תמונות בעמוד

said he,“ prophet of God, will be thy vizier ; I myself will beat out the teeth, pull out the eyes, rip open the bellies, and cut off the legs, of all those who shall dare to oppose thee.” The prophet caught the young proselyte in his arms, exclaiming, “ This is my brother, my deputy, my successor ; show yourselves obedient unto him.” At this apparently extravagant command, the whole company burst into laughter, telling Abu Taleb that he must now pay obedience and submission to his own son ! As words were multiplied, surprise began to give way to indignation, the serious pretensions of the prophet were seriously resented, and in the issue the assembly broke up in confusion, affording the ardent apostle but slender prospects of success among his kinsmen.

Notwithstanding his above ill success with his tribe, he was so far from being discouraged, that he continued to preach to the people, who still

heard him with some patience, till he came to upbraid them Preaches in with the idolatry, obstinacy, and perverseness, not only of public to the ci- themselves, but of their fathers. This so highly provoked

them, that they openly declared themselves his enemies, some few only excepted, who were converted to Mahometanism. Nor could he have escaped their resentment, had he not been protected by Abu Taleb, his uncle, who was very active in his favour. However, the chief of the Koreish, and even many of his own relations, warmly solicited him to desert his nephew; but all their endeavours proving ineffectual, they at length threatened Abu Taleb with an open rupture, if he did not prevail on Mahomet to desist. Abu Taleb was so far moved at this threat, that he earnestly dissuaded his nephew from pursuing the affair any further ; representing the great danger he and his friends must otherwise run ; but Mahomet was not to be intimidated, telling his uncle plainly, “that if they set the sun against him on his right hand, and the moon on his left, he would not relinquish his enterprise.” Abu Taleb, therefore, finding him so firmly resolved to proceed, used no further arguments, but promised to stand by him against all his enemies : so that notwithstanding the people of his tribe came to a determination to expel both him and his followers, he found a powerful support in his uncle against all their machinations.

In the eighth year of his pretended mission, his party growing formidable at Mecca, the city passed a decree, by which they forbade any more Is obliged to re

to join themselves with him. This, however, did not much tire from Mecca ; affect him, while his uncle Abu Taleb lived to protect him ; but returns. but he dying two years after, and the government of the city then falling into the hands of his enemies, a fresh opposition was renewed against him, and a stop soon put to the further progress of his designs at Mecca. Mahomet, therefore, seeing all his hopes in a manner crushed here, began to think of settling elsewhere ; and as his uncle Abbas lived for the most part at Tayif, a town sixty miles distant from Mecca, towards the east, and was a man of power and interest, he took a journey thither, under his protection, in order to propagate his imposture there. But, after a month's stay, finding himself unable to gain even one proselyte, he retired to Mecca, with a resolution to wait for such further advantages as time and opportunity might offer. His wifo Cadijah being now dead, after living with him two-and-twenty years, he took two other



wives in her stead, -Ayesha, the daughter of Abubeker, and Lewda, the daughter of Zama; adding a while after to them a third, named Haphsa, the daughter of Omar; and by thus making himself son-in-law to three of the principal men of his party, he strengthened bis interest considerably. Ayesha is said to have been then only six years old ; on which account the completion of that marriage was deferred, though not for many years, the Eastern women being very early marriageable.

In the twelfth year of his mission is placed the mesra, that is, his famous night-journey from Mecca to Jerusalem, and thence to heaven, of Makes a

which he tells us, in the seventeenth chapter of the Koran : for mous night-jour- the people calling on him for miracles to prove his mission, ney from Mecca and finding himself unable, or being unwilling, to feign any, company with'the to solve the matter, he invented this story of his journey to angel Gabriel, on heaven. The story, as related in the Koran, and believed

beast called by the Mahometans, is this : At night, as he lay in his bed Alborak.

with his best-beloved wife Ayesha, he heard a knocking at his door ; upon which, arising, he found there the angel Gabriel, with seventy pairs of wings, expanded from his sides, whiter than snow, and clearer than crystal, and the beast Alborak standing by him ; which, they say, is the beast on which the prophets used to ride, when they were carried from one place to another, upon the execution of any divine command. Mahomet describes it to be a beast as white as milk, and of a mixed nature, between an ass and a mule, and also of a size between both; but of such extraordinary swiftness as to equal even lightning itself.

As soon as Mahomet appeared at the door, the angel Gabriel kindly embraced him, saluted him in the name of God, and told him, that he was sent to bring him unto God into heaven ; where he should see strange ñysteries, which were not lawful to be seen by any other man. He prayed him then to get upon Alborak ; but the beast having lain idle and unemployed from the time of Christ to Mahomet, was grown so mettlesome and skittish, that he would not stand still for Mahomet to mount him, till at length he was forced to bribe him to it, by promising him a place in Paradise. When he was firmly seated on him, the angel Gabriel led the way with the bridle of the beast in his hand, and carried the prophet from Mecca to Jerusalem in the twinkling of an eye. On his coming thither, all the departed prophets and saints appeared at the gate of the temple to salute him; and thence attending him into the chief oratory, desired him to pray for them, and then withdrew. After this Mahomet went out of the temple with the angel Gabriel, and found a ladder of light ready fixed for them, which they immediately ascended, leaving Alborak tied to a rock till their return.

On their arrival at the first heaven, the angel knocked at the gate ; and informing the porter who he was, and that he had brought Mahomet, the friend of God, he was immediately admitted. This first heaven, he tells us, was all of pure silver ; from whence he saw the stars hanging from it by chains of gold, each as big as Mount Noho, near Mecca, in Arabia. On his entrance he met a decrepit old man, who it seems was our first father Adam; and, as he advanced, he saw a multitude of angels in all manner of shapes,-in the shape of birds, beasts, and men. We must not forget to observe, that Adam had the piety immediately to embrace the prophet, giving God thanks for so great a son ; and then recommended himself to bis prayers.

From this first heaven, he tells us, that he ascended into the second, which was at the distance of five hundred years' journey above it; and this he makes to be the distance of every one of the seven heavens, each above the other. Here the gates being opened to him as before, at his entrance he met Noah, who, rejoicing much at the sight of him, recommended himself to his prayers. This heaven was all of pure gold, and there were twice as many angels in it as in the former ; for he tells us that the number of angels in every heaven increased as he advanced. From this second heaven he ascended into the third, which was made of precious stones, where he met Abraham, who also recommended himself to his

prayers ; Joseph, the son of Jacob, did the same in the fourth heaven, which was all of emerald ; Moses in the fifth, which was all of adamant; and John the Baptist in the sixth, which was all of carbuncle; whence he ascended into the seventh, which was all of divine light, and here he found Jesus Christ. However, it is observed, that here he alters his style ; for he does not say that Jesus Christ recommended himself to his prayers, but that he recommended himself to the prayers of Jesus Christ.

The angel Gabriel, having brought him thus far, told him that he was not permitted to attend him any further; and therefore directed him to ascend the rest of the way to the throne of God by himself. This he performed with great difficulty, passing through rough and dangerous places, till he came where he heard a voice, saying unto him, “O Mahomet, salute thy Creator;" whence ascending higher, he came into a place where he saw a vast expansion of light, so exceedingly bright, that his eyes could not bear it. This, it seems, was the habitation of the Almighty, where his throne was placed; on the right side of which, he says, God's name and his own were written in these Arabic words: “La ellah ellallah Mahomet reful ollah ;" that is, “THERE IS NO GOD BUT GOD, AND MAHOMET IS HIS PROPHET ;" which is at this day the creed of the Mahometans. Being approached to the divine presence, he tells us, that God entered into a familiar converse with him, revealed to him many hidden mysteries, made him understand the whole of his law, gave him many things in charge, concerning his instructing men in the knowledge of it; and, in conclusion, bestowed on him several privileges above the rest of mankind. He then returned, and found the angel Gabriel waiting for him in the place where he left him. The angel led him back along the seven heavens, through which he had brought him ; and set him again upon the beast Alborak, which stood tied to the rock near Jerusalem. Then he conducted him back to Mecca, in the same manner as he brought him thence; and all this within the space of the tenth part of one night.

On his relating this story to the people the next morning after he pretended the thing to have happened, it was received by them with a

The story not general outcry; and the imposture was never in a greater credited by the danger of being totally blasted, than by this ridiculous fable. people, and the But, how ridiculous soever the story may appear, Mahomet prophet's religion had a further design in it than barely telling such a mirain danger.

culous adventure of himself to the people. Hitherto he had only given them the Koran, which was his written law; and had pretended to be nothing more than barely the messenger of God, in publish


ing it as it was delivered to him by the angel Gabriel. But now, learning from his friend Abdallah, that the Jews, besides the written law dictated by God himself, had also another law, called the oral law, given with it, as they pretend, to Moses himself, while in the mount; and understanding that this law, which had its whole foundation in the sayings and dictates of Moses, was in as great veneration with them as the other ; he had a mind for the future to advance his authority to the same pitch, and to make all his sayings and dictates pass for oracles among the Mussulmans, as those which were pretended to proceed from Moses did among the Jews; and for this end chiefly it was that he invented this story of his journey to heaven.

The story, however, whatever advantages he might and did gain by it when his religion became more firmly established, was deemed at first so

grossly ridiculous, that it occasioned the revolt of many of Retires to

his disciples, and made his stay at Mecca no longer practi

cable. But what he lost at Mecca he gained at Medina, then called Yathreb, a city lying 270 miles north-west from Mecca ; which was inhabited, the one part by Jews, and the other by heretical Christians. These two parties did not agree at all, and feuds and factions rose at length so high among them, that one party, exasperated against the other, went over to Mahomet. Thus we are told, that in the thirteenth year of his mission, there came to him from thence seventy-three men and two women. Twelve of these he retained awhile with him at Mecca, to instruct them in his new religion; then sent them back to Yathreb, as his twelve apostles, there to propagate it in that town. In this they laboured abundantly, and with such success, that in a short time they drew over the greatest part of the inhabitants ; of which Mahomet receiving an account, resolved to go thither immediately, finding it unsafe to continue any longer at Mecca.

On the 12th day of the month, which the Arabs call the Former Rabia, that is, on the 24th of our September, he came to Yathreb, and was reThe Hejira, or

ceived with great acclamations by the party which called him Era of Flight, thither. He first lodged in the house of Chalid Abu Job, A. D. 622.

one of the chief men of the party, till he had built a house for himself. This he immediately undertook, and erected a mosque at the same time for the exercise of his religion ; and having thus settled himself in this town, he continued there ever after, to the time of his death. From this flight of Mahomet, the Hejira, which is the era of the Mahometans, begins its computation : Hejira, in the Arabic language, signifying “flight.” It was first appointed by Omar, the third emperor of the Saracens, and takes its beginning from the 16th of July, in the year 622. Indeed, the day that Mahomet left Mecca was on the first of the Former Rabia ; and he came to Medina on the 12th of the same month, that is, on the 24th of our September ; but the Hejira begins two months before, from the first of Moharram : for that being the first month of the Arabian year, Omar would make no alteration as to that, but anticipated the computation fifty-nine days, that he might commence his era from the beginning of that year, in which the flight of the impostor happened, from which it took its name*

* Nightingale's “ All Religions.”

Battle of Beder.

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From the time Mahomet entered Medina, he found himself in reality a monarch, at the head of an army devoted to his person, obedient to his

will, and blind believers in his holy office. Finding him-
self in a condition not only to defend himself against the

insults of his enemies, but even to attack them, he began to send out parties to make reprisals on the Koreish. One of these, consisting of no more than nine men, intercepted and plundered a caravan belonging to that tribe. This small advantage animated the Moslems, and induced the Propliet to think he should gain as much reputation by his arms as by his revelations ; but what mostly established his affairs at this juncture, and was the foundation on which he built all his succeeding greatness, was the gaining of the battle of Beder, a well on the confines of Arabia, which was fought in the second year of the Hejira, and is so famous in the Mahometan history. This victory was an invincible proof to the Arabians of the truth of Mahometanism. Having been informed by his spies, that the Koreish had a large quantity of valuable merchandise, carried on the backs of 1000 camels, coming from Syria, and escorted only by thirty or forty men, he resolved to advance at the head of a small detachment of his troops, to intercept it. But Abu Sofian, the conductor of the caravan, having notice of his designs and motions, immediately despatched a courier to Mecca, requesting his countrymen to send him speedy succours, upon which all the principal men of the city marched to defend the caravan, with a body of 950 men. Mahomet had no sooner received advice of this, than he drew together all his forces, which amounted to no more than 313 men, with which he advanced against the enemy. In the mean time, he took care to leave a proper garrison in Medina, to defend it in case of any disaster. Before the beginning of the battle, feigning himself in a trance, he pretended that God had promised him certain victory. After which, throwing a handful of dust towards the enemy, he said, May the faces of them be confounded ! and then, exhorting his men to behave valiantly, he commanded them to fall upon the Koreish. They charged them with such bravery, that they soon put them to flight,'having killed seventy of the principal of them on the spot, and taken as many prisoners, with the loss of only fourteen men. In imitation of Moses, Mahomet sat in a tent, and prayed for those that fought, for Gabriel would not permit him to engage. The Prophet pretends in the Koran, that not he, but God, by the ministry of his angel, threw the gravel towards the unbelievers; that the Moslem troops seemed to the infidels to be twice as numerous as themselves, which greatly discouraged them ; and that God had sent down to their assistance, first 1000, and afterwards 3000 angels, led by Gabriel, mounted on his horse Haizum ; and, according to the Koran, these celestial auxiliaries did all the execution, though Mahomet's troops could not perceive them. The battle was fought on a Friday, and on the 17th of the month Ramadan.

At the commencement of the second year of the Hejira, Mahomet altered the Kebla for his disciples, or the part of the world to which the

Mahometans are to turn their faces in prayer. At first, Mahometal- Mahomet declared it to be perfectly indifferent; afterwards,

when he fled to Medina, he directed his followers to turn towards the temple of Jerusalem, (probably to ingratiate himself with

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ters the Kebla.

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