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CHAPTER XI.: ENTITLED SURAT AL HÚD. Revealed at Makkah. - 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 HÚD.
I have not been able to find any better reason for the name of this chapter than that given by Sale: that the story of that prophet is repeated in it.
There is much in this chapter of a like character with the seventh chapter. Its several parts are closely connected together, and present what may be called an elaborate vindication of Muhammad’s claim to be a prophet. The Quraish had rejected him as an impostor, and had styled his Qurán a forgery. Accordingly he falls back upon the example of former prophets, and threatens the infidels with that Divine wrath which had invariably destroyed the unbelievers who had rejected his predecessors in this holy office.
In respect to the histories of the prophets given in this chapter, there is one feature worthy of very special attention, as it bears directly on the question of Muhammad’s sincerity and honesty as a religious teacher: it is the Muhammadan colouring of the history of these prophets. They were all, like Muhammad, sent to reclaim their people from idolatry. Like him, they were all rejected by the great majority of the people, only a few poor, despised persons professing faith in their prophet’s message. Like him, they were all charged with imposture, and their messages were characterised as forgeries. This conduct was invariably followed by Divine retribution, the prophets and their followers being miraculously delivered from wicked hands.
The whole chapter marks a period of sharp and bitter opposition on the part of Muhammad’s townsmen. It is probable that this fact, as well as the sharp epileptic paroxysms with which these revelations are said to have been accompanied, caused Muhammad to designate “Húd and its Sisters” as the “Terrific Suras.” “The ‘Sisters’ are variously given as Suras xi., xxi., lvi., lxix., lxxvii., lxxviii., lxxxi., and ci.; all Meccan, and some of them very early Suras.”—Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. p. 88.
Probable Date of the Revelations.
As to the date of composition, little can be said that is satisfactory beyond the fact that it belongs to a period of Muhammad’s prophetic career at Makkah when the opposition of the Quraish was very fierce. A part of the chapter would seem to indicate the period immediately preceding the Ban of the Húshimites, say b.h. 4 (see note on ver. 91), but the greater part must be referred to a period succeeding that event (see notes on vers. 37 and 55).
IN THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD.
∥ (1) A. L. R. (2)This book, the verses whereof are guarded against corruption, and are also distinctly explained, is a revelation from the wise, the knowing God:(3) that ye serve not any otherGod (verily I am a denouncer of threats, and a bearer of good tidings unto you from him); (4) and that ye ask pardon of your Lord, and then be turned unto him. He will cause you to enjoy a plentiful provision, until a prefixed time; and unto every one that hath merit by good works will he give his abundant reward. But if ye turn back, verily I fear for you the punishment of the great day: (5) unto God shall ye return; and he is almighty. (6) Do they not double the folds of their breasts, that they may conceal their designs from him? When they cover themselves with their garments, doth not he know that which they conceal and that which they discover? For he knoweth the innermost parts of the breasts of men.
∥ (7) There is no creature which creepeth on the earth but Godprovideth its food; and he knoweth the place of its retreat, and where it is laid up. The whole is written in the perspicuous book of his decrees.(8) It is he who hath created the heavens and the earth in six days (but his throne was above the waters before the creation thereof), that he might prove you, and see which of you would excel in works. If thou say, Ye shall surely be raised again after death; the unbelievers will say, This is nothing but manifest sorcery. (9) And verily if we defer their punishment unto a determined season, they will say, What hindereth it from falling on us? Will it not come upon them on a day, wherein there shall be none to avert it from them; and that which they scoffed at shall encompass them?
∥ (10) Verily, if we cause man to taste mercy from us, and afterwards take it away from him, he will surely become desperate and ungrateful. (11) And if we cause him to taste favour after an affliction had befallen him, he will surely say, The evils which I suffered are passed from me, and he will become joyful and insolent; (12) except those who persevere with patience and do that which is right; they shall receive pardon and a great reward. (13) Peradventure thou wilt omit to publish part of that which hath been revealed unto thee, and thy breast will become straitened, lest they say, Unless a treasure be sent down unto him, or an angel come with him, to bear witness unto him, we will not believe. Verily thou art a preacher only; and God is the governor of all things. (14) Will they say, He hath forged the Qurán? Answer, Bring therefore ten chapters like unto it, forged by yourselves; and call on whomsoever ye may to assist you, except God, if ye speak truth. (15) But if they whom ye call to your assistance hear you not; know that this book hath been revealed by the knowledge of God only, and that there is no God but he. Will ye therefore become Muslims? (16) Whoso chooseth the present life and the pomp thereof, unto them will we give the recompense of their works therein, and the same shall not be diminished unto them. (17) These are they for whom no other reward is prepared in the next life except the fire of hell: that which they have done in this life shall perish, and that which they have wrought shall be vain. (18) Shall he therefore be compared with them who followeth the evident declaration of his Lord, and whom a witness from him attendeth, preceded by the book of Moses, which was revealed for a guide, and out of mercy to mankind? These believe in the Qurán; but whosoever of the confederate infidels believeth not therein, is threatened the fire of hell, which threat shall certainly be executed: be not therefore in a doubt concerning it; for it is the truth from thy Lord: but the greater part of men will not believe. (19) Who is more unjust than he who imagineth a lie concerning God? They shall be set before the Lordat the day of judgment, and the witnesses shall say, These are they who devised lies against their Lord. Shall not the curse of Godfall on the unjust; (20) who turn men aside from the way of God, and seek to render it crooked, and who believe not in the life to come? (21) These were not able to prevail against God on earth, so as to escape punishment; neither had they any protectors besides God: their punishment shall be doubled unto them. They could not hear, neither did they see. (22) These are they who have lost their souls; and the idols which they falsely imagined have abandoned them. (23) There is no doubt but they shall be most miserable in the world to come. (24) But as for those who believe and do good works, and humble themselves before their Lord, they shall be the inhabitants of Paradise; they shall remain therein for ever.(25) The similitude of the two parties is as the blind and the deaf, and as he who seeth and heareth: shall they be compared as equal? Will ye not therefore consider?
∥ (26) We formerly sent Noah unto his people; and he said, Verily I am a public preacher unto you; (27) that ye worship God alone; verily I fear for you the punishment of the terrible day. (28) But the chiefs of the people, who believed not, answered, We see thee to be no other than a man, like unto us; and we do not see that any follow thee, except those who are the most abject among us, who have believed on thee by a rash judgment; neither do we perceive any excellence in you above us: but we esteem you to be liars. (29)Noah said, O my people, tell me; if I have received an evident declaration from my Lord, and he hath bestowed on me mercy from himself, which is hidden from you, do we compel you to receive the same, in case ye be averse thereto? (30) O my people, I ask not of you riches, for my preaching unto you: my reward is with God alone. I will not drive away those who have believed: verily they shall meet their Lordat the resurrection; but I perceive that ye are ignorant men. (31) O my people, who shall assist me against God, if I drive them away? Will ye not therefore consider? (32) I say not unto you, The treasures of God are in my power; neither do I say, I know the secrets of God: neither do I say, Verily I am an angel; neither do I say of those whom your eyes do contemn, God will by no means bestow good on them: (God best knoweth that which is in their souls;) for then should I certainly be one of the unjust. (33) They answered, O Noah, thou hast already disputed with us, and hast multiplied disputes with us; now therefore do thou bring that punishment upon us wherewith thou hast threatened us, if thou speakest truth. (34) Noah said, Verily God alone shall bring it upon you, if he pleaseth; and ye shall not prevail against him, so as to escape the same.(35) Neither shall my counsel profit you, although I endeavour to counsel you aright, if God shall please to lead you into error. He is your Lord, and unto him shall ye return. (36) Will the Makkans say, Muhammad hath forged the Qurán? Answer, If I have forged it, on me be my guilt; and let me be clear of that which ye are guilty of.
∥ (37) And it was revealed unto Noah, saying, Verily none of thy people shall believe, except he who hath already believed; be not therefore grieved for that which they are doing. (38) But make an ark in our presence, according to the form and dimensions which we have revealed unto thee; and speak not unto me in behalf of those who have acted unjustly, for they are doomed to be drowned. (39) And he built the ark; and so often as a company of his people passed by him they derided him; but he said, Though ye scoff at us now, we will scoff at you hereafter as ye scoff at us;(40) and ye shall surely know on whom a punishment shall be inflicted, which shall cover him with shame, and on whom a lasting punishment shall fall. Thus were they employed until our sentence was put in execution and the oven poured forth water. And we said unto Noah, Carry into the ark of every species of animals one pair; and thy family (except him on whom a previous sentence of destruction hath passed), and those who believe. But there believed not with him except a few. (41) And Noah said, Embark thereon, in the name of God, while it moveth forward and while it standeth still; for my Lordis gracious and merciful. (42) And the ark swam with them between waves like mountains; and Noah called unto his son, who was separated from him, saying, Embark with us, my son, and stay not with the unbelievers. (43) He answered, I will get on a mountain, which will secure me from the water. Noah replied, There is no security this day from the decree of God, except for him on whom he shall have mercy. And a wave passed between them, and he became one of those who were drowned. (44) And it was said, O earth, swallow up thy waters, and thou, O heaven, withhold thy rain. And immediately the water abated, and the decree was fulfilled, and the ark rested on the mountain Al Júdi; and it was said, Away with the ungodly people!
∥ (45) And Noah called upon his Lord, and said, O Lord, verily my son is of my family, and thy promise is true, for thou art the most just of those who exercise judgment. (46)God answered, O Noah, verily he is not of thy family; this intercession of thine for him is not a righteous work. Ask not of me therefore that wherein thou hast no knowledge; I admonish thee that thou become not one of the ignorant. (47)Noah said, O Lord, I have recourse unto thee for the assistance of thy grace, that I ask not of thee that wherein I have no knowledge; and unless thou forgive me and be merciful unto me, I shall be one of those who perish. (48) It was said unto him, O Noah, come down from the ark, with peace from us, and blessings upon thee, and upon a part of those who are with thee; but as for a part of them, we will suffer them to enjoy the provision of this world, and afterwards shall a grievous punishment from us be inflicted on them in the life to come.(49) This is a secret history which we reveal unto thee; thou didst not know it, neither did thy people before this. Wherefore persevere with patience, for the prosperous issue shall attend the pious.
∥ (50) And unto the tribe of Ád we sent their brother Húd. He said, O my people, worship God; ye have no God besides him; ye only imagine falsehood in setting up idols and intercessors of your own making. (51) O my people, I ask not of you for this my preaching any recompense; my recompense do I expect from him only who hath created me. Will ye not therefore understand? (52) O my people, ask pardon of your Lord, and be turned unto him; he will send the heaven to pour forth rain plentifully upon you, and he will increase your strength by giving unto you further strength; therefore turn not aside to commit evil. (53) They answered, O Húd, thou hast brought us no proof of what thou sayest; therefore we will not leave our gods for thy saying, neither do we believe thee. (54) We say no other than that some of our gods have afflicted thee with evil. He replied, Verily I call God to witness, and do ye also bear witness that I am clear of that which ye associate with God besides him. (55) Do ye all therefore join to devise a plot against me, and tarry not; (56) for I put my confidence in God, my Lord and your Lord. There is no beast but he holdeth it by its forelock; verily my Lordproceedeth in the right way. (57) But if ye turn back, I have already declared unto you that with which I was sent unto you; and my Lord shall substitute another nation in your stead, and ye shall not hurt him at all, for my Lordis guardian over all things. (58) And when our sentence came to be put in execution, we delivered Húd and those who had believed with him through our mercy; and we delivered them from a grievous punishment. (59) And this tribe of Ád wittingly rejected the signs of their Lord, and were disobedient unto his messengers, and they followed the command of every rebellious perverse person. (60) Wherefore they were followed in this world by a curse, and they shall be followed by the same on the day of resurrection. Did not Ád disbelieve in their Lord? Was it not said, Away with Ád, the people of Húd?
∥ (61) And unto the tribe of Thamúd we sent their brother Sálih. He said unto them, O my people, worship God; ye have no God besides him. It is he who hath produced you out of the earth, and hath given you an habitation therein. Ask pardon of him, therefore, and be turned unto him; for my Lord is near and ready to answer. (62) They answered, O Sálih, thou wast a person on whom we placed our hopes before this. Dost thou forbid us to worship that which our fathers worshipped? But we are certainly in doubt concerning the religion to which thou dost invite us, as justly to be suspected. (63) Sálih said, O my people, tell me; if I have received an evident declaration from my Lord, and he hath bestowed on me mercy from himself; who will protect me from the vengeance ofGod if I be disobedient unto him? For ye shall not add unto me other than loss. (64) And he said, O my people, this she-camel of Godis a sign unto you; therefore dismiss her freely, that she may feed in God’s earth, and do her no harm, lest a swift punishment seize you. (65) Yet they killed her; and Sálih said, Enjoy yourselves in your dwellings for three days, after which ye shall be destroyed. This is an infallible prediction. (66) And when our decree came to be executed, we delivered Sálih and those who believed with him, through our mercy, from the disgrace of that day; for thy Lord is the strong, the mighty God. (67) But a terrible noise from heaven assailed those who had acted unjustly; and in the morning they were found in their houses lying dead and prostrate, (68) as though they had never dwelt therein. Did not Thamúd disbelieve in their Lord? Was not Thamúd cast far away?
∥ (69) Our messengers also came formerly unto Abraham with good tidings: they said, Peace be upon thee. And he answered, And on you be peace! And he tarried not, but brought a roasted calf. (70) And when he saw that their hands did not touch the meat, he misliked them, and entertained a fear of them. But they said, Fear not; for we are sent unto the people of Lot. (71) And his wife Sarah was standing by, and she laughed; and we promised her Isaac, and after Isaac, Jacob. (72) She said, Alas! shall I bear a son, who am old; this my husband also being advanced in years? Verily this would be a wonderful thing. (73)The angels answered, Dost thou wonder at the effect of the command of God? The mercy of God and his blessings be upon you, the family of the house: for he is praiseworthy, and to be glorified. (74) And when his apprehension had departed from Abraham, and the good tidings of Isaac’s birth had come unto him, he disputed with us concerning the people of Lot; for Abraham was a pitiful, compassionate, and devout person. (75) The angels said unto him, O Abraham, abstain from this; for now is the command of thy Lord come to put their sentence in execution, and an inevitable punishment is ready to fall upon them. (76) And when our messengers came unto Lot, he was troubled for them, and his arm was straightened concerning them; and he said, This is a grievous day. (77) And his people came unto him, rushing upon him, and they had formerly been guilty of wickedness. Lot said unto them, O my people, these my daughters are more lawful for you: therefore fear God, and put me not to shame by wronging my guests. Is there not a man of prudence among you? (78) They answered, Thou knowest that we have no need of thy daughters; and thou well knowest what we would have. (79) He said, If I had strength sufficient to oppose you, or I could have recourse unto a powerful support, I would certainly do it.(80)The angels said, O Lot, verily we are the messengers of thy Lord; they shall by no means come in unto thee. Go forth, therefore, with thy family, in some part of the night, and let not any of you turn back; but as for thy wife, that shall happen unto her which shall happen unto them. Verily the prediction of their punishment shall be fulfilled in the morning: is not the morning near? (81) And when our command came, we turned those cities upside down, and we rained upon them stones of baked clay, one following another, (82) and being marked from thy Lord; and they are not far distant from those who act unjustly.
∥ (83) And unto Madian we sent their brother Shuaib: he said, O my people, worship God: ye have no God but him: and diminish not measure and weight. Verily I see you to be in a happy condition; but I fear for you the punishment of the day which will encompass the ungodly. (84) O my people, give full measure and just weight; and diminish not unto men aught of their matters; neither commit injustice in the earth, acting corruptly. (85) The residue which shall remain unto you as the gift of God,after ye shall have done justice to others, will be better for you than wealth gotten by fraud, if ye be true believers. (86) I am no guardian over you. (87) They answered, O Shuaib, do thy prayers enjoin thee that we should leave the gods which our fathers worshipped, or that we should not do what we please with our substance? Thou only, it seems, art the wise person, and fit to direct. (88) He said, O my people, tell me: if I have received an evident declaration from my Lord, and he hath bestowed on me an excellent provision, and I will not consent unto you in that which I forbid you; do I seek any other than your reformation, to the utmost of my power? My support is from God alone: on him do I trust, and unto him do I turn me. (89) O my people, let not your opposing of me draw on you a vengeance like unto that which fell on the people of Noah, or the people of Húd, or the people of Sálih: neither was the people of Lot far distant from you. (90) Ask pardon, therefore, of your Lord; and be turned unto him: for my Lord is merciful and loving. (91) They answered, O Shuaib, we understand not much of what thou sayest, and we see thee to be a man of no power among us: if it had not been for the sake of thy family, we had surely stoned thee, neither couldst thou have prevailed against us. (92) Shuaib said, O my people, is my family more worthy in your opinion than God? and do ye cast him behind you with neglect? Verily my Lord comprehendeth that which ye do. (93) O my people, do ye work according to your condition; I will surely work according to my duty. And ye shall certainly know on whom will be inflicted a punishment which shall cover him with shame, and who is a liar. (94) Wait, therefore, the event; for I also will wait it with you. (95) Wherefore, when our decree came to be executed, we delivered Shuaib and those who believed with him, through our mercy; and a terrible noise from heaven assailed those who had acted unjustly; and in the morning they were found in their houses lying dead and prostrate, (96) as though they had never dwelt therein. Was not Madian removed from off the earth, as Thamúd had been removed?
∥ (97) And we formerly sent Moses with our signs and manifest power unto Pharaoh and his princes; (98) but they followed the command of Pharaoh, although the command of Pharaoh did not direct them aright. (99)Pharaoh shall precede his on the day of resurrection, and he shall lead them into hell-fire; an unhappy way shall it be which they shall be led. (100) They were followed in this life by a curse, and on the day of resurrection miserable shall be the gift which shall be given them.(101) This is a part of the histories of the cities, which we rehearse unto thee. Of them there are some standing, and others which are utterly demolished. (102) And we treated them not unjustly, but they dealt unjustly with their own souls; and their gods which they invoked, besides God, were of no advantage unto them at all when the decree of thy Lord came to be executed on them, neither were they any other than a detriment unto them. (103) And thus was the punishment of my Lordinflicted, when he punished the cities which were unjust; for his punishment is grievous and severe. (104) Verily herein is a sign unto him who feareth the punishment of the last day: that shall be a day, whereon all men shall be assembled, and that shall be a day whereon witness shall be borne; (105) we defer it not, but to a determined time. (106) When that day shall come, no soul shall speak to excuse itself or to intercede for another but by the permission of God. Of them, one shall be miserable and another shall be happy. (107) And they who shall be miserable shall be thrown into hell-fire; (108) there shall they wail and bemoan themselves: they shall remain therein so long as the heavens and the earth shall endure, except what thy Lord shall please to remit of their sentence; for thy Lord effecteth that which he pleaseth. (109) But they who shall be happy shall be admitted into Paradise; they shall remain therein so long as the heavens and the earth endure: besides what thy Lord shall please to add unto their bliss; a bounty which shall not be interrupted. (110) Be not therefore in doubt concerning that which these men worship: they worship no other than what their fathers worshipped before them; and we will surely give them their full portion, not in the least diminished.
∥ (111) We formerly gave unto Moses the book of the law, and disputes arose among his people concerning it: and unless a previous decree had proceeded from thy Lordto bear with them during this life, the matter had been surely decided between them. And thy people are also jealous and in doubt concerning the Qurán. (112) But unto every one of them will thy Lord render the reward of their works; for he well knoweth that which they do. (113) Be thou steadfast, therefore, as thou hast been commanded; and let him also be steadfast who shall be converted with thee; and transgress not, for he seeth that which ye do. (114) And incline not unto those who act unjustly, lest the fire of hell touch you: for ye have no protectors except God; neither shall ye be assisted against him.(115) Pray regularly morning and evening; and in the former part of the night, for good works drive away evil. This is an admonition unto those who consider: (116) wherefore persevere with patience; for God suffereth not the reward of the righteous to perish. (117) Were such of the generations before you endued with understanding and virtue who forbade the acting corruptly in the earth, any more than a few only of those whom we delivered; but they who were unjust followed the delights which they enjoyed in this world, and were wicked doers: (118) and thy Lord was not of such a disposition as to destroy the cities unjustly, while their inhabitants behaved themselves uprightly. (119) And if thy Lord pleased, he would have made all men of one religion; but they shall not cease to differ among themselves, unless those on whom thy Lord shall have mercy: and unto this hath he created them; for the word of thy Lord shall be fulfilled when he said, Verily I will fill hell altogether with genii and men. (120) The whole which we have related of the histories of our apostles do we relate unto thee, that we may confirm thy heart thereby; and herein is the truth come unto thee, and an admonition and a warning unto the true believers. (121) Say unto those who believe not, Act ye according to your condition; we surely will act according to our duty: (122) and wait the issue; for we certainly wait it also.(123) Unto Godis known that which is secret in heaven and earth; and unto him shall the whole matter be referred. Therefore worship him and put thy trust in him; for thy Lord is not regardless of that which ye do.
[(1) ]A. L. R. See Prelim. Disc., pp. 100-102.
[(2) ]Guarded against corruption. “According to the various senses which the verb uhkimat in the original may bear, the commentators suggest as many different interpretations. Some suppose the meaning to be, according to our version, that the Qurán is not liable to be corrupted, as the law and the gospel have been in the opinion of the Muhammadans: others, that every verse in this particular chapter is in full force, and not one of them abrogated; others, that the verses of the Qurán are disposed in a clear and perspicuous method, or contain evident and demonstrative arguments; and others, that they comprise judicial declarations to regulate both faith and practice.”—Sale, Baidháwi, Jaláluddín, Zamaḳhshari. See also Prelim. Disc., sect. iii.
[(3) ]A denouncer, &c. The usual title claimed at Makkah, and probably assumed along with the prophetic office.
[(4) ]The condition of salvation is here declared to be repentance and good works. See notes on chap. iii. 31.
[(6) ]Double . . . their breasts. “Or, as it may be translated, ‘Do they not turn away their breasts?’ ”—Sale. Rodwell has it, “Do they not doubly fold up their breasts?”
[(7) ]This passage also teaches the omniscience of God, and also the doctrine of a particular providence. Everything is a matter of eternal decree.
[(8) ]Six days. See chaps. vii. 55, and x. 3.
[(11) ]After an affliction. The allusion is to the famine which befell Makkah, see chap. x. 22 and note. The effect of the withdrawal of mercy is to make the unbeliever “cast aside all hope of Divine favour, for want of patience and God” (Sale); but the restoration of Divine favour has no other effect than to make them “joyful and insolent.”
[(13) ]That which hath been revealed unto thee. Godfrey Higgins, whom our Indian Mussalmáns are so fond of quoting, since his apology has become known through Sayad Ahmad’s garbled translation, thinks Muhammad imagined himself to be inspired, as did “Johanna Southcote, Baron Swedenborg, &c.”—Apology for Mohamed, p. 83.
[(14) ]He hath forged. See chap. x. 39.
[(18) ]A witness. Various opinions obtain as to who this witness was. Some say the Qurán is meant. Others say Gabriel or an angel. Others will have it to be the Light of Muhammad, which impartial spectators always beheld in the countenance of the prophet.—Tafsír-i-Raufi.
[(19) ]The witnesses. “That is, the angels and prophets, and their own members.”—Sale.
[(25) ]The two parties. “Believers and unbelievers.”—Sale. Muir thinks there is an allusion to the confederates of Makkah and the believers of Madína. See Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. p. 225 note.
[(26) ]We sent Noah, &c. See notes on chap. vii. 60.
[(28) ]We see thee, &c. This is what the chiefs of the Quraish said to Muhammad. See note on chap. x. 77.
[(29) ]Do we compel you, &c. Muhammad had not yet conceived the idea of using the force of the sword to make converts. Moral suasion is the instrument now used. If the infidels choose the fire of hell, it is no concern of the prophets. He is not responsible. He is only a preacher of good news and a warner.
[(30) ]I will not drive away, &c. “For this they asked him to do, because they were poor mean people. The same thing the Quraish demanded of Muhammad, but he was forbidden to comply with their request” (see chap. vi. 51).—Sale.
[(31) ]See notes on chap. vi. 51.
[(32) ]See notes on chap. vi. 49. A comparison of these two passages shows with what facility Muhammad placed the account of his own persecutions in the mouths of former prophets. Here Noah utters the very words Muhammad utters!
[(35) ]If God shall please to lead you into error. See notes on chap. x. 99, 100.
[(36) ]The italics of the text seem to me certainly to be misplaced. Rodwell and Palmer have fallen into the same error. The passage is identical in meaning with that of ver. 14 and x. 39. But here these words are put in the mouths of the chiefs of the people of Noah, and the reply protesting sincerity is that of Noah himself. Both the preceding and succeeding contexts require this interpretation.
[(37) ]None . . . shall believe, &c. If this statement reflects the feeling of Muhammad, as I believe it does, the chapter must be referred to that period of Muhammad’s career at Makkah when he despaired of his people believing on him, probably some time after the ban against the Hashimites.
[(39) ]They derided him. “For building a vessel in an inland country, and so far from the sea; and for that he was turned carpenter, after he had set up for a prophet.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(40) ]Heaven poured forth. “Or, as the original literally signifies, boiled over; which is consonant to what the Rabbins say, that the waters of the deluge were boiling hot.
[(41) ]While it standeth still. “That is, omit no opportunity of getting on board. According to a different reading, the latter words may be rendered, who shall cause it to move forward and to stop, as there shall be occasion. The commentators tell us that the ark moved forwards or stood still as Noah would have it, on his pronouncing only the words, In the name of God.
[(42) ]Noah called unto his son. See note above on ver. 40.
[(44) ]Al Júdi. “This mountain is one of those which divide Armenia on the south from Mesopotamia and that part of Assyria which is inhabited by the Kurds, from whom the mountains took the name of Kardu, or Gardu, by the Greeks turned into Gordyæi, and other names (see Bochart, Phaleg., l. i. c. 3). Mount al Iúdi (which name seems to be a corruption, though it be constantly so written by the Arabs, for Jordi or Giordi) is also called Thamánin, probably from a town at the foot of it (D’Herbelot, Bibl. Orient., pp. 404, 676), so named from the number of persons saved in the ark, the word thamánin signifying eighty, and overlooks the country of Diyár Rabíah, near the cities of Mausal, Furda, and Jazírat Ibn Omar, which last place one affirms to be but four miles from the place of the ark, and says that a Muhammadan temple was built there with the remains of that vessel by the Khalífah Omar Ibn Abdulazíz, whom he by mistake calls Omar Ibn al Khattáb.
[(45) ]Thy promise is true. “Noah here challenges God’s promise that he would save his family.”—Sale.
[(46) ]He is not of thy family. “Being cut off on account of his infidelity.”—Sale.
[(47) ]Unless thou forgive me. This is another passage proving that the prophets are not sinless, as is claimed by Muslims.
[(48) ]Come down from the ark. “The Muhammadans say that Noah went into the ark on the tenth of Rajab, and came out of it the tenth of al Muharram, which therefore became a fast. So that the whole time of Noah’s being in the ark according to them was six months.”—Sale. Baidháwi.
[(49) ]A secret history. Of this passage Arnold (Islám and Christianity, p. 331) says: “The Koran, in describing the Flood, professes to reveal an unheard-of secret.” But the purport of the passage is that this secret has been revealed to Muhammad and his people, the Arabs. As yet Muhammad regards himself as the Apostle of God to the Arabs, as Moses had been to the Egyptians. The idea of a universal Islám had not yet been conceived.
[(50) ]See notes on chap. vii. 66.
[(52) ]He will send the heaven, &c. “For the Ádites were grievously distressed by a drouth for three years.”—Sale. See chap. vii. 71, and note there.
[(53) ]The Ádites present the same objections to their prophet that the Quraish offered to Muhammad, and the answers of Húd are verbatim the answers of Muhammad. This remark applies to the whole catalogue of prophets and peoples given in the Qurán. It is hard to believe that Muhammad was unconscious of manipulation here
[(54) ]With evil. “Or madness having deprived thee of thy reason, for the indignities thou hast offered them.”—Sale.
[(55) ]Do ye . . . devise a plot. Taking this language with that in ver. 57, My Lord shall substitute another nation in your stead, as expressive of Muhammad’s own saying to the Quraish (see note on ver. 53), it would be a fair inference to fix the date of this revelation at the period when Muhammad began to court the favour of the inhabitants of Madína, i.e., about one year previous to the Hijra.
[(56) ]By its forelock. “That is, he exerciseth an absolute power over it, a creature held in this manner being supposed to be reduced to the lowest subjection.”—Sale.
[(58) ]Those who believed. Baidháwi says, “they were in number four thousand.”—Sale.
[(61) ]Thamúd. See note on chap. vii. 14.
[(62) ]On whom we placed our hopes. “Designing to have made thee our prince, because of the singular prudence and other good qualities which we observed in thee; but thy dissenting from us in point of religious worship has frustrated those hopes.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(65) ]Three days, viz., “Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.”—Sale, see also note on chap. vii. 79.
[(69) ]Our messengers. “These were the angels who were sent to acquaint Abraham with the promise of Isaac, and to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Some of the commentators pretend they were twelve, or nine, or ten in number; but others, agreeable to Scripture, say they were but three, viz., Gabriel, Michael, and Israfíl.”—Sale, Jaláluddín. See Gen. xviii.
[(70) ]When he saw that their hands, &c. Their refusal to eat was regarded by Abraham as a declaration of want of friendship, custom requiring guests to eat in token of friendship.—Tafsír-i-Raufi.
[(71) ]And she laughed. “The commentators are so little acquainted with Scripture, that, not knowing the true occasion of Sarah’s laughter, they strain their inventions to give some reason for it. One says that she laughed at the angels discovering themselves, and ridding Abraham and herself of their apprehensions; and another, that it was at the approaching destruction of the Sodomites (a very probable motive in one of her sex). Some, however, interpret the original word differently, and will have it that she did not laugh, but that her courses, which had stopped for several years, came upon her at this time, as a previous sign of her future conception”—Sale, Baidháwi, Jaláluddín, &c.
[(72) ]Advanced in years. “Al Baidháwi writes that Sarah was then ninety or ninety-nine years old, and Abraham a hundred and twenty.”—Sale.
[(73) ]The house. “Or the stock whence all the prophets were to proceed for the future. Or the expression may perhaps refer to Abraham and Ishmael’s building the Kaabah, which is often called by way of excellence the house.”—Sale.
[(74) ]He disputed with us. “That is, he interceded with us for them. Jaláluddín, instead of the numbers mentioned by Moses, says that Abraham first asked whether God would destroy those cities if three hundred righteous persons were found therein, and so fell successively to two hundred, forty, fourteen, and at last came to one; but there was not one righteous person to be found among them, except only Lot and his family.”—Sale.
[(76) ]He was troubled for them. “Because they appeared in the shape of beautiful young men, which must needs tempt those of Sodom to abuse them. He knew himself unable to protect them against the insults of his townsmen.”—Sale, Jaláluddín, Baidháwi.
[(80) ]They shall by no means come in unto thee. “Al Baidháwi says that Lot shut his door, and argued the matter with the riotous assembly from behind it; but at length they endeavoured to get over the wall; whereupon Gabriel, seeing his distress, struck them on the face with one of his wings and blinded them, so that they moved off crying out for help, and saying that Lot had magicians in his house.”—Sale.
[(81) ]We turned those cities upside down. “For they tell us that Gabriel thrust his wing under them, and lifted them up so high, that the inhabitants of the lower heaven heard the barking of the dogs and the crowing of the cocks; and then, inverting them, threw them down to the earth.”—Sale, Jaláluddín, Baidháwi.
[(82) ]Being marked. “That is, as some suppose, streaked with white and red, or having some other peculiar mark to distinguish them from ordinary stones. But the common opinion is that each stone had the name of the person who was to be killed by it written thereon. The army of Abraha al Ashram was also destroyed by the same kind of stones.”—Sale, Jaláluddín, Baidháwi.
[(83) ]Madian. See note on chap. vii. 86.
[(86) ]These are the very words used by Muhammad to the Quraish. See chap. x. 108.
[(87) ]That we should not do what we please, &c. “For this liberty, they imagined, was taken from them by his prohibition of false weights and measures, or to diminish or adulterate their coin.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(89) ]Far distant from you. “For Sodom and Gomorrah were situate not a great way from you, and their destruction happened not many ages ago; neither did they deserve it on account of their obstinacy and wickedness much more than yourselves.”—Sale.
[(91) ]A man of no power. “The Arabic word dhaíf, weak, signifying also, in the Himyaritic dialect, blind, some suppose that Shuaib was so, and that the Midianites objected that to him, as a defect which disqualified him for the prophetic office.”—Sale.
[(93) ]Compare with chap. vi. 135, to see how Muhammad’s replies to the Quraish are put into the mouths of other prophets. See note on ver. 53 above.
[(97) ]Pharaoh and his princes. See notes on chap. vii. 104-136.
[(99) ]Compare with chap. x. 90.
[(101) ]Utterly demolished. “Literally, mown down; the sentence presenting the different images of corn standing and cut down, which is also often used by the sacred writers.”—Sale.
[(108) ]Wail and bemoan. “The two words in the original signify, properly, the vehement drawing in and expiration of one’s breath, which is usual to persons in great pain and anguish; and particularly the reciprocation of the voice of an ass when he brays.”—Sale.
[(110) ]We will surely give them their full portion. The logical inference from all that is taught in this chapter, and especially in the examples given, is that the Quraish would reject Muhammad, and be ignominiously destroyed. This verse sets the seal to this threat. Muslims are, however, obliged to admit that, with a few exceptions, the “people of Muhammad” are reckoned true believers.
[(111) ]Thy people are . . . in doubt, &c. This verse “disproves the miracle of the Qurán. A miracle requires to be so convincing that none who see it can doubt that it is a miracle. Christ did miracles; the fact of them was not doubted by those who saw them done, though the unbelievers and jealous said Satan was the doer of them. If the doubts here referred to are regarding the meaning of the Koran, then it is not an easy, light-giving book, as it is said to be.”—Brinckman’s “Notes on Islám.”
[(115) ]Morning and evening. “Literally in the extremities of the day.”—Sale.
[(117) ]Which they enjoyed. “Making it their sole business to please their luxurious desires and appetites, and placing their whole felicity therein.”—Sale.
[(118) ]Unjustly. “Or, as Baidháwi explains it, for their idolatry only, when they observed justice in other respects.”—Sale. The meaning, however, is that God never destroys a people without a good reason—and such a good reason is idolatry, as is evident from all the examples given in this chapter.
[(119) ]I will fill hell, &c. See notes on chap. vii. 179-183.
[(121) ]See above on ver. 93.
[(123) ]Thy Lord is not regardless of that which ye do. Muhammad attributed his grey hairs to this chapter and its sisters. See Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. iv. p. 255.