“Consider the Heaven—with His Hand has He built it up, and given it its vastness—and the Earth has He stretched out like a carpet, smoothly has He spread it forth! Verily, God is the sole sustainer, possessed of might, the unshaken! Fly then to God.”
Indeed, a haunting terror broods over all those souls who know the desert, and this fear translated into action becomes fierce and terrible deeds, and into the world of the spirit, angry dogmatic commands. It is the result of the knowledge that to those who stray from the well-known desert track comes death; equally certain is the destruction of the soul for those who transgress against the law of the Ruler of the earth. The God of the early Kuran is the spiritual representative of the forces surrounding Mahomet, whether of Nature or government. The country around Mecca conveys one central thought to one who meditates—the sense of power, not the might of one kindly and familiar, but the unapproachable sovereignty of one alien and remote, a dweller in far-off places, who nevertheless fills the earth with his dominion. Mahomet passing by, as he did, the gaieties and temptations of youth, had his mind alert for the influences of this Nature, full of awful power, and for the contemplation of life and the Universe around him.
In common with many enthusiasts and men of action, certain sides of his nature, especially the sexual and the practical, awoke late, and were preceded by a reflective period wherein the poet held full sway. He never desired the companionship of those of his own age and their rather debased pleasures. There are legends of his being miraculously preserved from the corruption of the youthful vices of Mecca, but the more probable reason for his shunning them is that they made no appeal to his desires. Some minds and tastes unfold by imperceptible degrees—flowers that attain fruition by the shedding of their earlier petals. Mahomet was of this nature. At this time the poet was paramount in his mental activities He loved silence and solitude, so that he might use those imaginative and contemplative gifts of which he felt himself to possess so large a share.
It is not possible at this distance of time to attempt to estimate the importance of this period in Mahomet’s mental development. There are not sufficient data to enable history to fill in any detailed sketch, but the outlines may be safely indicated by the help of his later life and the testimony of that commentary upon his feelings and actions, the Kuran. His nature now seems to be in a pause of expectation, whose vain urgency lasted until he became convinced of his prophetic mission. He must have been at this time the seeker, whose youth, if not his very eagerness, prevented his attaining what he sought. He was earnest and sincere, grave beyond his years, and so gained from his fellows the respect always meted out, in an essentially religion-loving community, to any who give promise of future “inspiration,”