Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XXV: ENTITLED SURAT AL FURQÁN (THE ILLUMINATION). Revealed at Makkah. - The Quran, vol. 3
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CHAPTER XXV: ENTITLED SURAT AL FURQÁN (THE ILLUMINATION). 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 FURQÁN (THE ILLUMINATION).
The object of the revelations of this chapter is to rebuke the unbelief of the Quraish. They had charged Muhammad with being an impostor. His Qurán was stigmatised as a jumble of old stories, which he had learned from certain informants during the day, and wrote down in the night. The only reply given to these accusations is a denial, accompanied by a threatening of Divine judgment upon their unbelief. The fate of those who opposed the former prophets is recounted as a warning to the unbelieving people of Makkah, while the rewards of true believers are detailed as a comfort to the Prophet and his followers.
Here, as elsewhere, Muhammad is more successful in his arguments against idolatry than in defence of his prophetic claims. The passages setting forth the reasons why God alone should be worshipped are very noble and beautiful.
This chapter, while showing the stolid indifference and confident opposition of the Quraish, nowhere indicates any violence towards Muhammad or his followers. The idolaters are simply unbelievers, given over to their lusts, and utterly irreligious. The only thing noticeable beyond this in their opposition is their charging Muhammad with being an impostor. It was probably owing to this that Muhammad began to despair of their conversion (ver. 46), when he spoke of the infidels as “brute cattle,” though he at the same time expressed himself as earnestly desiring their conversion (ver. 59).
Probable Date of the Revelations.
The most that can be said of the date of the revelations of this chapter is, that they belong to an early period in Muhammad’s ministry at Makkah.
This is evident from the absence of any allusion to persecution on the part of the Quraish. Their opposition, however, had assumed a somewhat decided form, as we find that the unbelievers are called by hard names, as already remarked above. However, the Prophet still pleads with them in hope of their conversion. The revelations may therefore be assigned a place near the end of the first Makkan stage.
Some have imagined that vers. 43 and 44 were revealed at Tayif, but without reason. Others have fixed ver. 70 seq. at Madína, supposing the person alluded to there to be Wahshi, who slew Hamza at the battle of Ohod; but that verse is better understood as having a general reference.
IN THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD.
∥ (1)Blessed be he who hath revealed the Furqán unto his servant, that he may be a preacher to all creatures: (2) unto whom belongeth the kingdom of heaven and of earth: who hath begotten no issue; and hath no partner in his kingdom: who hath created all things, and disposed the same according to his determinate will. (3) Yet have they taken other gods besides him; which have created nothing, but are themselves created: (4) and are able neither to avert evil from, nor to procure good unto themselves; and have not the power of death, or of life, or of raising the dead.(5) And the unbelievers say, This Qurán is no other than a forgery which he hath contrived; and other people have assisted him therein: but they utter an unjust thing and a falsehood. (6) They also say, These are fables of the ancients, which he hath caused to be written down; and they are dictated unto him morning and evening. (7) Say, He hath revealed it who knoweth the secrets in heaven and earth: verily he is gracious and merciful. (8) And they say, What kind of apostle is this? He eateth food and walketh in the streets, as we do: unless an angel be sent down unto him, and become a fellow-preacher with him; (9) or unless a treasure be cast down unto him; or he have a garden, of the fruit whereof he may eat, we will not believe. The ungodly also say, Ye follow no other than a man who is distracted. (10) Behold what they liken thee unto. But they are deceived; neither can they find a just occasion to reproach thee.
∥ (11) Blessed be he who, if he pleaseth, will make for thee a better provision than this which they speak of; namely, gardens through which rivers flow: and he will provide thee palaces. (12) But they reject the belief of the hour of judgment as a falsehood: and we have prepared for him who shall reject the belief of that hour burning fire; (13) when it shall see them from a distant place, they shall hear it furiously raging and roaring. (14) And when they shall be cast, bound together, into a strait place thereof, they shall there call for death; (15) but it shall be answered them, Call not this day for one death, but call for many deaths. (16) Say, Is this better, or a garden of eternal duration, which is promised unto the pious? It shall be given unto them for a reward and a retreat: (17) therein shall they have whatever they please, continuing in the same for ever. This is a promise to be demanded at the hands of thy Lord.(18) On a certain day he shall assemble them, and whatever they worship, besides God; and shall say unto the worshipped, Did ye seduce these my servants; or did they wander of themselves from the right way? (19) They shall answer, God forbid! It was not fitting for us that we should take any protectors besides thee: but thou didst permit them and their fathers to enjoy abundance; so that they forgot thy admonition and became lost people. (20) And God shall say unto their worshippers, Now have these convinced you of falsehood in that which ye say; they can neither avert your punishment nor give you any assistance. (21) And whoever of you shall be guilty of injustice, him will we cause to taste a grievous torment. (22) We have sent no messengers before thee, but they ate food, and walked through the streets: and we make some of you an occasion of trial unto others. Will ye persevere with patience? since the Lord regardeth your perseverance.
∥ (23) They who hope not to meet us at the resurrection say, Unless the angels be sent down unto us, or we see our Lordhimself, we will not believe. Verily they behave themselves arrogantly, and have transgressed with an enormous transgression. (24) The day whereon they shall see the angels, there shall be no glad tidings on that day for the wicked; and they shall say, Be this removed far from us? and we will come unto the work which they shall have wrought, (25) and we will make it as dust scattered abroad. (26) On that day shall they who are destined to Paradise be more happy in an abode, and have a preferable place of repose at noon. (27) On that day the heaven shall be cloven in sunder by the clouds, and the angels shall be sent down, descending visibly therein. (28) On that day the kingdom shall of right belong wholly unto the Merciful; and that day shall be grievous for the unbelievers. (29) On that day the unjust person shall bite his hand for anguish and despair, and shall say, Oh that I had taken the way of truth with the Apostle! (30) Alas for me! Oh that I had not taken such a one for my friend! (31) He seduced me from the admonition of God after it had come unto me: for the devil is the betrayer of man. (32) And the Apostle shall say, O Lord, verily my people esteemed this Qurán to be a vain composition.(33) In like manner did we ordain unto every prophet an enemy from among the wicked: but thy Lord is a sufficient director and defender. (34) The unbelievers say, Unless the Qurán be sent down unto him entire at once, we will not believe. But in this manner have we revealed it, that we might confirm thy heart thereby, and we have dictated it gradually, by distinct parcels. (35) They shall not come unto thee with any strange question; but we will bring thee the truth in answer, and a most excellent interpretation. (36) They who shall be dragged on their faces into hell shall be in the worst condition, and shall stray most widely from the way of salvation.
∥ (37) We heretofore delivered unto Moses the book of the law; and we appointed him Aaron his brother for a counsellor. (38) And we said unto them, Go ye to the people who charge our signs with falsehood. And we destroyed them with a signal destruction. (39) And remember the people of Noah, when they accused our apostles of imposture; we drowned them, and made them a sign unto mankind. And we have prepared for the unjust a painful torment. (40)Remember also Ád and Thamúd, and those who dwelt at al Rass, and many other generations within this period.(41) Unto each of them did we propound examples for their admonition; and each of them did we destroy with an utter destruction. (42)The Quraish have passed frequently near the city which was rained on by a fatal rain; have they not seen where it once stood? Yet have they not dreaded the resurrection. (43) When they see thee they will receive thee only with scoffing, saying, Is this he whom God has sent as his apostle? (44) Verily he had almost drawn aside from the worship of our gods, if we had not firmly persevered in our devotion towards them. But they shall know hereafter, when they shall see the punishment prepared for them, who hath strayed more widely from the right path. (45) What thinkest thou? He who taketh his lust for his god; canst thou be his guardian? (46) Dost thou imagine that the greater part of them hear or understand? They are no other than like the brute cattle; yea, they stray more widely from the true path.
∥ (47) Dost thou not consider the works of thy Lord, how he stretcheth forth the shadow before sunrise? If he had pleased he would have made it immovable for ever. Then we cause the sun to rise, and to show the same, (48) and afterwards we contract it by an easy and gradual contraction. (49) It is he who hath ordained the night to cover you as a garment, and sleep to give you rest, and hath ordained the day for waking. (50) It is he who sendeth the winds, driving abroad the pregnant clouds, as the forerunners of his mercy: and we send down pure water from heaven, (51) that we may thereby revive a dead country, and give to drink thereof unto what we have created, both of cattle and men, in great numbers, (52) and we distribute the same among them at various times, that they may consider; but the greater part of men refuse to consider, only out of ingratitude. (53) If we had pleased we had sent a preacher unto every city; (54) wherefore, do not thou obey the unbelievers, but oppose them herewith with a strong opposition. (55) It is he who hath let loose the two seas; this fresh and sweet, and that salt and bitter; and hath placed between them a bar, and a bound which cannot be passed. (56) It is he who hath created man of water, and hath made him to bear the double relation of consanguinity and affinity; for thy Lord is powerful. (57) They worship, besides God, that which can neither profit them nor hurt them; and the unbeliever is an assistant of the devil against his Lord. (58) We have sent thee to be no other than a bearer of good tidings and a denouncer of threats. (59) Say, I ask not of you any reward for this my preaching, besides the conversion of him who shall desire to take the way unto his Lord.(60) And do thou trust in him who liveth and dieth not, and celebrate his praise; (he is sufficiently acquainted with the faults of his servants;) who hath created the heavens and the earth, and whatever is between them, in six days, and then ascended his throne: the Merciful. Ask now the knowing concerning him. (61) When it is said unto the unbelievers, Adore the Merciful, they reply, And who is the Merciful? Shall we adore that which thou commandest us? And this precept causeth them to fly the faster from the faith.(62) Blessed be he who hath placed the twelve signs in the heavens, and hath placed therein a lamp by day, and the moon which shineth by night!
∥ (63) It is he who hath ordained the night and the day to succeed each other, for the observation of him who will consider, or desireth to show his gratitude. (64) The servants of the Merciful are those who walk meekly on the earth, and when the ignorant speak unto them, answer, Peace; (65) and who pass the night adoring their Lord, and standing up to pray unto him, (66) and who say, O Lord, avert from us the torment of hell, for the torment thereof is perpetual; verily the same is a miserable abode and a wretched station, (67) and who, when they bestow, are neither profuse nor niggardly, but observe a just medium between these; (68) and who invoke not another god together with the trueGod; neither slay the soul which God hath forbidden to be slain, unless for a just cause, and who are not guilty of fornication. But he who shall do this shall meet the reward of his wickedness; (69) his punishment shall be doubled unto him on the day of resurrection, and he shall remain therein covered with ignominy for ever:(70) except him who shall repent and believe, and shall work a righteous work, unto them will God change their former evils into good; for God is ready to forgive and merciful. (71) And whoever repenteth and doth that which is right, verily he turneth unto God with an acceptable conversion. (72) And they who do not bear false witness, and when they pass by vain discourse, pass by the same with decency; (73) and who, when they are admonished by the signs of their Lord, fall not down as if they were deaf and blind, but stand up and are attentive thereto, (74) and who say, O Lord, grant us of our wives and our offspring such as may be the satisfaction of our eyes, and make us patterns unto those who fear thee.(75) These shall be rewarded with the highest apartments in Paradise, because they have persevered with constancy, and they shall meet therein with greeting and salutation; (76) they shall remain in the same for ever; it shall be an excellent abode and a delightful station. (77) Say, My Lord is not solicitous on your account, if ye do not invoke him; ye have already charged his Apostle with imposture, but hereafter shall there be a lasting punishment inflicted on you.
[(1) ]The Furqán. The Qurán. See Prelim. Disc., p. 97; also note on chap. xxi. 49, where the Pentateuch is called by this name.
[(2) ]Begotten no issue. See note on chap. xxiii. 92.
[(3) ]Themselves created. “Being either the heavenly bodies or idols, the works of men’s hands.”—Sale. What follows rather points to dumb idols only.
[(5) ]Other people have assisted him. “See chap. xvi. 105. It is supposed the Jews are particularly intended in this place, because they used to repeat passages of ancient history to Muhammad, on which he used to discourse and make observations.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(6) ]These charges were never fairly refuted. The only answer is the assertion of the following verse.
[(8) ]He eateth food, &c. “Being subject to the same wants and infirmities of nature, and obliged to submit to the same low means of supporting himself and his family, with ourselves. The Makkans were acquainted with Muhammad and with his circumstances and ways of life too well to change their old familiarity into the reverence due to the messenger of God: for a prophet hath no honour in his own country.”—Sale.
[(9) ]These words were probably said with reference to the Prophet’s description of Paradise. Compare with verses 11 and 12 following.
[(14) ]A strait place. Strait by reason of the number of them. See note on chap. ii. 38.
[(17) ]See note on chap. iii. 15.
[(18) ]Did ye seduce, &c. The objects of worship intended here seem to be the angels or holy men. The passage condemns the worship of walís and pírs or saints, so prevalent among the Muslims of the present day.
[(22) ]An occasion of trial. “Giving occasion of envy, repining, and malice; to the poor, mean, and sick, for example, when they compare their own condition with that of the rich, the noble, and those who are in health; and trying the people to whom prophets are sent, by those prophets.”—Sale, Baidháwi, Jaláluddín.
[(24) ]They shall see the angels. “At their death or at the resurrection.”—Sale.
[(26) ]At noon. “For the business of the day of judgment will be over by that time; and the blessed will pass their noon in Paradise, and the damned in hell.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(27) ]The heavens shall be cloven, i.e., “they shall part and make way for the clouds which shall descend with the angels bearing the books wherein every man’s actions are recorded.”—Sale.
[(29) ]The unjust person. “It is supposed by some that these words particularly relate to Utbá Ibn Ábi Muít, who used to be much in Muhammad’s company, and having once invited him to an entertainment, the Prophet refused to taste of his meat unless he would profess Islám, which accordingly he did. Soon after, Utbá meeting Ubbá Ibn half, his intimate friend, and being reproached by him for changing his religion, assured him that he had not, but had only pronounced the profession of faith to engage Muhammad to eat with him, because he could not for shame let him go out of his house without eating. However, Ubbá protested that he would not be satisfied unless he went to Muhammad and set his foot on his neck and spit in his face, which Utbá, rather than break with his friend, performed in the public hall, where he found Muhammad sitting; whereupon the Prophet told him that if ever he met him out of Makkah he would cut off his head. And he was as good as his word; for Utbá being afterwards taken prisoner at the battle of Badr, had his head struck off by Ali at Muhammad’s command. As for Ubbá, he received a wound from the Prophet’s own hand at the battle of Ohod, of which he died at his return to Makkah.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(30) ]Such an one. “According to preceding note, this was Utbá Ibn Kalf.”—Sale.
[(33) ]In like manner. See note on chap. xxiii. 35-43.
[(34) ]Unless the Qurán, &c. “As were the Pentateuch, Psalms, and Gospel, according to the Muhammadan notion; whereas it was twenty-three years before the Qurán was completely revealed. See Prelim. Disc., p. 107.”—Sale.
[(35) ]We will bring thee the truth in answer. The theory of inspiration here announced was just suited to Muhammad’s purposes. Did he require divine sanction for any measure? A new revelation could easily be obtained according to custom. Did he need time to give a considerate reply to his enemies? Such reply could be given after consultation with Gabriel. Did any command prove impracticable or impolitic under new circumstances? A divine message abrogating it could be easily obtained. Can any reader of the Qurán fail to see that such use was made of his claim to inspiration? If so, how can we be expected to believe Muhammad to be guiltless of the charge of imposture so constantly brought against him?
[(40, 41) ]See note on chap. xxiii. 35-43.
[(42) ]The city. Sodom, passed on the way to Syria.
[(45) ]Canst thou be his guardian? i.e., “dost thou expect to reclaim such an one from idolatry and infidelity?”—Sale.
[(50) ]Forerunners of his mercy. “See chap. vii. 58. There is the same various reading here as is mentioned in the notes to that passage.”—Sale.
[(51) ]And give to drink. “That is, to such as live in the dry deserts, and are obliged to drink rain-water, which the inhabitants of towns and places well watered have no occasion to do.”—Sale.
[(52) ]Out of ingratitude. “Or out of infidelity; for the old Arabs used to think themselves indebted for their rains, not to God, but to the influence of some particular stars.” See Prelim. Disc., p. 36.—Sale.
[(53) ]A preacher unto every city. “And had not given thee, O Muhammad, the honour and trouble of being a preacher to the whole world in general.”—Sale.
[(54) ]Herewith, i.e., with the Qurán. Brinckman says, “It may have been this verse which made Múáwiyah think of tying the Qurán to a lance at his battle with Ali.”—Notes on Islám, p. 151.
[(55) ]Two seas. Some suppose the allusion is to the division of salt and fresh water at the mouths of rivers like the Euphrates, Nile, &c.—Tafsír-i-Raufi.
[(56) ]Of water. See note on chap. xxiv. 44.
[(57) ]An assistant of the devil. “Joining with him in his rebellion and infidelity. Some think Abu Jahl is particularly struck at in this passage. The words may also be translated, ‘The unbeliever is contemptible in the sight of his Lord.’ ”—Sale.
[(59) ]Who shall desire, &c. “Seeking to draw near unto him, by embracing the religion taught by me his Apostle, which is the best return I expect from you for my labours. The passage, however, is capable of another meaning, viz., that Muhammad desires none to give but him who shall contribute freely and voluntarily towards the advancement of God’s true religion.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(60) ]Six days. See notes on chaps. vii. 55, x. 3, and comp. chap. xli. 8-11.
[(62) ]This is the prayer of Muhammad, but Muslims understand it to be introduced by the word say understood. See introduction to chap. i.
[(64) ]Place. “Not a salutation, but a waiving all further intercourse.”—Sale.
[(67) ]See chap. xvii. 29.
[(70) ]Change former evils into good. “Blotting out their former rebellion, on their repentance, and confirming and increasing their faith and obedience.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(71-76) ]This passage teaches that salvation is to be attained by repentance and good works. See note on chap. iii. 31.