215 A.H., when we assume the work to have been written.1 While the incidental references to dates and historical facts are thus in exact and happy keeping with the professed age of the work, there is throughout not a single anachronism or forced and unnatural allusion,—which in a person writing at a later period, and travelling over so large a field, would hardly have been possible.

Still more striking are the aptness and propriety of the political allusions. These are, in the strictest affinity, not only with the traditions of an Abbasside dynasty, but of a court which had become partisan of the Alyite faction, which freely admitted Motázelite or latitudinarian sentiments, and which had shortly before declared the Coran to be created and not eternal. The Omeyyad race are spoken of with virulent reprobation; the time of Yezîd is named the "reign of terror"; and Hajjâj, with his tyranny and the imputation of his having corrupted the Coran, is referred to just in the bitter terms current at the time. Abu Bekr, Omar, and Othmân are treated as usurpers of the Divine right of succession which (it is implied) vested in Ali. I need hardly point out how naturally all this accords with the sentiments

1 لأن هذه نيف ومائتا سنة قد مضت من ذلك الوقت
The words imply "two hundred and odd years," or a little over 200. The edict against the dogma of the eternity of the Coran was issued, I think, about the year 211 or 212 A.H., and our Discussion took place probably a year or two later, say 215 A.H.


predominating at the Court of Al Mâmûn; but which certainly would not have been tolerated some forty or fifty years later.1

The freedom of our Author's treatment of Islam would have been permitted at none but the most latitudinarian court. He casts aside the prophetical claims of Mahomet, censures some of his actions in the strongest language, reprobates the ordinances of Islam, especially those relating to women, and condemns Jehâd with scathing denunciation. It is difficult to conceive how such plain-speaking was tolerated even at the court of Al Mâmûn; at any other, the Apology would have had small chance of seeing the light, or the writer of escaping with his head upon his shoulders. That the work did (as we know) gain currency can only have been due to its appearance at this particular era.

These remarks apply with very special force to the section on the Coran, since it seems highly probable that the Apology was written shortly after the famous edict of Al Mâmûn which denied the eternal existence of the Moslem Scripture. The composition of the Coran is assailed by our Author in the most incisive style. First, a Christian monk inspired it, and then Rabbis interpolated it with Jewish tales and puerilities. It was collected in a loose and haphazard way. Besides the authorised edition imposed by the tyranny of Othmân

1  See my Rede Lecture on the "Early Caliphate." Smith & Elder, 1881, p. 21.