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THE SECOND EDITION.
to my respectful consideration and my gratitude, that my account of Islam and its founder, though true on the whole, is somewhat too favourable. The objection is natural, and, from more than one point of view, is just. But it seems to me that some at least of those who have dwelt on this point, have not taken sufficiently into account my purpose in venturing to approach the subject, nor yet its vastness and complexity. So many Christian writers, as it seemed to me, had approached Islam only to vilify and misrepresent it, that it appeared desirable that one who was at least profoundly impressed with the dignity and importance of the subject, should, in default of better qualified persons, make an attempt to treat it, not merely with a cold and distant impartiality, but even with something akin to sympathy and friendliness. The defects of Islam are well known; its merits are almost ignored, at all events by the great majority of Englishmen. It is not likely that a Christian and a European will err on the side of over-appreciation of another, and that an Eastern creed: the balance therefore, if perchance it has been held for a moment uncon
sciously to myself, with uneven hand, will soon right itself.
Again, Islam in its various ramifications is a subject so vast and so complex, and is so full of apparent contradictions, that independent enquirers may honestly arrive at the most opposite results. It ought, for this reason, to be approached from as many and as different points of view as possible; and assuredly the precise point of view from which I have approached it, whether it be the best per se or not, is the one from which hitherto there has been hardly any This, then, is the this, in the main,
attempt to approach it at all.
raison d'être of my book; to is doubtless due such favourable reception as it has met with at the hands of both Musalmans and Christians; and it is to a want of perception of what this involves that I think I can trace many criticisms on it. In the treatment of a religious revolution which from its mere extent, from what it has achieved, as well as from what it has failed to achieve, must afford an ample field alike for exaggerated panegyric and depreciation, he who endeavours to avoid both extremes must expect to find fewer thorough-going partisans,
THE SECOND EDITION.
and must be willing or even anxious to be criticised by both sides alike.
Το say that subsequent study, or that the remarks of my critics, have only confirmed me in all my views, would of course be equivalent to saying with Pontius Pilate, that 'what I have written I have written;' a comfortable but a sorry conclusion to come to, for one who is bound to begin by asking himself with Pontius Pilate, 'What is truth?' and, unlike him, must feel himself bound by the most sacred of obligations to keep his ears always open for the reception of such fragments of the answer as he may be able from time to time to catch. Some of my views on matters of detail have been modified; but apart from errors of detail, apart from errors of commission and omission, apart from short-comings incidental to ignorance at first hand of Oriental languages and of Musalman countries, I more and more cherish the earnest hope that the spirit and the purpose with which I have, at least, tried to approach my subject is the right spirit, and the right purpose with which to approach the study of a creed different from one's own.
To dwell on what is good rather than on what is evil; to search for points of resemblance rather than of difference; to use a relative and an historical judgment in all things; to point out what is the out-come of mere human weakness as distinguished from the flaws in the primal documents of the religion, or in the life of its founder; to discriminate between the accidental and the essential, the transitory and the eternal; above all, constantly to turn the mirror in upon oneself, and to try to make sure that one is complying with that great principle of Christianity of judging and of treating others as we should wish ourselves to be judged and treated; this, I am convinced, is the only way in which the better spirits of rival creeds can ever be brought to understand one another, or to sink all their differences in the consciousness of a likeness which is more fundamental than any difference, and which, if it is not felt before, will at least be felt hereafter, in
That one far off Divine event
To which the whole creation moves.
These are the aims I have kept and will continue to keep steadily in view, however imper
THE SECOND EDITION.
fectly I have been able or may yet be able to carry them out.
If the alterations or additions, therefore, I have made to the text of my Lectures seem less than those high authorities who have done me the honour of criticising my book have a right to expect, I would assure them that it is not from any want of respect to their judgment, or because I have not carefully weighed their criticisms. The dropping of an epithet, the addition of a word here or there, the omission of a note, or the turn of a sentence, will often indicate the silent homage that I have paid, wherever I could do so, to their superior right
to speak upon the subject. There may be little to show for it, otherwise than by way of expansion and addition, in the general aspect and arrangement of the book; but there is more than appears at first sight; and, assuredly, the amount of apparent change bears no proportion at all to the time and care I have taken in making it.
And if I have forborne to enlarge my work by dwelling at length, as I have been asked by some critics to do, upon the darker side of the picture,