Sidebilder
PDF

(it is all we have in the house), and here is an order, that will entitle you to a camel and a slave:” the master, as soon as he awoke, praised and enfranchised his faithful steward, with a gentle reproof, that by respecting his slumbers he had stinted his bounty. The third of these heroes, the blind Arabah, at the hour of prayer, was supporting his steps on the shoulders of two slaves. “Alas!” he replied, “my coffers are empty! but these you may sell; if you refuse, I renounce them.” At these words, pushing away the youths, he groped along the wall with his staff. The character of Hatem is the perfect model of Arabian virtue;" he was brave and liberal, an eloquent poet and a successful robber: forty camels were roasted at his hospitable feast; and at the prayer of a suppliant enemy, he restored both the captives and the spoil. The freedom of his countrymen disdained the laws of justice: they proudly indulged the spontaneous impulse of pity and benevolence. The religion of the Arabs," as well as of the Indians, consisted in the worship of the sun, the moon, and the fixed stars; a primitive and specious mode of superstition. The bright luminaries of the sky display the visible image of a Deity: their number and distance convey to a philosophic, or even a vulgar, eye, the idea of boundless space: the character of eternity is marked on these solid globes, that seem incapable of corruption or decay: the regularity of their motions may be ascribed to a principle of reason or instinct; and their real, or imaginary, influence encourages the vain belief that the earth and its in- char. habitants are the object of their peculiar care. The science of astronomy was cultivated at Babylon; but the school of the Arabs was a clear firmament and a naked plain. In their nocturnal marches, they steered by the guidance of the stars: their names, and order, and daily station, were familiar to the curiosity and devotion of the Bedoween; and he was taught by experience to divide in twenty-eight parts, the zodiac of the moon, and to bless the constellations who refreshed, with salutary rains, the thirst of the desert. The reign of the heavenly orbs could not be extended beyond the visible sphere; and some metaphysical powers were necessary to sustain the transmigration of souls and the resurrection of bodies: a camel was left to perish on the grave, that he might serve his master in another life; and the invocation of departed spirits implies that they were still endowed with consciousness and power. I am ignorant, and I am careless, of the blind mythology of the barbarians; of the local deities, of the stars, the air, and the earth, of their sex or titles, their attributes or subordination. Each tribe, each family, each independent warrior, created and changed the rites and the object of his fantastic worship; but the nation, in every age, has bowed to the religion, as well as to the language, of Mecca. The genuine antiquity of The Caaba, the CAABA ascends beyond the Christian aera: in de- ol." scribing the coast of the Red Sea, the Greek historian Diodorus" has remarked, between the Thamudités

CHAP.
L.

Ancient
idolatry.

* D'Herbelot, Bibliot. Orient. p. 458. Gagnier, Vie de Mahomet, tom. iii. p. 118. Caab and Hesnus (Pocock, Specimen, p. 43.46.48) were likewise conspicuous for their liberality; and the latter is elegantly praised by an Arabian poet: “Widebis eum cum accesseris exultantem, ac si dares illi quod ab illo petis.”

* Whatever can now be known of the idolatry of the ancient Arabians may be found in Pocock (Specimen, p. 89–136. 163, 164). His profound erudition is more clearly and concisely interpreted by Sale (Preliminary Discourse, p. 14 —24); and Assemanni (Bibliot. Orient. tom. iv. p. 580–590) has added some valuable remarks.

* “Igow &ywravoy oevra raagavoy iro raw roy Agadov origivororogov (Diodor. Sicul, tom. i. l. iii. p. 211). The character and position are so correctly apposite, that I am surprised how this curious passage should have been read without notice or application. Yet this famous temple had been overlooked by Agatharcides (de Mari Rubro, p. 58. in Hudson, tom. i.), whom Diodorus copies in the rest of the description. Was the Sicilian more knowing than the Egyptian 2 Or was the Caaba built between the years of Rome 650 and 746, the dates of their respective histories 2 (Dodwell, in Dissert. ad tom. i. Hudson, p. 72. Fabricius, Bibliot. Graec. tom. ii. p. 770).

CHAP.
L.

and the Sabaeans, a famous temple, whose superior sanctity was revered by all the Arabians: the linen or silken veil, which is annually renewed by the Turkish emperor, was first offered by a pious king of the Homerites, who reigned seven hundred years before the

time of Mahomet." A tent, or a cavern, might suffice

for the worship of the savages, but an edifice of stone and clay has been erected in its place; and the art and power of the monarchs of the East have been confined to the simplicity of the original model." A spacious portico incloses the quadrangle of the Caaba; a square chapel, twenty-four cubits long, twenty-three broad, and twenty-seven high: a door and a window admit the light; the double roof is supported by three pillars of wood; a spout (now of gold) discharges the rain-water, and the well Zemzem is protected by a dome from accidental pollution. The tribe of Koreish, by fraud or force, had acquired the custody of the Caaba: the sacerdotal office devolved through four lineal descents to the grandfather of Mahomet; and the family of the Hashemites, from whence he sprung, was the most respectable and sacred in the eyes of their country." The precincts of Mecca enjoyed the rights of sanctuary; and, in the last month of each year, the city and the temple were crowded with a long train of pilgrims, who presented their vows and offerings in the house of God. The same rites, which are now accomplished by the faithful Musulman, were invented and practised by the superstition of the idolaters. At an awful distance they cast away their garments: seven times, with hasty steps, they encircled the Caaba, and kissed the black stone: seven times they visited and adored the adjacent mountains: seven times they threw stones into the valley of Mina: and the pilgrimage was achieved, as at the present hour, by a sacrifice of sheep and camels, and the burial of their hair and nails in the consecrated ground. Each tribe either found or introduced in the Caaba their domestic worship: the temple was adorned, or defiled, with three hundred and sixty idols of men, eagles, lions, and antelopes; and most conspicuous was the statue of Hebal, of red agate, holding in his hand seven arrows, without heads or feathers, the instruments and symbols of profane divination. But this statue was a monument of Syrian arts: the devotion of the ruder ages was content with a pillar or a tablet; and the rocks of the desert were hewn into gods or altars, in imitation of the black stone" of Mecca, which is deeply tainted with the reproach of an idolatrous origin. From Japan to Peru, the use of sacrifice has universally prevailed; and the votary has expressed his gratitude, or fear, by destroying or consuming, in honour of the gods, the dearest and most precious of their gifts. The life of a man” is the most precious oblation to deprecate a public calamity: the altars of Phoenicia and Egypt, of Rome CHAP. and Carthage, have been polluted with human gore;

* Pocock, Specimen, p. 60, 61. From the death of Mahomet we ascend to 68, from his birth to 129, years, before the Christian aera. The veil or curtain, which is now of silk and gold, was no more than a piece of Egyptian linen (Abulfeda, in Vit. Mohammed. c. 6. p. 14).

* The original plan of the Caaba (which is servilely copied in Sale, the Universal History, &c.) was a Turkish draught, which Reland (de Religione Mohammedica, p. 113–123) has corrected and explained from the best authorities. For the description and legend of the Caaba, consult Pocock (Specimen, p. 115 —122), the Bibliothéque Orientale of D'Herbelot (Caaba, Hagir, Zemzem, &c.), and Sale (Preliminary Discourse, p. 114–122).

* Cosa, the fifth ancestor of Mahomet, must have usurped the Caaba A. D. 440; but the story is differently told by Jannabi (Gagnier, Vie de Mahomet, tom. i. p. 65–69) and by Abulfeda (in Vit. Moham. c. 6. p. 13).

" In the second century, Maximus of Tyre attributes to the Arabs the worship of a stone—Agagios ostovo, asy, ãvriya. 3s own oiba, robs a yaxco, sooy" Aidos my rarezyavos (Dissert. viii. tom. i. p. 142. edit. Reiske); and the reproach is furiously re-echoed by the Christians (Clemens Alex. in Protreptico, p. 40. Arnobius contra Gentes, 1. vi. p. 246). Yet these stones were no other than the garvaz of Syria and Greece, so renowned in sacred and profane antiquity (Euseb. Praep. Evangel. l. i. p. 37. Marsham, Canon. Chron. p. 54–56).

* The two horrid subjects of Aogoëvruz and IIziboduru, are accurately discussed by the learned Sir John Marsham (Canon. Chron. p. 76–78. 301–304). Sanchoniatho derives the Phoenician sacrifices from the example of Chronus; but we are ignorant whether Chronus lived before, or after, Abraham, or indeed whether he lived at all.

CHAP.
L.

Sacrifices
and rites.

the cruel practice was long preserved among the
Arabs; in the third century, a boy was annually sa-
crificed by the tribe of the Dumatians;” and a royal
captive was piously slaughtered by the prince of the
Saracens, the ally and soldier of the emperor Jus-
tinian.” A parent who drags his son to the altar
exhibits the most painful and sublime effort of fa-
naticism: the deed, or the intention, was sanctified
by the example of saints and heroes; and the father
of Mahomet himself was devoted by a rash vow, and
hardly ransomed for the equivalent of a hundred ca-
mels. In the time of ignorance, the Arabs, like the
Jews and Egyptians, abstained from the taste of
swine's flesh;" they circumcised" their children at
the age of puberty: the same customs, without the
censure or the precept of the Koran, have been si-
lently transmitted to their posterity and proselytes.
It has been sagaciously conjectured, that the artful
legislator indulged the stubborn prejudices of his
countrymen. It is more simple to believe that he .
adhered to the habits and opinions of his youth,
without foreseeing that a practice congenial to the
7 Kar’ tro; inzorrow rada sévov is the reproach of Porphyry; but he likewise
imputes to the Roman the same barbarous custom, which A.U.C. 657 had
been finally abolished. Dumaetha, Daumat al Gendal, is noticed by Ptolemy
(Tabul. p. 37. Arabia, p. 9–29) and Abulfeda (p. 57); and may be found in
D'Anville's maps, in the mid-desert between Chaibar and Tadmor.
* Procopius (de Bell. Persico, l. i. c. 28), Evagrius (l. vi. c. 21), and Po-
cock (Specimen, p. 72. 86), attest the human sacrifices of the Arabs in the
with century. The danger and escape of Abdallah is a tradition rather than a
fact (Gagnier, Vie de Mahomet, tom. i. p. 82–84).
* Suillis carnibus abstinent, says Solinus (Polyhistor. c. 33), who copies
Pliny (l. viii. c. 68) in the strange supposition, that hogs cannot live in Arabia.
The Egyptians were actuated by a natural and superstitious horror for that un-
clean beast (Marsham, Canon. p. 205). The old Arabians likewise practised,
post coitum, the rite of ablution (Herodot. l. i. c. 80), which is sanctified by the
Mahometan law (Reland, p. 75, &c. Chardin, or rather the Mollah of Shah
Abbas, tom. iv. p. 71, &c.)
* The Mahometan doctors are not fond of the subject; yet they hold circum-
cision necessary to salvation, and even pretend that Mahomet was miraculously

born without a foreskin (Pocock, Specimen, p. 319, 320. Sale's Preliminary Discourse, p. 106, 107).

« ForrigeFortsett »