Page images
PDF
EPUB

and as it had its origin in Christianity, so to Christ it looks in the end. For, according to the creed of the Mahometans, Jesus is expected to descend to earth, to embrace the religion of Mahomet, to slay Antichrist, and to reign with his saints." The same authority affirms, “ that the Mahometans are nearer to Christianity than many of the ancient heretics; the Cerinthians, Gnostics, and Manichees.” Consequently its fate is involved in that of all false doctrines which have corrupted the gospel; and as far as the disclosures of prophecy, or the present posture of the nations of the earth, hold out a hope of the speedy downfall of delusion, and of the establishment of the truth, the eye is naturally turned with deepening interest and anxiety to those regions of the globe where this religion has so long prevailed. But in proportion

to the interest inspired in the general subject of Mahometanism, is that which is felt in the life, character, and actions of its founder. That an obscure individual, sprung

from the roving tribes of Arabia, following no higher occupation than that of a caravan-trader, possessing no peculiar advantages of mental culture, nor distinguished in the outset by any pre-eminence of power or authority, should yet have been enabled, in spite of numerous obstacles, to found an extensive empire over the minds, as well as persons, of millions of the human race, and that this dominion should have been continued for more than twelve hundred years, presents a phenomenon which increases our wonder the more steadily it is contemplated.

In order to preserve the continuity of the story from being broken by incessant reference to au

thorities, the following catalogue is submitted, which will present at one view the principal works consulted and employed in preparing the present Life:-Sale's Koran; Universal History, Mod. Series, vol. i.; Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; Prideaux's Life of Mahomet, that in the Library of Useful Knowledge; Boulainvillier and Gagnier Vie de Mahomet; Hottinger's Historia Orientalis; Abul-Faragii Historia Dynastarum, Pocock’s Transl.; Morgan's Mahometanism Explained, 2 vols.; Forster's Mahometanism Unveiled, 2 vols. ; D'Herbelot's Bibliotheque Orientale; Rycaut’s Present State of the Ottoman Empire ; Ockley’s History of the Saracens, 2 vols.; Lee's Translation of the Rev. H. Martyn's Controversial Tracts; Charles Mills's History of Muhammedanism; Rev. W. H. Neale's Mahometan System, &c., with the authorities quoted by them respectively.

On the subject of the Arabic proper names so frequently occurring in this work, it may be useful to the English reader to be informed that Al is a particle equivalent to our definite article The. Thus Alcoran is composed of two distinct words, signifying The Koran, of which the last only ought to be retained in English. Again, Ebn is the Arabic word for son, as is Bint or Binta for daughter, and with the particle Al after it, according to the Arabic usage, Ebno'l is, the son. So Abu, father, with the article after it, Abu'l, the father. Thus, Said Ebn Obeidah Abu Omri, is, Said, the son of Obeidah, father of Omri; it being usual with the Arabs to take their names of distinction from their sons as well as their fathers. In like manner, Ebno'l Athir, is, the son of Athir;

Abu'l Abbas, the father of Abbas: and as Abd signifies servant, and Allah, God; Abdo'lah or Abdallah is, servant of God; Abdo'l Shems, servant of the sun.

The deciding between the different modes in which the prophet's name is, or ought to be, written, and the adoption of the most eligible, has been a matter of perplexing deliberation. Upon consulting the Greek Byzantine historians, it appears that the same diversity of appellation which now prevails, has obtained for seven centuries. In some of them we meet with Maometis, from which comes our Mahomet, the most popular and familiar title to the English ear; and in others, Machomed. Other varieties among ancient authors might doubtless be specified. It has been thought best on the whole to adopt in the following pages the orthography most familiar to English ears, though if the Arabic usage were followed, doubtless the name would be written Mohammed or Muhammed.

The principal object of the following pages is historical, not religious, so that no lengthened dissertation may be expected on the mysterious subject of the fulfilment of scripture prophecy in the person and proceedings of Mahomet. Still it would be unpardonable not to look at him as an instrument in the hands of divine providence, and no Christian should shrink from repelling the scepticism and infidelity of which a celebrated historian of ancient events has unhappily made his pages the vehicle. The reader may expect such topics to be occasionally adverted to. If he wishes to look at the history of Mahomet in connexion with scripture prophecy, he will do well to consult Faber's Sacred

Calendar of Prophecy, Fry's Second Advent of Christ, Whitaker's Origin of Arianism, White's Bampton Lectures, and such modern travels in Syria, Arabia, and adjacent countries as are intended to throw light on the subject.

A list of names and titles frequently occurring in connexion with the affairs of the East, together with their etymological import, will not be deemed inappropriate to the object of the present work. MOSLEM, MUSSULMAN, ISLAM, ISLAMISM.-All from

the same root, Aslam; signifying to yield up, dedicate, consecrate entirely to the service of

religion. KORAN.-From KARA, to read; the reading, le

gend, or that which ought to be read. SULTAN.-Originally from the Chaldaic SOLTAN;

signifying authority, dominion, principality. VIZIER.-An assistant. HADJ.-Pilgrimage; HADJI; one who makes the

pilgrimage to Mecca. HEJIRA, or HEJRA.— The Flight; applied empha-

tically to Mahomet's flight from Mecca to Medina. The period from which Arab writers

commence their dates. MUFTI.—The principal head of the Mahometan

religion, and the resolver of all doubtful points of the law.-An office of great dignity

in the Turkish empire. IMAM.—A kind of priest attached to the mosques,

whose duty it is occasionally to expound a passage of the Koran. They, at the same time, usually follow some more lucrative em

ployment. MOOLLAH.-The Moollahs form what is called the

ors.

Ulema, or body of doctors in theology and jurisprudence, who are entrusted with the guardianship of the laws of the empire, and

from whose number the Mufti is chosen. EMIR.-Lineal descendants of the Prophet him

self, distinguished by wearing turbans of deep sea-green, the colour peculiar to all the race of Mahomet. They have special immunities on the score of their descent, and one of them carries the green standard of the Prophet when the Grand Seignior appears in

any public solemnity. Pasha.-The title given to the provincial govern

A Pasha is to a province or pashalic, what the Sultan is to the empire, except that the judicial power is in the hands of the cadis, the provincial magistrates. The tails of a Pasha are the standards which he is allowed to carry; one of three tails is one of three standards, which number gives the

power of life and death. Reis EFFENDI.—This officer may be termed the

High Chancellor of the Ottoman empire. He is at the head of a class of attorneys which at this time contains the best informed men

of the nation. SERAGLIO.—This word is derived from Serai, a

term of Persian origin, signifying a palace. It is therefore improperly used as synonymous with Harem, the apartments of the women. The Seraglio is, in strictness of speech, the place where the court of the Grand Seignior is held; but it so happens that at Constantinople this building includes the imperial Harem within its walls.

« PreviousContinue »