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"Praise be to God, the Lord of all his

creatures' the most merciful, the King of the

Day of Judgment. Thee do we worship and

of thee do we beg assistance. Direct us in

the right way, in the path of those to whom

thou hast been gracious; not in the way of

those against whom thou art incensed, nor of

those who go astray."

The Koran is preeminently sensuous in its

imagery. The delights of the blessed and the

torments of the wicked are given with all the

realism of detail peculiar to the Arabian imagination. Paradise and Hell are painted with

a vividness that might well add new gleams

of light and darkness to the glory and dolor

of the Divine Comedy. The fifty-sixth Chapter of the Koran gives a true idea of Islam's

abodes of peace and anguish:

"When that inevitable Day of Judgment

shall suddenly come, no soul shall charge the

prediction of its coming with falsehood. Then

the earth shall be shaken with a violent shock;

and the mountains shall be dashed in pieces,

and shall become as dust scattered abroad;

and men shall be separated into three distinct

classes: the companions of the right hand;

(how happy shall the companions of the right

hand be!) and the companions of the left

hand; (how miserable shall the companions

of the left hand be!) and those who have been

preeminent in the faith of Islam. These last

are they who shall approach nearest unto God,

and shall dwell in the gardens of delight. They

shall repose on couches adorned with gold and

precious stones, and shall sit opposite to each

other's faces. Youths who shall continue in

their bloom forever shall go round about to

attend them with goblets, and beakers and a

cup of flowing wine: their heads shall not

ache for drinking it, neither shall their reason

be disturbed: and with fruits of the sorts

which they shall choose, and with the flesh of

birds of the kind which they shall desire shall

they be fed. And there shall accompany them

fair damsels having great black eyes resembling pearls that are hidden in their shells;

and these shall be the reward for the work which the righteous shall have wrought. They

shall not hear therein any vain discourse, or

wrangling, or charge of sin; but only the salutation of Peace! Peace!-And the companions of the right hand (how happy shall the

companions of the right hand be!) shall have

their abode among lotus trees that are free

from thorns, and trees of Mauz laden regularly

with their produce from top to bottom; under

an exalted shade, near a flowing water and

amidst abundant fruits which shall not fail,

nor be forbidden to be gathered. But the companions of the left hand (how miser-

able shall the companions of the left hand be!)

shall dwell amidst burning winds, and scalding water, under the shade of a black smoke

neither cool nor agreeable; and they shall eat of the fruit of the tree of Al Zakkum, and

they shall fill their bodies like to burst, and shall drink boiling water like a

thirsty camel. This forsooth shall be their entertainment on the Day of Judgment.


But it is in his imprecations against infidelity, and in his terrible oaths in attestation

of the truth of his mission, that the Prophet

of Islam rises to the height of his power. He

swears by the foaming waters and by the grim

darkness, by the flaming sun and' the setting

stars, by Mount Sinai and by Him who

spanned the firmament, by the human soul

and the small voice, by the Kaaba and by the

Book, by the moon and the dawn and the

angels, by the ten nights of dread mystery,

and by the Day of Judgment! Such are the

oaths of Islam, and such is Islam's book-a

book under whose fiery influence the wild

Arabian tribes were converted into a terrible

nation, whose flaming swords and fierce unquenchable valor conquered an empire greater

than that of Alexander.