included, and begged of him not to make any fu ther disturbance about it.

And now we have seen Damascus, the most noble and ancient city of Syria, taken by the Saracens. We must now leave a while the conquerors in possession, and the miserable inhabitants in their deplorable circumstances, and take a view of affairs at Medina. Abubeker* the caliph died the same day that Damascus was taken,† which was on Friday the 23d of August, in A.D. 634, and of the Hejirah the 13th.‡ There are various reports concerning his death; some say that he was poisoned by the Jews, eating rice with Hareth Ebn Caldah, and that they both died of it within a twelvemonth after.§ But Ayesha says, that he bathed himself upon a cold day, which threw him into a fever, of which he died within fifteen days. ||

During Abubeker's sickness he appointed Omar to say prayers publicly in his place; and when he perceived himself near his departure, he called his secretary, and gave him directions to write as follows:¶

"In the name of the most merciful God.

"This is the testament of Abubeker Ebn Abu Kohafa, which he made at that time when he was just going out of this world, and entering into the other; a time in which the infidel shall believe, and the wicked person shall be assured, and the liar shall speak truth ;** I appoint Omar Ebn Al Khattab my successor over you; therefore hearken to him, and obey him. If he does that which is right and just, it is


Elmakin. Respecting the date of the capture of Damascus, authorities differ, some placing it in A.D. 634, and others in A.D. 635. The duration of the siege, too, is equally uncertain, Elmakin stating it to be six months, while Abulfeda gives seventy days.

+ Abulfeda.

§ Ahmod Ebn Mohammed Ebn Abdi Rabbihi and Abulfeda.

|| Dr. Weil, on the authority of the Zaban, says, that this latter account is the most probable, it being related by Ayesha and Abdarrhaman, the son and daughter of Abubeker.

¶ Author of the History of the Holy Land, MS. Arab. Pocock. No. 362. ** That is, the infidel and the wicked shall then be assured of the reality of those things relating to a future state, which they disbelieved and ridiculed in their lifetime.

what I think and know of him. If he does otherwise, every man must be rewarded according to his works. I intend to do for the best, but I do not know hidden things; but those who do evil shall find the consequences of it. Fare ye well, and the mercy and blessing of God be upon you."


When he designed to make Omar his successor, Omar desired to be excused, and said he had no need of that place. To which Abubeker answered, that "The place had need of him," and so appointed him caliph against his will. Then he gave him such instructions as he thought proper; and when Omar was gone out of his presence, he lifted up his hand, and said, O God! I intend nothing by this but the people's good. I have set over them the best man among them; and yet I fear lest there should be a difference among them. They are thy servants: unite them with thy hand, and make their affairs prosperous, and make him a good governor; and spread abroad the doctrine of the prophet of mercy, and make his followers good men."

Elmakin says, that Abubeker was the first that gathered together the scattered chapters of the Koran, and digested it into one volume: for in Mohammed's time they were only in loose and dispersed writings. But when in the war which they had with Moseilama, of which we have already given an account, a great many of those who could read and repeat the Koran were killed, Abubeker began to be afraid lest any part of it should be lost. He therefore gathered together what was extant in writing, or what any of the Mussulmans could repeat, and making one volume of it, called it Mushaph, which in the Arabic tongue signifies a book, or volume.* This book was committed to the custody of Hafsa, Omar's daughter, and one of Mohammed's wives. But Joannes Andreas, who was himself a Moor by birth, and alfaqui, or chief doctor of the Mussulmans in Sciatinia, in the kingdom of Valencia in Spain, and afterwards converted to the Christian religion in the year of our Lord 1487, says, that this collection was not made till the time of Othman, the third caliph after Mohammed. Eutychius, in his annals, says the I believe them both to be mistaken, because I find in


* Abulfeda.

Abulfeda,* that Othman, when he came to be caliph, observing the variety of different readings which had grown into the text, copied this book which had been delivered to Hafsa, and abolished and destroyed all other copies which differed from it; obliging all the Mohammedans to receive this copy as the only authentic Koran. And it was this action of his, I am fully persuaded, that gave occasion to the report, that Othman was the first who gathered the chapters into one volume: a work of so much importance, that it can scarcely be believed to have escaped the zeal and diligence of Abubeker and Omar. [See reign of Othman.]

As to the person and character of this caliph,† he was a tall, lean man, of a ruddy complexion, and a thin beard, which to make it look more graceful, he used to tinge with such colours as are frequently used in the eastern countries for this purpose. He never hoarded any money in the public treasury; but every Friday at night he distributed all that there was among persons of merit; to the soldiers first, and after them to those that were any other way deserving. His chastity, temperance, and neglect of the things of this life, were exemplary. He desired Ayesha to take an account of all that he had gotten since he was caliph, and distribute it among the Mussulmans; being resolved not to be enriched by his preferment, but serve the public gratis. And this resolution he kept to, never naving taken out of the public treasury, in return for all his services, more than three drachmas (a piece of gold in use among the Arabs at that time, the true value of which is now unknown to us). The value of his whole inventory amounted to no more than five of those drachmas; which, when Omar heard, he said, that Abubeker had left his successor a hard pattern.

It is usual with some authors, when they give characters of great men, to mention some of their sentences, or wise sayings; the Arabs have not been deficient in this particular. Nisaburiensis (called so from Nisabour, the metropolis of Khorassan, as it is most common for Arabic authors to be distinguished by the place of their birth as much as by their names) has collected in a little book the grave and witty sayings of Mohammed and his successors, and some of the

*Kitab Almoctaser phi Abbari'l baslar.

+ Elmakin.

kings of Persia. Among some others which he has recorded of Abubeker, there are these two very remarkable ones: "Good actions are a guard against the blows of adversity." And this: "Death is the easiest (or least considerable) of all things after it, and the hardest of all things before it."

He was sixty-three years old when he died, having reigned two (lunar) years three months and nine days.



Hej. 13-23, A.d. 634—643.

ABUBEKER having by his last testament taken care of the succession, all that disturbance was prevented which had happened on the death of Mohammed. We do not find in any author, that Ali or his party made any opposition; but the same day that Abubeker died, Omar was invested with the regal and the pontifical dignity, and saluted by universal consent, "The caliph of the caliph of the apostle of God;" that is, "The successor of the successor of Mohammed." But when they considered that this title was something too long; and that at the coming on of every new caliph, it would grow longer still, they invented another, which should serve for all the caliphs to come, and that was, "Amiro'l Mumenina ;" Imperator Credentium," Emperor of the Believers." And this title was ever afterwards used by all succeeding caliphs, Omar being the first that was ever called by it.



Being thus confirmed in his new dignity, Omar ascended the pulpit to make a speech to the people. He did not say much; but the substance of it was, "That he should not have taken such a troublesome charge upon himself, had it not been for the good opinion that he had of them, and the great hopes which he had conceived of their perseverance in their duty, and doing that which was commendable and praiseworthy." With this speech the inauguration was concluded, and all men went home well satisfied. The ceremony itsell was simple enough, as in a government which was yet in its infancy, and had not as yet attained to that grandeur at which it afterwards arrived.

Omar having taken upon him the government, was desirous

of nothing more than to make some conquests in Irak. With this view, he sent Abu Obeidah Ebn Masud with an army, joining to him Al Mothanna, Amrou, and Salit, who marched with their forces till they came to Thaalabiyah, where they pitched their tents near the river. Hereupon, Salit, after duly considering all things, and justly fearing that the forces of the Persians were too great for them to encounter, did what he could to persuade Abu Obeidah Ebn Masud not to cross the river.* He reminded him that the Persians were evidently much superior in numbers, and therefore it would be more advisable to reserve themselves for a fairer opportunity, retiring, in the meanwhile, into the deserts, and there secure themselves as well as they could, till they had sent to the caliph for fresh supplies. But Abu Obeidah was so far from being persuaded by what he said, that he called him coward. At this, Mothanna took him up, and told him, that what Salit had said was not the effect of cowardice, but that he had only laid before him what he thought the best and most prudent course. He added that he also was of the same opinion himself, and he bade him therefore have a care how he passed over the enemies' side, lest he should plunge himself, and all that were with him, into peril, from which he would find it difficult to extricate them. But Abu Obeidah, deaf to all good counsel, and impatient of delay, commanded a bridge to be immediately made, and marched over his army. Salit and Mothanna, though they did not at all approve of his conduct, yet having offered him their best advice, though in vain, went over after him. The soldiers followed with a heavy

* Major Price informs us, that on the death of Abubeker, the Persian government commenced formidable preparations for attacking the force under Mothanna, who at that time presided over the interests of the new religion in Irak. About the same time an unknown person appeared to this commander in a dream, and presenting him with a standard, announced the dissolution of the Persian empire, and required him to proceed immediately to Medina, to demand the assistance of Omar. Accordingly Mothanna repaired to the caliph for reinforcement; and as a proof that his fortunes were become the peculiar care of providence, we are told, that whilst he and his followers were on a journey through the desert, they lost their way; but in the midst of their perplexity and alarm, were suddenly and miraculously relieved by the voice of an invisible guide, which chanting in a melodious measure the triumph of Islamism, and the prostration of the standard of infidelity, re-conducted them to their proper road.

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