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Page i. “ His Names are too high to be computed,” &c.— The Muhammadans reckon up ninety-nine names, expressive of the various attributes of God. By these words the author would seem to intimate that he held the orthodox or moderate opinion respecting the essence and attributes of the Deity, asserting that the subject is beyond human definition, in contradistinction to the heretic schools of the Mutazilites, who denied the eternity of God's attributes, and confounded them with his essence, saying that he knew by his knowledge, but that his knowledge was his essence, &c. These heretics ran into innumerable subtleties upon this subject, as well as upon Predestination, Free Agency, Origin of Evil, &c. &c.
Ibid. “The glorious Pilgrimage, the accomplishment of the Divine Precept.”—The Pilgrimage to Mecca is positively enjoined as an act of Muhammadan devotion in chapter ii. of the Korán. “ Perform the pilgrimage of Mecca, and the visitation of God; and, if ye be besieged, send that offering which shall be the easiest, and shave not your heads until your offering reacheth the place of sacrifice." By shaving the head, the pilgrim signified the completion of his vow: thus the Nazarite, in the Mosaic Law, terminated his separation (Numbers, c. vi. v. 13. et seq.): “And this is the law of the Nazarite, When the days of his separation are fulfilled, he shall be brought unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall offer his offering unto the Lord,... and shall shave the head of his separation at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shall take the hair of the head of his separation and put it in the fire which is under the sacrifice of the peace-offerings.” The conditions of the Nazaritic separation are curious : “He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, nor vinegar of strong drink; neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried. All the days of his separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the vine-tree, from the kernels even to the husk.” Not only were the Muhammadans inclined to pay great regard to the sayings of those who had received the Scriptures before them" (Korán passim), in matters not opposed to their own religion, or upon customs already received and popular among themselves, but they have also enrolled among
their most authorized traditions many quotations (probably by Jewish converts to Islám) from the Old Testament. Thus it is not unlikely that the above verses may have come to the knowledge of the fanatical madman, the Khalíf Hákim-Biamr'-illah, and have induced him to carry on, among his other fantastic acts of tyranny, his insane opposition to the sale or culture of grapes, under every form. He destroyed an immense quantity, both fresh and dried. Hákim * was son of a Christian slave, and nephew of Orestus, bishop of Jerusalem.
* See note B, at the end.
" The Baitu-l-Harám." “ The Venerable and Peculiar House ;” i.e. the Temple of the Kaaba at Mecca; so called because it is one of the spots consecrated by the especial manifestations of the Deity himself.
Page ii. “Praise be to Him who by night brought his servant from the Venerable Mosque to the Mosque Al Aksá.”— These words commence the seventeenth chapter of the Korán, entitled the Night-journey.
“ One of his most perfect creatures.”—The Muhammadans assert that Jesus was born without sin, and their prophet was purified from original sin in his childhood.
“Lord of the first and the last prophets."--Muhammad, on the night of his journey to heaven, was saluted as chief by all the prophets and apostles. He is named • lord of the first and last, on account of his pre-eminence over both the prophets of the Law, and the apostles of the Gospel.
Page vii. A change from the first to the third person. .
“ On the third of Shabún, in which lights begin to be divided.”—Probably meaning, when night and day begin to approach more nearly to equality. The third of Shabán, in the year of the Hijra 874, answers to the middle of March, A.D. 1470.
“Near to Sohá;" i.e. nearly equal to Sohá in beauty. Sohá is a very small star in the constellation of the Great Bear.
The reader may here be reminded that the two grand questions of Muhammadan controversy relate to matters of Discipline and of Doctrine. The disputes on discipline turn chiefly upon the right of succession to the Khilafat, and the office of supreme Imám. The orthodox party, in the main, regard that office as limited in power, (and, in fact, the Khalífs were originally by no means possessed of irresponsible authority,) and not jure divino the right of Muhammad's immediate descendants. Their opponents assert the indefeasible claim of Ali and his posterity to the universal Khilafat, and consider the maintenance of his pretensions to be an indispensable part of religious belief. The differences, in matters of doctrine, refer, for the most part, to the Essence and Attributes of the Deity, and to the questions of Freewill and Predestination. Some maintain the absolute singularity of the Deity, declaring that to ascribe Necessary Attributes to him, is in effect to assimilate or liken him to creatures, since (we may suppose they argue) it is only by adding infinity to our own notions of perfect Justice, Wisdom, &c. that we can arrive at any idea of the Wisdom or Justice of God. Some, on the contrary, consider the Attributes of the Deity as in fact his Essence. The shades of opinion upon this subject are innumerable. With respect to Freewill and Predestination, the vulgar opinion, countenanced by the Korán, is strongly in favour of the dogmas of Necessity and Fate; yet the doctors modify the doctrine by their tenet of Acquisition. God, they say, decrees Power and Will. He decrees also all our actions ; but the concurrence of power and will with actual Deed and Performance, is of man's freewill, by which he acquires and takes hold of an action which before existed only in God's decrees unconnected with him. A man, for example, pressed by necessity, bas it in his power to commit