Page 1098

1098 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.

by day and night. He stood up in the very

face of the Koreish, the Arabian Levites, who

had charge of the Kaaba, and denounced

their traditions and practices. The Koreish

took fright and celled upon Abu Taleb to

suppress his nephew as an enemy of religion; but Abu could not do it. The alternative was thus placed before the priests of themselves being converted or taking up arms.

They chose the latter course, and hostilities

were about to begin at Mecca.

Mohammed was sagacious. Seeing himself not sufficiently strong to cope with his

enemies, disliking at first to undertake the

propagation of religion by the sword, he escaped from his native city and took refuge at

the court of Abyssinia. The king received

him and was converted, as were also the members of his court. Nor did his flight from

Mecca discourage his followers in that city.

They continued to proclaim his doctrines and

await his return. Many took sides against

the Koreish, and the latter were obliged to

consent to peace. Mohammed returned little

less than victorious.

A new factor was now introduced into the

situation. About sixty miles from Mecca was

the town of Yathreb. In this place there

was a large colony of Jews, who had established

a synagogue. Here on every Saturday the

priests stood up and expounded Hallachah and

Haggadah-the Law and the Tradition. They

looked for a Messiah, and said: "Lo here and

Lo there." These Israelites traded with Mecca

and found that city profoundly agitated by

the presence of Mohammed. They heard the

Meccans reciting, how the Son of Abdallah

of the tribe of Hashem had become a great

Prophet. This news was carried to Yathreb,

and the synagogue became excited with the

belief that the Messiah had come. The Rabbins took council together, and said: "If this

Mohammed is indeed that great Prophet, let

us, first of all, tender to him our allegiance.

Wherefore, when he shall have become the

ruler of the nations, he will honor us as the

first to accept him." An embassy was sent to

Mecca to ascertain the truth, and to tender

the submission of the Jews. Mohammed cautiously accepted the offer. "For," said he, "Ishmael our father was the uncle of Jacob. Assuredly."

The Koreish now became desperate. They

held a council, and resolved that Mohammed

should be assassinated. A committee was appointed to do the bloody work; but when the

night came for the perpetration of the wicked

deed Mohammed, informed of the conspiracy,

wrapping himself in his cousin Ali's cloak,

and aided by the darkness, escaped from the

perilous city and fled towards Yathreb. This

event, which occurred in the year 622, is called

the Hegira, and is the Era of Islam.

As Mohammed approached Yathreb the

gates were opened by the Jews. He entered

and was safe. The name of the city was

changed from Yathreb to Medinet al Nabbi,

or City of the Prophet-the modern Medina.

From this time forth, the Son of Abdallah

awaited an opportunity to be revenged on

the Meccans. When the time ripened for

the event, the Prophet, accompanied by a

great band of pilgrims, set out from Medina

and returned to Mecca. In that city, so powerful had his influence now become, the Koreish were obliged to submit. They sent out an embassy and concluded a treaty with the conqueror for a period of ten years. The neighboring tribes also sent messengers, tendering their acceptance of his doctrines. The

star of Islam was in the ascendant.

After a year or two the Meccans broke

their treaty; but Mohammed was now strong

enough to enforce obedience. The vocation

of the Koreish was gone. The idolatrous

images were knocked from their places in the

Kaaba, and the renovated temple was dedicated to the worship of Allah.

The Prophet now lost no time in giving

shape to the new religion. He built a mosque

at Medina. He systematized his dogmas.

He labored with the discordant elements of

Arabian thought. He struggled with belligerent factions. He allayed feuds, jealousies,

and schisms. He consolidated the scattered

bands of his followers, and planned great foreign wars. His purpose contemplated no less

than the subjugation of the world by the Book

and sword of Islam.

In the beginning of his military career