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Author of " The Religion of the Crescent," " The Noble 

Eightfold Path," "Manual of Muliammadan 

Objections" Ac., Ac. 

Reprint of 1905 edition. 












THE work which is now offered to the student of 
Comparative Religion is the result of many years 
study of various Oriental Religions ancient and 
modern. Except in Chapter IV, where I have 
made much use of Rabbi Abraham Geiger s " Was 
hat Mohammed aus dem Judenthume aufgenom- 
men ? " I am not to any great extent indebted to 
any others who have laboured in the same field. 
Wherever I have been conscious of any indebted 
ness, I have fully acknowledged it in the text 
or notes. 

An investigation of the sources from which Islam 
has sprung would be valueless, unless based upon 
a thorough personal study of the various ancient 
records quoted. This I can honestly claim to have 
undertaken. All the translations I give, from 
whatever language, are my own, except one or two 
passages from the Chinese, which language I have 
not carefully studied. The translations which I 
have in every other case given are as literal as 
possible, in some instances too literal to be elegant. 
But it seemed to me necessary to be exact in order 
to place the reader in a position to judge for him 
self of the correctness or incorrectness of my argu 
ments. In each case I have ^iven references to the 


works in which the translated passages will be 
found in the original languages. 

I have used an exact system of transliteration for 
Arabic names (except in the case of the cities of 
Mecca and Medina), but it is one which to Arabic 
scholars will need no explanation. 

A shorter work of mine on the same subject 
appeared in Persian in 1900, under the title of 
YandbMl Islam. It was very favourably reviewed 1 
by that veteran scholar Sir W. Muir, to whom all 
students of Islam are so much indebted for his 
able works on the history of Muhammad and his 
successors, and has since been translated into Urdu 
and Arabic. Sir W. Muir has also published an 
English epitome of the little book. The present 
work is the result of further study, and has been 
written at the invitation of many friends, who 
wished to have the whole matter treated from an 
English standpoint, which was undesirable when 
I first dealt with the subject in an Eastern tongue 
and therefore from an Oriental point of view. 

W. S. C. T. 

1 In the Nineteenth Century for December, 1900. 

Note. The Frontispiece is not quite the same vignette as 
that described and explained in pp. 203-5. 










BOOKS ... 3 6 








" BOOK OF THE DEAD " Frontispiece. 




THERE is much truth in the dictum of the ancient 
Greek philosopher Democritus that " Nothing has 
sprung from nothing." Islam, as the Religion of 
Muhammad is called by its adherents, is certainly 
no exception to this rule. The important part 
which that religion has played for good or ill in 
the history of the human race and the widespread 
influence which it still continues to exert in many 
Eastern lands render an investigation of its origin 
of interest to everyone who, whether from a re 
ligious, a historical, or a merely philosophical 
standpoint, desires to investigate one of the most 
important movements in the history of the human 
race. The labours of such writers as Sprenger and 
Weil in Germany and of Sir W. Muir in England 
enable us to know all that need be known regarding 
the life and character of Muhammad and the history 
of the Muhammadan world. With these matters 


therefore it is unnecessary for us here to deal. It is 
also a matter of common knowledge that Muham- 
madans profess to derive their religion directly 
from Muhammad himself. They assert that he 
was the last and greatest of the Prophets, and that 
their faith rests upon the Qur an, which contains 
the Divine Revelation which he was commissioned 
to deliver to men. In addition to this they attach 
great importance to the authoritative Traditions 
(AhddUJi) handed down orally from the lips of their 
Prophet through a long series of his followers, and 
only in much later times committed to writing. 
These two, the Qur an and the Traditions, taken 
together, form the foundation of Islam. Much 
importance is also attached to early commentators 
on the Qur an, and to the deductions from it made 
by early jurists and doctors of the law. But in 
our investigation of the origin of Islamic beliefs 
and practices we are but little concerned with these 
latter, except in so far as they throw light on what 
is really believed by Muslims. Even the Traditions 
themselves play but a subordinate part in our 
inquiry, since their authority from the European 
point of view at least is so very uncertain. Dif 
ferent sects of Muhammadans, too, accept different 
collections of Traditions J : and even the collectors 

1 Those accepted by the Sunnis are : (i) The Muwattd of Malik 
ibn Ans, (2) the Jdmi us Sahih of Bukhari, (3) the Sahih of 
Muslim, (4) the Sunan of Abu Baud Sulaiman, (5) the jam? of 
Tirmidhi, and (6) the Kitabu s Sunan of Muhammad ibn Yazid 
ibn Majah al Qazwini. The Shi ahs, on the other hand, accept 


of these Traditions themselves confess that many 
of those which they record are of doubtful accuracy. 
As the Traditions deal for the most part, moreover, 
with the sayings and doings of Muhammad, we 
shall have occasion to refer to them only in cases 
in which they amplify or explain the teaching of the 
Qur an on certain points. The latter book contains 
some obscure and difficult passages, the meaning of 
which requires to be explained by reference to 
Tradition. For example, the fiftieth Surah or 
chapter of the Quran is entitled "Qaf," and is 
denoted by the Arabic letter of that name. It is 
not possible to be quite certain what is meant by 
this until we consult the Traditions, which tell us 
what is to be believed concerning Mount Qaf l , to 
which the name of the Surah is held to contain 
a reference. Again, when in the Surah entitled 

no traditions as authoritative except those contained in (i) the 
Kdfi of Abu Ja far Muhammad (A.H. 329), ( 2 ) the Man 
yastaMirahu l Faqih of Shaikh AH (A.H. 381), (3) the Tahdhlb of 
Shaikh Abu Ja far Muhammad (A. H. 466), (4) the Istibac 
same author, and (5) the Nahju l BalAghah of Sayyid Radi (A. H. 
406). The student will find in the Introduction to the 
edition of Sir W. Muir s Life of Mahomet an admirable investiga 
tion of the sources at our disposal for information regarding 
Muhammad s life, and also an account of the way in which the 
Qur an assumed its present form, together with a discussion oi 
the value and reliability of Tradition. It is, therefore, un 
necessary to deal with the matter here as fully as it would 
otherwise have had to be treated. I may, however, add that 
what is said in the present chapter is drawn at first hand from 
the original authorities. 
1 Vide pp. 119, sqq. 


" The Night Journey " (Surah XVII.), we read in 
the first verse the words, "Praise be unto Him who 
caused His servant to journey by night from the 
Sacred Mosque to the More Distant Mosque," we 
must naturally refer to Tradition to understand the 
meaning of the verse. We thus learn all that 
the Ulama of Islam know for certain regarding the 
journey in question, generally styled the "Ascent" 
(al Mi raj] of Muhammad. 

In dealing with the tenets and religious rites of 
Muslims, we shall make it our rule not to concern 
ourselves with any doctrine or practice which is 
not implicitly or explicitly taught or enjoined in 
the Qur an itself, or in those Traditions which are 
universally accepted by all Muhammadan sects, 
with the partial exceptions of the Xeo-Muham- 
inadans of India, who are not recognized as Muslims 
by the rest of the Muhammadan world. 

It may be well to point out the fact that, though 
a measure of inspiration is supposed to belong to 
the genuine and authoritative Traditions, yet their 
authority is very different from that of the Qur an, 
to which, however, they stand in the second place. 
This is indicated by the difference in the manner 
of speaking of these different forms of revelation. 
The Quran is styled " Recited Revelation," and the 
Traditions "Unrecited Revelation," because the 
Qur an and it alone is considered to constitute 
the very utterance of God Himself. Hence the 
rule has been laid down that any Tradition, how- 


ever well authenticated it may be, that is clearly 
contrary to a single verse of the Qur an must be 
rejected. This rule is an important one for us to 
observe in dealing with matters of Muhammadan 
belief. It renders it unnecessary for us to involve 
ourselves in the mazes of the labyrinth of the 
controversy as to which traditions are genuine, 
which doubtful, and which unreliable. It is 
sufficient for our present purpose to note that in 
their written form Traditions are considerably later 
in date than the text of the gur an. 

Regarding the history of the latter, accepted as 
it is by all Muslims everywhere, we have fairly 
full and satisfactory information. Some of the 
Surahs may have been written down on any 
materials that came to hand by some of Muham 
mad s amanuenses, of which we are told he had 
a considerable number, as soon as they wen- tir>t 
recited by him. The knowledge of writing was 
not uncommon in his time among the Meccans, for 
we are informed that some of the latter, when 
taken captive, obtained their liberty by instructing 
certain of the people of Medina in the art. Whether 
written down at once or not, they were instantly 
committed to memory, and were recited at the 
time of public worship and on other occasions 
During Muhammad s lifetime frequent reference 
was made to him when any doubt arose with 
regard to the proper wording of a passage. Tradi 
tion mentions certain Surahs or verses which were 


preserved in a written form in the houses of 
Muhammad s wives during his life, and we are 
even told that some verses thus written were lost 
and never recovered. From time to time the 
Prophet directed newly revealed verses to be in 
serted in certain Surahs, which must therefore 
have already assumed form and have even received 
the names which they still retain. There seems, 
however, to have been no fixed order prescribed in 
which these Surahs should be arranged. Each 
formed a more or less independent whole. The 
task of learning the Surahs by heart was not only 
a labour of love to Muhammad s devoted followers, 
but it also became a source of dignity and profit, 
since not only were those who could recite the 
largest number of verses entitled in very early 
times to assume the position of Imam or leader in 
public worship, but they were also considered to 
have a claim to a larger share of the spoil than 
were other Muslims. 

About a year after Muhammad s death, as we 
learn from Bukhari, the Qur an was first put to 
gether in a collected whole. This was done by 
Zaid ibn Thabit, one of Muhammad s friends and 
amanuenses, at the command of Abu Bakr. The 
reason for this step was that Umar bnu l Khattab, 
perceiving that many of the reciters of the Qur an 
had fallen in the fatal battle of Yamamah (A. H. 
12), saw reason to fear lest the Revelation should 
thus in whole or in part be lost. He therefore 


strongly urged the Khalifah l to give orders that 
the scattered Surahs should be collected together 
and preserved in an authoritative written form. 
Zaid at first felt great reluctance to do what the 
Prophet himself had not thought lit to do, but he 
at last yielded to the command of the Khalifah. 
The story 2 as told in his own words runs thus: 
"Abu Bakr said to me, Thou art a learned young 
man : we do not distrust thee : and thou wast wont 
to write out the Divine Revelation for the Apostle 
of God. Seek out the Qur an therefore and collect 
it. If they had imposed upon me the duty of 
removing a mountain, it would not have weighed 
more heavily upon me than what he commanded 
me to do in the way of collecting the Qur an. 
Abft Bakr did not desist from urging me to collect 
it, until God enlightened my breast to perceive 
what Umar and Abu Bakr s own breast had made 
clear to the latter. Accordingly I searched out the 
whole of the Qur an from leafless palm-branches 
and from white stones and from the breasts of 
men, until I found the conclusion of Suratu t 
Taubah (Surah IX., v. 129) with Abu Khuzaimah 
the Ansari. I found it not with anyone else." 

From the phrase "to collet- the Qur an," it is 
.-vident that the book had not previously been 

1 This word is generally, but wrongly, spelt Caliph. It is 
applied to Muhammad s successors, and means " Vicegerent (of 
the Apostle of God)." 

a Mishkdtu l Masdbih, pp. 185 sqq., from Bukhari. 


formed into one united whole. His reverence for 
his master would naturally prevent Zaid from 
either adding to or omitting anything from the 
Surahs which were recited to him by many persons 
from memory, and in some cases found in writing 
upon the various writing materials which were 
then in use. The fact that certain circumstances 
most derogatory to Muhammad s claim to be a 
Divinely commissioned prophet are still to be found 
in the Qur aii is a conclusive proof of the scru 
pulous accuracy with which Zaid discharged the 
task entrusted to him. Nor would it have been 
possible at that time to have in any way tampered 
with the text. Within a year or two he had com 
pleted the work and had written down all the 
Surahs, each apparently on a separate sheet. It 
seems that there is some reason to believe that the 
present arrangement of the Surahs dates from that 
time. On what system it rests it is hard to say, 
except that the Sfiratu l Fatihah was placed first 
as a sort of introduction to the book, partly no 
doubt because it was even then universally used 
as a prayer, and so was better known than an} 
other. The other Surahs were arranged on the 
principle of putting the longest first. Thus the 
shortest come at the end of the book. This is 
almost the direct converse of their chronological 
order. Tradition enables us to know in what order 
and on what occasion most of the Surahs, and in 
certain cases some of their verses, were " revealed," 


but in our present inquiry it is not necessary to 
deal with this matter at all fully, important as it 
doubtless is for the study of the steady develop 
ment of the Faith, as it gradually took shape in 
Muhammad s own mind. 

Zaid on the conclusion of his work handed over 
the manuscript, written doubtless in the so-called 
Cufic character, to Abu Bakr. The latter preserved 
it carefully until his death, when it was committed 
to the custody of Umar, after whose decease it 
passed into the charge of Hafsah, his daughter, one 
of Muhammad s widows. Copies of separate Surahs 
were afterwards made either from this or from the 
original authorities which Zaid had used. 

Errors, or at least variations, gradually crept 
into the text of the Qur an as it was recited, and 
possibly also into these fragmentary copies. Abft 
Bakr does not seem to have caused authoritative 
transcripts of the single manuscript which Zaid had 
written to be made, and hence it could not counter 
act the very natural tendency to alteration, mostly 
or wholly unintentional, to which the Qur an, like 
every other work handed down orally, was liable. 
There were different dialects of Arabic then in use, 
and there must have been a tendency in the first 

1 The Surahs are arranged as nearly as possible in chrono 
logical order in Rodwell s translation of the Qur an, though 
doubtless certain early Surahs had verses of later date inserted 
into them long after they were written. See Canon Sell s 
"Historical Development of the Qur an." 
B 2 


place to explain certain words, and in the second 
to permit these dialectic paraphrases to find an 
entrance into the recited verses. This caused no 
little confusion and perplexity in the minds of 
pious Muslims. At last Uthman, when engaged 
in the task of conquering Armenia and Azarbaijan, 
was warned by Hudhaifah ibnu l Yaman of the 
danger which there was lest the original should be 
very seriously corrupted in this way. Bukhari 1 
tells us that Hudhaifah said to Uthman, " O Com 
mander of the Faithful, restrain this people, before 
they differ among themselves about the Book as 
much as the Jews and the Christians do." The 
Khalifah therefore sent to bid Hafsah forward to 
him the original manuscript to be copied, promising 
to return it to her when this had been done. He 
then commissioned Zaid, in conjunction with three 
members of Muhammad s own tribe, the Quraish, 
to produce a recension of the work. At least this 
is what his language seems to imply, for he said to 
the three Quraishites, " Whenever ye differ, ye and 
Zaid ibn Thabit, in reference to any part of the 
Qur an, then write it in the dialect of the Quraish, 
for it was revealed in their language." We are 
told that the new recension was copied from the 
original manuscript, and so doubtless it was for 
the most part. Yet the words we have quoted 
prove that certain alterations must have been 
made, though no doubt in good faith, and prin- 

1 Mishkdtu l Masdbih, pp. 185, 186 


cipally to preserve the purity of the Meccan dialect 
of the book. Another proof that some change was 
made is afforded by the statement that on this 
occasion Zaid recollected a verse which was not in 
the first copy, and which he had himself heard 
Muhammad recite. He did not, however, venture 
to insert it merely on his own authority, but 
searched until he found another man who could 
recite it from memory. When this was done, the 
verse was entered in Sitratu l Ah/ab. Then 
" Uthman 1 returned the sheets to Hafsah, and 
sent to every region an exemplar of what they had 
copied out, and with reference to every sheet and 
volume of the Qur an besides this he commanded 
that it should be burned." 

This last proceeding may seem to us arbitrary 2 , 
but it has succeeded in preserving the text of the 
Qur an from that day to this in practically one and 
the same form in all Muhammadan lands. Even 
Hafsah s copy, the only one which in any important 
respect differed from the revised edition after the 
execution of Uthman s command, was on that 
account burned in Marwan s time. The very few 
differences of reading which diligent search has 


2 See the objections stated in Al Kindi s Apology, Sir W. Muir a 
translation, pp. 72-8. 


revealed in various copies of the Qur an now extant 
consist almost wholly in the position of the dots 
which distinguish from one another 1 the letters 
cy, (j and ,j, and these letters have no such dia 
critical marks in the old Cufic alphabet. 

We are therefore led to the conclusion that we 
still have the Qur an as Muhammad left it, and 
hence we may, with almost perfect certainty as to 
the correctness of the text, proceed to study the book 
in order to ascertain what he taught and whence 
he derived the various statements and doctrines 
which, contained in the Qur an and explained and 
amplified in the Traditions, constitute the Religion 
of Islam. 

In discussing the origin of Islam it is right in 
the first place to consider the statements on the 
subject which are made by the leading teachers 
and Doctors of the Law among the Muslims, and 
to inquire whether their opinions on this point are 
supported by the assertions of the Qur an itself. 
We shall then proceed to investigate the question 
whether it is possible for us to accept these state 
ments as the correct explanation of the facts of the 

It is well known that the Ulama of Islam 
assert and have always asserted that the Qur an is 
the Word of God Himself, which the Most High 
caused to be inscribed upon " the Preserved Tablet " 

1 A few examples of such various readings occur in Surah VI., 
Al An am, 91. 


in Heaven, long ages before the creation of the 
world. Although in the reign of the Khalifah 
Al Ma mun (A.H. i 9 8-2i8 = A.D. 813-33) and after 
wards there occurred many fierce disputes between 
those who held that the Quran was eternal and 
those who believed that it was created, into which 
discussion it is not necessary for us to enter, yet 
all Muslims have always agreed in holding that 
the book is not the composition of Muhammad or 
of any other human author. On the contrary, they 
believe that it is entirely the work of God Himself, 
and that Muhammad was merely His messenger 
in this respect, whose duty it was to receive the 
Divine book and communicate it to men. Tradi 
tion tells us that the book was brought down on 
one particular night 1 from the highest to the 
lowest heaven by the Archangel Gabriel, who 
afterwards gradually conveyed the verses and 
chapters to the mind and tongue of Muhammad. 
Accordingly there is nothing whatever that is 
human about the Qur an : it is wholly and entirely 
of Divine origin. 

That our readers may perceive that this is really 
the orthodox Muhammadan view of the matter, 
we here quote two passages on the subject from 
the well-known Arabic writer Ibn Khaldun. 
"Know therefore," he says 2 , "that the Quran 

1 Called the " Night of Power." 

j wyil i*li JjJ j^ 


descended in the language of the Arabs and in 
accordance with their style of eloquence, and all 
of them understood it and knew its various mean 
ings in its several parts and in their relation to 
one another. And it continued to descend, section 
by section and in groups of verses, in order to 
explain the doctrine of the Unity of God and 
religious obligations, according as circumstances 
required. Some of these verses consist of articles 
of faith, and some of them of commandments for 
the regulation of conduct." In another passage 
the same writer says, " All this l is a proof to thee 
that, amid the Divine Books, it was verily the 
Quran with which our Prophet (may God s bless 
ings and His peace be upon him !) was inspired, in 
the form of something recited just as it is in its 
words and in its sections ; whereas the Law and 
the Gospel on the other hand, and all the other 
Heavenly Books, were revealed to the Prophets in 

Lo l^laj A-oUi^l JoUbJl J y* U l^loj 
(Arabic Text, vol. ii., p. 391.) 

I*.$\j2 8J lJi5o 
-U-S5II $3 AJj 

sJlll Jl ^c^ j> l^ UJ-r oo, jU ^1 JU j Ui 

(Vol. i., pp. 171, 172.) 


the form of ideas when they were in a state of 
ecstasy, and they explained them, afti-r their return 
to man s ordinary condition, in their own customary 
language : and therefore there is nothing miraculous 
in them." That is to say, the Ulama of Islam, 
while acknowledging that other prophets came 
before Muhammad and brought Divine messages 
to man, yet hold that the inspiration of the Quran 
differs not only in degree but in kind from that to 
which other sacred books, as for instance the Law 
and the Gospel, are due. The writers of these 
books received certain i /ra from God in some way, 
but the language which they afterwards used to 
express these conceptions was their own. and can 
not therefore claim any origin higher than the 
human. Muhammad, on the contrary, heard Gabriel 
reading aloud or reciting in a voice distinctly 
audible to him every single word of the Quran, 
according as it was inscribed on the " Preserved 
Tablet" in heaven. Arabic is held to be the 
language of heaven and of the angels, and hence 
in the Quran we have the very words, as well as 
the Word, of God Himself. Words, metaphors, 
reflections, narratives, style, all are wholly and 
entirely of Divine origin. 

There can be no doubt that this view is in com 
plete accordance with the statements of the Quran 
itself. The Divine original is styled " the Mother 
of the Book " (Surah XIII., Ar Ra d, 39). Again 
and again in varied forms are such assertions 


as the following to be found in the Qur an : 
Nay, it is a glorious Quran in a Preserved 
Tablet " (Surah LXXXV., Al Buruj, 21, 22). The 
word Quran itself denotes this, meaning "that 
which is recited: In another place we read that 
God Most High commanded Muhammad to say, 
"God is witness between me and you, and this 
Quran was given me by inspiration that I might 
warn you therewith " (Surah VI., Al Anam, 19). 
So also in Surah XCVIL, Al Qadr, i, God is repre 
sented as saying with reference to the Quran, 
" Verily We caused it to descend on the Night of 
Power." Such quotations might be almost in 
definitely multiplied l . 

The Muhammadaii explanation of the origin of 
Islam therefore, based as it ultimately is upon the 
Qur an, is that the sole Source and Fountain-head 
of the Religion of Islam is God Himself. It had 
accordingly no human source, and no single part 
of it was derived directly or indirectly from earlier 
revelations or from other religions, though it was 
revealed to confirm the Law and the Gospel, and 
claims to agree with their original and uncorrupted 
teaching (cf. Surah LVIL, Al Hadid, 26, sqq.). 

European readers hardly require proof that such 
an opinion of the origin of Islam in general and of 
the Qur an in particular is untenable. Those who 
cannot read the book in the original Arabic are 
enabled to examine its teaching by consulting the 
Cf. Surahs IV., 84 ; XVII, 107 j XLVL, 7 ; LIII, 4 ; Ac., Ac. 


various translations of the Quran which have been 
made into various European languages, the best- 
known of the English versions being those by Sale, 
Rodwell, and Palmer. To an intelligent mind the 
assertion which we are considering refutes itself. 
Moreover, the morality of the Qur an, its view of 
the Divine Nature, its anachronisms, and its many 
defects make it impossible for us to doubt that it is 
Muhammad s own composition. When the Surahs 
are arranged in the chronological order of their 
composition and compared with the events in 
Muhammad s life, we see that there is much truth 
in the statement that the passages were not, as 
Muslims say, revealed, but composed from time to 
time, as occasion required, to sanction each new 
departure made by Muhammad 1 . The Qur an is 
a faithful mirror of the life and character of its 
author. It breathes the air of the desert, it enables 
us to hear the battle-cries of the Prophet s followers 
as they rushed to the onset, it reveals the working 
of Muhammad s own mind, and shows the gradual 
declension of his character as he passed from the 
earnest and sincere though visionary enthusiast 
into the conscious impostor and open sensualist. 
All this is clear to every unprejudiced reader of 
the book. 

At the same time the question presents itself, 
Whence did Muhammad borrow the ideas, the 
narratives, the precepts, which he has incorporated 

1 Vide pp. 275 sqq. 


into the religion which he founded? Which of 
these were his own invention, which of them were 
derived from earlier systems ? To what extent had 
he the means of learning the teachings of those 
who professed other religions than his own? If 
he borrowed from other systems, what particular 
parts of the Quran, what religious rites, what con 
ceptions and narratives, what injunctions can be 
traced to each such source? How much of the 
result is due to the character of Muhammad him 
self and to the circumstances of his time ? Such 
are some of the problems which it is our object in 
this book to solve as clearly and as succinctly as 
we may. From whatever point of view we may 
regard the inquiry, it can hardly fail to be in 
teresting. Such an investigation, if honestly pur 
sued, will enable a Muslim to appreciate his 
ancestral faith at its real and proper value. The 
student of Comparative Religion will learn from 
such an analysis how one Ethnic Faith arose in 
recent historical times, though, if he is wise, he 
will not be led to formulate rash conclusions from 
a single instance. The Christian Missionary may 
also find it important to follow out our investiga 
tions, in order to discover in them a new method 
of leading Muslim inquirers to perceive the un 
tenable nature of their position. Setting aside, 
however, all such considerations, we proceed to 
inquire what the Original Sources of the Qur an 
really were. 



IN order to be able to understand the gradual 
development of Islam in Muhammad s mind, and 
to discover from what sources he borrowed, it is 
necessary in the first place to consider the religious 
opinions and observances of the Arabs among whom 
he was born and bred. 

The inhabitants of Arabia were not all of one 
race. Arabic writers in general divide them into 
pure or original Arabs and those who, coming from 
other countries, had become Arabicized. Himya- 
rites and certain other tribes present us with traces 
of affinity with the ^Ethiopians, and the accounts 
which the cuneiform tablets give us of early con 
quests of parts of the country by the Sumerian 
kings of Babylonia, coupled with the fact that the 
early Egyptian kings for a time held sway over 
the Sinaitic Peninsula and possibly over other 
districts in the North and West, leave no doubt 
that there were even in early times Hamitic and 
other foreign elements in the population. In the 


days of the great Cushite monarchies in Babylonia, 
not only must the people of Arabia have been to 
some degree affected by their civilization, their 
trade and their ideas in general, but the influence 
of the religion also of these foreign nations must 
have been considerable. Early Arabian inscriptions 
prove this, containing as they do the names of such 
deities as Sin (the Moon-god) and Aththar (Ash- 
toreth, Ishtar), worshipped by the Sumerians in 
the first place and afterwards by the Semites of 
Babylonia, Assyria, Syria, and of some parts of 
Arabia. Yet, though there was doubtless a Hamitic 
element in the population, the great mass of the 
people from very early times has always been 
Semitic in origin, and also in language, character, 
and religion. 

Ibn Hisham, Tabari, and other Arabian historians 
have preserved ancient traditions of certain Arab 
tribes, particularly those of the northern and 
western parts of the country. These agree with 
the statements of the Pentateuch, and give every 
reason to believe that most of these tribes could 
trace their descent to Joktan (Ar. Qahtan l ), or to 
Ishmael, or to Abraham s children by Keturah. 
Even those who had no real right to claim such 
lineage did so in Muhammad s time. The Quraish, 
his own tribe, claimed descent from Abraham 
through Ishmael. Although it may be considered 

1 It is unnecessary for us to discuss the anachronism involved 
in this identification. 


impossible to prove this, the very fact that such 
was the belief of the tribe would naturally enlist 
a certain amount of popular sympathy in Muham 
mad s cause, when he claimed to be commissioned 
to recall his people to the "faith of Abraham," 
whom they boasted of as their ancestor. 

There seems good reason to believe that the 
original religion of the children of Shem was the 
worship of the One l God. Although polytheism 
had even in very early times found an entrance 
into Arabia, in part doubtless through the foreign 
influences already referred to, yet the belief in the 
One true God had never entirely faded away from 
the minds of the people. The most binding agree 
ments between different tribes were confirmed by 
an oath taken in calling on the name of God 
(Allah, AUdhmnma), and the expression, " An enemy 
of God," was deemed the most opprobrious that 
could be used. It is possible that we may see in 
the Book of Job the proof that even in that early 
period the worship of the Host of Heaven was 
finding an entrance into the country (Job xxxi. 
26-8). Herodotus (Book III., cap. 8) informs us 
that two deities, a male and a female, were 
worshipped by the Arabs in his time, and these he 
identifies with Dionysos and Ourania. He in 
forms us that their names in Arabic were 

1 This is not the place to enter upon the proof of the matter, 
but I hold that the fact stated in the text is correct, in spite of 
all that has recently been written on the other side. 


and AAiAar respectively. The latter is very 
possibly the Alldtu of Babylonia, and is certainly 
the Al-ldt mentioned in the Qur an 1 . The latter 
word was taken to be the feminine of Allah (10l), 
" God:" Allah itself is known to be a contraction 
of Al Ildh, which is the word used in all the 
Semitic languages (in slightly varied forms) for 
God, with the definite article prefixed, so that 
Allah is the exact equivalent of the Greek 6 0eoy. 
The form A\tAdr which is given us by Herodotus 
is the uncontracted form of the feminine of the 
same word 2 . It is possible that the Arabs of 
whom Herodotus speaks 3 provided their one God 
with a female consort, after the manner of the 
Semites of Babylonia, who had learnt from the 

1 Surah LIIL, 19. 

2 In Assyrian Ilu is God, llatu is "goddess." Alldtu is probably 
from the Accadian. 

8 As we shall have to refer to it again, it may oe well to 
quote the passage at length. It runs thus : 2e/3oi/rm 5c Apaftioi 
many dvOpuircav dpoia ro?ai fj.d\iara. iroitvvrai 8% avrds rpoirca rotaiSe- 
T&V $ov\ TO, mara iroieeaOai, d\\os dvr)p df^cpoTfpcav avrtuv fv 
careers \idtu 6ei TO fffca TWV xetpSiv irapa TOUJ SafervXovs TOVS 

fi T&V iroicvpfVQJV rds iriffris KO.I eneira 
TOV IfMTiov fKarepov KpoKvSa d\(i<pei r> ai /nart iv /i<ra> 
XiOovs (TTTa- rovro Se -noifcav iritca\((t TOV TC Aiovvcov Kai TTJV 
Ovpavtrjv. iriTe\e<TavTos 8t TOVTOV raura, 6 raj ITICTTIS 

<pi\oiai irapeyyvq TOV (tvov, r) Kal TOV dffTov, r]v irpos 

of Se (piXoi Kal avTol TO? TT IO TIS oiKcucvai 0@(ar9ai. Aiovvarov 
o Of ov fiovvov Kal TTJV Ovpavirjv -fjyfvvTai tTvar Kal TWV Tptxwv TT)V 
KfipeaOai <paat } Ka6dirfp avTov T^V Aiovvaov KCKapOai KfipovTai 
-, irepivpovvTfs TOVS KpoTa<povs. ovvofjid^ovo t 8% TOV /uey 
Ai6vvaov, Opord\ rfv of Ovpaviijv, A\i\dT (Herod. Lib. III., 8). 


Sumerians the idea that each deity must have his 
feminine l counterpart, just as we find among the 
Hindus. On the other hand, we are not justified in 
believing that this was the case among all the 
Arabs. Certainly it was not so in Muhammad s 
time, for neither the Qur an nor any of the remains 
of the most ancient poetry of the Arabs afford any 
trace of such a tenet. Allah was regarded as 
standing alone and unapproachable, and the in 
ferior deities peculiar to the various tribes were 
worshipped as intercessors with Him. These were 
numerous, the most important of them being 
Wudd, Ya uq, Hubal, Al-lat, Uzza, and Manah. 
The three latter were goddesses, and the Qur an 
reproves 2 the Arabs for styling them " daughters 
of God." The Arabs of that time, if we may judge 
from their poetry, were not very religious, but 
what worship they offered was mostly to these 
inferior deities, though doubtless regarded as 
through them addressed to Allah Himself. The 
latter was often styled Allah Ta ala (^l LU1), 
or " God Most High," and this title of His was 
doubtless very ancient 3 . 

1 Others, e. g. Prof. Sayce (in his Lectures on the Religions of 
Egypt and Babylonia), hold that this was an original Semitic 

a Surahs XVI., 59; LIIL, 19-21, 28. 

8 The Opord\ of Herodotus has doubtless preserved in its last 
syllable the word Ta dla\ The first part of the word is of 
uncertain derivation : it may be a corruption of Allah. With 
Allah Ta dla cf. the ;i to?fy of Gen. xiv. 18, 19, aa. 


It is not possible to suppose that the recognition 
of the Unity of God was introduced among the 
Arabs for the first time by Muhammad. For the 
word Allah, containing as it does the definite 
article, is a proof that those who used it were in 
some degree conscious of the Divine Unity. Now 
Muhammad did not invent the word, but, as we 
have said, found it already in use among his 
fellow countrymen at the time when he first 
claimed to be a Prophet, a Divinely commissioned 
messenger. Proof of this is not far to seek. 
Muhammad s own father, who died before his son s 
birth, was called Abdulldh, "Servant of Allah 1 ." 
The Ka bah or Temple at Mecca seems long before 
Muhammad s time to have been called Baitulldh or 
" House of Allah." Arabic tradition asserts that a 
shrine for the worship of God was built on that 
very site by Abraham and his son Ishmael. 
Although we cannot regard this statement as in 
any sense historical, yet the tradition serves at 
least to show the antiquity of the worship there 
offered, since its origin was lost in fable. The 
Ka bah is, in all probability, the spot referred to by 
Diodorus Siculus 2 (B.C. 60) as containing a shrine 
or temple which was very specially honoured by 
all the Arabs. In the poems entitled Al Mu allaqat, 
handed down to us from pre-Islamic times, the 

1 So also a nephew of Muhammad was called Ubaidu lldh. 
* Ifpov ayiwrarov iSpvrai nnw^vov viro iravrotv Apaftcav irfpir- 
roTfpov (Diod. Sic., Lib. III.). 


word Allah (=6 0eos) is of frequent occurrence 1 . 
And Ibn Ishaq, the earliest biographer of Muham 
mad of whose work any certain remains have come 
down to us, is quoted by Ibn Hisham as stating 
that the tribes of Kinanah and Quraish, when 
performing the religious ceremony known as the 
Ihldl, used to address the Deity in such words - as 
these : " Labbaika, Allahumma ! We are present 
in Thy service, O God; we are present in Thy 
service ! Thou hast no partner, except the partner 

1 For example, we find in the Diicdn of An Nabighah the 
following lines : 

(Poeni I., 11. 33, 24, ed. Ahhvardt.) 
And again : 
, _ ___ , , ., ,, .,, , *i z -L-o * -- o-J 

vjjjoj U^y all* J3 L^H 

I ^ m t* 0*0- O --- I 

^J^ ^ Arf p oLt Ul 

(Poem III., 11. 9, 10.) 
And so also in Poem VIII., 11. 5, 6 : 

\j*(i *U. ^^^ yyjjl ^ .tf ^/J 

Labid has also the following verse : 

L o!T u T iaj ifiT viJT 1- u 

2 Quoted in Ibn Hisham s StrafttV JJasit/, Egyptian edition, 
Part I., pp. 27, 28. 

o a 


of Thy dread ; Thou ownest him and whatsoever 
he owneth." Ibn Ishaq rightly says that by this 
address they declared their belief in the unity of 
Allah. He does not explain what was meant by 
the phrase "The partner of Thy dread:" but it 
may be conjectured that the reference was to some 
inferior deity belonging to one or other of the 
tribes which he mentions. But in any case the 
language employed shows clearly that the being 
referred to was not in any way placed upon 
an equality with Allah. The religion of the 
ancient Arabs may therefore be justly compared 
with the Saint-worship of the Greek and Roman 
Churches, alike of Muhammad s time and of our 
own, and with that which, in spite of the Qur an, 
is even now prevalent among Muslims. But the 
worship offered in such cases to saints or inferioi 
deities is not supposed to constitute a denial of the 
Unity and supremacy of God, since the latter are 
adored only as mediators between God and man. 
What Ash Shahristani tells us of the religious 
ideas and practices of the pre-Islamic period in 
Arabia fully confirms this 1 . He divides the in- 

1 Ash Shahristani in j -, quoted by Abu l Fida 
(Hist. Ante-Islamica) : 

U yiij jyjLSfi ^j~\ \S jLiif 

o i \ ~ \ Q ** >f*- 

j Uj - n^ - Uoj o^S LojJl Ui U 

Surah OV (Surah XLV., 23). 


habitants of Arabia into various sects or parties, 
differing very much in their religious opinions. 
Some of them, he says, denied the existence of a 
Creator, the sending of prophets, and the final 
judgment, asserting that Nature itself was the 
giver of life and that Time was the universal 
destroyer. Others again believed in a Creator, but 
denied that He had ever revealed Himself by 
sending messengers commissioned to declare His 


(Fleischer s ed., pp. 178-81.) See also on the same subject 
Krehl, Uber die Religion der vorislamischen Araber, pp. 4 sqq. 
b SOrah J (Surah L, 14). 


will. Others, again, worshipped idols, of which 
each tribe had its own. For example, the tribe of 
Kalb worshipped Wudd and Suwa , that of Madhhaj 
honoured Yaghuth, as did some of the Yamanites. 
The Dhu lkila* in Himyar worshipped Nasr, the 
Hamdhan tribe adored Ya uq, that of Thaqif in 
Taif served Al-lat, while Al- Uzza was the tutelary 
goddess of the Banu Kinanah and of the Quraish. 
The tribes of Aus and Khazraj worshipped Manah, 
and regarded Hubal as the chief of their deities. 
His image was placed in a most conspicuous place 
on the roof of the Ka bah. Other deities were 
Asaf and Naila . Some of the tribes had come 
under the influence of Jewish colonies settled near 
them, and accepted more or less of the teaching of 
the latter people. Others had become Christians, 
while their neighbours were inclined to accept that 
faith. Others, again, were under the influence of 
the Sabians, and used to practise astrology and 
receive omens taken from the movements of the 
heavenly bodies as their guides in all actions of 
importance. Some worshipped angels, some the 
Jinns or evil spirits. Abu Bakr himself, who after 
wards became the first Khalifah or " Vicegerent of 
the Apostle of God," was at one time distinguished 
for his proficiency in the art of interpreting 

A story 1 related by many Arabic writers, includ- 

1 In the Mawdhibu l luduniyyah the tale is told in ieveral forms. 
One runs thus : 


ing some of the best-known commentators on the 
Quran, shows how readily the Arabs in Muhani- 

a* *i 

dfc - tejfci j *i) tf~ 


i Ct 


Another form of the story is given in the same book in these 
words : 


l J-J^io. U^T/i U 

This story is also related in much the same way by Ibn 
Ishaq, and it is accepted by Ibn Hisham, the amplifier of his 
account of Muhammad s life (Strafu r Rasnl, vol. i. pp. 127 sqq.). 
Tabari and others also give the tale as true, as do the commen 
tators Yahya and Jalulu ddin, and also Baidawl, in commenting 
on Surah Al Hajj (Surah XXII.), v. 51, the verse quoted at the 


mad s time (even those who were most bitterly 
opposed to him in Mecca, and who had forced most 
of his early disciples to flee to Abyssinia to save 
their lives) joined with him in worshipping God 
Most High (Allah Ta ala ), when he for a time 
seemed to withdraw his opposition to their honour 
ing their inferior deities also. He went one day, 
we are told, to pray in the Ka bah, the great 
national sanctuary at Mecca, of which his family 
had been at one time the guardians. There he 
began to repeat Surah An Najm (Surah LIIL). 
When he had recited the nineteenth and twentieth 
verses, "Have ye not then seen Al-Lat and Al- 
Uzza and Manah, the other, the third ? " it is stated 
that Satan impelled him to add the words, " These 
are the Exalted Beauties, and verily their inter 
cession may indeed be hoped for." On hearing 
these words all the Arabs present joined him in 
worship, and the rumour spread everywhere that 
they had all embraced Islam. The story is well 
authenticated and is most probably true. But in 
any case its very existence shows that the opponents 
of Muhammad found no difficulty in accepting his 
teaching as to the existence and supremacy of Allah, 
and that they worshipped the inferior deities as 

end of the above extract. Al Ghazali, Baihaqi, and others 
fiercely deny the truth of their prophet s fall into approval of 
idolatry, even for a moment. But, unless the story be true, it 
is difficult to account for its acceptance by the above authorities ; 
and the verse we have just referred to seems to require the 
story to explain it. 


intercessors with Him. It is but fair to add that 
Muhammad soon withdrew the words which acknow 
ledged the existence and influence of these goddesses, 
substituting for them those now found in the Surah, 
"Have ye male (issue), and hath He (i.e. God) 
female *? That indeed were an unfair division. They 
are nought but names, which ye and your fathers 
have named V 

Ibn Ishaq, Ibn Hisham and Arabic writers in 
general state that the Arabs, and in particular those 
that boasted descent from Ishmael, were at first 
worshippers of God alone, and that, though after 
a time they fell away into idolatry and polytheism 
if the word may be applied to such religious ideas 
and practices as those which we have described- 
they nevertheless always remembered that God 
Most High was superior to and Ruler over all the 
inferior objects of their worship. 

When we come to consider the influence which 
Jewish and Christian tenets exercised over the 
mind of Muhammad, we shall see that these reli 
gions no doubt strengthened his belief in Mono 
theism. But it was not a new belief among the 
Arabs of the time, since, as we have seen, they had 
always admitted it, at least in theory. Yet the 
inferior deities whom they worshipped were very 
numerous, for it is said that there were no fewer 
than 360 idols in the Ka bah, which had become 

1 Surah LIU., An Najm, ai, aa, 23. 


a kind of national Pantheon. There can be little 
doubt, moreover, that these local and tribal deities 
for such they were had in practice cast entirely 
into the shade among the great mass of the people 
the worship of " God Most High." 

It should, however, be noticed that, rightly or 
wrongly, the earliest Arabian historians assert that 
the "association of partners with God" was of 
comparatively recent origin in those parts of Arabia 
when Islam arose. Tradition 1 , said to rest on 
Muhammad s authority, informs us that idolatry 
had been introduced from Syria, and gives us the 
names of those who were chiefly instrumental in 
introducing it. This is stated to have occurred 
only about fifteen generations before Muhammad. 
An exception to this must be made in the case of 
the veneration paid to sacred stones. This was 
common among the people of Palestine in the 
patriarchal period, and was doubtless of immemorial 
antiquity in Arabia. Ibn Ishaq 2 endeavours to 
account for it by supposing that the Meccans used 
to carry with them on their journeys pieces of 
stone from the Ka bah, and paid reverence to them 
because they came from the Haram or Holy Temple. 
Herodotus 3 mentions the use of seven stones by 
the Arabs when taking solemn oaths. The honour, 
almost amounting to worship, still paid by Muslim 
pilgrims to the famous meteoric Ha jam I Aswad or 

1 Siratu r Rasul, pp. 27 sqq. - Ibid. 

s Herodotus III. 8, quoted above, p. 32. 


Black Stone, which is built into the wall of the 
Ka bah, is one of the many Islamic customs which 
have been derived from those of the Arabs who 
lived long before Muhammad s time. The kiss 
which the pious Muhammadan pilgrim bestows on 
it is a survival of the old practice, which was a 
form of worship in Arabia as in many other lands. 
Many tales were told regarding this stone in pre- 
Muhammadan times, and these are still firmly 
believed. A Tradition relates that it descended 
from Paradise, and was originally of a pure white 
colour, but has become black through the sins of 
mankind, or, according to another account, through 
contact with the lips of one ceremonially impure. 
As it is now known to be of meteoric origin, part 
of the story is readily accounted for. 

Not only in reference to belief in Allah Ta ala 
and to reverence for the Black Stone and the Ka bah 
but in many other matters also Islam has borrowed 
from the Arabs of more ancient times. It is not 
too much to say that most of the religious rites 
and ceremonies which now prevail throughout the 
Muhammadan world are identical with those prac 
tised in Arabia from immemorial antiquity. For 
example, Herodotus 2 tells us that in his time the 
Arabs used to shave the hair around their temples 
and cut the rest close. This is done by Muham- 

1 Regarding the observance of the month of RamadAn as 
a time of "penance," vide pp. 269 sqq. 
Quoted above, p. 32. 


madans in some countries to-day 1 . If there is 
any difference of which we cannot be certain, 
since we do not know whether the Greek traveller 
ever saw an Arab bareheaded it lies in the fact 
that the shaving is continued from the forehead to 
the back of the neck, the hair being allowed to 
grow, though cut short, only on the sides of the 
head. Abu l Fida 2 calls attention to the number 
of religious observances which were thus perpetuated 
under the new system. " The Arabs of the times 
of ignorance 3 ," he says, " used to do things which 
the religious law of Islam has adopted 4 . For they 
used not to wed their mothers or their daughters, 
and among them it was deemed a most detestable 
thing to marry two sisters, and they used to revile 
the man who married his father s wife, and to call 
him Daizan. They used, moreover, to make the 
Pilgrimage 5 (ffajj) to the House" (the Ka bah), 
"and visit the consecrated places, and wear the 
Ihram 6 " (the single garment worn to the present 

1 Some Arabs wear their hair long, as they used to do in 
Muhammad s time. There seems to be no religious rule on the 
subject, hence the difference in Muslim practice in different 

2 Hist. Ante-Islamica, ed. Fleischer, p. 180. 

3 That is, the time before Muhammad s mission. 

* See also the Apology of Al Kindi, Sir W. Muir s translation, 
pp. 92, 93. 

5 As is well known, this pilgrimage to Mecca is still incumbent 
upon every male Muslim who can possibly make it. 

6 Others say that the heathen Arabs used to perform the 
Tawwaf (the ceremony of running round the Ka bah) naked, 
but that Muhammad introduced the wearing of the Ihrdm. 


day by a pilgrim when running round the Ka bah), 
-and perform the Tawwdfi and run" (between the 
hills As Safa and Al Marwa), "and take then 
stand at all the Stations, and cast the stones " (at 
the devil in the valley of Mina) ; "and they were 
wont to intercalate a month l every third year." 
He goes on to mention many other similar exam 
ples in which the religion of Islam has enjoined as 
religious observances ancient Arabian customs, for 
instance ceremonial washings after certain kinds of 
defilement, parting the hair, the ritual observed in 
cleansing the teeth, paring the nails, and other such 
matters. He informs us that then as now the 
punishment for theft was the loss of a hand 2 , and 
says that circumcision was practised by the heathen 
Arabs, as it still is by all Muslims, though nowhere 
enjoined in the Qur an. This last statement is con 
firmed by the author of the apocryphal epistle of 
Barnabas 3 , who says, " Every Syrian and Arab and 
all the priests of the idols are circumcised." 
well known that the same practice prevailed 
among the ancient Egyptians also. Ibn Ishaq * 

1 In Islamic times this unfortunately went out of use. 
3 As in the Laws of Amraphel (Hammurabi ). 

. . . tras Supos ai "Apa^ Hal iravrs oi */>m rah/ 

* Siratu r Rasul, part I., p. 37 : 


~> J* > 


uses much the same language as Abu l Fida, but 
adds that the customs which he mentions, including 
that of the Rial, had been retained from Abraham s 
time. This is no doubt true of circumcision : but 
it can hardly be said that Abraham had anything 
to do with the other matters referred to, in spite of 
the Muhammadan belief that he visited Mecca and 
worshipped where the Ka bah now stands, 
^ It is clear, from all that has been said, that the 
first source of Islam is to be found in the religious 
beliefs J and practices of the Arabs of Muhammad s 
day. From this heathen source, too, Islam has 

1 Muhammad has also borrowed certain fables current among 
the heathen Arabs, such as the tales of Ad and Thamud and 
some others (Surah VII. , 63-77). Regarding such stories Al 
Kmdi well says to his opponent : And if thou mentionest the 
tale of Ad and Thamud and the Camel and the Comrades of 
the Elephant " (Surahs CV., and XIV., 9) "and the like of these 
tales, we say to thee, These are senseless stories and the 
nonsensical fables of old women of the Arabs, who kept reciting 
them night and day ": 

Sprenger (quoted in Rodwell s Preface, p. xvii) thinks that 
Muhammad learnt the tales of Ad and Thamud from the 
Hanifs (see chapter vi of the present volume), and that the 
latter were Sabians and held sacred the "Volumes of Abraham " 
mentioned in Surah LXXXVIL, 19, in which Apocryphal books 
these tales may have found place. But this can hardly be 
considered as proved. May not the Testament of Abraham " 

discovered a few years ago), of which we shall have to speak 
m chapter iv, be included among the Suhuf Ibrahim? 


derived the practice of Polygamy and that of 
slavery, both of which, though adding nothing to 
their evil effects in other respects, Muhammad 
sanctioned for all time by his own adoption of 


IT is sometimes said in the East at the present 
day that Muhammad not only adopted many of 
the ancient habits and religious rites of the heathen 
Arabs and incorporated them into Islam, but that 
he was also guilty of plagiarism in borrowing 
parts of certain verses of Irnrau l Qais, an ancient 
Arabic poet. These, it is asserted, may still be 
found in the Quran. I have even heard a story 
to the effect that one day when Fatimah, Muham 
mad s daughter, was reciting the verse " The Hour 
has come near and the Moon has split asunder" 
(Surah LIV., Al Qamar, i), a daughter of the 
poet was present and said to her, " That is a verse 
from one of my father s poems, and your father has 
stolen it and pretended that he received it from 
God." This tale is probably false, for Imrau l Qais 
died about the year 540 of the Christian era, while 
Muhammad was not born till A.D. 570, "the year 
of the Elephant." 

In a lithographed edition of the Muallaqdt, 
which I obtained in Persia, however, I found at 
the end of the whole volume certain Odes there 
attributed to Imrau l Qais, though not recognized 
as his in any other edition of his poems which I 
have seen. In these pieces of doubtful authorship 


I found the verses quoted below 1 . Though they 
contain some obvious blunders, I think it best to 
give them without correction. The passages marked 
with a line above them occur also in the Quran 

Y^TTT ^L A 1 Qamar * * 9 3i, 46; Surah 
XCIIL, Adduha, i; Surah XXI, Al Anbiya, 
96; Surah XXXVIL, As Saffat, 59), except that 
in some of the words there is a slight difference, 
though the meaning is the same. It is clear 
therefore that there is some connexion between 
these lines and the similar verses of the Quran. 

s * * L _o - i^ * i w 

! icUl ooli icL _ie C>^ I* 

* iJI 

>" f t 


Cail Jj 


There seems good reason to doubt whether Imrau l 
Qais is the author of the lines in question. They 
may have been borrowed from the Qur an instead 
of having been inserted therein from an author 
who lived before Muhammad s time. On the one 
hand it is difficult to suppose that at any time 
after the establishment of Islam any one would 
have the daring to parody the Qur an by taking 
passages from it and applying them to the subject 
to which these lines of poetry refer. On the 
other hand, it is very customary even in com 
paratively modern times to quote verses of the 
Qur an and work them into later compositions of a 
philosophical or religious character, to which class, 
however, these Odes do not belong. It would be 
difficult to imagine Muhammad venturing to plagia 
rize from such a well-known author as Imrau l 
Qais (even though, as we shall see later, he did so 
from less known foreign sources) ; though this may 
be in part met by supposing that, as these Odes 
formed no part of the Mnallaqdt, they were not as 
generally current as poems contained in the latter 
collection were. The account generally given of 
the Muallaqdt is that, whenever any one had 
composed an especially eloquent poem, it was 
suspended on the wall of the Ka bah, and that the 
poems in this celebrated collection owe their name, 
which means "The Suspended Poems," to this 
custom. Good authorities 1 , however, deny that 

1 Regarding the Muallaqdt it may be well to quote the 
following from Abu Ja far Ahmad ibn Isma il an Nahhas (died 
A.H. 338). He says: 



this was the origin of the name, but that is perhaps 
a matter of- little importance. In spite of the 
Eastern story which I have quoted, the balance of 
probability certainly inclines to the supposition 
that Muhammad was not 1 guilty of the daring 
plagiarism of which he has been accused 2 . 

As-Suyuti says very much the same, though he also refers to 
the story that the verses were hung up in the Ka bah as possible 
(Mudhkir, II., 240). 

1 This is the opinion of Sir C. J. Lyall, than whom it would 
be difficult to find any one better qualified to speak on the 
subject of ancient Arabic poetry. In a letter which he has 
kindly sent me regarding the authorship of the lines in question 
attributed to Imrau l Qais, he expresses his conviction that they 
are not his, giving reasons founded principally upon the style 
and the metre. I have incorporated some of his observations 
into this Appendix, and I owe to him also the preceding note. 
His arguments have caused me to modify the opinion on the 
subject expressed in my Persian work, Yandbi u l Islam. 

2 The Rev. Dr. Zwemer, of Bahrain, however, informs me 
that he has found the words Danati ssd atu wa nshaqqa Iqamaru 
(cf. Surah LIV., i, Iqtarabati ssd atu wa nshaqqa Iqamarii) in the 
last section of the last poem of Imrau l Qais in an edition 
which he possesses. He adds : " A Shaikh taught in Al A/har 
tells me that this evident quotation perplexes learned Muslims." 



WHEN Muhammad appeared as a prophet, al 
though the Arabs had many religious ideas and 
practices in which they were agreed, they possessed 
no volume which could pretend to contain a Divine 
revelation, and to which Muhammad could appeal 
when he claimed to be commissioned to lead them 
back to the purer faith of their fathers. Yet in 
Arabia there dwelt certain communities which 
possessed what they regarded as inspired books, 
and it was natural that Muhammad and his fol 
lowers should therefore feel no little interest in 
and respect for the ideas and rites of these different 
religious sects. The title "People of the Book," 
given more especially perhaps to the Jews, but also 
to the Christians, in the Qur an is an evidence of 
this. The four communities who then possessed 
book-religions in Arabia were the Jews, the 
Christians, the Magians or Zoroastrians, and the 
Sabians. These are all mentioned together in 
Surah XXII. Al Hajj, 17. We shall see that each of 
these exercised a considerable influence over nas 
cent Islam, but that of the Sabians was by no 
D 2 


means the slightest. Hence we begin by stating 
what is known of these sectaries, who are men 
tioned again in Surah II., Al Baqarah, 59. 

Our knowledge of the Sabians is slight, but 
sufficient for our purpose. An early Arabic writer, 
Abu Isa l Maghribi, is quoted by Abu l Fida as 
giving the following account of them. "The 
Syrians are the most ancient of nations, and Adam 
and his sons spoke their language. Their religious 
community is that of the Sabians, and they relate 
that they received their religion from Seth and 
Idris (Enoch). They have a book which they 
ascribe to Seth, and they style it The Book of 
Seth. In it good ethical precepts are recorded, 
such as enjoin truth-speaking -and courage and 
giving protection to the stranger and such like: 
and evil practices are mentioned and command 
given to abstain from them. The Sabians had 
certain religious rites, among which are seven fixed 
times of prayer )( /^<? of which correspond ^vith those of 
the Muslims. The sixth is the prayer at dawn, and 
the seventh a prayer, the time for which is at the 
end of the sixth hour of the night. Their prayer, 
like that of Muslims, is one which requires real 
earnestness and that the worshipper should not let 
his attention wander to anything else when offering 
it. They prayed over the dead without either 
bowing down or prostration, and fasted thirty 
days ; and if the month of the new moon were 
a short one, then they kept the fast for twenty-nine 


days. In connexion with their fast they observed 
the festivals of Fitr " (breaking the fast at the end 
of the month) "and Hilal" (new moon), "in such 
a way that the festival of Fitr occurred when the 
sun entered Aries. And they used to fast from 
the fourth quarter of the night until the setting 
of the disk of the sun. And they had festivals at 
the time of the descending of the five planets to 
the mansions of their dignity. The five planets 
are Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and Mercury. 
And they used to honour the House of Mecca" 
(the Ka bah) 1 . 

From this account we see clearly that the Mus 
lims have borrowed from this obscure sect not 
a few of their religious practices, all of which they 
believe were taught them by Muhammad at the 
command of God through the Angel Gabriel. For 
example, the Ramadan fast of the Muslims lasts- 
a month, from sunrise to sunset, though the rule as 
to the exact moment when each day begins and 
ends is, as we shall see 3 , derived from the Jews. 
In Persia and some other countries a gun is fired 
at dawn and sunset to announce the beginning and 
end of each day s fast during the holy month. The 
Fitr feast at the end of the month is still celebrated 
by the Muhammadans. They have, as is well 
known, five stated times of prayer each day, but 
they have also two other times each day at which 

1 Abu l Fida,^4 Tawdrikhu l Qadimah (Hist. Ante-IsJamica), p. 148. 
a Vide also p. 269. s Vide pp. 127, 128. 


prayer is optional, thus having exactly the same 
number as the Sabians had. Bowing down (raku) 
and prostration (sitjufl) are enjoined in Muham- 
madan worship, but not during the prayers offered 
at burials. Finally we have seen that the Muslims 
still most highly honour the Kcibah. Of course it 
is possible that all these practices were common to 
the Quraish tribe as well as to the Sabians. Some 
of them certainly were ; but, if all had been, it 
would be difficult to account for the observations 
made by the Arabic writer whom we have quoted. 
The supposition that many of these religious 
customs were borrowed by Muhammad from the 
Sabians, and that their religion in general (owing 
perhaps in a measure to its supposed antiquity) 
had great influence on Islam at its foundation is 
confirmed by the fact that, when the Banti Jadhi- 
mah of Taif and Mecca announced to Khalid their 
conversion to Muhammadanism, they did so by 
crying out, " We have become Sabians." 

The Sabians are supposed to have been a semi- 
Christian sect. Others have identified them with 
the Mandaeane, whose religion represents a strange 
medley of Gnosticism and ancient Babylonian 
heathenism, but has nevertheless borrowed certain 
elements from Magism, Judaism, and Christianity, 
though largely anti-Christian as a system. The 
Mandaeans derive their name from Manda, the 
most important of the Emanations or Aeons in 
whom they believe. He is said in their sacred 


book, the Sidrd EabM, to have manifested himself 
in a series of incarnations, the first three of which 
were Abel, Seth, and Enoch, and the last John the 
Baptist. The latter conferred baptism on Jesus 
the Messiah, who finally returned to the Kingdom 
of Light after a seeming crucifixion. This latter 
idea is repeated in the Quran (Surah IV., An Nisa, 
156), and will require notice later 1 . 

Our very limited knowledge of the Sabians and 
the doubt whether the Mandaeans can be identified 
with them renders it impossible to say whether 
their influence on Islam has or has not been still 
more important and extensive 2 . 

We now turn to the Jews, from whom Muham 
mad borrowed so very much that his religion 
almost be described as a heretical form of 

1 Vide pp. 182 sqq. 

a The Ebionites, too, seem to have had an influence c 
religion of Islam when gradually taking shape in Muhammad , 
mind, which seems at the time to have been singularly receptive 
and credulous. Epiphanius (Haer. x) describes the notions 
of the Ebionites of Nabathaea, Moabitis, and Basanitis wit] 
regard to Adam and Jesus, almost in the very words 
Surah III , 52. He tells us that they observed circumcision, 
were opposed to celibacy, forbade turning to the sunrise but 
enjoined Jerusalem as their Qiblah (as did Muhammad during 
twelve years), that they prescribed (as did the Sabians) washings, 
very similar to those enjoined in the Qur an, and allowed oaths 
(by certain natural objects, as clouds, signs of the Zodiac, ofl, the 
winds, &c.) which also we find adopted therein. These points 
of contact with Islam, knowing as we do Muhammad s 
eclecticism, can hardly be accidental" (Rodwell, Koran, Pref., 
p. xviii). 


later Judaism. In Muhammad s time the Jews 
were not only very numerous but also very power 
ful in various parts of Arabia. No doubt many of 
them had settled in that country at different times, 
when fleeing from the various conquerors Nebu 
chadnezzar, the successors of Alexander the Great, 
Pompey, Titus, Hadrian, and others who had 
overrun and desolated Palestine. They were 
especially numerous in the neighbourhood of 
Medina, which city they at one time held by the 
sword. In Muhammad s time the three large 
Jewish tribes called Banu Qurair/7/ah, Banti Nadhir, 
and Banft Qainuqa , settled in the neighbourhood 
of Medina, were so powerful that Muhammad, not 
long after his arrival there in A.D. 622, made an 
offensive and defensive alliance with them. Other 
Jewish settlements were to be found in the neigh 
bourhood of Khaibar and the Wadi u l Qura and 
on the shores of the Gulf of Aqabah. The fact 
that the Jews possessed inspired books and were 
undoubtedly descended from Abraham, whom the 
Quraish and other tribes claimed as their ancestor 
also, gave the Israelites great weight and influence. 
Native legends would naturally therefore undergo 
a process of assimilation with the history and tra 
ditions of the Jews. " By l a summary adjustment, 
the story of Palestine became the story of the 
Hijaz. The precincts of the Ka bah were hallowed 
as the scene of Hagar s distress, and the sacred 

1 Sir W. Muir, Life of Mahomet, srd ed., Introd., pp. xcii.xciii. 


well Zamzam as the source of her relief. The 
pilgrims hastened to and fro between Safa and 
Marwa in memory of her hurried steps in search of 
water. It was Abraham and Ishmael who built the 
temple, imbedded in it the Black Stone, and esta 
blished for all Arabia the pilgrimage to Arafat. 
In imitation of him it was that stones were flung 
by the pilgrims as if at Satan, and sacrifices offered 
at Mina in remembrance of the vicarious sacrifice 
by Abraham. And so, although the indigenous 
rites may have been little, if at all, altered by the 
adoption of Israelitish legends, they came to be 
received in a totally different light, and to be con 
nected in Arab imagination with something of the 
sanctity of Abraham the Friend of God l . ... It 
was upon this common ground Muhammad took his 
stand, and proclaimed to his people a new and 
a spiritual system, in accents to which the whole 
Peninsula could respond. The rites of the Ka bah 
were retained, but, stripped of all idolatrous ten 
dency, they still hang, a strange unmeaning 
shroud, around the living theism of Islam. 

" Familiarity with the Abrahamic races also in 
troduced the doctrine of the immortality of the 
soul, and the resurrection from the dead; but 
these were held with many fantastic ideas of 
Arabian growth. Revenge pictured the murdered 
soul as a bird chirping for retribution against the 
murderer; and a camel was sometimes left to 

1 Surah IV., An Nisa, 124. 


starve at the grave of his master, that he might be 
ready at the resurrection again to carry him. 
A vast variety of Biblical language was also in 
common use, or at least sufficiently in use to be 
commonly understood. Faith, Repentance, Heaven 
and Hell, the Devil and his Angels, the heavenly 
Angels, Gabriel the Messenger of God, are speci 
mens acquired from some Jewish source, either 
current or ready for adoption. Similarly familiar 
were the stories of the Fall of Man, the Flood, the 
destruction of the Cities of the Plain, &c. so that 
there was an extensive substratum of crude ideas 
bordering upon the spiritual, ready to the hand of 

Early Arabian writers inform us that when 
Muhammad appeared the Jews were expecting the 
advent of the Messiah, and used frequently to 
threaten their enemies with the vengeance which 
the coming Prophet would take upon them. This 
no doubt had its influence in leading some among 
the Arabs, especially the Banft Khazraj of Medina 
(as Ibn Ishaq says), to accept Muhammad as the 
Prophet whose advent was predicted. 

Muhammad declared that he was Divinely com 
missioned not to found a new religion but to recall 
men to the " Faith of Abraham." It was natural 
for him, therefore, to endeavour to gain the Jews 
over to his side. This he attempted to do at 
Medina, and for some time it seemed as if he had 
a fair prospect of success. One step which he took 


at this time shows very clearly this purpose. He 
adopted Jerusalem as the QMah of his Faith that 
is to say, he directed his followers to imitate the 
Jewish practice by turning their faces towards 
Jerusalem when praying. At a later period, when 
he had broken with the Jews and found it more 
useful to conciliate the Arabs, he adopted Mecca 1 
as the Qiblah, and this it has ever since continued 
to be amongst Muslims. But soon after his arrival 
in Medina, observing the Jews engaged in the 
observances of the Day of Atonement, he enjoined 
upon his own followers the same observance, 
adopting even the same name (in Arabic Ashurd) by 
which it was known among the Jews 2 . The sacri 
fices offered on this occasion were doubtless intended 
to supersede those which the heathen Arabs used to 
offer in the Valley of Mina during the pilgrimage 
to Mecca. It was not until April, A. D. 624, after his 
quarrel with the Jews, that Muhammad instituted 
the fdufWuhd, which festival is supposed to com 
memorate* Abraham s sacrifice of Mmael (as the 
Muslims assert). Even thus we perceive the in 
fluence of Judaism on Islam. This festival is still 
observed by the Muslims. Muhammad initiated 
the Jewish practice in offering two 3 sacrifices on 

1 In Nov., A.D. 623 : Surah II., Al Baqarah, 136-40. 
When at a later period the month of Ramadan was appointed 
instead as a month of fasting, Muhammad did not forbid the 
observance of the Ashurd on the tenth day of JfiiAorrom (cf. Lev. 
xxiii. 27). 

3 Sir W. Muir, op. cit., p. 188. 


the day of the *ld, inasmuch as he slew two kids, 
one for his people and the other for himself, though 
he reversed the Jewish order in accordance with 
which the High Priest on the Day of Atonement 
offers first for l himself and then for the nation at 
large. In these matters we see Jewish influence 
at work both in Muhammad s adoption of their 
rites when he wished to gain the Jews, and in his 
altering them when no longer hoping to do so. In 
the latter case he generally reverted more or less 
to the customs of the heathen Arabs. . On the 
Muhammadan theory of the Divine authority of 
the Qur an, this phenomenon is absolutely inex 
plicable. It is to the period shortly before, and 
especially to that which immediately followed, the 
Hijrah, according to Tradition (in this respect no 
doubt reliable), that most of those verses of the 
Quran belong, in which it is asserted that the 
Qur an is in accord 2 with the teaching of the 
Prophets of Israel, and that this constitutes a de 
cisive proof that it is from God. At that time 
Muhammad introduced into the Surahs which he 
delivered a particularly large measure of Jewish 
legends, as the perusal of the later Meccan and earlier 
Medinan Surahs will show. He soon, however, found 
that the Jews were not prepared to believe in him, 
though it might suit their purpose to pretend for 

1 Lev. xvi ; Heb. vii. 27. 

2 Cf. e.g. Surah XXIX., Al Ankabut, 45 : Surah II., Al Ba- 
qarah, 130; &c. 


a time to be favourably impressed and likely to 
admit his claim. A rupture was bound to come 
sooner or later, since no true Israelite could really 
believe that either the Messiah (which Muhammad 
did not claim to be, for he accepted that as the title 
of Jesus) or any other great Prophet was predicted 
as about to arise from among the descendants of 
Ishmael. We know how the quarrel did come, an( 
how, finding persuasion useless, Muhammad finally 
turned upon the Jews with the irresistible logic of 
the sword, and either slaughtered them or expelled 
them from the country. But before that time he 
had borrowed very extensively from them, 
if we do not grant, with some writers, that the 
doctrine of the Unity of God was derived by 
Islam from Jewish teaching, there can be no doubt 
that Muhammad s maintenance of that doctrine 
received great support from what he learnt from 
the Israelites. We proceed to show that very 
much of the Quran is directly derived from 
Jewish books, not so much from the Old Testament 
Scriptures as from the Talmud and other post 
Biblical writings. Although the Arabian Jews 
doubtless possessed copies of their Holy Books, 
they were not distinguished for learning, and then, 
as now for the most part, they practically gave 
oreater heed to their Rabbinical traditions than to 
the Word of God. It is not surprising therefore 
to find little real knowledge of the Old Testament 
in the Quran, though, as we shall see, it contains 


a great deal of Jewish legend. It is impossible to 
quote all the passages that prove this, but we shall 
now adduce a few out of many \ 

1. The Story of Cain and Abel. 
The Qur an does not mention the names of these 
two sons of Adam," though commentators call 
them^Qabil and Habil. But we find in Surah V., 
Al Maidah, 30-35, the following account of them. " 
"Recite unto them truly the narrative of Adam s 
two sons, when they both offered sacrifice : then it 
was accepted from one of them, and from the other 
it was not accepted. [The latter] said, * Verily 
I shall assuredly slay thee. [The other] said, 
Truly God accepteth from the pious. Verily if 
thou stretch forth thine hand upon me to slay me, 
I shall not stretch forth mine hand upon thee to 
slay thee : indeed I fear God, the Lord of the 
worlds. I indeed choose rather that thou shouldst 
bear my sin and thine own sin, then shalt thou be 
of the companions of the Fire, and that is the 
recompense of the unjust/ Then his soul permitted 
to him [Cain] the murder of his brother : accord 
ingly he slew him : thus he became one of the lost. 
Then God sent a raven, which scratcheth in the 
ground, that it might show him how to hide his 
brother s corpse. He said, <Ah ! woe unto me! 

1 Most of the instances here cited are taken from Rabbi 
Abraham Geiger s book Was hat Mohammed aus dem Judenthume 


cannot I be as this raven and hide my brother s 
corpse ? Then did he become one of the penitent. 
On that account have We written for the Children 
of Israel that whoso slayeth a soul, except for 
a life or for evildoing in the land, then truly shall 
it be as though he had slain all men ; and whoso 
saveth it alive, then truly it shall be as though he 
had saved all men alive." 

A conversation, or rather argument, between 
Cain and Abel is mentioned in Jewish legend both 
in the Targum of Jonathan 1 and in the Targum 
of Jerusalem. Cain, we are told, said, "There is 
no punishment for sin, nor is there any reward 
for good conduct." In reply to this, Abel asserted 
that good was rewarded by God and evil punished. 
Angered at this, Cain took up a stone and with 
it smote his brother and slew him. The resem 
blance between this narrative and that given in 
the beginning of the foregoing quotation from the 
Qur an is not striking. But the source of the rest 
of the Qur anic account of the murder is the legend 
related in the Pirqey Rabbi Eli ezer, chapter xxi, 
which may be thus rendered: 

"Adam and his helpmeet were sitting weeping 
and lamenting over him (Abel), and they did not 
know what to do with Abel, for they were not 
acquainted with burial. A raven, one of whose 
companions had died, came. He took him and 
dug in the earth and buried him before their eyes. 

1 On Gen. iv. 8. 


Adam said, I shall do as this raven. 3 Immediately " 
(lit. out of hand) he took Abel s corpse and dug in 
the earth and buried it." 

When we compare the Jewish legend with the 
one given in the Qur an, we see that the only 
difference is that in the former the raven taught 
Adam how to bury the body, whereas in the Qur an 
it is Cain who is said to have been thus taught. 
It is clear also that the passage in the Qur an is 
not a literal translation from one or more Jewish 
books, but is rather, as we might expect, a free 
reproduction of the story as told to Muhammad 
by some of his Jewish friends, of whom early 
Arabian accounts mention the names 1 of several. 
This explains the mistake that the Qur an makes 
in attributing the burial to Cain instead of to 
Adam. We shall notice similar phenomena 
throughout the whole series of these excerpts. 
It is hardly probable that these slight divergences 
were purposely made by Muhammad, though it is 
quite possible that the Jews who related the 
legends to him had learnt them orally themselves, 
and that they and not the Arabian prophet made 
the mistake. That is a matter of small moment. 
What is certain is that we can here, and in very 
many other instances, trace the account which 
Muhammad gives to earlier Jewish written sources. 
^What is recorded in the thirty-fifth verse of the 
Surah quoted above seems to have no immediate 

1 Vide pp. 133-5. 


relation to the preceding part of the passage. 
A link is evidently missing. If, however, we turn 
to Mishnah Sanhedrin (chapter iv. 5), we find the 
whole matter fully stated, so that the connexion 
which exists between the verse above mentioned 
and the narrative of the murder of Abel becomes 
clear. For the Jewish commentator, in commenting 
on the words which the Pentateuch tells us God 
spoke to Cain, "What 1 hast thou done? The 
voice of thy brother s blood crieth unto me from 
the ground," in which passage the word blood is 
in the plural in Hebrew because it denotes blood 
shed by violence, writes thus : " Concerning Cain 
who slew his brother, we have found that it is 
said concerning him, The voice of thy brother s 
bloods crieth. He saith not, * Thy brother s blood 
but Thy brother s bloods, his blood and the blood 
of his descendants. On this account was Adam 
created alone, to teach thee that everyone who 
destroyeth one soul out of Israel, the Scripture 
reckoneth it unto him as if he had destroyed the 
whole world; and everyone who preserveth alive 
one soul out of Israel, the Scripture reckoneth it 
unto him as if he had preserved alive the whole 
world." We are not concerned with the correct 
ness or otherwise of this fanciful exposition of the 
sacred text, but it is of importance to notice that 
the thirty-fifth verse of Surah Al Maidah is an 
almost literal translation of part of this extract. 
1 Gen. iv. 10. 


The former part of the passage as it stands in the 
Mishnah is omitted in the Qur an, possibly because 
it was not fully understood by Muhammad or his 
informant. But when it is supplied, the connexion 
between verse thirty-five and the preceding verses 
becomes clear V 

2. Story of Abraham s deliverance from the fire 
which Nimrod made to destroy him. 

This narrative is not found detailed in one con 
secutive passage of the Quran, but it is related 
in a fragmentary manner in a number of different 
Surahs 2 . Hence Muhammadans have found it 
useful to collect these passages and to form them 
into a consecutive whole by supplying connecting 
passages in the way that we find it done in such 
books as the Ardisu l Majdlis or the Qisasu l Anliya. 
Such connecting links are supplied from the Tradi 
tions of Muhammad. When we compare the narra 
tive thus current among and accepted by all 
Muslims with the account of the same legendary 

1 The Jewish narrative quoted above from the Pirqey Eabbl 
Eli ezer contains the expression miyyddh (" out of hand") for 
" immediately." This expression (in Arabic >. c) occurs also 
in the Arabic in Surah IX., At Taubah, 29, "until they give the 
tribute out of hand," where it has puzzled commentators. 

2 In Surahs Al Baqarah (II.,. 260), Al An am (VI., 74-84), 
Al Anbiya (XXI., 52-72), Maryam (XIX., 42-50), Ash Shu ara 
(XXVL, 69-79), Al Ankabut (XXIX., 15, 16), As Saffat 
(XXXVII., 81-95), Az Zukhruf (XLIIL, 25-7), Al Mumtahinah 
(LX., 4 ), &c. 


occurrence which is contained in the Midrash 
Rabba of the Jews, it becomes clear that the 
latter is the source of the Muhammadan account. 
That the reader may perceive this, we translate 
first the story as related by Muhammadan writers, 
and then turn to the shorter and simpler narra 
tive of Jewish traditionists. Passages from the 
Qur an which are incorporated into the Arabic 
account are here put in italics. We begin with 
an extract from Abu l Fida: 

"Azar, Abraham s father," he says 1 , "used to 
make idols, and he used to give them to Abraham 
that he might sell them. Abraham, however, used 
to say, Who will buy what will injure him and 
will not benefit him? Afterwards, when God 
Most High commanded Abraham to summon his 
people to Monotheism, he invited his father ; how 
ever, he refused. And he invited his people. 
Accordingly, when the matter got abroad con 
cerning him and reached Nimrod, son of Gush, 
who was king of that country, . . . Nimrod accord 
ingly took Abraham, the Friend [of God], and 
threw him into a great fire. Then the fire became 
cool and safe unto him, and Abraham came forth 
from the fire after some days. Then certain men 
of his people believed on him." 

This is the shortest Arabic account we have. 
We proceed to translate the most important part 

1 Historia Ante-Islamica (ed. Fleischer, Leipzig, 1831). Abul 1 
Fida was born A. H. 672. 

E 3 



of the narrative given in the *Ar&Ml Majdlis. 
There we read that Abraham was brought up in 
a cave without any knowledge of the true God. 
One night he came forth and beheld the glory of 
the stars, and was so impressed that he resolved to 
acknowledge them as his gods. The account then 
proceeds as follows, incorporating as many as 
possible of the passages of the Qur an which deal 
with the subject : 

" When therefore the night overshadowed him he saw 
a star. He said, This is my Lord: Then when it set, 
he said, I love not those that set. Then when he saw 
the moon rising, he said, This is my Lord. And when 
it set, he said, Verily, if my Lord guide me not I shall 
assuredly be of the people who go astray! Then when 
he saw the sun rising, he said, This is my Lord, this is 
greater, for he saw that its light was grander. 
When therefore it set, he said, my people / verily 
I am guiltless of the polytheism ivhich you hold, verily 
I turn my face to Him who hath formed the heavens and 
the earth, as a ffamf 1 , and I am not one of the poly- 
theists V They say his father used to make idols. 
When, therefore, he associated Abraham with him 
self, he began to make the idols and to give them 
over to Abraham to sell. Abraham (Peace be upon 
him !) therefore goes off with them and cries aloud, 
Who will buy what injures and does not benefit ? 

1 This term will be explained in Chapter vi. 

2 The italicized passages are from Surah VI., Al An am, 


Hence no one purchases from him. When there 
fore they proved unsaleable to him, he took them 
to a river. Then he smote them on the head and 
said to them, Drink, my bad bargain ! in mockery 
of his people and of their false religion and ignor 
ance, to such an extent that his reviling and 
mocking them became notorious among his people 
and the inhabitants of his town. Therefore his 
people disputed with him in regard to his religion. 
Then he said to them, Do ye dispute with me about 

God ? and He hath guided me, &c And that was 

Our reasoning ichich We brought to Abraham against 
his people: We raise (many) steps whomsoever We will; 
verily thy Lord is all-wise and all-knowing *. So that 
he vanquished and overcame ^them. Then verily 
Abraham invited his father Azar to embrace his 
religion. Accordingly he said, my father, why 
dost thou worship that which heareth not nor seeth nor 
doth profit thee at all! 2 &c. Then his father 
refused assent to that to which Abraham invited 
him. Thereupon verily Abraham proclaimed aloud 
to his people his abjuration of their worship, and 
declared his own religion. He said therefore, 
4 Have ye then seen that which ye worship, ye and your 
fathers the ancients ? for verily they are hostile to me, 
except the Lord of the worlds V They said, Whom 
then dost thou worship ? He said, The Lord of 

J Surah VI., Al An ^in, 80-3. 

8 Surah XIX., Maryam, 43. 

3 Surah XXVI., Ash Shu ara, 75-?. 


the worlds/ They said, Thou meanest Nimrod. 
Then said he, No ! Him who has created me, and 
who therefore guideth me, &c. That matter 
accordingly was spread abroad until it reached 
the tyrant Nimrod. Then he called him and said 
to him, Abraham, hast thou seen thy God, who 
hath sent thee, and lo whose worship thou dost 
invite men, and whose power thou recordest and 
on account thereof dost magnify Him above all 
other? What is He? Abraham said, ( My Lord 
is He who preserveth alive and causeth to die. 3 Nimrod 
said, I preserve alive and cause to die. Abraham 
.said, How dost thou preserve alive and cause to 
die ? He said, I take two men to whom death 
is due in my jurisdiction, then I slay one of them, 
thus I have caused him to die ; next I pardon the 
other and let him go, thus I have preserved him 
alive. Accordingly Abraham said unto him there 
upon, Verily God bringeth the sun from the East, do 
thou there/ore bring it from the West 1 ! Thereupon 
Nimrod was confounded and gave him no answer." 
The story goes on to inform us that the custom 
of the tribe to which Abraham belonged was to 
hold a great festival once every year, during which 
everyone for a time went out of the city. (This 
may contain a confused reference to the Jewish 
Feast of Tabernacles, for the forte of the Quran 
is undoubtedly the number of its anachronisms, 
and Muhammadan tales regarding the patriarchs 

Surah II., Al Baqarah, a6 


and prophets are in general distinguished by the 
same characteristic.) Before leaving the city, 
we are told, the citizens "Jhad made some food 
ready. Accordingly th i o not /ed & before the 
gods, and said, When L ^ be time for us to 
return, we shall return, a^a the gods will have 
blessed our food, and we shall eat. When there 
fore Abraham 1 beheld the idols and the food which 
was before them, he said unto them in mockery, 
Will ye not eat / And when they did not answer 
him, he said, What is the matter with you ? will ye 
not speak ? Then he turned upon them, striking a blow 
with his right hand 2 , and he began to dash them in 
pieces with an axe which he held in his hand, 
until there remained none but the biggest idol, 
on the neck of which he hung the axe. Then he 
went out. Such then is the statement of the 
Honoured and Glorified One : So he broke them in 
pieces, except the largest of them, that perchance they 
might come back to it (and find what it had done 3 ). 
When therefore the people came from their festival 
to the house of their gods, and saw them in that 
condition, they said, Who hath done this to our gods / 
verily he is one of the unjust: They said, We heard 
a youth who is called Abraham make mention of them. 
It is he, we think, that hath done this. Then that 

1 He had remained at home on the plea of being ill, Surah 
XXXVII., As Saffat, 87. 
a Ibid. vv. 89-91. 
3 Surah XXI., Al Anbiya, 59 ; and Jalalain s Commentary. 


matter reached Nimrod the tyrant and the nobles 
of his people. They said therefore, < Bring 1dm then 
to the eyes of men, that ^ejchance they may bear witness 
against him that Spread hat hath done this. And 
they disliked to ai T] him without proof. 
When therefore they had brought him forward, 
they said unto him, Hast thou done this unto our 
gods, Abraham ? Abraham said, On the contrary, 
this the biggest of them did it : he was angry at your 
worshipping these little idols along with him, since 
he is bigger than them, therefore he dashed them 
in pieces. Do ye then inquire of them, if they can 
speak! The prophet may God bless and preserve 
him! hath said, Abraham told only three lies, 
all of them on behalf of God Most High : when he 
said, "lam sick; and when he said, "On the contrary, 
this the biggest of them did it" and when to the king 
who purposed to take Sarah, he said, "S/te is my 

" When therefore Abraham said this unto them, 
they returned to themselves ; then they said, Verily ye 
are the unjust persons. Here is this man of whom 
you are inquiring, and these your gods are present 
to whom he has done what he has done ; therefore 
inquire of them. And that was what Abraham 
had said, Do ye then inquire of them, if they can 
speak! Therefore his people said, We do not find 
it otherwise than as he hath said/ and it was said, 
Verily ye are the unjust persons l , since ye worship 
1 Surah XXI., 60-5. 


the small images along with this big one. Then 
they were turned upside down in their astonishment 
at this matter of his, and they knew that (the 
idols) do not speak and do not take by violence. 
Therefore they said, Truly thou knowest that these 
do not speak: When therefore the argument which 
Abraham had brought against them had confuted 
them, he said to them, Do ye then worship instead of 
God that which doth not profit you at all and doth not 
harm you ? Shame on you and on that which ye worship 
instead of God ! Do ye not then understand ? When 
therefore this argument overcame them and they 
could not answer it, they said, Burn ye 1 him and aid 
your gods, if ye are active men Abdu llah ibn "Umar 
has said that the person who urged them to burn 
Abraham in the fire was a Kurd. Shu aibu l Jabai 
says that his name was Dainun, and accordingly 
God Most High caused the earth to split open for 
him, and he was swallowed 2 up therein until the 
Resurrection Day. Accordingly when Nimrod and 
his people assembled to burn Abraham, they shut 
him up in a house and erected for him an edifice 
like a sheepfold. This is the statement of God : 
They said, Build an edifice for him, then hurl him into 
the flames V Then they collected for him some of 
the hardest wood and different kinds of fuel." 

1 Ibid. vv. 66-8. 

a Doubtless a reminiscence of the fate of Korah, Numb. xvi. 

3 Surah XXXVII., 95. 


The writer whom we are quoting goes on to 
relate how Abraham was cast into the fire but came 
forth safe and well. He concludes his narrative 
thus : "And it is recorded in Tradition that Abraham 
was preserved through saying, God is sufficient for 
me Y and He is an excellent Guardian V God said, 
Ofire t become cool and safe unto Abraham V" 

We now proceed to compare with this narrative 
that which is contained in the Midrash Kabba of 
the Jews. There the tale runs thus 4 : 

" Terah was a maker of idols. Once he went 
out somewhere, and seated Abraham as salesman 
in place of himself. A person would come, wishing 
to purchase, and Abraham would say to him, How 
old art thou ? and he (the other) would say to him, 
Fifty or Sixty years. And he (Abraham) would 
say unto him, Woe to that man who is sixty years 
of age, and wisheth to worship a thing a few days 
old ! And he (the other) would become ashamed 
and would go his way. Once a woman came, 
carrying in her hand a plate of wheaten flour. She 
said to him, Here! set this before them/ He arose, 
took a staff in his hand, and broke them all in 
pieces ; then he gave the staff into the hand of the 
one that was biggest among them. When his father 
came, he said to him, < Who has done this unto 
them? He (Abraham) said to him, What is 

1 Surah XXXIX., 39. 

3 Surah III., 167. Surah XXI., 69. 

* Midrash Rabba, Chapter xvii, in explanation of Gen. xv. 7. 


hidden from thee ? A woman came, bringing with 
her a plate of wheaten Hour, and said to me, " Here ! 
set this before them." I set it before them. This 
one said, "I shall eat first," and that one said, "I shall 
eat first." This one, which is the biggest among 
them, arose, took a staff, and broke them. He (the 
father) said to him, * Why dost thou tell me a 
fable ? Do these understand ? He (Abraham) said 
to him, And do not thine ears hear what thy lip 
speaketh ? He (Terah) seized him and delivered 
him over to Nimrod. He (Nimrod) said to him, 
Let us worship the fire. Abraham said unto him, 
* And let us worship the waters which extinguish 
the fire. Nimrod said to him, Let us worship the 
waters. He (Abraham) said to him, If so, let us 
worship the cloud which brings the waters. He 
(Nimrod) said to him, Let us worship the cloud. 
He (Abraham) said to him, If so, let us worship 
the wind that drives away the cloud. He (Nimrod) 
said unto him, Let us worship the wind. He 
(Abraham) said to him, And let us worship man 
who resisteth the wind. If thou bandiest words 
with me, lo ! I worship naught but the fire ; lo ! 
I cast thee into the midst of it, and let the God 
whom thou worshippest come and deliver thee from 
it. Abraham went down into the furnace of fire 
and was delivered." 

It is perfectly clear that the Muhammadan fable 
is directly borrowed from the Jewish, though ex 
panded by the addition of particulars due to Muhain- 


triad s vivid and poetical imagination. But here 
again we see that Muhammad does not reproduce 
an account which he had read, but a story which 
he had heard related orally by the Jews. The hold 
which the narrative took upon his mind is clear 
not only from his having expanded the tale, but 
also from the large number of times that he recurs 
to it in different parts of the Qur an. That the 
tale was well known in its main outline in his time 
is evident from the fact that Muhammad has no 
where thought it necessary to narrate the story at 
full length. His words in the Qur an show that 
he believed it to be perfectly well known to and 
accepted by all his followers. It was probably 
current in Arabia long before his time, as so many 
other tales about Abraham were. Our object in 
quoting the story as it is contained in the Midrash 
Rabba is not to prove that Muhammad plagia 
rized from that work in this matter, but to show 
that the story in its main details was current 
among the Jews at an earlier time still, and that 
either this or some similar form of the fable must 
have been the source from which the Arabs derived 
their knowledge of it. It is hardly likely that 
Muhammad omitted to verify the tale by consult 
ing his Jewish friends, who would tell him that it 
was contained in certain of their books, and thus 
confirm his faith in its truth. 

We notice, however, that in the Qur an the name 
of Abraham s father is stated to have been Azar and 


not Terah, as in Genesis. But Eastern Jews some 
times call him Zarak, from which the Arabic form 
may have been corrupted. Or, again, Muhammad 
may have learnt the name in Syria, whence Euse- 
bius probably derived the form of the name, A0ap, 
which he uses. Modern Persian Muhammadans 
often write the name ^j>T, pronouncing it, however, 
just as it is pronounced in Arabic, though the 
original Persian pronunciation was Adhar, nearly 
the same as the form used by Eusebius. This word 
in Persian meant " fire," and was the title of the 
angel who was supposed to preside over that ele 
ment, one of the good creatures of 6rmazd. There 
may in fact have been some attempt made to win 
reverence for Abraham among the Magians by 
identifying his father with this good Genius (tzad) 
of Fire. However this may be, we are able to 
trace the origin of the legend of Abraham s being 
cast into the fire to a simple blunder made by 
certain Jewish commentators, as will be pointed out 
in due course. 

Before doing so, however, it may be well to indi 
cate the line of argument commonly used by 
Muslims in refutation of the statement that the 
detection of the source of this and other similar 
legends in the Qur an effectually disposes of its 
claim to be a Divine revelation. They urge in 
reply that such facts as those we have adduced 
form a clear proof of the truth of their religion, 
" For," they say, " although Muhammad did not 


borrow this narrative from the Jews, but on the 
contrary received it by inspiration through the 
angel Gabriel, yet, since the Jews, who are Abra 
ham s descendants, have accepted this narrative on 
the authority of their own traditions, it must be 
confessed that their testimony forms a strong con 
firmation of the teaching of the Qur an on the 
subject 1 ." 

In reply it is sufficient to state that only ignor 
ant Jews now place any reliance upon such fables, 
since they do not rest upon anything worthy of the 
name of tradition. The only reliable traditions of 
the Jews which relate to the time of Abraham are 
to be found in the Pentateuch, and it is hardly 
necessary to say that this childish tale is not found 
there. On the contrary, it is evident from Genesis 
that Nimrod lived many generations before Abra 
ham s time. It is true that Nimrod is not men 
tioned by name in the Qur an, but his name occurs, 
as we have seen, in this tale about Abraham s 
being cast into the fire both in Muhammadan tradi 
tion and in their commentaries on the Qur an, as 
well as in the Jewish narrative in the Midrash 
Rabba. The anachronism here is as great as if 
some ignorant person were to state that Alexander 
the Great had cast the Turkish Sultan Uthman 
into the fire, not knowing what a long period had 
elapsed between Alexander and Uthman, and being 

1 This argument is used in the Mizanu l Mawazin in refutation 
of certain statements in the Mizanu l Haqq. 


unaware that Uthman had never experienced such 
an adventure! 

Moreover, the whole story of Abraham s being 
delivered from the fire is founded upon an ignorant 
blunder made by an ancient Jewish commentator. 
To explain this we must refer to the Targum of 
Jonathan ben Uzziel. This writer found Ur of the 
Chaldee* mentioned as the place 1 where Abraham 
dwelt when God first called him to leave home and 
country and to remove into the land of Canaan. 
Now this city is the place that is at the present 
time known by the name of Muqayyar. The word 
ur or uru in ancient Babylonian meant a city. It 
occurs again in the name Jerusalem (still in Arabic 
called ftruthaUm)) " the city of the God of Peace." 
But Jonathan had no knowledge of Babylonian, 
and he imagined that &r must have a meaning 
similar to that of the Hebrew word 6r, "light," 
which in Aramaic means " Fire." Hence he rendered 
Gen. xv. 7 thus, "I am the LORD, who brought 
thee out of tie furnace off re of the Chaldees ! " So 
also in his comment on Gen. xi. 28, he writes thus : 
" When Nimrod cast Abraham into the furnace of 
fire because he would not worship his idols, it came 
to pass that the fire was not given permission to 
injure him." We see that the whole story rose from 
a wrong explanation of a single word, and has no 
foundation in fact. Whether Jonathan was the 
first person to make the mistake is very doubtful ; 

1 Cf. Gen. xi. 28, xv. 7, &c. 


he may, very probably, have accepted the idea from 
others. In any case the result is the same. The 
story puts us in mind of Cinderella s glass slipper. 
Doubtless it was originally " un soulier de vair" not 
" un soulier de verre" the latter substance not being 
so very suitable for making slippers ! 

It is not to be wondered at that Jonathan ben 
Uzziel should make such a mistake as we have 
pointed out. But it is indeed strange that one 
claiming Divine inspiration should have accepted 
the fable based upon such a blunder as literally 
true, should in many different places introduce 
portions of the tale into a book which he professed 
to have received from God Himself through Gabriel, 
and should have taught his followers to believe it, 
and to consider that the agreement between the 
Qur an and the Jewish Scriptures (in which he 
erroneously supposed that the tale was to be found) 
in this and similar matters was a proof that iie was 
Divinely commissioned as a prophet. 

3. Story of the Queen of Shela s visit to Solomon. 

Regarding the origin of this tale as narrated in 
the Qur an there cannot be the slightest doubt. It 
is taken with only very slight alterations from the 
Second Targum on Esther, which is printed in the 
Miqra6th Geddloth. Muhammad no doubt believed 
it to form part of the Jewish Scriptures, and its 
absurdities were so much to his taste and that of 


the Arabs that he introduced it into the Qur an 
(Surah XXVII., An Naml, v. 17 and vv. 20-45), 
where it is related in the following manner : 

"And his hosts (composed) of j inns and men and 
birds were gathered together unto Solomon. . . . 
And he reviewed the birds : then he said, What 
(hath happened) to me that I do not see the hoopoe 
(huclhud) * Or is it among the absentees ? Truly 
I shall punish it with severe punishment. Either 
I shall slaughter it assuredly, or it shall surely 
bring me clear proof V Accordingly it delayed not 
long. Then it said : I am aware of what thou art 
not aware of, and I have come to thee from Sheba 2 
with sure information. Verily I found a woman 
who reigneth over them and who is brought some 
of everything, and she hath a great throne. And 
I found her and her people worshipping the Sun 
instead of God, and Satan hath made their deeds 
attractive unto them, and hath turned them aside 
from the way, therefore they are not guided aright 
so that they should worship God, who bringeth 
forth what is concealed in the heavens and the 
earth, and knoweth what ye hide and what ye 
reveal. God ! there is no god but He, the Lord of 
the Great Throne. He said, We shall see whether 
thou hast spoken truly or art among the liars. Go 
thou with this my epistle, and cast it down to 

1 That it had a good excuse for absence. 

a The Arabic form is Sabd, since the Hebrew sh often oecomes 
s in Arabic 


them ; then turn thou away from them : then see 
what (answer) they will return. 

" (The queen) said, nobles, verily to me hath 
a gracious epistle been cast down : verily it is from 
Solomon: verily it is "In the name of God the 
Merciful, the Compassionate ! Rise not up against 
me, but come unto me submissively V She said, 
nobles, instruct ye me in my matter : I do not 
decide a matter until ye bear witness. They said, 
We are men of strength and of mighty courage, 
and command (belongeth) unto thee : therefore see 
thou what thou wilt command. She said, Verily 
when kings enter a city, they destroy it and make 
humble the most honoured of its people, even so do 
they. And verily I do send unto them a gift and 
see with what (answer) the messengers return, 

" Accordingly when (the messenger) came to 
Solomon, (the king) said, Do ye increase my goods ? 
since what God hath brought me is better than 
what He hath brought you. Nay, ye boast of your 
gift. Return thou to them : for indeed we shall 
come to them with hosts which they cannot resist, 
and we shall expel them from it (the country) 
humbled, and they shall be small. He said, 
O nobles, which of you will bring me her throne, 
before they come to me submissively 1 V An Ifrit 
of the jinns said, I shall bring it to thee before thou 
risest up from thy place, and verily I am indeed 
able to do it (and am) faithful/ He who had 

1 Or "As Muslims." 


knowledge from the Book said, I shall bring it to 
thee before thy glance shall return l to thee. 
When, therefore, (Solomon) saw it placed beside 
him, he said, This is from my Lord s favour, that 
he may prove me, whether I be grateful or un 
grateful. And he who is grateful is grateful indeed 
for himself, and he who is ungrateful, verily my 
Lord is rich and gracious/ 

" He said, Alter her throne for her ! we shall 
see whether she is rightly guided or is among those 
who are not guided aright. Accordingly, when 
she came, it was said, Is this thy throne 1 She 
said, It is as if it were. And we were brought 
knowledge before she was, and became Muslims: 
And that which she used to worship instead of God 
hath led her astray : verily she is of an unbelieving 
people. It was said to her, Enter the palace. 
When therefore she saw it, she accounted it an 
abyss, and she uncovered her legs. He said Verily 
it is a palace paved with glass. She said, my 
Lord, verily I have wronged my soul, and I resign 2 
myself along with Solomon to God, the Lord of the 
worlds. " 

This narrative omits some details that are men 
tioned in the Targum and differs from the latter 
in a few points. The Targum states that the 
throne 3 belonged to Solomon, and that twenty- 

1 i. e. In the twinkling of an eye. 
8 Or, " Become a Muslim." 

Vide i Kings x. 18 &qq., and a Chron. ix. 17 sqq. 
F 2 


four eagles, stationed above the throne, cast their 
shadow upon the king s head as he sat thereon. 
Whenever Solomon desired to go anywhere, these 
eagles would transport him and his throne thither. 
Hence we see that the Targum represents the 
eagles as the bearers of the throne, whereas the 
Qur an states that an Ifrit did Solomon such a 
service once only, and then when the throne was 
empty. But with regard to the Queen of Sheba 
and the letter which the king sent her by means 
of the bird, there exists a marvellous resemblance 
between the two books, except that the Targum 
calls the hoopoe a "cock of the desert" which is 
much the same thing. We here give a translation 
of this passage of the Targum for the sake of 
comparison with the Arabic account. 

" Again, when King Solomon s heart was merry 
with his wine, he commanded to bring the beasts 
of the field and the fowls of the air and the 
creeping things of the earth and the jinns and 
the spirits and the night-goblins to dance before 
him, in order to show his greatness to all the 
kings who were prostrating themselves before him. 
And the king s scribes summoned them by their 
names, and they all assembled and came unto him, 
except the prisoners and except the captives and 
except the man who took charge of them. At that 
hour the cock of the desert was enjoying himself 
among the birds and was not found. And the 
king commanded concerning him that they should 


bring him by force, and wished to destroy him. 
The cock of the desert returned to King Solomon s 
presence and said to him, Hearken, my lord the 
king of the earth, incline thine ear and hear my 
words. Is it not three months ago that I took 
counsel in my heart and formed a firm resolution 
with myself that I would not eat, and would not 
drink water, before I had seen the whole world 
and flown about in it ? And I said, Which province 
or kingdom is there that is not obedient to my 
lord the king? I beheld and saw a fortified city, 
the name of which is Qitor, in an eastern land. 
The dust is heavy with gold, and silver is like 
dung in the streets, and trees have been planted 
there from the beginning; and from the Garden 
of Eden do they drink water. There are there 
great multitudes with garlands on their heads. 
From there are plants from the Garden of Eden, 
because it is near unto it. They know how to 
shoot with the bow, but cannot be slain with the 
bow. One woman rules over them all, and her 
name is the Queen of Sheba. Now if it please 
thee, my lord the king, this person 1 will gird up 
my loins, and I shall rise up and go to the fortress 
of Qitor, to the city of Sheba ; I shall "bind their 
kings with chains and their nobles with links of 
iron," and shall bring them unto my lord the King. 
And the saying was pleasing before the king, and 
the king s scribes were called, and they wrote a letter 

1 That is, "I shall, "&c. 


and fastened the letter to the wing of the cock 
of the desert. And he arose and went up high 
into the sky and bound on his tiara and grew 
strong, and flew among the birds. And they flew 
after him. And they went to the fortress of Qitor, 
to the city of Sheba. And it came to pass at morning 
time that the Queen of Sheba went forth by the 
sea to worship. And the birds darkened the sun ; 
and she laid her hand upon her garments and 
rent them, and she became surprised and troubled. 
And when she was troubled, the cock of the desert 
came down to her, and she saw, and lo ! a letter 
was fastened to his wing. She opened and read 
it. And this was what was written in it : From 
me, King Solomon. Peace be to thee, peace be 
to thy nobles ! Forasmuch as thou knowest that 
the Holy One, blessed be He ! has made me King 
over the beasts of the field, and over the fowls 
of the air, and over jinns and over spirits and 
over night-goblins, and all the kings of the East 
and the West and the South and the North come 
and inquire about my health (peace) : now, if thou 
art willing and dost come and inquire after my 
health, well : I shall make thee greater than all 
the kings that bow down before me. And if thou 
art not willing and dost not come nor inquire 
after my health, I shall send against thee kings 
and legions and horsemen. And if thou sayest, 
What kings and legions and horsemen has King 
Solomon ? the beasts of the field are kings and 


legions and horsemen. And if thou sayest, What 
horsemen V the fowls of the air are horsemen, 
my armies are spirits and jinns, and the night- 
goblins are legions that shall strangle you in your 
beds within your houses : the beasts of the field 
shall slay you in the field ; the birds of the air 
shall eat your flesh from oft* you/ And when the 
Queen of Sheba heard the words of the letter, 
again a second time she laid her hand upon her 
garments and rent them. She sent and called the 
elders and nobles, and said to them, Do ye not 
know what King Solomon has sent to me V They 
answered and said, We do not know King Solomon, 
nor do we make any account of his kingdom. 
But she was not contented, nor did she hearken 
unto their words, but she sent and called all the 
ships of the sea .and loaded them with offerings 
and jewels and precious stones. And she sent 
unto him six thousand boys and girls, and all of 
them were born in the same (one) year, and all of 
them were born in one month, and all of them 
were born in one day, and all of them were born in 
one hour, and all of them were of the same stature, 
and all of them were of the same figure, and all 
of them were clad in purple garments. And she 
wrote a letter and sent it to King Solomon by 
their hands. From the fortress of Qitor to the 
land of Israel is seven years journey. Now 
through thy prayers and through thy petitions, 
which I entreat of thee, I shall come to thee at 


the end of three years. And it came to pass at 
the end of three years that the Queen of Sheba 
came to King Solomon. And when King Solomon 
heard that the Queen of Sheba had come, he sent 
unto her Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, who was 
like the dawn that rises at morning-time, and 
resembled the Star of Splendour (= Venus) which 
shines and stands firm among the stars, and was 
similar to the lily which stands by the water 
courses. And when the Queen of Sheba saw 
Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, she alighted from the 
chariot. Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, answered and 
said to her, Why hast thou alighted from thy 
chariot ? She answered and said to him, Art not 
thou King Solomon V He answered and said to 
her, * I am not King Solomon, but one of his ser 
vants who stand before him/ And forthwith she 
turned her face behind her and uttered a parable to 
the nobles, If the lion has not appeared to you, ye 
have seen his offspring, and if ye have not seen 
King Solomon ye have seen the beauty of a man 
who stands before him. And Benaiah, son of 
Jehoiada, brought her before the king. And when 
the king heard that she had come to him, he arose 
and went and sat in a crystal house. And when 
the Queen of Sheba saw that the king sat in a 
crystal house, she considered in her heart and said 
that the king sat in water, and she gathered up her 
garment that she might cross over, and he saw 
that she had hair on her legs. The king answered 


and said unto her, < Thy beauty is the beauty of 
women, and thy hair is the hair of a man ; and 
hair is beautiful for a man, but for a woman it is 
disgraceful. The Queen of Sheba answered and 
said to him, My lord the king, I shall utter to thee 
three parables, which if thou explain to me, I shall 
know that thou art a wise man, and if not. thou 
art as the rest of men. (Solomon solved all three 
problems.) And she said, Blessed be the Lord 
thy God who delighted in thee to seat thee upon 
the throne of the kingdom to do judgment and 
justice. And she gave unto the king good gold 
and silver. . . . And the king gave her all that she 

In this Jewish narrative we see that there is 
mention made of certain puzzles which the Queen 
of Sheba desired Solomon to solve for her. 
Although this matter is not mentioned in the 
Qur an, yet it is all recorded in the Traditions. 
And since what the Qur an says with regard to the 
Queen s mistaking the crystal pavement for a deep 
pool of water is not quite so full an account of the 
incident as that given in the Targum, certain 
Muhammadan writers have filled up the details 
exactly. For instance, in the Araisu l Majalis 
(p. 438) we read : " She uncovered her legs that 
she might wade through it, unto Solomon. Then 
Solomon beheld her, and lo ! she was the fairest of 
women as to leg and foot, except that she was 
hairy-legged. When therefore Solomon saw that, 


he cried out to prevent her, and he called aloud 
to her, Verily it is a palace paved with glass. " 

The mention of the crystal pavement may be 
due to a confused recollection of the " molten sea " 
in the Temple at Jerusalem (i Kings vii. 23). 
All the other marvels seem to be purely Jewish 
fancies. The Jewish account is so evidently 
fabulous that it is surprising that Muhammad so 
evidently believed it to be strictly true. But some 
of the incidents mentioned can be somewhat more 
fully explained than others. For instance, the 
idea (widely prevalent in the East to the present 
day) that Solomon ruled over various kinds of evil 
spirits was derived from the Jews from a misunder 
standing l of the Hebrew words ntaBM rw in 
Eccles. ii. 8. These words probably mean " a lady 
and ladies." But the commentators seem to have 
misunderstood the terms, which occur nowhere 
else in the Bible, and to have explained them as 
denoting certain demons (fern, of &*}&). Hence he 
is spoken of in both the Jewish legend and in the 
Qur an as having armies composed of various kinds 
of spirits. The story of the Merchant and the 
Jinni in the Arabian Nights is another instance of 
the same belief. It is strange to find the Prophet 
Muhammad emulating the writer of that wonderful 
book as a story-teller, even though the source of 

1 Or rather perhaps from the Persian story of Jamshid, which 
seemed to suit Solomon because of the misunderstanding 
referred to in the text. Vide pp. 249, 250. 


the Quranic tale is known, In credulity, however, 
Muhammad undoubtedly eclipsed his rival, for the 
latter cannot be supposed to have believed his own 
wondrous tales, nor does he profess to have received 
them from above. 

The historical basis for the whole tale is afforded 
by the record given in i Kings x. i-io (and 
repeated in 2 Chron. ix. 1-9), which tells us 
nothing whatever marvellous about Solomon, no 
thing about Jinns and Ifrits and crystal palaces, but 
is a simple narrative of a visit paid to Solomon by 
the Queen of Sheba, a well-known part of Arabia. 

"And when the Queen of Sheba heard of the 
fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, 
she came to prove him with hard questions. And 
she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, 
with camels that bare spices and very much gold 
and precious stones: and when she was come to 
Solomon, she communed with him of all that was 
in her heart. And Solomon told her all her 
questions: there was not anything hid from the 
king which he told her not. And when the queen 
of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, and 
the house that he had built, and the meat of his 
table, and the sitting of his servants, and the 
attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and 
his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up 
unto the house of the Lord; there was no more 
spirit in her. And she said to the king, * It was a 
true report that I heard in my own land of thy 


acts, and of thy wisdom. Howbeit, I believed not 
the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it : 
and, behold, the half was not told me : thy wisdom 
and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. 
Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, 
which stand continually before thee, and that 
hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the Lord thy God, 
which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne 
of Israel: because the Lord loved Israel for ever, 
therefore made He thee king to do judgment and 
justice/ And she gave the king an hundred and 
twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great 
store, and precious stones: there came no more 
such abundance of spices as those which the queen 
of Sheba gave to King Solomon." 

Although many others of the narratives that 
are contained in the Qur an have been borrowed 
from Jewish fables, yet here it is not necessary to 
quote them all at length. In every case Muham 
mad seems to have been ignorant of the true 
history of the Prophets as related in the Canonical 
Books of the Old Testament. This was doubtless 
due to the fact that the Jews of Arabia were not 
learned men, and that they were better acquainted 
with the fables of the Talmud than with the Bible. 
Before we proceed to more important matters, 
however, we must deal with the story of Harut 
and Marut, the two angels that sinned in Babylon. 
This legend is of much interest, as we can trace it 


in the first instance to the Jews, and can then 
show that it is of composite origin. We first quote 
it as it is narrated in the Quran and the Traditions, 
and shall then refer to the Jewish and other 
legends from which it was derived 

4. Story of Hdrut and Mdrut. 

In the Qur an (Surah II., Al Baqarah, 96) it is 
thus written : 

"Solomon did not disbelieve, but the Devils 
disbelieved. And they teach men sorcery and 
what had been sent down unto the two angels in 
Babel, Harut and Marut. And they teach not 
anyone until they both say, Verily we are 
Rebellion, therefore do not thou disbelieve." 

In the Ardifit l Majdlia we find the following 
story, told on the authority of Tradition, in ex 
planation of this verse. The Commentators say 
that, when the angels saw the vile deeds of the 
sons of men that ascended up to heaven in the 
time of the Prophet Idris, they rebuked them for 
that and repudiated them and said, These are 
those whom Thou hast made Vicegerents upon 
earth and whom Thou hast chosen, yet they offend 
against Thee. Therefore God Most High said, 
If I had sent you down to the Earth and had 
instilled into you what I have instilled into them, 
ye would have done as they have done. They 
said, God forbid ! O our Lord, it were unfitting 
for us to offend against Thee/ God Most High 


said, Choose ye out two angels of the best of 
you : I shall send them both down to the Earth. 
Accordingly they chose Harut and Marut, who 
were among the best and most devout of the 
angels. Al Kalbi says, God Most High said, 
" Choose ye out three of you ; " so they chose Azz, 
who is Harut, and Azabi, who is Marut, and 
Azrail. And indeed he changed the names of 
those two when they became involved in guilt, as 
God changed the name of Iblis, for his name was 
Azazil. Then God Most High instilled into them 
the desire which He had instilled into the sons of 
men, and sent them down to the Earth ; and He 
commanded them to judge justly between men, 
and He prohibited them from polytheism and 
from unjustly slaying and from unchastity and 
from drinking wine. As for Azrail, when desire 
fell into his heart, verily he asked pardon of his 
Lord and begged that He would take him up to 
heaven. Therefore He pardoned him and took 
him up. And he worshipped for forty years; 
then he raised his head ; and after that he did not 
cease to hang down his head through feeling shame 
before God Most High. But as for the other two, 
verily they remained as they were. They used to 
judge among men during the day, and when it was 
evening they repeated the Great Name of God 
Most High and ascended up to heaven. Qatadah 
says that a month had not passed ere they fell into 
temptation, and that because one day Zuhrah, who 


was one of the most beautiful of women, brought 
a law-suit to them. Ali says she was of the 
people of Fars and was queen in her own country. 
When therefore they saw her, she captivated the 
hearts of both of them. Hence they asked her for 
herself. She refused and went away. Then on 
the next day she returned, and they did as before. 
She said, No, unless ye both worship what I 
worship and pray to this idol and commit murder 
and drink wine. They both said, We cannot 
possibly do these things, for God has prohibited us 
from doing them. Accordingly she went away. 
Then on the third day she returned, and with her 
a cup of wine, and she showed herself favourable 
unto them. Accordingly they asked her for herself. 
Then she refused and proposed to them what she 
had said the previous day. Then they said, To 
worship any but God is a fearful thing, and to 
murder is a fearful thing, and the easiest of the 
three is to drink wine. Accordingly they drank 
the wine: then they became intoxicated and fell 
upon the woman. ... A man saw them, and they 
slew him. Kalbi bin Anas says that they wor 
shipped the idol. Then God transformed Zuhrah 
into a star. Ali and Sadi and Kalbi say that she 
said, Ye will not obtain me until ye teach me that 
by means of which ye ascend to heaven. There 
fore they said, We ascend by means of the 
greatest name of God. Then she said, Ye will 
not therefore obtain me until ye teach it to me/ 


One of them said to his companion, Teach it to 
her/ He said, < Verily I fear God. Then said the 
other, Where then is the mercy of God Most 
High ? Then they taught it to her. Accordingly 
she uttered it and ascended to heaven, and God 
Most High transformed her into a star." 

Zuhrah is the Arabic name of the planet Venus. 
The number of authorities quoted for the various 
forms of this story is a sufficient proof how generally 
it is accepted among Muslims as having been 
handed down by Tradition from the lips of their 
Prophet. There are several points in the tale 
which would of themselves indicate its Jewish 
origin, even had we no further proof. One of 
these is the idea that any one who knows the 
special name of God the "Incommunicable Name" 
as the Jews call it can thereby do great things. 
It is well known, for example, that certain Jewish 
writers of olden times explained our Lord s 
miracles by asserting that He performed them by 
pronouncing this Name, the Tetragrammaton. Again, 
the angel Azrail bears not an Arabic but a Hebrew 

But we have more direct proof than this of the 
Jewish origin of the tale. It is contained in the 
Midrash Yalkut, chapter xliv, in these words : 

"His disciples asked Rab Joseph, What is 
Azael ? He said to them, When the generation 
(that lived at the time) of the Flood arose and 
offered up vain worship (i. e. worship to idols), the 


Holy One, Blessed be He! was wroth. At once 
there arose two angels, Shemhazai and Azael, and 
said in His presence, " O Lord of the World ! did 
we not say in Thy presence, when thou didst create 
Thy world, * What is man that Thou art mindful 
of him ? " (Ps. viii. 4). He said to them, " And 
as for the world, what will become of it 1 " They 
said to Him, " O Lord of the World, we shall rule 
over it." He said to them, "It is manifest and 
known unto Me that, if ye were dominant in the 
Earth, evil desire would reign in you, and ye 
would be more stubborn than the sons of men." 
They said to Him, "Give us permission, and we 
shall dwell with the creatures, and Thou shalt see 
how we shall sanctify Thy name." He said to 
them, " Go down and dwell with them." At once 
Shemhazai saw a damsel, whose name was Esther. 
He fixed his eyes upon her : he said, " Be com 
plaisant to me." She said to him, "I shall not 
hearken unto thee until thou teach me the peculiar 
Name [of God], by means of which thou ascendest 
to the sky at the hour that thou repeatest it." He 
taught it to her. Then she repeated it: then too 
she ascended to the sky and was not humbled. 
The Holy One, Blessed be He! said, "Since she 
hath separated herself from transgression, go ye 
and place her among the seven staiis, that ye may 
be pure with regard to her for ever." And she 
was placed in the Pleiades. They instantly de 
graded themselves with the daughters of men, who 


were beautiful, and they could not satisfy their 
desire. They arose and took wives and begat 
sons, Hiwwa and Hia. And Azael was master of 
varieties of ornaments and kinds of adornments of 
women, which render men prone to the thought 
of transgression. " 

To what is said in this last sentence we shall 
recur again later \ It should be noticed that the 
*Azdel of the Midrash is the *AzrdU of the Muham- 
madan legend. 

It is impossible for any one to compare the 
Muhammadan with the Jewish legend without 
perceiving that the former is derived from the 
latter, not exactly word for word, but as it was 
related orally. There are, however, some interest 
ing points in the Muhammadan form of the fable 
which require attention before we investigate the 
question, "Where did the Jews themselves learn 
the story ? " 

One of these points is the origin of the names 
Harftt and Marut. These angels are said to have 
had other names originally, being called Azz and 
Azabi respectively, and the latter names are 
formed from roots common to the Hebrew and the 
Arabic languages. In the Midrash Yalkut, how 
ever, the angels that sinned are called Shemhazai 
and Azael, whereas the Arabic legend says that 
Azrail, though he did come down, accompanied 
Harut and Marut as a third member of the party, 

1 Vide pp, 107, 108. 


and afterwards returned to heaven without com 
mitting actual sin. He is now regarded by 
Muslims as the Angel of Death, a part played by 
Sammael among the Jews. The Arabic legend 
says that the names Harut and Marut were not 
given to these two angels until after they had 
sinned. The meaning underlying this becomes 
clear when we discover that the names are those 
of two ancient Armenian deities, worshipped by 
the Armenians before their conversion to Christi 
anity in the third and fourth centuries of the 
Christian era. In Armenian they were termed 
Horot arid M6r6t, and a modern Armenian writer 
mentions the part which they were supposed to 
play in the ancient mythology of his country in 
these words : 

"Among the assistants of the goddess Spanaaramit 
were undoubtedly Horot and Morot, demigods of 
Mount Masis (Ararat), and Amenabegh, and per 
haps other deities also which are still unknown to 
us. They were the special promoters of the pro 
ductiveness and profitableness of the earth V 

The Armenian Spandaramit is the Avestic Spenta 
Armaiti, the female archangel who presides over 
the earth and is the guardian of virtuous women. 
Horot and Morot appear in the A vesta as Haurvat 
(or Haurvatat) and Ameretat, " abundance " and 
"immortality." They are the fifth and sixth of 
the Ainshaspands (Amesha-spentas, "bountiful im- 

Halouadsner, yt. i. p. 127. 
G 2 


mortals "), who are the chief assistants and minis 
ters of Ahuro Mazdao (Ormazd), the creator of all 
good things. In the Avesta, Haurvatat and Ame- 
retat are inseparable companions, as are H6r6t and 
M6rot in Armenian mythology. The latter pre 
sides over the whole vegetable kingdom. In later 
Persian the names were gradually corrupted into 
Khurdad and Murdad, and these two good genii 
gave their names to the third and fifth months of 
the year. The words are of purely Aryan origin 
and occur under their proper form in Sanskrit 
(sarvatd and amritathe former occurring in the 
form sarvatdti in the Rig Veda), though they have 
not become mythological beings. The Aryan 
legend represented these demigods as givers of 
fertility to the earth, personified as Spenta Armaiti, 
and as presiding over all kinds of fruitfulness. 
They were holy beings, and their descent to the 
earth was in accordance with the command of 
Ormazd, as in the Muhammadan legend. But 
originally the execution of their mission was not 
associated with any thought of sin. Borrowing 
their names from the ancient mythology of Ar 
menia and Persia, Muhammad confounded them 
(or his informants did) with the two sinful angels 
of Jewish mythology. As we shall see in due 
time 1 , he derived not a little information from 
Persian as well as from Jewish sources, and there 
was sufficient resemblance between the two origin- 

1 Chapter v. 


ally quite independent myths to lead him to con 
sider them one and the same. Hence the strange 
phenomenon of the appearance of two Aryan 
genii as the chief actors in a scene borrowed from 
the Talmud in its main features. 

The girl called in the Jewish story Esther is the 
goddess Ishtar of ancient Babylonia, worshipped 
in Palestine and Syria under the name of Ashto- 
reth. She was the goddess of love and of sinful 
passion, and was identified by the Greeks and 
Romans with Aphrodite and Venus respectively. 
As she was also identified with the planet Venus, 
called Zuhrah by the Arabs, it is easy to perceive 
that the difference of names in the Jewish and the 
Arabian tales is not a matter of moment, the 
mythological person referred to being in reality 
one and the same. 

It is well known what an important part Ishtar 
played in the mythology of the Babylonians and 
Assyrians. One of the tales of her many amours 
must be translated here, as it explains, in part, 
the origin of the story of the angels sin, and also 
shows why Zuhrah or Esther is said to have been 
enabled to ascend, and did ascend, to heaven. 

In the Babylonian myth we are told that Ishtar 
fell in love with a hero called Gilgamesh, who 
repelled her advances: 

"Gilgamesh put on his crown. And for (the 
purpose of attracting) the favour of Gilgamesh to 
wards herself, the majesty of the goddess Ishtar 


(said to him), Kiss me, Gilgamesh: and would 
that thou wert my bridegroom ! Give me thy 
fruit as a gift. And would that thou were my 
husband, and would that I were thy wife ! Then 
(shouldest thou) drive forth in a chariot of 
lapis lazuli and gold, the wheels of which are of 
gold, and both its shafts are of diamond. Then 
wouldst thou every day yoke the great mules. 
Enter into our house with perfume of cedarwood 1 . " 
But when Gilgamesh refused to receive her as his 
wife and taunted her by mentioning some of the 
many husbands she had had, who had come to 

a bad end, then, as the tale goes on to tell us : 

" The goddess Ishtar became angry, and went 
up to the heavens, and the goddess Ishtar (came) 
before the face of the god Anu." Anu was the 
Heaven and the god of Heaven of the oldest Baby 
lonian mythology, and Ishtar was his daughter. 
Here we see her ascent to heaven mentioned, just 
as in the Muhammadan legend. In the latter she 
tempts the angels to sin, just as in the Babylonian 
tale she tempted Gilgamesh. 

In Sanskrit literature also we find a very re 
markable parallel to the story that is related in the 
Qur an and the Traditions. This is the episode of 
Sunda and Upasunda 2 in the Mahabharata, There 

1 Translated from the original, which is printed and incor 
rectly translated in Trans. Soc. BiU. Archaeology, vol. II., pt. j., 
pp. 104, 105, 115. 

3 Rundopasunflopdkhydnam. 


we are told that once upon a time two brothers 
Sunda and Upasunda practised such austerities 
that they acquired much merit for themselves so 
much in fact that they ultimately obtained sove 
reignty over both earth and heaven. Then the 
god Brahma began to fear lest he should in this 
way lose all his dominions. In order to prevent 
this he decided to destroy his two rivals. The 
method which he adopted was to tempt them by 
sending them one of the maidens of Paradise, 
called Huris by the Muhammadans and Apsarasas 
by the ancient Hindus. He therefore created a 
most lovely Apsaras named Tilottama, whom he 
sent as a gift to the brothers. On beholding her, 
Sunda seized her right hand and Upasunda her 
left, each desiring to have her as his wife. Jealousy 
caused hatred and enmity to spring up in thr 
hearts of the brothers, and the result was that 
they slew each other. Tilottama then returned to 
Brahma, who, delighted at her having thus enabled 
him to rid himself of both his rivals, blessed her 
and said, "In all the world that the sun shines 
upon thou shalt circle around, and no one shall be 
able to gaze directly at thee, because of the 
brilliancy of thy adornment and the excellence of 
thy beauty." 

In this fable we find mention of the nymph s 
ascent to the sky, though the Hindu story agrees 
with the Babylonian and differs from the Muham- 
madan one in representing her as having from the 


first had some connexion with the upper regions, 
for the Apsarasas dwell in the sky, though often 
visiting the earth, and Ishtar was a goddess. The 
two brothers in the Hindu tale were at first on the 
earth, though they ultimately gained authority 
over heaven. In this at first sight they differ from 
the angels who came down from heaven, according 
to the Jewish and the Muhammadan fables. But 
the difference is slight even in this matter, since 
the Hindu myth represents the brothers as de 
scended from a goddess, Diti by name, who was 
also mother of the Maruts or storm-gods. The 
resemblance between these various legends is there 
fore very striking. 

We can hardly, however, suppose that the dif 
ferent forms of the story current among all these 
different nations were all derived from one and the 
same origin. The Jews, doubtless, borrowed the 
tale, in part at least, especially the name of Ishtar 
or Esther and certain other details, from the Baby 
lonians, who had learnt it from the still more 
ancient Accadians. Forgetting its heathen source, 
the Talmud admitted the tale, and on the authority 
of the Jews it was received into the Qur an and the 
Traditions of the Muslims. 

If we further inquire how it was that the 
Jews accepted the legend, the answer is that 
they did so through mistaking the meaning of 
one Hebrew word in the Book of Genesis. The 
word NepMlim, which occurs in the passage Gen. 


vi. i -4, was supposed to be derived from the verb 
ndphal, "to fall." Hence Jonathan ben Uzziel in 
his Targum took it to mean " fallen angels," and 
doubtless in doing so he was adopting the then 
current etymology of the word. In order to 
account for the etymology the story was in part 
invented, in part (as we have seen) borrowed from 
Babylonian mythology by the ignorant Jews, much 
in the same way that, as we have previously 
pointed out, a false etymology of tfr gave rise to 
the story of Abraham s deliverance from " the 
furnace of fire of the Chaldees." Hence Jonathan 
in his comment on Gen. vi. 4 explains NVpMlim 
by saying, " Shemhazai and Uzziel : they fell from 
Heaven and were on the earth in those days." 
The myth in the Midrash Yalkut already quoted 
arose from this blunder. 

Yet, even accepting the supposed derivation of 
Nephilim from the verb meaning " to fall," it was 
not necessary to explain the origin of the name in 
such a way. The Targum of Onkelos acts much 
more wisely by understanding the NSphilim to 
have been so called because they were men who 
used to fall violently on the helpless and oppress 
them. Hence this Targum translates the word by. 
one which means " violent men " or oppressors *. 

1 It is interesting to note that the Samaritan Targum to tne 
Pentateuch (published by Dr. Adolf Briill, Frankfurt, 1875) 
practically gives the same explanation. It paraphrases " sons 
of God" by "sons of the governors." The original runs thus 


Others have in more recent times denied the deri 
vation of the word from ndphal, "to fall," pre 
ferring to connect it with the Arabic word nabil 
( J*4), which means " noble " and also " skilled in 
archery." After all, like many proper names in 
the early chapters of Genesis, the word may prove 
to be of Sumerian origin, unconnected with any 
root in the Semitic languages. 

As the more ignorant of the Jews were lovers 
of the marvellous, the story of the sin of the 
fallen angels grew ever more and more strange and 
wonderful. At first only two angels are spoken 
of as having fallen, and this was an exaggera 
tion of the Babylonian tale of Ishtar s tempting 
Gilgamesh alone. But in later times their number 
in the tales current among the Jews grew greater, 
until at last in the apocryphal Book of Enoch it 
is said that the angels who fell from heaven 
amounted to 200, and that they all descended in 
order to sin with women. The following extract 
from that book is important as narrating the 
legend in a fuller form than those which we have 
previously quoted. It also gives a statement 
which agrees with one made at the conclusion of 
the Jewish legend in the Midmsh Yalkut and 
also in the Qur an, in a passage which we shall 
soon have to consider. 

(Gen. vi. 2, 4) : ... >I;N p>r^ ^n -rcbN nwa rv rrycbti na 

brn p -inn r\w ji; rrnva nna nn 
a; a 1 ?? pi nnaa p:s pn 7 


" And it came to pass, wherever the children of 
men were multiplied, in those days daughters fair 
and beautiful were born. And the angels, sons of 
heaven, beheld them and longed for them: and 
they said to one another, * Come, let us choose out 
for ourselves wives from men, and we shall beget 
children for ourselves. And Semiazas, who was 
their chief, said to them, I fear that ye will refuse 
to do this deed, and I alone shall be guilty of a 
great sin. Therefore they all answered him, Let 
us all swear an oath, and let us all bind one another 
under a curse not to give up this intention until 
we accomplish it and do this deed. Then they 
all swore together, and therewith bound one 
another under a curse." After giving the names 
of the chiefs of the rebel angels, the story proceeds 
thus, "And they took to themselves wives: they 
chose out wives for themselves each of them, . . . 
and they taught them poisons and incantations and 
root-gathering, and they showed unto them the 
herbs. . . . Azael taught men to make swords and 
weapons and shields and breast-plates, the teach 
ings of angels, and he showed them metals and the 
method of working them, and bracelets and orna 
ments and paints and collyrium and all sorts of 
precious stones and dyes 1 ." 

1 Greek fragments of the Book of Enoch, capp. vi-viii, ed. 
Dr. Swete, who also gives the same passages from Syncellus. 
In the Persian YandlA u l Islam I quoted and translated the 
.dEthiopic text, as the Greek had not then been recovered, or at 
least published. 



This account of the origin of feminine ornaments 
is the same that we have found in the Midrash 
(see above, p. 98). It enables us to understand the 
meaning and to recognize the source of the follow 
ing passage from the Qur an, in which, speaking of 
Harut and Marut, Muhammad says that men 
" learnt 1 from them that by which they separate 
a man from his wife." He adds, " And they used 
not to injure any one except by God s permission, 
and they teach what injureth them and doth not 
profit them." 

It is hardly necessary to produce any further 
proof that the story of Harut and Marut is 
borrowed from a Jewish source, at least in all 
essential particulars, though in the names of these 
angels we perceive traces of Armenian and perhaps 
Persian influence. We have also seen that the 
Jews derived their form of the legend from Baby 
lonia, and that their acceptance of it was in large 
measure due to a misunderstanding about the mean 
ing of a Hebrew word in Genesis. 

It may be urged that some Christians under 
stand Gen. vi. 1-4, in much the same sense as the 
Jews did or still do, and that possibly this view is 
correct. But even granting all this, it is evident 
from what a corrupt source Muhammad borrowed 
the narrative, which, in the form in which the 
Quran and the Traditions relate it, cannot possibly 
be correct. 

1 Surah II., Al Baqarah, verse 96, fin. 


5. Other Instances. 

We cannot mention with the same fulness of 
detail all the other points in which the Qur an has 
borrowed from Jewish legends. An examination 
of what is related in the Qur an in reference to 
Joseph, David, and Saul (Tdlut), for example, will 
show how far these accounts differ from what the 
Bible tells us about these persons. In most, if not 
in every instance, the reason of the divergence from 
the Biblical account is found in the fact that 
Muhammad followed the Jewish legends current 
in his time, instead of the true history of these 
men as given in the sacred text. Occasionally he 
has misunderstood the legends, or has amplified 
them from imagination or from other sources. 
But the legends already given at some length will 
serve as examples of all other similar ones. 

We now proceed to deal with other instances in 
which the Qur an s indebtedness to Jewish legends 
is obvious. 

In Surah VII., Al A raf, 170, we read, "And 
when We raised up the mountain above them as if 
it were a covering, and they fancied that it was 
falling upon them, [We said], Take ye with forti 
tude what We have brought you, and remember ye 
what is in it ; perchance ye may be pious. " Jala- 
lain and other Muhammadan commentators explain 
this verse by informing us that God raised up the 
mountain (Sinai 1 * from its foundation and held it 


over the heads of the children of Israel in the 
wilderness, threatening to let it fall on them and 
crush them if they did not accept the command 
ments contained in the Law of Moses. These they 
had previously refused to obey, because of their 
severity. But on hearing this threat the Israelites 
received the law. God then uttered the rest of the 
speech contained in the verse quoted above. The 
same legend is referred to in Surah II., Al Baqarah, 
60, 87. 

Its origin is found in the Jewish tractate "Aboddh 
Zdrdh (cap. ii. 2), where we are told that on that 
occasion (so God is represented as saying to the 
Israelites), "I covered you over with the 
mountain like a lid." So also in Sabbath (fol. 88, i) 
we read, "These words teach us that the Holy 
One, blessed be He, inverted the mountain above 
them like a pot, and said unto them, If ye re 
ceive the law, well : but if not, there shall your 
grave be/" 

Perhaps it is hardly necessary to say that there 
is nothing like this fable to be found in the Penta 
teuch. It has originated in the mistake of a Jewish 
commentator, who has misunderstood the words of 
the Bible. In Exod. xxxii. 19 we are informed that 
when Moses descended the mountain with the two 
tables of stone in his hands, he saw that the 
Israelites were worshipping the golden calf which 
they had made. Angry at the shameful sight, he 
threw down the stone tablets from his hands and 


broke them "beneath the mount." Chapter xix. 17 
tells us that while God was giving Moses the Law, 
the people stood " at the nether part of (or beneath) 
the mountain." In each case the phrase means " at 
the foot of the mountain." But the wonder-loving 
and credulous Jews of later times chose to misunder 
stand the phrase, and the legend of the elevation of 
the mountain was invented to explain the words 
11 beneath the mount." The tale of the holding up 
of the mountain above men s heads is, however, 
marvellously similar to a Hindu legend, related in 
the Sanskrit Sastras. It is said that Krishna, wish 
ing to protect the people of Gokula, his native city, 
from a severe rain-storm, dragged up from its stony 
base a mountain named Govardhana, which is styled 
the biggest of all mountains, and for the space of 
seven days and nights suspended it on the tips of 
his fingers over their heads like an umbrella ! We 
cannot suppose that the Jews borrowed this story 
from the Hindus, but it is evident that Muhammad 
derived the tale referred to in the Qur an from 
Jewish sources, while the Jews were led to accept 
or invent the story through taking literally } and 
in an unnatural sense the Hebrew phrase "beneath 
the mount." 

This is not, however, the only wonderful story 
which the Qur an relates concerning what took 

1 That we may understand this better, we have only to 
consider the amount of error introduced into the Christian 
Church by a similar explanation of " This is My body." 


place during the sojourn of the Israelites in the 
wilderness. Not less strange is what we are told 
about the calf which they made to worship during 
Moses absence. In Surah XX \ Ta Ha, we are told 
that when Moses returned and reproached them for 
this, they said, " We were made to bear loads of the 
ornaments of the people, and we threw them [into the 
fire] : and the Samaritan likewise cast in. Then he 
brought out unto them a calf in body, which could 
low." Jalalain s note says that the calf was made 
of flesh and blood, and that it had the power of 
lowing because life was given it through a handful 
of dust from the print left by the hoof of the Angel 
Gabriels steed, which "the Samaritan" had collected 
and put into its mouth, according to v. 96 of the 
same Surah. 

This legend also comes from the Jews, as is 
evident from the following extract which we trans 
late from Pirqey Rabbi Eliezer, 45, "And this 
calf came out lowing, and the Israelites saw it. 
Rabbi Yehiidah says that Sammael was hidden in 
its interior, and was lowing in order that he might 
deceive Israel." The idea that the calf was able to 
low must come from the supposition that, though 
made of gold (Exod. xxxii. 4), it was alive, since it 
"came out" (v. 24) of the fire. Here, again, we 
see that the use of a figurative expression, when 
taken literally, led to the growth of a myth to 
explain it. The Muhammadan commentator in 

1 v. 90 ; cf. Surah VIT., 147. 


explaining the words " a calf in body " in the Qur an 
as signifying that it had " flesh and blood " has 
only gone a step further, and he does this to explain 
how it was that the animal could low. Muhammad 
seems to have understood most of the Jewish legend 
correctly, but the word Sammael puzzled him. Not 
understanding that this is the Jewish name of the 
Angel of Death, and perhaps misled as to the pro 
nunciation, he mistook the word for the somewhat 
similar " Samiri," which means " Samaritan." Of 
course he made this mistake because he knew that 
the Jews were enemies of the Samaritans, and he 
fancied that they attributed the making of the calf 
to one of the latter. He was doubtless confirmed 
in this belief by some indistinct recollection of 
having heard that Jeroboam, king of what was 
afterwards called Samaria, had "made Israel to 
sin" by leading them to worship the calves which 
he made and placed in Dan and Beth-el (i Kings 
xii. 28, 29). But since the city of Samaria was 
not built, or at least called by that name, until 
several hundred years after Moses death, the ana 
chronism is at least amusing, and would be startling 
in any other book than the Qur an, in which far 
more stupendous ones frequently occur. 

Here, as in very many other instances, Muham 
mad s ignorance of the Bible and acquaintance with 
Jewish legends instead is very striking. It is 
hardly necessary to point out that in the Bible the 
maker of the golden calf is Aaron, and that we 


read nothing of either Sammael or of "the 

Again, in Surah II., Al Baqarah, 52, 53, we are 
told that the Israelites said, "O Moses, we shall 
never believe thee until we see God clearly ! " and 
that while they were gazing at the manifestation 
of God s presence a thunderbolt struck them and 
they died ; but after their death God raised them 
to life again. This fable also is borrowed from the 
Jews, for in Tract SanJiedrin, 5, we are told 
that they died on hearing the Divine voice (in the 
thunder), but that the Law itself made intercession 
for them and they were restored to life. If it is 
necessary to seek for any foundation for such a 
fable, it may perhaps be found in the words of the 
Hebrews in Exod. xx. 1 9 (cf . Deut. v. 35), " Let 
not God speak with us, lest we die." 

All Muslims believe that the Qur an was written 
on the " Preserved Tablet " long before the creation 
of the world. This belief of theirs is in accordance 
with what is said in Surah LXXXV., Al JBuruj, 
21, 22, " Nay, but it is a Glorious Qur an in a Pre 
served Tablet." Strangely enough, they do not 
believe that the Psalms are of the same antiquity, 
although in Surah XXL, Al Anbiya, 105, God is 
represented as saying, " And indeed We have already 
written in the Psalms . . . that, as for the earth. My 
righteous servants shall inherit it." The reference 
here is to Ps. xxxvii. n, 29, " The just shall inherit 
the earth." This is the only text in the Old Testa- 


ment which is actually quoted in the Qur an, though 
there are some 131 passages in the Qur an in which 
the Law, the Psalms, and the Gospel are named, 
always with respect, and it is frequently asserted 
of them that they were " sent down " by God to His 
prophets and apostles. To most men it would seem 
evident that a book cannot be quoted and referred 
to as an authority until after it has been composed, 
and that therefore the books of the Bible must 
have been in existence before the Qur an. Of course 
we know from history that this is the case. But 
we do not find that any consideration of this kind 
weighs at all with Muslims, who still cling to their 
assertion that the Qur an was, long ages before 
Muhammad s time, written upon the "Preserved 
Tablet." We therefore proceed to inquire what 
their received Traditions tell us in explanation of 
this phrase, and we find the answer in such accounts 
as that given in the Qisasu l Anblyd (pp. 3, 4). 
In giving an account of the way in which God 
created all things, that work says, "Beneath the 
Throne (or Highest Heaven) He created a Pearl, 
and from that Pearl He created the Preserved 
Tablet : its height was 700 years journey and its 
breadth 300 years journey. Around it was all 
adorned with rubies through the power of God 
Most High. Then came to the Pen the command, 
Write thou My knowledge in My creation, and that 
which is existent unto the day of the Resurrection. 
First it wrote on the Preserved Tablet In the 
IT a 


Name of God the Merciful, the Gracious. I am 
God, there is no God but Me. Whoso hath sub 
mitted to My decree and is patient under the ill 
I assign him and is thankful for My favours, I 
have written him (i. e. his name) and raised him 
with the truthful ones ; and whoso hath not been 
pleased with My decree and hath not been patient 
under the ill I assign him and hath not been 
thankful for My favours, then let him seek another 
Lord than Me, and let him go forth from beneath l 
My heavens. Accordingly the Pen wrote down 
God s knowledge in God Most High s creation of 
everything that He had wished unto the Resurrec 
tion Day, the extent that the leaf of a tree moveth 
or descendeth or ascendeth, and it wrote every such 
thing by the power of God Most High." 

The idea of the Preserved Tablet is borrowed 
from the Jews. In the Book of Deuteronomy (x. 
1-5) we are told that when Moses had, at God s 
command, hewn out two tablets of stone similar 
to the ones that he had broken, God wrote upon 
them the Ten Commandments, and commanded 
Moses to preserve them in an ark of shittim- or 
acacia-wood. The Hebrew word for tablet here 
used is identical with the Arabic. From i Kings 
viii. 9, and Heb. ix. 3, 4, we learn that these 
two tablets were preserved in the Ark of the Cove 
nant which Moses had made in accordance with 
God s command. This is the account from which 

1 Cf. Jer. x. ir. 


the narrative of a Preserved Tablet inscribed with 

God s commandments and by His power gradually 

arose among the Jews and afterwards among the 

Muhammadans. From the language of Surah 

LXXXV., 21, 22, translated above, it is clear that 

in Muhammad s mind there existed not only one 

but at least two " Preserved Tablets," for the Arabic 

is "a Preserved Tablet," not " the Preserved Tablet," 

as Muhammadans at the present day seem to 

understand it. There must therefore be a reference 

to the two stone tablets which Moses prepared and 

preserved in the Ark of the Covenant. As these 

were kept in the Tabernacle which symbolized 

God s presence with His people, it was natural to 

speak of them as preserved in God s presence. 

Hence the origin of the fancy that the Preserved 

Tablets were kept in heaven, and it was not 

difficult to deduce their antiquity from that belief. 

But why does Muhammad assert that the Quran 

was written "upon a Preserved Tablet "? To 

answer this question we must again consult the 

Jews and learn what they, in Muhammad s time 

and previously, thought to have been written upon 

the two Tablets, which were preserved in the Ark 

of the Covenant. In spite of the fact that Deutero 

nomy clearly states that only the Ten Command 

ments were written upon these Tablets, yet after 

a time the belief arose that all the books of the 

Old Testament and also the whole of the Talmud 

were either inscribed upon them or at least given 


along with them. When Muhammad heard this 
assertion made by the Jews regarding their Sacred 
Books, it was natural for him to assert that his 
Revelation too was written upon one or the other 
of these Preserved Tablets. Otherwise he thought 
he could hardly claim for it a degree of authority 
equal to that of the Old Testament. It is probable 
that the Muslims, not understanding to what the 
words "a Preserved Tablet" referred, gradually 
invented the whole of the marvellous story about 
it which we have quoted above. 

To ascertain what the Jews thought about the 
contents of the Tablets, we must consult Tract 
Kerakhtith (fol. 5, col. i). There we read: "Rabbi 
Simeon ben Laqish saith, What is that which is 
written, " And I shall give thee the tablets of stone, 
and the Law, and the commandment which I have 
written, that thou mayest teach them"? (Ex. 
xxiv. 12). The Tablets these are the Ten Com 
mandments ; the Law, that which is read ; and 
the Commandment, this is the Mishnah: which I have 
written, these are the Prophets and the Hagiographa : 
that thou mayest teach them, this denotes the Gemara, 
This teaches that all of them were given to Moses 
from Sinai. " 

Every learned Jew of the present time acknow 
ledges that we should reject this absurd explanation 
of the above-quoted verse, because he knows that 
the Mishnah was compiled about the year 230 of 
the Christian era, the Jerusalem Gemara about 430, 


and the Babylonian Gemara about A.D. 530. But 
the Muslims, not knowing this, seem to have 
tacitly accepted such assertions as true, and applied 
them to their own Qur an also. 

To complete the proof that the legend about the 
Preserved Tablet upon which the Qur an is said to 
have been written is derived from a Jewish source, 
it remains only to state that in the Pirqey Ahoth, 
cap. v. 6, it is said that the two Tablets of the 
Law were created, along with nine other things, at 
the time of the creation of the world, and at sunset 
before the first Sabbath began. 

It is well known that the fabulous Mount Qaf 
plays an important part in Muhammadan legend. 
Surah L. is called Qaf and begins with this letter. 
Hence its name is supposed to refer to the name 
of the mountain in question. The commentator 
Abbasi accepts this explanation, and quotes a 
tradition handed down through Ibn Abbas in 
support of it. Ibn Abbas says, " Qaf is a green 
mountain surrounding the earth, and the green 
ness of the sky is from it: by it God swears ." 
So in the Ardisul Majdlis 2 it is more fully ex 
plained in these words, "God Most High created 
a great mountain of green emerald. The greenness 
of the sky is on account of it. It is called Mount 

1 Jalalain s note on the passage says : " God knows best what 
He meant by Q6f." 
3 pp. 7, 8. 


Qaf, and it girds it all " (the whole earth), " and it 
is that by which God swears, for He said, Qaf l . 
By the Glorious Qur an. " In the Qisasu V Anbi?/a 
it is narrated that one day Abdu llah ibn Salam 
inquired of Muhammad which was the highest 
mountain-peak on the earth. Muhammad said, 
"Mount Qaf." In answer to the further inquiry 
of what this mountain is composed, Muhammad 
replied, "Of green emerald, and the greenness of 
the sky is on account of that." The inquirer, 
having expressed his belief that the "Prophet of 
God " in this matter spoke truly, then said, " What 
is #ie height of Mount Qaf ? " Muhammad replied, 
"It is 500 years journey in height." Abdu llah 
asked, " How far is it around it ? " " It is 2,000 
years journey." We need not enter into all the 
other circumstances told us in connexion with this 
wonderful range of mountains of which Muslim 
legends are so full. 

If we inquire as to the origin of the myth of the 
existence of such a range of mountains, the answer 
is supplied by a reference to Hagigdh xi. i. 
There, in explanation of the somewhat rare Hebrew 
word " Tohu " in Gen. i. 2, it is thus written : 
" Tohu is the green line which surrounds the whole, 
entire world, and from which darkness proceeds." 
The Hebrew word which we here render line is 
Qdv. Muhammad and his disciples, hearing this 
Hebrew word Qdv and not knowing that it meant 
1 Surah L., i. 


" line," thought that without doubt that which was 
thus said to surround the whole world, and from 
which darkness came forth, must be a great chain 
of mountains named Qdv or Qdf. It is hardly 
necessary to say that geographers have explored 
the whole world without as yet discovering 
the range of mountains 1 described in Muhammadan 
tradition ! 

We must indicate a few of the many other ideas 
which are also clearly of Jewish origin that have 
found an entrance into the Qur an and the 

In Surah XVII., Al Asra , 46 *, mention is made 
of seven heavens, and in Surah XV., Al Hajr, 44, 
the seven doors of hell are spoken of. Both these 
statements are derived from Jewish tradition. The 
former is found in the Hayfyd/f, cap. ix. 2, the 
latter in Zo/tar, cap. ii. p. 150. It is remarkable 
that the Hindus hold that beneath the surface of 
the earth there are seven lower stages, so to speak, 
and above it seven higher story s, all of which rest 
upon one of the heads of an enormous serpent 
named Sesha, who possesses a thousand heads. 
The seven heavens doubtless are, or at least were, 
identical with the orbits of the sun, moon, and the 
planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, 
which in Muhammad s time were supposed to 

1 Cf. Avestic Mt. Berez (Kanga s Avestic Did., s. v.). 

8 So also in Surah LXVII., 3, and Surah LXXVIIL, la. 


revolve round the earth. According to Muharn- 
madan tradition, the earth with its seven 1 storys 
rests between the horns of a Bull named Kajutah, 
who has 4,000 horns, each of which is 500 years 
journey from every other. He has as many eyes, 
noses, ears, mouths and tongues as he has horns. 
His feet stand upon a fish, which swims in water 
forty years journey deep. Another authority holds 
that the earth in the first place rests upon the head 
of an angel and that the feet of this angel are 
placed upon an immense rock of ruby, which is 
supported by the Bull. This idea of the connexion 
between the Earth and a Bull is probably of Aryan 
origin 2 . The legend which represents the Earth 
as consisting of seven storys is possibly due to 
the desire to represent it as resembling the sky in 
this respect. It may, however, have originated 
from a misunderstanding of the Persian statement, 
found in the Avesta, that the Earth consists of 
seven Karshvares or great regions, now spoken of 
as the "seven climes." Thus in Yesht, xix. 31, 
Yima Khshae ta or Jamshid is said to have reigned 
" over the seven-regioned earth." These again cor 
respond with the dvipas of Hindu geography. It 
was a mistake, however, to fancy that these were 

1 Vide Araisu 1 1 Majalis, pp. 5-9. 

2 In Sanskrit go (ox, cow) is used of the Earth in the 
Mahabharata, Kamayana, &c. The same word in the Avesta 
(goo, also gao-speftta, "the holy cow") is used similarly. Of. 
Qovs and yata, 717 : Goth, gam (Kuh, cow), and Germ. Qau, in all 
of which the same connexion of ideas may be traced. 


situated one below another, except in so far as the 
first of the seven KarsJimres was a high mountain 
plateau and the others stood at lower levels. 

In Surah XI., Hud, 9, in reference to God s 
throne it is said that, before the creation of the 
heavens and the earth 1 , "His Throne was above 
the water," in the air l . So also, in commenting on 
Gen. i. a, the Jewish commentator Rashi, em 
bodying a well-known Jewish tradition, writes 
thus : " The Throne of Glory stood in the air and 
brooded over the waters." 

Muhammadan writers tell us that the Angel 
Malik, who is named in Surah XLIIL, A/ Zukhruf, 
77, is the chief of the nineteen (Surah LXXIV., 30) 
angels appointed to preside over hell. So also the 
Jews often write of a " Prince of Hell." But the 
Muslims have borrowed Malik s name from Molech 
(Molek), one of the deities mentioned in the Bible 
as formerly worshipped by the Canaanites, who 
burnt human beings alive in his honour. The word 
in Hebrew as in Arabic is a present participle and 
means " ruler." 

In Surah VII., Al A raf, 44, we are told that 
between heaven and hell there is a partition called 
by the same name as this Surah, which in fact 
received its title from the mention of Al A raf in 
it. " And between them both there is a veil, and 

1 Jalalaiu, Abbasu, &c. 


upon Al A raf there are men." This idea is derived 
from the Midrash on Eccles. vii. 14, where we are 
informed that, when asked "What space is there 
between them ? " (heaven and hell), Rabbi Yohanan 
said, "A wall": Rabbi Akhah said, "A span." 
"And the Rabbans say that they are both near 
one another, so that rays of light pass from this 
to that." The idea is probably taken from the 
A vesta, where this division between heaven and 
hell is mentioned under the name MiswdntigdtuS 
(Fargand XIX). It was the place "assigned to 
the souls of those whose deeds of virtue and vice 
balance each 1 other." In Pahlavi it was called 
Miswat-gds. The Zoroastrians held that the space 
between heaven and hell is the same as between 
light and darkness. The idea of a special place 
reserved for those whose good deeds equal their 
evil ones has passed into other religions also. 

In Surah XV., Al Hajr, 18, it is said concerning 
Satan that he and the other fallen angels endeavour 
to "steal a hearing" by listening to God s com 
mands given to the angels in heaven. The same 
idea is again repeated in Surah XXXVII., As Saffat, 
8, and in Surah LXVIL, Al Mulk, 5. This belief- 
comes from the Jews, for in Jfagig&h, cap. vi. i, 
it is said that the demons "listen from behind 
a curtain," in order to obtain a knowledge of 
future events. The Qur an represents the shooting 

1 Kanga s Avestic Dictionary, s. v., p. 408. 


stars as hurled at them by the angels, in order to 
drive them away. 

In Surah L., Qaf, 29, in speaking of the Day of 
Judgment, God is represented as saying : " A day 
when we shall say to Hell, Art thou filled ? and 
it shall say, Is there more?" This is the echo 
of what we read in the dthioth of Rabbi Aqiba 
viii., i, "The Prince of Hell saith on a day and 
a day (/. e. day by day), Give me food unto reple 
tion. " This Jewish work refers to Isa. v. 14 in 
proof of the truth of the assertion. 

In Surah XI., Hud, 42, and again in Surah XXIII., 
Al Mu minun, 27, we are told that in the time of 
Noah "the furnace boiled over." This doubtless 
refers to the Jewish opinion (Rash Hashshdndh 
xvi., 2, and Sanhednn cviii.) that "The genera 
tion of the Flood was punished with boiling- 
water." The whole of the statement in the Qur an 
as to the way in which the unbelievers mocked 
Noah is taken from this chapter of Tract San- 
hedrin and from other Jewish commentators. 
Probably in ignorance of this the commentary 
of Jalalain on Surah XI., 42, says that it was 
" a baker s oven " that " boiled over," and that this 
was a sign to Noah that the Flood was at hand. 

If any further proof were needed of the great 
extent of the influence which Jewish tradition has 
exerted upon Islam it would be supplied by the 


very noteworthy fact that, although the Muslims 
boast of the style of the Qur an and the purity 
of its Arabic as a miracle and as an evidence of 
the Divine origin of the book, yet there are to be 
found in it certain words which are not properly 
Arabic at all, but are borrowed from the Aramaic 
or the Hebrew. Among these may be mentioned : 

^jls. Some of these are 
derived from roots common to all three languages, 
but they are not formed in accordance with the 
rules of Arabic Grammar, whereas they are of 
fi-equent occurrence in Hebrew and Aramaic and 
properly belong to those languages. The word 
(^j^i, " Paradise," is taken from late Hebrew, but 
has come from old Persian, and belongs to that 
language and to Sanskrit. It is as foreign to 
Arabic as the same word IlapaSeio-os is to Greek. 
Muhammadan commentators have often found it 
impossible to give the exact meaning of such 
words, through their ignorance of the languages 
from which Muhammad borrowed them. When 
we know their meaning in this way, we find that 
it suits the context. For example, it is a common 
mistake to imagine that iL^XU (malakut) denotes 
the nature or the abode of the angels, since it is 
not derived from dll* (malak) "an angel," but is 
the Arabic way of writing the Hebrew ritopp 
(malkiit/t), " kingdom." 


Not less noteworthy is the influence which the 
Jewish form of worship has had upon that 
of the Muhammadans. It would be a mistake 
doubtless to suppose that the Muhammadans 
borrowed from the Jews their practice of wor 
shipping with covered heads, that of separating 
the men from the women in the mosque (when 
the latter are allowed to take part in public worship 
at all), and of removing their shoes. All these 
were probably the customs of the Arabs as well 
as of other Semitic nations from the earliest times. 
It is much more probable that the ceremonial 
ablutions of the Muslims were imitated from those 
of the Jews, though here there is room for doubt. 
The practice of worshipping towards Jerusalem 
was, as we have seen, for a short time adopted 
by the Muhammadans in imitation of the Jews, 
though ultimately Mecca was substituted as the 
Qillah. We have also learnt J that the observance 
of a fast-month was derived not from the Jews 
but from the Sabians. Yet in connexion with that 
fast there is a rule enjoined which is undoubtedly 
of Jewish origin. In Surah II., Al Baqarah, 183, 
where a command is given in reference to the 
permission to feast at night during that month, 
the Qur an says: "Eat ye and drink until the 
white thread is distinguishable to you from the 
black thread by the dawn : then make your fasting 
perfect till night/ The meaning of the mention 
1 pp. 5 a > 53- 


of the colour of the threads is that the Muslims 
were commanded to fast from dawn till dark. 
When the question arose at what precise moment 
the day began, it was necessary to lay down a rule 
on the subject, as is done in this verse. The rule 
is taken from that of the Jews on the same subject, 
for in Mishndh Berakhoth (i., 3) the day is said to 
begin at the moment " at which one can distinguish 
between a blue thread and a white one." 

In every country Avhere Muslims are to be 
found, they are directed, whenever any one of the 
five fixed times for prayer comes round, to offer 
the stated prayers in the spot where they happen 
to be at the time, whether in the house, the mosque, 
or the street. Many of them do so, especially in 
public places. This practice seems at the present 
day to be peculiar to them. But if we inquire 
what its origin was, we must again turn to the 
Jews. Those of them who lived in Arabia in 
Muhammad s time were the spiritual and, in a 
measure, the actual descendants of those Pharisees 
who are described in the Gospels as making void 
the word of God through their excessive reverence 
for their traditions 1 . In our Lord s time these 
Pharisees are reproved for loving "to stand and 
pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the 
streets 2 ," in order to gain from men full credit 
for their devotion. The resemblance between the 
practice of the Pharisees of old and that of the 

1 Matt. xv. 6 ; Mk. vii. 13, bo. 2 Matt. vi. 5. 


Muslims of to-day is so striking that some of 
the opponents of Christianity among the latter 
have alleged this as a proof that the Gospels are 
now interpolated, since they assert that the verses 
above referred to are such an exact description 
of Muhammadan methods of worship that they 
must have been written by some Christian who 
had seen the Muslims at their devotions and 
wished to condemn them ! Nor was it unnatural 
for Muhammad and his followers to take the Jews 
for their models in this matter. They knew that 
the latter were descendants of Abraham and were 
the " People of the Book." Hence, attaching undue 
importance as they did to outward forms in worship, 
it was not strange that they should think that the 
Jewish method of adoration must be the right one. 
Muhammad, of course, told his followers that he 
had been taught by Gabriel how to worship, and 
to the present day they imitate him in every 

We shall mention only one other point out of 
many in which Jewish practices have very clearly 
influenced Islam. In Surah IV., An Nisa, 3, Mu 
hammad laid down a rule restricting for the 
future the number of wives, which each of his 
followers might have at any one time, to four at 
most. Commentators tell us that previously several 
of them had many more legal wives than this. 
The rule did not apply to Muhammad himself, as 



we learn from Surah XXXIII., Al Ahzab, 49, since 
he was granted as a special privilege the right to 
marry as many as he pleased. The words of the 
restricting rule are : " And if ye fear that ye will 
not act justly towards orphans, then marry of 
wives what seemeth good to you, by twos or 
threes or fours." This has ever since been explained 
by commentators as forbidding Muslims to have 
more than four legal wives at a time, though they 
enjoy almost unlimited freedom in the matter of 
divorcing any or all of them, and marrying others 
to make up the permitted number. 

When we inquire the source from which Muham 
mad borrowed this rule, and why he chose four 
as the highest permissible number of legal wives 
for a Muhammadan to have at one time, we again 
find the answer in Jewish regulations on the 
subject, one of which runs thus: "A man may 
marry many wives, for Kabba saith it is lawful 
to do so, if he can provide for them. Nevertheless 
the wise men have given good advice, that a man 
should not marry more than four wives V 

In reply to the argument contained in this 
chapter and in those which follow, the Muham- 
madans have but one answer, besides the mere 
assertion that the Qur an is not Muhammad s 

1 Arbah Turim, Ev. Hasaer, i. For this reference I am 
indebted to a note, p. 451, in Rod-well s Koran, where it is 
added See also Yad Hachazakah Hilchoth Ishuth, 14, 3." 


composition but that of God Himself. They tell 
us that Muhammad was ignorant of both reading 
and writing, and that hence he could not possibly 
have studied the Hebrew, Aramaic, and other books 
from which we have shown that he really drew, 
directly or indirectly, much of what now appears 
in the Qur an. " An unlettered man," they say, 
" could not possibly have consulted such a mass of 
literature, much of it in languages which he did not 
know, and which are known to but a few students 
at the present time." 

This argument rests on two assumptions : first, 
that Muhammad could neither read nor write : and 
second, that only by reading could he learn the 
traditions and fables accepted by Jews, Christians, 
Zoroastrians and others in his time. Both of 
these are destitute of proof. An attempt is made to 
substantiate the former by referring to Surah VII., 
Al A raf, 156, where Muhammad is called AH, 
uabiyyu l Ummi, which words the Muslims render 
" The Unlettered Prophet." Rabbi Abraham Geiger, 
however, has clearly shown that the word rendered 
unlettered in this verse really means " Gentile, 1 as 
opposed to Jewish. This is confirmed by the fact 
that in Surah III.,.A1 Imran, 19, the prophet is com 
manded to speak " to the Ummun and to the people 
of the Book," in which verse we see that the Arabs 
in general are thus designated " Gentiles." More 
over, in Surah XXIX., Al Ankabut, 27, and in 
Surah XLV., Al Jathiyyah, 15, it is clearly stated 

i a 


that the prophetic office was bestowed on the 
family of Isaac and Jacob, not on that of Ishmael. 
Hence Muhammad distinguishes himself as " the 
Gentile Prophet/ differing in that respect from the 
rest, who were, generally speaking, from Isaac s 
descendants. There is absolutely no proof that 
Muhammad was ignorant of reading and writing, 
though we are not compelled, as some have fancied, 
to infer that the polished style of the Qur an is a 
proof that he wrote out much of it carefully, and 
thus elaborated the different Surahs before learning 
them off by heart and reciting them to his amanu 
enses. This latter might have been done without 
ability to write 1 . 

But even if, for the sake of argument, we admit 
that reading and writing were arts unknown to 
Muhammad, that admission does not in the slightest 
degree invalidate the proof that he borrowed exten 
sively from Jewish and other sources. Even if he 

1 But we are not destitute of traditions, whatever value we 
may attach to them, which assert that Muhammad could write, 
and therefore read. Bukhari and Muslim quote traditions to 
the effect that when the Treaty of Hudaibah was being signed, 
Muhammad took the pen from Ali and struck out the words in 
which the latter had designated him " Apostle of God," substi 
tuting in his own handwriting the words " Son of Abdu llah." 
Again, tradition tells us that, when he was dying, Muhammad 
called for pen and ink to write directions intended to prevent 
his followers from disputing about hie successor; but his 
strength failed him. This latter tradition rests upon the 
authority of Ibn Abbas, and is reported by Bukhari and 
Muslim. It is well known as forming a subject of controversy 
between Sunnis and Shi ahs. 


could read Arabic, it is hardly likely that he was a 
student of Aramaic, Hebrew, and other languages. 
The parallels which we have drawn between certain 
passages in the Qur an and those resembling them 
in various Jewish writings are close enough to 
show the ultimate source of much of the Qur an. 
But in no single case are the verses of the Qur an 
translated from any such source. The many errors 
that occur in the Qur an show that Muhammad 
received his information orally, and probably from 
men who had no great amount of book-learning 
themselves. This obviates the second assumption 
of the Muslims. It was doubtless for many obvious 
reasons impossible for Muhammad to consult a 
large number of Aramaic, Zoroastrian, and Greek 
books ; but it was by no means impossible for him 
to learn from Jewish l , Persian, and Christian 
friends and disciples the tales, fables, and traditions 
which were then current. His enemies brought 
against him in his own time the charge of having 
been assisted by such persons in the composition of 
the Qur an, as we learn both from the Qur an itself 
and from the admissions of Ibn Hisham and of the 
commentators. Among others thus mentioned as 
helping in the composition of the book is the Jew 
spoken of in Stirah XLVL, Al Ahqaf, 9, as a 
"witness" to the agreement between the Qur an 

1 In fact, in Surah X., Yumis, 94, Muhammad is bidden to 
ask the People of the Book for information to clear up his 


and the Jewish Scriptures. The commentators 
Abbasi and Jalalain in their notes on this passage 
tell us that this was Abdu llah ibn Salam, who, if 
we may believe the Raudatu l Ahbab, was a Jewish 
priest or Rabbi before he became a Muslim. In 
Sarah XXV., Al Furqan, 5, 6, we are told that 
Muhammad s enemies said, " Others have helped 
him with it," and stated that he had merely written 
down certain " Tales of the Ancients," which were 
dictated to him by his accomplices morning and 
evening. Abbasi states that the persons thus 
referred to were Jabr, a Christian slave, Yasar (also 
called Abu Fuqaihah), and a certain Abu Takbihah, 
a Greek. In Surah XVI, An Nahl, 105, in answer 
to the accusation, " Surely a human being teacheth 
him," Muhammad offers the inadequate reply that 
the language of the man who is hinted at was 
foreign, whereas the Quran itself was composed in 
plain Arabic. This answer does not attempt to 
refute the obvious meaning of the charge, which 
was that (not the style of the language used but) 
the stories told in the Quran had thus been 
imparted to Muhammad. Abbasi says that a 
Christian named Cain was referred to, while 
Jalalain s Commentary again mentions Jabr and 
Yasar. Others suggest Salman, the well-known 
Persian disciple of Muhammad, others Suhaib, 
others a monk named Addas. We may also note 
the fact that Uthman and especially Waraqah, 
cousins of Khadijah, Muhammad s first wife, were 


acquainted with the Christianity l and the Judaism 
of the time, and that these men exercised no slight 
influence over Muhammad during his early years 
as a prophet, and perhaps before. Zaid, his adopted 
son, was a Syrian, according to Ibn Hisham, and 
must therefore have at first professed Christianity. 
We shall see that other persons were among Muham 
mad s friends, from whom he might easily have 
obtained information regarding the Jewish, Chris 
tian, and Zoroastrian faiths. The passages borrowed 
from such sources are, however, so disguised in 
form that it is quite possible that those from whom 
Muhammad made his inquiries may not have 
recognized the imposture, but may have really 
fancied that these passages were revealed, as they 
professed to be, to confirm the truth of their 
respective creeds, at least so far. If so, Muhammad 
adroitly employed the information he obtained from 
these men in such a manner as to deceive 
them, though he could not deceive his enemies. 
Hence, despairing of silencing the latter, he finally 
turned upon them with the sword. 

In the next chapter we proceed to inquire what, 
if any, influence Christianity, orthodox or un 
orthodox, exercised upon nascent Islam and the 
composition of the Qur an. 

1 See the quotation from Ibn Ishaq, pp. 264. 265 below. 



WHEN Muhammad arose, Christianity had not 
obtained any very considerable hold upon the 
Arabs. " After five centuries of Christian evan 
gelization, we can point to but a sprinkling here 
and there of Christian converts : the Banu Harith 
of Najran, the Banu Hanifah of Yamamah, some 
of the Banu Tai at Taimah, and hardly any more 1 ." 
In his youth, we are told, Muhammad heard the 
preaching of Quss, the Bishop of Najran, and he 
met many monks and saw much of professing 
Christians when he visited Syria as a trader before 
his assumption of the prophetic office. But what 
he saw and heard of the Church had little effect 
upon him for good. Nor need we wonder at this. 
" What Muhammad and his Khalifahs found in all 
directions whither their scimitars cut a path for 
them," says Isaac Taylor 2 , speaking of a some 
what later period in words which nevertheless 
describe Muhammad s early experience also, "was 

1 Sir W. Muir, Life of Mahomet, 3rd ed., p. Ixxxiv. 

2 Ancient Christianity, vol. i. p. 266. 


a superstition so abject, an idolatry so gross and 
shameless, church doctrines so arrogant, church 
practices so dissolute and so puerile, that the strong- 
minded Arabians felt themselves inspired anew as 
God s messengers to reprove the errors of the world, 
and authorized as God s avengers to punish apostate 
Christendom." The Greek monk who wrote the 
History of the Martyrdom of Athanasiu* the Persian, 
speaking of the sufferings inflicted on the people 
of Palestine when it was for a brief space in 
the hands of the Persians in Muhammad s time, 
draws a fearful picture ] of the wickedness of the 
professing Christians there, and does not hesitate 
to say that it was for this reason that God gave 
them over to the cruelty of their Zoroastrian 
persecutors. In the Book of Revelation (ix. 20, 21) 
the prevalence of idol- worship and other sins such 
as those described by this monk is given as the 
reason why the Muhammadan power was to be per 
mitted to oppress the Eastern Church. Speaking of 
the same time Mosheim says, " During 2 this century 
true religion lay buried under a senseless mass of 
superstitions, and was unable to raise her head. 
The earlier Christians had worshipped only God 
and His Son ; but those called Christians in this 
century worshipped the wood of a cross, the images 

1 IlontiXcas at iro\vTpoir<vs rrjv dfjiapriav x fl P ~1P a< P n ( * av " rf * KOI 
a Jiuiaiv //v uvOpcuirivois rr]V yfjv (poiviavTCs, tropvticus 8% Kal poixeiais 
Kal ra?j aXXcu? avaptOrfTOis Trovrjpiats . . . TT)J> upy^v TOV Qeov Ka9 
tavrwv /cau(TavTj, KT\. Ada Martyrii S. Athanasii Persae, p. 2. 

2 Cent. VIT, pt. ir. cap. iii. i, ed. Reid. 


of holy men, and bones of dubious origin. The 
early Christians placed heaven and hell before the 
view of men ; these latter talked only of a certain 
fire prepared to purge away the imperfections of 
the soul. The former taught that Christ had made 
expiation for the sins of men by His death and 
blood ; the latter seemed to inculcate that the gates 
of heaven would be closed against none who should 
enrich the clergy or the Church with their donations. 
The former were studious to maintain a holy simpli 
city and to follow a pure and chaste piety ; the 
latter placed the substance of religion in external 
rites and bodily exercises." The picture of 
Christianity which the Qur an presents to us 
shows us what conception of it Muhammad had 
formed from his own limited experience. His 
knowledge of the Faith was at least powerfully 
affected by the teaching of the so-called "orthodox " 
party, who styled Mary " the Mother of God," and, 
by the abuse of a term so easily misunderstood, 
opened the way for the worship of a Jewish 
maiden in place of God Most High. The effect of 
this misconception is clearly pointed out by Ibn 
Ishaq. In telling the story of the embassy sent 
by the Christians of Najran, who, he says, belonged 
to "the Emperor s faith," to Muhammad at Medina 
in A. D. 632, he tells us of the ambassadors that 
" Like l all the Christians, they said, Jesus is God, 
the Son of God, and the third of three. . . . They 

1 Quoted in Dr. Koelle s Mohammed and Mohammedanism, p. 136. 


proved further that He is the third of three, namely 
God, Christ, and Mary." Of course this is not a 
true account of the language used, but that it 
represents correctly what Muhammad understood to 
be the doctrine held by these Christians is clear 
from the following verses of the Qur an : " Verily 
now they have blasphemed who say, * God is a third 
of three " (Surah V., Al Maidah, 77) : " And when 
God shall say, Jesus, Son of Mary, hast Thou said 
unto men, Take Me and My Mother as two Gods, 
beside God? : " (Surah V., 116). We can>hardly 
wonder then th^t Muhammad rejected the 
Christianity thus presented to his notice. " Had 
he witnessed a purer exhibition of its rites and 
doctrines, and seen more of its reforming and 
regenerating influences, we cannot doubt that, in 
the sincerity of his early search after truth, he 
might readily have embraced and faithfully adhered 
to the faith of Jesus. Lamentable indeed is the 
reflection that so small a portion of the fair form 
of Christianity was disclosed by the ecclesiastics 
and monks of Syria, and that little how altered and 
distorted ! Instead of the simple majesty of the 
Gospel as a revelation of God reconciling man 
kind to Himself through His Son the sacred 
dogma of the Trinity was forced upon the traveller * 
with the misleading and offensive zeal of Eutychian 
and Jacobite partisanship, and the worship of 

1 Sir W. Muir. Life of Mahomet, 3rd ed., pp. 20, ai. He is here 
speaking of Muhammad s visit to Syria. 


Mary exhibited in so gross a form as to leave the 
impression upon the mind of Muhammad that she 
was held to be a goddess, if not the third Person 
and consort of the Deity. It must surely have 
been by such blasphemous extravagances that 
Muhammad was repelled from the true doctrine of 
Jesus as the Son of God, and led to regard Him only 
as Jesus, son of Mary, the sole title by which He 
is spoken of in the Qur an." 

We must not therefore forget that Muhammad 
was never brought into contact with pure Gospel 
Christianity ; and it is largely to the false forms 
which the faith had then almost universally as 
sumed that the rise of Islam is really due, since 
repulsion from these prevented Muhammad from 
ever really seeking to discover the truth contained 
in the Gospel, and thus impelled him to found 
a new and anti-Christian religion. 

There seems to be no satisfactory proof that an 
Arabic version of the New Testament existed in 
Muhammad s time. Even in the " Orthodox " 
Church the Gospel was neglected in favour of 
legends of Saints, which appealed more to the 
popular taste for the marvellous. Arabia was 
a refuge for not a few heretics of different sects ; 
and it is clear from the Qur an (as we shall see) 
that, whether in written form or not, many of the 
mythical stories whicli are contained in the apo 
cryphal Gospels and other similar works, together 
with certain heretical views on various subjects, 


must have reached Muhammad and have been 
accepted by him as true. That he should have 
believed these to form part of the Gospel, the name 
of which is so often mentioned in the Qur an, is 
somewhat surprising: and the fact proves that 
none of his converts were earnest and well-taught 
Christians, and also that he must have felt far less 
interest in Christianity than he did in Talmudic 
Judaism. Those passages of the Qur an which deal 
at all fully with what Muhammad supposed to be 
the doctrines of Christianity date " from a period 
when his system was already, in great part, 
matured ; and they were founded on information 
meagre, fabulous and crude. . . . We do not find 
a single ceremony or doctrine of Islam in any 
degree moulded, or even tinged, by the peculiar 
tenets of Christianity ; while, on the contrary, 
Judaism has given its colour to the whole system, 
and lent to it the shape and type, if not the actual 
substance, of many ordinances V 

Yet at the same time Muhammad desired to win 
over Christians as well as Jews to his faith. If 
they were far less numerous and powerful in 
Arabia than were the Jews, yet the established 
religion of the great Byzantine Empire must have 
possessed some importance in Muhammad s eyes, 
especially because, unless the Arabian Christians 
could be won over, political complications might 
arise. To what extent this latter feeling may have 

1 Life of Mahomet, pp, 143, 144, 


influenced Muhammad, it is impossible to say. At 
any rate, he appealed to the Gospel as a proof of 
his Divine Mission, even going so far as to state 
that Christ had prophesied of his coming l . He 
speaks of Christ as "the Word of God 2 / but denies 
His Divinity and His crucifixion, and shows a com 
plete ignorance of the true doctrines of the Gospel. 
Yet in numerous passages he speaks of the latter 
with respect as a book of Divine authority, saying 
that it " descended on Jesus " out of heaven, and 
that the Qur an itself came to confirm and preserve 
it (Surah V., Al Maidah, 53). He records the 
virgin birth of Christ and mentions some of His 
miracles, but even here the legendary tone pre 
dominates ; and Muhammad seems to have learnt 
what little he knew of our Lord and His Apostles 
from very unreliable hearsay. We shall see that 
the agreement in detail between what the Quran 
relates on these subjects and what may be found 
in apocryphal and heretical literature is very re 
markable. Here again Muhammad seems to have 
had a wonderful talent for rejecting the true and 

1 Surah LXL, As Saff, 6 : " And when Jesus, the Son of 
Mary, said, < O children of Israel, verily I am an Apostle of 
God unto you, confirming what was before Me of the Law, and 
bringing good news of an Apostle who shall come after Me : 
his name is Ahmad. " Ahmad is the same name as Muhammad. 
The latter must have heard of the prophecy in John xvi. 7, &c., 
and his informant must, purposely or ignorantly, have mistaken 
vapaitXrjTos for 7T/>tA.tTos, which latter word does not occur in 
the New Testament. 

3 Surah 111., 40, and IV., 169. 


accepting the false, just as in the case of the Jewish 
traditions referred to in the preceding chapter. 

We proceed to prove this by referring to some 
of the fables dealing with Christian subjects con 
tained in the Qur an. indicating the sources from 
which they appear to have been derived. 

1. Legend of the Companions of the Cave. 

The tirst with which we shall deal is the legend 
of the Companions of the Cave, which is thus related 
in Surah XVIII., Al Kahf, 8-25 : 

"Hast thou considered that the Companions of 
the Cave and of Ar Raqim l were among our signs, 
a marvel? When the youths betook themselves 
to the cave they said, Our Lord, bring us mercy 
from Thyself and from our matter prepare for us 
guidance. Accordingly we smote upon their ears 
in the cave a number of years. Afterwards \Ve 
aroused them that we might know which of the 
two parties 2 had reckoned unto what [time] they 
had remained an age. We shall relate to thee the 
account of them with truth : Verily they were 
youths who believed in their Lord, and we in 
creased guidance unto them. And we girt up their 
hearts when they stood up : then said they, Our 
Lord is Lord of the heavens and of the earth, we 
shall never call any beside Him God, then had we 
uttered a boundless lie. These our people have 

1 The district where the Cave was situated. 
3 Believers and unbelievers. 


taken gods beside Him, unless they bring clear 
authority for them : who then is more unjust than 
he who hath devised a lie against God? And 
when ye have withdrawn from them and from 
what they worship beside God, then betake your 
selves to the cave: thus your Lord will unfold 
unto you of His mercy and will prepare for you 
advantage out of your matter/ And thou seest 
the sun when it riseth recede from their cave to 
wards the right hand, and when it setteth turn 1 aside 
from them towards the left hand, and they were 
in an interstice of it ? : that is one of God s signs. 
Whomsoever then God guideth, he is guided, and 
for him whom He misguideth thou shalt never 
find a patron, a guide. And thou wouldst reckon 
them awake, though they are asleep ; and We turn 
them over towards the right hand and towards the 
left hand. And their dog stretcheth out his fore- 
paws on the threshold ; and if thou hadst come 
upon them thou wouldst indeed have turned from 
them in night, and thou wouldst have been tilled 
with dread of them. And therefore did We arouse 
them that they might inquire of one another. 
A speaker from among them said, How long have 
ye remained? They said, We have remained 
a day, or portion of a day. They said, Your 
Lord knowest well how long ye have remained. 
Send therefore one of you with this your coin into 
the city, then let him see which man of it has the 

1 So as not to touch them. 2 That is, of the cave, 


purest food, and let him bring you provision from 
him, and let him be kind, and let him not inform 
anyone concerning you. Verily, if they discover 
you, they will stone you or bring you back into 
their community, and then for ever ye shall never 
prosper. And thus we made it known concerning 
them, that men might know that God s promise is 
true, and that as to the Hour 1 there is no doubt 
about it. When they argued among themselves 
about their matter, then they said, Build a build 
ing over them : their Lord knoweth well about 
them. Those who prevailed in their matter said, 
We shall surely erect a mosque over them. They 
will say, They were three: the fourth of them 
was their dog : and they will say, There were 
five ; the sixth of them was their dog : a conjec 
ture concerning the mystery : and they will say, 
They were seven ; the eighth of them was their 
dog. Say thou 2 , My Lord is well aware of their 
number: none but a few know about them. 
And they remained in their cave three hundred 
years, and they added nine. Say thou 2 , God is 
well aware how long they remained : to Him be- 
longeth the mystery of the heavens and of the 
earth. " 

To understand this rather hesitating account we 
must remember that, as the commentators inform 
us, some of the heathen 3 Arabs of Mecca had chal- 

1 t. e. the Judgment Day. 2 Muhammad. 

3 Others say Jews, but this is less likely. 


lenged Muhammad to tell them the story of the 
Companions of the Cave, if he could, in order to 
test his claim to inspiration. The story was evi 
dently therefore current among them in some form, 
perhaps in more than one. There was a dispute 
concerning the number of persons who went into 
the cave, and various opinions were stated on the 
subject. Muhammad, as is evident from verses 11 
and 23 which we have omitted, promised to give 
them an answer on the morrow, purposing ap 
parently to inquire of some one about the matter. 
He evidently failed to obtain certain information, 
hence he left the question of the number of the 
youths unsettled, and his attempt to get out of the 
difficulty is not very successful. Nor does he tell 
the place where or the time when the event is said 
to have occurred. He ventures, however, to assert 
positively just one fact, that the time spent in the 
cave was 309 years. Unfortunately, as we shall 
see, even in this he was wrong. He has no doubt, 
however, that the event recorded in the story 
really occurred. From the whole style of the pas 
sage we perceive that Muhammad had no written 
document and no reliable informant at hand who 
could give him exact particulars of the affair. 
None the less we possess more than one form of 
the legend, written before Muhammad s time : and 
it is clear that to an oral form of the story he was 
indebted for the particulars given in the Qur an, 
and not to Divine revelation, as he claimed to be. 


The Syriac writer, Jacob of Sarug, in a homily 
published in the Ada Sanctorum, gives the myth 
at some length. He died A.D. 521. Other early 
Syriac forms of the story are known 1 . Most 
accounts say that there were "Seven Sleepers," 
hence the name by which the tale is generally 
known in Europe, but one Syriac MS. of the sixth 
century 2 in the British Museum says they num 
bered eight. Muhammadan commentators 3 on the 
Qur an relate traditions, some of which say that 
they were seven, others asserting that they num 
bered eight, a point which Muhammad practically 
in the Qur an acknowledged his inability to decide. 
As far as we know, the first European writer to 
relate the legend was Gregory of Tours 4 . He tells 
us that in the reign of the Emperor Decius (A.D. 
249-5 1 ) seven noble young Christians of Ephesus 
fled from persecution and took refuge in a cave 
not far from the city. After a time, however, their 
enemies discovered where they were and blocked 
up the entrance to the cave, leaving them to die of 
hunger. When Theodosius II was on the throne, 
196 years later, a herdsman found and opened 
the cave. The Seven Sleepers then awoke from 
the slumber in which they had remained during the 
whole time, and (as the Qur an says also) sent one 

1 Vide Bar Hebraeus, Chron. Ecc., I. 142 sqq. ; Assemani, 
Bibl. Orient. I. 335, sqq. 
1 Cat. Syr. MSS., p. 1090. 
3 Vide Jalalain and Abbasi in loco. 
* De Gloria Martyrum, cap. 95. 

K 2 


of the party to the city to purchase provisions. 
He found Christianity everywhere triumphant, to 
his boundless surprise. At a shop where he 
bought some food, he produced a coin of Decius 
to pay for it. Accused of having discovered a 
hidden treasure, he told the story of himself and 
his companions. When he led the way to the cave, 
the appearance of his companions, still young and 
radiant with a celestial brightness, proved the 
truth of his story. The Emperor soon heard of it, 
and went in person to the cave, where the 
awakened sleepers told him that God had pre 
served them in order to prove to him the truth of 
the immortality of the soul. Having delivered 
their message, they expired. 

It is quite unnecessary to comment on the ex 
ceeding silliness of the tale as told in the Qur an, 
though in this respect Muhammad cannot be 
deserving of more blame for accepting it as true 
than the ignorant Christians, by whom it was so 
widely spread and in all probability invented. It 
is quite possible that the story was originally 
intended to be an allegory, or more probably a reli 
gious romance, framed with the intention of show 
ing with what wonderful rapidity the Christian 
faith had spread, through the courage and faith 
fulness even unto death of so many of its pro 
fessors. Be this as it may, it is undoubtedly the 
case that long before Muhammad s day the legend 
had obtained credence in many parts of the East, 


and even apparently in Mecca it was believed in 
his time. Muhammad s fault lay in pretending 
that he had received it as a Divine revelation, 
whereas it is as little worthy of credence as the 
tale of St. George and the Dragon (also probably 
an allegory), or Cinderella and the Glass Slipper, 
or the Batrachomyomachia among the Greeks, or 
the tales of Rustam s marvellous exploits among 
the Persians *. 

2. Story of the Virgin Mary. 

The history of Mary, as related in the Quran 
and the Traditions of the Prophet, is taken almost 
entirely from the apocryphal Gospels and works 

1 There can be little doubt that we may trace the origin of 
the Syriac tale of "The Seven Sleepers" to a classical Greek 
source. It is evidently borrowed from the tale of Epimenides 
long sleep, as related by Diogenes Laertius in the following 
words : Ovr6s rrort ircfjupOtis irapd rov irarpos (is dypov inl 
npoftarov, rfjs 68ov tcard (jKffrjuPpiav (KK\tva$, vir dvrpw TIVI 
KaT(Koifj.-fidrj (irrct, KO.I TTfVTrjKOVTa (Tij. 8 p(rd ravra, 
(r)T(i r6 irpoftarov, vopifav tit 1 6\lyov KtHoififjaOat. us 81 oi>x (vpiffKt, 
irapcytvcTo (Is rbv dyptiv, KOI utTtotefvaafjifva. iravra itaraXa^ujv KOI 
nap fT<py TT)V KT7}(riv, ird\iv fytv fls darv 8iairopov/jivos Kqtcei 8^ (is 
rr)v (avTov clyiwv oiKiav, ir/TUX 6 rots irwOavofjifVois, ris eir} teas rov 
varepov d8(\<p(jv evp&v, r6re tfSr) ytpovra 6vra, iraaav ffjia9 nap 1 
(Ktivov rf)v a\.j]Q(ia.v. . . . teal iitav(\e<av tir o1nov, per ov no\v 
H(Tr}\\atv, us (prjei $\tyuv \v r$ irepl paKpoQiuv, 0iovs irrj (irrd Kat 
irfvrrjKovra nal (Kar6v ws 8i KprJTd \iyovvi, (vbs Seovra rpianoffia- 
&s 8e Sfvotpdvrjs 6 KoXfKp&vios dmjKOtvai <prj<ri, Ttrrapa irpds TOIS 
irfVTrjKovra KCU fcar6v (Diog. Laertii, DC Vitis Philosophorum, lib. I, 
cap. x. 2, 4). The tale has obtained a new lease of life in the 
New World under the form of Rip Van Winkle s somewhat 
similar adventure. 


of that character. Muhammad has, however, in 
troduced into it another element of error, the 
source of which we must trace before entering 
upon the narrative itself. 

In Surah XIX., Maryam, 28, 29, we are told that 
when Mary came to her people after the birth 
of our Lord, they said to her, "O Mary, truly 
thou hast done a strange thing. sister of Aaron, 
thy father was not a man of wickedness, and thy 
mother was not rebellious." From these words it 
is evident that, in Muhammad s opinion, Mary was 
identical with Miriam, the sister of Moses and 
Aaron l ! This is made still more clear by Surah 
LVI., At Tahrim, 12, where Mary is styled "the 
daughter of Imran," the latter being the Arabic 
form of Amram, who in the Pentateuch is called 
the father of " Aaron and Moses and Miriam their 
sinter" (Num. xxvi. 59). The title "sister of 
Aaron " is given to Miriam in Exod. xv. 20, and it 
must be from this passage that Muhammad bor 
rowed the expression. The reason of the mistake 
which identifies the Mother of our Saviour with 
a woman who lived about one thousand five hun 
dred and seventy years before His birth is evi 
dently the fact that in Arabic both names, Mary 
and Miriam, are one and the same in form, Maryam. 

1 In the SaMh of Muslim (Kitdbu l Addb} we are told that the 
Christians of Najran pointed this blunder out to Al Mughairah. 
He consulted Muhammad about it, but could get no satisfactory 


The chronological difficulty of the identification 
does not seem to have occurred to Muhammad. It 
puts us in mind of the tale in the Shahnameh, 
where Firdausi tells us that, when the hero Faridun 
had defeated Dahhak (in Persian pronounced 
Zahhak), he found in the tyrant s castle two sisters 
of Jamshid, who were kept in confinement there. 
Faridun was, we are told, smitten with their 
charms. This is an instance l of " bonus dormitat 
Homerus " on some one s part, for from other parts 
of the poem we learn that these fair damsels had 
remained in Dahhak s custody from the beginning 
of the latter s reign, nearly one thousand years 
before ! Muhammad s error, however, is chrono 
logically far more serious even than this, which 
may be permissible in a romance but not in a 
"Revelation." Muhammadan commentators have 
in vain attempted to disprove this charge of 
historical inaccuracy. 

If it be necessary to adduce any other explana 
tion of Muhammad s blunder, it has been suggested 2 
that it may be found in the Jewish tradition which 
asserts regarding Miriam that "The Angel of Death 
did not exercise dominion over her, but on the 
contrary she died with a (Divine) kiss, and worms 
and insects did not exercise dominion over her." 

1 But Firdausi is following the A vesta here in telling us that 
Faridun (Avestic Thraetaona) married these women, Arnavaz 
and Shahrnaz (in Avestic Arena vachi and Savanhavachi) ; 
Yeshts, v. 34 ; ix. 14 ; xv. 24. 

8 R. Abraham Geiger, Was hat Mohammed, p. 173. 


But, even so, the Jews never ventured to assert that 
Miriam remained alive until the time of Christ, 
nor to identify her with the Virgin Mary. 
^ Let us now see what the Quran and the Tradi 
tions relate regarding the latter. 

In Surah III, il Imran, 31, 32, we read : 
"When Imran s wife said, My Lord, verily I 
have dedicated to Thee what is in my womb, as 
consecrated: receive it therefore from me: verily 
Thou art the Hearer, the Knower. When there 
fore she bore her, she said, My Lord, verily I have 
borne her, a female and God was well aware of 
what she had borne, and the male is not as the 
female and verily I have named her Mary, and 
verily I commit her and her seed unto Thee from 
Satan the stoned. Accordingly her Lord received 
her with fair acceptance, and He made her grow 
with fair growth, and Zacharias reared her. When 
ever Zacharias entered the shrine unto her, he 
found food near her. He said, O Mary, whence 
is this to thee ? She said, It is from God : verily 
God feedeth whomsoever He willeth, without a 
reckoning. " 

In addition to and explanation of this narrative, 
Baidawi and other commentators and tradition- 
ists inform us of the following particulars. 
Imran s wife was barren and advanced in age. 
One day, on seeing a bird giving food to its young 
ones, she longed for offspring, and entreated that 
God would bestow on her a child. She said, "0 my 


God, if Thou givest me a child, whether it be a son 
or a daughter, I shall offer it as a gift in Thy 
presence in the Temple at Jerusalem." God heard 
and answered her prayer, and she conceived and 
bore a daughter, Mary. Jalalu ddin tells us that 
the name of Mary s mother was Hanna. When 
she brought Mary to the Temple and handed her 
over to the priests, they accepted the offering and 
appointed Zacharias to guard the child. He placed 
her in a room, and permitted no one but himself l 
to enter it; but an angel supplied her with her 
daily food. 

Returning to the Qur an (Surah III., 37-42), we 
learn that, when Mary was older, " The angels said, 
O Mary, verily God hath chosen thee and purified 
thee, and He hath chosen thee above the women of 
the worlds. O Mary, be devout to thy Lord, and 
worship, and bow with those that bow. That is 
part of the announcement of the invisible; we 
reveal it to thee - ; and thou 2 wast not with them 
when they threw their reeds (to see) which of 
them should rear Mary : and thou 2 wast not with 
them when they disagreed. When the angels said, 
O Mary, verily God giveth thee good tidings of 
a Word from Himself, whose name is the Messiah, 
Jesus Son of Mary, illustrious in the world and in 
the hereafter, and from among those who draw 

1 A reference to the Law which prohibited any but the High 
Priest from entering the Holy of Holies. 
i.e. Muhammad. 


near (to God) : and He shall speak to men in the 
cradle and when grown up, and He is of the Just 
ones/ she said, My Lord, whence shall I have 
a child, since no human being hath touched me ? 
He said, Thus God createth what He willeth: 
when He hath decreed a matter, then indeed He 
saith to it, Be ! therefore it exists/ " 

In reference to what is said in these verses about 
" casting reeds " or pens, Baidawi and Jalalu ddin 
state that Zacharias and twenty-six other priests 
were rivals to one another in their desire to be 
Mary s guardian. They therefore went to the 
bank of the Jordan and threw their reeds into 
the water; but all the reeds sank except that of 
Zacharias, and on this account the latter was 
appointed her guardian. 

Turning to Surah XIX., Maryam, 16-35, we 
find there the following narrative of the birth of 
Christ : 

"And in the Book 1 do thou 2 mention Mary, when 
she retired from her family to an Eastern place. 
Then apart from them she assumed a veil. Then 
We sent unto her Our Spirit 3 : accordingly he 
showed himself to her as a well-formed human 
being. She said, Verily I take refuge in the 
Merciful One from thee, if thou art God-fearing/ 
He said, Truly I am a messenger of thy Lord that 

1 i. e. the Qur an (commentators). J t. e. Muhammad. 
8 The angel Gabriel, who is hence called the Holy Spirit" by 


I should give to thee a pure man-child. She said, 
Whence shall I have a man-child, since no human 
being hath touched me, and I am not rebellious l ? 
He said, Thus hath thy Lord said, It is easy for 
Me, and let Us make Him a sign unto men and a 
mercy from us, and it is a thing decided/ Accordingly 
she conceived Him 2 : then she retired with him to a 
distant place. Then labour-pains brought her to the 
trunk of the palm-tree 3 . She said, O would that I 
had died ere this and had become forgotten, for 
gotten ! Thereupon he 4 called aloud to her from 
beneath her: Grieve thou not; thy Lord hath 
made a brook beneath thee. And do thou shake 
towards thyself the trunk of the palm-tree: it 
shall let fall upon thee freshly-gathered dates. Eat 
therefore and drink and brighten thy eye 5 ; then, 
if thou seest any human being, then say, Verily 
I have vowed unto my Lord a fast, therefore I shall 
surely not speak to any man to-day. Accordingly 
she brought Him 6 to her people, carrying Him. 
They said, O Mary, truly thou hast done a vile 
thing. O sister of Aaron, thy father was not a man 
of wickedness, and thy mother was not rebellious V 
Then she made a sign unto Him 6 . They said, 

1 Or, unchaste. a Jesus. 

8 Note the definite article. 

4 Commentators are doubtful whether this is Jesus or Gabriel. 

5 That is, "Rejoice." The birth of a boy is still said to be 
a "brightening of the eyes" in the East, and congratulations 
are expressed by the formula in the text. 

8 The Child. Or, unchaste. 


1 How shall we speak to one who is a child in the 
cradle? He 1 said, Verily I am God s servant: 
He hath brought Me the Book 2 and hath made Me 
a Prophet. And He hath made Me blessed where- 
ever I am, and hath prescribed for Me prayer and 
alms, as long as I live, and to be well-behaved to My 
mother, and He hath not made Me violent, wretched. 
And peace upon Me the day I was born, and the 
day I shall die, and the day I shall be raised up 
alive. That is Jesus, Son of Mary; a statement 
of the truth, concerning which they doubt." 

We can trace every single matter here mentioned 
to some apocryphal source, as will be evident from 
the passages which we now proceed to adduce. 

In the Protevangelium of James the Less 3 , in 
reference to Mary s birth, we read : 

" And having gazed fixedly into the sky Anna 4 
saw a nest of sparrows in the bay-tree, and she 
made lamentation in herself, saying, Woe is me ! 
woe is me! who hath begotten me? ... Woe is 
me ! to what am I likened ? I am not likened to 
the birds of the air, for even the birds of the air 
are productive in thy sight, O Lord/ . . . And lo ! 
an angel of the Lord stood by, saying unto her, 
Anna ! Anna ! the Lord God hath hearkened unto 
thy petition; thou shalt conceive and shalt bear, 

1 Jesus. 2 The Gospel. 

3 Protevangelium lacobi Minoris, capp. 3, 4, 5. 

4 So in Muhammadan Tradition, as we have seen, Mary s 
mother is named Hanna. 


and thy seed shall be spoken of in all the world. 
But Anna said, As the Lord my God liveth, if I 
bear either male or female, I shall offer it as a gift 
unto the Lord my God, and it shall continue to do 
Him service all the days of its life. . . . But her 
months were fulfilled, and in the ninth month 
Anna brought forth. . . . And she gave breast to 
the child and called her Mary." 

The tale then proceeds to tell how, when the 
child was old enough to leave her mother, she was 
taken to the Temple at Jerusalem by Anna, accord 
ing to her vow. It then continues : 

" The l priest accepted her and kissed and blessed 
her and said, The Lord God hath magnified thy 
name amid all the generations of the earth : upon 
thee at the end of the days shall the Lord God 
manifest the redemption of the Children of Israel. 
. . . But Mary was like a dove reared in the Lord s 
shrine (h r$ raw Kvpi ou), and she was wont to 
receive food from an angel s hand. But when she 
became twelve years of age, there was held a 
council of the priests, who said, Lo! Mary hath 
become twelve years old in the shrine of the Lord, 
what therefore are we to do with her ? . . . And 
lo! an angel of the Lord stood by him, saying, 
Zacharias! Zaeharias ! go forth and call together 
the widowers of the people, and let them bring 
each a rod, and to whomsoever the Lord God shall 
show a sign, his wife shall she be. And the heralds 

1 Op. cit.j capp. 7. 8, 9, it. 


went forth throughout all the coast of Judaea, and 
the trumpet of the Lord sounded, and they all ran. 
But Joseph, casting away his adze, himself ran also 
into the synagogue : and having been assembled 
they went away unto the priest. And the priest 
took the rods of all, and went into the Temple and 
prayed. But having ended his prayer he caine 
forth and gave to each one his rod, and there was 
no sign in them. But Joseph received the last rod. 
And lo ! a dove came forth from the rod and flew 
up upon Joseph s head. And the priest said unto 
him, Thou hast obtained by lot to receive the 
virgin of the Lord: receive her unto thyself to 
guard. . . . And Joseph, being affrighted, received 
her to guard. . . . But Mary, having taken a 
pitcher, went out to fill it with water. And lo! 
a voice, saying, Hail, O highly favoured ! the 
Lord is with thee : blessed art thou among women. 
And she looked around to right and left [to see] 
whence this voice came. And having become 
alarmed she departed unto her house ; and having 
set down the pitcher . . . she sat down upon the 
seat. . . . And lo ! an angel of the Lord stood by, 
saying unto her, Fear not, Mary, for thou hast 
found favour in God s sight, and thou shalt con 
ceive from His Word (e/c \6yov avrov). But Mary 
having heard considered in herself, saying, Shall 
I conceive according as every woman beareth ? 
And the angel saith unto her, Not thus, Mary; 
for the power of the Highest shall overshadow 


thee, therefore also the holy thing that is to be 
born shall be called Son of the Highest : and thou 
shalt call His name Jesus." 

The legend of Mary s being brought up in the 
Temple is found in many other apocryphal works 
besides the one we have here quoted. For example, 
in the Coptic " History of the Virgin T " we read: 

"She was nourished in the Temple like the 
doves, and food was brought to her from the 
heavens by the angels of God. And she was wont 
to do service in the Temple; the angels of God 
used to minister unto her. But they used often to 
bring her fruits also from the Tree of Life, that 
she might eat of them with joy." And in another 
Coptic work entitled the " Story of the Decease of 
Joseph 2 " the following passage occurs : " Mary 
used to dwell in the Temple and worship there 
with holiness, and she grew up until she became 
twelve years old. In her parents house she abode 
three years, and in the Temple of the Lord nine 
years more. Then the priests, when they perceived 
that that virgin lived chastely and dwelt in the 
fear of the Lord, spake to one another, saying, Let 
us seek out a good man and betroth her unto him 
until the time of the marriage-feast. . . . And they 
forthwith summoned the tribe of Judah and chose 
out from it twelve men according to the names of 

Coptic Apocryphal Oospels, p. 15: Frag. ii. A: lines xo-ia. 
Op.cit., capp. 3, 4, p. I3 2 - 


the twelve tribes of Israel. The lot fell upon that 
good old man, Joseph." 

Returning now to the Protevangelium, we are 
told that, when the fact became known that Mary 
had conceived, Joseph and she were brought before 
the priests for judgment. The story then goes 

"And J the priest said, Mary, why hast thou 
done this and hast humbled thy soul ? Thou hast 
forgotten the Lord thy God, thou who wast brought 
up in the Holy of Holies and didst receive food at 
an angel s hand, and didst hear the hymns . . . Why 
hast thou done this? But she wept bitterly, 
saying, As the Lord God liveth, I am pure in His 
sight, and I know not a man. " 

Afterwards we are informed that Joseph and 
Mary went from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Failing 
to find room in the caravansarai at the latter place, 
they went to abide in a cave, and there the Lord 
Jesus was born. The words of the original, omit 
ting as usual everything not connected with our 
present purpose, may be thus translated : 

" And 2 he found a cave and led her in ... But 3 I, 

1 Protevangelium lacobi Minoris, cap. 15. 

2 Op. cit., cap. 1 8. 

3 The scene here described is not mentioned in the Qur an 
itself, nor do Muhammadan traditions clearly record it in 
reference to the birth of Christ. It is upon this description 
that Milton dwells in his Ode "On the Morning of Christ s 


Joseph, . . . looked up into the heaven and saw the 
vault of the heaven stationary l and the birds of the 
air trembling. And I looked upon the earth, and 
saw a dish laid out and workmen seated (di/aKet/xe- 
vovs), and their hands were in the dish, and those 
who were raising [the food to their lips] did not 
raise it, and those who were putting it into their 
mouths did not put it in, but the faces of them all 
were looking upwards. And I saw sheep being 
driven, and the sheep stood still ; but the shepherd 

" No war, or battle s sound 
Was heard the world around : 

The idle spear and shield were high up hung, 
The hooked chariot stood 
Unstained with hostile blood, 

The trumpet spake not to the armed throng. 

But peaceful was the night 
Wherein the Prince of Light 

His reign of peace upon the earth began : 

While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave. 
The stars, with deep amaze, 
Stand fixed in steadfast gaze. ..." 

But something of the same thing has left its trace upon later 
Muhammadan legend, only in reference to Muhammad s birth. 
Thus in the EaudatiCl Aftbdb, Fatimah, daughter of Abdu llah, is 
reported as having said : " I was with Aminah " (Muhammad s 
mother) "when the symptoms of her approaching confinement 
set in : and, on looking up to heaven, I saw the stars to such 
an extent incline towards the earth that I thought they must 
fall down." Or, according to another account, " The stars were 
so near the earth that I thought they would fall upon my head." 
(Quoted by Dr. Koelle, Mohammed and Mohammedanism, p. 257.) 
1 Cf. Plautus, Amphitruo, Act L, Sc. i., vv. 115-20. 


raised [his crook] to smite them, and his hand 
remained aloft. And I looked to the torrent and 
saw kids, and their mouths were applied to the 
water and not drinking, and all things astounded." 

The incident of Mary and the palm-tree as 
related above (Surah XIX, Maryam, 23-6) is 
apparently taken from the apocryphal work en 
titled " History of the Nativity of Mary and the 
Infancy of the Saviour," although, as we shall see. 
we can trace both accounts to a probably more 
ancient source. In the book to which we have 
just referred, the event is connected with the Flight 
into Egypt. The tale records how the Holy Family 
started on the journey and for two days travelled 
on quietly. It then continues : 

" But l on the third day after he had set out, it 
came to pass that Mary became exhausted in the 
desert through the excessive heat of the sun. 
When therefore she saw a tree, she said unto 
Joseph, Let us rest a little while under the shadow 
of this tree. And Joseph hasted and brought her 
to that palm-tree, and took her down off her beast. 
When Mary sat down, she looked up to the top of 
the palm-tree, and seeing it full of fruit said to 
Joseph, I desire, if it be possible, to take of the 
fruit of this palm-tree. And Joseph said unto her, 
I marvel that thou speakest thus, since thou seest 
how high the branches of this palm-tree are. But 

1 Hist. Nativitat. Mariae, cap. ao. 


I am extremely anxious about water, for it has 
uow been exhausted in our skin-bottles, and we 
have nowhere whence we can till them and quench 
our thirst. Then the Child Je.sus, who with a 
joyful countenance lay in His mother the Virgin 
Mary s bosom, said to the palm-tree, O tree, lower 
thy branches and refresh My mother with thy 
fruit. Instantly the palm-tree at this word bowed 
its head to the sole of Mary s feet: and they all 
plucked the fruit which it bore, and were refreshed. 
And afterwards, when all its fruit had been 
plucked, the tree still remained bent, since it was 
waiting to rise up at the command of Him, by 
whose command it had bowed down. Then Jesus 
said unto it, O palm-tree, arise and be of good 
cheer, and be thou a companion of My trees that 
are in My Father s Paradise. But with thy roots 
open the spring that is hidden in the ground, and 
let water flow forth from that spring to quench 
our thirst. And the palm-tree instantly stood 
erect, and streams of very clear, cool, and very 
sweet water began to come forth from amid its 
roots. And when they beheld those streams of 
water, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy ; and 
they with all their quadrupeds and attendants 
were satisfied and thanked God." 

Instead of connecting the palm-tree and the 

stream that flowed from beneath it with the 

account of the Flight into Egypt, the Qur an, as 

we have seen, connects them very closely with the 

L 2 


birth of Christ, representing Him as having been 
born at the foot of the tree, and at that moment 
(according to one explanation) directing the tree to 
let its fruit fall for Mary to eat, and telling her of 
the flowing streamlet. From its accordance with 
this apocryphal Gospel in this respect, it is evident 
that this explanation of the words of the Qur an is 
more likely to be correct than the gloss which 
attributes the speech to Gabriel. 

But we have now to inquire from what source 
the Qur an borrowed the idea that Christ was 
born at the foot of a tree: and also what is the 
origin of the legend that the tree bowed down to 
let the mother and Child eat of its fruit. It is 
hardly necessary to say that for neither the one 
statement nor the other is there the very slightest 
foundation in the Canonical Gospels. 

The source of both incidents is found in the 
books of the Buddhist Pali Canon, which, as we 
are informed in the Mahd- Vamso, was reduced to 
writing in the reign of King Vattagamani of 
Ceylon, probably about 80 B. c. at latest 1 . But it 
is very possible that very considerable parts of 
these Pali books were composed several hundred 
years earlier. The legends contained in them 
were, in later but still very early times, widely 
spread, not only in India and Ceylon but also in 
Central Asia, China, Tibet, and other lands. Bud 
dhist missionaries are mentioned in Yesht XIII., 16, 

1 Vide The Noble Eightfold Path, pp. 69, 70. 


as having appeared in Persia as early as the second 
century before Christ. The influence which Buddh 
ism exercised on thought throughout Western, as 
well as Central, Eastern and Southern, Asia was 
immense. Manichaism, Gnosticism and other here 
sies were largely due to this, as was the rise of 
Monasticism ] . Several passages in the apocry 
phal Gospels show that ideas of Buddhist origin 
had gained access to the minds of the writers of 
these spurious works, though doubtless these men 
were quite unaware of the real source of their 
inspiration. It was easy for Muhammad therefore 
to be misled in the same way ; and we can point 
to the very passages in the Pali books which 
represent the earliest known form of the legends 
about the tree. 

One of these occurs in the Niddnakathd Jdtakam 
(cap. i., pp. 50-3). There we are told that when 
Maya, who was to be the mother of Gotamo 
Buddha, was with child and knew that her time 
was at hand, she obtained her husband Suddho- 
dano s permission to return to her father s house to 
be delivered, according to the custom of the 
country. On the journey she and her handmaidens 
entered a beautiful forest, and Princess Maya 
greatly admired the abundant flowers which she 
saw on some of the trees. In the words of the 
passage to which we refer, the account of what 
then took place runs thus : 

1 Op. cit., pp. 196 sqq. 


" She 1 , having gone to the foot of a well-omened 
Sdl-iree, became desirous of grasping a branch of the 
Sal-tree. The Sal-tree branch, having bent down 
like the end of a stick well softened with steam, 
came within the reach of the princess s hand. She, 

having stretched out her hand, seized the branch 

Childbirth came upon her just as she stood, grasp 
ing the branch of the Sal-tree." 

The differences between this and the account of 
Christ s birth as related in the passage in the 
Qur an which we have quoted above are but slight. 
Muhammad mentions a palm-tree, the best-known 
of all trees to an Arab, in place of the species of 
flowering tree mentioned in the Buddhist book, 
since the Sal-tree of India does not grow in Arabia. 
Doubtless the legend had changed in this way in 
its transmission, as is generally the case in similar 
tales. The Indian legend intimates that the exer 
tion made by Buddha s mother in reaching after 
the flowers growing on the branch above her head 
brought on the child s birth unexpectedly. The 
Qur an seems to give no such good reason at all for 
the birth occurring below the palm-tree. But the 
stories are evidently one and the same. We notice 
here, as in the Qur an, that the tree bent down its 

1 " Sa mangalasalamulam gantva salasakhayam ganhitukama 
ahosi. Salasakha suseditavettagam viya onamitva deviya hattha- 
patham upaganchi. Sa hattham pasaretva sakham aggahesi. . . . 
Salasakham gahetva titthamanaya eva c assa gabbhavutthanam 



branches to let Maya pluck the flowers, or, as the 
Quran has it, let its ripe dates fall upon Mary. 

The other account of this latter incident, that 
given in the apocryphal Gospel, is connected 
with the Flight into Egypt, when our Lord was 
an infant. This is parallel with what we read in 
the Cariya-Pitakam (cap. i., poem ix.l There we 
are informed that in a former birth Buddha was a 
prince called Vessantaro. Having offended his 
people, he was banished from his kingdom, along 
with his wife and two little children. As they 
wandered towards the distant mountains, where 
they wished to tind an asylum, the children 
became hungry. Then, the Buddhist narrative 
tells us : 

" If l the children see fruit-bearing trees on the 
mountain-side, the children weep for their fruit, 
Having seen the children weeping, the great, lofty 

1 Verses 34, 35 : 

"Yadi passanti pavane darika phalite dume, 
tesam phalanam hetumhi uparodanti darika. 
Rodante darike disva ubbidha vipula duma, 
Sayam ev onamitvana upagacchanti darike." 
The story of Buddha s birth under a tree is also found in the 
Romantic History of Buddha, translated by Beal from the Chinese 
Sanskrit (p. 43), and also in the Phu-yau-king (ibid., p. 347). 

The fancy that Mary was brought up in the Temple is, of 
course, along with the name of her mother Anna (Hannah), 
derived from the account of Samuel s dedication by his mother 
Hannah. But it is an evidence of great ignorance to imagine 
the same thing possible in the case of a girl, and still more so 
to say, as the apocryphal books do, that Mary was brought up 
in the Holy of Holies 1 


trees, having even of themselves bowed down, 
approach the children." 

It is clear that both the Qur an and the author 
of the apocryphal "History of the Nativity of 
Mary" have unconsciously borrowed from Buddhist 
sources these particular incidents. This fact of 
course disproves the truth of the narrative. 

Were proof required to show that, even as late as 
Muhammad s time, Buddhist legends were prevalent 
in Western Asia and were accepted as Christian 
history, it would be afforded by the existence of 
the tale of " Barlaam and Josaphat." This legend 
was written in Greek in the sixth century of the 
Christian era, as some hold, though it is more 
generally attributed to Johannes Damascenus, who 
flourished at the court of the Khalifah Al Mansur 
(A.D. 753-74). Josaphat, the Christian prince of 
the book, is undoubtedly Buddha himself, and his 
name is a corruption of Bodhimttva, one of 
Buddha s many titles. The main source of the 
tale is the Sanskrit legendary story of Buddha 
known as the Lalita Vistara. Yet Josaphat is a 
saint in both the Greek and the Roman Churches, 
in the former of which August 2,6 is sacred to 
him, in the latter November 27. 

3. Story of the Childhood of Jesus. 
In what has been already related we have learnt 
something of what the Qur an teaches on this 
subject. But we must now deal with the matter 
more at length. 


In Surah III, Al Imran, 41, 43> we are in ~ 
formed that before Christ s birth the Angel said 
of Him: "And He shall speak to men in the 
cradle" . . . And in Surah XIX., Maryam, 29-31, 
as we have already seen, we are informed that, 
when the Virgin Mary s people reproached her, 
she made a sign towards the Child, implying that 
they should ask Him of His origin. They said in 
surprise, "How shall we talk with one who is a 
child in the cradle ? " Then the Child Jesus spoke 
to them, saying, " Verily I am God s Servant : He 
hath brought Me the Book and made Me a 

The origin of this legend is not far to seek. We 
have already seen that one of the apocryphal 
Gospels represents Christ, when on His journey 
to Egypt in His infancy, as addressing the palm- 
tree and bidding it bow down and permit His 
Mother to pluck its fruit. But probably the source 
from which Muhammad borrowed the incident is 
the JnjUu t Tvfuliyyak, better known as the Arabic 
Gospel of the Infancy. In the first chapter of that 
work we read : 

" We have found it recorded in the book of 
Josephus the Chief Priest, who was in the time 
of Christ (and men say that he was Caiaphas), 
that this man said that Jesus spake when He was 
in the cradle, and said to Mary His Mother, Verily 
I am Jesus, the Son of God, the Word which thou 
hast borne, according as the angel Gabriel gave 


thee the good news ; and My Father hath sent Me 
for the salvation of the world. " 

Of course Muhammad could not represent Christ 
as using the words which this apocryphal Gospel 
attributes to Him, for in the Qur an the Divine 
Sonship of Christ is everywhere denied. There 
fore, while believing and stating that Jesus spoke 
when an infant in the cradle, Muhammad in his 
account has put into His mouth words which seemed 
to him more suitable and more consonant with 
Islam. Otherwise the story is the same. 

The style of the Arabic of this apocryphal 
Gospel, however, is so bad that it is hardly possible 
to believe that it dates from Muhammad s time. 
As, however, Arabic has never been supposed to 
be the language in which the work was composed, 
this is a matter of little or no consequence. From 
a study of the book there seems little room for 
doubt that it has been translated into Arabic from 
the Coptic, in which language it may have been 
composed. This explains in what way Muhammad 
most probably became acquainted with the legend. 
For it is a well-known fact that the Christian 
governor of Egypt sent him a present of two 
Coptic girls, one of whom, "Mary the Copt," 
became one of his favourite concubines. This girl, 
though not well acquainted with the Gospel, must 
doubtless have known so popular a legend as that 
contained in the " Gospel of the Infancy " at that 
time was. Muhammad probably learnt the tale 


from her, and, fancying it to be contained in the 
Gospels universally accepted by Christians as of 
Divine authority, he on that account incorporated 
it into the Quran. Of course it is possible that he 
had others besides Mary who told him Coptic 
legends, but, whoever his informant or informants 
may have been, it is clear that the source of the 
story of the miracle is the one we have mentioned. 
Now the Arabic " Gospel of the Infancy " is one 
of a number of apocryphal works of late or of 
uncertain date, which were never by any Christian 
sect regarded as inspired. Others of the same 
class which have left their mark upon the Quran 
are the "Gospel of Thomas the Israelite," the 
" Protevangelium of James," the " Gospel of Nico- 
demus" (otherwise called the " Gesta Pilati"), and 
the " Narrative of Joseph of Arimathaea." Muham 
mad, as has been already observed, seems to have 
had a peculiar gift for discovering unreliable 
sources of information, for he never appears to 
quote one which is merely of doubtful authority. 
These books and others like them, though very 
popular among ignorant Christians then and even 
in later times, can hardly be said to have been 
intended to impose on any one, they are so mani 
festly religious romances. They dealt with matters 
concerning which much curiosity was very naturally 
felt, and were therefore welcomed by men who did 
not care to inquire whether what they read was 
true or false. They were quite contented to believe 


that these stories were old traditions and dealt 
with subjects on which the canonical books gave 
little or no information. No doubt some persons 
gave credit to these legends, but no man of any 
learning can be mentioned who did so in the case 
of any one of the books we have named. They 
were not even deemed of sufficient importance to 
be included among the Antilegomena. Some of 
them may have been reconstructed on the basis 
of earlier works that have perished, though with 
the addition of many fabulous elements. But 
whether this be so or not, they are sometimes found 
to incorporate legends of considerable antiquity, if 
of no authority. We have seen instances in which 
certain stories can be traced to very ancient Bud 
dhist fables. The tale of Jesus speaking to men 
when He was still an infant in the cradle is 
another example of somewhat the same kind, 
though it cannot be traced back to the Pali Canon. 
The same tale is told of Buddha in the Lalita 
Vistara, in the Buddha-Carita 1 f and in other 
Sanskrit works. In the " Romantic Legend 2 *" we 
are gravely informed that, as soon as he was born, 
Buddha "forthwith walked seven steps towards 
each quarter of the horizon; and, as he walked, at 
each step there sprang from the earth beneath his 
feet a lotus flower; and, as he looked steadfastly 
in each direction, his mouth uttered these words, 

1 Book I. 34, ed. Cowell. 

2 Beal, Rom. Legend, p. 44. 


. . . In all the world I am the very chief. " In 
another 1 Chinese Sanskrit work the same story 
is told, with this difference that Buddha s words 
are there said to have been, " This birth is in the 
condition of a Buddha: after this I have done 
with renewed birth: now only am I born this 
once,/0; 4 the purpose of saving all the world" It will 
be noticed that, making allowance for the difference 
between the non-theistic Buddhist system and the 
Christian one, this last quotation bears a consider 
able resemblance to the words attributed to the 
infant Christ in our quotation from the Arabic 
"Gospel of the Infancy": in fact the concluding 
words of the latter are almost a verbal translation 
of the former 2 . 

The supposed fact that our Lord spoke in His 

1 Bcal s version of the Fo-sho-hing-tsan-king (pp. 3, 4). 

2 In the Zamyad Yesht of the Zoroastrians a somewhat 
similar account of speaking at birth is mentioned in connexion 
with the monster Snavidhka, who when still very young said : 
* I am still an infant, and I am not yet grown up : if I ever 
do grow up I shall make the earth a wheel, I shall make the 
heavens a chariot : I shall bring down the Good Spirit from 
the bright Garo-nmanem " [the highest heaven, the abode of 
Ahuro Mazdao, corresponding to the Muhammadan Arsh] : 
" I shall cause the Evil Spirit to rush up from miserable hell. 
They will bear my chariot, both the Good Spirit and the Evil 
Spirit, unless the manly-hearted Keresaspa slay me." The 
mention of the "wheel" and the "chariot" in this passage 
distinctly indicates Buddhist influence in Persia, and reminds 
us of how Buddha was said to have a turned the wheel of the 
Law," implying his claim to universal dominion. Hence the 
idea of the infant speaking at birth also is seen to be not an 
original Zoroastrian but a Buddhist legend. 


cradle is also asserted in the following passage 
from Surah V., Al Maidah, 109, no, together with 
other matters which we shall now consider. For 
convenience sake we quote both verses in full : 

"When God said, Jesus, Son of Mary, re 
member My favour towards Thee and towards Thy 
mother, when I strengthened Thee with the Holy 
Spirit; Thou dost speak unto men in the cradle 
and as an adult: and when I taught Thee the 
Book and wisdom and the Law and the Gospel; 
and when Thou dost create from clay as it were 
the figure of a bird by My permission, then Thou 
dost breathe into it, thereupon it becometh a bird 
by My permission; and Thou dost cleanse the 
blind and the leper by My permission ; and when 
Thou dost bring forth the dead by My permission ; 
and when I restrained the Children of Israel from 
Thee, when Thou didst come to them with the 
evident signs: therefore those of them who dis 
believed said, This is nothing except evident 
magic. " 

What is here related of our Lord s miracles of 
healing the blind, cleansing the leper and raising 
the dead, may be derived indirectly from the four 
canonical Gospels, though similar events are not 
excluded as they could not well be from the 
apocryphal Gospels. But the point of importance 
for our present purpose is what is said about His 
creating a bird out of clay and giving it life. This 
incident is derived from the apocryphal "Gospel 


of Thomas the Israelite," in the second chapter of 
which we read : 

" This child, Jesus, having become five years old, 
was playing at the crossing of a brook, and He 
had collected together into pools the running 
waters and was making them clean forthwith, 
and with a single word did He command them. 
And having made some clay fine, He formed out 
of it twelve sparrows. And it was the Sabbath 
when He did these things. There were, however, 
many other children also playing with Him. But 
a certain Jew, having seen what Jesus was doing, 
that He was playing on the Sabbath day, went 
away immediately and told His father Joseph, 
Lo ! thy child is at the brook, and having taken 
clay He hath formed twelve little birds out of it, 
and He hath profaned the Sabbath/ And Joseph, 
having come to the spot and having seen, cried 
out to Him, saying, Why dost Thou on the 
Sabbath do these things which it is not lawful 
to do 1 ? But Jesus, having clapped His hands 
together, cried out to the sparrows and said to 
them, Go! And the sparrows, having taken 
flight, departed twittering. But the Jews, having 
seen this, were astounded ; and having gone away 
they related to their chief men what they saw 
that Jesus did." 

It is worthy of note that the whole of this fable 
occurs twice over in the Arabic "Gospel of the 
Infancy," in chapter xxxvi, and again in another 


form in chapter xlvi. The reason of this is that 
the latter part of the book is taken from the 
" Gospel of Thomas the Israelite." 

We notice here again that, while the legend 
is evidently the same as that briefly referred to 
in the Qur an, yet the difference is sufficient to 
prove that Muhammad was reproducing a shortened 
form of it from memory, and was not consulting 
any written document. Hence he mentions only 
one bird instead of twelve, and speaks of life being 
given to it by the breath of Jesus and not by a 
command of His. The brief reference made to 
the tale in the Qur an shows that the story had 
obtained wide currency and was generally believed 
at the time. This again proves how little know 
ledge of the New Testament there then was in 
Medina; for not only are no such accounts of 
miracles performed by our Saviour in His child 
hood recorded in the canonical Gospels, but John 
ii. ii shows that none were wrought until after 
His Baptism at the age of about thirty. 

4. Story of the Table. 

This supposed miracle of Christ is related in 
Surah V., Al Maidah, 112-15, and gives its name 1 
to that Surah. Translated as literally as possible, 
the tale runs thus : 

"When the Apostles 2 said, Jesus, Son of 

1 Maidah means a table provided with food. 

3 The word used here ((j)\j*-) i always applied to the 


Mary, can Thy Lord cause a Table to descend upon 
us from the heaven ? He said, " Fear ye God, if 
ye be believers. They said, We desire to eat 
from it and that our hearts be confirmed, and that 
we may know that Thou hast told us truth and 
may be witnesses unto it V Jesus, Son of Mary, 
said, O God, our Lord, cause a table to descend 
unto us from the heaven which shall be a festival 2 
unto us, to the first of us and to the last of us 2 , 
and a sign from Thee, and feed Thou us: and 
Thou art the best of feeders. God said, Verily 
I cause it to descend unto you : but whosoever 
among you thereafter shall disbelieve, I shall 
assuredly punish him with a punishment where 
with I shall not punish any other creature. " 

Unless there be some ^Ethiopian legend on the 
subject which the early Muslim refugees had 
brought back with them from that country, we 
must trace this myth to a misunderstanding of 
certain passages in the New Testament. If there 
be some such legend found elsewhere, which we 
have not traced, it must have had the same ultimate 
source. One of the New Testament passages which 
doubtless helped to give rise to it is the verse 

Apostles of Christ exclusively. It is an ^Ethiopic word. Does 
this show any connexion between the fable and some legend 
current in Ethiopia, whither Muhammad s first converts fled 
for refuge ? 

1 To the Table. 

2 These expressions show that there is a reference to the 
institution of the Lord s Supper. 



(Luke xx. 30) in which our Lord says to His 
disciples, " That ye may eat and drink at My Talk 
in My kingdom." Muhammad doubtless knew 
that the Christians celebrated the Lord s Supper, 
in accordance with Matt. xxvi. 20-9; Mark xiv. 
17-25; Luke xxii. 14-30; John xiii - ^S and 
i Cor. xi. 20-34. But what doubtless led to the 
idea that the Table descended from Heaven was 
the passage in the Acts of the Apostles (x. 9-16), 
in which we read the following account of Peter s 
vision : 

" Peter went up upon the housetop to pray, about 
the sixth hour : and he became hungry, and desired 
to eat\ but while they made ready, he fell into 
a trance ; and he beholdeth the heaven opened, and 
a certain vessel descending, as it were a great sheet y let 
down by four corners upon the earth-, wherein were 
all manner of fourfooted beasts and creeping things 
of the earth and fowls of the heaven. And there 
came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill and eat But 
Peter said, Not so, Lord ; for I have never eaten 
anything that is common or unclean. And a voice 
came unto him again the second time, What God 
hath cleansed, make not thou common. And this 
was done thrice: and straightway the vessel was 
received up into heaven." 

The concluding words of the passage which we 
have quoted from Surah Al Maidah are an addi 
tional proof that Muhammad was thinking of the 
Lord s Supper, for they seem to be a faint echo of 


St. Paul s warning against unworthily partaking 
of that sacrament (i Cor. xi. 27-9). 

The whole passage is an additional proof of how 
very little knowledge of the New Testament 
Muhammad had. No one who had read the book 
or heard it read could have confounded Peter s 
vision with the institution of the Lord s Supper, 
or transformed that vision into the descent of 
a table of provisions from heaven in our Lord s 
lifetime. The passage is an interesting illustration 
of the way in which legends grow. 

5. Muhammad s Misconception of the Doctrine of the 

In the early part of the present chapter we have 
briefly referred to this subject, but it must be 
again noticed here to make our treatment of the 
influence of " Christian " ideas and practices upon 
Islam somewhat more complete. The conception 
which Muhammad formed of the Christian doctrine 
of the Trinity in Unity is about as accurate as that 
which the last few paragraphs show that he enter 
tained with reference to the institution of the 
Lord s Supper. This is evident from the following 
passages : 

Surah V., Al Maidah, 116: "And when God 
said, O Jesus, Son of Mary, hast Thou said unto 
men, Take Me and My Mother as two gods besides 
God? " 

Surah IV., An Nisa, 169: "0 People of the Book, 
M 2 


be not extravagant in your religion, and do not 
say concerning God other than the truth. Truly 
the Messiah, Jesus, Son of Mary, is the Apostle of 
God and His Word which He cast into Mary, and 
a Spirit from Him. Therefore believe ye in God 
and His apostle, and say not Three/ Cease ! it is 
well for you ! Truly God is One God. Far be it 
from Him that He should have a Son. To Him 
belongs whatever is in the Heavens and whatever 
is in the Earth: and it sufficeth with God as a 

Surah V., Al Maidah, 77: They have indeed 
blasphemed who have said, Verily God is the 
Third of Three ; and there is no God but one 
God; and if they cease not from what they say, 
there shall surely touch those of them who have 
blasphemed a severe punishment." 

These verses are explained by the commentators 
Jalalu ddin and Yahya as being the answer to 
the statement which Muhammad heard certain 
Christians make that there are three Gods, that is 
to say God the Father, Mary, and Jesus. It is per 
fectly plain from these verses that Muhammad really 
did believe that the Christian doctrine inculcated 
belief in three separate Divine Persons, Jesus and 
Mary being two of them. But our third quotation 
implies that Muhammad probably from what he 
had seen of " Christian " worship thought that the 
order was Jesus, Mary, God, or Mary, Jesus, God. 
No reasonable man will wonder at the indignation 


with which Muhammad in God s name abjures 
such blasphemy. We must all feel regret that the 
idolatrous worship offered to Mary led Muhammad 
to believe that people who called her " Queen of 
Heaven " and " Mother of God " really attributed 
to her Divine attributes. He rightly perceived 
that God was practically dethroned in her favour. 
Had he been taught that the doctrine of the Unity 
of God is the very foundation of the Christian 
faith (Deut. vi. 4; Mark xii. 29), he might have 
become a Christian reformer. He can never have 
heard the true explanation of the Doctrine of the 
Trinity in Unity, otherwise he would have learnt 
that Christian theologians spoke of the Father not 
as "the Third of Three" but as the rirjyr) l rrjs 
@eoVr?ros, the very " Fount of Deity." 

It should be noticed, however, that, though the 
undue exaltation of the Virgin Mary, which led 
Muhammad astray as to the true doctrine of the 
Bible, is contrary to the Christian faith, yet such 
false ideas and practices are distinctly encouraged 
by the teaching of many of the later apocryphal 
Gospels, particularly by those which formed the 
ultimate sources of Muhammad s knowledge of 
Christianity. We mention this to prevent the 
possibility of any Muhammadan reader supposing 
that he can find a way out of his difficulty by 
endeavouring to prove that such books as "The 

1 Cf. Athanasius, Contra Arianos, iv. i, 
nal ov 


Nativity of Mary," " The Protevangelium of James 
the Less," and the Arabic " Gospel of the Infancy " 
are more authentic monuments of the early 
Christian faith as taught by Christ than are the 
canonical books of the New Testament! Ex 
perience of the Muhammadan controversy renders 
the warning permissible. 

6. Denial of the Crucifixion of Christ. 

It is well known that all Muhammadans have 
from the earliest times denied that Christ died on 
the Cross. In this they are supported by the 
Qur an, which, in Surah IV., An Nisa, 156, repre 
sents the Jews as saying, " Verily we have slain 
the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, the Apostle of 
God." Muhammad then in reply to them says, 
" And they slew Him not, and they crucified Him 
not, but He was represented unto them [by 
another] . . . And they slew Him not really, but 
on the contrary God exalted Him unto Himself." 

Muhammad s denial of the death of Christ on 
the Cross cannot be traced even to such untrust 
worthy authority as his favourite apocryphal 
Gospels. It is needless to say that he contradicts 
both the Old Testament Prophets and the New 
Testament Apostles, though doubtless merely 
through ignorance. It seemed to him to be 
derogatory to the dignity of Christ to have been 
crucified and put to death by His enemies; and 
Muhammad was all the more convinced of this 


when he found his own enemies, the Jews, exulting 
at having slain Jesus. Hence he gladly adopted 
the assertion of certain heresiarchs, with whose 
views in other respects he had little in common. 
Several of these had, long before Muhammad s 
time, denied the actual suffering of Christ. 
Irenaeus tells us with reference to the teaching 
of the Gnostic heretic Basilides, who nourished 
about A. D. 120, that, in speaking of Jesus, he 
taught his deluded followers " That l He had not 
suffered ; and that a certain Simon of Gyrene had 
been compelled to carry His cross for Him; and 
that this man was crucified through ignorance and 
error, having been changed in form by Him, so 
that it should be thought that he was Jesus Him 
self." This language coincides very closely with 
that of the Quran in this matter. Yet Muhammad 
would have repudiated the principle upon which 
this view, according to Irenaeus, was based: for 
Basilides held that Jesus was identical with vovs 
or Mind, the first 2 emanation from the unknown 
God, and that He could not suffer because He had 
no real human body. This is absolutely opposed 

1 " Neque passum eum ; et Simonem quendam Cyrenaeum 
angariatum portasse crucem eius pro eo ; et hunc secundum 
ignorantiam et errorem crucifixum, transfiguratum ab eo, uti 
putaretur ipse esse lesus." 

3 For our present purpose it is unnecessary to refer to the 
difference between Irenaeus account and that given by Hip- 
polytus in his Philosophumena. Much as the two reports differ 
in certain respects, they agree sufficiently in showing the 
general fact of Basilides Gnostic views in tho^e matters. 


to the Qur an, which asserts that Jesus, though 
a Prophet and Apostle, was a merely human 
person, possessed of a human body, born of a 
human mother, and destined to die at some time 
or other. We see therefore that Muhammad 
opposed the principle from which Basilides 
deduced a certain result, and yet accepted that 
result and recorded it in the Qur an. This is such 
an utterly illogical proceeding that it cannot be 
attributed to anything but a very natural 

But this view regarding Christ s dying only in 
appearance and not in reality was not confined to 
Basilides. Photius (820-91 circa) in his Bibliotheca 
(Cod. 114) mentions the fact that in an apocryphal 
book called the " Travels * of the Apostles " it was 
asserted " that Christ had not been crucified, but 
another in His stead." Manes or Mani, the cele 
brated false prophet who at one time obtained 
so much influence in Persia, in a similar way 
held that " The 2 prince of darkness therefore was 

1 UfpioSoi AiroffT6\wv (quoted by Rod well, Koran, p. 471, note) : 
teal TOV Xpiffrov /XT) ffravpw6r)vai, d\\ erfpov dvr avrov. 

3 Manes, Ep. Fund., ap. Evodhim : "Priiiceps itaque tene- 
brarum cruci est affixus, idemque coronam spineam portavit." 
It is unnecessary here to appeal to the statement in the 
"Gospel of Barnabas" that Judas was crucified instead of 
Christ, as that work was written long after Muhammad s time. 
The various and somewhat contradictory Traditions of the 
Muslims regarding the question whether Christ died or not ; 
if so, how long He remained dead, and who was crucified in 
His place, will be found .treated of in my Religion of the Crescent, 
Appendix A. 


fastened to the cross, and the same person bore 
the crown of thorns." It cannot be said that 
Muhammad denies Christ s death on good authority, 
or that in doing so he is in good company. 

Yet in several places in the Qur an mention is 
made of the fact that Jesus was to die, like the 
rest of mankind. For example, in Surah III., 
Al Imran, 48, it is written : 

"When God said, O Jesus, verily it is I that 
cause Thee to expire and that exalt Thee unto 
Myself and purify Thee from those that have 
disbelieved. " 

So also in Surah XIX., Maryam, 34, Jesus in the 
cradle is represented as saying : 

"And peace upon Me the day I was born and 
the day I shall die and the day I shall be raised 
up alive." 

Commentators are not perfectly agreed as to the 
exact meaning of these passages. Some hold that, 
when the Jews wished to crucify Christ, they 
seized and imprisoned Him and His Apostles on 
the evening preceding the Paschal feast, intending 
to slay Him the next morning. But in the night 
God sent Him the message, "Thou must through 
Me undergo death, but immediately afterwards 
Thou shalt be taken up to Me and freed from 
the power of the unbelievers." Accordingly Jesus 
expired and remained dead for three hours. Others 
mention a longer period. Finally, however, Gabriel 
appeared and carried Him off through the window 


and up to heaven, without this being perceived by 
anyone. An unbelieving Jewish spy was mistaken 
for Him and crucified in His stead 1 . But the 
more common, in fact the all but universal opinion 
of Muslims at the present day, is that which is 
supported by the Traditions contained in such 
works as the Qisasu l Anbiyd 2 and the ^ArdMt 
Tijdn*. In these books we are told that, when 
the Jews were besieging the house in which Jesus 
and His Apostles were, Gabriel took Jesus away 
through the roof or a window and carried Him off 
alive to the fourth heaven. Shuyugh, " King of 
the Jews," or a friend of his called Faltianus, 
entering the house to slay Jesus, was mistaken 
for Him and put to death. But nevertheless Jesus 
must die, and will return to earth to do so, and 
that is what is implied by Surahs III., 48 ; 
XIX., 34 ; and also by Surah IV., 157, if this 
latter passage (" And there shall not be one of the 
People of the Book who shall not believe in Him 
before His death ") refers to Christ s death, as many 
think. For "when Dajjal 4 the Accursed comes 
forth 5 and misleads and makes infidels of people, 
and the Imam Mahdi with a number of Muslims 
shall be in Jerusalem, then Jesus shall come forth 
and wage war with Dajjal, and shall slay him, 

1 Weil, Biblische Legenden der Muselmanner, pp. 296 sqq. 

2 Op. cit. t pp. 274, 275. 3 Op. cit, pp. 549, 550. 

4 This is the title of Antichrist. 

5 Qi$a*u l Anbiyd, p. 275 ; cf. Ardisu t Tijdn, p. 554. 


and shall invite His own followers to accept the 
Muhammadan religion. Jesus will be of the 
Muhammadan faith, and He will give quarter to 
every one who believes in Islam, but He will slay 
every one who does not believe in Islam. From the 
East even unto the West shall He subdue the whole 
world and make its people Musalmans, and He 
shall set forth the validity of the Muhammadan 
religion to such a degree that in the whole world 
there shall not remain a single Infidel, and the 
world shall be fully civilized and richly blessed. 
And He shall perfect justice, so that the wolf and 
the elk shall drink water together, and He shall 
be wroth with the evildoers. Then, having in this 
way for forty years improved the world, He too 
shall taste the bitterness of death and shall leave 
the world. Then the Musalmans shall bury Him 
near the chamber of Muhammad the Chosen One." 
What is said about the return of Christ and the 
establishment of His kingdom over the whole earth 
is evidently in accordance with and borrowed from 
Holy Scripture, especially from such passages as 
Acts i. ii ; Rev. 1.7; Isa. xi. i-io. But alas! " the 
trail of the Serpent is over it all," for it is asserted 
that Christ shall spread, Islam with the sword \ The 
reference to the overthrow of Antichrist is evidently 
based upon 3 Thess. ii. 8-10, and similar passages. 
But we must inquire from what source Muhammad 
has derived the idea that, after His second Advent, 
Christ is to die t if this is really the meaning of the 


verses from the Qur an which we have quoted, and 
if any reliance is to be placed upon the Traditions 
which Baihaqi and others record as handed down 
from Muhammad s lips to that effect : for every 
Christian knows that such a fancy is absolutely 
contrary to Scripture (e.g. Rev. i. 17, 18). 

Here again certain Apocryphal works come to 
our aid. In an Arabic book (probably of Coptic 
origin) called " The Decease of our holy Father the 
old man Joseph the Carpenter," we are told re 
garding Enoch and Elijah, who ascended into 
heaven without dying, that "These men must 
come to the world at the end of time, in the day 
of trouble and fear and difficulty and oppression, 
and must die" (cap. xxxi.) 1 . In a somewhat 
similar Coptic work entitled " The History of the 
Falling Asleep of Mary " we read almost the same 
words, " But as for these others " (Enoch and 
Elijah) "it is necessary for them also finally to 
taste of death 2 ." Muhammad must have heard 
some such expression, for he says twice over in 
the Qur an (Surah III., Al Imram, 183, and Surah 
XXIX., Al Ankabut, 57), " Every soul doth taste 
of death." Holding, as he apparently did, that 
Jesus ascended to heaven alive (Surah III., 48), it 
naturally followed, to his mind, that Christ also, 

) , uUjJI JUIl Jl 1/b UJ 

Coptic Apocryphal Gospels, pp. 108, 109. 


like Enoch and Elijah, would necessarily die after 
his second Advent. Hence Christ s vacant tomb 
now lies ready for Him at Medina, between the 
graves of Muhammad and Abu Bakr ! 

Muhammadan Tradition also tells us that Christ 
shall take a wife after His return l . This is due to 
a misunderstanding of such passages as Rev. xix. 
7-9, where we read : " Let us rejoice and be 
exceeding glad, and let us give the glory unto Him : 
for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His 
wife hath made herself ready. And it was given 
unto her that she should array herself in fine linen, 
bright and pure : for the fine linen is the righteous 
acts of the saints. And he saith unto me, Blessed 
are they which are bidden to the marriage supper 
of the Lamb." Of course the meaning of this alle 
gorical passage is fully explained elsewhere (e.g. 
Rev. xxi. 2 ; Eph. v. 22-32) as referring to the 
perfect love and complete union in spiritual mat 
ters which will then exist between the Saviour and 
His purified and redeemed Church. 

The statement that Christ is to live forty yean 2 
on the earth after His return must have originated 
in a misunderstanding of Acts i. 3, where we learn 
that He remained for forty days with His disciples 
after His Resurrection and before His Ascension. 

1 Araisu l Majdlls, p. 554. a Qisaw l Anbiyd, p. 275. 


7. Christ s supposed prediction of the coming of 

There are a considerable number of passages in 
the Bible which Muhammadan controversialists 
endeavour to prove to be prophecies of Muham 
mad. But we have here to deal with only one 
small series of verses, since only in one place in 
the Qur an do we find a clear assertion that Christ 
told His disciples to look for Muhammad s appear 
ance ; and it is to certain verses in St. John s 
Gospel that he evidently refers. In Surah LXL, 
As Saff, 6, Muhammad writes thus: 

"And when Jesus, Son of Mary, said, <O Children 
of Israel, verily I am the Apostle of God unto you, 
confirming what was before Me of the Law, and 
proclaiming good tidings of an Apostle who shall 
come after Me : his name is Ahmad. " 

The reference here is to the coming of the Para 
clete or " Comforter " spoken of in John xiv. 1 6, 
36 ; xv. 26 ; xvi. 7. We have already 1 pointed out 
that Muhammad was misled by some ignorant but 
zealous proselyte or other disciple, who confounded 
the word UapaK\r]To^ used in these verses with 
another Greek word TrepiKAuro s, which might, with 
out a very great stretch of the imagination, be inter 
preted by the Arabic word Ahmad, " the greatly 
praised," only, unfortunately for Muhammad, Trept- 
KAVTO S is not the word used, and by no possible effort 

1 p. 142, note i. 


can the term employed by our Lord be translated 
Ahmad. " A little knowledge," even of Greek, may 
be "a dangerous thing;" and certainly the proverb 
was never better illustrated than in the Qur an. 
Of course everyone who reads the passages in 
St. John s Gospel at all carefully will perceive 
that they contain no prophecy of any coming 
Prophet, and cannot possibly be made to suit any 
mere human being. Moreover, every Christian 
knows how the promise was fulfilled (Acts ii. i-n). 
It is quite a mistake, on the other hand, to fancy 
that Muhammad claimed to be the Holy Spirit, 
whom the Muslims confound with Gabriel. 

Before leaving this subject it may be as well to 
remind the reader that Muhammad was not the 
first to appeal to these verses as a prophecy of 
himself. It is well known that Mani l or Manes, 
renowned in Persian fable as a wonderful painter, 
made the same claim to be the " person " referred 
to by Christ. Only Mani distinctly claimed to be 
the "Paraclete," probably (like Muhammad) in 
order to win over ill-informed Christians to his 
side. This is remarkable, for he rejected the his 
torical Jesus and invented another for himself, 
who neither suffered nor died (Jesus impafsibili*). A 
third point in which he resembled Muhammad was 
his claim to be the last and greatest of the pro- 

1 Manichaism had taken refuge in Arabia long before Mu 
hammad s time (Beausobre, Histoire du Manicheisme, Pt. i, 
ch. iv.). 


phets, "the Ambassador of Light," which he 
identified with the Deity. He was less fortunate 
than Muhammad, however, since he was impaled 
by the command of Bahram I, of Persia, about 
376 A.D. \ Finally, he produced a book, called 
Artang 2 by Oriental writers, which he said had 
been sent down to him from heaven and con 
tained the final revelation to men. His denial of 
Christ s sufferings originated in his acceptance of 
the Gnostic idea of the essential evil of all matter, 
and this made him deny that the true Jesus had 
a human body. In this respect he followed Basi- 
lides more logically than did Muhammad, as we 
have already seen. 

8. Creation of Adam, and his being worshipped by the 

In Surah III., i.1 Imran, 52, we read : 

" Verily the likeness of Jesus, according to God, is 

as the likeness of Adam ; " and of the latter it is 

then added : " He created him out of earth ; then He 

said to him, Be ; therefore he comes into being 3 ." 

With regard to the creation of Adam out of the 

1 Most of our information about Mani himself comes from 
Al Fihrist, though it is difficult to say on what authorities the 
author of that work relied. Man! was born probably in A.D. 
216. Patristic writers give much information about his 

2 Perhaps meaning " The Noble Tome," from Arta (Av. ereta) 
+ aftga, limb, portion. 

3 See note 2 to p. 55 above. 


soil, Tradition tells us that when God Most High 
wished to create him, He sent one after another of 
the Archangels to take and bring Him a handful 
of earth. The Earth, knowing that many of 
Adam s descendants would be condemned to hell 
fire, adjured each of these messengers not to take 
away any portion of her substance. Hence they 
all except the last, Azrail, returned empty-handed. 
Azrail, however, took a handful of earth in spite 
of this adjuration, some say from the spot upon 
which the Ka bah was afterwards built, others 
from the whole surface of the earth. He brought 
it to God l , saying, " God, Thou knowest : lo ! 
I have brought it." Abu l Fida, on the authority 
of Kamil ibn Athir, says, "The Prophet of God 
said, Verily God Most High created Adam from 
a handful which He took from the whole of the 
Earth, . . . and truly he was called Adam because 
he was created from the surface (adim) of the 
Earth. " 

This Tradition is interesting because it affords 
another instance of how much Islam is indebted to 
heretical ideas. The whole fable is borrowed from 
Marcion, as we learn from a quotation from one 
of the latter s writings which is given in Ezniq 
the Armenian s work entitled The Refutation of 
Heresies. In speaking of this heresiarch of the 
second century, Ezniq quotes 2 the following passage 
as containing some of his peculiar views, "And 

1 Qifcifu l Anbiyd, p. n. Book IV. 



when the God of the Law saw that this world was 
beautiful, He resolved to make Man out of it. And 
having descended unto the Earth, unto Matter (v\rf), 
He saith, Give Me of thy clay and I shall give 
spirit from Myself. . . . When Matter had given 
Him of her earth, He created him (Adam), and 
breathed spirit into him. . . . And on this account 
he was named Adam, because he was made out of 

To understand this quotation we must remember 
that Marcion held the old Persian dualism to a 
great extent, believing that there are two First 
Causes, one perfectly good and the other perfectly 
evil. The Demiurgos or Creator of this lower 
world, who is here spoken of as the God of the 
Law because he gave the Law of Moses to the 
Jews, is just, but neither perfectly good nor per 
fectly evil, yet he is perpetually at war with the 
Evil Principle. He is therefore rather an arch 
angel than a God, and in the Muhammadan legend 
appears as such. According to Marcion s view, 
the Demiurgos originally dwelt in the second 
heaven and was not at first aware of the existence 
of the Supreme Principle of Good, whom Marcion 
called the Unknown God. When he learnt His 
existence, the Demiurgos became hostile to Him, and 
began to try to prevent men from knowing God, lest 
they should transfer their worship to Him. There 
fore the Supreme God sent Jesus Christ into the 
world to destroy the power of the God of the 


Law and that of the Evil Principle, and to lead 
men to a knowledge of the True God. Jesus was 
attacked by both these beings, but they could not 
hurt Him, as he had only the appearance of a body, 
so that He might be visible to men, not a real 
body. Here again we find the Docetic principle 
which, though so contrary to Muhammad s general 
teaching, yet underlies the denial of the crucifixion 
of Christ. 

Much of what Marcion said about the Demiurgos 
agrees with the Muhammadan legend about Azazil, 
who became an inhabitant of the second heaven 
(and, according to some Traditions, of all the 
heavens) before he was cast out and received the 
names of Iblis (Ata^oAos) and Sluiitan (Satan). 
But both Marcion s and Muhammad s statements 
on this point are so evidently borrowed from Zoro- 
astrian legends that we must reserve them for 
treatment in our next chapter 1 . 

It is worthy of note that to the Demiurgos the 
titles of " Lord of the Worlds," " Creator of the 
Creatures," and " Prince of this World," were 
given by Marcion and his followers. The first two 
of these titles properly belong to God, and are used 
for Him by both Jews and Muslims. The third is 
borrowed from John xiv. 30, where it is given to 
Satan. Through an unfortunate mistake, Muham- 
madans understand this verse as a prophecy re- 



garding Muhammad, and apply this title to their 
Prophet in consequence ! 

In connexion with the creation of Adam, the 
Qur an repeatedly asserts that God commanded the 
angels to worship him. Among other verses to 
this effect we may adduce the following : 

Surah II., Al Baqarah, 32, " And when We said 
to the angels, Worship Adam, then they worship 
ped him, except Iblis." 

Surahs XVII., Al Asra , 63 ; XVIII, Al Kahf, 
48; and XX., Ta Ha, 115, contain the same state 
ment in almost the same words. 

This idea can hardly be derived from the Tal 
mud, in which, though we are told that the angels 
showed Adam undue respect, yet it is distinctly 
stated that they did wrong. It is doubtless bor 
rowed from a misapprehension of Heb. i. 6 : "And 
again, when He bringeth in the first-begotten into 
the world, He saith, And let all the angels of God 
worship Him. " Muhammad seems to have been 
greatly struck with this verse, and, since he (as 
usual) misunderstood it by fancying that "the 
first-begotten l " meant not Christ but Adam, he 
repeatedly introduced its equivalent into the 
Qur an. This may have been done as an argument 
against worship being offered to Christ, for in 
a verse already quoted (Surah III., 52) he tells us 

1 Probably Muhammad confounded the first-begotten " of this 
passage with the term " first-created " repeatedly applied to 
Adam in the "Testament of Abraham " : vide below, p. 208, 


that in God s sight Jesus was just as Adam, doubt 
less in having no human father (as Abbasi and 
Jalalain explain it), but that He was not to be 
accounted Divine on that account. 

9. All must go clown into Hell. 

This strange idea is thus expressed in Svlrah 
XIX., Maryam, 69-73 : 

" Therefore, by thy Lord ! We shall surely 
assemble them and the devils, then We shall surely 
make them present, kneeling, around Hell. Then 
shall We take out from each sect whoso of them is 
most violent in rebellion against the Merciful One. 
Then indeed We are best aware concerning those 
who shall be first in it in burning: and there is 
none of you but goeth down into it. It has become 
concerning thy Lord a fixed decision." 

This passage has caused much unhappiness to 
pious Muslims, even though they hope that the fire 
of hell will not injure them. Commentators have 
striven manfully to explain away the obvious 
meaning of the words by saying (though they are 
by no means agreed in this opinion) that what is 
meant is merely that all men, even true Muslims, 
must come near to hell fire, and that they do this 
when they pass over the Bridge 1 As Sirat on the 
Judgment Day. If this explanation be accepted, 
the passage should be dealt with in Chapter v, 

1 pp. 351, s qq. 


when we are considering Zoroastrian influence on 
the origin of Islam. But it is more probable from 
the language of the verses we have quoted that 
here Muhammad expresses his belief in Purgatory. 
If so, he must have learnt this from the Christians 
of his day. Attempts have been made to deduce 
this doctrine from Mark ix. 49 and i Cor. iii. 13. 
It is possible, of course, that Muhammad had heard 
these verses read, and that he misunderstood them 
in this sense ; but it is far more likely that he 
borrowed the error ready made. The " Testament 
of Abraham " tells us that each man s work is tried 
by fire, and that, if the fire burns up any man s 
work, he is carried off to the place of torture by 
the angel who presides over fire. As, however, the 
meaning of this isolated passage in the Qur an is 
somewhat uncertain, we need not inquire further 
into the origin of the doctrine of Purgatory. 

10. The "Balance? 

Mention is made of the Balance (in which good 
deeds and bad are to be weighed at the Last Day) 
in several places in the Qur an, the chief of which 

Sftrah VII., Al A raf, 7, 8: "And the weighing on 
that day shall be trutli : therefore he whose scales 
are heavy those are accordingly the prosperous ; 
and he whose scales are light those are accord 
ingly those who shall have lost their own souls." 


Surah XXI., Al Anbiya, 48 : And We shall set 
the just scales for the Day of the Resurrection, 
therefore a soul shall not be wronged in anything ; 
and if it were the weight of a grain of mustard 
We should bring it ; and it sufficeth with Us as 

Surah XLIL, Ash ShiW, 16: "It is God who 
hath sent down the Book with truth, and the 

Surah CL, Al Qari ah, 5, 6 : < ; Therefore as for 
him whose scales are heavy, he shall consequently 
be in a happy life; and as for him whose scales 
are light, his mother (i.e. abode) shall be lowest 

Commentators, on the authority of Tradition, 
explain these verses by informing us that on the 
Resurrection Day God will erect between Heaven 
and Earth a Balance having a tongue and two 
scales or pans. This will be reserved exclusively 
for the task of weighing men s good deeds and 
their bad ones, or the records in which these are 
set down. True believers will see that the scale 
into which their good deeds are cast will out 
weigh the other, which contains their evil deeds : 
while the scale containing the good deeds of un 
believers will be light, being outweighed by their 
evil ones. Not the very slightest good act of the 
believer will be left out of the account, nor will 
anything be added to his sins. Those whose good 
deeds preponderate will enter Paradise, but those 


whose good actions are outbalanced by their evil 
ones will be cast into Hell fire. 

It has been pointed out that the idea of weighing 
men s actions occurs in the Talmud, e.g. in R6sh 
Hashshanah, cap. 17. It may there be derived 
from Daniel v. 27. But in this case the balance 
spoken of is a metaphorical one, and the " weigh 
ing " of Belshazzar does not take place on the 
Resurrection Day, or even after his death, but 
while he is still alive. We must look elsewhere 
for the origin of the Muhammadan conception, 
and we find it once more in an apocryphal book, 
the " Testament of Abraham V This work seems 
to have been originally written in Egypt. It was 
known to Origen, and was probably composed 
either in the second century of our era, or not 
later than the third, by a Jewish convert to 
Christianity. It exists in two Greek recensions 
and also in an Arabic version. The resemblance 
between certain passages in this book and certain 
verses of the Qur an and also later Muhammadan 
Tradition is too great to be merely fortuitous 2 . 
This is especially observable in what is told us 
in the " Testament of Abraham " in reference to 
the " Balance." 

It is there stated that when the Angel of Death 
came by God s command to take away Abraham s 

1 Published in Texts and Studies, vol. ii, no. 2. 
8 See examples in The Religion of the Crescent, Appendix C, 
pp. 242 sqq. 


spirit, the patriarch made request that before 
dying he should be permitted to behold the 
marvels of heaven and earth. Permission being 
granted, he ascended to the sky under the leader 
ship of the angel, and saw all things that were to 
be seen. When he reached the second heaven, he 
there perceived the Balance in which an angel 
weighs men s deeds, as the following passage 
explains : 

" In l the midst of the two gates stood a throne, 
. . . and on it sat a marvellous man . . . and before him 
stood a table like unto crystal, all of gold and fine 
linen. And on the table lay a book, its thickness 
was six cubits and its breadth ten cubits. And to 
the right and left of it (the table) there stood two 2 
angels, holding paper and ink and a pen. And in 
front of the table was seated a light-bearing angel, 
holding a Balance in his hand ; and to the left sat 
a fiery angel, altogether merciless and stern, holding 
in his hand a trumpet, in which he kept an all- 
consuming fire, the test of sinners. And the 
marvellous man who was seated on the throne 
was himself judging and proving the souls, but 
the two angels who were on the right and on the 
left were registering: the one on the right was 
registering the righteous acts, but the one on the 

1 "Testament of Abraham," Recension A, cap. xii, p. 91 : 
cf. pp. 92, 93. 113, 114, capp. xiii, xiv, and Recension B, 
cap. vii. 

2 Cf. Surah L., 16, 17, 20, 


left the sins. And the one in front of the table, 
the one who held the Balance, was weighing the 
souls; and the fiery angel who held the fire was 
testing the souls. And Abraham asked Michael, 
the general-in-chief, What are these things that 
we are beholding ? And the general-in-chief said, 
c What thou seest, holy Abraham, is the judgment 
and retribution. " 

The narrative goes on to state that Abraham 
saw that every soul whose good and bad deeds were 
equal was reckoned neither among the saved nor 
among the lost, but took his stand in a place 
between the two. This latter matter completely 
agrees with Muhammadan belief, which is said to 
rest upon Surah VII., Al A raf, 44 : " And between 
them both " (heaven and hell) " is a veil, and upon 
the A raf are men," and is also based upon 

It seems impossible to doubt that Muhammad 
was indebted, directly or indirectly, for his teach 
ing about the Balance to this apocryphal work, 
or to the same idea prevalent orally at the time 
and ultimately derived from Egypt. The proba 
bility is that he learnt it from Mary, his Coptic 
concubine. The conception of such a Balance for 
weighing men s deeds, good and bad, is a very 
ancient one in Egypt. We find it in the "Judg 
ment Scene" of the Book of the Dead, so many 
copies of which have been found in ancient 
Egyptian tombs. Kegarding this work Dr. Budge 


says, "It 1 is quite certain that the Book of the 
Dead, in a connected form, is as old as Egyptian 
civilization, and that its sources belong to pre 
historic times to which it is impossible to assign 
a date. We first touch solid ground in the history 
of the Book of tlie Dead in the period of the early 
dynasties, and, if we accept one tradition which 
was current in Egypt as early as B.C. 2,500, we are 
right in believing that certain parts of it are, in 
their present form, as old as the time of the First 
Dynasty." Regarding its authorship he says, 
" From 2 time immemorial the god Thoth, who was 
both the Divine Intelligence which at creation 
uttered the words that were carried into effect by 
Ptah and Khnemu, and the Scribe of the Gods, was 
associated with the production of the Book of the 
Dead." The object of burying a copy of this Book 
along with the mummy was that the dead man 
might receive instruction from it and learn how 
to avoid the various dangers he would encounter 
in the next world. We learn from it a great deal 
of the religious ideas of the Egyptians. The 
vignette which represents the Judgment of the 
soul, which probably (as in the "Testament of 
Abraham ") took place soon after death, varies in 
different copies, though they all preserve the same 
general outline. A form which is often found 3 
shows us two gods, Horus and Anubis, engaged in 

1 The Book of the Dead, vol. iii, p. xlvii. 2 Op. cit., p. Ixxv. 
8 Vide Note, p. 8 above. 


weighing a man s heart in one scale of the Balance 
against the image of Maat, the goddess of Truth 
and Right, which is placed in the other scale. 
Another god, Thoth in Egyptian Tehdti\s 
writing down the dead man s account on a scroll. 
Over the Balance is written: "The Osiris lives 
justified. In its place the Balance is level in the 
midst of the Divine Judgment-Hall. He says, 
As for his heart, let his heart enter into its place 
in Osiris so and so the Justified. May Thoth, the 
great god in the city of Heseret, lord of the city 
Hermopolis, lord of the words of Thoth, say this." 
The bestowal of the name of Osiris on the dead 
man as well as his own name (for the insertion of 
which a place is left vacant) signifies that, being 
justified in the judgment, he has become identified 
with the god Osiris, the supreme deity of the 
ancient Egyptians, and is therefore safe from the 
assaults of the evil powers. 

In front of the figure of the divine scribe Thoth 
stands a terrible animal, something like a bitch. 
This was supposed to devour the wicked. Over its 
head is written, " Conqueror of enemies by swallow 
ing them, lady of Hades, hound of Hades." Near 
this animal there stands an altar full of offerings, 
placed in front of the entrance to the inner shrine. 
Within the shrine, seated on a throne, is Osiris 
himself, the " Good Being," holding in one hand 
a sceptre and in the other a scourge. He sits^ as 
judge, prepared to deal with the dead man s spirit 


according to what Thoth may write in the roll 
regarding the result of weighing his heart in the 
Balance. In front of Osiris is an inscription con 
taining some of his titles. It may be read thus: 
"Osiris, the Good Being, God, Lord of Life, the 
great God, Lord of futurity, Chief of Paradise and 
Hell, in Hades, the great God, Lord of the city of 
Abt, king of past eternity, God." Beneath his 
throne the words " Life and Health " are written 
several times. 

It is evident from a comparison of this picture 
with what we have read in the "Testament of 
Abraham " and in the Qur an that the " Balance " 
mentioned in the Qur an and the Traditions of 
Muhammad is ultimately derived from the ancient 
Egyptian mythology, through the medium of 
Coptic Christian ideas 1 which are mentioned in the 
" Testament of Abraham," having been handed 
down orally during generation after generation in 
Egypt, the land of their birth. 

1 In Zoroastrian mythology also the Balance appears in 
a manner very similar to its use in Egyptian. Rashnu, one of 
the three judges of the dead (cf. the Greek story of the same 
duty assigned to Minos, Rhadamanthus and Aeacus, In Plato s 
Gorgias, cap. Ixxix) holds a Balance, and in it men s good deeds 
and bad are weighed after their death. The other judges are 
Mithra and Sraosha, the Mihr and Sardsh of later Persian 
legends. In the Middle Ages in Europe Michael was supposed 
to hold tho Balance. 


11. Adam s joy and grief in Heaven. 

In Surah XVII., Al Asra , i, we read a brief 
account of Muhammad s mythical journey to 
heaven, which occupies a very extensive place in 
Muhammadan Tradition. The words of this verse 
may be rendered thus : 

"Praise be to Him who caused His servant to 
journey by night from the Sacred Mosque 1 to the 
Farther Mosque 2 , whose enclosure We have blessed, 
that We might show him of Our signs." 

Regarding this Mirdj of Muhammad, as it is 
called, we shall have to treat at some length in 
the next chapter 3 . Here we refer to it in order 
to introduce a Tradition concerning one part of 
Muhammad s experience on that famous journey. 
In the MisMdtul MasaWi we are told of a scene 
which he saw on entering the lowest of the seven 
Heavens : 

" Then 4 when He opened to us the lowest heaven, 
lo! a man seated: at his right hand were black 
figures and at his left hand were black figures. 
When he glanced towards his right he laughed, 
and when he glanced towards his left he wept. . . 
I said to Gabriel, Who is this. He said, This is 
Adam, and these black figures on his right hand 
and on his left hand are the souls of his 

1 The Ka bah at Mecca. a The Temple at Jerusalem J 

8 Pp. ai8 sqq. * Op. ctf., p. 521. 


children; and those of them that are on the 
right are to be the people of Paradise, and the 
black figures which are on his left are to be the 
people of the Fire. Therefore when he looked 
towards his right he laughed, and when he looked 
towards his left side he wept. " 

This Tradition also may be traced back to the 
apocryphal " Testament of Abraham," as the 
following extract proves: 

" Michael J turned the chariot and carried 
Abraham towards the East, at the first gate of 
Heaven. And Abraham saw two ways; the one 
way strait and narrow and the other broad and 
wide ; and there he saw two gates, one gate broad, 
corresponding to the broad way, and one gate 
strait, corresponding to the strait way. And 
outside of the two gates there I saw a man seated 
upon a throne covered with gold : and the appear 
ance of that person was terrible, like unto the 
Lord. And I saw many souls being driven by 
angels and being led through the broad gate ; and 
I saw other souls, a few, and they were being 
borne by angels through the strait gate. And 
when the marvellous man who was seated on the 
golden throne saw few entering through the strait 
gate but many entering through the broad gate, 
immediately that marvellous man seized the hair 
of his head and the sides of his beard and hurled 
himself from the throne to the ground, weeping 

1 "Testament of Abraham," Recension A, cap. xi. 


and wailing. And when he saw many souls 
entering through the strait gate, then he would 
rise up from the ground and seat himself upon 
his throne in great gladness, rejoicing and exulting. 
Abraham asked the general-in-chief " (the arch 
angel Michael), " My lord, the general-in-chief, who 
is this altogether marvellous man who is adorned 
with such splendour, and who at one time weeps 
and wails, but at another rejoices and exults V 
The bodiless one said, This is Adam, the first 
created person, who is in such glory, and he 
beholds the world, since all were (born) from him : 
and when he sees many souls entering through 
the strait gate, then he rises and sits down upon 
his throne, rejoicing and exulting in gladness, 
because this strait gate is that of the just, which 
leadeth unto life, and those who enter through it 
go into Paradise : and on this account does Adam 
the first-created rejoice, because he perceives souls 
being saved. And when he sees many souls enter 
ing through the broad gate, then he rends the 
hair of his head and hurls himself to the ground, 
weeping and wailing bitterly. For the broad gate 
is that of sinners, which leads unto destruction and 
unto eternal punishment. " 

12. Borrowings from the New Testament. 

Finally it may be asked, Has Muhammad 
borrowed nothing from the New Testament itself, 


since he has derived such a considerable amount 
of his teaching from apocryphal Christian sources ? 
In answer to this we are obliged to admit that 
he borrowed very little indeed from the New Testa 
ment. From it he may be said indirectly to have 
learnt that Jesus was born without a human father, 
that He had a Divine commission, wrought miracles, 
had a number of Apostles, and ascended to heaven! 
Muhammad denied the Deity, the atoning death 
(and consequently the Resurrection) of Christ, and 
taught a great deal that was contrary to the 
leading doctrines of the Gospel, being desirous 
of himself supplanting Christ and prevailing on 
men to admit his own claim to be the last and 
greatest of the Messengers of God. We have seen 
that in the Qur an and the Traditions we find 
distorted references to certain passages of the New 
Testament, as for instance in what is said about 
the descent of the Table, and the supposed pro 
phecy of Muhammad s coming. But there is only 
one passage in the Qur an which may be said to 
contain a direct quotation from the Gospels. This 
is found in Surah VII., Al A raf, 38, where we 
read : 

"Verily they who have accused Our signs of 
falsehood . . ., unto them the gates of heaven shall 
not be opened, nor shall they enter Paradise until 
the camel entereth in at the eye of the needier This 
is almost a literal quotation from Luke xviii. 35 : 
"It is easier for a camel to enter in through a 



needle s eye, than for a rich man to enter into 
the kingdom of God." Very similar words occur 
also in Matt. xix. 254, and Mark x. 25. 

In the Traditions, moreover, there is one striking 
instance of a quotation from the Epistles, and it is 
a favourite with many thoughtful Muslims, who 
have not the slightest idea that it comes from 
the Bible. Abu Hurairah is reported 1 to have 
attributed to Muhammad the statement that God 
Most High had said: I have prepared for My 
righteous servants what eye hath not seen nor ear 
heard, nor hath it occurred to the heart of a human 
leing." It will be readily recognized that these 
words are a quotation from i Cor. ii. 9. Whether 
Abft Hurairah, surnamed the Liar, has spoken the 
truth in asserting that he heard this passage 
quoted by Muhammad may well be doubted. Yet 
the passage in Surah LXXV., 22, 23, "Faces in 
that day shall be brightened, gazing at their Lord," 
which refers to the Beatific Vision 2 , and is a remi 
niscence of i John iii. 2, and i Cor. xiii. 12, lends 
some support to his statement. 

From a careful examination of the whole subject 
dealt with in this chapter we therefore conclude 
that the influence of true and genuine Christian 
teaching upon the Quran and upon Islam in 
general has been very slight indeed, while on the 

1 Mishkdtu l MasdUh, p. 487- 

On the Muhammadan idea of this, vide The Religion of 
Crescent, pp. 116, 118. 


other hand apocryphal traditions and in certain 
respects heretical doctrines have a claim to be 
considered as forming one of the original sources 
of the Muhammadan faitli l . 

1 In his Muhammadanische Studien (vol. II, pp. 382 sqq.) Pro 
fessor Goldziher has an interesting account of the way in which 
in later times "Traditions" were borrowed from Christian 
sources. But this lies beyond our present inquiry. 





THE political influence which the Persians 
exercised over certain parts of the Arabian Penin 
sula and the neighbouring countries in and before 
Muhammad s time was very considerable, as we 
learn from Arabian and Greek writers alike. 
Abu l Fida. for example, informs us that, early 
in the seventh century of the Christian era, 
Khusrau (or, as the Arabs called him, Kisra ) 
Anushiravan, the great Persian conqueror, invaded 
the kingdom of Hirah on the banks of the 
Euphrates, dethroned the king Harith, and placed 
upon the throne in his stead a creature of his own, 
named Mundhir Mai s Sama. Not long afterwards 
Anushiravan sent an army into Yaman, under 
a general called Vahraz, to expel the Abyssinians 
who had taken possession of the country, and to 
restore the Yamanite prince Abu s Saif to the 
throne of his ancestors \ But the Persian force 
remained in the country, and its general ultimately 
himself ascended the throne and handed it down 
to his descendants 2 . Abu l Fida tells us 3 that 

> Abu l Fida, cap. ii. * Siratu r Rasul, pp. 24. 25. 

Ut supra: ^ ijjfa 5U fcurf, & j* JT ^ ^ 


the princes of the family of Mundhir who suc 
ceeded him in Hirah, and ruled also over the 
Arabian Iraq, were merely governors under the 
kings of Persia. He says with reference* to Yaman 
that four Abyssinian rulers and eight Persian 
princes held sway there before it acknowledged 
Muhammad s 1 sovereignty. But even earlier than 
Muhammad s time there was much intercourse 
between the North- West and West of Arabia and 
the Persian dominions. We are informed that 
Naufal and Muttalab (who were the brothers of 
Muhammad s great-grandfather), when they were 
the leading chiefs of the Quraish, made a treaty 
with the Persians, by which the merchants of 
Mecca were permitted to trade with Iraq and 
Fars (the ancient Persis). In the year 606, or 
about that time, a party of merchants headed by 
Abu Sufyan reached the Persian capital and were 
received into the king s presence 2 . 

When Muhammad laid claim to the prophetic 
office in 613 A.D., the Persians had overrun and 
held possession for a time of Syria, Palestine, and 
Asia Minor. At the time of the Hijrah in A.D. 622, 
the Emperor Heraclius had begun to retrieve the 
fortunes of the Byzantine Empire, and not long 
after the Persians were obliged to sue for peace. 

^ .j 

2 Sir W. Muir, Life of Mahomet, pp. xcvii and 31, 32. 


In consequence of this, Badzan, the Persian 
governor of Yaman, deprived of the hope of 
support from home, was obliged to submit to 
Muhammad and agree to pay tribute (A. D. 628). 
Within a few years of the Prophet s death the 
armies of Islam had overrun Persia and converted 
the great mass of its people by the sword. 

Whenever two nations, the one highly advanced 
in civilization and the other in a state of com 
parative ignorance, are brought into close inter 
course with one another, the former always 
exercises a very considerable influence over the 
other. All history teaches us this lesson. Now 
in Muhammad s time the Arabs were in a very 
unenlightened condition ; in fact their own writers 
speak of pre-Islamic ages as "The Times of 
Ignorance." The Persians, on the other hand, as 
we learn from the Avesta, from the cuneiform 
inscriptions of Darius and Xerxes, from the still 
existing ruins of Persepolis, and from the evidence 
of Greek writers, had from at least very early 
times been highly civilized. It was but natural 
therefore that intercourse with them should leave 
its impress upon the Arabs. From Arabian his 
torians and from the statements of the Qur an and 
its commentators it is evident that the romantic 
legends and the poetry of the Persians had in 
Muhammad s time obtained a very considerable 
degree of popularity among the Arabs. So widely 
were some of these tales known among the 


Quraish that Muhammad was accused by his 
enemies of having borrowed or imitated them in 
the Qur an. Ibn Hisham, for instance, says that 
one day when Muhammad "had gathered an 
assembly, then he summoned them to God Most 
High and read the Qur an there, and warned them 
what would befall the nations that remained 
destitute of faith. Then Nadr bin Al Harith, who 
had followed him into his assembly, rose up and 
told them about Rustam the strong and about 
Isfandiyar and the kings of Persia. Then he said, 
By God! Muhammad is not a better story-teller 
than I am, and his discourse is nothing but the 
Tales of the Ancients. He has composed them 
just as I have composed them. On his account 
therefore did God send down the verse: And 1 
they have said, Tales of the Ancients hath he 
written down, and they are recited to him morning 
and evening. Say thou, He who knoweth what is 
secret in the heavens and the earth hath sent it 
down : verily He is forgiving, merciful. And on 
his account this also came down: When 2 our 
verses are recited to him, he hath said, Tales of 
the Ancients ! And this also descended for his 
benefit : Woe 3 unto every sinful liar that heareth 
God s verses read to him ; then he persisteth in 
being proud, as if he did not hear them ! There- 

1 Surah XXV., Al Furqan, 6, 7. 

2 Surah LXVIII., 15. 3 Surah XLV., 6, 7. 


fore give him good news of a sore punish 
ment 1 /" 

Muhammad s answer to the charge thus brought 
against him cannot have been altogether satis 
factory to his audience, nor can we deem it 
sufficient to deter us from inquiring whether an 
examination of certain passages of the Qur an does 
not bear out the assertion thus made by his early 

The stories of " Rustam and Isfandiyar and the 
Kings of Persia " which were referred to by Nadr 
are doubtless among those which, some generations 
later, Firdausi, the most celebrated of the epic 
poets of Persia, learnt from the collection which 
he tells us a Persian villager had made, and 
which Firdausi has left us in poetic form in the 

t*fl ICJJ USM, jjLj J* 4)1 J* 4)1 Jj-J, yJL 1 jl ^ j^ ^ 

u Cs^syu^ Jydi M ^ jus ii Ji 


J\5 lubT Ja- U1 

,j ^i,. L* ,JLc ij 


Skdhndmek. Doubtless all these tales are very 
ancient in some form, but we need not depend 
upon the S/idhndmeh for those which we shall 
have to quote or refer to ; and this is well, because 
the authority of a work, which, in its present 
poetical form, is later than Muhammad s time, 
might not be deemed sufficient. Fortunately in 
the Avesta and other books of the Parsis or 
Zoroastrians we have information which cannot 
be called in question on the ground of antiquity, 
and it is to these we shall appeal. 

It may be safely concluded that, since the tales 
of the kings of Persia were of interest to the 
Arabs and they had heard of Rustam and 
Isfandiyar, they are unlikely to have been quite 
ignorant of the story of Jamshid. Nor is it 
probable that the Persian fables regarding the 
ascension to heaven of Arta Viral and of Zoroaster 
before him, their descriptions of Paradise and the 
Bridge of Chinvat and the tree Hvapah, the 
legend of Ahriman s coming up out of primaeval 
darkness, and many other such marvellous tales, 
had remained entirely unknown to the Arabs. If 
they were known, it was natural that Muhammad 
should have made some use of them, as he did 
of Christian and Jewish legends. We must there 
fore inquire whether such fancies have left any 
trace upon the Qur an and the Traditions current 
among the Muslims. We shall see that not only 
is this the case, but that in some instances these 


Persian tales are so indubitably of Aryan and not 
of Semitic origin that they are found in slightly 
modified forms in India also. In fact some of 
them were, so to speak, part of the religious and 
intellectual heritage of both nations; and when 
the Persians and the Hindus separated from one 
another, and, leaving their ancient common home 
the Airyanem Vaejd 1 near Herat, migrated to 
Persia and India respectively, were carried away 
in the minds of both peoples. Others of these 
ideas may very possibly have originated in Persia 
somewhat later, and have spread to India in process 
of time. We shall see that they had certainly 
reached Muhammad s ears, and they have not 
been without influence upon the Qur an and the 
Traditions, which claim to have been handed down 
by his devoted followers, relating what they assert 
that they heard from his lips. 

1. The Night Journey. 

The first matter with which we shall here deal 
is the celebrated account of Muhammad s Night 
Journey. This is thus referred to in a verse which 
we have already 2 quoted (Surah XVII., Al Asra 
also called Surah Bani Israil i): 

" Praise be to Him who caused His servant to 
journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the 
Farther Mosque, whose enclosure We have blessed, 
that We might show him of Our signs." 

1 Vendiddd, L, i, a, &c. 2 pp. 206, 207. 


It is well known that commentators on the 
Qur an are by no means agreed with regard to 
this verse, some thinking that Muhammad merely 
dreamt that he made the journey mentioned in it, 
others taking it in a literal sense and adding 
many details from Tradition, and others again 
explaining it in a mystical or figurative sense. 
Ibn Ishaq, for example, informs us, giving his 
traditional authority, that Muhammad s favourite 
wife Ayishah used to say, "The body of the 
Apostle of God did not disappear, but God took 
his spirit on the journey by night." Another 
Tradition reports that Muhammad himself said, 
" My * eye was sleeping and my heart was awake." 
The celebrated mystical commentator Muhiyyu d 
Din accepted the whole account only in a meta 
phorical sense 2 . As, however, we are not con- 

1 SirahCr Rasiil, p. 139. 

2 For the benefit of the curious in such matters we subjoin 
his account, given in his comment on the verse above quoted : 

y^ ^jS. S-Apl (J\ 
l *li J jUSolj *j5*^\ Jla. 

U JJI i 


cerned seriously to discuss the question of the 
actual occurrence of this "Night Journey," we 
need not deal further with this view. It is certain 
that the great mass of Muhammadan commen 
tators and Traditionalists believe that Muhammad 
actually went from Mecca to Jerusalem and also 
visited the heavens, and they give long accounts, 
of deep and abiding interest to Muslims, regarding 
what he did and what he saw. It is with this 
Tradition that we have to deal, and we shall see 
that it is easy to trace the origin of its main 
features to earlier legends, and especially to 
Zoroastrian sources. This is true, whether we 
believe with the vast mass of Muhammadans that 
Muhammad himself gave such an account of his 
Mi raj as the ones we now proceed to translate, 
or infer that the whole legend is the production 
of somewhat later times 1 . We quote Ibn Ishaq s 

jJU ^ j*> ill 

^s*a5 jj\ 

elb ij^l uylXJI ^50 u 

u< * J 1 ^ ** ^ JX 

kldl ^j UJI Ai^^ l^Jl A^a. ^ Ujli* t^U 


Against this latter hypothesis, however, must be considered 


account first, because it is the earliest that has 
reached us. It is given by Ibn Hisham, his 
editor and continuator, in the following manner. 
Muhammad, we are informed, asserted that Gabriel 
came and awoke him twice to go on the " Night 
Journey," but he fell asleep again. Then he 
continues : 

" Accordingly he (Gabriel) came to me the third 
time : then he touched me with his foot, and I sat 
up. He seized me by my arm, and I stood up 
with him. He then went forth to the door of the 
Mosque : and lo ! a white animal, (in appearance) 
between a mule and an ass ; on its flanks were two 
wings, with which it rules both its hind feet : its 
fore-foot it sets down at the limit of its glance. 
He mounted me upon it, then he went forth with 
me, (in such a way that) he does not precede me 
and I do not precede him. . . . When I approached 
it (the animal) to mount it, it reared. Accordingly 
Gabriel placed his hand upon its mane: then he 
said, Buraq, art thou not ashamed of what thou 

the fact that in Surah LIII., An Najm, 13-18, Muhammad 
clearly asserts that he saw the Sidratu l MuntaM , which stands 
in the highest heaven. These verses must refer to this Mi rdj, 
and may be thus rendered : 

"And indeed he (Muhammad) saw him (Gabriel) another 


At the Sidratu l Muntahd , 
Near it is the Paradise of the Habitation, 
When what covered the Lotus- tree covered it : 
The gaze (of Muhammnd) glanced not aside nor wandered. 
Indeed he saw some of the great signs of his Lord." 


art doing? (I swear) by God, O Buraq, there 
never mounted thee before Muhammad a servant 
of God more honoured with God than he is. 
Accordingly (Buraq) became so much ashamed 
that he poured forth sweat. Then he stood still 
till I mounted him." " Al Hasan in his Tradition 
has said, The Apostle of God went, and Gabriel 
went with him, until he reached the Holy House 
(Jerusalem) with him. There he found Abraham 
and Moses and Jesus amid a band of the prophets. 
Accordingly the Apostle of God acted as their 
leader (Imam) in worship, and prayed with them. 
Thereupon (Gabriel) brought two vessels, in one 
of which there was wine and in the other milk. 
Accordingly the Apostle of God took the vessel of 
milk and drank of it, and left the vessel of wine. 
Therefore Gabriel said to him, Thou hast been 
guided to Nature and thy people have been guided 
to Nature, O Muhammad, and wine is forbidden 
you. Then the Apostle of God departed, and 
when it was morning he went to the Quraish 
and gave them this information. Then said very 
many people, By God ! this matter is clear : by 
God! a caravan takes a month from Mecca to 
Syria, and a month in returning, and does that 
fellow Muhammad go in one night and come back 
to Mecca l ? " 

According to this narrative, Muhammad went 

1 Siratu r Rasul, pp. 138, 139. 


only from Mecca to Jerusalem and back in one 
night. Later traditions amplify the journey con 
siderably, all, however, professing to give the 
account which the reciter declared came from 
Muhammad himself. In the Miahkatul Masdlih 
the following story is given, with the usual string 
of names of those through whom the tradition 
was handed down : 

" The Prophet T of God related, . . . While I was 
asleep, . . . lo ! a comer came to me : then he 
opened what is between this and this . . ., and 
he took out my heart. Then I was brought a 
golden cup full of faith. My heart was washed, 
then it was replaced, then I came to myself. . . . 
Then I was brought an animal smaller than a 
mule and taller than a donkey, and white : it is 
called Buraq, and places its front feet at the far 
end of its range of sight. Then I was set upon it, 
and Gabriel carried me off until I came to the 
lowest heaven. He demanded admittance. It 
was said, Who is that ? He said, Gabriel. It 
was said, And who is with thee ? He said, 
Muhammad. It was said, And was he sent 
for? He said, Yes. It was said, Welcome to 
him, and very good is his coming. Then one 
opened. Accordingly, when I entered, lo! Adam 
was there. Gabriel said, This is thy father 
Adam, therefore salute him. Accordingly I saluted 

1 Mishkdt, pp. 518-20. 


him, and he returned the salute. Then he said, 
Welcome to the good son and the good prophet. " 
The story goes on with wearisome repetition of 
much the same account, telling us how Gabriel 
took Muhammad from heaven to heaven, being 
asked the same questions at each door, and 
answering them in precisely the same way. In 
the second heaven Muhammad was introduced to 
John the Baptist and Jesus, in the third to Joseph, 
in the fourth to Iclris, in the fifth to Aaron, in the 
sixth to Moses. The latter wept, and when asked 
why, replied that the cause of his tears was the 
knowledge that more of Muhammad s followers 
than of his own people would enter Paradise. In 
the seventh heaven Muhammad met Abraham, and 
the usual greeting took place. " Afterwards I was 
carried aloft to the Sidratul Muntaha 1 , and lo ! its 
fruits were like the pots of a potter, and lo! 
its leaves were like the ears of an elephant. He 
said, This is the Lotus of the Boundary. Then lo ! 
four rivers, two interior rivers and two exterior 
rivers. I said, What are these two, O Gabriel ? 
He said, The two interior ones are two rivers in 
Paradise, but the two exterior ones are the Nile 
and the Euphrates. " 

The passage goes on to mention many other 
particulars of the journey, among others the 

1 "The Lotus of the Boundary," so called because even 
Oabriel must not pass it. 


incident of Adam s weeping, which we have 1 
already spoken of ; but it is unnecessary to mention 
them all. 

In the popular works 2 from which the great 
mass of modern Muslims obtain their knowledge 
of their prophet s life, the account of the Mi raj 
is far more full of marvels. When he had reached 
the Lotus of the Boundary, beyond which Gabriel 
dared not advance with him, the angel Israfil took 
charge of Muhammad and led him to his own 
realm, whence the prophet advanced to the very 
Throne of God, being bidden by God s own Voice 
not to remove his sandals, since their touch :i 
would honour even the court of God. After a 
few more details, which to ordinary minds seem 
both puerile and blasphemous, we are told that 
Muhammad entered behind the veil 4 , and that 
God said to him, "Peace be upon thee, and the 
mercy of God, and His blessing, O Prophet." 
In these later narratives of the Miraj we find 
mythology unrestrained by any regard for reason 
or truth. 

We must now inquire what was the source from 
which the idea of this night journey of Muhammad 
was derived. It is very possible that the legend 

1 pp. 206 sqq. 

a Such as the Qisasu l Anbiyd, the Ardisu t Tijdn, the Raudatu l 
Ahbdb, &c. 

3 Qimm l Anbiyd, pp. 337, 338. 

* Perhaps an invention to make him bear comparison with 
our Lord : cf. Heb. vi. 19, 20. 



as first of all related by Muhammad himself was 
based upon a dream, and it does not seem to have 
contained any account of an ascension, if we con 
sider Surah LIIL, 13-18, to be of later date. But 
we have to deal with the narrative contained in 
the Traditions, and these enter into very precise 
details regarding the Mi 1 raj or " ascent." We 
shall see that there is good reason to believe that 
the legend in this form was invented in order to 
show that, in this respect as well as in all others, 
Muhammad was more highly privileged than any 
other prophet. The story may have incorporated 
elements from many quarters, but it seems to have 
been in the main based upon the account of the 
ascension of Arta Viraf contained in a Pahlavi 
book called " The Book l of Arta Viraf," which was 
composed in the days of Ardashir Babagan, King 
of Persia, some 400 years before Muhammad s 
Hijrah, if we may believe Zoroastrian accounts. 

In that work we are informed that, finding that 
the Zoroastrian faith had to a great extent lost its 
hold upon the minds of the people of the Persian 
Empire, the Magian priests determined to support 
by fresh proofs the restoration of the faith which 
the zeal of Ardashir had undertaken to carry out. 
Therefore they selected a young priest of saintly 
life, and prepared him by various ceremonial puri 
fications for an ascent into the heavens, in order 
that he might see what was there and bring back 

1 Arid VirdfNdmak. 


word whether it agreed or not with the accounts 
contained in their religious books. It is related 
that, when this young Arta Viraf was in a trance, 
his spirit ascended into the heavens under the 
guidance of an archangel named Sarosh, and passed 
from one storey to another, gradually ascending 
until he reached the presence of Ormazd 1 himself! 
When Arta Viraf had thus beheld everything in 
the heavens and seen the happy state of their 
inhabitants, 6rmazd commanded him to return to 
the earth as His messenger and to tell the Zoroas- 
trians what he had seen. All his visions are fully 
related in the book which bears his name. It is 
unnecessary to quote it at length, but a few quota 
tions will serve to show how evidently it served 
as a model for the Muhammadan legend of the 
ascent of Muhammad. 

In the Arid Vimf Namak (cap. vii, j- 4 ) we 
read : "And I take the first step forward unto the 

Storey of the Stars, in IMmat And I see the 

souls of those holy ones, from whom light spreads 
out like a bright star. And there is a throne and 
a seat, very bright and lofty and exalted. Then 
I inquired of holy Sarosh and the angel Adhar, 
What place is this, and who are these persons ? " 
In explanation of this passage it should be 
mentioned that the Storey of the Stars " is the 
first or lowest " court " of the Zoroastrian Paradise. 

1 drmazd is the later form of the Aveatic Ahura Mazdao, the 
Good God 

p a 


Adhar is the angel who presides over fire. Sarosh 
is the angel of obedience, and is one of the " Eternal 
Holy Ones" (Amesha-spentas, later Amshdspands) or 
archangels of the Zoroastrian faith. He guides 
Arta Viraf through the different heavens, just as 
Gabriel does Muhammad. 

The narrative goes on to relate how Arta Viraf 
reached the Storey of the Moon, or the second, and 
then the Storey of the Sun, which is the third of 
the celestial mansions. In the same way he was 
led on and on through every one of the heavens, 
until he was introduced into Ormazd s presence, 
and had the interview which is detailed in cap. xi 
in these words : 

" And finally up rose from his throne overlaid 
with gold the archangel Bahman : and he took 
my hand and brought me to Humat and Hukht 
and Hurast 1 , amid Ormazd and the archangels 
and the other holy ones and the Essence of 
Zoroaster the pure-minded . . . and the other faith 
ful ones and chiefs of the faith, than whom I have 
never seen anything brighter and better. And 
Bahman [said], This is Ormazd/ And I wished 
to offer a salutation before Him. And he said to 
me, Salutation to thee, O Arta Viraf ! Welcome ! 
Thou hast come from that perishable world to this 

1 Three courts of Paradise, called in the Avesta Humata 
("good thought "), Hukhta ("good word ") and Hvarsta ("good 
deed "). They correspond to the Star Court (Storey of the 
Stars), Moon Court, and Sun Court respectively. 


undefiled bright place. And he commanded holy 
Sarosh and the angel Adhar, Carry off Arta Viraf 
and show him the throne and the reward of the 
holy ones and also the punishment of the wicked. 
And finally holy Sar6sh and the angel Adhar took 
my hand, and I was carried forward by them from 
place to place ; and I have seen those archangels, 
and I have seen the other angels." 

We are then told at considerable length how 
Arta Viraf visited Paradise and hell, and what he 
saw in each. After his visit to hell the tale goes 

" At l last holy Sarosh and the angel Adhar took 
my hand and brought me forth from that dark, 
dreadful and terrible place, and they bore me to 
that place of brightness and the assembly of 
Ormazd and the archangels. Then I wished to 
offer a salutation before Ormazd. And He was 
kind. He said, O faithful servant, holy Arta 
Viraf, apostle of the worshippers of Ormazd, go 
thou to the material world, speak with truth to 
the creatures, according as thou hast seen and 
known, since I, who am 6nnazd, am here. Who 
soever speaks rightly and truly, I hear and know. 
Speak thou to the wise ones. And when Ormazd 
spake thus, I remained astounded, for I saw a light 
and did not see a body, and I heard a voice, and 
I knew that this is 6rmazd. " 

It is unnecessary to point out how great is the 
1 Cap. ci. 


resemblance between all this and the Muhammadan 
legend of Muhammad s Mi raj. 

In the Zardusht-Namah, a work which was 
probably composed in the thirteenth century of 
the Christian era, there is related a legend that 
Zoroaster himself, centuries earlier than Arta Viraf, 
ascended up to heaven, and afterwards obtained 
permission to visit hell also. There we are told he 
saw Ahriman, who closely corresponds with the 
Iblis of the Qur an. 

Nor are such legends confined to the Persian 
portion of the Aryan world. In Sanskrit also we 
have similar tales, among which may be mentioned 
the Indralokagamanam, or (i Journey to the World of 
Indra," the god of the atmosphere. There we are 
told that the hero Arjuna made a journey through 
the heavens, where he saw Indra s heavenly palace, 
named Vaivanti, which stands in the garden called 
Nandanam. The Hindu books tell us that ever- 
flowing streams water the fresh, green plants 
that grow in that beautiful place, and in its midst 
there stands a tree called Pakshajati, bearing a 
fruit styled Amrita or Immortality, the afjijBpoo-ia of 
Greek poets, of which whoever eats never dies. 
Beautiful flowers of varied hues adorn that tree; 
and whoever rests under its shade is granted the 
fulfilment of whatever desire he may conceive in 
his heart. 

The Zoroastrians have also an account of the 
existence of a marvellous tree, called Hvdpa in the 


Avesta and Humaya, in Pahlavi, the meaning in 
each case being " possessed of good water," " well 
watered." In the VencUddd it is described in these 

W0 rds : " In l purity do the waters flow from the 

sea of Puitika into the sea of Vourukasha, to the 
tree Hvapa : there grow all plants and of all kinds." 
Hvapa and Pakshajati are identical with the Tuba 
or tree of " goodness " of the Muhammadan para 
dise, which is too well known to need description 

It must, however, be noted that very similar 
legends are found in certain Christian apocryphal 
works also, especially in the " Visio Pauli " and the 
" Testament of Abraham," to the latter of which we 
have already had to refer more than once. In the 
" Visio Pauli" we are told that Paul ascended to 
the heavens and beheld the four rivers of Paradise : 
and Abraham also viewed the wonders of the 
heavens in his legendary " Testament," each return 
ing to earth to relate what he had seen, just as 
Arta Viral and Muhammad are said to have done. 
Of Abraham it is said: "And 2 the archangel 
Michael descended and took Abraham up upon 
a cherubic chariot, and he raised him aloft into the 
ether of the sky, and brought him and sixty angels 
upon the cloud ; and Abraham was travelling over 
the whole inhabited earth upon a conveyance." 

This "cherubic chariot" assumes another form 

1 Vendidadj cap. v. 

a "Testament of Abraham," Rec. A., cap. x. 


in the Muhammadan legend, for Muhammad rides 
upon an animal called Burdq, riding being more 
in accordance with Arabian ideas than driving. 
The word JBur&q is probably derived from the 
Hebrew bdrdq, " lightning," which in Arabic is larq, 
though a Pahlavi derivation is also possible. 

Before passing on to consider other points, it 
should be noticed that the Book of Enoch contains 
a long account of the wonders of earth, hell and 
sky which Enoch saw in his l vision (opda-ei). This 
apocryphal work no doubt had its influence on 
the legends contained in the " Visio Pauli " and the 
Testament of Abraham " and thus upon the Mu 
hammadan fable ; but we can hardly suppose that 
the Arid Yiraf Namak was affected, except per 
haps indirectly, by these works. However, that is 
a question which does not affect our present 

Now regarding the Tree of Life in the Garden 
of Eden the Jews have many marvellous 2 legends, 
which may have been borrowed from the Accadian 
tales about the " Sacred Tree of Eritu," mentioned 
in some of the earliest inscriptions found at Nippur 

1 Liber Henoch, capp. xiv, xv, sqq. 

2 In the Targum of Jonathan, for example, we are told that 
the Tree of Life was 500 years journey in height! The Muslims 
confound this with the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and 
Evil, which they take to have been the wheat plant. Of it we 
are told that it presented itself before Adam to tempt him to 
eat of it. Adam rose to his full height, "500 years journey " to 
avoid it, but the plant grew and kept on a level with his 
mouth (Qisatu l Anbiyd, p. 17). 


by Dr. Hilprecht. Into these we need not now 
enter at any length, merely observing how great 
a contrast there is between all such legends and 
the simple narrative of fact contained in Genesis. 
The Jewish legends have affected the Muhammadan 
account of the heavenly Paradise, because the 
Muslim belief is that the Garden of Eden was 
situated in heaven. They therefore transfer to the 
heavenly Paradise much that the Jews have related 
about the earthly. In this respect they may have 
been led into error by the Christian apocryphal 
books, for the description of the four rivers, &c., 
given in the " Visio Pauli " (cap. xlv) evidently 
springs from the same strange fancy. It is hardly 
necessary to say that these apocryphal books were 
never accepted by any section of the Christian 
Church as of any weight or authority, though 
some of them had at one time a considerable degree 
of popularity with the ignorant multitude. Some 
of them have long been known, others have only 
recently been recovered after having been lost for 
centuries. Whether the Muhammadans derived 
their account of the tree Tuba from the Zoroas- 
trians or from Jewish fables, or whether both the 
latter (being of common origin) have not had some 
influence on the story, we need not inquire. The 
four rivers that Muhammad saw are those of the 
"Visio Pauli," and these latter are identical with 
the rivers of Eden, owing to the error which we 
have noticed above. 


It may be asked whether the biblical account of 
the ascension of Enoch, Elijah, our Lord, and the 
" catching l up to the third heaven " of the person 
whom some have supposed to be St. Paul, have not 
been the original sources of all the fables which we 
have met with 2 . It is somewhat difficult and 
quite unnecessary to suppose this with reference to 
the Persian and Indian tales to which we have 
referred, though it may be true of the others. 

1 2 Cor. xii. 2-4. 

2 A Muhammadan might add, "If we reject the account of 
Muhammad s ascension, how can we accept those of Enoch, 
Elijah, and Christ ? " The answer is not far to seek. The 
historical evidence for Christ s ascension is unquestionable, and 
we accept the other accounts upon His authority. Moreover, to 
urge that there can be no genuine coins because there are 
known to be some spurious ones in circulation is not very 
logical. There would be no spurious ones if there had not heen 
genuine coins, upon the model of which the latter have been 
made. Hence the very existence of so many legends of as 
censions should lead us a priori to infer that these must be 
based upon some one or more true accounts of such occurrences. 
Moreover, as the true coin may be known from the false by 
its ring, so a comparison between the biblical narratives 
(Gen. v. 24 ; 2 Kings ii. 11, 12 ; Acts i. 9-11) and those others 
which we have been dealing with will suffice to show what an 
immense difference exists between them. For instance, St. Paul 
tells us of some one who (whether in the body or not he did 
not know) was " caught up to the third heaven, and heard un 
speakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter." 
But the apocryphal " Visio Pauli " states that Paul was the 
person referred to, and puts in his mouth a long account of 
what he saw and heard there. The difference is much the 
same as that which exists between the testimony of a sober 
historian and the wonderful tales contained in the Arabian 


But if it be so, we find that the Muslim legend of 
Muhammad s ascent, like so many other legends 1 
about Muhammad, has been invented, on the model 
of other accounts like that contained in the Aria 
Tiraf Ndmak, with the object of making it appear 
that he was in certain respects similar, though 
superior, to Christ and the other prophets who 
preceded him. 

2. The Muhammad an Paradise with iff Hurls. 

With these we may couple the Ghilman, the 
Jinn*, the Angel of Death, and the Dharr&tul 

As examples of the descriptions which the 
Qur an gives of Paradise, we may quote the 
following passages 2 : 

Surah LV., Ar Rahman, 46 sqq. : "And for 
him who feareth the tribunal of his Lord there are 
two gardens, dowered with branches. In each of 
them two fountains flow. In each of them there 
are of every fruit two kinds. They recline upon 
couches of which the inner lining is of brocade : 
and the fruit of the two gardens hangs low. In 
them are [maidens] restraining their glances, whom 
neither man nor demon hath approached before 
them. They are as it were rubies and pearls. Is 
the recompense for kindness other than kindness ? 

1 Dr Koelle, MoJiammed and Mohammedanism, pp. 246 sqq. 
9 Similar passages may be found in Surahs II., IV., XIII., 


And besides these two there are two [other] 
gardens, dark green. In each of them are two 
fountains, flowing abundantly. In each of them 
are fruits and palms and pomegranates. In each 
are [maidens] good, beauteous, Hurts enclosed in 
pavilions, whom neither man nor demon hath 
approached before them. [The Just] recline on 
green pillows and beautiful carpets." 

Again, in Surah LVL, Al Waqi ah, u sqq., we 
find a similar account of the delights reserved in 
Paradise for the " Companions of the Right Hand," 
that is, the saved on the Resurrection Day : 
" These are those who are brought nigh, in gardens 
of delight . . . upon bejewelled couches, reclining 
upon them, facing one another. Upon them wait 
immortal youths" (the Ghilmari), "with goblets and 
beakers and a cup from a spring [of wine] 1 . They 
do not suffer headache from it, nor do they become 
intoxicated. And with fruit of whatever kind 
they choose, and birds flesh of whatever sort they 
desire. And there are large-eyed Huris like hidden 
pearls, a recompense for what they used to do. 
They do not hear in it any vain discourse, nor any 
charge of crime, only the word Peace, Peace/ And 
the Companions of the Right Hand what of the 
Companions of the Right Hand ? In a thornless 
Lotus-tree and a flower-bedecked Acacia and 
widespread shade and streaming water, and with 

1 Wine is shown to be meant from the context. Rivers of 
wine are spoken of in Surah XLVII., 16. 


abundant fruit not cut off and not forbidden, and 
in raised couches. Verily We have produced 
them" (these damsels) "by a [peculiar] creation. 
Therefore have We made them virgins, beloved, of 
an equal age [with their spouses] for the Com 
panions of the Right Hand 1 ." 

We shall see that much of this description is 
derived from Persian and Hindu ideas of Paradise, 
though most of the more unpleasant details and 
conceptions are doubtless the offspring of Muham 
mad s own sensual nature. 

The idea of the JIuris is derived from the 
ancient Persian legends about the Pairakas, called 
by the modern people of Iran Paris. These the 
Zoroastrians describe as female spirits living in the 
air and closely connected with the stars and light. 
So beautiful are they that they captivate men s 
hearts. The word Hur, by which these damsels of 
Paradise are spoken of in the Quran, is generally 
supposed to be of Arabic derivation, and to mean 
black-eyed." This is quite possible. But it is 
perhaps more probably a Persian word, derived 
from the word which in Avestic is hvare, in Pahlavi 
Mr, and in modern Persian khur, originally denot 
ing "light," "brightness," "sunshine," and finally 
"the sun." When the Arabs borrowed the con 
ception of these bright and " sunny " maidens from 

1 Much more graphic pictures of Paradise and its pleasures 
are given in the Traditions. Vide the Sahth of Bukhari and 
the Mishkdtul Mafdbih on the subject, 


the Persians, they also perhaps borrowed the word 
which best described them. It was natural for the 
Arabs to find a meaning in their own language for 
the word, just as in a similar way asparagus has 
become "sparrow-grass," renegade "runagate," the 
girasole a " Jerusalem " artichoke, or in Greek the 
Arabic word wadi, having become Hellenized under 
the form oWis, was supposed to come from cww, 
doubtless on the lucus a non lucendo principle. 
Firdaus itself, one of the words in the Quran for 
" Paradise," is a Persian word ; and several words 
from that 1 language occur in the passages which 
we have translated above. It is not, however, of 
any real importance to ascertain the derivation of 
the word Hur. The beings whom the word is 
intended to express are of distinctly Aryan origin, 
as are the Ghilmdn. The Hindus believe in the 
existence of both, calling the Huris in Sanskrit 
Apsarasas, and the Ghilman Gandharvas. They 
were supposed to dwell principally in the sky, 
though often visiting the earth. 

Muslim historians relate many tales which show 
how much the prospect of receiving a welcome 
from the Huris in Paradise cheered many an 
ardent young Muhammadan warrior to rush boldly 
to his death in battle. This belief is very similar 
to the ancient Aryan idea as to the reward of 
those who died on the field with all their wounds 

1 See Al Kindi s Apology : Sir W. Muir s translation, pp. 79, 80, 
and notes. 


in front. For Manu says in his DkarmaSaxtra : 
l< Earth-lords 1 contending in battles, mutually 
desirous of killing one another, not averting 
their faces, thereafter through their prowess go 
to heaven." So also in the Nalopakhyanam we find 
Indra saying to the hero Nala : " Just 2 guardians 
of the earth (i.e. kings), warriors who have 
abandoned (all hope of) life, who in due time by 
means of a weapon go to destruction without 
averting their faces theirs is this imperishable 
world" the heaven of Indra. Nor were such 
ideas confined to India, for our own northern 
ancestors used in heathen days to believe that the 
heavenly Valkyries, or "Selectors of the Slain," 
would visit 3 the field of battle and bear thence to 
the heaven of Odhin, to Valhalla, the " Hall of the 
Slain," the spirits of brave warriors who fell in the 

The Jinns are a kind of evil and malicious spirits 
which have great power and are a source of terror 
in many parts of the Muslim world. We have 
already seen 4 that they are said to have been 
subject to Solomon, and they are not unfrequently 

1 " Ahaveshumitho nyo nyam jighamsanto mahikshita/i 
Yudhyamanaft paramgaktyasvargam yantyaparanmukhaft." 
Dharmasdstra, bk. vii, si. 89. 
a " Dharmajnaft prithivipalas tyaktajivitayodhinaft 

Sastrena nidhanam kale ye gacchantyaparanmukha/i 
Ayam loko kshayas tesham." Nalopdkhydnam ii. 17, 18. 

3 Cf. the Armenian Aralezk h (Ezniq Goghbatsi, Eghds 
Aghandots, bk. i., pp. 94, 95;. 

4 pp. 8! sqq. 


mentioned in the Qur an 1 , where we are told that 
they were made of fire 2 , as were the angels and the 
demons. The word itself seems to be Persian, for 
the singular Jinni is the Avestic Jaini 3 , a wicked 
(female) spirit. 

In examining the question of the origin of the 
Muhammadan legend regarding the " Balance," we 
saw that it is stated in the Traditions that in 
his Mi" raj Muhammad saw Adam weeping in 
heaven when he looked at 4 the "Black Figures" 
(al aswidah) on his left hand, but rejoicing when 
his glance rested on those which stood at his right. 

These black figures were the spirits of his 
descendants as yet unborn. They are generally 
termed "The Existent Atoms" (adh dharrdtul 
kainaC). They differ from the beings mentioned in - 
the " Testament of Abraham " (from which the 
main features of that portion of the tale are 
borrowed) in the fact that, in the latter book, 
Abraham sees the spirits of his descendants who 
had died, while in the Muhammadan tradition he 
sees those of men not yet born, in the form of 
"Existent Atoms." The name by which these 
beings are known in Muhammadan religious works 

1 Surahs VI., 100, 128 ; XV., 27 j XXVI., 212 ; XLL, 24, 29, &c. 

3 Surahs XV., 27 ; LV., 14. 

3 Yasna, X., 4 : a, 53. If the word were Arabic and from 
the root ^, it would be not jtnnt butjanm (like qalil from T$). 
Nor is it derived from jcmnat, Paradise, for then it would be 
jannl. Moreover, the Jinns have no connexion with Paradise, 
and are not allowed to enter it. * pp. 307, 208. 


is undoubtedly a purely Arabic one. But the idea 
seems to have been derived from the Zoroastrians, 
among whom these beings were called fravasku * 
in Avestic and feruhars in Pahlavi. Some have 
fancied that possibly the Persians adopted this 
idea from the ancient Egyptians, but this hardly 
seems probable. Whether it be so or not, the 
Muslims are indebted for their belief in the pre- 
existence of men s spirits to the Zoroastrians. 

The Muslims speak of the Angel of Death very 
much as the Jews do, though the latter say that 
his name is Sammael, while the former call him 
Azrail. But this latter name is not Arabic but 
Hebrew, once more showing the extent of the 
influence exercised by the Jews upon nascent 
Islam. As this angel s name is not mentioned in 
the Bible, it is evident that what the Jews and 
the Muslims say about him must be borrowed 
from some other source. This is probably Persian, 
for the A vesta tells us of an angel called Asto- 
i-Uhotus or VUhatm, "the divider," whose duty 
it is to separate body and spirit. If a man fell 
into fire or water and was burnt to death or 
drowned, the Zoroastrians held that his death 
could not be due to the fire or to the water for 

1 The Fravashis are both spiritual prototypes and guardian 
angels, protecting Ormazd s creatures. Every such being, 
whether born or unborn, has a fravashi, as have even Ormazd, 
the Arnshaspands and the Izads. The "Grandson of the 
Waters." the genius who presides over fertility and fecundity, 
brings the fravashis to their bodies in Yesht VIII., 34. 


these "elements" were supposed to be good .and 
not injurious to man. It was the work of the 
Angel of Death, Vidhatus 1 . 

3. The Ascent of Azdzttfrom Hell. 

Azazil, according to the Muslim tradition, was 
the original name of Satan or Iblis. The name is 
Hebrew and occurs in the original text of Leviticus 
(xvi. 8, 10, 26). But the tale of his origin is not at 
all Jewish but almost if not quite Zoroastrian, as 
a comparison between the Muslim and the Zoroas 
trian legends proves. 

In the Qisasu l Anbiyd (p. 9), we read: "God 
Most High created Azazil. Azazil worshipped 
God Most High for a thousand years in Sijjin 2 . 
Then he came up to the earth. On each storey 3 
he worshipped God Most High for a thousand 
years until he came up upon the surface," the 
highest story, on which men dwell. God then 
gave him a pair of wings made of emerald, with 
which he mounted up to the first heaven. There 
he worshipped for a thousand years, and thus was 
enabled to reach the second heaven, and so on, 
worshipping for a thousand years at each stage 

1 Vendiddd, cap. v, lines 25 to 35. 

2 Or the " Dungeon." This is the name of the seventh or 
lowest story in hell, and of the book kept there, in which the 
demons write the evil deeds of apostates and infidels (Surah 
LXXXIIL, 7-10). 

* As has been already said, the earth, like hell and heaven, 
consists of seven stories. 



of his ascent, and receiving from the angelic 
inhabitants of each heaven a special name. In 
the fifth heaven he was for the first time according 
to this form of the legend called Azazil. He 
thus ascended to the sixth and the seventh heaven, 
and then had performed so much adoration that 
he had not left in earth or heaven a single spot 
as large as the palm of a man s hand on which lie 
had not prostrated himself in worship. Afterwards 
we are told that for the sin of refusing to worship 
Adam he was cast out of Paradise \ The "Ardim l 
Majdlis 2 tells us that, being then called Iblfs, he 
remained for three thousand years at the gate of 
Paradise in the hope of being able to inflict some 
injury on Adam and Eve, since his heart was full 
of envy and ill-will towards them. 

Now let us see what account the Zoroastrians 
give of what is evidently the same matter in the 
Mndahishnih, a Pahlavi work the name of which 
means "Creation." It must be noted that in 
Pahlavi the Evil Spirit is called Ahriman, which 
is derived from AM Mainyu* ("the destroying 
mind"), the name by which he is known in the 

In the first and second chapters of the Bund a- 
huhnih we read : 

"Ahriman was and is in darkness and after- 

1 <?t>asu J AnUyd, p. 13 : see above, p. 195. 
1 Ar&wfl Majdlis, p. 43. 



knowledge 1 and the desire of inflicting injury, and 
in the abyss. . . . And that injuriousness and that 
darkness too are a place which they call the dark 
region. Ormazd in his omniscience knew that 
Ahriman existed, because he "that is, Ahriman 
" excites himself and intermingles himself with the 
desire of envy even unto the end. . . . They" 
(6rmazd and Ahriman) " were for three thousand 
years in spirit, that is, they were without change 
and motion. . . . The injurious spirit, on account 
of his after-knowledge, was not aware of the 
existence of Ormazd. At last he rises from that 
abyss, and he came to the bright place ; and, since 
he saw that brightness of 6rmazd, . . . because 
of his injurious desire and his envious disposition 
he became busied in destroying." 

We necessarily find a certain difference in form 
between the legend as it arose among the dualistic 
Zoroastrians and the aspect it assumed among the 
Monotheistic Muslims. Hence in the former the 
Evil Principle is not a creature of 6rmazd, and 
does not at first know of His existence, whereas 
in the latter he is, of course, one of the creatures 
of God. In the Muhammadan legend he gradually 
ascends higher and higher by his piety, while in 
the Zoroastrian account piety can have nothing 

1 That is, Ahriman does not know the future but only the 
past. His after-knowledge is the ImwOeia of the Greeks (Pro- 
inetheus contrasted with Epimetheus), and Ormazd ultimately 
vanquishes him because the latter alone has foreknowledge. 


to do with the matter. But in both cases the Evil 
Spirit at first dwells in darkness and ignorance 
and comes up to the light, and in both cases he 
sets himself to work to destroy God s creatures 
through envy and ill-will. The twelve thousand 
years during which, according to Zoroastrian ideas, 
the contest between good and evil goes on is divided 
into four periods of three thousand years each. 
A reference to this is probably to be found in the 
three thousand years during which, as we have seen, 
Azazil (Iblis) lies in wait for Adam s destruction. 

Before leaving this subject it may be of interest 
to point out that the Peacock has some connexion 
with the Evil Spirit both in the Muhammadan 
and in the Zoroastrian legend. In the Qimwl 
Anbiyd we are told that when Iblis was seated in 
ambush before the gate of Paradise, watching for 
an opportunity to enter and tempt Adam and Eve 
to sin, the Peacock was sitting on the wall, on top 
of one of the battlements, and saw him most piously 
engaged in repeating the loftiest names of God 
Most High. Struck with admiration for so much 
piety, the Peacock inquired who this ardent devotee 
might be. Iblis replied, " I am one of the angels 
of God ; may He be honoured and glorified ! " 
When asked why he sat there, he replied, "I am 
looking at Paradise, and I wish to enter it." The 
Peacock was acting as watchman, so he replied, 
"I have no orders to admit any one to Paradise 
while Adam is in it." But Iblis bribed him to 


grant him admission by promising to teach him 
a prayer, the repetition of which would keep him 
from ever growing old, from rebelling against God, 
and from ever being driven forth from Paradise. 
On this the Peacock flew down from the battle 
ment and told the Serpent what he had heard. 
This led to the fall of Eve and afterwards of 
Adam. When, therefore, God Most High cast 
Adam, Eve, the Tempter and the Serpent down 
from Paradise to the earth, he hurled down the 
Peacock 1 with them. 

It is noteworthy that the Zoroastrians also 
believed in a connexion between Ahriman and 
the Peacock. The Armenian writer Ezniq, whom 
we have already quoted in a different connexion, 
informs us of the Zoroastrians of his day that 
"They 2 say that Ahriman said, It is not that 
I cannot make anything good, but I will not/ 
And, in order to prove what he said, he made the 

If the Peacock in the Zoroastrian legend is 
a creature of Ahriman, we are not surprised at 
its helping Iblis in the Muhammadan one, and 
being expelled from Paradise along with him. 

4. Legend of the " Light of Muhammad" 

Though not mentioned in the Qur an, the story 
of the Light of Muhammad, which shone on his 

1 Qi$a$u l Aribiyd, pp. 1 6, 17. 

2 Refutation of Heresies, Book ii. 


forehead and was his pre-existent essence, so to 
speak, occupies a very important place in the 
Traditions. Whole pages are filled with such 
traditions in such books as the Raudatul Ahbdb. 
There we read that "When Adam was created, 
God placed that light upon his forehead, and said, 
Adam, this light which I have placed upon thy 
forehead is the light of the noblest and best son 
[of thine], and it is the light of the chief of the 
prophets who shall be sent. " Then the narrative 
goes on to say that the light passed on from Adam 
to Seth, and from Seth to the noblest of his 
descendants in each generation, until in due course 
it reached Abdu llah ibn Al Muttalab. From him 
it passed to Aminah when she conceived Muham 
mad 1 . It may be that Muhammadans have intended 
in their account of this light of Muhammad to 
exalt their master so as to match what is said of 

1 Another tradition mentions the following facts which are 
of interest as showing the importance of this light. Muhammad 
said, "God Most High divided that light " (before the creation 
of the world, for "The first thing that he created was my Light," 
Qi?asu l Anbiyd, p. a, vide also p. 282) " into four sections, and He 
created the Throne " (or Highest Heaven, Al Arsh) "out of one 
section, and from one section He created the Pen, and from 
one section He created Paradise, and from one section He 
created the Believers. He again divided these four sections 
into four other parts. Out of the first, the choicest and most 
honourable, He created me, who am the Apostle, and from the 
second part He created Reason and placed it in the Believers 
head, and out of the third part He created modesty and placed 
it in Believers eyes, and out of the fourth part He created 
Desire, and placed it in Believers hearts." (Qiq .<7 Anliyd, p. a.) 


Christ in John i. 4, 5 (cf. xii. 41), and that there 
is a confusion in their minds between the first of 
these passages and Gen. i. 3. At the same time it 
will be seen from the passages which we now 
proceed to quote that the details, though with 
marvellous exaggeration and invention, are, in 
their main outline, borrowed from Zoroastrian 

In the Pahlavl Mwmkhirad, which was composed 
in the days of the early Sasanian kings of Persia, 
we read that 6rmazd created this world and all 
His creatures, and the archangels, and the Heavenly 
Reason, out of His own special light, with the 
praise of Zarvan i Akarana or "Endless Time." 
But in a work far more ancient than this the fable 
of the light is found existent in Persia. In the 
Avesta it is mentioned in connexion with the great 
Yima Khshaeta or Yima " the Brilliant," who from 
its possession derived his name, afterwards cor 
rupted into the modern Persian Jamshid. He is 
identical with the Sanskrit Yama, who in the 
Rig Veda is spoken of as the first of men, as in 
vain tempted to sin by his twin sister Yami, and 
as after death ruling the shades of the dead. 
Yima, in Persian tradition on the other hand, is 
the founder of Persian civilization. His father s 
name, Vivanhvat 1 , is the same as the Vivasvat of 
the Indian legend, who is the Sun, and is father 

1 In Persian legend, Vivanhvat is the fifth in descent from 
Gaya Maretan, the first man (Yasna, IX., 4). 


of Yama. On Yima s brow shone the Kavaem 
Hvareno or " Royal Brightness," an emanation front 
the Divine glory, until through sin he lost it. Of 
this the following description is given in the 1 
Avesta : 

" The mighty Royal Brightness for a long time 
adhered to Jamshid, master of the good herd, while 
he reigned on the seven-climed earth, over divs and 
men, magicians and Paris, evil spirits and sooth 
sayers and wizards. . . . Then, when he conceived 
in mind that false and worthless word, the visible 
brightness departed from him in the form of 
a bird. . . . He who is Jamshid, master of the 
good herd, Jain, no longer seeing that brightness, 
became sorrowful ; and he, having become troubled, 
engaged in working hostility upon earth. The 
first time that brightness departed, that brightness 
[departed] from Jamshid, that brightness departed 
from Jam, son of Vivanhvat, like- a fluttering 
bird. . . . Mithra took that brightness. When the 
second time that brightness departed from Jam 
shid, that brightness (departed) from Jam, son of 
Vivanhvat, it went away like a fluttering bird : 
Faridun, offspring of the Athwiyani tribe, the 
brave tribe, took that brightness, since he was the 
most victorious man among victorious men. . . . 
When the third time that brightness departed 
from Jamshid, that brightness departed from Jam, 

1 Yesht, XIX., 31-38. 

3 Literally, " in the form of." 


son of Vivanhvat, like a fluttering bird: Kere- 
saspa the manly took that brightness, since he was 
the mightiest among mighty men." 

Here we see that, just as in the Muhammadan 
legend, the light passes on from generation to 
generation, to the most worthy man in each. It 
was natural for the offspring of the Sun to possess 
this light in the first place, and its transmission 
marked the handing down of the sovereignty* 
There seems no special suitability in the legend 
that it was handed down from Adam to Muham 
mad, unless to magnify the prophet in the same 
way in which the ancient legend glorified these 
various old Persian heroes. 

Moreover, we notice that Jamshid ruled "over 
cUvs and men, magicians and Paris, evil spirits 
and soothsayers and wizards," just as the Jewish 
and Muhammadan legends spoken of in an earlier 
chapter l represent Solomon as doing. Doubtless 
the Jews borrowed this story from the Zoroas- 
trians and passed it on to the Muslims, as we have 
said in Chapter III. 

What the Muslim Tradition says of the dividing 
up of the "Light of Muhammad," when first 
created, into various parts, out of which other 
things were made, is very similar to the story con 
cerning Zoroaster in the old Persian book entitled 
Dasdtw i Asmdnt whence it was very possibly 

1 pp. 81, 84, and 90, note. 


derived, especially as the same idea is found also in 
older Zoroastrian writings, as in the Minnkhirad 
quoted above. 

5. The Bridge of the Lead. 

This is called in the Muhammadan Traditions 
As-Sirat or " The Way." There are many details 
given about this marvellous bridge, which is said 
to be finer than a hair and sharper than a sword. 
It stretches right over the abyss of hell, and is 
the only way of passing from earth to heaven on 
the Judgment Day. All will be commanded to 
cross it. The pious Muslim will do so without 
difficulty, guided by the angels ; but the unbe 
liever, unable to cross, will fall headlong into 
hell fire. 

Though the word Sirdt is used in the Qur an in 
the metaphorical sense of a way, as in the phrase 
A? Sirdtul Mustaqim (-" the Right Way," Surah I., 
Al Fatihah, et passim), yet it is not properly an 
Arabic word at all. Its derivation shows the 
origin of the legend about the bridge of that name. 
The word comes from no Arabic or indeed Semitic 
root, but is the Persian C/tinvat in Arabic letters, 
since the Arabic language, not having any character 
to represent the sound ch (as in church), replaces it 
by the letter ^ (#), the first letter in Sirdt. Chinvat 
in Persian means a collector, one that sums up or 
assembles (cf. Sanskrit Vf3) or takes account. 
Hence it is only by contraction that the Arabic 


Sirdt gets its meaning, for the A vesta speaks, not 
of, Chinvat l but of Chinvato-peretus, " The bridge of 
him that reckons up " good deeds and bad. This 
bridge extends from Mount Alburz to the Chakat 
Daitih, reaching over hell. Each man s spirit, as 
soon as certain funeral ceremonies have been per 
formed, reaches the bridge and has to cross it in 
order to enter Paradise. When he has crossed the 
bridge, he is judged by Mithra, Rashnu, and 
Sraosha in accordance with the account of his 
deeds, good and bad 2 . Only if his good deeds 
exceed his evil ones can the gate of Paradise be 
opened to admit him. If his deeds are prepon- 
deratingly evil, he is cast into hell : but if the 
good are equal to the bad, the spirit of the dead 
has to await 3 the last judgment (vfalditi), which 
will take place at the close of the final struggle 
between Orrnazd and Ahriman. 

To show the origin not only of the word Sirdt 
but of the Muhammadan doctrine on the subject, it 
is sufficient to translate the following short pas 
sage from the Pahlavi book called the Dinkart: 
"I flee 4 from much sin, and I keep pure my con 
duct by keeping pure the six powers of life act 
and speech and thought and intellect and mind 

1 Later, however, the contraction is found in the Zoroastrian 

2 See note p. 205 above. 

3 In a place called Misvdno Gdtul (Vendiddd, XIX., 36 ; Yesht, 
I., i ; Sirozd, L, 30 ; II., 30). Vide above, pp. 123, 124, 202. 

* Dinkart, pt. II., cap. LXXXL, 5 and 6. 


and understanding by thy desire, mighty 
Causer of good deeds. In justice do I perform it, 
that worship of thine, in good thought and speech 
and deed, in order that I may remain in the bright 
way, that I may not arrive at the severe punish 
ment of hell, but may cross over Chinvat and may 
attain to that blessed abode which is full of per 
fume, wholly pleasant, always brilliant." In the 
A vesta also we find many references to the same 
belief, among others the passage in which it is said 
of good men and women : " Whom l too I shall 
lead through the prayer of such as you : with all 
blessings shall I guide them to the bridge of 

A further proof of the Aryan origin of this 
belief is found in the fact that the ancient Scandi 
navian mythology contains mention of Bifrgst, 
generally styled "the bridge of the gods," by 
which they cross over from their abode in Asgardh 
(in heaven) to the earth. It is the rainbow. This 
at once explains the natural basis upon which the 
legend of the bridge is founded, and shows how 
ancient it is, as the Scandinavians brought the 
idea with them to Europe. It must therefore have 
been common to them and the Persians in very 
ancient times. In Greece the rainbow becomes 
the messenger of the gods (Iris) in the Iliad, but 
the idea of a bridge connecting heaven and earth 
seems to have been lost. 

1 Yasna, XLVI., 10. 


6. Other Persian Ideas Borrowed. 

There are, no doubt, many other matters in 
which Persian ideas have influenced Islam, but 
what has been said is sufficient for our purpose. 
We must not conclude this part of our inquiry, 
however, without a reference to two other points 
of some little importance. 

One of these is the Muslim belief that every 
prophet before his death gave notice of the 
coming of his successor. This idea finds no sup 
port in the Bible, where we find prophecies of the 
coming of the Messiah, but nothing to give rise to 
the Muhammadan theory. It is probably borrowed 
from a Zoroastrian work called the Dasdtir i As- 
mdni. This work claims to be of very great antiquity, 
and (owing doubtless to the difficulty of making 
any sense out of the original 1 text) is believed 
by many of the modern Parsis to be " composed in 
the language of heaven " ! An interlinear trans 
lation into the old Dari dialect of Persian, how 
ever, accompanies the text, which is said to have 
been discovered in Persia early in the last century, 

1 The original text (as published in Bombay) is written in 
Arabic (Persian) characters. By retranslating the Dari in a 
few passages into Pahlavi and then writing the latter in Arabic 
characters, I think I have proved that the difficulty in under 
standing the original text consists in the fact that the transcriber 
into the Arabic character did not know Pahlavi, and confounded 
with one another the very difficult combinations of letters in 
that confused current script. 


and was edited by Mulla Firuz of Bombay. It 
consists of fifteen tractates which are supposed to 
have been revealed to fifteen successive prophets, 
the first of whom is styled Mahabad and the last 
Sasan, from whom probably the Sasanian dynasty 
may be supposed to trace their descent. The Dari 
translation is said to date from the time of 
Khusrau Parviz (A.D. 590-5), so that the original 
must be of some antiquity l . Near the conclusion 
of each tractate but the last there is what purports 
to be a prophecy of the coming of the next pro 
phet in succession. The object of this is very 
evident. Many Parsis reject the book, but the 
idea seems to have pleased the Muslims so much 
that it has found an entrance into their ordinary 

Secondly, it is worthy of note that the second 
verse of every one of these tractates runs thus : 
" In the name of God, the Giver, the Forgiver, the 
Merciful, the Just." It is evident that these words 
are closely related to those which form the intro 
duction to every Surah of the Qur an except the 
ninth : " In the Name of God, the Compassionate, 
the Merciful." Probably the Qur an has borrowed 
from the Zoroastrian book and not conversely : for 
the Buwlahishnih has the similar clause, "In the 
Name of 6rmazd the Creator." 

1 It is mentioned by the authors of the Dabistdn i Mafdhib and 
of the Burhdn i Qa/t", so it must have been lost since their day. 
We have mentioned its recovery. 


Others think that the clause in the Qur an is of 
Jewish origin. Tradition says that one of the 
ffanifs, whom we shall deal with in our next 
chapter, Ummiyyah, a poet belonging to Taif, 
taught this formula jfco the Quraish 1 , having learnt 
it from his intercourse with Jews and Christians 
during his journeys in Syria and elsewhere as 
a merchant. If Muhammad heard it in this way 
and adopted it, he doubtless altered it somewhat, 
as he always did whatever he borrowed. But it 
is more probably of Zoroastrian origin than of 
Jewish, and Ummiyyah might have learnt it from 
the Persians whom he met on his mercantile 

We have seen how extensive Persian influence 
was in Arabia in Muhammad s time, and there is 
therefore no a priori difficulty in accepting the con 
clusion which must be drawn from all the coinci 
dences mentioned in the present chapter that 
Zoroastrian ideas and legends are one of the 
sources from which Islam has derived very much 
of what is contained in certain parts of the Qur an 
and the Traditions. Tradition itself proves the 
possibility of this, for the Raudatul AhMb tells us 
that it was Muhammad s habit to speak 2 a few 

1 Kitoibu l Aghdni, 16 (quoted by Rodwell, Koran, p. i). 

2 In the Sunan of Ibn Majah a tradition is found on the 
authority of Abu Hurairah, who says that Muhammad said to 
him in Persian, Shikamat dard? His knowledge of the language 


words in their own language to people that came 
to him from different nations, and that, since on 
one or two occasions he spoke Persian to such 
visitors, a few Persian words in this way found an 
entrance into the Arabic language. Of course 
there is a good deal of the legendary in this state 
ment, but it is important in its way because it 
clearly testifies to the fact that Muhammad had at 
least some slight acquaintance with Persian, if 
with no other foreign tongue. Again, among other 
Persian converts, the Siratur Easul of Ibn Ishaq 
and Ibn Hisham informs us that there was one 
called Salman, who must have been a man of some 
education and ability, since it was by his advice 
and in accordance with his military experience that 
Muhammad, when the Quraish and their allies 
were besieging Medina in February, A.D. 627, de 
fended the city with the celebrated ditch 1 , a 
method of fortification which the Arabs are said 
not to have previously used. By Salman s advice 
Muhammad is also said to have used a catapult at 
the time of his campaign against Taif (A.D. 630). 
Some say that Salman, though always known as 
" the Persian," was originally a Christian 2 carried 

failed to supply the verb mikunad, which is required to complete 
the sense. 

1 The Persian word Kandak (now Kandah) has been adopted 
into Arabic, and occurs in the Sirat in the form Khandaq. 

3 Other accounts say he was first a Zoroastrian, being a 
Persian by birth ; he then became a Christian and went to 
Syria, from which country he was brought to Arabia. 



away captive from Mesopotamia. This may or 
may not be true, though the appellation which he 
received does not support it. If it is untrue, he 
was very probably the person whom Muhammad s 
enemies are said to have accused the Prophet of 
using as his assistant in the composition of certain 
parts of the Qur an ; for in Surah XVI., An Nahl, 
105, we read: "Truly we know that they say, 
Verily a human being teacheth him. The tongue 
of him at whom they aim is Persian l , and this 
[book] is Arabic, clear." If Salman was not a 
native of Persia, then the language of the verse 
suffices to prove that there was some Persian in 
Muhammad s company who was believed to "teach" 
him a certain portion of what he was then inserting 
in the Qur an. We see then that Persian fables 
were well enough known 2 in Arabia to be recog 
nized by some at least of the Arabs when incor 
porated into the supposed Divine Revelation. Nor 
was Muhammad able to give a satisfactory answer 
to the charge, for no one supposed that the 
foreigner was teaching him to improve his Arabic 
style. The charge affected the matter and not the 
language of the Qur an. Moreover, as we have 
proved that Muhammad borrowed legends from 
the heathen Arabs and from the Jews, there is no 
reason why he should not be ready and willing to 

1 The word Ajami properly means Persian, though capable of 
being applied to other foreigners. 
8 Vide pp. 215, ai6. 217. 


adopt others from Zoroastrian sources. In fact the 
instances which we have produced in this chapter 
prove conclusively that he did so, and that these 
Persian legends, many of which have been shown 
to be common to the Persians with other branches 
of the Aryan family of nations, form another of 
the original sources of Islam. 



MUHAMMAD was by no means the first of his 
nation who became convinced of the folly and 
worthlessness of the popular religion of the Arabs 
of the time, and desired to effect a reform. Some 
years before his appearance as a Prophet, as we 
learn from his earliest extant biographers, a 
number of men arose in Medina, Taif, and Mecca, 
and perhaps in other places 1 , who rejected the 
idol-worship and polytheism of the people at large 
and endeavoured to find the true religion. Whether 
the first impulse came from the Jews, as is very 
probable, or from some other quarter, the men of 
whom we speak determined to restore the worship 
of God Most High (Allah Ta ala) to its proper 
place by abolishing, not only the cult of the inferior 
deities who had almost entirely supplanted Him, 
but also many of the most immoral of the prac 
tices then prevalent, opposed as they were to the 
human conscience and to humanity itself. Whether 

1 Besides the authorities mentioned further on, see an in 
teresting story about Abu Dharr, related by Muslim in his 
Kitdbu l Fattdil. 


through the survival of a tradition that Abraham, 
whom they claimed as their ancestor, had known 
and worshipped the One True God, or through the 
statement of the Jews to that effect, these reformers 
asserted that they were seeking for the " Religion 
of Abraham." It may have been Jewish exclusive- 
ness which prevented them from accepting the 
faith of these latter in the form which it had then 
assumed, and joining the synagogue. Or, on the 
other hand, national and family pride may have 
rendered them unwilling to accept the religion 
of foreign settlers in their country. It is also 
possible that some of these reformers may have 
been able to perceive that the Jewish religion of 
the time was by no means free from gross super 
stitions ; and the fact that the Christians accused 
the Jews of having rejected and slain their 
Messiah, and pointed to their fallen condition as 
a proof of God s wrath against them, would also 
have some influence in preventing these more en 
lightened Arabs from accepting Talmudic Judaism. 
Whatever the cause may have been, the fact is 
that the reformers came forth in the first instance 
as inquirers and not as Jewish or Christian pro 
selytes. The chief of them who are known to us 
by name are Abft Amir at Medina, Ummiyyah ibn 
Zalt at Taif, and at Mecca Waraqah, Ubaidu llah, 
Uthman and Zaid ibn *Amr. Others 1 doubtless 

1 History mentions twelve of Muhammad s Companions 
who at first were IFanifs. 


more or less sympathized with these men, though 
they commanded no very extensive following. 

As these reformers have left us no written 
record of their beliefs, except one poem which we 
shall have to consider in due course, it may be 
of importance to state what authority we have 
for the statements which we shall make regard 
ing them. Our chief and practically our only 
authority l is the earliest biographer of Muhammad 
whose work has come down to us, Ibn Hisham. 
The first writer known to us by name who com 
posed an account of Muhammad s life was Zuhri, 
who died in the year 124 of the Hijrah. His 
information was drawn from what was handed 
down orally by those who had personally known 
Muhammad, and especially by Urwah, one of 
Ayi shah s kindred. In many respects, doubtless, 
errors and exaggerations may, during the course 
of years, have crept into such Traditions ; yet if 
Zuhrt s book were now extant it would be of very 
great value indeed. But unfortunately it has not 
been preserved, unless indeed (as is very probable) 
Ibn Ishaq, one of Zuhri s disciples, who died 
A. H. 151, made use of it in the composition of 
his own work on Muhammad s life. Doubtless, 
however, Ibn Ishaq added much information which 
he had collected from other traditional sources, true 
or false. But even Ibn Ishaq s book has not come 

1 Sprenger, however, quotes others which he thinks worthy 
of credence. 


down to us in a complete and independent form, 
though much of it is preserved in the numerous 
quotations made from it by Ibn Hishaui (died 
A. H. 213) in his Siratu r Rasul or "Biography of 
the Apostle," the most ancient which we possess 
of a large number of works which bear the same 
title. This book is of great value in all matters 
connected with Muhammad and his times, for it is 
evidently far less legendary and fabulous than all 
other works on the subject. 

What Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Hisham tell us about 
the Arabian reformers in particular is worthy of 
the more credit on this account, because they had 
no interest in praising them or in exaggerating 
the resemblance between their teaching and that of 
Muhammad. It does not seem to have occurred 
to these writers that any use could be made of 
their statements by adversaries, and hence they 
seem to have told the truth as far as they knew 
it. It is quite possible that the resemblance be 
tween their doctrine s and those which Muhammad 
promulgated may have been greater than the in 
formation at our disposal enables us to show, but 
it can hardly have been less, for the reason we 
have stated. We may therefore safely rely upon 
Ibn Hisham s account as containing at least a 
minimum of what they taught, and compare it 
with the Qur an. 

In order to enable our readers to judge for 
themselves, we here give a translation of Ibn 


Hisham s narrative, which, it will be noticed, is for 
the most part founded upon the earlier account 
given by Ibn Ishaq. 

"Ibn Ishaq says: And 1 the Quraish assembled 
one day, at a festival which they had, unto one 
of their idols which they used to magnify, and 
to which they used to offer sacrifice, and near 
which they were wont to remain, and around which 
they were wont to circle. And that was a fes 
tival which they kept one day in every year. 
Therefore four men secretly kept apart from them. 
Then said they one to another, Be ye true to one 
another, and let one of you keep another s secret. 
They said, Very good. They were Waraqah ibn 
Asad 2 . . . and Ubaidu llah ibn Jahsh 2 . . ., whose 
mother was Umaimah, daughter of Abdu l Muttalab, 
and Uthman ibnu l Huwairith 2 . . ., and Zaid ibn 
Amr 2 . . . They accordingly said one to another, 
By God, ye know that your nation is based upon 
nothing: truly they have erred from the religion 
of their father Abraham. What is a stone 3 that 
we should circle round it ? It hears not, nor sees, 
nor injures, nor benefits. O people, seek for your 
selves [a faith] ; for verily, by God, ye are based 
upon nothing. Accordingly they went into dif 
ferent lands that they might seek Jpanvfiam, the 

1 Siratu r Rastil, vol. i, pp. 76, 77. 

2 Here I omit the genealogies, which are given for many 
generations back. 

3 Referring to the celebrated HajcmCl Aswad. 


Religion of Abraham. Waraqah ibn Naufal there 
fore became absorbed in Christianity, and he 
inquired after the Books among those who pro 
fessed it, until he acquired some knowledge from 
the People of the Book. But Ubaidu llah ibn 
Jahsh remained in the state of uncertainty in 
which he was until he became a Muslim. He 
then migrated with the Muslims to Abyssinia, and 
with him his wife Umm Habibah, daughter of 
Abu Sufyan, being a Muslim. When therefore he 
arrived there, he became a Christian and abandoned 
Islam, so that he perished there a Christian. Ibn 
Ishaq says: Accordingly Muhammad ibn Ja far 
ibn Zubair has related to me, saying : Ubaidu llah 
ibn Jahsh, when he became a Christian, used to 
dispute with the Companions of the Apostle of 
God who were there in Abyssinia, and he used to 
say, We see clearly and you are blinking, that 
is, We are clear-sighted and you are seeking to 
see and do not yet see/ and that because a whelp 
blinks when it strives to open its eyes to see. 
The word he used means to have one s eyes open. 
Ibn Ishaq says : The Apostle of God succeeded him 
as husband of Umm Habibah, daughter of Abu 
Sufyan ibn Harb. Ibn Ishaq says : Muhammad 
ibn *Ali ibn Husain has informed me that the 
Apostle of God sent Amr ibn Ummiyah ad Damri 
to the Negus for her: therefore the Negus be 
trothed her to him. Accordingly he married him 
to her. And he fixed as her dowry from the 


Apostle of God four hundred dinars. . . . Ibn Ishaq 
says : But Uthman ibn Huwairith went to Caesar, 
Emperor of Byzantium : then he became a Christian, 
and his abiding with him prospered. . . Ibn Ishaq 
says: But as for Zaid ibn l Amr ibn Nufail, he 
remained, and did not enter into Judaism or into 
Christianity : and he abandoned the religion of 
his people ; therefore he kept aloof from the idols 
and from carrion and from blood and from the 
sacrifices which were offered unto the idols, and he 
forbade the slaughter of infant girls, and he said, 
I serve the Lord of Abraham ; and he reproved 
his nation for the faults in which they persisted. 
Ibn Ishaq says: Hisham ibn Urwah has related 
to me on the authority of his father, on the 
authority of his mother Asma, daughter of Abft 
Bakr, that she said, Truly I saw Zaid ibn Amr 
ibn Nufail as a very old man leaning his back 
against the Ka bah and saying, O tribe of the 
Quraish, by Him in whose hand is the soul of 
Zaid ibn Amr, not one of you has attained unto 
the Religion of Abraham except myself. Then 
he would say, O God, if I knew which manner is 
most pleasing to Thee, I should worship Thee in 
it ; but I know it not. Then he used to worship 
at his ease 1 . Ibn Ishaq says: And it is related 
that his son, Su aid ibn Zaid ibn Amr ibn Nufail, 
and Urnar bnu l Khattab, who was his cousin 

1 Or, He used to prostrate himself on the palms of his hands. 


said to the Apostle of God, Pray for forgiveness 
on behalf of Zaid ibn Amr. He said, Yes, for 
verily he shall be raised up by himself as a 
religious sect. Zaid ibn Amr ibn Nufail spoke 
thus in reference to his abandoning the religion 
of his people and what happened to him from 
them in consequence : 

" One Lord or a thousand Lords 

Shall I worship? Are things then partitioned out? 

I have abandoned Allat and Uzza altogether: 

Thus doeth the hardy, the patient man. 

Therefore I worship neither Uzza nor her two daughters, 

Nor do I resort unto the two idols of the Banu Amr. 

Nor do I worship Ghanam, though he was a Lord to us 

At the time when my intellect wandered. 

I marvelled : both during the nights are there marvellous 


And during the days, which he that seeth clearly understandeth. 
For God hath often destroyed men, 
Whose condition was immorality. 
And others hath he preserved by proving a nation : 
Therefore doth He rear up from them the little child. 
And among us a man stumbleth : one day he recovereth, 
As the branch that drinketh rain is refreshed. 
But I serve as my Lord the Merciful One, 
That the forgiving Lord may forgive my sin. 
Preserve ye therefore the fear of God, your Lord 
When ye preserve it not, it shall not perish. 
Thou shalt see the pure : gardens are their abode : 
And for the unbelievers is Hell-fire blazing : 
And in life is disgrace, and that they should die : 
That with which their breasts shall be oppressed shall they 
meet 1 ." 


Throughout this whole account we notice that 
Ibn Hisham is scrupulously careful to give us the 
very words which his predecessor Ibn Ishaq had 
used in his narrative. We have therefore some 
thing definite to go upon in considering the history 
and beliefs of these reformers, and especially of 
Zaid, whose touching story and whose noble verses 
show what an influence for good he might have 
exercised upon Muhammad. We shall see reason 
to believe that he did exercise 1 a certain amount 
of influence, and we may well wish it had had 
more effect upon Muhammad s life and character. 

Ibn Hisham, again on Ibn Ishaq s authority 






S U y5b 

Siratu r Rasul, vol. i, p. 77. 

1 Imam Abu l Farah in his Kitdbu l Aghdni (pt. in, p. 15! tells 
us that Muhammad had met and conversed with Zaid i un Amr 
before the former received inspiration. 


informs us that Al Khattab, who was Zaid s uncle, 
reproved the latter for abandoning the religion of 
his people, and persecuted him to such an extent 
that he was unable to live in Mecca any longer. 
He seems to have travelled in other parts of the 
country, but at last took up his residence in a cave 
on Mount Hira 1 . There he lived to a great age, 
and when he died he was buried at the foot of the 
mountain. His death is said to have occurred only 
five years before Muhammad first put forth, in A.D. 
612, his claim to the prophetic office. Now Ibn Ishaq 
tells us that it was the custom of the Quraish " in 
the Days of Ignorance " to leave the city and spend 
a month upon Mount Hira the month of Ramadan, 
as he implies every year in the practice of penance 
(tafiannutk) 2 . It is clear that it was in consequence 
of this custom that Muhammad afterwards selected 
the whole of that particular month to be observed 
by his followers for ever as a time of abstinence. 
As it fell in summer in his time, this retreat may 
have been a welcome change to the wealthier 
members of the community, who were thus enabled 
to leave for a time the hot and close streets of an 

1 Siratur Rasul, vol. i, p. 79. 

J\* . . . j,+A\ C^Lsdlj 2*UUi j ^,5 v. C^SNJ U* elk 
i-*taJl c>IJ1 v/J* J 

(Op. ctfc, vol. i, yp. 80, 81.) 


unhealthy Eastern city for the pure air of the open 
country. We have no reason to suppose that 
asceticism played any considerable part in their 
life at that period. Muhammad, we are expressly 
told, used to observe this custom of spending the 
month of Ramadan every year at Mount Hira: 
and he was actually living in the very cave once 
inhabited by Zaid, when, as he believed, the first 
revelation carne to him through the Angel Gabriel. 
It is an error to see in this any special " retirement 
from the world " on the part of Muhammad on that 
occasion, since we are told that his wife Khadijah 
was with him, and he was only following the 
custom * of his tribe. 

It is evident that, during this yearly visit to 
Mount Hira, Muhammad had every opportunity of 
conversing with Zaid. Muhammad s reverence for 
the man is clearly shown by Tradition. We have 
already seen that he afterwards acknowledged that 
Zaid might be prayed for after his death : and this 
is the more noteworthy because Baidawi, in his 
commentary upon Surah IX., At Taubah, 114, states 
that Muhammad was forbidden to pray for the 
salvation of his own mother Aminah, to whom he 
was tenderly attached, and who had died in his early 
youth. Moreover, Al Waqidi states that Muham 
mad " gave Zaid the salutation of Peace, an honour 
vouchsafed only to Muslims, that he invoked God s 
grace on him and affirmed, I have seen Him in 

1 Vide the preceding note, which is of great importance. 


Paradise : he is drawing a train after him. Spren- 
ger . . . says, Muhammad openly acknowledged Zaid 
as his precursor, and every word known as Zaid s 
we find again in the Qur anV" For instance, in 
Surah III., Al Imran, 19, Muhammad is bidden to 
say to the common people, " Have ye become Mus 
lims ? " or " Have ye surrendered to God ? " These 
words are said by Ibn Ishaq - to have been ad 
dressed to the people by Zaid in the first place. 
Everyone of the main principles which we have 
found mentioned as inculcated by Zaid is dwelt 
upon in the Qur an also. Among these may be 
instanced : (i) the prohibition of killing infant 
daughters by burying them alive, according to the 
cruel custom of the Arabs of the time; (2) the 
acknowledgment of the Unity of God; (3) the 
rejection of idolatry and the worship of Al-Lat, 
Al- c Uzza and the other deities of the people; (4) 
the promise of future happiness in Paradise or the 
" Garden " ; (5) the warning of the punishment 
reserved in hell for the wicked ; (6) the denuncia 
tion of God s wrath upon the " Unbelievers " ; and 
(7) the application of the titles Ar Rahman (the 
Merciful), Ar Rabb (the Lord), and Al Ghafur (the 
Forgiving) to God. Moreover, Zaid and all the 
other reformers (Hani/s) claimed to be searching 
for the "Religion of Abraham." Besides all this, 

1 Koelle,- Mfthammcd and Mohammedanism, p. 53. 
J Quoted by Sprenger, Life of Muhammad, p. 42. 


the Qur an repeatedly l , though indirectly 2 , speaks 
of Abraham as a Hanif, the chosen title of Zaid and 
his friends. 

The root from which this word Hanif is derived 
means in Hebrew " to conceal, to pretend, to lie, to 
be a hypocrite," and in Syriac its meanings are 
similar. In Arabic it seems to have first denoted 
"limping," or walking unevenly," but came to 
signify impiety in abandoning the worship of the 
popular deities. In this sense it was doubtless at 
first applied to the reformers as a reproach. But 
since, as Ibii Hisham tells us 3 , in the pronunciation 
of the Quraish the word denoting " penance " and 
" purity " was confounded with the term denoting 
" Hanifism," it is probable that the Hauifi gladly 
adopted the name as expressing their abjuration of 
idolatry with all its abominations. It is none the 
less remarkable, however, that Muhammad should 
have ventured to apply the term to Abraham, and 
to invite men to become Hanifs by returning to 
the "Religion of Abraham," which he identified 
with Islam as proclaimed by himself. In fact, by 
this use of the word, Muhammad in the clearest 
possible manner declared his adhesion to the doc 
trines of the reformers. When in addition to this 
we find him adopting their teaching and incor- 

1 e. g., Surahs III., 89 ; IV., 124 ; VI., 162. 

8 Arabic scholars will see in what the indirectness consists. 
Perhaps there is no real reason to say indirectly, the language 
is so nearly direct. 

3 Above, p. 269, note a. 


porating it into the Qur an, we cannot hesitate to 
recognize the dogmas of the Hanifs as forming one 
of the main Sources of Islam. 

That the Hanifs should have exercised such an 
influence upon nascent Islam was very natural for 
family reasons also. All the four leading re 
formers at Mecca were related to Muhammad, 
being descended from a common ancestor Liwa . 
Moreover, Ubaidu llah was a son of a maternal 
aunt of Muhammad, and the latter married this 
reformer s widow, as we have already seen. Two 
others, Waraqah and Uthman, were cousins of his 
first wife Khadijah, as we learn from the genea 
logies given by Ibn Hisliam l . 

One objection may possibly occur to the reader 
who has patiently followed us so far in our investi 
gations into the origin of Islam. He may perhaps 
say, " All this is very similar to the play of Hamlet 
with the part of the Prince of Denmark left out. 
You have shown that the whole of Islam has been 
borrowed from previously existent systems, and 
have therefore left nothing which can properly be 
attributed to Muhammad himself. Is it not strange 
to find Muhammadanism without a Muhammad ? 
The answer to this objection is not far to seek. 
The creed of Islam, to-day as in the past, shows 
what a very important part Muhammad plays in 

r Kasul, pp. 63, 76, &c. 


the religious system of Muslims, for it consists, as 
Gibbon has well said, of an eternal truth and 
a necessary fiction : " There is no God but God : 
Muhammad is the Apostle of God." It is not too 
much to say that in the minds of his followers 
Muhammad holds as important a place as Jesus 
Christ does in those of Christians. The influence 
of his example for good or ill affects the whole 
Muhammadan world in even the smallest matters, 
and few men have played a more momentous part 
in the religious, moral, and political history of the 
human race than the founder of Islam. 

It was naturally impossible that, occupying the 
position which he claimed for himself, Muhammad 
should not have left upon the religion which he 
founded the distinct impress of his own person 
ality. A builder collects his materials from many 
different quarters, yet their method and arrange 
ment reveal his skill. The plan of the architect is 
manifested in the edifice which has been erected as 
its embodiment. Just in the same way, though we 
have seen that Muhammad borrowed ideas, legends, 
and religious rites from many different quarters, 
the religion of Islam has assumed a form of its 
own, which differs in certain respects from any 
other faith with which it may be compared. The 
beauty of the literary style of many parts of the 
Qur an has been universally admired, and it evi 
dences the eloquence of its author in no doubtful 
manner. Its want of arrangement and harmony of 


design may not be due to him, but the work as 
a whole mirrors forth the limitations of Muham 
mad s intellect, the very slight amount of real 
knowledge and learning that he possessed, his un 
limited credulity and want of all critical faculty, 
and the moral defects of his character. When 
studied in the chronological order of its composi 
tion, the Qur an shows traces of a gradual change 
of policy which corresponds with the alteration in 
Muhammad s own position and prospects in tem 
poral matters. Certain parts of it are, even by 
Muhammadan commentators, explained by refer 
ence to important events in his life, to which 
the "revelation" of these particular verses was 
directly due. To demonstrate this it will be suffi 
cient to inquire firstly into Muhammad s attitude 
in reference to the use of the sword in the spread 
of Islam, and secondly into but one incident in his 
matrimonial relations. 

It is well known that, before he left Mecca and 
took refuge in Medina in A.D. 622, Muhammad 
had no temporal power. His followers in Mecca 
itself amounted to only a few score ! , and there 
fore had on two occasions in 615 and again 
in 6 1 6 to seek safety in flight to Abyssinia. 
Accordingly, in those verses and Surahs which 
were composed before the Hijrah, no mention 

1 The total number of those who went to Abyssinia on the 
occasion of the second migration was 101, of whom 83 were 
men. (Sir W. Muir s Life of Malwniet, p. 84.) 
S 2 


whatever is made of the duty of taking up arms 
for the spread of the faith, or even in self-defence. 
But after the Hijrah, when many of the people of 
Medina had become his " Helpers/ he in the first 
place gave permission to his " Companions " to 
fight for the protection of their own lives. Ibn 
Hisham l observes that this permission was for the 
first time given in these verses : " It is permitted 
to those who fight because they are treated wrong 
fully . . . those who have been expelled from 
their dwellings unjustly, merely because they say, 
Our Lord is God " (Surah XXII., Al Hajj, 40, 41). 
After a time, when victory had attended Muham 
mad s arms on several plundering expeditions 
directed against the caravans belonging to the 
Quraish, this permission was turned into a com 
mand. Accordingly we read in Surah II, Al 
Baqarah, 31 2, 214 : " War is fated for you, although 
it is hateful to you. . . . They ask thee concerning 
the month in which war is prohibited. Say thou : 
War in it is a serious matter, and so is hindering 
from the way of God, and unbelief in Him and in 
the Sacred Mosque; and the expulsion of His 
people from it is more serious in God s sight, and 
rebellion is worse than slaughter. " This means 
that the Muslims were bidden to fight, even during 
the time when war was forbidden by the unwritten 
law of the Arabs, and not permit their enemies to 

1 Siratu r Kami, vol. i, p. 164, on the authority of Urwah and 


hinder them from having access to the Ka bah. 
Thirdly, when, in the sixth year of the Hijrah, the 
Muslims had overcome the Banil Qurai^//ah and 
certain other Jewish tribes, the command to engage 
in the Holy War, or JiMd, became still sterner ; for 
in Surah V., Al Maidah, 37, it is written : " Verily 
the punishment of those who fight against God 
and His Apostle and strive to do evil in the land 
is that they be slain, or be crucified, or have their 
hands and their feet cut off on opposite sides, or be 
expelled from the land : that is a punishment for 
them in the world, and for them in the next life is 
reserved great torment." It may be observed that 
the Commentators explain that this decree refers 
to the treatment to be inflicted on idolaters, not on 
Jews and Christians. But the conduct which Mus 
lims should observe towards the " People of the 
Book " was prescribed some years later, shortly 
before Muhammad s death, in the eleventh year of 
the Hijrah. Then the fourth stage is reached in 
Surah IX., At Taubah, 5 and 29 probably the 
latest in date of all the Surahs of the Quran 
where it is commanded that, after the conclusion of 
the four Sacred Months of that year, the Muslims 
should recommence the war. The command in 
these verses runs thus: "Accordingly when the 
Sacred Months are past, then slay the Polytheists 
wherever ye find them, and take them and besiege 
them and lay wait for them with every ambus 
cade. If therefore they repent and raise the 


prayers and bring the alms 1 , then free them on 
their way: verily God is forgiving, merciful. . . . 
Fight with those of them who have been brought 
the Book, who believe not in God nor in the Last 
Day, and who forbid not what God and His Apostle 
have forbidden, and who hold not the true religion, 
until they give the tribute 2 out of hand and be 
humbled." Thus the law of God as revealed in the 
Qur an was modified in proportion to the success of 
Muhammad s arms. To account for this it was laid 
down as a rule that certain verses were superseded 
and annulled by others revealed later, according to 
what is said in Surah II., Al Baqarah, 100 : "As for 
what We abrogate of a verse or cause thee to 
forget it, We bring a better than it or one like it : 
knowest thou not that God is able to do every 
thing 1 ?" From that time to this, however, Mu- 
hammadan jurists have not been able to decide 
which verses have been annulled and which others 
have taken their place, though some 225 are 
supposed to have been thus abrogated. 

We might in the same way trace the change in 
Muhammad s attitude towards Jews and Christians 
from the beginning of his career, when he hoped 
to win them over to his side, to the time when, 
finding himself disappointed in this expectation, he 
resolved to turn upon them with the sword. But 

That is, the alms prescribed for Muslims to give: i.e. become 

J Tho jizyah-tax, imposed on Jews and Christians. 


we learn the same lesson from all such investiga 
tions, and that is how completely Muhammad 
adapted his pretended revelations to what he 
believed to be the need of the moment. 

The same thing is true with regard to what we 
read in Surah Al Ahzab regarding the circum 
stances attending his marriage with Zainab, whom 
his adopted son Zaid divorced for his sake. The 
subject is too unsavoury for us to deal with at any 
length, but a reference to what the Qur an itself 
(Surah XXXIII., 37) says about the matter, coupled 
with the explanations afforded by the Commentators 
and the Traditions, will prove that Muhammad s 
own character and disposition have left their mark 
upon the moral law of Islam and upon the Qur an 
itself. The licence given to him, and to him alone, 
in the Qur an to marry 1 more than the legal 
number of four wives at a time allowed to each 
Muslim is an additional proof to the same effect, 
and it is explained by a very unpleasant Tradition 
which contains a saying of Ayishah in reference to 
his idiosyncrasies. 

All this being considered, it is clear that, although 
Muhammad borrowed religious practices, beliefs, 
and legends from various different sources, yet he 
combined them in some measure into one more or 
less consistent whole, thus producing the religion of 
Islam. Some parts of this are good, and Islam 
contains certain great truths, borrowed from other 

Surah XXXIII., Al Ahzab, 49. 


systems of religion, which in a measure account 
for its continued existence in the world. But it 
certainly does not contain a single new or lofty 
religious conception, and its general tone is all too 
faithful a reflexion of the carnal and sensual 
nature of its founder. To use an Oriental simile 
is not perhaps inappropriate in speaking of such 
a thoroughly local and Oriental religion as Mu- 
hammadanism. Islam therefore may aptly be 
compared with : 

"That bituminous lake where Sodom flamed," 

which, receiving into its bosom the waters of many 
streams that, thus united, assume the shape and 
form of its basin, turns them all into one great 
widespread Sea of Death, from whose shores rise 
pestilential exhalations destructive to all life within 
reach of their malign influence. Such is Islam. 
Originating from many different sources and re 
ceiving into it certain elements of truth, it has 
assumed its form from the character and disposition 
of Muhammad ; and thus the good in it serves only 
to recommend and preserve the evil which renders 
it a false and delusive faith, a curse to men and not 
a blessing one that has turned into deserts many 
of the fairest regions of the earth, that has, even 
in our own days, deluged many a land with 
innocent blood, and has smitten with a moral, 
intellectual, and spiritual blight every nation of 
men which lies under its iron yoke and groans 
beneath its pitiless sway. 


[The numbers refer to the pages.] 

Aaron, 113, J5o, 155. 

Abbasi, 119, 123, 134,147,197. 

Abel, 62-5. 

Abdu llah ibn Salarn, 134. 

AbOdiih Zarah, no. 

Abraham, 30, 34, 46, 57, 200, 

20T, 202, 207, 208, 222, 231, 

240, 261, 273. 

in the Fire, 66-80, 105. 

"Religion of/ 31, 58, 261, 
264, 265, 271. 

" Testament of," 46, 196, 
198, 200-2, 203, 205, 207, 
23 r 232, 240. 

Abraham Geiger, Rabbi, 7, 62, 


Abu Bakr, 17, 38. 

Abu Hurairah, 210, 256. 

Abu lsa 1 Maghribi, 52. 

Abu l FidA, 44, 45, 46, 52, 67, 
193. 212, 213. 

Aba Takbihah, 134. 

Adam, 52, 62-4, 192-7, 206-8, 
223, 225, 232, 240, 243, 245, 

A 246, 247, 250. 

Adhar, 77, 227, 228, 229. 

Ethiopia, 177. 

Ahadlth, 12, 15 (vide Tradi 

Sunnl collections, la, n. 

Shi ah collections, 13, n. 
Ahmad, 142, 190, 191. 
Ahriman, 217, 230, 243, 244, 

246, 252. 

Ahur6 Mazdao (ride Ormazd). 
Al Kindl, 21,46, 238. 
AAtAdr, 32. 
Allah Ta alu , 33, 40, 42, 245, 

Allat, 32, 33, 267, 271. 

Al Mu allaqat, 34, 47, 49. 
Al A raf, 123, 124, 202. 
Al Waqidi, 270. 
Aminah, 161, 247, 270. 
Amrita, 230. 

Amshaspands, 99, 228, 241. 
Anachronisms, 70, 78. 
Angel of Death, 200, 235, 241, 

242 (vide Sammal, Azrfiil). 
Angels worship Adam, 196. 
Anna, 156, 157, 167. 
Afird MainyuS (vide Ahriman"). 
Antichrist, 1 86, 187 (vide Daj- 


Anushiravan, 212. 
Apocryphal Gospels, 136-211, 

140, 142, 149, 156, 159, 162, 

164, 165, 167, 168, 169, 170, 

174, 181, 231, 233. 
Apostles, 142. 
Apsarasas, 103, 104. 238. 
Arabian Beliefs and Practices, 

2 9> 30, 3 J > 32, 33, 35. 3<5, 40, 

4i, 42, 43, 44. 46, 57, 58, 


Arabian Christians, 141. 

Arabian Nights, 234. 

Arabic Gospel of the Infancy, 

169, 170, 171, 173, 175, 182. 
Arabs, 29, 30, 140, 145. 
Araisu l Majalis, 66, 68, 89, 

93, 119, 122, 189, 243. 
Araisu t Tljan, 186, 225. 
Aralezk h, 239. 
Aramaic Words in the Qur an, 


Artang, 192. 
Arta Viraf, 217, 226-30, 231, 

232, 235. 
Avesta, 99, 122, 124, 151, 214, 



217, 231, 241, 243, 248, 249, 


Ash Shahristani, 36, 37, 38. 
As Sirat, 197, 251-3. 
Ast6vidh6tuS, 241. 
Athanasius, St., 181. 
Athanasius the Persian, History 

of the Martyrdom of, 137. 

aSl, 96, 97, 98, 107. 
Azar, 67, 69, 76. 
Azazil, 94, 195, 242-6. 
Azrail, 94,96,98, 193, 241. 

Babylonian Mythology, 102, 

103, 105. 
Bahman, 228. 
Baidawl, 152, 154, 270. 
Baihaql, 1 88. 

Balance, the, 198-205, 240. 
Bar Hebraeus, 147. 
Barlaam and Josaphat, 168. 
Barnabas, Epistle of Pseudo-, 45. 

Gospel of Pseudo-, 184. 
Basilides, 183, 184, 193. 
Berakh6th, 118, 128. 
Berez, Mt., 121. 
Bifrgst, 253. 

Bird of clay, life given to, 174, 

J 75- 

" Book of the Dead," 202, 203. 
Bridge, the, 197, 217, 251-3 

(vide As Sirat). 
Buddha, 165, 166, 167, 168, 172, 


"Komantic History of," 167. 
Buddha-carita, 172. 
Buddhist Legends, 164-8, 173. 

missionaries, 164, 165. 
Budge, Dr., 202, 203. 
Bukhari, 12, 16, 17, 20, 132, 


Bundahishnih, 243, 255. 
Buraq, 221, 222, 223, 232. 
Byzantine Empire, 141. 

Cain and Abel, story of, 62-6. 
Cariya Pitakam, 167. 

Childhood of Christ, 168-76. 
Chinvat, 217, 251, 252, 253 (vide 

As Sirat). 
Christ,* 139, 142, 153, 163, 180, 

192, 194, 195, 222, 248, 274. 

His Birth, 142, 153, 155, 159, 
1 60-8, 1 80, 209. 

His Divinity and Crucifixion 
denied, 55, 142, 170, 180, 
182-9, 192, 195, 197. 

His Miracles, 174, 175, 176, 

His Second Advent, 187, 189 
and future Death, 185, 186, 
187, 189. 

His Speaking in the Cradle, 
154, 156, 163, 169, 170, 172, 
173, 185. 

Christians, 38, 51, 136, 137, 140, 

141, 148, 171. 
Cinderella, 80, 149. 
Companions of the Cave, 143-9. 
Coptic Apocryphal Gospels, 159, 

160, 170, 188. 
Cradle, Christ speaking in, 154, 

156, 163, 169, 170, 172, 173, 

Crucifixion (vide Christ). 

Dajjal, 1 86 (vide Antichrist). 
Dasatir i Asmani, 250, 254, 255. 
Day of Atonement, 59, 60. 

Judgment, 197 (vide Judg 

"Decease of Joseph the Car 
penter," 1 88. 
Demiurgos, the, 194, 195. 
DharmaSastra, Manu s, 239. 
Dharratu l Kainat, 235, 240. 
Dlnkart, 252, 253. 
Diodorus Siculus, 34. 
Diogenes Laertius, 149. 
Docetism, 195. 

Ebionites, 55. 
Eden, 85, 233. 
Elijah, 1 88, 189, 234. 
Enoch, 188, 189, 234. 



Enoch, Book of, 106, 107, 232. 
Epiphanius, 55. 
Eritu, Tree of, 232. 
Esther, 97, 101, 104. 
Ezuiq, 193, 246. 
Ezniq Goghbatsi, 239. 

Fables, Christian, 143-211. 
Hindu, 102-4, 121, 230. 

Jewish (vide Jewish Le 

Persian, 215, 216, 217, 245, 
* 258, 259 (vide Zoroaatrians, 


Farldun, 151, 249. 

Fasting, 52, 53, 127 (vide Ra 

Feruhars, 241. 

Firdausl, 151, 216. 

Flood, 125. 

Fravwhis, 241. 

Gabriel, 23, 58, 78, 80, 112, 
i 9> *54, 155, 169, 185, 186, 

191, 3O6, 221, 222, 223, 224, 
225, 270. 

\Gandharvas, 238. 
Hiarden of Eden, 85, 233 .-" 

Gardens (Paradise}, 267, 271. 

Gemara, 1 1 8, 119. 

GestaPilati, 171. 

Ghilman, 235, 236, 238. 

Gilgamgsh, 101, 102, 106. 

Gnosticism, 183, 192, 193, 194, 


Gocl, Unity of, 34, 36 (ride Al 
lah Ta ala ). 

Golden Calf, 112, 113. 

Goldziher, Prof., 21 1. 

Gospels, 115,140, 142, 156,159, 
171, 209. 

Apocryphal, 140, 142, 149, 
J 5 6 > J 59> 162, 164, 165, 167, 
168, 169, 170, 174, 181, 231, 
233 (riile History). 

Gospel of Barnabas, 184. 

Nicodemns, 171. 

Thomas, 171, 175, 176. 

Gospel of the Infancy, 169, 170, 

171. J 73, 175, 182. 
Gregory of Tours, 147, 148. 

Habil, 62. 

Hagigah, 120, 121, 124. 
Hajaru l As wad, 42, 43, 57, 

Hanif, Hantfs, 68, 256, 260-73. 
Hanna, 153, 156, 167. 
Harftt and Marut, 92-108,98, 

99, 1 08. 

Heavens, seven, 122. 
Hell, hells, 197, 200, 229, 230, 

242, 267, 271. 
Heraclius, 213. 
Herodotus, 31, 32, 42, 43. 
Hilprecht, Dr., 233. 
Hindu ideas, 102-4, 121-230. 
Hira, Mt., 265, 270. 
" History of the Falling Asleep 

of Mary," 1 88. 
"History of the Nativity ot 

Mary," 162, 168, 182. 
"History of the Virgin," 159,160. 
Hoopoe, 81, 84. 
H6r6t and M6r6t, 99 
Huris, 103, 235-9. 
Hvapa, 217, 230, 23T;; 

Iblis, 94, 230, 242, 243, 245, 

Ibn Hishain, 30, 35, 41, 133, 

135, 2I 5 , 221, 222, 257, 262, 

263, 264-73, 276. 

Ibn Ishaq, 35, 41, 42, 45, 46, 
58, 135, 138, 139, 219, 221, 

222, 257, 262, 264-73. 

Ibn Khaldun, 23, 24. 

Ibn Majah, 256. 

Llris 93. 

Idfl d Duha, 59. 

Imran (Amratu), 150, 152. 

Imrau l Qais, 47-50. 

Indralokagamanam, 230. 

Injilu t Tufaiiyyah (ri<lf Arabic 

Gospel of the Infancy). 
Inspiration of the Bible, 24, 25. 

28 4 


Inspiration of the Qnr an, 12, 14, 
22, 23, 24, 25, 26. 

Traditions, 14. 

Irenaeus, 183. 
Isfandiyar, 215, 216, 217. 
Ishtar, 101, 102, 104, 106. 
IsUm, Foundations of, la. 
Israfil, 225. 

Jabr, 134. 

Jacob of Sarug, 147. 

Jalalain, 109, 112, 119, 123, 125, 

134, 147, 197. 
Jalalu ddin, 153, 154, 180. 
Jamshid, 90, 122, 151, 217, 248, 

249. 250. 
Jerusalem, 59, 79, 127, 157,186, 

200, 220, 222, 223. 

Jesus (ride Christ). 

Jews, 38, 51, 55-130, 92,145, 250. 

Jewish Legends, 63, 64, 78, 84-9, 

Jihad, 277, 278. 
Jinns, 38, 8 1, 84, 86, 87, 90, 91, 

235> 2 39> 2 4<>- 

Johannes Damascenus, 168. 
Jonathan, 79, 80, 105. 
Joseph, 158, 159, 160, 162, 175. 
Judaism, 141. 
Judas, 184. 
Judgment (Frontispiece), 197, 

205, 252. 

Ka bah, 34, 38, 41, 42, 43, 46, 

49, 54, 57> J 93> 2 66. 
Kajutah, 122. 
Kavaem Hvareno, 249. 
Keresaspa, 173, 250. 
Khadijah, 134. 
Khurdad, loo. 
Kitabu l Aghant, 256, 268. 
Koelle, Dr., 138, 161, 235, 371. 
Korah, 73. 
Krishna, 1 1. 

Lalita Vistara, 168, 172. 

Lauh i Mahftiz (vide Preserved 


Light of Muhammad, 246-51. 
Lord s Supper, the, 1 77, 1 78, 1 79. 
Lyall, Sir C. J., 50. 

Magians, 51, 77 (vide Zoroas- 


Mahabharata, 102, 122. 
Mahdl, 1 86. 
Malik, 123. 
Manda, 54. 
Mandaeans, 54. 
Mane s (Manl), 184, 191, 192. 
Manichaism, 165, 191. 
Marcion, 193, 194, 195. 
Marut (vide Harut). 
Maruts, 104. 

Mary the Copt, 170, 171, 202 
Mary, the Virgin, 138, 139, 140, 

149-68, 169, 179, 180, 181. 

her Birth, 157, 162. 

Maya, 165, 167. 

Mecca, 149, 206, 220, 222, 223, 

260, 269, 275. 

Medina, 176, 260, 275, 276. 
Messiah, 153. 

Michael, 202, 205, 207, 208, 231. 
Midr^sh, 124. 

Midrash Rabba, 67, 74, 76, 78. 
- Yalkut, 96, 98, 105, 106, 108. 
Minos, 205. 
Mlnukhirad, 248, 251. 
Mi raj (vide Night Journey). 
Miriam, 150, 151, 152. 
Mishkat, 206, 210, 223, 237. 
Mishnah, 118. 

Sanhedrin, 65, 66. 

Berakh6th, 118, 128. 
Mithra, 205, 249, 252. 
Mizanu l Mawazin, 78. 
Molech, 123. 

Morot, 99. 

Moses, 112, 113, 114, 150, 222. 
Mosheim, 137, 138. 
Mu allaqat (vide Al Mu allaqat). 
Muhammad, 12, 40, 56, 58, 59, 

9> 9 1 * "3, !39, i4 6 > M9 
181, 182, 206, 212, 213, 215, 

221, 222, 223, 225, 258, 260, 


2?,. 372 273, 274-80, et 
Muhammad, his birth, i6r. 

his coming foretold, 190. 
-Life of, 13, 56, 58, 139, 140, 

141 (vide Ibn Hisham, Ibn 
Ishaq, Koelle, Muir, Slra- 
tu r R&sul, Sprenger, Zuhrl). 
- his ignorance, 131-5, 139, 
J 42, 150, 151* 65, 179, 181, 
182, 184, 190, 196, 256, 275. 

his talent, 142, 171. 
Muhiyyu ddln, 219. 

Muir, Sir W., 8, 136, 139, 140, 

213, 238. 
Murdad, 100. 
Muslim (the Traditionist), 150, 

Muslim view of origin of Qur an, 


Prayers, 53, 128, 129 

Nalopak hyanam, 239. 

" Narrative of Joseph of Arima- 

thaea," 171. 

Neo-Muhammadans, 14. 
Nephllim, 104, 105. 
New Testament, influence of, 


quotations from, 209, 210. 
Nidanakatha Jutakam, 165, 166. 
Night Journey, the, 14, 206, 

218-35, 240. 
Niinrod, 66, 67, 70, 75, 78, 79. 

Ormazd, 77, 100, 173, 227, 228, 
229, 241, 244, 248, 252, 255. 
OpoTd\, 31. 
Othioth, 125. 

Pairakas (vide Paris). 

Palm-tree, 155, 162, 163,166,169. 

Paradise, 199, 207, 208, 209, 221, 
224, 227, 228, 229, 231, 233, 
2 35~9> 2 43. 245, 246, 247, 271. 

T\a.paK\T]Tos, 142, 190, 191. 

Paris, 237, 250. 

Peacock, 245, 246. 

People of the Book, 5 1, 129, 131, 

X 33 79, 186, 265. 
Ufpioboi A.irovT6\ouv, 184. 
Persian influence, 126, 194, 212- 


Pirqgy Aboth, 119. 
Kabbl Eli ezer, 63, 66, ua. 
Plato, 205. 
Plautus, 161 

Prayers, Muslim, 53, 128, 129. 
" Preserved Tablet," the, 22, 25, 

114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119. 
Protevangelium, 156, 160, 171, 


Psalms, 114. 
Purgatory, 198. 

Qabtl, 62. 

Qaf, Mt., 13, 119, 120, 121. 
Qiblah, 55, 59, 127. 
Qisasul Anbiya, 66, 115, 120, 
1 86, 193, 225, 232, 242, 245, 

246, 247. 
Qitor, 85, 86, 87. 
Queen of Sheba, 80-92. 
Quraish, 20, 30, 54,56, 222, 256, 

264, 266, 269, 272. 
Qur an, Anachronisms in, 27. 

Compilation of, 17, 18, 20, 
27, 275. 

Correctness of text of, 22. 

Dialect of, 22. 

English Versions of, 27. 

Hafsah s copy of, 19, 20, 21. 

History of, 15-22. 

- Inspiration of, 12, 14, 22, 23, 
24, 25, 26. 

- Various Readings in, 21, 22. 

Ramadan, 53, 269, 270. 

Rashi, 123. 

Kaudatu l Ahbab, 134, 16 1, 225, 

247, 256. 

"Refutation of Heresies," 193, 
194, 246. 
Religion of the Crescent," 

184, 2OO, 2IO. 



Resurrection, 199, 200. 
Rig Veda, 248. 
Rip Van Winkle, 149. 
Rodwell, 19, 27, 46, 55, 130, 

184, 256. 

" Romantic Legend," 172. 
R6sh Hashshanah, 125, 200. 
Rustam, 149, 215, 216, 217. 

Sabbath, no. 

Sabians, 38, 46, 51-5, 127. 

Sal-tree, 166. 

Salman, 134, 257, 258. 

Samaritan, the, 112, 114. 

Targuin, the, 105, 106. 
Samiri, 113. 

Sammael, 99, 112, 113, 114, 241. 
Sanhedrin, 114, 125. 
Sarosh, 227, 228, 229. 
Sastras, in. 
Satan, 124, 195, 242 (vide Iblis, 

Sell, Canon, 19. 
Semiazas, 107. 
. Seth, Book of, 52. 
Seven Earths, 121, 122, 242. 

Heavens, 121, 122, 242. 

Sleepers, 147, 148, 149. 
Shahnjimeh, 151, 217. 
Sheba, Queen of, 80-92. 
Shemljazai, 97, 98, 105, 107. 
Shuyugh, 1 86. 

Sidra Rabba, 55. 

Sidratu l Muntaha , 221, 224, 


Simon of Gyrene, 183. 
Sinai, 109, no. 
Siratu r Rasul, 30, 35, 41, 42, 

45>4 6 > 58,133,135,138,139. 

212, 215, 2l6, 219, 221, 222, 
257> 263, 264-7, 269, 273, 

Solomon, 81-92, 239, 250. 
Spandaraim t, 99. 
Spefita Armaiti, 99, 100. 
Sprenger, n, 46, 262, 271. 
Sunda, 102, 103. 
Sftrahs, 16, 18. 

Surahs, chronological order of, 
18, 19, n. 

Table, the, 176-9, 209. 

" Tales of the Ancients," 134, 

Talmud, 61, 92, 101, 104, 117, 

196, 200. 
Targuin, 63. 

of Jonathan, 79, 105, 232 

on Esther, Second, 80, 83-9. 

of Onkelos, 105. 

Samaritan, 105, 106. 
Temple of Jerusalem, 157, 158, 

159, 167. 

Terah, 74, 75, 77. 

Testament of Abraham, 46, 196, 
198, 200-2, 203, 205, 207, 
231, 232, 240. 

Tetragrammaton, the, 96. 

Tilottama, 103. 

"Times of Ignorance," 214, 269. 

Traditions, 23, 43, 46, 60, 121, 
184, 193, 199, 206, 210, 211, 
219, 220, 226, 237, 270, 279. 

" Travels of the Apostles/ 184. 

Tree of Life, 232, 233. 

Trinity, Muhaimnadan miscon 
ceptions of, 138, 139, 140, 
179, 180, 181. 

Tuba (the tree), 231, 233. 

Two Ways, the, 207, 208. 

Ulama, 14, 22, 25. 

Unity of God, 34, 36, 61, 180, 


Upasunda, 102, 103. 
Ur of the Chaldees, 79, 105. 
Uthman, 134, 261, 264, 266, 

Uzziel (vide Shemhazai). 

Valkyries, 239. 

Vendldad, 218, 231, 242, 252. 

Vessantaro, 167. 

Vidhatus, 241, 242. 

Visio Pauli, 231, 232, 233, 234. 



Waraqah, 134, 361, 264, 265, 273. 

" Was hat Mohammed aus dein 

Judenthume aufgenommen ? " 

Weil, n, 1 86. 

Wine, 222, 236. 

Wives, number of, 129, 130, 279. 

Yahya , 1 80. 

Vania, 248, 249. 

Yaman, 212, 213, 214. 

Yanabi u l Islam, 8, 50, 107. 

Yasar, 134. 

Yasna, 240, 248, 253. 

Yeshts, 122, 151, 164, 173, 241, 

249, 252. 
Yima Khshae ta, 248 (vide Jam- 


Zacharias, 152, 153, 157. 

Zaid, 135, 279. 

Zaid, the Hanlf, 261, 264, 266, 

267, 268, 269, 270, 271. 
Zaid ibn Thabit, 16, 18. 
Zainab, 279. 
Zarah, 77. 

Zardusht-nameh, 230. 
Zarvan, 248. 
Zohar, 121. 

Zoroaster, 217, 228, 230, 250. 
Zoroastrian influence, 212-59. 
Zoroastrians, 51, 124, 195, 198, 

205, 217, 230, 237, 241, 244, 

246, 250. 

Zuhrah, 94, 95, 96, IOI. 
Zuhrt, 262. 
Zwemer, Dr., 50. 

Oxford : Horace Hart, Printer to the University 


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The Religion of the Crescent ; or, Islam 
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