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such analogy between Buddhism, or the system of the Hindoos, or of Confucius, and Christianity, as exists between the latter and Muhammadanism. Both the latter produce well-authenticated founders, exhibit intelligible doctrines, and claim our assent upon certain grounds; and the consequence has been, that sceptical writers commend the moral code of ancient sages as almost divine, but with much unwillingness decide on the falsehood of Muhammad's pretensions. The clear evidence has enforced determination.
Gibbon, indeed, remarks, and Mill copies him, that had not the progress of the Saracens been checked by their defeat near Tours, by Charles Martel, they would in all probability have soon possessed themselves of Great Britain ; in which event, he says, the schools and colleges of Oxford might be now resounding with evidences and demonstrations of the truth of Muhammadanism. No observation was ever more uncandid and sophistical. If the establishment of Islám in our country was accompanied by its usual ignorance and obtusity of intellect, then the demon
ου διαγινώσκομεν επεάν δε παρατρίψωμεν άλλο χρυσό, διαyivuorojev vòv å peivg.--Herod. lib. ii.
strations of Musalmán Oxford would avail not more than those of Damascus the Begirt. But if it were possible to imagine that this religion could exist in connexion with that erudition, civilization, enlargement of mind, and power of argument, now to be found among our seats of learning, then we may be assured that it would have been rejected. No one could produce any demonstration or proof upon the subject which could at all weigh with acute and wellinformed minds, even were they with sincere industry to apply the utmost force and vigour of intellect, combined with the most extensive learning, to the task. The Musalmáns possessed Spain, where they flourished for centuries, and cultivated literature and science with success. They also produced some apologetical treatises upon the subject of their religion, which only demonstrate the weakness of the cause. The truth is, that nothing is taken less upon trust than Christianity: both as it regards masses and individuals, it is carefully and zealously canvassed and examined ; and nothing but the completeness of its evidence and moral power could obtain for
it a footing in a country of learning, virtue, and freedom.
Some acquaintance with Islám may be of use therefore in enabling us to contrast it with Christianity. But, in pursuing this subject, many are deterred by the tediousness and dulness of the Korán. Few celebrated compositions exhibit more unimaginative prolixity and redundance than “ The Forkán.”. The 55th chapter, imitated from the Psalms, and the adjurations which commence the 52nd and some of the latter chapters, seem to compose a principal portion of the spirit and beauty to be found in this remarkable book. The Korán also is not the sole depository of Muhammadan faith : Tradition is an essential part of Islám, both as regards opinions and practice ; and the doctrine of abrogation renders it absolutely indispensable in the interpretation of the sacred signs,--so little are they entitled to the appellation of Perspicuous, bestowed upon them by their inventor. A book therefore which contains most of those portions of the Korán which are the chief foundations of Muhammadanism, combined with the principal autho
ritative traditions which illustrate and explain it, united and exhibited in an abridged, popular form, may be of service to the theological enquirer; and, of the many books of this kind current in the East, the following may, for many reasons, be regarded as a fair specimen. In it will be found most of the texts of the Korá upon which the Musalmán system is constructed, (which a reference to Sale's Preliminary Discourse and Notes will sufficiently explain,) and also many of the principal traditions : from these we may obtain a just notion of the religious sentiments of the Muhammadans. Nor are such enquiries to be regarded merely as theological : the religion of the merchant and warrior Prophet is now again fast losing its hold upon men's minds, wasting and languishing to decay: it has no such moral power over the intellect and affections, as would enable it to rekindle exhausted fanaticism: there is now also no reason to dread that Islám will again be re-inforced and re-animated by the accession of barbarian hordes of converts and conquerors ; yet, when the waning crescent shall set, (to yield, we trust, to a pure sun, which warms
and enlightens too,) she will leave imperishable memorials of her ascendency. The habits which Islám has engrafted; the institutions it has established ; the laws it has deeply enrooted ; the noble language it has consecrated; will still connect the system of Muhammadanism with the most important and interesting subjects of human research, and deserve the study and investigation of men, long beyond the period when the fanaticism and the crimes of that system shall be despised or abhorred :
6 Mentibus hæret