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The Bible, The Koran, and the Talmud

Dr. G. Weil

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This book is a collection of Islamic stories of the prophets, a genre which has always been popular in the world of Islam. Most of the characters present in the stories are the same prophets which are familiar from the Bible and other Jewish and Christian sources. Although the selections and translations appear to be fair and accurate enough, the commentary is hostile to Islam throughout.

This book has 154 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1863.

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Excerpt from 'The Bible, The Koran, and the Talmud'

MOHAMMED has been frequently reproached with having altered and added most arbitrarily to the religious history of the Jews and Christians, two important considerations not being sufficiently borne in mind. In the first place, it is probable that Mohammed learned only late in life to write, or even to read the Arabic, and he was unquestionably ignorant of every other apoken or written language, as is sufficiently apparent from historical testimony: hence he was unable to draw from the Old and New Testaments for himself, and was entirely restricted to oral instruction from Jews and Christians.

   Sccondly, Mohammed himself declared both the Old and New Testaments, as possessed by the Jews and Christians of his time, to have been falsified; and, consequently, his own divine mission could be expected to agree with those writings only in part. But the turning-point on which the greater portion of the Koran hinges—the doctrine of the unity of God, a doctrine which he embraced with the utmost consistency, and armed with which he appeared as a prophet before the pagan Arabs, who were addicted to the most diversified Polytheism—appeared to him much obscured in the Gospels, and he was therefore forced to protest against their genuineness.

   But with regard to the writings of the Jews of the Old Testament, which he had received from the mouth of his Jewish contemporaries, he was induced to believe, or, at least, pretended to believe, that they too had undergone many changes, inasmuch as Ismael, from whom he was sprung, was evidently treated therein as a step-child, or as the son of a discarded slave; whereas Abraham's paternal love and solicitude, as well as the special favor of the Lord, were the exclusive portion of Isaac and his descendants. The predictions respecting the Messiah, too, as declared in the writings of the Prophets, appeared to him incompatible with the faith in himself as the seal of the Prophets. Moreover, Mohammed was probably indebted for his religious education to a man who, abandoning the religion of Arabia, his native country, had sought refuge first in Judaism, and then in Christianity, though even in the latter he does not seem to have found perfect satisfaction. This man, a cousin of his wife Kadidja, urged forward by an irresistible desire after the knowledge of truth, but, as his repeated apostasies would serve to show, being of a skeptical nature, may have discovered the errors that had crept into all the religious system of his time; and having extracted from them that which was purely Divine, and freed it from the inventions of men, may have propounded it to his disciple, who, deeply affected by its repeated inculcation, at length felt within himself a call to become the restorer of the old and pure religion. A Judaism without the many ritual and ceremonial laws, which, according to Mohammed's declaration, even Christ had been called to abolish, or a Christianity without the Trinity, crucifixion, and salvation connected therewith—this was the creed which, in the early period of his mission, Mohammed preached with unfeigned enthusiasm.

   It would be out of place here to exhibit in detail the rapidly-changing character both of Mohammed and his doctrines; but what has been said appeared indispensable by way of introduction to the legends in this work. With the exception of a few later additions, these legends are derived from Mohammed himself. Their essential features are found even in the Koran, and what is merely alluded to there is carried out and completed by oral traditions. Hence these legends occupy a twofold place in Arabic literature. The whole circle of the traditions, from Adam to Christ, containing, as they do in the view of Mussulmans, real and undisputed matters of fact, which are connected with the fate of all nations, for this the foundation of the universal history of mankind; while, on the other hand, they are especially made use of as the biography of the Prophets who lived before Mohammed. It is therefore highly important to ascertain the ground from which the source of these legends has sprung, and to show the transformation which they underwent in order to serve as the fulcrum for the propagation of the faith in Mohammed.

   Respecting the origin of these legends, it will appear, from what has been said, that, with the exception of that of Christ, it is to be found in Jewish traditions, where, as will appear by the numerous citations from the Midrash, they are yet to be seen. Many traditions respecting the Prophets of the Old Testament are found in the Talmud, which was then already closed, so that there can be no doubt that Mohammed heard them from Jews, to whom they were known, either by Scripture or tradition. For that these legends were the common property both of Jews and Arabs can not be presumed, inasmuch as Mohammed communicated them to the Arabs as something new, and specially revealed to himself; and inasmuch as the latter actually accused him of having received instruction from foreigners. Besides Warraka, who died soon after Mohammed's first appearance as a prophet, we know of two other individuals, who were well versed in the Jewish writings, and with whom he lived on intimate terms, viz., Abd Allah Ibn Salam, a learned Jew, and Salman the Persian, who had long lived among Jews and Christians, and who, before he became a Mussulman, was successively a Magian, Jew, and Christian. The monk Bahira, too, whom, however, according to Arabic sources, he only met once, on his journey to Bozra, was a baptized Jew. All these legends must have made a deep impression on a religious disposition like that of Mohammed, and have roused within him the conviction that at various times, when the depravity of the human race required it, GOD selected some pious individuals to restore them once more to the path of truth and goodness. And thus it might come to pass that, having no other object than to instruct his contemporaries in the nature of the Deity, and to promote their moral and spiritual improvement, he might desire to close the line of the Prophets with himself.

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