« ForrigeFortsett »
structed by the Gnostics to accuse the church, as weYl as the synagogue, of corrupting the integrity of the sacred text" The piety of Moses and of Christ rejoiced in the assurance of a future pophet, more illustrious than themselves: the evangelical promise of the Paraclete, or Holy Ghost, was prefigured in the name, and accomplished in the person, of Mahomet," the greatest and the last of the apostles of God.
The communication of ideas requires a similitude of thought and language: the discourse of a philosopher would vibrate without effect on the ear of a peasant; yet how minate is the distance of their understandings, if it be compared with the contact of an infinite and a finite mind, with the word of God expressed by the tongue or the pen of a mortal! The inspiration of the Hebrew prophets, of the apostles and evangelists of Christ, might not be incompatible with the exercise of their reason and memory; and the diversity of their genius is strongly marked in the style and composition of the books of the Old and New Testament. But Mahomet was content with a character, more humble, yet more sublime, of a simple editor; the substance of the Koran," according to himself or his disciples, is uncreated and eternal; subsisting in the essence of the Deity, and inscribed with a pen of light on the table of his everlasting decrees. A paper copy, in a volume of silk and gems, was brought down to the lowest heaven by the angel Gabriel, who, under the Jewish economy, had indeed heen despatched on the most important errands; and this trusty messenger successively revealed the chapters and verses to the Arabian prophet. Instead of a perpetual and perfect measure of the
89 This charge is obscurely urged in the Koran, (c. 3, p. 45;) but neither Mahomet, nor his followers, are sufficiently versed in languages and criticism to give any weight or color to their suspicions. Yet the Arians and Nestorians could relate some stories, and the dliterate prophet might listen to the bold assertions of the Mani thseans. See Beausobre, torn. i. p. 291—305.
80 Among the prophecies of the Old and New Testament, which are jwrverted ny the fraud or ignorance of the Mussulmans, they apply to the prophet the promise of the Paraclete, or Comforter, which had been already usurped by the Montanists and Manichaeans, (Beausobre Hist Critique du Manicheisme, torn. i. p. 263, <fec.;) and the easj iuinge of letters neoixXwdi for irap<i«-X>;rus, affords the etymology of die name of Mohammed, (Marac^i, torn i. part i. p. 15—28.)
"For the Koran, see D'Herbelot, p. 85—88. Maracci, torn. i. » Fit Mohunmed. p. 32—45. Sale. Preliminary Discourse, p. 56—70
divine will, the fragments of the Koran were produced at the discretion of Mahomet; each revelation is suited to the emergencies of his policy or passion; and all contradiction is removed oy the saving maxim, that any text of Scripture is .abrogated or modified by any subsequent passage. The wore of God, and of the apostle, was diligently recorded by his disciples on palm-leaves and the shoulder-bones cf mutton; ind the pages, without order or connection, were cast into n lomestic 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 a 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.M 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 country, and in the same language.94 If
M Koran, c. IT, v. 89. In Sale, p. 235, 236. In Maracci, p. 410* 83 Yet a pert of Arabians was persuaded, that it might be equalled or surpassed by a human pen, (Pocock, Specimen, p. 221, <fec.;) and Maracci (the polemic is too hard for the translator) derides the rhyming affectation of the most applauded passage, (torn. i. part ii. p. 69 -W.)
J* Colloquia (whether real or fabulous) in media Arabia atque ab Arabibus habita, (Lowth, de Poesi Hebrajoruu. Pnelect. xxxii. xxxiii. exxir, with his German editor, Michaelis, Epimetron iv.) Ye<
Compare Von Hammer Geschichte der ABsassinen p 11.— II.
the composition of the Koran exceed the faculties of a man, to what superior intelligence should we ascribe the J Had 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 companions. At the end of two hundred years, the Sonna, or oral law, was fixed and consecrated by the labors 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 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 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 depre
Michaelis (p. 671—673) has detected many Egyptian images, the ele phantiasis, papyrus, Nile, crocodile, <fcc. The language is ambiguoush styled Arabico-Hebrcea. The resemblance of the sister dialects was much more visible in their childhood, than iu their mature age, (Michaelis, p. 682. Schultens, in Praefat. Job.)*
95 Ai Bochari died A. H. 224. See D'Herbelot, p. 208, 416, 327 Gagnier, Not. ad Abulfed. c. 19, p. 33.
"The ape of the book of Job is still and probably will still be disputed, closenmuller thus states his own opinion: "Certe serioribus reipublicas iemporibus assignanduin esse librura, suadere videtur ad Chaldaismam yergens sermo." Yet the observations of Kosegarten, which Rosenmuller has given in a note, and common reason, suggest that this Chaldaism may be the native form of a much earlier dialect; or the Chaldaic may hava tdopted the poetical archaisms of a dialect, differing from, but not Km ancient than, the Hebrew. See Roseau.idler, Pi\>log. on .Job, p. 41 fba poetry ap| ears to me to bolonjj to a much earlier period.—M
tiate 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 established, beyond suspicion, the integrity of the Koran." The
rotaries 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
piritual exploits. They believe or affirm that trees went forth to meet him; that he was saluted by stones; that watei 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 ir,animate nature were equally subject to the apostle of God.97 fiis dream of a nocturnal journey is seriously described as a real and corporeal transaction. A mysterious animal, the Lorak, 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 salutatioi s of the patriarchs, the prophets, and the angels, in their respective mansions. Beyond the seventh heaven, Mahomet -done was permitted to proceed; he passed the veil of unit), approached within two bow-shots of the throne, and felt •<* 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." Ac
98 See, more remarkably, Koran, c. 2, 6, 12, 13, 17. Prideaux (Life if Mahomet, p. 18, 19) has confounded the impostor. Maracci. with a nore learned apparatus, has shown that the passages which deny his miracles are clear and positive, (Alcoran, torn. i. part ii. p. 7—12,) and those which seem to assert them are ambiguous and insufficient, (p. 12 -22.)
97 See the Specimen Hist. Arabum, the text of Abulpharagius, p, 17, the notes of Pocock, p. 187—190. D'Herbelot, Bibliotheqi.e Ori entale, p. 76, 77. Voyages de Chardin, torn. iv. p. 200—203. Maracci (Alcoran, torn. i. p. 22—64) has most laboriously collected and conful xl the miracles and prophecies of Mahomet, which, according to son.8 writers, amount to three thousand.
89 The nocturnal journey is circumstantially related by Abulfeda fin Vit. Mohammed, c. 19, p. 33,) who wishes to think it a vision; bj Prideaux, (p. 31—40,) who aggravates the absurdities ; and by Gagnier (torn. i. p. 252—343,) who declares, from the zealous Al Jannabi that to deny this journey, is to disbelieve the Koran. Yet ti « Koraa cording 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 hii mirt." The vulgar are amused with these marvellous talas; but the gravest of the Mussulman doctors imitate the modesty of their master, and indulge a latitude of faith or interpretation.110 They might speciously allege, that in preaching the religion it was needless to violate the harmony of nature; that a creed unclouded with mystery may be excused from miracles; and that the sword of Mahomet was not less potent than the rod of Moses.
The polytheist is oppressed and distracted by the variety of superstition: a thousand rites of Egyptian origin were interwoven with the essence of the Mosaic law; and the spirit of the gospel had evaporated in 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 pre
without naming either heaven, or Jerusalem, or Mecca, has only dropped a mysterious hint: Laus illi qui transtulit servum suum ab oratorio Haram ad oratorium remotissimum, (Koran, c. 17, v. 1 ; in Maracci, torn. ii. p. 407; for Sale's version is more licentious.) A slender basia for the aerial structure of tradition.
99 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, torn. 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, torn. ii. p. 690.) The festival is still celebrated by the Persians, (Chardin, torn. iv. p. 201 ;) and the legend '.s tediously spun out by Gagnier, (Vie de Mahomet, torn. i. p. 183— 284,) 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. 1. ii. p. 302;) and the silence of Abulfeda is worthy of a prince and a philosopher.*
loe Abulpharagius, in Specimen Hist. Arab. p. 17; and his scepti tisui is justified in the notes of Pocock, p. 190—194, from the purest authorities.
"Compare Hamaker Notes to Inc. Auct Lib. de Exped. Meiuptiido*, p