Page 1096

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

Mecca.

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