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tised, divorced, put to death, in his wrath. No inquiry is made concerning her fate. No appeal to justice may bring to light the secrets of the harem*.
This state of society emanates from the Koran. The polygamy which Mahomet found established among the Arabs, neither his interest nor his passions permitted him to disclaim or to modify. The husband has been, therefore, invested with all the privileges of a pernicious and prescriptive authority, and allowed, if not to increase the number of his wives at will, at least to indulge in the ample licence of an unlimited concubinage. Political expediency was the only measure of the law. The master prophet disdained to subject his rules to moral considerations; and he soon found how much better his purposes were to be accomplished by gratifying, than by restricting, the heated and impure passions of his warlike followers.
There is a restriction in the Koran, but it is rendered useless by a counteracting indulgence. If the Mussulman were apparently limited to four wives t, he was to be fully compensated for the scantiness of this allowance; and the permission “ to exchange one “ wife for another wife," was generously conceded by the kindness of the prophet. Yet, as if this facility of change were not sufficient to satisfy his passion or his caprice, he may legally take to himself those women, whether they be married or otherwise, “ 'whom his right hand shall possess as slaves I." Of the number which he may thus enrol in the list
* Dow's Dissertat. pp. 7, 79. + Koran, vol. i. ch. 4. 1 “ Ye are forbidden to take to wife free women who are married, except those women whom your right hand shall possess as slaves."
of his concubines, there is no limitation. He may add to his Harem, at will, by pillage or purchase; and he may well admit that the prophet' has not been illiberal in the accommodation which has been thus extended to the profligacy or caprice of desire.
Under the Koran the husband is authorized to repudiate his wife upon the slightest disgust, and to take her back upon the slightest whim; but no reciprocal liberty is extended to the wife. She may separate herself from her lord in certain cases of neglect and cruelty ; but the privilege can scarcely be exercised with safety or with honour; and the freedom obtained by the divorce is generally accompanied by the loss of property, or by public reproach *
Every caution of the law is exercised to satisfy the jealousy and suspicion of one sex by restricting the liberty of the other. Women are not merely required to be staid in their deportment; "to restrain their eyes,
to veil their necks, to discover neither their hands, “ nor their face, nor the ornaments of their persons t," and to avoid all intercourse, however momentary, beyond the circuit of their prison. They must attend to the duties of their household, and economise the property of their husbands with rigorous exactness. If they prove perverse or negligent, they may
be haughtily rebuked, confined to their apartments, and mortified by stripes 5. For crimes of a deeper die, they are to experience a more adequate punishment. No palliation of their errors is to be found in the neglect and tyranny to which they are exposed; and by the very authority which permits the husband to satisfy the utmost vagrancy of desire, a lingering death is awarded to the incontinence of the wife, and she is. “ to be imprisoned in a separate chamber until “ death release her"* from her sorrows and her shame.
* Sale. Prelim. Disc, sect. iv. p. 178. Smith de Mirib. ac Institut. Turcar. ep. ii. p. 5. Chardin. Voyage de Perse. tom. i. p. 169. + Kor. vol. ii. c. xxiv. p. 192. I Kor. vol. i. ch. iv. p. 101.
Mahomet has yet further degraded the female sexWhether he intended to admit women into his paradise is a question which has been much and earnestly discussed by the more learned of his disciples; and the opinion has been generally embraced, that they shall be finally rewarded or punished according to their deeds, by the inflexible equity which shall reward or punish the deeds of men. But in the whole Koran there is not a text which encourages the sex to indulge any ardent hope of future felicity. The pious and warlike Mussulman, indeed, shall be obeyed, hereafter, by the faithful ministry of eighty thousand attendants, and shall enjoy the eternal espousals of seventy-two wives, the Houris of Paradise, distinguished by their symmetry, their fidelity, and their love, and glowing with all the bloom and beauty of immortal youth. In this scene of enjoyment, however, there is no reason to conclude that the wives, who have endured the caprice of his passions on earth, shall be permitted to participate hereafter his glory and his happiness. The apostle seems to have thought that their inferior natures were unworthy to share such high delights; and, scarcely
• Koran. ch. iv. p. 95. This was the punishment of fornication and adultery in women. The Sonna hus mitigated the sentence, and decreed that the maiden guilty of fornication shall receive one hundred stripes, and the adulterer shall be stoned to death.
deigning to cast a single ray across the darkness of their future destiny, he has left them nothing, at best, but the feeble and ambiguous expectation, that they may outlive the grave, and receive, in some separate region of hereafter, their unequal pittance of repose or joy *
The effects of this contempt or degradation of the female sex, have been deeply felt. No home is left for the exercise of those delightful charities of our nature, which, cherished in domestic privacy, extend their influence through the whole intercourse of society. The kindred amities of parent and child, and husband and wife, which animate with generous and harmonizing affection the common bosom of the household, and bind each to each in the same golden bond of concord and good will, are banished from the dwelling where the authority of rule demands the submission of servitude, and union is enfeebled by the conspiring operation of the jealousy and suspicion which tyrannize, and the fear and awe which obey. The modes and forms of general life are equally influenced by the condition of the sex. The
* The passages quoted by Sale from the Koran, to prove that Mahomet did not reject the female sex from his paradise, are not of the slightest weight. Kor. ch. iii. p. 54; ch. iv. p. 76; also, ch. iii. ch. xvi. ch. xxx. &c. The very discussion of the question in the schools of the Mahomedans demonstrates the doubt and uncertainty in which the subject is involved. Several writers on the religion of the Koran seem to state it as the opinion of the Mussulmen, that women shall be admitted into a separate region of happiness; but whether they are there to enjoy any delights analogous or approximating to those which await their husbands in paradise, has not been determined. See Chardin. Voyage. tom. ii. p. 328. Bayle Dict. Hist. Art. Mahom. P. R. Sale's Dissertat. sect. iv. The Koran itself is utterly silent as to this separate region, or as to the future felicity, in any region, of the sex.
manners of men are neither refined by elegance, nor softened by urbanity. Association is austere and cold. The formal salute, the silent repose, the torpid air, the dull enjoyment, the cushioned indolence, are enlivened or diversified by no gleam of gaiety or of pleasure, by no occasional sprightliness of conversation, and by little interchange of social and benevolent feeling. The Greek was less dependent on the state of female society which he found or confirmed. He was urged to exertion by affairs of state, or kindled into gaiety by public festivals. But the Mussulman has no such resource. He may be stimulated or compelled to exertion by the fury of fanaticism or by the necessities of life, but little remains to soften and civilize his mind, to call forth his faculties to salutary and humanizing exercise, and to counteract the depressing influence of the civil despotism to which he is subject. In literature, since the days of the Caliphs, he has displayed neither taste nor fancy; and, by the exclusive temper with which he has erected the Harem, and pronounced his interdict on the sex, he has not merely retarded the progress of refinement, but contributed to perpetuate the vices of a rude, and, apparently, irremediable barbarism.