Father ! '
(John xiv. 9.) I repeat, Let any one who wonders why
a greater number of Mohammedans do not become Chris-
tians, carefully read our Second Book, and he will understand
the self-sufficiency of men who regard such fancy-pictures of
Mohammed as real, and such fairy-tales about his apostolic
pre-eminence as true. In order to become Christians, the
Moslems have as much to unlearn as to learn.

Some Christian writers have considered it an act of jus-
tice towards them to endeavour to prove that their Prophet
was innocent of much with which Christians had charged
him. No one will deny that justice is a virtue which
we are bound to exercise even towards adversaries. But
if our goodwill to the Mohammedans is of the sterling kind
which wishes to help them into the full daylight of Chris-
tian Truth, we are more likely to benefit them by frankly
pointing out the distortion of the lengthened shadow they
are following, and the perfect symmetry of the image it
reflects, than by assuring them that however distorted the
shadow may be, yet it is not quite so distorted as has been
represented. Fashions are proverbially tyrannous. So
strong has the modern fashion of 'justice to Mohammed'
grown, that it has sometimes manifested itself by positive


misstatements in his favour. What hollow and undeserved
praise has, e.g., been lavished on the Arabian Prophet by
reason of his retirement to a cave on Mount Hira ! To such
a degree these fancies have been repeated that they have
become a widespread superstition. I trust that the advocates
of fairness and justice, whom I claim as colleagues, will feel
beholden to me for having reduced their exaggerating cave-
story to its proper historical dimension.

I have not concealed, throughout the work, that my
standpoint, in forming a judgment, is that of Christianity.
All civilised and well-informed men who have impartially
studied the subject agree in this, that, as a whole, Christianity
is far superior to Islam, or to any other existing religion.
It further admits of not any doubt, that only by the light
of the higher religion can the lower be rightly estimated :
just as in nature, in science, and in art, the higher develop-
ment throws the necessary light on the less developed
forms. In judging anything, a standard is required to guide
our judgment. I have not heard of any one having dis-
covered a worthier standard for judging the claims of Moham-
med than is given in the Person of Christ ; or the claims of
Islam, than genuine Christianity. Any one who declines to
judge the lower religion by the higher one, rejects the only
standard by which he can hope to arrive at a correct and
sure judgment.

When I lived amongst the Mohammedans as a Christian
Missionary, I, in dealing with them, naturally felt it an
incumbent duty to seek to discover all the bright spots, all
that is true and good, in their religion, all that might form a
bond of agreement between us, and a starting-point for a
still higher advance. But it was no less a plain duty to
have an open eye for all the defects and faults inherent
to the system, in order to be able to point them out to its
votaries, and thus to help them to a just sense of the pos-
sibility and necessity of rising to something far higher and
better. No one more than a Missionary to the Mohammedans


must see how indispensable it is for him to form a correct
estimate as well of the bright as the dark side of Islam,
and to meet its professors in a spirit of fairness and
benevolence. The Moslems deserve our esteem as fellow-
worshippers with us of the Great God of the Universe ; and
they need our heartfelt sympathy, our loving help, as un-
happily deprived, by the Islamic veil, of a full sight of the
One Mediator between God and man, the only Saviour of
sinners. In this spirit I found it quite possible to have
friendly intercourse with them, which in several cases ripened
into actual friendship.

My practical acquaintance with Mohammedans began
over forty years ago, when I held the post of Professor of
Hebrew and Arabic in the Church Missionary College at
Fourah Bay, near Freetown, on the west coast of Africa. I
often visited a Mohammedan village in the immediate
vicinity, and was on such friendly footing with its spiritual
head as to be often invited to accompany him to the mosque,
and to be present during their service. In Egypt, in Pales-
tine, and in European Turkey, I had ample opportunity,
during more than a quarter of a century, of still further
extending my acquaintance with Mohammedanism and the
Mohammedans. I had the pleasure of counting amongst
my friends some of all the classes of Moslem society, from
the highest to the lowest. We must not look for perfection
in fallen man anywhere, but I have met with truth-loving,
honest men, and fine natural characters, amongst the Mussul-
mans of my acquaintance. If one has the opportunity of an
insight into men's inner life and religious aspirations, one
may still be disposed to say, with Tertullian, Anima humana
naturaliter Christiana. Man as such, no matter of what
country or nationality, has a natural sensorium and capacity
for the Divine verities of Christianity. Often I said to
myself, in becoming acquainted with God-fearing, open-
hearted Moslems, 'What noble Christian characters these
men will become, if once they receive Christ ! ' But the


Mohammedans are, as it were, defrauded of their faith in
Christ by the counterfeit obtruding itself to their vision, and
intercepting their heart's ready trust in a Mediator and
Saviour, of whom they stand as much in need as other men.
Islam has an undoubted tendency to engender in its votaries
an excessive sense of religious superiority, and a contempt
for every other faith and its professors. The Moslems are
not accustomed to examine into the foundation and proofs
of their own religion. They are taught to look upon the
question ' Why ? ' in matters of religion, as blamable rather
than laudable. They take for granted that their Islam is
the Divine revelation in the absolute sense, and their
Prophet the seal and chief of all other prophets. They have
to be taught to think and reason, to ask for proof and weigh
evidence, to rise from a blind faith to an enlightened faith.
When once they consent to learn that all the boasted
equality or superiority of Mohammed to Christ rests on
mere fiction, devoid of all foundation in fact ; and if their
Governments make religious liberty a reality, — then we
may hope that they will as readily enter the common bond
of European Christianity, as they have already begun to
adopt the advantages of European civilisation.

I trust it will not be deemed unbecoming in one, who
has spent the best part of his life in seeking to interpret
Christ and Christianity to the Mohammedans, to have
devoted some of his declining years to this present attempt
of interpreting Mohammed and Mohammedanism to the
Christians. May it prove useful in fostering a true, i.e. a
Christian, estimation of Mohammed and Mohammedanism,
and in stimulating the zeal of the Church of Christ to pro-
mote amongst our Moslem fellow-men the Kingdom of God
and of Christ, which is a Kingdom of Truth !


Richmond House,
2S Lillie Road, Fulham, London.
In Advent 1888.





He is to be understood in his Relation to his Surroundings, i, 2


Mohammed developing into the Prophet he became, or his

history up to the fortieth year of his life, . . • 3-7 1

I. The Political Factor, 3-*7

II. The Religious Factor, *7-28

III. The Ancestral or Family Factor, 28-36

IV. The Personal Factor, 3 6 "48

V. The Product of the afore-mentioned Factors, or Mohammed as-
suming the character of a prophet and messenger of God, . . 4&-7 1


Mohammed exercising the Prophetic Mission he claimed, or
His History during the last twenty-three years of his
Life, 72-241

Essential Inward Union of the Meccan and Medinan Periods, notwith-
standing their Outward Difference, ....-• 7 2 -75

I. Mohammed's ill success in seeking recognition as the Prophet of
Islam, or the Meccan Period of his Public Life, from about the
Fortieth to the Fifty-Third Year of his age, 7 6 - n 5

1. Mohammed's diffident start as a Prophet, . 7°-77

2. Mohammed's earliest converts, ....■• 77 _ °5

3. A further increase in the number of converts emboldens

Mohammed, but, at the same time, arouses persecution, . 85-88

4. Mohammed finds safety from persecution by removing to the

house of Arkam ; and his believers by emigrating to Abyssinia, 88-89

5. Mohammed, by sacrificing principles, enters into a compromise

with the Koreish, 9°"92



6. Mohammed's withdrawal from the compromise fans afresh the

flames of ridicule and persecution, 9 2 "93

7. The two important conversions of Hamza and Omar take place

notwithstanding the prevailing persecution, .... 93"97

8. After these conversions, persecution bursts out more fiercely,

and Mohammed, with his entire family, is put under a ban, 97'99

9. Mohammed, bereft by death of Khadija and Abu Talib, finds

Mecca increasingly unsympathetic, and at last fixedly hostile, 99-101

10. Definitively rejected by Mecca, Mohammed addresses himself to

other Arab Communities, but meets with no better reception, 101-104

11. Mohammed succeeds in gaining a number of partisans amongst

the people of Medina, 104-107

12. The spread of Islam amongst the people of Medina prepares

the way for Mohammed and his whole party to emigrate
thither, 107-115

II. Mohammed's complete success in securing recognition as a Prophet,
and in rendering Islam the dominant power of Arabia, or his
Medinan Period, comprising the last ten years of his life, . 1 15-241

1. Mohammed settles in Medina, and seeks to unite around him

the different sections of the population, as a first step in the
realisation of his Plan, . . . ■ • • 1 1 5- 1 24

2. Mohammed, by establishing Islam as the paramount power

of Medina, displaces the previous Polytheism, and forces
the dissenting Arabs either to emigrate, or to simulate sub-
mission. In this sense he shows himself anti-Pagan, . 124-128

3. Mohammed at first accommodates himself to the Jews, in the

hope of gaining them over to Islam ; but failing in this, he
deliberately turns against them, and shows himself decidedly
anti-Jewish, 128-134

4. Mohammed, unsuccessful to convert the Christians by way of

theological disputations, seeks to degrade their religion, and
reduces them to a state of vassalage. He shows himself
positively anti-Christian, ...... 135-140

5. Mohammed engages in a number of warlike expeditions

against the Koreish, for the purpose of revenge and plunder,

which culminate in the victorious battle at Bedr, . . 140-152

6. The Meccans, under a sense of their disgraceful defeat at Bedr,

stir up their confederates against Mohammed, and avenge
themselves by the decided victory at Ohod, . . . 152-159

7. In consequence of his defeat at Ohod, Mohammed has to meet

several hostile demonstrations of Bedouin tribes, and after-
wards a protracted siege of Medina by a formidable Meccan
army, 159-16S

8. Mohammed's anti-Jewish policy leads to the heartless over-

throw of the Jewish tribes of Medina, and the unjust conquest

of Khaibar, with other Jewish communities, . . 16S-1S5



9. Mohammed extends his policy of conquest, subjugation, and
plunder to a number of Bedouin tribes, and injures Mecca
whenever he can, ....... 1S5-188

10. Mohammed shows his veneration for the Kaaba by arranging

a pompous pilgrimage to it ; but the Koreish prevent his
caravan of pilgrims from approaching nearer than Hodeibia,
where he succeeds in concluding an armistice with them, 188-191

11. Mohammed, making good use of his armistice with the Koreish,

seeks to extend his influence abroad by sending messengers
to neighbouring potentates, summoning them to embrace
Islam, ......... 192-196

12. Mohammed, with 2000 followers, visits the pilgrim-festival,

according to treaty right ; and, after despatching marauding
expeditions to various parts, including one to Muta, finds
a pretext for breaking the armistice, and easily conquers
Mecca, with an army of 10,000 men, .... 196-203

13. After the conquest of Mecca, Mohammed's power rapidly

increases, and he gains the important battle of Honein,
which yields him an immense booty, and leads to the
capitulation of the rich town of Taif, .... 203-206

14. Mohammed starts with a military expedition against the

Roman empire, but only reaches as far as Tabuk, whence

he despatches some troops against Duma, and then returns, 206-210

15. The Arab power of resistance being broken by the rapid

extension of Mohammed's triumphs, so many tribes are
induced by fear and self-interest, to send special deputies
to Medina, offering their submission to Islam, that the 9th
year after the Flight is styled, ' The Year of the Deputa-
tions,' 211-215

16. The superficiality of the conversions and compacts effected

by those deputations, is illustrated by the instances of two

Arab tribes, and of two rival Prophets, . . . 215-221

17. Mohammed celebrates the complete triumph of Islam over

Arabia by attending the reformed pilgrim-festival of the year

632, with a company of 114,000 Moslem followers, . 221-223

18. Mohammed seeks to tighten his grasp on Arabia by the

despatch of Collectors or Residents to its different provinces ;
and then directs his earnest attention to a fresh attack upon
the Roman empire, by collecting an army to invade Syria, 224-228

19. Mohammed is arrested in his career of conquests and sensu-

ality by the unsparing hand of death, .... 229-233

20. Mohammed has scarcely closed his eyes, when discord among

his followers threatens to break up the whole fabric he had
erected ; but Abu Bekr manages to be chosen first Calif,
and, as such, takes up the plans of his late friend, . 233-241





Difference between Book I. and Book II. Explained, . 242-245


The Biographies of Mohammed by Moslem Authors, attri-
buting to their Prophet an equality with, or even a

GELICAL Records, and Mohammed himself as an obvious
Parody of Jesus Christ, 246-374

1. Pre-existence is ascribed, as first to Christ, so afterwards to

Mohammed; and each of them is represented as the Cause or
Medium of the existence of all other creatures, . . \ 246-252

2. Mohammed's genealogy is traced through Abraham to Adam, just

as that of Jesus Christ, 252-253

3. As the angel Gabriel announced the conception of Jesus Christ by

the Virgin Mary, so he also announced that of Mohammed by
Amina ; but the latter ' to every place on the face of the earth,' 253-254

4. As before the birth of Jesus, so also before that of Mohammed, an

angel announced the name he was to bear, 254

5. The birth of both was distinguished by the glory of a heavenly light,

the appearance of angels and by signs on the earth and in the

starry sphere, 254-257

6. Though both were subjected to the rite of circumcision, yet there

was a difference in favour of Mohammed, 257

7. A benediction is uttered on the breasts that gave them suck ; but

in the one case it came from the visible, and in the other, from

the invisible, world, 258

8. Not long after their birth, their Nature and Destiny are made

known by special revelation, 259-261

9. Like Jesus, Mohammed also was presented in his early infancy to

the Deity in the national Sanctuary, 261

10. They both developed in their childhood under the special favour of

God, and showed marks of an uncommon measure of Divine Grace, 261-265

11. Both were lost in their childhood, but found again : the one by his

mother's diligent search, the other by supernatural revelation, 265-266

12. Twelve years old, their special relation to God and uncommon

destiny was made known during a journey ; and then they were
taken away from the place where their presence might prematurely
have roused the hostility of the Jews, 267-269



13. The appearance both of Jesus Christ and of Mohammed was expected

amongst the Jews and others, having been foretold by Prophets, 270-271

14. Whilst they were honouring a penitentiary institution by accom-

modating themselves to it, a supernatural occurrence and voice
inaugurated their own public mission, ..... 271-273

15. Witness is borne to them, and their Divine mission is made known

to men, by another distinguished servant of the true God, who

soon afterwards is removed from this world, . . . 273-276

16. They and their public mission are the object and end of all previous

prophecy, as ushering in the grand era of fulfilment, . . 276-279

17. After the commencement of their public ministry, both of them

had to pass through the ordeal of a remarkable Satanic temptation,
which aimed at seducing them into a most important change of
their mission, but without success, ..... 280-282

18. As Jesus Christ chose twelve apostles from amongst His disciples,

so also Mohammed selected twelve apostles from his Moslem
followers, but he not only from amongst men, but also from
amongst spirits, ......•■• 283-284 -

19. In the exercise of their public ministry, they gathered disciples

around them, and zealously preached the Faith, one sermon on a
mount being especially noted ; and they also made diligent use
of the gathering of great multitudes, during the annual festivals
of the nation, 284-286

20. In order to tempt and test them, difficult questions were submitted

to them by their opponents, which they were able to solve, . 286-290

21. The impression made by their words and presence was such as often

to disarm their enemies, and frustrate the hostile designs they
entertained against them, 290-293

22. They were reviled and persecuted in their own home because of

their testimony and the unflinching discharge of their prophetic
mission, especially when this involved opposition to the then
existing state of religion, and exposure of prevailing abuses, 294-297

23. Unconvinced by their words and acts of the Divine mission they

claimed, the people proffer them unacceptable demands, which
are not granted, and only widen the breach between the prophet
and the people, 297-299

24. Both of them came in contact with spirits from the unseen world,

who recognised, honoured, and obeyed them more readily than

the people of this world to whom they addressed themselves, 299-302

25. Both of them received visits from good angels, . . . 3 02 -3°3

26. The most remarkable story concerning the mythical Mohammed

is that of his 'Ascension into Heaven.' Whilst Jesus Christ,
during His earthly life, conversed only with two of the long-
departed saints, Moses and Elijah, and did not ascend into heaven
till after his death, Mohammed, honoured with an ascension into
heaven long before his natural death, had personal communion with
all the previous prophets ; and, leaving Jesus far below in the
second heaven, himself mounted high above the seventh ; and,



entering into the immediate presence of the Divine Majesty,

Online LibrarySigismund Wilhelm KoelleMohammed and Mohammedanism, critically considered → online text (page 1 of 53)