Two Old Faiths Part 11

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[56] Alluding to the "_Ansar_," or mortal "Helpers" of Mohammed at Medina. Throughout, the apologist, it will be observed, is drawing a contrast with the means used for the spread of Islam.

[57] _Apology_, p. 16.

[58] _Apology_, p. 57.

[59] I am not here comparing the value of these observances with those of other religions. I am inquiring only how far the obligations of Islam may be held to involve hards.h.i.+p or sacrifice such as might have r.e.t.a.r.ded the progress of Islam by rendering it on its first introduction unpopular.

[60] See Sura ii, v. 88.

[61] Sura iv, 18. "Exchange" is the word used in the Koran.

[62] Each of his widows had 100,000 golden pieces left her.

_Life of Mohammed_, p. 171.

[63] "These divorced wives were irrespective of his concubines or slave-girls, upon the number and variety of whom there was no limit or check whatever."--_Annals_, p. 418.

[64] Lane adds: "There are many men in this country who, in the course of ten years, have married as many as twenty, thirty, or more wives; and women not far advanced in age have been wives to a dozen or more husbands successively." Note that all this is entirely within the religious sanction.

[65] _Pilgrimage to Mecca_, by her highness the reigning Begum of Bhopal, translated by Mrs. W. Osborne (1870), pp. 82, 88. Slave-girls cannot be _married_ until freed by their masters. What her highness tells of women _divorcing_ their husbands is of course entirely _ultra vires_, and shows how the laxity of conjugal relations allowed to the male s.e.x has extended itself to the female also, and that in a city where, if anywhere, we should have expected to find the law observed.

[66] In India, for example, there are Mohammedan races among whom monogamy, as a rule, prevails by custom, and individuals exercising their right of polygamy are looked upon with disfavor. On the other hand, we meet occasionally with men who aver that rather against their will (as they will sometimes rather amusingly say) they have been forced by custom or family influence to add by polygamy to their domestic burdens. In Mohammedan countries, however, when we hear of a man confining himself to _one wife_, it does not necessarily follow that he has no slaves to consort with in his harem. I may remark that slave-girls have by Mohammedan laws no conjugal rights whatever, but are like playthings, at the absolute discretion of their master.

[67] The case of the Corinthian offender is much in point, as showing how the strict discipline of the Church must have availed to make Christianity unpopular with the mere worldling.

[68] [Sidenote: Laxity among nominal Christians.]

_Apology_, p. 51. I repeat, that in the remarks I have made under this head, no comparison is sought to be drawn betwixt the morality of nominally Christian and Moslem peoples. On this subject I may be allowed to quote from what I have said elsewhere: "The Moslem advocate will urge ... the social evil as the necessary result of inexorable monogamy. The Koran not only denounces any illicit laxity between the s.e.xes in the severest terms, but exposes the transgressor to condign punishment. For this reason, and because the conditions of what is licit are so accommodating and wide, a certain negative virtue (it can hardly be called continence or chast.i.ty) pervades Mohammedan society, in contrast with which the gross and systematic immorality in certain parts of every European community may be regarded by the Christian with shame and confusion. In a purely Mohammedan land, however low may be the general level of moral feeling, the still lower depths of fallen humanity are unknown. The 'social evil' and intemperance, prevalent in Christian lands, are the strongest weapons in the armory of Islam. We point, and justly, to the higher morality and civilization of those who do observe the precepts of the Gospel, to the stricter unity and virtue which cement the family, and to the elevation of the s.e.x; but in vain, while the example of our great cities, and too often of our representatives abroad, belies the argument. And yet the argument is sound. For, in proportion as Christianity exercises her legitimate influence, vice and intemperance will wane and vanish, and the higher morality pervade the whole body; whereas in Islam the deteriorating influences of polygamy, divorce, and concubinage have been stereotyped for all time."--_The Koran: its Composition and Teaching, and the Testimony it bears to the Holy Scriptures_, p. 60.

[69] [Sidenote: Alleged progress of Islam in Africa.]

Much loose a.s.sertion has been made regarding the progress of Islam in Africa; but I have found no proof of it apart from armed, political, or trading influence, dogged too often by the slave-trade; to a great extent a social rather than a religious movement, and raising the fetich tribes (haply without intemperance) into a somewhat higher stage of semi-barbarism. I have met nothing which would touch the argument in the text. The following is the testimony of Dr. Koelle, the best possible witness on the subject:

"It is true the Mohammedan nations in the interior of Africa, namely, the Bornuese, Mandengas, Pulas, etc., invited by the weak and defenseless condition of the surrounding negro tribes, still occasionally make conquests, and after subduing a tribe of pagans, by almost exterminating its male population and committing the most horrible atrocities, impose upon those that remain the creed of Islam; but keeping in view the whole of the Mohammedan world this fitful activity reminds one only of these green branches sometimes seen on trees, already, and for long, decayed at the core from age."--_Food for Reflection_, p. 37.

[70] _Apology_, p. 34.

[71] _Annals_, pp. 61, 224.

[72] Sura iv, v. 33.

[73] _Life of Mohammed_, p. 348.

[74] _The City of G.o.d_, p, 91. Hodder & Stoughton, 1883.

[75] _The Turks in India_, by H.G. Keene, C.S.I. Allen & Co., 1879.

[76] _Annals_, etc., p. 457.

[77] See Sura x.x.xiv, v. 32. The excepted relations are: "Husbands, fathers, husbands' fathers, sons, husbands' sons, brothers, brothers' sons, sisters' sons, the captives which their right hands possess, such men as attend them and have no need of women, or children below the age of p.u.b.erty."

[78] John xviii, 36, 37.

[79] Dr. Fairbairn, _Contemporary Review_, p. 865.

[80] _The Early Caliphate and Rise of Islam_, being the Rede Lecture for 1881, delivered before the University of Cambridge, p. 28.

[81] _The Koran_, etc., p. 65.

Two Old Faiths Part 11

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Two Old Faiths Part 11 summary

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