This apparent death of poetic energy had crept gradually over the Kuran, helped on by the controversial character of the last two Meccan periods, when he attempted the conciliation of the Jewish element within Arabia with that long-sightedness which already discerned Medina as his possible refuge. In reality the whole energy of his nature was transmuted from his words to his actions and therein he found his fitting sphere, for he was essentially the doer, one whose works are the expression of his secret, whose personality, in fact, is only gauged by his deeds. As a result of his political leadership, the despotism of his nature, inherent in his conception of God, inevitably revealed itself; he had postulated a Being who held mankind in the hollow of his hand, whose decrees were absolute among his subjects; now that he was to found an earthly kingdom under the guidance of Allah, the majesty of divine despotism overshadowed its Prophet, and enabled him to impose upon a willing people the same obedience to authority which fostered the military idea.
We must perforce believe in Mahomet’s good faith. There is a tendency in modern times to think of him as a man who knowingly played upon the credulity of his followers to establish a sovereignty whereof he should be head. But no student of psychology can support this conception of the Prophet of Islam. There is a subtle rapprochement between leader and people in all great movements that divines instinctively any imposture. Mahomet used and moulded men by reason of his faith in his own creed. The establishment of the worship of Allah brought in its train the aggrandisement of his Prophet, but it was not achieved by profanation of the source whence his greatness came.
Mahomet is the last of those leaders who win both the religious devotion and the political trust of his followers. He wrought out his sovereignty perforce and created his own milieu; but more than all, he diffused around him the tradition of loyalty to one God and one state with sword for artificer, which outlived its creator through centuries of Arabian prosperity. Stone by slow stone his empire was built up, an edifice owing its contour to his complete grasp of detail and his dauntless energy. The last days at Mecca had shown him a careful schemer, the early days at Medina proved his capacity as leader and his skill in organisation and government.
THE CONSOLIDATION OF POWER
“The Infidels, moreover, will say:
Thou art not sent of God.
Say: God is witness enough betwixt me and you, and whoever hath
knowledge of the Book.”—The Kuran.
Mahomet, now established at Medina, at once began that careful planning of the lives of his followers and the ceaseless fostering of his own ideas within them that endeared him to the Believers as leader and lord, and enabled him in time to prosecute his designs against his opponents with a confidence in their faith and loyalty.