Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 6.djvu/57

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introduction.

One great difference between Judaism and Islâm is that the former is not a proselytising religion, while the latter emphatically is so. All the laws and ordinances of the Pentateuch, all the revelations of the Old Testament, are for the Jew alone, and the Gentile was excluded with jealous care from the enjoyment of any of the divine privileges until Christianity proclaimed that revelation was for the world at large. The Arab, on the contrary, was enjoined to propagate his religion. 'There is no god but God,' and man must be 'resigned to His will,' and if he will not, he must be made to; this is what Islâm or 'resignation' really means.

But, it may be asked, why, if Mohammed preached nothing more than the central truth of Judaism and Christianity, did he not rather accept one or other of these creeds, than found a new one? To answer this question, we must regard Judaism and Christianity not as they are understood now, but as they existed in Arabia in Mohammed’s time. Judaism was effete, Christianity corrupt. The Hebrew nation had fallen, and Magian superstitions and Rabbinic inventions had obscured the primeval simplicity of the Hebrew faith and marred the grandeur of its law. The Christians were forgetful alike of the old revelation and of the new, and neglecting the teachings of their Master, were split up into numerous sects—'Homoousians and Homoiousians, Monothelites and Monophysites, Jacobites and Eutychians,' and the like—who had little in common but the name of Christians, and the cordial hatred with which they regarded each other.

Mohammed certainly wished his religion to be looked upon as a further fulfilment of Christianity, just as Christianity is the fulfilment of Judaism. He regards our Lord with particular veneration, and even goes so far as to call Him the 'Spirit' and 'Word' of God; 'the Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, is but the apostle of God and His Word, which He cast into Mary and a spirit from Him' (Sûrah Ⅳ, 169). The reservation, 'is but the apostle,' &c., is directed against the misconception of the Christian doctrine which

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