Page:Koran - Rodwell - 2nd ed.djvu/32

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16
The Koran


of India in the ninth. The simple shepherds and wandering Bedouins of Arabia, are transformed, as if by a magician's wand, into the founders of empires, the builders of cities, the collectors of more libraries than they at first destroyed, while cities like Fostât, Baghdad, Cordova, and Delhi, attest the power at which Christian Europe trembled. And thus, while the Koran, which underlays this vast energy and contains the principles which are its springs of action, reflects to a great extent the mixed character of its author, its merits as a code of laws, and as a system of religious teaching, must always be estimated by the changes which it introduced into the customs and beliefs of those who willingly or by compulsion embraced it. In the suppression of their idolatries, in the substitution of the worship of Allah for that of the powers of nature and genii with Him, in the abolition of child murder, in the extinction of manifold superstitious usages, in the reduction of the number of wives to a fixed standard, it was to the Arabians an unquestionable blessing, and an accession, though not in the Christian sense a Revelation, of Truth; and while every Christian must deplore the overthrow of so many flourishing Eastern churches by the arms of the victorious Muslims, it must not be forgotten that Europe, in the middle ages, owed much of her knowledge of dialectic philosophy, of medicine, and architecture, to Arabian writers, and that Muslims formed the connecting link between the West and the East for the importation of numerous articles of luxury and use. That an immense mass of fable and silly legend has been built up upon the basis of the Koran is beyond a doubt, but for this Muhammad is not answerable, any more than he is for the wild and bloodthirsty excesses of his followers in after ages. I agree with Sale in thinking that, “how criminal soever Muhammad may have been in imposing a false religion on mankind, the praises due to his real virtues ought not to be denied him” (Preface), and venture to think that no one can rise from the perusal of his Koran without argeeing with that motto from St. Augustin, which Sale has prefixed to his title page, “Nulla falsa doctrina est, quæ non aliquid veri permisceat.”—Quæst. Evang. ii. 40.


The Arabic text from which this translation has been made is that of Fluegel. Leips. 1841. The translations of Sale, Ullmann, Wahl, Hammer von Purgstall in the Fundgruben des Orients, and M. Kasimirski, have been collated throughout; and above all, the great work of Father Maracci, to whose accuracy and re-