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their own mad confidence, they carried their arms and their faith over all southwestern Asia and northern Africa. This was the work of the Koran. Within a single century after Mohammed's death, the broad belt of earth extending from India to Spain, including both Babylonia and Egypt, the lands of the most ancient civilization - all this was firmly Mohammedan. And through much of this region the peoples were speaking Arabic. It became almost a world-language. For a time, the Koran was taught more widely, and won more converts, than the Christian Gospels.


"Poetry is the record of the Arabs."




MONGST the ancient nations, as history shows, there are

few who have so large a treasure of sublime poetry and so abundant a stock of useful literature to boast of as the old nation of Arabia. The Arabs have always been remarkable for the great pride they have taken in the excellence of their language, the perfection of their literature, the sublimity of their poetry, the purity of their race, and the integrity of their moral character. Pure justice, free from bias or prejudice, fully admits that they have reason to feel this pride, and accords them a very high place among the civilized and literary nations of the Ancient World. These facts are well borne out by evidence derived from the history of the progress of literature, especially during the fourth, fifth and sixth centuries of the Christian era.

During the period alluded to, the literary genius was almost entirely monopolized by the Aryans, represented then by the Indians and the Persians in the East, and by the Romans in the West. The Indian literature was, however, confined only to a limited number of Shastris and Brahmins, and was inaccessible to the other castes, or the numerically much stronger public. The Persians had long cultivated and enriched their literature with a good deal of learning, borrowed from the Greeks and the Indians. Among the Semitics, the Syrians possessed a Hebrew literature of a superior character, which was not, however, cultivated to a very vast extent, and was confined only to a few Rabbis. These litterateurs, moreover, had risen to their greatest height and were now only hanging on the verge of decline, and were more or less giving way to the Romans, who, at the time we speak of, held their own against all the nations of the world, both in the political as well as in the literary realm.

Their literary supremacy was, however, the result of a long


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