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LIBRARY OF

WELLES LEY COLLEGE




PURCHASED FROM



Horsford Pond




THE HIBBERT LECTURES

SECOND SERIES



THE HIBBERT LECTURES

SECOND SERIES

THE

EARLY DEVELOPMENT
OF MOHAMMEDANISM



LECTURES

DELIVERED IN THE UNIVERSITY OF LONDON

MAY AND JUNE 1913

BY

D. S. MARGOLIOUTH, D.Litt.

FELLOW OF NEW COLLEGE AND LAUDIAN PROFESSOR OF ARABIC IN THE

UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD




NEW YORK

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

597/599 FIFTH AVENUE
1914



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PREFACE

The following lectures were delivered in the months
of May and June 1913, in the University of London,
at the request of the Hibbert Trustees, to whom
the writer wishes at the outset to express his cordial
thanks, both for selecting the subject of Mohammed-
anism and committing the treatment of it to him.
Professor Goldziher in his Lectures on Islavi^ has
provided guidance for all who wish to handle this
theme ; the topic chosen by the present writer might
be called " the supplementing of the Koran," i.e. the
process whereby the ex tevipoix, or indeed ex viomento,
utterances thrown together in that volume were
worked into a fabric which has marvellously resisted
the ravages of time.

The materials employed for these lectures are to
a small extent unpublished MSS.," but in the main
recently published works of early Islamic authors.
Of three among the most eminent of these the
writer is simultaneously publishing for the first time

1 Vorlesungen'tiher den Islam, W^\di&\h^x^^ \^\^.

2 The chief of these are the works of MuhasibT, employed in
Lecture V.; the i\/a;y«,^i/ of Niffarl, from which select translations
are given in Lecture VI. ; and the monograph of Ibn '^Asakir on
Abu'l-Hasan al-Ash'^arl, which has been used for Lecture VIL

V



vi EARLY DEVELOPMENT OF MOHAMMEDANISM

authentic and copious biographies from a MS. in
his possession, through the Hberality of the Gibb
Trustees.^ The works of one of them, the jurist
Shafi'i, were printed by Cairene scholars in the years
1903-1907 ; the light which they throw on the
history of Islamic jurisprudence is brilliant. Their
publication was immediately preceded by that of the
works ascribed to Shafi'i's teacher Malik, himself
the founder of a law-school ; and these, too, are of
the greatest utility. This year has seen the com-
pletion of a Corpus Juris on a still vaster scale
belonging to the school of Abu Hanifah, but
compiled three centuries after his time ; this, though
highly instructive, is no substitute for the work of
the founder. The biography of Shafi'i certainly
helps the appreciation and possibly the understanding
of his treatises.

Of the other two authors, Jahiz and Tabari, the
works have been issued partly by Eastern, partly
by Western scholars. Each of these is a mine of
information, and, like Shafi'i, takes us into the
atmosphere wherein Islam developed.

In Lecture IV., which deals with the cond
of the "protected communities," considerable
has been made of later authorities ; elsewhere
writer has usually endeavoured to keep within
third, with occasional extension into the fou ' ^
Islamic century. M. Massignon's interesting edi: 'oa
of a work by Hallaj enables us to follow Suf
into a period near its rise ; the account of 1

1 Yakut's Dictionary of Learned Men, vol. vi.



PREFACE vii

subject given in Lecture V. is mainly based on the
Kut al-Kulub of Abu Talib al-Mekki, of the middle
fourth century of Islam, published some twenty
years ago. Lecture VIL contains material drawn
from the Ibanah, ascribed to Abu'l-Hasan al-Ash*ari,
of which the genuineness seems to be attested by
Ibn 'Asakir ; it was printed some ten years ago in
Hyderabad. Another text printed in the same
place, the Dalail al-Nubuwwah of Abu Nu'aim,
has furnished material for Lecture VI I L

Throughout, an acquaintance with the elements of
the subject, such as can be obtained from the writer's
manuals,^ has been assumed in the reader ; in order,
however, to render the Lectures intelligible by
themselves, all allusions which could occasion any
difficulty have been explained in the Index.

The writer terminates this Preface with a tribute
of gratitude to those Mohammedan scholars in Egypt
and India who during the last few years have put
into our hands so many texts of the highest import-
ance for the study of Arabic antiquity ; and another
to the audiences who deemed these lectures worthy
of their attention.

Oxford, December 1913.

^ Mohajnmedanuni, in the " Home University Library," and
Mohammed and the Rise of Islam in the series " Heroes of the
Nations."



CONTENTS

LECTURE PAGE

I. THE KORAN AS THE BASIS OF ISLAM . 1

XL THE SAME CONTINUED .... 36

1411. THE LEGAL SUPPLEMENT . . . 65

IV. THE STATUS OF THE TOLERATED CULTS . 99

V. THE DEVELOPMENT OF MOHAMMEDAN

ETHICS . . . . . .135^

VI. ASCETICISM LEADING TO PANTHEISM l67

VII. THE PHILOSOPHICAL SUPPLEMENT . . 201

VIII. THE HISTORICAL SUPPLEMENT . 230 v -

INDEX ....... 259



y



IX



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f

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THE

EARLY DEVELOPMENT
OF MOHAMMEDANISM

LECTURE I

THE KORAN AS THE BASIS OF ISLAM

It is a noteworthy fact about the Mohammedan
system that since the Migration it has demanded no
quaUfications for admission to its brotherhood. To
those who are outside its pale it in theory offers no
facihties whatever for the study of its nature ; a man
must enroll himself as a member first, and then only
may he learn what his obligations are. The Koran
may not be sold to Unbelievers ; soldiers are advised
not to take it with them into hostile territory for fear
the Unbeliever should get hold of it ; and many a
copy bears upon it a warning to Unbelievers not to
touch. Pious grammarians have .refused to teach
grammar to Jews or Christians, because the rules
were apt to be illustrated by quotations from the
sacred volume. The Unbeliever is by one of the
codes ^ forbidden to enter a mosque ; and even when

1 Malik. See Baidawi i. 10, 12.

1 1



2 EARLY DEVELOPMENT OF MOHAMMEDANISM

permission is granted him to do so, he is an un-
welcome guest. The crowning ceremony of Islam,
the Pilgrimage, may be witnessed by no Unbeliever ;
the penalty for intrusion is death.

It follows that such periods of instruction and
probation as are enjoined by some other systems upon
neophytes are unknown to Islam ; and indeed there
is no occasion for them. Their purpose is to test the
neophyte's sincerity in the first place, and his moral
worthiness in the second. Against insincerity the
- system is sufficiently armed by the principle that
whosoever abandons Islam forfeits his life ; there is
then little danger of men joining for some dishonest
purpose and quitting the community when that
purpose has been served. A Moslem who is in peril
of his life may indeed simulate perversion, and no
difficulty is made about readmitting the repentant
pervert ; but where Islam can be safely professed the
pervert cannot legally hope to be spared. And it
follows from this principle that martyrdom in Islam
means something very diffisrent from what it means
to the Christian* The Christian martyr is the man
who dies professing his faith, but not resisting ; the
Moslem martyr is one who dies for his faith on the
/battle-field; more often in endeavouring to force it
upon others than defending his own exercise thereof.
For his sacred book expressly permits him to refrain
from confessing where confession will result in death
or torment.

On the other hand, the maxim that Islam cancels
all that was before it renders moral qualification



THE KORAN AS THE BASIS OF ISLAM 3

unnecessary. Only after the man has joined the
community do his acts begin to count. Whatever
he may have done before joining may bear some
analogy to the keeping or to the breaking of a
commandment ; but it is not the same thing. Un-
believers on the Day of Judgment are to be asked
two questions only : why they associated other beings
with the Almighty, and if Apostles were sent them
why they repudiated them. The only thing that is
incumbent upon them, the only duty wherewith God
has charged them, is to study the evidence of Islam ; ^
or let us rather say, to accept Islam, since they have
no access to the evidences. They may by their good
qualities win the friendship or even the affection of
Moslems, but they are destined to Hell-Fire not-
withstanding. An author of the third century a.h.,
who quotes verses in praise of Jews, Christians, and
Mazdians, shows that even encomiasts make no
concealment of this fact.^ A Jewish or Christian
physician may be useful to a Moslem, but is none
the less the enemy of Allah.

It follows, then, that Islam has to be preached
with the sword, for without going into the water one
cannot learn to swim, and there is no probationary
dip. If the convincing miracle of Islam be the
Koran, which outdoes all other compositions in
eloquence, the persons who are to be convinced by
this miracle must have the opportunity of studying it
in order to be convinced. This is so obvious that

1 Al-Fark, p. 107.

2 Jahiz, Hayawiin v. 52.



4 EARLY DEVELOPMENT OF MOHAMMEDANISM

some jurists are inclined to make an exception in
favour of a few texts, sufficient to give the inquirer
a notion of its contents ; and they can quote the
precedent of the Prophet, who in his imperious
message to all peoples, nations, and languages, com-
manding them to adopt Islam if they wished for
safety, introduced a text from the sacred volume.
It is clear, however, that the same objection must
really apply to one text as to a number ; it would be
impossible to fix a limit at which the volume became
esoteric. No, let people pay homage to it first,
recognise that it is the divine revelation, and then
they may, or indeed must, study it. But such recog-
nition can only be extorted by force, if the right to
examine is denied. And if methods are to be judged
by their results, no one with Mohammed's experience
would have regarded argument as an expedient for
conversion comparable with the sword. He argued
for thirteen years and made converts by the unit or
the decade ; he drew the sword and won them by the
hundred and the thousand. Twenty years of fighting
effected more than a thousand years of pleading and
arguing would effect. But just as the argument of
reason is apt to be weakened if the sword be behind
it, so the argument of the sword is not strengthened
by the fact that the other form of reasoning has been
tried in vain. Hence the periods of inquiry and
probation are not desirable.

Now this peculiarity of Islam is closely connected
with the history of the system. In the first place, it
began as a secret society, and even now, if novelists



THE KORAN AS THE BASIS OF ISLAM 5

may be believed, the secret society has a tendency
to work upon the same theory. It cannot hve or
succeed without a steady accretion of members ; on
the other hand, its purposes can only be communicated
to the loyal. It is therefore necessary that members
should be committed to the programme of the society
before they know what it is.

In the second place, the claim of Mohammed,
though he may have formulated it differently at
different times, was to be the channel whereby the
Almighty communicated His behests to mankind, or
at least to some of the Arabs. The two articles of
the Moslem faith are reciprocally involved : unless
Allah were the sole ruler of the community, the
importance attaching to His messenger would be
smaller ; the importance of the messenger of Allah
is a corollary of the unity of Allah. Allah issues
orders through the Prophet ; that is the meaning of
the Islamic creed. Those orders may concern ritual
or conduct or politics ; and from the nature of human
life, with fresh questions ever arising, those orders are
likely to be occasional ; whence the title " occasions
of revelation," given to works which deal with the
chronology of the Koran, accurately expresses its
nature.

It is this fact which explains and even excuses
the carelessness with regard to the Koran which is
historically attested of both the Prophet and his Com-
panions. " When the Prophet died," we are told
by a preacher, '' he left twenty thousand Companions
who had not done more than glance at the Koran,



6 EARLY DEVELOPMENT OF MOHAMMEDANISM

and only six who knew the whole by heart — two of
these being doubtful cases." ** A Companion of the
Prophet who knew by heart a long Surah, or a
seventh of the Koran, counted as a marvel." It
would be truer to say that there was scarcely a
Companion of the Prophet who would even have
claimed to know the whole by heart : for when the
Prophet died it was still in a state of flux. This
fact is most easily explained if we suppose the Koran
to have been ultimately thought of as a series of
messages which do not together constitute a book.
Both in Hebrew and Arabic the same word signifies
" book " and " letter," and considerable confusion
results. The " carriers of the Koran " were the
people who knew certain portions of it by heart ;
according to an early historian they ran some risk of
being exterminated in the campaign of Yemamah
which followed shortly after the Prophet's death.
And there were many different texts. Few followers
of the Prophet would have been present on all the
occasions when revelations were delivered ; accident
would decide whether such as had been revealed
during their absence would ever be communicated
to them. At a later period, when traditions were
committed to memory, they were ordinarily very
brief, usually of a single sentence. The normal
memory is not fit to hold more. It is conceivable
that, as a tradition informs us, there were Believers
famous for collecting much of the Koran, i.e. many
verses ; but before the Prophet's death no one
probably even thought he possessed all. Nor, indeed,



THE KORAN AS THE BASIS OF ISLAM 7

would the sense of the word " all " in such a case be
clear ; for at an early period of the revelations the
doctrine was enunciated that texts could be erased
and others substituted ; and if a text be erased, it
clearly ceases to have any further existence ; it might
figure in a history of Islam or a biography of the
Prophet, but could no longer figure in the sacred
volume itself. Yet when the Koran was compiled,
those responsible for the undertaking were conscious
that parts of the work did abrogate other parts,
though they did not think it their duty to decide the
category to which any particular text belonged ; in
a sense, then, their collection was larger than it should
have been, because it contained matter for which
something better had been substituted, as well as the
substitute. So long as the Prophet lived there
could be no complete Koran ; his death completed
it. It had then to be collected before its nature
could be determined.

If we endeavour to analyse the conception of the
Koran as revealed to us in the work itself, we shall
find most help in a passage of Surah xxix. 46-49 :
" And thus have we sent down unto thee the writing,
and those to whom we have given the writing
believe therein, and among these there are such as
believe therein, and none deny our signs save the
Unbelievers. Neither usedst thou before it to read
any writing nor to trace it with thy right hand ; in
that case the mendacious would have suspected.
Nay, it is distinct signs in the breasts of those who
have been given knowledge, and none deny our



8 EARLY DEVELOPMENT OF MOHAMMEDANISM

signs save the iniquitous. And they say : why have
not signs [i.e. miracles] been sent down unto him
from his Lord ? Say : the signs are with God only,
and I am but a distinct warner. Does it not then
suffice them that we have sent down unto thee the
writing to be read unto them ? " The author is here
arguing against those who demand a sign in the
sense of mi?^acle ; he declares that the miracle of the
Koran is sufficient. The practice with regard to
books was that one who wished for a copy went to
the author and obtained leave to copy the original,
or else to hear the author dictating it. So in the
case of a great commentary on the Koran to be
mentioned later, the possessor of a copy said he had
attended the author's dictation of it for eight years. ^
This theory was current not only in Arabia. Plato
makes Zeno bring his work to Athens and read it
aloud. With the Arabs the custom also prevailed
of getting the author to testify to the correctness of
the copy. And the writer of a popular book had
to suffisr for his success ; Hariri, the author of the
work which perhaps comes second to the Koran in
popularity, informs us that he would have introduced
a correction had it not been that he had certified
seven hundred copies — in the possession of readers
who came to him for authorisation — and all these
contained the reading which he would gladly have
changed. In Mohammed's case the trouble of
reading or taking down was spared ; in Sarah xxvi.
193 the revelation is brought down to his heart by

1 Yakut vi. 424.



THE KORAN AS THE BASIS OF ISLAM 9

the faithful Spirit, while at the same time it is in the
tablets of the ancients. In Surah xxviii. 86 he is
told that he had never hoped that the writing would
be flung to him. The Unbelievers suggest (vi. 7)
that it should have been flung down on parchment
so that they could touch it with their hands ; they
are told that they would have regarded such pro-
cedure as imposture or legerdemain. On the other
hand, if they had been allowed to see an angel bringing
it down, that angel would have either annihilated them,
or else he would have had to appear in human shape,
whence the suspicion of imposture could not have
been avoided. Still this " writing " is at once in the
tablets of the ancients, i.e. in the hands of Jews and
Christians, and is also miraculously communicated
to the Prophet. When this miraculously communi-
cated text is found to agree with the matter contained
in the tablets or charts of the monotheists, and for
this the evidence of an Israelite is adduced, obviously
a miracle has taken place, and Mohammed is divinely
authorised to communicate the Book of God.

He communicates it in his own language, but
whether the original is in Arabic is not clear ; there
is at least a suggestion that it is in a divine language :
" We have made it an Arabic Koran that ye might
understand it, but in the original with us it is sublime,
wise " (xliii. 2). " Sublime, wise " probably means
in an exalted and learned language. " Easing it
with thy tongue " (xliv. 58) probably means trans-
lating it into Arabic. Its name Koran, *' reading,"
refers to the Prophet's own mental experience. The



10 EARLY DEVELOPMENT OF MOHAMMEDANISM

earliest revelation, if we may believe the tradition, is
one wherein he is told to read, and indeed what God
had taught with the pen ; and in another passage,
with reference to this text, God is said to have
enjoined upon him the reading (xxviii. 85). To
many of the Surahs letters of the alphabet are pre-
fixed, ordinarily followed by some such sentence as,
T.S.M. '* Those are the letters of the perspicuous
writing"; A.L.M. "That is the writing, there is no
mistaking it"; T.S. "Those are the letters of the
reading and a perspicuous writing " ; A.L.M. " Those
are the letters of the wise writing"; H.M.A.S.Q.
" Thus doth God reveal unto thee as unto thy
predecessors " — phrases which indicate that these
letters are specimens of the original writing which
Mohammed translates into Arabic in order to com-
municate it to his fellows. The original is in God's
possession, and like other authors He can alter
His work at pleasure. Tn the year 67 a.h., one
'Abdallah Ibn Nauf, who delivered oracles in the
style of the Koran, prophesied a victory for his party,
naming a certain Wednesday ; they were defeated.
When taunted with his error, he quoted the maxim
of the Koran, " God possesses the original of the
Book, and can erase or enter what He likes " (xiii.
39).^ The prophecy failed to come true because the
original of the divine book had been altered. This
right of alteration which the author possesses at once
explains divergence in the Koran from the contents
of earlier revelations, and divergence between the

1 Tabarl ii. 732.



THE KORAN AS THE BASIS OF ISLAM 11

matter communicated to the Prophet at different
times. \

That the contents were not communicated all at
once, as is perhaps the case with ordinary books,
which may be supposed to be recited continuously,
or at least at successive periods, was noticed by
Mohammed's contemporaries as a fact requiring
explanation ; and the accounts given are the con-
venience of the hearers (xvii. 107), and the confirming
of the Prophet's mind (xxv. 34). Possibly the
meaning of this latter phrase is "to render the
Prophet's grasp of it more certain." Whether these
explanations were adequate or not, it was most
important that it should not be communicated all
at once ; for the value of the Koran clearly lay in
what it added to former versions of the Scriptures,
not in what it shared with them. The reasoning
which underlies the Surahs that have been quoted
is curiously like that which we employ in the
case of MSS. unearthed. We possess fragments of
various works known in antiquity ; say an ostensible
copy of one of these works were produced, we should
at once look out for the fragments already known ;
and one of the tests of its genuineness would be its
containing those fragments ; only its value would not
lie in those fragments, but in w^hat it added to them.
Hence the agreement of the Koran with earlier
revelations had in the main evidential value, proving
that the Prophet had really been chosen to com-
municate the divine book to his fellows ; its intrinsic
value lay in what it added to earlier revelations.



12 EARLY DEVELOPMENT OF MOHAMMEDANISM

At times it claimed to settle points which those revela-
tions had left obscure ; at times to alter what they con-
tained, on the principle which we have already seen.

Now, as we have seen, the word used for " book "
in Arabic also means " letter," and considerable
confusion results. A book is doubtless in all cases
a message, but a message is not necessarily a book.
The message need be of no permanent import-
ance, having reference to a momentary emergency.
Similarly, a messenger — which is the naine whereby
Mohammed ordinarily describes himself — is thought
of as bringing an order or piece of information
required for an immediate need rather than as
communicating what is to be permanent. The
ambassador communicates the wishes of his govern-
ment as they arise ; those wishes are usually no more
permanent than the occasions w^th which they are
concerned. And although the Koran is thought of
at times as read by the Prophet from the original
which he could mentally see, in many cases perhaps
the rendering " despatch " would be truer than the
rendering " book." It has been noticed that the
word which we ordinarily render " reveal," and which
literally means " send down," is properly applied to
royal rescripts ; the suppliant " raises " a petition
and the sovereign " sends down " the reply. The
faithful at Medinah used to await fresh revelations
each day somewhat as we in these days are on the
look out for the morning paper. The formula which
we not unfrequently find employed, " They will ask
thee : say," or *' They will say, but say thou," is such



THE KORAN AS THE BASIS OF ISLAM 13

as belongs to temporary embarrassment or temporary
controversy. The objection or difficulty which has
been raised is settled, and it is presumed that it will
not recur.

At neither the Meccan nor the INIedinese period of
the Koranic revelation was its nature such as to give
it permanence. In the former period there was
constant repetition of the same matter ; and the
Prophet, reading off the celestial original, naturally
repeatedly read the same material. There is, then,
some variation in the detail, but little in the general
trend of the discourses. The disagreement is not
more considerable than that between the three
accounts, say, of the conversion of St Paul in the
Acts of the Apostles. It is clearly not the intention
of the author of that work to give accounts of the
same event which supplement one another ; still less
accounts which contradict each other ; his desire is
not to repeat himself literally. And the same
rhetorical or artistic principle underlies the Koranic
treatment of the legends of the Prophets. The tales
are told vividly ; and this vividness excludes literal
repetition. They are, so to speak, repeated presenta-


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