Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 6.djvu/68

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the qurʼân

the names of separate deities[1], and the name is abandoned in the later chapters.

In the Sûrahs of the second Meccan period we first find the long stories of the prophets of olden time, especial stress being laid upon the punishment which fell upon their contemporaries for disbelief; the moral is always the same, namely, that Mohammed came under precisely similar circumstances, and that a denial of the truth of his mission would bring on his fellow-citizens the self-same retribution.

They also show the transition stage between the intense and poetical enthusiasm of the early Meccan chapters and the calm teaching of the later Medînah ones. This change is gradual, and even in the later and most prosaic we find occasionally passages in which the old prophetic fire flashes out once more.

The three periods again are marked by the oaths which occur throughout the Qur′ân. In the first period they are very frequent and often long, the whole powers of nature being invoked to bear witness to the unity of God and the mission of His Apostle; in the second period they are shorter and of rarer occurrence; in the last period they are absent altogether.

To understand the Medînah Surahs we must bear in mind Mohammed′s position with respect to the various parties in that city.

In Mecca he had been a prophet with little honour in his own country, looked on by some as a madman, and by others as an impostor, both equally grievous to him, while his following consisted only of the poorest and meanest of his fellow-townsmen.

His own clansmen, for the reason that they were his clansmen and for no other, resented the affronts against him.

In Medînah he appears as a military leader and a prince, though as yet possessing far from absolute authority. Around him in the city were, first, the true believers who had fled with him, El Muhâgerîn; next, the in-

  1. See Part Ⅱ, p. 13, note 1.