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Beyond this, we can say little in its favour. The Pársí system does not appear well fitted to cultivate man's intellectual powers; nor, on the whole, is it deserving of commendation as a moral system. As a system of Religion (in the high sense of the word) Pársíism is very faulty. Its idea of Sin is. always defective, and often erroneous. It shows no sense of the necessity of any great Atonement. Nor is the importance of the purification of the human heart at all well understood.

Thus, the claims of Pársíism to be considered a Divine Revelation are entirely unsatisfactory. We may venture to affirm that the Pársís themselves will soon see this. That a depressed and ignorant people, like the remnant of Zoroastrians still existing in Persia, should believe and practise such a system, is not perhaps surprising; but it certainly would astonish us if an active and intelligent race, like the Pársís of Western India, should long adhere to it. Even already, although they practise its rites, many disbelieve its doctrines. Let us hope and pray that the Pársís may not pass from superstition to infidelity, but may exchange a false religion for the one true religion, and turn from the imagined glory of their so-called "golden star," to walk in the cheering beams of the "Sun of Righteousness."-I am, &c.


The controversy which has long existed with regard to the genuineness of the Zend-avesta is not yet settled. As these sheets are passing though the press, (Dec.1856) Mr. Romer-a gentleman who has devoted much attention to the question-still publishes papers which affirm that the Zend books are modern forgeries.

Most writers, however, think that the Zend-avesta can be traced up satisfactorily to the third or fourth century after Christ.

The text of the Zend-avesta is in a state of much uncertainty. Thus Westergaard says that" the Manuscripts of the Yashts present a mass of corrupt readings." Interpolations, mutilations, and unintelligible passages abound in all the Zend books; and even the most

cautious scholars are compelled to have resourse to what is called "conjectural emendation"-which ought to be tried only when all the MSS. are demonstrably and irrecoverably wrong. We may fairly call the Zend text fragmentary and chaotic.

The Pársís hold that their sacred books were destroyed by Alexander the Great, and restored about five handred years afterwards under Ardashir Babegan, by Ardáí Viráf. They assert that Ardaí Viráf was guided by inspiration in the work of restoration. But of that inspiration no proof whatever is supplied.

Generally they hold that that part of the Zend-avesta which is called the Vendidad survived the destruction of their books under Alexander. But if so, what proof can be given that it was not very greatly altered and corrupted during the five hundred years that followed?

The Zend-avesta consists of the Vendidad, the Yazna, the Vispard, and the Khurdah Avesta.

The first three occur in different MSS. with comparatively little variation. The contents of the Khurdah Avesta differ greatly in different MSS.

Much uncertainty is still connected with the history of the Zendavesta. It is a collection of writings exceedingly diversified in age, form, and character. The Zend language appears in the Zend-avesta in at least two different dialects.

At present we wait with interest for the completion of the labours of two learned men who have devoted much attention to the Zendavesta-Westergaard and Spiegel. Each of them will present us with a complete text of the Zend, and a translation.

A society has sprung up among the Pársís which has for its avowed end the restoration of Zoroastrianism to its original purity. The society consists chiefly of young men who have received a 'considerable amount of education, and who are disgusted with the many absurdities that exist in modern Zoroastrianism.

But these young men are greatly mistaken if they think that original Zoroastrianism will stand examination. So long as the Zendavesta is silent, it may be an object of reverence; but the charm is broken the moment that the supposed oracle begins to speak.

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WE come now to consider the evidences that can be adduced in support of the Muhammadan religion. This is a very important subject of inquiry. The Muhammadan religion is interesting, whether we consider its remarkable origin, its rapid dissemination, or its wide extent. Pársíism is now professed by a very small number of people ; even Hinduism is confined to a portion of the inhabitants of one country; but Muhammadanism has numerous followers in Asia and Africa, and some even in Europe.

In examining that

What, then, is Muhammadanism? question, we must drawn a clear line of distinction between the system promulgated by Muhammad himself,, and the system which has been embraced by Muhammadans in more recent times. The reason for this will very fully appear afterwards; in the meantime, allow me to mention that I insist on this separation being made between the two systems, that we may do full justice to Muhammad. The system generally embraced by his followers is far more absurd than the one he originally propounded; and in fairness we must not impute to him the follies of later sectaries and commentators.

External Evidence.

I. Our inquiry, then, must first be respecting the history of Muhammad, and the Kuran.

We find ourselves involved in difficulties at the very A learned Arabic scholar, writing

Doubt re

hammad's life

and ter.


garding Mu- in 1843, remarks that " until we possess a charac- more complete history of Muhammad than has yet been published in Europe, we may in many cases, be greatly misled in judging of the motives of his actions, and of the objects which he had in view."

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The remark will still hold good to a considerable extent although we now possess such excellent works as those of Weil, Caussin de Percival, and Sprenger.

Perhaps the most judicious oriental writer of Muhammad's life is Abulfeda; but he flourished in the 14th century, that is, seven hundred years after Muhammad,— and the writers quoted by him do not belong to the first century after Muhammad.

We We cannot, then, call Abulfeda an authority regarding the facts of Muhammad's life and character. Still less can we attribute any independeut weight to such writers as Mirkhond (15th century) and Al Jannabi (16th century). Tábari, who died A. H. 310 (A. D. 922), is often quoted by Musulman writers; but he is removed more than two hundred years from the events which he relates; and moreover his work is available only in a Persian translation which is scarcely trustworthy. We must ascend higher. We find that the earliest extant writers on Muhammad are Ibn Hisham, who died A.H. 213,-and Wakidi, who was born A. H. 130, and died A. H. 207.†

* Lane.

"Selections from the Kuran," p. 52.

+ Ibn Hisham gave an edition-how much altered we do not know of an earlier work by Ibn Ishak, who died A. H. 151. Ibn Ishak is said to have invented new statements about Muhammad : and he has been called by Musalmans "a great liar." Still lower is the authority of Ibn Hisham.

Wákidi is the great storehouse from which information must be drawn.

We possess, then, no account of Muhammad from the pen of any of his contemporaries. Whatever they may have written respecting him has perished; and nothing has survived of what was composed within one hundred years of his death. This is a fact of much significance. It leaves a painful degree of uncertainty respecting the real career and character of Muhammad.

In these circumstances, one naturally turns to the Is the Kurán Kurán in order to draw from it the facts of genuine? Muhammad's life. Even this however, is not very satisfactory. It is not possible to prove that the Kuran is the same as Muhammad left it. As the different portions of it were delivered to his followers during the space of twenty-three years, they were either committed to memory by them, or written on palm-leaves, skins, and (as is said) shoulder-blades of mutton.* The original copies were then promiscuously thrown into a chest; and in this disorder they were left when Muhammad died. Two years later, Abu Bakr ordered the whole to be collected, both from what was written, and what had been committed to memory. Hence it is generally supposed that Abu Bakr was the real compiler of the Kurán.† It is impossible to say to what extent the may have interfered with it. About seventeen years afterwards, Othman, observing that great disagreement existed between the copies of the Kurán used in different places, ordered a large number of copies to be transcribed neatly from the copy of Abu Bakr.‡ These amended copies were then dispersed far and wide, and the old ones were destroyed.

Thus the Kuran has passed through the hands both

* Gibbon, chap. 1. p. 264 (Milman's Edit.)

Sale's Koran. Preliminary Discourse, p. 86.

Many things however, that stood in the original copy in Hafsa's possession, were altered. See Sale, Preliminary Discourse, p. 87.

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