|Character of Mohammed.
The Koran, if chronologically arranged, must be regarded as the best commentary on his character. While his followers regard him to this day as the greatest prophet of God, he was long abhorred in Christendom as a wicked impostor, as the antichrist, or the false prophet, predicted in the Bible, and inspired by the father of lies.
The calmer judgment of recent historians inclines to the belief that he combined the good and bad qualities of an Oriental chief, and that in the earlier part of his life he was a sincere reformer and enthusiast, but after the establishment of his kingdom a slave of ambition for conquest. He was a better man in the period of his adversity and persecution at Mecca, than during his prosperity and triumph at Medina. History records many examples of characters rising from poverty and obscurity to greatness, and then decaying under the sunshine of wealth and power. He degenerated, like Solomon, but did not repent, like the preacher of "vanity of vanities." He had a melancholic and nervous temperament, liable to fantastic hallucinations and alternations of high excitement and deep depression, bordering at times on despair and suicide. The story of his early and frequent epileptic fits throws some light on his revelations, during which he sometimes growled like a camel, foamed at his mouth, and streamed with perspiration. He believed in evil spirits, omens, charms, and dreams. His mind was neither clear nor sharp, but strong and fervent, and under the influence of an exuberant imagination. He was a poet of high order, and the Koran is the first classic in Arabic literature. He believed himself to be a prophet, irresistibly impelled by supernatural influence to teach and warn his fellow-men. He started with the over-powering conviction of the unity of God and a horror of idolatry, and wished to rescue his countrymen from this sin of sins and from the terrors of the judgment to come; but gradually he rose above the office of a national reformer to that of the founder of a universal religion, which was to absorb the other religions, and to be propagated by violence. It is difficult to draw the line in such a character between honest zeal and selfish ambition, the fear of God and the love of power and glory.
He despised a throne and a diadem, lived with his wives in a row of low and homely cottages of unbaked bricks, and aided them in their household duties; he was strictly temperate in eating and drinking, his chief diet being dates and water; he was not ashamed to milk his goats, to mend his clothes and to cobble his shoes; his personal property at his death amounted to some confiscated lands, fourteen or fifteen slaves, a few camels and mules, a hundred sheep, and a rooster. This simplicity of a Bedouin Sheikh of the desert contrasts most favorably with the luxurious style and gorgeous display of Mohammed’s successors, the Califs and Sultans, who have dozens of palaces and harems filled with eunuchs and women that know nothing beyond the vanities of dress and etiquette and a little music. He was easy of access to visitors who approached him with faith and reverence; patient, generous, and (according to Ayesha) as modest and bashful "as a veiled virgin." But towards his enemies he was cruel and revengeful. He did not shrink from perfidy. He believed in the use of the sword as the best missionary, and was utterly unscrupulous as to the means of success. He had great moral, but little physical courage; he braved for thirteen years the taunts and threats of the people, but never exposed himself to danger in battle, although he always accompanied his forces.
Mohammed was a slave of sensual passion. Ayesha, who knew him best in his private character and habits, used to say: "The prophet loved three things, women, perfumes and food; he had his heart’s desire of the two first, but not of the last." The motives of his excess in polygamy were his sensuality which grew with his years, and his desire for male offspring. His followers excused or justified him by the examples of Abraham, David and Solomon, and by the difficulties of his prophetic office, which were so great that God gave him a compensation in sexual enjoyment, and endowed him with greater capacity than thirty ordinary men. For twenty-four years he had but one wife, his beloved Chadijah, who died in 619, aged sixty-five, but only two months after her death he married a widow named Sawda (April 619), and gradually increased his harem, especially during the last two years of his life. When he heard of a pretty woman, says Sprenger, he asked her hand, but was occasionally refused. He had at least fourteen legal wives, and a number of slave concubines besides. At his death he left nine widows. He claimed special revelations which gave him greater liberty of sexual indulgence than ordinary Moslems (who are restricted to four wives), and exempted him from the prohibition of marrying near relatives.0 He married by divine command, as he alleged, Zeynab, the wife of Zayd, his adopted son and bosom-friend. His wives were all widows except Ayesha. One of them was a beautiful and rich Jewess; she was despised by her sisters, who sneeringly said: "Pshaw, a Jewess!" He told her to reply: "Aaron is my father and Moses my uncle!" Ayesha, the daughter of Abû Bakr, was his especial favorite. He married her when she was a girl of nine years, and he fifty-three years old. She brought her doll-babies with her, and amused and charmed the prophet by her playfulness, vivacity and wit. She could read, had a copy of the Koran, and knew more about theology, genealogy and poetry than all the other widows of Mohammed. He announced that she would be his wife also in Paradise. Yet she was not free from suspicion of unfaithfulness until he received a revelation of her innocence. After his death she was the most sacred person among the Moslems and the highest authority on religious and legal questions. She survived her husband forty-seven years and died at Medina, July 13, 678, aged sixty-seven years. 161
In his ambition for a hereditary dynasty, Mohammed was sadly disappointed: he lost his two sons by Chadijah, and a third one by Mary the Egyptian, his favorite concubine.
To compare such a man with Jesus, is preposterous and even blasphemous. Jesus was the sinless Saviour of sinners; Mohammed was a sinner, and he knew and confessed it. He falls far below Moses, or Elijah, or any of the prophets and apostles in moral purity. But outside of the sphere of revelation, he ranks with Confucius, and Cakya Muni the Buddha, among the greatest founders of religions and lawgivers of nations.
§ 43. The Conquests of Islâm.
"The sword," says Mohammed, "is the key of heaven and hell; a drop of blood shed in the cause of Allah, a night spent in arms, is of more avail than two months of fasting or prayer: whosoever falls in battle, his sins are forgiven, and at the day of judgment his limbs shall be supplied by the wings of angels and cherubim." This is the secret of his success. Idolaters had to choose between Islâm, slavery, and death; Jews and Christians were allowed to purchase a limited toleration by the payment of tribute, but were otherwise kept in degrading bondage. History records no soldiers of greater bravery inspired by religion than the Moslem conquerors, except Cromwell’s Ironsides, and the Scotch Covenanters, who fought with purer motives for a nobler cause.
The Califs, Mohammed’s successors, who like him united the priestly and kingly dignity, carried on his conquests with the battle-cry: "Before you is paradise, behind you are death and hell." Inspired by an intense fanaticism, and aided by the weakness of the Byzantine empire and the internal distractions of the Greek Church, the wild sons of the desert, who were content with the plainest food, and disciplined in the school of war, hardship and recklessness of life, subdued Palestine, Syria, and Egypt, embracing the classical soil of primitive Christianity. Thousands of Christian churches in the patriarchal dioceses of Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria, were ruthlessly destroyed, or converted into mosques. Twenty-one years after the death of Mohammed the Crescent ruled over a realm as large as the Roman Empire. Even Constantinople was besieged twice (668 and 717), although in vain. The terrible efficacy of the newly invented "Greek fire," and the unusual severity of a long winter defeated the enemy, and saved Eastern and Northern Europe from the blight of the Koran. A large number of nominal Christians who had so fiercely quarreled with each other about unfruitful subtleties of their creeds, surrendered their faith to the conqueror. In 707 the North African provinces, where once St. Augustin had directed the attention of the church to the highest problems of theology and religion, fell into the hands of the Arabs.
In 711 they crossed from Africa to Spain and established an independent Califate at Cordova. The moral degeneracy and dissensions of the Western Goths facilitated their subjugation. Encouraged by such success, the Arabs crossed the Pyrenees and boasted that they would soon stable their horses in St. Peter’s cathedral in Rome, but the defeat of Abd-er Rahman by Charles Martel between Poitiers and Tours in 732—one hundred and ten years after the Hegira—checked their progress in the West, and in 1492—the same year in which Columbus discovered a new Continent—Ferdinand defeated the last Moslem army in Spain at the gates of Granada and drove them back to Africa. The palace and citadel of the Alhambra, with its court of lions, its delicate arabesques and fretwork, and its aromatic gardens and groves, still remains, a gorgeous ruin of the power of the Moorish kings.
In the East the Moslems made new conquests. In the ninth century they subdued Persia, Afghanistan, and a large part of India. They reduced the followers of Zoroaster to a few scattered communities, and conquered a vast territory of Brahminism and Buddhism even beyond the Ganges. The Seliuk Turks in the eleventh century, and the Mongols in the thirteenth, adopted the religion of the Califs whom they conquered. Constantinople fell at last into the hands of the Turks in 1453, and the magnificent church of St. Sophia, the glory of Justinian’s reign, was turned into a mosque where the Koran is read instead of the Gospel, the reader holding the drawn scimetar in his hand. From Constantinople the Turks threatened the German empire, and it was not till 1683 that they were finally defeated by Sobieski at the gates of Vienna and driven back across the Danube.
With the senseless fury of fanaticism and pillage the Tartar Turks have reduced the fairest portions of Eastern Europe to desolation and ruin. With sovereign contempt for all other religions, they subjected the Christians to a condition of virtual servitude, treating them like "dogs," as they call them. They did not intermeddle with their internal affairs, but made merchandise of ecclesiastical offices. The death penalty was suspended over every attempt to convert a Mussulman. Apostasy from the faith is also treason to the state, and merits the severest punishment in this world, as well as everlasting damnation in the world to come.
After the Crimean war in 1856, the death penalty for apostasy was nominally abolished in the dominions of the Sultan, and in the Berlin Treaty of 1878 liberty of religion (more than mere toleration) was guaranteed to all existing sects in the Turkish empire, but the old fanaticism will yield only to superior force, and the guarantee of liberty is not understood to imply the liberty of propaganda among Moslems. Christian sects have liberty to prey on each other, but woe to them if they invade the sacred province of Islâm.2
A Mohammedan tradition contains a curious prophecy that Christ, the son of Mary, will return as the last Calif to judge the world.3 The impression is gaining ground among the Moslems that they will be unable ultimately to withstand the steady progress of Christianity and Western civilization. The Sultan, the successor of the Califs, is a mere shadow on the throne trembling for his life. The dissolution of the Turkish empire, which may be looked for at no distant future, will break the backbone of lslâm, and open the way for the true solution of the Eastern question—the moral regeneration of the Lands of the Bible by the Christianity of the Bible.
§ 44. The Koran, and the Bible.
"Mohammed’s truth lay in a sacred Book,
Christ’s in a holy Life."—Milnes (Palm-Leaves).
The Koran 164is the sacred book, the Bible of the Mohammedans. It is their creed, their code of laws, their liturgy. It claims to be the product of divine inspiration by the arch-angel Gabriel, who performed the function assigned to the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures. 165 The Mohammedans distinguish two kinds of revelations: those which were literally delivered as spoken by the angel (called Wahee Matloo, or the word of God), and those which give the sense of the inspired instruction in the prophet’s own words (called Wahee Ghair Matloo, or Hadees). The prophet is named only five times, but is addressed by Gabriel all through the book with the word Say, as the recipient and sacred penman of the revelations. It consists of 114 Suras 166and 6,225 verses. Each Sura (except the ninth) begins with the formula (of Jewish origin): "In the name of Allah, the God of Mercy, the Merciful." 167
The Koran is composed in imperfect metre and rhyme (which is as natural and easy in the Arabic as in the Italian language). Its language is considered the purest Arabic. Its poetry somewhat resembles Hebrew poetry in Oriental imagery and a sort of parallelism or correspondence of clauses, but it loses its charm in a translation; while the Psalms and Prophets can be reproduced in any language without losing their original force and beauty. The Koran is held in superstitious veneration, and was regarded till recently as too sacred to be translated and to be sold like a common book.8
Mohammed prepared and dictated the Koran from time to time as he received the revelations and progressed in his career, not for readers, but for hearers, leaving much to the suggestive action of the public recital, either from memory or from copies taken down by his friends. Hence its occasional, fragmentary character. About a year after his death, at the direction of Abu-Bakr, his father-in-law and immediate successor, Zayd, the chief ansar or amanuensis of the Prophet, collected the scattered fragments of the Koran "from palm-leaves, and tablets of white stone, and from the breasts of men," but without any regard to chronological order or continuity of subjects. Abu-Bakr committed this copy to the custody of Haphsa, one of Mohammed’s widows. It remained the standard during the ten years of Omar’s califate. As the different readings of copies occasioned serious disputes, Zayd, with several Koreish, was commissioned to secure the purity of the text in the Meccan dialect, and all previous copies were called in and burned. The recension of Zayd has been handed down with scrupulous care unaltered to this day, and various readings are almost unknown; the differences being confined to the vowel-points, which were invented at a later period. The Koran contains many inconsistencies and contradictions; but the expositors hold that the later command supersedes the earlier.
The restoration of the chronological order of the Suras is necessary for a proper understanding of the gradual development of Islâm in the mind and character of its author.9 There is a considerable difference between the Suras of the earlier, middle, and later periods. In the earlier, the poetic, wild, and rhapsodical element predominates; in the middle, the prosaic, narrative, and missionary; in the later, the official and legislative. Mohammed began with descriptions of natural objects, of judgment, of heaven and hell, impassioned, fragmentary utterances, mostly in brief sentences; he went on to dogmatic assertions, historical statements from Jewish and Christian sources, missionary appeals and persuasions; and he ended with the dictatorial commands of a legislator and warrior. "He who at Mecca is the admonisher and persuader, at Medina is the legislator and the warrior, who dictates obedience and uses other weapons than the pen of the poet and the scribe. When business pressed, as at Medina, poetry makes way for prose, 170and although touches of the poetical element occasionally break forth, and he has to defend himself up to a very late period against the charge of being merely a poet, yet this is rarely the case in the Medina Suras; and we are startled by finding obedience to God and the Apostle, God’s gifts and the Apostle’s, God’s pleasure and the Apostle’s, spoken of in the same breath, and epithets, and attributes, applied to Allah, openly applied to Mohammed, as in Sura IX." 171
The materials of the Koran, as far as they are not productions of the author’s own imagination, were derived from the floating traditions of Arabia and Syria, from rabbinical Judaism, and a corrupt Christianity, and adjusted to his purposes.
Mohammed had, in his travels, come in contact with professors of different religions, and on his first journey with camel-drivers he fell in with a Nestorian monk of Bostra, who goes by different names (Bohari, Bahyra, Sergius, George), and welcomed the youthful prophet with a presage of his future greatness.2 His wife Chadijah and her cousin Waraka (a reputed convert to Christianity, or more probably a Jew) are said to have been well acquainted with the sacred books of the Jews and the Christians.
The Koran, especially in the earlier Suras, speaks often and highly of the Scriptures; calls them "the Book of God," "the Word of God," "the Tourât" (Thora, the Pentateuch), "the Gospel" (Ynyil), and describes the Jews and Christians as "the people of the Book," or "of the Scripture," or "of the Gospel." It finds in the Scriptures prophecies of Mohammed and his success, and contains narratives of the fall of Adam and Eve, Noah and the Deluge, Abraham and Lot, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Moses and Joseph, John the Baptist, the Virgin Mary and Jesus, sometimes in the words of the Bible, but mostly distorted and interspersed with rabbinical and apocryphal fables. 173
It is quite probable that portions of the Bible were read to Mohammed; but it is very improbable that he read it himself; for according to the prevailing Moslem tradition he could not read at all, and there were no Arabic translations before the Mohammedan conquests, which spread the Arabic language in the conquered countries. Besides, if he had read the Bible with any degree of care, he could not have made such egregious blunders. The few allusions to Scripture phraseology—as "giving alms to be seen of men," "none forgiveth sins but God only"—may be derived from personal intercourse and popular traditions. Jesus (Isa) is spoken of as "the Son of Mary, strengthened by the Holy Spirit." Noah (Nûh), Abraham (Ibrahym), Moses (Mûsa), Aaron (Harun), are often honorably mentioned, but apparently always from imperfect traditional or apocryphal sources of information.4
The Koran is unquestionably one of the great books of the world. It is not only a book, but an institution, a code of civil and religious laws, claiming divine origin and authority. It has left its impress upon ages. It feeds to this day the devotions, and regulates the private and public life, of more than a hundred millions of human beings. It has many passages of poetic beauty, religious fervor, and wise counsel, but mixed with absurdities, bombast, unmeaning images, low sensuality. It abounds in repetitions and contradictions, which are not removed by the convenient theory of abrogation. It alternately attracts and repels, and is a most wearisome book to read. Gibbon calls the Koran "a glorious testimony to the unity of God," but also, very properly, an "endless, incoherent rhapsody of fable and precept and declamation, which seldom excites a sentiment or idea, which sometimes crawls in the dust, and is sometimes lost in the clouds."5 Reiske 176denounces it as the most absurd book and a scourge to a reader of sound common sense. Goethe, one of the best judges of literary and poetic merit, characterizes the style as severe, great, terrible, and at times truly sublime. "Detailed injunctions," he says, "of things allowed and forbidden, legendary stories of Jewish and Christian religion, amplifications of all kinds, boundless tautologies and repetitions, form the body of this sacred volume, which to us, as often as we approach it, is repellent anew, next attracts us ever anew, and fills us with admiration, and finally forces us into veneration." He finds the kernel of Islâm in the second Sura, where belief and unbelief with heaven and hell, as their sure reward, are contrasted. Carlyle calls the Koran "the confused ferment of a great rude human soul; rude, untutored, that cannot even read, but fervent, earnest, struggling vehemently to utter itself In words;" and says of Mohammedanism: "Call it not false, look not at the falsehood of it; look at the truth of it. For these twelve centuries it has been the religion and life-guidance of the fifth part of the whole kindred of mankind. Above all, it has been a religion heartily believed." But with all his admiration, Carlyle confesses that the reading of the Koran in English is "as toilsome a task" as he ever undertook. "A wearisome, confused jumble, crude, incondite; endless iterations, long-windedness, entanglement; insupportable stupidity, in short, nothing but a sense of duty could carry any European through the Koran. We read it, as we might in the State-Paper Office, unreadable masses of lumber, that we may get some glimpses of a remarkable man." And yet there are Mohammedan doctors who are reported to have read the Koran seventy thousand times! What a difference of national and religious taste! Emanuel Deutsch finds the grandeur of the Koran chiefly in its Arabic diction, "the peculiarly dignified, impressive, sonorous nature of Semitic sound and parlance; its sesquipedalia verba, with their crowd of prefixes and affixes, each of them affirming its own position, while consciously bearing upon and influencing the central root, which they envelop like a garment of many folds, or as chosen courtiers move round the anointed person of the king." E. H. Palmer says that the claim of the Koran to miraculous eloquence, however absurd it may sound to Western ears, was and is to the Arab incontrovertible, and he accounts for the immense influence which it has always exercised upon the Arab mind, by the fact, "that it consists not merely of the enthusiastic utterances of an individual, but of the popular sayings, choice pieces of eloquence, and favorite legends current among the desert tribes for ages before this time. Arabic authors speak frequently of the celebrity attained by the ancient Arabic orators, such as Shâibân Wâil; but unfortunately no specimens of their works have come down to us. The Qur’ân, however, enables us to judge of the speeches which took so strong a hold upon their countrymen." 177
Of all books, not excluding the Vedas, the Koran is the most powerful rival of the Bible, but falls infinitely below it in contents and form.
Both contain the moral and religious code of the nations which own it; the Koran, like the Old Testament, is also a civil and political code. Both are oriental in style and imagery. Both have the fresh character of occasional composition growing out of a definite historical situation and specific wants. But the Bible is the genuine revelation of the only true God in Christ, reconciling the world to himself; the Koran is a mock-revelation without Christ and without atonement. Whatever is true in the Koran is borrowed from the Bible; what is original, is false or frivolous. The Bible is historical and embodies the noblest aspirations of the human race in all ages to the final consummation; the Koran begins and stops with Mohammed. The Bible combines endless variety with unity, universal applicability with local adaptation; the Koran is uniform and monotonous, confined to one country, one state of society, and one class of minds. The Bible is the book of the world, and is constantly travelling to the ends of the earth, carrying spiritual food to all races and to all classes of society; the Koran stays in the Orient, and is insipid to all who have once tasted the true word of the living God.8 Even the poetry of the Koran never rises to the grandeur and sublimity of Job or Isaiah, the lyric beauty of the Psalms, the sweetness and loveliness of the Song of Solomon, the sententious wisdom of the Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes.
A few instances must suffice for illustration.
The first Sura, called "the Sura of Praise and Prayer," which is recited by the Mussulmans several times in each of the five daily devotions, fills for them the place of the Lord’s Prayer, and contains the same number of petitions. We give it in a rhymed, and in a more literal translation:
"In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate!
Praise be to Allah, who the three worlds made,
The Merciful, the Compassionate,
The King of the day of Fate,
Thee alone do we worship, and of Thee alone do we ask aid.
Guide us to the path that is straight —
The path of those to whom Thy love is great,
Not those on whom is hate,
Nor they that deviate! Amen. 179
"In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.
Praise be to God, Lord of the worlds!
The Compassionate, the Merciful!
King on the day of judgment!
Thee only do we worship, and to Thee do we cry for help.
Guide Thou us on the right path,
The path of those to whom Thou art gracious;
Not of those with whom Thou art angered,
Nor of those who go astray."0
We add the most recent version in prose:
"In the name of the merciful and compassionate God.
Praise belongs to God, the Lord of the worlds, the merciful, the compassionate, the ruler of the day of judgment! Thee we serve and Thee we ask for aid. Guide us in the right path, the path of those Thou art gracious to; not of those Thou art wroth with; nor of those who err."1
As this Sura invites a comparison with the Lord’s Prayer infinitely to the advantage of the latter, so do the Koran’s descriptions of Paradise when contrasted with St. John’s vision of the heavenly Jerusalem:
"Joyous on that day shall be the inmates of Paradise in their employ;
In shades, on bridal couches reclining, they and their spouses:
Therein shall they have fruits, and whatever they require —
’Peace!’ shall be the word on the part of a merciful Lord.
But be ye separated this day, O ye sinners!"2
* * * * * * *
"The sincere servants of God
A stated banquet shall they have
Of fruits; and honored shall they be
In the gardens of delight,
Upon couches face to face.
A cup shall be borne round among them from a fountain,
Limpid, delicious to those who drink;
It shall not oppress the sense, nor shall they therewith be drunken,
And with them are the large-eyed ones with modest refraining glances,
fair like the sheltered egg."3
§ 45. The Mohammedan Religion.
lslâm is not a new religion, nor can we expect a new one after the appearance of that religion which is perfect and intended for all nations and ages. It is a compound or mosaic of preëxisting elements, a rude attempt to combine heathenism, Judaism and Christianity, which Mohammed found in Arabia, but in a very imperfect form.4 It is professedly, a restoration of the faith of Abraham, the common father of Isaac and of Ishmael. But it is not the genuine faith of Abraham with its Messianic hopes and aspirations looking directly to the gospel dispensation as its goal and fulfilment, but a bastard Judaism of Ishmael, and the post-Christian and anti-Christian Judaism of the Talmud. Still less did Mohammed know the pure religion of Jesus as laid down in the New Testament, but only a perversion and caricature of it such as we find in the wretched apocryphal and heretical Gospels. This ignorance of the Bible and the corruptions of Eastern Christianity with which the Mohammedans came in contact, furnish some excuse for their misbelief and stubborn prejudices. And yet even the poor pseudo-Jewish and pseudo-Christian elements of the Koran were strong enough to reform the old heathenism of Arabia and Africa and to lift it to a much higher level. The great and unquestionable merit of Islâm is the breaking up of idolatry and the diffusion of monotheism.
The creed of Islâm is simple, and consists of six articles: God, predestination, the angels (good and bad), the books, the prophets, the resurrection and judgment with eternal reward and eternal punishment.
Monotheism is the comer-stone of the system. It is expressed in the ever-repeated sentence: "There is no god but God (Allâh, i.e., the true, the only God), and Mohammed is his prophet (or apostle)." 185 Gibbon calls this a "compound of an eternal truth and a necessary fiction." The first clause certainly is a great and mighty truth borrowed from the Old Testament (Deut. 6:4); and is the religious strength of the system. But the Mohammedan (like the later Jewish, the Socinian, and the Unitarian) monotheism is abstract, monotonous, divested of inner life and fulness, anti-trinitarian, and so far anti-Christian. One of the last things which a Mohammedan will admit, is the divinity of Christ. Many of the divine attributes are vividly apprehended, emphasized and repeated in prayer. But Allah is a God of infinite power and wisdom, not a God of redeeming love to all mankind; a despotic sovereign of trembling subjects and slaves, not a loving Father of trustful children. He is an object of reverence and fear rather than of love and gratitude. He is the God of fate who has unalterably foreordained all things evil as well as good; hence unconditional resignation to him (this is the meaning of Islâm) is true wisdom and piety. He is not a hidden, unknowable being, but a God who has revealed himself through chosen messengers, angelic and human. Adam, Noah, Abraham Moses, and Jesus are his chief prophets. 186 But Mohammed is the last and the greatest.
The Christology of the Koran is a curious mixture of facts and apocryphal fictions, of reverence for the man Jesus and denial of his divine character. He is called "the Messiah Jesus Son of Mary," or "the blessed Son of Mary." 187 He was a servant and apostle of the one true God, and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, i.e., the angel Gabriel (Dshebril), who afterwards conveyed the divine revelations to Mohammed. But he is not the Son of God; for as God has no wife, he can have no son. 188 He is ever alone, and it is monstrous and blasphemous to associate another being with Allah.
Some of the Mohammedan divines exempt Jesus and even his mother from sin, and first proclaimed the dogma of the immaculate conception of Mary, for which the apocryphal Gospels prepared the way. 189 By a singular anachronism, the Koran confounds the Virgin Mary with Miriam," the sister of Aaron" (Harun), and Moses (Ex. xv. 20; Num. xxi. 1). Possibly Mohammed may have meant another Aaron (since he calls Mary, "the sister of Aaron but not "of Moses"); some of his commentators, however, assume that the sister of Moses was miraculously preserved to give birth to Jesus. 190
According to the Koran Jesus was conceived by the Virgin Mary at the appearance of Gabriel and born under a palm tree beneath which a fountain opened. This story is of Ebionite origin.1 Jesus preached in the cradle and performed miracles in His infancy (as in the apocryphal Gospels), and during His public ministry, or rather Allah wrought miracles through Him. Mohammed disclaims the miraculous power, and relied upon the stronger testimony of the truth of his doctrine. Jesus proclaimed the pure doctrine of the unity of God and disclaimed divine honors.
The crucifixion of Jesus is denied. He was delivered by a miracle from the death intended for Him, and taken up by God into Paradise with His mother. The Jews slew one like Him, by mistake. This absurd docetic idea is supposed to be the common belief of Christians. 192
Jesus predicted the coming of Mohammed, when he said: "O children of Israel! of a truth I am God’s apostle to you to confirm the law which was given before me, and to announce an apostle that shall come after me whose name shall be Ahmed!"3 Thus the promise of the Holy Ghost, "the other Paraclete," (John xiv. 16) was applied by Mohammed to himself by a singular confusion of Paracletos (paravklhto") with Periclytos (perivkluto", heard all round, famous) or Ahmed (the glorified, the illustrious), one of the prophet’s names. 194
Owing to this partial recognition of Christianity Mohammed was originally regarded not as the founder of a new religion, but as one of the chief heretics.5 The same opinion is expressed by several modern writers, Catholic and Protestant. Döllinger says: "Islâm must be considered at bottom a Christian heresy, the bastard offspring of a Christian father and a Jewish mother, and is indeed more closely allied to Christianity than Manichaeism, which is reckoned a Christian sect." 196 Stanley calls Islâm an "eccentric heretical form of Eastern Christianity," and Ewald more correctly, "the last and most powerful offshoot of Gnosticism." 197
The Ethics of IslÂm.
Resignation (Islâm) to the omnipotent will of Allah is the chief virtue. It is the most powerful motive both in action and suffering, and is carried to the excess of fatalism and apathy.
The use of pork and wine is strictly forbidden; prayer, fasting (especially during the whole month of Ramadhân), and almsgiving are enjoined. Prayer carries man half-way to God, fasting brings him to the door of God’s palace, alms secure admittance. The total abstinence from strong drink by the whole people, even in countries where the vine grows in abundance, reveals a remarkable power of self-control, which puts many Christian nations to shame. Mohammedanism is a great temperance society. Herein lies its greatest moral force.
But on the other hand the heathen vice of polygamy and concubinage is perpetuated and encouraged by the example of the prophet. He restrained and regulated an existing practice, and gave it the sanction of religion. Ordinary believers are restricted to four wives (exclusive of slaves), and generally have only one or two. But Califs may fill their harems to the extent of their wealth and lust. Concubinage with female slaves is allowed to all without limitation. The violation of captive women of the enemy is the legitimate reward of the conqueror. The laws of divorce and prohibited degrees are mostly borrowed from the Jews, but divorce is facilitated and practiced to an extent that utterly demoralizes married life.
Polygamy and servile concubinage destroy the dignity of woman, and the beauty and peace of home. In all Mohammedan countries woman is ignorant and degraded; she is concealed from public sight by a veil (a sign of degradation as well as protection); she is not commanded to pray, and is rarely seen in the mosques; it is even an open question whether she has a soul, but she is necessary even in paradise for the gratification of man’s passion. A Moslem would feel insulted by an inquiry after the health of his wife or wives. Polygamy affords no protection against unnatural vices, which are said to prevail to a fearful extent among Mohammedans, as they did among the ancient heathen.8
In nothing is the infinite superiority of Christianity over Islâm so manifest as in the condition of woman and family life. Woman owes everything to the religion of the gospel.
The sensual element pollutes even the Mohammedan picture of heaven from which chastity is excluded. The believers are promised the joys of a luxuriant paradise amid blooming gardens, fresh fountains, and beautiful virgins. Seventy-two Houris, or black-eyed girls of blooming youth will be created for the enjoyment of the meanest believer; a moment of pleasure will be prolonged to a thousand years; and his faculties will be increased a hundred fold. Saints and martyrs will be admitted to the spiritual joys of the divine vision. But infidels and those who refuse to fight for their faith will be cast into hell.
The Koran distinguishes seven heavens, and seven hells (for wicked or apostate Mohammedans, Christians, Jews, Sabians, Magians, idolaters, hypocrites). Hell (Jahennem=Gehenna) is beneath the lowest earth and seas of darkness; the bridge over it is finer than a hair and sharper than the edge of a sword; the pious pass over it in a moment, the wicked fall from it into the abyss.
Slavery is recognized and sanctioned as a normal condition of, society, and no hint is given in the Koran, nor any effort made by Mohammedan rulers for its final extinction. It is the twin-sister of polygamy; every harem is a slave-pen or a slave-palace. "The Koran, as a universal revelation, would have been a perpetual edict of servitude." Mohammed, by ameliorating the condition of slaves, and enjoining kind treatment upon the masters, did not pave the way for its abolition, but rather riveted its fetters. The barbarous slave-trade is still carried on in all its horrors by Moslems among the negroes in Central Africa.
War against unbelievers is legalized by the Koran. The fighting men are to be slain, the women and children reduced to slavery. Jews and Christians are dealt with more leniently than idolaters; but they too must be thoroughly humbled and forced to pay tribute.
§ 46. Mohammedan Worship.
"A simple, unpartitioned room,
Surmounted by an ample dome,
Or, in some Iands that favored he,
With centre open to the sky,
But roofed with arched cloisters round,
That mark the consecrated bound,
And shade the niche to Mecca turned,
By which two massive lights are burned;
With pulpit whence the sacred word
Expounded on great days is heard;
With fountains fresh, where, ere they pray,
Men wash the soil of earth away;
With shining minaret, thin and high,
From whose fine trellised balcony,
Announcement of the hour of prayer
Is uttered to the silent air:
Such is the Mosque—the holy place,
Where faithful men of every race
Meet at their ease and face to face."
(From Milnes, "Palm Leaves.")
In worship the prominent feature of Islâm is its extreme iconoclasm and puritanism. In this respect, it resembles the service of the synagogue. The second commandment is literally understood as a prohibition of all representations of living creatures, whether in churches or elsewhere. The only ornament allowed is the "Arabesque," which is always taken from inanimate nature.9
The ceremonial is very simple. The mosques, like Catholic churches, are always open and frequented by worshippers, who perform their devotions either alone or in groups with covered head and bare feet. In entering, one must take off the shoes according to the command: "Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground." Slippers or sandals of straw are usually provided for strangers, and must be paid for. There are always half a dozen claimants for "backsheesh"—the first and the last word which greets the traveller in Egypt and Syria. Much importance is attached to preaching.0
Circumcision is retained from the Jews, although it is not mentioned in the Koran. Friday is substituted for the Jewish Sabbath as the sacred day (perhaps because it was previously a day for religious assemblage). It is called the prince of days, the most excellent day on which man was created, and on which the last judgment will take place; but the observance is less strict than that of the Jewish Sabbath. On solemn occasions sacrifice, mostly in the nature of a thank-offering, is offered and combined with an act of benevolence to the poor. But there is no room in Islâm for the idea of atonement; God forgives sins directly and arbitrarily, without a satisfaction of justice. Hence there is no priesthood in the sense of a hereditary or perpetual caste, offering sacrifices and mediating between God and the people.1 Yet there are Mufties and Dervishes, who are as powerful as any class of priests and monks. The Mussulmans have their saints, and pray at their white tombs. In this respect, they approach the Greeks and Roman Catholics; yet they abhor the worship of saints as idolatry. They also make much account of religious processions and pilgrimages. Their chief place of pilgrimage is Mecca. Many thousands of Moslems from Egypt and all parts of Turkey pass annually through the Arabian desert to worship at the holy Kaaba, and are received in triumph on their return. The supposed tomb of Moses, also, which is transferred to the Western shore of the Dead Sea, is visited by the Moslems of Jerusalem and the neighboring country in the month of April.
Prayer with prostrations is reduced to a mechanical act which is performed with the regularity of clock work. Washing of hands is enjoined before prayer, but in the desert, sand is permitted as a substitute for water. There are five stated seasons for prayer: at day-break, near noon, in the afternoon, a little after sunset (to avoid the appearance of sun-worship), and at night-fall, besides two night prayers for extra devotion. The muëddin or muëzzin (crier) announces the time of devotion from the minaret of the mosque by chanting the "Adan" or call to prayer, in these words:
God is great!" (four times). "I bear witness that there is no god but God" (twice). "I bear witness that Mohammed is the Apostle of God" (twice). "Come hither to prayers!" (twice). "Come hither to salvation!" (twice). "God is great! There is no other God!" And in the early morning the crier adds: "Prayer is better than sleep!"
A devout Mussulman is never ashamed to perform his devotion in public, whether in the mosque, or in the street, or on board the ship. Regardless of the surroundings, feeling alone with God in the midst of the crowd, his face turned to Mecca, his hands now raised to heaven, then laid on the lap, his forehead touching the ground, he goes through his genuflexions and prostrations, and repeats the first Sura of the Koran and the ninety-nine beautiful names of Allah, which form his rosary. 202 The mosques are as well filled with men, as many Christian churches are with women. Islâm is a religion for men; women are of no account; the education and elevation of the female sex would destroy the system.
With all its simplicity and gravity, the Mohammedan worship has also its frantic excitement of the Dervishes. On the celebration of the birthday of their prophet and other festivals, they work themselves, by the constant repetition of "Allah, Allah," into a state of unconscious ecstacy, "in which they plant swords in their breasts, tear live serpents with their teeth, eat bottles of glass, and finally lie prostrate on the ground for the chief of their order to ride on horseback over their bodies." 203
I will add a brief description of the ascetic exercises of the "Dancing" and "Howling" Dervishes which I witnessed in their convents at Constantinople and Cairo in 1877.
The Dancing or Turning Dervishes in Pera, thirteen in number, some looking ignorant and stupid, others devout and intensely fanatical, went first through prayers and prostrations, then threw off their outer garments, and in white flowing gowns, with high hats of stiff woolen stuff, they began to dance to the sound of strange music, whirling gracefully and skilfully on their toes, ring within ring, without touching each other or moving out of their circle, performing, in four different acts, from forty to fifty turnings in one minute, their arms stretched out or raised to heaven their eyes half shut, their mind apparently lost in a sort of Nirwana or pantheistic absorption in Allah. A few hours afterward I witnessed the rare spectacle of one of these very Dervishes reeling to and fro in a state of intoxication on the street and the lower bridge of the Golden Horn.
The Howling Dervishes in Scutari present a still more extraordinary sight, and a higher degree of ascetic exertion, but destitute of all grace and beauty. The performance took place in a small, plain, square room, and lasted nearly two hours. As the monks came in, they kissed the hand of their leader and repeated with him long prayers from the Koran. One recited with melodious voice an Arabic song in praise of Mohammed. Then, standing in a row, bowing, and raising their heads, they continued to howl the fundamental dogma of Mohammedanism, Lâ ilâha ill’ Allâh for nearly an hour. Some were utterly exhausted and wet with perspiration. The exercises I saw in Cairo were less protracted, but more dramatic, as the Dervishes had long hair and stood in a circle, swinging their bodies backward and forward in constant succession, and nearly touching the ground with their flowing hair. In astounding feats of asceticism the Moslems are fully equal to the ancient Christian anchorites and the fakirs of India.
§ 47. Christian Polemics against Mohammedanism. Note on Mormonism.
See the modern Lit. in § 38.
For a list of earlier works against Mohammedanism, see J. Alb. Fabricius: Delectus argumentorum et syllabus scriptorum, qui veritatem Christ. Adv. Atheos, ... Judaeos et Muhammedanos ... asseruerunt. Hamb., 1725, pp. 119 sqq., 735 sqq. J. G. Walch: Bibliotheca Theolog. Selecta (Jenae, 1757), Tom. I. 611 sqq. Appendix to Prideaux’s Life of Mahomet.
Theod. Bibliander, edited at Basle, in 1543, and again in 1550, with the Latin version of the Koran, a collection of the more important works against Mohammed under the title: Machumetis Saracenorum principis ejusque successorum vitae, doctrinae, ac ipse Alcoran., I vol. fol.
Richardus (about 1300): Confutatio Alcorani, first publ. in Paris, 1511.
Joh. de Turrecremata: Tractatus contra principales errores perfidi Mahometis et Turcorum. Rom., 1606.
Lud. Maraccius (Maracci): Prodromus ad refutationem Alcorani; in quo, per IV. praecipuas verae religionis notas, mahumetanae sectae falsitas ostenditur, christianae religionis veritas comprobatur. Rom. (typis Congreg. de Propaganda Fide), 1691. 4 vols., small oct.; also Pref. to his Alcorani textus universus, Petav., 1698, 2 vols. fol.
Hadr. Reland: De Religione Mohammedica. Utrecht, 1705; 2nd ed. 1717; French transl., Hague, 1721.
W. Gass: Gennadius und Pletho. Breslau, 1844, Part I., pp. 106–181. (Die Bestreitung des Islâm im Mittelalter.)
The argument of Mohammedanism against other religions was the sword. Christian Europe replied with the sword in the crusades, but failed. Greek and Latin divines refuted the false prophet with superior learning, but without rising to a higher providential view, and without any perceptible effect. Christian polemics against Mohammed and the Koran began in the eighth century, and continued with interruptions to the sixteenth and seventeenth.
John of Damascus, who lived among the Saracens (about a.d. 750), headed the line of champions of the cross against the crescent. He was followed, in the Greek Church, by Theodor of Abukara, who debated a good deal with Mohammedans in Mesopotamia, by Samonas, bishop of Gaza, Bartholomew of Edessa, John Kantakuzenus (or rather a monk Meletius, formerly a Mohammedan, who justified his conversion, with the aid of the emperor, in four apologies and four orations), Euthymius Zigabenus, Gennadius, patriarch of Constantinople. Prominent in the Latin church were Peter, Abbot of Clugny (twelfth century), Thomas Aquinas, Alanus ab Insulis, Raimundus LulIus, Nicolaus of Cusa, Ricold or Richard (a Dominican monk who lived long in the East), Savonarola, Joh. de Turrecremata.
The mediaeval writers, both Greek and Latin, represent Mohammed as an impostor and arch-heretic, who wove his false religion chiefly from Jewish (Talmudic) fables and Christian heresies. They find him foretold in the Little Horn of Daniel, and the False Prophet of the Apocalypse. They bring him in connection with a Nestorian monk, Sergius, or according to others, with the Jacobite Bahira, who instructed Mohammed, and might have converted him to the Christian religion, if malignant Jews had not interposed with their slanders. Thus he became the shrewd and selfish prophet of a pseudo-gospel, which is a mixture of apostate Judaism and apostate Christianity with a considerable remnant of his native Arabian heathenism. Dante places him, disgustingly torn and mutilated, among the chief heretics and schismatics in the ninth gulf of Hell,
"Where is paid the fee
By those who sowing discord win their burden."4
This mediaeval view was based in part upon an entire ignorance or perversion of facts. It was then believed that Mohammedans were pagans and idolaters, and cursed the name of Christ, while it is now known, that they abhor idolatry, and esteem Christ as the highest prophet next to Mohammed.
The Reformers and older Protestant divines took substantially the same view, and condemn the Koran and its author without qualification. We must remember that down to the latter part of the seventeenth century the Turks were the most dangerous enemies of the peace of Europe. Luther published, at Wittenberg, 1540, a German translation of Richard’s Confutatio Alcorani, with racy notes, to show "what a shameful, lying, abominable book the Alcoran is." He calls Mohammed "a devil and the first-born child of Satan." He goes into the question, whether the Pope or Mohammed be worse, and comes to the conclusion, that after all the pope is worse, and the real Anti-Christ (Endechrist). "Wohlan," he winds up his epilogue, "God grant us his grace and punish both the Pope and Mohammed, together with their devils. I have done my part as a true prophet and teacher. Those who won’t listen may leave it alone." Even the mild and scholarly Melanchthon identifies Mohammed with the Little Horn of Daniel, or rather with the Gog and Magog of the Apocalypse, and charges his sect with being a compound of "blasphemy, robbery, and sensuality." It is not very strange. that in the heat of that polemical age the Romanists charged the Lutherans, and the Lutherans the Calvinists, and both in turn the Romanists, with holding Mohammedan heresies.5
In the eighteenth century this view was gradually corrected. The learned Dean Prideaux still represented Mohammed as a vulgar impostor, but at the same time as a scourge of God in just punishment of the sins of the Oriental churches who turned our holy religion "into a firebrand of hell for contention, strife and violence." He undertook his "Life of Mahomet" as a part of a "History of the Eastern Church," though he did not carry out his design.
Voltaire and other Deists likewise still viewed Mohammed as an impostor, but from a disposition to trace all religion to priestcraft and deception. Spanheim, Sale, and Gagnier began to take a broader and more favorable view. Gibbon gives a calm historical narrative; and in summing up his judgment, he hesitates whether "the title of enthusiast or impostor more properly belongs to that extraordinary man .... From enthusiasm to imposture the step is perilous and slippery; the daemon of Socrates affords a memorable instance how a wise man may deceive himself, how a good man may deceive others, how the conscience may slumber in a mixed and middle state between self-illusion and voluntary fraud."
Dean Milman suspends his judgment, saying: "To the question whether Mohammed was hero, sage, impostor, or fanatic, or blended, and blended in what proportions, these conflicting elements in his character? the best reply is the reverential phrase of Islâm: God knows.’ "6
Goethe and Carlyle swung from the orthodox abuse to the opposite extreme of a pantheistic hero-worshiping over-estimate of Mohammed and the Koran by extending the sphere of revelation and inspiration, and obliterating the line which separates Christianity from all other religions. Stanley, R. Bosworth Smith, Emanuel Deutsch, and others follow more or less in the track of this broad and charitable liberalism. Many errors and prejudices have been dispelled, and the favorable traits of Islâm and its followers, their habits of devotion, temperance, and resignation, were held up to the shame and admiration of the Christian world. Mohammed himself, it is now generally conceded, began as an honest reformer, suffered much persecution for his faith, effectually destroyed idolatry, was free from sordid motives, lived in strict monogamy during twenty-four years of his youth and manhood, and in great simplicity to his death. The polygamy which disfigured the last twelve years of his life was more moderate than that of many other Oriental despots, Califs and Sultans, and prompted in part by motives of benevolence towards the widows of his followers, who had suffered in the service of his religion.7
But the enthusiasm kindled by Carlyle for the prophet of Mecca has been considerably checked by fuller information from the original sources as brought out in the learned biographies of Weil, Nöldeke, Sprenger and Muir. They furnish the authentic material for a calm, discriminating and impartial judgment, which, however, is modified more or less by the religious standpoint and sympathies of the historian. Sprenger represents Mohammed as the child of his age, and mixes praise and censure, without aiming at a psychological analysis or philosophical view. Sir William Muir concedes his original honesty and zeal as a reformer and warner, but assumes a gradual deterioration to the judicial blindness of a self-deceived heart, and even a kind of Satanic inspiration in his later revelations. "We may readily admit," he says, "that at the first Mahomet did believe, or persuaded himself to believe, that his revelations were dictated by a divine agency. In the Meccan period of his life, there certainly can be traced no personal ends or unworthy motives to belie this conclusion. The Prophet was there, what he professed to be, ’a simple Preacher and a Warner;’ he was the despised and rejected teacher of a gainsaying people; and he had apparently no ulterior object but their reformation .... But the scene altogether changes at Medina. There the acquisition of temporal power, aggrandizement, and self-glorification mingled with the grand object of the Prophet’s previous life; and they were sought after and attained by precisely the same instrumentality. Messages from heaven were freely brought forward to justify his political conduct, equally with his religious precepts. Battles were fought, wholesale executions inflicted, and territories annexed, under pretext of the Almighty’s sanction. Nay, even baser actions were not only excused but encouraged, by the pretended divine approval or command .... The student of history will trace for himself how the pure and lofty aspirations of Mahomet were first tinged, and then gradually debased by a half unconscious self-deception, and how in this process truth merged into falsehood, sincerity into guile,—these opposite principles often co-existing even as active agencies in his conduct. The reader will observe that simultaneously with the anxious desire to extinguish idolatry and to promote religion and virtue in the world, there was nurtured by the Prophet in his own heart a licentious self-indulgence; till in the end, assuming to be the favorite of Heaven, he justified himself by ’revelations’ from God in the most flagrant breaches of morality. He will remark that while Mahomet cherished a kind and tender disposition, ’Weeping with them that wept,’ and binding to his person the hearts of his followers by the ready and self-denying offices of love and friendship, he could yet take pleasure in cruel and perfidious assassination, could gloat over the massacre of entire tribes, and savagely consign the innocent babe to the fires of hell. Inconsistencies such as these continually present themselves from the period of Mahomet’s arrival at Medina; and it is by, the study of these inconsistencies that his character must be rightly comprehended. The key, to many difficulties of this description may be found, I believe, in the chapter ’on the belief of Mahomet in his own inspiration.’ When once he had dared to forge the name of the Most High God as the seal and authority of his own words and actions, the germ was laid from which the errors of his after life freely and fatally developed themselves."8
Note on Mormonism.
The Book of Mormon. First printed at Palmyra, N. Y., 1830. Written by the Prophet Mormon, three hundred years after Christ, upon plates of gold in the "Reformed Egyptian" (?) language, and translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith, Jun., with the aid of Urim and Thummim, into English. As large as the Old Testament. A tedious historical romance on the ancient inhabitants of the American Continent, whose ancestors emigrated from Jerusalem b.c. 600, and whose degenerate descendants are the red Indians. Said to have been written as a book of fiction by a Presbyterian minister, Samuel Spalding.
The Doctrines and Covenants of The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. Salt Lake City, Utah Territory. Contains the special revelations given to Joseph Smith and Brigham Young at different times. Written in similar style and equally insipid as the Book of Mormon.
A Catechism for Children by Elder John Jaques. Salt Lake City. 25th thousand, 1877.
We cannot close this chapter on Oriental Mohammedanism without some remarks on the abnormal American phenomenon of Mormonism, which arose in the nineteenth century, and presents an instructive analogy to the former. Joseph Smith (born at Sharon, Vt., 1805; shot dead at Nauvoo, in Illinois, 1844), the first founder, or rather Brigham Young (d. 1877), the organizer of the sect, may be called the American Mohammed, although far beneath the prophet of Arabia in genius and power.
The points of resemblance are numerous and striking: the claim to a supernatural revelation mediated by an angel; the abrogation of previous revelations by later and more convenient ones; the embodiment of the revelations in an inspired book; the eclectic character of the system, which is compounded of Jewish, heathenish, and all sorts of sectarian Christian elements; the intense fanaticism and heroic endurance of the early Mormons amidst violent abuse and persecution from state to state, till they found a refuge in the desert of Utah Territory, which they turned into a garden; the missionary zeal in sending apostles to distant lands and importing proselytes to their Eldorado of saints from the ignorant population of England, Wales, Norway, Germany, and Switzerland; the union of religion with civil government, in direct opposition to the American separation of church and state; the institution of polygamy in defiance of the social order of Christian civilization. In sensuality and avarice Brigham Young surpassed Mohammed; for he left at his death in Salt Lake City seventeen wives, sixteen sons, and twenty-eight daughters (having had in all fifty-six or more children), and property estimated at two millions of dollars.9
The government of the United States cannot touch the Mormon religion; but it can regulate the social institutions connected therewith, as long as Utah is a Territory under the immediate jurisdiction of Congress. Polygamy has been prohibited by law in the Territories under its control, and President Hayes has given warning to foreign governments (in 1879) that Mormon converts emigrating to the United States run the risk of punishment for violating the laws of the land. President Garfield (in his inaugural address, March 4, 1881) took the same decided ground on the Mormon question, saying: "The Mormon church not only offends the moral sense of mankind by sanctioning polygamy, but prevents the administration of justice through the ordinary instrumentalities of law. In my judgment it is the duty of Congress, while respecting to the uttermost the conscientious convictions and religious scruples of every citizen, to prohibit within its jurisdiction all criminal practices, especially of that class which destroy the family relations and endanger social order. Nor can any ecclesiastical organization be safely permitted to usurp in the smallest degree the functions and powers of the National Government."
His successor, President Arthur, in his last message to Congress, Dec. 1884, again recommends that Congress "assume absolute political control of the Territory of Utah," and says: "I still believe that if that abominable practice [polygamy] can be suppressed by law it can only be by the most radical legislation consistent with the restraints of the Constitution." The secular and religious press of America, with few exceptions, supports these sentiments of the chief magistrate.
Since the annexation of Utah to the United States, after the Mexican war, "Gentiles" as the Christians are called, have entered the Mormon settlement, and half a dozen churches of different denominations have been organized in Salt Lake City. But the "Latter Day Saints" are vastly in the majority, and are spreading in the adjoining Territories. Time will show whether the Mormon problem can be solved without resort to arms, or a new emigration of the Mormons.