Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER V.: ENTITLED SURAT UL MÁIDA (THE TABLE). Revealed at Madína. - The Quran, vol. 2
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CHAPTER V.: ENTITLED SURAT UL MÁIDA (THE TABLE). Revealed at Madína. - Mohammed, The Quran, vol. 2 
A Comprehensive Commentary on the Quran: Comprising Sale’s Translation and preliminary Discourse, with Additional Notes and Emendations (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner, and Co., 1896). 4 vols.
Part of: The Quran, 4 vols.
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ENTITLED SURAT UL MÁIDA (THE TABLE).
Although, as is usual with all the long chapters of the Qurán, this chapter refers to a variety of matters of a general and miscellaneous character, e.g., rules respecting purification, laws concerning lawful and unlawful food, yet there are four points which attract the special notice of the reader. These are (1) the extended reference to the rites of the pilgrimage to Makkah; (2) the fierce hatred of the Prophet towards the Jews and his denunciations against them; (3) the laboured effort to refute the Christian doctrine of the Trinity and the Sonship of Christ; and (4) the repeated warning given to Muslims not to make friends of either Jews or Christians. Wherefore both the historic references of this chapter as well as the animus of the revelation point to a period late in the life of Muhammad as that to which it belongs—a period when successful warfare had made the Prophet indifferent alike to Jewish hatred and Christian friendship.
The statement of ver. 4, “This day have I perfected your religion for you,” &c., has led some writers to regard this chapter as the last of the chapters of the Qurán, taken in their chronological order. Muslim authorities agree that this verse and a few others at the beginning of this chapter fairly claim the last place on the list of revelations. However, excepting this short section, there is nothing in this chapter to lead us to believe it to be chronologically the last in the Qurán. Nöeldeke and Muir both agree in placing chap. ix. at the end of the chronological list of Suras, the former, however, admitting that there are some verses in this chapter which fairly claim posteriority to all others in the Qurán. He refers especially to ver. 4, which he thinks was revealed when Muhammad, with perhaps a presentiment of death being near, could say that all his enemies had lost their courage and that his religion was completed. It is for this reason he places it last in his historico-critical observations.
The revelations of this chapter are therefore of Madína origin.
Probable Date of the Revelations.
Following Nöeldeke for the most part, the dates within which the revelations of this chapter were made are as follows:—
Vers. 1-11 belong to a.h. 10. The date of ver. 12 cannot be ascertained with certainty. Vers. 13 and 14 may be placed almost anywhere between a.h. 2 and 7, the probability being that they belong nearer to the latter than to the former date. Vers. 45-55, though referred by most Muslim writers to a period prior to the massacre of the Baní Quraidha, should nevertheless be placed later, i.e., prior to the expedition against the Jews of Khaibar in a.h. 7.
Vers. 56-63, according to Muslim authorities, belong to the latter part of a.h. 3 or the early part of a.h. 4.
Of vers. 64-88, the most that can be said is that they belong to a period between a.h. 4 and 8, after many wars with the Jews, and before the final outbreak with the Christians. Vers. 89-104 belong to a.h. 4-6. The date of the remaining verses is uncertain, but may be fixed approximately at a.h. 5-8.
IN THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD.
∥ (1)O true believers, perform your contracts. (2) Ye are allowed to eat the brute cattle, other than what ye are commanded to abstain from; except the game which ye are allowed at other times, but not while ye are on pilgrimage to Makkah;God ordaineth that which he pleaseth. (3) O true believers, violate not the holy rites of God, nor the sacred month, nor the offering, nor the ornaments hung thereon, nor those who are travelling to the holy house, seeking favour from their Lord, and to please him. But when ye shall have finished your pilgrimage, then hunt. And let not the malice of some, in that they hindered you from entering the sacred temple, provoke you to transgress, by taking revenge on them in the sacred months. Assist one another according to justice and piety, but assist not one another in injustice and malice: therefore fear God; for God is severe in punishing. (4) Ye are forbidden to eat that which dieth of itself, and blood, and swine’s flesh, and that on which the name of any besides God hath been invocated; and that which hath been strangled, or killed by a blow, or by a fall, or by the horns of another beast, and that which hath been eaten by a wild beast, except what ye shall kill yourselves; and that which hath been sacrificed unto idols. It is likewise unlawful for you to make division by casting lots with arrows. This is an impiety. On this day woe be unto those who have apostatised from their religion; therefore fear not them, but fear me. This day have I perfected your religion for you, and have completed my mercy upon you; and I have chosen for you Islám, to be your religion. But whosoever shall be driven by necessity through hunger to eat of what we have forbidden, not designing to sin, surely Godwill be indulgent and merciful unto him.(5) They will ask thee what is allowed them as lawful to eat. Answer, Such things as are good are allowed you; and what ye shall teach animals of prey to catch, training them up for hunting after the manner of dogs, and teaching them according to the skill which God hath taught you. Eat therefore of that which they shall catch for you; and commemorate the name of God thereon; and fear God, for God is swift in taking an account. (6) This day are ye allowed to eat such things as are good, and the food of those to whom the scriptures were given is also allowed as lawful unto you; and your food is allowed as lawful unto them. And ye are also allowed to marry free women that are believers, and also free women of those who have received the scriptures before you, when ye shall have assigned them their dower, living chastely with them, neither committing fornication, nor taking them for concubines. Whoever shall renounce the faith, his work shall be vain, and in the next life he shall be of those who perish.
∥ (7) O true believers, when ye prepare yourselves to pray, wash your faces, and your hands unto the elbows; and rub your heads, and your feet unto the ankles; and if ye be polluted by having lain with a woman, wash yourselves all over. But if ye be sick, or on a journey, or any of you cometh from the privy, or if ye have touched women, and ye find no water, take fine clean sand, and rub your faces and your hands therewith: God would not put a difficulty upon you; but he desireth to purify you, and to complete his favour upon you, that ye may give thanks. (8) Remember the favour of God towards you, and his covenant which he hath made with you, when ye said, We have heard, and will obey. Therefore fear God, for God knoweth the innermost parts of the breasts of men.(9) O true believers, observe justice when ye appear as witnesses before God, and let not hatred towards any induce you to do wrong: but act justly; this will approach nearer unto piety; and fear God, for God is fully acquainted with what ye do. (10) God hath promised unto those who believe and do that which is right that they shall receive pardon and a great reward. (11) But they who believe not and accuse our signs of falsehood, they shall be the companions of hell. (12) O true believers, remember God’s favour towards you, when certain men designed to stretch forth their hands against you, but he restrained their hands from hurting you; therefore fear God and in God let the faithful trust.
∥ (13)God formerly accepted the covenant of the children of Israel, and we appointed out of them twelve leaders; and God said, Verily I am with you: if ye observe prayer, and give alms, and believe in my apostles, and assist them, and lend unto God on good usury, I will surely expiate your evil deeds from you, and I will lead you into gardens wherein rivers flow: but he among you who disbelieveth after this, erreth from the straight path. (14) Wherefore because they have broken their covenant, we have cursed them, and hardened their hearts; they dislocate the words of the Pentateuch from their places, and have forgotten part of what they were admonished; and thou wilt not cease to discover deceitful practices among them, except a few of them. But forgive them, and pardon them, for God loveth the beneficent. (15) And from those who say, We are Christians, we have received their covenant; but they have forgotten part of what they were admonished; wherefore we have raised up enmity and hatred among them, till the day of resurrection; and God will then surely declare unto them what they have been doing. (16) O ye who have received the scriptures, now is our apostle come unto you, to make manifest unto you many things which ye concealed in the scriptures, and to pass over many things.(17) Now is light and a perspicuous book of revelations come unto you from God. (18) Thereby will God direct him who shall follow his good pleasure into the paths of peace; and shall lead them out of darkness into light by his will, and shall direct them in the right way. (19) They are infidels who say, Verily God is Christ the son of Mary. Say unto them, And who could obtain anything from Godto the contrary, if he pleased to destroy Christ the son of Mary, and his mother, and all those who are on the earth? (20) For unto Godbelongeth the kingdom of heaven and earth, and whatsoever is contained between them; he createth what he pleaseth, and God is almighty. (21) The Jews and the Christians say, We are the children of God and his beloved. Answer, Why therefore doth he punish you for your sins? Nay, but ye are men, of those whom he hath created. He forgiveth whom he pleaseth, and punisheth whom he pleaseth; and unto Godbelongeth the kingdom of heaven and earth, and of what is contained between them both; and unto him shall all things return. (22) O ye who have received the scriptures, now is our apostle come unto you, declaring unto you the true religion, during the cessation of apostles, lest ye should say, There came unto us no bearer of good tidings, nor any warner: but now is a bearer of good tidings and a warner come unto you; for God is almighty.
∥ (23)Call to mind when Moses said unto his people, O my people, remember the favour of God towards you, since he hath appointed prophets among you, and constituted you kings, and bestowed on you what he hath given to no other nation in the world. (24) O my people, enter the holy land, which God hath decreed you, and turn not your backs, lest ye be subverted and perish. (25) They answered, O Moses, verily there are a gigantic people in the land; and we will by no means enter it, until they depart thence; but if they depart thence, then will we enter therein.(26) And two men of those who feared God, unto whom God had been gracious, said, Enter ye upon them suddenly by the gate of the city; and when ye shall have entered the same, ye shall surely be victorious: therefore trust in God, if ye are true believers. (27) They replied, O Moses, we will never enter the land while they remain therein: go therefore thou and thy Lord and fight; for we will sit here. (28) Moses said, O Lord, surely I am not master of any except myself and my brother; therefore make a distinction between us and the ungodly people. (29)God answered, Verily, the land shall be forbidden them forty years; during which time they shall wander like men astonished on the earth; therefore be not thou solicitous for the ungodly people.
∥ (30) Relate unto them also the history of the two sons of Adam, with truth. When they offered their offering, and it was accepted from one of them, and was not accepted from the other, Cain said to his brother, I will certainly kill thee. Abel answered, God only accepteth the offering of the pious;
∥ (31) If thou stretchest forth thy hand against me, to slay me, I will not stretch forth my hand against thee, to slay thee; for I fear God, the Lord of all creatures. (32) I choose that thou shouldest bear my iniquity and thine own iniquity; and that thou become a companion of hell fire; for that is the reward of the unjust. (33) But his soul suffered him to slay his brother, and he slew him; wherefore he became of the number of those who perish. (34) And God sent a raven, which scratched the earth, to show him how he should hide the shame of his brother, and he said, Woe is me! am I unable to be like this raven, that I may hide my brother’s shame? and he became one of those who repent. (35) Wherefore we commanded the children of Israel, that he who slayeth a soul, without having slain a soul, or comitted wickedness in the earth, shall be as if he had slain all mankind: but he who saveth a soul alive, shall be as if he had saved the lives of all mankind. (36) Our apostles formerly came unto them, with evident miracles; then were many of them after this transgressors on the earth. (37) But the recompense of those who fight against God and his apostle, and study to act corruptly in the earth, shall be, that they shall be slain, or crucified, or have their hands and their feet cut off on the opposite sides, or be banished the land. This shall be their disgrace in this world, and in the next world they shall suffer a grievous punishment; (38) except those who shall repent before ye prevail against them; for know that Godis inclined to forgive, and merciful.
∥ (39) O true believers, fear God, and earnestly desire a near conjunction with him, and fight for his religion, that ye may be happy. (40) Moreover they who believe not, although they had whatever is in the earth, and as much more withal, that they might therewith redeem themselves from punishment on the day of resurrection; it shall not be accepted from them, but they shall suffer a painful punishment. (41) They shall desire to go forth from the fire, but they shall not go forth from it, and their punishment shall be permanent. (42) If a man or a woman steal, cut off their hands, in retribution for that which they have committed; this is an exemplary punishment appointed by God; and God is mighty and wise. (43) But whoever shall repent after his iniquity and amend, verily God will be turned unto him, for Godis inclined to forgive, and merciful. (44) Dost thou not know that the kingdom of heaven and earth is God’s? He punisheth whom he pleaseth, and he pardoneth whom he pleaseth; for God is almighty. (45) O apostle, let not them grieve thee who hasten to infidelity, either of those who say, We believe, with their mouths, but whose hearts believe not; or of the Jews, who hearken to a lie, and hearken to other people; who come unto thee: they pervert the words of the law from their true places, and say, If this be brought unto you, receive it; but if it be not brought unto you, beware of receiving aught else; and in behalf of him whom God shall resolve to seduce, thou shalt not prevail with God at all. They whose hearts God shall not please to cleanse shall suffer shame in this world, and a grievous punishment in the next: who hearken to a lie, and eat that which is forbidden. (46) But if they come unto thee for judgment, either judge between them, or leave them; and if thou leave them, they shall not hurt thee at all. But if thou undertake to judge, judge between them with equity; for God loveth those who observe justice. (47) And how will they submit to thy decision, since they have the law, containing the judgment of God? Then will they turn their backs, after this; but those are not true believers.
∥ (48) We have surely sent down the law, containing direction and light: thereby did the prophets, who professed the true religion, judge those who judaised; and the doctors and priests also judged by the book of God, which had been committed to their custody; and they were witnesses thereof. Therefore fear not men, but fear me; neither sell my signs for a small price. And whoso judgeth not according to what God hath revealed, they are infidels. (49) We have therein commanded them, that they should give life for life, and eye for eye, and nose for nose, and ear for ear, and tooth for tooth; and that wounds should also be punished by retaliation: but whoever should remit it as alms, it should be accepted as an atonement for him. And whoso judgeth not according to what God hath revealed, they are unjust. (50) We also caused Jesus the son of Mary to follow the footsteps of the prophets, confirming the law which was sent down before him; and we gave him the gospel, containing direction and light; confirming also the light which was given before it, and a direction and admonition unto those who fear God: (51) that they who have received the gospel might judge according to what God hath revealed therein: and whoso judgeth not according to what God hath revealed, they are transgressors. (52) We have also sent down unto thee the book of the Qurán with truth, confirming that scripture which was revealed before it; and preserving the same safe from corruption. Judge therefore between them according to that which God hath revealed; and follow not their desires by swerving from the truth which hath come unto thee. Unto every one of you have we given a law and an open path; (53) and if God had pleased, he had surely made you one people; but he hath thought fit to give you different laws, that he might try you in that which he hath given you respectively. Therefore strive to excel each other in good works: unto God shall ye all return, and then will he declare unto you that concerning which ye have disagreed. (54) Wherefore do thou, O prophet, judge between them according to that which God hath revealed, and follow not their desires; but beware of them, lest they cause thee to err from part of those precepts which God hath sent down unto thee; and if they turn back, know that God is pleased to punish them for some of their crimes; for a great number of men are transgressors (55) Do they therefore desire the judgment of the time of ignorance? but who is better than God, to judge between people who reason aright?
∥ (56) O true believers, take not the Jews or Christians for your friends; they are friends the one to the other; but whoso among you taketh them for his friends, he is surely one of them: verily God directeth not unjust people. (57) Thou shalt see those in whose hearts there is an infirmity, to hasten unto them, saying, We fear lest some adversity befall us; but it is easy for God to give victory, or a command from him, that they may repent of that which they concealed in their minds. (58) And they who believe will say, Are these the men who have sworn by God, with a most firm oath, that they surely held with you? their works are become vain, and they are of those who perish. (59) O true believers, whoever of you apostatiseth from his religion, God will certainly bring other people to supply his place, whom he will love, and who will love him; who shall be humble towards the believers, but severe to the unbelievers; they shall fight for the religion of God, and shall not fear the obloquy of the detractor. This is the bounty of God; he bestoweth it on whom he pleaseth: Godis extensive and wise. (60) Verily your protector is God, and his apostle, and those who believe, who observe the stated times of prayer, and give alms, and who bow down to worship. (61) And whoso taketh God, and his apostle, and the believers for his friends, they are the party of God,and they shall be victorious.
∥ (62) O true believers, take not such of those to whom the scriptures were delivered before you, or of the infidels, for your friends, who make a laughing-stock and a jest of your religion; but fear God, if ye be true believers; (63) nor those who, when ye call to prayer, make a laughing-stock and a jest of it; this they do because they are people who do not understand. (64) Say, O ye who have received the scriptures, do ye reject us for any other reason than because we believe in God, and that revelation which hath been sent down unto us, and that which was formerly sent down, and for that the greater part of you are transgressors? (65) Say, Shall I denounce unto you a worse thing than this, as to the reward which ye are to expect with God? He whom God hath cursed, and with whom he hath been angry, having changed some of them into apes and swine, and who worship Taghut, they are in the worse condition, and err more widely from the straightness of the path. (66) When they came unto you, they said, We believe: yet they entered into your company with infidelity, and went forth from you with the same; but God well knew what they concealed. (67) Thou shalt see many of them hastening unto iniquity and malice, and to eat things forbidden; and woe unto them for what they have done. (68) Unless their doctors and priests forbid them uttering wickedness and eating things forbidden, woe unto them for what they shall have committed. (69) The Jews say, The hand of God is tied up. Their hands shall be tied up, and they shall be cursed for that which they have said. Nay, his hands are both stretched forth; he bestoweth as he pleaseth: that which hath been sent down unto thee from thy Lord shall increase the transgression and infidelity of many of them; and we have put enmity and hatred between them, until the day of resurrection. So often as they shall kindle a fire for war God shall extinguish it; and they shall set their minds to act corruptly in the earth, but God loveth not the corrupt doers. (70) Moreover, if they who have received the scriptures believe and fear God, we will surely expiate their sins from them, and we will lead them into gardens of pleasure; and if they observe the law, and the gospel, and the other scriptures which have been sent down unto them from their Lord, they shall surely eat of good things both from above them and from under their feet. Among them there are people who act uprightly; but how evil is that which many of them do work!
∥ (71) O apostle, publish the whole of that which hath been sent down unto thee from thy Lord; for if thou do not, thou dost not in effect publish any part thereof: and God will defend thee against wicked men; for God directeth not the unbelieving people. (72) Say, O ye who have received the scriptures, ye are not grounded on anything, until ye observe the law and the gospel and that which hath been sent down unto you from your Lord. That which hath been sent down unto thee from thy Lord will surely increase the transgression and infidelity of many of them: but be not thou solicitous for the unbelieving people. (73) Verily, they who believe, and those who Judaise, and the Sabians, and the Christians, whoever of them believeth in God and the last day, and doth that which is right, there shall come no fear on them, neither shall they be grieved. (74) We formerly accepted the covenant of the children of Israel, and sent apostles unto them. So often as an apostle came unto them with that which their souls desired not, they accused some of them of imposture, and some of them they killed: (75) And they imagined that there should be no punishment for those crimes, and they became blind, and deaf. Then was God turned unto them; afterwards many of them again became blind and deaf; but God saw what they did. (76) They are surely infidels who say, Verily God is Christ the Son of Mary; since Christ said, O children of Israel, serve God, my Lord and your Lord. Whoever shall give a companion unto God, God shall exclude him from paradise, and his habitation shall be hell fire; and the ungodly shall have none to help them. (77) They are certainly infidels who say, God is the third of three; for there is no God besides one God; and if they refrain not from what they say, a painful torment shall surely be inflicted on such of them as are unbelievers. (78) Will they not therefore be turned unto God and ask pardon of him, since God is gracious and merciful? (79) Christ the son of Mary is no more than an apostle; other apostles have preceded him; and his mother was a woman of veracity: they both ate food. Behold, how we declare unto them the signs of God’s unity; and then behold how they turn aside from the truth. (80) Say unto them, Will ye worship, besides God, that which can cause you neither harm nor profit? Godis he who heareth and seeth. (81) Say, O ye who have received the scriptures, exceed not the just bounds in your religion by speaking beside the truth; neither follow the desires of people who have heretofore erred, and who have seduced many, and have gone astray from the straight path.
∥ (82) Those among the children of Israel who believed not were cursed by the tongue of David, and of Jesus the son of Mary. This befell them because they were rebellious and transgressed: they forbade not one another the wickedness which they committed; and woe unto them for what they committed. (83) Thou shalt see many of them take for their friends those who believe not. Woe unto them for what their souls have sent before them, for that God is incensed against them, and they shall remain in torment for ever. (84) But if they had believe in God and the prophet, and that which hath been revealed unto him, they had not taken them for their friends; but many of them are evil-doers. (85) Thou shalt surely find the most violent of all men in enmity against the true believers to be the Jews and the idolaters; and thou shalt surely find those among them to be the most inclinable to entertain friendship for the true believers who say, We are Christians. This cometh to pass because there are priests and monks among them, and because they are not elated with pride.
∥ (86) And when they hear that which hath been sent down to the apostle read unto them, thou shalt see their eyes overflow with tears because of the truth which they perceive therein, saying, O Lord, we believe; write us down therefore with those who bear witness to the truth. (87) And what should hinder us from believing in God and the truth which hath come unto us, and from earnestly desiring that our Lord would introduce us into paradise with the righteous people? (88) Therefore hath God rewarded them, for what they have said, with gardens through which rivers flow; they shall continue therein forever; and this is the reward of the righteous. But they who believe not, and accuse our signs of falsehood, they shall be the companions of hell.
∥ (89) O true believers, forbid not the good things which God hath allowed you; but transgress not, for God loveth not the transgressors. (90) And eat of what God hath given you for food, that which is lawful and good: and fear God, in whom ye believe. (91)God will not punish you for an inconsiderate word in your oaths; but he will punish you for what ye solemnly swear with deliberation. And the expiation of such an oath shall be the feeding of ten poor men with such moderate food as ye feed your own families withal; or to clothe them; or to free the neck of a true believer from captivity: but he who shall not find wherewith to perform one of these three things shall fast three days. This is the expiation of your oaths, when ye swear inadvertently. Therefore keep your oaths. Thus God declareth unto you his signs, that ye may give thanks. (92) O true believers, surely wine, and lots, and images, and divining arrows are an abomination of the work of Satan; therefore avoid them that ye may prosper. (93) Satan seeketh to sow dissension and hatred among you by means of wine and lots, and to divert you from remembering God and from prayer: will ye not therefore abstain from them? Obey God and obey the apostle, and take heed to yourselves: but if ye turn back, know that the duty of our apostle is only to preach publicly. (94) In those who believe and do good works, it is no sin that they have tasted wine or gaming before they were forbidden; if they fear God, and believe, and do good works, and shall for the future fear God, and believe, and shall persevere to fear him and to do good; for God loveth those who do good.
∥ (95) O true believers, God will surely prove you in offering you plenty of game, which ye may take with your hands or your lances, that God may know who feareth him in secret; but whoever transgresseth after this shall suffer a grievous punishment. (96) O true believers, kill no game while ye are on pilgrimage; whosoever among you shall kill any designedly shall restore the like of what he shall have killed in domestic animals, according to the determination of two just persons among you, to be brought as an offering to the Kaabah; or in atonement thereof shall feed the poor; or instead thereof shall fast, that he may taste the heinousness of his deed. God hath forgiven what is past, but whoever returneth to transgress,God will take vengeance on him; for God is mighty and able to avenge. (97) It is lawful for you to fish in the sea, and to eat what ye shall catch, as a provision for you and for those who travel; but it is unlawful for you to hunt by land while ye are performing the rights of pilgrimage; therefore fear God, before whom ye shall be assembled at the last day.(98)God hath appointed the Kaabah, the holy house, an establishment for mankind; and hath ordained the sacred month, and the offering, and the ornaments hung thereon. This hath he done that ye might know that God knoweth whatsoever is in heaven and on earth, and that God is omniscient. Know that God is severe in punishing, and that Godis also ready to forgive, and merciful. (99) The duty of our apostle is to preach only; and God knoweth that which ye discover, and that which ye conceal. (100) Say, Evil and good shall not be equally esteemed of, though the abundance of evil pleaseth thee; therefore fear God, O ye of understanding, that ye may be happy.
∥ (101) O true believers, inquire not concerning things which, if they be declared unto you, may give you pain; but if ye ask concerning them when the Qurán is sent down, they will be declared unto you: God pardoneth you as to these matters; for God is ready to forgive, and gracious. (102) People who have been before you formerly inquired concerning them; and afterwards disbelieved therein. God hath not ordained anything concerning Bahaira, nor Sáiba, nor Wasíla, nor Hámi; but the unbelievers have invented a lie against God: and the greater part of them do not understand. (103) And when it was said unto them, Come unto that which God hath revealed, and to the apostle; they answered, That religion which we found our fathers to follow is sufficient for us. What, though their fathers knew nothing and were not rightly directed? (104) O true believers, take care of your souls! He who erreth shall not hurt you while ye are rightly directed: unto God shall ye all return, and he will tell you that which ye have done. (105) O true believers, let witnesses be taken between you, when death approaches any of you, at the time of making the testament; let there be two witnesses, just men, from among you; or two others of a different tribe or faith from yourselves, if ye be journeying in the earth, and the accident of death befall you. Ye shall shut them both up after the afternoon prayer, and they shall swear by God, if ye doubt them, and they shall say, We will not sell our evidence for a bribe, although the person concerned be one who is related to us, neither will we conceal the testimony of God, for then should we certainly be of the number of the wicked. (106) But if it appear that both have been guilty of iniquity, two others shall stand up in their place, of those who have convicted them of falsehood, the two nearest in blood, and they shall swear by God,saying, Verily our testimony is more true than the testimony of these two, neither have we prevaricated; for then should we become of the number of the unjust. (107) This will be easier, that men may give testimony according to the plain intention thereof, or fear lest a different oath be given, after their oath. Therefore fear God and hearken; for God directeth not the unjust people.
∥ (108) On a certain day shall God assemble the apostles, and shall say unto them, What answer was returned you when ye preached unto the people to whom ye were sent? They shall answer, We have no knowledge, but thou art the knower of secrets. (109) When God shall say, O Jesus son of Mary, remember my favour towards thee, and towards thy mother; when I strengthened thee with the holy spirit, that thou shouldst speak unto men in the cradle, and when thou wast grown up; (110) and when I taught thee the scripture, and wisdom, and the law, and the gospel: and when thou didst create of clay as it were the figure of a bird by my permission, and didst breathe thereon, and it became a bird, by my permission, and thou didst heal one blind from his birth, and the leper, by my permission; and when thou didst bring forth the dead from their graves by my permission; and when I withheld the children of Israel from killing thee, when thou hadst come unto them with evident miracles, and such of them as believed not said, This is nothing but manifest sorcery. (111) And when I commanded the apostles of Jesus, saying, Believe in me and in my messenger; they answered, We do believe; and do thou bear witness that we are resigned unto thee.(112)Remember when the apostles said, O Jesus son of Mary, is thy Lord able to cause a table to descend unto us from heaven? He answered, Fear God, if ye be true believers. (113) They said, We desire to eat thereof, and that our hearts may rest at ease, and that we may know that thou hast told us the truth, and that we may be witnesses thereof. (114) Jesus the son of Mary said, O God our Lord, cause a table to descend unto us from heaven, that the day of its descent may become a festival day unto us, unto the first of us, and unto the last of us, and a sign from thee; and do thou provide food for us, for thou art the best provider. (115) God said, Verily I will cause it to descend unto you; but whoever among you shall disbelieve hereafter, I will surely punish him with a punishment wherewith I will not punish any other creature.
∥ (116) And when God shall say unto Jesus at the last day, O Jesus son of Mary, hast thou said unto men, Take me and my mother for two gods beside God? he shall answer, Praise be unto thee! it is not for me to say that which I ought not; if I had said so, thou wouldst surely have known it: thou knowest what is in me, but I know not what is in thee; for thou art the knower of secrets. (117) I have not spoken to them any other than what thou didst command me, namely, Worship God, my Lord and your Lord: and I was a witness of their actions while I stayed among them; but since thou hast taken me to thyself, thou hast been the watcher over them; for thou art witness of all things. (118) If thou punish them, they are surely thy servants; and if thou forgive them, thou art mighty and wise. (119) God will say, This day shall their veracity be of advantage unto those who speak truth; they shall have gardens wherein rivers flow, they shall remain therein forever: God hath been well pleased in them, and they have been well pleased in him. This shall be great felicity. (120) Unto Godbelongeth the kingdom of heaven and of earth, and of whatever therein is; and he is almighty.
[(1) ]Perform your contracts. The command is general, and is introductory to the matters following.
[(2) ]Ye are allowed, &c. See below, on vers. 4-6; also chap. ii. 174. The only flesh forbidden in the Qurán, if properly slain, is that of the swine; but tradition and custom decide many animals unfit for food. Wild animals, otherwise lawful, are forbidden during the pilgrimage.
[(3) ]Holy rites, i.e., the rites connected with pilgrimage to Makkah. This passage relates to the heathen pilgrims and their offerings, tolerated for a short time after the capture of Makkah.
[(4) ]Ye are forbidden, &c. See notes on chap. ii. 174.
[(5) ]Commemorate the name of God thereon. Sale says, “Either when ye let go the hound, hawk, or other animal after the game, or when ye kill it.” The rule is to say Bismillah alláho Akbar, or simply Bismillah, when the dog or hawk is let go.
[(6) ]The food of those to whom the Scriptures, &c. This one passage is sufficient to refute the position of those Muslims in India who regard Christians as infidels, and forbid their co-religionists to eat and drink with them.
[(7) ]He desireth to purify you. This verse, as well as the chapter on purifications in the Mishqát ul Masábih, abundantly show that this external purity is all Islám knows of holiness. The word holy conveys no other idea to a Muslim’s mind.
[(8) ]We have heard. Sale says, “These words are the form used at the inauguration of a prince; and Muhammad here intends the oath of fidelity which his followers had taken to him at Al Aqabah.” (See Prelim Disc., p. 81.)
[(9) ]Let not hatred, &c. According to the Tafsír-i-Raufi this passage has reference to those who, having once persecuted the Muslims, afterwards embraced Islám. Muslims are here exhorted to forgive all such injuries.
[(11) ]They . . . who accuse our signs, &c. This is another passage showing (1) that the charge of imposture was made in Muhammad’s lifetime; (2) that the language and style of the Qurán was not so striking as to convince Muhammad’s contemporaries that they were inimitable; and (3) that Muhammad’s only argument in reply was his usual threat.
[(12) ]He restrained their hands. “The commentators tell several stories as the occasion of this passage. One says that Muhammad and some of his followers being at Usfán (a place not far from Makkah, in the way to Madína), and performing their noon devotions, a company of idolaters who were in view repented they had not taken that opportunity of attacking them, and therefore waited till the hour of evening prayer, intending to fall upon them then; but God defeated their design by revealing the verse of Fear. Another relates that the Prophet going to the tribe of Quraidha (who were Jews) to levy a fine for the blood of two Muslims who had been killed by mistake by Ámru Ibn Ummaya al Dhimri, they desired him to sit down and eat with them, and they would pay the fine: Muhammad complying with their request, while he was sitting they laid a design against his life, one Ámru Ibn Jásh undertaking to throw a millstone upon him; but God withheld his hand, and Gabriel immediately descended to acquaint the Prophet with their treachery, upon which he rose up and went his way. A third story is, that Muhammad having hung up his arms on a tree under which he was resting himself, and his companions being dispersed some distance from him, an Arab of the desert came up to him and drew his sword, saying, ‘Who hindereth me from killing thee?’ to which Muhammad answered, ‘God;’ and Gabriel beating the sword out of the Arab’s hand, Muhammad took it up, and asked him the same question, ‘Who hinders me from killing thee?’ the Arab replied, ‘Nobody,’ and immediately professed Muhammadanism. Abulfida tells the same story, with some variation of circumstances.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(13) ]Twelve leaders. The following is the Muslim account of these twelve leaders as given by Sale on the authority of Baidháwi:—
[(14) ]They dislocate the words. See note on chap. iv. 44.
[(15) ]Forgotten part, i.e., the prophecies of the gospel concerning Muhammad as the Paraclete (Tafsír-i-Raufi).
[(16) ]Which ye concealed, e.g., “the verse of stoning adulterers (chap. iii. 23), the description of Muhammad, and Christ’s prophecy of him by the name of Ahmed” (chap. lxi. 6).—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(17) ]Now is light . . . come unto you, i.e., the light of prophecy, which resided in Muhammad and all the predecessors of Muhammad up to Adam. This light was the first creation of God, and through this light all the works of God were made manifest (Tafsír-i-Raufi). Muhammadan mystics have little difficulty in persuading themselves in this way that Muhammad and the Qurán are divine in the sense that they are the light of God, manifesting him as the light of the sun reveals to us the orb of day with all its retinue of worlds.
[(19) ]The infidels. Christians are here called by the same name as that which is applied to idolaters, because their clear confession of the divine nature and attributes of Christ declares them to be guilty of this unpardonable sin of Islám. In almost all the earlier chapters of the Qurán, Christians are spoken of as “the people of the book,” and the status assigned to them is far above that of either Jews or idolaters. In the latter revelations the Nazarines are, as here, plainly called idolaters. This inconsistency may be explained either by supposing Muhammad to have been ignorant of Christianity until a late period of his life, or by presuming that he chose to ignore them when he could, and to patronise where he could not ignore, until his pretensions as a prophet and his power as a politician had been established. We think the last to be most in accord with probability, and as being most easily reconciled with traditions which accredit Muhammad with a knowledge of Christianity even before he claimed to be a prophet, and which even declare his wife Ḳhadíjah to have been a Christian.
[(21) ]Why . . . doth he punish you? Compare with Heb. xii. 5-8. This verse shows that Muhammad, while using the phraseology of Christians, did not understand its import. A son of God seemed to him to certainly express the idea of a divine nature, hence he says, “Nav. but ye are men,” &c.
[(22) ]The cessation of the apostles. “The Arabic word al fatra signifies the intermediate space of time between two prophets, during which no new revelation or dispensation was given; as the interval between Moses and Jesus, and between Jesus and Muhammad, at the expiration of which last Muhammad pretended to be sent.”—Sale.
[(23) ]Kings. There is almost certainly an anachronism here; but Muslims regard the words as a prophecy of Moses concerning kings to come, or they understand by the expression that God had “made them kings or masters of themselves by delivering them from Egyptian bondage” (Sale).
[(24) ]Holy land. This expression, like the language of the previous verse, was received from the vocabulary of contemporary Jews or Christians. But it is here put in the mouth of Moses.
[(25) ]Gigantic people. See note on ver. 13.
[(26) ]Two men. Caleb and Joshua.
[(28) ]Except myself and my brother. Moses would seem to have forgotten Caleb and Joshua. The author of the Tafsír-i-Raufi conjectures that it is Aaron who is called Lord in ver. 27; but this theory is contrary to the dignity bestowed on Moses every where in the Qurán.
[(29) ]They shall wander. “The commentators pretend that the Israelites, while they thus wandered in the desert, were kept within the compass of about eighteen (or, as some say, twenty-seven) miles; and that though they travelled from morning to night, yet they constantly found themselves the next day at the place from whence they set out.”—Sale.
[(30) ]Relate with . . . truth. See note on chap. ii. 145.
[(31) ]I will not stretch forth my hand, &c. Baidháwi says Abel was much stronger than Cain, and that he could easily have prevailed against him if he had chosen to fight.
[(32) ]A companion of hell fire. This fierce revengeful spirit comports well with the character of the Arabian Prophet, but comes far short of the truth when applied to the brother of Cain.
[(33) ]He slew him. The commentators say he did not know how to kill his brother until the devil, appearing in human form, killed in his sight a bird by laying its head on one stone and smiting it with another. Cain then went at night-time to his brother, who was sleeping with his head pillowed on a stone, and striking him on the head with a stone, slew him (Tafsír-i-Raufi).
[(34) ]A raven . . . to show him, &c. The Jewish tradition, which makes Adam to be indebted to a raven for his knowledge as to how to dispose of the body of his murdered son, is here so distorted as actually to make God to sympathise with the murderer in his anxiety to conceal the corpse of his victim.
[(35) ]Without having slain a soul. From this the inference is drawn that a murderer may be slain without crime (Abdul Qádir).
[(37) ]The recompense, &c. A party of eight Bedouin Arabs, having professed Islám at Madína, was appointed to guard the camels of Muhammad sent to graze at Ayr, near Madína. The Bedouins drove off the camels and wounded some herdsmen who had gone in pursuit, killing one in a barbarous manner. Muhammad, having been informed of this transaction, sent twenty horsemen in pursuit, who captured the robbers, recovering all the camels but one. In punishment Muhammad ordered the arms and legs of the eight men to be cut off, their eyes to be put out, and their trunks to be impaled until life was extinct. This horrible barbarity seems to have appeared excessive, and accordingly this verse was revealed. (See Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. iv. pp. 19 and 20.) The barbarities herein sanctioned are still practised in every Muhammadan country. As to the infliction of these punishments, Sale, on the authority of Baidháwi and others, says, “The lawyers are not agreed. But the commentators suppose that they who commit murder only are to be put to death in the ordinary way; those who murder and rob too, to be crucified; those who rob without committing murder, to have their right hand and their left foot cut off; and they who assault persons and put them in fear, to be banished. It is also a doubt whether they who are crucified shall be crucified alive, or be first put to death, or whether they shall hang on the cross till they die.”
[(38) ]Except those who shall repent. If the offenders be unbelievers, and previous to their being forcibly seized they profess Islám, they are to be forgiven; even stolen property may not be taken from them. If they be Muslims, they are to be pardoned; stolen property being returned and the price of blood being paid in case murder have been committed. See the Tafsír-i-Raufi in loco.
[(39) ]A near conjunction. The original word means a helper or a means of accomplishing anything. The meaning here is that believers should seek the means of near approach to God, which means, say the commentators, is obedience to his commandments.
[(42) ]Cut off their hands. “But this punishment, according to the Sunnat, is not to be inflicted unless the value of the thing stolen amount to four dinars, or about forty shillings. For the first offence the criminal is to lose his right hand, which is to be cut off at the wrist; for the second offence, his left foot, at the ankle; for the third, his left hand; for the fourth, his right foot; and if he continue to offend, he shall be scourged at the discretion of the judge.” Sale, Jaláluddín.
[(43) ]But whoever shall repent. “That is, God will not punish him for it hereafter; but his repentance does not supersede the execution of the law here, nor excuse him from making restitution. Yet, according to al Shafa’i, he shall not be punished if the party wronged forgive him before he be carried before a magistrate.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(45) ]See notes on chap. iv. 43-50. The passage is directed against apostates, hypocrites, and Jews.
[(46) ]Or leave them, i.e., “take thy choice whether thou wilt determine their differences or not. Hence al Sháfa’i was of opinion that a judge was not obliged to decide causes between Jews or Christians; though if one or both of them be tributaries, or under the protection of the Muhammadans, they are obliged, this verse not regarding them. Abu Hanífa, however, thought that the magistrates were obliged to judge all cases which were submitted to them.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(47) ]They have the law. See note on chap. iv. 44. Sale says that “in the following passage Muhammad endeavours to answer the objections of the Jews and Christians, who insisted that they ought to be judged, the former by the law of Moses, and the latter by the gospel. He allows that the law was the proper rule of judging till the coming of Jesus Christ, after which the gospel was the rule; but pretends that both are set aside by the revelation of the Qurán, which is so far from being contradictory to either of the former, that it is more full and explicit; declaring several points which had been stifled or corrupted therein, and requiring a vigorous execution of the precepts in both, which had been too remissly observed, or rather neglected, by the latter professors of those religions.”
[(48) ]The true religion, i.e., Islám, the one true religion of all ages of the world. See note on chap. ii. 136.
[(49) ]Compare with Exod. xxi. 23-27. Muhammad could not have had the Scriptures before him, else he would have quoted more fully.
[(50) ]Confirming also the law. The testimony to the law is the gospel of Jesus, and the testimony confirming both is the Qurán. See v. 52. Portions may be abrogated, and so cease to be of binding force to whom they are so abrogated, but all remains true. The eternal truths of God as to his own nature and attributes, his moral law, historical fact, &c.,cannot be abrogated (see chap. ii. 105 note), and therefore the Qurán again points the way to its own refutation.
[(52) ]See notes on chaps. ii. 75-78; iii. 77; iv. 44.
[(53) ]One people, i.e., “He had given you the same laws, which should have continued in force through all ages, without being abolished or changed by new dispensations; or he could have forced you all to embrace the Muhammadan religion.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(54) ]Beware of these. “It is related that certain of the Jewish priests came to Muhammad with a design to entrap him; and having first represented to him that if they acknowledged him for a prophet, the rest of the Jews would certainly follow their example, made this proposal—that if he would give judgment for them in a controversy of moment which they pretended to have with their own people, and which was agreed to be referred to his decision, they would believe him; but this Muhammad absolutely refused to comply with.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(56) ]Take not Jews and Christians for your friends. See note on chap. iii. 118. The statement that Jews and Christians “are friends one of another” is another slip of the pen that recorded the history of the Qurán. The spirit of hatred and contempt inculcated here is entirely inconsistent with the teaching of ver. 53. Yet this is the spirit of Islám as it now is. Religious toleration in Muhammadan countries is the toleration of contempt.
[(57) ]We fear, &c. “These were the words of Ibn Ubbai, who, when Obádah Ibn al Sámat publicly renounced the friendship of the infidels, and professed that he took God and his Apostle for his patrons, said that he was a man apprehensive of the fickleness of fortune, and therefore would not throw off his old friends, who might be of service to him hereafter.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(59) ]Whoever of you apostatiseth, &c. “This is one of those accidents which it is pretended were foretold by the Qurán long before they came to pass. For in the latter days of Muhammad, and after his death, considerable numbers of the Arabs quitted his religion and returned to Paganism, Judaism, or Christianity. Al Baidháwi reckons them up in the following order:—1. Three companies of Banu Mudlaj, seduced by Dhu’lhamár al Aswad al Ansí, who set up for a prophet in Yaman, and grew very powerful there. 2. Banu Hunaifah, who followed the famous false prophet Musailama. 3. Banu Assad, who acknowledged Tulaiha Ibn Ḳhuwailad, another pretender to divine revelation, for their prophet. All these fell off in Muhammad’s lifetime. The following, except only the last, apostatised in the reign of Abu Baqr. 4. Certain of the tribe of Fizárah, headed by Uyaima Ibn Husáin. 5. Some of the tribe of Ghatfán, whose leader was Qurrah Ibn Salmah. 6. Banu Sulaím, who followed al Fahjáah Ibn Abd Yalíl. 7. Banu Yarbú, whose captain was Málik Ibn Nuwairah Ibn Qais. 8. Part of the tribe of Tamín, the proselytes of Sajáj the daughter of al Mundhár, who gave herself out for a prophetess. 9. The tribe of Kindah, led by al Asháth Ibn Qais. 10. Banu Baqr Ibn al Wayil in the province of Bahrain, headed by al Hutam Ibn Zaid. And 11. Some of the tribes of Ghassán, who, with their prince Jabálah Ibn al Ayshám, renounced Muhammadanism in the time of Omar, and returned to their former profession of Christianity.
[(60) ]Stated times of prayer, &c. See note, chap. ii. 42.
[(62) ]Who makes . . . a jest of your religion, i.e., certain Jews who mocked the Muslims when at prayer (Tafsír-i-Raufi). Baidháwi gives the following story as translated by Sale:—“These words were added on occasion of a certain Christian who, hearing the Muadhdhin, or crier, in calling to prayers, repeat this part of the usual form, ‘I profess that Muhammad is the apostle of God,’ said aloud, ‘May God burn the liar;’ but a few nights after his own house was accidentally set on fire by a servant, and himself and his family perished in the flames.”
[(64) ]The Jews and Christians are here again told that a profession of Islám is consistent with their own Scriptures. The passage belongs to a period before Muhammad had broken with Jews and Christians.
[(65) ]Having changed . . . them into apes. See note on chap. ii. 64.
[(67) ]Things forbidden. See notes on ver. 4.
[(69) ]The hand of God is tied up. “That is, he is become niggardly and close-fisted. These were the words of Phineas, Ibn Azúra (another indecent expression of whom, almost to the same purpose, is mentioned elsewhere), when the Jews were much impoverished by a dearth which the commentators will have to be a judgment on them for their rejecting of Muhammad; and the other Jews who heard him, instead of reproving him, expressed their approbation of what he had said.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(70) ]We will surely expiate their sins. The word translated expiate is the same as that used above (ver. 49) and in chap. iii. 194 (see notes). The meaning attached to it here is simply that of removal or taking away.
[(71) ]Publish the whole, &c. “That is, if they do not complete the publication of all thy revelations without exception, thou dost not answer the end for which they were revealed; because the concealing of any part renders the system of religion which God has thought fit to publish to mankind by thy ministry lame and imperfect.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(72) ]This verse, by implication, condemns the practices of every Muslim. See notes on vers. 69 and 70. The purpose of the revelation was, however, to persuade the Jews and Christians to embrace Islám. To quote this passage in proof of Muhammad’s sincerity is therefore really a begging of the question. Can his apologists show us a single passage requiring Arab or Gentile Muslims to believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament in addition to the Qurán, as necessary to salvation? So far as I know, such requirement is purely, but, as we admit, justly, inferential, nevertheless there is no reason to believe Muhammad intended any such inference to be drawn. His great object was to maintain his prophetic claim, and if possible to win over to his side the Jews, Christians, and Sabians. In his anxiety to accomplish this, he made statements, like that of the passage under consideration, which implied more than he intended to teach. Certainly the universal faith of Muslims for thirteen centuries shows what Muhammad’s real teaching was. None such have ever felt bound to believe the doctrines of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, except in the sense that all such are conserved by the Qurán and to be found in it. The statement, twice repeated, that “that which hath been sent down unto thee from thy Lord will surely increase the transgression and infidelity of many of them,” creates in the mind of the thoughtful reader a conviction that Muhammad knew something at least of the irreconcilable differences between the doctrines of the Qurán and those of the Bible, and that therefore the Jews and Christians would not believe in him or his Qurán.
[(73) ]See note on chap. ii. 61.
[(74) ]They accused . . . of imposture. Chap. iii. 185, note.
[(75) ]Because blind and deaf. “Shutting their eyes and ears against conviction and the remonstrances of the law, as when they worshipped the calf.”—Sale.
[(76) ]See notes on ver. 19 above. The teaching of Jesus, according to this verse, was identical with that of Muhammad.
[(77) ]God . . . the third of three. See notes on chap. iv. 169. The Tafsír-i-Raufi says the Marcusians believed in the Trinity of God, Mary, and Jesus, but in this the communicator is mistaken.
[(79) ]Compare chap. iii. 39.
[(81) ]Exceed not, &c. See chap. iv. note 169.
[(82) ]Cursed . . . by Jesus. See note, chap. ii. 64. The curse said to have been pronounced by Jesus against the Jews probably has reference to his prophetic denunciations and warnings in general, especially his prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the fall of the Jewish nationality. The woes of this passage may have been suggested by the woes of our Lord against the Scribes, Pharisees, and hypocrites.
[(83) ]What their souls have sent before them. See chap. ii. 94.
[(85) ]This revelation must be relegated to a period earlier than is usually assigned to the verses of this chapter. The bitter enmity attributed to the Jews points to a period succeeding a.h. 3, while the friendly feeling shown towards Christians points to a time preceding a.h. 8, for in a.h. 9 Muhammad contemptuously cast aside both Jews and Christians. The mention of “the Jews and the idolaters” together may refer to a period near to the end of a.h. 4 or the beginning of a.h. 5, when the Jews, owing to the expulsion of the Bani Nadhír, began to show their readiness to help the Quraish against the common enemy.
[(86) ]When they hear, &c. The following stories, invented by the Muslims to illustrate this passage, are related by Sale on the authority of Baidháwi and Abulfida:—“The persons directly intended in this passage were either Asháma, king of Ethiopia, and several bishops and priests, who, being assembled for that purpose, heard Jaafar Ibn Abi Tálib, who fled to that country in the first flight, read the 29th and 30th, and afterwards the 18th and 19th chapters of the Qurán; on hearing of which the king and the rest of the company burst into tears and confessed what was delivered therein to be conformable to truth; that prince himself, in particular, becoming a proselyte to Muhammadanism: or else thirty, or as others say seventy, persons sent ambassadors to Muhammad by the same king of Ethiopia, to whom the prophet himself read the 36th chapter, entitled Y.S. Whereupon they began to weep, saying. ‘How like is this to that which was revealed unto Jesus!’ and immediately professed themselves Muslims.”
[(89) ]Forbid not the good things. “These words were revealed when certain of Muhammad’s companions agreed to oblige themselves to continual fasting and watching, and to abstain from women, eating flesh, sleeping on beds, and other lawful enjoyments of life, in imitation of some self-denying Christians; but this the Prophet disapproved, declaring that he would have no monks in his religion.”—Sale, Jaláluddín.
[(91) ]An inconsiderate word. See note on chap. ii. 225. Perjury, according to the Imáms Ázim and Sháfa’i, is swearing deliberately to that which is at the time thought to be false by the person swearing. They therefore classify all thoughtless oaths used in conversation or mistakes made under oath under the head of “inconsiderate words.” The passage so understood contradicts the doctrine of Jesus.
[(92) ]See notes on chap. ii. 218 and chap. iv. 42.
[(93) ]Satan seeketh to sow dissension, &c. We here learn the real reason for prohibiting the practices of gambling and drinking—a reason, utilitarian though it be, yet sufficient. This law of Islám, considered by itself, reflects great glory on Muhammad and his religion; yet, regarded as a part of the whole system of Islám, it appears to great disadvantage. It is seen to be a purely political measure, based on no solid groundwork of moral principle, and inconsistent with much that is permitted by Islám. The same principle of utility would have led to the distinct prohibition of all intoxicating drugs and of polygamy.
[(94) ]If they fear, &c. “The commentators endeavour to excuse the tautology of this passage by supposing the threefold repetition of fearing and believing refers either to the three parts of time, past, present, and future, or to the threefold duty of man, towards God, himself, and his neighbour, &c.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(95) ]God will prove you. “This temptation or trial was at al Hudaibiya, where Muhammad’s men, who had attended him thither with an intent to perform a pilgrimage to the Kaabah, and had initiated themselves with the usual rights, were surrounded by so great a number of birds and beasts, that they impeded their march; from which unusual accident some of them concluded that God had allowed them to be taken; but this passage was to convince them of the contrary.”—Sale, Baidháwi, Jaláluddín.
[(96) ]On pilgrimage, i.e., while ye are muhrims. Muhrims are those Muslims who have put on the ihrám or peculiar dress donned on entering the sacred precincts of Makkah to indicate that they are now on the way to the sacred Kaabah. The law forbidding hunting was established in accordance with the peaceful character of the sacred places within the boundaries called Haram. Certain hurtful animals might be killed, but this was also in accord with the law which permitted Muslims to fight infidels within the sacred months, provided they did so in self-defence. See chap. ii. 210.
[(97) ]Lawful . . . to fish. This law has reference to pilgrimage, though of general application. The commentators understand fish found in all bodies of water, whether fountains, rivulets, rivers, or ponds, and lakes, as well as the sea. They differ in applying the law to amphibious creatures.
[(98) ]The Kaabah. See notes on chap. ii. 125 and 189.
[(99) ]The duty of our apostle. See note on ver. 93.
[(101) ]Inquire not, &c. “The Arabs continually teasing their Prophet with questions, which probably he was not always prepared to answer, they are here ordered to wait till God should think fit to declare his pleasure by some farther revelation: and to abate their curiosity, they are told, at the same time, that very likely the answers would not be agreeable to their inclinations. Al Baidháwi says, that when the pilgrimage was first commanded, Suráka Ibn Málik asked Muhammad whether they were obliged to perform it every year. To this question the Prophet at first turned a deaf ear; but being asked it a second and a third time, he at last said, ‘No; but if I had said yes, it would have become a duty, and if it were a duty, ye would not be able to perform it; therefore give me no trouble as to things wherein I give you none:’ whereupon this passage was revealed.”—Sale.
[(102) ]Bahaira . . . Hámi. “These were the names given by the pagan Arabs to certain camels or sheep which were turned loose to feed, and exempted from common services in some particular cases, having their ears slit, or some other mark that they might be known; and this they did in honour of their gods (Prelim. Disc., p. 199). Which superstitions are here declared to be no ordinances of God, but the inventions of foolish men.”—Sale.
[(103) ]That religion, &c. This is a very common reply on the part of idolaters even in these days. But for the sword of Islám the Arabs would no doubt have remained in the religion of their fathers for many years after the death of the Makkan preacher.
[(104) ]See note on chap. iii. 118.
[(105) ]Let witnesses be taken, &c. Sale gives the following story, on the authority of Baidháwi, as the occasion of the revelations in this and the following verse:—“The occasion of the preceding passage is said to have been this. Tamín al Dári and Áddi Ibn Yazíd, both Christians, took a journey into Syria to trade, in company with Budhail, the freedman of Ámru Ibn al Aas, who was a Muslim. When they came to Damascus, Budhail fell sick and died, having first wrote down a list of his effects on a piece of paper, which he hid in his baggage, without acquainting his companions with it, and desired them only to deliver what he had to his friends of the tribe of Sahm. The survivors, however, searching among his goods, found a vessel of silver of considerable weight and inlaid with gold, which they concealed, and on their return delivered the rest to the deceased’s relations, who, finding the list of Budhail’s writing, demanded the vessel of silver of them, but they denied it; and the affair being brought before Muhammad, these words, viz., O true believers, take witnesses, &c., were revealed, and he ordered them to be sworn at the pulpit in the mosque, just as afternoon prayer was over, and on their making oath that they knew nothing of the plate demanded, dismissed them. But afterwards, the vessel being found in their hands, the Sahmites, suspecting it was Budhail’s, charged them with it, and they confessed it was his, but insisted that they had bought it of him, and that they had not produced it because they had no proof of the bargain. Upon this they went again before Muhammad, to whom these words, And if it appear, &c., were revealed; and thereupon Ámru Ibn al Aas and al Mutallib Ibn Abi Rafáa, both of the tribe of Sahm, stood up, and were sworn against them; and judgment was given accordingly.”
[(107) ]This verse shows the purpose for which the law of witnesses was given, viz., to deter from corrupt practices by the knowledge that a solemn oath might be called for, and that even perjured persons might be confronted by the oaths of the witnesses and thereby be condemned. Two witnesses were necessary. Compare with Deut. xix. 15.
[(108) ]On a certain day, i.e., on the judgment-day.
[(109) ]The Holy Spirit. See note on chap. ii. 86.
[(110) ]The gospel. Muslims believe the New Testament Scriptures (Injíl) were sent down to Jesus just as the Qurán was given to Muhammad. Christ is here represented as having been taught of God as Muhammad was. Muhammad is the type of all apostles.
[(111) ]Apostles. In Arabic Al hawáriín, a word descriptive of the chosen followers of Jesus It does not convey any idea of apostleship in the ordinary sense of the word. If derived from the Ethiopic hawyra (Rodwell), the etymological meaning would indicate one sent; but if derived from hur, it would mean friends or helpers, and so correspond with the idea of the Ansár, or helpers of Muhammad.
[(112) ]A table. This word supplies the title of this chapter. It is thought to allude to the Table of the Lord or Christ’s Last Supper. It might as well allude to the miracles of loaves and fishes given in Matt. xiv. and xv. A similar inquiry is attributed to the children of Israel, Ps. lxxviii. 19. The passage is far from being confirmatory of the former Scriptures, if the following opinions of the commentators indicate anything of what Muhammad believed on this subject:—“This miracle is thus related by the commentators. Jesus having, at the request of his followers, asked it of God, a red table immediately descended in their sight between two clouds, and was set before them: whereupon he rose up, and having made the ablution, praved, and then took off the cloth which covered the table, saying, “In the name of God, the best provider of food.” What the provisions were with which this table was furnished is a matter wherein the expositors are not agreed. One will have them to be nine cakes of bread and nine fishes; another, bread and flesh; another, all sorts of food except flesh; another, all sorts of food except bread and flesh; another, all except bread and fish; another, one fish, which had the taste of all manner of food; and another, fruits of Paradise; but the most received tradition is, that when the table was uncovered, there appeared a fish ready dressed, without scales or prickly fins, dropping with fat, having salt placed at its head, and vinegar at its tail, and round it all sorts of herbs except leeks, and five loaves of bread, on one of which there were olives, on the second honey, on the third butter, on the fourth cheese, and on the fifth dried flesh. They add, that Jesus, at the request of the apostles, showed them another miracle, by restoring the fish to life, and causing its scales and fins to return to it; at which the standers-by being affrighted, he caused it to become as it was before: that one thousand three hundred men and women, all afflicted with bodily infirmities or poverty, ate of these provisions, and were satisfied, the fish remaining whole as it was at first; that then the table flew up to heaven in the sight of all; and that all who had partaken of this food were delivered from their infirmities and misfortunes; and that it continued to descend for forty days together at dinner-time, and stood on the ground till the sun declined, and was then taken up into the clouds. Some of the Muhammadan writers are of opinion that this table did not really descend, but that it was only a parable; but most think the words of the Qurán are plain to the contrary. A further tradition is, that several men were changed into swine for disbelieving this miracle and attributing it to magic art; or, as others pretend, for stealing some of the victuals from off it. Several other fabulous circumstances are also told, which are scarce worth transcribing.”—Sale, Baidháwi, Thalábi.
[(114) ]A festival day. This expression seems to point to the Eucharist as the subject of this passage. It may, however, rather refer to the love-feasts of the early Christians, which were observed every Sunday.
[(116) ]Two gods beside God. See notes on chap. iv. 169, and v. 77. Muir says, “So far as I can judge from the Coran, Mahomet’s knowledge of Christianity was derived from the Orthodox party, who styled Mary ‘Mother of God.’ He may have heard of the Nestorian heresy, and it is possibly referred to among the ‘sects’ into which Jews and Christians are said in the Coran to be divided; but, had he ever obtained a closer acquaintance with the Nestorian doctrine, at least in the earlier part of his career, it would (according to the analogy of his practice with respect to other subjects) have been more definitely mentioned in his revelation. The truth, however, is, that Mahomet’s acquaintance with Christianity was at the best singularly dim and meagre.”—Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. p. 19, note.
[(117) ]My Lord and your Lord. The strained effort of Muhammad to refute the doctrine of Christ’s divinity is here manifest. See note on ver. 110.
[(120) ]Thus the Qurán ends as it begins, with a declaration of the sovereignty of God—the cardinal doctrine of Islám.
[(13) ]Twelve leaders. The following is the Muslim account of these twelve leaders as given by Sale on the authority of Baidháwi:—
[* ]These giants, say the Muslims, were from 800 to 3300 yards in height; their grapes were so large it required five persons to lift a cluster, and the pomegranates were so large that five persons could get into the shell at once.