This book tells the life story of Mohammed, founder of Islam, from his early years as a camel driver who married a wealthy widow, to his eventual triumph over all of the pagans who controlled the worship of religious idols at the Kaaba in Mecca. Mohammed and his small band of followers endured decades of persecution before prevailing over his enemies and bringing Arabia to the new faith.
A Few years after St. Augustine landed on the Isle of Thanet to preach Christianity to the people of Britain, Mohammed, the Prophet of Arabia, began to preach against the idolatry of his native land, exhorting his country-men to the worship of the True God. He met with much opposition, but succeeded in the end in overthrowing idolatry and establishing the faith of Islam throughout the greater part of Arabia. The wandering tribes of the desert, united by the ties of a common faith, became a great nation, and spread themselves over many of the countries of Asia and Northern Africa. They even crossed the Straits of Gibraltar and founded a kingdom in Spain. During several hundred years the followers of Mohammed were the chief promoters of art, science, and literature. More than once a Mohammedan race threatened to overrun Europe, an event which would have changed the whole course of history; it was about a thousand years before such a possibility disappeared. At the present day many millions of the inhabitants of India, Persia, Afghanistan, Turkey, Egypt, and various parts of Africa are Moslems, or followers of the Prophet Mohammed; it is but right that we should know something of the founder of so wide-spread a faith, and of the beliefs professed by so many of our fellow-men.
A stranger came one night to Yussouf's tent,
Saying, "Behold one outcast and in dread,
Against whose life the bow of power is bent,
Who flies, and hath not where to lay his head;
I come to thee for shelter and for food,
To Yussouf, called through all our tribes the Good."
"This tent is mine," said Yussouf, "but no more
Than it is God's; come in, and be at peace;
Freely shalt thou partake of all my store,
As I of His who buildeth over these
Our tents his glorious roof of night and day,
And at whose door none ever yet heard Nay."
So Yussouf entertained his guest that night,
And, waking him ere day, said: "Here is gold;
My swiftest horse is saddled for thy flight;
Depart before the prying day grows bold."
As one lamp lights another, nor grows less,
So nobleness enkindled nobleness.
That inward light the stranger's face made grand
Which shines from all self-conquest.
Kneeling low, He bowed his forehead upon Yussouf's hand,
Sobbing, "O Sheik, I cannot leave thee so;
I will repay thee; all this thou host done
Unto that Ibrahim who slew thy son!"
"Take thrice the gold," said Yussouf, "for with thee
Into the desert, never to return,
My one black thought shall ride away from me.
First-born, for whom by day and night I yearn,
Balanced and just are all of God's decrees;
Thou art avenged, my first-born, sleep in peace!"
J. R. LOWELL