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general : ability to enforce discipline, skill in evading
enemies and courage in meeting them, the power to
discriminate false news from true, and to penetrate
into other men's designs. And when the mart has
been safely reached, and the leader of the caravan
or agent has to sell the goods entrusted to him so as
to obtain the best return, another set of qualities
are called into play ; of which fidelity to his em-
ployer is the chief, but patience and shrevdness are
also indispensable. The leader of the expedition to
Bostra, Mohammed, the orphan son of Abdallah,

X

I



1 f<< * <<r Mohammed

then a man of twenty-five, had displayed the neces-
sary qualities, and given satisfaction to his employer,
the widow Khadijah, who was perhaps some years
his senior. As a reward for his services the widow
bestowed on him her hand, thereby securing for
herself and for her spouse a place in history.

Over the country which they made famous there
lies a veil which even at the beginning of this twen-
tieth century is only lifted at the fringe.* The ex-
plorer still enters the interior at the risk of his life.
Official chronicles of the vicissitudes of its govern-
ments are rarely kept ; their historians are visitors,
to whom curiosity or some other motive gives cour-
age to enter the forbidden land. Religious fanati-
cism was introduced by Islam, as an addition to the
dangers of the country ; otherwise the Arabia of
the twentieth century is similar to the Arabia of
the sixth.

Of the Arabs before Islam, an account is said to
have been given f by one of their princes in answer
to the Persian king, who declared every other race
superior to them. What nation, he asked, could
be put before the Arabs, for strength or beauty or
piety, courage, munificence, wisdom, pride, or fidel-
ity? Alone among the neighbours of the Persians,
the Arabs had maintained their independence. Their
fortresses were the backs of their horses, their beds
the ground, their roof the sky ; when other people
entrenched themselves with stone and brick, the
Arab's defence was his sword and his hardihood.



* See D. Hogarth, Penetration of Arabia, 1904.

+ To be found in many " Adab " books, e. g., Ikd Farid, Alif-Bd.



The Birthplace of the Hero 3

Other nations knew nothing of their pedigrees, but
the Arab knew his genealogy up to the father of
mankind, whence no man could ever obtain admis-
sion into a tribe which was not his own. So liberal
was he that he would slaughter the camel which was
his sole wealth to give a meal to the stranger who
came to him at night. No other nation had poetry
so elaborate or a language so expressive as theirs.
Theirs were the noblest horses, the chastest women,
the finest raiment; their mountains teemed with
gold and silver and gems. For their camels no dis-
tance was too far, no desert too wild to traverse.
So faithful were they to the ordinances of their re-
ligion that if a man met his father's murderer un-
armed in one of the sacred months he would not
harm him. A sign or a look from one of them con-
stituted an engagement which was absolutely invio-
lable. If he guaranteed protection, and his clients
came to harm, he would not rest till either the tribe
of the injurer were exterminated or his own perished
in the quest of vengeance. If other nations obeyed
a central government and a single ruler, the Arabs
required no such institution, each of them being fit
to be a king, and well able to protect himself ; and
unwilling to undergo the humiliation of paying
tribute or bearing rebuke.

This description, like many an encomium, requires
considerable modification before it will tally with the
truth. After the spread of Islam men began to care
for their pedigrees, and genealogy came to be a recog-
nised subject of study. But before Islam, genealo-
gies were never committed to writing and only



4 Mohammed

in exceptional cases were they remembered. The
population of Central Arabia had the vaguest notion
of the way in which they had come there. The
introduction of the Old Testament was a boon to the
archaeologists, when such arose, because in it they
found the beginnings of genealogies, to which, by
calculation of time and arbitrary insertions, they
could attach the pedigrees with which they were
acquainted. Only in the rarest cases are those pedi-
grees likely to be historical for more than a couple
of generations before the commencement of Islam :
the theory of the genealogists which derives all
tribes from eponymous heroes, and so makes all
Kurashites descendants of Kuraish and all Kila-
bites descendants of Kilab, breaks down over a
variety of facts which modern research has rightly
appraised, and of which ancient archaeology was not
wholly ignorant : totemism, the institution of poly-
andry, the separation of the ideas connected with
parentage and procreation, all of which are attested
for the nomad Arabs. The genealogical unity of the
tribe was a fancy often superimposed on what in
origin was a local unity,* or union of emigrants
under a single leader,f or some other fortuitous
combination.^ Genuine family ties, if any were pre-
served, were thus mixed by the genealogists with
products of the fancy, till the fragments of real
history were absorbed beyond recognition in the arti-
ficial tables. A man was known to belong to a clan,

*Goldziker, M. S., i., 64.

\Noldeke, Z. D. M. G. t xl., 159.

\ Sprenger, A lie Geographie Arabiens, 290.



The Birthplace of the Hero 5

and that clan was likely to be considered a branch
of a tribe. But the steps which connected the indi-
vidual with the founder of the clan, and those
whereby the clan was deduced from the tribe, repre-
sented theory, rarely a genuine tradition ; and
instances are not wanting of both persons and clans
being artificially grafted on tribes with which they
had no physical connection.

Greater accuracy may be attributed to the state-
ment about the piety of the Arabs, so far as it
concerns the observation of the sacred months; for
Greek writers attest the same. For three autumn
months* and one spring month a truce of God was
observed by many tribes, who therein laid down
their arms and shed no blood. This institution, in
the fixed form which it had assumed by th^:om-
mencement of Islam, must have been the result of
many stages of development, and was itself fruitful
in effects. It cannot be severed from the desire to
visit a sanctuary and celebrate a feast, and indeed
the two seasons correspond with those of the birth
of domestic animals and the harvesting of fruit.
The month before and the month after that in
which the more important visit was paid may have
been included in the time for the benefit of distant
visitors, who thereby were enabled to arrive and
return in safety. For those who had no great dis-
tance to traverse the truce provided a period in
which they could recover from the ravages of
ronstant warfare, and by secure communication

* Nonnosus and Procopius: "two months after the summer
solstice, and one in mid spring."



6 Mohammed

interchange ideas as well as produce. In the neigh-
bourhood of the sanctuaries fairs arose, at some
time or other so organised that the period of
waiting was divided between them. Thus then the
tribes that visited the shrine preserved or evolved
the idea of a common nationality: while some of
the ceremonies kept up the memory of original
distinctions. The fair of ' Ukaz * in particular
served a purpose similar to that for which the great
games of Greece were utilised. Matters which were
thought to concern the whole Arabian family could
be communicated there, and opportunities were
given for the gratification of other than warlike
ambitions. Regarded as the home of the Arabian
family, 'Ukaz was a place where women could be
wooeAf

Meccah, the Prophet Mohammed's home, where
dwelt a trading society, was within easy distance
of several of these fairs. The community which
had settled there had abandoned the nomad life,
though it maintained the memory of it % ; and early
writers § preserve the tradition of a time when
Meccah was inhabited in only two seasons of the
year, the winter being spent in Jeddah on the
coast, and the summer at the neighbouring oasis of
Ta 'if. Though theological speculation made the
Moslems assign to their religious capital a fabulous

*A brilliant description of it in Wellhausen, Reste, 88-91. He
holds that the localities of the fairs must originally have been
sanctuaries.

f Wellhausen, Eke, 442.

\ Jahiz, Mahasin, 226.

§ Jahiz, Opuscula^ 62.



The Birthplace of the Hero J

antiquity, more sober tradition placed the building of
the first house at Meccah only a few generations be-
fore Mohammed's time ; this act being ascribed to a
member of the tribe Sahm, whose name was vari-
ously given as Su'aid son of Sahm * and Sa'd son of
'Amr. f The former would be separated by three
generations from the Prophet, while the latter would
be still nearer his age. $ This first house is not de-
scribed, but was probably a primitive form of dwell-
ing. Although a poet speaks of the people of the
Tihamah as building houses with clay and mortar, it
is probable that construction of this sort was carried
on at Meccah on a small scale. The second Caliph §
found fault with brick building; as indeed the
Prophet had done before him ||; the best houses
were probably rude erections of roughly hewn
stone. The remaining dwellings were probably en-
closures, containing variations between huts and
tents.T*

The community which had settled in the valley
of Meccah, or Beccah, a ravine about a mile and a
half long and a third of a mile broad stretching from
north-east to south-west, somewhere about the middle
of Arabia, at a distance of seventy miles from the
western coast, cannot, when they selected this spot,
have hoped to live by its produce ; for that the soil

* Chronicles of Meccah, Hi., 15.
f Isabah, ii., 915.

\ WUstenfeld, Genealogische TabeZIen.
%/ahiz, Bayan, ii., 25.
|| Afusnad, iii. , 220.

T From Azraki it would appear that the Prophet's house had no
roof.






8 Mohammed

is incapable of producing anything is attested by all
who know it, from the author of the Koran to the
present day. Their presence there is to be ac-
counted for by their sanctuary, called the Ka'bah,
not indeed the only Ka'bah, or cube-shaped God's
house, in Arabia, yet one that attracted many visi-
tors. It stood in some relation to the Black Stone,
let into the north-west corner, kissed by devotees ;
and since both Greek and Arabic writers attest that
the Arabs worshipped stones, many have thought
this to be the real god of the Meccans, the Ka'bah
itself being an ideal enlargement of it. On the other
hand, the Ka'bah in Mohammed's time certainly
contained the image of one god as well as repre-
sentations of others. There was yet another theory
that the Ka'bah contained a tomb, whence it may in
origin have been a tent erected over a grave by a
mourner, anxious to remain near the lost one * ; and
indeed that the stone Ka'bah replaced an original
tent is attested by its being roofless, save for a
cloth, till Mohammed's time.f Sanctity being a
quality that spreads by contact, either the Black Stone
or the Image or the Tomb originally gave sanctity
to the Ka'bah which contained them ; and the area
of sanctity by Mohammed's time extended over
some square miles. If we are justified in referring
the statements of Greek writers concerning a great
Arabic sanctuary to the Meccan Ka'bah, and in sup-
posing those statements to be correct, the sanctity
of this building was in the sixth century a.d.

* For this practice, see Goldziher y M. S., i., 255.
f Azraki, 106,



The Birthplace of the Hero 9

recognised over a considerable portion of Arabia.
Visits were paid to it both at fixed seasons of the
year and at times dictated by the pilgrims' conven-
ience. Persons who wished to curse their neigh-
bours or enemies came even from a distance to the
Ka'bah, where their imprecations were certain to be
heard.* And a vast number of customs and cere-
monies grew up round this building, many of which
are not yet obsolete, and offer the anthropologist
scope for conjecture, while the theologian can find
in them some profound significance. The real im-
port of most of them was probably forgotten before
Mohammed's time.f

The Arabs suppose, and indeed are compelled by
their system to suppose, that the Ka'bah was earlier
than the Kuraish, the tribe which we find dominant
at Meccah in the sixth century of our era. It is
probable that this is correct. The possession of a
temple to which pilgrimages are made is a valuable
asset, since pilgrims can be made to pay for leave to
visit the god ; such a tax was levied by the Kuraish
on foreign visitors,^ and the right to collect it is likely
to have been a matter for contention. Even with-
out this material advantage the seizure of a temple
is a natural proceeding, since thereby control of the
god who inhabits it can be obtained. The name
Kuraish tells us nothing of the history of the tribe
thus called; either it is a totem-name (meaning
swordfish), or one arbitrarily fabricated from three



* Azraki, 299.

\ Wellhausen, Reste, 71.

\Ibn Duraid, 172.



io Mohammed

successive letters of the alphabet*; and the Arab
genealogists, who make Kuraish a person, forfeit
thereby their claim to be regarded as serious au-
thorities. Ali, the Prophet's cousin and son-in-law,
declared that the Kuraish were Nabataeans from
Kutha in Mesopotamia ; which may only have meant
that they were descended from Abraham ; yet the
story that the tribal god Hubal came from Hit on
the Euphrates, and that Kutha, f the name of a
familiar town on the Euphrates, was also a name
for Meccah or part of it, lends some slight colour to
the statement ; which is somewhat strengthened by
the commercial and political ability which the tribe
displayed. %

It is doubtful whether any actual history is to
be got out of the lengthy series of fables dignified
with the title Chronicles of Meccah. A tribe called
Jurhum, resident in historical times on the Yemen
coast, claimed to have been supreme at Meccah for
centuries. § They were supposed to have been dis-
placed and forbidden to enter the precinct J by the
Khuza'ah, a tribe actually resident in Meccah at the
commencement of this period, and so closely con-
nected with the Kuraish that the blood of the latter
was not thought pure unless it had a Khuza'ite
strain.^" Their displacement is described in a myth
of which the purpose appears to be to show that their

* Chronicles of Meccah, ii., 133.

f Yakut ; see Amedroz's Hilal, Index.

\ Wellhausen, Reste, 93.

§ Ibn Duraid, 253, gives a specimen of their dialect.

I Wellhausen, Reste \ 91.

Tf fahiz, Bay an, ii., 16.



The Birthplace of the Hero 1 1

conqueror was really one of themselves. Kusayy,
a member of the tribe, whose mother, having mar-
ried a man of another tribe, had taken him to Syria,
returned and married the daughter of the governor
of Meccah, at whose death Kusayy claimed the suc-
cession. His claim being disputed, he appealed to
his relations by his mother's second marriage; after
some skirmishing, an umpire being called in recog-
nised the claims of Kusayy, who, however, made no
attempt to banish the Khuza'ah from their homes.
The meaning of this story is probably that the
Khuza'ite settlement was earlier than the Kuraish
settlement, and that the newcomers, though not an
unwelcome accession, had, by showing greater ac-
tivity and ability than the older settlers, secured the
dominant place. During Mohammed's early life
there were at times, however, open ruptures between
the Khuza'ah and the Kuraish,* which led to a
series of fights and the intervention of arbiters f;
and in the history of Islam before Meccah was taken
the Khuza'ah joined the side of Mohammed against
the Kuraish. It would appear that the supremacy
of the latter was not to the taste of the Khuza'ah,
though they waited till fortune had declared itself
before they finally made common cause with Mo-
hammed. Of all the myths that seems to be nearest
history which makes the head of the Kurashite
settlement at Meccah one Hisham, son of Mughirah,J
of the tribe Makhzum. Traditions which seem



* Baihaki, Mahasin, 495, 17.
f Ibn Duraid, 106.
X Ibid., 94.



1 2 Mohammed

valuable state that Hisham and Meccah were at one
time interchangeable terms; and that at Hisham's
death the people were summoned to the funeral of
their "lord."

The Kuraish formed a group of tribes, supposed,
according to the ordinary theory of the ancients, to
be descended from the father of the main tribe. The
names of these clans will frequently meet us in the se-
quel,but the memory need not be burdened with them
at this point. They dwelt side by side in groups of
habitations at Meccah. The oldest guide-book to
Meccah, composed in the third century of Islam, enu-
merates thirty-six such groups ; the nobler clans living
in the middle of the valley while the less noble dwelt
on the hillside. Many of the clans had attached to
them allies, corresponding with the Greek metics,
persons who for some reason — ordinarily blood-
guiltiness, but often poverty — had left their original
homes and come to live at Meccah under foreign
protection ; and certain manufactures were probably
in such metics* hands.* Some of the metics, how-
ever, were of wealth and even station, though a
metic could not protect a native.f Similar to them
in status were the clients, persons who had come to
Meccah as slaves and been manumitted, though by
the fiction of adoption such persons, as well as other
clients, could become actual members of their own-
er's clans. X Finally, the slaves made up the rest of
the population. Intermarriage between the clans



* Cf. Jacob, Beduinenleben, 150.

\ Tabari, i., 1203.

% Nallino, Nuova Antologia, 1893.



The Birthplace of the Hero 1 3

was common ; but for the purpose of the blood-
feud they, with their respective clients, were dis-
tinct, though the conflicting theories of male and
female kinship appear at times to have produced
complications.

For the economical basis of the community we
have some data though little in the way of statistics.
The possession of a popular sanctuary ensured a
certain revenue from strangers ; taking the form
partly of a visitors' tax, partly of fees paid to the
worker of the oracle (said to be 100 dirhems and
a camel for each consultation), and partly of remun-
eration for entertainment and garments furnished
to visitors ; for by a lucrative rule the pilgrims
might not use food or clothes brought by them-
selves. Secondly, the sanctity which attached to
the neighbourhood of the temple rendered it a
suitable place for the pursuit of the arts of peace.
Htnce our authorities enumerate a number of trades
that were practised at Meccah : such as those of
carpenter, smith, sword-maker, wine-merchant, oil-
merchant, leather-merchant, tailor, weaver, arrow-
maker, stationer, money-lender.* On the goods
which were imported from the Byzantine Empire,
partly for use in those industries, the Meccans levied
a tax of ten per cent.f If a Bedouin wished to pur-
chase an idol for his tent he would come to Meccah
to procure it. % But in the third place the sacred
character which attached to "God's neighbours"

* Jahiz, Afahasin, 165.

f Azraki, 107.

% /bid., 78; Wakidi ( JV.\ 350.



1 6 Mohammed

traditions, or on the numbers and fighting power of
the clans. The Banu 'Amir Ibn Luway could not
protect a stranger against the Banu Ka'b * ; the Banu
'Adi Ibn Ka'b were regarded as inferior to the Banu
'Abd Manaf. f " People whose traditions could not
point to distinguished ancestors were liable to be
despised, and the contempt which they experienced
condemned them to humiliating occupations which
degraded them still more." % Intermarriage with an
inferior clan was regarded as disgraceful. § Of these
social distinctions something will be heard in the
sequel, where it will appear that they provided one
of the factors which helped, the cause of Islam.

That a community which had attained this degree
of pacific development could dispense with a simi-
larly developed political and judicial organisation
seems remarkable ; yet there would appear to have
been little beyond the rudiments of either. || Within
the clans and tribes there was patriarchal organisa-
tion of a kind. Thus it appears that the sole will of
Abu Talib prevented the Hashimite clan from giving
Mohammed up. Those persons who disagreed ap-
pear, however, to have been able to dissociate them-
selves from their brethren. Contributions were said
at times to be levied on the clans for the covering of
the Ka'bah 1" and the entertainment of pilgrims, and

* Tabari, i., 1203.
f Azraki, 448
% Goldziher, M. S., i., 40.
§ IVellhausen, Eke, 439.

I Compare Wellhausen's lecture Ein Gemeinwesen ohne Obrigkeit y
G8ttingen, 1900.
*{ Azraki, 176.



The Birthplace of the Hero 1 7

this, if true, also implies some sort of municipal
organisation. The same is implied for the state by
the traditions that visitors paid taxes, and that im-
ports paid customs ; for a budget requires a variety
of officials. The principle on which the chief of the
clan was appointed is unknown. Ordinarily some
wealth went with the office — for our authorities note
as exceptional the case in which a poor man was
chief * ; oratorical ability, personal courage, and per-
sonal dignity were essentials, f The chief, however,
was not necessarily or indeed ordinarily leader of the
tribe in war. Our authorities actually provide us
with a list of offices of state held at Meccah, and we
cannot doubt that the sanctuary and its ceremonies
led to the existence of certain officials : thus there
was a sacristan who kept the key of the Ka'bah, and
a priest who worked the oracle of the god (Hubal)
whose image was inside; and the entertaining of
the pilgrims is said to have been the perquisite of
certain persons. None of these functions appear to
have acquired political significance. In time of war,
as in many communities, the fighters subjected them-
selves (in some degree) to a leader ; but in time
of peace there was little government. Some mat-
ters indeed were settled at a council, or comitia, in
which heads of tribes, other free citizens, and even
strangers,:]: it would appear, might be heard ; yet
the theory of deciding by a majority of votes was
certainly unknown.

* Wakidi ( IV.), 51. 'Utbah, son of Rabi'ah.
f Nallino, Nuova Antologia, 1893, Oct., p. 618.
% Tabari, i., 1230.



1 8 Mohammed

Where conflicting claims arose within the com-
munity, they might be settled (perhaps) by an
appeal to the oracle of the god Hubal, whose minis-
ter decided by the drawing of arrows ; or the opinion
of a sorceress might be asked. These sibyls indeed
play a rather important part in the early history of
Arabia: combining the professions of lawyer, physi-
cian, and priest, they yet enjoyed little respect. Or
the claim could be submitted to some man whose
celebrity for justness or keenness gave him the un-
official position of judge : some of these persons are
even said " to have judged the judgment of Islam in
the days of Ignorance." * They were not, however,
necessarily resident in Meccah ; and when there was
a quarrel between two men in that city, they might
even go as far as Yemen to get it settled.f All
such modes of obtaining justice were not only costly
and haphazard, but, as they were unofficial, there
was no certainty of the award being executed ; and
if it consisted in death or mutilation, the culprit's
tribe might interfere to prevent its being carried
out.J Probably then monetary penalties were more
commonly prescribed, and indeed we hear of an
ancestor of the Prophet paying away a house in
atonement for a blow § ; the chief business of the
arbiter would be then to assess a claim for damages.
We have no authority for asserting that there was
in consequence much unpunished injury committed



* Ibn Duraid, 234.

f Aghani, viii., 51.

\ Ibn Duraid : case of Abu Lahab.

§ Azraki, 452.



The Birthplace of the Hero i c)

at Meccah ; and a league of which we hear — called
the league of the Fudul, meaning perhaps a number
of persons named Fadl — instituted during Moham-
med's youth, for the purpose of preventing injuries,
was chiefly directed against those inflicted on stran-
gers visiting Meccah. From the history of Moham-
med we should infer that the fear of civil strife and
its consequences led to an extraordinary amount of



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