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we must leave to others. One of the most acknowledged collections of the Hadiths or traditions approved of by the Sunnis, is Mishcat ul Masabih, which has been translated into English and published by H. N. Mathews, Calcutta, 1810; and most of the traditions received by the Shias, are contained in the books of Hyot ul Kulub, Haq ul Yaqin, and Ain ul Ilayat written by Mullah Muhammad Bakir Majlisi, a famous Persian divine who lived about 200 years ago, and lately printed at Teheran in four folio volumes : nearly the whole of the following extracts are from these books.
Traditions can of course not say much on the nature of God, as this lies beyond their reach. Whatever true knowledge of God, his nature and his attributes Muhammadanism contains has been received and borrowed from Scripture, or from Jews and Christians, and consequently the Musalmans believe in all the attributes of God revealed in holy writ. But having rejected the revelation of God in Christ, and the doctrine of the holy Trinity, their knowledge of God has no real practical tendency, is but a matter of cold speculation, occupying only the understanding, leaving the heart unaffected and unaltered. It is true, they acknowledge that God is pure, holy, just, infinitely gracious and merciful. But these glorious attributes are merely a matter of head knowledge, and have not in them that quickening, sanctifying and consoling influence which they have and do exercise in the Christian. For what idea of justice, and love of holiness and mercy can a religion give, which teaches on the one hand, that hundreds of sins are forgiven for the reading of a few chapters of the Quran, or by the repetition of some Arabic words; and on the other hand asserts, that many men and jins (genii) have been created by God for hell, or as the common saying renders this passage of the Quran, to fill hell with them. God's holiness and mercy, His justice and love, can only be rightly understood and received, and exercise a practical and life-giving influence on the mind, when viewed and received in Christ. Only in Christ, and in the revelation of God connected with him, that is in scripture, does God appear a God of perfect holiness as well as of perfect love, and the believer learns to fear and to love him,—to fear with a fear flowing from love, and to love him with reverence, like a child his parent. In Christ God has come nigh unto man's heart and affections, and man has been brought nigh unto God. But to one who does not know Christ, or who denies him, and rejects the belief in a Triune Jehovah, God is a God afar off and unknown, to whom he feels he cannot approach, being a mere dead idea, and not the living and life-giving God : "for whosoever denieth the Son the same hath not the Father," says scripture. His knowledge of God can therefore never be a practical one, nor exercise a sanctifying influence over him ; it will be mere knowledge, and matter of speculation. It is on this ground that Muhammadanism, like all other false systems, treats but slightly of the moral attributes of God, but gives all preeminence to his metaphysical perfections. The Muhammadans are therefore peculiarly fond of metaphysical discussions, about the divine nature, but they do this in such an indifferent and heartless manner as fully proves that they know nothing of the living God. The following passage, taken from a Persian Treatise on Divinity, is a specimen of such a dead metaphysical knowledge of a dead God, the creature of man's foolish ideas. It is said there: "God is not a body that can be measured; he possesses neither length nor breadth, depth nor height; it is mainly impossible, that there should exist in his nature any necessity to possess the properties of any thing, and he is no line, that is, a thing which can be divided in but one direction; nor is he a flat (plain), that is, a thing which can be divided in both directions. He, the great God, is neither heavy nor light; he is neither in motion nor at rest; he is neither in space nor in time. Before him the past and future are but the eternal present, and he is free from all properties of the creatures." After this it will not surprise us to learn, that the Muhammadans never call God by the dear and consoling name of Father, nor do they ever call themselves God's children. God is the Allah tala, the great God, and they, even the most religious amongst them, are only Randas, servants. They are however so far consistent, for only in Christ is God a Father, and the believer his adopted and beloved child.
Another consequence of this knowledge, or rather ignorance of God is, that the Muhammadans do not know of such a thing as prayer in the scriptural sense of the word. Their regular and prescribed namaz, or prayers, are but a mechanical ceremony; everything depends on this, that all the prescribed evolutions of the body are strictly performed, and all the enjoined words correctly repeated; and these words must all be in the Arabic tongue, for in this alone the namaz can be performed. And even these Arabic words are not words of prayer, but only certain verses of the Quran, speaking of God and his attributes, and certain short sentences or words, as Allahu akbar, God is great; Alhamedulillah, God be praised, &c.—which are repeated several times in the same prayer. Of private prayer or devotion they have no idea at all, and comrnonly prefer to perform their prayers in a public place or in the presence of others. If a Muhammadan is in great distress, all that he does is this : he repeats a certain number more of the prescribed prayers, and sometimes he may also add a few words or some ejaculations of his own. Their mystical writers and poets, and the spiritualists or internals, as they are called among them, who hold all ceremonies and external prayer as useless, and conform to them merely to avoid scorn or persecution, speak indeed much of internal prayer and spiritual communion with God; but they, having all more or less imbibed the principles of pantheism, mean by these expressions nothing more than internal contemplation, or rather absorption of the mind into the Divine Being. But that any Muhammadan should ever bow his knees in the closet before his God, and pour out his heart before him, ask forgiveness of his sins, and seek peace for his soul, and strength from on high to walk in His paths, such a thing is altogether unknown to them, and has in all probability never happened amongst them, except when the light of the gospel began to shine on such a soul. Prayer is therefore no delight to their hearts, but a heavy burden lodged upon them. And but for the good advice of Moses to Muhammad it would have been altogether intolerable; for according to a tradition, which is related in the Mishcat ul Masabih, as well as in Hayat ul Kulub, vol. ii. leaf 176, God ordered them to pray 50 times a day, but Muhammad, on Moses' advice, bargained it down to five times. The tradition is as follows: Muhammad in his journey to heaven, having arrived there, was among other things ordered to command his followers to pray 50 times a day. When in his return he passed by Moses, Moses asked him, as it is said, "What have you been ordered? I (Muhammad) said, Fifty prayers every day. Then Moses said, Verily, your sects will not be able to perforin 50 prayers every day. Then return to your Lord, and ask your sects to be eased : and I returned, and ten prayers were taken off. Then I went to Moses, and he asked me as before: and I returned to God's court, and ten prayers more were curtailed. Then I went to Moses, and he said as before; then I returned to God's court, and ten more were taken off. And I went to Moses, and he said as before; then I returned to God, and ten more were lessened. Then I went to Moses, and he said as before; then I went to God's court, and was ordered five prayers every day. Then I went to Moses, and he said, How many prayers have you been ordered? I said, Five prayers every day. He said, Verily your sects will not be able to perform five prayers every day; return then to your cherisher, and ask them to be lightened. I said,
I have asked him till I am quite ashamed; I cannot return to him again: but I am satisfied, and resign the work of my sects to God»."
Xovv if the doctrine concerning God is such a dead and lifeless one as described here, the religion built on such a foundation cannot be otherwise but a dead and unsanctifying religion, which will never be able to raise man from his spiritual death, nor enlighten his mind and sanctify his heart: it will leave him in the bondage of darkness, superstition and sin, as the following extracts from Muhaminadan traditions will clearly show, and the moral state of the Muhaminadan nations fully proves.
2.—On the Creation.
The Muhaminadans believe in good and evil spirits, or in angels and devils, like the Christians: but, though having taken the doctrine concerning them from Scripture, they have, like other doctrines borrowed from this source, greatly disfigured them, and deprived them of their sublime simplicity as well as of their practical tendency, as will be seen by a few extracts from their traditions on this head.
Satan was one of the higher angels, but because he was disobedient (when after the creation of Adam, God ordered all angels to pay homage to him), he became Satan and was cast out of heaven. Me then became the father of the devils; but, as is related in a tradition to be relied upon, "his offsprings do not generate, but lay eggs and hatch them, and his children are all male children. There is no female amongst them:" Hayat ul Kiiliib, vol. i. page 16. Besides the angels and devils they believe in gins or devs, which according to their ideas are between men and angels, or according to some below man. Some of them are good and some bad; they live somewhere on earth or in the air, and can appear to man and have intercourse with him. They have the distinction of sexes, they marry and have children.
The angels are, according to their traditions, of an immense stature; it seems Muhammad and his followers thought this a necessary attribute of perfection. To give an idea of the size of one of the angels bearing the throne of God, it is said in the Mishcat, vol. ii. p. 651, " Verily, the distance from the lower part of his ears to his shoulders, is "0 years' journey.'' Babivichi relates, according to an approved tradition, that they once asked the Amir ul Mumeuin (the prince of the believers, that is Ali) about the power of God, and he s^iid, "The Lord of the universe has some angels, who are so large, that if
* Mishcat, vol. ii. p. 694. VOL. I. L
one of them would come down upon earth, the earth could not contain him on account of the magnitude of his hody and the expansiveness of his wings; and there are some of the angels of whom neither gins nor man would be able to give any description on account of their immense size, and the exceeding beauty of their form and face; for how can an angel be described, who is so great, that there is 700 years' journey (road) from his shoulder to his ear-cap. And there are some which, not mentioning the size of their body, fill alone with one of their wings the vault of heaven. Others are so great that the heavens reach only to their loins, and others standing on the air the earth come up only to their knees*; and there are others again, whose thumb-pit could contain all the waters of the world, if they were to be poured into it. Again, others are so great, that in the waters of their eyes, or dropping from their eyes, ships can sail for years." (Ain ul Hayat, page 26). As if this size was not enough there is said, in the same place, according to another tradition, " that there as an angel the distance from his ear to his eye amounts to the length of 500 years of a bird's flight." (Ibid, page 27.) Muhammad in his journey to heaven, when Gabriel led him about to show him the wonders of heaven, saw, among many other wonderful things, described at large in their Hadiths, an angel called Khorus, or the lock, of whom is said, "His feet stand on the extremities of the seventh earth, and his bead reaches to the throne of God. He has two wings, and when he unfolds his wings they reach from east to west. At the dawn of the morning he opens his wings and strikes them together, singing alond the praise of God. And as soon as his voice is heard, all the cocks on the earth strike their wings together and crow, singing the praise of God, and when he ceases they too cease crowing. The wings of this heavenly Khorus are white, the feathers under the wings are green, and the beauty of these two colours is beyond description. (Hayat ul Kuhib, vol. ii. page 175.) Another of the wonders which were shown to Muhammad.in heaven by his guide, was an angel, half of his body consisted of snow and the other half of fire; the fire did not melt the snow, and the snow did not extinguish the fire. And he heard the angel say with a loud voice, "O God, 1 praise thee, that thou hast prevented the heat of the fire from melting the snow, and the cold of the snow from extinguishing the fire." (Ibid, page 174.) Again, another of the wonders which Muhammad saw in heaven has been related by him in the
* According to tradition there are seven earths as well as seven heavens contained one in the other, each of the heavens being 300 years' way thick and as many years distant from the other.