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us an instructive lesson on the instability of
Mohammed, who was the principal actor in effecting this stupendous mental and political revolution, was born at Mecca, in Arabia Petræa, A.D. 569°, his father's
name was Abdallah, and his mother was Amena, respectably connected, and allied to the tribe of Koreish, and the family of Hashem, the hereditary guardians of the Caaba, or temple at Mecca; whither devotees repaired, from high antiquity, to worship their Pagan deities. Early deprived of his father, whilst only in his second year, the care of himself and mother devolved upon his grandfather Abdal-Motalleb: the hand of death again severed the natural tie and rendered him an orphan: his grand-father also sunk under the weight of years, and transferred him to the care of his uncle Abu-Taleb, so that no very flattering prognostications could have been formed of his future celebrity. Abu-Taleb seems to have discharged his duty well, and designed him for commerce, a mode of life held in high estimation among the Arabs, because that part of Arabia enjoyed no agricultural advantages, and the inter
course between states and the various necessities of life were supported and relieved by caravans or companies of trading merchants by, to which allusion is made in the writings of Moses. A world of controversy has been elicited concerning his early education: his followers, to enhance the reputation of their Prophet, maintain that he could neither read nor write, while the opponents of Islamism as strongly insist that such ignorance was more affected than real.' Among the moderns, Gibbon strongly contends for the illiterateness of the Prophet, and White advocates the contrary side of the question.
At this distance of time it is impossible to ascertain satisfactorily the nature of his attainments, most likely they were similar to what those enjoyed in the same sphere with himself, his equals in society, though probably destitute of those advantages attainable
by all ranks in our days; because the necessary arts of reading and writing were confined chiefly to the Christians and Jews, who are called People of the Book, and were rare qualifications amongst the independent tribes. Though Job, who was an Arabian, and prior to Mohammed by several centuries, understood letters o, yet the discovery had been subsequently lost; and the rude Cufic character was introduced only a few years anterior to the birth of Mohammed. Still, on whichever side of the question the balance cline is not very material, because Mohammed had it in his power to procure any assistance that might be requisite.
But whatever educatory advantages or defects attended his infancy, the subject of this memoir was highly gifted by nature, inheriting a graceful person and commanding genius, superior to the
in which he lived, a com
c Job xix. 23, 24.
bination of rare qualities joined with an enthusiasm of character which, when circumtances demanded, developed mental resources fully equal to all the occasions of his diversified careerd.
The incidents of his early life are soon related and much to his credit. First, in the service of his uncle; and afterwards as factor to Khadijah, widow of one of the chief inhabitants of his native town, he negotiated in various places with such zeal, ability, and success as to secure the respect and attachment of his employers : his uncle, though never his convert, ever stood forward as his protector and shielded him from
dangers with which he was threatened by the Koreish; and he afterwards obtained the person and fortune of Khadijah, which rendered him equal in opulence with any
See Sale, Gibbon, White, Mills and Maltby.