“Hadst thou chosen honey, O Mahomet,” said Allah, “all thy people would be saved, now only a part shall find perfection.”
And Mahomet was troubled.
“Bid my people pray to Me fifty times a day.”
At the resistless mandate Mahomet turned and retraced his steps to the seventh Heaven, where dwelt Abraham.
“The people of the earth will be in nowise constrained to pray fifty times a day. Return thou and beg that the number be lessened.”
So Mahomet returned again and again at Abraham’s command, until he had reduced the number to five, which the father of his people considered was sufficient burden for his feeble subjects to bear. Wherefore the five periods set apart for prayer in the Muslim faith are proportionately sacred, and with this divine mandate the vision ceased.
With his hopes now set on founding an earthly dominion with the help of Allah, he had perforce to consider the political situation, and to mature his policy for dealing with it as soon as events proved favourable. The achievements of the Persians on the Greek frontier had already attracted his attention in 616; there is an allusion to the battle and the Greek defeat in the Kuran, and a vague prophecy of their ultimate success, for Mahomet was in sympathy with the Greek Empire, seeing that, from the point of view of Arabia, it was the less formidable enemy.
But really the events of such outlying territories only troubled him in regard to Medina, for his whole thoughts were centred now upon the chosen city of his dreams. His followers became less aggressive in Mecca when they knew that the Prophet had the nucleus of a new colony in another city. Persecution within Mecca therefore died down considerably, and the period is one of pause upon either side, the Kureisch watching to see what the next move was to be, Mahomet carefully and secretly maturing his plans.
During this year there fell a drought upon Mecca, followed by a famine, which the devout attributed directly to divine anger at the rejection of the Prophet’s heavenly message, and which Mahomet interpreted as the punishment of God, and this doubtless added to the sum of reasons which impelled him to relinquish his native town.
From this time until the Hegira, or Flight from the City, events in the world of action move but slowly for Mahomet. He was careful not to excite undue suspicion among the Kureisch, and we can imagine him silent and preoccupied, fulfilling his duties among them, visiting the Kaaba, and mingling somewhat coldly with their daily life. Still keeping his purpose immutable, he sought to strengthen the faith of his followers for the trials he knew must come. The Kuran thus became more important as the mouthpiece of his exhortations. The suras of this time resound with words of encouragement and confidence. He is about to become the leader of a perilous venture in honour of God. The reflex of the expectancy