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The Rise And Extension Of Islam





Mohammed (571-632) began his work as a prophet at Mecca about 613, having
been "called" about three years earlier. He was driven from Mecca in 622
and fled to Yathrib, afterward known as Medina. Here he was able to unite
warring factions and, placing himself at their head, to build up despotic
authority over the surrounding country. He steadily increased the
territory under his sway, and by conquests and diplomacy was able to gain
Mecca in 629. Before his death in 632 he had conquered all Arabia. His
authority continued in his family after his death, and the course of
conquest went on. Damascus was conquered in 635; in 636 the Emperor
Heraclius was driven to abandon Syria, which now fell into the hands of
the Moslems. In 637 the Persians were forced back. In 640 Egypt was taken,
and by 650 all between Carthage and the eastern border of Persia had been
acquired for Islam. In 693, after a period of civil war, the work of
conquest was resumed. In 709 all the African coast as far as the Straits
of Gibraltar was gained, and in 711 the Moslems entered Spain. They at
once made themselves masters of the peninsula with the exception of a
small strip in the north in the mountains of Asturias, the kingdom of
Gallicia. Crossing the Pyrenees, they attempted to possess Gaul, but were
forced to retreat from central Gaul by Charles Martel at the battle at
Tours and Poitiers in 732. They maintained themselves north of the
Pyrenees until 759 when they were driven out of Narbonne and across the
mountains.


Additional source material: The Koran, standard translation by
E. H. Palmer, in the Sacred Books of the East; Stanley
Lane-Poole, Speeches and Table Talk of the Prophet Mohammed.


(a) Mohammed, Koran (translation of E. H. Palmer).


Surah CXII.


The Unity of God.


The following surah or chapter of the Koran, entitled "The Chapter
of Unity," Mohammed regarded as of value equal to two-thirds of
the whole book. It is one of the shortest and most famous.


In the name of the merciful and compassionate God, say:

"He is God alone!
God the Eternal.
He begets not and is not begotten!
Nor is there like unto Him any one."


Surah V, 73, 76, 109 ff.


The teaching as to the nature and mission of Jesus.


[73.] Verily, those who believe and those who are Jews, and the Sabaeans,
and the Christians, whosoever believes in God and the last day and does
what is right, there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve.

[76.] They misbelieve who say, "Verily, God is the Messiah, the son of
Mary"; but the Messiah said, "O Children of Israel, worship God, my Lord
and your Lord." Verily he who associates aught with God, God hath
forbidden him paradise, and his resort is the fire, and the unjust shall
have none to help them.

They misbelieve who say, "Verily, God is the third of three"; for there is
no God but one, and if they do not desist from what they say, there shall
touch those who misbelieve amongst them grievous woe.

Will they not turn toward God and ask pardon of Him? for God is forgiving
and merciful.

The Messiah, the son of Mary, is only a prophet; prophets before him have
passed away: and His mother was a confessor.

[109.] When God said, "O Jesus, son of Mary! remember my favors towards
thee and towards thy mother, when I aided thee with the Holy Ghost, till
thou didst speak to men in the cradle and when grown up.

"And when I taught thee the Book and wisdom and the law and the gospel;
when thou didst create of clay, as it were, the likeness of a bird, by my
power, and didst blow thereon, it became a bird;(281) and thou didst heal
the blind from birth, and the leprous by my permission; and when thou
didst bring forth the dead by my permission; and when I did ward off the
children of Israel from thee, and when thou didst come to them with
manifest signs, and those who misbelieved among them said: 'This is naught
but obvious magic.'

"And when I inspired the Apostles that they should believe in Him and in
my Apostle, they said, 'We believe; do thou bear witness that we are
resigned.' "

[116.] And when God said, "O Jesus, son of Mary! is it thou who dost say
to men, take me and my mother for two gods, beside God?" He said: "I
celebrate thy praise! what ails me that I should say what I have no right
to? If I had said it, Thou wouldest have known it; Thou knowest what is in
my soul, but I know not what is in Thy soul; verily Thou art one who
knoweth the unseen. I never told them save what Thou didst bid me,
'Worship God, my Lord and your Lord,' and I was a witness against them so
long as I was among them, but when Thou didst take me away to Thyself Thou
wert the watcher over them, for Thou art witness over all."


Surah IV, 152.


Relation of Islam to Judaism and Christianity.


[152.] The people of the Book will ask thee to bring down for them a book
from heaven; but they asked Moses a greater thing than that, for they
said, "Show us God openly"; but the thunderbolt caught them in their
injustice. Then they took a calf, after what had come to them of manifest
signs; but we pardoned that, and gave Moses obvious authority. And we held
over them the mountain at their compact, and said to them, "Enter ye the
door adoring," and we said to them, "Transgress not on the Sabbath day,"
and we took from them a rigid compact.

But for that they broke their compact, and for their misbelief in God's
signs, and for their killing the prophets undeservedly, and for their
saying, "Our hearts are uncircumcised"--nay, God hath stamped on them their
misbelief, so that they cannot believe, except a few--and for their
misbelief, and for their saying about Mary a mighty calumny, and for their
saying, "Verily we have killed the Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, the
apostle of God," but they did not kill Him, and they did not crucify Him,
but a similitude was made for them. And verily, those who differ about Him
are in doubt concerning Him; they have no knowledge concerning Him, but
only follow an opinion. They did not kill Him, for sure! nay God raised
Him up unto Himself; for God is mighty and wise!

[164.] O ye people of the Book! do not exceed in your religion, nor say
against God save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, is but
the apostle of God and His Word, which He cast into Mary and a spirit from
Him; believe then in God and His apostles, and say not "Three." Have done!
it were better for you. God is only one God, celebrated be His praise that
He should beget a Son!


Surah LVI.


The delights of heaven and the pains of hell.


This description of the future life has been taken as
characteristic of the religion of Mohammed, but not quite fairly.
It is simply the Bedouin's idea of complete happiness, and is by
no means characteristic of the religion as the whole.


In the name of the merciful and compassionate God.

When the inevitable [day of judgment] happens; none shall call its
happening a lie!--abasing--exalting!

When the earth shall quake, quaking! and the mountains shall crumble,
crumbling, and become like motes dispersed!

And ye shall be three sorts;

And the fellows of the right hand--what right lucky fellows!

And the fellows of the left hand--what unlucky fellows!

And the foremost foremost!

These are they who are brought nigh,

In gardens of pleasure!

A crowd of those of yore, and a few of those of the latter day!

And gold-weft couches, reclining on them face to face.

Around them shall go eternal youths, with goblets and ewers and a cup of
flowing wine; no headache shall feed therefrom, nor shall their wits be
dimmed!

And fruits such as they deem the best;

And flesh of fowl as they desire;

And bright and large-eyed maids like hidden pearls;

A reward for that which they have done!

They shall hear no folly there and no sin;

Only the speech, "Peace, Peace!"

And the fellows of the right--what right lucky fellows!

Amid thornless lote trees.

And tal'h(282) trees with piles of fruit;

And outspread shade,

And water poured out;

And fruit in abundance, neither failing nor forbidden;

And beds upraised!

Verily we have produced them(283) a production,

And made them virgins, darlings of equal age (with their spouses) for the
fellows of the right!

A crowd of those of yore, and a crowd of those of the latter day!

And the fellows of the left--what unlucky fellows!

In hot blasts and boiling water;

And a shade of pitchy smoke,

Neither cool nor generous!

Verily they were affluent ere this, and did persist in mighty crime; and
used to say, "What, when we die, have become dust and bones, shall we
indeed be raised? or our fathers of yore?"

Say, "Verily, those of yore and those of the latter days shall surely be
gathered together unto the tryst of the well-known day."

"Then ye, O ye who err! who say it is a lie! shall eat of the Zaqqum(284)
tree and fill your bellies with it! a drink of boiling water! and drink as
drinks the thirsty camel!"


(b) Paulus Diaconus, Historia Langobardorum, VI, 46 ff. (MSL, 95:654.)


The Advance of the Saracens.


Ch. 46. At that time [A. D. 711] the people of the Saracens, crossing over
from Africa at a place which is called Ceuta, invaded all Spain. Then
after ten years, coming with their wives and children, they invaded as if
to settle in Aquitania, a province of Gaul. Charles(285) had at that time
a dispute with Eudo, prince of Aquitania. But they came to an agreement
and fought with perfect harmony against the Saracens. For the Franks fell
upon them(286) and slew three hundred and seventy-five thousand of them;
but on the side of the Franks only fifteen hundred fell. Eudo with his men
broke into their camp and slew many and laid waste all.

Ch. 47. At the same time [A. D. 717], the same people of the Saracens with
an immense army came and encompassed Constantinople and for three years
besieged it until, when the people had called upon God with great
earnestness, many of the enemy perished from hunger and cold and by war
and pestilence and so wearied out they abandoned the siege. When they had
left they carried on war against the people of the Bulgarians who were
beyond the Danube, but, vanquished by them also, they fled back to their
ships. But when they had put out to the deep sea, a sudden storm fell upon
them and many were drowned and their vessels were destroyed. But in
Constantinople three hundred thousand men died of the pestilence.

Ch. 48. Now when Liutprand heard that the Saracens, when Sardinia had been
laid waste, had also polluted those places where the bones of the holy
bishop Augustine, on account of the devastation of the barbarians, had
formerly been transported and solemnly buried, he sent thither and when he
had given a large sum obtained them and transported them to the city of
Pavia, where he buried them with the honor due so great a father.(287) In
these days the city of Narnia was conquered by the Lombards.





Next: The Monothelete Controversy And

Previous: Foundation Of Mediaeval Culture



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