"But he advocated polygamy!" protested one with a Puritanical turn of mind. Vivekananda explained that what Mohammed did was to limit a man to four wives: polygamy in a far worse form was already practised in Arabia.
"He taught that women have no souls." said another with an edge to her voice. This called forth an explanation regarding the place of woman in Muhammedanism. The Americans who listened were somewhat chagrined to find that the Moslem woman had certain rights not enjoyed by the so-called free American woman.
From this trivial questioning we were again lifted into an atmosphere of wider sweep and more distant horizons. However limited and ignorant his outlook may seem, it cannot be denied that Mohammed was a world figure, and that the force which he set free has shaken this world and has not yet expended itself.
Did he deliberately found a new religion? It is easier to believe that the movement evolved without conscious thought on his part; that in the beginning he was absorbed in his great experience and burning with the desire to share this precious attainment with others. Was the form which it took during his lifetime in accordance with his wishes? It is certain that the conflicts which soon ensued were no part of his plan. When a great force is let loose, no man can harness it. The Moslem hordes swept over Asia and threatened to overrun Europe. After conquering Spain, they established there great universities which attracted scholars from all parts of the then known world. Here was taught the wisdom of India and the lore of the East. They brought refinement, courtliness, and beauty into the everyday life. They left behind them Saracenic buildings — structures of surpassing beauty — a tradition of learning, and no small part of the culture and wisdom of the East.
To be continued.... (Memoirs of Sister Christine)