« ForrigeFortsett »
The disciples of Abraham, of Moses, and of Jesus, were solemnly invited to accept the more -perfect revelation of Mahomet; but if they preferred the payment of a moderate tribute, they were entitled to the freedom of conscience and religious worship.1" In a field of battle the forfeit lives of the prisoners were redeemed by the profession of Islam; the females were bound to embrace the religion of their masters, and a race of sincere proselytes was gradually multiplied by the education of the infant captives. But the millions of African and Asiatic converts, who swelled the native band of the faithful Arabs, must have been allured, rather than constrained, to declare their belief in one God and the apostle of God. By the repetition of a sentence and the loss of a foreskin, the subject or the slave, the captive or the criminal, arose in a moment the free and equal companion of the victorious Moslems. Every sin was expiated, every engagement was dissolved: the vow of celibacy was superseded by the indulgence of nature; the active spirits who slept in the cloister were awakened by the trumpet of the Saracens; and in the convulsion of the world, every member of a new society ascended to the natural level of his capacity and courage. The minds of the multitude were tempted by the invisible as well as temporal blessings of the Arabian prophet; and charity will hope that many of his proselytes entertained a serious conviction of the truth and sanctity of his revelation. In the eyes of an inquisitive polytheist, it must appear worthy of the human and the divine nature. More pure than the system of Zoroaster, more liberal than the law of Moses, the religion of Mahomet might seem less inconsistent with reason than the creed of mystery and superstition, which, in the seventh century, disgraced the simplicity of the gospel.
In the extensive provinces of Persia and Africa, the national religion has been eradicated by the Mahometan faith. The ambiguous theology of the Magi stood alone among the »ects of the East; but the profane writings of Zoroaster"'
m The distinction between a proscribed and a tolerated sect, between the Harbii and the people of the Book, the believers in soma diiine revelation, is correctly denned in the conversation of the caliph hi Mamun with the idolaters or Sabreans of Charrae, (Hottinger, Hist. Orient, p. 107. 108.)
1,8 The Zend or Pazend, the bible of the Ghebers, is reckoned by themselves, or at least by the Mahometans, among the ten boon which Abraham received from heaven; and their religion is honorably
might, under the reverend name of Abraham, be dexterously
tonnected with the chain of divine revelation. Their evil principle, the daemon Ahrinan, might be represented as the rival, or as the creature, of the God of light. The temple? of Persia were devoid of images; but the worship of the sun and of fire might be stigmatized as a gross and criminal idolatry.1"1 The milder sentiment was consecrated by the practice of Mahometao° and the prudence of the caliphs; the Magians or Ghebers were ranked with the Jews and Christians among the people of the written law ;ao1 and as late as the third century of the Hegira, the city of Herat will afford a lively contrast of private zeal and public toleration.'1" Under the payment of an annual tribute, the Mahometan law secured to the Ghebers of Herat their civil and religious liberties: b.-.; the recent and humble mosch was overshadowed
styled the religion of Abraham, (D'Herblot, Bibliot. Orient, p. 701; Hyde, de Religione veteruir. Persarnm, c, iii. p. 27, 28, &c.) I much fear that we do not possess any pure and free description of the system of Zoroaster* Dr. Prideaux (Connection, vol. i. p. 300, octavo) adopts the opinion, that he had been the slave and scholar of some Jewish prophet in the captivity of Babylon. Perhaps the Persians, who have been the masters of the Jews, would assert the honor, a poor honor, of being their masters
199 The Arabian Nights, a faithful and amusing picture of the Oriental world, represent in the most odious colors of the Magiiins, or worshippers of fire, to whom they attribute the annual sacrifice of a Mussulman. The religion of Zoroaster has not the least affinity with that of the Hindoos, yet they are often confounded by the Mahometans and the sword of Tinrmr was sharpened by this mistake, (Hist, de Timour Bee, par Cherefeddin Ali Yezdi, 1. v.
900 Vie de Mahomet, par Gagnier, ton), iii. p. 114, 115.)
301 Hae tres sectse, Judsei, Christiani, et qui inter Persas Magorurr. institutis addicti sunt, «rnr itovw', populi tibri dicuntur, (Roland, Dissertat. torn. iii. p 15.) The caliph Al Mamiui confirms this honorable distinction in favor of the three sects, with the vague and equivocal religion of the Sabaeans, under which the ancient polytheists of CharraB were allowed to shelter their idolatrous worship, (Hottinger, Hist. Orient p. 167, 168.)
302 This singular story is related by D'Herbelot, (Bibliot. Orient, p 448, 449,) on the faith of Khondemir, and by Mirchond himself, (Hist priorum Regum Persarum, <fec, p. 9, 10, not. p. 88, 89.)
* W hatever the real age of the Zendavesta, published by Anquetil dn Perron, whether of the time of Ardeschir Babeghan, according to Mr. ICrskine, or of much higher antiquity, it may be considered, I conceive, both ■ " pure and a free," though imperfect, description of Zoroastrianism j par Ucularly with the illustrations of the original translator, and of the Gerun Kicker—M.
by the antiqu? splendor of the adjoining temple of fire. A fanatic Iraan deplored, in his sermons, the scandalous neighborhood, and accused the weakness or indifference of the faithful. Excited by his voice, the people assembled in tu mult; the two houses of prayer were consumed by the flames, but the vacant ground was immediately occupied by tha foundations of a new mosch. The injured Magi appealed to the sovereign of Chorasan; he promised justice and relief; when, behold! four thousand citizens of Herat, of a grave character and mature age, unanimously swore that the idola trous fane had never existed; the inquisition was silenced and their conscience was satisfied (says the historian Mirchond"3) with this holy and meritorious perjury.804 But the greatest part of the temples of Persia were ruined by the insensible and general desertion of their votaries. It was insensible, since it is not accompanied with any memorial of time or place, of persecution or resistance. It was general, since the whole realm, from Shiraz to Samarcand, imbibed the faith of the Koran; and the preservation of the native tongue reveals the descent of the Mahometans of Persia.*** In the mountains and deserts, an obstinate race of unbelievers
303 Mirchond, (Mohammed Emir Khoondah Shah,) a native of Herat, composed in the Persian language a general history of the East, from the creation to the year of the Hegira 875, (A. D. 1471.) In the year 904 (A. D. 1498) the historian obtained the command of a princely library, and his applauded work, in seven or twelve parts, was abbreviated in three volumes by his son Khondemir, A. H. 927, A. D. 1520. The two writers, most accurately distinguished by Petit de la Croix, (Hist, de Genghiacan, p. 537, 538, 544. 545,) are loosely confounded by D'Herbelot, (p. 358, 410, 994, 995 :) but his numerous extracts, under the improper name of Khondemir, belong to the father rather than the son. The historian of Genghizcan refers to a MS. of Mirchond, which he received from the hands of his friend D'Herbelot himself. A curious fragment (the Taherian and Soffarian Dynasties) has been lately published in Persic and Latin, (Viennse, 1782, in 4to., cum notis Bernard de Jenisch ;) and the editor allows us to hope for a continuation of Mirchond.
304 Quo testimonio boni se quidpiam praestitisse opinabantur. Yet Mirchond must have condemned their zeal, since he approved the legal toleration of the Magi, cui (the fire temple) peracto singulis aimis censu uti sacra Mohammedis lege cautum, ab omnibus molestiis ac oneribus libero esse licuit.
Ml The last Magian of name and power appears to be Mardavige ihe Dilemite, who, in the beginning of the 10th century, reigned in toe northern provinces of Persia, near the Caspian Sea, (D'Herb?.\ t, Ribliot. Orient, p. 355.) But his soldiers and successors, the iiowidei
adhered to the superstition of their fathers; and; fivint tiadi tion of the Magian theology is kept alive in the province of Kirnian, along- the banks of the Indus, among the exiles of Surat, and in the colony which, in the last century, was planted by Shaw Abbas at the gates of Ispahan. The chief pontiff has retired to Mount Elbourz, eighteen leagues from the city of Yezd: the perpetual fire (if it continues to burn) is inaccessible to the profane; but his residence is the school, the ora cle, and the pilgrimage of the Ghebers, whose hard and uniform features attest the unmingled purity of their blood. Under the jurisdiction of their elders, eighty thousand families maintain an innocent and industrious life: their subsistence is derived from some curious manufactures and mechanic trades; and they cultivate the earth with the fervor of a religious duty. Their ignorance withstood the despotism of Shaw Abbas, who demanded with threats and tortures the prophetic books of Zoroaster; and this obscure remnant of the Magians is spared by the moderation or contempt of their presem sovereigns."08
The Northern coast of Africa is the only land in which „he light of the gospel, after a long and perfect establishment, has been totally extinguished. The arts, which had been taught by Carthage and Rome, were involved in a cloud of ignorance; the doctrine of Cyprian and Augustin was no longer studied. Five hundred episcopal churches were overturned by the hostile fury of the Donatists, the Vandals, and the Moors. The zeal and numbers of the clergy declined; and the people, without discipline, or knowledge, or hope, submissively sunk under the yoke of the Arabian prophet. Within fifty years after the expulsion of the Greeks, a lieutenant of Africa informed the caliph that the tribute of the in fidels was abolished by their conversion ;!10T and, though h<
either professed or embraced the Mahometan faith; and under then dynasty (A. D. 933-1020) I should say the fall of the religion of Zoroaster.
aoe rpne pregent state of the Ghebers in Persia is taken from Sir John Chardin, not indeed the most learned, but the most judicious and inquisitive of our modern travellers, (Voyages en Perse, torn. ii. p. 109, 179— 187, in 4to.) His brethren, Pietro della Valle, Olearius, Thevtnot, Tavernier, <fec, whom I have fruitlessly searched, had neither eyee noi attention for this interesting people.
*" The letter of Abduulrahman, governor or tyrant of Africa, to tb* ealiph Aboul Abbas, the first of the Abbassides, is dated A. H. 18» Owdonne, Hist, de l'Afrique et de l'Espagne, torn. i. p. 168.)
nought to disguise his fraud and rebellion, his specious pretence was drawn from the rapid and extensive progress of the Mahometan faith. In the next age, an extraordinary mission of five bishops was detached from Alexandria to Cairoan. They were ordained by the Jacobite patriarch to cherish and revive the dying embers\,of Christianity :308 but the interposition of a foreign prelate, a stranger to the Latins, an enemy to the Catholics, supposes the decay and dissolution of the African hierarchy. It was no longer the time when the successor of St. Cyprian, at the head of a numerous synod, could maintain an equal contest with the ambition of the Roman pontiff. In the eleventh century, the unfortunate priest whc was seated on the ruins of Carthage implored the arms and the protection of the Vatican; and he bitterly complains that his naked body had been scourged by the Saracens, and that his authority was disputed by the four suffragans, the tottering pillars of his throne. Two epistles of Gregory the Seventh ao8 are destined to soothe the distress of the Catholics and the pride of a Moorish prince. The pope assures the sultan that they both worship the same God, and may hope to meet in the bosom of Abraham; but the complaint that three bishops could no longer be found to consecrate a brother, announces the speedy and inevitable ruin of the episcopal order. The Christians of Africa and Spain had long since submitted to the practice of circumcision and the legal abstinence from wine and pork; and the name of Mozarabes310 (adoptive Arabs) was applied to their civil or religious conformity."1'
808 Bibliotheque Orientale, p. 66. Renaudot, Hist. Patriarch. Alex. p. 287, 288.
209 Among the Epistles of the Popes, see Leo IX. epist. 3; Gregor. VII. 1. i. epist. 22, 23, 1. iii. epist. 19, 20, 21; and the criticisms of Pagi, (torn. iv. A. D. 1053, No. 14, A. D. 1073, No. 13,) who investigates the name and family of the Moorish prince, with whom the proudest of tb* Roman pontiffs so politely corresponds.
210 Mozarabes, or Mostarabes, adscititii, as it is interpreted in Latin (Pocock, Specimen Hist. Arabum, p. 39, 40. Bibliot. Arabico-Hispana, torn. ii. p. 18.) The Mozarabic liturgy, the ancient ritual of the chuieh of Toledo, has been attacked by the popes, and exposed to the doubtful trials of the sword and of fire, (Marian. Hist. Hispan. torn. i. 1. ix. c. 18, p. 378.) It was. or rather it is, in the Latin tongue; yet in the xith century it was found necessary (A. M. C. 1687, A. D. 1039) to tran icribe an Arabic version of the canons of the councils of Spain, (Bibliot Arab. Hisp. torn. i. p. 547,) for the use of the bishops and clergy in th« tf.vrrish kingdoms.
,,! About the middle of the xth century, the clergy of Cordora