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Mahomet, Founder of Islam

Gladys M. Draycott

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Mahomet, Founder of Islam is a book that details the religious life of the most important figure in Islamic history. Chapters include: Mahomet's Birthplace; Childhood; Strife And Meditation; Adventure And Security; Inspiration; Severance; The Chosen City; The Flight To Medina; The Consolidation Of Power; The Secession Of The Jews; The Battle Of Bedr; The Jews At Medina; The Battle Of Ohod; The Tyranny Of War; The War Of The Ditch; The Pilgrimage To Hodeibia; The Fulfilled Pilgrimage; The Triumphal Entry; Mahomet, Victor; Iconoclasm; Last Rites; and, The Genesis Of Islam.

This book has 128 pages in the PDF version.

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Excerpt from Mahomet, Founder of Islam

"And how many cities were mightier in strength than thy city that hath cast thee forth?"—The Kuran.

In Arabia nature cannot be ignored. Pastures and cornland, mountain slopes and quiet rivers may be admired, even reverenced; but they are things external to the gaze, and make no insistent demand upon the spirit for penetration of their mystery. Arabia, and Mecca as typical of Arabia, is a country governed by earth's primal forces. It has not yet emerged from the shadow of that early world, bare and chaotic, where a blinding sun pours down upon dusty mountain ridges, and nothing is temperate or subdued. It fosters a race of men, whose gods are relentless and inscrutable, revealing themselves seldom, and dwelling in a fierce splendour beyond earthly knowledge. To the spirit of a seeker for truth with senses alert to the outer world, this country speaks of boundless force, and impels into activity under the spur of conviction; by its very desolation it sets its ineradicable mark upon the creed built up within it.

Mahomet spent forty years in the city of Mecca, watching its temple services with his grandfather, taking part in its mercantile life, learning something of Christian and Jewish doctrine through the varied multitudes that thronged its public places. In the desert beyond the city boundaries he wandered, searching for inspiration, waiting dumbly in the darkness until the angel Gabriel descended with rush of wings through the brightness of heaven, commanding:

"Cry aloud, in the name of the Lord who created thee. O, thou enwrapped in thy mantle, arise and warn!"

Mecca lies in a stony valley midway between Yemen, "the Blessed," and Syria, in the midst of the western coast-chain of Arabia, which slopes gradually towards the Red Sea. The height of Abu Kobeis overlooks the eastern quarter of the town, whence hills of granite stretch to the holy places, Mina and Arafat, enclosed by the ramparts of the Jebel Kora range. Beyond these mountains to the south lies Taif, with its glory of gardens and fruit-trees. But the luxuriance of Taif finds no counterpart on the western side. Mecca is barren and treeless; its sandy stretches only broken here and there by low hills of quartz or gneiss, scrub-covered and dusty. The sun beats upon the shelterless town until it becomes a great cauldron within its amphitheatre of hills. During the Greater Pilgrimage the cauldron seethes with heat and humanity, and surges over into Mina and Arafat. In the daytime Mecca is limitless heat and noise, but under the stars it has all the magic of a dream-city in a country of wide horizons.

The shadow of its ancient prosperity, when it was the centre of the caravan trade from Yemen to Syria, still hung about it in the years immediately before the birth of Mahomet, and the legends concerning the founding of the city lingered in the native mind. Hagar, in her terrible journey through the desert, reached Mecca and laid her son in the midst of the valley to go on the hopeless quest for water. The child kicked the ground in torment, and God was merciful, so that from his heel marks arose a spring of clear water—the well Zemzem, hallowed ever after by Meccans. In this desolate place part of the Amalekites and tribes from Yemen settled; the child Ishmael grew up amongst them and founded his race by marrying a daughter of the chief. Abraham visited him, and under his guidance the native temple of the Kaaba was built and dedicated to the true God, but afterwards desecrated by the worship of idols within it.

Such are the legends surrounding the foundation of Mecca and of the Kaaba, of which, as of the legends concerning the early days of Rome, it may be said that they are chiefly interesting as throwing light upon the character of the race which produced them. In the case of Mecca they were mainly the result of an unconscious desire to associate the city as far as possible with the most renowned heroes of old time, and also to conciliate the Jewish element within Arabia, now firmly planted at Medina, Kheibar, and some of the adjoining territory, by insisting on a Jewish origin for their holy of holies, and as soon as Abraham and Ishmael were established as fathers of the race, legends concerning them were in perpetual creation.

The Kaaba thus reputed to be the work of Abraham bears evidence of an antiquity so remote that its beginnings will be forever lost to us. From very early times it was a goal of pilgrimage for all Arabia, because of the position of Mecca upon the chief trade route, and united in its ceremonies the native worship of the sun and stars, idols and misshapen stones. The Black Stone, the kissing of which formed the chief ceremonial, is a relic of the rites practised by the stone-worshippers of old; while the seven circuits of the Kaaba, obligatory on all pilgrims, are probably a symbol of the courses of the planets. Arab divinities, such as Alilat and Uzza, were associated with the Kaaba before any records are available, and at the time of Mahomet, idolatry mingled with various rites still held sway among the Meccans, though the leaven of Jewish tradition was of great help to him in the establishment of the monotheistic idea. At Mahomet's birth the Kaaba consisted of a small roofless house, with the Black Stone imbedded in its wall. Near it lay the well Zemzem, and the reputed grave of Ishmael. The Holy Place of Arabia held thus within itself traces of a purer faith, that were to be discovered and filled in by Mahomet, until the Kaaba became the goal of thousands, the recipient of the devotion and longings of that mighty host of Muslim who went forth to subdue the world. Mahomet's ancestors had for some time held a high position in the city. He came of the race of Hashim, whose privilege it was to give service to the pilgrims coming to worship at the Kaaba. The Hashim were renowned for generosity, and Mahomet's grandfather, Abd al Muttalib, was revered by the Kureisch, inhabitants of Mecca, as a just and honourable man, who had greatly increased their prosperity by his rediscovery of the holy well.

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