The Algerine captive; or, The life and adventures of Doctor Updike Underhill: six years a prisoner among the Algerines. [Three lines from Shakespeare] : Vol. I[-II]. : Published according to act of Congress.
Tyler, Royall, 1757-1826., Humphreys, David, 1752-1818, dedicatee.
Page  150

CHAP. XXIII.

See childish man neglecting reason's law,
Contend for triflles, differ for a straw.

AUTHOR'S Manuscript Poems.
ARGUMENT.

The Sects of Omar and Ali.

UPON the decease of the prophet, his followers were almost con|founded. They could scarce credit their senses. They fancied him only in a swoon, and waited in respectful silence until he should again arise to lead them to conquest and glory. His more con|fidential friends gathered around the corpse; and, being impressed with the policy of immediately announcing his successour, they held a fierce debate upon the subject. In the alcoran, they found no direction for the election, nor any suc|cessour to the caliphate pointed out. Page  151 They agreed to send for his wives and confidential domestics. The youngest of his wives produced some writings, containing the precious sayings of the prophet, which, she said, she had collect|ed for her own edification. To these were afterwards added such observations of the prophet, as his more intimate associ|ates could recollect, or the policy of those in power invent. These were annexed to the alcoran, and esteemed of equal au|thority. This compilation was called the book of the companions of the apos|tle. In the writings, produced by his fa|vourite wife, the prophet had directed his great officers to elect his successour from among them, and assured them that a portion of his own power would rest up|on him. Abubeker, a friend and relative, and successful leader of the forces of the Prophet, by the persuasions of those a|round, immediately entered the public mosque; and, standing on the steps of Page  152 the desk, from which the prophet used to deliver his oracles, he informed the mul|titude that God had indeed called the prophet to paradise, and that his kingly authority and apostolic powers rested up|on him. To him succeeded Omar and Osman: while the troops in Syria, con|ceiving that Ali, their leader, was better entitled to succeed than either, elevated him also to the caliphate, though he refus|ed the dignity until he was called by the voice of the people to succeed Osman. Hence sprang that great schism, which has divided the Mussulman world; but, though divided, as to the successour of the prophet, both parties were actuated by his principles and adhered to his creed. Omar and his successours turned their arms towards Europe; and, under the name of Saracens or Moors, possessed themselves of the greater part of Spain and the Mediterranean isles: while the friends of Ali, establishing themselves as Page  153 sovereigns, made equal ravages upon Persia, and even to the great peninsula of India.

The Algerines are of the sect of Omar, which, like many other religious schisms, differs more in name, than in any funda|mental point of creed or practice from that of Ali. The propriety of the trans|lation of the alcoran into the Persian lan|guage, and the succession of the caliphate seem the great standards of their respec|tive creeds.