Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XVIII.: ENTITLED SURAT AL KAHAF (THE CAVE). Revealed at Makkah. - The Quran, vol. 3
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CHAPTER XVIII.: ENTITLED SURAT AL KAHAF (THE CAVE). 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 KAHAF (THE CAVE).
This chapter might be called the chapter of wonderful stories. It owes its name to one of these—the story of the sleepers in the cave, which is the story of the Seven Sleepers of Christian tradition embellished by Muhammad with an Islamic colouring. (See notes on vers. 8-12)
This story is remarkable, in that it throws some light on the habit the Prophet of Makkah had of delaying to answer difficult questions till the following day, on the pretence of not yet having received the answer by revelation. In this instance, if we are to believe the commentators, he had to wait ten days for the required answer, at which time he proclaims himself rebuked by God for rashly presuming to command the spirit of revelation on a morrow (ver. 23, note). But, judging from the character of the story itself, we are safe in adopting the opinion that during this interval Muhammad did not despise the scanty information he was able to derive from the Christian slaves of his town, some of whom were in his own household.
A remarkable feature of the stories of this chapter is that three of them are derived from apocryphal sources, viz., the story of the sleepers, the story of hidhar (Jethro), and the story of Alexander’s journeyings, and of his building a barrier to prevent the incursions of the northern kings of Gog and Magog. All these stories partake of the character of the marvellous, and carry with them such an air of vagueness as to leave the impression that Muhammad’s informants were themselves but ill-informed. We have already indicated our belief as to the source of this information.
The remaining portions of the chapter are of the usual Makkan type. The idolaters are warned by the example of rebellious nations in past ages, and especially by that of the Israelites, who, on account of having rejected their prophets, suffered the loss of their sacred city. On the other hand, the faithful are encouraged by the hopes of Paradise.
Probable Dates of the Revelations.
The whole of this chapter belongs to Makkah. It is true some authorities would refer the exhortation of ver. 27 to Madína, but other authorities place it among the Makkan revelations, while there is nothing in the sentiment of that verse which might not have been uttered at any time and in any place. Occurring as it does in the midst of Makkan revelations, it is more natural to count it among them than forcibly to transfer it to Madína.
Beyond the style of the chapter and the spirit of the addresses to the Quraish there is little upon which to fix a date for the composition. These are, however, quite decisive for a period anterior to the Ban of the Hashimites. The intercourse with Jews and Christians, through whom most of the matter of this chapter was derived, would also point to a period when Muhammad had gained converts and adherents from among these. We conclude, therefore, that the main portion of this chapter should be assigned to about the sixth year of Muhammad’s ministry at Makkah. The stories of hidhar and of Alexander may, however, belong to some other period, their presence here being accounted for by the purpose of the compilers to bring together these marvellous stories in the same chapter. I confess, however, that this is simply conjecture.
IN THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD.
∥ (1) Praise be unto God, who hath sent down unto his servant the book of the Qurán, and hath not inserted therein any crookedness, (2) but hath made it a straight rule: that he should threaten a grievous punishment untothe unbelievers, from his presence; and should bear good tidings unto the faithful, who work righteousness, that they should receive an excellent reward, namely, paradise, wherein they shall remain for ever: (3) and that he should warn those who say, God hath begotten issue; (4) of which matter they have no knowledge, neither had their fathers. A grievous saying it is, which proceedeth from their mouths: they speak no other than a lie. (5) Peradventure thou wilt kill thyself with grief after them, out of thy earnest zeal for their conversion, if they believe not in this new revelation of the Qurán. (6) Verily we have ordained whatsoever is on the earth for the ornament thereof, that we might make trial of men, and see which of them excelleth in works: (7) and we will surely reduce whatever is thereon to dry dust. (8) Dost thou consider that the companions of the cave, and Al Raqím, were one of our signs, and a great miracle? (9) When the young men took refuge in the cave, they said, O Lord, grant us mercy from before thee, and dispose our business for us to a right issue. (10) Wherefore we struck their ears with deafness, so that they slept without disturbance in the cave for a great number of years: (11) then we awaked them, that we might know which of the two parties was more exact in computing the space which they had remained there.
∥ (12) We will relate unto thee their history with truth. Verily they were young men who had believed in their Lord; and we had abundantly directed them; (13) and we fortified their hearts with constancy when they stood before the tyrant; and they said, Our Lord is the Lord of heaven and earth; we will by no means call on any god besides him, for then should we surely utter an extravagance. (14) These our fellow-people have taken other gods besides him, although they bring no demonstrative argument for them; and who is more unjust than he who deviseth a lie concerning God? (15) And they said the oneto the other, when ye shall separate yourselves from them, and from the deities which they worship, except God, fly into the cave: your Lord will pour his mercy on you abundantly, and will dispose your business for you to advantage. (16) And thou mightest have seen the sun when it had risen to decline from their cave towards the right hand, and when it went down to leave them on the left hand: and they were in the spacious part of the cave. This was one of the signs of God. Whomsoever God shall direct he shall be rightly directed, and whomsoever he shall cause to err thou shalt not find any to defend or to direct.
∥ (17) And thou wouldest have judged them to have been awake while they were sleeping; and we caused them to turn themselves to the right hand and to the left. And their dog stretched forth his forelegs in the mouth of the cave: if thou hadst come suddenly upon them, verily thou wouldest have turned thy back and fled from them, and thou wouldest have been filled with fear at the sight of them. (18) And so we awaked them from their sleep, that they might ask questions of one another. One of them spake and said, How long have ye tarried here? They answered, We have tarried a day, or part of a day. The others said, Your Lord best knoweth the time ye have tarried: and now send one of you with this your money into the city, and let him see which of its inhabitants hath the best and cheapest food, and let him bring you provision from him, and let him behave circumspectly, and not discover you to any one.
Middle of the Qurán.
∥ (19) Verily if they come up against you they will stone you, or force you to return to their religion, and then shall ye not prosper for ever. (20) And so we made their people acquainted with what had happened to them, that they might know that the promise of God is true, and that there is no doubt of the last hour, when they disputed among themselves concerning their matter. And they said, Erect a building over them; their Lord best knoweth their condition. Those who prevailed in their affair answered, We will surely build a chapel over them. (21)Some say the sleepers were three, and their dog was the fourth, and others say they were five, and their dog was the sixth, guessing at a secret matter; and others say they were seven, and their dog was the eighth. Say, My Lord best knoweth their number: none shall know them except a few. (22) Wherefore dispute not concerning them, except with a clear disputation, according to what hath been revealed unto thee, and ask not any of the Christians concerning them. (23) Say not of any matter, I will surely do this to-morrow, unless thou add if God please. And remember thy Lord when thou forgettest, and say, My Lord is able to direct me with ease, that I may draw near unto the truth of this matter rightly. (24) And they remained in their cave three hundred years, and nine years over. (25) Say, God best knoweth how long they continued there: unto him are the secrets of heaven and earth known; do thou make him to see and to hear. The inhabitants thereof have no protector besides him, neither doth he suffer any one to have a share in the establishment or knowledge of his decree.
∥ (26) Read that which hath been revealed unto thee of the book of thy Lordwithout presuming to make any change therein. There is none who hath power to change his words; and thou shalt not find any to fly to besides him if thou attempt it.(27) Behave thyself with constancy towards those who call upon their Lord morning and evening, and who seek his favour; and let not thine eyes be turned away from them seeking the pomp of this life, neither obey him whose heart we have caused to neglect the remembrance of us, and who followeth his lusts, and leaveth the truth behind him.
∥ (28) And say, The truth is from your Lord, wherefore let him who will believe, and let him who will be incredulous. We have surely prepared for the unjust hell-fire, the flame and smoke whereof shall surround him like a pavilion; and if they beg relief they shall be relieved with water like molten brass, which shall scald their faces. Oh, how miserable a potion, and how unhappy a couch! (29) As to those who believe and do good works, we will not suffer the reward of him who shall work righteousness to perish; (30) for them are prepared gardens of eternal abode, which shall be watered by rivers; they shall be adorned therein with bracelets of gold, and they shall be clothed in green garments of fine silk and brocades, reposing themselves therein on thrones. Oh, how happy a reward, and how easy a couch!
∥ (31) And propound unto them as a parable two men, on the one of whom we had bestowed two vineyards, and had surrounded them with palm-trees, and had caused corn to grow between them. Each of the gardens brought forth its fruit every season, and failed not at all; (32) and we caused a river to flow in the midst thereof: and he had great abundance. And he said unto his companion by way of debate, I am superior to thee in wealth, and have a more powerful family. (33) And he went into his garden, being guilty of injustice against his own soul, and said, I do not think that this garden will decay for ever; (34) neither do I think that the last hour will come: and although I should return unto my Lord, verily I shall find a better garden than this in exchange. (35)And his companion said unto him, by way of debate, Dost thou not believe in him who created thee of the dust, and afterwards of seed; and then fashioned thee into a perfect man? (36) But as for me,God is my Lord; and I will not associate any other deity with my Lord.(37) And when thou enterest thy garden, wilt thou not say, What God pleaseth shall come to pass; there is no power but in Godalone? Although thou seest me to be inferior to thee in wealth and number of children, (38) my Lord is well able to bestow on me a better gift than thy garden, and to shoot his arrows against the same from heaven, so that it shall become barren dust; (39) or its waters may sink deep into the earth, that thou canst not draw thereof. (40) And his possessions were encompassed with destruction, as his companion had forewarned him; wherefore he began to turn down the palms of his hands out of sorrow and regret for that which he had expended thereon; for the vines thereof were fallen down on their trails: and he said, Would to God that I had not associated any other deity with my Lord! (41) And he had no party to assist him besides God, neither was he able to defend himself against his vengeance.(42) In such case protection belongeth of right unto Godalone; he is the best rewarder, and the best giver of success.
∥ (43) And propound to them a similitude of the present life. It is like water which we send down from heaven; and the herb of the earth is mixed therewith, and after it hath been green and flourishing, in the morning it becometh dry stubble, which the winds scatter abroad; and God is able to do all things. (44) Wealth and children are the ornament of this present life; but good works, which are permanent, are better in the sight of thy Lord, with respect to the reward, and better with respect to hope. (45) On a certain day we will cause the mountains to pass away, and thou shalt see the earth appearing plain and even; and we will gather mankind together, and we will not leave any one of them behind. (46) And they shall be set before thy Lord in distinct order, and he shall say unto them, Now are ye come unto us naked, as we created you the first time, but ye thought that we should not perform our promise unto you. (47) And the book wherein every one’s actions are recorded shall be put into his hand; and thou shalt see the wicked in great terror because of that which is written therein, and they shall say, Alas for us! what meaneth this book? it omitteth neither a small action nor a great one, but it compriseth the same; and they shall find that which they have wrought, present before their eyes: and thy Lord will not deal unjustly with any one.
∥ (48)Remember when we said unto the angels, Worship ye Adam: and they all worshipped him, except Iblís, who was one of the genii, and departed from the command of his Lord. Will ye therefore take him and his offspring for your patrons besides me, notwithstanding they are your enemies? Miserable shall such a change be to the ungodly! (49) I called not them to be present at the creation of the heavens and of the earth, nor at the creation of themselves, neither did I take those seducers for my assistants. (50) On a certain day God shall say unto the idolaters, Call those whom ye imagined to be my companions to protect you: and they shall call them, but they shall not answer them; and we will place a valley of destruction between them.
∥ (51) And the wicked shall see hell-fire: and they shall know that they shall be thrown into the same, and they shall find no way to avoid it. (52) And now have we variously propounded unto men, in this Qurán, a parable of every kind; but man cavilleth at most things therein. (53) Yet nothing hindereth men from believing now a direction is come unto them, and from asking pardon of their Lord, excepting that they wait until the punishment of their predecessors come to be inflicted on them, or that the chastisement of the next life come upon them publicly. (54) We send not our messengers, but to bear good tidings, and to denounce threats. Those who believe not dispute with vain arguments, that they may thereby render the truth of no effect; and they hold my signs, and the admonitions which have been made them, in derision. (55) And who is more unjust than he who hath been acquainted with the signs of his Lord, and retireth afar off from the same, and forgetteth that which his hands have formerly committed. Verily we have cast veils over their hearts, lest they should understand the Qurán, and into their ears thickness of hearing; (56) if thou invite them to the true direction, yet will they not therefore be directed for ever. (57) Thy Lordis gracious, endued with mercy; if he would have punished them for that which they have committed, he would doubtless have hastened their punishment: but a threat hath been denounced against them, and they shall find no refuge, besides him. (58) And those former cities did we destroy when they acted unjustly; and we gave them previous warning of their destruction.
∥ (59) And remember when Moses said unto his servant Joshua the son of Nun, I will not cease to go forward, until I come to the place where the two seas meet; or I will travel for a long space of time. (60) But when they were arrived at the meeting of the two seas, they forgot their fish, which they had taken with them; and the fish took its way freely in the sea. (61) And when they had passed beyond that place, Moses said unto his servant, Bring us our dinner; for now are we fatigued with this our journey. (62) His servant answered, Dost thou know what hasbefallen me? When we took up our lodging at the rock, verily I forgot the fish: and none made me to forget it, except Satan, that I should not remind thee of it. And the fish took its way into the sea, in a wonderful manner. (63)Moses said, This is what we sought after. And they both went back, returning by the way they came. (64) And coming to the rock, they found one of our servants, unto whom we had granted mercy from us, and whom we had taught wisdom from before us. (65) And Moses said unto him, Shall I follow thee, that thou mayest teach me part of that which thou hast been taught, for a direction unto me? (66) He answered, Verily thou canst not bear with me: (67) for how canst thou patiently suffer those things, the knowledge whereof thou dost not comprehend? (68) Moses replied, Thou shalt find me patient, if God please; neither will I be disobedient unto thee in anything. (69) He said, If thou follow me, therefore, ask me not concerning anything, until I shall declare the meaning thereof unto thee.
∥ (70) So they went on by the sea-shore, until they went up into a ship; and he made a hole therein. And Moses said unto him, Hast thou made a hole therein, that thou mightest drown those who are on board? now hast thou done a strange thing. (71) He answered, Did I not tell thee that thou couldest not bear with me? (72) Moses said, Rebuke me not, because I did forget; and impose not on me a difficulty in what I am commanded. (73) Wherefore they left the ship and proceeded, until they met with a youth, and he slew him. Moses said, Hast thou slain an innocent person, without his having killed another? now hast thou committed an unjust action.
∥ (74) He answered, Did I not tell thee that thou couldest not bear with me? (75) Moses said, If I ask thee concerning anything hereafter, suffer me not to accompany thee: now hast thou received an excuse from me. (76) They went forwards, therefore, until they came to the inhabitants of a certain city: and they asked food of the inhabitants thereof; but they refused to receive them. And they found therein a wall, which was ready to fall down; and he set it upright. Whereupon Moses said unto him, If thou wouldest thou mightest doubtless have received a reward for it. (77) He answered, This shall be a separation between me and thee; but I will first declare unto thee the signification of that which thou couldest not bear with patience. (78) The vessel belonged to certain poor men, who did their business in the sea: and I was minded to render it unserviceable, because there was a king behind them, who took every sound ship by force. (79) As to the youth, his parents were true believers; and we feared, lest he, being an unbeliever, should oblige them to suffer his perverseness and ingratitude: (80) wherefore we desired that their Lord might give them a more righteous child in exchange for him, and one more affectionate towards them.(81) And the wall belonged to two orphan youths in the city, and under it was a treasure hidden which belonged to them; and their father was a righteous man: and thy Lord was pleased that they should attain their full age, and take forth their treasure, through the mercy of the Lord, and I did not what thou hast seen of mine own will, but by God’s direction. This is the interpretation of that which thou couldest not bear with patience.
∥ (82) The Jews will ask thee concerning Dhu-’l-Qarnain. Answer, I will rehearse unto you an account of him. (83) We made him powerful in the earth, and we gave him means to accomplish everything he pleased.(84) And he followed his way, until he came to the place where the sun setteth; and he found it to set in a spring of black mud; and he found near the same a certain people. (85) And we said, O Dhu-’l-Qarnain, either punish this people or use gentleness towards them. (86) He answered, Whosoever of them shall commit injustice, we will surely punish him in this world; afterwards shall he return unto his Lord, and he shall punish him with a severe punishment. (87) But whosoever believeth, and doth that which is right, shall receive the most excellent reward, and we will give him in command that which is easy. (88) Then he continued his way, (89) until he came to the place where the sun riseth; and he found it to rise on certain people, unto whom we had not given anything wherewith to shelter themselves therefrom. (90) Thus it was; and we comprehended with our knowledge the forces which were with him. (91) And he prosecuted his journey from south to north,(92) until he came between the two mountains; beneath which he found certain people, who could scarcely understand what was said. (93)And they said, O Dhu-’l-Qarnain, verily Gog and Magog waste the land: shall we therefore pay thee tribute, on condition that thou build a rampart between us and them? (94) He answered, The power wherewith my Lord has strengthened me is better than your tribute; but assist me strenuously, and I will set a strong wall between you and them. (95) Bring me iron in large pieces, until it fill up the space between the two sides of these mountains. And he said to the workmen, Blow with your bellows, until it make the iron red hot as fire. And he said further, Bring me molten brass, that I may pour upon it. (96) Wherefore, when this wall was finished, Gog and Magog could not scale it, neither could they dig through it. (97) And Dhu-’l-Qarnain said, This is a mercy from my Lord:(98) but when the prediction of my Lord shall come to be fulfilled, he shall reduce the wall to dust; and the prediction of my Lord is true. (99) On that day we will suffer some of them to press tumultuously like waves on others: and the trumpet shall be sounded, and we will gather them in a body together. (100) And we will set hell on that day before the unbelievers; (101) whose eyes have been veiled from my remembrance, and who could not hear my words.
∥ (102) Do the unbelievers think that I will not punish them, for that they take my servants for their protectors besides me? Verily we have prepared hell for the abode of the infidels. (103) Say, Shall we declare unto you those whose works are vain, (104) whose endeavour in the present life hath been wrongly directed, and who think they do the work which is right? (105) These are they who believe not in the signs of their Lord, or that they shall be assembled before him; wherefore their works are vain, and we will not allow them any weight on the day of resurrection. (106) This shall be their reward, namely, hell: for that they have disbelieved, and have held my signs and apostles in derision. (107) But as for those who believe and do good works, they shall have the gardens of Paradise for their abode: (108) they shall remain therein for ever; they shall wish for no change therein. (109) Say, If the sea were ink to write the words of my Lord, verily the sea would fail, before the words of my Lord would fail; although we added another sea like unto it as a further supply. (110) Say, Verily I am only a man as ye are. It is revealed unto me that your God is one only God: let him therefore who hopeth to meet his Lord work a righteous work; and let him not make any other to partake in the worship of his Lord.
[(3) ]Those who say, God hath begotten issue. See notes on chap. iv. 169, v. 19 and 79, and vi. 101. The passage may allude to Christians, but more probably to the idolaters of Makkah, who called the angels the daughters of God.
[(5) ]New revelation. It was new to the Arabs, but, according to Muhammad’s uniform claim, not new to Jews and Christians.
[(8) ]Companions of the cave. “These were certain Christian youths, of a good family in Ephesus, who, to avoid the persecution of the Emperor Decius, by the Arab writers called Decianus, hid themselves in a cave, where they slept for a great number of years.
[(11) ]The two parties, viz., “of the sleepers themselves, or others, who were divided in opinion as to the length of their stay in the cave.”—Sale.
[(12) ]We will relate unto thee their history with truth. Muhammad relates this story, which he received from Christian tradition, as coming from God for his own instruction! Was there no element of fabrication and conscious imposition here? Can any one conceive of such conduct apart from a purpose to deceive?
[(13) ]We will by no means, &c. The language used by Muhammad in his addresses to the Quraish is here put into the mouths of the seven sleepers.
[(14) ]Our fellow-people. The word fellow in Sale’s translation is misleading. These young men are conceived of here as divine messengers, and “our people” is the usual term whereby the Qurán designates the people to whom the prophets were sent.
[(15) ]When ye shall separate, &c. According to the Tafsír-i-Raufi, these words were spoken by the eldest of the seven, whose name was Yamlíkha. The names of the remaining six were Maksalmína, Masalína, Marnúsh, Barnúsh, Shazlús, and Kamartús, and the name of their dog Qatmír. The same authority, however, gives another list differing somewhat from this.
[(16) ]Thou mightest have seen the sun, &c. “Lest it should be offensive to them, the cave opening towards the south.”—Sale.
[(17) ]To have been awake. “Because of their having their eyes open, or their frequent turning themselves from one side to the other.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(18) ]The time ye have tarried. “As they entered the cave in the morning, and waked about noon, they at first imagined they had slept half a day, or a day and a half at most, but when they found their nails and hair grown very long, they used these words.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(19) ]This verse marks the middle of the Qurán, attained by counting the letters of the Arabic text.
[(20) ]That they might know, &c. “The long sleep of these young men, and their waking after so many years, being a representation of the state of those who die, and are afterwards raised to life.”—Sale.
[(21) ]Their dog the fourth. “This was the opinion of Sayad, a Jacobite Christian of Najrán.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(22) ]Ask not any of the Christians, &c. One would have thought the Christians best qualified to attest the truth of a story based upon their own tradition. It cannot be doubted that Muhammad here deliberately casts discredit on those who were alone competent to expose the source of his revelation.
[(23) ]Say not I will surely do this to-morrow, &c. “It is said that when the Quraish, by the direction of the Jews, put the three questions above mentioned to Muhammad, he bid them come to him the next day and he would give them an answer, but added not ‘if it please God,’ for which reason he had the mortification to wait above ten days before any revelation was vouchsafed him concerning those matters, so that the Quraish triumphed, and bitterly reproached him as a liar; but at length Gabriel brought him directions what he should say, with this admonition, however, that he should not be so confident for the future.”—Sale, Baidháwi, Jaláluddín.
[(24) ]Three hundred years, and nine years over. “Jaláluddín supposes the whole space was three hundred solar years, and that the odd nine are added to reduce them to lunar years.
[(25) ]Do thou make him to see and to hear. “This is an ironical expression, intimating the folly and madness of man’s presuming to instruct God.”—Sale, Baidháwi, Jaláluddín.
[(26) ]None hath power to change his words. “As the unbelievers would persuade thee to do.”—Sale.
[(27) ]Seeking the pomp. “That is, despise not the believers because of their meanness, nor honour the rich because of their wealth and grandeur.”—Sale.
[(30) ]Gardens. See note on chap. ix. 73.
[(31) ]A parable of two men. “Though these seem to be general characters only, designed to represent the different end of the wicked and of the good, yet it is supposed by some that two particular persons are here meant. One says they were two Israelites and brothers, who had a considerable sum left them by their father, which they divided between them, and that one of them, being an unbeliever, bought large fields and possessions with his portion, while the other, who was a true believer, disposed of his to pious uses; but that in the end the former was ruined and the latter prospered. Another thinks they were two men of the tribe of Maḳhzúm: the one named al Aswad Ibn Abdul Ashad, an infidel, and the other Abu Salma Ibn Abdullah, the husband of Omm Salma (whom the Prophet married after his death), and a true believer.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(33) ]He went into his garden. “Carrying his companion with him, out of ostentation, and to mortify him with the view of his large possessions.”—Sale.
[(34) ]Neither do I think the last hour will come. This shows decidedly that this parable is directed against the prosperous Makkans, who refused to believe in the doctrine of the resurrection, and, at the same time despised the poor Muslims. See chap. ii. 211, and xi. 8-11. The passage is not therefore of Madína origin.
[(35-42) ]These words were intended to serve the double purpose of comforting poor believers and rebuking the vainglory of the unbelieving Quraísh.
[(43) ]Compare Psalm xc. 3-9.
[(45) ]We will cause the mountains to pass away. “For being torn up by the roots, they shall fly in the air and be reduced to atoms.”—Sale, Baidháwi. See Prelim. Disc., p. 135.
[(47) ]The book, &c. See Prelim. Disc., p. 144.
[(48) ]Except Iblís. See notes on chap. ii. 34, and vii. 11-19.
[(49) ]I called not, &c. The infidels fancied the genii were acquainted with the secrets of divinity, and this passage meets the claim by denying their existence when God created the heavens and the earth.—Tafsír-i-Raufi.
[(50) ]Call those, &c. See chap. xvi. 88, 89.
[(54) ]This passage is abrogated by every passage of the Qurán exhorting the faithful to fight for the faith, especially by chap. ix. 5.
[(55) ]We have cast veils, &c. Compare Isa. vii. 9, 10.
[(57) ]A threat, &c., viz., “of their calamity at Badr (for the Quraish are the infidels here intended), or their punishment at the resurrection.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(58) ]The former cities, i.e., the Ádites, Thamúdites, Sodomites, &c. See chap. vii. 66, &c.
[(59) ]The place where two seas meet. The commentators say these two seas were the Mediterranean and the Persian. Some, however, feeling that this isnot quite satisfactory, understand the expression as figurative of the meeting of Moses and Khidhar, who are likened to the two oceans of human and divine knowledge! This mystical interpretation is not in favour with the orthodox, who do not feel obliged even to mention the seas by name.
[(60) ]They forgot their fish. “Moses forgot to inquire concerning it, and Joshua forgot to tell him when he missed it. It is said that when they came to the rock, Moses falling asleep, the fish, which was roasted, leaped out of the basket into the sea; some add, that Joshua making the ablution at the fountain of life (of which immediately), some of the water happened to be sprinkled on the fish, which immediately restored it to life.”—Sale, Baidháwi. &c.
[(63) ]This is what we sought after, i.e., this is the sign given to direct us to our journey’s end. See above on ver. 59.
[(64) ]One of our servants. “This person, according to the general opinion, was the prophet al Khidhar, whom the Muhammadans usually confound with Phineas, Elias, and St. George, saying that his soul passed by a metempsychosis successively through all three. Some, however, say his true name was Balya Ibn Malkán, and that he lived in the time of Afridún, one of the ancient kings of Persia, and that he preceded Dhu-’l-Qarnain, and lived to the time of Moses. They suppose al Khidhar, having found out the fountain of life, and drank thereof, became immortal; and that he had therefore this name from his flourishing and continual youth. Vide D’Herbelot, Bibl. Orient., art. Khedher; Septemcastrens. de Turcar. Moribus.; Busbeq. Epist. 1, p. 93, &c.; Hotting. Hist. Orient., p. 58, &c., 99, &c., 292, &c.
[(70) ]Made a hole. “For Khidhar took an axe and knocked out two of her planks.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(73) ]And he slew him. “By twisting his neck round, or dashing his head against a wall, or else by throwing him down and cutting his throat.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(76) ]A certain city. “This city was Antioch; or, as some rather think, Obollah, near Basra, or else Bájirwán in Armenia.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(78) ]Certain poor men. The commentators, as usual, undertake to give particulars as to their history. “They were ten brothers, five of whom were past their labour by reason of their age.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(80) ]One more affectionate. “It is said that they had afterwards a daughter, who was the wife and the mother of a prophet; and that her son converted a whole nation.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(81) ]Two orphan youths. “Their names were Asram and Sarím.”—Sale.
[(82) ]Dhu-’l-Qarnain. “Or, the two-horned. The generality of the commentators (Baidháwi, Zamaḳhsharí, Jaláluddín, and Yahya) suppose the person here meant to be Alexander the Great, or, as they call him, Iskandar al Rúmi, king of Persia and Greece; but there are very different opinions as to the reason of this surname. Some think it was given him because he was king of the East and of the West, or because he had made expeditions to both those extreme ends of the earth; or else because he had two horns on his diadem, or two curls of hair, like horns, on his forehead; or, which is most probable, by reason of his great valour. Several modern writers rather suppose the surname was occasioned by his being represented in his coins and statues with horns, as the son of Jupiter Ammon; or else by his being compared by the prophet Daniel to a he-goat; though he is here represented with but one horn.
[(84) ]A spring of black mud. “That is, it seemed so to him, when he came to the ocean and saw nothing but water.”—Sale, Baidháwi, Jaláluddín.
[(85) ]Either punish, or, &c. “For God gave Dhu-’l-Qarnain his choice, either to destroy them for their infidelity, or to instruct them in the true faith; or, according to others, either to put them to the sword, or to take them captives: but the words which follow confirm the former interpretation, by which it appears he chose to invite them to the true religion, and to punish only the disobedient and incredulous.”—Sale.
[(88) ]When the sun riseth, i.e., “that part of the habitable world on which the sun first rises.”—Sale.
[(92) ]He came between the two mountains. “Between which Dhu-’l-Qarnain built the famous rampart, mentioned immediately, against the irruptions of Gog and Magog. These mountains are situate in Armenia and Adirbiján, or, according to others, much more northwards, on the confines of Turkestan. The relation of a journey taken to this rampart, by one who was sent on purpose to view it by the Khalífah al Wathiq, may be seen in D’Herbelot.”—Sale.
[(93) ]Gog and Magog. Sale, on the authority of Baidháwi and D’Herbelot, Bibl. Orient., art. Jagiouge, says: “The Arabs call them Yájúj and Májúj, and say they are two nations or tribes descended from Japhet, the son of Noah, or, as others write, Gog are a tribe of the Turks, and Magog of those of Gillán, the Geli and Gelæ of Ptolemy and Strabo.
[(96) ]Neither could they dig through it. “The commentators say the wall was built in this manner: They dug till they found water, and having laid the foundation of stone and melted brass, they built the superstructure of large pieces of iron, between which they laid wood and coals till they equalled the height of the mountains; and then setting fire to the combustibles, by the help of large bellows they made the iron red-hot, and over it poured melted brass, which filling up the vacancies between the pieces of iron, rendered the whole work as firm as a rock. Some tell us that the whole was built of stones joined by cramps of iron, on which they poured melted brass to fasten them.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(98) ]When the prediction, &c. “That is, when the time shall come for Gog and Magog to break forth from their confinement; which shall happen some time before the resurrection.”—Sale.
[(99) ]To press tumultuously, &c. “These words represent either the violent irruption of Gog and Magog, or the tumultuous assembly of all creatures, men, genii, and brutes, at the resurrection.”—Sale.
[(102) ]We have prepared hell, &c. Other passages of the Qurán declare that God made many men and genii for hell; see chap. xi. 119, xxxii. 13, 14, and l. 29. The Scripture statement is that God prepared hell for the devil and his angels; see Matt. xxv. 41; 2 Pet. ii. 4; and Jude 6.
[(109) ]Compare John xxi. 25.
[(110) ]Compare with Christ’s teaching as to himself, John x. 31-38, xv. 1-7, &c.