have been contested; and the strife has too often led to cruel persecution, and
even to bloody fields of battle. Such are the doctrines of the divine succession
to the Caliphate; the eternity of the Corân, or its creation; predestination,
or, free-will; and the imperceptibility of the Deity; or the beatific vision as
interpreted by anthropomorphism.
But it would only lead us astray if we sat down to the study of the Corân,
expecting to find there the traces of such-like dogmas, or indeed of any settled
system of doctrine. The Corân was the reflex of Mahomet's own convictions, or
rather of the teaching he desired to impress upon the minds of others. His ideas
changed, as we have seen, upon many important points during the progress of his
ministry. His deliverances were elicited by the events of the passing moment,
and from them took their form and colouring. We must therefore accept his
differing statements just as we find them, and should greatly err if we sought
to draw them into any consistent shape and system.
Some doctrines, indeed, are inculcated throughout the Corân without
variation or inconsistency. Such are the Divine unity, perfections, and
all-pervading providence; the existence of good angels, as well as of Satan and
the fallen angels; the immortality of the soul; the resurrection and retribution
of good and evil; the sin of idolatry; the inspiration of Mahomet himself, and
of the former prophets. Others, again, must be qualified by
counter-statements, as predestination, salvation without works, and the reward
of good works.