opportunities of learning the general outlines of Oriental Christian doctrine, and perhaps of witnessing the ceremonial of their worship. And it appears tolerably certain that previous to and at the period of his entering into public life, there was a large number of enquirers at Mecca, who like Zaid, Omayah of Taief, Waraka, etc., were dissatisfied equally with the religion of their fathers, the Judaism and the Christianity which they saw around them, and were anxiously enquiring for some better way. The names and details of the lives of twelve of the “companions” of Muhammad who lived in Mecca, Medina, and Taief, are recorded, who previous to his assumption of the Prophetic office, called themselves Hanyfs, i.e., converts, puritans, and were believers in one God, and regarded Abraham as the founder of their religion. Muhammad publicly acknowledged that he was a Hanyf—and this sect of the Hanyfites (who are in no way to be confounded with the later sect of the same name) were among his Meccan precursors. See n. pp. 209, 387. Their history is to be found in the Fihrist—MS. Paris, anc. fonds, nr. 874 (and in other treatises)—which Dr. Sprenger believes to have been in the library of the Caliph El-Mâmûn. In this treatise, the Hanyfs are termed Sabeites, and said to have received the Volumes (Sohof) or Books of Abraham, mentioned in Sura lxxxvii. 19, p. 40, 41, which most commentators affirm to have been borrowed from them, as is also the case with the latter part of Sura liii. 37, ad f. p. 71; so that from these “Books” Muhammad derived the legends of Ad and Themoud, whose downfall, recent as it was (see note p. 300), he throws back to a period previous to that of Moses, who is made to ask (Sura xiv. 9, p. 226) “whether their history had reached his hearers.” Muhammad is said to have discovered these “Books” to be a recent forgery, and that this is the reason why no mention of them occurs after the fourth year of his Prophetic function, A.D. 616. Hence too, possibly, the title Hanyf was so soon dropped and exchanged for that of Muslim, one who surrenders or resigns himself to God. The Waraka above mentioned, and cousin of Chadijah, is said to have believed on Muhammad as long as he continued true to the principles of the Hanyfs, but to have quitted him in disgust at his subsequent proceedings, and to have died an orthodox Christian.
It has been supposed that Muhammad derived many of his notions concerning Christianity from Gnosticism, and that it is to the numerous gnostic sects the Koran alludes when it reproaches the Christians with having “split up their religion into parties.”