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before it, but verily, of the knowledge of what will happen to-morrow; I am ignorant.
"I see death is like the blundering of a blind camel;— him whom he meets he kills, and he whom he misses lives and will become old.
"And he who does not act with kindness in many affairs will be torn by teeth and trampled under foot.
"And he, who makes benevolent acts intervene before honor, increases his honor; and he, who does not avoid abuse, will be abused.
"He, who is possessed of plenty, and is miserly with his great wealth toward his people, will be dispensed with, and abused.
"He who keeps his word, will not be reviled; and he whose heart is guided to self-satisfying benevolence will not
"And he who dreads the causes of death, they will reach him, even if he ascends the tracts of the heavens with a ladder.
"And he, who shows kindness to one not deserving it, his praise will be a reproach against him, and he will repent of having shown kindness.
"And he who rebels against the butt ends of the spears, then verily he will have to obey the spear points joined to every long spear shaft.12
"And he who does not repulse with his weapons from his tank, will have it broken; and he who does not oppress the people will be oppressed.
"And he who travels should consider his friend an enemy; and he who does not respect himself will not be respected.
"And he, who is always seeking to bear the burdens of other people, and does not excuse himself from it, will one day by reason of his abasement, repent.
"And whatever of character there is in a man, even though he thinks it concealed from people, it is known.
12 The wandering desert Arabs when they met used to present the butt ends of their spears toward one another if their intentions were peaceful, the points if they intended fighting.
He, who does not cease asking people to carry him, and does not make himself independent of them even for one day of the time, will be regarded with disgust.
Many silent ones you see, pleasing to you, but their excess in wisdom or deficiency will appear at the time of talking.
"The tongue of a man is one half, and the other half is his mind, and here is nothing besides these two, except the shape of the blood and the flesh.
"And verily, as to the folly of an old man there is no wisdom after it, but the young man after his folly may become wise.
"We asked of you, and you gave, and we returned to the asking and you returned to the giving, and he who increases the asking, will one day be disappointed."
"Let none touch it but they who are clean."
"The Koran is, unto them that believe, a sure guide and a remedy; but unto those that believe not, it is a thickness of hearing in their ears, and it is a darkness which covereth them."
FAMOUS Oriental critic once said that the best way to
understand the Koran was to take the hint given by the Arabic writing, which reads from right to left, and so read the Koran backward, beginning with the last chapter. This suggestion is really worth following; for the Koran is not at all a book in our modern sense. It is not a complete discussion arranged in logical order. Each one of its Suras, or chapters, was proclaimed by Mohammed separately, as a chant or a prayer, a story or a warning, complete in itself, a single divine revelation.
These Suras were never combined by Mohammed into a book or even into a series. He recited them to his friends as occasion demanded. Sometimes the chants were not even written down, and were preserved just as Arab songs had been preserved for centuries before, by being treasured in the memories of wondering admirers. Only after the prophet's death, when his faith was spreading over half the world, did its leaders realize that trouble threatened from the variations appearing in the loosely memorized and repeated Suras. Some devotees treasured them in one phrasing, some in another. Fierce quarrels sprang up; a division into sects seemed probable. Then the leaders resolved that one authorized wording of the many Suras was needed; and they entrusted the task of gathering them to Zaid, one of Mohammed's comrades in Medina. This Zaid was therefore the editor and perhaps, to some extent of clarifying and reducing, the author of the Koran as we know it, and as every Mohammedan accepts it absolutely.
The gathering of the Suras was in itself no easy task. Zaid had often acted as Mohammed's scribe, and had preserved in a chest copies of most of the longer revelations. Some of