Ethics and morals. — Trade and commercial morality. — Divorce. — Courtesy and kindness. — Slavery. - Treatment of animals. — Retaliation. — Jihad. — Oaths and vows. — Folklore and animism. — Women and marriage. — Manners and customs.

To give an exhaustive account of the whole contents of the hadith literature is as impossible as it is to perform a similar office for the Talmud. The most that can be done in the following pages is to gather under headings some of the salient and some of the more interesting traditions.1 If the reader finds the constant quotation tedious it must be urged that there are already a large number of books about Islam which give the opinions of their writers; and only by giving the ipsissima verba of the traditions can the charge of unfairness and partiality be rebutted.

The moral grandeur and beauty of many of the sayings attributed to Muhammad in the hadith is not the least of the causes of the veneration and affection in which he is held throughout the Muhammadan

1 I have found the Kanzu-l-'Ummal impossible to use except as a book of reference. Its vast bulk and peculiar method of arrangement render it unsuitable except as a corpus traditionum. Almost all the citations in this chapter are from the Mishkatu-l-Masabih, Bombay, 1880. The translation of this by Captain A. N. Matthews (Calcutta, 1809), in two volumes, is a remarkable work for its time. A tradition can be readily found by its means, but the work is not complete, or, at any rate, follows a somewhat shorter text, and should be used with caution.


world. And any estimate of his living influence must necessarily be one-sided unless it allows not only for the all-prevading authority and example of the prophet applied as it is to every single detail of human life, but also for the constant expression of a loving and affectionate consideration for mankind. It is this aspect of Islam and of its founder which has not obtained in the West the generous recognition it has earned.

Ethics and Morals. The prophet is said to have declared that 'A Muslim is he from whose tongue and hands Muslims are safe1, and that 'it is required of the best of men that they should love God and his apostle above all others and their fellowmen2 for God's sake. The prophetic view of honesty as a principle of life is well expressed in the hadith, 'A servant of God shall not acquire property unlawfully and give alms thereof which shall be accepted. Nor shall he spend thereof and be blessed. And he shall not leave it behind him as it will bring him to hell. God does not blot out evil by evil, but God blots out evil by good.'

A chapter bearing the title 'Gentleness in social relations' contains the prayer that God may deal kindly with the man who sells and buys and claims

1 An interesting play on the word Muslim: Al muslimu man salima-l-muslimina...

2 'abd. There is a striking similarity in the phraseology of some of these sayings and the maxims of the great Jewish fathers. The constant enumeration of categories (already found in the book of Proverbs), e. g. Three things are an abomination unto the Lord, is strongly reminiscent of Pirqe Aboth, ed. Taylor, Cambridge, pp. 11—12. &c., as is the use of 'abd here. Cf. al tihyu ka-abadim ha-meshammshim eth ha-Rab, &c.


his debts in a kindly spirit. 'The p1ace of the faithful merchant who speaks the truth is with the prophets, the veracious, and the martyrs.' The prophet expressly forbade buying from a person in distress; the purchase of any thing to which a risk or hazard attaches;1 and of fruit before it has ripened. 'He who sells a thing without notifying the buyer of a defect in it will abide in the hate of God, and the angels will curse him unceasingly!' Muhammad is said to have related the following story (which in a shorter and somewhat different form is related of Rabbi Shim'on in Haggada): A man of the people who were before you2 bought a plot of land, and found in it a jar containing gold. Whereupon he said to the seller, 'Take your gold for I only bought your plot.' The latter replied, 'But I sold you the ground and whatever it contained.' So they went to an arbitrator, who instructed them to marry the one's son to the other's daughter and endow them with the proceeds, giving something in alms.

The golden rule is implicitly taught in the following: 'Let no one milk a man's cattle without his permission. Would any one of you like to have his upper chamber broken into, his treasury ransacked, and his food taken away? Now the udders of their cattle are the treasury of their food.' Again: 'There was a man who used to lend money and to say to his servant, "If you come to a man who is unable to pay, pass him over; per-

1 bafu-l-gharari. Commentators differ as to the meaning of this phrase.

2 This reference to the Jews would seem to indicate that the speaker is conscious that he is borrowing from an alien source.


adventure God will pass over our shortcomings." And when he stood before God He did so pass him over.'

This principle is carried even further in the chapter which deals with the laws of retaliation. The higher law of forgiveness is clearly propounded. Abu Darda says: 'I heard the prophet say, "There is no man who receives a bodily injury and forgives1 the offender but God will exalt his rank and diminish his sin."'

Trade and Commercial Morality. The following are some of the wholesome restrictions ideally governing the commercial life of the Muhammadan world: Abu Mas'ud Al Ansari said, ' Verily the apostle of God declared unlawful the price of a dog, the wages of immorality, and the fee2 of a diviner.' Abu Huraira: 'The apostle declared unlawful the price of a dog and the earnings of a singing girl.'

The thoroughness of the prophetic condemnation of usury leaves no room for any part, however indirect, in the transaction. 'The apostle of God cursed the receiver3 of interest, the payer, the clerk who writes the bond, and the two witnesses thereof, and said, "They are equally culpable." Another tradition records that Muhammad forbade the barter of a heap of dates of an unknown weight for a specified quantity. Similarly, Muslims are forbidden to sell the fruit upon their trees before it is ripe, even when the two parties are willing to take the risk inseparable from the transaction.4

1 fatasaddaqa bihi. The commentator explains that this means he pardons the offender sabran 'ala qadri-llah, leaving requital to Him.

2 Lit. douceur.

3 Lit. 'eater'. Cf. Hebrew nashak, of biting and of paying interest. The wisdom of prohibiting speculation in the food supply of a community notorious for its poverty is obvious.


It would seem that the early Muhammadan tradesman was quite modern in his methods. He knew how to 'corner' the food of a town, how to 'doctor' an animal when coping, how to use the arts of misrepresentation in order to squeeze the largest possible sum from his customers. All these immoral methods are sternly condemned in hadith attributed to Muhammad. 'Don't go out to meet the caravans to bargain. . . .1 Do not buy one against another and outbid one another, and let not the townsman bargain with a Beduin (so as to keep the price up for the consumer). Do not keep back in the teats the milk of a camel or goat.2 He who buys such a one has the choice, after milking it of retaining or returning it with a sa'a of dates.' 'He who monopolizes a commodity is a sinner.' 'An importer is blessed, but a monopolist is accursed.' 'He who monopolizes food against Muslims may God smite with elephantiasis and grinding poverty.' Another hadith says: 'Though he give the profit in alms it is no atonement.' The charming anthology of prophetic sayings collected by Al Mas'udi contains the following, which has as good a claim to be regarded as genuine as those just quoted: 'When he is ruined a merchant speaks the truth!3

Divorce. The Islamic ordinance which makes it impossible for the husband who has divorced his wife by the threefold repetition to remarry her until she has lived with another man is supported by a ruling of the prophet.4 On the other hand, there are not wanting

1 I. e. let them come into the markets.

2 To give the impression that the animal is still yielding milk.

3 Op. cit., iv, p. 172.

4 The Risala of Al Kindi, London, 1880, p. 105, contains some


several hadith which make a vigorous protest against such an immoral injunction. Thus, 'Abd Allah b. Mas'ud reports that the apostle la'ana-l-muhallila wa-l-muhallala lahu 'cursed the second husband who makes her again lawful for the first and cursed the first husband for whom she was thus made lawful.' Other hadith which remind one of Christ's interpretation of the Mosaic law are: 'Of the things which are lawful the most hateful to God is divorce.' And 'O Mu'adh, God has created nothing on the face of the earth dearer to him than the emancipation of slaves, nor anything more hateful to him than divorce.' The following hadith claims to give Muhammad's view on the question of the custody of the child: 'A woman came to the apostle and said, "With my body I carried, nourished, and cradled this son of mine, and now his father has divorced me and wants to snatch him from me." The apostle answered, "You are the most worthy of him so long as you remain unmarried." On the other hand, two traditions ascribed to Abu Huraira allow the boy to choose which of his parents he will adhere to.1

Courtesy and Kindness. The Muslim practice of returning a salutation with an additional compliment or blessing2 is as old as creation, for at his creation Adam

trenchant observations on this practice from a cultured Christian Arab. The practice was constantly attacked by Christians. Cf. the Muja-dala of Abu Qurra, MS. Arabe 70, in the Bibliothèque Nationale, fol. 199 b.

1 For the interpretation of these aqwal in Muhammadan law see the commentators in loc.

2 For many interesting details see Lane, Modern Egyptians, ch. 8. The necessity of replying at length to salutations in the market-place is sometimes objected to by the modern Muslim. An amusing protest


was ordered to go and salute a number of angels and listen to their response, which would be the pattern for posterity. Thereupon he went and said Al Salam 'alaikum, and received the response Al Salam 'alaika wa-rahmatu-llahi.

A long section of the hadith literature is full of sayings inculcating the necessity of kindliness and love, or which the following may serve as examples: 'God will not have compassion on him who hath not compassion on mankind.' 'The Compassionate has compassion on those who show compassion. Show compassion to those on earth, and He who is in Heaven will have compassion on you.' 'For every young man who honours an old man on account of his age will God ordain one who will honour him in his old age.' 'The best house amid the Muslim community is that which contains an orphan who is well treated; and the worst is that wherein an orphan is wronged.' 'He who is destitute of gentleness is destitute of goodness.'

Hospitality, for which the Arabs have ever been justly praised, is in the hadith a mark of the true believer. Thus, Abu Huraira tells us that the prophet said: 'Whoever believes in God and the last day, let him honour his guest, let him not injure his neighbour, and if he has nothing good to say let him remain silent.' A more precise definition of the hospitality incumbent on a Muslim: 'Whosoever believes in God and the last day let him entertain his guest bountifully for a day and a night. Hospitality (should be given) for three

against this genial practice appeared in one of the Cairene newspapers in 1918 under the heading of 'Izze ek'.


days. What is done over and above that is in the nature of almsgiving. It is not right for a guest to stay in a man's house so long as to embarrass him.'

Again, Abu-l-Ahwas asks the prophet whether he is to entertain a man who in the past had refused him hospitality. Muhammad replies, 'Certainly, entertain him.'

Slavery. The status of the slave in the Muhammadan world does not differ materially from that described in the New Testament. As a co-religionist of his master he is a member of the household, and shares in the fortune go bad of his owner.1 The following sayings will illustrate the traditional policy and attitude of Muslims towards their slaves: 'The slave must be given food and clothing. He must not be given a task which he is unable to perform.' 'It is your brethren that God has put beneath your hands. He who has one thus subjected to him by God must feed him from what he eats himself, and clothe him in

1 A good deal of misapprehension still exists in this country as to the lot of slaves in Islam. It may be doubted whether it is so unenviable as that of many people in our great cities. Cf. Burton, Pilgrimage, i, London, 1915, p. 6,, and Doughty, Arabia Deserta, 1, pp. 554—5. 'In those Africans there is no resentment that they have been made slaves . . . even though cruel men-stealers rent them from their parentage. The patrons who paid their price have adopted them into their households, the males are circumcised, and—that which enfranchises their souls, even in the long passion of home-sickness—God has visited them in their mishap; they can say, 'It was his grace', since they be thereby entered into the saving religion. This, therefore, they think is the better country, where they are the Lord's free men, a land of more civil life, the soil of the two Sanctuaries, the land of Muhammad: for such they do give God thanks that their bodies were sometime sold into slavery!'


his own clothes. He must not give him a task beyond his strength. If he does, then he must help him himself. Again, 'He who beats a slave for a fault he has not committed or slaps his face must make atonement by setting him free.' 'Whoso separates a woman from her child (the commentator explains, by selling, giving, &c.) God will separate him from his loved ones on the resurrection day.' It is related that the apostle of God gave Ali a slave, saying: ' Do not beat him, for I have ordered that those who pray shall not be beaten, and 1 have seen this slave at prayer.' The chapter of Qisas contains the words of the prophet, 'We will slay him who slays his slave, and we will maim him who maims him' (Another version reads: 'We will castrate him who castrates his slave.'1)

Treatment of Animals. The claims of the brute creation on the compassion of good Muslims is clearly set forth. The prophet once passed by a camel whose belly clave to its back. 'Fear God', said he, 'in these dumb animals and ride them when they are fit to be ridden, and let them go free when it is meet they should rest.' The following of kindness to birds: We were on a journey with the apostle of God, who left us for a short space. We saw a hummara with its two young, and took the young birds. The hummara hovered with fluttering wings, and the prophet returned,

1 The hatred of the right-minded Muslim for the practice of making eunuchs is expressed by Al Jahiz who, while unfairly blaming Christians for originating this horrible custom, rightly asks how they dare claim a monopoly of kindness and tenderness and yet habitually commit this crime. Muslim historians often note with disapproval that the Umayyads were the first to introduce this barbarity into Islam.


saying, 'Who has injured this bird by taking its young? Return them to her.' Again: Do not clip the forelocks of your horses, nor their manes, nor their tails; for the tail is their fly-whisk; the mane is their covering; and the forelock has good fortune bound within it.1

Animals are not to be ridden unnecessarily. By precept and example the prophet showed consideration for beasts of burden. Thus Abu Huraira reports that he said: 'Do not, use the backs of your beasts as pulpits, for God has only made them subject to you in order that they may bring you to a town you could only otherwise reach by fatigue of body.'2 ... While Anas writing of his custom says 'When we stopped at a halt we did not say our prayers until we had unburdened the camels.' Nevertheless a donkey may be made to carry two men, for we read that Buraida said: 'While the apostle of God was walking a man with a donkey came up, and said as he moved back on the donkey's rump: "Ride, O apostle of God." He replied: "No, for you are more worthy of riding in front on your own beast, unless you give me the place." He said: "I do give you the place;" so he rode in front.'

The Law of Retaliation. The Quran has established

1 This is one of the sayings of the heathen Arabs which was incorporated in the hadith literature. Cf. Imru-l-Qais, 8, i. Muhammad himself did not scruple to incorporate sayings and proverbs of the Jahiliyya in the Quran, so that his followers had a precedent for drawing on this source.

2 The commentator says, 'The meaning is: Do not sit on their backs, and make them stand while you transact your business; but dismount, accomplish your object, and then ride them again.'


in the Islamic community the principle of an 'eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth', and like its predecessor in this legislation, the Torah of Moses, it claims divine authority for its law. Nevertheless, the Muslim, like the Jew, knows how to interpret this law with justice and some degree of mildness. The hadith illustrate the application of the principle, and an attempt to carry it through in opposition to the deeply-rooted custom of paying and receiving pecuniary compensation for bodily injuries. Thus Anas: A Jew broke the head of a slave girl between two stones. She was asked the name of the culprit, and when the Jew's name was mentioned she made a sign with the head in assent. So the Jew was brought, and acknowledged the act; whereupon the apostle ordered that his head should be broken with a stone.

The same authority reports that Rubai', the aunt of Anas b. Malik, broke the teeth of a slave girl of the Ansar. They came to the prophet, and he ordered the law of qisas to be applied to her. Anas b. Al Nadr said, 'No, by God, her teeth shall not be broken, O apostle of God!' He said, 'But, Anas, retaliation is in the Book of God!' Then the people agreed to accept the price of an injury, and the prophet said: 'There are some servants of God who, if they take an oath by God, God holds them free from guilt.'1

Again: He who kills a man intentionally must be given up to the relatives of the slain: if they wish they can kill him, and if they will they can accept blood-money. There are only three crimes for which a man

1 The commentator writes, The meaning is: 'God makes him truthful in his oath, not a perjurer', i. e. God performs, or allows him to perform, his oath.


can be condemned to death according to the hadith, namely, willful murder, adultery, and apostasy from Islam. The murder of Muslims is, of course, in question, as the chapter on Jihad clearly shows, though harsh treatment of adherents of other faiths is deprecated. The interesting point is raised: At what point can a man rightly be regarded as a Muslim? The prophet was asked: 'If I meet an unbeliever and we fight, and he smites off my hand with his sword, and then takes refuge behind a tree, and says, "I am a Muslim to God" (another version is: And when I am about to kill him he says "There is no God but God"), am I to kill him after that?' He replied,' Do not kill him.' 'But, O prophet of God,' said the man, 'he has cut off one of my hands.' The apostle answered: 'Do not kill him, for if you kill him, before you can kill him he is in your state, and you are in the state1 he was before he made his utterance.'

It will be obvious that the example given is one evolved from the inventive minds of the Muhammadan legists. It is closely akin to the discussions of the Jewish halaka, and owes it origin to the desire to frame traditions which will give the weight of sacred authority to every possible contingency of life.2 As though it were realized that it would be neither safe nor practicable to allow an enemy to escape death in action by the mere repetition of the formula la ilaha illa-llah, the foregoing tradition is weakened somewhat in its effect by the tradition attributed to Usama b. Zaid.

1 You cannot kill him because he has become a Muslim, and to kill a Muslim is to commit murder and forfeit your own life. If you do kill, you have come under God's wrath like an infidel.

1 Cf. Margoliouth, Early Development, p. 96.


'The apostle of God sent us against some of the Juhaina, and I was about to spear one of them when he cried, "There is no God but the God." I transfixed and slew him, and when I came to the prophet and told him what I had done he said: "Did you kill him when he had borne witness in these words?" I replied, "But, apostle of God, he only did that to save himself from death!" Muhammad said: "Can it be that you did not test his sincerity?"' (Another version is: 'What will you do with those words: "There is no God but the God" at the day of judgement?' The prophet repeated these words several times.)

The following hadith expresses the opinion of the religious on the murder of an unoffending non-Muslim. 'Whoso slays a Mu'ahid shall not smell the scent of Paradise; and verily its perfume is perceptible a forty years' journey distant.' Abu Darda expresses the higher truth when he says: 'There is no man who receives a bodily injury and forgives the offender, but God will exalt his rank and lessen his sin.'

Theft. Theft, according to ancient tradition, is to be punished by the amputation of the hand. According to 'Aisah the prophet said that this punishment was not to be inflicted unless the theft amounted to the fourth of a dinar. Abu Huraira, however, says: 'God curses a thief who steals an egg or a rope, and his hand must be cut off."1

Jihad. So many Christian writers have discussed

1 Various attempts have been made by the commentators to mitigate the harshness of this doctrine. Thus, it is said, baida means an iron helmet, and habl a ship's cable! Others think it refers to primitive practice. The Qibla, the organ of the Sharif of Mecca, August, 1918, contains an account of the application of the Sharia' to a local thief.


at length the prominence assigned to Jihad, the holy war against infidels incumbent upon all Muslims, that it does not seem necessary to quote here more than a few of the exceedingly large number of traditions on this subject. From these it will be seen that fighting in the way of God (fi sabili-'llah) is a religious exercise of supreme merit, dearer in the sight of God than any other form of piety: the meanest participator the non-combatant who loses his life or substance in the holy was is thereby assured of eternal life.

The most extravagant praise of Jihad is the saying vouched by Sahal b. Sa'd, and recorded by Bukhari: 'Frontier duty for one day in the way of God is better than the world and all that therein is.' This tradition in almost the same words is independently ascribed to Anas. A man asked if his sins would be forgiven if he fell fighting in the way of God. Muhammad answered, 'Yes, if you display enduring patience, faith in a future reward, ever advance and never retreat. This does not apply to the sin of debt. Gabriel informed me of this.' 'One of the Companions travelled by a mountain path in which was a pool of sweet water; and liking it exceedingly he exclaimed, "Would that I might withdraw from men and dwell in this spot!" The apostle of God was told of this, and said: "Do not so, for to remain in the way of God is better than praying in one's house for seventy years. Do you not desire that God should pardon you and bring you into Paradise? Make raids in the way of God! He that contends in the way of God but the time between two milkings of a camel, paradise is his due."'

Al Tirmidhi and Ibn Maja report the following:


the martyr has six privileges with God: his sins are pardoned when the first drop of blood falls; he is shown his seat in paradise; he is safe from the punishment of the grave and secure from the great terror (i.e. hell); a crown of dignity is placed on his head one jewel of which is worth more than the world and all that is therein; and he is married to seventy dark-eyed virgins; and he makes successful intercession for seventy of his relatives. 'He who equips a warrior in the way of God has fought himself; and he who is left behind to take care of a warrior's family has fought himself.'

The last quoted hadith probably marks an early stage in the reaction against the extravagant claims of martyrs on the admiration of men and the notice of God. Taken by themselves the hadith we have selected clearly imply that the martyr's merit exceeds that of all others. But inasmuch as all men could not be combatants, even in the early days of the Arabian Caliphate, rival traditions soon began to circulate, asserting that the warrior had no better chance of eternal life than the pious non-combatant. Of these perhaps the most significant is fathered on the long suffering Abu Huraira: 'He who believes in God and his apostle and performs prayer and keeps the list of Ramadan has a claim on God to be brought into Paradise, whether he fights in the way of God or sits in his plot on which he was born.' They said: 'Then are we to tell men of this?' Muhammad answered: 'There are in paradise a hundred steps which God has prepared for his warriors: the space between two steps is as the space between heaven and earth. When you pray ask for Firdaus, for that is in the


middle of paradise (Al Janna) and its highest point: above it is the throne of the Merciful. From it gush forth the rivers of paradise.' This tradition would seem to recognize a protest registered against the prevailing exaltation of martyrdom, and at the same time reinforces the claim of the warrior by giving him a position in paradise above that of the faithful. There is a sturdy independence about the first half of the tradition which creates a strong suspicion that the second half has been added by those who feared the logical application of its teaching. The next stage is clear. It is asserted that he who asks God with all sincerity to grant him martyrdom will have the reward of the martyr though he die upon his bed. The object of this hadith is apparently to safeguard, as it were, the interests of the man who has fought in the Jihad unscathed, or has been prevented by some unavoidable circumstance from taking any part in it. Abu Huraira is the spokesman in the last stage of the controversy between the soldier and the civilian for priority in paradise: were it not for the terrible seriousness of the Jihad itself the conclusion would be laughable. 'The apostle of God said: "Whom do you regard as a martyr ?" The companions replied: "He who is killed in the way of God." He replied: "Of a truth in that case the martyrs of my people would be few. . . . He who dies in the way of God (without being slain) is a martyr, as also he who dies of the plague and of a disease of the belly."'

Oaths and vows. It can hardly be said that an oath or a vow among Muslims has the binding force even on the pious that it assumes in the West. The hadith, as will appear from the few extracts given below,


practically make the performance of a vow dependent on the convenience of the speaker. This does not mean that a vow has no power to bind; but rather that there is an instinctive dislike to a vow of any kind. When made it need not be regarded as irrevocable.1 Vow not at all is the sum of the traditions recorded in the Babu-l-Nudhur of the Mishkatu-l-Masabih; and the chapter heading in the Sunan of Ibn Maja Al Nahyu 'ani-l-nadhr2 speaks for itself. It is related that during the Khutba the prophet saw a man standing, and asked the reason. He was told that the man had vowed never to sit, nor seek shade, nor speak, and to fast. Thereupon the prophet gave orders that he was to abandon his intention. A similar incident is narrated of an old man whom Muhammad saw tottering along between his two sons, and was told that he had vowed a vow to walk to the Ka'ba. Said he: 'Verily God the exalted does not need that this man should punish himself!' and he ordered him to ride. Ka'b said to the apostle, 'It is a part of my penitence that I should strip myself of my wealth in alms to God and his apostle.' The apostle answered, 'Keep back some of your money, for it will be better for you.' I said, 'I will retain my lot in the ground in Khaibar.' Again: 'When you take an oath to do a thing, and you see a better alternative then do what is best and make atonement for your oath.' 'Aisha said: This verse was revealed: 'God will not punish you for rashness in your oaths,3 as for example when a man says, "No, by God!" and "Yea, by God!"'

1 Al Fakhri (ed. Derenbourg, pp. 267 f.) will illustrate the care that is necessary to devise an oath that will bind a Muslim when anything of great importance is at stake.

2 Prohibition of Vows.

3 Sur, ii. 226.


The Babu-l-Aman of the Mishkat contains some interesting hadith on the subject of fidelity to private and national agreements made between belligerents; they display a high standard of honour. 'An agreement lay between Mu'awiya and Rum, and he used to march to the frontier so that, when the agreement expired, he might raid them. There came a man on horseback, crying, Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! Fidelity, not Treachery! When they looked they saw it was 'Amr b 'Abasata. On being asked what he meant, he said: "I heard the apostle of God say: 'Whoso has an agreement with people must not break it until the allotted time has passed or give notice dissolving the agreement on equal terms.' So Mu'awiya withdrew with his men." This tradition, as the mention of Mu'awiya's pious obedience would suggest, is not to be found in the Sahihan, though both Tirmidhi and Abu Daud report it. Again, 'The apostle said to two men who came to him from Musailama,1 "By God, were it not that messengers (i. e. heralds) must not be killed I would behead you."

Folk-lore and Animism. The hadith literature contains a very large number of allusions to pre-Islamic practices. Besides the well-known heathen rites of the pilgrimage to the holy places2 we find the beliefs of the pagan predecessors of Muhammad often confirmed by him, and their customs and prejudices repeated.3 Along with these primitive folk-

1The false prophet. Muir, Life of Muhammad, p. 478.

2 Burton, Pilgrimage, pp. 279—93.

3 A most interesting account of the extent of animistic beliefs and customs in Islam today will be found in Zwemer's The Influence of Animism on Islam, London, 1920.


lore is perpetuated. Examples are: 'The cry of a child at birth is caused by the evil touch of Satan.'1 'The apostle said to his Companions, "When your brethren were slain in the day of Uhud God put their spirits into the crops of green birds which come down to the rivers of paradise and eat of its fruit and shelter in golden chandeliers suspended in the shadow of God's throne. And when they perceive the excellence of their food, their drink, and their resting-place they exclaim: 'Who will inform our brethren of our state in paradise, so that they may not despise it and refrain from war?' God said, 'I will inform them of you,' and He revealed: 'Reckon not those slain in the way of God as dead. Verily they live', &c" (Sur. iii. 170).2

Snakes. 'Kill snakes kill the one with two black lines on its back and the abtar3, for these two blind the sight and cause miscarriage.' 'Abd Allah said: 'While I was driving out a snake to kill it Abu Lababa called out to me, "Do not kill it." I said, "But the apostle ordered snakes to be killed." He replied, "Yes, but afterwards he forbade the killing of those who live in houses, seeing they are inhabitants." The commentator here explains that the passage means that the snakes are jinn. Zwemer remarks,4 'The superstitious idea that every house has a serpent guardian is pretty general throughout the country [Egypt], and many families still provide a bowl of milk for their serpent

1 This superstition is nearly as old as man.

2 The student will find a somewhat similar belief, cited as a belief of the heathen Arabs, in Shahrastani, Kitabu-l-Milal wa-l-Nihal, ed. Cureton, p. 433.

3 i.e. short-tailed.

4 0p. cit., p. 224.


protector, believing that calamity would come upon them if the serpent were neglected. This is undoubtedly a survival of the ancient belief that the serpent was the child of the earth — the oldest inhabitants of the land and guardian of the ground.'

Perhaps a clearer example of the power ascribed to the snake is: 'These houses have domestic snakes; if you see one of them urge it to go three times. If it goes, well; if not, then kill it, for it is an infidel.' Again: 'If a serpent appears in a dwelling say to it: "We ask you by the agreement with Noah1 and Solomon b. David not to stay and annoy us." If it returns then kill it.' It is not surprising that those who did not share the animistic beliefs of the composers to the hadith just quoted display no tenderness towards the snake in traditions coined to express a more enlightened view. Ibn 'Abbas says: 'The prophet ordered snakes to be killed, and said, Whoso lets one alone fearing the vengeance of his mate is not of us.' Similarly, Abu Huraira is made to voice the common sense view: 'Never have we made peace with them since war between man and snake began, and whoso lets one of them alone out of fear is not of us.'

Jinn and Devils. 'Verily Satan is present in all the activities of life, even at meals, so when one of you drops a mouthful he must remove any dirt from it, and then eat it, not leaving it to Satan. And when he has finished, he must lick his fingers, for he does not know in what part of his food blessing resides.'

1 The naive suggestion of the commentator as to the date of this agreement is that perhaps it was made when Noah took the snakes into the ark!


The jinn are of three kinds: one has wings and flies, serpents and dogs are another, and the third stops at a place and travels about.1 'At the beginning of nightfall keep your little ones in, for Satan (commentator, i.e. the jinn) roams abroad at that time. When an hour of the night has passed let them free. And bolt your doors and make mention of the name of God. Satan cannot open a door which has been bolted. Tie the necks of your water skins, and mention the name of God, and put a veil over your waterpots, mentioning His name (though you but lay something across them), and extinguish your lamps.'

'When you hear the barking of dogs or the braying of asses at night then seek refuge in God from Satan the stoned, for animals see what is invisible to you, and forbear to go out often when the feet are at rest (i. e. at night). For God in the night spreads abroad whom he will of his creatures.' (The conclusion of this hadith follows fairly closely the text of the preceding.) Again, of the noise of bells we read: 'A slave girl took Ibn Zubair's daughter to 'Umar. She had little bells on her leg, and 'Umar cut them off, with the words: "I heard the apostle of God say there is a devil with every bell." When any one sees a vision (or dreams a dream) which he dislikes let him

1 The same extreme vagueness about the jinn in the mind of the modern Beduin is noticed by Doughty, Arabia Deserta. I have no doubt that the Jewish view of Shedim has influenced the Arab writer (unless we seek a common origin in Persia). Talm. Chagiga, 16 a: 'Six things are said of the demons: in three they resemble the ministering angels, and in three they resemble the sons of men. As angels they have wings, and fly from one end of the world to the other, and they know what the future holds in store.... As men, they eat and drink, they reproduce their species, and they die.'


spit to the left three times, and take refuge with God from Satan three times, and let him turn from the side on which he lay when he dreamed.

Spells and the evil eye. There is no attempt in the hadith to disguise the source of popular beliefs which are still held by the ignorant and superstitious today. Thus 'Auf b. Malik Al Ashja'i says: 'We were in the habit of using spells in the time of ignorance, and we said: "O apostle of God what is your opinion of them?" He replied: "Show me your spells. There is no harm in a spell in which there is no taint of polytheism (shirk)."

Anas reports that the prophet permitted the use of spells against the evil eye, snake bite, and pustules. On one occasion he saw a slave-girl suffering from a stroke of Satan (i.e. jaundice), and said: 'Use spells for her, for the evil eye has looked upon her.'1 Jabir relates that Muhammad had forbidden spells, and the family of 'Amr b. Hazm came and said: 'We have a spell for use on those bitten by scorpions, and you have forbidden spells'; and they showed him it. He answered: 'I see no harm in it. If any of you can help his brother by it, let him.' The theistic view of such charms is expressed in hadith, of which these must serve as examples: Isa b. Hamza said: 'I went to visit 'Abd Allah b. 'Ukaim, who suffered from a rash, and said: "Why do you not tie on a charm?" "God forbid," said he, "for the prophet of God said, He who depends on a thing will be left trusting to it. It will suffice you to say what the apostle of God used to say: 'Take away misfortune,

1 The Nihaya explains the words biha nazratun thus : biha 'ainun asabatha min nazari-l-jinni.


O Lord of men, and heal. Thou art the Healer: there is no healing but Thy healing.'"

Omens. 'The prophet used to take good omens, not bad ones, and he was fond of a happy name.' 'Taking a bad omen is polytheism. These words Muhammad said thrice. There is not one of us but will have evil presentiments removed by God if he trust in Him.'

Divination. The following hadith make it evident that traditionists have no doubt that sorcerers and diviners are able to foretell the future.1 The general conclusion is that they obtain their information from the evil one and his messengers. The first of those quoted is interesting, as the somewhat cryptic reference to the prophet who used to write suggests a reference to John viii. 6.2

Mu'awiya b. Al Hakam said: 'I said to the apostle of God, "In the time of ignorance we used to resort to diviners." He said: "Do not consult them." "Also we drew bad omens." He replied: "If you are troubled in your mind because of it do not let it deter you from your purpose." "We used to draw lines."3 He said; "One of the prophets used to draw lines. And he whose writing agrees with his is good."

From 'Aisha. When the prophet was asked about diviners, he said, 'They are nothing.' 'But', they objected, 'it sometimes happens that they relate what

1 v.s.

2 For a description of the writing of incantations, &c., see Lane, op. cit., pp. 274 ff.

3 Probably on the ground (though the word used is khatt, not nakata).


is true.' He said: 'That word of truth the jinn seizes and repeats in the ear of his devotee1 and they mix more than a hundred lies with it.' Again: 'The angels descend in rainclouds and mention what has been decreed in heaven. Then the devils listen stealthily and reveal what has been said to diviners and they add a hundred lies to it out of their own minds.' Hafsa reports that Muhammad said: 'He who goes to a sorcerer ('arraf) to ask about a matter his prayer will not be accepted for forty days.' 'He who learns knowledge from the stars learns a branch of sorcery (sihr) the more of one the more of the other.

The following is the explanation of the shooting stars. 'While some of the Companions were sitting with the prophet one night a star shot and gleamed bright. "What used you to say in the time of ignorance," said he, "when a star shot like that?" They replied: "God and his apostle know best. We used to say; 'A great man is born tonight and a great man has died." He said: "It did not shoot for the death or the birth of any one, but when your Lord decrees a thing the bearers of the Throne praise God; then the inhabitants of heaven near thereto, until the

1 The reading and meaning of the two words omitted are doubtful— qarra-l-dajajati—qarra, according to the Nihaya, means to repeat or pour words into a person's ear until he understands them. The commentator mentions that qarra is the verb used when a hen brings her cackling to an end. He records a variant zujaja, and infers 'the jinn pours it into his ear as one pours liquid into a glass bottle!' Ibn Al Salah says the former reading is correct, and the latter corrupt. I suspect an ancient corruption. 'As a hen repeats' is hardly a satisfactory sense. Houdas, op. cit., iv, p. 84, completely ignores the words in text and notes.


Tasbih reaches the inhabitants of this lowest heaven. Those near ask the bearers of the throne what their Lord has said. They are informed, and the inhabitants of heaven inquire one of another until the information reaches this lowest heaven, and the jinn steal the tidings and carry (throw) it to their devotees and (the stars) are thrown at them."'1

Again, God created these stars for three reasons: to be an ornament of the sky, to be used as stones against the devils, and as signs to guide people. Whoso interprets them otherwise is in error, loses his good fortune, and pretends to know what he is ignorant of.'

'There is no contagious disease, nor ornithomancy, nor hama, nor significance in the serpent Safar.2 Nevertheless, flee from one with elephantiasis as you would from a lion.' An Arab of the desert said: 'O Apostle of God, what of the camels in the desert? They are as it were gazelles in condition,

1 Cf. Suras, 15. 17; 18.48 37.7; and 26. 212. This explanation of the phenomenon caused considerable embarrassment when Greek astronomy and philosophy gained a strong position among Arabian savants. Cf. Al Jahiz, in loc., and Margoliouth, Early Development, pp. 226 ff.

2 Text: la adwa wala tirata wa la hamata wa la safara. This hadith is cited by the author of the Mustatraf and by Shahrastani, op. cit., p. 433. In the latter quotation the author might possibly have taken 'adwa to refer to metempsychosis. The passages quoted will explain the hama or bird which issued from a dead man's skull. Safar means either the month of that name, or a kind of serpent. The commentator of the Mishkat (p. 383) says: kanu yaiasha 'amina bi-dukhuli Safar. They used to regard the entry of a Safar as an evil omen. Houdas, op. cit., iv, p. 83, writes: 'Suivant les uns, il s'agirait d'un animal, sorte de serpent ou de ver, logé dans le corps de l'homme; il mordrait les entrailles de l'homme chaque fois que celles-ci seraient vides et qu'il aurait faim.' See Mishkat, margin.


yet mix them with mangy camels, and they become mangy too.' The apostle answered: 'But who infected the first with a contagious disease?' The shrewd criticism levelled at this doctrine by the Beduin is met by a reply which evades the point either by referring the disaster to an act of God decreed and unavoidable, or by attributing the disease to the cause responsible for the first outbreak, and therefore not dependent on the infected camels. In either case this is yet another example of the inability of the Oriental to distinguish between a primary and a secondary cause.1

The comparative paucity of personal names in Muhammadan countries is due to the influence of traditions which express God's approval of certain names, or the prophet's taste in such matters. Thus Anas tells us that when Muhammad was in the market a man called out, 'Ho Abu-l-Qasim!' and the prophet turned towards him. 'I merely called this fellow,' said the man, whereupon the prophet said: 'Call your children by my name, but do not use my kunya.' 'God likes best the names 'Abd Allah and 'Abdul-l-Rahman.' The vilest of names before God at the day of resurrection will be maliku-l-amlak (king of kings).'

1 On this Al Suyuti, quoted by Lane, Arabian Society, says: 'A Halimi says, "Communicable or contagious diseases are six: small-pox, measles, itch or scab, foul breath or putridity, melancholy(!) and pestilential maladies; and diseases engendered are also six: leprosy, hectic, epilepsy, gout, elephantiasis, and phthisis." But this does not contradict the saying of the prophet, "There is no transition of diseases by contagion or infection . . . ", for the transition here meant is one occasioned by the disease itself; whereas the effect is of God, who causes pestilence to spread when there is intercourse with the diseased.' Thus is responsibility moved to the predestination of God.


An unsuccessful attempt on the part of Muhammad to change a name he did not like is recorded by Bukhari. Sa'id b. Al Musayyib related that his grandfather Hazn went to the prophet, who asked his name. 'Hazn,' he was told. 'No, you are Sahl,' said he. My grandfather said: 'I am not going to change a name my father gave me.' Sa'id added: 'From that time hardness in temperament has continued in my family.'

Women and Marriage. Much has been written on the status of women in Islam, and the theologian must decide how far responsibility for the present state of affairs rests, on the one hand, with Islam as a system, and with sinful human nature on the other. The hadith in this, as in so many other matters, reflect the thoughts of the best and the worst minds. For instance, Muhammad, as reported by 'Abd Allah b. 'Umar, tells us: 'The world, all of it is property,1 and the best property in the world is a virtuous woman.' And again, as reported by Abu Huraira: 'A woman may be married for four things: her money, her birth, her beauty, and her religion. Get thou a religious woman (otherwise) may thy hands be rubbed in dirt!'

On the other hand, Usama b. Zaid would have us know that the apostle said: 'I have not left behind me a source of discord2 more injurious to men than women.' And Ibn 'Umar: 'A woman, a house, and a horse are bad omens.'

1 The meaning of this word mata' is a little doubtful. It might mean 'enjoyable' or 'valuable'. Professor Margoliouth, who reminds me of the reference to Sur. iii. 12, inclines to agree with my rendering above.

2 fitna. The Nihaya explains faltan: mudillu-l-nasa 'an il-haqq, 'a fattan is one who causes men to err from the truth'.


As to the subordination of the wife to the husband: A Muslim must not hate his wife. If he dislikes her for one trait let him find pleasure in another.' If a man summon his wife to his bed and she refuse to come, so that he spends the night in anger, the angels curse her till morning.' (Another version of this says: 'He who is in heaven is enraged against her till her husband is pleased with her.')

Lastly, a tradition — which must either be officially repudiated or for ever condemn the system which enshrines it — resting on the authority of Mu'adh: 'Whenever a woman vexes her husband in this world, his wife among the huris of Paradise says: "Do not vex him (May God slay thee!) for he is only a guest with thee. He will soon leave thee and come to us."1

Political power may sometimes be held by women, but the prophetic verdict on women in high places is recorded by Bukhari thus: 'When the apostle of God was informed that the Persians had made Kisra's daughter their sovereign, he exclaimed: "A people that entrusts its affairs to a woman will never prosper."

The subordinate position of women in the religious life is likewise fixed by the Prophet's utterance. 'He went out on the day of the victims and Bairam to the place of prayer, and passing some women he said: "O company of women give alms, for I have seen that

1 It is only fair to say that this tradition, which is recorded by Ibn Maja and Al Tirmidhi, is marked by the latter. At the same time, it is a logical inference from the Quran itself that if Muslims in paradise are to be gratified by the possession of huris there will be no place for their wives of this world. A great point is made of this by the Christian disputant at the court of Ma'mun, see Paris MS. Arabe, no. 70, fol. 7.


many of you will be inhabitants of hell." "Why?" said they. Replied he: "because you curse much and deny the kindness of husbands. I have not seen - despite your deficiency in intelligence and religion — any sharper than you in captivating the mind of the resolute." They said: "What is the defect in our religion and intelligence?" He answered: "Is not the witness of a woman equal to half the witness of a man? This is the defect in her intelligence. And when she is ceremonially impure she neither prays nor fasts. This is the defect in her religion."'1

Manners and Customs. No more than a mere selection of the vast number of traditions enshrining the customs of the Arabs in the time of Muhammad and some of those which have grown up in the Muhammadan world in the centuries following the prophet's death can be given here. Some of those selected will serve to show what a tremendous conservative force hadith has been through the centuries, preserving among the various nations of Islam the habits of primitive Muslims. It will be seen that the action of the modern Muhammadan in adopting European dress marks not a mere change from an Oriental to an Occidental tailor, but a break with an apostolic past, similar in gravity to that made by Hellenistic Jews in the Seleucid era, and often entailing similar consequences.2 Others will show how customs unknown to early Muhammadans were borrowed from the superior culture of the Greeks and Persians, the memory of the old conservative Arab recording their

1 Cf. Talmud, sub Niddah.

2 E. Bevan, Jerusalem under the High Priests, pp.35 ft.


alien origin. The inclusion of a few here can only be justified by their strangeness, curious character, or dogmatic foundation.

Muslims are enjoined to eat without a knife, following the example of their prophet. 'Meat was brought to the apostle of God and the shoulder was put before him, he being fond of the shoulder, and he ate of it with his teeth.' More explicitly as a command from him: 'Do not cut meat with a knife as foreigners do, but bite it with the teeth. It tastes better, and is more wholesome thus.'

The habit of drinking water while standing is evidently disliked and to be avoided,1 though the hadith do not speak with one voice: thus Anas says, 'The apostle forbade a man to drink while standing'; and Abu Huraira underlines the prohibition, 'Let none of you drink water while standing, and if any one forgets, he must vomit it forth.' On the contrary, Ibn 'Abbas says: 'I brought to the prophet a bucket of zamzam water, and he drank of it while standing'; and Ibn 'Umar: 'In the time of the apostle of God we used to eat while walking and drink while standing.'2 And yet another tradition relates that the prophet was seen to drink standing and sitting.

A good example of the way in which custom was perpetuated is to be found in the following narrative: 'Ibn 'Umar passed by the apostle of God, and his drawers were slack. The latter said, "Raise them," and again," Further." "Afterwards," said Ibn 'Umar, "I strove to keep them thus." Some people asked, "How far up?" He said, "To the middle of my

1 Burton, Pilgrimage, p. 6, and v.s.

2 Tirmidhi marks this hadith as hasan, sahih, gharib.


shanks."' More extravagantly Abu Huraira: 'The portion of the drawers below the ankles is hell fire!'1

False hair is not to be worn, for Muhammad said: 'God curse the woman who wears false hair and the woman who ties it on.' Gold rings are not to be worn, though silver ones are permissible. They should be carried on the little finger according to some authorities. The following two hadith are of interest, in that popular custom proved too strong for them, and they are therefore abrogated (mansukh). Asma bint Yazid: 'The woman who wears a golden necklace will have one of hell fire fastened to her neck on the day of resurrection' A similar threat is directed against gold earrings. Hudhaifa's sister: 'O women, can you not be adorned with silver? Every one of you that is bedecked with gold and shows it shall be punished.'

The march of civilization bringing customs unknown in the simplicity of patriarchal Arabian society is admitted and accepted in the following: Anas said, 'I do not know that the prophet ever saw fine bread to the day of his death; nor did he see a goat baked (in its skin, adds the commentator).' Sahal b. Sa'd said: 'The apostle of God never saw sifted flour from the time God sent him forth on his mission until He took him to Himself; nor did he ever see a sieve.'

One of the edicts of the prophets which has had an incalculable effect on the culture, art, and architecture of the Muhammadan East is his ban on pictures. 'Angels will not enter a house containing a dog or pictures.' 'Aisha relates that she bought a cushion on which were pictures, and when the apostle of God

1 According to the commentator it means the wearer will go to hell. See Lane, ME, p. 30.


saw them he stood at the door and would not enter. Seeing signs of displeasure in his face she said: 'O apostle of God, I repent unto God and his apostle. What have I done amiss?' He asked, 'What is the meaning of this cushion?' 'I bought it for you to sit and recline on,' said she. 'Verily,' he answered, 'the makers of these pictures will be severely punished on the day of resurrection, and it will be said to them, "Bring to life the pictures you have made."'1 Again, 'Every painter will be in hell.'

It is said that a man came to Ibn 'Abbas and lamented that he had lost his livelihood, for he lived by his painting. What was he to do? 'Woe to you,' says he, 'if you must needs paint, then paint trees and objects that have not a spirit in them.'

There is little reason to doubt that the prohibition has been faithfully observed by Muhammadans. There are, so far as I know, but few paintings of the prophet in existence which can boast a moderate antiquity, and if Christian art provides an analogy it would have been the prophet himself that would have formed the subject of every devout painter. Love of colour and design has found an outlet in the direction indicated in the last tradition quoted.

It is believed by Muslims that God has created a remedy for every disease. Probably a primitive view of the healing art is that which limits the patient to three prescriptions— cupping, purging, and cauterizing. Ibn 'Abbas puts it thus: 'Cures are wrought

1 One is irresistibly reminded in this hadith of the constant allusion in the Talmud to the difference between the earthly artist and the heavenly designer. Cf. Berakoth 10a and Megilla 14a, where the word is the same (sur).


by three things: letting blood, drinking honey, and cautery; the latter I forbid my people.' On the other hand, two hadith mention the occasions on which the prophet cauterized the wounds of his followers.

Bukhari's Kitabu-l-Tibb1 contains two interesting hadith:

(a) 'Aisha is the speaker: 'The prophet used to say to the sick, "Bismillahi!2 The soil of our land with the spittle of some of us will cure our sick."

(b) 'The apostle of God used to say in a magical formula (fi-l-ruqyati)2: "Bismillah! the soil of our land with the spittle of some of us will cure our sick by the permission of our Lord."'

Significant and interesting is the hadith which registers the protest of those who feel that the 'tradition of the fathers' is becoming a burden and is without the authority it claims. 'Abd Allah b. Mas'ud said 'God has cursed women who tattoo and those who seek to be tattooed, those who pluck out hair,3 and those who make openings in their front teeth by way of coquetry, who alter what God has created.' A woman came to him and said: 'I have been told that you have cursed such and such women.' He replied: 'What can I do but curse those whom the apostle of God has cursed and those who are cursed in God's

1 Krehl, iv, p. 63.

2 I think that Houdas (iv, p. 79) has missed the point that the Bismillah in both these traditions is the ruqya. See Lane, ME, p. 258, and Zwemer (op. cit., p. 166).

3 Cf. the lines:

wa)-(ra'i'atin lamma allamat bi)-(mafriqi
talaqqaituha khauta-l-fadihati bil-qatfi
(ta)-qalat 'ala du'fi qawita wa-innani
tali'atu jaishin sauta ya'tika min khalfi.


book?' She said: 'But I have read what lies between the two tablets, and have not found a trace of what you adduce.' He answered: 'If you had read it you would have found it. Have you not read, "What the prophet has brought you receive; and what he has forbidden you avoid?" (Sur. lix. 7.) 'Yes, certainly,' said she. 'Then verily he has forbidden this,' was Ibn Mas'ud's rejoinder.

It will be seen that the significance of this tradition lies in the underlying argument. The test 'What the prophet has brought you' does not only refer to the Quranic injunction and revelation: it applies also to what the prophet said or was reported to have said on some occasion when he was admittedly not repeating the message of his heavenly visitant.

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