We now turn to the Jews from whom Muhammad borrowed so very much that his religion might almost be described as a heretical form of later Judaism. In Muhammad's time the Jews were not only very numerous but also very powerful in various parts of Arabia. No doubt many of them had settled in that country at different times, when fleeing from the various conquerors — Nebuchadnezzar, the successors of Alexander the Great, Pompey. Titus, Hadrian, and others — who had overrun and desolated Palestine. They were especially numerous in the neighbourhood of Medina, which city they at one time held by the sword. In Muhammad's time the three large Jewish tribes called Banu Quraidhah, Banu Nadhir, and Banu Qainuqa', settled in the neighbourhood of Medina, were so powerful that Muhammad, not long after his arrival there in A.D. 622, made an offensive and defensive alliance with them. Other Jewish settlements were to be found in the neighbourhood of Khaibar and the Wadi u'l Qura' and on the shores of the Gulf of 'Aqabah. The fact that the Jews possessed inspired books and were undoubtedly descended from Abraham, whom the Quraish and other tribes claimed as their ancestor also, gave the Israelites great weight and influence. Native legends would naturally therefore undergo a process of assimilation with the history and traditions of the Jews. By<ref>Sir W. Muir, ''Life of Mahomet'', 3rd ed., Introd., pp. xcii, xciii.</ref> a summary adjustment, the story of Palestine became the story of the Hijaz. The precincts of the Ka'bah were hallowed as the scene of Hagar's distress, and the sacred well Zamzam as the source of her relief. The pilgrims hastened to and fro between Safa and Marwa in memory of her hurried steps in search of water. It was Abraham and Ishmael who built the temple, imbedded in it the Black Stone, and established for all Arabia the pilgrimage to 'Arafat. In imitation of him it was that stones were flung by the pilgrims as if at Satan, and sacrifices offered at Mina in remembrance of the vicarious sacrifice by Abraham. And so, although the indigenous rites may have been little, if at all, altered by the adoption of Israelitish legends, they came to be received in a totally different light, and to be connected in Arab imagination with something of the sanctity of Abraham the Friend of God<ref>Surah IV., An Nisa, 124.</ref> ... It was upon this common ground Muhammad took his stand, and proclaimed to his people a new and a spiritual system, in accents to which the whole Peninsula could respond. The rites of the Ka'bah were retained, but, stripped of all idolatrous tendency, they still hang, a strange unmeaning shroud, around the living theism of Islam.
"Familiarity with the Abrahamic races also introduced the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, and the resurrection from the dead; but these were held with many fantastic ideas of Arabian growth. Revenge pictured the murdered soul as a bird chirping for retribution against the murderer; and a camel was sometimes left to starve at the grave of his master, that he might be ready at the resurrection again to carry him. A vast variety of Biblical language was also in common use, or at least sufficiently in use to be commonly understood. Faith, Repentance, Heaven and Hell, the Devil and his Angels, the heavenly Angels, Gabriel the Messenger of God, are specimens acquired from some Jewish source, either current or ready for adoption. Similarly familiar were the stories of the Fall of Man, the Flood, the destruction of the Cities of the Plain, &c. — so that there was an extensive substratum of crude ideas bordering upon the spiritual, ready to the hand of Muhammad."