It is pre-eminently in the domain of political actions that Mahomet’s personality is revealed. The living fibres of his unique character pulse through all his dealings with his fellow-leaders and opponents. Before all things he possessed the capacity of inspiring both love and fear. Ali, Abu Bekr, Hamza, Omar, Zeid, every one of his followers, felt the force of his affection continually upon them, and were bound to him by ties that neither misfortune nor any unworthy act of his could break. And their devotion was called upon to suffer many tests. Mahomet was self-willed and ruthless, subordinating the means to the end without any misgivings. In his remorseless dealings with the Jews, in his calm repudiation of obligations with the heathen as soon as he felt himself strong enough, he shows affinities to the most conscienceless statesman that ever graced European diplomacy.
His method of conquest and government combines watchfulness and strength. No help was scorned by this builder of power. What he could not achieve by force he attempted to gain by cunning. He had a large faith in the power of argument backed by force, and his winning over of Abbas and Abu Sofian chiefly by the aid of these two factors, combined with their personal ambition, is only the supreme instance of his master-strokes of policy. He knew how to play upon the baser passions of men, and especially was he mindful of the lure of gold. His first forays against the Kureisch were set before the eyes of his disciples as much in the light of plundering expeditions as religious wars against an infidel and oppressive nation.
He is at once the outcome of circumstances, and independent of them. He gave coherence to all the unformulated desires for a fuller scope of military and mercantile power stirring at the fount of Arabia’s life, and at the same time he founded his dominion in a unique and absolutely personal manner. Within his sphere of governance his will was supreme and unassailable.
If these mutable tribal entities were to be united at all, despotism was the only possible form of command. As his polity demanded authority vested in one person only, so his conception of God is that of an absolute monarch, resistance to whom is annihilation.