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promulgation of his new religion against all his oppofers.
After the decease of his father, Mahomet continued under the tuition of his mother (whofe name was Aminah, and likewife of a respectable family) till the eighth year of his age; when the alfo dying, he was taken home by his grandfather, who, at his death, which happened the following year, committed him to the care of his uncle Abu Taleb, to be brought up by him out of charity.
Mecca being fituated in a very barren foil, and not able of itself to fubfift, the inhabitants were forced to betake themselves to merchandize for their fupport; and the principal people among them had scarcely any other eftate than the ftock wherewith they trafficked. They therefore all betook themfelves to this course of life; for which their city was well fituated, it being nearly a central mart between India, Perfia, Syria, Egypt, and Ethiopia, to which places they conveyed on camels the articles they dealt in.
In this courfe of life was Mahomet bred up under his uncle; and as foon as he had attained
attained a proper age, he was fent by him. with his camels into Syria. At this early period, the Mahometans tell you, that tokens of his future greatnefs were perceptible; for, on his first arrival at Boftra, a city on the confines of Syria, while he was attending his uncle's factors in vending the wares they carried with them, in the public market place, he was there feen by Bahira, a learned monk, who immediately knowing him to be the great prophet that was to come, preffed through the crowd to him, and, taking him by the hand, there foretold of him all thofe marvellous things that afterwards came to pafs.
The mark, fay they, by which the monk knew him, was the prophetic light which fhone on his face. This light, they tell us, was placed on the countenance of the first of human beings, Adam, to be a fign of the prophets that were to be born of him. From Adam it defcended to Abraham, and was from him divided into two parts; one of which was impreffed on the face of Ifaac, the other on the face of Ishmael. Ifaac's light, not long after, was manifefted in the prophets which appeared of his pofterity among the children of Ifrael; but that which was
placed on Ishmael was fuppreffed, and lay hid till the coming of Mahomet, on whom, as his defcendant, it first appeared. Bahira (according to their account) fecing this light on him, thereby knew him to be a great prophet fent from God, who was, ere long, to manifeft himself.-Other writers fay, that the mark by which Bahira knew him, was the feal of his prophetic miffion ftamped with a wonderful imprefs between his fhoulders.But the truth is, that Mahomet did not become acquainted with this learned monk till he was on a journey into thofe parts, many years after the time juft mentioned, as wil be noticed in its proper place.
The future prophet continued in this employment, under his uncle, till the twentyfifth year of his age; when one of the chief men of the city dying, and his widow (to whom he had left all his ftock, which was of confiderable value) wanting a factor to manage it for her, he invited Mahomet into her fervice. This woman, whofe name was Cadigha, having offered him advantageous terms, he accepted of them, and for three years traded for her to Damafcus and other places. In the management of this charge he gave her fo much fatisfaction, and thereby
fo far infinuated himself into her favour and good opinion, that about the twenty-eighth year of his age, fhe beftowed herself on him in marriage, being herfelf forty years old.Thus, from her fervant, fhe advanced him to be the master of her perfon and eftate.
This fortunate event having rendered Mahomet equal in wealth to the most opulent men in the city of Mecca, his ambitious mind. began to entertain thoughts of poffeffing himself of the fovereignty over it. His anceftors, as already obferved, had for feveral defcents been chiefs of their tribe; and his great grandfather, Hafshem, had made himfelf very refpectable, not only at home, but among the neighbouring nations; and, had his father lived, the power and wealth of his family would have defcended to him: so that it was only his misfortune in being left an orphan during the life of his grandfather, that deprived him of all this.
These confiderations meeting with an af piring mind, foon put him upon defigns of raising himself to the fupreme government of his country; and being a very fubtle, crafty man, after having maturely weighed every poffible way and means of bringing this about,
about, he concluded that there was none fo likely to effect it as the framing a new fyftem of religion.
The vifits he had paid, in the course of his trade, to Egypt, Palestine, and Syria, having made him acquainted both with Chriftians and Jews, and obferving with what eagerness the feveral fects, into which the Christians of the east were then divided, ufually engaged each other, he from thence concluded, that nothing would be more likely to gain a party, firm to his intereft, and ready to affift him in executing his ambitious purposes, than a ftep of this nature.
The indifference with which his countrymen, from their intercourfe with Chriftians, treated their own religion, which was at that time the groffeft idolatry, rendered them the more fit to receive any impreffions he might endeavour to inake upon them. He therefore betock himself to frame fuch a system as he thought would be moft acceptable to them. He accordingly drew up the scheme. of that impofture he afterwards deluded them with; which being a medley, made up of Judaifin-of the feveral herefies of the Chriftians then in the caft-and of the old