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cumstances, his whole subsistence consisting but of five camels and one Ethiopian she slave. Abd'almotalleb was therefore obliged to take care of his grandchild Mahomet; which he not only did during his life, but at his death enjoined his eldest son Abu Taleb, who was brother to Abd'allah by the same mother, to provide for him for the future; which lie very affectionately did. and instructed him tn the business of a merchant, which he followed; and to that end he took him into Syria, when be was but thirteen. He afterwards recommended him to Khadijah, a noble and rich widow, for her factor; in whose service he behaved himself so well, that by making him her husband, she soon raised him to an equality with the richest in Mecca.
After he began by this advantageous match to live at his ease, it was, that he formed the scheme of establishing a new religion, or, as he expressed it, of replanting the only true and ancient one professed by Adam, Noah, Abraham. Moses, Jesus, and all the prophets, by destroying the gross idolatry into which the generality of his countrvmen had fallen, and weeding out the corruptions and superstitions which the latter Jews and Christians had. as he thought, introduced into their religion, and reducing it to its original purity, which consisted chiefly in the worship of one God.
Before he made any attempt abroad, he rightly judged that it was necessary for him to begin with the conversion of his own household. Having, therefore, retired with his family, as he had done several times before,to a cave in mount Hara, he there opened the secret of his mission to his wife Khadijah; and acquainted her, that the angel Gabriel had just before appeared to him, and told him that he was appointed the apostle of God: he also repeated to her a passage which he pretended had been revealed to him by the ministry of the angel, with those other circumstances of this first appearance which are related by the Mahometan writers, Khadijah received the news with great joy, swearing by Him in whose hands her soul was, that she trusted he would be the prophet of his nation; and immediately communicated what she had heard to her cousin .Wavakah Ebn Nawfal, who, being a Christian, could ■write in the Hebrew character, and was tolerably well versed in the Scriptures; and he "readily came into her opinion, assuring her that the same angel who had formerly appeared unto Moses was
now sent to Mahomet. The first overture the prophet made was in the month of Ramadan, in the fortieth year of his age, which is therefore usually called the year of his mission.
Encouraged by so good a beginning, he resolved to proceed, and try for some ■ime »hat he could do by private persuasion, not daring to hazard the whole affair by exposing it too suddenlv to the public. He soon made proselytes of those under his own roof, viz. his wife khadijah, his -ervant Zeid Ebn Hareth;t, to whom he gave his freedom on ■that occasion (which afterwards became a rule to his followers.) and his cousin and pupil Ali, the son of Abu Caleb, though then very young: but this last; making no account of *he other two, used to stvle himself the first of believert. The nex'. person Mahomet applied to was Abd'allah Ebn Abi Kohafa. surnamed Abu Beer, a man of great authority among tic Koreish, and one whose interest he well knew would be of great service to him . as it soon appeared; for Abu Beer, being gained over, prevailed also on Othman Ebn Affhn, Abd'alraham Ebn A ■>■ f. Saad Ebn Abbi Wakkus, At Zobeiral Awam, and Telha Ebn Obeid'allah. all principal men of Mecca, to follow hi- example. These men were six chief companions, who, with a few more, were converted in the space of three years: at the end of which Mahomet having as he hoped, a sufficient interest to support him, made his mission no longer a secret, but gave out that God had commanded him to admonish hts near relaions; and in order to do it with more convenience and prospect of success, he directed Ali to prepare an entertainment and invited the sons and descendants of Abd'almotalleb, intending then to open his mind to them.—This was done, and about forty of them came; but Abu Laheb, one of his uncles, making the company break up before Mahomet had an opportunity of speaking, obliged him to give them a second invitation the next day; and when they were come, he made them the following speech: "I know no man in all Arabia who can offer his kindred a more excellent thing than I now do to you; I offer you happiness both in this life, and in that which is to come: God Almighty hath commanded me to call you unto him. Who, therefore, among you will be assistant to me herein, and become my brother and my vicegerent r" Ml of them hesitating and declining the matter, Ali at length rose up, and declared that he would be his assistant, and ve
hemently threatened those who should oppose him. Mahomet upon this embraced Ali with great demonstrations of affection, and desired all who were present to hearken to and obey him as his deputy; at which the company broke out into a great laughter, telling Abu Taleb that he must now pay obedience to his son.
This repulse, however, was so far from discouraging Mahomet, that he began to preach in public to the people, who heard him with some patience, till he came to upbraid them with the idolatry, obstinacy, and perverseness of themselves and their fathers; which so highly provoked them, that they declared themselves his enemies; and would soon have procured his ruin, had he not been protected by Abu Taleb. The chief of the Koreish warmly solicited this person to desert his nephew, making frequent remonstrances against the innovations he was attempting; which proving ineffectual, they at length threatened him with an open rupture if he did not prevail on Manomet to desist. At this Abu Taleb was so far moved, that he earnestly dissuaded his nephew from pursuing the affair any farther, representing the great danger that he and his friends must otherwise run. But Mahomet was not to be intimidated; telling his uncle plainly, that if they set the sun against him on his right hand, and the moon on his left, he would not leave his enterprise: and Abu Taleb, seeing him so firmly resolved to proceed, used no farther arguments, but promised to stand by him against all his enemies.
The Koreish, finding they could prevail neither by fair words nor menaces, tried what they could do by force and ill treatment; using Mahomet's followers so very injuriously, that it was not safe for them to continue at Mecca any longer; whereupon Mahomet gave leave to such of them as had no friends to protect them to seek for refuge elsewhere. And accordingly, in the fifth year of the prophet's mission, sixteen of them, four of whom were women, fled into Ethiopia; and among them Othman Ebn Allan, and his wife Rakiah, Mahomet's daughter. This w.i6 the first flight. but afterwards several others followed them, retiring, one after another, to the n imber of eightythree men, and eighteen women, besides children. These refugees were kindly received by the Najashi, or king of Ethiopia, who refused to deliver them up to those whom the Koreish sent to demand them, and, as the Arab
writers unanimously attest, even professed the Mahometan religion.
In the sixth year of his mission, Mahomet had the pleasure of seeing his party strengthened by the conversion of his uncle Hamza, a man of great valour and merit; and of Omar Ebn al Kattab, a person highly esteemed, and once a violent opposer of the prophet. As persecution generally advances rather than obstructs the spreading of a religion, Islamism made so great a progress among the Arab t ribes, that the Koreish, to suppress it effectually if possible, in the seventh year of Mahomet's mission, made a solemn league or covenant against the Hashemites, and the family of Abd'almotalleb, engaging themselves to contract no marriages with any of them, and to have no communication with them; and to give it the greater sanction, reduced it into writing, and laid it up in the Caaba. Upon this the tribe became divided into two factions; and the family of Hasham all repaired to Abu Taleb, as their head; except only Abd'al Uzza, surnamed Abu Laheb, who, out of inveterate hatred to his nephew and his doctrine, went over to the opposite party, whose chief was Abu Sosian Ebn Harb, of the family of Ommeya.
The families continued thus at variance for three years; but in the tenth year of his mission, Mahomet told his uncle Abu Taleb, tha,t God had manifestly showed his disapprobation of the league which the Koreish had made against them by sending a worm to eat out every word of the instrument except the name of God. Of this accident Mahomet had probably some private notice.; for Abu Taleb went immediately to the Koreish, and acquainted them with it; offering, if it proved false, to deliver his nephew up to them ; but, in case it were true, he insisted that they ought to lay aside their animosity, and annul the league they had made against the Hashemites. '1 o this they acquiesced ; and, going to inspect the writing, to their gieat astonishment found it to be as Abu Taleb had said: and the league was-1hereupon declared void.
In the same year Abu Taleb died at the age of above fourscore; and it is the general opinion thai he died an infidel; though others say, that when he was at the point of death he embraced Mahometanism, and produce some passages out of his poetical compositions to confirm their assertion. About a month, or, as some write, three days after the death of this great benefactor and patron, Mahomet had the additional morlilication to lose his wife Khadijah, who had so generously made his fortune. For which reason this year is called the year of mourning.
On the death of these two persons, the Koreish began to be more troublesome than ever to their prophet, and especially some who had formerly been his intimate friends; insomuch that he found himself obliged to seek for shelter elsewhere, and first pitched upon Tayef, about sixty miles east from Mecca, for the place of his retreat. Thither, therefore, he went, accompanied by his servant Zeid, and applied himself to two of the chief of the tribe of Thakif, who were the inhabitants of that place; but they received him very coldly. However, he staid there a month ; and some of the more considerate and better sort of men treated him with little respect; but the slaves and inferior people at length rose against him; and bringing him to the wall of the city, obliged him to depart, and return to Mecca, whHe he put himself under the protection of Al Motaam Ebn Adi.
This repulse greatly discouraged his followers. However, Mahomet was not wanting to himself; but boldly continued to preach to the public assemblies at the pilgrimage, and gained several proselytes; and among them six of the inhabitants of Yathreb, of the Jewish tribe of Khazraj ; who, on their return home, failed not to speak much in recommendation of their new religion, and exhorted their fellow-citizens to embrace the same.
In the twelfth year .of his mission it was that Mahomet gave out that he had made his night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem, and thence to heaven, so much spoken of by all that write of him. Dr. Prideaux thinks he invented it either to answer the expectations of those who demanded some miracles as a proof of his mission; or else, by pretending to have conversed with God, to establish the authority of whatever he should think fit to leave behind by way of oVal tradition, and make his sayings to serve the same purpose as the oral law of the Jews. But it does not appear that Mahomet himself ever expected so great a regard should be paid to his sayings as his followers have since done; and, seeing he all along disclaimed any power of performing miracles, it seems rather to have been a fetch of policy to raise his reputation, by pretending to have actually conversed with God in heaven, as Moses had heretofore done in the Mount, and to have received several institutions immediately from him,
whereas, before, he contented himself with persuading them that he had all by the ministry of Gabriel.
However, this story seemed so absurd and incredible, that several of his followers left him upon it; and had probably ruined the whole design, had not Abu Beer vouched for his veracity, and declared, that, if Mahomet affirmed it to be true, he verily believed the whole. Which happy incident not only retrieved the, prophet's credit, but increased it to such a degree, that he was secure of being able to make his disciples swallow whatever he pleased to impose on them for the future. And this fiction, notwithstanding its extravagance, was one of the most artful contrivances Mahomet ever put in practice, and what chiefly contributed to the raising of his reputation to that great height to which it afterwards arrived.
In this year, called by the Mahometans the acce/ited year, twelve men of Yathreb or Medina, of whom ten were of the tribe of Khazraj, and the other two of that of the Aws, came to Mecca, and took an oath of fidelity to Mahomet at Al Akaba, a hill on the north of that city. This oath was, called the woman's oath ; not that any women were present at this time, but because a man was not thereby obliged to take up arms in defence of Mahomet or his religion; it being the same oath that was afterwards exacted of the women, the form of which we have in the Koran, and is to this effect, viz. That they should renounce all idolatry;, and that they should not steal, nor commit fornication, nor kill their children (as the pagan Arabs used to do when they apprehended they should not be able to maintain them,) nor forge calumnies; and that they should obey the prophet in all things that were reasonable. When they had solemnly engaged to all this, Mahomet sent one of his disciples named Masab Ebn Omair home with thern, to instruct them more fully in the grounds and ceremonies of his new religion.
Masab, being arrived at Medina, by the assistance of those who had been formerly converted, gained several proselytes, particularly Osed Ebn Hodeira, a chief man of the city, and Saad Ebn Moadh, prince of the tribe of Aws; Mahometanism spreading so fast, that there was scarce a home wherein there were not some who had embraced it.
The next year, being the thirteenth of Mahomet's mission, Masab returned to Mecca, accompanied by seventythree men and two women of Medina who had professed Islamism, besides SDme others who were as yet unbeliev- I ers. On their arrival they immediately | sent to Mahomet and offered him their assistance, of which he was now in great j need; for his adversaries were by this; time grown so powerful in Mecca, thafl he could not stay there much longer without imminent danger. Wherefore he accepted their proposal, and met them one night, by appointment, at Al i Akaba above mentioned, attended by his uncle Al Abbas; who, though he was not then a believer, wished Ins nephew well, and made a speech to those of Medina; wherein he told them, that, as Mahomet was obliged to quit his native city, and seek an asylum elsewhere, anil they had offered him their protection, they would do well not to deceive him: that if they were not firmly resolved to defend, and not betray him, they had better declare their minds, and let him provide for his safety in some other manner. Upon their protesting their sincerity, Mahomet swore to be faithful to them, on condition that they should protect him against all insults as heartily as they would their own wives and families. They then asked him, what recompence they were to expect, if they, should happen to be killed in his quarrel? he answered. Paradise. Whereupon they pledged their faith to him, and so returned home, after Mahomet, had chosen twelve out of their number, who were to have the same authority among them as the twelve apostles of Christ had among his disciples.
Hitherto Mahomet had propagated his religion by fair means; so that the whole success of his enterprise, before his flight to Medina, must be attributed to persuasion only, and not to compulsion. For before this second oath of fealty or inauguration at Al Akaba, he had no permission to use any force at all; and in several places of the Koran, which he pretended were revealed during his stay at Mecca, he declares his business was only to preach and admo/nish; that he had no authority to com- . pel any person t.o embrace his religion ; i and that, whether people believe or not, I was none of his concern, but belonged j solely unto God. And he was so far i from allowing his followers to use force, '< that he exhorted them to bear patiently those injuries which were offered them on account of their faith; and, when persecuted himself, chose rather to quit the place of his birth, and retire to Medina, than to make any resistance. But this great passiveness and moderation seem entirely owing to his want of power, and the great superiority of hi: op
posers, for the first twelve years of his mission ; for no sooner was he enabled, by the assistance of those of Medina, to make head against his enemies, than he gave out, that God had allowed him and his followers to defend themselves against the infidels: and at length, as his forces increased, he pretended to have the divine leave even to attack them, and destroy idolatry, and set up the true faith !>y the sword; finding, by experience, that his designs would otherwise proceed very slowly, if they were not utterly overthrown; and knowing, on the other hand, that innovators, when they depend solely on their own strength, and can compel, seldom run any risk; from whence, says Machiavel, it follows, that all the armed prophets have succeeded, and the unarmed ones have failed. Moses, Cyrus, Theseus, and Romulus, would not have been able to establish the observance of their institutions for any length of time, had they not been armed. The first passage of the Koran which gave Mahomet the permission of defending himself by arms is said to have been that in the twenty-second chapter; after which, a great number to the same purpose were revealed.
Mahomet, having provided for the security of his companions, as well as his own, by the league offensive and defensive which he had now concluded with those of Medina, directed them to repair thither, which they accordingly did; but himself, with Abu Beer and 'AH, staid behind, having not yet received the divine permission as he pretended, to leave Mecca. The Koreish, fearing the consequence of this new alliance, began to think it absolutely necessary to prevent Mahomet's escape to Medina; and having held a council thereon, after several milder expedients had been rejected, they came to a resolution that he should be killed; and agreed that a man should be chosen out of every tribe for the execution of this design; and that each man should have a blow at him with his sword, that the guilt of his blood might fall equally on all the tribes, to whose united power the Hashemites were much inferior, and therefore durst not attempt to revenge their kinsman's death.
This conspiracy was scarce formed, when, by some means or other, it came to Mahomet's knowledge; and he gave out that it was revealed to him by the angel Gabriel, who had now ordered him to retire to Medina. Whereupon, to amuse his enemies, he directed Ali to lie down in his place, and wrap himself up in his green cloak, which he did; and Mahomet e-.capei1 miraculously, as they preiend, to Abu Beer's house, unperceived by the conspirators, who had already assembled at the prophet's door. They, in the mean time, looking through the crevice, and seeing Ali, whom they took to be Mahomet himself, asleep, continued watching there till morning, when Ali arose, and they found themselves deceived.
From Abu Beer's house Mahomet and he went to a cave in mount Thur, to the south- east of Mecca, accompanied only by Amor Ebn Foheirah, Abu Beer's servant, and Abd'allah Ebn Oreitah, an idolater whom they had hired for a guide. In this cave they lay hid three days, to avoid the search of their enemies, which they very narrowly escaped, and not without the assistance of more miracles than one; for some say that the Koreish were struck with blindness, so that they could not find the cave; others, that, after Mahomet and his companions were got in, two pigeons laid their eggs at the entrance; and a spider covered the mouth of the cave with her web, which made them look no farther. Abu Beer seeing the prophet in such imminent danger, became very sorrowful; whereupon Mahomet comforted him with these words, recorded in the Koran; Be not grieved, for God is with us. Their enemies being retired, they left the cave, and set out for Medina by a bye-road; and having fortunately, or, as the Mahometans tell us, miraculously, escaped some' who were sent to pursue them, arrived safely at that city; whither Ali followed them in three davs, after he had settled some affairs at Mecca.
Mahomet, being securely settled at Medina, and able not only to defend himself against the insults of his enemies, but to attack them, began to send out small parties to make reprisals on the Koreish; the first party consisting of no more than nine men. who intercepted and plundered a caravan belonging to tha' tribe, and in the action took two prisoners. But what established his affairs very much, and was the foundation on which he built all his succeeding greatness, was the gaining of the battle of Bedr, which was fought in the second year of the Hegira, and is so famous in the Mahometan history. Some reckon no less than twenty-seven expeditions, wherein Mahomet was personally presen<, in nine of which he gave battle, besides several other expeditions in which he was not present. His forces he maintained partly by the
contributions of his followers for this purpose, which he called by the name of zacat, or alms, and the paying of which he very artfully made one main' article of his religion; and partly by ordering a fifth part of the plunder to be brought into the public treasury for that purpose, in which matter he likewise pretended to act by the divine direction.
In a few years, by the success of his arms, notwithstanding he sometimes came off with the worst, he considerably raised his credit and power. In the sixth year of the Hegira tie set out with 1400 men to visit the temple of Mecca, not with any intent of committing hostilities, but in a peaceable manner. However, when he came to Al Hodeibiya, which is situated partly within and partly without the sacred territory, the Koreish sent to let him know that they would not permit him to enter Mecca, unless he forced his way: whereupon he called his troops about him, and they all took a solemn oath of fealty or homage to him, and he resolved to attack the city; but those of Mecca sending Arwa Ebn Masun, prince of the tribe of I'hakif, as their ambassador, to desire peace, a truce was concluded between them for ten years, by which any person was allowed to enter into league either with Mahomet, or with the Koreish as he thought fit.
In the seventh year of the Hegira, Mahomet began to think of propagating his religion beyond the bounds of Arabia, and sent messengers to the neighbouring princes, with letters to invite them to Mahometanism. Nor was this project without some success: Khosru Pat viz, then king of Persia, received his letter with great disdain, and tore it in a passion, sending away the messenger very abruptly; which, when Mahomet heard, he said, God shall tear his kingdom. And soon after a messenger came to Mahomet from Badhan. king of Yaman, who was a dependent on the Persians, to acquaint iiim that he had received orders to send him to Khosru. Mahomet put off his answer till the next morning, and then told the messenger it had been revealed to him that night that Khosru was slain by his son Shiruyeh; adding, that he was well assured his new religion and empire should rise to as greai a height as that as Khosru; and therefore bid him advise his master to embrace Mahometanism. The messenger being returned, Badhan in a few days received a letter from Shiruyeh, informing him of his father's death, and ordering him