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SIR WILLIAM MUIR

  • Summary: 

    THE RISE AND DECLINE OF ISLAM

    The progress of Islam was slow until Mohammed cast aside the precepts of toleration and adopted an aggressive, militant policy. Then it became rapid. The motives which animated the armies of Islam were mixed—material and spiritual. Without the truths contained in the system success would have been impossible, but neither without the sword would the religion have been planted in Arabia, nor beyond. The alternatives offered to conquered peoples were Islam, the sword, or tribute. The drawbacks and attractions of the system are examined. The former were not such as to deter men of the world from embracing the faith. The sexual indulgences sanctioned by it are such as to make Islam "the Easy way."

    The spread of Islam was stayed whenever military success was checked. The Faith was meant for Arabia and not for the world, hence it is constitutionally incapable of change or development. The degradation of woman hinders the growth of freedom and civilization under it.

    Christianity is contrasted in the means used for its propagation, the methods it employed in grappling with and overcoming the evils that it found existing in the world, in the relations it established between the sexes, in its teaching with regard to the respective duties of the civil and spiritual powers, and, above all, in its redeeming character, and then the conclusion come to that Christianity is divine in its origin.

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    Summary: 

    THESE Essays are taken from the Calcutta Review, in which they appeared many years ago.1 They are now republished as containing matter which, it is hoped, may still, in various quarters, have some special interest.

    FIRST ESSAY, 1845 A.D. The Mohammedan Controversy. —The immediate object of this paper was a review I was called on to make of Dr. Pfander's famous Apologies for the Christian faith. As leading up to the subject, the Essay opens with an account, chiefly from Dr. Lee's great work, of the controversy in previous times, and of Henry Martyn's discussions with the Moollas of Persia. The three chief writings of Pfander—the Mîzân-ul-Haqq, Miftâh-ul-Asrâr, and Tarîq-ul-Hyât—are then described. The debates which these give rise to between their Author and his Moslem opponents follow, notably that with the Mujtahid, or royal Apologist of the King of Oudh. In the latter part of the Second Essay the subject is resumed, and an account given of the continued controversy with the champions of the North-West Provinces and Lucknow brought up to date (1852).

    SECOND ESSAY, 1852 A.D. Biographies of Mohammed. —The Essay opens with a warning against the danger of publishing incorrect biographies of the Prophet. Certain treatises, founded on imperfect sources (as Washington Irving's Life of Mohammed), and circulated by the London and Bombay Tract Societies, are

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