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The conquest of Persia, Syria, Egypt, Africa, and
Spain, by the Arabs or Saracens.-Empire of the
Union of the Arabs,
The revolution of Arabia had not changed the character of the Arabs: the death of Mahomet was
the signal of independence; and the hasty structure A. D. 632. of his power and religion tottered to its foundations.
A small and faithful band of his primitive disciples
the abstinence from wine, the fast of the Ramadan, CHAP. and the daily repetition of five prayers; and the alms and tithes, which were collected for the treasury of Medina, could be distinguished only by a name from the payment of a perpetual and ignominious tribute. The example of Mahomet had excited a spirit of fanaticism or imposture, and several of his rivals presumed to imitate the conduct, and defy the authority, of the living prophet. At the head of the fugitives and auxiliaries, the first caliph was reduced to the cities of Mecca, Medina, and Tayef; and perhaps the Koreish would have restored the idols of the Caaba, if their levity had not been checked by a seasonable reproof. “ Ye men of Mecca, will ye be the last to embrace, and the first to abandon, the religion of Islam?” After exhorting the Moslems to confide in the aid of God and his apostle, Abubeker resolved, by a vigorous attack, to prevent the junction of the rebels. The women and children were safely lodged in the cavities of the mountains; the warriors, marching under eleven banners, diffused the terror of their arms; and the appearance of a military force revived and confirmed the loyalty of the faithful. The inconstant tribes accepted, with humble repentance, the duties of prayer, and fasting, and alms; and, after some examples of success and severity, the most daring apostates fell prostrate before the sword of the Lord and of Caled. In the fertile province of Yemanah," between the Red Sea and the Gulf of Persia, in a city not inferior to Medina itself, a powerful chief, his name was Moseilama, had assumed the character of a prophet, and the tribe of Hanifa listened to his voice. A female prophetess was attracted by his reputation: the decencies of words and actions
a See the description of the city and country of Al Yamanah, in Abulfeda, Descript. Arabiæ, p. 60, 61. In the xiiith century, there were some ruins, and a few palms; but in the present century, the same ground is occupied by the visions and arms of a modern prophet, whose tenets are imperfectly known (Niebuhr, Description de l'Arabie, p. 296–302).
were spurned by these favourites of heaven;" and they employed several days in mystic and amorous converse. An obscure sentence of his Koran, or book, is yet extant;' and, in the pride of his mission, Moseilama condescended to offer a partition of the earth. The proposal was answered by Mahomet with contempt; but the rapid progress of the impostor awakened the fears of his successor: forty thousand Moslems were assembled under the standard of Caled; and the existence of their faith was resigned to the event of a decisive battle. In the first action they were repulsed with the loss of twelve hundred men; but the skill and perseverance of their general prevailed: their defeat was avenged by the slaughter of ten thousand infidels; and Moseilama himself was pierced by an Æthiopian slave with the same javelin which had mortally wounded the uncle of Mahomet. The various rebels of Arabia, without a chief or a cause, were speedily suppressed by the power and discipline of the rising monarchy; and the whole nation again professed, and more steadily held, the religion of the Koran. The ambition of the caliphs provided an immediate exercise for the restless spirit of the Saracens: their valour was united in the prosecution of a holy war; and their enthusiasm was equally confirmed by opposition and victory.
bo Their first salutation may be transcribed, but cannot be translated. It was thus that Moseilama said or sung:
Surge tandem itaque strenue permolenda ; nam stratus tibi thorus est.
Moseilama, mihi quoque suggessit Deus. The prophetess Segjah, after the fall of her lover, returned to idolatry; but, under the reign of Moawiyah, she became a Musulman, and died at Bassora (Abulfeda, Annal. vers. Reiske, p. 63).
• See this, text, which demonstrates a God from the work of generation, in Abulpharagius (Specimen Hist. Arabum, p. 13. and Dynast. p. 103) and Abulfeda (Annal. p. 63).
From the rapid conquests of the Saracens a pre- CHAP. sumption will naturally arise, that the first caliphs commanded in person the armies of the faithful, and Character sought the crown of martyrdom in the foremost ranks caliphs. of the battle. The courage of Abubeker, Omar, and Othman,' had indeed been tried in the persecution and wars of the prophet; and the personal assurance of paradise must have taught them to despise the pleasures and dangers of the present world. But they ascended the throne in a venerable or mature age; and esteemed the domestic cares of religion and justice the most important duties of a sovereign. Except the presence of Omar at the siege of Jerusalem, their longest expeditions were the frequent pilgrimage from Medina to Mecca; and they calmly received the tidings of victory as they prayed or preached before the sepulchre of the prophet. The austere and frugal measure of their lives was the effect of virtue or habit, and the pride of their simplicity insulted the vain magnificence of the kings of the earth. When Abubeker assumed the office of caliph, he enjoined his daughter Ayesha to take a strict account of his private patrimony, that it might be evident whether he were enriched or impoverished by the service of the state. He thought himself entitled to a stipend of three pieces of gold, with the sufficient maintenance of a single camel and a black slave; but on the Friday of each week he distributed the residue of his own and the public money, first to the most worthy, and then to the most indigent, of the Moslems. The remains of his wealth, a coarse garment, and five pieces of gold, were delivered to
His reign in Eutychius, tom. ii. p. 251. Elmacin, p. 18. Abulpharagius, p. 108. Abulfeda, p. 60. D’Herbelot, p. 58.
• His reign in Eutychius, p. 264. Elmacin, p. 24. Abulpharagius, p. 110. Abulfeda, p. 66. D’Herbelot, p. 686.
f His reign in Eutychius, p. 323. Elmacin, p. 36. Abulpharagius, p. 115. Abulfeda, p. 75. D'Herbelot, p. 695. VOL. VI.
Greeks and Persians, and the decreasing pay, as low
CHAP. his successor, who lamented with a modest sigh his
own inability to equal such an admirable model. Yet the abstinence and humility of Omar were not inferior to the virtues of Abubeker; his food consisted of barley-bread or dates; his drink was water; he preached in a gown that was torn or tattered in twelve places; and a Persian satrap, who paid his homage to the conqueror, found him asleep among the beggars : on the steps of the mosch of Medina. Economy is the source of liberality, and the increase of the revenue enabled Omar to establish a just and perpetual reward for the past and present services of the faithful. Careless of his own emolument, he assigned to Abbas, the uncle of the prophet, the first and most ample allowance of twenty-five thousand drams or pieces of silver. Five thousand were allotted to each of the aged warriors, the relics of the field of Beder, and the last and meanest of the companions of Mahomet was di. stinguished by the annual reward of three thousand pieces. One thousand was the stipend of the veterans who had fought in the first battles against the
as fifty pieces of silver, was adapted to the respective merit and seniority of the soldiers of Omar. Under his reign, and that of his predecessor, the conquerors of the East were the trusty servants of God and the people: the mass of the public treasure was consecrated to the expenses of peace and war; a prudent mixture of justice and bounty maintained the discipline of the Saracens, and they united, by, a rare felicity, the despatch and execution of despotism, with the equal and frugal maxims of a republican government. The heroic courage of Ali, the consummate prudence of Moawiyah," excited the emulation of
& His reign in Eutychius, p. 343. Elmacin, p. 51. Abulpharagius, p. 117. Abulfeda, p. 83. D’Herbelot, p. 89.
h His reign in Eutychius, p. 344. Elmacin, p. 54. Abulpharagius, p. 123. Abulfeda, p. 101. D’Herbelot, p. 586.