Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 6.djvu/36

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the qurʼân.

out for Tâʼif, accompanied by his freedman and adopted son Zâid.

From Tâʼif he was driven forth by the populace, who stoned him as he fled away. Wounded and exhausted, he lay down to rest in an orchard, the proprietor of which refreshed him with some grapes, and as he retraced his steps to Mecca he had a vision by the way. It appeared to him that the hosts of the ginn crowded round him, adoring God, and eager to learn from him the truths of Islâm. Ten years had rolled by and the number of the believers was still very few and the prospects of Islâm darker than they were at first, when the prophet found an unexpected support in the two tribes of El ʼAus and El ʿHazrag, who had towards the end of the fifth century wrested the city of Yathrib from the Jewish tribes who held it.

Some of these Arabs had embraced the Jewish religion, and many of the former masters of the city still dwelt there in the position of clients of one or other of the conquering tribes, so that it contained in Mohammed’s time a considerable Jewish population.

Between the inhabitants of Yathrib and those of Mecca there existed a strong feeling of animosity; but Mohammed, though sharing the prejudices of his compatriots, was not in a position to refuse help from whatever quarter it presented itself.

The Arab inhabitants of Yathrib had on their part a good reason for looking with a more favourable eye upon the new prophet.

Imbued with the superstition of the Jews amongst whom they lived, they looked for the coming of a Messiah with no small apprehension of his restoring the Jewish supremacy and of their own consequent downfall.

Mohammed, after all, might be the expected Messiah; he was of their own race and it was at any rate prudent to treat with him before he should cast in his lot, as he possibly might, with their disaffected Jewish subjects.

Lastly, Yathrib was a prey to incessant agitations and internal discords, and anything that was likely to bind the