more or less sympathized with these men, though they commanded no very extensive following.

As these reformers have left us no written record of their beliefs, except one poem which we shall have to consider in due course, it may be of importance to state what authority we have for the statements which we shall make regarding them. Our chief and practically our only authority 1 is the earliest biographer of Muhammad whose work has come down to us, Ibn Hisham. The first writer known to us by name who composed an account of Muhammad's life was Zuhri, who died in the year 124 of the Hijra. His information was drawn from what was handed down orally by those who had personally known Muhammad, and especially by 'Urwah, one of 'Ayishah's kindred. In many respects, doubtless, errors and exaggerations may, during the course of years, have crept into such Traditions; yet if Zuhri's book were now extant it would be of very great value indeed. But unfortunately it has not been preserved, unless indeed (as is very probable) Ibn Ishaq, one of Zuhri's disciples, who died A.H. 151, made use of it in the composition of his own work on Muhammad's life. Doubtless, however, Ibn Ishaq added much information which he had collected from other traditional sources, true or false. But even Ibn Ishaq's book has not come

1 Sprenger, however, quotes others which he thinks worthy of credence.

down to us in a complete and independent form, though much of it is preserved in the numerous quotations made from it by Ibn Hisham (died A. H. 213) in his Siratu'r Rasul or "Biography of the Apostle," the most ancient which we possess of a large number of works which bear the same title. This book is of great value in all matters connected with Muhammad and his times, for it is evidently far less legendary and fabulous than all other works on the subject.

What Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Hisham tell us about the Arabian reformers in particular is worthy of the more credit on this account, because they had no interest in praising them or in exaggerating the resemblance between their teaching and that of Muhammad. It does not seem to have occurred to these writers that any use could be made of their statements by adversaries, and hence they seem to have told the truth as far as they knew it. It is quite possible that the resemblance between their doctrines and those which Muhammad promulgated may have been greater than the information at our disposal enables us to show but it can hardly have been less, for the reason we have stated. We may therefore safely rely upon Ibn Hisham's account as containing at least a minimum of what they taught, and compare it with the Qur'an.

In order to enable our readers to judge for themselves, we here give a translation of Ibn