Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 6.djvu/55

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ⅹⅼⅸ
introduction.

The Qurʼân appeals several times to the prophecies concerning Mohammed which are alleged to exist in the New and Old Testaments: thus in Chap. Ⅱ, 141, 'Those to whom we have given the Book know him as they know their own sons, although a sect of them do surely hide the truth, the while they know;' and again, Ⅵ, 20, 'Those to whom we have brought the Book know him as they know their sons,—those who lose their souls do not believe.' The allusion is said to be to the promise of the Paraclete in John ⅹⅵ. 7, the suggestion being that the word παράκλητος in the Greek has been substituted for περικλυτός, which would be exactly translated by the name Aʿhmed, or Mohammed. Mohammed, however, certainly had not access to the Greek Testament, and it is doubtful whether an Arabic version even existed at the time, Syriac only being the ecclesiastical language of the Christians of the day: it is more probable that Mohammed may have received the suggestion from some of his Christian friends.

The monotheistic idea, which is the key-word to El Islâm, was not new to the Arabs, but it was distasteful, and particularly so to the Qurâis, whose supremacy over the other tribes, and whose worldly prosperity arose from the fact that they were the hereditary guardians of the national collection of idols kept in the sanctuary at Mecca. Mohammed’s message, therefore, sounded like a revolutionary watchword, a radical party-cry, which the conservative Meccans could not afford to despise, and which they combated very energetically. The prophet, therefore, in the first place, met with but little success, ʿHadîgah accepted her husband′s mission without hesitation, so did her cousin Waraqah; and Zâid, 'the enquirer,' a man who had spent his life in seeking for the truth, and in fighting against this same idolatry that was so repugnant to Mohammed’s ideas, at once gave in his adherence to the new doctrine. For three years, however, only fourteen converts were added to the Muslim church.

The mission of Mohammed, then, appealed forcibly to the Arabs on many grounds. Compared with the prevalent

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