Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XXVIII: ENTITLED SURAT AL QASAS (THE STORY). Revealed at Makkah. - The Quran, vol. 3
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CHAPTER XXVIII: ENTITLED SURAT AL QASAS (THE STORY). 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 QASAS (THE STORY).
The object of this chapter, as we are informed in ver. 2, was to instruct the faithful by a rehearsal of the history of Moses and Pharaoh. This history, which occupies a considerable portion of the chapter, is related with considerable detail up to the point of Moses’s visit to Pharaoh. The account of Moses’s rejection and of Pharaoh’s destruction occupies but a very few verses, in which the story of Haman and his destruction seems to be mixed up with that of Pharaoh. From this it may fairly be inferred that Muhammad had as yet received but little information concerning the latter part of the history of Moses and Pharaoh. This is confirmed by the story of Korah and his rebellion, as related in vers. 76-82, where both the place and the cause of rebellion are misrepresented in a way that leaves the impression that the writer is retailing the substance of a story learned from some ignorant Jewish informer.
So far as the story of Moses and the Egyptians is concerned, it is fair to say that it furnished Muhammad with a model prophet he ever afterwards strove to imitate. Indeed, such imitation is plainly visible in this chapter. The Quraish are represented as rejecting both Moses and Muhammad—both the Pentateuch and the Qurán—on the ground that they, i.e., Moses and Muhammad, assisted one another. Muhammad accepts the companionship of Moses, and challenges the Quraish to produce a book as good as either that of Moses or his own Qurán, thereby very clearly attesting the credibility of the Pentateuch then extant among the Jews, which may account for the fact that certain Jews became his followers about this time (vers. 52, 53).
The latter portion of the chapter is occupied with the usual Makkan discourse of the preacher. Idolaters are warned and threatened with destruction, while the joys of Paradise are held up for the encouragement of the humble and penitent believer.
Probable Date of the Revelations.
It is generally agreed that this chapter belongs to Makkah. One writer, Umar Bín Muhammad, thinks it was written on the journey from Makkah to Madína. This opinion is based upon a mistaken interpretation of ver. 85.
The opinion of those who regard vers. 52 and 53 as Madínic is unworthy of serious consideration, because Muhammad’s experience at Madína would have prevented his declaring that the Jews and Christians believed the Qurán to be the Word of God.
Vers. 76-82 are not a misplaced interpolation, as some have thought, but simply illustrate the fate of those who are mentioned in vers. 74, 75, as is evident by reference to ver. 83 seq.
The chapter being Makkan, the next point is to fix its place there. Believing, as we may, that the story of Moses and Pharaoh here reflects the condition of the Muslims at the time it was enunciated, we may gather that there were two parties (ver. 3); that efforts were made to crush the weaker party (vers. 3, 4); that Muhammad was regarded as a sorcerer and deceiver (ver. 36); that Muhammad and his Qurán were treated with great contempt, because of the opposition made to the national idolatry (vers. 38, 39); that Muhammad was charged with forging the Qurán, but received encouragement from certain Jewish, and perhaps Christian, converts (vers. 48-53), and that the opposition to the Muslims was led by some powerful person at Makkah, probably Abu Lahab, as appears from the story of Qárún (vers. 76-82). To this may be added the allusion (in vers. 85-88) to the lapse of Muhammad, and to the Quraishite hatred of Muslims in ver. 69. These circumstances of the Muslims fit in very well with the history of Islám about the beginning of the fifth year of Muhammad’s ministry, i.e.,b.h. 9.
IN THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD.
∥ (1) T. S. M. Theseare the signs of the perspicuous book. (2) We will dictate unto thee, O Muhammad, some parts of the history of Moses and Pharaoh, with truth; for the sake of people who believe. (3) Now Pharaoh lifted himself up in the land of Egypt; and he caused his subjects to be divided into parties; he weakened one party of them by slaying their male children and preserving their females alive; for he was an oppressor. (4) And we were minded to be gracious unto those who were weakened in the land, and to make them models of religion; and to make them the heirs of the wealth of Pharaoh and his people,(5) and to establish a place for them in the earth; and to show Pharaoh and Hámán and their forces that destruction of their kingdom and nation by them which they sought to avoid. (6) And we directed the mother of Moses by revelation, saying, Give him suck; and if thou fearest for him, cast him into the river; and fear not, neither be afflicted; for we will restore him unto thee, and will appoint him one of our apostles. (7) And when she had put the child in the ark, and had cast it into the river, the family of Pharaoh took him up; providence designing that he should become an enemy and a sorrow unto them. Verily Pharaoh and Hámán and their forces were sinners. (8) And the wife of Pharaoh said, This child is a delight of the eye to me and to thee: kill him not; peradventure it may happen that he may be serviceable unto us; or we may adopt him for our son. And they perceived not the consequence of what they were doing.(9) And the heart of the mother of Moses became oppressed with fear; and she had almost discovered him, had we not armed her heart with constancy, that she might be one of those who believe the promises of God. (10) And she said unto his sister, Follow him. And she watched him at a distance; and they perceived it not.(11) And we suffered him not to take the breasts of the nurses who were provided before his sister came up; and she said, Shall I direct you unto some of his nation, who will nurse him for you, and will be careful of him? And, at their desire, she brought his mother to them. (12) So we restored him to his mother, that her mind might be set at ease, and that she might not be afflicted; and that she might know that the promise of Godwas true: but the greater part of mankind know not the truth.
∥ (13) And when Moses had attained his age of full strength, and was become a perfect man, we bestowed on him wisdom and knowledge: and thus do we reward the upright. (14) And he went into the city at a time when the inhabitants thereof observed not what passed in the street: and he found therein two men fighting; the one being of his own party, and the other of his enemies. And he who was of his party begged his assistance against him who was of the contrary party; and Moses struck him with his fist, and slew him: but being sorry for what had happened, he said, This is of the work of the devil; for he is a seducing and an open enemy. (15)And he said, O Lord, verily I have injured my own soul: wherefore forgive me. So God forgave him; for he is ready to forgive, and merciful. (16) He said, O Lord, by the favours with which thou hast favoured me, I will not be an assistant to the wicked for the future. (17) And the next morning he was afraid in the city, and looked about him, as one apprehensive of danger: and behold he whom he had assisted the day before cried out unto him for help a second time. But Moses said unto him, Thou art plainly a quarrelsome fellow. (18) And when he sought to lay hold on him who was an enemy unto them both, he said, O Moses, dost thou intend to kill me, as thou killedst a man yesterday? Thou seekest only to be an oppressor in the earth, and seekest not to be a reconciler of quarrels.(19) And a certain man came from the farther part of the city, running hastily, and said, O Moses, verily the magistrates are deliberating concerning thee, to put thee to death: depart therefore; I certainly advise thee well. (20) Wherefore he departed out of the city in great fear, looking this way and that, lest he should be pursued. And he said, O Lord, deliver me from the unjust people.
∥ (21) And when he was journeying towards Madian, he said, Peradventure my Lord will direct me in the right way. (22) And when he arrived at the water of Madian, he found about the well a company of men who were watering their flocks.(23) And he found, besides them, two women, who kept off their sheep at a distance. And he said unto them, What is the matter with you? They answered, We shall not water our flock until the shepherds shall have driven away theirs; for our father is an old man, stricken in years. (24) So Moses watered their sheep for them, and afterwards retired in the shade, saying, O Lord, verily I stand in need of the good which thou shalt send down unto me. (25) And one of the damsels came unto him, walking bashfully, and said, My father calleth thee, that he may recompense thee for the trouble which thou hast taken in watering our sheep for us. And when he was come unto Shuaib, and had told him the story of his adventures, he said unto him, Fear not: thou hast escaped from unjust people. (26) And one of the damsels said, My father, hire him for certain wages: the best servant thou canst hire is an able and trusty person. (27)And Shuaib said unto Moses, Verily I will give thee one of these my two daughters in marriage, on condition that thou serve me for hire eight years; and if thou fulfil ten years, it is in thine own breast; for I seek not to impose a hardship on thee: and thou shalt find me, if God please, a man of probity. (28) Moses answered, Let this be the covenant between me and thee: whichsoever of the two terms I shall fulfil, let it be no crime in me if I then quit thy service; and God is witness of that which we say.
∥ (29) And when Moses had fulfilled the term, and was journeying with his family towards Egypt, he saw fire on the side of Mount Sinai. And he said unto his family, Tarry ye here; for I see fire: peradventure I may bring you thence some tidings of the way, or at least a brand out of the fire, that ye may be warmed. (30) And when he was come thereto, a voice cried unto him from the right side of the valley, in the sacred bottom, from the tree, saying, O Moses, verily I am God, the Lord of all creatures: (31) cast down now thy rod. And when he saw it that it moved, as though it had been a serpent, he retreated and fled, and returned not. And God said unto him, O Moses, draw near, and fear not; for thou art safe. (32) Put thy hand into thy bosom, and it shall come forth white, without any hurt: and draw back thy hand unto thee which thou stretchest forth for fear. These shall be two evident signs from thy Lord, unto Pharaoh and his princes; for they are a wicked people. (33)Moses said, O Lord, verily I have slain one of them; and I fear they will put me to death: (34) but my brother Aaron is of a more eloquent tongue than I am; wherefore send him with me for an assistant, that he may gain me credit; for I fear lest they accuse me of imposture. (35)God said, We will strengthen thine arm by thy brother, and we will give each of you extraordinary power, so that they shall not come up to you, in our signs. Ye two, and whoever shall follow you, shall be the conquerors. (36) And when Moses came unto them with our evident signs, they said, This is no other than a deceitful piece of sorcery: neither have we heard of anything like this among our forefathers. (37) And Moses said, My Lord best knoweth who cometh with a direction from him, and who shall have success in this life as well as the next: but the unjust shall not prosper. (38) And Pharaoh said, O princes, I did not know that ye had any other god besides me. Wherefore do thou, O Hámán, burn me clay into bricks; and build me a high tower, that I may ascend unto the God of Moses: for I verily believe him to be a liar. (39) And both he and his forces behaved themselves insolently and unjustly in the earth; and imagined that they should not be brought before us to be judged. (40) Wherefore we took him and his forces, and cast them into the sea. Behold, therefore, what was the end of the unjust. (41) And we made them deceitful guides, inviting their followers to hell-fire; and on the day of resurrection they shall not be screened from punishment. (42) We pursued them with a curse in this life; and on the day of resurrection they shall be shamefully rejected.
∥ (43) And we gave the book of the law unto Moses, after we had destroyed the former generations, to enlighten the minds of men, and for a direction and a mercy; that peradventure they might consider. (44) Thou, O Prophet, wast not on the west side of Mount Sinai when we delivered Moses his commission: neither wast thou one of those who were present at his receiving it:(45) but we raised up several generations after Moses; and life was prolonged unto them. Neither didst thou dwell among the inhabitants of Madian, rehearsing unto them our signs; but we have sent thee fully instructed in every particular.(46)(46) Nor wast thou present on the side of the mount when we called unto Moses; but thou art sent as a mercy from thy Lord; that thou mightest preach unto a people to whom no preacher hath come before thee, that peradventure they may be warned.
∥ (47) And lest, if a calamity had befallen them, for that which their hands had previously committed, they should have said, O Lord, since thou hast not sent an apostle unto us, that we might follow thy signs and become true believers, are we not excusable?(48) Yet when the truth is come unto them from before us, they say, Unless he receive the same power to work miracles as Moses received, we will not believe. Have they not likewise rejected the revelation which was heretofore given unto Moses? They say, Two cunning impostures have mutually assisted one another: and they say, Verily we reject them both. (49) Say, Produce therefore a book from God which is more right than these two, that I may follow it; if ye speak truth. (50) But if they return thee no answer, know that they only follow their own desires: and who erreth more widely from the truth than he who followeth his own desire, without a direction from God? Verily God directeth not the unjust people.
∥ (51) And now have we caused our word to come unto them, that they may be admonished. (52) They unto whom we have given the Scriptures which were revealed before it believe in the same; (53) and when it is read unto them say, We believe therein; it is certainly the truth from our Lord: verily we were Muslims before this. (54) These shall receive their reward twice, because they have persevered, and repel evil by good, and distribute alms out of that which we have bestowed on them; (55) and when they hear vain discourse, avoid the same, saying, We have our works, and ye have your works; peace be on you; we covet not the acquaintance of the ignorant. (56) Verily thou canst not direct whom thou wilt: but God directeth whom he pleaseth; and he best knoweth those who will submit to be directed. (57)The Makkans say If we follow the same direction with thee, we shall be forcibly expelled our land. Have we not established for them a secure asylum, to which fruits of every sort are brought, as a provision for our bounty? but the greater part of them do not understand. (58) How many cities have we destroyed whose inhabitants lived in ease and plenty? and these their dwellings are not inhabited after them, unless for a little while; and we were the inheritors of their wealth. (59) But thy Lord did not destroy those cities until he had sent unto their capital an apostle to rehearse our signs unto them: neither did we destroy those cities unless their inhabitants were injurious to theirapostle. (60) The things which are given you are the provisions of this present life, and the pomp thereof; but that which is with God is better and more durable: will ye not therefore understand?
∥ (61) Shall he, then, unto whom we have promised an excellent promise of future happiness, and who shall attain the same, be as he on whom we have bestowed the provision of this present life, and who, on the day of resurrection. shall be one of those who are delivered up to eternal punishment? (62) On that day God shall call unto them, and shall say; Where are my partners, which ye imagined to be so?(63). And they upon whom the sentence of damnation shall be justly pronounced shall answer, These, O Lord,are those whom we seduced: we seduced them as we also had been seduced: but now we clearly quit them, and turn unto thee. They did not worship us, but their own lusts.(64) And it shall be said unto the idolaters, Call now upon those whom ye associated with God: and they shall call upon them, but they shall not answer them; and they shall see the punishment prepared for them, and shall wish that they had submitted to be directed. (65) On that day God shall call unto them, and shall say, What answer did ye return to our messengers? (66)(66) But they shall not be able to give an account thereof on that day; neither shall they ask one another for information. (67) Howbeit whoso shall repent and believe, and shall do that which is right, may expect to be happy. (68) Thy Lord createth what he pleaseth; and chooseth freely: but they have no free choice. Praise be unto God; and far be he removed from the idols which they associate with him!(69) Thy Lord knoweth both the secret malice which their breasts conceal, and the openhatred which they discover. (70) He is God: there is no God but he. Unto him is the praise due, both in this life and in that which is to come: unto him doth judgment belong; and before him shall ye be assembled at the last day. (71) Say, What think ye? If God should cover you with perpetual night until the day of resurrection, what god besides God would bring you light? Will ye not therefore hearken? (72) Say, What think ye? If God should give you continual day until the day of resurrection, what god besides God would bring you night, that ye might rest therein? Will ye not therefore consider? (73) Of his mercy he hath made for you the night and the day, that ye may rest in the one, and may seek to obtain provision for yourselves of his abundance by your industry in the other; and that ye may give thanks. (74) On a certain day God shall call unto them, and shall say, Where are my partners which ye imagined to share the divine power with me?(75) And we will produce a witness out of every nation, and will say, Bring hither your proof of what ye have asserted. And they shall know that the right isGod’salone; and the deities which they have devised shall abandon them.
∥ (76) Qárún was of the people of Moses; but he behaved insolently towards them: for we had given him so much treasure, that his keys would have loaded several strong men. When his people said unto him, Rejoice not immoderately; for God loveth not those who rejoice in their riches immoderately:(77) but seek to attain by means of the wealth which God hath given thee, the future mansion of paradise. And forget not thy portion in this world; but be thou bounteous unto others, as God hath been bounteous unto thee; and seek not to act corruptly in the earth, for God loveth not the corrupt doers. (78) He answered, I have received these riches, only because of the knowledge which is with me. Did he not know that God had already destroyed, before him, several generations, who were mightier than he in strength, and had amassed more abundance of riches? And the wicked shall not be asked to discover their crimes. (79) And Qárún went forth unto his people in his pomp. And they who loved this present life said, Oh that we had the like wealth as hath been given unto Qárún? verily he is master of a great fortune. (80) But those on whom knowledge had been bestowed answered, Alas for you! the reward of Godin the next life will be better unto him who shall believe and do good works: but none shall attain the same except those who persevere with constancy. (81) And we caused the ground to cleave in sunder, and to swallow up him and his palace: and he had no forces to defend him besides God; neither was he rescued from punishment. (82) And the next morning those who had coveted his condition the day before said, Aha! verily God bestoweth abundant provision on such of his servants as he pleaseth, and he is sparing unto whom he pleaseth. Unless God had been gracious unto us, certainly the earth had swallowed us up also. Aha! the unbelievers shall not prosper.
∥ (83) As to this future mansion of Paradise, we will give it unto them who seek not to exalt themselves in the earth or to do wrong, for the happy issue shall attend the pious. (84) Whoso doth good shall receive a reward which shall exceed the merit thereof; but as to him who doth evil, they who work evil shall be rewarded according to the merit only of that which they shall have wrought. (85) Verily he who hath given thee the Qurán for a rule of faith and practice will certainly bring thee back home unto Makkah. Say, My Lord best knoweth who cometh with a true direction and who is in a manifest error. (86) Thou didst not expect that the book of the Qurán should be delivered unto thee, but thou hast received it through the mercy of thy Lord. Be not therefore assisting to the unbelievers, (87) neither let them turn thee aside from the signs of God, after they have been sent down unto thee, and invite men unto thy Lord. And be not thou an idolater, (88) neither invoke any other god together with the trueGod: there is no god but he. Everything shall perish except himself: unto him belongeth judgment, and before him shall ye be assembled at the last day.
[(1) ]T. S. M. See Prelim. Disc., p. 100.
[(2) ]This verse would seem to indicate that this chapter contains the earliest account of Moses and Pharaoh given by Muhammad in his Qurán. With this view agrees the custom of Muhammad to give first a detailed account and afterwards a more cursory statement of the Scripture history he picked up from his Jewish informants.
[(3) ]In parties, i.e., “either into companies, that they might the better attend his order and perform the services he exacted of them; or into opposite factions, to prevent their attempting anything against them, to deliver themselves from his tyranny.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(4) ]Heirs. See notes on chaps. vii. 137 and xxvi, 59.
[(5) ]Hámán. “This name is given to Pharaoh’s chief minister; from whence it is generally inferred that Muhammad has here made Haman, the favourite of Ahasuerus, king of Persia, and who indisputably lived many ages after Moses, to be that prophet’s contemporary. But how probable soever this mistake may seem to us, it will be very hard, if not impossible, to convince a Muhammadan of it; for, as has been observed in a parallel case (see chap. iii. 35), two very different persons may bear the same name.”—Sale.
[(6) ]One of our apostles. “It is related that the midwife appointed to attend the Hebrew woman, terrified by a light which appeared between the eyes of Moses at his birth, and touched with an extraordinary affection for the child, did not discover him to the officers, so that his mother kept him in her house, and nursed him three months; after which it was impossible for her to conceal him any longer, the king then giving orders to make the searches more strictly.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(8) ]Kill him not. “This sudden affection or admiration was raised in them either by his uncommon beauty, or by the light which shone on his forehead, or because, when they opened the ark, they found him sucking his thumb, which supplied him with milk.”—Sale, Jaláluddín.
[(9) ]The mother of Moses. Comp.chap. xx. 40, 41, and Exod. chap. ii.
[(11) ]We suffered him not . . . the breasts, &c. See note on chap. xx. 41. Muhammad is indebted for this to the Jews. See Arnold’s Islám and Christianity, p. 138.
[(14) ]A time when, &c., viz., “at noon, at which time it is usual, in those countries, for people to retire to sleep; or, as others rather suppose, a little within night.”—Sale.
[(15, 16) ]See notes on chaps. xx. 41 and xxvii. 19.
[(18) ]Dost thou intend to kill me, &c. “Some suppose these words to have been spoken by the Israelite, who, because Moses had reprimanded him, imagined he was going to strike him; and others, by the Egyptian, who either knew or suspected that Moses had killed his countryman the day before.”—Sale.
[(19) ]A certain man, &c. “This person, says the tradition, was an Egyptian, and Pharaoh’s uncle’s son, but a true believer, who finding that the king had been informed of what Moses had done, and designed to put him to death, gave him immediate notice to provide for his safety by flight.”—Sale.
[(21) ]The Lord will direct, &c. “For Moses knew not the way, and coming to a place where three roads met, committed himself to the guidance of God, and took the middle road, which was the right; Providence likewise so ordering it that his pursuers took the other two roads, and missed him. Some say he was led by an angel in the appearance of a traveller.”—Sale, Baidháwi, Jaláluddín.
[(23) ]Two women. Comp. Exod. ii. 16, 17, where the daughters are said to be seven. It is probable that Muhammad here confounds this story with that of Jacob and the two daughters of Laban (Gen. xxix. 16-30). This view seems to be confirmed by the conditions of marriage mentioned in ver. 27.
[(24) ]Moses watered their sheep for them. “By rolling away a stone of a prodigious weight, which had been laid over the mouth of the well by the shepherds, and required no less than seven men (though some name a much larger number) to remove it.”—Sale, Jaláluddín, Yahya.
[(25) ]One of the damsels. “This was Sifúra (or Zipporah) the elder, or, as others suppose, the younger daughter of Shuaib, whom Moses afterwards married.”—Sale.
[(26) ]Trusty person. “The girl, being asked by her father how she knew Moses deserved this character, told him that he had removed the vast stone above mentioned without any assistance; and that he looked not in her face, but held down his head till he had heard her message, and desired her to walk behind him, because the wind ruffled her garments a little, and discovered some part of her legs.”—Sale, Baidháwi, Jaláluddín.
[(27) ]See above on ver. 23.
[(29) ]When Moses had fulfilled the term, &c., viz., “the longest term of ten years. The Muhammadans say, after the Jews, that Moses received from Shuaib the rod of the prophets (which was a branch of a myrtle of Paradise, and had descended to him from Adam) to keep off the wild beasts from his sheep, and that this was the rod with which he performed all those wonders in Egypt.”—Sale.
[(32) ]Draw back thy hand, &c. “Literally, thy wing; the expression alludes to the action of birds, which stretch forth their wings to fly away when they are frightened, and fold them together again when they think themselves secure.”—Sale.
[(33-37) ]See on chaps. xx. 26-34 and xxvi. 11-22.
[(38) ]Any other god, &c. See chap. xxvi. 28.
[(44-46) ]Thou . . . wast not, &c., i.e., these facts have been made known to thee by inspiration. Yet, as Arnold (Islám and Christianity, chap. iv.) so conclusively shows, this information was obtained from Jewish sources. See note in Muir’s Life of Mohamet, vol. ii. p. 189.
[(46) ]A people to whom no preacher hath come, &c. “That is, to the Arabians, to whom no prophet had been sent, at least since Ismaíl.”—Sale. See chap. xiv. 4, and note there. The allusion is probably to the “generation” of Arabs living in Muhammad’s time.
[(48) ]Unless he receive the same power, &. See notes on chaps. ii. 118, 119, and iii. 184, and references there.
[(49) ]Produce . . . a book . . . more right than these two, i.e., than the Pentateuch and the Qurán. This passage very clearly attests the genuineness of the Pentateuch extant in Muhammad’s day. Indeed, we are here told that there is no difference between its inspired character and that of the Qurán.
[(52) ]See note on chap. vi. 20.
[(53) ]We were Muslims before this. “Holding the same faith in fundamentals, before the revelation of the Qurán, which we receive because it is consonant to the Scriptures, and attested to by them. The passage intends those Jews and Christians who had embraced Muhammadism.”—Sale.
[(54) ]These shall receive their reward twice, i.e., Jews and Christians who become Muslims receive a double reward, because they accept, both the former Scriptures and the Qurán. As a matter of fact however, no man can intelligently receive both, and for this reason Muslims reject the Bible, though thereby guilty of transgressing the precept taught here.
[(55) ]Peace be on you. “This is intended here not as a salutation, but as a waiving all further discourse and communication with the idolaters.”—Sale.
[(57) ]We shall be forcibly expelled, &c. “This objection was made by Al Hárith Ibn Othmán Ibn Naufal Ibn Abd Manáf, who came to Muhammad and told him that the Quarish believed he preached the truth, but were apprehensive that, if they made the Arabs their enemies by quitting their religion, they would be obliged likewise to quit Makkah, being but a handful of men in comparison to the whole nation.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(58) ]A little while. “That is, for a day, or a few hours only, while travellers stay there to rest and refresh themselves; or, as the original may also signify, unless by a few inhabitants; some of those ancient cities and dwellings being utterly desolate, and others thinly inhabited.”—Sale
[(63-66). ]See chap. x. 29-32, and xxv. 18-20.
[(66) ]But they shall not . . . give an account. Literally, “ ‘The account thereof shall be dark unto them;’ for the consternation they shall then be under will render them stupid, and unable to return an answer.”—Sale.
[(69) ]Conceal . . . discover, i.e., of hatred and contempt for Muhammad, and the believers, and the Qurán.—Tafsír-i-Raufi.
[(75) ]A witness out of every nation. A witness is a prophet like unto Muhammad sent to testify against idolaters and preach the faith of Islám. According to the teaching of vers. 47 and 59, God cannot justly condemn a people until such prophets have appeared among them. See note on chap. xvi. 86-91.
[(76) ]Qárún. “The commentators say Qárún was the son of Yashar (or Izhár), the uncle of Moses, and consequently make him the same with the Korah of the Scriptures. This person is represented by them as the most beautiful of the Israelites, and so far surpassing them all in opulency, that the riches of Qárún have become a proverb. The Muhammadans are indebted to the Jews for this last circumstance, to which they have added several other tables: for they tell us that he built a large palace overlaid with gold, the doors thereof were of massy gold: that he became so insolent, because of his immense riches, as to raise a sedition against Moses; though some pretend the occasion of his rebellion to have been his unwillingness to give alms, as Moses had commanded; that one day when that prophet was preaching to the people, and, among other laws which he published, declared that adulterers should be stoned, Qárún asked him, What if he should be found guilty of the same crime? to which Moses answered, that in such case he would suffer the same punishment; and thereupon Kárún produced a harlot whom he had hired to swear that Moses had lain with her, and charged him publicly with it; but on Moses adjuring the woman to speak the truth, her resolution failed her, and she confessed that she was suborned by Qárún to accuse him wrongfully; that then God directed Moses, who had complained to him of this usage, to command the earth what he pleased, and it should obey him; whereupon he said, ‘O earth, swallow them up!’ and that immediately the earth opened under Qárún and his confederates, and swallowed them up, with his palace and all his riches. There goes a tradition that as Qárún sunk gradually into the ground, first to his knees, then to his waist, then to his neck, he cried out four several times, ‘O Moses, have mercy on me!’ but that Moses continued to say, ‘O earth, swallow them up,’ till at last he wholly disappeared: upon which God said to Moses, ‘Thou hadst no mercy on Qárún, though he asked pardon of thee four times; but I would have had compassion on him, if he had asked pardon of me but once.’ ”—Sale, Baidháwi, Jaláluddín.
[(77) ]By means of the wealth, &c. “For some say he was the most learned of all the Israelites, and the best versed in the law, after Moses and Aaron; others pretend he was skilled in chemistry, or in merchandising, or other arts of gain, and others suppose (as the Jews also fable) that he found out the treasures of Joseph in Egypt.”—Sale, Jaláluddín.
[(79) ]Qárún went . . . in his pomp. “It is said he rode on a white mule adorned with trappings of gold, and that he was clothed in purple, and attended by four thousand men, all well mounted and richly dressed.”—Sale.
[(85) ]“This verse, some say, was revealed to Muhammad when he arrived at Juhsa, in his flight from Makkah to Madína, to comfort him and still his complaints.”—Sale.
[(86) ]Thou didst not expect, &c. This verse presents Muhammad’s claim to inspiration under a new aspect. He is called unexpectedly as Moses was. See notes on vers. 44-46.
[(87) ]Neither let them turn thee aside, &c. This probably refers to the lapse of Muhammad. See note on chap. xxii. 53.