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Mahomet eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 211 pages of information about Mahomet.
of the wild, untutored races who found themselves beneath his yoke.  Islam was before all an ideal, a real and material tradition, giving scope to the manifold qualities of courage, devotion, aspiration, and endeavour.  Every tribe coming fully within its magnetism felt it to be the sum of his life, a religion which had not only an indivisible mighty God at its head, but a strong and resolute Prophet as its earthly leader.  Around the central figure each saw the majesty of the Lord and also the headship of armies, the crown of power, and the sovereignty of wealth.  They invested Mahomet with the royalty of romance, and the potency of his magnetism is realised in the story of the conversion of Ka’b the poet.  He had for years voiced the feelings of contempt and anger against the Prophet, and had been the chief vehicle for the launching of defamatory songs.  His conversion to the cause of Islam is momentous, because it deprived the idolaters of their chief means of vituperation and ensured the gradual dying down of the fire of abuse.  Mahomet received Ka’b with the utmost honour, and threw over him his own mantle as a sign of his rejoicing at the acquisition of so potent a man.  Ka’b thereupon composed the “Poem of the Mantle” in praise of his leader and lord, a poem which has rendered him famous and well-beloved throughout the whole Muslim world.

Now embassies came to Mahomet from all parts of Arabia.  Instead of being the suppliant he became the dictator, for whose favour princes sued.  Hadramaut and Yemen sent tokens of alliance and promises of conversion, even the far-off tribes upon the borders of Syria were not all equally hostile and were content to send deputations.

Nevertheless, it was from the North that his power was threatened.  Secure as was his control over Central and Southern Arabia, the northern feudatories backed by Heraclius were still obdurate and even openly hostile.  They were the one hope that Arabia possessed of throwing off the Prophet’s yoke, which even now was threatening to press hardly upon their unrestrained natures.  All the malcontents looked towards the North for deliverance, and made haste to rally, if possible, to the side of the Syrian border states.  Towards the end of the year signs were not wanting of a concerted effort to overthrow his power on the part of all the northern tribes, who had as their ally a powerful emperor, and therefore might with reason expect to triumph over a usurper who had put his yoke upon their brethren of the southern interior, and was only deterred from attempting their complete reduction to the status of tributary states by the distance between his capital and themselves, added to the menace of the imperial legions.

CHAPTER XX

ICONOCLASM

  “Oh Prophet, contend against the Infidels and the hypocrites,
  and be rigorous with them.  Hell shall be their dwelling-place! 
  Wretched the journey thither.”—­The Kuran.

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