Sidor som bilder
[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][graphic][subsumed][subsumed]
[ocr errors]

where he left him. The angel led him back along the seven heavens, through which he had brought him; and set him again upon the beast Alborak, which stood tied to the rock near Jerusalem. Then he conducted him back to Mecca, in the same manner as he brought him thence; and all this within the space of the tenth part of one night.

On his relating this story to the people the next morning after he pretended the thing to have happened, it was received by thein with a general outcry; and the imposture was never in greater danger of being totally blasted, than by this ridiculous fable.

It was deemed at first so grossly ridiculous, that it occasioned the revolt of many of his disciples, and made his stay at Mecca no longer practicable. But what he lost at Mecca he gained at Medina, then called Yathreb, a city lying 270 miles north-west from Mecca; which was inhabited, the one part by Jews, and the other by heretical Christians. These two parties did not agree at all; and feuds and factions rose at length so high among them, that one party, exasperated against the other, went over to Mahomet. Thus we are told, that in the thirteenth year of his mission, there came to him from thence seventy-three men and two women. Twelve of these be retained awhile with him at Mecca, to instruct them in his new religion; then sent them back to Yathreb, as his twelve apostles, there to propagate it in that town. In this they laboured abundantly, and with such success, that, in a short time, they drew over the greatest part of the inhabitants; of which Mahomet receiving an account, resolved to go thither immediately, finding it unsafe to continue any longer at Mecca.

Having now obtained the end at which he had long been aiming, that is, that of having a town at his command, he entered upon a scheme entirely new. Hitherto he had been only preaching his religion for thirteen years together; for the remaining ten years of his life he took the sword, and fought for it. He had long been teazed and perplexed at Mecca with questions, and objections, and disputes about what he had preached, by which he was often perplexed and put to silence; henceforth he forbade all manner of disputing; telling his disciples, that his religion was to be propagated not by disputing but by fighting. He commanded them therefore to arm themselves, and slay with the sword all that would not embrace it, unless they submitted to pay a yearly tribute for the redemption of their lives. Having erected his standard, he called them all to come armed to it; and his followers being then very numerous, he made several successful expeditions, and finally succeeded in establishing his religion in almost every part of his own country. After his death it spread over a far greater extent of territory than even Christianity itself. Towards the end of the 10th year of the Hegira,* Mahomet

The flight from Mecca to Medina.

took a journey in pilgrimage to Mecca, where a great concourse of people resorted to him from all parts of Arabia, whom he instructed in his law, and then returned to Medina. This pilgrimage is called by his followers, the pilgrimage of valediction, because it was the last he made; for after his return to Medina, he began daily to decline, through the force of poison which he had taken three years before at Caibar. It had been working in him all the while, and had at length brought him so low that he was forced on the 28th day of Saphar, the second month of their year, to take to his bed; and, on the 12th day of the following month, it put an end to his life, after a sickness of thirteen days.

He was buried in the place where he died, which was in the chamber of his best-beloved wife, at Medina; and there he lies to this day.

Mahomet was a man of good stature and comely aspect, and affected much to be thought like Abraham. He had a piercing and sagacious wit, and was extremely well versed in all those arts which are necessary to lead mankind. In the first part of his life, he was wicked and licentious, much delighting in rapine, plunder, and blood-shed, according to the usage of the Arabs, who have generally followed this kind of life. The Mahometans, however, would persuade us, that he was a saint from the fourth year of his age for then, they say, the angel Gabriel separated him from his fellows, while he was at play with them; and carrying him aside, cut open his breast, took out his heart, and wrung out of it that black drop of blood, in which they imagined was contained the fomes peccati; so that he had none of it ever after. His two predominant passions, however, contradict this opinion. They were ambition and lust. The course which he took to gain empire abundantly shews the former; and the multitude of women with whom he was connected, proves the latter. While Cadiga lived, which was till his fiftieth year, it does not appear that he had any other wife for, she being the origin and foundation of all his fortunes and grandeur, it is probable he durst not displease her by bringing in another wife. But she was no sooner dead, than he multiplied them to a great number, besides which he had several concubines. They that reckon the fewest, allow him to have married fifteen; but others reckon them to have been one and twenty, of which five died before him, six he divorced, and ten were alive at his death.


One of the main arguments which the followers of Mahomet used, to account for his having had so many wives, is, that he might beget young prophets he left, however, neither prophet nor prophetess long behind him of all his wives.


The two leading articles of the creed of this denomination of religionists are the unity of God, and the acknowledgment of Mahomet as his prophet: and, in a catechism, said to have been printed at Constantinople a few years ago, some further particulars are added, and the principal articles to which the young

Mussulman is there required to give his assent, are comprised in the following declarations :

"I believe in the books which have been delivered from heaven to the prophets. In this manner was the Koran_given to Mahomet, the Pentateuch to Moses, the Psalter to David, and the Gospel to Jesus. I believe in the prophets, and the miracles which have been performed. Adam was the first prophet, and Mahomet was the last. I believe that, for the space of fifty thousand years, the righteous shall repose under the shade of the terrestrial Paradise; and the wicked shall be exposed naked to the burning rays of the sun. I believe in the bridge Sirat, which passes over the bottomless pit of hell. It is as fine as a hair, and as sharp as a sabre. All must pass over it, and the wicked shall be thrown off. I believe in the waterpools of Paradise. Each of the prophets has in Paradise a basin for his own use; the water is whiter than milk, and sweeter than honey. On the ridges of the pools are vessels to drink out of, and they are bordered with stars. I believe in heaven and hell; the inhabitants of the former know no want, and the Houris who attend them are never afflicted with sickness. The floor of Paradise is musk, the stones are silver, and the cement gold. The damned are, on the contrary, tormented with fire, and by voracious and poisonous animals."

The great and meritorious act of Mahometan devotion, is the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca; an act which the Koran has enjoined, and the pious Mussulman implicitly performs, as necessary to the obtaining pardon of his sins, and qualifying, him to be a partaker of the alluring pleasures and exquisite en joyments of Paradise.


To the several articles of faith to which all his followers were to adhere, Mahomet added four fundamental points of religious practice viz. prayer five times a day, fasting, almsgiving, and the pilgrimage to Mecca. Under the first of these are comprehended those frequent washings or purifications which he prescribed as necessary preparations for the duty of prayer. So necessary did he think them, that he is said to have declared, that "the practice of religion is founded upon cleanliness, which is one half of faith, and the key of prayer.'


The second of these he conceived to be a duty of so great moment, that he used to say, it was the gate of religion, and that "the odour of the mouth of him who fasteth is more grateful to God than that of musk." The third is looked upon as so pleasing in the sight of God, that the Caliph Omar Ebn Abdalaziz used to say, Prayer carries us half way to God; fasting brings us to the door of his palace; and alms procure us admission.



As to the NEGATIVE precepts and institutions of this religion, the Mahometans are forbidden the use of wine, and are prohibited from gaming, usury, and the eating of blood, and swine's flesh, and whatever dies of itself, or is strangled, or killed by a blow, or by another beast.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »