Why do we say "If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed will go to the mountain"?

Well-Known Expressions

If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed will go to the mountain

Meaning:

If things aren't going your way, you'll have to adjust to the way they are.

Background:

The legend goes that the Prophet Mohammed wa asked to provide proof of his teaching, so he ordered Mount Safa to come to him. When the mountain did not move, Mohammed praised God for being merciful saying that if the mountain had obeyed his command it would have fallen on all of them and destroyed them, and therefore he would now go to the mountain and give thanks to God for having mercy on such a disbelieving people.

It's not clear whether this is a true legend of Mohammed or an English invention - in English, the saying has been traced back to Francis Bacon's Essays (1625):

"Mahomet made the people believe that he would call a hill to him, and from the top of it offer up his prayers for the observers of his law. The people assembled: Mahomet called the hill to come to him again and again: and when the hill stood still, he was never a whit abashed, but said, "If the hill will not come to Mahomet, Mahomet will go to the hill." - Francis Bacon.

Alphabetical list of expressions

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