Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XXXIII.: ENTITLED SURAT UL AHZÁB (THE CONFEDERATES). Revealed at Madína. - The Quran, vol. 3
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CHAPTER XXXIII.: ENTITLED SURAT UL AHZÁB (THE CONFEDERATES). Revealed at Madína. - 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 UL AHZÁB (THE CONFEDERATES).
This chapter takes its name from the confederated tribes, which, at the instigation of the exiled Bani Nadhír, attacked Madína, and were repulsed at the memorable battle of the Ditch.
A portion of the chapter deals with the conduct of the disaffected inhabitants of Madína at the time of the siege, and the subsequent destruction of the Bani Qainuqáa. The principal interest of the chapter surrounds those passages relating to Muhammad’s marriage with the divorced wife of his adopted son, Zaid Ibn Hárith. The question of the character of these revelations is discussed in the notes. Suffice it to say here, that in all the range of the Qurán there is no chapter affording such decisive evidence of Muhammad’s imposture as this one does, and nowhere does the sensuality and carnal jealousy of the Arabian prophet receive such a clear exposure.
Probable Date of the Revelations.
According to Noëldeke, the passages relating to the battle of the Ditch, the conduct of the disaffected, and the destruction of the Qainuqáa (vers. 9-29), certainly belong to a.h. 5. Those referring to Muhammad’s marriage with Zainab (vers. 1-5 and 35-40), and those which relate to the guests who stayed too long at Zainab’s wedding (vers. 53-58), belong to about the same, though a somewhat later, date, yet to a time previous to the war with the Bani Mustaliq, as is evident from the part played by Zainab in the affair of Ayesha (see introduction to chap. xxiv.) To about the same date may be referred vers. 6-8; vers. 30-34 relating to a disagreement between Muhammad and his wives, probably due to the introduction of Zainab into the harem; and vers. 49-51, which give permission to Muhammad to marry slaves, he having taken to himself Raihána after the defeat and slaughter of the Bani Qainuqáa. The remaining verses (41-48, 52, and 69-73), excepting vers. 52 and 59, perhaps belong to the same period as does the greater part of the chapter. Ver. 52, however, must be referred to a period later than a.h. 7, when Muhammad’s harem was completed by his marriage with Maimúna (see Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. iv. p. 89). Ver. 59 also must be placed as late as a.h. 8, if not later, inasmuch as Muhammad’s daughter, Umm Kulthúm, died at this time, leaving Fátima alone, who would be spoken of in the singular number, whereas here the plural is used. It therefore appears that, excepting these two verses, the whole chapter may be referred to the year a.h. 5.
IN THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD.
∥ (1) O Prophet, fear God, and obey not the unbelievers and the hypocrites: verily God is knowing and wise. (2) But follow that which is revealed unto thee from thy Lord; for God is well acquainted with that which ye do; (3) and put thy trust in God; for God is a sufficient protector. (4)God hath not given a man two hearts within him; neither hath he made your wives (some of whom ye divorce, regarding them thereafter as your mothers) your true mothers; nor hath he made your adopted sons your true sons. This is your saying in your mouths: but God speaketh the truth; and he directeth the right way. (5) Call such as are adopted the sons of their natural fathers: this will be more just in the sight of God. And if ye know not their fathers, let them be as your brethren in religion, and your companions: and it shall be no crime in you that ye err in this matter; but that shall be criminal which your hearts purposely design; for God is gracious and merciful. (6) The Prophet is nigher unto the true believers than their own souls; and his wives are their mothers. Those who are related by consanguinity are nigher of kin the one of them unto the others, according to the book of God, than the other true believers, and the Muhájjirún: unless that ye do what is fitting and reasonable to your relations in general. This is written in the book of God.(7)Remember when we accepted their covenant from the prophets, and from thee, O Muhammad, and from Noah, and Abraham, and Moses, and Jesus the son of Mary, (8) and received from them a firm covenant; that God may examine the speakers of truth concerning their veracity: and he hath prepared a painful torment for the unbelievers.
∥ (9) O true believers, remember the favour of God towards you, when armies of infidels came against you, and we sent against them a wind, and hosts of angels which ye saw not: and God beheld that which ye did, (10) when they came against you from above you, and from below you, and when your sight became troubled, and your hearts came even to your throats for fear, and ye imagined of Godvarious imaginations. (11) There were the faithful tried, and made to tremble with a violent trembling. (12) And when the hypocrites, and those in whose heart was an infirmity, said, God and his Apostle have made you no other than a fallacious promise. (13) And when a party of them said, O inhabitants of Yathrib, there is no place of security for you here; wherefore return home. And a part of them asked leave of the Prophet to depart, saying, Verily our houses are defenceless and exposed to the enemy: but they were not defenceless; and their intention was no other than to fly. (14) If the city had been entered upon them by the enemy from the parts adjacent, and they had been asked to desert the true believers and to fight against them, they had surely consented thereto; but they had not, in such case, remained in the same, but a little while. (15) They had before made a covenant with God that they would not turn their backs; and the performance of their covenant with God shall be examined into hereafter.(16) Say, Flight shall not profit you, if ye fly from death or from slaughter; and if it would, yet shall ye not enjoy this world but a little. (17) Say, Who is he who shall defend you against God, if he is pleased to bring evil on you, or is pleased to show mercy towards you? They shall find none to patronise or protect them besides God.(18)God already knoweth those among you who hinder others from following his Apostle, and who say unto their brethren, Come hither unto us; and who come not to battle, except a little; (19) being covetous towards you: but when fear cometh on them, thou seest them look unto thee for assistance, their eyes rolling about like the eyes of him who fainteth by reason of the agonies of death: yet when their fear is past they inveigh against you with sharp tongues; being covetous of the best and most valuable part of the spoils. These believe not sincerely; wherefore God hath rendered their works of no avail; and this is easy with God.(20) They imagined that the confederates would not depart and raise the siege; and if the confederates should come another time, they would wish to live in the deserts among the Arabs who dwell in tents, and there to inquire after news concerning you; and although they were with you this time, yet they fought not, except a little.
∥ (21) Ye have in the Apostle of God an excellent example, unto him who hopeth in God and the last day, and remembereth God frequently. (22) When the true believers saw the confederates, they said, This is what God and his Apostle have foretold us; and God and his Apostle have spoken the truth: and it only increased their faith and resignation. (23) Of the true believers some men justly performed what they had promised unto God; and some of them have finished their course, and some of them wait the same advantage; and they changed not their promise by deviating therefrom in the least; (24) that God may reward the just performers of their covenant for their fidelity, and may punish the hypocritical, if he pleaseth, or may be turned unto them; for Godis ready to forgive, and merciful. (25) God hath driven back the infidels in their wrath: they obtained no advantage; and God was a sufficient protector unto the faithful in battle; for God is strong and mighty. (26) And he hath caused such of those who have received the Scriptures as assisted the confederates to come down out of their fortresses, and he cast into their hearts terror and dismay: a part of them ye slew, and a part ye made captives; (27) and God hath caused you to inherit their land, and their houses, and their wealth, and a land on which ye have not trodden; for God is almighty.
∥ (28) O Prophet, say unto thy wives, If ye seek this present life and the pomp thereof, come, I will make a handsome provision for you, and I will dismiss you with an honourable dismission; (29) but if ye seek God and his Apostle, and the life to come, verily God hath prepared for such of you as work righteousness a great reward. (30) O wives of the Prophet, whosoever of you shall commit a manifest wickedness, the punishment thereof shall be doubled unto her twofold, and this is easy with God:
∥ (31) But whosoever of you shall be obedient unto God and his Apostle, and shall do that which is right, we will give her her reward twice, and we have prepared for her an honourable provision in Paradise.(32) O wives of the Prophet, ye are not as other women: if ye fear God, be not too complaisant in speech, lest he should covet in whose heart is a disease of incontinence; but speak the speech which is convenient. (33) And sit still in your houses; and set not out yourselves with the ostentation of the former time of ignorance; and observe the appointed times of prayer and give alms, and obey God and his Apostle; for God desireth only to remove from you the abomination of vanity, since ye are the household of the Prophet, and to purify you by a perfect purification. (34) And remember that which is read in your houses of the signs of God and of the wisdom revealed in the Qurán; for God is clear-sighted, and well acquainted with your actions.
∥ (35) Verily the Muslims of either sex, and the true believers of either sex, and the devout men and the devout women, and the men of veracity and the women of veracity, and the patient men and the patient women, and the humble men and the humble women, and the almsgivers of either sex, and the men who fast and the women who fast, and the chaste men and the chaste women, and those of either sex who remember God frequently; for them hath God prepared forgiveness and a great reward. (36) It is not fit for a true believer of either sex, when God and his Apostle have decreed a thing, that they should have the liberty of choosing a different matter of their own: and whoever is disobedient unto God and his Apostle, surely erreth with a manifest error. (37) And remember when thou saidst to him unto whom God had been gracious, and on whom thou also hadst conferred favours, Keep thy wife to thyself, and fear God: and thou didst conceal that in thy mind which God had determined to discover, and didst fear men; whereas it was more just that thou shouldest fear God. But when Zaid had determined the matter concerning her, and had resolved to divorce her, we joined her in marriage unto thee, lest a crime should be charged on the true believers, in marrying the wives of their adopted sons, when they have determined the matter concerning them; and the command of God is to be performed. (38) No crime is to be charged on the Prophet as to what God hath allowed him, conformable to the ordinance of God with regard to those who preceded him (for the command of God is a determinate decree), (39) who brought the messages of God, and feared him, and feared none besides God: and God is a sufficient accountant. (40) Muhammad is not the father of any man among you; but the Apostle of God and the seal of the prophets: and God knoweth all things.
∥ (41) O true believers, remember God with a frequent remembrance, and celebrate his praise morning and evening. (42) It is he who is gracious unto you, and his angels intercede for you, that he may lead you forth from darkness into light; and he is merciful towards the true believers. (43) Their salutation on the day whereon they shall meet him shall be, Peace! and he hath prepared for them an honourable recompense. (44) O Prophet, verily we have sent thee to be a witness, and a bearer of good tidings, and a denouncer of threats, (45) and an inviter unto God, through his good pleasure, and a shining light. (46) Bear good tidings therefore unto the true believers, that they shall receive great abundance from God. (47) And obey not the unbelievers and the hypocrites, and mind not their evil treatment, but trust in God; and God is a sufficient protector. (48) O true believers, when ye marry women who are believers, and afterwards put them away before ye have touched them, there is no term prescribed you to fulfil towards them after their divorce; but make them a present, and dismiss them freely with an honourable dismission. (49) O Prophet, we have allowed thee thy wives unto whom thou hast given their dower, and also the slaves which thy right hand possesseth, of the booty which God hath granted thee; and the daughters of thy uncle, and the daughters of thy aunts, both on thy father’s side and on thy mother’s side, who have fled with thee from Makkah, and any other believing woman, if she give herself unto the Prophet, in case the Prophet desireth to take her to wife. This is a peculiar privilege granted unto thee above the rest of the true believers. (50) We know what we have ordained them concerning their wives, and the slaves which their right hands possess: lest it should be deemed a crime in thee to make use of the privilege granted thee; for God is gracious and merciful.
∥ (51) Thou mayest postpone the turn of such of thy wives as thou shalt please, in being called to thy bed; and thou mayest take unto thee her whom thou shalt please, and her whom thou shalt desire of those whom thou shalt have before rejected: and it shall be no crime in thee. This will be more easy, that they may be entirely content, and may not be grieved, but may be well pleased with what thou shalt give every of them: God knoweth whatever is in your hearts; and God is knowing and gracious. (52) It shall not be lawful for thee to take other women to wife hereafter, nor to exchange any of thy wives for them, although their beauty please thee, except the slaves whom thy right hand shall possess: and God observeth all things. (53) O true believers, enter not the houses of the Prophet, unless it be permitted you to eat meat with him, without waiting his convenient time; but when ye are invited, then enter. And when ye shall have eaten, disperse yourselves, and stay not to enter into familiar discourse; for this incommodeth the Prophet. He is ashamed to bid you depart; but God is not ashamed of the truth. And when ye ask of the Prophet’s wives what ye may have occasion for, ask it of them from behind a curtain. This will be more pure for your hearts and their hearts. Neither is it fit for you to give any uneasiness to the Apostle of God, or to marry his wives after him for ever: for this would be a grievous thing in the sight of God. (54) Whether ye divulge a thing or conceal it, verily God knoweth all things. (55)It shall be no crime in them, as to their fathers, or their sons, or their brothers, or their brothers’ sons, or their sisters’ sons, or their women, or the slaves which their right hands possess, if they speak to them unveiled: and fear ye God; for God is witness of all things. (56) Verily God and his angels bless the Prophet. O true believers, do ye also bless him, and salute him with a respectful salutation. (57)As to those who offend God and his Apostle, God shall curse them in this world and in the next; and he hath prepared for them a shameful punishment. (58) And they who shall injure the true believers of either sex, without their deserving it, shall surely bear the guilt of calumny and a manifest injustice.
∥ (59) O Prophet, speak unto thy wives, and thy daughters, and the wives of the true believers, that they cast their outer garments over them when they walk abroad; this will be more proper, that they may be known to be matrons of reputation, and may not be affronted by unseemly words or actions.God is gracious and merciful. (60) Verily, if the hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is an infirmity, and they who raise disturbances in Madína, do not desist, we will surely stir thee up against them, to chastise them: henceforth they shall not be sufferedto dwell near thee therein, except for a little time,(61)and being accursed; wherever they are found they shall be taken, and killed with a general slaughter.
∥ (62)(62)According to the sentence of God concerning those who have been before; and thou shalt not find any change in the sentence of God.(63) Men will ask thee concerning the approach of the last hour; answer, Verily the knowledge thereof is with God alone; and he will not inform thee: peradventure the hour is nigh at hand.(64) Verily God hath cursed the infidels, and hath prepared for them a fierce fire, (65) wherein they shall remain for ever: they shall find no patron or defender. (66) On the day whereon their faces shall be rolled in hell-fire, they shall say, O that we had obeyed God, and had obeyed his Apostle! (67) And they shall say, O Lord, verily we have obeyed our lords and our great men, and they have seduced us from the right way. (68) O Lord, give them the double of our punishment, and curse them with a heavy curse!
∥ (69) O true believers, be not as those who injured Moses; but God cleared him from the scandal which they had spoken concerning him; and he was of great consideration in the sight of God. (70) O true believers, fear God, and speak words well directed, (71) that God may correct your words for you, and may forgive you your sins: and whoever shall obey God and his Apostle shall enjoy great felicity. (72) We proposed the faith unto the heavens, and the earth, and the mountains; and they refused to undertake the same, and were afraid thereof; but man undertook it: verily he was unjust to himself, and foolish; (73) that God may punish the hypocritical men and the hypocritical women, and the idolaters and the idolatresses; and that God may be turned unto the true believers, both men and women: for God is gracious and merciful.
[(1) ]Obey not, &c. “It is related that Abu Sufián, Akramah Ibn Ábi Jahl, and Abul A’war al Salamí, having an amicable interview with Muhammad, at which were present also Abdullah Ibn Ubbai, Muattib Ibn Kushair, and Jadd Ibn Qais, they proposed to the Prophet, that if he would leave off preaching against the worship of their gods, and acknowledge them to be mediators, they would give him and his Lord no further disturbance; upon which these words were revealed.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(4) ]“This passage was revealed to abolish two customs among the old Arabs. The first was their manner of divorcing their wives when they had no mind to let them go out of the house or to marry again; and this the husband did by saying to the woman, ‘Thou art henceforward to me as the back of my mother;’ after which words pronounced he abstained from her bed, and regarded her in all respects as his mother, and she became related to all his kindred in the same degree as if she had been really so. The other custom was the holding their adopted sons to be as nearly related to them as their natural sons, so that the same impediments of marriage arose from that supposed relation in the prohibited degrees as it would have done in the case of a genuine son. The latter Muhammad had a peculiar reason to abolish, viz., his marrying the divorced wife of his freedman Zaid, who was also his adopted son; of which more will be said by and by. By the declaration which introduces this passage, that God has not given a man two hearts, is meant that a man cannot have the same affection for supposed parents and adopted children as for those who are really so. They tell us the Arabs used to say of a prudent and acute person that he had two hearts; whence one Abu Mámir, or, as others write, Jamíl Ibn Asad al Fihrí, was surnamed Dhul qalbain, or the man with two hearts.”—Sale, Baidháwi, Jaláluddín.
[(5) ]That ye err, i.e., if ye err in the manner of addressing adopted sons through ignorance or mistake.
[(6) ]The Prophet is nigher, &c. “Commanding them nothing but what is for their interest and advantage, and being more solicitous for their present and future happiness even than themselves; for which reason he ought to be dear to them, and deserves their utmost love and respect. In some copies these words are added, ‘And he is a father unto them;’ every prophet being the spiritual father of his people, who are therefore brethren. It is said that this passage was revealed on some of Muhammad’s followers telling him, when he summoned them to attend him in the expedition of Tabúq, that they would ask leave of their fathers and mothers.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(7) ]Their covenant. “Jaláluddín supposes this covenant was made when Adam’s posterity were drawn forth from his loins, and appeared before God like small ants (chap. vii. 173); but Marracci conjectures that the covenant here meant was the same which the Talmudists pretend all the prophets entered into with God on Mount Sinai, where they were all assembled in person with Moses (chap. iii. 80).”—Sale.
[(8) ]A firm covenant. “Whereby they undertook to execute their several commissions, and promised to preach the religion commanded them by God.”—Sale.
[(9) ]When armies came against you. “These were the forces of the Quraish and the tribe of Ghatfán, confederated with the Jews of al Nadhír and Quraidha, who besieged Madína to the number of twelve thousand men, in the expedition called the war of the Ditch.”—Sale.
[(10) ]From above . . . and . . . below. “The Ghatfánites pitched on the east side of the town, on the higher part of the valley, and the Quraish on the west side, on the lower part of the valley.”—Sale, Baidháwi, &c.
[(12) ]A fallacious promise. “The person who uttered these words, it is said, was Muattib Ibn Kushair, who told his fellows that Muhammad had promised them the spoils of the Persians and the Greeks, whereas now not one of them dared to stir out of their intrenchment.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(13) ]A party. “Aus Ibn Qaidhi and his adherents.”—Sale. The Tafsír-i-Raufi has it. “Aus Ibn Qabtí, Abu Arábah, and Ibn Ubbai.”
[(14) ]In the same, i.e., “in the city, or in their apostasy and rebellion, because the Muslims would surely succeed at last.”—Sale.
[(15) ]“The persons meant here were Banu, Hárith, &c., who having behaved very ill and run away on a certain occasion, promised they would do so no more.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(16) ]Flight shall not profit you, &c. See notes on chap. iii. 145, 155.
[(18) ]Except a little. “Either coming to the army in small numbers, or staying with them but a little while and then returning on some feigned excuse, or behaving ill in time of action. Some expositors take these words to be part of the speech of the hypocrites, reflecting on Muhammad’s companions for lying idle in the trenches, and not attacking the enemy.”—Sale.
[(19) ]Covetous towards you, i.e., “sparing of their assistance either in person or with their purse, or being greedy after the booty.”—Sale.
[(20) ]They would wish to live in the desert, “that they might be absent, and not obliged to go to war.”—Sale.
[(21) ]An excellent example, viz., “of firmness in time of danger, of confidence in the divine assistance, and of piety by fervent prayer for the same.”—Sale.
[(22) ]This is what God . . . foretold, viz., “that we must not expect to enter Paradise without undergoing some trials and tribulations (chap. xxix. 2). There is a tradition that Muhammad actually foretold this expedition of confederates some time before, and the success of it.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(23) ]Some . . . performed, &c. “By standing firm with the Prophet, and strenuously opposing the enemies of the true religion, according to their engagement.”—Sale.
[(26) ]Those who have received the Scriptures, &c. “These were the Jews of the tribe of Quraidha, who, though they were in league with Muhammad, had, at the incessant persuasion of Qááb Ibn Asad, a principal man among them, perfidiously gone over to his enemies in this war of the Ditch, and were severely punished for it. For the next morning, after the confederate forces had decamped, Muhammad and his men returned to Madína, and laying down their arms, began to refresh themselves after their fatigue; upon which Gabriel came to the Prophet and asked him whether he had suffered his people to lay down their arms when the angels had not laid down theirs; and ordering him to go immediately against the Quraidhites, assuring him that himself would lead the way. Muhammad, in obedience to the divine command, having caused public proclamation to be made that every one should pray that afternoon for success against the sons of Quraidha, set forward upon the expedition without loss of time; and being arrived at the fortress of the Quraidhites, besieged them for twenty-five days, at the end of which those people, being in great terror and distress, capitulated, and at length, not daring to trust to Muhammad’s mercy, surrendered at the discretion of Saad Ibn Muádh, hoping that he, being the prince of the tribe of Aus, their old friends and confederates, would have some regard for them. But they were deceived; for Saad, being greatly incensed at their breach of faith, had begged of God that he might not die of the wound he had received at the Ditch till he saw vengeance taken on the Quraidhites, and therefore adjudged that the men should be put to the sword, the women and children made slaves, and their goods divided among the Muslims; which sentence Muhammad had no sooner heard than he cried out ‘that Saad had pronounced the sentence of God;’ and the same was accordingly executed, the number of men who were slain amounting to six hundred, or, as others say, to seven hundred, or very near, among whom were Huyai Ibn Akhtab, a great enemy of Muhammad’s, and Qááb Ibn Asad, who had been the chief occasion of the revolt of their tribe: and soon after Saad, who had given judgment against them, died, his wound, which had been skinned over, opening again.”—Sale, Baidháwi, Abul Fida.
[(27) ]Their wealth. “Their immovable possessions Muhammad gave to the Muhájjirún, saying that the Ansárs were in their own houses, but that the others were destitute of habitations. The movables were divided among his followers, but he remitted the fifth part, which was usual to be taken in other cases (chap. viii. 2).”—Sale.
[(28) ]Say unto thy wives. “This passage was revealed on Muhammad’s wives asking for more sumptuous clothes and an additional allowance for their expenses: and he had no sooner received it than he gave them their option, either to continue with him or to be divorced, beginning with Ayesha, who chose God and his Apostle, and the rest followed her example; upon which the Prophet thanked them, and the following words were revealed, viz., ‘It shall not be lawful for thee to take other women to wife hereafter,’ &c. From hence some have concluded that a wife who has her option given her, and chooses to stay with her husband, shall not be divorced; though others are of a contrary opinion.”—Sale.
[(30) ]A manifest wickedness. The original word usually indicates incontinence.
[(31) ]We will give her her reward twice. “Once for her obedience, and a second time for her conjugal affection to the Prophet and handsome behaviour to him.”—Sale.
[(32) ]The veil of revelation is too thin to conceal the jealousy of the Prophet. After his experience in the case of Zainab, he had some reason to fear lest he might be unable to secure for his wives the treatment due to the mothers of the faithful. See above on ver. 6.
[(33) ]Times of ignorance. “That is, in the old time of idolatry. Some suppose the times before the Flood or the time of Abraham to be here intended, when women adorned themselves with all their finery, and went abroad into the streets to show themselves to the men.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(36) ]“This verse was revealed on account of Zainab (or Zenobia), the daughter of Jahash, and wife of Zaid, Muhammad’s freedman, whom the Prophet sought in marriage, but received a repulse from the lady and her brother Abdullah, they being at first averse to the match, for which they are here reprehended. The mother of Zainab, it is said, was Amína, the daughter of Abdulmutallib, and aunt to Muhammad.”—Sale, Baidháwi, Jaláluddín.
[(37) ]Him unto whom God had been gracious, viz., “Zaid Ibn Hárith, on whom God had bestowed the grace early to become a Muslim.”—Sale.
[(40) ]No term prescribed. “That is, ye are not obliged to keep them any certain time before ye dismiss them, as ye are those with whom the marriage has been consummated. See chap. v. 237.”—Sale.
[(49) ]Slaves . . . of the booty. “It is said, therefore, that the women slaves which he should buy are not included in this grant.”—Sale.
[(51) ]“By this passage some further privileges were granted to Muhammad; for whereas other men are obliged to carry themselves equally towards their wives (chap. iv. 3 and 128), in case they had more than one, particularly as to the duties of the marriage bed, to which each has a right to be called in her turn (which right was acknowledged in the most early ages, Gen. xxx. 14, &c.), and cannot again take a wife whom they have divorced the third time, till she has been married to another and divorced by him (chap. ii. 230), the Prophet was left absolutely at liberty to deal with them in these and other respects as he thought fit.”—Sale. And yet we are to believe that Muhammad was “not a sensualist or a voluptuary in the ordinary meaning of that term” (Bosworth Smith’s Mohammed and Mohammedanism, p. 135). One would like to see what definition this writer would put upon these words. If they do not apply to Muhammad “in the ordinary meaning,” it would be difficult to fix them upon any one of his followers at the present day.
[(52) ]“The commentators differ as to the express meaning of these words. Some think Muhammad was thereby forbidden to take any more wives than nine, which number he then had, and is supposed to have been his stint, as four was that of other men; some imagine that after this prohibition, though any of the wives he then had should die or be divorced, yet he could not marry another in her room; some think he was only forbidden from this time forward to marry any other woman than one of the four sorts mentioned in the preceding passage; and others are of opinion that this verse is abrogated by the two preceding verses, or one of them, and was revealed before them, though it be read after them.”—Sale, Baidháwi, Jaláluddín.
[(53) ]Enter not the houses, &c. See notes on chap. xxiv. 30.
[(55) ]See note on chap. xxiv. 31.
[(56) ]Salute him, &c. “Hence the Muhammadans seldom mention his name without adding, ‘On whom be the blessing of God and peace!’ or the like words.”—Sale.
[(57) ]This verse was sufficient to silence any risings of anger in the heart of Zaid, or of the followers of Muhammad generally, in respect to the marriage of Zainab, especially when we consider that the Apostle had now the power to verify the threatenings of God’s “curse in this world.” See below, on vers. 60-62.
[(58) ]“This verse was revealed, according to some, on occasion of certain hypocrites who had slandered Ali; or, according to others, on occasion of those who falsely accused Ayesha (chap. xxiv. 11, seq.), &c.”—Sale.
[(59) ]Outer garments. “The original word properly signifies the large wrappers, usually of white linen, with which the women in the East cover themselves from head to foot when they go abroad.”—Sale.
[(60-62) ]This fierce threat is directed against the hypocrites and disaffected citizens of Madína, and is in strong contrast with the meekness displayed at Makkah.
[(62) ]The sentence of God, &c. The commentators say that Moses and other prophets had received similar authority to punish the unbelievers.—Tafsír-i-Raufi.
[(63-68) ]Compare chap. xxv. 11-15.
[(69) ]Those who injured Moses. “The commentators are not agreed what this injury was. Some say that Moses using to wash himself apart, certain malicious people gave out that he had a rupture (or, say others, that he was a leper or an hermaphrodite), and for that reason was ashamed to wash with them; but God cleared him from this aspersion by causing the stone on which he had laid his clothes while he washed to run away with them into the camp, whither Moses followed it naked; and by that means the Israelites, in the midst of whom he was gotten ere he was aware, plainly perceived the falsehood of the report. Others suppose Qárún’s accusation of Moses is here intended (chap. xxviii. 76), or else the suspicion of Aaron’s murder, which was cast on Moses because he was with him when he died on Mount Hor; of which latter he was justified by the angels bringing his body and exposing it to public view, or, say some, by the testimony of Aaron himself, who was raised to life for that purpose.
[(72) ]Man undertook it. “By faith is here understood entire obedience to the law of God. which is represented to be of so high concern (no less than eternal happiness or misery depending on the observance or neglect thereof), and so difficult in the performance, that if God should propose the same on the conditions annexed to the vaster parts of the creation, and they had understanding to comprehend the offer, they would decline it, and not dare to take on them a duty, the failing wherein must be attended with so terrible a consequence; and yet man is said to have undertaken it, notwithstanding his weakness and the infirmities of his nature. Some imagine this proposal is not hypothetical, but was actually made to the heavens, earth, and mountains, which at their first creation were endued with reason, and that God told them he had made a law, and had created Paradise for the recompense of such as were obedient to it, and hell for the punishment of the disobedient; to which they answered they were content to be obliged to perform the services for which they were created, but would not undertake to fulfil the divine law on those conditions, and therefore desired neither reward nor punishment. They add that when Adam was created, the same offer was made to him, and he accepted it. The commentators have other explications of this passage, which it would be too prolix to transcribe.”—Sale, Jaláluddín, Baidháwi.