Page:Koran - Rodwell - 2nd ed.djvu/22
features of Muhammad's life, it is a much more arduous, and often impracticable task, to point out the precise events to which individual verses refer, and out of which they sprung. It is quite possible that Muhammad himself, in a later period of his career, designedly mixed up later with earlier revelations in the same Suras--not for the sake of producing that mysterious style which seems so pleasing to the mind of who value truth least when it is most clear and obvious--but for the purpose of softening down some of the earlier statements which represent the last hour and awful judgment as imminent; and thus leading his followers to continue still in the attitude of expectation, and to see in his later successes the truth of his earlier predictions. If after-thoughts of this kind are to be traced, and they will often strike the attentive reader, it then follows that the perplexed state of the text in individual Suras is to be considered as due to Muhammad himself, and we are furnished with a series of constant hints for attaining to chronological accuracy. And it may be remarked in passing, that a belief that the end of all things was at hand, maybe have tended to promote the earlier successes of Islam at Mecca, as it unquestionably was an argument with the Apostles, to flee from "the wrath to come." It must be borne in mind that the allusions to contemporary minor events, and to the local efforts made by the new religion to gain the ascendant are very few, and often couched in terms so vague and general, that we are forced to interpret the Koran solely by the Koran itself.
And for this, the frequent repetitions of the same histories and the same sentiments, afford much facility : and the peculiar manner in which the details of each history are increased by fresh traits at each recurrence, enables us to trace their growth in the author's mind, and to ascertain the manner in which a part of the Koran was composed. The absence of the historical element from the Koran as regards the details of Muhammad's daily life, may be judged of by the fact, that only two of his contemporaries are mentioned in the entire volume, and that Muhammad's name occurs but five times, although he is all the way through addressed by the Angel Gabriel as the recipient of the divine revelations, with the word Say. Perhaps such passages as Sura ii. 15, p. 339, and v. 246, p. 365, and the con- stant mention of guidance, direction, wandering, may have been suggested by reminiscences of his mercantile journeys in his earlier years. It may be considered quite certain that it was not customary to reduce to writing any traditions concerning Muhammad him-