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undertakings. With such an engine ever ready for action, Mohammed's course was successful, and difficulties vanished. Whatever suited his purpose was carefully registered in the mystic page. Every instance of good fortune was described as a direct interposition of God; failure or defeat were attributed to their own sins of disobedience, or designed to exercise and prove their virtues. Fighting for the faith was extolled as a most meritorious service, and death in the cause as a certain passport to the distinguished joys of Paradise: they were further instructed to believe, that when the destined hour arrived, fate could neither be retarded or averted, but would overtake them in the security of their dwellings, as well as amidst the shock of battle. The enthusiasm and devotion of his troops were thus unbounded. Nothing was difficult to men so excited. They were fighting in the presence of the Prophet of Heaven: if victorious, glory and riches awaited them; but, if doomed to fall in the ensanguined field, their brows would be encircled with the martyr's crown!
Whilst all was fervour and enthusiasm among them, Mohammed, like the presiding genius of the storm, was cool and collected, controlling and directing the ardour of his troops to the accomplishment of his self-interested and ambitious projects. His first attacks were directed against the caravans, to revenge himself on the Koreish, by which plunder was acquired. The battle of Bedero, in the second
year of the Hegira, tended principally to establish his reputation, and is the continued theme of Arabian panegyric, as well as frequently adverted to in the Koran ; for, though fought on a small scale, several miraculous circumstances were feigned to have attended it, the belief of which was of essential service to his cause. Mohammed's forces were said to have consisted of no more than 319 men', whilst the Koreish were nearly a thousand strong, yet, notwithstanding such a disparity of numbers, he routed and vanquished them, killing seventy, and taking an equal number of prisoners, with the loss to himself of only fourteen individuals.
e The Koran, (c. 8.) speaking of the victory of Beder, says, “God diminished your numbers in their eyes :” the Arabian Commentators endeavour to reconcile the contradiction by observing, that just before the battle begun, the Prophet's army seemed fewer than they were, to bring the enemy to an engagement, but afterwards they appeared superior, to terrify and dismay their adversaries.
The Koran points out three things as miraculous in this engagement.
1st. Mohammed, by the direction of Gabriel, at a crisis of danger, took a handful of gravel, and threw it towards the enemy, exclaiming, “ May their faces be confounded.” But though apparently the Prophet cast it at them himself, the Koran gravely affirms
that it was not He, but God, who did it by the ministry of the angel.
2ndly. It is positively declared, that the troops of Mohammed seemed to the hostile squadron twice as numerous as they really
3dly. That God dismissed to their assistance first 1000, and afterwards 3000 angels, under Gabriel, who are said to have done all the execution, though it is acknowledged that the troops acquitted themselves heroically, and from appearances might justly arrogate the credit of the victory to themselves. The Prophet here most adroitly pretends to have received directions respecting the division of the spoil, which the Koran orders to be divided equally amongst them, with the reservation of a fifth part for particular purposes. Thus he accomplished a point of great difficulty with robbers and freebooters, amongst whom autho
rity rests on a very precarious tenure; and all enactments and interference, where their interest is concerned, are regarded with a very jealous eye, and pregnant with danger; and having thus become quietly possessed of the sinews of war, he was provided for enterprises of greater magnitude.
Troops, constituted like his, would be liable to one disadvantage; the difficulty would be to restrain their enthusiasm within due limits, or inspire confidence after defeat; and here the rare assemblage of talents in Mohammed command our admiration.
The Koreish, to avenge their loss at Beder, attacked him the following year, being the third of the Hegira, with a vast superiority of force, at Ohod, a mountain about four miles to the north of Medina ; the advantage at first was on Mohammed's side, but afterwards, in consequence of the archers leaving their ranks for the sake of plunder, they were