HANIFS AND THEIR INFLUENCE
Throughout this whole account we notice that Ibn
Hisham is scrupulously careful to give us the very words
which his predecessor Ibn Ishaq had used in his narrative.
We have therefore something definite to go upon in considering
the history and beliefs of these reformers, and especially
of Zaid, whose touching story and whose noble verses
show what an influence for good he might have exercised
upon Muhammad. We shall see reason to believe that he
a certain amount of influence, and we may well wish
it had had more effect upon Muhammad's life and character.
Ibn Hisham, again on Ibn Ishaq's authority,
informs us that Al Khattab, who was Zaid's uncle,
reproved the latter for abandoning the religion of his
people, and persecuted him to such an extent that he
was unable to live in Mecca any longer. He seems to
have travelled in other parts of the country, but at
last took up his residence in a cave on Mount Hira .
There he lived to a great age, and when he died he was
buried at the foot of the mountain. His death is said
to have occurred only five years before Muhammad first
put forth, in A.D. 612, his claim to the prophetic office.
Now Ibn Ishaq tells us that it was the custom of the
Quraish "in the Days of Ignorance" to leave
the city and spend a month upon Mount Hira — the month
of Ramadan, as he implies — every year in the practice
of penance (tahnannuth) .
It is clear that it was in consequence of this custom
that Muhammad afterwards selected the whole of that
particular month to be observed by his followers for
ever as a time of abstinence. As it fell in summer in
his time, this retreat may have been a welcome change
to the wealthier members of the community, who were
thus enabled to leave for a time the hot and close streets