Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XIII.: ENTITLED SURAT AL RAAD (THUNDER). Revealed at Makkah. - The Quran, vol. 2
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CHAPTER XIII.: ENTITLED SURAT AL RAAD (THUNDER). 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 RAAD (THUNDER).
The name of this chapter occurs in ver. 14. All of the best authorities agree that this chapter originated at Makkah. Most of the Muslim commentators make vers. 14, 29-31, to allude to events which occurred at Madína late in the life of the Prophet, and a few writers, says Noeldeke, have thought the whole chapter should be referred to Madína. However, the interpretations given by these commentators are based entirely upon the words of these passages, and, in the absence of better evidence, must be regarded as widely mistaken.
The internal evidence of the chapter is decidedly in favour of referring the origin of the whole to Makkah, excepting perhaps ver. 41.
The contents of the chapter relate entirely to Muhammad’s disputes with the infidel Quraish. A remarkable feature of it is its many apologies for Muhammad’s failure to perform the miracles demanded by the unbelievers. On this account the author of the Notes on the Roman Urdu Qurán remarks that “this chapter should have been entitled the Chapter of Apologies.”
Probable date of the Revelations.
We have already shown that this chapter, excepting ver. 41, must be referred to Makkah. As to the date of composition, the earlier verses of the chapter might be assigned to almost any period in the career of the Makkan preacher; but the latter part of the chapter must be referred to the latter part of his ministry at Makkah. This is evident from the allusion to the “adversity” of the Makkans in ver. 31, the belief of certain Jews in ver. 36, and the obstinate unbelief and opposition of the Quraish in vers. 30 and 42. If we take the allusion in vers. 36 and 37 to be to the lapse of Muhammad in his temporary compromise with idolatry about six years before the Hijra, and if we refer the statements of ver. 42 to the persecutions which arose on Muhammad’s recovery from the lapse, and which culminated in the ban against the Háshimites, this portion of the chapter may be referred to the period intervening between the years 6 and 4 b.h.
IN THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD.
∥ (1) A. L. M. R. These are the signs of the book of the Qurán; and that which hath been sent down unto thee from thy Lord is the truth; but the greater part of men will not believe. (2)It isGod who hath raised the heavens without visible pillars; and then ascended his throne, and compelled the sun and the moon to perform their services: every of the heavenly bodies runneth an appointed course. He ordereth all things. He showeth his signs distinctly, that ye may be assured ye must meet your Lordat the last day.(3)It is he who hath stretched forth the earth, and placed therein steadfast mountains and rivers; and hath ordained therein of every fruit two different kinds. He causeth the night to cover the day. Herein are certain signs upon people who consider. (4) And in the earth are tracts of land of different natures, though bordering on each other; and also vineyards, and seeds, and palm-trees springing several from the same root, and singly from distinct roots. They are watered with the same water, yet we render some of them more excellent than others to eat. Herein are surely signs upon people who understand. (5) If thou dost wonder at the infidels denying the resurrection, surely wonderful is their saying, After we shall have been reduced to dust, shall we be restored in a new creature? (6) These are they who believe not in their Lord; these shall have collars on their necks, and these shall be the inhabitants of hell-fire: therein shall they abide for ever. (7) They will ask of thee to hasten evil rather than good: although there have already been examples of the divine vengeance before them. Thy Lord is surely endued with indulgence towards men, notwithstanding their iniquity; but thy Lord is also severe in punishing. (8) The infidels say, Unless a sign be sent down unto him from his Lord,we will not believe. Thou art commissioned to be a preacher only, and not a worker of miracles; and unto every people hath a director been appointed.
∥ (9) God knoweth what every female beareth in her womb, and what the wombs want or exceed of their due time or number of young. With him is everything regulated according to a determined measure. (10) He knoweth that which is hidden and that which is revealed. He is the great, the most high. (11) He among you who concealeth his words, and he who proclaimeth them in public; he also who seeketh to hide himself in the night, and he who goeth forth openly in the day, is equal in respect to the knowledge of God.(12) Each of them hath angels mutually succeeding each other, before him and behind him; they watch him by the command of God. Verily God will not change his grace which is in men until they change the disposition in their souls by sin. When God willeth evil on a people there shall be none to avert it, neither shall they have any protector beside him. (13)It is he who causeth the lightning to appear unto you, to strike fear, and to raise hope, and who formeth the pregnant clouds. (14) The thunder celebrateth his praise, and the angels also, for fear of him. He sendeth his thunderbolts, and striketh therewith whom he pleaseth, while they dispute concerning God; for he is mighty in power. (15) It is he who ought of right to be invoked; and the idols which they invoke besides him, shall not hear them at all, otherwise than as he is heard who stretcheth forth his hands to the water that it may ascend to his mouth when it cannot ascend thither: the supplication of the unbelievers is utterly erroneous. (16) Whatsoever is in heaven and on earth worshippeth God, voluntarily or of force; and their shadows also, morning and evening. (17) Say, Who is the Lord of heaven and earth? Answer, God. Say, Have ye, therefore, taken unto yourselves protectors beside him, who are unable either to help or to defend themselves from hurt? Say, Shall the blind and the seeing be esteemed equal? or shall darkness and light be accounted the same? or have they attributed companions unto God, who have created as he hath created, so that their creation bear any resemblance unto his? Say, God is the creator of all things; he is the one, the victorious God.(18) He causeth water to descend from heaven, and the brooks flow according to their respective measure, and the floods bear the floating froth: and from the metals which they melt in the fire, seeking to cast ornaments or vessels for use, there ariseth a scum like unto it. Thus God setteth forth truth and vanity. But the scum is thrown off, and that which is useful to mankind remaineth on the earth. Thus doth God put forth parables. Unto those who obey their Lordshall be given the most excellent reward; but those who obey him not, although they were possessed of whatever is in the whole earth and as much more, they would give it all for their ransom. These will be brought to a terrible account: their abode shall be hell; an unhappy couch shall it be!
∥ (19) Shall he, therefore, who knoweth that what hath been sent down unto thee from thy Lord is truth be rewarded as he who is blind? The prudent only will consider; (20) who fulfil the covenant of God, and break not their contract; (21)(21) and who join that which God hath commanded to be joined, and who fear their Lord, and dread an ill account; (22) and who persevere out of a sincere desire to please their Lord, and observe the stated times of prayer, and give alms out of what we have bestowed on them, in secret and openly, and who turn away evil with good: the reward of these shall be paradise, (23) gardens of eternal abode, which they shall enter, and also whoever shall have acted uprightly, of their fathers, and their wives, and their posterity: and the angels shall go in unto them by every gate, (24)saying, Peace be upon you, because ye have endured with patience: how excellent a reward is paradise! (25) But as for those who violate the covenant of God after the establishment thereof, and who cut in sunder that which God hath commanded to be joined, and act corruptly in the earth, on them shall a curse fall, and they shall have a miserable dwelling in hell. (26) God giveth provision in abundance unto whom he pleaseth, and is sparing unto whom he pleaseth. Those of Makkah rejoice in the present life, although the present life, in respect of the future, is but a precarious provision.
∥ (27) The infidels say, Unless a sign be sent down unto him from his Lord,we will not believe. Answer, Verily, God will lead into error whom he pleaseth, and will direct unto himself him who repenteth, (28)and those who believe, and whose hearts rest securely in the meditation of God; shall not men’s hearts rest securely in the meditation of God? They who believe and do that which is right shall enjoy blessedness and partake of a happy resurrection. (29) Thus have we sent thee to a nation which other nations have preceded unto whom prophets have likewise been sent, that thou mayest rehearse unto them that which we have revealed unto thee, even while they believe not in the merciful God. Say unto them, He is my Lord; there is no God but he: in him do I trust, and unto him must I return. (30) Though a Qurán wererevealed by which mountains should be removed, or the earth cleaved in sunder, or the dead be caused to speak, it would be in vain. But the matter belongeth wholly unto God. Do not, therefore, the believers know, that if God pleased, he would certainly direct all men? (31) Adversity shall not cease to afflict the unbelievers for that which they have committed, or to sit down near their habitations, until God’s promise come; for God is not contrary to the promise.
∥ (32) Apostles before thee have been laughed to scorn; and I permitted the infidels to enjoy a long and happy life; but afterwards I punished them; and how severe was the punishment which I inflicted on them!(33) Who is it, therefore, that standeth over every soul, to observe that which it committeth? They attribute companions unto God. Say, Name them: will ye declare unto him that which he knoweth not in the earth? or will ye name them in outward speech only? But the deceitful procedure of the infidels was prepared for them, and they are turned aside from the right path; for he whom God shall cause to err shall have no director. (34) They shall suffer a punishment in this life, but the punishment of the next shall be more grievous; and there shall be none to protect them against God. (35) This is the description of paradise which is promised to the pious. It is watered by rivers; its food is perpetual, and its shade also: this shall be the reward of those who fear God. But the reward of the infidels shall be hell-fire. (36) Those to whom we have given the scriptures, rejoice at what hath been revealed unto thee. Yet there are some of the confederates who deny part thereof. Say unto them, Verily I am commanded to worship God alone; and to him give no companion: upon him do I call, and unto him shall I return. (37) To this purpose have we sent down the Qurán, a rule of judgment, in the Arabic language. And verily, if thou follow their desires, after the knowledge which hath been given thee, there shall be none to defend or protect thee against God.
∥ (38) We have formerly sent apostles before thee, and bestowed on them wives and children; and no apostle had the power to come with a sign, unless by the permission of God. Every age hath its book of revelation.(39)God shall abolish and shall confirm what he pleaseth. With him is the original of the book. (40) Moreover, whether we cause thee to see any part of that punishment wherewith we have threatened them, or whether we cause thee to die before it be inflicted on them, verily unto thee belongeth preaching only, but unto us inquisition. (41) Do they not see that we come into their land, and straiten the borders thereof by the conquests of the true believers? When God judgeth, there is none to reverse his judgment; and he will be swift in taking an account. (42) Their predecessors formerly devised subtle plots against their prophets, but God is master of every subtle device. He knoweth that which every soul deserveth; and the infidels shall surely know whose will be the reward of Paradise. (43) The unbelievers will say, Thou art not sent of God. Answer, God is a sufficient witness between me and you, and he who understandeth the scriptures.
end of vol. ii.
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[(1) ]“The meaning of these letters is unknown. Of several conjectural explications which are given of them, the following is one: ‘I am the most wise and knowing God.’ ”—Sale.
[(2) ]The popular Arab notions as to astronomy are represented here. The Creator of the heavens, with the luminaries thereof, is the true God. His works testify of his eternal power and godhead.
[(3) ]To different kinds, e.g., “sweet and sour, black and white, small and large.”—Sale, Jaláluddín.
[(4) ]Tracts of land, &c. “Some being fruitful and others barren, some plain and other mountainous, &c.”—Sale, Jaláluddín.
[(6) ]Collars. “The ‘collar’ here mentioned is an engine something like a pillory, but light enough for the criminal to walk about with. Besides the hole to fix it on the neck, there is another for one of the hands, which is thereby fastened to the neck. And in this manner the Muhammadans suppose the reprobates will appear at the day of judgment. Some understand this passage figuratively, of the infidels being bound in the chains of error and obstinacy.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(7) ]To hasten evil. “Provoking and daring thee to call down the Divine vengeance on them for their impenitency.”—Sale. Rather daring Muhammad to bring down the wrath threatened against them for rejecting his prophetic claims.
[(8) ]It is a fair inference from this verse that Muhammad wrought no miracles, not only because they were asked for, but because he here disclaims being a worker of miracles. “Thou art a preacher only.”
[(12) ]They watch him, &c. See Prelim. Disc., p. 119.
[(13) ]And to raise hope. “Thunder and lightning being the sign of approaching rain, a great blessing in the Eastern countries more especially.”—Sale.
[(14) ]Thunder celebrateth his praise. “Or causeth those who hear it to praise him. Some commentators tell us that by the word thunder in this place is meant the angel who presides over the clouds, and drives them forward with twisted sheets of fire.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(16) ]Voluntarily or of force. “The infidels and devils themselves being constrained to humble themselves before him, though against their will, when they are delivered up to punishment.”—Sale.
[(17-22) ]This is one of the best passages of the Qurán, and points to the best days of the preacher of Makkah.
[(21) ]Their wives. This is one of five passages in the Qurán distinctly asserting that women as well as men shall enter the joys of the Muslim Paradise. The other passages are chaps. ix. 73, xxxvi. 56, xl. 8, xliii. 70.
[(24) ]Cut in sunder, &c., i.e., by dislocating the faith of all the prophets.—Tafsír-i-Raufi. This is just what Muhammad and his followers have done.
[(27) ]The infidels say, &c. See notes on ver. 8 above.
[(28) ]They who believe, &c., i.e., who believe in Islám and perform the duties required by it.
[(29) ]Say unto them, &c. This, says the Tafsír-i-Raufi, was said in reply to the Quraish at the treaty made at Hadaibiya. Muhammad had directed the treaty to be headed by the words “Bismillah ir Rahmán-ar-Rahím,” when the Quraish asked, “Who is Rahmán?” The story is apparently a pure invention to explain the allusion of the text.
[(30) ]By which mountains, &c. “These are miracles which the Quraish required of Muhammad, demanding that he would, by the power of his Qurán, either remove the mountains from about Makkah, that they might have delicious gardens in their room; or that he would oblige the wind to transport them, with their merchandise, to Syria (according to which tradition, the words here translated ‘or the earth cleaved in sunder,’ should be rendered ‘or the earth be travelled over’ in an instant); or else raise to life Kusai Ibn Kaláb, and others of their ancestors, to bear witness to him; whereupon this passage was revealed.”—Sale. See also chap. viii. 23, and note.
[(31) ]Their habitations. “It is supposed by some that these words are spoken to Muhammad, and then they must be translated in the second person, ‘Nor shalt thou cease to sit down,’ &c. For they say this verse relates to the idolaters of Makkah, who were afflicted with a series of misfortunes for their ill-usage of the Prophet, and were also continually annoyed and harassed by his parties, which frequently plundered their caravans and drove off their cattle, himself sitting down with his whole army near the city in the expedition of al Hudaibiya.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(33) ]Outward speech only. “That is, calling them the companions of God, without being able to assign any reason, or give any proof why they deserve to be sharers in the honour and worship due from mankind to him.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(36) ]Those . . . rejoice, &c., viz., “the first proselytes to Muhammadanism from Judaism and Christianity; or the Jews and Christians in general, who were pleased to find the Qurán so consonant to their own Scriptures.” See also notes on chaps. iii. 199, and vi. 20.
[(37) ]If thou follow their desires, &c. This probably refers to Muhammad’s temporary lapse in making a compromise with idolatry. For an account of it see Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. chap. v.
[(38) ]Wives and children. “As we have on thee. This passage was revealed in answer to the reproaches which were cast on Muhammad on account of the great number of his wives. For the Jews said that if he was a true prophet his care and attention would be employed about something else than women and the getting of children. It may be observed that it is a maxim of the Jews that nothing is more repugnant to prophecy than carnality” (Maimon., More Nev., part ii. c. 36, &c.—Sale, Jaláluddín, Yahya.
[(39) ]Abolish, &c. See notes on chap. ii. 105.
[(40) ]Unto thee belongeth preaching only. See above on ver. 8.
[(41) ]We came into their land, &c. This passage is of Madína origin, and refers to the encroachments of the Muslims on their idolatrous neighbours. It is probably an addition, made either by Muhammad himself or by the compilers after his death.
[(43) ]Thou art not sent. “The persons intended in this passage, it is said, were the Jewish doctors.”—Sale, Baidháwi.