Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XLIII.: ENTITLED SURAT AL ZUḲHRÁF (THE ORNAMENTS OF GOLD). Revealed at Makkah. - The Quran, vol. 4
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CHAPTER XLIII.: ENTITLED SURAT AL ZUḲHRÁF (THE ORNAMENTS OF GOLD). Revealed at Makkah. - Mohammed, The Quran, vol. 4 
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 ZUḲHRÁF (THE ORNAMENTS OF GOLD).
Although the faith of Christians is alluded to in this chapter, the contents seem to have been solely intended for the instruction and warning of the idolaters of Makkah. The exposure of their idolatry is clear and convincing, while the truth of the new religion is everywhere assumed. The worship of female deities, who were called by the Arabs “daughters of God,” is visited with scathing irony. “When one of them,” says the revelation, “hath the news brought of the birth of a child of that sex, which they attribute unto the Merciful as his similitude, his face becometh black, and he is oppressed with sorrow!”
The allusion made to the Christian faith, though intended to be a reply to the Quraish, who had compared the worship of their deities with the Christian worship of Jesus, yet contains a distinct denial of the divinity of the Son of Mary. The Gospel of Jesus, according to Muhammad, was “Fear God and obey me: verily God is my Lord and your Lord; wherefore worship him: this is the right way.”
The close of the chapter indicates that while Muhammad had no doubt about the triumph of God’s cause, yet he despaired of the conversion of his townsmen (vers. 39-41, 88, 89). They have ears, but they hear not. He cries out, “O Lord, verily these are people who believe not.” To which the Lord replies, “Therefore turn aside from them; and say, Peace.” They are now rejected of God and his Prophet as reprobates.
Probable Date of the Revelations.
There can be no doubt that the whole of this chapter must be referred to Makkah. The imagination of the traditionists that ver. 44 was enunciated at Jerusalem during the celebrated night-journey (Rodwell, note in loco), is refuted by the absence of any proof that such a journey was ever performed.
As to the date, aside from the general style of the contents, we have, in the last verse, a distinct allusion to a breach between Muhammad and the Quraish. That this was not the final breach, when Muhammad determined to leave Makkah and go to Madína, is evident from the absence of any allusion to persecution of the Muslims. It is probable, therefore, that the allusion here refers to Muhammad’s withdrawal with his followers to the house of Arqám to escape the taunts and threatened violence of the Quraish. This understanding of this passage would relegate this chapter to the fourth year of Muhammad’s ministry (b.h. 9), with which the style of the contents very well agrees. Noeldeke, however, places it somewhat later, about the beginning of the fifth year of Muhammad’s call.
IN THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD.
∥ (1) H. M. By the perspicuous book; (2) verily we have ordained the same an Arabic Qurán that ye may understand: (3) and it is certainly written in the original book, kept with us, being sublime and full of wisdom. (4) Shall we therefore turn away from you the admonition, and deprive you thereof, because ye are a people who transgress? (5) And how many prophets have we sent among those of old? (6) and no prophet came unto them but they laughed him to scorn: (7) wherefore we destroyed nations who were more mighty than these in strength; and the example of those who were of old hath been already set before them. (8) If thou ask them who created the heavens and the earth, they will certainly answer, The mighty, the wise God created them: (9) who hath spread the earth as a bed for you, and hath made you paths therein, that ye may be directed: (10) and who sendeth down rain from heaven by measure, whereby we quicken a dead country; (so shall ye be brought forth from your graves:) (11) and who hath created all the various species of things, and hath given you ships and cattle, whereon ye are carried; (12) that ye may sit firmly on the backs thereof, and may remember the favour of your Lord, when ye sit thereon, and may say, Praise be unto him, who hath subjected these unto our service! for we could not have mastered them by our own power: (13) and unto our Lord shall we surely return. (14) Yet have they attributed unto him some of his servants as his offspring: verily man is openly ungrateful. (15) Hath God taken daughters out of those beings which he hath created, and hath he chosen sons for you? (16)(16) But when one of them hath the news brought of the birth of a child of that sex, which they attribute unto the Merciful as his similitude, his face becometh black, and he is oppressed with sorrow.
∥ (17) Do they therefore attribute unto God female issue, which are brought up among ornaments, and are contentious without cause? (18) And do they make the angels, who are the servants of the Merciful, females? Were they present at their creation? Their testimony shall be written down, and they shall be examined concerning the same on the day of judgment. (19) And they say, If the Merciful had pleased, we had not worshipped them. They have no knowledge herein: they only utter a vain lie. (20) Have we given them a book of revelations before this; and do they keep the same in their custody? (21) But they say, Verily we found our fathers practising a religion, and we are guided in their footsteps. (22) Thus we sent no preacher before thee unto any city, but the inhabitants thereof, who lived in affluence, said, Verily we found our fathers practising a religion, and we tread in their footsteps. (23) And the preacher answered, What, although I bring you a more right religion than that which ye found your fathers to practise? And they replied, Verily we believe not that which ye are sent to preach.(24) Wherefore we took vengeance on them: and behold what hath been the end of those who accused our apostles of imposture.
∥ (25) Remember when Abraham said unto his father and his people, Verily I am clear of the gods which ye worship, (26) except him who hath created me; for he will direct me aright. (27) And he ordained this to be a constant doctrine among his posterity, that they should be turned from idolatry to the worship of the only true God. (28) Verily I have permitted these Makkans and their fathers to live in prosperity, until the truth should come unto them, and a manifest apostle; (29) but now the truth is come unto them, they say, This is a piece of sorcery, and we believe not therein. (30) And they say, Had this Qurán been sent down unto some great man of either of the two cities, we would have received it.(31) Do they distribute the mercy of they Lord? We distribute the necessary provision among them in this present life, and we raise some of them several degrees above the others, that the one of them may take the other to serve him: and the mercy of thy Lord is more valuable than the riches which they gather together. (32) If it were not that mankind would have become one sect of infidels, verily we had given unto those who believe not in the Merciful roofs of silver to their houses, and stairs of silver by which they might ascend thereto,(33) and doors ofsilver to their houses, and couches of silver for them to lean on; (34) and ornaments of gold: for all this is the provision of the present life; but the next life with thy Lordshall be for those who fear him.
∥ (35) Whoever shall withdraw from the admonition of the Merciful, we will chain a devil unto him, and he shall be his inseparable companion: (36) (and the devils shall turn them aside from the way of truth; yet they shall imagine themselves to be rightly directed;) (37) until, when he shall appear before us at the last day, he shall say unto the devil, Would to God that between me and thee there was the distance of the east from the west! (38) Oh how wretched a companion art thou! But wishes shall not avail you on this day, since ye have been unjust; for ye shall be partakers of the same punishment. (39) Canst thou, O Prophet, make the deaf to hear, or canst thou direct the blind, and him who is in a manifest error? (40) Whether we take thee away, we will surely take vengeance on them; (41) or whether we cause thee to see the punishment with which we have threatened them executed, we will certainly prevail over them. (42) Wherefore hold fast the doctrine which hath been revealed unto thee; for thou art in a right way; (43) and it is a memorial unto thee and thy people, and hereafter shall ye be examined concerning your observance thereof.(44) And ask our apostles whom we have sent before thee whether we have appointed gods for them to worship besides the Merciful.
∥ (45) We formerly sent Moses with our signs unto Pharaoh and his princes, and he said, Verily I am the apostle of the Lord of all creatures. (46) And when he came unto them with our signs, behold, they laughed him to scorn; (47) although we showed them no sign, but it was greater than the other: and we inflicted a punishment on them, that peradventure they might be converted. (48) And they said unto Moses, O magician, pray unto thy Lord for us, according to the covenant which he hath made with thee; for we will certainly be directed. (49) But when we took the plague from off them, behold, they brake their promise. (50) And Pharaoh made proclamation among his people, saying, O my people, is not the kingdom of Egypt mine, and these rivers which flow beneath me? Do ye not see? (51) Am not I better than this Moses, who is a contemptible person, (52) and can scarce express himself intelligibly? (53)(53) Have bracelets of gold, therefore, been put upon him; or do the angels attend him in orderly procession? (54) And Pharaoh persuaded his people to light behaviour; and they obeyed him: for they were a wicked people. (55) And when they had provoked us to wrath, we took vengeance on them: and we drowned them all: (56) and we made them a precedent, and an example unto others.
∥ (57) And when the son of Mary was proposed for an example, behold, thy people cried out through excess of joy thereat; (58) and they said, Are our gods better, or he? They have proposed this instance unto thee no otherwise than for an occasion of dispute; yea, they are contentious men. (59)Jesus is no other than a servant, whom we favoured with the gift of prophecy; and we appointed him for an example unto the children of Israel: (60) (if we pleased, verily we could from ourselves produce angels, to succeed you in the earth;) (61) and he shall be a sign of the approach of the last hour; wherefore doubt not thereof. And follow me: this is the right way. (62) And let not Satan cause you to turn aside: for he is your open enemy. (63) And when Jesus came with evident miracles, he said, Now am I come unto you with wisdom, and to explain unto you part of those things concerning which ye disagree; wherefore fear God and obey me. (64) Verily God is my Lord and your Lord; wherefore worship him: this is the right way. (65) And the confederated sects among them fell to variance: but woe unto those who have acted unjustly, because of the punishment of a grievous day. (66) Do the unbelievers wait for any other than the hour of judgment; that it may come upon them suddenly, while they foresee it not? (67) The intimate friends on that day shall be enemies unto one another; except the pious.
∥ (68) O my servants, there shall no fear come on you this day, neither shall ye be grieved. (69) who have believed in our signs and have been Múslims; (70) enter ye into Paradise, ye and your wives, with great joy. (71) Dishes of gold shall be carried round unto them, and cups without handles: and therein shall they enjoy whatever their souls shall desire, and whatever their eyes shall delight in: and ye shall remain therein for ever. (72) This is Paradise, which ye have inherited as a reward for that which ye have wrought. (73) Therein shall ye have fruits in abundance, of which ye shall eat. (74) But the wicked shall remain for ever in the torment of hell: (75) it shall not be made lighter unto them; and they shall despair therein. (76) We deal not unjustly with them, but they deal unjustly with their own souls.(77) And they shall call aloud, saying, O Málik, intercede for us that thy Lord would end us by annihilation. He shall answer, Verily ye shall remain here for ever. (78) We brought you the truth heretofore, but the greater part of you abhorred the truth. (79) Have the infidels fixed on a method to circumvent our Apostle? Verily we will fix on a method to circumvent them.(80) Do they imagine that we hear not their secrets and their private discourse? Yea, and our messengers who attend them write down the same.(81) Say, If the Merciful had a son, verily I would be the first of those who should worship him. (82) Far be the Lord of heaven and earth, the Lord of the throne, from that which they affirm of him! (83) Wherefore let them wade in their vanity, and divert themselves until they arrive at their day with which they have been threatened. (84) He who is God in heaven is God on earth also; and he is the wise, the knowing. (85) And blessed be he unto whom appertaineth the kingdom of heaven and earth, and of whatever is between them; with whom is the knowledge of the last hour; and before whom ye shall be assembled. (86) They whom they invoke besides him have not the privilege to intercede for others; except those who bear witness to the truth, and know the same. (87) If thou ask them who hath created them, they will surely answer, God. How therefore are they turned away to the worship of others?(88)God also heareth the saying of the Prophet, O Lord, verily these are people who believe not: (89)and he answereth, Therefore turn aside from them; and say, Peace: hereafter shall they know their folly.
[(1) ]H. M. See Prelim. Disc., pp. 100-102.
[(2) ]See chaps. xi. 2, 3, xvi. 105, xli. 2, and notes there.
[(3) ]Original book. The Preserved Table. Prelim. Disc., p. 108.
[(5, 6) ]Comp. chaps. xxiii. 24-26, and xxv. 5-10.
[(14-17) ]See notes on chap. iv. 116, 169.
[(16) ]See chap. xvi. 60.
[(21) ]See note on chap. ii. 171.
[(24) ]See the Histories of the former prophets in chap. xi., &c.
[(29) ]See notes, chaps. x. 39, and xi. 14.
[(30) ]Some great man, i.e., “To one of the principal inhabitants of Makkah or of Tavif, such as al Walíd, Ibn al Mughaira, or Urwa Ibn Masúd the Thakífite.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(31) ]Do they distribute, &c. “By this expression the prophetic office is here particularly intended.”—Sale.
[(32-34) ]But comp. chap. xxxv. 30.
[(35) ]A devil, &c. See chap. xix. 69, 86.
[(40) ]This verse intimates that Muhammad was in doubt as to the ultimate success of his mission.
[(44) ]“That is, Ask those who profess the religions which they taught, and their learned men.”—Sale, Baidháwi, &c.
[(47) ]No sign but it was greater, &c. “Literally, than its sister. The meaning is, that the miracles were all very great and considerable, or as the French may express it, by a phrase nearly the same, les uns plus grands que les autres.”—Sale.
[(50-56) ]See notes, chap. vii. 104-136.
[(53) ]Have bracelets. &c. “Such bracelets were some of the insignia of royalty; for when the Egyptians raised a person to the dignity of a prince, they put a collar or chain of gold about his neck (Gen. xli. 42), and bracelets of gold on his wrists.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(57) ]Thy people cried out, &c. “This passage is generally supposed to have been revealed on occasion of an objection made by one Ibn al Zabári to those words in the twenty-first chapter (ver. 92) by which all in general who were worshipped as deities besides God are doomed to hell: whereupon the infidels cried out, ‘We are content that our gods should be with Jesus; for he also is worshipped as God.’ Some, however, are of opinion it might have been revealed in answer to certain idolaters, who said that the Christians, who received the Scriptures, worshipped Jesus, supposing him to be the son of God; whereas the angels were more worthy of that honour than he.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(59) ]Jesus is no other than a servant, &c. Muir says: “This was . . . the only position which, at the present advanced period of his mission, Mahomet could consistently fall back upon; and it was ever after carefully maintained Some terms of veneration in use among Christians are indeed applied to Jesus, as ‘the Word of God,’ and ‘His Spirit which he breathed into Mary’ (chap. iii. 39, iv. 16, xxi. 91, &c.) But the Divine Sonship was constantly denied.”—Life of Mahomet, vol. ii. pp. 287, 288.
[(60) ]We could . . . produce angels, &c. “As easily as we produced Jesus without a father. The intent of the words is to show how just and reasonable it is to think that the angels should bear the relation of children to men, rather than to God; they being his creatures as well as men, and equally in his power.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(61) ]A sign . . . of the last hour. “For some time before the resurrection Jesus is to descend on earth, according to the Muhammadans, near Damascus (Prelim. Disc., pp. 132-133), or, as some say, near a rock in the Holy Land named Afik, with a lance in his hand wherewith he is to kill Antichrist, whom he will encounter at Ludd, or Lydda, a small town not far from Joppa. They add that he will arrive at Jerusalem at the time of morning prayer; that he shall perform his devotions after the Muhammadan institution, and officiate instead of the Imám, who shall give place to him; that he will break down the cross and destroy the churches of the Christians, of whom he will make a general slaughter, excepting only such as shall profess Islám,” &c.—Sale, Baidháwi, Jaláluddín.
[(62) ]See note on chaps. iv. 116, and vi. 112.
[(63) ]Wisdom. “That is, with a book of revelations and an excellent system of religion.”—Sale.
[(65) ]“This may be understood either of the Jews in the time of Jesus, who opposed his doctrine, or of the Christians since, who have fallen into various opinions concerning him, some making him to be God, others the Son of God, and others one of the persons of the Trinity, &c.”—Sale, Baidháwi. I think the reference is clearly to the Christians only.
[(70) ]Your wives. Who are presumed to be true believers.
[(71-73) ]See note on chap. iii. 15.
[(77) ]O Málik. “This the Muhammadans suppose to be the name of the principal angel who has charge of hell.”—Sale. See chap. lxxiv. 30.
[(80) ]Our messengers, i.e., “the guardian angels.”—Sale. But see chap. l. 16.
[(81) ]If the Merciful had a son, &c. Comp. chap. xxxix. 6.
[(86) ]Except those who bear witness, i.e., “to the doctrine of God’s unity. The exception comprehends Jesus, Ezra, and the angels, who will be admitted as intercessors, though they have been worshipped as gods.”—Sale, Baidháwi, Jaláluddín. But see notes on chaps. ii. 47, 123, vi. 50, and xxxix. 45.
[(88) ]The saying Rodwell translates And one saith. Of this passage Noëldeke says a few words must have been lost here, as the words [Editor: Arabic word - see p. 30 of the facsimile PDF], even if the diacritical points are changed, cannot be satisfactorily connected with the preceding verse.
[(89) ]Say, Peace, &c. See note on chap. xxv. 64.