D. S. (David Samuel) Margoliouth.

The early development of Mohammedanism; lectures delivered in the University of London, May and June 1913 online

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notices that as the caravan proceeds a cloud rests on
the head of Mohammed, and when they alight under
a tree, the cloud overshadows the tree, which becomes
covered with green leaves. Though he has previously
shown the traders no hospitality, he on this occasion
arranges a banquet to which he invites the whole
caravan with an urgent request that no one should
stay away. Naturally the Prophet, as the youngest
of the party, does not suppose himself to be included
in the invitation. Bahira, however, notices that the
cloud is over the head of none among the company,
and demands that the young absentee be sent for ;
Mohammed comes, and is followed by the cloud,
whereas the tree under which he had taken shelter
pulls itself up by the roots. He adjures Mohammed
by the idols Lat and 'Uzza to answer certain questions,
which the Prophet willingly answers, but declares
that he has abjured Lat and 'Uzza. Some Jews
endeavour to enlist Bahira in a conspiracy against
the life of Mohammed, but the monk ensures his


The only detail in this narrative that is not based
on the history of Moses and of David seems to be
that of the tree, which figures rather more significantly
in the story of the second expedition, where the
monk who receives them bears the name Nestorius.
The Prophet takes shelter under a tree ; and the
monk states that his doing so is a clear sign of
prophecy ; only prophets take shelter under that
particular tree. The tree appears to be a reminiscence
of the fig-tree in the first chapter of St John, where,
however, it is the convert Nathanael who is seen
under the fig-tree.

Mohammed enters history as the leader of a
caravan carrying the merchandise of the wealthy
Khadijah ; when Khadijah learns that Mohammed is
willing to discharge this service, she offers him twice
the fee which she would have given to anyone else.
This is a fiction somewhat in the style of Josephus,
merely intended to lend the transaction additional

Every one of these stories is preceded by its chain
of authorities, and made to rest ultimately on the
assertion of someone who had good opportunities of
knowing the truth ; and AbCi Nu'aim, concluding
this collection of anecdotes dealing with the Prophet's
vouth and infancy, argues that the miraculous ele-
ments which they contain are sufficient to attest the
truth of the Prophet's mission, especially if we take
into account the fact that he was identified by
persons who were in possession of a description, and
were on the look-out for an individual answering to


it. The Messiah whom they were expecting was
to have a permanent redness in the eye — a character-
istic of Judah in the Blessing of Jacob, though
there ascribed to the effect of wine-drinking — a
weal between his shoulder-blades, and certain other
peculiarities, such as are put by the police into the
hands of detectives ; they detected the Prophet by
these marks. Only, as appears to be regularly the
case with oracles, people completely forgot that they
had ever been given until after they had been fulfilled.
Nor does the conduct of any contemporary of the
Prophet appear to have been at all influenced by the
phenomena which accompanied his presence.

It was obviously undesirable that the Prophet
should at any time of his life have been an idolator,
and, as we have seen, quite early in his career he is
made to repudiate all connection with the Meccan
goddesses. It was, however, a question how he could
have lived in Meccah for some forty years and kept
aloof from the worships of his countrymen. Since
all feasts were idolatrous services, he had to be kept
away from them, and indeed by supernatural means.
When it was his turn to touch an idol, he felt a tall
man in white garments intervene and tell him to
go back. At other times when he felt an inclination
to do as the people of Meccah, he was miraculously
sent to sleep.

There does not appear to be in these legends any
exact parallel to the Gospel narrative of the Temp-
tation, but there are some analogues. When the
Prophet was prostrating himself in Meccah, Satan


wished to tread upon his neck ; Gabriel arrived in
time to blow Satan away, and indeed as far as the
Jordan. A more serious raid upon him was made by
a troop of demons, Satan himself bearing a torch,
with which he intended to burn the Prophet ; this
time Gabriel taught him a spell which drove the
horde away. Mohammed had indeed, like every
other human being, a demon attached to him ; he
was, however, able to convert this inconvenient
parasite, and reduce him to submission.

In the historical account of the Prophet's flight
from Meccah, he escapes the attempt on his life by
a mixture of cunning, resolution, and daring. This
method might not seem good enough, and therefore
something more worthy of the Prophet of God was
devised. When he is informed that the Meccans
have conspired together to kill him as soon as they
see him, he comes forward boldly ; their eyes droop
and their hands are powerless ; he flings a handful of
pebbles at them, and all on whom those pebbles fall
are afterwards slain at Badr. Various other people
attempt his life, among them the notorious Abu Jahl,
but are miraculously prevented from carrying out
their intentions ; they seize stones, which stick to
their hands, or else their hands wither in the style of
Jeroboam's. Like Jeroboam they have to implore
the Prophet's intercession before they can recover
the use of their fingers. And lest Balaam should
be favoured with a miracle denied the Prophet, an
animal is made to talk for his benefit. When the
Prophet came back from Badr victorious, a Jewess


met him with a roast kid, which she said she had
vowed to slaughter in the event of his coming back
from the expedition with triumph ; but the kid rose
up on its four legs and said to the Prophet, " Eat me
not, I am poisoned ! "

In the Koran itself the Prophet is made to disclaim
miracles on various grounds, chiefly their ineffective-
ness in producing belief among the stifFnecked.
Nevertheless it would be more satisfactory if the
demand had been satisfied, and the historical supple-
ment satisfies it amply. Like Hezekiah the Meccans
demand a sign in heaven, viz. the splitting of the full
moon and its halves appearing on two different hills
respectively. This actually happens in the presence
of the leading Meccans, though there is some dis-
crepancy as to the date. The Meccans declare it to
be sorcery, i.e. what we should call an optical illusion,
and wish to know whether anyone outside Meccah has
seen the phenomenon ; the next day it is confirmed
by numerous travellers who arrive. There is indeed
a reference to the splitting of the moon in the Koran,
which appears to be one of the terrors which will
accompany the Day of Judgment ; and though this
text is probably the basis of the story, the narrators
were probably also moved by the desire to show that
the Prophet could do as much or more than Joshua
and Isaiah.

The Flight, or rather Migration, was the occasion of
numerous miracles — two doves nested at the mouth
of the cave in which the Prophet and his companion
had taken refuge, and a spider took the opportunity


to spin its web in the same place. Although, then,
professional trackers found their way to this place of
concealment, they were convinced that the cave had
not been entered. At one point they were nearly
overtaken by a pursuer on horseback ; but ere he
could reach them the horse's legs sank down deep in
the hard rock. The pursuer was rescued from this
perilous plight by the Prophet on condition that he
put the other pursuers off the scent. The refugees
alighted at a tent, where they asked for milk ; there
was only an emaciated ewe there, but the Prophet
prayed, and it produced copious milk.

Of the miracles supposed to be performed by the
Prophet during his residence at Medinah many took
the form of healing, effected by his prayers. Thus a
dumb child was brought him ; he took water, used it
for ablutions, and then gave it to the child's mother,
who used it both as a lotion and a draught ; by the
end of a year the child could not only speak, but dis-
played extraordinary intelligence. On a journey he
met a woman with a child who was subject to fits ;
the Prophet spat into the child's mouth, and told the
devil in possession of the child to be quiet ; on the
return journey they met the mother and child in the
same place, and were informed that the fits had not
recurred. An even closer parallel to a New Testa-
ment miracle is told of a child possessed of a devil ;
the Prophet stroked its chest, whereupon the child
vomited, and the demon came out in the shape of a
black cub. A man who had lost his sight by tread-
ing upon snake's eggs applied to the Prophet for a


cure ; this was effected with spittle, and was so perfect
that the man at the age of eighty could thread his
own needles.

Of miraculous supplies of food we have already had
some examples ; there are others which imitate the
precision of detail given in the Gospel miracle of
the loaves and fishes. The great traditionalist Abu
Hurairah was asked by the Prophet, apparently on a
journey, whether he had any food ; he replied that he
had some dates, to the number of twenty-seven, in a
wallet. The Prophet bade him lay them out ; they
furnished a copious meal to the company, and when all
had been satisfied Abu Hurairah was told to count
the leavings, restore them to the wallet, and whenever
he wanted a date to put in his hand, but by no means
to empty out the wallet. Abu Hurairah followed
these instructions, and the dates lasted till twenty-
six years after the Prophet's death, when they were
stolen during the siege of Othman's palace. In this
narrative the Gospel miracle has been combined with
Elijah's of the widow's cruse. A somewhat closer
parallel to the latter is recorded of the expedition to
Tabuk ; the oil vessel was nearly empty, when its
keeper fell asleep ; he woke to hear it bubbling in the
sun, and put the cover on. Had he left it alone,
said the Prophet, the whole valley would have been
flowing with oil.

Abu Hurairah was also the witness of an occasion
on which a single cup of milk served to satisfy all
the people of the Suffah or mendicant Moslems who
had no home save the Mosque of Medinah. Other


occasions were recorded whereon the Prophet mira-
culously increased supphes of water in the desert.

That the tradition records apparently no occasions
whereon the Prophet raised the dead is worthy of
notice, for this would seem to be the crowning miracle
which ought not to have been omitted in the list of
his exploits. Although logic enters very slightly
into edifying fabrication of the sort with which we
are dealing, there may have been strong theological
reasons for abstaining from invention of this style.
The martyrs of the Holy War were seen by the
Prophet in Paradise, winged and happy ; they sent
messages by him expressing their satisfaction with
their experiences, and it would be evidently hard on
them that they should be brought back from the
Garden of Delights. Further, it was not claimed for
the Prophet himself that he rose from the dead, and
if such resurrection were a privilege, it was un-
thinkable that it should have been accorded to others
and denied him. Besides this, the Moslem tradition
deals almost, though not quite exclusively, with
historical personages : people who have parents and
children, who can be located in various ways, and
brought into connection with various other historical
personages. The Prophet could not well be made to
restore any of these to life ; on the other hand, had
he exercised this power at all, he could not well have
failed to practise it on such heroes as Hamzah, or his
own son Ibrahim. Hence the miracle-mongers have
wisely kept to incidents which did not really affect J
the course of history ; for no one could say how


often the people of the SufFah had to go without
dinner or whence in any particular case they had
procured it, nor did the Prophet's commissariat
department keep any record of supphes and expendi-
ture during the campaigns. The belief that hosts of
angels fought on his side was wisely encouraged by
the Prophet ; for while it added glory to his victories
it minimised the disgrace of the defeated ; but it is
clear that he never counted on the aid of these angels
for any actual fighting, and he was probably far too
cautious to attempt any miracle where failure might
prove compromising. What we learn from the
Dalail al-Nubuwwah is, then, nothing that is of value
for the biography of the Prophet, but the effect which
familiarity with Jews and Christians had perforce on
the idea of a prophet as conceived by Moslem minds.
Similarly, when the Moslems, owing to Arabic trans-
lations of the Bible, had learned the nature of
the Old and New Testaments, they strove to show
that the Koran in its different parts contained the
analogue of the various parts of the older Scriptures :
one part corresponded w^ith the Law, another with
the Psalms, another with the Gospel. Somewhat
similarly, the Jewish Moses of renaissance times
derives many a trait from the Prophet Mohammed ;
and when a few years ago a Jesuit writer on rhetoric
in Arabic quoted Almighty God for rhetorical figures,
he was certainly under the influence of his Moslem
environment ; the degree of sanctity assigned the
Bible by a Christian ought not to fall short of that

which the Mohammedan assigns the Koran. If a



prophet and Messiah was a mh'acle-worker, and this
was attested for the Christian Messiah by the Koran
itself, the seal of the prophets ought clearly to be
able to show as lengthy and striking a record in this
matter as the greatest of his predecessors ; and, as
we have seen, that has on the whole been made out.
If Mohammed fell short on any one point, he com-
pensated for it by the number and importance of his
other exploits.

In the development of a religion fiction has scarcely
less importance than fact. In order to understand
the rise of Islam it is necessary to be acquainted
with the historical Mohammed — the man of extreme
caution and extreme intrepidity : who made by force
his merit known : who gauged with exactitude the
intellect and the character of his associates and his
adversaries ; for whom every fortress had its key and
every man his price : whom no opportunity escaped,
no scruple deterred, and no emergency found un-
prepared. But for the continuance and development
of the system probably the fictitious Mohammed was
the more significant : the legislator, the saint, and the


[Dates in brackets are given a.d. Arabic words interpreted

are in italics.]

'Abbas, uncle of the Prophet, 238.

'Abbasid dynasty, named after the
above, 67, 70. See Caliph.

'Abdallah Ibn 'Abbas, son of the
above, 138.

'Abdallah Ibn 'Amr(son of the conr
queror of Egypt), read the book
of Daniel, 41 ; possessed a
" Veracious Scroll," 65.

'Abdallah Ibn Nauf, excused a falsi-
fied prophecy, 10.

'Abdal-Wahid Ibn Zaid, mystic, 154.

Abraham, reproved for praying for
his father, 29, 47 ; resemblance
of his foot to the Prophet's,
247 ; his Roll, 234.

Abrogation of commands and doc-
trines, 24, 38, 48, 50, 76-78, 93.

Abil, " father of."

Abu Bakr, father-in-law of the Pro-
phet and his first successor, 24 ;
composes a Koranic text, 38 ;
collects the Koran, 24 ; deprives
the Prophet's daughter of her
inheritance, 59 ; his right to the
succession proved by a pro-
phetic statue, 242.

Abu'l-Darda (t652), Companion of
the Prophet, 87.

AbQ Hanlfah (700-767), first founder
of a law school, 113, 120.

Abu'l-Hasan al-Ash'arl (873-935), ^^
first a Mu'tazil, was commanded
by the Prophet in a dream to
write books in favour of ortho-
doxy, 219; his treatise, the
/dana/i,a.m3.nua.\ of the opinions
ultimately accepted as ortho-
dox, 205.

Abu'l-Hudhail al-'Allaf (tabout 830),
Mu'tazihte doctor, proves that
the Unbeliever obeys a divine
command, 222 ; requires twenty
witnesses for a tradition, 228.

Abu Hurairah (t678). Companion
of the Prophet, traditionalist,
witnessed a miracle, 255.

Abu Jahl, enemy of Mohammed,

Abij Nu'aim (942-1038), his collec-
tion of miracles demonstrating
the genuineness of Moham-
med's mission, 241-250.

Abu Talib, uncle and protector of
Mohammed, 248.

Abu Talib al-Mekkl (1996), author
of the K??^ al-Kiilub^ Sufi
treatise, excerpted in Lecture V.
Quoted 90, 234, etc.

Adam, his collection of prophetic
portraits, 242.

Adana, massacre of, 114.

Ahmad = Mohammed, 237, 243, 245.

Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (780-855),
founder of a law school, 168.

Ahmad Ibn 'Isa al-Kharraz (t899),
rebuked for his erotic hymns,

'A'ishah, daughter of Abu Bakr, and
wife of Mohammed, slandered,
78 ; defended by a revelation,
14, 162 ; wars with Ali, 212,

Alexandrian library, 39.

'All, cousin and son-in-law of the
Prophet, and his fourth suc-
cessor, held to be an incarnation
of the Deity, 209; his political



incompetence, 20 ; see also
65, 88, 102, 105, 113, 212, 219,

Aminah, mother of the Prophet,

'Ammar Ibn Yasir (t657), Com-
panion of the Prophet, 240.

'Amr Ibn Umayyah, Companion of
the Prophet, 93.

Analogy, use of by Shafi'i illustrated,

Anas, servant of the Prophet,

" Ancient House," i.e. the Ka'bah,

supposed to be the first house

built, 50.
Arabian Jews and Christians treated

as renegades from the religion

of Abraham, 105.
Aristotle, traces of his thought in

the Koran, 206 ; works of his

studied by Moslems, 207 ;

charged with plagiarism from

Arabs, 225.
'Ata Ibn Abl Rabah (tabout 710),

introduced music into devotion,

Atonement for oaths, 61.
Attestation of traditions, rules for,

Avicenna (ti037), philosopher, 205.

Badr, battle of, first victory won by

the Prophet, 48, 107, 252.
Baghdad, focus of Islamic thought,

208 ; 43, 127.
Bahira, Christian monk, 249.
Baibars, Emir, 124.
Baibars (i 260-1 277), Mamluke

Sultan, 126.
Barkuk (i 382-1 398), Mamluke

Sultan, 128.
Bashans, festival of first day of,

Begging, discouraged by the

Prophet, 169 ; practised by

SQfis, ibid.
Bible, supposed to be falsified, 53,

87 ; spurious substitutes for,

Bistami, Abu Yazld (about 776-

" 873), mystic, 170.
Blood-money, amount of for differ-
ent persons, 81, 94, 112, 113.

Blood-thirst, a result of early
Islamic teaching, 58.

Bonaparte, 41.

Books, nature of, in ancient times,
8 ; all save the Koran super-
fluous, 40, 43, 88.

Butrus Pasha, 114.

Caliphs, or successors of the
Prophet ; reference is made to
the following : (ist Dynasty,
Pious Caliphs) i. Abu Bakr,
632-634 ; ii. Omar I., 634-644 ;
iii. Othman, 644-656; iv. Ali,
656-661 ; (2nd Dynasty, Um-
ayyads) i, Mu'awiyah, 661-680 ;
ii. Yazld I., 680-683 ; viii. Omar
II., 717-720; X. Hisham, 724-
743 ; xii. Yazld III., 744 ; (3i'd
Dynasty, Abbasids) ii. Mansur,
754-775 \ X. Mutawakkil, 847-

Carmathians, a sect charged with
atheism, 217.

Casuistry, Moslem and Jewish com-
pared, 96.

Chakmah (1438-1453), Mamluke
Sultan of Egypt, 126.

Chastity, Moslem, 63.

Christian churches, Moslem law
concerning, 124.

Christian elements in Siifi sermons,

Christians and Jews, 1,9, iii, 113,

237 ; their position under Mos-
lem rule. Lecture IV, ; manage
much of the business of the
community, 117, 122, 130;
their debates with Moslems,

Classes of community, three, 183.

Coins, Moslem, ought not to be used
by Unbelievers, 119.

Commandments, Koranic list of^

" Companions " of the Prophet,

i.e. believing contemporaries^

authorities for his sayings and

doings. Lecture III. ; their

wealth, 136.

Creation of the Koran, controversy

about, 211, 222.

DalaHl al-Nubuwwah (" Evidences
of the Mission of Mohammed"),



treatise by Abu Nu'aim, ex-
cerpted in Lecture VIII.

Daniel, studied by Moslems, 41 ;
copied pictures of prophets
from Adam's gallery, 242.

Debates, legal, 92, 93 ; philosophical,

Demons converted by the Prophet,

D/umjuah ("covenant"), name
used for status of protected
communities, 116.

Dogs, property in, 97.

Elements, hierarchy of, 206.
Esoteric interpretation of the Koran,

possessed by the Prophet's

family, 18.
Etiquette, elaborated by Siifis, 155.
Euclid, study of, discouraged by

the ultra- orthodox, 207.
Ezra, 175.

Fand ("annihilation"), technical
term of Siifis, 199.

Fasting, produces literal purity, 153,
248 ; Siifi theories of, 151 ff.

Fatalism in the Koran, 46, 170 , 172,
214, 221.

Fatimah, daughter of Mohammed
and wife of Ali, 20, 241.

Fikh, originally " knowledge," after-
wards specialised as jurispru-
dence, 72.

Foods, forbidden, Koranic enact-
ments concerning, 45,

Friday worship, myths connected
with, 165 ; cursing at, 217.

Ghailan (t743), heresiarch, executed
by Hisham, 210.

Ghassanides, Christian Arabs pro-
tected by the Byzantines, 245.

Gnosis, term taken over by Siifis,
144, 190.

Gospel, Fourth, analogy of to
Sufism, 200.

Greek thought, influence of, 145,
153, 206, 212, 220-223.

Hajjaj Ibn Yiisuf (t7i3), Umayyad
governor of 'Irak, first to use a
litter on pilgrimage, and one of
the lost, 159.

Hakim (996-1020), Fatimid Caliph,

persecutes Christians, etc., 132.
Hallaj (t922), mystic, author of an

infantile work, 181,
Hamzah, uncle of the Prophet, 256.
Hanifite (= Moslem) faith, 105.
Hariri (1054-1122), author of the

Makamahs, *" licensed" seven

hundred copies of his work, 8.
Hasan (1357-1351 and 1354-1361),

Mamluke Sultan, 128.
Hassan Ibn Thabit (tabout 670^

court-poet to Mohammed, 243 ;

his poems preserved in writing

at Medinah, 89.
Hau'ab, station on the desert road

from Medinah to Basrah, 240.
Hell-Fire, doom of one who kills a

Believer, 213, 221 ; Siifi con-
tempt for, 148, 172, 179.
" Helpers," Mohammed's Medinese

converts, 19, 84.
Heraclius (610-642), Byzantine

Emperor, supposed to have

preserved the Prophet's letter,

Hijrah. See Migration.
Hisham (724 - 743), Umayyad

Caliph, no, 117, 210.
History, Islamic, beginnings of, 41.
Honour of protected communities

not ordinarily defended, 112.
Humility, Sufi definition of, 171.
Humours of the body, supposed

to be mentioned in the Old

Testament, 153.
Hunain, battle of, 49.
Husain, grandson of the Prophet,

slain at Kerbela, 56 ; avenged,

60, 72.

Iblls, Arabic corruption of Diabolos

through the Syriac, 182, 186,

Ib?!^ plural Bcififi^ " son."
Ibn 'Arab! (i 165-1240), mystic,

176, 188.
Ibn Ishak (t767), earliest extant

biographer of the Prophet, 237.
Ibn Mas'Cid (t652), interpreter of

the Koran, 171.
Ibn Suraij, earliest author of a

code, 91.
Ibn Zubair, 'Abdallah, held the

sacred cities (683-692) as


independent Caliph against

the Umayyads, 58 ; persuades

his father to perjure himself

and make atonement, 60.
Ibrahim, son of Mohammed who

died iti infancy, 256.
Ibrahim Ibn Adham (t777),

mystic, 176 ; invents a form of

prayer, 165.
Idrls, prophet identified with

Enoch, 165.
Inheritance, between members of

different sects or religions, loi.
" Inquisition," persecution started

by Caliph Ma'mun in the

interests of Mu'tazilism, 168.
Islam, more political than religious,

142, 229 ; obligations of, 183 ;

its general character, 50 ff.

Ja'far, son of Abu Talib, the hero
of Mutah (first battle between
Moslems and Byzantines), 177.

Jahiz (t869), important Arabic
author, his Zoology described,
225 ; his ignorance of the
Bible, 235.

Jews, their status under Islam,
Lecture IV. ; their influence
on Islamic jurisprudence, 74 ;
dealers in arms and armour,
109 ; their supposed witness
to Mohammed's mission, 244,

Jinn, superstitions about, confirmed

by the philosopher Jahiz, 226.
Joseph, brethren of, 175.
Joshua, a Jew of Medinah, 243.
Jubair Ibn Mut'im, contemporary of

the Prophet, 241.
Junaid (t9io), mystic, 163.

Kadaris = Mu'tazils.

Kerbela, See Husain,

Khadijah, first wife of Mohammed,

Khaibar, last Jewish settlement in

Arabia taken by Mohammed,

Khaithamah (t7oo), interpreter of

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Online LibraryD. S. (David Samuel) MargoliouthThe early development of Mohammedanism; lectures delivered in the University of London, May and June 1913 → online text (page 17 of 18)