MUHAMMAD was by no means the first of his nation who became convinced of the folly and worthlessness of the popular religion of the Arabs of the time, and desired to effect a reform. Some years before his appearance as a Prophet, as we learn from his earliest extant biographers, a number of men arose in Medina, Taif, and Mecca, and perhaps in other places 1, who rejected the idol-worship and polytheism of the people at large and endeavoured to find the true religion. Whether the first impulse came from the Jews, as is very probable, or from some other quarter, the men of whom we speak determined to restore the worship of God Most High (Allah Ta'ala') to its proper place by abolishing, not only the cult of the inferior deities who had almost entirely supplanted Him, but also many of the most immoral of the practices then prevalent, opposed as they were to the human conscience and to humanity itself. Whether

1 Besides the authorities mentioned further on, see an interesting story about Abu Dharr, related by Muslim in his Kitabu'l Fadail.

through the survival of a tradition that Abraham, whom they claimed as their ancestor, had known and worshipped the One True God, or through the statement of the Jews to that effect, these reformers asserted that they were seeking for the "Religion of Abraham." It may have been Jewish exclusiveness which prevented them from accepting the faith of these latter in the form which it had then assumed, and joining the synagogue. Or, on the other hand, national and family pride may have rendered them unwilling to accept the religion of foreign settlers in their country. It is also possible that some of these reformers may have been able to perceive that the Jewish religion of the time was by no means free from gross superstitions; and the fact that the Christians accused the Jews of having rejected and slain their Messiah, and pointed to their fallen condition as a proof of God's wrath against them, would also have some influence in preventing these more enlightened Arabs from accepting Talmudic Judaism. Whatever the cause may have been, the fact is that the reformers came forth in the first instance as inquirers and not as Jewish or Christian proselytes. The chief of them who are known to us by name are Abu Amir at Medina, Ummiyyah ibn Zalt at Taif, and at Mecca Waraqah, Ubaidu'llah, 'Uthman and Zaid ibn 'Amr. Others 1 doubtless

1 History mentions twelve of Muhammad's ‘Companions’ who at first were Hanifs.