mad's time (even those who were most bitterly opposed to him in Mecca, and who had forced most of his early disciples to flee to Abyssinia to save their lives) joined with him in worshipping God Most High (Allah Ta'ala'), when he for a time seemed to withdraw his opposition to their honouring their inferior deities also. He went one day, we are told, to pray in the Ka'bah, the great national sanctuary at Mecca, of which his family had been at one time the guardians. There he began to repeat Surah An Najm (Surah LIII.). When he had recited the nineteenth and twentieth verses, "Have ye not then seen Al-Lat and Al-'Uzza' and Manat, the other, the third?" it is stated that Satan impelled him to add the words, "These are the Exalted Beauties, and verily their intercession may indeed be hoped for." On hearing these words all the Arabs present joined him in worship, and the rumour spread everywhere that they had all embraced Islam. The story is well authenticated and is most probably true. But in any case its very existence shows that the opponents of Muhammad found no difficulty in accepting his teaching as to the existence and supremacy of Allah, and that they worshipped the inferior deities as

end of the above extract. Al Ghazali, Baihaqi, and others fiercely deny the truth of the prophet's fall into approval of idolatry, even for a moment. But, unless the story be true, it is difficult to account for its acceptance by the above authorities; and the verse we have just referred to seems to require the story to explain it.

intercessors with Him. It is but fair to add that Muhammad soon withdrew the words which acknowledged the existence and influence of these goddesses, substituting for them those now found in the Surah, "Have ye male (issue), and hath He (i.e. God) female? That indeed were an unfair division. They are nought but names, which ye and your fathers have named 1."

Ibn Ishaq, Ibn Hisham and Arabic writers in general state that the Arabs, and in particular those that boasted descent from Ishmael, were at first worshippers of God alone, and that, though after a time they fell away into idolatry and polytheism - if the word may be applied to such religious ideas and practices as those which we have described - they nevertheless always remembered that God Most High was superior to and Ruler over all the inferior objects of their worship.

When we come to consider the influence which Jewish and Christian tenets exercised over the mind of Muhammad, we shall see that these religions no doubt strengthened his belief in Monotheism. But it was not a new belief among the Arabs of the time, since, as we have seen, they had always admitted it, at least in theory. Yet the inferior deities whom they worshipped were very numerous, for it is said that there were no fewer than 360 idols in the Ka'bah, which had become

1 Surah LIII., An Najm, 21, 22, 23.