Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

that he would convince them by working a miracle ; but he replied, “ God refuses those signs and wonders that would depreciate the merit of faith, and aggravate the guilt of infidelity.” Ile declared that God sent him into the world not only to teach his will, but to compel mankind to embrace it. The magistrates of Mecca were alarmed at the progress of his doctrines ; and Mohammed, being apprised of their design to destroy him, fled to Medina. From this flight, which happened in the year of Christ 622,his followers compute their time. This a ra is called in Arabic hegira. The book in which the mahometan religion is contained is called the korán, or alcorán, by way of eminence ; as we say the bible, which means the book.” Its doctrines made a most rapid progress over Arabia, Syria, Egypt, and Persia; and Mohammed became the most powerful monarch in his time. His successors spread their religion and conquests over the greatest part of Asia, Africa, and Europe; and they

still give law to a very considerable part of mankind. H The great doctrine of the korán is the unity of God: to restore which point, Mohammed pretended, was the chief end of his mission; it being laid down by him as a fundamental truth, that there never was, and never can be more than one true orthodox religion. For though the particular laws, or ceremonies, are only temporary, and subject to alteration, according to the divine direction; yet, the substance of it being eternal truth, it is not liable to change, but continues immutably the same.

And he taught, that whenever

this religion became neglected, or corrupted in essentials, God had the goodness to reinform and re-admonish mankind thereof by several prophets, of whom Moses and Jesus were the most distinguished, till the appearance of Mohammed. The korán asserts Jesus to be the true Messias, the word and breath of God, worker of miracles, healer of diseases, preacher of heavenly doctrine, and exemplary pattern of a

* The mahometans believe that this book was taken from the great volume of the divine decrees, which has been from everlasting by God's throne, written on a table of vast bigness, called “The Preserved Table.” That a copy from this table, in one volume on paper, was by the ministry of the angel Gabriel sent down to the lowest leaven in the laouth of Raumadan,

See Sale's Koran.

- f Payne's Epitome of History, vol. i. p. 413, Turkish Spy, vol. vii. p. 205.

perfect life; denying that he was crucified, but affirming that he ascended into paradise;” and that his religion was mended by Mohammed, who was the seal of the prophets, and was sent from God to restore the true religion, which was corrupted in his time, to its primitive simplicity; with the addition, however, of peculiar laws and ceremonies, some of which had been used in former times, and others were now first instituted. The mohammedans divide their religion into two general parts: faith, or theory; and religion, or practice. "Faith, or theory, is contained in this confession: There is but one God, and Mohammed is his prophet. Under these two propositions are comprehended , six distinct branches:—(1.) Belief in God.—(2.) In his angels.—(3.) In his scriptures. —(4.) In his prophets.-(5.) In the resurrection and judgment.—(6.) In God's absolute decrees. They reckon four points relating to practice :-(1.) Prayer, with washings, &c. —(2.) Alms.—(3.) Fasting. (4.) Pilgrimage to Mecca.f

The idea which Mohammed taught his disciples to entertain of the supreme Being, may be seen from a public address he made to his countrymen, which is as follows:

“ cITIZENs of Mecca |

“ The hour is now come when you must give an account of your reason and your talents. In vain have you received them from an almighty Master, liberal and beneficent, in case you use them negligently, or if you never reflect. In the name of this master I must tell you he will not suffer you to abuse

his inestimable gifts, by wast

ing life away unprofitably, and employing them only in unworthy amusements. No more permit delusive pleasures to distract your hearts. Open your minds, and receive the truth. Woe to you for the unworthy notion you have entertained of God . The heaven and the earth are his own, and there is nothing in all their copious furniture but what invariably obeys him. The sun and stars, with all their glory, have never disdained his service ; and no being can resist his will, and the exercise of his omnipotence. He will call men to

* The mahometans in general suppose, that when the jews persecuted Christ, and sought his life, he was taken up into heaven. Many Imans notwithstanding believe the real death of Jesus Christ, his resurrection and ascension, as he himself foretold them to his twelve apostles, See D'Ohos

son's History, Uu

f Sale's Koran, vol. i. pp. 93, 94,

[ocr errors]

an account, and require of

them the reason for all those gods they have invented in defiance of reason. There is no other god but God, and him only we must adore.” The belief of the existence of angels is absolutely required in the korán. The mohammedanssuppose they have pure and subtle bodies, created of fire, and that they have various forms and offices; some being employed in writing down the actions of men, others in carrying the throne of God, and other services. They reckon four angels superior to all the rest: these are, Gabricl, who is employed in writing down the divine decrees—Michael, the friend and protector of the jews—Azrael, the angel of death—and Israfil, who will sound the trumpet at the resurrection. They likewise assign to each person two guardian angels. The devil, according to the korán, was once one of the highest angels; but fell for refusing to pay homage to Adam at the command of God. Beside angels and devils, the Mohammedans are taught by the korán to believe an intermediate order of creatures, which they call.jin, or genii; created also of fire, but of a grosser fabric than angels, and

are sudject to death. Some of these are supposed to be good, and others bad; and capable of future salvation or damnation, as men are: whence Mohammed pretended to be sent for the conversion of genii as well as men. As to the scriptures, the Mohammedans are taught by the korán, that God in divers ages of the world gave revelations of his will in writing, to several prophets. The number of these sacred books, according to them, are one hundred and four; of which ten were given to Adam, fifty to Seth, thirty to Enoch, ten to Abraham; and the other four, being the pentateuch, the psalms, the gospel, and the korán, were successively delivered to Moses, David, Jesus, and Mohammed ; which last, being the seal of the prophets, these revelations are now closed. All these divine books, excepting the four last, they agree to be entirely lost, and their contents unknown ; and of these four, the pentateuch, psalms, and gospels, they say, have undergone so many alterations and corruptions, that yery little credit is to be given to the present copies in the hands of the jews and christians. The number of prophets who have been from time to time sent into the world amounts to two hundred and twenty-four thousand, among whom three hundred and thirteen were apostles, sent with special commissions to reclaim mankind from infidelity and superstition; and six of them brought new laws, or dispensations, which successively abrogated the preceding. These were Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed.” The next article of faith required by the korán, is the belief of a general resurrection, F and a future judgment. But before these, they believe there is an intermediate state, both of the soul and body, after death. When a corpse is laid in the grave, two angels come and examine it concerning the unity of God and the Imission of Mohammed. If the body answer rightly it is suffered to rest in peace, and is refreshed by the air of paradise; if not, they beat it about the temples with iron maces, then press the earth on the corpse, which is gnawed and stung by ninety-nine dragons, with seven heads each. As to the souls of the faith

* Boulanviller's Life of Mahomet.

ful, when they are separated from the body by the angel of death, they teach that those of the prophets are admitted into paradise immediately. Some suppose the souls of believers are with Adam in the lowest heaven; and there are various other opinions.concerning their state. Those who are called the most orthodox, hold that the souls of the wicked are confined in a dungeon under a great rock, to be there tormented till their re-union with the body at the general resurrection. That the resurrection will be general, and extend to all creatures, both angels, genii, men, and animals, is the received opinion of the Mohammedans, which they support by the authority of the korán.t Mankind at the resurrection will be distinguished into three classes; the first of those who go on foot, the second of those who ride, and the third of those who creep, grovelling with their faces on the ground. The first class will consist of those believers whose good works have been few, the second of those who are more acceptable to God; whence

* Sale's Koran, vol. i. pp. 94, 95,

# The Mahometans suppose, that the elect shall rise in the bloom qf youth and beauty; but the reprobate shall appear deformed and moastrous. See D'Ohosson's History of the Ottoman Empire.

# Sale's Koran, p, 96, 97.

Ali affirmed that the pious, when they come forth from their sepulchres, shall find ready prepared for them whitewinged camels, with saddles of gold. The third class will be composed of the infidels, whom God will cause to make their appearance with their faces on the ground. When all are assembled together, they will wait in their ranks and orders for the judgment; some say forty years, others seventy, others three hundred; and some no less than fifty thousand years: during which time they will suffer great inconveniences, the good as well as the bad,” from their thronging and pressing upon each other, and the unusual approach of the sun, which will be no farther off them than the distance of a mile; so that the skulls of the wicked will boil like a pot, and they will be all bathed with sweat. At ength God will come in the clouds, surrounded by the angels, and will produce the books wherein every man's actions are written. Some (explaining those words, so frequently used in the korán, God will be swift in taking an

account) say that he will judge.

all creatures in the space of half a day, and others that it will be done in less time than the twinkling of an eye. At this tribunal, every action, thought, word, &c., will be weighed in a balance, held by the angel Gabriel, of so vast a size, that its two scales are capacious enough to contain both heaven and earth. The trials being over, and the assembly dissolved, those who are to be admitted into paradise will take the right-hand way, and those who are destined to hell-fire the left: . but both of them must first pass the bridge, called in Arabic, Al Sirat, which is laid over the middle of hell, and is described to be finer than a hair, and sharper than the edge of a sword. The wicked will miss their footing, and fall headlong into hell.t In the korán it is said that hell has seven gates; the first for the mussulmans, the second for the christians, the third for the jews, the fourth for the sabians, the fifth for the magicians, the sixth for the pagans, the seventh, and worst of all, for the hypocrites of all

* Yet they make a manifest difference between the sufferings of the righteous and the wicked : for the limbs of the former, particularly those parts they used to wash-before prayer, shall shine gloriously; and their suffering shall, last no longer than the time necessary to say their prayers; and they shall be protected from the heat of the sun, by the shade of God's

* Sale's Koran, pp. 90–112,

throne.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »