unbelievers. Even in Medina, at the beginning, there was to be "no constraint in religion."

Suras II. 257;
IV. 79.

But the principles of Islam gradually underwent a change. The caravans of Mecca offered a tempting opportunity for reprisals, and several expeditions were organized against them. In one of these, conducted under sealed instructions, the caravan, with two of the Coreishite convoy, was captured, and a citizen of Mecca killed, and this after the sacred month of Rajab had set in. Mahomet at first disowned the transaction as sacrilegious, and placed the prisoners and booty in bond; but it was not long before a Divine order,

Sura II. 217

justifying hostilities, even in the sacred months, as less grievous than idolatry and opposition to Islam, removed his scruples. Thereafter the Corân abounds with incitements to fight for the faith, and with warlike denunciations against the Coreish.

Mahomet now assumes the position of a theocratic ruler, and the Corân is freely used for making public his commands. Every word still purports to emanate from the Deity, as addressed to his Vicegerent on earth. Spiritual precepts mingle with other matters, but the Revelation becomes more and more the organ of the Prophet's government. "General orders" on victory or defeat, the disposal of booty and the treatment of prisoners, statutes of criminal law and civil rights, ordinances on marriage, slavery, and divorce, instructions descending even to the regulation of social life and intercourse, and of Mahomet's own domestic privileges, appear mingled indiscriminately with religious teaching in the pages of the Corân.


About eighteen months after the Flight, the first pitched battle with the Coreish took place at Bedr. With an army of 305 followers (of whom two-thirds were citizens of Medina), Mahomet routed a force three times the number, with great slaughter, and taking many prisoners. He thus not only struck terror into the Coreish, but effectually established his position of Chief of Medina. Here was an evident proof of his mission;

Suras III.
and VIII.

for it was by the Divine interposition, and by the aid of angelic hosts, that the victory—or Decision, as it is termed—was gained.

A twelvemonth later the Coreish had their revenge. They advanced upon Medina 3,000 strong.

A.H. 3

Mahomet met them at Ohod, a hill three miles distant from the city, at the head of but 700 followers; for his ranks had been thinned by the defection of Abdallah ibn Obey. He was signally defeated, with the loss of 70 men, including his uncle Hamza; and he himself was wounded and stunned.

Sura III.

Still the hand of the Lord was manifest. Defeat was needed to sift the lukewarm from the true believers, and success, as before at Bedr, would be again vouchsafed. What if Mahomet himself had been killed? The cause was of God, and would survive triumphant. And so, with masterly address, both victory and defeat were made to serve his purpose.

Shortly after the victory of Bedr, a difference having arisen between Mahomet and the Bani Caynocâa, one of the Jewish tribes settled in the outskirts of Medina, he invested their fortress. They capitulated. Their