in saying, as they do, that the Rig-Veda is inspired, although we find thirty-three deities mentioned in it. In any inspired book we may admire a noble literary style, but we rightly expect that which is essential, that is, true doctrines. Even an ordinary theological book written in our own time is not of much value, if its teaching is imperfect and untrustworthy, however polished and eloquent its style may be.

If it be asserted that the Qur'an is more eloquent and contains more beautiful poetry than any other book, in whatever language, then this assertion is entirely destitute of proof. It could not be proved to anyone, unless that man knew all the languages of the world, ancient and modern, and had read all the books ever written. No one on earth has ever done this, for such a task is far beyond human power. It is unreasonable therefore for our Muslim friends to assure us that their religion is a light and a guidance and necessary for all men to accept, and yet to tell us that the greatest proof of the truth of Islam and of the mission of Muhammad is one which no human being can possibly, under any circumstances, be able to profit by. It is as if one blind man assured another that his salvation depended upon his distinguishing all the colours of the rainbow. For neither the Muslims nor ourselves know all human languages and have read all Earth's many books. The proof which they adduce is therefore as unreal and unprofitable to them as to us.

We cannot read all languages, but we can read some of the most important. When we read the Old Testament in the original Hebrew, many scholars hold that the eloquence of Isaiah, Deuteronomy, and many of the Psalms, for instance, is greater than that of any part of the Qur'an Hardly anyone but a Muslim would deny this, and probably no Muslim who knew both Arabic and Hebrew well would be able to deny it. But even those who are not scholars may test this matter for themselves. Let anyone read a selected part of the Qur'an translated into Persian, or Urdu, or


Turkish, and then compare it with a good translation of a portion of Isaiah into the same tongue. He will then be able to form his own opinion as to the unsupported assertion that the Qur'an excels all other books in beauty of style.

But, even were it proved beyond the possibility of doubt that the Qur'an far surpasses all other books in eloquence, elegance, and poetry, that would no more prove its inspiration than a man's strength would demonstrate his wisdom or a woman's beauty her virtue. Only by the contents of a book, by its doctrines, by its satisfying the criteria laid down in the Introduction, can any book be recognized as Divinely inspired. The impostor Mani is said to have claimed that men should believe in him as the Paraclete because he produced a book called Artang, full of beautiful pictures. He said that the book had been given him by God, that no living man could paint pictures equal in beauty to those contained 1 in it, and that therefore it had evidently come from God Himself. But no wise Muslim nor Christian would now consider that the beauty of these pictures proved Mani to be a Prophet, though they possibly showed that he was a skilful painter. His book, like all others, had to be judged by its contents. It was so judged, and it has perished off the face of the earth, and the religion which Mani taught, though once believed in by many, has not a single adherent now. Only by its teachings can a book be rightly judged. Therefore we proceed in the next chapter to consider the contents of the Qur'an, just as we have previously considered those of the Bible.

1 [In the Persian and Urdu versions of the Mizanu'l Haqq, the verses in the Shahnameh referring to Mani should here be quoted.]