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CHAP. sion; and all contradiction is removed by the saving
maxim, that any text of scripture is abrogated or modified by any subsequent passage. The word of God, and of the apostle, was diligently recorded by his disciples on palm-leaves and the shoulder-bones of mutton; and the pages, without order or connexion, were cast into a domestic chest in the custody of one of his wives. Two years after the death of Mahomet, the sacred volume was collected and published by his friend and successor Abubeker: the work was revised by the caliph Othman, in the thirtieth year of the Hegira; and the various editions of the Koran assert the same miraculous privilege of an uniform and incorruptible text. In the spirit of enthusiasm or vanity, the prophet rests the truth of his mission on the merit of his book, audaciously challenges both men and angels to imitate the beauties of a single page, and presumes to assert that God alone could dictate this incomparable performance." This argument is most powerfully addressed to a devout Arabian, whose mind is attuned to faith and rapture, whose ear is delighted by the music of sounds, and whose ignorance is incapable of comparing the productions of human genius.” The harmony and copiousness of style will not reach, in a version, the European infidel: he will peruse with impatience the endless incoherent rhapsody of fable, and precept, and declamation, which seldom excites a sentiment or an idea, which sometimes crawls in the dust, and is sometimes lost in the clouds. The divine attributes exalt the fancy of the Arabian missionary; but his loftiest strains must yield to the sublime simplicity of the book of Job, composed in a remote age, in the same char. country, and in the same language.” If the com-
* Koran. c. 17. v. 89. In Sale, p. 235, 236. In Maracci, p. 410.
* Yet a sect of Arabians was persuaded that it might be equalled or surpassed by a human pen (Pocock, Specimen, p. 22.1, &c.); and Maracci (the polemic
is too hard for the translator) derides the rhyming affectation of the most applauded passage (tom, i. part ii. p. 69–75).
position of the Koran exceed the faculties of a man, to what superior intelligence should we ascribe the Iliad of Homer, or the Philippics of Demosthenes? In all religions, the life of the founder supplies the silence of his written revelation: the sayings of Mahomet were so many lessons of truth; his actions so many examples of virtue; and the public and private memorials were preserved by his wives and com: panions. At the end of two hundred years, the Sonna, or oral law, was fixed and consecrated by the labours of Al Bochari, who discriminated seven thousand two hundred and seventy-five genuine traditions, from a mass of three hundred thousand reports, of a more doubtful or spurious character. Each day the pious author prayed in the temple of Mecca, and performed his ablutions with the water of Zemzem: the pages were successively deposited on the pulpit, and the sepulchre of the apostle; and the work has been approved by the four orthodox sects of the Sonnites."
The mission of the ancient prophets, of Moses and Miracles.
of Jesus, had been confirmed by many splendid prodigies; and Mahomet was repeatedly urged, by the inhabitants of Mecca and Medina, to produce a similar evidence of his divine legation; to call down from heaven the angel or the volume of his revelation, to create a garden in the desert, or to kindle a conflagration in the unbelieving city. As often as he is pressed by the demands of the Koreish, he involves
P Colloquia (whether real or fabulous) in media Arabia atque ab Arabibus habita (Lowth, de Poesi Hebræorum Praelect. xxxii, xxxiii, xxxiv. with his German editor Michaelis, Epimetron iv). Yet Michaelis (p. 671–673) has detected many Egyptian images, the elephantiasis, papyrus, Nile, crocodile, &c. The language is ambiguously styled Arabico-Hebraea. The resemblance of the sister dialects was much more visible in their childhood, than in their mature age (Michaelis, p. 682. Schultens, in Praefat. Job).
* Al Bochari died A.H. 224. See D'Herbelot, p. 208. 416. 827. Gagnier, Not. ad Abulfed. c. 19, p. 33.
himself in the obscure boast of vision and prophecy, appeals to the internal proofs of his doctrine, and shields himself behind the providence of God, who refuses those signs and wonders that would depreciate the merit of faith, and aggravate the guilt of infidelity. But the modest or angry tone of his apologies betrays his weakness and vexation; and these passages of scandal establish, beyond suspicion, the integrity of the Koran." The votaries of Mahomet are more assured than himself of his miraculous gifts, and their confidence and credulity increase as they are farther removed from the time and place of his spiritual exploits. They believe or affirm that trees went forth to meet him; that he was saluted by stones; that water gushed from his fingers; that he fed the hungry, cured the sick, and raised the dead; that a beam groaned to him; that a camel complained to him; that a shoulder of mutton informed him of its being poisoned; and that both animate and inanimate nature were equally subject to the apostle of God.” His dream of a nocturnal journey is seriously described as a real and corporeal transaction. A mysterious animal, the Borak, conveyed him from the temple of Mecca to that of Jerusalem: with his companion Gabriel, he successively ascended the seven heavens, and received and repaid the salutations of the patriarchs, the prophets, and the angels, in their respective mansions. Beyond the seventh heaven Mahomet alone was permitted to proceed; he passed the veil of unity, approached within two bow-shots of the throne, and felt a cold that pierced him to the heart, when his shoulder was touched by the hand of God. After this familiar though important conversation, he again descended to Jerusalem, remounted the Borak, returned to Mecca, and performed in the tenth part of a night the journey of many thousand years. According to another legend, the apostle confounded in a national assembly the malicious challenge of the Koreish. His resistless word split asunder the orb of the moon: the obedient planet stooped from her station in the sky, accomplished the seven revolutions round the Caaba, saluted Mahomet in the Arabian tongue, and suddenly contracting her dimensions, entered at the collar, and issued forth through the sleeve, of his shirt." The vulgar are amused with these marvellous tales; but the gravest of the Musulman doctors imitate the modesty of their master, and indulge a latitude of faith or interpretation." They might speciously allege, that in preaching the religion, it was needless to violate the harmony, of nature; that a creed un
* See more remarkably, Koran, c. 2.6. 12, 13. 17. Prideaux (Life of Mahomet, p. 18, 19) has confounded the impostor. Maracci, with a more learned apparatus, has shown that the passages which deny his miracles are clear and positive (Alcoran, tom. i. part ii. p. 7–12), and those which seem to assert them are ambiguous and insufficient (p. 12–22).
* See the Specimen Hist. Arabum, the text of Abulpharagius, p. 17. the notes of Pocock, p. 187—190. D'Herbelot Bibliothéque Orientale, p. 76, 77. Voyages de Chardin, tom. iv. p. 200–203. Maracci (Alcoran, tom. i. p. 22–64) has most laboriously collected and confuted the miracles and prophecies of Mahomet, which, according to some writers, amount to three thousand.
• The nocturnal journey is circumstantially related by Abulfeda (in Vit. Mohammed. c. 19. p. 33), who wishes to think it a vision; by Prideaux (p. 31 –40), who aggravates the absurdities; and by Gagnier (tom. i. p. 252—343), who declares, from the zealous Al Jannabi, that to deny this journey is to disbelieve the Koran. Yet the Koran, without naming either heaven, or Jerusalem, or Mecca, has only dropt a mysterious hint: Laus illiqui transtulit servum suum aboratorio Haram ad oratorium remotissimum (Koran, c. 17. v. 1. in Maracci, tom. ii. p. 407; for Sale's version is more licentious). A slender basis for the aërial structure of tradition.
* In the prophetic style, which uses the present or past for the future, Mahomet had said: Appropinquavit hora, et scissa est luna (Koran, c. 54. v. 1. in Maracci, tom. ii. p. 688). This figure of rhetoric has been converted into a fact, which is said to be attested by the most respectable eye-witnesses (Maracci, tom. ii. p. 690). The festival is still celebrated by the Persians (Chardin, tom. iv. p. 201); and the legend is tediously spun out by Gagnier (Vie de Mahomet, tom. i. p. 183—234) on the faith, as it should seem, of the credulous Al Jannabi. Yet a Mahometan doctor has arraigned the credit of the principal witness (apud Pocock, Specimen, p. 187); the best interpreters are content with the simple sense of the Koran (Al Beidawi, apud Hottinger, Hist. Orient. l. ii. p. 302); and the silence of Abulfeda is worthy of a prince and a philosopher.
* Abulpharagius, in Specimen, Hist. Arab. p. 17; and his scepticism is justified in the notes of Pocock, p. 190–194, from the purest authorities.
Precepts of Mahomet —prayer, fasting, alms.
clouded with mystery may be excused from miracles;
the pageantry of the church. The prophet of Mecca
was tempted by prejudice, or policy, or patriotism, to sanctify the rites of the Arabians, and the custom of visiting the holy stone of the Caaba. But the precepts of Mahomet himself inculcate a more simple and rational piety: prayer, fasting, and alms, are the religious duties of a Musulman; and he is encouraged to hope, that prayer will carry him half way to God, fasting will bring him to the door of his palace, and alms will gain him admittance." I. According to the tradition of the nocturnal journey, the apostle, in his personal conference with the Deity, was commanded to impose on his disciples the daily obligation of fifty prayers. By the advice of Moses, he applied for an alleviation of this intolerable burthen; the number was gradually reduced to five; without any dispensation of business or pleasure, or time or place: the devotion of the faithful is repeated at day-break, at noon, in the afternoon, in the evening, and at the first watch of the night; and, in the present decay of religious fervour, our travellers are edified by the profound humility and attention of the Turks and Persians. Cleanliness is the key of prayer: the fre
" The most authentic account of these precepts, pilgrimage, prayer, fasting, alms, and ablutions, is extracted from the Persian and Arabian theologians by Maracci (Prodrom. part iv. p. 9–24); Reland (in his excellent treatise de Religione Mohammedica, Utrecht, 1717, p. 67–123); and Chardin (Voyages en Perse, tom. iv. p. 47–195). Maracci is a partial accuser; but the jeweller, Chardin, had the eyes of a philosopher; and Reland, a judicious student, had travelled over the East in his closet at Utrecht. The xivth letter of Tournefort (Voyage du Levant, tom. ii. p. 325–360, in octavo) describes what he had seen of the religion of the Turks. *