henceforward and for ever.' The olive stands for Islam, for as the olive produces oil for light, so Islam is the light of the nations. This is a good illustration of the author's vivid imagination and is opposed to all accepted interpretations.

A little later on we have in Sura At-Tur (lii) :—

By the mountain
And by the Book written,
On an outspread roll
And by the frequented house. 1-4.

In this way, in the early part of his Meccan career, the Prophet praised and honoured a place dear to the Meccans.

Then follows an appeal of a different description an appeal to the lower instincts of human nature. The delights of heaven, the bridal couches, the choice wines, the perfume of musk are now pourtrayed for the encouragement of the dispirited band of the faithful, one of whose chief delights in Paradise will be to lie on these bridal couches and laugh the infidels to scorn; a passage explained by some commentators thus: 'A door will be opened between heaven and hell and the damned will be called to the open door; they will run with the alacrity of hope, but just as they get to it, it will be shut in their faces and the saved, enjoying the carnal pleasures of Paradise, will add to their joy by laughing heartily at the sad disappointment of the lost.' At this period, the most graphic descriptions are given of heaven and hell, not only to support the courage of the early Muslims under their trials, but also to terrify their opponents. The joys of Paradise are rest and ease, robes of silken


textures, wines and scents, with attendants of rare beauty. All these are to be enjoyed in scenes which add to the delight of the senses. To complete the attraction, there is :—

For the God-fearing a blissful abode,
Enclosed gardens and vineyards
And damsels with swelling breasts, their peers in age,
And a full cup. Sura An-Naba' (lxxviii) 31-4.
And theirs shall be the Huris with large dark eyes,
like pearls hidden in their shells.
Of a rare creation have we created the Huris,
And we have made them ever virgin. Sura Al-Waqi'ah (lvi) 22, 34-5.
On couches, ranged in rows, shall they recline
And to the damsels with large dark eyes will we wed them. Sura At-Tur (lii) 20.

In a Sura a little later on, about the middle period in Mecca, we have:—

A state banquet shall they have
Of fruits ; and honoured shall they be
In the gardens of delight,
Upon couches face to face.
A cup shall be borne round among them from a fountain,
Limpid, delicious to those who drink;
It shall not oppress the sense, nor shall they be drunken.
And with them are the large-eyed ones with modest refraining glances. Sura As-Saffat (xxxvii) 40-7.

Gibbon sarcastically remarks on these statements, that 'Muhammad has not specified the male companions of the elect, lest he should either alarm the jealousy of the former husbands, or disturb their felicity by the suspicion of an everlasting marriage.' Faithful women as well as faithful men will renew