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Jew absolute security for their worship. An equivalent was given for a price. Religious freedom was bought with money. Numerous instances might be given of the scrupulous integrity with which the Arab commanders complied with their part of the contract. The example set by Omar on the steps of the Church of the Resurrection was followed by Moawiyah, who actually rebuilt the church of Edessa for his Christian subjects; and by Abdulmalek, who, when he had commenced converting that of Damascus into a mosque, forthwith desisted on finding that the Christians were entitled to it by the terms of the capitulation. If these things were done in the first fervour of victory, the principles on which they depended were all the more powerful after the Arabs had become tinctured with Nestorian and Jewish influences, and were a learned nation. It is related of Ali, the son-in-law of Mohammed, and the fourth successor in the khalifate, that he gave himself
Among his sayings are recorded such as these : “Eminence in science is the highest of honours ;" “He dies not who gives life to learning ;" “ The greatest ornament of a man is erudition.” When the sovereign felt and expressed such sentiments, it was impossible but that a liberal policy should prevail.
Besides these there were other incentives not less powerful. To one whose faith sat lightly upon him, or who valued it less than the tribute to be paid, it only required the repetition of a short sentence acknowledging the unity of God and the divine mission of the prophet, and he forthwith became, though a captive or a slave, the equal and friend of his conquerer.
Doubtless many thousands were under these circumstances carried away. As respects the female sex, the Arab system was very far from being oppressive; some have even asserted that “ the Christian women found in the seraglios a delightful retreat." But above all, polygamy acted most effectually in consolidating the conquests; the large fåmilies that were raised-some are mentioned of more than one hundred and eighty children-compressed into the course of a few years events that would otherwise have taken many generations for their accomplishment. These children gloried in their Arab descent, and, being taught to speak
Causes of the
the language of their conquering fathers, became to all intents and purposes Arabs. This
diffusion of the language was sometimes expedited by the edicts of the khalifs; thus Alwalid I. prohibited the use of Greek, directing Arabic to be employed in its stead.
If thus without difficulty we recognise the causes which led to the rapid diffusion of Arab power, we also without difficulty recognise those which led to its check and eventual dissolution. Arab conquest implied, from the scale on which it was pursued, the forthgoing of the whole nation. It could only be accomplished, arrest of Moand in a temporary manner sustained, by an hammedanexcessive and incessant drain of the native Arab population. That immobility, or, at best, that slow progress the nation had for so many ages displayed, was at an end, society was moved to its foundations, a fanatical delirium possessed it, the greatest and boldest enterprises were entered upon without hesitation, the wildest hopes or passions of men might be speedily gratified, wealth and beauty were the tangible rewards of valour in this life, to say nothing of Paradise in the next. But such an outrush of a nation in all directions implied the quick growth of diverse interests and opposing policies. The necessary consequence of the Arab system was subdivision and breaking up. The circumstances of its growth rendered it certain that a decomposition would integration of
Necessary distake place in the political, and not, as was the the Arabian case of the ecclesiastical Roman system, in the theological direction. All this is illustrated both in the earlier and later Saracenic history.
War makes a people run through its phases of existence fast. It would have taken the Arabs many Effect on the thousand years to have advanced intellectually low Arab as far as they did in a single century, had they, as a nation, remained in profound peace. They did not merely shake off that dead weight which clogs the movement of a nation-its inert mass of common people; they converted that mass into a living force. National progress is the sum of individual progress; national immobility the result of individual quiescence. Arabian life was run through with rapidity, because an unrestrained career was
opened to every man; and yet, quick as the movement was, it manifested all those unavoidable phases through which, whether its motion be swift or slow, humanity must unavoidably pass.
Arabian influence, thus imposing itself on Africa and Review of the Asia by military successes, and threatening even
Constantinople, rested essentially on an intellectual basis, the value of which it is needful for us to consider. The Koran, which is that basis, has exercised a great control over the destinies of mankind, and still serves as a rule of life to a very large portion of our race. Considering the asserted origin of this book-indirectly from God himself—we might justly expect that it would bear to be tried by any standard that man can apply, and 'vindicate its truth and excellence in the ordeal of human
criticism. In our estimate of it we must conhomogeneous- stantly bear in mind that it does not profess to ness and com- be successive revelations made at intervals of pleteness.
ages and on various occasions, but a complete production delivered to one man. We ought, therefore, to look for universality, completeness, perfection. We might expect that it would present us with just views of the nature and position of this world in which we live, and
that, whether dealing with the spiritual or ters it ought, the material, it would put to shame the most therefore, to have present
celebrated productions of human genius, as the
magnificent mechanism of the heavens and the beautiful living forms of the earth are superior to the vain contrivances of man.
Far in advance of all that has been written by the sages of India, or the philosophers of Greece, on points connected with the origin, nature, and destiny of the universe, its dignity of conception and excellence of expression should be in harmony with the greatness of the subject with which it is concerned.
We might expect that it should propound with authority, and definitively settle those all-important problems which have exercised the mental powers of the ablest men of Asia and Europe for so many centuries, and which are at the foundation of all faith and all philosophy; that it should distinctly tell us in unmistakable language what is God, what is the world, what is the soul, and whether man
has any criterion of truth; that it should explain to us how evil can exist in a world the Maker of which is omnipotent and altogether good; that it should reveal to us in what the affairs of men are fixed by Destiny, in what by free-will; that it should teach us whence we came, what is the object of our continuing here, what is to become of us hereafter. And, since a written work claiming a divine origin must necessarily accredit itself even to those most reluctant to receive it, its internal evidences becoming stronger and not weaker with the strictness of the examination to which they are submitted, it ought to deal with those things that may be demonstrated by the increasing knowledge and genius of man, anticipating therein bis conclusions. Such a work, noble as may be its origin, must not refuse, but court the test of natural philosophy, regarding it not as an antagonist, but as its best support. As years pass on, and human science becomes more exact and more comprehensive, its conclusions must be found in unison therewith. When occasion arises, it should furnish us at least the foreshadowings of the great truths discovered by astronomy and geology, not offering for them the wild fictions of earlier ages, inventions of the infancy of man. It should tell us how suns and worlds are distributed in infinite space, and how, in their successions, they come forth in limitless time. It should say how far the dominion of God is carried out by law, and what is the point at which it is his pleasure to resort to his own good providence or his arbitrary will. How grand the description of this magnificent universe written by the Omnipotent hand! Of man it should set forth his relations to other living beings, his place among them, his privileges, and responsibilities. It should not leave him to
way through the vestiges of Greek philosophy, and to miss the truth at last; but it should teach him wherein true knowledge consists, anticipating the physical science, physical power, and physical well-being of our own times, nay, even unfolding for our benefit things that we are still ignorant of. The discussion of subjects, so raany and so high, is not outside the scope of a work of such pretensions. Its manner of dealing with them is the only criterion it can offer of its authenticity to succeeding times.
Tried by such a standard, the Koran altogether fails. In its philosophy it is incomparably inferior to the
writings Defects of the of Chakia Mouni, the founder of Buddhism; in
its science it is absolutely worthless. On speculative or doubtful things it is copious enough; but in the exact, where a test can be applied to it, it totally fails. Its astronomy, cosmogony, physiology, are so puerile as to invite our mirth if the occasion did not forbid.
They belong to the old times of the world, the morning of human knowledge. The earth is firmly balanced in its seat by the weight of the mountains; the sky is supported over it like a dome, and we are instructed in the wisdom and power of God by being told to find a crack in it if we can. Ranged in stories, seven in number, are the heavens, the highest being the habitation of God, whose throne—for the Koran does not reject Assyrian ideas-is sustained by winged animal forms. The shooting-stars are pieces of red-hot stone thrown by angels at impure spirits when they approach too closely. Of God the Koran is full of praise, setting forth, often in not unworthy imagery, his majesty. Though it bitterly denounces those who give
him any equals, and assures them that their sin
will never be forgiven; that in the judgment-day they must answer the fearful question, “Where are my companions about whom ye disputed ?" though it inculcates an absolute dependence on the mercy of God, and denounces as criminals all those who make a merchandise of religion, its ideas of the Deity are altogether anthropomorphic. He is only a gigantic man living in a paradise. In this respect, though exceptional passages might be cited, the reader rises from a perusal of the 114 chapters of the Koran with a final impression that they have given him low and unworthy thoughts; nor is it surprising that one of the Mohammedan sects reads it in such a way as to find no difficulty in asserting that, “ from the crown of the head to the breast God is hollow, and from the breast downward he is solid; that he has curled black hair, and roars like lion at every watch of the night.” The unity asserted by Mohammed is a unity in special contradistinction to the Trinity of the Christians, and the doctrine of a divine generation. Our Saviour is never called the Son of God,