The Story of Mohammed (1914) by Edith Holland

Ms. Holland wrote The Story of Mohammed when she was 26 years old.

Holland intended to elicit the sympathy of the reader for the Islamic Prophet, by recounting the struggles that he faced in defining and preaching his new religion in a pagan environment. She relates the personal enmities Mohammed elicited, and enumerates the first believers in the new religion (Mohammed’s wife Khadijah, his cousin Ali, his adopted son Zaid, and his uncle Abu Bakr). She recounts his unrelenting pursuit of what he perceived as a true calling, despite fierce opposition from his own tribe that imposed on him a "ban" that came miraculously undone. She sympathizes with him when his two best friends died in the same year that came to be known as the "year of mourning." She recounts his famous "hijrah" or Flight in 622 AD, the date which started the Islamic calendar. Mohammed at that time left his native city of Meccah, accompanied by fellow companions the "muhajirin," and went as an exile to the city of Yathrib where he was protected by the "ansars" or helpers. Holland makes evident the fierce loyalty of Mohammed’s followers, exemplified by various "pledges" of support such as the "pledge of the steep" or "women's pledge" (so-called because women could have taken it, as it did not call for fighting). Throughout the volume, the humanity of Mohammed is emphasized, and she illustrates with numerous anedotes his "charity" and "kindness of speech" (99). Having drawn a picture of the desolate Arabian environment and its somewhat primitive culture, she portrays Mohammed as a peacemaker: "It seems a wonderful thing that Mohammed born of a fierce and warlike race, a people given to many cruel practices, should have had so much regard for compassion. He thanked God who had put it into men’s hearts to be compassionate to one another" (100-101). All these details captured Joyce’s interest and were noted down. Most of the entries were incorporated into two passages of Finnegans Wake: 5.13-29 (Chapter I.1) and 310.22-311.1; a few others were scattered on pages 105 (I.5), 284-285 (II.2) and 318-319 (II.3).

 

Aida Yared: Introducing Islam in Finnegans Wake: The Story of Mohammed in VI.B.45