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Simon Ockley was one of the greatest orientalists England ever produced ; and his termination of a valuable life in Cambridge jail, and oot in Cambridge University, is a national disgrace. His history of the Saracens is, as far as it extends, invaluable. His style is nervous and expressive, though fastidious and refined, Oakley's 'History of the Saracens,' is a veracious history. It is a history of conversions. The greatest number of the conversions take place on the field of battle, and one is tbe description of all. There was but one alternative. 'Islam and paradise, or death?' 'Wilt thou become a Mussulman—yea or nay?' 'Yea.' 'Arise, be a sharer of our spoil.' 'Nay :' the sabre glances through the neck. One of the texts which Mahomet quotes with precision from the Bible is that word in the thirty-seventh psalm:
'The meek shall inherit the earth.' The Mahommedan exposition was that 'the meek' were the children of Ishmael, and tbe inheritance of the earth was conquest. And everything else in their history chimes in with this. There was a perpetual pandering to the external, the sensual, in them. When the report came to the Caliph Omar that Antioch was taken, and that the army was removed to a distance because the men wished to possess themselves of the Greek women of that place, the caliph, with true Mahommedan instinct, lamented that his general had been so hard upon the Mussulmans, and ever after remembered to direct his generals differently. 'Be kind to the Mussulmans,' he would say; 'God does not forbid to them the good things of this life. It is said these are the faults, not the realities of that faith. We do not doubt but they are. We are at present showing how this religion succeeded; and we give this as the complement of our second reason, that it did not rebuke, but tolerate and sanctify these faults.
In maintaining this much of the old theory, however, we have no wish to continue the notion that the man Muhomet proposed those easy methods to himself as a means of his own getting on in the world. His sincerity need not be called in question. To him, undoubtedly, Islam was all truth — was the centre and ground of life. There is a great deal in what Carlyle says, that he did not invent the sensuality of his religion, but only limited what of this he found existing. Neither is there any need to deny that he was a prophet. In so far as he was a speaker of truth he deserved the name; and truth to some extent he did speak, as we have seen. Moreover, he seriously believed himself that he had a divine commission.
After the banquet in Mecca, his kinsmen sent Abu Taleb, his uncle, to remonstrate with him. They were keepers of the old mosque; his preaching would hurt the family interest. 'Our craft will be destroyed.'
'No,' said the prophet; 'if the sun should stand on that side and the moon on this, and bid me cease, I would not obey them.' They resolved to assassinate him. Each kinsman was to give one stab, so the guilt would be diffused and fasten upon no ene. When they burst into his bed-chamber for this purpose he was fled. His nephew Ali, his brave young vizier, had taken his place. In this flight the prophet was accompanied by Abubeker. Among other adventures, they lay three days in a cave. The pursuers came seeking them into its neighbourhood. 'We are but two,' said the timid Abubeker. 'Three,' answered the prophet; 'you are forgetting God' The assassins stood at the very entrance. In the interval a pigeon had layed two eggs on the step,' and a spider had woven a web across the mouth. 'They are not here,' they said, 'or they would have broken these in going in.' Mahomet was right. There were three in the cave.
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