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CHAPTER XV.: ENTITLED SURAT AL HAJR. Revealed at Makkah. - Mohammed, The Quran, vol. 3 
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 HAJR.
This chapter differs little from the two preceding it. The only passage of peculiar importance is that contained in vers. 94-96, which Sprenger (Life of Moh., p. 177) thinks should be referred to Muhammad’s first public preaching at Makkah. This view, however, is quite untenable, as will be seen a little farther on.
As usual, the Quraish are warned against idolatry. The signs of God’s power, wisdom, and goodness as seen in Nature are held up before them; and, finally, they are threatened with the judgments of God which fell upon those who rejected the former prophets. On the other hand, the Prophet is exhorted to proclaim his message boldly and to put his trust in God.
Probable Date of the Revelations.
On the ground of Ibn Hishám’s statements, some would assign this chapter to the fourth year of Muhammad’s ministry. But this opinion, though adopted by Sprenger, and apparently by Rodwell, is held by Noeldeke to be untenable. His reasons may be briefly stated thus: (1) Ibn Hishám, who in one place attributes vers. 94-96 to Muhammad’s early preaching, gives in another place (272) a better explanation of those verses. (2) These verses are closely connected with others treating of the adversaries and persecutions of Muhammad, which circumstance points to a later date; and (3) The style of this passage differs from that of the earlier chapters, besides certain phrases and expressions, e.g., [Editor: Arabic word - please see p. 13 of the facsimile PDF] and [Editor: Arabic word - please see p. 13 of the facsimile PDF] [Editor: Arabic word - please see p. 13 of the facsimile PDF], which never occur in the chapters of the earlier period. It is, therefore, more rational to assign this chapter to the later years of Muhammad’s ministry at Makkah.
IN THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD.
∥ (1) A. L. R. These are the signs of the book, and of the perspicuous Qurán.
∥ (2) The time may come when the unbelievers shall wish that they had been Muslims. (3) Suffer them to eat, and to enjoy themselves in this world; and let hope entertain them, but they shall hereafter know their folly.(4) We have not destroyed any city, but a fixed term of repentance was appointed them. (5) No nation shall be punished before their time shall be come; neither shall they be respited after.(6)The Makkans say, O thou to whom the admonition hath been sent down, thou art certainly possessed with a devil: (7) wouldest thou not have come unto us with an attendance of angels if thou hadst spoken truth? (8)Answer, We send not down the angels unless on a just occasion; nor should they be then respited any longer. (9) We have surely sent down the Qurán, and we will certainly preserve the same from corruption. (10) We have heretofore sent apostles before thee among the ancient sects: (11) and there came no apostle unto them, but they laughed him to scorn. (12) In the same manner will we put it into the hearts of the wicked Makkans to scoff at their prophet:(13) they shall not believe on him; and the sentence of the nations of old hath been executed heretofore. (14) If we should open a gate in the heaven above them, and they should ascend thereto all the day long, (15) they should rather say, Our eyes are only dazzled; or rather, we are a people deluded by enchantments.
∥ (16) We have placed the twelve signs in the heaven, and have set them out in various figures, for the observation of spectators: (17) and we guard them from every devil driven away with stones, (18) except him who listeneth by stealth, at whom a visible flame is darted. (19) We have also spread forth the earth, and thrown thereon stable mountains, and we have caused every kind of vegetable to spring forth in the same, according to a determinate weight: (20) and we have provided therein necessaries of life for you, and for him whom ye do not sustain. (21) There is no one thing but the storehouses thereof are in our hands; and we distribute not the same otherwise than in a determinate measure. (22) We also send the winds driving the pregnant clouds, and we send down from heaven water, whereof we give you to drink, and which ye keep not in store. (23) Verily we give life, and we put to death: and we are the heirs of all things.(24) We know those among you who go before; and we know those who stay behind. (25) And thy Lord shall gather them together at the last day: for he is knowing and wise.
∥ (26) We created man of dried clay, of black mud, formed into shape: (27) and we had before created the devil of subtle fire. (28) And remember when thy Lord said unto the angels, Verily I am about to create man of dried clay, of black mud, wrought into shape; (29) when, therefore, I shall have completely formed him, and shall have breathed of my spirit into him, do ye fall down and worship him. (30) And all the angels worshipped Adam together, (31) except Iblís, who refused to be with those who worshipped him.(32)And God said unto him, O Iblís, what hindered thee from being with those who worshipped Adam?(33) He answered, It is not fit that I should worship man, whom thou hast created of dried clay, of black mud, wrought into shape. (34)God said, Get thee therefore hence: for thou shalt be driven away with stones: (35) and a curse shall be on thee, until the day of judgment. (36)The devil said, O Lord, Give me respite until the day of resurrection. (37)God answered, Verily thou shalt be one of those who are respited (38) until the day of the appointed time. (39)The devil replied, O Lord, because thou hast seduced me, I will surely tempt them to disobedience in the earth; (40) and I will seduce such of them as shall be thy chosen servants. (41)God said, This is the right way with me. (42) Verily as to my servants, thou shalt have no power over them; but over those only who shall be seduced, and who shall follow thee. (43) And hell is surely denounced unto them all: (44) it hath seven gates; unto every gate a distinct company of them shall be assigned.
∥ (45) But those who fear God shall dwell in gardens, amidst fountains. (46) The angels shall say unto them, Enter ye therein in peace and security, (47) and we will remove all grudges from their breasts; they shall be as brethren, sitting over against one another on couches; (48) weariness shall not affect them therein, neither shall they be cast out thence for ever. (49) Declare unto my servants that I am the gracious, the merciful God; (50) and that my punishment is a grievous punishment. (51) And relate unto them the history of Abraham’s guests. (52) When they went in unto him, and said, Peace be unto thee, he answered, Verily we are afraid of you: (53)and they replied, Fear not; we bring thee the promise of a wise son. (54) He said, Do you bring me the promise of a son now old age hath overtaken me? what is it therefore that ye tell me? (55) They said, We have told thee the truth; be not therefore one of those who despair. (56) He answered, And who despaireth of the mercy of God, except those who err? (57) And he said, What is your errand, therefore, O messengers of God?(58) They answered, Verily we are sent to destroy a wicked people; (59) but as for the family of Lot, we will save them all, (60)(60) except his wife; we have decreed that she shall be one of those who remain behind to be destroyed with the infidels.(61) And when the messengers came to the family of Lot, (62) he said unto them, Verily ye are a people who are unknown to me.
∥ (63) They answered, But we are come unto thee to execute that sentence, concerning which your fellow-citizens doubted: (64) we tell thee a certain truth; and we are messengers of veracity. (65)(65) Therefore lead forth thy family, in some time of the night; and do thou follow behind them, and let none of you turn back; but go whither ye are commanded. (66) And we gave him this command; because the utmost remnant of those people was to be cut off in the morning. (67)(67) And the inhabitants of the city came unto Lot, rejoicing at the news of the arrival of some strangers.(68)And he said unto them, Verily these are my guests: wherefore do not disgrace me by abusing them;(69) but fear God, and put me not to shame. (70) They answered, Have we not forbidden thee from entertaining or protecting any man? (71)Lot replied, These are my daughters: therefore rather make use of them, if ye be resolved to do what ye purpose.(72)(72) As thou livest, they wander in their folly. (73) Wherefore a terrible storm from heaven assailed them at sunrise, (74) and we turned the city upside down: and we rained on them stones of baked clay. (75) Verily herein are signs unto men of sagacity: (76) and those cities were punished, to point out a right way for men to walk in.(77) Verily herein is a sign unto the true believers. (78) The inhabitants of the wood near Madian were also ungodly. (79) Wherefore we took vengeance on them. And both of them were destroyed, to serve as a manifest rule for men to direct their actions by.
∥ (80) And the inhabitants of Al Hajr likewise heretofore accused the messengers of God of imposture; (81) and we produced our signs unto them, but they retired afar off from the same. (82) And they hewed houses out of the mountains to secure themselves. (83) But a terrible noise from heaven assailed them in the morning; (84) neither was what they had wrought of any advantage unto them. (85) We have not created the heavens and the earth, and whatever is contained between them, otherwise than in justice: and the hour of judgment shall surely come. Wherefore, O Muhammad, forgive thy people with a gracious forgiveness. (86) Verily thy Lord is the creator of thee and of them, and knoweth what is most expedient.
∥ (87) We have already brought unto thee seven verses which are frequently to be repeated, and the glorious Qurán. (88) Cast not thine eyes on the good things which we have bestowed on several of the unbelievers, so as to covet the same: neither be thou grieved on their account. Behave thyself with meekness towards the true believers; (89) and say I am a public preacher. (90)If they believe not, we will inflict a like punishment on them as we have inflicted on the dividers, (91) who distinguished the Qurán into different parts, (92) for by thy Lord we will demand an account from them all (93) of that which they have wrought. (94) Wherefore publish that which thou hast been commanded, and withdraw from the idolaters. (95) We will surely take thy part against the scoffers, (96) who associate with God another god; they shall surely know their folly. (97) And now we well know that thou art deeply concerned on account of that which they say; (98) but do thou celebrate the praise of thy Lord; and be one of those who worship; (99) and serve thy Lord until death shall overtake thee.
[(1) ]A. L. R. See Prelim. Disc., pp. 100-102.
[(2) ]The time may come, &c., i.e., “when they shall see the success and prosperity of the true believers, or when they shall come to die, or at the resurrection.”—Sale.
[(4) ]A fixed term. See notes on chap. x. 50.
[(6) ]The admonition, i.e., “the revelations which compose the Qurán.”—Sale.
[(8) ]Unless on a just occasion. “When the divine wisdom shall judge it proper to use their ministry, as in bearing his revelations to the prophets, and the executing his sentence on wicked people; but not to humour you with their appearance in visible shapes, which, should your demand be complied with, would only increase your confusion, and bring God’s vengeance on you the sooner.”—Sale.
[(9) ]We will certainly preserve the same. The word translated Qurán in the text is Dhikr, and is translated in the Urdu instruction, by Rodwell warning, and by Palgrave reminder. The Persian translator and Abdul Qádir agree with Sale in translating it Qurán, which is certainly intended. The commentators understand the passage to teach that God will not permit his Qurán to be corrupted or changed. But this seems to me to be very far fetched. A better meaning, guaranteed by what follows, is that God will preserve the warning and threatening of this book from failure to come to pass.
[(12) ]In the same manner. Here again Muhammad first represents the former prophets as being in the same circumstances and suffering the same kind of opposition and persecution as himself, and, secondly, he puts into the mouth of God a prophecy concerning himself which represented the exact treatment he was at the time enduring.
[(13) ]They shall not believe on him. Most of them, however, did believe on him. The passage marks the period when Muhammad despaired of the people of Makkah.
[(14) ]They should ascend, i.e., “the incredulous Makkans themselves; or, as others rather think, the angels in visible forms.”—Sale.
[(17) ]We guard them from every devil. “For the Muhammadans imagine that the devils endeavour to ascend to the constellations, to pry into the actions and overhear the discourse of the inhabitants of heaven, and to tempt them. They also pretend that these evil spirits had the liberty of entering any of the heavens till the birth of Jesus, when they were excluded three of them; but that on the birth of Muhammad they were forbidden the other four.”—Sale.
[(18) ]A visible flame is darted. “For when a star seems to fall or shoot, the Muhammadans suppose the angels, who keep guard in the constellations, dart them at the devils who approach too near.”—Sale.
[(19) ]Thrown thereon stable mountains. It must not be imagined that the Qurán may be vindicated from the charge of astronomical and geological error on the ground that the sacred writer uses the language of men, which is necessarily imperfect. For the words of the Qurán claim to be the very words of God. God is the speaker, and the language he uses is the language of the Preserved Table, and therefore a perfect language. The earth is represented as a vast plain, and the mountains have been placed on it to balance it. See chap. xvi. 15.
[(20) ]Him whom ye do not sustain, viz., “your family, servants, and slaves, whom ye wrongly imagine that ye feed yourselves: though it is God who provides for them as well as you: or, as some rather think, the animals, of whom men take no care.”—Sale, Baidháwi, Jaláluddín.
[(23) ]See Rodwell’s note here.
[(24) ]“What these words particularly drive at is uncertain. Some think them spoken of the different times of men’s several entrance into this world, and their departure out of it; others of the respective forwardness and backwardness of Muhammad’s men in battle; and a third says the passage was occasioned by the different behaviour of Muhammad’s followers on seeing a very beautiful woman at prayers behind the Prophet, some of them going out of the mosque before her, to avoid looking on her more nearly, and others staying behind on purpose to view her.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(26) ]See note on chap. ii. 30.
[(28-40) ]On this passage see notes on chap. ii. 30-34, and vii. 11-19.
[(41) ]This is the right way, viz., “the saving of the elect, and the utter reprobation of the wicked, according to my eternal decree.”—Sale.
[(44) ]Seven gates. See Prelim. Disc., p. 148.
[(47) ]Remove all grudges. “That is, all hatred and ill-will which they bore each other in their lifetime; or, as some choose to expound it, all envy or heart-burning on account of the different degrees of honour and happiness to which the blessed will be promoted according to their respective merits.”—Sale.
[(51-77) ]See chap. xi. 69-82, and notes.
[(60) ]We have decreed, &c. The destruction of Lot’s wife is here distinctly attributed to the purpose of God.
[(65) ]Go whither ye are commanded, i.e., “to Syria or into Egypt.”—Sale.
[(67) ]The news, which, says tradition, was given them by Lot’s wife.
[(72) ]“Some will have these words spoken by the angels to Lot; others, by God to Muhammad.”—Sale.
[(78) ]The inhabitants of the wood. See notes on chap. vii. 86.
[(79) ]We took vengeance on them. “Destroying them for their incredulity and disobedience by a hot suffocating wind.”—Sale, Baidháwi, &c.
[(80) ]Al Hajr. Whose inhabitants were the tribe of Thamúd. See chap. vii. 74-84, and notes. Also Prelim. Disc., p. 23.
[(85) ]Wherefore . . . forgive, &c. This verse is said to be abrogated by that of the Sword, chap. ix. 5.
[(87) ]Seven verses. “That is, the first chapter of the Qurán, which consists of so many verses, though some suppose the seven long chapters are here intended.”—Sale.
[(88) ]Cast not thine eyes, &c. “That is, do not envy or covet their worldly prosperity, since thou hast received, in the Qurán, a blessing, in comparison whereof all that we have bestowedon them ought to be contemned as of no value. Al Baidháwi mentions a tradition, that Muhammad meeting at Adhriat (a town of Syria) seven caravans, very richly laden, belonging to some Jews of the tribes of Quraidha and al Nadhír, his men had a great mind to plunder them, saying, that those riches would be of great service for the propagation of God’s true religion. But the Prophet represented to them, by this passage, that they had no reason to repine, God having given them the seven verses, which were infinitely more valuable than those seven caravans.”—Sale, Baidháwi, Jaláluddín.
[(90) ]The dividers. “Some interpret the original word the obstructors, who hindered men from entering Makkah to visit the temple lest they should be persuaded to embrace Islám; and this, it is said, was done by ten men, who were all slain at Badr. Others translate the word, who bound themselves by oath, and suppose certain Thamúdites, who swore to kill Sálih by night, are here meant. But the sentence more probably relates to the Jews and Christians, who (say the Muhammadans) receive some part of the Scriptures and reject others, and also approved of some passages of the Qurán and disapproved of others, according to their prejudices; or else to the unbelieving Makkans, some of whom called the Qurán a piece of witchcraft, others flights of divination, others old stories, and others a poetical composition.”—Sale, Baidháwi, Jaláluddín.
[(94) ]Wherefore publish, &c. This is said to refer to Muhammad’s venturing publicly to preach Islám in the streets of Makkah. The opinion rests upon the statements of Hishám, which, says Noëldeke, are conflicting. Even granting that Muhammad did at some early period declare he had received such an admonition, it does not follow that he never again made such a declaration.
[(95) ]The scoffers. “This passage, it is said, was revealed on account of five noble Quraish, whose names were Al Walíd Ibn al Mughaira, Aas Ibn Wáíl, Oda Ibn Qais, al Aswad Ibn Abd Yaghúth, and al Aswad Ibn al Mutallib. These were inveterate enemies of Muhammad, continually persecuting him, and turning him into ridicule; wherefore at length Gabriel came and told him that he was commanded to take his part against them; and on the angel’s making a sign towards them one after another, al Walíd, passing by some arrows, one of them hitched in his garment, and he, out of pride, not stooping to take it off, but walking forward, the head of it cut a vein in his heel, and he bled to death. Al Aas was killed with a thorn, which stuck into the sole of his foot, and caused his leg to swell to a monstrous size. Oda died with violent and perpetual sneezing. Al Aswad Ibn Abd Yaghúth ran his head against a thorny tree and killed himself, and al Aswad Ibn al Mutallib was struck blind.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(99) ]Death, literally, that which is certain.