INFLUENCE OF SABIAN AND JEWISH IDEAS AND PRACTICES.
WHEN Muhammad appeared as a prophet, although the
Arabs had many religious ideas and practices in which
they were agreed, they possessed no volume which could
pretend to contain a Divine revelation, and to which
Muhammad could appeal when he claimed to be commissioned
to lead them back to the purer faith of their fathers.
Yet in Arabia there dwelt certain communities which
possessed what they regarded as inspired books, and
it was natural that Muhammad and his followers should
therefore feel no little interest in and respect for
the ideas and rites of these different religious sects.
The title "People of the Book," given more
especially perhaps to the Jews, but also to the Christians,
in the Qur'an is an evidence of this. The four communities
who then possessed book-religions in Arabia were the
Jews, the Christians, the Magians or Zoroastrians, and
the Sabians. These are all mentioned together in Surah
XXII., Al Hajj, 17. We shall see that each of these
exercised a considerable influence over nascent Islam,
but that of the Sabians was by no