Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 6.djvu/35

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introduction.

brink of actual starvation, During the two weary years of suffering and distress Mohammed had of course made no converts amongst the people of Mecca, and few, if any, members of his own clan had joined him during their seclusion, so that his prospects were gloomier than ever.

To add to his troubles, he lost his faithful wife ʿHadîgah not long after this. Shortly afterwards he married a widow named Sâudâ; and later on he was betrothed to ʿÂyeshah, daughter of Abu Bekr, then a mere child, but whom he married in three years time. This woman gained a wonderful ascendancy over the prophet, and exercised considerable influence on Islâm, both during and after his lifetime. On one occasion, when the party were on the move, ʿÂyeshah was left behind with a young Arab under circumstances which gave rise to some very unpleasant rumours affecting her, and a special revelation was necessary to clear her character[1] Two other women were presently added to his harâm, ʿHafza, daughter of ʿOmar, and Zâinab, widow of a Muslim who had been slain at Bedr.

Another marriage that he contracted gave great scandal to the faithful, namely, that with the wife, also called Zâinab, of his adopted son Zâid, whom her husband divorced and offered to surrender to Mohammed on finding that the latter admired her. This also required a revelation to sanction it[2].

His uncle and protector Abu Tâlib died not long after ʿHadîgah.

This last loss left him without a protector, and his life would certainly have been in imminent danger had it not been that his uncle Abu Laheb, although one of the most determined opponents of the new religion, accorded him his formal protection for the sake of the family honour. This, however, was shortly afterwards withdrawn, and Mohammed was left more alone and more exposed to danger than ever.

In the desperate hope of finding help elsewhere he set