of Abdallah ibn Ismaîl the Hâshimite to Abd al Masîh ibn Ishâc al Kindy, inviting him to embrace Islam; and the reply of Abd al Masîh, refuting the same, and inviting the Hâshimite to embrace the Christian Faith."

The book, we learn from a note at the end, was printed from two MSS. obtained, one in Egypt, the other in Constantinople. Neither has the name of the copyist, nor the year of transcription. They are both said in this note, to be full of errors and discrepancies. But the book has been edited with care and intelligence, and as a whole may be regarded as a correct reproduction of the original. The editor (Dr. Tien) certainly deserves great credit for the way in which the task is executed. I proceed to give a brief account of the work.

The letters, themselves anonymous, are preceded by a short preface:

In the Name of GOD, the ONE, the ETERNAL.

It is related that in the time of ABDALLAH AL MÂMÛN. there lived a man of Hâshimite descent, and of Abbasside lineage, nearly related to the CALIPH. The same was famed, among high and low, for devotion to Islam, and for the careful observance of all its ordinances. This person had a friend, learned and virtuous, endowed with the gifts of culture and science, of pure and noble descent from the BENI KINDA, and distinguished for his attachment to the Christian faith. The same was in the service of the Caliph, and nigh unto him in honour and dignity. Now these two men had a mutual love, and an implicit trust in the friendship of each other. AL MÂMÛN, Commander of the Faithful, moreover, and his whole


Court, were aware of this. But we are averse from mentioning their names, lest it should do harm. The HÂSHIMITE wrote to the Christian a letter, of which this is a copy.1

The Hâshimite's letter follows immediately on this. He remind his friend that he, though a Mahometan, is himself well versed in the Scriptures, and in the practices and doctrines of the various Christian sects; and he then proceeds to explain the teaching of Islam, and to press its acceptance on him. He begs of his friend to reply without fear or favour

1 I subjoin the Arabic text:—  

بسم الله الواحد الصمد

ذكر أنه كان فى زمن عبد الله المأمون رجل من نبلاء الهاشميّين وأظنّه من ولد العباس قريب القرابة من الخليفة معروفٌ بالنسك والورع والتمسك بدين الإسلام وشدّة الإغراق فيه والقيام بفرائضه وسننه مشهورٌ بذلك عند الخاصة والعامة وكان له صديق من الفضلاء ذو أدب وعلم كندىّ الأصل مشهورٌ بالتمسك بدين النصرانيّة وكان فى خدمة الخليفة وقريباً منه مكاناً، فكانا يتوادّان ويتحابّان ويثق كل منهما بصاحبه وبالإخلاص له وكان أمير المؤمنين وجماعة أصحابه والمتّصلون به قد عرفوهما بذلك وكرهنا أن نذكر اسميهما لعلة من العلل فكتب الهاشمى الى النصرانى كتابا ًهذه نسخته.