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THE QUK AN.
KEY. W; ST. CLATR TTSDALL, M.A., T).D
Author of " The Religion of the Crescent," " The Noble
Eightfold Path," "Manual of Muliammadan
Objections" Ac., Ac.
Reprint of 1905 edition.
.( IETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE.
LONDON: NORTHUMBERLAND AVENUE, W.C.;
43, QUEEN VICTORIA STREET, E.f. ;
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NEW YORK : K. S. GORHAM *V<"^
PUBLISHED UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE TRACT COMMITTEE.
SIR WILLIAM MUIR, K.C.S.I.
LATE PRINCIPAL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH
A SLIGHT TOKEN OF RESPECT AND ESTEEM.
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
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.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INFLUENCE OF ANCIENT ARABIAN BELIEFS AND PRACTICES . 29
APPENDIX TO CHAPTER II 47
INFLUENCE OF SABIAN AND JEWISH IDEAS AND PRACTICES
INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL
BOOKS ... 3 6
ZOROASTRIAN ELEMENTS IN THE QURAN AND TRADITIONS OF
THE HAH!FS AND THEIR INFLUENCE UPON NASCENT ISLAM.
CONCLUSION 2 "
THE JUDGMENT HALL OF OSIRIS, FROM THE EGYPTIAN
" BOOK OF THE DEAD " Frontispiece.
THE ORIGINAL SOURCES OF
THE QUR AN.
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
12 THE ORIGINAL SOURCES OF THE
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
INTRODUCTORY. T 3
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.
14 THE ORIGINAL SOURCES OF THE
" 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
J6 THE ORIGINAL SOURCES OF THE QUR AN.
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.
l8 THE ORIGINAL SOURCES OF THE QUR*AN.
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."
20 THE ORIGINAL SOURCES OF THE QUR AN.
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.
22 THE ORIGINAL SOURCES OF THE QUR*AN.
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
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^
24 THE ORIGINAL SOURCES OF THE QUR AN.
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.)
INTRODUCTORY. 2 5
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
26 THE OBIGINAL SOURCES OP THE
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
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.
28 THE ORIGINAL SOURCES OF THE
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
THE INFLUENCE OF ANCIENT ARABIAN BELIEFS
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
3 THE INFLUENCE OF ANCIENT ARABIAN
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,
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.
BELIEFS AND PRACTICES. 3 1
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.
32 THE INFLUENCE OF ANCIENT ARABIAN
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\op.tv(av 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).
BELIEFS AND PRACTICES. 33
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.
34 THE INFLUENCE OF ANCIENT ARABIAN
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.).
BELIEFS AND PRACTICES. 35
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.
36 THE INFLUENCE OF ANCIENT ARABIAN
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).
BELIEFS AND PRACTICES. 37
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).
38 THE INFLUENCE OF ANCIENT ARABIAN
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 :
BELIEFS AND PRACTICES. 39
ing some of the best-known commentators on the
Quran, shows how readily the Arabs in Muhani-
dfc - tejfci j *i) tf~
Another form of the story is given in the same book in these
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
40 THE INFLUENCE OP ANCIENT ARABIAN
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.
BELIEFS AND PRACTICES. 4 1
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.
42 THE INFLUENCE OF ANCIENT ARABIAN
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.
BELIEFS AND PRACTICES. 43
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.
44 THE INFLUENCE OF ANCIENT ARABIAN
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.
BELIEFS AND PRACTICES. 45
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* >
THE INFLUENCE OF ANCIENT ARABIAN
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?
BELIEFS AND PRACTICES. 47
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
APPENDIX TO CHAPTER II.
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
48 THE INFLUENCE OF ANCIENT ARABIAN
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*
>" f t
BELIEFS AND PRACTICES. 49
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:
50 THE INFLUENCE OF ANCIENT ARABIAN BELIEFS.
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."
INFLUENCE OF SABIAN AND JEWISH IDEAS AND
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
52 INFLUENCE OF SABIAN
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
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 53
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.
54 INFLUENCE OF SABIAN
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
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 55
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.,
INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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.
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 57
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.
5 8 INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 59
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.
3 Sir W. Muir, op. cit., p. 188.
60 INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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.
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 6l
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
INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 63
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.
INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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.
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 65
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.
66 INFLUENCE OP JEWISH
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.
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 67
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.
INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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,
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 69
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-?.
7 INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 7 1
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.
7 2 INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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.
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 73
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.
74 INFLUENCE OP JEWISH
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.
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 75
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-
INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 77
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
78 INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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.
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 79
unaware that Uthman had never experienced such
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.
8o INFLUENCE OP JEWISH
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
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 8l
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
82 INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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."
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 83
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
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.
84 INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 85
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.
86 INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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
IDEAS AND PRACTICES.
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
INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 89
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,
9 INFLUENCE OP JEWISH
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.
IDEAS AND PRACTICES.
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
9 2 INFLUENCE OP JEWISH
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
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 93
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
94 INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 95
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/
96 INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 97
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
98 INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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-
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.
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 99
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.
100 INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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.
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. IOI
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
I2 INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
(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.
IDEAS AND PRACTICES.
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
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
I0 4 INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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.
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 105
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
106 INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 1 07
" 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
INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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
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
1 Surah II., Al Baqarah, verse 96, fin.
IDEAS AND PRACTICES.
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
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
INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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,
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
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
LIDEAS AND PRACTICES. Ill
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
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."
112 INFLUENCE OP JEWISH
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
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.
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 113
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
114 INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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-
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 1 15
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
Il6 INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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.
IDEAS AND PRACTICES.
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
Il8 INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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,
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 1 19
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.
120 INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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.
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 121
" 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
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.
122 INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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.
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 123
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.
124 INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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.
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 125
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
126 INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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."
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 127
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-
128 INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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.
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 12Q
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
130 INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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."
IDEAS AND PRACTICES.
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
132 INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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.
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 133
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
134 INFLUENCE OF JEWISH
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
IDEAS AND PRACTICES. 135
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.
THE INFLUENCE OF CHEISTIANITY AND CHRISTIAN
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.
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 137
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.
138 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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.
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 139
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.
140 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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,
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 14!
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,
142 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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.
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 143
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.
144 J HE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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,
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 145
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
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.
146 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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.
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 147
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.
148 THE INFLUENCE OP CHRISTIANITY AND
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,
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 149
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. 8ia.va.ards 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
150 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 15!
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
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.
152 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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
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
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 153
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
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.
154 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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
"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
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 155
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.
156 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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.
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 157
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.
158 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 159
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 -
160 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. l6l
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.
162 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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.
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 163
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
164 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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.
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 165
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.
166 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
" 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
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 167
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
1 68 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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.
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 169
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
1 70 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 1 71
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
172 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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.
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 1 73
. . . 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.
I?4 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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
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
.CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 175
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
176 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 177
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.
178 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
(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
" 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
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 179
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
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
Surah IV., An Nisa, 169: "0 People of the Book,
l8o THE INFLUENCE OP CHRISTIANITY AND
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
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. l8l
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,
182 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS.
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.
184 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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,
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 185
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
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
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
l86 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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.
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 187
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
1 88 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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.
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 189
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.
190 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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.
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS.
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,
192 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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.
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 193
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
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.
194 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 195
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
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-
196 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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,
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 197
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.
198 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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."
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS.
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
200 THE INFLUENCE OP CHRISTIANITY AND
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.
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 2OI
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
" 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,
2 Cf. Surah L., 16, 17, 20,
202 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 203
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.
204 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 205
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
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.
206 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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
" 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.
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 207
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.
208 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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,
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 209
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
"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
210 THE INFLUENCE OF CHRISTIANITY AND
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.
CHRISTIAN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS. 211
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.
ZOROASTRIAN ELEMENTS IN THE QlJR AN AND
TRADITIONS OF ISL&M.
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 ^ ^
ZOROASTBIAN ELEMENTS IN THE QUR AN 213
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.
2 Sir W. Muir, Life of Mahomet, pp. xcvii and 31, 32.
214 ZOROASTRIAN ELEMENTS IN THE QURAN
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
AND TRADITIONS OF ISLAM. 215
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.
21 6 ZOfcOASTRIAN ELEMENTS IN THE QUR*AN
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
AND TRADITIONS OF ISLAM. 217
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
2l8 ZOROASTRIAN ELEMENTS IN THE
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.
AND TRADITIONS OF ISLAM. 219
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
220 ZOROASTRIAN ELEMENTS IN THE
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
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
AND TRADITIONS OF ISLAM. 221
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
" 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."
222 ZOROASTRIAN ELEMENTS IN THE
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.
AND TRADITIONS OF ISLAM. 223
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.
224 ZOROASTRIAN ELEMENTS IN THE
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.
AND TRADITIONS OF ISLAM. 225
incident of Adam s weeping, which we have 1
already spoken of ; but it is unnecessary to mention
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
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
3 Qimm l Anbiyd, pp. 337, 338.
* Perhaps an invention to make him bear comparison with
our Lord : cf. Heb. vi. 19, 20.
226 ZOROASTBIAN ELEMENTS IN THE QURAN
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.
AND TRADITIONS OP ISLAM. 227
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
228 ZOROASTRIAN ELEMENTS IN THE QUR AN
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.
AND TRADITIONS OP ISLAM. 22Q
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.
230 ZOROASTRIAN ELEMENTS IN THE QUR*AN
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
The Zoroastrians have also an account of the
existence of a marvellous tree, called Hvdpa in the
AND TRADITIONS OF ISLAM. 23!
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.
232 ZOROASTRIAN ELEMENTS IN THE
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).
AND TRADITIONS OF ISLAM. 233
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.
234 ZOROASTRIAN ELEMENTS IN THE QURAN
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
AND TRADITIONS OF ISLAM. 235
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
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.,
XXXVI., XXXVII., XLVIL, LXXXIII., &c.
236 ZOROASTRJAN ELEMENTS IN THE
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.
AND TRADITIONS OF ISLAM. 237
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,
238 ZOROASTRIAN ELEMENTS IN THE QUR AN
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 TRADITIONS OF ISLAM. 239
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.
240 ZOROASTRIAN ELEMENTS IN THE QUR*AN
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
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.
AND TRADITIONS OF ISLAM. 24!
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.
242 ZOROASTRIAN ELEMENTS IN THE QUR AN
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
* As has been already said, the earth, like hell and heaven,
consists of seven stories.
AND TRADITIONS OF ISLAM.
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.
244 ZOROASTRIAN ELEMENTS IN THE QUR AN
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.
AND TRADITIONS OF ISLAM. 245
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
246 ZOROASTRIAN ELEMENTS IN THE QUR
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.
AND TRADITIONS OF ISLAM. 247
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.)
248 ZOROASTBIAN ELEMENTS IN THE QURAN
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).
TRADITIONS OF ISLAM. 249
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
" 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."
250 ZOROASTRIAN ELEMENTS IN THE QUR AN
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.
AND TRADITIONS OF ISLAM. 25 1
derived, especially as the same idea is found also in
older Zoroastrian writings, as in the Minnkhirad
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
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
252 ZOROASTRIAN ELEMENTS IN THE
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 TRADITIONS OF ISLAM. 253
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.
254 ZOROASTRIAN ELEMENTS IN THE
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 TRADITIONS OF ISL&M. 255
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.
256 ZOROASTRIAN ELEMENTS IN THE QUR 5 AN
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
AND TRADITIONS OF ISLAM. 257
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
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.
258 ZOROASTRIAN ELEMENTS IN THE QUR*AN
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.
AND TRADITIONS OF ISLAM. 259
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.
THE HANIFS AND THEIR INFLUENCE UPON
NASCENT ISLAM. CONCLUSION.
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.
THE HANIFS. 261
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.
262 THE HANIF3 AND THEIR INFLUENCE
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
UPON NASCENT ISLAM. 263
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
264 THE HANIFS AND THEIR INFLUENCE
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
3 Referring to the celebrated HajcmCl Aswad.
UPON NASCENT ISLAM. 265
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
266 THE HANIFS AND THEIR INFLUENCE
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.
UPON NASCENT ISLAM. 267
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 ."
268 THE HAN1FS AND THEIR INFLUENCE
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.
UPON NASCENT ISLAM. 269
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.)
270 THE HANIFS AND THEIR INFLUENCE
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.
UPON NASCENT ISLAM. 271
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.
272 THE HANIFS AND THEIR INFLUENCE
the Qur an repeatedly l , though indirectly 2 , speaks
of Abraham as a Hanif, the chosen title of Zaid and
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.
UPON NASCENT ISLAM. CONCLUSION. 273
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
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.)
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
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.
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.
Ahadlth, 12, 15 (vide Tradi
Sunnl collections, la, n.
Shi ah collections, 13, n.
Ahmad, 142, 190, 191.
Ahriman, 217, 230, 243, 244,
Ahur6 Mazdao (ride Ormazd).
Al Kindl, 21,46, 238.
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.
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-
Apocryphal Gospels, 136-211,
140, 142, 149, 156, 159, 162,
164, 165, 167, 168, 169, 170,
174, 181, 231, 233.
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,
Arta Viraf, 217, 226-30, 231,
Avesta, 99, 122, 124, 151, 214,
217, 231, 241, 243, 248, 249,
Ash Shahristani, 36, 37, 38.
As Sirat, 197, 251-3.
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,
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.
Bird of clay, life given to, 174,
" 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.
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
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,
His Speaking in the Cradle,
154, 156, 163, 169, 170, 172,
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.
Eden, 85, 233.
Elijah, 1 88, 189, 234.
Enoch, 188, 189, 234.
Enoch, Book of, 106, 107, 232.
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
Firdausl, 151, 216.
Gabriel, 23, 58, 78, 80, 112,
i 9> *54, 155, 169, 185, 186,
191, 3O6, 221, 222, 223, 224,
Hiarden of Eden, 85, 233 .-"
Gardens (Paradise}, 267, 271.
Gemara, 1 1 8, 119.
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,
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.
Thomas, 171, 175, 176.
Gospel of the Infancy, 169, 170,
171. J 73, 175, 182.
Gregory of Tours, 147, 148.
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.
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.
Idfl d Duha, 59.
Imran (Amratu), 150, 152.
Imrau l Qais, 47-50.
Injilu t Tufaiiyyah (ri<lf Arabic
Gospel of the Infancy).
Inspiration of the Bible, 24, 25.
Inspiration of the Qnr an, 12, 14,
22, 23, 24, 25, 26.
Isfandiyar, 215, 216, 217.
Ishtar, 101, 102, 104, 106.
IsUm, Foundations of, la.
Jacob of Sarug, 147.
Jalalain, 109, 112, 119, 123, 125,
134, 147, 197.
Jalalu ddin, 153, 154, 180.
Jamshid, 90, 122, 151, 217, 248,
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.
Judgment (Frontispiece), 197,
Ka bah, 34, 38, 41, 42, 43, 46,
49, 54, 57> J 93> 2 66.
Kavaem Hvareno, 249.
Keresaspa, 173, 250.
Kitabu l Aghant, 256, 268.
Koelle, Dr., 138, 161, 235, 371.
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.
Mane s (Manl), 184, 191, 192.
Manichaism, 165, 191.
Marcion, 193, 194, 195.
Marut (vide Harut).
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.
Michael, 202, 205, 207, 208, 231.
Midrash Rabba, 67, 74, 76, 78.
- Yalkut, 96, 98, 105, 106, 108.
Mlnukhirad, 248, 251.
Mi raj (vide Night Journey).
Miriam, 150, 151, 152.
Mishkat, 206, 210, 223, 237.
Sanhedrin, 65, 66.
Berakh6th, 118, 128.
Mithra, 205, 249, 252.
Mizanu l Mawazin, 78.
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,
Muslim (the Traditionist), 150,
Muslim view of origin of Qur an,
Prayers, 53, 128, 129
Nalopak hyanam, 239.
" Narrative of Joseph of Arima-
Nephllim, 104, 105.
New Testament, influence of,
quotations from, 209, 210.
Nidanakatha Jutakam, 165, 166.
Night Journey, the, 14, 206,
Niinrod, 66, 67, 70, 75, 78, 79.
Ormazd, 77, 100, 173, 227, 228,
229, 241, 244, 248, 252, 255.
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.
Prayers, Muslim, 53, 128, 129.
" Preserved Tablet," the, 22, 25,
114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119.
Protevangelium, 156, 160, 171,
Qaf, Mt., 13, 119, 120, 121.
Qiblah, 55, 59, 127.
Qisasul Anbiya, 66, 115, 120,
1 86, 193, 225, 232, 242, 245,
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,
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.
Kaudatu l Ahbab, 134, 16 1, 225,
"Refutation of Heresies," 193,
Religion of the Crescent,"
184, 2OO, 2IO.
Resurrection, 199, 200.
Rig Veda, 248.
Rip Van Winkle, 149.
Rodwell, 19, 27, 46, 55, 130,
" Romantic Legend," 172.
R6sh Hashshanah, 125, 200.
Rustam, 149, 215, 216, 217.
Sabians, 38, 46, 51-5, 127.
Salman, 134, 257, 258.
Samaritan, the, 112, 114.
Targuin, the, 105, 106.
Sammael, 99, 112, 113, 114, 241.
Sanhedrin, 114, 125.
Sarosh, 227, 228, 229.
Satan, 124, 195, 242 (vide Iblis,
Sell, Canon, 19.
. 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,
of Jonathan, 79, 105, 232
on Esther, Second, 80, 83-9.
of Onkelos, 105.
Samaritan, 105, 106.
Temple of Jerusalem, 157, 158,
Terah, 74, 75, 77.
Testament of Abraham, 46, 196,
198, 200-2, 203, 205, 207,
231, 232, 240.
Tetragrammaton, the, 96.
"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).
Vendldad, 218, 231, 242, 252.
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.
Yasna, 240, 248, 253.
Yeshts, 122, 151, 164, 173, 241,
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.
Zoroaster, 217, 228, 230, 250.
Zoroastrian influence, 212-59.
Zoroastrians, 51, 124, 195, 198,
205, 217, 230, 237, 241, 244,
Zuhrah, 94, 95, 96, IOI.
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