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- The Koran - 5/136 -


by the force of circumstances, and by gradually increasing successes, to believe himself the accredited messenger of Heaven. The earnestness of those convictions which at Mecca sustained him under persecution, and which perhaps led him, at any price as it were, and by any means, not even excluding deceit and falsehood, to endeavour to rescue his countrymen from idolatry,-naturally stiffened at Medina into tyranny and unscrupulous violence. At the same time, he was probably, more or less, throughout his whole career, the victim of a certain amount of self-deception. A cataleptic13 subject from his early youth, born-according to the traditions-of a highly nervous and excitable mother, he would be peculiarly liable to morbid and fantastic hallucinations, and alternations of excitement and depression, which would win for him, in the eyes of his ignorant countrymen, the credit of being inspired. It would be easy for him to persuade himself that he was "the seal of the Prophets," the proclaimer of a doctrine of the Divine Unity, held and taught by the Patriarchs, especially by Abraham-a doctrine that should present to mankind Judaism divested of its Mosaic ceremonial, and Christianity divested of the Atonement and the Trinity14-doctrine, as he might have believed, fitted and destined to absorb Judaism, Christianity, and Idolatry; and this persuasion, once admitted into his mind as a conviction, retained possession of it, and carried him on, though often in the use of means, towards the end of his career, far different from those with which he commenced it, to a victorious consummation. It is true that the state of Arabia previous to the time of Muhammad was one of preparedness for a new religion that the scattered elements were there, and wanted only the mind of a master to harmonise and enforce them and that Islam was, so to speak, a necessity of the time.15 Still Muhammad's career is a wonderful instance of the force and life that resides in him who possesses an intense Faith in God and in the unseen world; and whatever deductions may be made-and they are many and serious-from the noble and truthful in his character, he will always be regarded as one of those who have had that influence over the faith, morals, and whole earthly life of their fellow-men, which none but a really great man ever did, or can, exercise; and as one of those, whose efforts to propagate some great verity will prosper, in spite of manifold personal errors and defects, both of principle and character.

The more insight we obtain, from undoubted historical sources, into the actual character of Muhammad, the less reason do we find to justify the strong vituperative language poured out upon his head by Maracci, Prideaux, and others, in recent days, one of whom has found, in the Byzantine "Maometis," the number of the Beast (Rev. xii)! It is nearer to the truth to say that he was a great though imperfect character, an earnest though mistaken teacher, and that many of his mistakes and imperfections were the result of circumstances, of temperament, and constitution; and that there must be elements both of truth and goodness in the system of which he was the main author, to account for the world-wide phenomenon, that whatever may be the intellectual inferiority (if such is, indeed, the fact) of the Muslim races, the influence of his teaching, aided, it is true, by the vast impulse given to it by the victorious arms of his followers, has now lasted for nearly thirteen centuries, and embraces more than one hundred millions of our race-more than one-tenth part of the inhabitants of the globe.

It must be acknowledged, too, that the Koran deserves the highest praise for its conceptions of the Divine nature, in reference to the attributes of Power, Knowledge, and universal Providence and Unity-that its belief and trust in the One God of Heaven and Earth is deep and fervent-and that, though it contains fantastic visions and legends, teaches a childish ceremonial, and justifies bloodshedding, persecution, slavery, and polygamy, yet that at the same time it embodies much of a noble and deep moral earnestness, and sententious oracular wisdom, and has proved that there are elements in it on which mighty nations, and conquering though not, perhaps, durable-empires can be built up. It is due to the Koran, that the occupants in the sixth century of an arid peninsula, whose poverty was only equalled by their ignorance, become not only the fervent and sincere votaries of a new creed, but, like Amru and many more, its warlike propagators. Impelled possibly by drought and famine, actuated partly by desire of conquest, partly by religious convictions, they had conquered Persia in the seventh century, the northern coasts of Africa, and a large portion of Spain in the eighth, the Punjaub and nearly the whole of India in the ninth. The simple shepherds and wandering Bedouins of Arabia, are transformed, as if by a magician's wand, into the founders of empires, the builders of cities, the collectors of more libraries than they at first destroyed, while cities like Fostt, Baghdad, Cordova, and Delhi, attest the power at which Christian Europe trembled. And thus, while the Koran, which underlays this vast energy and contains the principles which are its springs of action, reflects to a great extent the mixed character of its author, its merits as a code of laws, and as a system of religious teaching, must always be estimated by the changes which it introduced into the customs and beliefs of those who willingly or by compulsion embraced it. In the suppression of their idolatries, in the substitution of the worship of Allah for that of the powers of nature and genii with Him, in the abolition of child murder, in the extinction of manifold superstitious usages, in the reduction of the number of wives to a fixed standard, it was to the Arabians an unquestionable blessing, and an accession, though not in the Christian sense a Revelation, of Truth; and while every Christian must deplore the overthrow of so many flourishing Eastern churches by the arms of the victorious Muslims, it must not be forgotten that Europe, in the middle ages, owed much of her knowledge of dialectic philosophy, of medicine, and architecture, to Arabian writers, and that Muslims formed the connecting link between the West and the East for the importation of numerous articles of luxury and use. That an immense mass of fable and silly legend has been built up upon the basis of the Koran is beyond a doubt, but for this Muhammad is not answerable, any more than he is for the wild and bloodthirsty excesses of his followers in after ages. I agree with Sale in thinking that, "how criminal soever Muhammad may have been in imposing a false religion on mankind, the praises due to his real virtues ought not to be denied him" (Preface), and venture to think that no one can rise from the perusal of his Koran without argeeing with that motto from St. Augustin, which Sale has prefixed to his title page, "Nulla falsa doctrina est, qu non aliquid veri permisceat." Qust. Evang. ii. 40.

The Arabic text from which this translation has been made is that of Fluegel. Leips. 1841. The translations of Sale, Ullmann, Wahl, Hammer von Purgstall in the Fundgruben des Orients, and M. Kasimirski, have been collated throughout; and above all, the great work of Father Maracci, to whose accuracy and research search Sale's work mainly owes its merits. Sale has, however, followed Maracci too closely, especially by introducing his paraphrastic comments into the body of the text, as well as by his constant use of Latinised instead of Saxon words. But to Sale's "Preliminary Discourse" the reader is referred, as to a storehouse of valuable information; as well as to the works of Geiger, Gerock, and Freytag, and to the lives of Muhammad by Dr. Weil, Mr. Muir, and that of Dr. Sprenger now issuing from the press, in German. The more brief and poetical verses of the earlier Suras are translated with a freedom from which I have altogether abstained in the historical and prosaic portions; but I have endeavoured nowhere to use a greater amount of paraphrase than is necessary to convey the sense of the original. "Vel verbum e verbo," says S. Jerome (Prf. in Jobum) of versions, "vel sensum e sensu, vel ex utroque commixtum, et medie temperatum genus translationis." The proper names are usually given as in our Scriptures: the English reader would not easily recognise Noah as Nh, Lot as Lt, Moses as Musa, Abraham as Ibrahym, Pharaoh as Firaun, Aaron as Harun, Jesus as Isa, John as Yahia, etc.; and it has been thought best to give different renderings of the same constantly recurring words and phrases, in order more fully to convey their meaning. For instance, the Arabic words which mean Companions of the fire, are also rendered inmates of, etc., given up to, etc.; the People of the Book, i.e. Jews, Christians and Sabeites, is sometimes retained, sometimes paraphrased. This remark applies to such words as tanzyl, lit. downsending or Revelation; zikr, the remembrance or constant repetition or mention of God's name as an act of devotion; saha, the Hour of present or final judgment; and various epithets of Allah.

I have nowhere attempted to represent the rhymes of the original. The "Proben" of H. v. Purgstall, in the Fundgruben des Orients, excellent as they are in many respects, shew that this can only be done with a sacrifice of literal translation. I subjoin as a specimen Lieut. Burton's version of the Fatthah, or opening chapter of previous editions. See Sura [viii.] p. 28.

1 In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate! 2 Praise be to Allah, who the three worlds made. 3 The Merciful, the Compassionate, 4 The King of the day of Fate. 5 Thee alone do we worship, and of thee alone do we ask aid. 6 Guide us to the path that is straight- 7 The path of those to whom thy love is great, Not those on whom is hate, Nor they that deviate. Amen.

"I have endeavoured," he adds, "in this translation to imitate the imperfect rhyme of the original Arabic. Such an attempt, however, is full of difficulties. The Arabic is a language in which, like Italian, it is almost impossible not to rhyme." Pilgr. ii. 78.

1 Mishct, vol. i. p. 524. E. Trans. B. viii. 3, 3.

2 Mishct, as above. Muir, i. p. xiii. Freyt. Einl., p. 384. Memoires de lAcad. T. 50, p. 426. Nld. p. 205.

3 Kitb al Waquidi, p. 278

4 See Suras xxxvi. xxv. xvii.

5 See Waltons Prol. ad Polygl. Lond. xiv. 2.

6 Prol. in N.T. p. lxxviii.

7 The date of the Bab. Gemara is A.D. 530; of the Jerusalem Gamara, A.D. 430; of the Mischina A.D. 220; See Gfrrers Jahrhundert des Heils, pp. 11- 44.

8 Sura xlvi. 10, p. 314.

9 Sura vi. 20, p. 318. Sura ii. 13 (p. 339), verse 98, etc.

10 Sura xxv. 5, 6, p. 159.

11 Sura. vii. 156, p. 307; xxix. 47, p. 265.

12 See Dr. Sprengers Life, p. 101.

13 Or, epileptic.

14 A line of argument to be adopted by a Christian missionary in dealing with a Muhammadan should be, not to attack Islam as a mass of error, but to shew that it contains fragments of disjointed truth-that it is based upon Christianity and Judaism partially understood-especially upon the latter, without any appreciation of its typical character pointing to Christianity as a final dispensation.

15 Muhammad can scarcely have failed to observe the opportunity offered for the growth of a new power, by the ruinous strifes of the Persians and Greeks. Abulfeda (Life of Muhammad, p. 76) expressly says that he had promised his followers the spoils o Chosroes and Csar.

SURA1 XCVI.-THICK BLOOD, OR CLOTS OF BLOOD [I.]

MECCA.-19 Verses

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful2

RECITE3 thou, in the name of thy Lord who created;-


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