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Sacred Books of the East by Various

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light into the human life of the East, and so much joy and tranquillity
to the perturbed spirit of their fellow-men. Those who thus study these
ancient writings will find in them the fundamental principles of a
definite theology, and, more wonderful still, the beginnings of that
which became afterwards known to the Greeks, and has been known ever
since, as metaphysics: that is, scientific transcendentalism. This much
will be apparent to anyone who will read and study the "Kaushitaki-
Upanishad," which is one of the most wonderful of the religious books of
the East. Laying aside the doctrine of metempsychosis and the idea of
reincarnation, there is something sublime and inspiring in the imagery
with which the destiny of the soul after death is described, while in
the metaphysical subtlety of this book we find an argument against
materialism which is just as fresh now as when it was first stated.





Kitra Gangyayani, wishing to perform a sacrifice, chose Aruni Uddalaka,
to be his chief priest. But Aruni sent his son, Svetaketu, and said:
"Perform the sacrifice for him." When Svetaketu had arrived, Kitra asked
him: "Son of Gautama, is there a hidden place in the world where you are
able to place me, or is it the other way, and are you going to place me
in the world to which that other way leads?"[14]

He answered and said: "I do not know this. But, let me ask the master."
Having approached his father, he asked: "Thus has Kitra asked me; how
shall I answer?"

Aruni said: "I also do not know this. Only after having learnt the
proper portion of the Veda in Kitra's own dwelling, shall we obtain what
others give us, i.e., knowledge. Come, we will both go."

Having said this he took fuel in his hand, like a pupil, and approached
Kitra Gangyayani, saying: "May I come near to you?" He replied: "You are
worthy of Brahman, O Gautama, because you were not led away by pride.
Come hither, I shall make you know clearly."

And Kitra said: "All who depart from this world go to the moon. In the
former, the bright half, the moon delights in their spirits; in the
other, the dark half, the moon sends them on to be born again. Verily,
the moon is the door of the Svarga, i.e., the heavenly world. Now, if a
man objects to the moon and is not satisfied with life there, the moon
sets him free. But if a man does not object, then the moon sends him
down as rain upon this earth. And according to his deeds and according
to his knowledge he is born again here as a worm, or as an insect, or as
a fish, or as a bird, or as a lion, or as a boar, or as a serpent, or as
a tiger, or as a man, or as something else in different places. When he
has thus returned to the earth, someone, a sage, asks: 'Who art thou?'
And he should answer: 'From the wise moon, who orders the seasons, when
it is born consisting of fifteen parts, from the moon who is the home of
our ancestors, the seed was brought. This seed, even me, they, the gods,
mentioned in the Pankagnividya, gathered up in an active man, and
through an active man they brought me to a mother. Then I, growing up to
be born, a being living by months, whether twelve or thirteen, was
together with my father, who also lived by years of twelve or thirteen
months, that I might either know the true Brahman or not know it.
Therefore, O ye seasons, grant that I may attain immortality, i.e.,
knowledge of Brahman. By this my true saying, by this my toil, beginning
with the dwelling in the moon and ending with my birth on earth, I am
like a season, and the child of the seasons.' 'Who art thou?' the sage
asks again. 'I am thou,' he replies. Then he sets him free to proceed

"He, at the time of death, having reached the path of the gods, comes to
the world of Agni, or fire, to the world of Vayu, or air, to the world
of Varuna, to the world of Indra, to the world of Pragapati, to the
world of Brahman. In that world there is the lake Ara, the moments
called Yeshtiha, the river Vigara, i.e., age-less, the tree Ilya, the
city Salagya, the palace Aparagita, i.e., unconquerable, the
door-keepers Indra and Pragapati, the hall of Brahman, called Vibhu
(built by vibhu, egoism), the throne Vikakshana, i.e., perception, the
couch Amitaugas or endless splendor, and the beloved Manasi, i.e., mind,
and her image Kakshushi, the eye, who, as if taking flowers, are weaving
the worlds, and the Apsaras, the Ambas, or sacred scriptures, and
Ambayavis, or understanding, and the rivers Ambayas leading to the
knowledge of Brahman. To this world he who knows the Paryanka-vidya
approaches. Brahman says to him: 'Run towards him, servants, with such
worship as is due to myself. He has reached the river Vigara, the
age-less, he will never age.'

"Then five hundred Apsaras go towards him, one hundred with garlands in
their hands, one hundred with ointments in their hands, one hundred with
perfumes in their hands, one hundred with garments in their hands, one
hundred with fruit in their hands. They adorn him with an adornment
worthy of Brahman, and when thus adorned with the adornment of Brahman,
the knower of Brahman moves towards Brahman. He comes to the lake Ara,
and he crosses it by the mind, while those who come to it without
knowing the truth, are drowned. He comes to the moments called Yeshtiha,
they flee from him. He comes to the river Vigara, and crosses it by the
mind alone, and there shakes off his good and evil deeds. His beloved
relatives obtain the good, his unbeloved relatives the evil he has done.
And as a man, driving in a chariot, might look at the two wheels without
being touched by them, thus he will look at day and night, thus at good
and evil deeds, and at all pairs, all correlative things, such as light
and darkness, heat and cold. Being freed from good and freed from evil,
he, the knower of Brahman, moves towards Brahman.

"He approaches the tree Ilya, and the odor of Brahman reaches him. He
approaches the city Salagya, and the flavor of Brahman reaches him. He
approaches the palace Aparagita, and the splendor of Brahman reaches
him. He approaches the door-keepers Indra and Pragapati, and they run
away from him. He approaches the hall Vibhu, and the glory of Brahman
reaches him and he thinks, 'I am Brahman.' He approaches the throne
Vikakshana. The Saman verses, Brihad and Rathantara, are the eastern
feet of that throne; the Saman verses, Syaita and Naudhasa, its western
feet; the Saman verses, Vairupa and Vairaga, its sides lengthways, south
and north; the Saman verses, Sakvara and Raivata, its sides crossways,
east and west. That throne is Pragna, knowledge, for by knowledge,
self-knowledge, he sees clearly. He approaches the couch Amitaugas. That
is Prana, i.e., speech. The past and the future are its eastern feet;
prosperity and earth its western feet; the Saman verses, Brihad and
Rathantara, are the two sides lengthways of the couch, south and north;
the Saman verses, Bhadra and Yagnayagniya, are its cross-sides at the
head and feet, east and west; the Rik and Saman are the long sheets,
east and west; the Yagus the cross-sheets, south and north; the
moon-beam the cushion; the Udgitha the white coverlet; prosperity the
pillow. On this couch sits Brahman, and he who knows himself one with
Brahman, sitting on the couch, mounts it first with one foot only. Then
Brahman says to him: 'Who art thou?' and he shall answer: 'I am like a
season, and the child of the seasons, sprung from the womb of endless
space, from the light, from the luminous Brahman. The light, the origin
of the year, which is the past, which is the present, which is all
living things, and all elements, is the Self. Thou art the Self. What
thou art, that am I.' Brahman says to him: 'Who am I?' He shall answer:
'That which is, the true.' Brahman asks: 'What is the true?' He says to
him: 'What is different from the gods and from the senses that is Sat,
but the gods and the senses are Tyam. Therefore, by that name Sattya, or
true, is called all this whatever there is. All this thou art.' This is
also declared by a verse: 'This great Rishi, whose belly is the Yagus,
the head the Saman, the form the Rik, is to be known as being
imperishable, as being Brahman.'

"Brahman says to him: 'How dost thou obtain my male names?' He should
answer: 'By breath.' Brahman asks: 'How my female names?' He should
answer: 'By speech.' Brahman asks: 'How my neuter names?' He should
answer: 'By mind.' 'How smells?' 'By the nose.' 'How forms?' 'By the
eye.' 'How sounds?' 'By the ear.' 'How flavors of food?' 'By the
tongue.' 'How actions?' 'By the hands.' 'How pleasures and pain?' 'By
the body.' 'How joy, delight, and offspring?' 'By the organ.' 'How
journeyings?' 'By the feet.' 'How thoughts, and what is to be known and
desired?' 'By knowledge alone.'

"Brahman says to him: 'Water indeed is this my world, the whole Brahman
world, and it is thine.'

"Whatever victory, whatever might belongs to Brahman, that victory and
that might he obtains who knows this, yea, who knows this."[15]


"Prana, or breath,[16] is Brahman," thus says Kaushitaki. "Of this
prana, which is Brahman, the mind is the messenger, speech the
housekeeper, the eye the guard, the ear the informant. He who knows mind
as the messenger of prana, which is Brahman, becomes possessed of the
messenger. He who knows speech as the housekeeper, becomes possessed of
the housekeeper. He who knows the eye as the guard, becomes possessed of
the guard. He who knows the ear as the informant, becomes possessed of
the informant.

"Now to that prana, which is Brahman, all these deities, mind, speech,
eye, ear, bring an offering, though he asks not for it, and thus to him
who knows this all creatures bring an offering, though he asks not for
it. For him who knows this, there is this Upanishad, or secret vow, 'Beg
not!' As a man who has begged through a village and got nothing sits
down and says, 'I shall never eat anything given by those people,' and
as then those who formerly refused him press him to accept their alms,
thus is the rule for him who begs not, but the charitable will press him
and say, 'Let us give to thee.'"

"Prana, or breath, is Brahman," thus says Paingya. "And in that prana,
which is Brahman, the eye stands firm behind speech, the ear stands firm
behind the eye, the mind stands firm behind the ear, and the spirit
stands firm behind the mind.[17] To that prana, which is Brahman, all
these deities bring an offering, though he asks not for it, and thus to
him who knows this, all creatures bring an offering, though he asks not
for it. For him who knows this, there is this Upanishad, or secret vow,
'Beg not!' As a man who has begged through a village and got nothing
sits down and says, 'I shall never eat anything given by those people,'
and as then those who formerly refused him press him to accept their
alms, thus is the rule for him who begs not, but the charitable will
press him and say, 'Let us give to thee.'

"Now follows the attainment of the highest treasure, i.e., spirit.[18]
If a man meditates on that highest treasure, let him on a full moon or a
new moon, or in the bright fortnight, under an auspicious Nakshatra, at
one of these proper times, bending his right knee, offer oblations of
ghee with a ladle, after having placed the fire, swept the ground,
strewn the sacred grass, and sprinkled water. Let him say: 'The deity
called Speech is the attainer, may it attain this for me from him who
possesses and can bestow what I wish for. Svaha to it!' 'The deity
called prana, or breath, is the attainer, may it attain this for me from
him. Svaha to it!' 'The deity called the eye is the attainer, may it
attain this for me from him. Svaha to it!' 'The deity called the ear is
the attainer, may it attain this for me from him. Svaha to it!' 'The
deity called mind is the attainer of it, may it attain this for me from
him. Svaha to it!' 'The deity called knowledge is the attainer of it,
may it attain this for me from him. Svaha to it!'

"Then having inhaled the smell of the smoke, and having rubbed his limbs
with the ointment of ghee, walking on in silence, let him declare his
wish, or let him send a messenger. He will surely obtain his wish.

"Now follows the Daiva Smara, the desire to be accomplished by the gods.
If a man desires to become dear to any man or woman, or to any men or
women, then at one of the fore-mentioned proper times he offers, in
exactly the same manner as before, oblations of ghee, saying: 'I offer
thy speech in myself, I this one here, Svaha.' 'I offer thy ear in
myself, I this one here, Svaha.' 'I offer thy mind in myself, I this one
here, Svaha.' 'I offer thy knowledge in myself, I this one here, Svaha.'
Then having inhaled the smell of the smoke, and having rubbed his limbs
with the ointment of ghee, walking on in silence, let him try to come in
contact or let him stand speaking in the wind, so that the wind may
carry his words to the person by whom he desires to be loved. Surely he
becomes dear, and they think of him.

"Now follows the restraint instituted by Pratardana, the son of
Divodasa: they call it the inner Agni-hotri. So long as a man speaks, he
cannot breathe, he offers all the while his breath in his speech. And so
long as a man breathes, he cannot speak, he offers all the while his
speech in his breath. These two endless and immortal oblations he offers
always, whether waking or sleeping. Whatever other oblations there are
(those, e.g., of the ordinary Agni-hotri, consisting of milk and other
things), they have an end, for they consist of works which, like all
works, have an end. The ancients, knowing this the best Agni-hotri, did
not offer the ordinary Agni-hotri.

"Uktha is Brahman, thus said Sushkabhringara. Let him meditate on the
uktha as the same with the Rik, and all beings will praise him as the
best. Let him meditate on it as the same with the Yagus, and all beings
will join before him as the best. Let him meditate on it as the same
with the Saman, and all beings will bow before him as the best. Let him
meditate on it as the same with might, let him meditate on it as the
same with glory, let him meditate on it as the same with splendor. For
as the bow is among weapons the mightiest, the most glorious, the most
splendid, thus is he who knows this among all beings the mightiest, the
most glorious, the most splendid. The Adhvaryu conceives the fire of the
altar, which is used for the sacrifice, to be himself. In it he the
Adhvaryu weaves the Yagus portion of the sacrifice. And in the Yagus
portion the Hotri weaves the Rik portion of the sacrifice. And in the
Rik portion the Udgatri weaves the Saman portion of the sacrifice. He,
the Adhvaryu, or prana, is the self of the threefold knowledge; he
indeed is the self of prana. He who knows this is the self of it, i.e.,
becomes prana.

"Next follow the three kinds of meditation of the all-conquering
Kaushitaki. The all-conquering Kaushitaki adores the sun when rising,
having put on the sacrificial cord,[19] having brought water, and having
thrice sprinkled the water-cup, saying: 'Thou art the deliverer, deliver
me from sin.' In the same manner he adores the sun when in the zenith,
saying: 'Thou art the highest deliverer, deliver me highly from sin.' In
the same manner he adores the sun when setting, saying: 'Thou art the
full deliverer, deliver me fully from sin.' Thus he fully removes
whatever sin he committed by day and by night. And in the same manner he
who knows this, likewise adores the sun, and fully removes whatever sin
he committed by day and by night.

"Then, secondly, let him worship every month in the year at the time of
the new moon, the moon as it is seen in the west in the same manner as
before described with regard to the sun, or let him send forth his
speech towards the moon with two green blades of grass, saying: 'O thou
who art mistress of immortal joy, through that gentle heart of mine
which abides in the moon, may I never weep for misfortune concerning my

"The children of him who thus adores the moon do not indeed die before
him. Thus it is with a man to whom a son is already born.

"Now for one to whom no son is born as yet. He mutters the three Rik
verses. 'Increase, O Soma! may vigor come to thee.' 'May milk, may food
go to thee.' 'That ray which the Adityas gladden.'

"Having muttered these three Rik verses, he says: 'Do not increase by
our breath, by our offspring, by our cattle; he who hates us and whom we
hate, increase by his breath, by his offspring, by his cattle. Thus I
turn the turn of the god, I return the turn of Aditya.' After these
words, having raised the right arm towards Soma, he lets it go again.

"Then, thirdly, let him worship on the day of the full moon the moon as
it is seen in the east in the same manner, saying: 'Thou art Soma, the
king, the wise, the five-mouthed, the lord of creatures. The Brahmana is
one of thy mouths; with that mouth thou eatest the kings; make me an
eater of food by that mouth! The king is one of thy mouths; with that
mouth thou eatest the people; make me an eater of food by that mouth!
The hawk is one of thy mouths; with that mouth thou eatest the birds;
make me an eater of food by that mouth! Fire is one of thy mouths; with
that mouth thou eatest this world; make me an eater of food by that
mouth! In thee there is the fifth mouth; with that mouth thou eatest all
beings; make me an eater of food by that mouth! Do not decrease by our
life, by our offspring, by our cattle; he who hates us and whom we hate,
decrease by his life, by his offspring, by his cattle. Thus I turn the
turn of the god, I return the turn of Aditya.' After these words, having
raised the right arm, he lets it go again.

"Next, having addressed these prayers to Soma, when being with his wife,
let him stroke her heart, saying: 'O fair one, who hast obtained
immortal joy by that which has entered thy heart through Pragapati,
mayest thou never fall into sorrow about thy children.' Her children
then do not die before her.

"Next, if a man has been absent and returns home, let him kiss his son's
head, saying: 'Thou springest from every limb, thou art born from the
heart, thou, my son, art my self indeed: live thou a hundred harvests.'
He gives him his name, saying: 'Be thou a stone, be thou an axe, be thou
solid gold; thou, my son, art light indeed: live thou a hundred
harvests.' He pronounces his name. Then he embraces him, saying: 'As
Pragapati the lord of creatures embraced his creatures for their
welfare, thus I embrace thee,' (pronouncing his name). Then he mutters
into his right ear, saying: 'O thou, quick Maghavan, give to him.' 'O
Indra, bestow thy best wishes'--thus he whispers into his left ear. Let
him then thrice kiss his head, saying: 'Do not cut off the line of our
race, do not suffer. Live a hundred harvests of life; I kiss thy head, O
son, with thy name.' He then thrice makes a lowing sound over his head,
saying: 'I low over thee with the lowing sound of cows.'

"Next follows the Daiva Parimara, the dying around of the gods, the
absorption of the two classes of gods, mentioned before, into prana or
Brahman. This Brahman shines forth indeed when the fire burns, and it
dies when it burns not. Its splendor goes to the sun alone, the life
prana, the moving principle, to the air.

"This Brahman shines forth indeed when the sun is seen, and it dies when
it is not seen. Its splendor goes to the moon alone, the life to the

"This Brahman shines forth indeed when the moon is seen, and it dies
when it is not seen. Its splendor goes to the lightning alone, its life
to the air.

"This Brahman shines forth indeed when the lightning flashes, and it
dies when it flashes not. Its splendor goes to the air, and the life to
the air.

"Thus all these deities (fire, sun, moon, lightning), having entered the
air, though dead, do not vanish; and out of the very air they rise
again. So much with reference to the deities. Now then, with reference
to the body.

"This Brahman shines forth indeed when one speaks with speech, and it
dies when one does not speak. His splendor goes to the eye alone, the
life to breath.

"This Brahman shines forth indeed when one sees with the eye, and it
dies when one does not see. Its splendor goes to the ear alone, the life
to breath.

"This Brahman shines forth indeed when one hears with the ear, and it
dies when one does not hear. Its splendor goes to the mind alone, the
life to breath.

"This Brahman shines forth indeed when one thinks with the mind, and it
dies when one does not think. Its splendor goes to the breath alone, and
the life to breath.

"Thus all these deities (the senses, etc.), having entered breath or
life alone, though dead, do not vanish; and out of very breath they rise
again. And if two mountains, the southern and northern, were to move
forward trying to crush him who knows this, they would not crush him.
But those who hate him and those whom he hates, they die around him.

"Next follows the Nihsreyasadana, i.e., the accepting of the preeminence
of breath or life by the other gods. The deities, speech, eye, ear,
mind, contending with each for who was the best, went out of this body,
and the body lay without breathing, withered, like a log of wood. Then
speech went into it, but speaking by speech, it lay still. Then the eye
went into it, but speaking by speech, and seeing by the eye, it lay
still. Then the ear went into it, but speaking by speech, seeing by the
eye, hearing by the ear, it lay still. Then mind went into it, but
speaking by speech, seeing by the eye, hearing by the ear, thinking by
the mind, it lay still. Then breath went into it, and thence it rose at
once. All these deities, having recognized the preeminence in life, and
having comprehended life alone as the conscious self, went out of this
body with all these five different kinds of life, and resting in the
air, knowing that life had entered the air and merged in the ether, they
went to heaven. And in the same manner he who knows this, having
recognized the preeminence in prana, and having comprehended life alone
as the conscious self, goes out of this body with all these, does no
longer believe in this body, and resting in the air, and merged in the
ether, he goes to heaven: he goes to where those gods are. And having
reached this heaven, he, who knows this, becomes immortal with that
immortality which those gods enjoy.

"Next follows the father's tradition to the son, and thus they explain
it. The father, when going to depart, calls his son, after having strewn
the house with fresh grass, and having laid the sacrificial fire, and
having placed near it a pot of water with a jug, full of rice, himself
covered with a new cloth, and dressed in white. He places himself above
his son, touching his organs with his own organs, or he may deliver the
tradition to him while he sits before him. Then he delivers it to him.
The father says: 'Let me place my speech in thee.' The son says: 'I take
thy speech in me.' The father says: 'Let me place my scent in thee.' The
son says: 'I take thy scent in me.' The father says: 'Let me place my
eye in thee.' The son says: 'I take thy eye in me.' The father says:
'Let me place my ear in thee.' The son says: 'I take thy ear in me.' The
father says: 'Let me place my tastes of food in thee.' The son says: 'I
take thy tastes of food in me.' The father says: 'Let me place my
actions in thee.' The son says: 'I take thy actions in me.' The father
says: 'Let me place my pleasure and pain in thee.' The son says: 'I take
thy pleasure and pain in me.' The father says: 'Let me place happiness,
joy, and offspring in thee.' The son says: 'I take thy happiness, joy,
and offspring in me.' The father says: 'Let me place my walking in
thee.' The son says: 'I take thy walking in me.' The father says: 'Let
me place my mind in thee.' The son says: 'I take thy mind in me.' The
father says: 'Let me place my knowledge in thee.' The son says: 'I take
thy knowledge in me.' But if the father is very ill, he may say shortly:
Let me place my spirits in thee,' and the son: 'I take thy spirits in

"Then the son walks round his father, keeping his right side towards
him, and goes away. The father calls after him: 'May fame, glory of
countenance, and honor always follow thee.' Then the other looks back
over his left shoulder, covering himself with his hand or the hem of his
garment, saying: 'Obtain the heavenly worlds and all desires.'

"If the father recovers, let him be under the authority of his son, or
let him wander about as an ascetic. But if he departs, then let them
despatch him, as he ought to be despatched, yea, as he ought to be


Pratardana, the son of Divodasa, King of Kasi, came by means of fighting
and strength to the beloved abode of Indra. Indra said to him:
"Pratardana, let me give you a boon to choose." And Pratardana answered:
"Do you yourself choose that boon for me which you deem most beneficial
for a man." Indra said to him: "No one who chooses, chooses for another;
choose thyself." Then Pratardana replied: "Then that boon to choose is
no boon for me."

Then, however, Indra did not swerve from the truth, for Indra is truth.
Indra said to him: "Know me only; that is what I deem most beneficial
for man, that he should know me. I slew the three-headed son of
Tvashtri; I delivered the Arunmukhas, the devotees, to the wolves;
breaking many treaties, I killed the people of Prahlada in heaven, the
people of Puloma in the sky, the people of Kalakanga on earth. And not
one hair of me was harmed there. And he who knows me thus, by no deed of
his is his life harmed: not by the murder of his mother, not by the
murder of his father, not by theft, not by the killing of a Brahman. If
he is going to commit a sin, the bloom does not depart from his face. I
am prana, meditate on me as the conscious self, as life, as immortality.
Life is prana, prana is life. Immortality is prana, prana is
immortality. As long as prana dwells in this body, so long surely there
is life. By prana he obtains immortality in the other world, by
knowledge true conception. He who meditates on me as life and
immortality, gains his full life in this world, and obtains in the
Svarga world immortality and indestructibility."

Pratardana said: "Some maintain here, that the pranas become one, for
otherwise no one could at the same time make known a name by speech, see
a form with the eye, hear a sound with the ear, think a thought with the
mind. After having become one, the pranas perceive all these together,
one by one. While speech speaks, all pranas speak after it. While the
eye sees, all pranas see after it. While the ear hears, all pranas hear
after it. While the mind thinks, all pranas think after it. While the
prana breathes, all pranas breathe after it."

"Thus it is indeed," said Indra, "but nevertheless there is a
preeminence among the pranas. Man lives deprived of speech, for we see
dumb people. Man lives deprived of sight, for we see blind people. Man
lives deprived of hearing, for we see deaf people. Man lives deprived of
mind, for we see infants. Man lives deprived of his arms, deprived of
his legs, for we see it thus. But prana alone is the conscious self, and
having laid hold of this body, it makes it rise up. Therefore it is
said, 'Let man worship it alone as uktha.' What is prana, that is
pragna, or self-consciousness; what is pragna (self-consciousness), that
is prana, for together they live in this body, and together they go out
of it. Of that, this is the evidence, this is the understanding. When a
man, being thus asleep, sees no dream whatever, he becomes one with that
prana alone. Then speech goes to him, when he is absorbed in prana, with
all names, the eye with all forms, the ear with all sounds, the mind
with all thoughts. And when he awakes, then, as from a burning fire
sparks proceed in all directions; thus from that self the pranas
proceed, each towards its place: from the pranas the gods, from the gods
the worlds.

"Of this, this is the proof, this is the understanding. When a man is
thus sick, going to die, falling into weakness and faintness, they say:
'His thought has departed, he hears not, he sees not, he speaks not, he
thinks not.' Then he becomes one with that prana alone. Then speech goes
to him who is absorbed in prana, with all names, the eye with all forms,
the ear with all sounds, the mind with all thoughts. And when he departs
from this body, he departs together with all these.

"Speech gives up to him who is absorbed in prana all names, so that by
speech he obtains all names. The nose gives up to him all odors, so that
by scent he obtains all odors. The eye gives up to him all forms, so
that by the eye he obtains all forms. The ear gives up to him all
sounds, so that by the ear he obtains all sounds. The mind gives up to
him all thoughts, so that by the mind he obtains all thoughts. This is
the complete absorption in prana. And what is prana is pragna, or
self-consciousness; what is pragna, is prana. For together do these two
live in the body, and together do they depart.

"Now we shall explain how all things become one in that
self-consciousness. Speech is one portion taken out of pragna, or
self-conscious knowledge: the word is its object, placed outside. The
nose is one portion taken out of it, the odor is its object, placed
outside. The eye is one portion taken out of it, the form is its object,
placed outside. The ear is one portion taken out of it, the sound is its
object, placed outside. The tongue is one portion taken out of it, the
taste of food is its object, placed outside. The two hands are one
portion taken out of it, their action is their object, placed outside.
The body is one portion taken out of it, its pleasure and pain are its
object, placed outside. The organ is one portion taken out of it,
happiness, joy, and offspring are its object, placed outside. The two
feet are one portion taken out of it, movements are their object, placed
outside. Mind is one portion taken out of it, thoughts and desires are
its object, placed outside.

"Having by self-conscious knowledge taken possession of speech, he
obtains by speech all words. Having taken possession of the nose, he
obtains all odors. Having taken possession of the eye, he obtains all
forms. Having taken possession of the ear, he obtains all sounds. Having
taken possession of the tongue, he obtains all tastes of food. Having
taken possession of the two hands, he obtains all actions. Having taken
possession of the body, he obtains pleasure and pain. Having taken
possession of the organ, he obtains happiness, joy, and offspring.
Having taken possession of the two feet, he obtains all movements.
Having taken possession of mind, he obtains all thoughts.

"For without self-consciousness speech does not make known to the self
any word.[20] 'My mind was absent,' he says, 'I did not perceive that
word.' Without self-consciousness the nose does not make known any odor.
'My mind was absent,' he says, 'I did not perceive that odor.' Without
self-consciousness the eye does not make known any form. 'My mind was
absent,' he says, 'I did not perceive that form.' Without
self-consciousness the ear does not make known any sound. 'My mind was
absent,' he says, 'I did not perceive that sound.' Without
self-consciousness the tongue does not make known any taste. 'My mind
was absent,' he says, 'I did not perceive that taste.' Without
self-consciousness the two hands do not make known any act. 'Our mind
was absent,' they say, 'we did not perceive any act.' Without
self-consciousness the body does not make known pleasure or pain. 'My
mind was absent,' he says, 'I did not perceive that pleasure or pain.'
Without self-consciousness the organ does not make known happiness, joy,
or offspring. 'My mind was absent,' he says, 'I did not perceive that
happiness, joy, or offspring.' Without self-consciousness the two feet
do not make known any movement. 'Our mind was absent,' they say, 'we did
not perceive that movement.' Without self-consciousness no thought
succeeds, nothing can be known that is to be known.

"Let no man try to find out what speech is, let him know the speaker.
Let no man try to find out what odor is, let him know him who smells.
Let no man try to find out what form is, let him know the seer. Let no
man try to find out what sound is, let him know the hearer. Let no man
try to find out the tastes of food, let him know the knower of tastes.
Let no man try to find out what action is, let him know the agent. Let
no man try to find out what pleasure and pain are, let him know the
knower of pleasure and pain. Let no man try to find out what happiness,
joy, and offspring are, let him knew the knower of happiness, joy, and
offspring. Let no man try to find out what movement is, let him know the
mover. Let no man try to find out what mind is, let him know the
thinker. These ten objects (what is spoken, smelled, seen, felt) have
reference to self-consciousness; the ten subjects (speech, the senses,
mind) have reference to objects. If there were no objects, there would
be no subjects; and if there were no subjects, there would be no
objects. For on either side alone nothing could be achieved. But the
self of pragna, consciousness, and prana, life, is not many, but one.
For as in a car the circumference of a wheel is placed on the spokes,
and the spokes on the nave, thus are these objects, as a circumference,
placed on the subjects as spokes, and the subjects on the prana. And
that prana, the living and breathing power, indeed is the self of
pragna, the self-conscious self: blessed, imperishable, immortal. He
does not increase by a good action, nor decrease by a bad action. For
the self of prana and pragna makes him, whom he wishes to lead up from
these worlds, do a good deed; and the same makes him, whom he wishes to
lead down from these worlds, do a bad deed. And he is the guardian of
the world, he is the king of the world, he is the lord of the
universe--and he is my (Indra's) self; thus let it be known, yea, thus
let it be known!"

[Footnote 14: The question put by Kitra to Svetaketu is very obscure,
and was probably from the first intended to be obscure in its very
wording. Kitra wished to ask, doubtless, concerning the future life.
That future life is reached by two roads; one leading to the world of
Brahman (the conditioned), beyond which there lies one other stage only,
represented by knowledge of, and identity with the unconditioned
Brahman; the other leading to the world of the fathers, and from thence,
after the reward of good works has been consumed, back to a new round of
mundane existence. There is a third road for creatures which live and
die, worms, insects, and creeping things, but they are of little
consequence. Now it is quite clear that the knowledge which King Kitra
possesses, and which Svetaketu does not possess, is that of the two
roads after death, sometimes called the right and the left, or the
southern and northern roads. The northern or left road, called also the
path of the Devas, passes on from light and day to the bright half of
the moon; the southern or right road, called also the path of the
fathers, passes on from smoke and night to the dark half of the moon.
Both roads therefore meet in the moon, but diverge afterwards. While the
northern road passes by the six months when the sun moves towards the
north, through the sun, moon, and the lightning to the world of Brahman,
the southern passes by the six months when the sun moves towards the
south, to the world of the fathers, the ether, and the moon. The great
difference, however, between the two roads is, that while those who
travel on the former do not return again to a new life on earth, but
reach in the end a true knowledge of the unconditioned Brahman, those
who pass on to the world of the fathers and the moon return to earth to
be born again and again. The speculations on the fate of the soul after
death seem to have been peculiar to the royal families of India, while
the Brahmans dwelt more on what may be called the shorter cut, a
knowledge of Brahman as the true Self. To know, with them, was to be,
and, after the dissolution of the body, they looked forward to immediate
emancipation, without any further wanderings.]

[Footnote 15: Who knows the conditioned and mythological form of Brahman
as here described, sitting on the couch.]

[Footnote 16: In the first chapter it was said, "He approaches the couch
Amitaugas, that is prana" (breath, spirit, life). Therefore having
explained in the first chapter the knowledge of the couch (of Brahman),
the next subject to be explained is the knowledge of prana, the living
spirit, taken for a time as Brahman, or the last cause of everything.]

[Footnote 17: Speech is uncertain, and has to be checked by the eye. The
eye is uncertain, taking mother of pearl for silver, and must be checked
by the ear. The ear is uncertain, and must be checked by the mind, for
unless the mind is attentive, the ear hears not. The mind, lastly,
depends on the spirit, for without spirit there is no mind.]

[Footnote 18: The vital spirits are called the highest treasure, because
a man surrenders everything to preserve his vital spirits or his life.]

[Footnote 19: This is one of the earliest, if not the earliest mention
of the yagnopavita, the sacred cord as worn over the left shoulder for
sacrificial purposes.]

[Footnote 20: Professor Cowell has translated a passage from the
commentary which is interesting as showing that its author and the
author of the Upanishads too had a clear conception of the correlative
nature of knowledge. "The organ of sense," he says, "cannot exist
without pragna (self-consciousness), nor the objects of sense be
obtained without the organ, therefore--on the principle, that when one
thing cannot exist without another, that thing is said to be identical
with the other--as the cloth, for instance, being never perceived
without the threads, is identical with them, or the (false perception
of) silver being never found without the mother of pearl is identical
with it, so the objects of sense being never found without the organs
are identical with them, and the organs being never found without pragna
(self-consciousness) are identical with it."]


Translation by George Sale


The importance of the "Koran" lies in the fact that it is a religious
book of the East, read and stored in the memory of a hundred millions of
people of different races and civilizations, inhabiting countries
extending from the western borders of China to the pillars of Hercules.
It is considered by the Mohammedan to contain all the knowledge and all
the literature necessary for men. When it was demanded of Mohammed to
confirm the authority of his mission by some work of wonder, he pointed
to the "Koran," and exclaimed, "Behold the greatest miracle of all." The
learned men of Alexandria asked the Caliph Omar to give to them the vast
library at Alexandria. "If those books," he replied, "contain anything
which is contrary to the 'Koran' they deserve to be destroyed. If they
contain what is written in the 'Koran,' they are unnecessary." He
ordered them to be distributed among the baths of the city, to serve as
fuel for their furnaces.

The composition of the "Koran" is all the work of Mohammed. He himself
claimed that he spoke merely as the oracle of God. The commands and
injunctions are in the first person, as if spoken by the Divine Being.
The passionate enthusiasm and religious earnestness of the prophet are
plainly seen in these strange writings. Sometimes, however, he sinks
into the mere Arabian story-teller, whose object is the amusement of his
people. He is not a poet, but when he deals with the unity of God, with
the beneficence of the Divine Being, with the wonders of Nature, with
the beauty of resignation, he exhibits a glowing rhetoric, a power of
gorgeous imagery, of pathos, and religious devotion, that make the
"Koran" the first written work in the Arabian tongue.

If we take Mohammed's own account of the composition of the volume, we
must believe that the completed "Koran" existed from all eternity, on a
tablet preserved in the upper heavens. Once a year, during the period of
the prophet's active work, fragments of this tablet were brought down by
the angel Gabriel to the lower heavens of the moon, and imparted to the
prophet, who was periodically transported to that celestial sphere. The
words were recited by the angel, and dictated by the prophet to his
scribe. These detached scraps were written on the ribs of palm leaves,
or the shoulder-blades of sheep, or parchment, and were stored in a
chest, in which they were kept until the caliphat of Abu Bekr, in the
seventh century, when they were collected in one volume. Such marvels of
revelation were made at different periods to the prophet, and were
called Surahs, and formed separate chapters in the Koran as we have it
to-day. Some of these Surahs contradict what had previously been uttered
by the prophet, but this discrepancy is obviated by the expedient of
what is called "abrogation," and the more recent utterances were held to
supersede and rescind those which were contradictory to it in the
earlier revelation.

It may well be believed that these sibylline leaves of Mohammedanism
make up a heterogeneous jumble of varied elements. Some of the chapters
are long, others are short; now the prophet seems to be caught up by a
whirlwind, and is brought face to face with ineffable mysteries, of
which he speaks in the language of rhapsody. At other times he is dry
and prosaic, indulging in wearisome iterations, and childish
trivialities. Now he assumes the plain, clear voice of the law-giver, or
raises his accents into the angry threatenings of the relentless and
bloodthirsty fanatic. Yet throughout the whole volume there is a strain
of religious resignation, of trust in God, of hopefulness under
adversity, of kindliness towards men, which reveal a nobility of ideal,
a simplicity and purity in the conception of the Divine Being, and the
relations of human life, which make the work not without inspiration,
even to the thoughtful man of the nineteenth century. The Koran must
always be considered one of the most potent of religious books, one of
the greatest documents which reveal the struggle of the human heart
after a knowledge of God, and of faithful accomplishment of the Divine
will. Perhaps the essence of the work as furnishing a philosophy of
life, is contained in the axioms of Abu Bekr, one of the most exalted in
character of Mohammed's successors. "Good actions," he says, "are a
guard against the blows of adversity." And again, "Death is the easiest
of all things after it, and the hardest of all things before it." To
which we may add the sentence of Ali, "Riches without God are the
greatest poverty and misery."

There are twenty-nine chapters of the "Koran," which begin with certain
letters of the alphabet: some with a single one, others with more. These
letters the Mohammedans believe to be the peculiar marks of the "Koran,"
and to conceal several profound mysteries, the certain understanding of
which, the more intelligent confess, has not been communicated to any
mortal, their prophet only excepted. Notwithstanding which, some will
take the liberty of guessing at their meaning by that species of Cabbala
called by the Jews, Notarikon, and suppose the letters to stand for as
many words expressing the names and attributes of God, his works,
ordinances, and decrees; and therefore these mysterious letters, as well
as the verses themselves, seem in the "Koran" to be called signs. Others
explain the intent of these letters from their nature or organ, or else
from their value in numbers, according to another species of the Jewish
Cabbala called Gematria; the uncertainty of these conjectures
sufficiently appears from their disagreement. Thus, for example, five
chapters, one of which is the second, begin with the letters A.L.M.,
which some imagine to stand for _Allah latif magid_--"God is gracious
and to be glorified"--or, _Ana li minni_--"to me and from me"--belongs
all perfection, and proceeds all good; or else for _Ana Allah alam_--"I
am the most wise God"--taking the first letter to mark the beginning of
the first word, the second the middle of the second word, and the third
the last of the third word: or for "Allah, Gabriel, Mohammed," the
author, revealer, and preacher of the "Koran." Others say that as the
letter A belongs to the lower part of the throat, the first of the
organs of speech; L to the palate, the middle organ: and M to the lips,
which are the last organs; so these letters signify that God is the
beginning, middle, and end, or ought to be praised in the beginning,
middle, and end of all our words and actions; or, as the total value of
those three letters in numbers is seventy-one, they signify that in the
space of so many years, the religion preached in the "Koran" should be
fully established. The conjecture of a learned Christian is, at least,
as certain as any of the former, who supposes those letters were set
there by the amanuensis, for _Amar li Mohammed_--"at the command of
Mohammed"--as the five letters prefixed to the nineteenth chapter seem
to be there written by a Jewish scribe, for _Cob yaas_--"thus he

The general contents of the "Koran" may be divided under three heads:
First, precepts and laws in matters of religion, such as prayer,
fasting, pilgrimage; there are laws also given in the affairs of the
civil life, such as marriage, the possession and bequeathing of
property, and the administration of justice. The second division would
include histories, which consist in a great part of incidents from the
Bible, as Christians know it. Mohammed probably picked up a good deal of
hearsay knowledge in this department from Jews and Christians. Some of
his historical incidents are purely fabulous, others are perversions or
falsifications of the Scriptural narrative. This portion of the "Koran,"
interesting and anecdotic as it is, is the least satisfactory of the
work, and shows the writer in his true ignorance, and disregard for
historic verification. When, for instance, he confounds Miriam, the
sister of Moses, with Mary the Mother of Christ, he shows himself lost
in truly Oriental clouds of mystic error. The third element in the
"Koran" is a large body of admonitions, many of them addressed to the
outside world, and to unbelievers who are exhorted to accept the creed
that there is one God and Mohammed is His prophet. War is put forth as a
legitimate method of propagating the faith. The duties of life, such as
justice, temperance, resignation and industry, are enforced. Hell is
threatened to infidels and immoral people; and from whatever sources the
writer derived his materials there can be no doubt that the moral scheme
he promulgated was in every sense a revelation to the degraded idolaters
and fire-worshippers, amongst whom he discharged the mission of his
life. Mohammed preached what he called the truth, with the sword in one
hand and the "Koran" in the other. But the empire established by the
sword would long since have crumbled into dust like that of Alexander or
Augustus, unless the "Koran" had fixed its teaching in the minds of the
conquered, had regulated by its precepts their social and political
life, had supported and exalted their faith with the doctrine of one
Almighty and beneficent God; had cheered them with the hope of a
Resurrection, and illuminated their minds with the vision of a Paradise,
the grossest of whose delights were afterwards to be interpreted by
Arabic commentators in accordance with the highest spiritual
capabilities of the human race.



By Thomas Carlyle

From the first rude times of Paganism among the Scandinavians in the
North, we advance to a very different epoch of religion, among a very
different people: Mohammedanism among the Arabs. A great change; what a
change and progress is indicated here, in the universal condition and
thoughts of men!

The Hero is not now regarded as a God among his fellow-men; but as one
God-inspired, as a Prophet. It is the second phasis of Hero-worship: the
first or oldest, we may say, has passed away without return; in the
history of the world there will not again be any man, never so great,
whom his fellow-men will take for a god. Nay we might rationally ask,
Did any set of human beings ever really think the man they _saw_ there
standing beside them a god, the maker of this world? Perhaps not: it was
usually some man they remembered, or _had_ seen. But neither can this
any more be. The Great Man is not recognized henceforth as a god any

It was a rude gross error, that of counting the Great Man a god. Yet let
us say that it is at all times difficult to know _what_ he is, or how to
account of him and receive him! The most significant feature in the
history of an epoch is the manner it has of welcoming a Great Man. Ever,
to the true instincts of men, there is something godlike in him. Whether
they shall take him to be a god, to be a prophet, or what they shall
take him to be? that is ever a grand question; by their way of answering
that, we shall see, as through a little window, into the very heart of
these men's spiritual condition. For at bottom the Great Man, as he
comes from the hand of Nature, is ever the same kind of thing: Odin,
Luther, Johnson, Burns; I hope to make it appear that these are all
originally of one stuff; that only by the world's reception of them, and
the shapes they assume, are they so immeasurably diverse. The worship of
Odin astonishes us,--to fall prostrate before the Great Man, into
_deliquium_ of love and wonder over him, and feel in their hearts that
he was a denizen of the skies, a god! This was imperfect enough: but to
welcome, for example, a Burns as we did, was that what we can call
perfect? The most precious gift that Heaven can give to the Earth; a man
of "genius" as we call it; the Soul of a Man actually sent down from the
skies with a God's-message to us,--this we waste away as an idle
artificial firework, sent to amuse us a little, and sink it into ashes,
wreck, and ineffectuality: _such_ reception of a Great Man I do not call
very perfect either! Looking into the heart of the thing, one may
perhaps call that of Burns a still uglier phenomenon, betokening still
sadder imperfections in mankind's ways, than the Scandinavian method
itself! To fall into mere unreasoning _deliquium_ of love and
admiration, was not good; but such unreasoning, nay irrational
supercilious no-love at all is perhaps still worse!--It is a thing
forever changing, this of Hero-worship: different in each age, difficult
to do well in any age. Indeed, the heart of the whole business of the
age, one may say, is to do it well.

We have chosen Mohammed not as the most eminent Prophet; but as the one
we are freest to speak of. He is by no means the truest of Prophets; but
I do esteem him a true one. Further, as there is no danger of our
becoming, any of us, Mohammedans, I mean to say all the good of him I
justly can. It is the way to get at his secret: let us try to understand
what _he_ meant with the world; what the world meant and means with him,
will then be a more answerable question. Our current hypothesis about
Mohammed, that he was a scheming Impostor, a Falsehood incarnate, that
his religion is a mere mass of quackery and fatuity, begins really to be
now untenable to any one. The lies, which well-meaning zeal has heaped
round this man, are disgraceful to ourselves only. When Pococke inquired
of Grotius where the proof was of that story of the pigeon, trained to
pick peas from Mohammed's ear, and pass for an angel dictating to him,
Grotius answered that there was no proof! It is really time to dismiss
all that. The word this man spoke has been the life-guidance now of a
hundred-and-eighty millions of men these twelve-hundred years. These
hundred-and-eighty millions were made by God as well as we. A greater
number of God's creatures believe in Mohammed's word at this hour than
in any other word whatever. Are we to suppose that it was a miserable
piece of spiritual legerdemain, this which so many creatures of the
Almighty have lived by and died by? I, for my part, cannot form any such
supposition. I will believe most things sooner than that. One would be
entirely at a loss what to think of this world at all, if quackery so
grew and were sanctioned here.

Alas, such theories are very lamentable. If we would attain to knowledge
of anything in God's true Creation, let us disbelieve them wholly! They
are the product of an Age of Scepticism; they indicate the saddest
spiritual paralysis, and mere death-life of the souls of men: more
godless theory, I think, was never promulgated in this Earth. A false
man found a religion? Why, a false man cannot build a brick house! If he
do not know and follow _truly_ the properties of mortar, burnt clay and
what else he works in, it is no house that he makes, but a rubbish-heap.
It will not stand for twelve centuries, to lodge a hundred-and-eighty
millions; it will fall straightway. A man must conform himself to
Nature's laws, _be_ verily in communion with Nature and the truth of
things, or Nature will answer him, No, not at all! Speciosities are
specious--ah me!--a Cagliostro, many Cagliostros, prominent
world-leaders, do prosper by their quackery, for a day. It is like a
forged bank-note; they get it passed out of _their_ worthless hands:
others, not they, have to smart for it. Nature bursts-up in fire-flames,
French Revolutions and suchlike, proclaiming with terrible veracity that
forged notes are forged.

But of a Great Man especially, of him I will venture to assert that it
is incredible he should have been other than true. It seems to me the
primary foundation of him, and of all that can lie in him, this. No
Mirabeau, Napoleon, Burns, Cromwell, no man adequate to do anything, but
is first of all in right earnest about it; what I call a sincere man. I
should say _sincerity_, a deep, great, genuine sincerity, is the first
characteristic of all men in any way heroic. Not the sincerity that
calls itself sincere; ah no, that is a very poor matter indeed;--a
shallow braggart conscious sincerity; oftenest self-conceit mainly. The
Great Man's sincerity is of the kind he cannot speak of, is not
conscious of; nay, I suppose, he is conscious rather of _in_sincerity;
for what man can walk accurately by the law of truth for one day? No,
the Great Man does not boast himself sincere, far from that; perhaps
does not ask himself if he is so: I would say rather, his sincerity does
not depend on himself; he cannot help being sincere! The great Fact of
Existence is great to him. Fly as he will, he cannot get out of the
awful presence of this Reality. His mind is so made; he is great by
that, first of all. Fearful and wonderful, real as Life, real as Death,
is this Universe to him. Though all men should forget its truth, and
walk in a vain show, he cannot. At all moments the Flame-image glares-in
upon him; undeniable, there, there!--I wish you to take this as my
primary definition of a Great Man. A little man may have this, it is
competent to all men that God has made: but a Great Man cannot be
without it.

Such a man is what we call an _original_ man; he comes to us at
first-hand. A messenger he, sent from the Infinite Unknown with tidings
to us. We may call him Poet, Prophet, God;--in one way or other, we all
feel that the words he utters are as no other man's words. Direct from
the Inner Fact of things:--he lives, and has to live, in daily communion
with that. Hearsays cannot hide it from him; he is blind, homeless,
miserable, following hearsays; _it_ glares-in upon him. Really his
utterances, are they not a kind of "revelation";--what we must call such
for want of other name? It is from the heart of the world that he comes;
he is portion of the primal reality of things. God has made many
revelations: but this man too, has not God made him, the latest and
newest of all? The "inspiration of the Almighty giveth _him_
understanding": we must listen before all to him.

This Mohammed, then, we will in no wise consider as an Inanity and
Theatricality, a poor conscious ambitious schemer; we cannot conceive
him so. The rude message he delivered was a real one withal; an earnest
confused voice from the unknown Deep. The man's words were not false,
nor his workings here below; no Inanity and Simulacrum; a fiery mass of
Life cast-up from the great bosom of Nature herself. To _kindle_ the
world; the world's Maker had ordered it so. Neither can the faults,
imperfections, insincerities even, of Mohammed, if such were never so
well proved against him, shake this primary fact about him.

On the whole, we make too much of faults; the details of the business
hide the real centre of it. Faults? The greatest of faults, I should
say, is to be conscious of none. Readers of the Bible above all, one
would think, might know better. Who is called there "the man according
to God's own heart"? David, the Hebrew King, had fallen into sins
enough; blackest crimes; there was no want of sins. And thereupon the
unbelievers sneer and ask, Is this your man according to God's heart?
The sneer, I must say, seems to me but a shallow one. What are faults,
what are the outward details of a life; if the inner secret of it, the
remorse, temptations, true, often-baffled, never-ended struggle of it,
be forgotten? "It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." Of
all acts, is not, for a man, _repentance_ the most divine? The deadliest
sin, I say, were that same supercilious consciousness of no sin;--that
is death; the heart so conscious is divorced from sincerity, humility,
and fact; is dead: it is "pure" as dead dry sand is pure. David's life
and history, as written for us in those Psalms of his, I consider to be
the truest emblem ever given of a man's moral progress and warfare here
below. All earnest souls will ever discern in it the faithful struggle
of an earnest human soul towards what is good and best. Struggle often
baffled, sore baffled, down as into entire wreck; yet a struggle never
ended; ever, with tears, repentance, true unconquerable purpose, begun
anew. Poor human nature! Is not a man's walking, in truth, always that:
"a succession of falls"? Man can do no other. In this wild element of a
Life, he has to struggle onwards; now fallen, deep-abased; and ever,
with tears, repentance, with bleeding heart, he has to rise again,
struggle again still onwards. That his struggle _be_ a faithful
unconquerable one: that is the question of questions. We will put-up
with many sad details, if the soul of it were true. Details by
themselves will never teach us what it is. I believe we misestimate
Mohammed's faults even as faults: but the secret of him will never be
got by dwelling there. We will leave all this behind us; and assuring
ourselves that he did mean some true thing, ask candidly what it was or
might be.

These Arabs Mohammed was born among are certainly a notable people.
Their country itself is notable; the fit habitation for such a race.
Savage inaccessible rock-mountains, great grim deserts, alternating with
beautiful strips of verdure: wherever water is, there is greenness,
beauty; odoriferous balm-shrubs, date-trees, frankincense-trees.
Consider that wide waste horizon of sand, empty, silent, like a
sand-sea, dividing habitable place from habitable. You are all alone
there, left alone with the Universe; by day a fierce sun blazing down on
it with intolerable radiance; by night the great deep Heaven with its
stars. Such a country is fit for a swift-handed, deep-hearted race of
men. There is something most agile, active, and yet most meditative,
enthusiastic in the Arab character. The Persians are called the French
of the East; we will call the Arabs Oriental Italians. A gifted noble
people; a people of wild strong feelings, and of iron restraint over
these: the characteristic of noblemindedness, of genius. The wild
Bedouin welcomes the stranger to his tent, as one having right to all
that is there; were it his worst enemy, he will slay his foal to treat
him, will serve him with sacred hospitality for three days, will set him
fairly on his way;--and then, by another law as sacred, kill him if he
can. In words too, as in action. They are not a loquacious people,
taciturn rather; but eloquent, gifted when they do speak. An earnest,
truthful kind of men. They are, as we know, of Jewish kindred: but with
that deadly terrible earnestness of the Jews they seem to combine
something graceful, brilliant, which is not Jewish. They had "poetic
contests" among them before the time of Mohammed. Sale says, at Ocadh,
in the South of Arabia, there were yearly fairs, and there, when the
merchandising was done, Poets sang for prizes:--the wild people gathered
to hear that.

One Jewish quality these Arabs manifest; the outcome of many or of all
high qualities: what we may call religiosity. From of old they had been
zealous worshippers, according to their light. They worshipped the
stars, as Sabeans; worshipped many natural objects--recognized them as
symbols, immediate manifestations, of the Maker of Nature. It was wrong;
and yet not wholly wrong. All God's works are still in a sense symbols
of God. Do we not, as I urged, still account it a merit to recognize a
certain inexhaustible significance, "poetic beauty" as we name it, in
all natural objects whatsoever? A man is a poet, and honored, for doing
that, and speaking or singing it--a kind of diluted worship. They had
many Prophets, these Arabs; Teachers each to his tribe, each according
to the light he had. But indeed, have we not from of old the noblest of
proofs, still palpable to every one of us, of what devoutness and
noblemindedness had dwelt in these rustic thoughtful peoples? Biblical
critics seem agreed that our own _Book of Job_ was written in that
region of the world. I call that, apart from all theories about it, one
of the grandest things ever written with pen. One feels, indeed, as if
it were not Hebrew; such a noble universality, different from noble
patriotism or sectarianism, reigns in it. A noble Book; all men's Book!
It is our first, oldest statement of the never-ending Problem,--man's
destiny, and God's ways with him here in this earth. And all in such
free flowing outlines; grand in its sincerity, in its simplicity; in its
epic melody, and repose of reconcilement. There is the seeing eye, the
mildly understanding heart. So _true_ everyway; true eyesight and vision
for all things; material things no less than spiritual: the Horse--"hast
thou clothed his neck with _thunder_?"--he "_laughs_ at the shaking of
the spear!" Such living likenesses were never since drawn. Sublime
sorrow, sublime reconciliation; oldest choral melody as of the heart of
mankind;--so soft, and great; as the summer midnight, as the world with
its seas and stars! There is nothing written, I think, in the Bible or
out of it, of equal literary merit.--

To the idolatrous Arabs one of the most ancient universal objects of
worship was that Black Stone, still kept in the building called Caabah
at Mecca. Diodorus Siculus mentions this Caabah in a way not to be
mistaken, as the oldest, most honored temple in his time; that is, some
half-century before our Era. Silvestre de Sacy says there is some
likelihood that the Black Stone is an aerolite. In that case, some man
might _see_ it fall out of Heaven! It stands now beside the Well Zemzem;
the Caabah is built over both. A Well is in all places a beautiful
affecting object, gushing out like life from the hard earth;--still more
so in those hot dry countries, where it is the first condition of being.
The Well Zemzem has its name from the bubbling sound of the waters,
_zem-zem_; they think it is the Well which Hagar found with her little
Ishmael in the wilderness: the aerolite and it have been sacred now, and
had a Caabah over them, for thousands of years. A curious object, that
Caabah! There it stands at this hour, in the black cloth-covering the
Sultan sends it yearly; "twenty-seven cubits high;" with circuit, with
double circuit of pillars, with festoon rows of lamps and quaint
ornaments: the lamps will be lighted again _this_ night--to glitter
again under the stars. An authentic fragment of the oldest Past. It is
the _Keblah_ of all Moslem: from Delhi all onwards to Morocco, the eyes
of innumerable praying men are turned towards _it_, five times, this day
and all days: one of the notablest centres in the Habitation of Men.

It had been from the sacredness attached to this Caabah Stone and
Hagar's Well, from the pilgrimings of all tribes of Arabs thither, that
Mecca took its rise as a Town. A great town once, though much decayed
now. It has no natural advantage for a town; stands in a sandy hollow
amid bare barren hills, at a distance from the sea; its provisions, its
very bread, have to be imported. But so many pilgrims needed lodgings:
and then all places of pilgrimage do, from the first, become places of
trade. The first day pilgrims meet, merchants have also met: where men
see themselves assembled for one object, they find that they can
accomplish other objects which depend on meeting together. Mecca became
the Fair of all Arabia. And thereby indeed the chief staple and
warehouse of whatever Commerce there was between the Indian and the
Western countries, Syria, Egypt, even Italy. It had at one time a
population of 100,000; buyers, forwarders of those Eastern and Western
products; importers for their own behoof of provisions and corn. The
government was a kind of irregular aristocratic republic, not without a
touch of theocracy. Ten Men of a chief tribe, chosen in some rough way,
were Governors of Mecca, and Keepers of the Caabah. The Koreish were the
chief tribe in Mohammed's time; his own family was of that tribe. The
rest of the Nation, fractioned and cut-asunder by deserts, lived under
similar rude patriarchal governments by one or several: herdsmen,
carriers, traders, generally robbers too; being oftenest at war one with
another, or with all: held together by no open bond, if it were not this
meeting at the Caabah, where all forms of Arab Idolatry assembled in
common adoration;--held mainly by the _inward_ indissoluble bond of a
common blood and language. In this way had the Arabs lived for long
ages, unnoticed by the world; a people of great qualities, unconsciously
waiting for the day when they should become notable to all the world.
Their Idolatries appear to have been in a tottering state; much was
getting into confusion and fermentation among them. Obscure tidings of
the most important Event ever transacted in this world, the Life and
Death of the Divine Man in Judea, at once the symptom and cause of
immeasurable change to all people in the world, had in the course of
centuries reached into Arabia too; and could not but, of itself, have
produced fermentation there.

It was among this Arab people, so circumstanced, in the year 570 of our
Era, that the man Mohammed was born. He was of the family of Hashem, of
the Koreish tribe as we said; though poor, connected with the chief
persons of his country. Almost at his birth he lost his Father; at the
age of six years his Mother too, a woman noted for her beauty, her worth
and sense: he fell to the charge of his Grandfather, an old man, a
hundred years old. A good old man: Mohammed's Father, Abdallah, had been
his youngest favorite son. He saw in Mohammed, with his old life-worn
eyes, a century old, the lost Abdallah come back again, all that was
left of Abdallah. He loved the little orphan Boy greatly; used to say
they must take care of that beautiful little Boy, nothing in their
kindred was more precious than he. At his death, while the boy was still
but two years old, he left him in charge to Abu Thaleb the eldest of the
Uncles, as to him that now was head of the house. By this Uncle, a just
and rational man as everything betokens, Mohammed was brought-up in the
best Arab way.

Mohammed, as he grew up, accompanied his Uncle on trading journeys and
suchlike; in his eighteenth year one finds him a fighter following his
Uncle in war. But perhaps the most significant of all his journeys is
one we find noted as of some years' earlier date: a journey to the Fairs
of Syria. The young man here first came in contact with a quite foreign
world,--with one foreign element of endless moment to him: the Christian
Religion. I know not what to make of that "Sergius, the Nestorian Monk,"
whom Abu Thaleb and he are said to have lodged with; or how much any
monk could have taught one still so young. Probably enough it is greatly
exaggerated, this of the Nestorian Monk. Mohammed was only fourteen; had
no language but his own: much in Syria must have been a strange
unintelligible whirlpool to him. But the eyes of the lad were open;
glimpses of many things would doubtless be taken-in, and lie very
enigmatic as yet, which were to ripen in a strange way into views, into
beliefs and insights one day. These journeys to Syria were probably the
beginning of much to Mohammed.

One other circumstance we must not forget: that he had no
school-learning; of the thing we call school-learning none at all. The
art of writing was but just introduced into Arabia; it seems to be the
true opinion that Mohammed never could write! Life in the Desert, with
its experiences, was all his education. What of this infinite Universe
he, from his dim place, with his own eyes and thoughts, could take in,
so much and no more of it was he to know. Curious, if we will reflect on
it, this of having no books. Except by what he could see for himself, or
hear of by uncertain rumor of speech in the obscure Arabian Desert, he
could know nothing. The wisdom that had been before him or at a distance
from him in the world, was in a manner as good as not there for him. Of
the great brother souls, flame-beacons through so many lands and times,
no one directly communicates with this great soul. He is alone there,
deep down in the bosom of the Wilderness; has to grow up so,--alone with
Nature and his own Thoughts.

But, from an early age, he had been remarked as a thoughtful man. His
companions named him "_Al Amin_, the Faithful." A man of truth and
fidelity; true in what he did, in what he spake and thought. They noted
that _he_ always meant something. A man rather taciturn in speech;
silent when there was nothing to be said; but pertinent, wise, sincere,
when he did speak; always throwing light on the matter. This is the only
sort of speech _worth_ speaking! Through life we find him to have been
regarded as an altogether solid, brotherly, genuine man. A serious,
sincere character; yet amiable, cordial, companionable, jocose even;--a
good laugh in him withal: there are men whose laugh is as untrue as
anything about them; who cannot laugh. One hears of Mohammed's beauty:
his fine sagacious honest face, brown florid complexion, beaming black
eyes;--I somehow like too that vein on the brow, which swelled-up black
when he was in anger: like the "horse-shoe vein" in Scott's
_Red-gauntlet_. It was a kind of feature in the Hashem family, this
black swelling vein in the brow; Mahomet had it prominent, as would
appear. A spontaneous, passionate, yet just, true-meaning man! Full of
wild faculty, fire and light; of wild worth, all uncultured; working out
his life-task in the depths of the Desert there.

How he was placed with Kadijah, a rich Widow, as her Steward, and
travelled in her business, again to the Fairs of Syria; how he managed
all, as one can well understand, with fidelity, adroitness; how her
gratitude, her regard for him grew: the story of their marriage is
altogether a graceful intelligible one, as told us by the Arab authors.
He was twenty-five; she forty, though still beautiful. He seems to have
lived in a most affectionate, peaceable, wholesome way with this wedded
benefactress; loving her truly, and her alone. It goes greatly against
the impostor theory, the fact that he lived in this entirely
unexceptionable, entirely quiet and commonplace way, till the heat of
his years was done. He was forty before he talked of any mission from
Heaven. All his irregularities, real and supposed, date from after his
fiftieth year, when the good Kadijah died. All his "ambition,"
seemingly, had been, hitherto, to live an honest life; his "fame," the
mere good opinion of neighbors that knew him, had been sufficient
hitherto. Not till he was already getting old, the prurient heat of his
life all burnt out, and _peace_ growing to be the chief thing this world
could give him, did he start on the "career of ambition"; and, belying
all his past character and existence, set-up as a wretched empty
charlatan to acquire what he could now no longer enjoy! For my share, I
have no faith whatever in that.

Ah no: this deep-hearted Son of the Wilderness, with his beaming black
eyes and open social deep soul, had other thoughts in him than ambition.
A silent great soul; he was one of those who cannot _but_ be in earnest;
whom Nature herself has appointed to be sincere. While others walk in
formulas and hearsays, contented enough to dwell there, this man could
not screen himself in formulas; he was alone with his own soul and the
reality of things. The great Mystery of Existence, as I said, glared-in
upon him, with its terrors, with its splendors; no hearsays could hide
that unspeakable fact, "Here am I!" Such _sincerity_, as we named it,
has in very truth something of divine. The word of such a man is a Voice
direct from Nature's own Heart. Men do and must listen to that as to
nothing else;--all else is wind in comparison. From of old, a thousand
thoughts, in his pilgrimings and wanderings, had been in this man: What
am I? What _is_ this unfathomable Thing I live in, which men name
Universe? What is Life; what is Death? What am I to believe? What am I
to do? The grim rocks of Mount Hara, of Mount Sinai, the stern sandy
solitudes answered not. The great Heaven rolling silent overhead, with
its blue-glancing stars, answered not. There was no answer. The man's
own soul, and what of God's inspiration dwelt there, had to answer!

It is the thing which all men have to ask themselves; which we too have
to ask, and answer. This wild man felt it to be of _infinite_ moment;
all other things of no moment whatever in comparison. The jargon of
argumentative Greek Sects, vague traditions of Jews, the stupid routine
of Arab Idolatry: there was no answer in these. A Hero, as I repeat, has
this first distinction, which indeed we may call first and last, the
Alpha and Omega of his whole Heroism, that he looks through the shows of
things into _things_. Use and wont, respectable hearsay, respectable
formula: all these are good, or are not good. There is something behind
and beyond all these, which all these must correspond with, be the image
of, or they are--_Idolatries_; "bits of black wood pretending to be
God"; to the earnest soul a mockery and abomination. Idolatries never so
gilded waited on by heads of the Koreish, will do nothing for this man.
Though all men walk by them, what good is it? The great Reality stands
glaring there upon _him_. He there has to answer it, or perish
miserably. Now, even now, or else through all Eternity never! Answer it;
_thou_ must find an answer.--Ambition? What could all Arabia do for this
man; with the crown of Greek Heraclius, of Persian Chosroes, and all
crowns in the Earth;--what could they all do for him? It was not of the
Earth he wanted to hear tell; it was of the Heaven above and of the Hell
beneath. All crowns and sovereignties whatsoever, where would _they_ in
a few brief years be? To be Sheik of Mecca or Arabia, and have a bit of
gilt wood put into your hand,--will that be one's salvation? I decidedly
think, not. We will leave it altogether, this impostor hypothesis, as
not credible; not very tolerable even, worthy chiefly of dismissal by

Mohammed had been wont to retire yearly, during the month Ramadhan, into
solitude and silence; as indeed was the Arab custom; a praiseworthy
custom, which such a man, above all, would find natural and useful.
Communing with his own heart, in the silence of the mountains; himself
silent; open to the "small still voices": it was a right natural custom!
Mohammed was in his fortieth year, when having withdrawn to a cavern in
Mount Hara, near Mecca, during this Ramadhan, to pass the month in
prayer, and meditation on those great questions, he one day told his
wife Kadijah, who with his household was with him or near him this year,
that by the unspeakable special favor of Heaven he had now found it all
out; was in doubt and darkness no longer, but saw it all. That all these
Idols and Formulas were nothing, miserable bits of wood; that there was
One God in and over all; and we must leave all idols, and look to Him.
That God is great; and that there is nothing else great! He is the
Reality. Wooden Idols are not real; He is real. He made us at first,
sustains us yet; we and all things are but the shadow of Him; a
transitory garment veiling the Eternal Splendor. "_Allah akbar_," God is
great;--and then also "_Islam_," that we must _submit_ to God. That our
whole strength lies in resigned submission to Him, whatsoever He do to
us. For this world, and for the other! The thing He sends to us, were it
death and worse than death, shall be good, shall be best; we resign
ourselves to God.--"If this be _Islam_," says Goethe, "do we not all
live in _Islam_?" Yes, all of us that have any moral life; we all live
so. It has ever been held the highest wisdom for a man not merely to
submit to Necessity,--Necessity will make him submit,--but to know and
believe well that the stern thing which Necessity had ordered was the
wisest, the best, the thing wanted there. To cease his frantic
pretension of scanning this great God's-World in his small fraction of a
brain; to know that it _had_ verily, though deep beyond his soundings, a
Just Law, that the soul of it was Good;--that his part in it was to
conform to the Law of the Whole, and in devout silence follow that; not
questioning it, obeying it as unquestionable.

I say, this is yet the only true morality known. A man is right and
invincible, virtuous and on the road towards sure conquest, precisely
while he joins himself to the great deep Law of the World, in spite of
all superficial laws, temporary appearances, profit-and-loss
calculations; he is victorious while he cooeperates with that great
central Law, not victorious otherwise:--and surely his first chance of
cooeperating with it, or getting into the course of it, is to know with
his whole soul that it _is_; that it is good, and alone good! This is
the soul of Islam; it is properly the soul of Christianity;--for Islam
is definable as a confused form of Christianity; had Christianity not
been, neither had it been. Christianity also commands us, before all, to
be resigned to God. We are to take no counsel with flesh-and-blood; give
ear to no vain cavils, vain sorrows and wishes: to know that we know
nothing; that the worst and crudest to our eyes is not what it seems;
that we have to receive whatsoever befalls us as sent from God above,
and say, It is good and wise, God is great! "Though He slay me, yet will
I trust in Him." Islam means in its way Denial of Self, Annihilation of
Self. This is yet the highest Wisdom that Heaven has revealed to our

Such light had come, as it could, to illuminate the darkness of this
wild Arab soul. A confused dazzling splendor as of life and Heaven, in
the great darkness which threatened to be death: he called it revelation
and the angel Gabriel;--who of us yet can know what to call it? It is
the "inspiration of the Almighty that giveth us understanding." To
_know_; to get into the truth of anything, is ever a mystic act,--of
which the best Logics can but babble on the surface. "Is not Belief the
true god-announcing Miracle?" says Novalis.--That Mohammed's whole soul,
set in flame with this grand Truth vouchsafed him, should feel as if it
were important and the only important thing, was very natural. That
Providence had unspeakably honored _him_ by revealing it, saving him
from death and darkness; that he therefore was bound to make known the
same to all creatures: this is what was meant by "Mohammed is the
Prophet of God"; this too is not without its true meaning.--

The good Kadijah, we can fancy, listened to him with wonder, with doubt:
at length she answered: Yes, it was _true_ this that he said. One can
fancy too the boundless gratitude of Mohammed; and how of all the
kindnesses she had done him, this of believing the earnest struggling
word he now spoke was the greatest. "It is certain," says Novalis, "my
Conviction gains infinitely, the moment another soul will believe in
it." It is a boundless favor.--He never forgot this good Kadijah. Long
afterwards, Ayesha his young favorite wife, a woman who indeed
distinguished herself among the Moslem, by all manner of qualities,
through her whole long life; this young brilliant Ayesha was, one day,
questioning him: "Now am not I better than Kadijah? She was a widow;
old, and had lost her looks: you love me better than you did her?"--"No,
by Allah!" answered Mohammed: "No, by Allah! She believed in me when
none else would believe. In the whole world I had but one friend, and
she was that!"--Seid, his Slave, also belie ed in him; these with his
young Cousin Ali, Abu Thaleb's son, were his first converts.

He spoke of his Doctrine to this man and that; but the most treated it
with ridicule, with indifference; in three years, I think, he had gained
but thirteen followers. His progress was slow enough. His encouragement
to go on, was altogether the usual encouragement that such a man in such
a case meets. After some three years of small success, he invited forty
of his chief kindred to an entertainment; and there stood-up and told
them what his pretension was: that he had this thing to promulgate
abroad to all men; that it was the highest thing, the one thing: which
of them would second him in that? Amid the doubt and silence of all,
young Ali, as yet a lad of sixteen, impatient of the silence,
started-up, and exclaimed in passionate fierce language that he would!
The assembly, among whom was Abu Thaleb, Ali's Father, could not be
unfriendly to Mohammed; yet the sight there, of one unlettered elderly
man, with a lad of sixteen, deciding on such an enterprise against all
mankind, appeared ridiculous to them; the assembly broke-up in laughter.
Nevertheless it proved not a laughable thing; it was a very serious
thing! As for this young Ali, one cannot but like him. A noble-minded
creature, as he shows himself, now and always afterwards; full of
affection, of fiery daring. Something chivalrous in him; brave as a
lion; yet with a grace, a truth and affection worthy of Christian
knighthood. He died by assassination in the Mosque at Bagdad; a death
occasioned by his own generous fairness, confidence in the fairness of
others: he said if the wound proved not unto death, they must pardon the
Assassin; but if it did, then they must slay him straightway, that so
they two in the same hour might appear before God, and see which side of
that quarrel was the just one!

Mohammed naturally gave offence to the Koreish, Keepers of the Caabah,
superintendents of the Idols. One or two men of influence had joined
him: the thing spread slowly, but it was spreading. Naturally he gave
offence to everybody: Who is this that pretends to be wiser than we all;
that rebukes us all, as mere fools and worshippers of wood! Abu Thaleb
the good Uncle spoke with him: Could he not be silent about all that;
believe it all for himself, and not trouble others, anger the chief men,
endanger himself and them all, talking of it? Mohammed answered: If the
Sun stood on his right hand and the Moon on his left, ordering him to
hold his peace, he could not obey! No: there was something in this Truth
he had got which was of Nature herself; equal in rank to Sun, or Moon,
or whatsoever thing Nature had made. It would speak itself there, so
long as the Almighty allowed it, in spite of Sun and Moon, and all
Koreish and all men and things. It must do that, and could do no other.
Mohammed answered so; and, they say, "burst into tears." Burst into
tears: he felt that Abu Thaleb was good to him; that the task he had got
was no soft, but a stern and great one.

He went on speaking to who would listen to him; publishing his Doctrine
among the pilgrims as they came to Mecca; gaining adherents in this
place and that. Continual contradiction, hatred, open or secret danger
attended him. His powerful relations protected Mohammed himself; but by
and by, on his own advice, all his adherents had to quit Mecca, and seek
refuge in Abyssinia over the sea. The Koreish grew ever angrier; laid
plots, and swore oaths among them, to put Mohammed to death with their
own hands. Abu Thaleb was dead, the good Kadijah was dead. Mohammed is
not solicitous of sympathy from us; but his outlook at this time was one
of the dismallest. He had to hide in caverns, escape in disguise; fly
hither and thither; homeless, in continual peril of his life. More than
once it seemed all-over with him; more than once it turned on a straw,
some rider's horse taking fright or the like, whether Mohammed and his
Doctrine had not ended there, and not been heard of at all. But it was
not to end so.

In the thirteenth year of his mission, finding his enemies all banded
against him, forty sworn men, one out of every tribe, waiting to take
his life, and no continuance possible at Mecca for him any longer,
Mohammed fled to the place then called Yathreb, where he had gained some
adherents; the place they now call Medina, or "_Medinat al Nabi_, the
City of the Prophet," from that circumstance. It lay some 200 miles off,
through rocks and deserts; not without great difficulty, in such mood as
we may fancy, he escaped thither, and found welcome. The whole East
dates its era from this Flight, _Hegira_ as they name it: the Year 1 of
this Hegira is 622 of our Era, the fifty-third of Mohammed's life. He
was now becoming an old man; his friends sinking round him one by one;
his path desolate, encompassed with danger: unless he could find hope in
his own heart, the outward face of things was but hopeless for him. It
is so with all men in the like case. Hitherto Mohammed had professed to
publish his Religion by the way of preaching and persuasion alone. But
now, driven foully out of his native country, since unjust men had not
only given no ear to his earnest Heaven's-message, the deep cry of his
heart, but would not even let him live if he kept speaking it,--the wild
Son of the Desert resolved to defend himself, like a man and Arab. If
the Koreish will have it so, they shall have it. Tidings, felt to be of
infinite moment to them and all men, they would not listen to these;
would trample them down by sheer violence, steel and murder: well, let
steel try it then! Ten years more this Mohammed had; all of fighting, of
breathless impetuous toil and struggle; with what result we know.

Much has been said of Mohammed's propagating his Religion by the sword.
It is no doubt far nobler what we have to boast of the Christian
Religion, that it propagated itself peaceably in the way of preaching
and conviction. Yet withal, if we take this for an argument of the truth
or falsehood of a religion, there is a radical mistake in it. The sword
indeed: but where will you get your sword! Every new opinion, at its
starting, is precisely in a _minority of one_. In one man's head alone,
there it dwells as yet. One man alone of the whole world believes it;
there is one man against all men. That _he_ take a sword, and try to
propagate with that, will do little for him. You must first get your
sword! On the whole, a thing will propagate itself as it can. We do not
find, of the Christian Religion either, that it always disdained the
sword, when once it had got one. Charlemagne's conversion of the Saxons
was not by preaching. I care little about the sword: I will allow a
thing to struggle for itself in this world, with any sword or tongue or
implement it has, or can lay hold of. We will let it preach, and
pamphleteer, and fight, and to the uttermost bestir itself, and do, beak
and claws, whatsoever is in it; very sure that it will, in the long-run,
conquer nothing which does not deserve to be conquered. What is better
than itself, it cannot put away, but only what is worse. In this great
Duel, Nature herself is umpire, and can do no wrong: the thing which is
deepest-rooted in Nature, what we call _truest_, that thing and not the
other will be found growing at last.

Here however, in reference to much that there is in Mohammed and his
success, we are to remember what an umpire Nature is; what a greatness,
composure of depth and tolerance there is in her. You take wheat to cast
into the Earth's bosom: your wheat may be mixed with chaff, chopped
straw, barn-sweepings, dust and all imaginable rubbish; no matter: you
cast it into the kind just Earth; she grows the wheat,--the whole
rubbish she silently absorbs, shrouds _it_ in, says nothing of the
rubbish. The yellow wheat is growing there; the good Earth is silent
about all the rest,--has silently turned all the rest to some benefit
too, and makes no complaint about it! So everywhere in Nature! She is
true and not a lie; and yet so great, and just, and motherly in her
truth. She requires of a thing only that it _be_ genuine of heart; she
will protect it if so; will not, if not so. There is a soul of truth in
all the things she ever gave harbor to. Alas, is not this the history of
all highest Truth that comes or ever came into the world? The _body_ of
them all is imperfection, an element of light _in_ darkness: to us they
have to come embodied in mere Logic, in some merely _scientific_ Theorem
of the Universe; which _cannot_ be complete; which cannot but be found,
one day, incomplete, erroneous, and so die and disappear. The body of
all Truth dies; and yet in all, I say, there is a soul which never dies;
which in new and ever-nobler embodiment lives immortal as man himself!
It is the way with Nature. The genuine essence of Truth never dies. That
it be genuine, a voice from the great Deep of Nature, there is the point
at Nature's judgment-seat. What _we_ call pure or impure, is not with
her the final question. Not how much chaff is in you; but whether you
have any wheat. Pure? I might say to many a man: Yes, you are pure; pure
enough; but you are chaff,--insincere hypothesis, hearsay, formality;
you never were in contact with the great heart of the Universe at all;
you are properly neither pure nor impure; you _are_ nothing, Nature has
no business with you.

Mohammed's Creed we called a kind of Christianity; and really, if we
look at the wild rapt earnestness with which it was believed and laid to
heart, I should say a better kind than that of those miserable Syrian
Sects, with their vain janglings about _Homoiousion_ and _Homoousion_,
the head full of worthless noise, the heart empty and dead! The truth of
it is imbedded in portentous error and falsehood; but the truth of it
makes it be believed, not the falsehood: it succeeded by its truth. A
bastard kind of Christianity, but a living kind; with a heartlife in it;
not dead, chopping barren logic merely! Out of all that rubbish of Arab
idolatries, argumentative theologies, traditions, subtleties, rumors and
hypotheses of Greeks and Jews, with their idle wiredrawings, this wild
man of the Desert, with his wild sincere heart, earnest as death and
life, with his great flashing natural eyesight, had seen into the kernel
of the matter. Idolatry is nothing: these Wooden Idols of yours, "ye rub
them with oil and wax, and the flies stick on them,"--these are wood, I
tell you! They can do nothing for you; they are an impotent blasphemous
pretence; a horror and abomination, if ye knew them. God alone is; God
alone has power; He made us, He can kill us and keep us alive: "_Allah
akbar_, God is great." Understand that His will is the best for you;
that howsoever sore to flesh-and-blood, you will find it the wisest,
best: you are bound to take it so; in this world and in the next, you
have no other thing that you can do!

And now if the wild idolatrous men did believe this, and with their
fiery hearts lay hold of it to do it, in what form soever it came to
them, I say it was well worthy of being believed. In one form or the
other, I say it is still the one thing worthy of being believed by all
men. Man does hereby become the high-priest of this Temple of a World.
He is in harmony with the Decrees of the Author of this World;
cooperating with them, not vainly withstanding them: I know, to this
day, no better definition of Duty than that same. All that is _right_
includes itself in this of cooperating with the real Tendency of the
World: you succeed by this (the World's Tendency will succeed), you are
good, and in the right course there. _Homoiousion, Homoousion_, vain
logical jangle, then or before or at any time, may jangle itself out,
and go whither and how it likes: this is the _thing_ it all struggles to
mean, if it would mean anything. If it do not succeed in meaning this,
it means nothing. Not that Abstractions, logical Propositions, be
correctly worded or incorrectly; but that living concrete Sons of Adam
do lay this to heart: that is the important point. Islam devoured all
these vain jangling Sects; and I think had right to do so. It was a
Reality, direct from the great Heart of Nature once more. Arab
idolatries, Syrian formulas, whatsoever was not equally real, had to go
up in flame,--mere dead _fuel_, in various senses, for this which was

It was during these wild warfarings and strugglings, especially after
the Flight to Mecca, that Mohammed dictated at intervals his Sacred
Book, which they name _Koran_, or _Reading_, "Thing to be read." This is
the Work he and his disciples made so much of, asking all the world, Is
not that a miracle? The Mohammedans regard their Koran with a reverence
which few Christians pay even to their Bible. It is admitted everywhere
as the standard of all law and all practice; the thing to be gone-upon
in speculation and life: the message sent direct out of Heaven, which
this earth has to conform to, and walk by; the thing to be read. Their
Judges decide by it; all Moslem are bound to study it, seek in it for
the light of their life. They have mosques where it is all read daily;
thirty relays of priests take it up in succession, get through the whole
each day. There, for twelve-hundred years, has the voice of this Book,
at all moments, kept sounding through the ears and the hearts of so many
men. We hear of Mohammedan Doctors that had read it seventy-thousand

Very curious: if one sought for "discrepancies of national taste," here
surely were the most eminent instance of that! We also can read the
Koran; our Translation of it, by Sale, is known to be a very fair one. I
must say, it is as toilsome reading as I ever undertook. A wearisome
confused jumble, crude, incondite; endless iterations, long-windedness,
entanglement; most crude, incondite;--insupportable stupidity, in short!
Nothing but a sense of duty could carry any European through the Koran.
We read in it, as we might in the State-Paper Office, unreadable masses
of lumber, that perhaps we may get some glimpses of a remarkable man. It
is true we have it under disadvantages: the Arabs see more method in it
than we. Mohammed's followers found the Koran lying all in fractions, as
it had been written-down at first promulgation; much of it, they say, on
shoulder-blades of mutton flung pell-mell into a chest; and they
published it, without any discoverable order as to time or
otherwise;--merely trying, as would seem, and this not very strictly, to
put the longest chapters first. The real beginning of it, in that way,
lies almost at the end: for the earliest portions were the shortest.
Read in its historical sequence it perhaps would not be so bad. Much of
it, too, they say, is rhythmic; a kind of wild chanting song, in the
original. This may be a great point; much perhaps has been lost in the
Translation here. Yet with every allowance, one feels it difficult to
see how any mortal ever could consider this Koran as a Book written in
Heaven, too good for the Earth; as a well-written book, or indeed as a
_book_ at all; and not a bewildered rhapsody; _written_, so far as
writing goes, as badly as almost any book ever was! So much for national
discrepancies, and the standard of taste.

Yet I should say, it was not unintelligible how the Arabs might so love
it. When once you get this confused coil of a Koran fairly off your
hands, and have it behind you at a distance, the essential type of it
begins to disclose itself; and in this there is a merit quite other than
the literary one. If a book come from the heart, it will contrive to
reach other hearts; all art and authorcraft are of small amount to that.
One would say the primary character of the Koran is this of its
_genuineness_, of its being a _bona-fide_ book. Prideaux, I know, and
others, have represented it as a mere bundle of juggleries; chapter
after chapter got-up to excuse and varnish the author's successive sins,
forward his ambitions and quackeries: but really it is time to dismiss
all that. I do not assert Mohammed's continual sincerity: who is
continually sincere? But I confess I can make nothing of the critic, in
these times, who would accuse him of deceit _prepense_; of conscious
deceit generally, or perhaps at all;--still more, of living in a mere
element of conscious deceit, and writing this Koran as a forger and
juggler would have done! Every candid eye, I think, will read the Koran
far otherwise than so. It is 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. With a kind of
breathless intensity he strives to utter himself; the thoughts crowd on
him pell-mell: for very multitude of things to say, he can get nothing
said. The meaning that is in him shapes itself into no form of
composition, is stated in no sequence, method, or coherence;--they are
not _shaped_ at all, these thoughts of his; flung-out unshaped, as they
struggle and tumble there, in their chaotic inarticulate state. We said
"stupid": yet natural stupidity is by no means the character of
Mohammed's Book; it is natural un-cultivation rather. The man has not
studied speaking; in the haste and pressure of continual fighting, has
not time to mature himself into fit speech. The panting breathless haste
and vehemence of a man struggling in the thick of battle for life and
salvation; this is the mood he is in! A headlong haste; for very
magnitude of meaning, he cannot get himself articulated into words. The
successive utterances of a soul in that mood, colored by the various
vicissitudes of three-and-twenty years; now well uttered, now worse:
this is the Koran.

For we are to consider Mohammed, through these three-and-twenty years,
as the centre of a world wholly in conflict, Battles with the Koreish
and Heathen, quarrels among his own people, backslidings of his own wild
heart; all this kept him in a perpetual whirl, his soul knowing rest no
more. In wakeful nights, as one may fancy, the wild soul of the man,
tossing amid these vortices, would hail any light of a decision for them
as a veritable light from Heaven; _any_ making-up of his mind, so
blessed, indispensable for him there, would seem the inspiration of a
Gabriel. Forger and juggler? No, no! This great fiery heart, seething,
simmering like a great furnace of thoughts, was not a juggler's. His
life was a Fact to him; this God's Universe an awful Fact and Reality.
He has faults enough. The man was an uncultured semi-barbarous Son of
Nature, much of the Bedouin still clinging to him: we must take him for
that. But for a wretched Simulacrum, a hungry Impostor without eyes or
heart, practising for a mess of pottage such blasphemous swindlery,
forgery of celestial documents, continual high-treason against his Maker
and Self, we will not and cannot take him.

Sincerity, in all senses, seems to me the merit of the Koran; what had
rendered it precious to the wild Arab men. It is, after all, the first
and last merit in a book; gives rise to merits of all kinds,--nay, at
bottom, it alone can give rise to merit of any kind. Curiously, through
these incondite masses of tradition, vituperation, complaint,
ejaculation in the Koran, a vein of true direct insight, of what we
might almost call poetry, is found straggling. The body of the Book is
made up of mere tradition, and as it were vehement enthusiastic
extempore preaching. He returns forever to the old stories of the
Prophets as they went current in the Arab memory: how Prophet after
Prophet, the Prophet Abraham, the Prophet Hud, the Prophet Moses,
Christian and other real and fabulous Prophets, had come to this Tribe
and to that, warning men of their sin; and been received by them even as
he Mohammed was,--which is a great solace to him. These things he
repeats ten, perhaps twenty times; again and ever again, with wearisome
iteration; has never done repeating them. A brave Samuel Johnson, in his
forlorn garret, might con-over the Biographies of Authors in that way!
This is the great staple of the Koran. But curiously, through all this,
comes ever and anon some glance as of the real thinker and seer. He has
actually an eye for the world, this Mohammed: with a certain directness
and rugged vigour, he brings home still, to our heart, the thing his own
heart has been opened to. I make but little of his praises of Allah,
which many praise; they are borrowed I suppose mainly from the Hebrew,
at least they are far surpassed there. But the eye that flashes direct
into the heart of things, and _sees_ the truth of them; this is to me a
highly interesting object. Great Nature's own gift; which she bestows on
all; but which only one in the thousand does not cast sorrowfully away:
it is what I call sincerity of vision; the test of a sincere heart.

Mohammed can work no miracles; he often answers impatiently: I can work
no miracles. I? "I am a Public Preacher"; appointed to preach this
doctrine to all creatures. Yet the world, as we can see, had really from
of old been all one great miracle to him. Look over the world, says he;
is it not wonderful, the work of Allah; wholly "a sign to you," if your
eyes were open! This Earth, God made it for you; "appointed paths in
it"; you can live in it, go to and fro on it.--The clouds in the dry
country of Arabia, to Mohammed they are very wonderful: Great clouds, he
says, born in the deep bosom of the Upper Immensity, where do they come
from! They hang there, the great black monsters; pour-down their
rain-deluges "to revive a dead earth," and grass springs, and "tall
leafy palm-trees with their date-clusters hanging round. Is not that a
sign?" Your cattle too,--Allah made them; serviceable dumb creatures;
they change the grass into milk; you have your clothing from them, very
strange creatures; they come ranking home at evening-time, "and," adds
he, "and are a credit to you"! Ships also,--he talks often about ships:
Huge moving mountains, they spread-out their cloth wings, go bounding
through the water there, Heaven's wind driving them; anon they lie
motionless, God has withdrawn the wind, they lie dead, and cannot stir!
Miracles? cries he; What miracle would you have? Are not you yourselves
there? God made _you_, "shaped you out of a little clay." Ye were small
once; a few years ago ye were not at all. Ye have beauty, strength,
thoughts, "ye have compassion on one another." Old age comes-on you, and
gray hairs; your strength fades into feebleness; ye sink down, and again
are not. "Ye have compassion on one another": this struck me much: Allah
might have made you having no compassion on one another,--how had it
been then! This is a great direct thought, a glance at first-hand into
the very fact of things. Rude vestiges of poetic genius, of whatsoever
is best and truest, are visible in this man. A strong untutored
intellect; eyesight, heart: a strong wild man,--might have shaped
himself into Poet, King, Priest, any kind of Hero.

To his eyes it is forever clear that this world wholly is miraculous. He
sees what, as we said once before, all great thinkers, the rude
Scandinavians themselves, in one way or other, have contrived to see:
That this so solid-looking material world is, at bottom, in very deed,
Nothing; is a visual and tactual Manifestation of God's-power and
presence,--a shadow hung-out by Him on the bosom of the void Infinite;
nothing more. The mountains, he says, these great rock-mountains, they
shall dissipate themselves "like clouds"; melt into the Blue as clouds
do, and not be! He figures the Earth, in the Arab fashion, Sale tells
us, as an immense Plain or flat Plate of ground, the mountains are set
on that to _steady_ it. At the Last Day they shall disappear "like
clouds"; the whole Earth shall go spinning, whirl itself off into wreck,
and as dust and vapor vanish in the Inane. Allah withdraws his hand from
it, and it ceases to be. The universal empire of Allah, presence
everywhere of an unspeakable Power, a Splendor, and a Terror not to be
named, as the true force, essence and reality, in all things whatsoever,
was continually clear to this man. What a modern talks-of by the name,
Forces of Nature, Laws of Nature; and does not figure as a divine thing;
not even as one thing at all, but as a set of things, undivine
enough,--saleable, curious, good for propelling steamships! With our
Sciences and Cyclopaedias, we are apt to forget the _divineness_, in
those laboratories of ours. We ought not to forget it! That once well
forgotten, I know not what else were worth remembering. Most sciences, I
think, were then a very dead thing; withered, contentious, empty;--a
thistle in late autumn. The best science, without this, is but as the
dead _timber_; it is not the growing tree and forest,--which gives
ever-new timber, among other things! Man cannot _know_ either, unless he
can _worship_ in some way. His knowledge is a pedantry, and dead
thistle, otherwise.

Much has been said and written about the sensuality of Mohammed's
Religion; more than was just. The indulgences, criminal to us, which he
permitted, were not of his appointment; he found them practised,
unquestioned from immemorial time in Arabia; what he did was to curtail
them, restrict them, not on one but on many sides. His Religion is not
an easy one: with rigorous fasts, lavations, strict complex formulas,
prayers five times a day, and abstinence from wine, it did not "succeed
by being an easy religion." As if indeed any religion, or cause holding
of religion, could succeed by that! It is a calumny on men to say that
they are roused to heroic action by ease, hope of pleasure,
recompense,--sugar-plums of any kind, in this world or the next! In the
meanest mortal there lies something nobler. The poor swearing soldier,
hired to be shot, has his "honor of a soldier," different from
drill-regulations and the shilling a day. It is not to taste sweet
things, but to do noble and true things, and vindicate himself under
God's Heaven as a god-made Man, that the poorest son of Adam dimly
longs. Show him the way of doing that, the dullest daydrudge kindles
into a hero. They wrong man greatly who say he is to be seduced by ease.
Difficulty, abnegation, martyrdom, death are the _allurements_ that act
on the heart of man. Kindle the inner genial life of him, you have a
flame that burns-up all lower considerations. Not happiness, but
something higher: one sees this even in the frivolous classes, with
their "point of honor" and the like. Not by flattering our appetites;
no, by awakening the Heroic that slumbers in every heart, can any
Religion gain followers.

Mohammed himself, after all that can be said about him, was not a
sensual man. We shall err widely if we consider this man as a common
voluptuary, intent mainly on base enjoyments,--nay on enjoyments of any
kind. His household was of the frugalest; his common diet barley-bread
and water: sometimes for months there was not a fire once lighted on his
hearth. They record with just pride that he would mend his own shoes,
patch his own cloak. A poor, hard-toiling, ill-provided man; careless of
what vulgar men toil for. Not a bad man, I should say; something better
in him than _hunger_ of any sort,--or these wild Arab men, fighting and
jostling three-and-twenty years at his hand, in close contact with him
always, would not have reverenced him so! They were wild men, bursting
ever and anon into quarrel, into all kinds of fierce sincerity; without
right worth and manhood, no man could have commanded them. They called
him Prophet, you say? Why, he stood there face to face with them; bare,
not enshrined in any mystery; visibly clouting his own cloak, cobbling
his own shoes; fighting, counselling, ordering in the midst of them:
they must have seen what kind of a man he _was_, let him be _called_
what you like! No emperor with his tiara was obeyed as this man in a
cloak of his own clouting during three-and-twenty years of rough actual
trial. I find something of a veritable Hero necessary for that, of

His last words are a prayer; broken ejaculations of a heart struggling
up, in trembling hope, towards its Maker. We cannot say that his
religion made him _worse_; it made him better; good, not bad. Generous
things are recorded of him: when he lost his Daughter, the thing he
answers is, in his own dialect, everyway sincere, and yet equivalent to
that of Christians, "The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away; blessed
be the name of the Lord." He answered in like manner of Seid, his
emancipated well-beloved Slave, the second of the believers. Seid had
fallen in the War of Tabuc, the first of Mohammed's fightings with the
Greeks. Mohammed said, It was well; Seid had done his Master's work,
Seid had now gone to his Master: it was all well with Seid. Yet Seid's
daughter found him weeping over the body;--the old gray-haired man
melting in tears! "What do I see?" said she.--"You see a friend weeping
over his friend."--He went out for the last time into the mosque, two
days before his death; asked, If he had injured any man? Let his own
back bear the stripes. If he owed any man? A voice answered, "Yes, me
three drachms," borrowed on such an occasion. Mohammed ordered them to
be paid: "Better be in shame now," said he, "than at the Day of
Judgment."--You remember Kadijah, and the "No, by Allah!" Traits of that
kind show us the genuine man, the brother of us all, brought visible
through twelve centuries,--the veritable Son of our common Mother.

Withal I like Mohammed for his total freedom from cant. He is a rough
self-helping son of the wilderness; does not pretend to be what he is
not. There is no ostentatious pride in him; but neither does he go much
upon humility: he is there as he can be, in cloak and shoes of his own
clouting; speaks plainly to all manner of Persian Kings, Greek Emperors,
what it is they are bound to do; knows well enough, about himself, "the
respect due unto thee." In a life-and-death war with Bedouins, cruel
things could not fail; but neither are acts of mercy, of noble natural
pity and generosity, wanting. Mohammed makes no apology for the one, no
boast of the other. They were each the free dictate of his heart; each
called-for, there and then. Not a mealy-mouthed man! A candid ferocity,
if the case call for it, is in him; he does not mince matters! The War
of Tabuc is a thing he often speaks of: his men refused, many of them,
to march on that occasion; pleaded the heat of the weather, the harvest,
and so forth; he can never forget that. Your harvest? It lasts for a
day. What will become of your harvest through all Eternity? Hot weather?
Yes, it was hot; "but Hell will be hotter!" Sometimes a rough sarcasm
turns-up: He says to the unbelievers, Ye shall have the just measure of
your deeds at that Great Day. They will be weighed-out to you; ye shall
not have short weight!--Everywhere he fixes the matter in his eye; he
_sees_ it: his heart, now and then, is as if struck dumb by the
greatness of it. "Assuredly," he says; that word, in the Koran, is
written-down sometimes as a sentence by itself: "Assuredly."

No _Dilettanteism_ in this Mohammed; it is a business of Reprobation and
Salvation with him, of Time and Eternity: he is in deadly earnest about
it! Dilettanteism, hypothesis, speculation, a kind of amateur-search for
Truth, toying and coquetting with Truth: this is the sorest sin. The
root of all other imaginable sins. It consists in the heart and soul of
the man never having been _open_ to Truth;--"living in a vain show."
Such a man not only utters and produces falsehoods, but _is_ himself a
falsehood. The rational moral principle, spark of the Divinity, is sunk
deep in him, in quiet paralysis of life-death. The very falsehoods of
Mohammed are truer than the truths of such a man. He is the insincere
man: smooth-polished, respectable in some times and places; inoffensive,
says nothing harsh to anybody; most _cleanly_,--just as carbonic acid
is, which is death and poison.

We will not praise Mohammed's moral precepts as always of the
superfinest sort; yet it can be said that there is always a tendency to
good in them; that they are the true dictates of a heart aiming towards
what is just and true. The sublime forgiveness of Christianity, turning
of the other cheek when the one has been smitten, is not here: you _are_
to revenge yourself, but it is to be in measure, not overmuch, or beyond
justice. On the other hand, Islam, like any great Faith, and insight
into the essence of man, is a perfect equalizer of men: the soul of one
believer outweighs all earthly kingships; all men, according to Islam
too, are equal. Mohammed insists not on the propriety of giving alms,
but on the necessity of it: he marks-down by law how much you are to
give, and it is at your peril if you neglect. The tenth part of a man's
annual income, whatever that may be, is the _property_ of the poor, of
those that are afflicted and need help. Good all this: the natural voice
of humanity, of pity and equity dwelling in the heart of this wild Son
of Nature speaks _so_.

Mohammed's Paradise is sensual, his Hell sensual: true; in the one and
the other there is enough that shocks all spiritual feeling in us. But
we are to recollect that the Arabs already had it so; that Mohammed, in
whatever he changed of it, softened and diminished all this. The worst
sensualities, too, are the work of doctors, followers of his, not his
work. In the Koran there is really very little said about the joys of
Paradise; they are intimated rather than insisted on. Nor is it
forgotten that the highest joys even there shall be spiritual; the pure
Presence of the Highest, this shall infinitely transcend all other joys.
He says, "Your salutation shall be, Peace." _Salam_, Have Peace!--the
thing that all rational souls long for, and seek, vainly here below, as
the one blessing. "Ye shall sit on seats, facing one another: all
grudges shall be taken away out of your hearts." All grudges! Ye shall
love one another freely; for each of you, in the eyes of his brothers,
there will be Heaven enough!

In reference to this of the sensual Paradise and Mohammed's sensuality,
the sorest chapter of all for us, there were many things to be said;
which it is not convenient to enter upon here. Two remarks only I shall
make, and therewith leave it to your candor. The first is furnished me
by Goethe; it is a casual hint of his which seems well worth taking note
of. In one of his Delineations, in _Meister's Travels_ it is, the hero
comes-upon a Society of men with very strange ways, one of which was
this: "We require," says the Master, "that each of our people shall
restrict himself in one direction," shall go right against his desire in
one matter, and _make_ himself do the thing he does not wish, "should we
allow him the greater latitude on all other sides." There seems to me a
great justness in this. Enjoying things which are pleasant; that is not
the evil: it is the reducing of our moral self to slavery by them that
is. Let a man assert withal that he is king over his habitudes; that he
could and would shake them off, on cause shown: this is an excellent
law. The Month Ramadhan for the Moslem, much in Mohammed's Religion,
much in his own Life, bears in that direction; if not by forethought, or
clear purpose of moral improvement on his part, then by a certain
healthy manful instinct, which is as good.

But there is another thing to be said about the Mohammedan Heaven and
Hell. This namely, that, however gross and material they may be, they
are an emblem of an everlasting truth, not always so well remembered
elsewhere. That gross sensual Paradise of his; that horrible flaming
Hell; the great enormous Day of Judgment he perpetually insists on: what
is all this but a rude shadow, in the rude Bedouin imagination, of that
grand spiritual Fact, and Beginning of Facts, which it is ill for us too
if we do not all know and feel: the Infinite Nature of Duty? That man's
actions here are of _infinite_ moment to him, and never die or end at
all; that man, with his little life, reaches upwards high as Heaven,
downwards low as Hell, and in his threescore years of Time holds an
Eternity fearfully and wonderfully hidden: all this had burnt itself, as
in flame-characters, into the wild Arab soul. As in flame and lightning,
it stands written there; awful, unspeakable, ever present to him. With
bursting earnestness, with a fierce savage sincerity, halt,
articulating, not able to articulate, he strives to speak it, bodies it
forth in that Heaven and that Hell. Bodied forth in what way you will,
it is the first of all truths. It is venerable under all embodiments.
What is the chief end of man here below? Mohammed has answered this
question, in a way that might put some of _us_ to shame! He does not,
like a Bentham, a Paley, take Right and Wrong, and calculate the profit
and loss, ultimate pleasure of the one and of the other; and summing all
up by addition and subtraction into a net result, ask you, Whether on
the whole the Right does not preponderate considerably? No; it is not
_better_ to do the one than the other; the one is to the other as life
is to death,--as Heaven is to Hell. The one must in nowise be done, the
other in nowise left undone. You shall not measure them; they are
incommensurable: the one is death eternal to a man, the other is life
eternal. Benthamee Utility, virtue by Profit and Loss; reducing this
God's-world to a dead brute Steam-engine, the infinite celestial Soul of
Man to a kind of Hay-balance for weighing hay and thistles on, pleasures
and pains on:--if you ask me which gives, Mohammed or they, the
beggarlier and falser view of Man and his Destinies in this Universe, I
will answer, It is not Mohammed!--

On the whole, we will repeat that this Religion of Mohammed's is a kind
of Christianity; has a genuine element of what is spiritually highest
looking through it, not to be hidden by all its imperfections. The
Scandinavian God _Wish_, the god of all rude men,--this has been
enlarged into a Heaven by Mohammed; but a Heaven symbolical of sacred
Duty, and to be earned by faith and well-doing, by valiant action, and a
divine patience which is still more valiant. It is Scandinavian
Paganism, and a truly celestial element super-added to that. 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 things, it has
been a religion heartily _believed_. These Arabs believe their religion,
and try to live by it! No Christians, since the early ages, or only
perhaps the English Puritans in modern times, have ever stood by their
Faith as the Moslem do by theirs,--believing it wholly, fronting Time
with it, and Eternity with it. This night the watchman on the streets of
Cairo when he cries, "Who goes?" will hear from the passenger, along
with his answer, "There is no God but God." _Allah akbar, Islam_, sounds
through the souls, and whole daily existence, of these dusky millions.
Zealous missionaries preach it abroad among Malays, black Papuans,
brutal Idolaters;--displacing what is worse, nothing that is better or

To the Arab Nation it was as a birth from darkness into light; Arabia
first became alive by means of it. A poor shepherd people, roaming
unnoticed in its deserts since the creation of the world: a Hero-Prophet
was sent down to them with a word they could believe: see, the unnoticed
becomes world-notable, the small has grown world-great; within one
century afterwards, Arabia is at Grenada on this hand, at Delhi on
that;--glancing in valor and splendor and the light of genius, Arabia
shines through long ages over a great section of the world. Belief is
great, life-giving. The history of a Nation becomes fruitful,
soul-elevating, great, so soon as it believes. These Arabs, the man
Mohammed, and that one century,--is it not as if a spark had fallen, one
spark, on a world of what seemed black unnoticeable sand; but lo, the
sand proves explosive powder, blazes heaven-high from Delhi to Grenada!
I said, the Great Man was always as lightning out of Heaven; the rest of
men waited for him like fuel, and then they too would flame.



Entitled, the Preface, or Introduction--Revealed at Mecca

_In the Name of the Most Merciful God_.

Praise be to God, the Lord of all creatures, the most merciful, the king
of the day of judgment. Thee do we worship, and of thee do we beg
assistance. Direct us in the right way, in the way of those to whom thou
hast been gracious; not of those against whom thou art incensed, nor of
those who go astray.[21]

[Footnote 21: This chapter is a prayer, and held in great veneration by
the Mohammedans, who give it several other honorable titles; as the
chapter of prayer, of praise, of thanksgiving, of treasure. They esteem
it as the quintessence of the whole Koran, and often repeat it in their
devotions both public and private, as the Christians do the Lord's


Entitled, the Cow[22]--Revealed Partly at Mecca, and Partly at Medina

_In the Name of the Most Merciful God_,

A.L.M. There is no doubt in this book; it is a direction to the pious,
who believe in the mysteries of faith, who observe the appointed times
of prayer, and distribute alms out of what we have bestowed on them; and
who believe in that revelation, which hath been sent down unto thee, and
that which hath been sent down unto the prophets before thee, and have
firm assurance in the life to come: these are directed by their Lord,
and they shall prosper. As for the unbelievers, it will be equal to them
whether thou admonish them, or do not admonish them; they will not
believe. God hath sealed up their hearts and their hearing; a dimness

Book of the day: