« AnteriorContinuar »
means to break in upon them, at a time they were not expected, and when indisputable proofs of his infidelity were not wanting.
Such upbraidings as ufually fall from the lips of wives on fuch provocations, were heaped without measure upon the head of the erring prophet. However, upon their promifing never to divulge the affair, left it fhould draw on him the cenfure and contempt of his pious Muffelmans, he on his part folemnly swore to discard his fair companion, and never more to be guilty of the defection from his duty they had just been witness to.
But, alas! of what a baseless consistence are the vows or oaths of lovers! Mahomet's paffion for the fair Egyptian was neither to be reftrained by oaths, nor by an apprehenfion of the confequences. He is again detected by his jealous wives, and again feverely upbraided for his infidelity.-To such a height did the enraged ladies carry their refentment, that they left his house, and went each of them home to her father.
This public feceffion of his two principal wives caufing a general outcry against him, he again had recourse to his usual method of falving
falving his frailties. He immediately iffued forth a new revelation, called the Chapter of Prohibition, wherein he introduces God as allowing him and all his faithful adherents to take their maidens to their bed, whenever they preferred their company to that of their wives.
A permiffion of this nature was no fooner published, than it gave fuch general fatisfaction to his licentious followers, that nothing more was faid relative to Mahomet's frailty, but all gladly laid hold of the liberty he had now granted. And ever fince, it has been an established law among all the professors of his faith, to keep as many female flaves as they fhall think fit to buy; the children of whom are esteemed as legitimate as the children of their wives. The Grand Signior, who never marries, keeps only flaves in his feraglio; and those who bear him a son, he fometimes dignifies with the title of Sultana, or queen.
Ayesha and Haphfa finding that their refentment was rendered, by this manœuvre of their husband, of no effect, they thought it prudent to lay it afide; and being permitted, through the interceffion of their fathers, to
return home, they ever after fubmitted themfelves to his will in all things. So that from henceforth Mahomet indulged his falacious inclinations, without further contradiction or restraint.
The chief competitors for the high dignity of fucceeding Mahomet, feem to have been. Abu Beker, Omar, and Ali. The latter had certainly the best-grounded pretenfions, on account of his early converfion, his zeal, his fervices, and his double relationship of fon-inlaw and coufin-german to the prophet; but being at that time too much employed to canvas for his election, and having befides. incurred the displeasure of Ayesha, Abu Beker was chofen Caliph; and by his great abilities both in peace and war, justified the partiality that Mahomet had always fhewn in his favour.
To Abu Beker fucceeded Omar; who was honoured by the Molems (or as they are improperly called, the Muffelmans) with the title of Emperor of the Faithful. During his reign, all Syria and Egypt, moft parts of Perfia, with many other countries and territories, were fubjugated to the Mahometans fway and religion.
Upon the death of Omar, Othman fuc ceeded to the throne of the Caliphs, and continued to extend the conquefts of his predeceffors; but growing avaricious, and heaping too many favours on his relations, he excited the jealousy of the great generals that served him, and was assassinated in his palace, at the age of thirty-two. By his command the brazen coloffus at Rhodes, fo celebrated for being one of the feven wonders of the world, which had been thrown down by an earthquake eight hundred and feventy years before, and had remained upon the ground ever fince, was feized upon by his troops, and broken to pieces in order to be fold. The materials of this wonderful ftatue, we are told, were purchased by a Jew of Edefah; and of fuch an amazing weight were they, that they loaded nine hundred camels. Thus the fpoils which had efcaped the rapaciousness even of the Romans, were plundered by the Arabs.
Notwithstanding Ali was, as before obferved, the favourite fon-in-law and nephew of Mahomet, and greatly refembled him in his perfon, his enthufiafm, his abilities, his virtues, and even his vices, Ayesha, by her intrigues and power, had till now been able
to defeat his advancement to the caliphat. However, upon the death of Othman, he fucceeded to the throne of the Faithful; and after a reign of about five years, during which he met with continual oppofition and difturbance from Ayesha and her party, was affaffinated in the mosque at Medina.
The character of Ali feems to have been greatly fuperior to any of the preceding caliphs. His magnanimity, his courage, and conduct in war, were as much above all competition, as were the fanctity of his life. But that which gives the character of Ali a fuperiority to that of even the prophet himself, is, that in him enthusiasm was foftened into philofophy; nor had he the leaft of an Arab about him, but the lively imagination and the fublime expreffions peculiar to that people. A collection of fentences, confifting chiefly of divine and moral maxims, have been published as his, which would grace the pureft Chriftian page; and thefe were not only the tranfcript of his mind, but of his practice. The Shirites, of which fect he was the head, have done juftice to his memory, giving him, as a proof of their respect and veneration, the title of "The Lion of God;" "The Foundation of Light and Graces;"