Mohammad and the mountain

Posted by ESC on June 05, 2004

In Reply to: Mohammad and the mountain posted by MM on June 05, 2004

: I would like to know the origin of the phrase "Let the mountain come to Mohammad", sometimes given in the fuller form, "If Mohammad can't go to the mountain, let the mountain come to Mohammad."

: Any clues?

From the archives:

IF THE MOUNTAIN WILL NOT COME TO MOHAMMED, MOHAMMED WILL GO TO THE MOUNTAIN - "If one cannot get one's own way, one must adjust to the inevitable. The legend goes that when the founder of Islam was asked to give proofs of his teaching, he ordered Mount Safa to come to him. When the mountain did not comply, Mohammed raised his hands toward heaven and said, 'God is merciful. Had it obeyed my words, it would have fallen on us to our destruction. I will therefore go to the mountain and thank God that he has had mercy on a stiff-necked generation.' The saying has been traced back in English to 'Essays,' by English philosopher Frances Bacon (1561-1626). It was included in John Ray's book of English proverbs in 1678. First attested in the United States in 'Jonathan Belcher Papers' . In German, the phrase translates as 'Wenn der Berg nicht zum Propheten kommt, mu?der Prophetzum Berg kommen." From Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996). I put the "?" in the German phrase because there was a do-jigger that I don't have.