Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER IX.: ENTITLED SURAT AL TAUBA (REPENTANCE, IMMUNITY). Revealed at Madína. - The Quran, vol. 2
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CHAPTER IX.: ENTITLED SURAT AL TAUBA (REPENTANCE, IMMUNITY). 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 AL TAUBA (REPENTANCE, IMMUNITY).
Of the many titles given to this chapter, those of Immunity and Repentance are most commonly known. The former title is based on the first verse, the latter on the third verse, or, perhaps better still, upon the spirit of the whole chapter, which is a call to repentance to a multitude of disaffected and lukewarm Muslims and Arabs who declined to accompany Muhammad in his expedition to Tabúq. Sale says:—“It is observable that this chapter alone has not the auspiciatory form, In the name of the most merciful God, prefixed to it; the reason of which omission, as some think, was, because these words imply a concession of security, which is utterly taken away by this chapter after a fixed time; wherefore some have called it the chapter of Punishment; others say that Muhammad (who died soon after he had received this chapter), having given no direction where it should be placed, nor for the prefixing the Bismillah to it, as had been done to the other chapters, and the argument of this chapter bearing a near resemblance to that of the preceding, his companions differed about it, some saying that both chapters were but one, and together made the seventh of the seven long ones, and others that they were two distinct chapters; whereupon, to accommodate the dispute, they left a space between them, but did not interpose the distinction of the Bismillah.
“It is agreed that this chapter was the last which was revealed, and the only one, as Muhammad declared, which was revealed entire and at once, except the one hundred and tenth.
“Some will have the two last verses to have been revealed at Makkah.”
The statement that this chapter was the last revealed is based upon the testimony of tradition, but the internal evidence fixes the date of most of the revelations within the ninth year of the Hijra. With this also Muslim tradition agrees. It would therefore appear that during one whole year no revelation was vouchsated to Muhammad, which is contrary to other traditions, which assign portions of chapters ii., v., &c., to the time of the farewell pilgrimage in the end of a.h. 10.
The statement that this whole chapter was revealed at one time is also unfounded, as will be seen by reference to the date of the revelations given below.
Probable Date of the Revelations.
Following Noeldeke for the most part, vers. 1-12 belong to the latter part of a.h. 9. when Muhammad sent Ali to Makkah to notify to the tribes assembled there that henceforth the Holy Temple would be closed against idolaters. Vers. 13-16, however, belong to an earlier period, viz., a.h. 8, when Muhammad planned his expedition for the capture of Makkah. To these may be added vers. 17-24, which, however, mark the time when Muhammed first thought of conquering his native city. Some would place vers. 23 and 24 among the revelations enunciated previous to the expedition to Tabúq in a.h. 9.
Vers. 25-27 mention the victory at Hunain (Shawál, a.h. 8), and belong to the period immediately following the siege of Tayif, i.e., Dzu’l Qáada, a.h. 8.
Ver. 28 seems to be connected with vers. 1-12, and therefore belongs to the latter part of a.h. 9.
Vers. 29-128 refer to the events connected with the expedition to Tabúq, which occurred in Rajab of a.h. 9. They were not, however, all enunciated at one time, but partly before the expedition, partly on the march, and partly after the return.
Vers. 29-35 may be referred to the time of arrival at Tabúq, when the Christian prince, John of Aylah, tendered his submission to Muhammad, paying tribute (Jazya).
Vers. 36 and 37, referring to the abolition of the intercalary year and the fixing the time of the pilgrimage in accordance with the changes of the lunar year, must be assigned to the Dzu’l Hajja of a.h. 10.
The remaining verses Noeldeke distributes as follows:—Previous to the expedition, vers. 38-41 (of which, according to Ibn Hishám, 924, ver. 41 is the oldest of the whole Sura), and 49-73. On the march, vers. 42-48 and 82-97 (of which ver. 85, if it refers to the death of Abdullah Ibn Ubbai, must have been added later on). After thereturn, vers. 74-81 and 98-113, of which vers. 108-111 were enunciated just before the entry into Madína.
Vers. 114-117, if they refer to the visit of Muhammad to the tomb of his mother, Amína Bint Wahb, as many authorities state, must be referred to the latter part of a.h. 6. But if they refer to the death of Abdullah Ibn Ubbai, they belong to a period about two months later than the return from Tabúq. This latter seems to be founded on the best authority.
Vers. 118 and 119 were enunciated about fifty days after the return from Tabúq (see note on ver. 119). The remaining verses, excepting 129 and 130, which are probably of Makkan origin, belong to the time immediately after the return from Tabûq.
∥ (1)A declaration of immunity from God and his Apostle unto the idolaters with whom ye have entered into league. (2) Go to and fro in the earth securely four months; and know that ye shall not weaken God, and that God will disgrace the unbelievers. (3) And a declaration from God and his Apostle unto the people, on the day of the greater pilgrimage, that God is clear of the idolaters, and his Apostle also. Wherefore if ye repent, this will be better for you; but if ye turn back, know that ye shall not weaken God: and denounce unto those who believe not a painful punishment. (4) Except such of the idolaters with whom ye shall have entered into a league, and who afterwards shall not fail you in any instance, nor assist any other against you. Wherefore perform the covenant which ye shall have made with them, until their time shall be elapsed; for God loveth those who fear him.(5) And when the months wherein ye are not allowed to attack them shall be past, kill the idolaters wheresoever ye shall find them, and take them prisoners, and besiege them, and lay wait for them in every convenient place. But if they shall repent, and observe the appointed times of prayer and pay the legal alms, dismiss them freely; for Godis gracious and merciful. (6) And if any of the idolaters shall demand protection of thee, grant him protection, that he may hear the word of God, and afterwards let him reach the place of his security. This shalt thou do, because they are people which know not the excellency of the religion thou preachest.
∥ (7) How shall the idolaters be admitted into a league with God and with his Apostle, except those with whom ye entered into a league at the holy temple? So long as they behave with fidelity towards you, do ye also behave with fidelity towards them; for God loveth those who fear him.(8) How can they be admitted into a league with you, since, if they prevail against you, they will not regard in you either consanguinity or faith? They will please you with their mouths, but their hearts will be averse from you; for the greater part of them are wicked doers. (9) They sell the signs of God for a small price, and obstruct his way; it is certainly evil which they do. (10) They regard not in a believer either consanguinity or faith; and these are the transgressors. (11) Yet if they repent and observe the appointed times of prayer, and give alms, they shall be deemed your brethren in religion. We distinctly propound our signs unto people who understand. (12) But if they violate their oaths after their league, and revile your religion, oppose the leaders of infidelity (for there is no trust in them), that they may desist from their treachery.(13) Will ye not fight against people who have violated their oaths, and conspired to expel the Apostle of God; and who of their own accord assaulted you for the first time? Will ye fear them? But it is more just that ye should fear God, if ye are true believers. (14) Attack them, therefore;God shall punish them by your hands, and will cover them with shame, and will give you the victory over them: and he will heal the breasts of the people who believe, (15) and will take away the indignation of their hearts: for God will be turned unto whom he pleaseth; and Godis knowing and wise. (16) Did ye imagine that ye should be abandoned, whereas God did not yet know those among you who fought for his religion, and took not any besides God, and his Apostle, and the faithful for their friends? God is well acquainted with that which ye do.
∥ (17) It is not fitting that the idolaters should visit the temples of God, being witnesses against their own souls of their infidelity. The works of these men are vain, and they shall remain in hell-fire for ever. (18) But he only shall visit the temples of God who believeth in God and the last day, and is constant at prayer, and payeth the legal alms, and feareth God alone. These perhaps may become of the number of those who are rightly directed. (19) Do ye reckon the giving drink to the pilgrims and the visiting of the holy temple to be actions as meritorious as those performed by him who believeth in God and the last day, and fighteth for the religion of God? They shall not be held equal with God; for God directeth not the unrighteous people. (20) They who have believed, and fled their country, and employed their substance and their persons in the defence of God’s true religion, shall be in the highest degree of honour with God; and these are they who shall be happy. (21) Their Lord sendeth them good tidings of mercy from him, and goodwill, and of gardens wherein they shall enjoy lasting pleasure: (22) they shall continue therein for ever; for with God is a great reward. (23) O true believers, take not your fathers or your brethren for friends, if they love infidelity above faith; and whosoever among you shall take them for his friends, they will be unjust doers. (24) Say, If your fathers, and your sons, and your brethren, and your wives, and your relations, and your substance which ye have acquired, and your merchandise which ye apprehend may not be sold off, and your dwellings wherein ye delight, be more dear unto you than God, and his Apostle, and the advancement of his religion; wait until God shall send his command, for God directeth not the ungodly people.
(25) Now hath God assisted you in many engagements, and particularly at the battle of Hunain, when ye pleased yourselves in your multitude, but it was no manner of advantage unto you, and the earth became too strait for you, notwithstanding it was spacious; then did ye retreat and turn your backs. (26) Afterwards God sent down his security upon his Apostle and upon the faithful, and sent down troops of angels, which ye saw not; and he punished those who disbelieved; and this was the reward of the unbelievers. (27) Nevertheless God will hereafter be turned unto whom he pleaseth; for Godis gracious and merciful. (28) O true believers, verily the idolaters are unclean; let them not therefore come near unto the holy temple after this year. And if ye fear want, by the cutting off trade and communication with them,God will enrich you of his abundance, if he pleaseth; for Godis knowing and wise. (29) Fight against them who believe not in God nor the last day, and forbid not that which God and his Apostle have forbidden, and profess not the true religion, of those unto whom the scriptures have been delivered, until they pay tribute by right of subjection, and they be reduced low.
∥ (30) The Jews say, Ezra is the son of God; and the Christians say, Christ is the Son of God. This is their saying in their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who were unbelievers in former times. May God resist them. How are they infatuated! (31) They take their priests and their monks for their lords, besides God, and Christ the son of Mary; although they are commanded to worship one God only: there is no God but he; far be that from him which they associate with him!(32) They seek to extinguish the light of God with their mouths; but God willeth no other than to perfect his light, although the infidels be averse thereto.
(33) It is he who hath sent his Apostle with the direction and true religion, that he may cause it to appear superior to every other religion, although the idolaters be averse thereto.(34) O true believers, verily many of the priests and monks devour the substance of God in vanity, and obstruct the way of God. But unto those who treasure sure up gold and silver, and employ it not for the advancement of God’s true religion, denounce a grievous punishment. (35) On the day of judgment their treasures shall be intensely heated in the fire of hell, and their foreheads, and their sides, and their backs shall be stigmatised therewith; and their tormentors shall say, This is what ye have treasured up for your souls; taste therefore that which ye have treasured up. (36) Moreover, the complete number of months with God is twelve months, which were ordained in the book of God on the day whereon he created the heavens and the earth: of these, four are sacred. This is the right religion; therefore deal not unjustly with yourselves therein. But attack the idolaters in all the months, as they attack you in all; and know that God is with those who fear him.(37) Verily the transferring of a sacred monthto another month is an additional infidelity. The unbelievers are led into an error thereby: they allow a month to be violated one year, and declare it sacred another year, that they may agree in the number of months which God hath commanded to be kept sacred; and they allow that which God hath forbidden. The evil of their actions hath been prepared for them; for God directeth not the unbelieving people.
∥ (38) O true believers, what ailed you, that when it was said unto you, Go forth to fight for the religion of God, ye inclined heavily towards the earth? Do ye prefer the present life to that which is to come? But the provision of this life, in respect of that which is to come, is but slender. (39) Unless ye go forth when ye are summoned to war, God will punish you with a grievous punishment; and he will place another people in your stead, and ye shall not hurt him at all; for God is almighty. (40) If ye assist not the Prophet, verily Godwill assist him, as he assisted him formerly, when the unbelievers drove him out of Makkah, the second of two when they were both in the cave: when he said unto his companion, Be not grieved, for God is with us. And God sent down his security upon him, and strengthened him with armies of angels, whom ye saw not. And he made the word of those who believed not to be abased, and the word of God was exalted; for Godis mighty and wise. (41) Go forth to battle, both light and heavy, and employ your substance and your persons for the advancement of God’s religion. This will be better for you, if ye know it. (42) If it had been a near advantage, and a moderate journey, they had surely followed thee; but the way seemed tedious unto them: and yet they will swear by God,saying, If we had been able, we had surely gone forth with you. They destroy their own souls; for God knoweth that they are liars.
∥ (43)God forgive thee! why didst thou give them leave to stay at home, until they who speak the truth, when they excuse themselves, had become manifested unto thee, and thou hadst known the liars? (44) They who believe in God and the last day will not ask leave of thee to be excused from employing their substance and their persons for the advancement of God’s true religion; and God knoweth those who fear him.(45) Verily they only will ask leave of thee to stay behind who believe not in God and the last day, and whose hearts doubt concerning the faith; wherefore they are tossed to and fro in their doubting. (46) If they had been willing to go forth with thee, they had certainly prepared for that purpose a provision of arms and necessaries: but God was averse to their going forth; wherefore he rendered them slothful, and it was said unto them, Sit ye still with those who sit still. (47) If they had gone forth with you, they had only been a burden unto you, and had run to and fro between you, stirring you up to sedition; and there would have been some among you who would have given ear unto them: and God knoweth the wicked. (48) They formerly sought to raise a sedition, and they disturbed thy affairs, until the truth came, and the decree of God was made manifest; although they were adverse thereto. (49) There is of them who saith unto thee, Give me leave to stay behind, and expose me not to temptation. Have they not fallen into temptation at home? But hell will surely encompass the unbelievers. (50) If good happen unto thee, it grieveth them: but if a misfortune befall thee, they say. We ordered our business before, and they turn their backs, and rejoice at thy mishap.(51) Say, Nothing shall befall us but what God hath decreed for us; he is our patron, and on God let the faithful trust. (52) Say, Do ye expect any other should befall us than one of the two most excellent things, either victory or martyrdom? But we expect concerning you that God inflict a punishment on you, either from himself or by our hands. Wait, therefore, to see what will be the end of both; for we will wait for you. (53) Say, Expend your money in pious uses, either voluntarily or by constraint, it shall not be accepted of you, because ye are wicked people. (54) And nothing hindereth their contributions from being accepted of them, but that they believe not in God and his Apostle, and perform not the duty of prayer otherwise than sluggishly, and expend not their money for God’s service otherwise than unwillingly.
∥ (55) Let not therefore their riches or their children cause thee to marvel. Verily God intendeth only to punish them by these things in this world, and that their souls may depart while they are unbelievers. (56) They swear by God that they are of you; yet they are not of you, but are people who stand in fear. (57) If they find a place of refuge, or caves, or a retreating hole, they surely turn towards the same, and in a headstrong manner haste thereto.(58) There is of them also who spreadeth ill reports of thee, in relation to thy distribution of the alms: yet if they receive part thereof they are well pleased; but if they receive not a part thereof, behold they are angry. (59) But if they had been pleased with that which God and his Apostle had given them, and had said, God is our support; God will give unto us of his abundance, and his Prophet also; verily unto God do we make our supplications: it would have been more decent.(60) Alms are to be distributed only unto the poor and the needy, and those who are employed in collecting and distributing the same, and unto those whose hearts are reconciled, and for the redemption of captives, and unto those who are in debt and insolvent, and for the advancement of God’s religion, and unto the traveller. This is an ordinance from God; and Godis knowing and wise. (61) There are some of them who injure the Prophet, and say, He is an ear. Answer, He is an ear of good unto you; he believeth in God, and giveth credit to the faithful, (62) and is a mercy unto such of you who believe. But they who injure the Apostle of God shall suffer a painful punishment. (63) They swear unto you by God, that they may please you; but it is more just that they should please God and his Apostle, if they are true believers. (64) Do they not know that he who opposeth God and his Apostle shall without doubt be punished with the fire of hell, and shall remain therein for ever? This will be great ignominy. (65) The hypocrites are apprehensive lest a Sura should be revealed concerning them, to declare unto them that which is in their hearts. Say unto them, Scoff ye; butGod will surely bring to light that which ye fear should be discovered.
∥ (66) And if thou ask them the reason of this scoffing, they say, Verily we were only engaged in discourse, and jesting among ourselves. Say, Do ye scoff at God and his signs, and at his Apostle? (67) Offer not an excuse: now are ye become infidels, after your faith. If we forgive a part of you, we will punish a part, for that they have been wicked doers.
∥ (68) Hypocritical men and women are the one of them of the other: they command that which is evil, and forbid that which is just, and shut their hands from giving alms. They have forgotten God, wherefore he hath forgotten them: verily the hypocrites are those who act wickedly. (69)God denounceth unto the hypocrites, both men and women, and to the unbelievers, the fire of hell; they shall remain therein for ever: this will be their sufficient reward;God hath cursed them, and they shall endure a lasting torment. (70) As they who have been before you, so are ye. They were superior to you in strength, and had more abundance of wealth and of children, and they enjoyed their portion in this world; and ye also enjoy your portion here, as they who have preceded you enjoyed their portion. And ye engage yourselves in vain discourses, like unto those wherein they engaged themselves. The works of these are vain both in this world and in that which is to come; and these are they who perish. (71) Have they not been acquainted with the history of those who have been before them? of the people of Noah, and of Ád, and of Thamúd, and of the people of Abraham, and of the inhabitants of Madian, and of the cities which were overthrown. Their apostles came unto them with evident demonstrations, and God was not disposed to treat them unjustly; but they dealt unjustly with their own souls. (72) And the faithful men and the faithful women are friends one to another: they command that which is just, and they forbid that which is evil; and they are constant at prayer, and pay their appointed alms; and they obey God and his Apostle: unto these will God be merciful; for he is mighty and wise. (73)God promiseth unto the true believers, both men and women, gardens through which rivers flow, wherein they shall remain for ever; and delicious dwellings in the gardens of perpetual abode: but good-will from Godshall be their most excellent reward. This will be great felicity.
∥ (74) O Prophet, wage war against the unbelievers and the hypocrites, and be severe unto them; for their dwelling shall be hell: an unhappy journey shall it be thither!(75) They swear by God that they said not what they are charged with: yet they spake the word of infidelity, and became unbelievers after they had embraced Islám. And they designed that which they could not effect; and they did not disapprove the design for any other reason than because God and his Apostle had enriched them of his bounty. If they repent, it will be better for them; but if they relapse, God will punish them with a grievous torment in this world and in the next; and they shall have no portion on earth, nor any protector. (76) There are some of them who made a covenant with God,saying, Verily if he give us of his abundance, we will give alms, and become righteous people. (77) Yet when they had given unto him of his abundance, they became covetous thereof, and turned back, and retired afar off. (78) Wherefore he hath caused hypocrisy to succeed in their hearts, until the day whereon they shall meet him; for that they failed to perform unto God that which they had promised him, and for that they prevaricated. (79) Do they not know that God knoweth whatever they conceal, and their private discourses; and that God is the knower of secrets? (80) They who traduce such of the believers as are liberal in giving alms beyond what they are obliged, and those who find nothing to give but what they gain by their industry, and therefore scoff at them: God shall scoff at them, and they shall suffer a grievous punishment. (81) Ask forgiveness for them, or do not ask forgiveness for them; it will be equal. If thou ask forgiveness for them seventy times, God will by no means forgive them. This is the divine pleasure, for that they believe not in God and his Apostle; and God directeth not the ungodly people.
∥ (82) They who were left at home in the expedition of Tabúq were glad of their staying behind the Apostle of God, and were unwilling to employ their substance and their persons for the advancement of God’s true religion; and they said, Go not forth in the heat. Say, The fire of hell will be hotter; if they understood this. (83) Wherefore let them laugh little and weep much, as a reward for that which they have done. (84) If God bring thee back unto some of them, and they ask thee leave to go forth to war with thee, say, Ye shall not go forth with me for the future, neither shall ye fight an enemy with me; ye were pleased with sitting at home the first time; sit ye at home therefore with those who stay behind. (85) Neither do thou ever pray over any of them who shall die, neither stand at his grave, for that they believed not in God and his Apostle, and die in their wickedness. (86) Let not their riches or their children cause thee to marvel: for God intendeth only to punish them therewith in this world, and that their souls may depart while they are infidels. (87) When a Sura is sent down, wherein it is said, Believe in God, and go forth to war with his Apostle; those who are in plentiful circumstances among them ask leave of thee to stay behind, and say, Suffer us to be of the number of those who sit at home. (88) They are well pleased to be with those who stay behind, and their hearts are sealed up; wherefore they do not understand. (89) But the Apostle, and those who have believed with him, expose their fortunes and their lives for God’s service; they shall enjoy the good things of either life, and they shall be happy. (90)God hath prepared for them gardens through which rivers flow; they shall remain therein for ever. This will be great felicity.
∥ (91) And certain Arabs of the desert came to excuse themselves, praying that they might be permitted to stay behind; and they sat at home who had renounced God and his Apostle. But a painful punishment shall be inflicted on such of them as believe not. (92) In those who are weak, or are afflicted with sickness, or in those who find not wherewith to contribute to the war, it shall be no crime if they stay at home, provided they behave themselves faithfully towards God and his Apostle. There is no room to lay blame on the righteous; for Godis gracious and merciful: (93) nor on those unto whom, when they came unto thee requesting that thou wouldest supply them with necessaries for travelling, thou didst answer, I find not wherewith to supply you, returned, their eyes shedding tears for grief that they found not wherewith to contribute to the expedition. (94) But there is reason to blame those who ask leave of thee to sit at home, when they are rich. They are pleased to be with those who stay behind, and God hath sealed up their hearts, wherefore they do not understand.
∥ (95) They will excuse themselves unto you when ye are returned unto them. Say, Excuse not yourselves; we will by no means believe you: God hath acquainted us with your behaviour; and God will observe his actions, and his Apostle also: and hereafter shall ye be brought before him who knoweth that which is hidden and that which is manifest, and he will declare unto you that which ye have done. (96) They will swear unto you by God, when ye are returned unto them, that ye may let them alone. Let them alone, therefore, for they are an abomination, and their dwelling shall be hell, a reward for that which they have deserved. (97) They will swear unto you, that ye may be well pleased with them; but if ye be well pleased with them, verily God will not be well pleased with people who prevaricate. (98) The Arabs of the desert are more obstinate in their unbelief and hypocrisy, and it is easier for them to be ignorant of the ordinances of that which God hath sent down unto his Apostle; and Godis knowing and wise. (99) Of the Arabs of the desert there is who reckoneth that which he expendeth for the service of God to be as tribute, and waiteth that some change of fortune may befall you. A change for evil shall happen unto them; for Godboth heareth and knoweth. (100) And of the Arabs of the desert there is who believeth in God and in the last day, and esteemeth that which he layeth out for the service of God to be the means of bringing him near unto God and the prayers of the Apostle. Is it not unto them the means of a near approach? God shall lead them into his mercy; for Godis gracious and merciful.
∥ (101)As for the leaders and the first of the Muhájjirín and the Ansárs, and those who have followed them in well-doing, God is well pleased with them, and they are well pleased in him: and he hath prepared for them gardens watered by rivers; they shall remain therein for ever. This shall be great felicity. (102) And of the Arabs of the desert who dwell round about you, there are hypocritical persons; and of the inhabitants of Madína there are some who are obstinate in hypocrisy. Thou knowest them not, O Prophet, but we know them: we will surely punish them twice; afterwards shall they be sent to a grievous torment. (103) And others have acknowledged their crimes. They have mixed a good action with another which is bad: peradventure God will be turned unto them; for Godis gracious and merciful. (104) Take alms of their substance, that thou mayest cleanse them and purify them thereby; and pray for them, for thy prayers shall be a security of mind unto them; and Godboth heareth and knoweth. (105) Do they not know that God accepteth repentance from his servants and accepteth alms, and that God is easy to be reconciled and merciful? (106) Say unto them, Work as ye will; but God will behold your work, and his Apostle also, and the true believers; and ye shall be brought before him who knoweth that which is kept secret, and that which is made public; and he will declare unto you whatever ye have done. (107) And there are others who wait with suspense the decree of God, whether he will punish them, or whether he will be turned unto them; but Godis knowing and wise. (108)There are some who have built a temple to hurt the faithful, and to propagate infidelity, and to foment division among the true believers, and for a lurking-place for him who hath fought against God and his Apostle in time past; and they swear, saying, Verily, we intended no other than to do for the best; but God is witness that they do certainly lie. (109) Stand not up to pray therein for ever. There is a temple founded on piety, from the first day of its building. It is more just that thou stand up to pray therein: therein are men who love to be purified, for God loveth the clean. (110) Whether therefore is he better who hath founded his building on the fear of God and his good-will, or he who hath founded his building on the brink of a bank of earth which is washed away by waters, so that it falleth with him into the fire of hell? God directeth not the ungodly people. (111) Their building which they have built will not cease to be an occasion of doubting in their hearts, until their hearts be cut in pieces; and Godis knowing and wise.
∥ (112) Verily God hath purchased of the true believers their souls and their substance, promising them the enjoyment of Paradise on condition that they fight for the cause of God: whether they slay or be slain, the promise for the same is assuredly due by the law, and the gospel, and the Qurán; and who performeth his contract more faithfully than God? Rejoice therefore in the contract which ye have made. This shall be great happiness. (113) The penitent, and those who serve God and praise him, and who fast, and bow down, and worship, and who command that which is just and forbid that which is evil, and keep the ordinances of God,shall likewise be rewarded with Paradise: wherefore bear good tidings unto the faithful. (114) It is not allowed unto the Prophet, nor those who are true believers, that they pray for idolaters, although they be of kin, after it is become known unto them that they are inhabitants of hell. (115) Neither did Abraham ask forgiveness for his father, otherwise than in pursuance of a promise which he had promised unto him; but when it became known unto him that he was an enemy unto God, he declared himself clear of him. Verily Abraham was pitiful and compassionate. (116) Nor is Goddisposed to lead people into error after that he hath directed them, until that which they ought to avoid is become known unto them; for God knoweth all things. (117) Verily unto Godbelongeth the kingdom of heaven and of earth; he giveth life and he causeth to die; and ye have no patron or helper besides God.(118)God is reconciled unto the Prophet, and unto the Muhájjirín and the Ansárs, who followed him in the hour of distress, after that it had wanted little but that the hearts of a part of them had swerved from their duty: afterwards was he turned unto them, for he was compassionate and merciful towards them. (119) And he is also reconciled unto the three who were left behind, so that the earth became too strait for them, notwithstanding its spaciousness, and their souls became straitened within them, and they considered that there was no refuge from God, otherwise than by having recourse unto him. Then was he turned unto them that they might repent, for Godis easy to be reconciled and merciful.
∥ (120) O true believers, fear God and be with the sincere. (121) There was no reason why the inhabitants of Madína, and the Arabs of the desert who dwell around them, should stay behind the Apostle of God, or should prefer themselves before him. This is unreasonable, because they are not distressed either by thirst, or labour, or hunger, for the defence of God’s true religion; neither do they stir a step which may irritate the unbelievers; neither do they receive from the enemy any damage, but a good work is written down unto them for the same; for God suffereth not the reward of the righteous to perish. (122) And they contribute not any sum either small or great, nor do they pass a valley; but it is written down unto them that God may reward them with a recompense exceeding that which they have wrought. (123) The believers are not obliged to go forth to war altogether: if a part of every band of them go not forth, it is that they may diligently instruct themselves in their religion, and may admonish their people when they return unto them, that they may take heed to themselves.
∥ (124) O true believers, wage war against such of the infidels as are near you; and let them find severity in you: and know that God is with those who fear him.(125) Whenever a Sura is sent down, there are some of them who say, Which of you hath this caused to increase in faith? It will increase the faith of those who believe, and they shall rejoice: (126) but unto those in whose hearts there is an infirmity it will add further doubt unto their present doubt; and they shall die in their infidelity. (127) Do they not see that they are tried every year once or twice? yet they repent not, neither are they warned. (128) And whenever a Sura is sent down, they look at one another, saying, Doth any one see you? then do they turn aside. God shall turn aside their hearts from the truth; because they are a people who do not understand. (129) Now hath an apostle come unto you of our own nation, an excellent person: it is grievous unto him that ye commit wickedness; he is careful over you, and compassionate and merciful towards the believers. (130) If they turn back, say, God is my support; there is no God but he. On him do I trust; and he is the Lord of the magnificent throne.
[(1) ]God and his Apostle. See note on chap. viii. 20. This formula occurs sixteen times in this chapter.
[(2) ]Four months. These were, according to some authorities, Shawál, Dhu’l Qáada, Dhu’l Hajja, and Muharram, this revelation having been made in Shawál. Others, computing from Dhu’l Hajja, when the proclamation of this revelation was made, reckon the months to be Dhu’l Hajja, Muharram, Safar and Rabi-ul-auwal. The latter seems to be the sounder opinion.
[(3) ]The greater pilgrimage., viz., “The tenth of Dhu’l Hajja, when they slay the victims at Mína, which day is their great feast, and completes the ceremonies of the pilgrimage. Some suppose the adjective greater is added here to distinguish the pilgrimage made at the appointed time from lesser pilgrimages, as they may be called, or visitations of the Kaabah, which may be performed at any time of the year; or else because the concourse at the pilgrimage this year was greater than ordinary, both Muslims and idolaters being present at it.
[(4) ]Except such. The exception is in respect to the painful punishment denounced against the unbelievers in the previous verse. So long as the idolaters with whom treaties of peace had already been made should remain faithful to their treaty engagements, they should be exempt from the punishment described in the following verse. The spirit of the passage seems clearly to be opposed to that of the first verse. It is probable that several revelations relating to idolaters, and delivered at different times, have been woven together by the compilers of the Qurán. If this view be correct, the first verse was promulgated at a later period than what follows, and we have here an illustration of how the spirit of inspiration subserved the political interests of the Prophet.
[(5) ](5) Kill the idolaters. Compare this passage with chap. iv. 88, 89. Wherever ye shall find them. “Either within or without the sacred territory.”—Sale. This passage, with what follows, is said to abrogate chap. ii. 216.
[(6) ]That he may hear the word of God. The plain meaning of this passage, according to the Tafsír-i-Raufi, is that the ignorant were to be made acquainted with the claims of Islám, and if then they accepted it, they were to be allowed to proceed to their homes in peace; if not, they were to be slain. Sale’s paraphrase here seems to me to mistake the purport of the general order to slay all impenitent idolaters, excepting those with whom treaties had been made, and who had observed their treaty obligations. He says, “You shall give him a safe-conduct, that he may return home again securely, in case he shall not think fit to embrace Muhammadanism.”
[(7) ]Those with whom ye entered into a league, i.e., the Bani Dhamra and Bani Kinána, mentioned in note to ver. 1.
[(8) ]How? This ambiguous interrogative is variously understood. In addition to what is inserted in the text we find the following: “How can they?”—Rodwell. “How shall we not smite the infidels?”—Abdul Qádir. “How can there be peace?”—Fatah-ar-Rahmán. The Persian translation agrees with Sale.
[(9) ]Compare chap. ii. 175, 176, and see notes there.
[(11) ]If they repent and observe, &c. This passage clearly asserts the necessity of piety in religion as an evidence of true repentance. The piety required, however, is simply the outward observance of the rites of Islám. The contrast between Islám and Christianity on this point is very marked, and needs only to be emphasised to reveal the difference between the counterfeit and the true. The ring of a genuine coin is unmistakable.
[(12) ]Oppose the leaders Rodwell translates, “Do battle with the ringleaders.” This accords with the Persian and Urdú translations. Muslims are now to take active measures for the suppression of infidelity.
[(13) ]Will ye not fight, &c. Sale, on the authority of Baidháwi, paraphrases thus: “As did the Quraish in assisting the tribe of Baqr against those of Khudháah (see Prelim. Disc., p. 93), and laying a design to ruin Muhammad without any just provocation; and, as several of the Jewish tribes did, by aiding the enemy and endeavouring to oblige the Prophet to leave Madina as he had been obliged to leave Makkah.”
[(14) ]By your hands. This passage seems to teach that Muslim crusade against idolatry was commanded by God as a sovereign act of judgment, just as Moses was commanded to destroy the Canaanites. The Muslim, therefore, uses the same arguments in defence of the former that we do in respect of the conduct of Joshua and the Israelites. See note on chap. ii. 191.
[(15) ]Indignation of their hearts. The meaning of this verse depends on ver. 14. According to the view of the commentators, it would be that God, by avenging the faithful upon their persecutors, would satisfy their desire for revenge. My own interpretation of that verse requires this to mean that by healing the breasts of the faithful, their indignation at the idea of warring against friends and relations during even the sacred months would be removed amidst the glories of the victory of Islám. This I think to be the better interpretation.
[(16) ]God did not yet know. Rodwell translates, “As if God did not yet know.” The Tafsír-i-Raufi paraphrases, “Since God has not yet made known.” The passage seems to mean that the sincerity of those who claimed to be Muslims could only be known by a trial of their faith, and that the present defection of some was no reason for supposing that all had been abandoned of God.
[(17) ]The temples of God. Literally, the masjids of God. Idolaters are here refused admittance to the mosque as well as to the sacred Kaabah at Makkah, a requirement carefully observed in all Muslim communities.
[(18) ]He only shall visit, &c. “These words are to warn the believers from having too great a confidence in their own merits, and likewise to deter the unbelievers; for if the faithful will but perhaps be saved, what can the others hope for?”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(19) ]“This passage was revealed on occasion of some words of Abbás, Muhammad’s uncle, who, when he was taken prisoner, being bitterly reproached by the Muslims, and particularly by his nephew Ali, answered, “You rip up our ill actions, but take no notice of our good ones; we visit the temple of Makkah, and adorn the Kaabah with hangings, and give drink to the pilgrims, and free captives.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(20) ]This passage looks like a Madína revelation. The praise bestowed upon the Muhájjarín may, however, be retrospective. The revelation was certainly intended to stir up Muslim fanaticism. The spirit of the fanatic (Gházi) is the spirit of the true Muslim.
[(21) ]Gardens, &c. See note on chap. iii. 15.
[(23) ]Take not your fathers . . . for friends. The Tafsír-i-Raufi says this passage refers to those who neglected to perform the pilgrimage on account of domestic opposition and hindrance. The spirit of the passage in this place seems rather to point to those who were reluctant to fight against their relations in Makkah. May not that clemency of Muhammad towards its people, when it fell into his hands, be in some measure accounted for on the ground of this known antipathy of his people to slaughter their relatives, and to destroy property in which they had so deep an interest?
[(24) ]Wait until God shall send his command. Sale, on the authority of Baidháwi, says, “Or shall punish you. Some suppose the taking of Makkah to be here intended.” This confirms the view that the relations here intended were the relatives of the refugees in Makkah, and points to a time previous to the capture of Makkah as the period in which this passage was revealed.
[(25) ]God assisted . . . at . . . Hunain. “This battle was fought in the eighth year of the Hijra, in the valley of Hunain, which lies about three rules from Makkah towards Tayif, between Muhammad, who had an army of twelve thousand men, and the tribes of Hawázin and Thakíf, whose forces did not exceed four thousand. The Muhammadans, seeing themselves so greatly superior to their enemies, made sure of the victory; a certain person, whom some suppose to have been the Prophet himself, crying out, ‘These can never be overcome by so few.’ But God was so highly displeased with this confidence, that in the first encounter the Muslims were put to flight, some of them running away quite to Makkah, so that none stood their ground except Muhammad himself and some few of his family; and they say the Prophet’s courage was so great, that his uncle al Abbás, and his cousin Abu Sufián Ibn al Hárith, had much ado to prevent his spurring his mule into the midst of the enemy, by laying hold of the bridle and stirrup. Then he ordered al Abbás, who had the voice of a Stentor, to recall his flying troops; upon which they rallied, and the Prophet throwing a handful of dust against the enemy, they attacked them a second time, and by the Divine assistance gained the victory.”—Sale, Baidháwi, Jaláluddín.
[(26) ]God sent down his security. “The original word is Sakínat, which the commentators interpret in this sense; but it seems rather to signify the Divine presence, or Shekinah, appearing to aid the Muslims.”—Sale. See also note on chap. ii. 248.
[(27) ]Hereafter turned, &c. “Besides a great number of proselytes who were gained by this battle, Muhammad, on their request, was so generous as to restore the captives (which were no less than six thousand) to their friends, and offered to make amends himself to any of his men who should not be willing to part with his prisoners.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(28) ]The idolaters are unclean. This verse seems to be connected with those at the beginning of the chapter. Muhammad is now master of Arabia. The idolaters are now to be converted by force. Exclusion from the sacred precincts of the ancient pantheon is now visited upon them, accompanied with the command to the Muslims to slay them wherever they find them, unless they confess Islám. The purity of the Muslims was not affected by contact with idolatry in visiting the idol temple at Makkah (for such it was until captured by Muhammad), so long as Islám was too weak to abolish it. Now that Muhammad is victorious, the spirit of his inspiration suddenly informs him that idolaters are unclean, and that Muslims may not perform the rites of the pilgrimage with them. Muhammad was not, however, in any way inconsistent with the principle that seems to have guided him everywhere—that everything was right that could in any way advance the cause of Islám. He was therefore right in becoming almost a Jew in hope of winning them. This failing, he was justified in patronising an idol temple and idolatrous rites in order to win over the Arabs. On the same principle he could condone assassination, sanction the plunder of caravans and the murder of defenceless merchants, even in the sacred months, and could on the same principle deny having any complicity in it. He could for the same reason witness the massacre of 800 Jewish prisoners, and spare, with a show of magnanimity, his bitterest enemies on the capture of Makkah. All was right—all was commanded of God, that promoted his selfish ambition, in the advancement of his political and prophetic or politico-prophetical pretensions. He had unhesitatingly adopted the pernicious rule that evil may be done in order to the accomplishment of a good end—that the end sanctifies the means.
[(29) ]Fight against them, &c. “That is, those who have not a just and true faith in these matters, but either believe a plurality of gods, or deny the eternity of hell-torments, or the delights of Paradise as described in the Qurán. For, as it appears by the following words, the Jews and Christians are the persons here chiefly meant.”—Sale.
[(30) ]Ezra is the son of God. “This grievous charge against the Jews the commentators endeavour to support by telling us that it is meant of some ancient heterodox Jews or else of some Jews of Madína, who said so for no other reason than for that the law being utterly lost and forgotten during the Babylonish captivity, Ezra having been raised to life after he had been dead one hundred years (chap. ii. 259, note), dictated the whole anew unto the scribes out of his own memory; at which they greatly marvelled, and declared that he could not have done it unless he were the son of God. Al Baidháwi adds, that the imputation must be true, because this verse was read to the Jews, and they did not contradict it, which they were ready enough to do in other instances. That Ezra did thus restore not only the Pentateuch, but also the other books of the Old Testament, by Divine revelation, was the opinion of several of the Christian fathers, who are quoted by Dr. Prideaux, and of some other writers, which they seem to have first borrowed from a passage in that very ancient apocryphal book called in our English Bible the Second Book of Esdras (chap. xiv. 20, &c.) Dr. Prideaux tells us that herein the fathers attributed more to Ezra than the Jews themselves, who suppose that he only collected and set forth a correct edition of the Scriptures, which he laboured much in, and went a great way in the perfecting of it. It is not improbable, however, that the fiction came originally from the Jews, though they be now of another opinion, and I cannot fix it upon them by any direct proof. For, not to insist upon the testimony of the Muhammadans (which yet I cannot but think of some little weight in a point of this nature), it is allowed by the most sagacious critics that the Second Book of Ezra was written by a Christian indeed, but yet one who had been bred a Jew, and was intimately acquainted with the fables of the Rabbins; and the story itself is perfectly in the taste and way of thinking of those men.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(31) ]Priests . . . for their lords. An inference from the use of the title Rabbi, coupled with the reverence accorded to the ordained ministry. See note on chap. iii. 63. The charge here made, that Christians worshipped their priests and monks as they did Christ and God, is scarcely true. It is also noteworthy that the Messiah is here deliberately denied all divine honours, and that the deprecatory formula, “far be it from him,” &c., is the same as that used in reproaching the idolatrous Arabs for their service to heathen gods. Whatever phrases, therefore, we find in the Qurán expressive of Messianic dignity must be attributed to the ignorance of the Prophet as to their real import. See notes on chaps. ii. 86 and iii. 39.
[(32) ]The light of God, i.e., the Qurán, or the Divine Unity, or the prophetic office of Muhammad, &c.—Tafsír-i-Raufi.
[(33) ]Superior to every other religion. Rodwell translates more correctly, “victorious over every other religion.” This was true of the religions of Arabia, to which the expression must primarily be referred, but it is not true of the religions of the world, Islám at present being almost everywhere subject to or dependent for existence on Christian rule.
[(34) ]Monks devour, &c. “By taking bribes, says Baidháwi, meaning, probably, the money they took for dispensing with the commands of God, and by way of commutation.”—Sale. It more probably refers to the fact that these classes were supported by the people.
[(35) ]This verse describes the fate not only of miserly Muslims, but also that of the Christian priests and monks of ver. 31. “Thus,” says Muir in his Life of Mahomet, vol. iv. p. 212, “with threats of abasement and with bitter curses, Mahomet parted finally from the Jews and Christians, whom he had so long deceived with vain professions of attachment to their Scriptures, and from whose teaching he had borrowed all that was most valuable in his own system. Having reached the pinnacle of prosperity and power, he cast contemptuously aside the supports to which in no small measure he owed his elevation.”
[(36) ]The complete number of months. “According to this passage, the intercalation of a month every third or second year, which the Arabs had learned of the Jews, in order to reduce their lunar years to solar years, is absolutely unlawful. For by this means they fixed the time of the pilgrimage and of the feast of Ramadhán to certain seasons of the year, which ought to be ambulatory.”—Sale. See also Prelim. Disc., pp. 229, 230, and chap. ii. 185, note.
[(37) ]An additional infidelity. “This was an invention or innovation of the idolatrous Arabs, whereby they avoided keeping a sacred month, when it suited not their conveniency, by keeping a profane month in its stead, transferring, for example, the observance of Muharram to the succeeding month Safar. The first man who put this in practice, they say, was Junáda Ibn Auf, of the tribe of Kináná. These ordinances relating to the months were promulgated by Muhammad himself at the pilgrimage of valediction.”—Sale.
[(38) ]What ailed you, viz., “In the expedition of Tabúq, a town situate about half-way between Madína and Damascus, which Muhammad undertook against the Greeks, with an army of thirty thousand men, in the ninth year of the Hijra. On this expedition the Muslims set out with great unwillingness, because it was undertaken in the midst of the summer heats, and at a time of great drought and scarcity, whereby the soldiers suffered so much, that this army was called the distressed army; besides, their fruits were just ripe, and they had much rather have stayed to have gathered them.”—Sale, Jaláluddín, Baidháwi.
[(39) ]Another people in your stead. See chap. v. 59, and notes there.
[(40) ]The unbelievers, i.e., the people or chiefs of Makkah, who compelled his flight to Madína.
[(41) ]Light and heavy. Savary translates young and old. The Tafsír-i-Raufi comments as follows: “Go forth on horseback and on foot, in health or sickness, young and old, poor and rich, without preparation and with preparation, the virgin and the married woman.”
[(42) ]A near advantage, &c. “That is, had there been no difficulties to surmount in the expedition to Tabúq, and the march thither had been short and easy, so that the plunder might have cost them little or no trouble, they would not have been so backward.”—Sale.
[(43) ]God forgive thee. Muhammad is here “reprehended for having excused some of his followers from going on this expedition, as Abdullah Ibn Ubbai and his hypocritical adherents, and three of the Ansárs.”—Sale.
[(44-46) ]These verses teach that all interests of private individuals must yield to the interests of Islám. Failure here is a sure sign of infidelity. Another point worthy of notice is that man’s free agency and God’s sovereignty are both clearly recognised in this passage.
[(48) ]Formerly sought to raise a sedition. As at Ohod. See notes on chap. iii. 156-160.
[(49) ]Expose me not to temptation “By obliging me to go, against my will, on an expedition the hardships of which may tempt me to rebel or to desert. It is related that one Jadd Ibn Qais said that the Ansárs well knew he was much given to women, and he dared not trust himself with the Greek girls; wherefore he desired he might be left behind, and he would assist them with his purse.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(50) ]It grieveth them. For envy, or because they are unable to share the booty.
[(51) ]What God hath decreed. Literally, What God hath written, meaning what God hath determined from eternity, and recorded on the Preserved Table. On the question of Muhammad’s fatalism see notes on chap. iii. 145 and 155.
[(52) ]The two most excellent things. This passage illustrates the confidence Muhammad had in the success of Islám, whilst it shows the strong spirit of fanaticism already fixed in the minds of the Muslims. To fight for Islám was to conquer or to gain admission to Paradise. An army made up of men holding such a faith could hardly fail of success. War and bloodshed thus sanctified are the very antipodes of the peace and benevolence of the Gospel.
[(53, 54) ]The distinction between true Muslims and merely nominal adherents is here clearly defined. The former were those who had consecrated all to Islám, and held themselves ready to obey every command of the Prophet with unquestioning obedience. Their bodies, souls, time, strength, property, all was devoted to their religion. The unpardonable sin was want of devotion to Muhammad and his cause. The property of hypocrites could not be accepted except as the lawful booty of the faithful.
[(55) ]Comp. with chap. iii. 179.
[(56) ]People who stand in fear. “Hypocritically concealing their infidelity, lest ye should chastise them, as ye have done the professed infidels and apostates; and yet ready to avow their infidelity when they think they may do it with safety.”—Sale.
[(58, 59) ]Them also who spread ill reports of thee, &c. “This person was Abu’l Jawádh, the hypocrite, who said Muhammad gave them away among the keepers of sheep only; or, as others suppose, Ibn Dhu’l Khuwaisarah, who found fault with the Prophet’s distribution of the spoils taken at Hunain, because he gave them all among the Makkans, to reconcile and gain them over to his religion and interest.”—Sale, Abdul Qádir.
[(60) ]This verse abrogates chap. ii. 214 on the subject of almsgiving. See Prelim. Disc., pp. 172-175.
[(61) ]He is an ear. Rodwell translates “He is all ear.” Sale paraphrases thus: “He hears everything that we say, and gives credit to all the stories that are carried to him.” This seems to express blameworthiness on the part of the Prophet. The Tafsír-i-Raufi understands these words to express the feelings of the Prophet’s enemies, who, taking advantage of his simplicity, spoke evil of him behind his back, in the assurance that, if reported, he would credit their hypocritical professions of friendship. This view accords with the verses following.
[(63, 64) ]God and his Apostle. The chief duty of a Muslim is here declared to be to please God and his Apostle, for to oppose God and his Apostle is sure to end in the punishment of the fire of hell. A Muslim sees nothing in this passage derogatory to Muhammad’s character, because he believes that he was truly a prophet of God, and therefore judges that to oppose the Prophet is to oppose God. How our Christian apologists for Muhammad can exonerate their hero here we cannot imagine. Was he a prophet? Did he originate the language of this passage in his own mind, or did he receive it, as he pretended, directly from God, so that he was merely the mouthpiece of God? We are not aware that any of these admirers of Muhammad hold opinions consistent with such a claim. But if he be the author of the Qurán, and if he be not a prophet, how can he be exonerated from blasphemy and imposture in the use of such language as this? We should indeed like to hear what they have to say in defence of this very characteristic feature of the revelations of the Qurán. See also chap. viii. 20.
[(65) ]The hypocrites are apprehensive lest a Sura. This passage illustrates Muhammad’s method of procedure. The hypocrites had already abundant experience as to the correspondence between the wishes and designs of the Prophet and the Suras of his Qurán. They had seen this fact illustrated in bloody characters in the case of their Jewish neighbours, in characters of a different hue in the matter of the distribution of the spoils, and the numerous interferences of the inspiring angel in settlement of grave matters pertaining to the Prophet’s harem. No wonder they should be “apprehensive lest a Sura should be revealed concerning them.” No wonder that, as a result of such apprehension, hypocrisy soon became lost in zeal for the cause of the Prophet. On the word sura, see introduction to chap. i.
[(66) ]Jesting. “It is related that in the expedition of Tabúq, a company of hypocrites, passing near Muhammad, said to one another, ‘Behold that man! he would take the strongholds of Syria: away! away!’ which being told the Prophet, he called them to him, and asked them why they had said so; whereto they replied with an oath, that they were not talking of what related to him or his companions, but were only diverting themselves with indifferent discourse, to beguile the tediousness of the way.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(68) ]One of them from the other. Rodwell translates this idiom, and renders it “imitate one another.” Who act wickedly, i.e., they opposed Muhammad’s pretensions, and declined to spend money for his wars. As to moral conduct, we have every reason to believe them to have been better than the Muslims. But with these morality had already become identical with adhesion to Islám.
[(69) ]God denounceth . . . the fire of hell. Of the seven apartments of hell, the lowest is assigned to the hypocrites. See Prelim. Disc., p. 148.
[(70) ]This description of the hypocrites points to the days of their prosperity and power, and confirms what was said under ver. 66.
[(71) ]The people of Noah, &c. See notes on chap. vii. 60-86. The cities . . . overthrown, namely, “Sodom and Gomorrah, and the other cities which snared their fate, and are thence called Al Mutikifát, or the subverted.”—Sale.
[(73) ]Both men and women. See note on chap. iv. 123.
[(74) ]Wage war against the unbelievers, &c. Mr. Bosworth Smith in his Mohammed and Mohammedanism, pp. 137-142, admits a change of practice on the part of Muhammad in respect to his opponents: “The free toleration of the purer among the creeds around him, which the Prophet had at first enjoined, gradually changes into intolerance. Persecuted no longer, Mohammed becomes a persecutor himself; with the Koran in one hand, the scymiter in the other, he goes forth to offer to the nations the three-fold alternative of conversion, tribute, death.” This, however, along with his being “guilty more than once of conniving at the assassination of inveterate opponents, and the massacre of the Bani Koraitza,” is excused partly on the ground that, believing himself to be inspired, he “found an ample precedent for the act in the slaughter of the Midianites by Moses or the Canaanites by Joshua,” and partly on the ground of his being an Oriental, who must therefore be judged by a lower standard of morality. In Mr. Smith’s estimation these are apparently but a few slight blemishes in an otherwise estimable character. In opposition to Gibbon, he lauds the magnanimity of Muhammad on his capture of Makkah. “If ever he had worn a mask at all, he would now at all events have thrown it off; if lower aims had gradually sapped the higher, or his moderation had been directed, as Gibbon supposes, by his selfish interests, we should now have seen the effect; now would have been the moment to gratify his ambition, to satiate his lust, to glut his revenge. Is there anything of the kind? Read the account of the entry of Mohammed into Mecca, side by side with that of Marius or Sulla into Rome. Compare all the attendant circumstances, the outrages that preceded, and the use made by each of his recovered power, and we shall then be in a position better to appreciate the magnanimity and moderation of the Prophet of Arabia.”
[(75) ]They spake the word of infidelity. “It is related that al Jallás Ibn Suwaid, hearing some passages of this chapter which sharply reprehended those who refused to go on the above-mentioned expedition of Tabúq, declared that if what Muhammad said of his brethren was true, they were worse than asses. Which coming to the Prophet’s ear, he sent for him, and he denied the words upon oath. But on the immediate revelation of this passage, he confessed his fault, and his repentance was accepted.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(76) ]If he give . . . we will give, &c. “An instance of this is given in Thálabah Ibn Hátib, who came to Muhammad, and desired him to beg of God that he would bestow riches on him. The Prophet at first advised him rather to be thankful for the little he had than to covet more, which might become a temptation to him; but on Thálabah’s repeated request and solemn promise that he would make a good use of his riches, he was at length prevailed on, and preferred the petition to God. Thálabah in a short time grew vastly rich, which Muhammad being acquainted with, sent two collectors to gather the alms; other people readily paid them, but when they came to Thálabah, and read the injunction to him out of the Qurán, he told them that it was not alms, but tribute, or next kin to tribute, and bid them go back till he had better considered of it. Upon which this passage was revealed; and when Thálabah came afterwards and brought his alms, Muhammad told him that God had commanded him not to accept it, and threw dust on his head, saying, ‘This is what thou hast deserved.’ He then offered his alms to Ábu Baqr, who refused to accept them, as did Omar some years after, when he was Khalífah.”—Sale.
[(79) ]This verse clearly teaches that God is omniscient—that all things are open to the gaze of his all-seeing eye.
[(80) ]They who traduce . . . believers. “Al Baidháwi relates that Muhammad, exhorting his followers to voluntary alms, among others, Ábd-ur-Rahmán Ibn Auf gave four thousand dirhems, which was one-half of what he had; Ásim Ibn Adda gave a hundred beasts’ loads of dates; and Ábu Ukail a saá, which is no more than a sixtieth part of a load, of the same fruit, but was the half of what he had earned by a night’s hard work. This Muhammad accepted: whereupon the hypocrites said that Ábd-ur-Rahmán and Ásim gave what they did out of ostentation, and that God and his Apostle might well have excused Ábu Ukail’s mite; which occasioned this passage.
[(81) ]God will by no means forgive them. “In the last sickness of Abdullah Ibn Ubbái, the hypocrite (who died in the ninth year of the Hijra), his son, named also Abdullah, came and asked Muhammad to beg pardon of God for him, which he did, and thereupon the former part of this verse was revealed. But the Prophet, not taking that for a repulse, said he would pray seventy times for him; upon which the latter part of the verse was revealed, declaring it would be absolutely in vain. It may be observed that the numbers seven, and seventy, and seven hundred, are frequently used by the Eastern writers, to signify not so many precisely, but only an indefinite number, either greater or lesser, several examples of which are to be met with in the Scriptures.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(82) ]They who were left behind, i.e., the hypocrites, under the leadership of Abdullah Ibn Ubbái.
[(84) ]And they ask thee. “That is, if thou return in safety to Madína to the hypocrites, who are here called some of them who stayed behind, because they were not all hypocrites. The whole number is said to have been twelve.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(85) ]Neither do thou ever pray over any of them. “This passage was also revealed on account of Abdullah Ibn Ubbai. In his last illness he desired to see Muhammad, and, when he was come, asked him to beg forgiveness of God for him, and requested that his corpse might be wrapped up in the garment that was next his body (which might have the same efficacy with the habit of a Franciscan), and that he would pray over him when dead. Accordingly, when he was dead, the Prophet sent his shirt, or inner vestment, to shroud the corpse, and was going to pray over it, but was forbidden by these words. Some say they were not revealed till he had actually prayed for him.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(86) ]To punish them therewith, i.e., by inflicting upon them the care and anxiety which their riches and children bring with them.—Tafsír-i-Raufi.
[(87) ]A Sura. See introduction to chap. i., and note above on ver. 65. The word here is used as equivalent to any portion of the Qurán containing a message or revelation for the people.
[(90) ]They shall remain, &c. Warring for the faith is here made the reason and ground of salvation, being the test of faith and obedience.
[(91) ]Certain Arabs of the desert. “These were the tribes of Asad and Ghatfán, who excused themselves on account of the necessities of their families, which their industry only maintained. But some write they were the family of Amar Ibn al Tufail, who said that if they went with the army, the tribe of Tay would take advantage of their absence, and fall upon their wives and children, and their cattle.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(92) ]This verse defines the classes of Muslims exempt from military service in a holy war or crusade.
[(93) ]Eyes shedding tears, &c. “The persons here intended were seven men of the Ansárs, who came to Muhammad and begged he would give them some patched boots and soled shoes, it being impossible for them to march so far barefoot in such a season; but he told them he could not supply them; whereupon they went away weeping. Some however say these were the Banu Mukrán, and others Ábu Musa and his companions.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(95) ]God hath acquainted us. We are here informed by the author of the Qurán that this revelation was delivered during the expedition to Tabúq, or at least before its return to Madína. Now granting that Muhammad was a prophet indeed, as Muslims do, there is nothing in the statement of the text derogatory to such a character. But those who claim that Muhammad was not an impostor, while denying his prophetic claims, find themselves in trouble here. For if he had no revelation, as is here claimed, how vindicate his honesty and truthfulness? Could he be deluded into a belief like this without being a madman? We think not. Such a plea of madness, if set up in any court of justice, would undoubtedly be set aside as simply incredible. The position of Christian apologists for Islám is unreasonable. If Muhammad were a prophet—and if sincere and honest, as is claimed, he must have been a prophet—the apologists should profess Islám without delay. But if he were not a prophet, he must have been an impostor of no ordinary character.
[(96) ]They will swear, &c. The statements of this and the following verses purport to be prophecies, which were literally fulfilled shortly after their enunciation. From a Muslim standpoint they are prophecies, but from a Christian standpoint, and from the standpoint of the Christian apologists of Muhammad, they must be regarded as deliberate forgeries, perpetrated by Muhammad on his return from Tabúq or thereabout. As to the matter of the prophecies, there is nothing in them which Muhammad could not have devised or foreseen, even before his return from Tabúq.
[(98) ]The Arabs of the desert are more obstinate, &c. “Because of their wild way of life, the hardness of their hearts, their not frequenting people of knowledge, and the few opportunities they have of being instructed.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(99) ]There is who reckoneth . . . as tribute, i.e., “or a contribution exacted by force, the payment of which he can in no wise avoid.”—Sale.
[(100) ]Of the Arabs . . . there is who believeth, &c. “The Arabs meant in the former of these two passages are said to have been the tribes of Asad, Ghatfán, and Banu Tamím; and those intended in the latter, Abdullah, surnamed Dhu’l Bajádín, and his people.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(101) ]The Muhájjirín and the Ansárs. “The Muhájjirín, or refugees, were those of Makkah who fled thence on account of their religion; and the Ansárs, or helpers, were those of Madína, who received Muhammad and his followers into their protection, and assisted them against their enemies. By the leaders of the Muhájjirín are meant those who believed on Muhammad before the Hijra, or early enough to pray towards Jerusalem, from which the Qiblah was changed to the temple of Makkah in the second year of the Hijra, or else such of them as were present at the battle of Badr. The leaders of the Ansárs were those who took the oath of fidelity to him at al Aqabali, either the first or the second time.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(102) ]Hypocritical persons, i.e., the tribes of Juhaina, Muzaina, Aslam, Ashja, and Ghafár, who dwelt in the neighbourhood of Madína.—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(103) ]Others have acknowledged their crimes. “Making no hypocritical excuses for them. These were certain men who, having stayed at home instead of accompanying Muhammad to Tabúq, as soon as they heard the severe reprehensions and threats of this chapter against those who had stayed behind, bound themselves to the pillars of the mosque, and swore that they would not loose themselves till they were loosed by the Prophet. But when he entered the mosque to pray, and was informed of the matter, he also swore that he would not loose them without a particular command from God; whereupon this passage was revealed, and they were accordingly dismissed.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(104) ]Take alms, &c. “When these persons were loosed, they prayed Muhammad to take their substance, for the sake of which they had stayed at home, as alms, to cleanse them from their transgression; but he told them he had no orders to accept anything from them: upon which this verse was sent down, allowing him to take their alms.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(106) ]Work, i.e., see that your works correspond with your profession of repentance.
[(107) ]Others who wait. “This verse refers to Káb Ibn Málik, a poet, who had done good service to Mahomet, and to two other believers who had incurred his special displeasure. They had no pretext to offer for their absence from the army, and their bad example had encouraged the hesitating and disaffected citizens in their neglect of the Prophet’s summons. These could not with any show of justice be reprimanded or punished if the far more serious offence of those three, his professed followers, were passed over. A ban was therefore placed upon them. They were cut off from all intercourse with the people, and even with their own wives and families. Fifty days passed thus miserably, and the lives of the three men became a burden to them. At length the heart of Mahomet relented, and by the delivery of the revelation (recorded in vers. 118 and 119 below) he received them back into his favour”—Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. iv. p. 197.
[(108) ]Who have built a temple. “When Banu Ámru Ibn Auf had built the temple or mosque of Qubá, which will be mentioned by and by, they asked Muhammad to come and pray in it, and he complied with their request. This exciting the envy of their brethren, Banu Ganím Ibn Auf, they also built a mosque, intending that the Imám or priest who should officiate there should be Ábu Amír, a Christian monk; but he dying in Syria, they came to Muhammad and desired he would consecrate, as it were, their mosque by praying in it. The Prophet accordingly prepared himself to go with them, but was forbidden by the immediate revelation of this passage, discovering their hypocrisy and ill design: whereupon he sent Málik Ibn al Duḳhshum, Maan Ibn Addi, Amír Ibn al Saqan, and al Wahsha, the Ethiopian, to demolish and burn it; which they performed, and made it a dunghill. According to another account, this mosque was built a little before the expedition of Tabúq, with a design to hinder Muhammad’s men from engaging therein; and when he was asked to pray there, he answered that he was just setting out on a journey, but that when he came back, with God’s leave, he would do what they desired; but when they applied to him again, on his return, this passage was revealed.”—Sale, Jaláluddín.
[(109) ]A temple founded on piety, viz., “that of Qubá, a place about two miles from Madína, where Muhammad rested four days before he entered that city, in his flight from Makkah, and where he laid the foundation of a mosque, which was afterwards built by Banu Ámru Ibn Auf. But according to a different tradition, the mosque here meant was that which Muhammad built at Madína.”
[(110) ]Compare with the simile used by our Lord in Matt. vii. 24-27.
[(111) ]Until their hearts be cut in pieces. “Some interpret these words of their being deprived of their judgment and understanding, and others of the punishment they are to expect, either of death in this world, or of the rack of the sepulchie, or the pains of hell.”—Sale.
[(112) ]God hath purchased . . . their souls, i.e., “He has been pleased to grant them the joys of Paradise for their meritorious works.”—Tafsír-i-Raufi.
[(114) ]It is not allowed . . . to pray for idolaters. “This passage was revealed, as some think, on account of Abu Tálib, Muhammad’s uncle and great benefactor, who, on his deathbed, being pressed by his nephew to speak a word which might enable him to plead his cause before God, that is, to profess Islám, absolutely refused. Muhammad, however, told him that he would not cease to pray for him till he should be forbidden by God—which he was by these words. Others suppose the occasion to have been Muhammad’s visiting his mother Amína’s sepulchre at al Abwá, soon after the taking of Makkah; for they say that while he stood at the tomb he burst into tears, and said, ‘I asked leave of God to visit my mother’s tomb, and he granted it me; but when I asked leave to pray for her, it was denied me.’ ”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(115) ]A promise, viz., “To pray that God would dispose his heart to repentance. Some suppose this was a promise made to Abraham by his father, that he would believe in God. For the words may be taken either way.”—Sale.
[(116) ]Nor is God to lead people into error, i.e., “To consider or punish them as transgressors. This passage was revealed to excuse those who had prayed for such of their friends as had died idolaters before it was forbidden, or else to excuse certain people who had ignorantly prayed towards the first Qibla, and drank wine, &c.”—Sale.
[(118) ]God is reconciled to the Prophet, &c. “Having forgiven the crime they committed, in giving the hypocrites leave to be absent from the expedition to Tabúq, or for the other sins which they might, through inadvertence, have been guilty of. For the best men have need of repentance.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(119) ]The three who were left behind. “Or, as it may be translated, who were left in suspense, whether they should be pardoned or not. These were three Ansárs, named Qáb Ibn Málik, Halál Ibn Umaiya, and Marára Ibn Rabí, who went not with Muhammad to Tabúq, and were therefore, on his return, secluded from the fellowship of the other Muslims, the Prophet forbidding any to salute them or to hold discourse with them; under which interdiction they continued fifty days, till, on their sincere repentance, they were at length discharged from it by the revelation of this passage.”—Sale.
[(121) ]Should prefer themselves before him. “By not caring to share with him the dangers and fatigues of war. Al Baidháwi tells us, that after Muhammad had set out for Tabúq, one Ábu Ḳhaithama, sitting in his garden, where his wife, a very beautiful woman, had spread a mat for him in the shade, and had set new dates and fresh water before him, after a little reflection, cried out, ‘This is not well, that I should thus take my ease and pleasure while the Apostle of God is exposed to the scorching of the sunbeams and the inclemencies of the air;’ and immediately mounting his camel, took his sword and lance, and went to join the army.”—Sale.
[(123) ]Not obliged to go forth. “That is, if some of every tribe or town be left behind, the end of their being so left is that they may apply themselves to study, and attain a more exact knowledge ofthe several points of their religion, so as to be able to instruct such as, by reason of their continual employment in the wars, have no other means of information. They say that after the preceding passages were revealed, reprehending those who had stayed at home during the expedition of Tabúq, every man went to war, so that the study of religion, which is rather more necessary for the defence and propagation of the faith than even arms themselves, becamme wholly laid aside and neglected; to prevent which for the future a convement number are hereby directed to be left behind, that they may have leisure to prosecute their studies.”—Sale.
[(124) ]Wage war against . . . the infidels. Arabia now lay at the feet of Muhammad; even foreign conquest had been undertaken with success. For this reason the command to wage war for the faith against all, both far away and near at hand, is now promulgated. The principle of chap. ii. 256 had long since been abandoned, and while the Muslims had hardly grasped the plan of the Prophet during his lifetime, yet the doctrine of a universal conquest of the world for Islám was clearly set forth in the Qurán. Comp. chap. ii. 193, 215, and 244, and notes there.
[(125) ]The commentators say “the hypocrites were usually known when a crusade was proclaimed,” i.e., by their unwillingness to go to the war. A readiness to fight in the cause of Islám had now become the test of faith.
[(127) ]Tried every year, i.e., “by various kinds of trials, or by being called forth to war, and by being made witnesses of God’s miraculous protection of the faithful.”—Sale.
[(128) ]They look at one another. “They wink at one another to rise and leave the Prophet’s presence, if they think they can do it without being observed, to avoid hearing the severe and deserved reproofs which they apprehend in every new revelation. The persons intended are the hypocritical Muslims.”—Sale.
[(129) ]An apostle . . . of our own nation. See note on chap. iii. 165. This encomium, self-invented, and put into the mouth of God, is hardly consistent with the character of Muhammad as described by the apologists. Perhaps some one of them will undertake to show us how this comports with a character for honest sincerity and prophetic purity.