Imatges de pÓgina

himself to support the constitution. A revolution occasioned by a clash between the shah and the Majlis resulted in the deposition of Ali and the choice of his young son Ahmad Mirza. On November 15, 1909 a newly elected Majlis was opened by the shah.

The Majlis is composed of representatives of the dominant classes and numbers 162 members (sixty from Teheren and 102 from the provinces). Electors must be males, Persian subjects not less than twenty-five years old and of good repute. The executive government is carried on by a cabinet of eight ministers.



Were it not for the marvelous career and lasting influence on a large portion of the human race of one man as a religious teacher and law giver, Arabia would be given but small space in this work. The people were allied on one side with the neighboring Asiatic population and classed as of Semitic stock, and on the other were intermixed with African blood of the Egyptian and Abyssinian stocks. Nevertheless the Arab is of a type quite as well marked as any of his neighbors and has been so for untold centuries. Modes of life and social systems appear to have been moulded by natural conditions. In Yemen, which has ever been rich and fruitful, the people have dwelt in settled communities, cultivated the soil and maintained a strong monarchical government, which is said to have lasted 2500 years before Mohammed, and to have extended its power over most of the south half of the peninsula. In the interior and desert portions, where settled agriculture is impossible, but precarious pasturage affords sustenance for flocks and herds, the wandering tent dwelling Bedouins moved from place to place with their live stock, recognizing no settled government beyond their tribal leaders. Though brought in contact with the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Babylonia and India through its traders, so far as known Arabia developed and preserved its own peculiar types. Our common system of expressing numbers by figures is perhaps the only Arabic invention with which we are familiar, but it may well be that this is not all for which we are indebted to them, so meager and imperfect are the records of past events.

Mohammed grew up under a tribal system which recognized no superior authority. Mecca, though a city of no great size was occupied by clans having no common head.

The Koraish, by which general term the clans in and about Mecca were known, were traders whose caravans brought goods from Syria and Persia, which were sold at the fairs in Mecca. Knowledge of reading and writing was general among them.

Neither the Abyssinian Christians nor the Persian fire worshipers had been able to subjugate Mecca. Mohammed's parents died during his early youth and he grew up in extreme poverty first in his grandfather's, and then his uncle's, family. At twenty-five he entered the service of Khadija, a wealthy widow for whom he traveled to Palestine and Syria. Afterward he married her. He became familiar with the Hebrew scriptures and traditions and with the tenets of the Christians. To the many forms of idolatry which he found prevailing, not only among the followers of ancient Arabic faiths, but also among the Christians of his day, he conceived a most intense aversion. He was a profound believer in the unity of God. Mohammed laid no claim to divinity, not even to direct personal communion with God, but to having received the words of the Koran through the angel Gabriel. He posed merely as the apostle of God. He did not profess to proclaim a new religion, but merely to restore in its purity the ancient Jewish monotheism. He gave the great characters of the Bible recognition as prophets, and while he denied the divinity of Christ, his authority as a prophet and teacher is maintained. The Koran, though regarded by Mohammedans as a wonderful literary production, contains little to admire, when translated into English. repetition of the Bible stories, with variations of form, are tedious and uninstructive. The strength of his revelations seems to lie in the vigorous proclamation of the unity and power of God, and in the rewards offered to the true believers of a paradise suited to the sensual desires of the people to whom he spoke, and the hot torments of hell denounced as a punishment to those who refused to accept the Koran. The God he proclaimed was an intensely personal one, who took a keen and active interest in human affairs and rewarded and punished in ample measure. His doctrines tended directly to


the establishment of civil power under religious sanction, and Mohammed stands out in bold relief as the founder of a religious sect, who was at the same time the founder of an empire over subjects unaccustomed to submit to despotic rule. Although the Koran is the law for all Mohammedan countries. and is accepted as based on divine authority, it is exceedingly meager in its rules of conduct, and is adapted to such conditions as the prophet was familiar with. The moral tone is superior to most of the Old Testament, but quite inferior to that of the New. As in the laws of Moses, the first and chief concern was to provide for the support and maintenance of the religion. From first to last the worship of the true and living God is enjoined, rewards are promised for the true believers and punishments denounced for the infidels.

The religious teachings and the code of laws put forth by Mohammed can best be studied in the Koran, in which is written the revelations which Mohammed claimed were sent down to him. The following extracts the text will give a clearer idea of Mohammed's system than any summary of or comment on the Koran. The great influence Mohammed has exerted over a large part of the earth through so many centuries, in religion and as a law-giver, render his works of peculiar interest. The fanatical spirit which animated his followers is expressed in the following text: "When ye encounter the unbelievers strike off their heads until ye have made a great slaughter among them, and bind them in bonds; and either give them a free dismission afterwards or exact a ransom until the war shall have laid down its arms."1 "And as to those who fight in defense of God's true religion, God will not suffer their works to perish; he will guide them and dispose their hearts aright; and he will lead them into Paradise of which he hath told them, God hath preferred those who fight for the faith above those who are still by adding unto them a great reward."2

"The description of Paradise which is promised unto the pious, therein are rivers of incorruptible waters and rivers of 'Ch. 47. Sales' Koran.

2 Id. Ch. 4, p. 65.

milk the taste whereof changeth not, and rivers of wine, pleasant unto those who drink, and rivers of clarified honey, and therein shall they have plenty of all kinds of fruits, and pardon from their Lord. Shall the men for whom these things are prepared be as he who must dwell for ever in hell fire and will have the boiling water given them to drink which shall burst their bowels." "Verily this present life is only a play and a vain amusement; but if ye believe and fear God He will give you your rewards. He doth not require of you your whole substance, if He should require the whole of you and earnestly press you, ye would become niggardly and it would raise your hatred against His apostles. Behold ye are those who are invited to expend part of your substance for the support of God's true religion; and there are some of you who are niggardly. But whosoever shall be niggardly shall be niggardly toward his own soul."

"These are they who shall approach near unto God, they shall dwell in gardens of delight. . . . Reposing on couches adorned with gold and precious stones, sitting opposite to one another thereon. Youths which shall continue in their bloom forever shall go round about to attend them with goblets and beakers and a cup of flowing wine; their heads shall not ache by drinking the same neither shall their reason be disturbed; and with fruits of the sorts which they shall choose and the flesh of herds of the kinds which they shall desire, and there shall accompany them fair damsels having large black eyes resembling pearls hidden in their shells, as a reward for that which they shall have wrought. They shall not hear therein any vain discourse or any charge of sin but the only salutation Peace, Peace. And the companions of the right hand,

shall have their abode among the lote trees free from thorns and trees of mauz loaded regularly with their produce from top to bottom, under an extended shade near a flowing water and amidst fruits in abundance which shall not fail nor shall be forbidden to be gathered; and they shall repose themselves on lofty beds. Verily we have created the damsels

" Id. Ch. 4.

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