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cept of the Koran, have been silently transmitted to their CHAP. posterity and proselytes. It has been sagaciously conjectured, that the artful legislator indulged the stubborn prejudices of his countrymen. It is more simple to believe that he adhered to the habits and opinions of his youth, without foreseeing that a practice congenial to the climate of Mecca, might become useless or inconvenient on the banks of the Danube or the Volga.

Arabia was free : the adjacent kingdoms were shaken by Introducthe storms of conquest and tyranny, and the persecuted sects tion of the

Sabians. fled to the happy land where they might profess what they thought, and practise what they professed. The religions of the Sabians and Magians, of the Jews and Christians, were disseminated from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea. In a remote period of antiquity, Sabianism was diffused over Asia by the science of the Chaldeans66 and the arms of the Assyrians. From the observations of two thousand years, the priests and astronomers of Babylonso deduced the eternal laws of nature and providence. They adored the seven gods or angels who directed the course of the seven planets, and shed their irresistible influence on the earth. The attributes of the seven planets, with the twelve signs of the zodiac, and the twenty-four constellations of the northern and southern hemisphere, were represented by images and talismans; the seven days of the week were dedicated to their respective deities; the Sabians prayed thrice each day; and the temple of the moon at Haran was the term of their pilgrimage.57 But the flexible genius of their faith was always ready either to teach or to learn: in the tradition of the creation, the deluge, and the patriarchs, they held a singular agreement with

55 Dicdorus Siculus (tom. i. 1. ii. p. 142... 145.) has cast on their religion the curious but superficial glance of a Greek. Their astronomy wéuld be far more valuable: they had looked through the telescope of reason, since they could doubt whether the sun were in the number of the planets or of the fixed stars.

56 Simplicius (who quotes Porphyry), de Cælo, 1. ii. com. xlvi. p. 123. lin. 18. apud Marsham, Canon. Chron. p. 474. who doubts the fact, because it is adverse to his systems. The earliest date of the Chaldean observations is the year 2231 before Christ. After the conquest of Babylon by Alexander, they were communicated, at the request of Aristoile, to the astronomer Hippar. chus. What a moment in the annals of science ! 57 Pocock (Specimen, p. 138...146), Hottinger (Hist. Oriental. p.

162... 203), Hyde (de Religione Vet. Persarum, p. 124. 128, &c.) d'Herbelot ( Sabi, p.725, 726), and Sale (Preliminary Discourse, p. 14, 15), rather excite than gratify our curiosity ; and the last of these writers confounds Sabianism with the primitive religion of the Arabs. VOL. VI.





CHAP their Jewish captives ; they appealed to the secret books of

Adam, Seth, and Enoch; and a slight infusion of the gos-
pel has transformed the last remnant of the Polytheists

into the Christians of St. John, in the territory of Bassora, 5 The Ma. The altars of Babylon were overturned by the Magians; but gians.

the injuriesofthe Sabians were revenged by the swordof Alex-
ander; Persia groaned above five hundred years under a fo-
reign yoke ; and the purest disciples of Zoroaster escaped

from the contagion of idolatry, and breathed with their adThe Jews. versaries the freedom of the desart.59 Seven hundred years

before the death of Mahomet, the Jews were settled in Ara-
bia: and a far greater multitude was expelled from the holy
land in the wars of Titus and Hadrian. The industrious ex-
iles aspired to liberty and power; they erected synagogues
in the cities and castles in the wilderness, and their Gen-
tile converts were confounded with the children of Israel,

whom they resembled in the outward mark of circumcision. The Chris- The Christian missionaries were still more active and suctians.

cessful: the Catholics asserted their universal reign; the
sects whom they oppressed successively retired beyond the
limits of the Roman empire; the Marcionites and the Ma-
nichæans dispersed their phantastic opinions and apocry-
phal gospels; the churches of Yemen, and the princes of
Hira and Gassan, were instructed in a purer creed by the
Jacobite and Nestorian bishops. The liberty of choice
was presented to the tribes: each Arab was free to elect or
to compose his private religion: and the rude superstition
of his house was mingled with the sublime theology of saints
and philosophers. A fundamental article of faith was incul-
cated by the consent of the learned strangers; the existence
of one supreme God, who is exalted above the powers of
heaven and earth, but who has often revealed himself to

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58 D'Anville (l'Euphrate de le Tigre, p. 130...147.) will fix the position of these ambiguous Christians; Assemannus (Bibliot. Oriental. tom. iv. p. 607... 614.) may explain their teneis. But it is a slippery task to ascertain the creed of an ignorant people, afraid and ashamed to disclose their secret traditions.

59 The Magi were fixed in the province of Bahrein (Gagnier, Vie de Mahomet, tom. iii. p. 114), and mingled with the old Arabians (Pocock, Specimen, p. 146...150)

60 The state of the Jews and Christians in Arabia is described by Pocock from Sharestani,&c. (Specimen, p. 60. 134, &c), Hottinger (Hist. Orient. p. 212...238), d'Herbelot (Bibliot. Orient. p. 474...476), Basnage (Hist. des Juifs, tom. vii. p. 185. toin. viii. p. 280), and Sale (Preliminary Discourse, p. 22, &c. 33, &c).


mankind by the ministry of his angels and prophets, and CHAP. whose grace or justice has interrupted, by seasonable miracles, the order of nature. The most rational of the Arabs acknowledged his power, though they neglected his worship; 61 and it was habit rather than conviction that still attached them to the relics of idolatry. The Jews and Christians were the people of the book; the Bible was already translated into the Arabic language,62 and the volume of the old testament was accepted by the concord of these implacable enemies. In the story of the Hebrew patriarchs, the Arabs were pleased to discover the fathers of their nation. They applauded the birth and promises of Ismael ; revered the faith and virtue of Abraham ; traced his pedigree and their own to the creation of the first man, and imbibed with equal credulity, the prodigies of the holy text, and the dreams and traditions of the Jewish rabbis. The base and plebeian origin of Mahomet is an unskilful Birth and

education calumny of the Christians,63 who exalt instead of degrading of Mahothe merit of their adversary. His descent from Ismael was met,

A. D. a national privilege or fable; but if the first steps of the pe- 569....609. digree 66 are dark and doubtful, he could produce many generations of pure and genuine nobility: he sprung from the tribe of Koreish and the family of Hashem, the most illustrious of the Arabs, the princes of Mecca, and the hereditary guardians of the Caaba. The grandfather of Mahomet

61 In their offerings it was a maxim to defraud God for the profit of the idol, not a more potent, but a more irritable patron (Pocock, Specimen, p. 108, 109).

62 Our versions now extant, whether Jewish or Christian, appear more recent than the Koran; but the existence of a prior translation may be fairly inferred, 1. From the perpetual practice of the synagogue, of expounding the Hebrew lesson by a paraphrase in the vulgar tongue of the country. 2. From the analogy of the Armenian, Persian, Æthiopic, versions, expressly quoted by the fathers of the fifth century, who assert that the Scriptures were translated into all the Barbaric languages (Walton, Prolegomena ad Biblia Polyglot. p. 34. 93...97. Simon, Hist. Critique du V. et du N. Testament, tom. i. p. 180, 181. 282...286. 293. 305, 306. tom. iv. p. 206).

63 In eo conveniunt omnes, ut plebejo vilique genere ortum, &c. (Hottin. ger, Hist. Orient. p. 136). Yet Theophanes, the most ancient of the Greeks, and the father of many a lie, confesses that Mahomet was of the race of Ismael εκ μιας γενικωτατης φυλης (Chronograph. p. 277).

64 Abulfeda (in Vit. Mohammed. c. 1,2), and Gagnier (Vie de Mahomet, p. 25...97), describe the popular and approved genealogy of the prophet. At Mecca, I would not dispute its authenticity ; at Lausanne, I will venture to observe, 1. That from Ismael to Mahomet, a period of 2500 years, they reckon thirty, instead of seventy-five generations. 2. That the modern Bedoweens are ignorant of their history and careless of their pedigree (Voyage de d’Arvieux, p. 100. 103).

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CHAP. was Abdol Motalleb, the son of Hashem, a wealthy and ge

nerous citizen, who relieved the distress of famine with the supplies of commerce. Mecca, which had been fed by the liberality of the father, was saved by the courage of the son. The kingdom of Yemen was subject to the Christian princes of Abyssinia: their vassal Abrahah was provoked by an insult to avenge the honour of the cross; and the holy city was invested by a train of clephants and an army of Africans. A treaty was proposed; and in the first audience, the grandfather of Mahomet demanded"the restitution of his cattle. “And why,” said Abrahah,“ do you not ra“ther implore my clemency in favour of your temple, which “I have threatened to destroy?”

? “Because," replied the intrepid chief, “the cattle is my own: the Caaba belongs “ to the gods, and they will defend their house from injury “ and sacrilege. The want of provisions, or the valour of the Koreish, compelled the Abyssinians to a disgraceful retreat; their discomfiture has been adorned with a miracu. lous flight of birds, who showered down stones on the heads

of the infidels ; and the deliverance was long commemoraDeliver- ted by the æra of the elephant. The glory of Abdol Moance of Mecca.

talleb was crowned with domestic happiness, his life was prolonged to the age of one hundred and ten years, and he became the father of six daughters and thirteen sons. His best beloved Abdallah was the most beautiful and modest of the Arabian youth; and in the first night, when he consummated his marriage with Amina, of the noble race of the Zahrites, two hundred virgins are said to have expired of jealousy and despair. Mahomet, or more properly Mohammed, the only son of Abdallah and Amina, was born at Mecca, four years after the death of Justinian, and two months after the defeat of the Abyssinians, whose victory



65 The seed of this history, or fable, is contained in the cvth chapter of the Koran; and Gagnier (in Præfat. ad Vit. Moham. p. 18, &c), has translated the historical narrative of Abulfeda, which may be illustrated from d'Herbe. lot (Bibliot. Orientale, p. 12), and Pocock (Specimen, p. 64). Prideaux (Life of Mahomet, p. 48 ) calls ií a lie of the coinage of Mahomet; but Sale (Ko. ran, p. 501...503), who is half a Musulman, attacks the inconsistent faith of the Doctor for believing the Miracies of the Delphic Apollo. Meracci (Alcolan, tom i. part ii. p. 14. tom, ii. p. 823), ascribes the miracle to the devil, and extorts from the Mahometans the confession, that God would not have defended against the Christians the idols of the Caaba.

66 The safest æras of Abulfeda (in Vit. c. i. p. 2), of Alexander, or the Grecks, 882, of Bocht Naser, or Nabonasser, 1316, equally lead us to the year 569. The old Arabian calender is too dark and uncertain to support the Bene. dictines (Art de verifier les Dates, p. 15), who from the day of the month and week deduce a new mode of calculation, and remove the birth of Maho. met to the year of Christ 570, the 10th of November. Yet this date would agree with the year 882 of the Greeks, which is assigned by Elmacin (Hist. Saracen. p. 5.) and Abulpharagius (Dynast. p. 101. and Errata Pocock's version). While we refine our chronology, it is possible that the illiterate pro. phet was ignorant of his own age.


would have introduced into the Caaba the religion of the CHAP. Christians. In his early infancy, he was deprived of his father, his mother, and his grandfather; his uncles were strong and numerous; and in the division of the inheritance, the orphan's share was reduced to five camels and an Æthiopian maid-servant. At home and abroad, in peace and war, Abu Taleb, the most respectable of his uncles, was the guide and guardian of his youth; in his twenty-fifth year, he entered into the service of Cadijah, a rich and noble widow of Mecca, who soon rewarded his fidelity with the gift of her hand and fortune. The marriage contract, in the simple style of antiquity, recites the mutual love of Mahomet and Cadija; describes him as the most accomplished of the tribe of Koreish; and stipulates a dowry of twelve ounces of gold and twenty camels, which was supplied by the liberality of his uncle.67 By this alliance, the son of Abdallah was restored to the station of his ancestors; and the judicious matron was content with his domestic virtues, till, in the fortieth year of his age,68 he assumed the title of a prophet, and proclaimed the religion of the Koran. According to the tradition of his companions, Mahomet69 Qualifica

tions of the was distinguished by the beauty of his person, an outward prophet. gift which is seldom despised, except by those to whom it

67 I copy the honourable testimony of Abu Taleb to his family and ne. phew. Laus Dei, qui nos a stirpe Abrahami et semine Ismaelis constituit, et nobis regionem sacram dedit, et nos judices hominibus statuit. Porro Moham. med filius Abdollahi nepotis mei (ne pos meus ) quo cum ex æquo librabitur e Koraishidis quispiam cui non præponderaturus est, bonitate et excellantià, et intellectû et gloria et acumine etsi opum inops fuerit (et certe opes umbra transiens sunt et depositum quod reddi debet), desiderio Chadijæ filiæ Chowailedi tenetur, et illa vicissim ipsius, quicquid autem dotis vice petieritis, ego in me suscipiam (Pocock, Specimen, e septimâ parte libri Ebn Hamduni).

68 The private life of Mahomet, from his birth to his mission, is preserved by Abulfeda (in Vit. c. 3...7), and the Arabian writers of genuine or apocry. phal note, who are alleged by Hottinger (Hist. Orient. p. 204...211), Maracci (tom. i. p. 10...14), and Gagnier (Vie de Mahomet, tom. i. p. 97..134).

69 Abulfeda, in Vit. c. Ixv, Ixvi. Gagnier, Vie de Mahomet, tom. iii. p. 272...289; the best traditions of the person and conversation of the prophet are derived from Ayesha, Ali and Abu Horaira (Gagnier, tom. ii. p. 267. Ockley's Hist. of the Saracens, vol. ii.p. 149), surnamed the father of a cat, who died in the year 59 of the Hegira.

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