a kind of national Pantheon. There can be little doubt, moreover, that these local and tribal deities — for such they were — had in practice cast entirely into the shade among the great mass of the people the worship of "God Most High."

It should, however, be noticed that, rightly or wrongly, the earliest Arabian historians assert that the "association of partners with God" was of comparatively recent origin in those parts of Arabia when Islam arose. Tradition 1, said to rest on Muhammad's authority, informs us that idolatry had been introduced from Syria, and gives us the names of those who were chiefly instrumental in introducing it. This is stated to have occurred only about fifteen generations before Muhammad. An exception to this must be made in the case of the veneration paid to sacred stones. This was common among the people of Palestine in the patriarchal period, and was doubtless of immemorial antiquity in Arabia. Ibn Ishaq 2 endeavours to account for it by supposing that the Meccans used to carry with them on their journeys pieces of stone from the Ka'bah and paid reverence to them because they came from the Haram or Holy Temple. Herodotus 3 mentions the use of seven stones by the Arabs when taking solemn oaths. The honour, almost amounting to worship, still paid by Muslim pilgrims to the famous meteoric Hajaru'l Aswad or

1 Siratu'r Rasul, pp. 27 sqq.
2 Ibid.
3 Herodotus III. 8, quoted above, p. 32.

Black Stone, which is built into the wall of the Ka'bah, is one of the many Islamic customs which have been derived from those of the Arabs who lived long before Muhammad's time - The kiss which the pious Muhammadan pilgrim bestows on it is a survival of the old practice, which was a form of worship in Arabia as in many other lands. Many tales were told regarding this stone in pre- Muhammadan times, and these are still firmly believed. A Tradition relates that it descended from Paradise, and was originally of a pure white colour, but has become black through the sins of mankind, or, according to another account, through contact with the lips of One ceremonially impure. As it is now known to be of meteoric origin, part of the story is readily accounted for.

Not only in reference to belief in Allah Ta'ala' and to reverence for the Black Stone and the Ka'bah but in many other matters also Islam has borrowed from the Arabs of more ancient times. It is not too much to say that most of the religions rites and ceremonies which now prevail throughout the Muhammadan world are identical 1 with those practised in Arabia from immemorial antiquity. For example, Herodotus 2 tells us that in his time the Arabs used to shave the hair around their temple and cut the rest close. This is done by Muham-

1 Regarding the observance of the month of Ramadan as a time of "penance," vide pp. 269 sqq.
2 Quoted above, p. 32.