of the colour of the threads is that the Muslims were commanded to fast from dawn till dark. When the question arose at what precise moment the day began, it was necessary to lay down a rule on the subject, as is done in this verse. The rule is taken from that of the Jews on the same subject, for in Mishnah Berakhoth (i., ยง 2) the day is said to begin at the moment "at which one can distinguish between a black thread and a white one."

In every country where Muslims are to be found, they are directed, whenever any one of the five fixed times for prayer comes round, to offer the stated prayers in the spot where they happen to be at the time, whether in the house, the mosque, or the street. Many of them do so, especially in public places. This practice seems at the present day to be peculiar to them. But if we inquire what its origin was, we must again turn to the Jews. Those of them who lived in Arabia in Muhammad's time were the spiritual and, in a measure, the actual descendants of those Pharisees who are described in the Gospels as making void the word of God through their excessive reverence for their traditions 1. In our Lord's time these Pharisees are reproved for loving "to stand and pray in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets 2," in order to gain from men full credit for their devotion. The resemblance between the practice of the Pharisees of old and that of the

1 Matt. xv. 6; Mk. vii. 13, &c.
2 Matt. vi. 5.

Muslims of to-day is so striking that some of the opponents of Christianity among the latter have alleged this as a proof that the Gospels are now interpolated, since they assert that the verses above referred to are such an exact description of Muhammadan methods of worship that they must have been written by some Christian who had seen the Muslims at their devotions and wished to condemn them! Nor was it unnatural for Muhammad and his followers to take the Jews for their models in this matter. They knew that the latter were descendants of Abraham and were the "People of the Book." Hence, attaching undue importance as they did to outward forms in worship, it was not strange that they should think that the Jewish method of adoration must be the right one. Muhammad, of course, told his followers that he had been taught by Gabriel how to worship, and to the present day they imitate him in every prostration.

We shall mention only one other point out of many in which Jewish practices have very clearly influenced Islam. In Surah IV., An Nisa, 3, Muhammad laid down a rule restricting for the future the number of wives, which each of his followers might have at any one time, to four at most. Commentators tell us that previously several of them had many more legal wives than this. The rule did not apply to Muhammad himself, as