Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 6.djvu/59

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introduction.

usages to guide him in his decisions, only instead of being bound by these usages he was able, by virtue of his office of prophet, to alter or abrogate such as appeared to him not to conduce to the welfare of society. The religious observances and ceremonies he retained were also to a great extent forced upon him; the injunctions to prayer and fasting were necessary to keep alive the religious fervour of the converts, and, indeed, to give the character of a religion to the movement and distinguish it from a mere political reform. The ceremonies of the pilgrimage could not be entirely done away with. The universal reverence of the Arab for the Kaabah was too favourable and obvious a means for uniting all the tribes into one confederation with one common purpose in view. The traditions of Abraham, the father of their race and the founder of Mohammed′s own religion, as he always declared him to be, no doubt gave the ancient temple a peculiar sanctity in the prophet′s eyes, and although he had at first settled upon Jerusalem as his Qiblah, he afterwards reverted to the Kaabah itself. Here, then, Mohammed found a shrine to which, as well as at which, devotion had been paid from time immemorial: it was the one thing which the scattered Arabian nation had in common—the one thing which gave them even the shadow of a national feeling; and to have dreamed of abolishing it, or even of diminishing the honours paid to it, would have been madness and ruin to his enterprise. He therefore did the next best thing, he cleared it of idols and dedicated it to the service of God. Again, the ‘Hagg was the occasion on which the tribes assembled at Mecca and, therefore, not only the cause of trading and mutual profit amongst themselves, but upon it depended entirely the commercial prosperity of the Qurâis.

It has been objected to Islâm that neither its doctrines nor its rites are original. No religion, certainly no sacred books of a religion, ever possessed entire originality. The great principles of morality, and the noble thoughts which are common to humanity, must find their way into the Scriptures, if these are to have any hold upon men; and