Page images

to which latter, Ethics and Sociology pre-eminently belong. The genius for these two orders of sciences, as we have before had occasion to remark, concerning the talent for speculation and practice, are rarely found combined, in an eminent degree, either in individuals or nations ;* so that the possession of the one may be fairly and scientifically argued against that of the other, and the renowned eminence of the Arabians, as mathematicians, may be relied upon with some degree of confidence, (in the absence of more direct evidence) as proof that they were deficient as Sociologists. For thus it is that the French, while they are illustrious as mathematicians, and in all the sciences to which the exact principles of mathematics may be applied, furnish us in Sociology little else than the delusive extravagancies of Fourier, St. Simon, Proudhon, and Con. dorcet, the lofty generalities of Comte, and the mawkish puerilities of Louis Blanc, relieved only occasionally, and at long intervals, by the profound, yet practical and really valuable observations of Montesquieu and Guizot-omitting all notice of the contributions of Say, and other French savans, to the science of mere Political Economy.

Tennemann, in his History of Philosophy, has, however, justly remarked, for one speaking from the stand-point of an European, “after all, the records of Arabic philosophy have been too little investigated to enable us to speak of them with sufficient certainty."! And this remark may be as correctly made, concerning the Social Philosophy of the Arabians, as concerning their more fundamental philosophy, to which Tennemann roferred, the metaphysical. Yet, for the reason just stated, and for those before adverted to, in this review arising out of the despotic character of government among the Asiaties generally, and the incompatibility of such governments with the spirit of free inquiry in matters appertaining to the philosophy of society, it may be pretty safely concluded, that Europeans are none the less wise in social science because of their limited acquaintance with the learning and speculative philosophy of the Arabians.

It does not, however, follow, as we have before had occasion to remark, upon Roman Sociology, because the Arabians bave not contributed any speculative or theoretical ideas of special value in Sociology, that nothing valuable to social science is to be derived from an attentive observation, either of the actual structure of their society, or of their extraordinary career as conquerors and discoverers in science. Indeed, he must be but a limited proficient in Sociology, who could not obtain some valuable observations in relation to the philosophy of society from a review of the extraordinary career of the Arabians, during the period of their greatest enlightenment, when they proved themselves the leaders of the buman race, in art and science, as well as in political dominion, during tive centuries.

* See part v. of this Review, that on Roman Sociology, vol. xlii., p. 276, of Merchants' Magazine, + See Tennemann's Manual of the History of Philosophy, translated by Johnson, and revised by Morell, section 257.

| See part iii., of this Review in Merchants' Magazine for December, 1859, vol. xli., p 673.

$ The author of this review cannot lay claim to any special illuinination on Arabian science or general literature. He is unacquainted, like most Europeans and Americans, with the Arabic language, and has not even enjoyed the privilege of many authorities now quite accessible to European students, in Latin at least - not even euch well known authorities As Abulfaragius and Abulfeda. The authorities on which he has had mainly to rely, concerning the Arabians, are Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Hallain's Middle Ages, Crichton's History of Arabia, Irving's Life of Mahomet and his Successors, Tennemann's History of Philosophy, the Encyclopedia Britannica, McCullogh's Geographical Dictionary, and thic Koran, as translated by Sale.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Their religion alone, Mohammedanism, the outcome of the Arabians, would of itself constitute a theme worthy of a searching examination, in relation to its bearings on the social condition. Much of what it would be important to say on this point, however, has been already said, in remarking on the influence of Christianity.* For Mohammedanism is not only, like Christianity, a system of religion, and therefore subject to all the remarks already made concerning the influence of religion in general, but it is a system of religion very nearly akin to Christianity—in fact, a sort of spurious Christianity.t

All religions are indeed very nearly allied, and may be regarded as fundamentally the same, notwithstanding the ignorant impression so prevalent to the contrary. They are all expressions of the derp inward sense, in man, of dependence on a Higher Power, whom it is his duty and interest to strive to propitiate by reverence and homage, by the performance of some acts, and abstinence from others. And as some religions are more intimately allied than others, so are the Christian and Mohammedan-the great Arabian prophet and reformer having evidently borrowed many of his most valuable ideas and precepts from Christianity, and the general scope of the two systems being very much the same, and essentially differing only in some important points of morality. In short, Mohammedanism may not only be regarded as a spurious form of Christianity, but it may furthermore and essentially be regarded as Christianity, so far as the Arabians are capable of receiving it.

For this reason, therefore, that we have already, in our remarks on Christianity, said much of what it would be proper to say concerning Mohammedanisin, and for another, namely, that what remains to be said, concerning the latter system, and as peculiar to it, may as well be noticed incidentally, and as appurtenant to other more general remarks, we shall subordinate the remarks which it is proposed here to make, on the Mohammedan religion, to others of a more general character in relation to the Arabians. We shall not make Mohammedanism so prominent an object of consideration as we have made Christianity.

Had we considered Christianity as it is now proposed to consider Mohammedanism, we should have regarded it as an incident to the llebrew nation, and should have appended our remarks upon it to what we had briefly said before, concerning that people, while taking a brief historical glance at the different Asiatic nations, of the Caucasian family, that had flourished belore the Grecian age I But Christianity is too important a development in human history to be thus subordinated, consistently with any rules of philosophical or scientific propriety. It is too general, too comprehensive, too cosmopolitan, in its scope and spirit. The Hebrews would much more properly be regarded as an appendage of Christianity, than Christianity as an appendage of the Hebrews.

Christianity, moreover, has all the characteristics of a movement of the

See part vi. of this review, in May number of Merchants' Magazine for 1860. + To many poorly inforined persons this remark may appear extraordinary. But to those in Christendom, who doubt the resemblance and near afliliation of Mohaminedanism as laid down by Mobarnmed, to Christianty as taught by Christ. wo bave only to say, read the Koran, and observe how it not only inculcates many of the same noble precepts as Christ, and repeats the same ideas, narrations, and tralitions that are to be found in the old llebrew Scriptures, but with wbat babitual and uniform reverence it spraks of Jesus and many others characters revered by Christians, as Abraham, Hoses, and the prophets.

See part iii. of this review, in Merchants' Magazine for December, 1859, vol. xli., p. 672.

race, rather than of any one nation, in which respect it differs alike from Mohammedanism and Judaism. Mohammedanism may be properly regarded as the outcome of the Arabians-Christianity as the outcome of humanity-of the highest type of the human genus ; Mohammedanism, too, represents well the prominent traits of the Arabians, but Christianity does not so well represent those of the Hebrews. It is too catholic, too fraternal in its spirit, stretching out its generous arms to embrace the whole human family, while Judaism is contracted, selfish, egotistical, exclusive, and fenced round with the idea that its people are "the elect," that they are "the chosen people of God," and that if it be well with them, and their household, it matters not about the condition of other kindreds and peoples. This much must suffice as to the reasons for subordinating our remarks on Mobammedanism to more general ones on the Arabians, notwithstanding we have given to Christianity a distinct and paramount consideration, without subordinating it either to the Hebrew nation, out of which it issued, or the Roman, under whose empire it was developed and established as a dominant power in the world.

All the remarks which it is proposed here to make concerning the Arabians, as suggested by their extraordinary career as leaders of civilization, may be comprehended under these five general observations: - I. Their ca. reer illustrates forcibly the influence of religion, or the sentiment of religiosity, on society, and even more strikingly than the career of Christianity. II. It not only illustrates forcibly the influence of religion, as a sociological force, but it reveals, very strikingly, the great fundamental truth that tliere are sociological influences more fundamental than religion, and tending to determine the character of a nation's religion, and among them the influence of race, or ethnological causes. III. Their religion itself, Mohammedanism, suggests and embodies some valuable principles in Sociology. IV. Their condition, and that of other nations who have adopted their religion, illustrates very clearly, and more so than that of any other nations, the importance of well organized government, and the real nature of the evils of bad government. V. It reveals and strikingly illustrates the great sociological law, that the higher the organism of the society, or body politic, the more liable it is to derangement, disease, and death.

Concerning these general observations upon the career of the Arabians, and as a reason why a review of Arabian history, in reference to its bearings on social science, is the more worthy of attention, it is proper to remark, that while these observations, or most of them, are abundantly illustrated by other examples, they are nowhere to be found so strikingly and unmistakably illustrated, and on so large a scale, as by that of the Arabians, and some other nations that have adopted their religion.

I. The cureer of the Arabians, as leiders of civilization, forcibly illustrates the influence of religion, or the sentiment of religiosity, as a sociological force, and even more forcibly than the cureer of Christianity. As it is by extreme cases that we best illustrate principles, so also it is by extraordinary occurrences which stand out in bolu relief from the back ground of common places, or the ordinary course of human events, that principles are most clearly and strikingly exemplified. It is for this reason that the career of the Arabians, as leaders of civilization, in which they were impelled by the motive of propagating the Mohammedan religion, illustrates, more forcibly than does the history of Christianity, the influence of the

religious sentiment upon the movements and general character of society. The influence of Christianity was gradually and quietly exerted--that of Mohammedanism suddenly and violently. Christianity followed the ordinary course of human events, wisely seeking, everywhere, to accommodate itself to the existing order of things—Mobammedanism forcibly and rudely broke in upon established institution, proclaiming, everywhere, as the only alternatives it offered to mankind, death, tribute, or the Koran. Christianity, as Gibbon expresses it, “gently insinuated itself” into buman society, and so quietly and imperceptibly established its dominions as to leave it a matter of some doubt what influence it has exerted on human affairs, and whether, indeed, it has exerted any very important influence. Mohammedanism swept over the world like a raging torrent, or devastating tornado, and so sudden were the revolutions and transformations it occasioned, that, whatever doubt it may bave left as to the utility of its influence, it has left none as to the marked and decided character of that influence.

Before the time of Mohammed the Arabians had never played any prominent part in human affairs. They had scarcely been recognized as having ary place in the family of nations. They had lain there, in their secluded abodes, almost as much a blank on the face of the moral or humanitarian world, as their own sandy and rocky wastes, on the surface of the natural. But when this extraordinary man, with his bigh inspirations and deep religious sentiment, through the aid of favorable circumstances, by combining the various religions which had been long scattered over the Arabian peninsula into one,* and infusing into that his own strong convictions and enthusiastic impressions, bad thoroughly aroused the religious sentiment of the Arabians, and fired them with the idea that there is a God who rules in the affairs of this world, who superintends the actions of men, and requires of every man to do his duty, and that this God had spoken to them, through the lips of Mohammed, commanding them to renounce idolatry, acknowledge the Koran, and go forih, as warriors, to propagate and spread the gospel it proclaimed, the long-dormant energies of the Arabian character were aroused-Arabia for the first time started up into life-its long-despised people went forth to proselytize and to conquer, and the empires of the world were swept before them like chaff driven before some mighty wind. Nor did the Arabians, under the influence of their religious frenzy, become conquerors and destroyers only, but regenerators and preservers also. They who had before been semi-barbarous became the leaders of civilization. They who had been scarcely acquainted with letters became instructors in science.

* It is abundantly clear that the Mohammedan religion is, to a very great extent, the result of a frsion of the various religious ideas which had before prevailed, more or less extensively, in Arabia-the Sabian, (or ancient religion of the Arabians,) the Magian, (or ancient religion of the Persians.) the Jewish, and Christian. Its most valuable ideas are undoubtedly taken from the Jewish and Christian systems. In fact, no entirely new systein, either of religion, ethics, or politics, has ever sprung up in the world, at least within the historic period. Every new system is but the grating of new ideas upon previously existing and generally received ones. This is true even of the Christian religion itself. There are no great leaps in the course of nature, but a steady, onward course of progressive derelopment, disturbed at times, it is true, by oscillation and violence; bat in the main, a steady, onward course of progressive development, either towards perfection or destruction-2 progressive development of the principle of denth, as well as of life, of decy, as well as reproduction, and not, as certain short-sighted theorists suppose, a progressive development only of the principle of life and perfection-theorists who, in their narrow scope of observation, regard only God, the Creator and Preserver, and ignore God, the Destroyer,

If such be the power of the religious sentiment, when impelled and guided by such erroneous ideas of man's highest duties, may we not obtain therefrom a tolerably reliable estimate of the momentum of that power

when impelled and guided by more just ideas of duty? If such be the influence of the religion of force, of conquest, and of war, may we not reasonably argue a potential influence also for the religion of peace, gentleness, and love? If such have been the achievements of the Saracen warriors and heroes of the Koran, in their endeavors to propagate the religion of Mohammed, who shall estimate the influence, on the condition of human society, of those far nobler heroes enlisted under the sacred banner of Christ-those armies of heroic women, not without a few noble escorts of nuen, the true soldiers of the cross—whose warfare consists in deeds of charity and words of love, who devote their lives to the noble purpose of alleviating the distresses of their fellow mortals, and who go forth into the by-ways of the world, and into the lanes and alleys of its crowded cities, to seek out the lowly, neglected, and oppressed of THE GREAT FAMILY, and minister to their wants !

Nor is the power of the religious principle conspicuously illustrated only in the achievements of the Arabians, either as conquerors in arms or instructors in science, but also in their non-achievements, or that apathy and indifference to enterprise which so remarkably distinguish them and other nations that have adopted the Mohammedan religion. For all of those nations, and more especially the Arabians and Turks, are scarcely less distinguished for their activity in war than for their indolence in peace,

and their indifference to the arts and enterprises of peace. For the Arabians, even in the period of their greatest enlightenment, and when they were acting as the leaders of civilization, under the renowned Caliphs of Bagdad, were much more conspicuous for their attainments in science than their achievements in art, and excelled in contemplative rather than in practical philosophy.

This fact is doubtless attributable largely to influence of race, or ethnological causes, but as undoubtedly, in a great measure also, to influence of religion. For the Mohommedan religion, while it is well calculated to in. spire that en:husiasm in war which carried the Arabians so triumphantly through their brilliant career as conquerors, is also equally as well calculated to foster a spirit of indolence and apathy in regard to the ordinary enterprises of life, and, indeed, in regard to the enterprises of war, except when prosecuted under some violent and short-lived impulse.

No religion in the world inculcates so strong a belief in the superintendence of the Supreme Being, so implicit a faith in his predestination of the course of human events, or, as some might express it, so bind a trust in fate, as that of Mohammed; and among no nation do we find those national traits, which may be regarded as the legitimate offspring of such religious belief, so conspicuously illustrated as among those who have embraced the Mohammedan religion. Accordingly, Crichton, in his admirable bistory of Arabia, in allusion to that great and overshadowing tenet of Mohammedanism-belief in predestination-has justly observed, “ Over all the Mohainmedan nations of the present day the tenet still reigns in its pristine force, and its effects are visible in that torpid inactivity of mind which supersedes the exercise of retson and industry, and considers every attempt to change the common order of things as a

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »