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him."'* “ Those whose balance shall be weighty with good works shall go into paradise ; but they whose balance shall be light of good works shall go into hell." † The people listened in wonder to the eloquence of their townsman ; the pilgrims heard, half angry, half alarmed, his denunciations of their idol-worship. The tribe of the Koreish - from among whom the keepers of the temple were taken, and who now saw with alarm and horror one rising to overthrow that temple, from the very family to which its care had been confided — found a solace for their troubles in the suggestion, that, should the family of Hashem uphold Mohammed, the time was come to turn that house from its primacy and exalt some other to its place. Abu Taleb, calm and firm, who had promised his father to protect Abdallah's child, would not desert him in his hour of need. He knew his virtues, his integrity, his purity, his intelligence, — and while he thought him an enthusiast, perhaps a madman, he still held over bim his powerful arm, and the bold prophet was unhurt. Months passed, and years passed ; day after day Mohammed took his station in the open street, and proclaimed the unity of God, the terrors of hell that lay before all idolaters and evil-doers, and the certainty of his own mission. A man, as we have said, of noble appearance, of persuasive manners, of natural eloquence and grace, and of excited imagination, — all could not hear him unmoved ; but the greater part cried out upon him, that he had a devil, that he was a sorcerer, that he was a man distracted, a liar and a knave. Now and then some man came to him privately, and owned himself a convert ; now and then some woman fell at his knees and hailed him as the prophet of the Most High ; but in the seventh year of his mission, all bis adherents in Mecca could not much have exceeded a hundred. I
Months passed, and years passed, and still, day by day, amid the gathering storm, when his followers had to fly to other lands, when even his daughter had to seek a foreign home, and after the other families of the Koreish bad bound themselves by a solemn league against the family of Hashem, - even then, Mohammed, in the streets of Mecca, poured
* Koran, ch. 112.
+ Koran, ch. 101. One hundred and one fled to Ethiopia in that year, to escape persecu. tion; and these could not have been the weakest only, as Mohammed's own daughter and her husband were among them.
forth his denunciations lof divine wrath against the idolater and evil-doer. No threats, no dangers, daunted him ; and though death at the hands of his opponents seemed sooner or later inevitable, he never swerved from his purpose of declaring the message confided to him. Fortunately, the Meccans were not the only hearers of his message ; all the pilgrims who crowded to kiss the Black Stone came within the reach of his voice. Among them were wayfarers from Yatreb, or Medina, the city of “ the people of the book," the literary emporium (as we should say in America) of Arabia. Many Jews, many half Christians, dwelt there ; to the pagans of Medina, therefore, the unity of God was not, as to other pagans, a novelty and rock of offence; and they listened to the voice of Mohammed, and believed, and became his disciples. Returning home to Yatreb, these few disciples became apostles, and while on all sides darkness seemed closing in upon the Reformer, while Mecca was becoming a more and more perilous home for him each year, silently at the sister city his doctrines were spreading ; and behold, in the twelfth year of the mission, when at the Holy City itself civil war and the death of the prophet seemed inevitable, twelve men went up from Medina to pledge themselves to Mohammed. At night, upon the hill Al Akaba, north of Mecca, these twelve swore to renounce all idolatry ; neither to steal, commit fornication, nor kill their infant children, - the common crimes of the pagan Arabs; not to forge calumnies; and to obey the new prophet of the one true God in every thing reasonable. Such was the oath of fealty on which rested the empire of the Caliphs. They returned, with one of the better instructed of the Meccan believers, who was to be a missionary in Yatreb. Even at that juncture, when death stood on one hand, and life and power on the other, Mohammed remained fronting death. Nay, when, the next year, a larger deputation from the city of the faithful came and offered to the endangered Meccan a home, and almost a throne, he still waited in his native town until all hope of success there should have vanished. The thirteenth year of his mission came.
The brave, wise, faithful friend of Abdallah's son, Abu Taleb, had descended to the tomb, and the arm of power which shielded the prophet was withdrawn. Nor was the death of his defender his only loss ; Cadijah, - for twenty-five years his wife, to
whom through that quarter of a century he had been faithful as few of that land ever were, for many wives were allowed, Cadijah, his benefactress and his first disciple, had also been recalled from the earth. It was the.“ year of mourning the Reformer, that one which thus took from him his two best friends. His heart was no longer in Mecca.
And now an enemy, a deadly enemy, filled the place of Abu Taleb, and the hour of vengeance drew near. Silently, beneath the shades of night, the leaders of the Koreish met in conclave ; with hushed voices, they plotted the destruction of Mohammed ; from each family one was to be chosen, and all these were to strike their daggers into the breast of the offending member of the house of Hashem, and thus would that powerful connection be forced to seek revenge upon
all the other houses of the tribe. They plotted, but “God is the best layer of plots" ;* by unknown means those whispers reached the ear of the doomed one. Should he fly ? Had not God bidden him do so, by raising up an asylum at Yatreb ? But already his chamber was watched, and at midnight the daggers would be in his heart. "Give me thy mantle," cried the young, fearless, generous Ali, “and do you, O Prophet, and Abubekir escape in the twilight.” Ali put on the green mantle of Mohammed, and laid himself, fearing nothing, upon the apostle's bed. Eyes of vengeance watched him there, while the daggers were whetted, and while, with noiseless steps, the founder of Islam commenced the Hegira. He fled, with Abubekir, to a cave three miles from Mecca, and there rested till pursuil was passed. As he rested, sleeping calmly, his friend touched his arm ; he awoke to hear at the mouth of the cavern voices debating the probability of the fugitive being concealed there. Trembling with fear, Abubekir whispered, 66 We are lost! what can we do against so many, we two " There is a third,” was the calm reply. "Who?" asked the astonished follower, - and as his hand fell by chance in the dark on the apostle's wrist, he felt the pulsations regular as those of a
66 Who ?” he asked. 6 God.” As they spoke, the voices receded, and they were safe. A pigeon had built her nest at the mouth of the cavern, and a spider had woven her web across the entrance. Truly, by a spider's thread at
Koran, ch. 8.
that moment hung the fate of the world. After three days' delay, the fugitives pursued their way, and reached Medina in safety. Five hundred men met the prophet, and he entered the city of his adoption in triumph.
How does this portion of his life, these thirteen years of persecution and contempt endured, and death dared hourly, correspond with the theory of imposture on speculation ? How does his answer in the cave agree with the probable feelings of one who was thinking, talking, living a lie? If the lie theory can be made to explain the second period of Mohammed's life, then, we aver, a similar theory may be made to apply to almost every great promulgator of the gospel. If thirteen years so spent are not primâ facie proof of honesty, nothing can be ; and it is a proof so strong, that a vast, vast amount of counter evidence must be brought forward to overturn it. One who is content to reason as Professor Bush does, in his Life of Mohammed, may see no force in what is so mighty as evidence to us; but to such champions of the cross we do not speak. He, for example,
, disbelieves the express statement of his hero, that he was not taught to write, — because, first, his cousin Ali was ; secondly, because writing was not rare among the Arabs ; thirdly, because Mohammed was to be a merchant ; and fourthly, because it is asserted in the Koran, the last place where truth is to be looked for ; * and he actually supposes this prince of liars to have dictated to Ali this useless lie, which Ali, and Cadijah, and every body else knew to be a lie, at the time when he wished to inspire confidence, and all for no other purpose, apparently, than to have the pleasure of lying. To such reasoners we have not a word to say ; but to the rest of our readers we address the question, – Does the second period of the prophet's life add to or take from the probability, created by the purity and honesty of his character during the first period, that he was honest ? And we cannot doubt the answer.
Let us now pass to the third, – the shortest, last, and most mysterious portion of this man's life. And let us begin by remembering that we are looking at a man fifty-three years old, one void of ambition hitherto, and remarkably free from impurity and immorality ; who has been led to feel keenly the need of a great radical change in the habits of his countrymen, who believes such a change must be effected by a revelation from God through an inspired prophet, and who has, after long meditation, come apparently to the conclusion that he is so inspired. And as we proceed in this man's history, and meet, as we shall, with circumstances which would stamp a sane man as a rogue, let our inquiry be, whether they are inconsistent with what has been observed of other monomaniacs, and honest religious enthusiasts. This is the basis on which, as we conceive, all such inquiries must proceed, and on which, in common daily affairs, all men would proceed. Had we known a man sensible and upright to the age of forty, and for the next thirteen years showing undoubted signs of insanity on some one subject, should we ever after that judge of his actions as of a perfectly sane man's in matters relating to that and kindred subjects ? Should we not reckon as delusion in him many things which in one of sound mind we should deem clear knavery? Up to the time of the Hegira, we claim that Mohammed's life gives proof of nothing but honest self-deception or monomania ; and we also claim, that, in trying to understand the ten years of his career that remain, we are still to regard him as under the same influence, unless something which is opposed to such an idea can be shown.
* Bush's Life of Mohammed (Harper's edition), pp. 38, 39.
Mohammed had ever proclaimed the impolicy and iniquity of religious persecution ; he had advocated the propagation of his doctrines, by addressing the reason, feelings, and consciences of men. For thirteen years he had persevered in thus addressing them, and almost in vain ; they bad spurned his instructions, rejected his truths, and sought his life. On a sudden, without agency of his, unsought, unasked by him, lo! God had put into his hands an army of devoted followers ; for what ? The old Hebrew collection answered very plainly, that God chastised by physical suffering those that persisted in rebellion and unbelief; it taught him that by the sword, when all else failed, Jehovah had prepared a way for himself. Is this denied ? Is it denied that an Arabian of the sixth century might, in his best senses, most naturally thus read the Holy Book ? Is it denied that in moderr Europe, in England, more than a thousand years after Mohammed, the idea of_promulgating by force the truth, ever the truth as it is in Jesus, was a common idea ? Can we