Page:Koran - Rodwell - 2nd ed.djvu/29

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Preface


the dictation of teachers morning and evening.[1] And it is equally certain, that all the information received by Muhammad was embellished and recast in his own mind and with his own words. There is a unity of thought, a directness and simplicity of purpose, a peculiar and laboured style, a uniformity of diction, coupled with a certain deficiency of imaginative power, which proves the ayats (signs or verses) of the Koran at least to be the product of a single pen. The longer narratives were, probably, elaborated in his leisure hours, while the shorter verses, each claiming to be a sign or miracle, were promulgated as occasion required them. And, whatever Muhammad may himself profess in the Koran[2] as to his ignorance, even of reading and writing, and however strongly modern Muhammadans may insist upon the same point—an assertion by the way contradicted by many good authors[3]—there can be no doubt that to assimilate and work up his materials, to fashion them into elaborate Suras, to fit them for public recital, must have been a work requiring much time, study, and meditation, and presumes a far greater degree of general culture than any orthodox Muslim will be disposed to admit.

In close connection with the above remarks, stands the question of Muhammad's sincerity and honesty of purpose in coming forward as a messenger from God. For if he was indeed the illiterate person the Muslims represent him to have been, then it will be hard to escape their inference that the Koran is, as they assert it to be, a standing miracle. But if, on the other hand, it was a Book carefully concocted from various sources, and with much extraneous aid, and published as a divine oracle, then it would seem that the author is at once open to the charge of the grossest imposture, and even of impious blasphemy. The evidence rather shews, that in all he did and wrote, Muhammad was actuated by a sincere desire to deliver his countrymen from the grossness of its debasing idolatries—that he was urged on by an intense desire to proclaim that great truth of the Unity of the Godhead which had taken full possession of his own soul—that the end to be attained justified to his mind the means he adopted in the production of his Suras—that he worked himself up into a belief that he had received a divine call—and that he was carried on by the force of circumstances, and by gradually increasing successes, to believe himself the accredited messenger

  1. Sura XXV. 5, 6, p. 159.
  2. Sura. vii. 156, p. 307; xxix. 47, p. 265.
  3. See Dr. Sprenger's “Life.” p. 101.