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FOUNDER OF THE
RELIGION OF ISLAM, AND OF THE
EMPIRE OF THE SARACENS;
WITH NOTICES OF THE
HISTORY OF ISLAMISM AND OF ARABIA.
REV. SAMUEL GREEN.
PRINTED FOR T. TEGG, 73, CHEAPSIDE.
HARVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY
J. MADDON, PRINTER, CASTLE STREET, FINSBURY.
The present work lays claim to no higher character than that of a compilation. This indeed must necessarily be the character of any work attempted at this day upon the same subject. All the accessible facts in the life and fortunes of the Arabian prophet have long since been given to the world. New theories and speculations, moral and philosophical, founded upon these facts, and many of them richly deserving attention, are frequently propounded to the reflecting, but they add little or nothing to the amount of our information. AII therefore that can now be expected is such a selection and arrangement of the leading particulars of his history, as shall convey to the English reader, in a correct and concentrated form, those details which are otherwise diffused through a great number of rare books, in different languages. Prideaux a century since wrote a similar volume; but besides the age of this work, it is disfigured with prejudices greatly diminishing its value. Most of the histories of Arabia also, and of Mahometanism, both in our own and in foreign languages, include sketches of the prophet's life and proceedings, conveying much valuable information; but, as it will be instantly seen, they must generally be
too brief and rapid to afford more than a summary of his chief proceedings. In the following work, brevity has been as much studied as is consistent with a correct and full exhibition of the subject of a memoir; and as no life of Mahomet can be regarded as complete which does not also present some details of the system of religion of which he was the author, and of its early progress, a few chapters have been added on these subjects respectively. It is fancied that such a work, within the reach of all, was a desideratum in our literature, felt more than ever now that oriental studies are likely to increase, and events are transpiring making Mahometanism and Arabia subjects of deep interest to western Europeans. Among these may be reckoned the attempts of Christian missionaries among the followers of the prophet, chiefly in the east, the contest which is renewed on the shores of Africa, between France and the soldiers of the faithful, whose general warns the representative of the French power in the following terms: "Hold yourself prepared to see all Mussulmans commence the holy war against you; hold yourself warned, and reply as you please :" and last, though not least, a late interesting document, bearing the signature of the Sultan of Turkey, which gives to the subjects of that empire, among whom hitherto the Moslem faith only has been tolerated, a liberty of professing without molestation what religion they please. Whether the present sketch meets this demand, readers, rather than the writer, perhaps, must judge. He has aimed to make the most judicious use of the materials before him, and from the whole mass to elicit a candid moral estimate of the character of
the founder of Islamism. In one respect he may venture to assure the reader he will find the plan of the ensuing pages an improvement upon preceding memoirs; and that is in the careful collation of the chapters of the Koran with the events of the narrative. He will probably find the history illustrated to an unexpected extent from this source—a circumstance which, while it serves greatly to authenticate the facts related, imparts a zest also to the tenor of the narrative scarcely to be expected from the nature of the theme.
No revolution recorded in history, if we except that effected by the religion of the gospel, has introduced greater changes into the state of the civilized world, than that which has grown out of the rise, progress, and permanence of Mahometanism. The history and character, therefore, of this religion becomes an object of laudable curiosity with every enlightened mind. Considered merely as a department of the general annals of the world, apart from any connexion with the true religion, it furnishes some of the most interesting records of the human race. But when viewed as a part of the great chain of providential and predicted events, designed to have a direct bearing upon the state of the Christian church, through the whole period of its disastrous prevalence, it urges a new and stronger claim upon our attention. By many distinguished writers, who have deeply studied its origin, genius, and history, the religion of the Koran is confidently regarded rather as a Christian heresy, or the product of a Christian heresy, than as a heathen superstition. Hence,” says the learned and exemplary Mede, “Mahometanism has frequently been accounted a Christian heresy;