songs of Iran were spread abroad among the tribes of Arabia. Thus Ibn Hisham tells us that in the days of the Prophet, stories of Rustem, Isfandiyār, and the ancient kings of Persia, were not only current at Medina, but that some of the Coreish used delightedly to compare them with the similar tales in the Qur'an. He adds as follows:—

The Prophet of the Lord, when he sat in the assembly, used to pray there to the Almighty, read to them from the Qur'an, and warn the Coreish of what in times past had happened to the unbelieving nations. It so came to pass that one day after he had left, Nadhr son of Al Hārith came in and told them stories of the great Rustem and of Isfandiyār and the kings of Persia. Then he said, "I swear by the Lord, that the stories of Muhammad are not better than my own; they are nothing but tales of the past which he hath written out, just as I have written mine out." Then descended this passage:— They say these are fables of the ancients which he hath caused to be written down, dictated by him morning and evening. Say, He hath revealed the same who knoweth the sacred things in heaven and earth; verily he is gracious and merciful.1 ...When our verses are recited unto him, he saith, - Fables of the ancients.2 Woe unto every lying and wicked one that heareth the verses of God read unto him, then proudly resisteth, as if he heard them not; wherefore denounce unto him a fearful punishment.3

These stories of Rustem, Isfandiyār, and other ancient kings of Persia, are similar to what Ferdosi, some centuries after the Prophet, turned into song in his Shahnāma. Certainly as the Arabs used to read of the ancient sovereigns, they could not have been ignorant of stories such as those of Jamshid, the ascent of Ahriman out of darkness, Artā Vīrāf, the bridge Chinavad, and such like. Our object is by careful

1 Surah xxv. 6, 7.    2 Surah lxviii. 15    3 Surah xlv. 6,7.

search to ascertain whether these stories and the like had any effect on the Qur'an and Tradition. We are sure that they had; and that Persian tales and doctrines form one of the Sources of Muslim faith. Many also of the stories, literary, imaginative, and religious, were not confined to Iran, but were current among the Hindus in India, and spread abroad amongst the people travelling by Herat and Merve, and so westward. It will be asked what our proof of all this is; and we propose accordingly to quote some passages from the Qur'an and Tradition, and then to compare these with what may be found in ancient Zoroastrian and Hindu writings.

We begin with the ascent,—Mirāj—of the Prophet. The following account of it is in Surah xvii. 1:- Praise be to him who transported his servant by night from the Sacred temple (of Mecca) to the farther Temple (Jerusalem) the surroundings of which we have blessed, that we might shew him some of our signs, for he is both the hearing and the seeing One. In the interpretation of this verse the greatest difference has prevailed. Thus Ibn Ishac gives this account from Ayesha:— "The body of the Prophet did not disappear, but the Lord carried off his soul by night." Tradition also tells us that the Prophet himself said:— "Mine eyes slept, but my heart was awake." 1 Mohee ood Deen is of the same opinion;— writing of the Ascent and Night Journey, he says, in explanation of the above passage:—

Praised be he that transported his servant; that is, released him from material surroundings, and caused a spiritual separation

1 Sirat al Rasul