Page 1099

1099 MOHAMMEDAN ASCENDENCY.-CAREER OF THE PROPHET.

Mohammed was unsuccessful. In his first

battle, however, which was fought with Abu

Sofian, chief of the Meccans, the Prophet

gained the victory. Afterwards he met with

a series of reverses. In 625 he was defeated

by the Koreishites in the battle of Mount

Ohod. Two years later he was besieged in

Medina. Among his own followers there were

dangerous factions and contentions. His connection with the Jews proved unfortunate.

He could not be their Messiah; they would

not be his people. His alienation from the

sons of Israel became so great that war ensued, and he conducted several campaigns

against the Jewish tribes in Arabia. In revenge for these aggressions against her countrymen, a Jewess, named Zainab, fed the

Prophet a poisoned lamb, the effects of which

burned in his bones until his death.

By this time the idea of propagating the

doctrines of Islam by the sword had taken

complete possession of the mind of Mohammed. He sent to Chosroes II., king of Persia, a written demand that he should submit

himself and his people to Allah and his

Prophet. When this was refused, he undertook to enforce compliance by war. A desperate battle was fought at Muta, in which Mohammed's general, Khaied, so greatly distinguished himself that he received the surname of the "Sword of God."

Meanwhile the Meccans again revolted.

After a severe struggle, however, they were

subdued, and their submission was the end of

present resistance in Arabia. For a season

the Prophet returned to Medina, where, in

the ninth year of the Hegira, he received ambassadors from many of the surrounding

states. He next made a demand of submission upon Heraclius, Emperor of the East,

but the same was rejected. Mohammed thereupon declared war, but his attempted conquest

resulted in a ridiculous failure. The soldiers of the Prophet became discontented and mutinous, but were finally quieted.

Resuming his station at Medina, Mohammed now busied himself with the preparation

of a great pilgrimage to Mecca: The event was set for the tenth year of the Hegira. At

least forty thousand pilgrims assembled for the journey. The rites and ceremonies of the

preparation and the march have ever since remained the models of the annual pilgrimage

of the faithful to the shrine of their Prophet.

In the year 632, three months after his return

to Medina, he was taken with a fatal illness.

He clearly foresaw the end which his friends

would have concealed from his vision. He

had himself taken to the house of his favorite

wife Ayesha-for the good Kadijah was now

dead. This house adjoined the mosque, and

the Prophet ordered himself borne back and

forth from his couch to the shrine. He spoke

of his approaching death. He liberated his

slaves and distributed sums of money to the

poor. He then prayed for support in the

final struggle and quietly breathed his last.

There was much dispute about the place of

the Prophet's burial. It was, however, finally

determined that he should be interred in the

house where he died, adjacent to the mosque

of Medina. Subsequently the temple was enlarged so as to include the spot where the

bones of Adballah's son are still reposing.

Of all his children only a daughter named

Fatima survived her father. She was married

to Ali, the Prophet's cousin, and became the

mother of the rulers and nobles of the Mohammedan world.

Mohammed was a man of medium stature

and of a well knitted and sinewy frame. His

body was of the Oriental type, and his constitution delicate. He had a fine oval face,

full of tender lines, and a massive head with

slightly curling dark hair. His long well arched Arabian eyebrows were separated midway by a vein which swelled and throbbed

visibly when he was excited. His eyes were

large, black, and restless. His hand was

exceedingly small, and soft as the hand

of woman. His step was quick and energetic, and is described in tradition as being like

that of one who steps from a higher place to a

lower. When his attention was called he

stopped short, and turned not only his face

but his whole body in that direction.

In mind the Prophet had the rare union

of womanly timidity with extraordinary courage. In times of danger he would, without a

moment's hesitation, put his life in peril. He