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the holy Kaaba. But Mahomet himself discountenanced such fictitious pedigrees. "Beyond Adnân," he said, "none but the Lord knoweth, and the genealogists lie";—a safe enough judgment, seeing that Adnân (grandfather of the Nizâr spoken of above) was at the distance of two-and-twenty generations. In point of fact, the whole of the patriarchal genealogies are an undisguised plagiarism from the Old Testament and the legends of rabbinical writers. They are based upon nothing native, not even upon Arab legend. All that is not derived from the Rabbins of Yemen and Syria is pure invention. Sprenger has clearly proved this; and the large Jewish element is admitted by Mahometan writers themselves.1 

There is yet one remaining source from which we derive information regarding Mahomet and the early Arabs, namely, the writings of contemporary POETS. No doubt poems and fragments of poetry, earlier even than the age of Mahomet, were handed down for a time in greater or less purity. Tradition makes frequent mention of Poems, satirical, eulogistic, and elegiac, having direct reference to the Prophet; and these are constantly quoted both by Biographers and Genealogists. But a class of littérateurs sprang up whose art and pride it was to counterfeit the compositions of the older poets. By study and practice they acquired so close a perception of the style and language of each period and of the individual poets who flourished in it, that they could assign any line quoted at random to its proper author, and could even coin verses cast so delicately in the desired type that the most careful scrutiny of the scholar could not always detect the forgery. Thus later pieces often circulated in the name of early authors, whose poems were interpolated with foreign matter blending with the original too closely to be afterwards separated.2 

1 See Muir's Mahomet, vol. i. pp. lxx., cvii., and cxciii.
2 This of course is quite distinct from the more innocent practice of the Biographers, who put speeches and sayings of their heroes sometimes into the shape of verse. The use of the direct form of address fostered the concoction of set speeches, like those of the Roman historians. Deception was not intended in either case. No one imagines that the speeches pretend to be in the exact words, but merely in a supposed likely form.


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