The heart sickens in following further Mohammed’s willful career of blood. During the following five years he is said to have commanded twenty-seven expeditions and fought nine pitched battles. Against the Christian Jews in particular the bitterest expressions of his hate were directed; and to his dying day this incomprehensible man, from whose lips proceeded words of mercy and of deadliest rancor, words of love and of hate, words of purity and of gross sensuality—this strange man persecuted them to the last, nor ever ceased to direct his arms against all who followed that gentle Jesus of Nazareth of whose power this blood-marked, self-proclaimed prophet of Allah was envious.
His followers, dazzled by the glare of his brilliant victories or solicitous for self-preservation, constantly swelled in numbers, but there were a few who, like Kedar, had heard of the peaceableness of the religion of Jesus Christ, and who began to sicken of the flow of blood which deluged the sands of El Hejaz, and ran even into the Nejd, the borders of Syria, and of Arabia-Felix.
Kedar often longed for the friendly touch, the hearty, kindly words, of the friends whom he had met and parted from as in a dream. He had soon refused to believe in Mohammed’s divine appointment. Even this Bedouin youth had enough penetration to see that religion must stand upon its results, and that the private life of Mohammed would not stand the test of inspection. Fain would he have left his ranks many and many a time. The brand of coward he knew could not be attached to him for leaving victorious ranks to ally himself with the few and feeble Jews, yet there was something in the idea of “turning his coat” which he did not like. He imagined in a vague way that such a proceeding would compromise his principles of honor, and he had not reached the wisdom of that great educator, Comenius, who, not long ere his death, wrote a treatise upon “the art of wisely withdrawing one’s own assertions.” So he fought doggedly on, until circumstances again threw him into the bosom of his friends.
THE FAMILY OF ASRU.
“God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world.”
On the evening upon which the Battle of the Ditch was fought, the wife of Asru, and his daughter, Sherah, now almost grown to womanhood, were returning from performing Tawaf at the temple. They had prayed for the success of the Koreish expedition; they had drank of the well of Ismael, Zem-Zem, and had poured its water on their heads. Now they were hastening home to offer prayers to their household gods in the same cause, for, during Asru’s apostasy to the Moslem ranks, his wife, a woman of the Koreish, and her family had never swerved from their hostility to Mohammed and all connected with him. For their obstinacy in this, they had been cruelly abused by Asru, who, with the superiority which most men in the East assume over women, ruled as a tyrant in his house.