fore give him good news of a sore punishment 1.’"

Muhammad's answer to the charge thus brought against him cannot have been altogether satisfactory to his audience, nor can we deem it sufficient to deter us from inquiring whether an examination of certain passages of the Qur'an does not bear out the assertion thus made by his early opponents.

The stories of "Rustam and Isfandiyar and the Kings of Persia" which were referred to by Nadr are doubtless among those which, some generations later, Firdausi, the most celebrated of the epic poets of Persia, learnt from the collection which he tells us a Persian villager had made, and which Firdausi has left us in poetic form in the

1 والنضر بن الحارث بن كلدة بن علقمة بن عبد مناف بن عبد الدار بن قصى كان إذا جلس رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم مجلساً فدعا فيه إلى الله تعالى وتلا فيه القرآن وحذر قريشاً ما أصاب الأمم الخالية خلفهُ فى مجلسه إذا قام فحدّثهم عن رستم الشديد وعن أسفنديار وملوك فارس ثم يقول والله ما محمد بأحسن حديثاً منى وما حديثه إلا أساطير الأولين اكتتبها كما اكتتبتها فأنزل الله فيه " وقالوا أساطير الأولين اكتتبها فهى تملى عليه بكرةً وأصيلاً قلْ أنزلهُ الذى يعلمُ السرّ فى السموات والأرض أنهُ كان غفوراً رحيماً " ونزل فيهِ " إذا تتلى عليه آياتنا قال أساطير الأولين " ونزل فيه " ويل لكل افاك أثيم يسمعُ آيات الله تتلى عليهِ ثم يُصرّ مستكبراً كأن لم يسمعها فبشّرْهُ بعذاب أليم "(Siratu’r Rasul.)

Shahnameh. Doubtless all these tales are very ancient in some form, but we need not depend upon the Shahnameh for those which we should have to quote or refer to; and this is well, because the authority of a work, which, in its present poetical form, is later than Muhammad's time, might not be deemed sufficient. Fortunately in the Avesta and other books of the Parsis or Zoroastrians we have information which cannot be called in question on the ground of antiquity, and it is to these we shall appeal.

It may be safely concluded that, since the tales of the kings of Persia were of interest to the Arabs and they had heard of Rustam and Isfandiyar, they are unlikely to have been quite ignorant of the story of Jamshid. Nor is it probable that the Persian fables regarding the ascension to heaven of Arta Viraf and of Zoroaster before him, their descriptions of Paradise and the Bridge of Chinvat and tile tree Hvapah, the legend of Ahriman's coming up out of primaeval darkness, and many other such marvellous tales, had remained entirely unknown to the Arabs. If they were known, it was natural that Muhammad should have made some use of them, as he did of Christian and Jewish legends. We must therefore inquire whether such fancies have left any trace upon the Qur'an and the Traditions current among the Muslims. We shall see that not only is this the case, but that in some instances these