Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 6.djvu/30

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the qurʼân

faith, and on the establishment of the religion became the first muʼezzin or ‘ crier,’ who called to prayer in Islâm.

In the fifth year of his ministry Mohammed made another important convert, Omar ibn el 'Hattâb, a fierce soldier, who had been one of the bitterest opponents of the new religion, but who afterwards proved its chief support.

His conversion carried with it so great weight that the Mohammedan traditions relate it with miraculous attendant details. Omar and Abu Bekr supplied, the one by his vigour and promptitude in action, and the other by his persuasive eloquence and address, the want of the practical element in Mohammed’s character. So thoroughly did he rely upon them and seek support from their companionship, that it was always his custom to say, ‘ I and Abu Bekr and Omar have been to such and such a place, or have done such and such a thing.’

To the great mass of the citizens of Mecca the new doctrine was simply the ʿHanîfism to which they had become accustomed, and they did not at first trouble themselves at all about the matter. Mohammed’s claim, however, to be the Apostle of God called forth more opposition, causing some to hate him for his presumption and others to ridicule him for his pretensions; some, as we have seen above, regarded him in the light of one possessed, while another class looked upon him as a mere vulgar soothsayer.

But in preaching the unity of Allâh, Mohammed was attacking the very existence of the idols, in the guardianship of which consisted not only the supremacy of Mecca, but the welfare and importance of the state. The chiefs of the Qurâis therefore began to look with no favourable eye upon the prophet, whom they regarded as a dangerous political innovator.

But Mohammed himself came of the most noble family in Mecca, and could not be attacked or suppressed without calling down upon the aggressors the certain vengeance of his protector Abu Tâlib and his clan. A deputation of the chiefs therefore waited upon Abu Tâlib and begged him to enforce silence upon his nephew, or to withdraw his