upon, thou mayest deem acceptable.' Then riches and honour were offered to Muhammad. If only he would recognize the local deities, the Quraish would then also acknowledge Allah to be a God and would worship him as one of their deities. It was a great temptation,1 for Muhammad had sought the conversion of his fellow-citizens. Only forty or fifty had responded to his call and of them some were now exiles. The Quraish seemed as hard and as obstinate as ever. All was dark and gloomy, but here was a chance of reconciliation and of gaining the assent of the opposing party to the claims of Allah, though in a modified form. So the story goes that one day Muhammad came upon a group of the leading men of Mecca near the Ka'ba. He joined them and in a friendly manner began to recite the opening verses of Sura An-Najm (liii). It began with a strong assertion of his own position :—

By the Star when it setteth
Your compatriot erreth not, nor is led astray ;
Neither speaketh he from mere impulse,
The Qur'an is no other than a revelation revealed to him,
One mighty in power taught it him. 1-5.

Referring then to certain mysteries which had been revealed to him, he went on to speak of the Meccan idols:—

Do you see al-Lat and al-'Uzza
And Manat the third idol besides. 19-20.

1 See Muir, Life of Mahomet, vol. ii., pp. 150-8.

And then came words meant to reconcile the Quraish, who were listening with deepened interest and who now, with much astonishment and pleasure, heard the words:—

These are the exalted Females
And verily their intercession is to be hoped for.1

The closing words of the Sura, as Muhammad recited it, are :—

Prostrate yourself then to God and worship. 62.

With one accord they all did so. It was a remarkable scene. The Quraish were delighted and said, 'Now we know that it is the Lord alone that giveth life and taketh it away; that createth and supporteth. These our goddesses make intercession for us with Him, and as thou hast conceded unto them a position we are content to follow thee.' But Muhammad soon awoke to the fact that he had made a mistake and that he must at once retire from the false position he had taken up. He saw that the people still worshipped idols and that his concession had done no practical good. Then, according to Tradition, God consoled him by the

1 Some Muslim historians and commentators try to explain this as a mere magical effect produced by Satan on the ears of the audience, and say that Muhammad neither heard nor knew the words until Gabriel brought the message [Sura Al-Hajj (xxii) 51] that it was the devil who uttered them. We read in the Raudatu'l-Ahbab, 'When the Sura "By the Star" came down, the Lord of the World went to the holy house of prayer and read that Sura in the assembly of the Quraish. In reading it he paused between the verses, to enable the people to take them in and remember them entirely. When he reached the noble verse, " Do you see al-Lat and al-'Uzza and Manat the third besides," then Satan found it possible to cause the stupefied ears of the Infidels to hear these words, "These are the exalted females, and verily their intercession is to be hoped for." On hearing these words, the Infidels were exceedingly delighted.' Some authorities deny the whole thing and say that it was an invention of the Zendiqs (infidels).