WHEN Muhammad arose, Christianity had not obtained any very considerable hold upon the Arabs. "After five centuries of Christian evangelization, we can point to but a sprinkling here and there of Christian converts: the Banu Harith of Najran, the Banu Hanifah of Yamamah, some of the Banu Tai at Taimah, and hardly any more 1." In his youth, we are told, Muhammad heard the preaching of Quss, the Bishop of Najran, and he met many monks and saw much of professing Christians when he visited Syria as a trader before his assumption of the prophetic office. But what he saw and heard of the Church had little effect upon him for good. Nor need we wonder at this. "What Muhammad and his Khalifahs found in all directions whither their scimitars cut a path for them," says Isaac Taylor 2, speaking of a somewhat later period in words which nevertheless describe Muhammad's early experience also, "was

1 Sir W. Muir, Life of Mahomet, 3rd ed., p. lxxxiv.
2 Ancient Christianity. vol. i. p. 266.

a superstition so abject, an idolatry so gross and shameless, church doctrines so arrogant, church practices so dissolute and so puerile, that the strong minded Arabians felt themselves inspired anew as God's messengers to reprove the errors of the world, and authorized as God's avengers to punish apostate Christendom." The Greek monk who wrote the History of the Martyrdom of Athanasius the Persian, speaking of the sufferings inflicted on the people of Palestine when it was for a brief space in the hands of the Persians in Muhammad's time, draws a fearful picture 1 of the wickedness of the professing Christians there, and does not hesitate to say that it was for this reason that God gave them over to the cruelty of their Zoroastrian persecutors. In the Book of Revelation (ix. 20, 21) the prevalence of idol-worship and other sins such as those described by this monk is given as the reason why the Muhammadan power was to be permitted to oppress the Eastern Church. Speaking of the same time Mosheim says, "During 2 this century true religion lay buried under a senseless mass of superstitions, and was unable to raise her head. The earlier Christians had worshipped only God and His Son; but those called Christians in this century worshipped the wood of a cross, the images

1 Ποικίλως και πολυτρόπως την αμαρτίαν χειρογραφήσαντες και οιμασιν μεν ανθρωπίνοις την γην φοινίξαντες, πορνείαις δε και μοιχείαις και ταις αλλαισ αναριθμήτοις πονηραίς ... την οργην τον Θεου καθ εαυτων εκκαύσαντες, κτλ. Acta Martyrii S. Athanasii Persae, p.2.
2 Cent. VII, pt. 11, cap iii. § 1, ed. Reid.