Notes on Muhammadanism/preface
THERE is a general impression amongst European students of Islam, that it is a simple system of Deism unfettered by numerous dogmas and creeds, which are supposed to be such an insuperable hindrance to an acceptance of Christianity. Such was the opinion of the historian, Gibbon, and it is also the view taken by some who seek to weaken the authority of the Christian system by extolling the merit of its great rival creed. But even amongst the advocates of Christianity there is altogether an erroneous impression as to what Muham- madanism really is. Dean Stanley has an ad mirable chapter on the subject of Islam in his
VI PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION.
u Eastern Church" ; but he tells his readers that the Quran contains the whole of the religion of Muhammad " ; and Mr. Zincke, in his exceed ingly interesting book, " Egypt of the Pharaohs and the Khedive," appears to be under the same impression ; for he says, " the Quran is an all embracing and sufficient code, regulating everything" Whereas the true state of the case is, that whilst the Quran is the highest authority for Muslim doctrine, still, the " faith ful/ whether Sunni, Shia h, or Wahhabi, must receive the sayings and practices of their Prophet as of divine obligation ; for, in Islam, the teachings of the " Sacred Traditions " must be received side by side with that of the Quran itself; and the Muslim who would escape the suspicion of heresy must not dare to question the teaching^ of the learned doctors, whose opinions have been handed down in numerous commentaries and ponderous volumes of divinity.
In publishing these " Notes on Muham-
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION. Vll
madanism," the author is fully conscious of their imperfections, but he ventures to hope that they will contain information which may be suggestive to Missionaries and others in terested in the study of Islam.
Upon a thoughtful study of the present work, the reader cannot fail to observe what an important place dogmatic teaching occupies in the system under consideration. There are those amongst English and Continental writers who regard all dogmatic teaching as antiquated, and who would recommend the Christian Missionary to keep dogma in the back-ground, when dealing with such a religious system as Muhammadanism. But Muslim divines would spurn such teaching as unworthy of theologians, whether of Islam or of Christianity. The trumpet must give no uncertain sound. It is a solemn thing for a Christian Missionary to be engaged day by day in unsettling the religious opinions of immortal beings, unless he feels that he has something good and true
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to offer in the place of opinions renounced. If we call upon the millions of Islam to loose from their moorings amidst the reefs and shoals of a false system, and to steer forth into the wide ocean of religious inquiry, we must surely direct them to some fair haven of refuge where they will find rest and peace. It has been well said by Dr. Martensen* that e; a mind starved by doubt has never been able to produce a dogmatic system " ; and we are quite sure that all who have had practical experience of Muhammadanism, will agree that none could be so helpless in dealing with Muslim doctors, as those who are wandering about in the un certainty of doubt, and cannot stand firm in the certainty of faith.
On the other hand, Muhammadanism may be used as a schoolmaster to bring men to Christ, for much which is contained in its elaborate system is expressive of man s great
- " Christian Dogmatics," by Dr. H. Martensen, Bishop
of Zeeland, Denmark.
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION. IX
and exceeding need. The Christian controver sialist, in dealing with Muhammadanism, must ever remember that it contains a two-fold element of truth. The Founder of Islam derived much of his system from that great unwritten law of God which is ever speaking to men of every nation and of every clime ; and he was also greatly indebted to the written law of the Holy One of Israel, although he received it from Talmudic sources. To quote the words of Bengel, the commentator, " the Law " - whether it be that written on the con science, or in the pages of the Quran, or in God s revealed word "the law hounds a man till he betake himself to Christ ; then it says to him, e Thou hast found an asylum ; I pursue thee no more ; thou art wise, thou art safe.
Notwithstandiag its fair show of outward observance, and its severe legal enactments, there is something in Islam which strikes at the very root of morals, poisons domestic life, and (in its truest sense) disorganizes society. Freedom of judgment is crushed, and a barrier has been raised not merely against the advance of Christianity, but against the progress of Civi lization itself. It is impossible to account for this peculiar feature in Muhammadan nations by attributing it to the peculiarities of Oriental races, or other accidental circumstances. The great cause lies in the religious system which they profess, which binds them hand and foot. For everything in religion, in law, in life, and in thought, has been measured for all time, Muhammadanism admits of no progress in morals, law, or commerce. It fails to re generate the man, and it is equally powerless in regenerating the nation.