Just as the character of Jesus is stamped upon the religion which originated in His Person, so is the character of Mohammed impressed upon the system which he, with marvellous ingenuity, founded. The practical influence of Islam upon individual lives produces results that reflect unmistakably the character of its founder, and a careful study of the tenets of the system in relation to its history enable the student to estimate the real worth of the man.
As the Apostle of God, Mohammed is the ideal of every true Moslem. His life is the standard by which the lives of his followers are tested, although he himself confesses that his life was not holy. In the Koran, and the earlier traditions, he is pictured as being in no way better than his fellows, and as weak and liable to error as the poorest of his contemporaries. Yet later tradition minimises his faults and weakness, and surrounds his person with a halo of glory that makes him appear sinless and almost divine. All the doubtful incidents of his life are either eliminated and ignored, or assiduously supported and defended by his pious, misguided followers.
It is a point in his favour that he never claimed infallibility for his actions or opinions; and his habit of attempting to cover or justify his glaring faults by suitable revelations, although indefensibly immoral, reveals the fact that he was conscious of his own shortcomings. When he was at the zenith of his power, "revelation" became merely an instrument of self glorification, licensing him in every whim and fancy, because it gave him, as the prophet of God, exemption from all law and order. His scheme was characteristically ingenious and immoral. Had he known of the divine effulgence with which he was afterwards encircled by his fanatical followers, he would, in all probability, have strongly discountenanced it. The incongruous sanctity with which his commonplace utterances and petty actions were invested would have caused fear lest it became derogatory to his creed of divine unity.
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