The Bahá’í World
Volume 2 : 1926-1928
rest that must transpire before the people of the earth would turn their faces to God. Muḥammad knew the same thing.
I am not one of those who believe that Muḥammad obtained His knowledge of Jesus Christ from any written literature, or even by contacting with Christians, however wise or ignorant they may have been. He has been called the “ignorant camel driver.” It is certain that He was not taught in schools, but received His knowledge from divine inspiration, even as Jesus did, and the very fact that there is the same thread of heavenly wisdom running through the Qur’án as through the Bible and other sacred books of the world, proves that they were all of divine origin, inspired by one and the same God. Muḥammad is spoken of as the “Seal of the Prophets”—that is, the last of the line of Prophets “before the great and awful day of the Lord,” and He speaks of Jesus continually as the “Spirit” or the “Son of God,” and makes, as you know, frequent reference to all the Prophets of God who came before Him.
No, I believe that, even as the Angel Gabriel appeared to Joseph and Mary, he also appeared to Muḥammad, as He said, at various times, and dictated the Qur’án in sections, the original being written upon palm leaves and the dried bones of sheep and camels. As you say, parts of the Qur’án are illuminating, “other parts not so much.” Is this not true of our Bible also? I have heard agnostics say the Bible was not fit to be read, and they would point to certain things that Abraham and Solomon did. We might well say to those people, “Why don't you read the Sermon on the Mount, instead of the passages you refer to?”
We must also remember that, as our Bible is subject to interpretation, so also the Qur’án is subject to interpretation, and it is difficult for a Western mind to grasp, but that may be partly due to faulty translations. Speaking for myself, I have a copy of the Qur’án that I have had for fifteen years. At one time I set myself religiously the task of reading it, chapter by chapter. In this way I have read it over half through, but it was the hardest reading I ever did.*
It may be, as you say, that the Qur’án seems to be fatalistic, but that would seem to be due,also, to the character of the people to whom Muḥammad came and to the methods which it was necessary to take with them. It was necessary to take those vicious people by the heels and hold them over the burning lake of hell fire. He was constantly speaking of the wrath of God and hell fire, the Day of Judgment and the torment that awaited those who disobeyed the commands of God. Of course we know that these terms are only symbols.
In regard to Muḥammad’s attitude towards women, I refer to the oath of Muḥammad, which He required His followers to take. I have not a copy of this oath at hand, but it was to the effect that if a Muḥammadan married a Christian woman, He should treat her with kindness, He was not to interfere with her belief, but allow her to worship as she wished, and when she died her body was to be buried with her people. Also, it has been verified that Muḥammad took into His home many women and girls as a protection, who served in various capacities, and with even some it is said that He even went through a form of marriage, but to those who truly knew the man it was evident that He had one love and that was His beloved wife Kadeesha, the mother of Fatima, who married ‘Alí, His cousin and right-hand man. Through these two holy souls the spiritual descendants of Muḥammad, the twelve Imáms proceeded. These Imáms were mostly, if not all, put to death, and the religion fell into the hands of the corrupt caliphs, who saw an opportunity to propagate the religion for worldly gain, carried it into other countries at the point of the sword, and continued to hold Jeru-
[*No good translation of the Qur’án exists in English. In the French translation one finds the Qur’án much more readable.—Editors.]