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The voice of predestination was also to be heard, to encourage and to heighten the fortitude of the faithful. If the forehead of the infidel were marked with the seal of eternal reprobation, the true believer was pre-ordained the favourite and the elect of heaven. Until the period should arrive which had been decreed by the fore counsels of God, he was to walk with equal safety among friends and foes. Plague, famine, and the sword, were not to reach him. The power of man was inadequate to shorten his days by a single moment; and he was to prosecute his journey through life with the tranquillity afforded by the conviction that a shield of adamant was held before him by unearthly hands, which no wandering arrow could penetrate, and no force could
I. But the consolation provided by the Koran, bears the indelible marks of a partial, narrow, and cruel system. Pestilence, and war, and miracles of wrath, were to afflict the rest of mankind; and all beyond the circle circumscribed by the wand of Mahomet, were denounced as unholy and excommunicated outcasts. In the mean time, the whole treasure of celestial mercy was lavished on a few barbarous and fanatical tribes. The rejected infidel was nothing, the Arab was every thing; especially the Arab reeking with the blood of those who had refused to fall down before the standard of Islem. That paternal blessing, which, it might be supposed, the Father of the universe would extend to the whole family of nature, was thus denied to the species, and reserved for the individual; and the consolation which was so medicated by the craft of the prophet, was at once to elevate the hopes and presumption of the believer, and kindle in him the zeal of the fanatic, and the cruelty of the persecutor.
II. Even for the believers themselves, the Koran provides an unequal fund of consolatory hope. The retired and peaceful disciple is not, indeed, unworthy of divine support in the period of trial, and his calm, unobtrusive, and gentle, virtues, may bring down upon him the blessing of heaven. But, for the war. like Mussulman, who toils and triumphs for his creed, is reserved the more especial and more ample protection of the Almighty. He slays not an idolater without the assurance of recompense; and his acts of blood, attesting a brighter purity, and a more zealous faith, are registered above, as so many infallible claims to celestial benediction. Next to the warrior, in the divine estimate, stand those whose fasts, whose pilgrimages, and whose prayers, have been accurately performed. For them the abstinence of Ramadân, the ceremonies of the Caaba, and the formal strictness of their periodical devotions, are so many merits, precious in the eyes of God, and worthy of the interposition and favour of his benignity. They are found weighty in the balance, not so much for domestic or social virtue, as for compliance with injunctions and forms which have no reference to either; and the Deity, first described as extending his sanction, and tendering his rewards, to bloodshed, turbulence, and desolation, is afterwards extolled as the partial friend of ceremonial formality, or wandering fanaticism. But the lesson bad its fruits. Votaries were increased. Mecca rejoiced in the annual crowds of zealots by whose oblations she was enriched; while the military fervour was lighted up and diffused, which was to sustain so high a part in the drama of Islem, and to proceed from the subjugation of towns and tribes, to
the overthrow or conversion of the greatest empires of the world.
III. The doctrine, too, which sheltered the Mussulman under the shield of Predestination, was mischievous both in a moral and intellectual view. To inform the sufferer, that his trials have been decreed from the beginning of things, and, therefore, are to be endured without the possibility of diminishing or evading them, might rather augment the evil, than afford the consolation. That which cannot be remedied must, indeed, be borne; but the view which awakens no hope, can fortify no patience. What can piety and prayer avail under irremediable destitution; and by what can resignation be sustained which can borrow no aid from piety and prayer? Every thing is, eomparatively, hopeless, cheerless, and comfortless. The storm issues forth by the law of a predestiny coeval with the commencement of things; but there is no intimation of the purity of the atmosphere which it is to restore, or the disease and pestilence which it is to disperse; and the mighty and terrific voice which exclaims to the sufferer, “ It is your destiny!” strikes sadly and fearfully upon the heart, and calls forth, not so much the trust that cheers, as the despondency and dismay which aggravate, adversity
The general character of the disciple of the Koran, affords reason for believing that these inferences are neither exaggerated nor unjust. In the hour of suffering, he appears to be rather acquiescent from necessity, than resigned from principle. He endures without effort, because he believes that his efforts cannot avail. Armies are swept away by the fury of the conqueror; or the plague, rushing forth from the marshes of Syria or of Egypt, depopulates his cities
and his realms ; but he fancies that the destroying angel will not be averted by the supplications or efforts of man; and he, therefore, submits to his allotment with that languid and torpid acquiescence which so often distinguishes his character, and which, however it may be thought to attest the sincerity of bis faith, contributes to augment the number of his calamities,
Under the influence of persuasions like these, indeed, the human mind, in the East, seems to have lost a considerable portion of its capacities and powers. That which destroys the free agency of man, must render the efforts of reason useless, restrain and discourage the exercise of industry, chill the fires and check the flight of fancy and genius, derogate from the dignity of human nature, and contribute to substitute for that active and persevering energy, which
may prevent or mitigate misfortune, a passiveness without piety, and a submission without resignation. The disciple of the Koran, accordingly, referring events to the absolute pre-ordinance of God, regards every attempt to change or to remedy the common course of things, as a crime not far removed from rebellion against the established and unalterable laws of the Almighty. He sees, with a dull and torpid acquiescence, parents, children, and friends, swept away by disease ; and, while the plague destroys thousands and tens of thousands in his streets, he looks on the ravage with languid and lifeless insensibility, till the Almighty please to suspend the work of desolation and of death *.
* White's Bampton Lect. Serm. ix, and part 1. All intelligent writers on the subject have expressed similar opinions; and the philosophic Montesquieu attributes the rapid decline of the empire of the Mussulman to the operation of that very principle of Predestination, by the influence of which it was accelerated in its progress, and established in its power,
From this view it may appear that the consolations to be derived from the Koran, are, in many respects, not only insufficient to strengthen the heart, but calculated to enfeeble and to deprave it. Founded on doctrines which equally misrepresent the attributes and providence of God, and depress and sicken the energies of man, they are utterly at variance with those views which genuine religion never fails to open on the mind of the sufferer, and which to the vigour that may remedy, add the patience and trust which always mitigate, misfortune. The acquiescence of indolence, the dull inactivity of a sluggish and hopeless submission, the torpid resignation which may spring from the conviction of predestinated necessity, are the fruits which the suffering disciple of the prophet may gather from his creed. Exertion is repressed as useless crime, or impious rebellion, where it should have been quickened by a generous faith, and a holy hope. The believer is separated from mankind by the narrow and exclusive partiality of the tenets which are designed to soften his calamity; and, however the doctrines which attribute to the warriors of Islem the peculiar favour of heaven, may stimulate the zeal and valour of the fanatic; they falsify and profane, because they limit, the paternal goodness of the Almighty; and they contract, and chill, and localize, the sentiments of humanity, because they encourage and legitimate the violence of war, and because they teach the votary of the Koran to regard all mankind, beyond the circle of his own heaven-enlightened sect, as