Page images
PDF
EPUB

shortly before the last day. (Korán, c. xviii. and c. xxi. Ezekiel, c. xxxviii.)

Page 17. In the Holy Abode shall be the general gathering,&c.-A detailed account of the Muhammadan notions respecting the day of judgment, and the signs preceding it, is to be found in Sale’s Preliminary Discourse, page 104 and seqq. The scene of the final reckoning will be (according to our author) the Sacred Land, into which all generations will be miraculously brought in troops, all being compressed in some way, so as just to cover the surface of Palestine;. or, the various portions of the earth will be so arranged, that all men will have a clear sight of Jerusalem and the Divine Glory. Forty years before the blast of the trumpet of judgment, all created beings will, at the sound of another blast, either die, or be annihilated, &c.

O flesh torn from the bones !" &c.-Ezekiel,

Ibid.
C. Xxxvii.

Ibid.

God grant to Solomon.”—See the next chapter.

Page 19. “By offering four rakas.”_"On appelle Rika, ou Rikat, une certaine série de rites et de prières qui doivent se suivre selon un ordre invariable ; et chaque prière est composée d'un plus ou moins grand nombre de ces Rikas. Voyez Tableau Général de l'Empire Othoman, tome i. p. 165. seqq.” (De Sacy, Chrest Arabe, vol. ii. p. 36.)

Page 20. Dajjál,or

Dajjal,or “ Antichrist.”—This passage probably alludes to some floating tradition, founded on Revela

tions, chap. xii. Dajjal signifies false, or lying. For an account of the Consecrated Rock, see further, chap. iii.

CHAP. II. The Rabbins, not satisfied with the Scriptural account of the wisdom and greatness of Solomon, have thought fit to represent him as a mighty magician, skilled in the language of birds, and endowed with the power of controlling and directing the genii, or fairies, the afrites, or gnomes, and the evil spirits. These notions are probably of remote antiquity. The celebrity of Solomon spread far and wide in the East. The splendour of the Temple, the riches expended upon it, and the noiseless mode of its construction, were calculated to impress the mind. Solomon's knowledge of natural history would also easily pass for magic among the ignorant; and the natives of Syria, Arabia, and Tyre, would readily exaggerate and misinterpret the Jewish traditions : and thus it is that the Arabians held many wild and absurd opinions respecting him ; some of which are to be found in this chapter. The distortion of the Scriptural narrative will be immediately recognised. The unrivalled kingdom, such as no other possessed, which Solomon prayed to God that he would grant him, is referred by the Arabians to his fancied dominion over the unseen powers. The idea of embodying second causes, and making of God's attributes a kind of really existent and active Being, employed in the works of Creation and Preservation, appears to be a very ancient corruption of the true doctrine of angelic natures. The Hebrew word “cherub” would appear to convey some allusion to the effects of the creative Power of the Deity. (Kirby's • Bridgewater Treatise.') It is a word evidently derived from the verb Karuba, propè accessit, and alludes, perhaps, to the immediately-derived energies of the Supreme Intelligence.

Page 35. Put wine in its place.”—The capture of the Devil by Solomon recalls that passage of Xenophon's Anabasis, lib. ii. c. 2. respecting the Fountain of Midas at Thymbrion in Phrygia, where that ancient king is said to have caught a Satyr by mingling the water of the fountain with wine. It is not easy to decide whether this story were borrowed by the Arabian writers from the Greeks, or vice versa. Midas, originally a Thracian king, is said to have migrated into Phrygia; but several authors assert that it was in his gardens, in Macedonia, that the Satyr was caught. Ælian, in his • Various History,' introduces a conversation of Silenus with the Phrygian Midas; and Ælian, it would seem, has been translated into Arabia. On the other hand, Ælian copies from the Chian Theopompus; which circumstance brings the tradition nearer to Asia Minor. The account given by Servius, from Theopompus, coincides remarkably with the text:-" Is enim apprehensum Silenum a Midæ regis pastoribus dicit crapula madentem et ex ea soporatum, illos dolo aggressos dormientem vinxisse, postea vinculis sponte labentibus, liberatum de rebus naturalibus et antiquis Midæ interroganti respondisse.” The skill of this Satyr in antiquity and natural history tallies with the account of Solomon's demon. Midas, again, is said to have been a disciple of Orpheus, and to have filled Phrygia with superstitions ; and, since the traditions respecting Solomon's general intercourse with spirits, and the knowledge obtained thereby, are confessedly of Asiatic origin, we may upon the whole, perhaps, refer this particular instance of this intercourse to the same source. (See Xenophon's Anabasis, lib. iii. cap. 2. ed. Schneider, Saxo.) The Satyrs of aneient mythology coincide with the evil spirits of later popular tradition, in many respects ;-in their alleged acuteness, their capriciousness, and their unwillingness to converse

with men; and the form ascribed by the monkish legendaries of the middle age, to the evil fiends, is evidently taken from the Greek Satyr. The monkish fiends appear to be beings of a more terrific and malicious character than the companions of Pan; but this variation may be accounted for by the comparatively greater barbarity and coarseness which distinguish the middle ages, and also by the effect of elimate. The fairies of England and Scotland are evidently the same race of beings; yet how much more harmless and friendly is the one class described to be, than the other!

Page 38. See Solomon's Dedication-Prayer, Kings and Chron.

Page 44. The peculiar reverence paid to the Sacred Rock at Jerusalem seems to be one of the many instances of afterthought and addition to. Islám since the time of Muhammad. The politic Moawiyah encouraged this superstition, and directed the fanaticism of his subjects into this new channel, probably from a wish to withdraw their exclusive attention from the cities of Mecca and Medina, where the rival family of Alí chiefly resided. Jerusalem also, so often mentioned in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, afforded a better field for the pilfering talents of tradition-hatchers than the desert-encircled and distant Mecca. Perhaps, Jewish tradition may also have really preserved the site of the Temple of Solomon. However this may be, the Mosque built by Omar has been embellished and enlarged by many of his successors, and is now one of the most sumptuous specimens of Muhammadan architecture. The following concise description of the Mosque Al Sakhra, and Al Aksa, are extracted from Russell's • Palestine,' who follows Ali Bey and others. (Rus

sell's 'Palestine,' p. 171, 172. seqq. and p. 238.):--"The Sakhara is a regular octagon, of about sixty feet a side, and is entered by four spacious doors, each of which is adorned with a porch projecting from the line of the building, and rising considerably on the wall. All the sides are panelled. The centre stone of one panel is square; of another, octagonal ; and thus all round, alternately, the sides of each running down the angles like a plain pilaster, and giving an appearance as if the whole were set in a frame. The marble is white, with a considerable tinge of blue; square pieces of the latter being introduced in different places, so as to confer upon the exterior a very pleasing effect. The upper story is faced with small tiles, painted of different colours-white, yellow, green, and blue; some also covered with sentences from the Korán. At the height are seen elegant windows on each side, except where the porches intervene, and there only six. The general appearance is light and beautiful, especially from the mixture of soft colours above, and the delicate tints of the marble in the main body of the structure. The interior fully corresponds to the magnificence and beauty just described. There are twenty-four marble columns placed parallel to the eight sides of the building, and three opposite each side, so as still to preserve the octagonal form. Eight of them are large plain pillars, belonging to no particular order of architecture, and standing opposite to the eight entering angles of the edifice, and deeply indented on the inner side, so that they furnish an acute termination to the octagonal lines within. Between every two of the square columns there are two of a round figure, well-proportioned, and resting on a base : they are from eighteen to twenty feet high, with a sort of Corinthian capital. A large square plinth of marble extends from the top of one column to the other; and above it there is constructed a number of arches,

« PreviousContinue »