Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 6.djvu/27

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introduction.

This was repeated three times, when the angel uttered the five verses which commence the 96th chapter:

‘READ ! in the name of thy Lord, who did create —
Who did create man from congealed blood.
READ ! for thy Lord is the most generous,
Who has taught the use of the pen, —
Has taught man what he did not know.’

Terribly frightened, he hastened home to his faithful wife ʿHadîgah, who comforted him. The vision of the angel was not repeated, but his hallucinations and mental excitement continued to such an extent that a new fear took hold of him, and he began to wonder whether he were not, after all, possessed by a ginn, one of those dread supernatural beings of which I have before spoken.

Persons afflicted with epileptic or hysterical symptoms were supposed by the Arabs, as by so many other nations, to be possessed, and we find the constant complaint in the Qur′ân that he was regarded as such by his fellow-citizens. Poetic frenzy was evidently recognised by them as nearly akin to demoniacal possession, and of this charge, too, the prophet frequently endeavours to clear himself. His habit of fasting and watching throughout the night would and no doubt did increase his tendency to mental excitement and visionary hallucinations.

The celebrated ‘night journey’ or ‘ascent into heaven,’ which many of the Muslims allow to have been merely a dream, was doubtless the result of one of these fits of mental exaltation. It must be remembered, however, that to an Eastern mind the reducing it to a dream by no means detracts either from its reality or its authority, dreams being supposed to be direct revelations from God; see the Story of Joseph, Chapter Ⅻ, and the same as recorded in the Old Testament.

That he himself thoroughly believed in the reality of his revelations there can be no doubt, especially during the early part of his prophetic career. The chapters which belong to this period abound in passages which were