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listen and answer as they sat upon the house-top in the twilight, when the angel of death took Abdallah from the earth; the son of Hashem saw the fairest of his nineteen children fall the first. Can we bring before us the widowed Amina, with her little prophet by her side ? Can we imagine how he, with his quick, wild soul and keen sense of justice, was educated into a horror and hatred of the customs of his country by the injustice of his uncles, who, according to usage, seized his father's wealth, and left him and his mother stripped ? Will not the two years, sad and lonely years, which he passed with the mourning and suffering bride of Abdallah, show us something of the creation of the Arabian Reformer ? Two lonely years, and then the weary heart of Amina herself stood still. Silence reigned in the house; silently friends moved round the bed of death; and he stood there, a little child of four years old, with the heart and the imagination of a child, — looked on the pallid face, the speechless lips, and knew that it was the cruel treatment allowed by the pagan faith he lived under, which had robbed the eye Abdallah had loved of its beauty, and brought the young bride to her grave. He knew it all, but did not know he knew it; it was in his imagination and soul, not in his understanding. Many words had that weeping mother spoken to him, which had sunk into his heart to lie for years, and prepare the way for Islam.
Amina was laid in her tomb, and Mohammed looked up into the sorrowing face of his grandfather, who took the orphan-boy kindly by the hand and led him home. He was a kind old man, Abdol Motalleb, and he loved and cared tenderly for Abdallah's child. For two more years Mohammed grew in strength, beauty, and intelligence under the patriarch's eye; then the son of Hashem called the stripling to him, and having sent for Abdallah's eldest brother, Abu Taleb, he gave the orphan to his uncle, saying, “I am dying. Take this child, whose father and mother have been called away from this world, and rear him as if he were your own." The uncle promised him protection, and in a little while the boy followed to the grave his third, his last parent. So early was his spirit purified and made strong by sorrow.
Let us pass by twenty years, and look at Abdallah's son a grown man, faintly visible as he is in the pages of biogra
phy. He is a merchant or factor, not trading on his own account, but heretofore agent for his uncle, and lately advanced into the service of a rich lady of Mecca, Cadijah, already twice a widow. He had travelled; he had been in Syria; had seen Christians and Jews; had listened to the history and the poetry of the old Hebrews. Calm, acute, quick, imaginative, and devout by nature, and devout also through suffering, Mohammed saw and heard realities; and in silence, half consciously, weighed the faith and the practice of his own pagan Arabia against the simple deism and the sublime morality of Moses. Among his companions, kind, considerate, and remarkable for his purity; in business exact and thorough ; with a person of uncommon beauty, an address of remarkable grace, a fine intellect, and a spotless character, - none of the descendants of Hashem promised better than the son of Abdallah. And now he is leaving again, in the service of Cadijah, to spend some years in Syria. Will he not carry still farther his inquiries into Judaism and Christianity ? Will he not think yet more earnestly of a change among his own wild brethren, that shall do away with those savage customs which made his childhood one of dependence, and brought Amina to the grave? Can we not from all the fables about the Nestorian monk Sergius take simply this kernel, that Mohammed, in his various journeys to Syria, became well acquainted with the faith of Moses and with that of Jesus, and leave all the husks of time, place, and circumstance to those who please to quarrel about them ? Are we not authorized to feel sure, that, when the factor of the rich Meccan widow, at the age of twentyeight, became her husband, and rose through her wealth to the place which he might claim as his own by birth, he was already earnestly, silently meditating that great reform in the faith and practice of his countrymen which twelve years later he commenced ?
Slowly do the great births of time, material or spiritual, take place. Napoleon may rise in an instant to his zenith of inAuence, but so he falls, too; Mohammed through twenty years quietly meditates his mission, and leaves an impress on the world for twenty centuries ; Christianity yet more slowly grows towards power; the Arab lived to triumph, Jesus died upon the tree ; aud now the crescent is passing away before the cross. No meteor hangs long in the firmament. Through twenty years Mohammed listened, thought, and prayed, — through eight years of active life, through twelve of quiet retirement. Imagine the effect of retirement, of earnest, solitary meditation, on a mind of vast, uneducated powers ; a soul of mighty passion, chastened and curbed by a will of iron. He saw the evils of Arabian society, of Arabian law, of Arabian religion, - that is, of paganism ; he saw, too, that, wherever great progress had been made, it had proceeded from revelation; Moses and Jesus were prophets of the one God. Was God dead? Had he ceased to take an interest in mankind ? Did he care less for the offspring of Hagar than for those of Sarah ? Was no other prophet to arise, no further revelation to be made ? Nay, did not even Judaism and Christianity require another revelation to purify them ? Had not Jesus promised another to complete his work, the Comforter ?
Twenty years of such questioning, and deep meditation thereon, might produce an impostor or an enthusiast, a liar or a self-deceiver. Which was Mohammed ? Before seeking an answer in his after life, look at him as he is, and which is the most probable character for him to live in ? He is noble, his ambition is thereby gratified; he is rich, he can hope no more from wealth; he is looked on as a man of leading mind, love of power and fame on that score is satisfied ; his character is so pure, so faultless, that men point him out as a model to their sons. Will he, profoundly false, plan to deceive his countrymen into a system better than their own, and gain nothing himself ? That surely would not be human nature. And what could he gain for himself ? What did Jesus gain? What did Moses gain, or any true servant of God? Would these fierce idolaters — these worshippers of the sun, and moon, and stars, these kissers of the Black Stone — make him their king and prophet because he pretended to have a mission from God? The Israelites, with their old traditions, so much stronger and fresher than those of the Ishmaelites, could scarce yield to Moses with all his miracles; would he, without any miracle, succeed, where the rod of the Hebrew lawgiver and the thunders of Sinai were so weak? He was a shrewd man, this Mohammed ; in worldly matters he had sped well; he was an astute, cautious, judicious merchant of forty. In England or the United States, he would, in our day, have been presi
dent of a bank, chief director in a railroad or canal company. Now, to him coolly calculating, what sort of a speculation was this of prophecy ? On the one hand, certain rank, certain wealth, certain respect and estimation ; on the other, every thing uncertain, but persecution probable, and Jitile to be hoped at last save the production of a faith in one God, for whom - on this imposture theory- he cared not a straw. Would any judicious Yankee have gone into this business of humbug with such odds? It was not a case of quack medicines, or perpetual-motion machines. Mohammed was trying his patent invention against the intensest prejudices of one of the intensest races this earth has been occupied by. Imagine a Dutch merchant of old times, say 1650, going to preach the gospel of peace and forgiveness among the Mohawks on speculation ; or a wise Boston dealer of our day starting, - not for Texas or Oregon, but for the Blackfeet or Crows on a like mission ; — imagine this, and then you have a conception of Mohammed playing the part of impostor. Out on the idea! Paley's argument for the honesty of the Apostles is worth nothing, if Mohammed was an impostor, - leaving out of sight, what we have presently to present, his after life. O, no! whether rogue or not afterwards, let us so far respect our own hearts and heads, human nature, fallen as it is, — as to believe that this unlettered, imaginative, world-oppressed, heavenseeking Arab was no mere cheat, but one to whose imagination heaven was opened, and to whom Gabriel came, subjectively at least, in truth. Twenty years of earnest thought on the questions, “ Will God never send another prophet ? never heal our woes ?” twenty years of earnest longing that he would, of solitary, heartfelt prayer that he might, were enough to draw Gabriel to that cave of Hara, in Mohammed's thought, if not in reality. In bow many hours had Amina met her child in that quiet cave! How often had the misty form of Abdallah, even, floated near him! Was it strange, that, on the night of Al Kadr (the divine decree), the Koran drew near to the earth, — God's expressed will near to man, — and that the archangel, dark with excessive bright, told the dreamer of his mission?
The light of morning was breaking over Mecca on the 24th of the month of Ramadan, and Cadijah yet waited the coming of her husband. Many a night he had been absent in his solitude, and she had slept in peace ; but for some days his mind had been so absent, so excited, so elevated, that she could not rest. Morning dawned ; her husband came ; never had she seen such a fire in his eye, such light in every trait of his noble countenance. Was it insanity or inspiration ? To her his words, burning with the calm; fervor of the sun, proved it the latter, and the new prophet had one disciple.
Now begins the second period of the prophet's life, extending through about thirteen years. Supposing him honest at the commencement of it, did he continue so ? And what light does his conduct during this part of his career throw upon the previous portion of bis history ? Does it add to or take from the proofs of his honesty at the beginning of his mission ?
His wife was his first convert ; his servant his next; Ali, the son of Abu Taleb his protector, and the leading man of Mecca, was his third ; Abubekir, a rich and influential citizen of the Holy City, his fourth. In four years he had gained but nine followers. Then he called together all of the house of Hashem to hear his message, for hitherto he had labored in secret, — labored rather to perfect his own conceptions, probably, than to convey them to others. His relatives, or forty of them, came at his call, curious to hear what their quiet, easy, comfortable cousin Mohammed had to say. Cousin Mohammed was a changed man since they last saw him ; then he was a thriving merchant and bridegroom, who seemed likely to enjoy his wealth, bring up his children respectably, and command the regard of his fellow-citizens for his intelligence and virtue, but who would never set the world on fire. Now, at this annunciation feast, bis eye, manner, voice, and words had a vehemence, fervor, and extravagance in them, heretofore unknown in him. Some wondered, some laughed, some scoffed ; to a few it was inspiration, to most sheer madness, to one or two (the rogues of the family) deep hypocrisy and imposture. The family of Hashem, the kin of Abdallah, rejected him. Then he turned from his own house to the Holy City, and in public, 10 all men, at the doors of the Caaba, to the idolatrous pilgrims flocking thither, proclaimed the truth given through Abraham, through Moses, through Jesus, and now again through him :“God is one God; the eternal God; he begetteth not, neither is he begotten ; and there is not any one like unto