תמונות בעמוד

prayers at certain times and places; and thence to Mina, where every individual must cast a few small stones (always an uneven number) at the devil's house there, to show their detestation of the owner. A sacrifice is finally made of a goat, camel, or cow, in commemoration of Abraham's willingness to offer up his son ; and after spending three days in this valley, the pilgrims return to Mecca, previous to their departure to their respective countries. As they are all allowed to trade on this pilgrimage, the holy city is crowded on these occasions with such merchandise of every country as is most easy of carriage and best adapted for sale ; and in former times, the fair of Mecca was accounted the greatest on the face of the earth.

The word Koran comes from the Hebrew word cara, to read : Al signifies the, and koran, reading ; so the Jews call the Bible Micra. Other

Arabian doctors say it is derived from caara, to gather ; Koran or Al- because having been given in portions, it was afterwards Koran.

put into one. The Mahometans have as great a veneration for the Koran as Christians profess for the Bible. Both these words equally signify the Book, by way of preference to any other ; that is, the Book of Books.

One hundred and fourteen chapters, some longer, some shorter, make up the whole book : these are called by the French surates, from the Arabic word sua, in the plural sowar, which signifies order, or a series, or a file ; and answers to what the Jews call seder, of which they reckon fiftythree in the Pentateuch. Each chapter of the Koran has a particular denomination, taken from the subject of which it treats, or from some person mentioned in it; but more frequently from the first word which those who have put it in order have thought worthy of notice, though it occurs sometimes only toward the end of the chapter.

The Koran is also divided into sixty equal parts, each of which is subdivided into four, in imitation of the Jews. “These sixty portions,” says Herbelot, “ are a kind of public service performed in the mosques, on various occasions, by persons hired for that purpose.”

The Mussulmans know no bounds to the praises which they bestow upon this book :-it is written with the greatest elegance of style, in the purest Arabic dialect used by the Koreish, but intermixed now and then with other dialects. This was not an effect of neglect, nor of a lazy disposition, but in order to give the discourse a greater and more lively strength of expression, or to make it more harmonious. Indeed, all those who are versed in the Arabic language unanimously agree, that the Koran cannot be the production of an idle and lazy author. Although it be written in prose, the energy and harmony of its style must have cost the writer great labour and industry, and raises the work to the sublime character of poetry ; yet the difficulty of finding out certain witty turns often interrupts the thread of the discourse, and consequently renders it obscure, which has obliged Mahomet not to be concise and short, but to use frequent repetitions. His figures are bold, in the oriental taste ; his expression strong and pithy; the turn of his phrases, in imitation of the prophets of the Old Testament, is full of interruptions; and it appears throughout the whole, that all the heart and eloquence of which Mahomet was master have been employed in the most proper places. The mention of God, and


the description of his attributes, are always lofty and majestic: oracles are pronounced with a raised and elevated style, proportioned to the dignity of the subject. In short, the Arabians are so charmed with the beauties of the Koran, that in all their writings they endeavour to copy this perfect original ; and without a competent knowledge of this one book, all others become unintelligible.

It is a remark of Sir William Jones, that the Koran shines with a borrowed light, since most of its beauties are taken from our Scriptures. Of


the truth of this remark every reader would be satisfied greatly indebted who should compare the two. He would find, for example, to the Christian many of the historical details of the Christian scripture in Scriptures.

the Koran ; such as the creation of the world, the fall of Adam, the Deluge, the deliverance of Noah and his family in the ark, the call of Abraham, the stories of Isaac and Ishmael, &c., &c. At the same time he would find these subjects interspersed with extravagant fables, and monstrous perversions of truth. He would also perceive that the Koran is indebted to the Scriptures for not a few of its sentiments, but that their very imagery and phraseology have in hundreds of instances been adopted. The following may serve as an example of the correspondence to which we have alluded :


BIBLE. Take heed that ye do not your Make not your alms of none efalms before men to be seen of them; fect, by reproaching or mischief; as otherwise ye have no reward of he that layeth out what he hath, to your Father which is in heaven.

appear unto men to give alms. Jesus of Nazarethi, a man approv- We gave unto Jesus, the son of ed of God among you by miracles Mary, manifest signs, and strengthand wonders, and signs which God ened him with the Holy Spirit. did by him.

Thou shalt give life for life, tooth We have therein commanded them for tooth, foot for foot, burning for that they should give life for life, burning, wound for wound, stripe and eye for eye, and nose for nose, for stripe.

and ear for ear, and tooth for tooth, and that wounds should be punish

ed by retaliation. But their minds were blinded : There is of them who hearkeneth for until this day remaineth the same unto thee when thou readest the veil untaken away in the reading of Koran; but we have cast veils over the Old Testament. But even unto their hearts, that they should not this day when Moses is read, the understand it, and deafness in their veil is upon their heart.

They said therefore unto him, The infidels say, Unless some What sign showest thou then, that sign be sent down unto him from we may see and believe thee?

his Lord, we will not believe. In the beginning God created the It is he who hath created the heaven and the earth. And God heavens and the earth : And whensaid, Let there be light, and there ever he sayeth unto a thing, Be, it was light.

is. And when he (Moses) was full I have already dwelt among you




BIBLE. forty years old, it came into his to the age of forty years before I heart to visit his brethren, the chil- received it (the Koran). Do ye dren of Israel.

therefore not understand ? And in the latter time of their According to thy dream shall thy kingdom, when the transgressors Lord choose thee and teach thee the

come to the full, a king of interpretation of dark sayings. fierce countenance, and understand- We taught him the interpretation ing dark sentences, shall stand up. of dark sayings, but the greater part

of men do not understand. I will open my mouth in parables ; O Lord, thou hast given me a I will utter things which have been part of the kingdom, and hast kept secret from the foundation of taught me the interpretation of dark the world.

sayings. And the seventh angel sounded ; And his will be the kingdom on and there were great voices in hea- the day whereon the trumpet shall ven, saying, The kingdoms of this be sounded. world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.

For behold, I created new hea- The day will come when the earth vens and a new earth. We look shall be changed into another earth, for new heavens and a new earth. and the heavens into other heavens; I will cause you to come up out of and men shall come forth from their your graves. And

to appear

before the only, receive his own reward according the mighty God. That God may to his own labour.

reward every soul according to what it shall have deserved.

every man shall

As to the true origin of the Koran, a difference of opinion has existed among writers. The majority, however, have agreed in supposing that in

the construction of the Koran, Mabomet was indebted to Origin of the

the assistance of one or more accomplices. Koran.

That this opinion prevailed in the time of the Prophet is certain, since in the Koran it is said, “We also know that they say, Verily a certain man teacheth him to compose the Koran.” " And the unbelievers say, This Koran is no other than a forgery, which he hath contrived: and other people have assisted him therein : but they utter an unjust thing and a falsehood.” But notwithstanding this emphatic denial on the part of the Prophet of assistance, writers have still believed that he had aid, especially from a Nestorian monk named Sergius, supposed to be the same person as the Boheira, with whom he became acquainted at an early period of his life at Bosra, in Syria. Still, however, it must be admitted, , that there is no certain evidence in the case, and it will probably remain an unsolved problem to the end of time what was the precise origin of this remarkable book, although in respect to its human and uninspired composition there exists not a doubt.

The articles of faith which every good Mussulman is bound Mahometan pro- to believe and receive with an entire assurance are thirteen fession of faith.

in number, of which the first and principal is as follows : To believe from the heart, to confess with the tongue, and with a voluntary and steadfast mind to affirm, that there is but one only God,

Lord and Governor of the universe, who produced all things God's existence.

froin nothing, in whom there is neither image nor resemblance, who never begot any person whatsoever, as he himself was begotten by none; who, as he never was a son, so he never hath been a father. It is this Lord and Sovereign Arbiter of all things whom we Mussulmans are bound to serve and adore ; so that none among us may deviate from thïs article, but every one must imprint it deeply in his heart; for it is unquestionable.

We must believe from our hearts and confess with our mouths that the Most High God, after having revealed himself to mankind by his ancient

Prophet Ma- prophets, sent us at length his Elected, the blessed Mahohomet and the met, with the sacred and divine law, which through his Koran.

grace he had created, the which is contained in the venerable Koran, that hath been from him remitted unto us. By this holy law it is that God hath abolished all the preceding ones, and hath withdrawn from their doubts and errors all nations and people, in order to guide them to a firm and lasting state of happiness. Wherefore we are obliged exactly to follow the precepts, rites, and ceremonies thereof, and to abandon every other sect or religion whatsoever, whether instituted before or since this final revelation. By this article we are distinguished and separated from all sorts of idolatry, lying rhapsodies, and false prophecies, and from all those sects, societies, and religions different from ours, which are either erroneous, abrogated, or exaggerated, void of faith, and without truth.

We must firmly believe and hold as a certainty, that, except God himself, who always was, and always shall be, everything shall one day be

annihilated, and that the angel of death shall take to himProvidence and self the souls of mortals destined to a total and universal predestination,

extinction,* by the command of God, our powerful Lord and Master, who was able and hath vouchsafed to produce out of nothing, and in fine to set in form this universal world, with all things therein contained, both good and evil, sweet and bitter; and hath been pleased to appoint two angels, the one on the right, and the other on the left, to register the actions of every one of us, as well the good as the bad, to the end that judicial cognizance may be taken thereof, and sentence pronounced thereupon, at the great day of judgment. It is therefore necessary to believe predestination : but it is not permitted to discourse thereof to any whomsoever, till after being perfectly well versed in the study of our written law, viz. the Koran, and of our Sonnah, which is our oral law. Seeing then all things are to have an end, let us do good works, and deport ourselves so that we may live for ever.

We must truly and firmly believe, and hold as certain and assured, the interrogation of the sepulchre, which will after death be administered to

every one of us by two angels upon these four important The interrogation in the

questions :-1. Who was our Lord and our God? 2. Who

was our prophet ? 3. Which was our religion? 4. On what side was our Keblah ? He who shall be in a condition to make answer, that God was his only Lord, and Mahomet hie prophet, shall find

* Notwithstanding this annihilation, it is taught in the Koran that all intelligent creatures will be reproduced again at the resurrection.


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

The future

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

a great illumination in his tomb, and shall himself rest in glory. But he who shall not make a proper answer to these questions, shall be involved in darkness until the day of judgment.

We must heartily believe and hold as certain, that not only shall all things one day perish and be annihilated,—viz., angels, men, and devils,

but likewise this shall come to pass at the end of the dissolution.

world, when the angel Israfil shall blow the trumpet in

such sort—that, except the sovereign God, none of the universal creation shall remain alive immediately after the dreadful noise, which shall cause the mountains to tremble, the earth to sink, and the sea to be changed to the colour of blood. In this total extinction, the last who shall die will be Azrael, the angel of death ; and the power of the Most High God will be evidently manifested.

We are obliged cordially to believe, and to hold for certain, that the first before all others whom God shall revive in heaven shall be the angel

of death ; and that he will at that time recall all the souls The future resurrection,

in general, and reunite them to the respective bodies to

which each belonged ; some of which shall be destined to glory, and others to torinent. But, upon earth, the first whom God will raise shall be our blessed prophet Mahomet. As for the earth itself, it shall open on all sides, and shall be changed in a moment; and by God's command fire shall be kindled in every part thereof, which shall be extended to its utmost extremities. God will then prepare a vast plain, perfectly level, and of sufficient extent to contain all creatures summoned to give an account of their past conduct. May this solemn, definite, and irrevocable judgment awaken us from our security ; for to nothing that hath been created shall favour be showed. Every soul shall be judged there by the same rule, and without exception of

persons. We must believe from our hearts, and hold for certain, that there shall be a day of judgment, whereon God shall ordain all nations to appear in a

place appointed for this great trial, of sufficient vastness The day of judgment.

that His Majesty may there be evident in splendour. It is

in this magnificent and spacious station that the universal assembly of all creatures shall be made, about the middle of the day, and in the brightness of noon: and then it is that, accompanied by his prophet (Mahomet), and in the presence of all mankind, God shall with justice and equity judge all the nations of the earth in general, and every person in particular. To this effect, every one of us shall have a book or catalogue of our actions delivered to us ; that of the good in such wise that it shall be received and held in the right hand ; that of the wicked, so that it shall be received and held in the left hand. As to the duration of that day, it shall be as long as the continuance of the present age. This shall be a day of sighs and griefs, a day of tribulation and anguish, when the cup of sorrow and misery must be drunk up, even the very dregs thereof. But this is what shall be particularly experienced by the ungodly and the perverse: everything shall present to them ideas of sorrow and affliction. To them everything shall become aloes and bitterness. They shall not obtain one moment of repose. They shall behold nothing that is agreeable, nor hear one voice that shall delight them : their eyes shall see nothing but the torments of hell ; their ears shall hear nothing

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
« הקודםהמשך »