1096 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.
weary of irksome dromedaries and monotonous
journeys, he turned his attention to war. The
Meccans became involved in a quarrel with an
East Arabic tribe called the Beni Kinanah,
and Mohammed enlisted with his countrymen.
After the war was over he returned to Mecca
and took up the vocation of a shepherd.
Afterwards he formed a partnership with a
linen merchant named Saib, and so divided
his attention between his flocks and his merchandise. While engaged in carrying on the
linen trade, he became acquainted with the
rich widow Kadijah, living at the town of
Hajasha. Her, though much older than himself, he presently married, thus obtaining a
faithful wife and a large estate. He thereupon gave up the business of watching flocks,
and lived at Kadijah's home in Hajasha.
Thus, from the age of twenty-six to thirty-five, Mohammed passed the time as an Arab
citizen in private life. About the year 594, however, he was brought to the attention of
his countrymen in a conspicuous way. The
idolatrous temple in Mecca was called the
Kaaba. When the patriarch Abraham lived
at that place, the angel Gabriel gave him a
white stone as an emblem of the original
purity of the race. Over this stone the temple
was built. With the growing wickedness of
the world the stone became as black as pitch.
The Kaaba had now become dilapidated, and
the edifice must be rebuilt. This was accordingly done; but when it came to the sacred
task of removing the Black Stone into its new
resting place, the chiefs fell into violent quarrels as to who should perform the work. At
last it was agreed that the matter should be
decided by arbitration, and Mohammed was
called from Hajasha to be the umpire. On
coming to Mecca he performed his difficult
duty in a manner highly satisfactory to all
concerned. It was the first public transaction
of the Prophet's life.
It appears that the dispute of the chiefs
about the Black Stone of the Kaaba made a
profound impression on Mohammed's mind.
To a man of his clear understanding, it is
likely that the quarrel appeared in its naked
absurdity. He may have said to Kadijah, on
his return home, that the fathers of his race, Abraham and Ishmael, would be ashamed of
such wrangles as he had lately witnessed at
Mohammed was exceedingly unfortunate in
his children. One after another they died.
The father grew melancholy and morose.
The motherly Kadijah was growing old. One
day he wandered among the rocks at the foot
of Mount Hara. He entered the mouth of a
cave and sat musing. All at once-so he
afterwards told Kadijah-he fell into an
agony. He was shaken as by an unseen power.
While he sat shuddering, all of a sudden a
light flashed around him, and there stood the
angel Gabriel. Mohammed was overwhelmed
with terror, but the angelic voice spoke out
clearly and said:
"Cry! In the name of the Lord who has
created all things; who hath created man of
congealed blood. Cry! By the most beneficent Lord, who taught the use of the pen;
who teacheth man that which he knoweth not
of himself. Assuredly. Verily man becometh insolent, because he seeth himself abound
in riches. Assuredly." Such is the first
chapter of the Koran.
Mohammed is reported to have run home
after his swoon and cried out: "O, Kadijah!
I have either become a soothsayer or else I am
possessed of the Djin and have gone mad."
The good Kadijah answered: "God is my protection. He will surely
not let such a thing happen unto thee, for
thou speaketh the truth. Thou dost not return evil for evil; neither art thou a talker
abroad on the streets. What hath befallen
thee?" Mohammed told her what had happened to him in the grotto. The wife replied: "Rejoice, my husband, for my life shall stand as a witness that
thou wilt be the prophet of this people."
Mohammed thought, however, that he was
possessed of the Djin, and on the next day,
being in despair, he went out to Mount Hara
to kill himself but Gabriel reappeared, held
back the rash Arab from his purpose, and
said: "I am Gabriel, and thou art Mohammed, the Prophet of God." Still the son of
Abdallah trernbled and refused to believe.
It is related that at this juncture