Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XX.: ENTITLED SURAT THÁ HÁ (T. H.) Revealed at Makkah. - The Quran, vol. 3
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CHAPTER XX.: ENTITLED SURAT THÁ HÁ (T. H.) 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 THÁ HÁ (T. H.)
There is little to indicate the occasion of the revelations contained in this chapter. Judging from the nature of the contents, it may, however, be conjectured that they were pronounced for the encouragement, and perhaps instruction, of the Muslims during the third stage of Muhammad’s prophetic career at Makkah (vers. 1 and 131). With this view accords the spirit of the chapter towards the opponents of Islám, as well as the character of the opposition described therein. The Jews demand a sign (ver. 133), and the Quraish are determined in their adherence to idolatry (vers. 128 and 135).
The opposition of the Jews seems to have led to the somewhat detailed account of Moses and of the children of Israel. This is also the earliest attempt at relating the story of Moses, and probably, for that reason, the most complete account of it in the Qurán. Indeed, a suspicion is raised in vers. 99 and 133 that the revelations were enunciated only after careful research, in order to prove the oneness of the Qurán with the “former volumes.”
The first fourteen or sixteen verses of this chapter are said to have induced Omar Ibn al Khattáb to become a Muslim in the sixth year before the Hijra (Hishám, 226 sq., cf. note; Ibn Sád, i. and v.; comp. Weil, p. 60; Causs, i. 396 sq.; and Springer, 187 sq.) Against this view, Noeldeke points out what seems to be a fatal objection, that the commentators, without exception, are silent as to this story. Besides this, he notes the fact that other chapters have been credited with this same honour (e.g., lxi., lvii., or lxiv.; all Madínic!), not to mention the fact that two contradictory accounts of this conversion are given by the principal authority for that story (Hishám); see Muir’s Life of Mohamet, vol. ii. pp. 168-171, with notes.
Probable Date of the Revelations.
Aside from the external evidence, already alluded to above, the general tone of the revelations and the circumstances of Islám, apparent throughout the chapter, point to the early portion of the third stage of Muhammad’s prophetic career at Makkah—say B.H. 6 or 7—as the probable date of this chapter. Vers. 130 and 131 have been regarded as Madínic by some (see as Syuti’s Itqán 34 sq.), but Noeldeke thinks this supposition to be without good reason.
IN THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD.
∥ (1) T. H. We have not sent down the Qurán unto thee that thou shouldest be unhappy; (2) but for an admonition unto him who feareth God: (3) being sent down from him who created the earth and the lofty heavens. (4) The Merciful sitteth on his throne: (5) unto him belongeth whatsoever is in heaven and on earth, and whatsoever is between them, and whatsoever is under the earth. (6) If thou pronounce thy prayers with a loud voice, know that it is not necessary in respect to God; for he knoweth that which is secret, and what is yet more hidden. (7)God! there is no God but he; he hath most excellent names. (8) Hast thou been informed of the history of Moses? (9) When he saw fire, and said unto his family, Tarry ye here; for I perceive fire: (10) peradventure I may bring you a brand thereout, or may find a direction in our way by the fire. (11) And when he was come near unto it, a voice called unto him, saying, O Moses, (12) verily I am thy Lord: wherefore put off thy shoes; for thou art in the sacred valley Tuwá. (13) And I have chosen thee; therefore hearken with attention unto that which is revealed unto thee. (14) Verily I am God; there is no god besides me; wherefore worship me, and perform thy prayer in remembrance of me. (15) Verily the hour cometh: I will surely manifest the same, (16) that every soul may receive its reward for that which it hath deliberately done. (17) Let not him who believeth not therein, and who followeth his lust, prevent thee from believing in the same, lest thou perish. (18) Now what is that in thy right hand, O Moses? (19) He answered, It is my rod whereon I lean, and with which I beat down leaves for my flock; and I have other uses for it. (20) God said unto him, Cast it down, O Moses. (21) And he cast it down, and behold, it became a serpent, which ran about. (22)God said, Take hold on it, and fear not: we will reduce it to its former condition. (23) And put thy right hand under thy left arm: it shall come forth white, without any hurt. (24) This shall be another sign: that we may show thee some of our greatest signs. (25) Go unto Pharaoh: for he is exceedingly impious. (26) Moses answered, Lord, enlarge my breast,
∥ (27) And make what thou hast commanded me easy unto me: (28) and loose the knot of my tongue, (29) that they may understand my speech. (30) And give me a counsellor of my family, (31) namely, Aaron my brother. (32) Gird up my loins by him, (33) and make him my colleague in the business: (34) that we may praise thee greatly, and may remember thee often; (35) for thou regardest us. (36) God replied, Now hast thou obtained thy request, O Moses: (37) and we have heretofore been gracious unto thee another time, (38) when we revealed unto thy mother that which was revealed unto her,(39)saying, Put him into the ark, and cast him into the river, and the river shall throw him on the shore; and my enemy and his enemy shall take him and bring him up; and I bestowed on thee love from me, (40) that thou mightest be bred up under my eye. (41) When thy sister went and said, Shall I bring you unto one who will nurse the child? So we returned thee unto thy mother, that her mind might be set at ease, and that she might not be afflicted. And thou slewest a soul, and we delivered thee from trouble; and we proved thee by several trials: (42) and afterwards thou didst dwell some years among the inhabitants of Madian. Then thou camest hither according to our decree, O Moses; (43) and I have chosen thee for myself; (44)wherefore go thou and thy brother with my signs; and be not negligent in remembering me. (45) Go ye unto Pharaoh, for he is excessively impious: (46) and speak mildly unto him; peradventure he will consider, or will fear our threats. (47) They answered, O Lord, verily we fear lest he be precipitately violent against us, or lest he transgress more exorbitantly. (48) God replied, Fear not; for I am with you: I will hear and will see. (49) Go ye therefore unto him, and say, Verily we are the messengers of thy Lord: wherefore send the children of Israel with us, and do not afflict them. Now are we come unto thee with a sign from thy Lord: and peace be upon him who shall follow the true direction. (50) Verily it hath been revealed unto us that a punishment shall be inflicted on him who shall charge us with imposture, and shall turn back. (51) And when they had delivered their message, Pharaoh said, Who is your Lord, O Moses? (52) He answered, Our Lord is he who giveth all things: he hath created them, and directeth them by his providence.(53)Pharaoh said, What therefore is the condition of the former generations? (54)Moses answered, The knowledge thereof is with my Lord, in the book of his decrees; my Lord erreth not, neither doth he forget. (55)It is he who hath spread the earth as a bed for you, and hath made you paths therein; and who sendeth down rain from heaven, whereby we cause various kinds of vegetables to spring forth: (56)saying, Eat of part, and feed your cattle with other part thereof. Verily herein are signs unto those who are endued with understanding.
∥ (57) Out of the ground have we created you; and to the same will we cause you to return, and we will bring you forth from thence another time. (58) And we showed Pharaoh all our signs which we had empowered Moses to perform: but he accused him of imposture, and refused to believe;(59)and he said, Art thou come unto us that thou mayest dispossess us of our land by thy enchantments, O Moses? (60) Verily we will meet thee with the like enchantments; wherefore fix an appointment between us and thee; we will not fail it, neither shalt thou, in an equal place. (61)Moses answered, Let your appointment be on the day of your solemn feast; and let the people be assembled in open day. (62) And Pharaoh turned away from Moses, and gathered together the most expert magicians to execute his stratagem; and then came to the appointment.(63) Moses said unto them, Woe be unto you! do not devise a lie against God, (64) lest he utterly destroy you by some judgment: for he shall not prosper who deviseth lies. (65)And the magicians disputed concerning their affair among themselves, and discoursed in private: (66) and they said, These two are certainly magicians: they seek to dispossess you of your land by their sorcery; and to lead away with them your chiefest and most considerable men. (67) Wherefore collect all your cunning, and then come in order: for he shall prosper this day who shall be superior. (68) They said, O Moses, whether wilt thou cast down thy rod first, or shall we be the first who cast down our rods?(69) He answered, Do ye cast down your rods first. And behold, their cords and their rods appeared unto him, by their enchantment, to run about like serpents;(70) wherefore Moses conceived fear in his heart. (71)But we said unto him, Fear not; for thou shalt be superior; (72) therefore cast down the rod which is in thy right hand, and it shall swallow up the seeming serpents which they have made: for what they have made is only the deceit of an enchanter; and an enchanter shall not prosper, whithersoever he cometh. (73) And the magicians, when they saw the miracle which Moses performed, fell down and worshipped, saying, We believe in the Lord of Aaron and of Moses. (74)Pharaoh said unto them, Do ye believe in him before I give you permission? Verily this is your master, who hath taught you magic. But I will surely cut off your hands and your feet on the opposite sides; and I will crucify you on trunks of palm-trees: and ye shall know which of us is more severe in punishing, and can longer protract your pains.(75) They answered, We will by no means have greater regard unto thee than unto those evident miracles which have been shown us, or than unto him who hath created us. Pronounce therefore that sentence against us which thou art about to pronounce; for thou canst only give sentence as to this present life. Verily we believe in our Lord, that he may forgive us our sins, and the sorcery which thou hast forced us to exercise: for God is better to reward, and more able to prolong punishment than thou.(76) Verily whosoever shall appear before his Lordon the day of judgment polluted with crimes, shall have hell for his reward; he shall not die therein, neither shall he live. (77) But whoever shall appear before him, having been a true believer, and shall have worked righteousness, for these are prepared the highest degrees of happiness,(78)namely, gardens of perpetual abode, which shall be watered by rivers; they shall remain therein for ever: and this shall be the reward of him who shall be pure.
∥ (79)(79) And we spake by revelation unto Moses, saying, Go forth with my servants out of Egypt by night, and smite the waters with thy rod, and make them a dry path through the sea: (80) be not apprehensive of Pharaoh’s overtaking thee, neither be thou afraid. (81) And when Moses had done so Pharaoh followed them with his forces, and the waters of the sea overwhelmed them. And Pharaoh caused his people to err, neither did he direct them aright.(82) Thus, O children of Israel, we delivered you from your enemy, and we appointed you the right side of Mount Sinai to discourse with Moses and to give him the law, and we caused manna and quails to descend upon you, (83)saying, Eat of the good things which we have given you for food, and transgress not therein lest my indignation fall on you; and on whomsoever my indignation shall fall he shall go down headlong into perdition.(84) But I will be gracious unto him who shall repent and believe, and shall do that which is right, and who shall be rightly directed. (85) What hath caused thee to hasten from thy people, O Moses, to receive the law? (86) He answered, These follow close on my footsteps, but I have hastened unto thee, O Lord, that thou mightest be well pleased with me.(87)God said, We have already made a trial of thy people since thy departure, and al Sámirí hath seduced them to idolatry.(88) Wherefore Moses returned unto his people in great wrath, and exceedingly afflicted. (89)And he said, O my people, had not your Lord promised you a most excellent promise? Did the time of my absence seem long unto you? Or did ye desire that indignation from your Lord should fall on you, and therefore failed to keep the promise which ye made me? (90) They answered, We have not failed in what we promised thee of our own authority, but we were made to carry in several loads of gold and silver, of the ornaments of the people, and we cast them into the fire; and in like manner al Sámirí also cast in what he had collected, and he produced unto them a corporeal calf, which lowed. And al Sámirí and his companions said, This is your god and the god of Moses, but he hath forgotten him, and is gone to seek some other.(91) Did they not therefore see that their idol returned them no answer, and was not able to cause them either hurt or profit?
∥ (92) And Aaron had said unto them before, O my people, verily ye are only proved by this calf, for your Lord is the Merciful, wherefore follow me and obey my command. (93) They answered, We will by no means cease to be devoted to its worship until Moses return unto us. (94)And when Moses was returned, he said, O Aaron, what hindered thee, when thou sawest that they went astray, that thou didst not follow me? Hast thou therefore been disobedient to my command? (95) Aaron answered, O son of my mother, drag me not by the beard, nor by the hair of my head. Verily, I feared lest thou shouldest say thou hast made a division among the children of Israel, and thou hast not observed my saying. (96) Moses said unto al Sámirí, What was thy design, O Sámirí? He answered, I saw that which they saw not; wherefore I took a handful of dust from the footsteps of the messenger of God, and I cast it into the molten calf, for so did my mind direct me. (97)Moses said, Get thee gone, for thy punishment in this life shall be that thou shalt say unto those who shall meet thee, Touch me not; and a threat is denounced against thee of more terrible pains in the life to come, which thou shalt by no means escape. And behold now thy god, to whose worship thou hast continued assiduously devoted; verily we will burn it, and we will reduce it to powder and scatter it in the sea. (98) Your God is the trueGod, besides whom there is no other god: he comprehendeth all things by his knowledge. (99) Thus do we recite unto thee, O Muhammad, relations of what hath passed heretofore, and we have given thee an admonition from us. (100) He who shall turn aside from it shall surely carry a load of guilt on the day of resurrection: (101) they shall continue thereunder for ever, and a grievous burden shall it be unto them on the day of resurrection. (102) On that day the trumpet shall be sounded, and we will gather the wicked together on that day, having grey eyes. (103) They shall speak with a low voice to one another, saying, Ye have not tarried above ten days. (104) We well know what they will say, when the most conspicuous among them for behaviour shall say, Ye have not tarried above one day.
∥ (105) They will ask thee concerning the mountains: Answer, My Lord will reduce them to dust, and scatter them abroad; (106) and he will leave them a plain equally extended: thou shalt see no part of them higher or lower than another. (107) On that day mankind shall follow the angel who will call them to judgment; none shall have power to turn aside from him; and their voices shall be low before the Merciful; neither shalt thou hear any more than the hollow sound of their feet.(108) On that day, the intercession of none shall be of advantage unto another, except the intercession of him to whom the Merciful shall grant permission, and who shall be acceptable unto him in what he saith. (109) God knoweth that which is before them, and that which is behind them; but they comprehend not the same by their knowledge: (110) and their faces shall be humbled before the living, the self-subsisting God; and he shall be wretched who shall bear his iniquity. (111) But whosoever shall do good works, being a true believer, shall not fear any injustice, or any diminution of his reward from God.(112) And thus have we sent down this book, being a Qurán in the Arabic tongue: and we have inserted various threats and promises therein, that men may fear God, or that it may awaken some consideration in them: (113) wherefore, let God be highly exalted, the King, the Truth! Be not over-hasty in receiving or repeating the Qurán before the revelation thereof be completed unto thee; and say. Lord, increase my knowledge. (114) We heretofore gave a command unto Adam; but he forgot the same, and ate of the forbidden fruit; and we found not in him a firm resolution.
∥ (115) And remember when we said unto the angels, Worship ye Adam; and they worshipped him: but Iblís refused. And we said, O Adam, verily this is an enemy unto thee, and thy wife; wherefore, beware lest he turn you out of Paradise; for then shalt thou be miserable. (116) Verily we have made a provision for thee, that thou shalt not hunger therein, neither shalt thou be naked: (117) and there is also a provision made for thee, that thou shalt not thirst therein, neither shalt thou be incommoded by heat. (118) But Satan whispered evil suggestions unto him, saying, O Adam, shall I guide thee to the tree of eternity and a kingdom which faileth not? (119) And they both ate thereof: and their nakedness appeared unto them; and they began to sew together the leaves of Paradise, to cover themselves. And thus Adam became disobedient unto his Lord, and was seduced. (120) Afterwards his Lord accepted him, on his repentonce, and was turned unto him, and directed him. And(121)God said, Get ye down hence, all of you: the one of you shall be an enemy unto the other. (122) But hereafter shall a direction come unto you from me: and whosoever shall follow my direction shall not err, neither shall he be unhappy; (123) but whosoever shall turn aside from my admonition, verily he shall lead a miserable life, (124) and we will cause him to appear before us on the day of resurrection blind. (125) And he shall say, O Lord, why hast thou brought me before thee blind, whereas before I saw clearly? (126) God shall answer, Thus have we done, because our signs came unto thee, and thou didst forget them; and in the same manner shalt thou be forgotten this day. (127) And thus will we reward him who shall be negligent, and shall not believe in the signs of his Lord: and the punishment of the life to come shall be more severe, and more lasting, than the punishment of this life.(128) Are not the Makkans, therefore, acquainted how many generations we have destroyed before them; in whose dwellings they walk? Verily herein are signs unto those who are endued with understanding.
∥ (129) And unless a decree had previously gone forth from thy Lordfor their respite, verily their destruction had necessarily followed: but there is a certain time determined by God for their punishment.(130) Wherefore, do thou, O Muhammad, patiently bear that which they say; and celebrate the praise of thy Lord before the rising of the sun, and before the setting thereof, and praise him in the hours of the night, and in the extremities of the day, that thou mayest be well pleased with the prospect of receiving favour from God.(131) And cast not thine eyes on that which we have granted divers of the unbelievers to enjoy, namely, the splendour of this present life, that we may prove them thereby; for the provision of thy Lordis better and more permanent. (132) Command thy family to observe prayer; and do thou persevere therein. We require not of thee that thou labour to gain necessary provisions for thyself and family; we will provide for thee; for the prosperous issue shall attend on piety. (133)The unbelievers say, Unless he come unto us with a sign from his Lord,we will not believe on him. Hath not a plain declaration come unto them, of that which is contained in the former volumes of scripture, by the revelation of the Qurán? (134) If we had destroyed them by a judgment before the same had been revealed, they would have said at the resurrection, O Lord,how could we believe, since thou didst not send unto us an apostle, that we might follow thy signs, before we were humbled and covered with shame? (135) Say, Each of us wait the issue; wait, therefore; for ye shall surely know hereafter who have been the followers of the even way, and who hath been rightly directed.
[(1) ]T. H. “The signification of these letters, which, being prefixed to the chapter, are therefore taken for the title, is uncertain. (Prelim. Disc., p. 100.) Some, however, imagine they stand for Yá rajul, i.e., O man! which interpretation, seeming not easily to be accounted for from the Arabic, is by a certain tradition deduced from the Ethiopic (Muham. Ibn Abdul Baki, ex trad. Acremæ Ibn Abi Suhán); or for Ta, i.e., tread, telling us that Muhammad, being employed in watching and prayer the night this passage was revealed, stood on one foot only, but was hereby commanded to ease himself by setting both feet to the ground. Others fancy the first letter stands for Túba, beatitude; and the latter for Hawiyat, the name of the lower apartment of hell. Tah is also an interjection commanding silence, and may properly enough be used in this place.”—Sale.
[(6) ]If thou pronounce . . . with a loud voice. One of the points of controversy between the orthodox or Sunni sect of Muslims and the Indian Wahábís, commonly called Ghair Mukallad, or Anti-authoritists (i.e., they refuse to recognise the authority of the Muslim fathers, so to speak, regarding the Qurán alone as inspired; tradition having merely historical value in matters of doctrine), is that the latter repeat the “Amen” with a loud voice, while the orthodox say it in a whisper. This verse favours the orthodox view, though the example of the Prophet (as witnessed to by this verse) is on the side of the Wahábís. The latter, of course, deny that pronouncing the name of God is here prohibited.
[(7) ]He hath most excellent names. See chap. vii. 181, and xvii. 110, and notes there.
[(8) ]“The relation of the story of Moses, which takes up the greatest part of this chapter, was designed to encourage Muhammad, by his example, to discharge the prophetic office with firmness of mind, as being assured of receiving the like assistance from God; for it is said this chapter was one of the first that were revealed.”
[(9) ]When he saw fire. Compare this and the following verses with Exod. iii. 1-6, to see how far the Qurán comes short of confirming the Pentateuch.
[(10) ]A direction in our way. “The commentators say that Moses having obtained leave of Shuaib, or Jethro, his father-in-law, to visit his mother, departed with his family from Midian towards Egypt; but coming to the valley of Tuwá, wherein Mount Sinai stands, his wife fell in labour, and was delivered of a son in a very dark and snowy night; he had also lost his way, and his cattle were scattered from him; when on a sudden he saw a fire by the side of a mountain, which, on his nearer approach, he found burning in a green bush.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(12) ]Put off thy shoes. “This was a mark of humility and respect: though some fancy there was some uncleanness in the shoes themselves, because they were made of the skin of an ass not dressed.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(16) ]Deliberately done, literally, performs with effort.
[(19) ]Other uses. “As to drive away wild beasts from my flock, to carry my bottle of water on, to stick up and hang my upper garment on, to shade me from the sun; and several other uses enumerated by the commentators.”—Sale.
[(21) ]A serpent. “Which was at first no bigger than the rod, but afterwards swelled to a prodigious size.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(22) ]Fear not. “When Moses saw the serpent move about with great nimbleness, and swallow stones and trees, he was greatly terrified, and fled from it; but recovering his courage at these words of God, he had the boldness to take the serpent by the jaws.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(23) ]See note on chap. vii. 108.
[(26) ]Enlarge my breast. Abdul Qádir says this expression means that he should have control of his temper.
[(28) ]Loose the knot of my tongue. “For Moses had an impediment in his speech, which was occasioned by the following accident. Pharaoh one day carrying him in his arms when a child, he suddenly laid hold of his beard, and plucked it in a very rough manner, which put Pharaoh into such a passion that he ordered him to be put to death: but Aishía, his wife, representing to him that he was but a child, who could not distinguish between a burning coal and a ruby, he ordered the experiment to be made; and a live coal and a ruby being set before Moses, he took the coal and put it into his mouth, and burnt his tongue; and thereupon he was pardoned. This is a Jewish story a little altered. (Vide Shalsh. Hakkab., p. 11.)”—Sale.
[(30) ]A counsellor. The original word is wazír, meaning a prime minister. The Qurán here (vers. 31-35) contradicts Exod. iv. 10-17.
[(38) ]“The commentators are not agreed by what means this revelation was made, whether by private inspiration, by a dream, by a prophet, or by an angel.”—Sale.
[(39) ]The ark. “The commentators say that his mother accordingly made an ark of the papyrus, and pitched it, and put in some cotton; and having laid the child therein, committed it to the river, a branch of which went into Pharaoh’s garden; that the stream carried the ark thither into a fishpond, at the head of which Pharaoh was then sitting with his wife Aishía, the daughter of Muzáhim; and that the king, having commanded that it be taken up and opened, and finding in it a beautiful child, took a fancy to it, and ordered it to be brought up.
[(41) ]One who will nurse. “The Muhammadans pretend that several nurses were brought, but the child refused to take the breast of any, till his sister Miriam, who went to learn news of him, told them she would find a nurse, and brought his mother.” — Sale, Baidháwi.
[(42) ]Some years. Baidháwi says ten years.
[(44) ]Thy brother. “Aaron being by this time come out to meet his brother, either by divine inspiration, or having notice of his design to return to Egypt.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(46) ]Peradventure he will consider. This contradicts Exod. iii. 19, 20.
[(50) ]Charge us with imposture. See note on chap. iii. p. 185.
[(53) ]The condition, i.e., “as to happiness or misery after death.”—Sale.
[(54-57) ]The discourse of Moses was of a kind with the preaching of Muhammad to the infidel Quraish.
[(59) ]See notes on chap. vii. pp. 124, 128.
[(61) ]Your solemn feast. “Which,” says Sale, “was probably the first day of their new year.”
[(63) ]Do not devise a lie. “By saying the miracles performed in his name are the effects of magic.”—Sale. This was the charge of the Quarish against Muhammad, who said his revelations were the product of magic.
[(65-81) ]See notes on parallel passage, chap. vii. 109-136.
[(79) ]A dry path. “The expositors add that the sea was divided into twelve separate paths, one for each tribe—a fable borrowed from the Jews (vide R. Eliezer, Pirke, chap. xlii).”— Sale.
[(82) ]Manna and quails. See note on chap. ii. 56.
[(83) ]Transgress not. “By ingratitude, excess, or insolent behaviour.”—Sale.
[(84) ]Repent . . . believe . . . and . . . do . . . right. See note on chap. ii. 61.
[(85) ]What caused thee to hasten. “For Moses, it seems, outwent the seventy elders who had been chosen in obedience to the divine command to accompany him to the mount, and appeared before God while they were at some, though no great distance, behind him.”—Sale.
[(87) ]A trial of thy people. “They continued in the worship of the true God for the first twenty days of Moses’ absence, which, by taking the nights also into their reckoning, they computed to be forty, and at their expiration concluded they had stayed the full time which Moses had commanded them, and so fell into the worship of the golden calf.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(88) ]Moses returned, viz., “after he had completed his forty days’ stay in the mount, and had received the law.”—Sale.
[(89) ]A most excellent promise, i.e., “the law, containing a light and certain direction to guide you in the right way.”—Sale.
[(90) ]Ornaments of the people. “These ornaments were rings, bracelets, and the like, which the Israelites had borrowed of the Egyptians, under pretence of decking themselves out for some feast, and had not returned to them; or, as some think, what they had stripped from the dead bodies of the Egyptians cast on shore by the sea, and al Sámirí, conceiving them unlawful to be kept, and the occasion of much wickedness, persuaded Aaron to let him collect them from the people; which being done, he threw them all into the fire to melt them down into one mass.”
[(91) ]No answer. But in ver. 90 and chap. vii. 148 it is said that the calf lowed, and all the commentators, copying the Jewish traditions, say that Sámirí casting into the molten metal some of the dust of the feet of Gabriel’s horse (see note below in ver. 96), caused the calf to live and to low. Both Jews and Muslims have failed to perceive that the sin of the Israelites was not due to any kind of Satanic beguilement, but due to a return to the Egyptian idolatry from which they had been so lately delivered.
[(94) ]What hindered thee. “By these words Moses reprehends Aaron for not seconding his zeal in taking arms against the idolaters, or for not coming after him to the mountain to acquaint him with their rebellion.”—Sale.
[(95) ]Drag me not by the beard. See note on chap. vii. 150.
[(96) ]Which they saw not, viz., “that the messenger sent to thee from God was a pure spirit, and that his footsteps gave life to whatever they touched, being no other than the Angel Gabriel mounted on the horse of life, and therefore I made use of the dust of his feet to animate the molten calf. It is said al Sámirí knew the angel, because he had saved and taken care of him when a child, and exposed by his mother for fear of Pharaoh.”—Sale, Baidháwi, Jaláluddín.
[(97) ]Thou shalt say . . . touch me not. “Lest they infect thee with a burning fever, for that was the consequence of any man’s touching him, and the same happened to the persons he touched; for which reason he was obliged to avoid all communication with others, and was also shunned by them, wandering in the desert like a wild beast.”—Baidháwi.
[(101) ]A grievous burden. See note on chap. vi. 30.
[(102) ]Grey eyes. “For this with the Arabs is one mark of an enemy, or a person they abominate; to say a man has a black liver (though I think we express our aversion by the term white-livered), reddish whiskers, and grey eyes, being a periphrasis for a foe, and particularly a Greek, which nation were the most inveterate enemies of the Arabs, and have usually hair and eyes of those colours. The original word, however, signifies also those who are squint-eyed, or even blind of a suffusion.”—Sale, Baidháwi, Jauhari in Lex.
[(103) ]Ye have not tarried in the grave. See notes on chap. xxiii. 103-115, and x. 46.
[(105) ]See Prelim. Disc., p. 135.
[(107) ]The angel who will call. See Prelim. Disc., p. 120.
[(108) ]Intercession. See notes on chap. ii. 47, vii. 50, and xix. 90. The idea of intercession in the Christian sense is logically inconsistent with Islám. The ground of salvation, according to the Qurán, is the confession of faith in the unity of the Godhead and the apostleship of Muhammad, accompanied by the performance of the duties of Islám, viz., prayer, fasting at stated periods, giving of legal alms, and performance of pilgrimage to Makkah. The obedience required is outward and formal, and the penalties of transgression are all such as are easily atoned for by repentance (see note, chap. ii. 199), or the pronouncing of the declaration of the divine unity. For a man to be a Muslim is to be sure of final salvation. Purgatorial sufferings are to be endured (according to the teaching of tradition), but these will all be ended before the final day of judgment. On the contrary, all infidels, hypocrites, and apostates are absolutely condemned to eternal suffering. Now, it is difficult to see what end could be served by the intercession of Muhammad in the judgment-day. So far as true Muslims are concerned, they need no intercession. If it is to bestow a higher degree of reward on certain Muslims than on others, as has been claimed by some of my Muhammadan friends, then the reply still remains, that such rewards will be, as they only can be, strictly in accord with divine justice, otherwise God would show partiality.
[(110) ]Their faces shall be humbled. “The original word properly expresses the humility and dejected looks of captives in the presence of their conqueror.”—Sale.
[(112, 113) ]“Muhammad is here commanded not to be impatient at any delay in Gabriel’s bringing the divine revelations, or not to repeat it too fast after the angel, so as to overtake him before he had finished the passage. But some suppose the prohibition relates to the publishing any verse before the same was perfectly explained to him.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(114) ]He forgot. “Adam’s so soon forgetting the divine command has occasioned some Arab etymologists to derive the word Insân, i.e., man, from nasiya, to forget, and has also given rise to the following proverbial saying, Awwalo násin awwalo’nnási; that is, The first forgetful person was the first of men, alluding to the like sound of the words.”—Sale.
[(115-122) ]See notes on parallel passages in chap. ii. 34-37, and chap. vii. 11-26.
[(124) ]Blind. See Prelim. Disc., p. 139.
[(128) ]In whose dwellings they walk. “Seeing the footsteps of their destruction; as of the tribes of Ád and Thamúd.”—Sale.
[(130) ]Extremities of the day, i.e., “evening and morning, which times are repeated as the principal hours of prayer. But some suppose these words intend the prayer of noon; the first half of the day ending, and the second half beginning, at that time.”—Sale, Baidháwi, Jaláluddín.
[(131) ]The splendour, i.e., “do not envy or covet their pomp and prosperity in this world.”—Sale. See notes on chap. xv. 88.
[(132) ]We will provide for thee. Muir applies this verse and the one preceding to the straitened circumstances of Muhammad just before the flight to Madína (Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. p. 231).
[(133) ]Hath not a plain declaration, &c. The plain meaning of this passage is, that the narratives of sacred history contained in the Qurán are in accord with the sacred records of the Jewish Scriptures.