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TRANSLATED FROM THE ARABIC
BN MAC GUCKIN DE SLANE,
MEMBER OF THE COUNCIL OF THE ASIATIC SOCIETY OF PARIS, CORRESPONDING MEMBER OF THE ACADEMY
BENJAMIN DUPRAT, BOOKSELLER TO THE INSTITUT DE FRANCE AND THE BIBLIOTHÈQUE ROYALE,
AND ALLEN AND CO., LEADENHALL-STREET, LONDON.
"It is a curious circumstance that the majority of the learned amongst the "Moslims belonged to a foreign race; very few persons of Arabian descent having obtained distinction in the sciences connected with the law or in "those based upon human reason: and yet the promulgator of the law was an Arab, and the Koran, that source of so many sciences, an Arabic book." The justness of this observation, made by Ibn Khaldûn in his Prolegomena, will be admitted by those who may have occasion to consult Ibn Khallikân's BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY: they cannot have failed to remark that many of the individuals to whom the author has devoted an article are designated by him as mawlas, a term denoting their foreign origin and the precise meaning of which shall be given farther on. The reason assigned by Ibn Khaldûn for this peculiarity may not be completely satisfactory, but it is stated in a manner so highly characteristic of that writer that it cannot fail to interest the European reader.
The (Moslim) religion," says he, when first promulgated, did not "include (the knowledge of) either science or art; such was the extreme simplicity of that nomadic civilisation (to which this doctrine was adapted). The articles of the law, or, in other terms, the commandments and prohibitions of God, were then borne (not in books but) in the hearts of men, "who knew that these maxims drew their origin from the Book of God "and from the practice (sunna) of the Prophet himself. The people, at that