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fects upon the state of Mohammedans in general. From it they absurdly infer that all means of safety must be ineffectual, and they reckon it even sinful to employ means either to escape from the contagion of the plague, or when they are infected with it, to obtain a cure.
The points which relate to practice are Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving, the Pilgrimage to Mecca, and Circumcision.
Every Mohammedan must pray five times every day. Their hours of prayer are thus fixed. The first is in the morning, before sun-rise. The second is in the afternoon, when the sun begins to decline. The third, before sunset. The fourth, in the evening after sun-set; but before the light of day is entirely gone. The fifth, after the light of day is gone; but before the first watch of night. To these prayers, frequent washings and purifications are prescribed as indispensably necessary. On all the principal roads in Turkey, conveniences for bathing are prepared. Their prayers are often performed with prostration, so as frequently to touch the ground with their foreheads; and always with their faces turned towards Mecca. No allowance is made in the Koran, for the different circumstances and conditions of men. All must make up their tale of prayers. Nor is the Mohammedan allowed to choose his hours of devotion. He is chained to the hour appointed by his prophet. In this, as in every other particular, the gospel displays how infinitely the wisdom of God is superior to the arrangements of men. It teaches the necessity and the importance of prayer, and inculcates its frequency; but it neither prescribes a certain number of prayers, nor does it require that those prayers be offered up at fixed hours. The vacancies in the life of some men allow much greater scope for the frequent performance of this duty, than consists with the employments of others; and in this as well as in charity, it is accepted according to what a man hath, and not according to what he hath not. In the diversities of human life one hour is more proper for one man, and a different hour for another. The frequency of prayer is, however, enforced in strong language, Pray always. Pray without ceasing.
Fasting is another of the practical precepts of the Mohammedan religion. Of all their fasts, by much the strictest is that in the month Ramadan, the ninth month of their year. It was in this month that their prophet pretended that he received from God, the Koran, by the ministration of Gabriel, who, he said, brought it to him chapter by chapter. This fast imposes upon his followers a total abstinence from meat and drink, and from cohabiting with their wives, each day, from the time that they can plainly distinguish a white thread from a black one, by the light of day, till the end of the evening twilight; and it requires their presence in the mosque, during the whole day. From these requisitions no one is exempted. Even the sick, and soldiers in the field, who cannot observe it, must afterwards go through the same course of fasting for another entire month. The Mohammedans believe that during this month, the gates of hell are shut, and those of heaven open. Thus, the eternal law of God's retribution, “Wo to the wicked, it shall be ill with him," is made to bow to their fasts, and the wicked Mohammedan who dies in this month, is admitted into paradise ! " The odour of the mouth of him who fasts," says the prophet, “is more grateful to God than that of musk.” What unworthy thoughts of God must this impostor have entertained! He represents God as delighted with perfumes, and by consequence, as possessed of bodily organs, thus bringing down the high and lofiy One who
inhabits eternity, to a level with the dust of his footstool. This is one of the thousand instances of the stupidity of the prophet, and the absurdity of his religion.
Alms constitute a part of the practical duties of this religion. In this particular, many of the Mohammedans are said to be exemplary. They provide inns for the accommodation of poor travellers, and charitable funds for enabling the needy to perform their journey to Mecca. Even to their domestic animals, their charity and tenderness extend. Their horses they treat with peculiar kindness, and those of them who have carried their masters to Mecca, and brought them home again, are treated with the highest veneration. At Constantinople, there is a public charity for dogs. While we are so often under the necessity of censuring the ignorance, the brutality, the insolence, and the sanguinary disposition of the Turks, it is with great pleasure that we pay the tribute of respect to their treatment of the brute creation. Our religion teaches us that a merciful man is merciful to his beast. But too many men who are called Christians, neither feel their own need of mercy, nor practise it to their fellow men, nor to the beasts which Providence has committed to their protection.
The pilgrimage to Mecca is reckoned so necessary a part of the Mohammedan religion, that according to a tradition of their prophet, he who dies without performing it, “may as well die a Jew, or a Christian.” Damascus is the place of rendezvous for the pilgrims, who set out from Constantinople. Here they join those who come from Asia. Those who come from Persia, Egypt, and other parts of the Mohammedan empire, afterwards join them. They generally make up a body of sixty or seventy thousand. An annual fair has, by this mea...,
been established at Mecca. To this the Mohammedan carries the merchandise of his own country, and returns home with the commodities of other nations. Every disciple of the prophet is required, once in his life at least, to make this pilgrimage; nor can any thing excuse him, but the want of health, or of sufficient means. Even women are not exempted from a compliance with this precept. All who perform this act of devotion, return home satisfied that their sins are all forgiven, and that they are entitled to all the joys of paradise. It is precisely the same superstition that leads the Mohammedan to Mecca, and the Hindoo to Juggernaut. When the people of those European nations, which were called Christian, were seized by superstition, it operated in exactly the same manner. It employed them in what were called “The Crusades," to visit Jerusalem, and to rescue the Holy Land from the dominion of the Infidels. Those who embarked in this undertaking, fully expected that the remission of their sins, and eternal bliss were purchased by their labours.
Though Circumcision is not even mentioned in the Koran, it is esteemed by the Mohammedans a divine institution. They however generally defer the circumcision of their children, till they can distinctly pronounce the two principal articles of their faith, “ There is no God but God, and Mohammed is his prophet.”
Besides these positive institutions they are subject to several negative precepts. They are prohibited the use of wine, interdicted from gaming and usury, from swine's flesh, from blood, and whatever dies of itself or is strangled. With respect to wine and strong liquors, both the Persians and Turks are said privately to indulge themselves, even in the face of their prophet's prohibition.
Friday is their sabbath, because it was on that day, they believe, that Mohammed escaped from his enemies, by his Alight, from Mecca to Medina. Their priests are called Imams, their temples Mosques, and their monks Dervises. They are divided into nearly as many sects as the Christians.
To an honest man, who has no interested or ambitious projects to which such pretensions may be subservient, it may appear a supposition almost beyond the bounds of eredibility, that any human being should be capable of deliberately forming a plan of deception, laying the foundation of an imposture, and raising upon it such a fabric of visions and revelations, as those to which Mohammed ad. vanced a claim. But a little reflection on the spirit of Paganism, in which religion Mohammed was educated, and the principles of which he had deeply imbibed, will remove the astonishment we are apt to feel, at so impudent a forgery. Of Paganism, in all its parts, it was an essential doctrine, that general expediency and not truth was the great rule of moral conduct. Many of its greatest philosophers believed in the doctrine of the Divine Unity; but their belief in the doctrine of general expediency made them consider that glorious truth, as unfit to be taught to the common people. The Legislators of Paganism never consulted truth, but framed their systems in the manner that they thought would render them most subservient to promote the ends which they had in view. Every one of their Legislators had his particular god or goddess, with whom he pretended to have had converse, and from whom he claimed to have received the rites of religion, as well as the laws and usages that he established. Thus Paganism was wholly built upon a lie. We shall produce on this subject, the testimony of one who, of all the mo