Page:Sacred Books of the East - Volume 6.djvu/81

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introduction.

The Kaabah is revisited before the pilgrim leaves Mecca, and the ceremony of the Tawâf again performed. From Mecca the pilgrim proceeds to Medînah to visit the tomb of the prophet. He is then entitled to assume the title of El ‘Hâgg (in Persian and Hindustani corrupted into ‘Hâgî).

It is worth remarking that the word ‘Hagg is identical with the Hebrew word used in Exodus ⅹ. 9, where the reason assigned for the departure of the Israelites is that they may ‘hold a feast (’hagg) unto the Lord’ in the wilderness.

Islâm inculcates the doctrine of predestination, every act of every living being having been written down from all eternity in the Lau′h el Ma′hfûth, ‘the preserved tablet.’ This predestination is called taqdîr, ‘meting out,’ or qismeh, ‘apportioning.’ The reconciliation of such a doctrine with the exercise of free-will, and the difficulty, if it be accepted, of avoiding the ascription of evil as well as good to God, have furnished materials for never-ending disputes amongst Muslim theologians, and have given rise to innumerable heresies. As the present introduction is only intended to furnish the reader with the necessary information to enable him to understand the Qur′ân and its system, I will not dwell upon these and kindred matters which belong to the later history of the creed.

One of the greatest blots on El Islâm is that it keeps the women in a state of degradation, and therefore effectually prevents the progress of any race professing the religion. For this Mohammed is only so far responsible that he accepted without question the prevalent opinion of his time, which was not in favour of allowing too great freedom to women, so that when he had ameliorated their condition by modifying the unjust laws of divorce, by enjoining kindness and equity upon his followers in the treatment of their wives, and by sternly repressing the barbarous custom of female infanticide, he thought, no doubt, that he had done enough for them. Similarly he provided for the better and kinder treatment of slaves, but it could never enter his mind that slavery was in itself a wrong or impolitic institu-