Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XLIV.: ENTITLED SURAT AL DUḲHAN (SMOKE). Revealed at Makkah. - The Quran, vol. 4
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CHAPTER XLIV.: ENTITLED SURAT AL DUḲHAN (SMOKE). 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 DUḲHAN (SMOKE).
This is a distinctively Makkan chapter. Its title is found in ver. 9, where a visible smoke is mentioned. The subject of the preacher is the necessity of accepting Islám. The Qurán, he declares, is a revelation from the only true God. This revelation the people had rejected, especially its teaching concerning the resurrection and the judgment. They had even charged their Prophet with forgery and with being a madman. They are now warned of coming calamity of Divine vengeance, unless they immediately repent and accept Islám. This instruction is enforced by reference to the destruction of Pharaoh and his hosts, and of the people of Tubbá, for their unbelief, and for their ignominious treatment of the prophets of God. To this is added a description of the horrors of hell and the joys of Paradise. The chapter ends with a notice of the Divine condescension in giving the Arab people his Word in their own language.
Probable Date of the Revelations.
All agree that the revelations of this chapter are of Makkan origin. Some have thought, without good reason, that vers. 14 and 15 are Madínic, because of the supposition that the plague alluded to in ver. 14 refers to a famine which visited Makkah after the Hijra, and that the vengeance of ver. 15 was taken at Badr. The reference in these verses, however, is to the plague and vengeance of God to be visited upon the unbelievers in the judgment-day, and in the perdition to follow.
We learn from ver. 13 that while some of the people of Makkah charged their Prophet with forgery, others, moved by either more charitable or more contemptuous feelings, merely called him a madman. These charges, in the absence of any show of violence towards the preacher or followers of the new faith, point to an early period as the date of this chapter. Muir places it in the early part of the fourth stage, i.e., at a period extending from the sixth to the tenth years of Muhammad’s mission. Noëldeke places it in his second Makkan period, or the fifth and sixth years of Muhammad’s mission.
IN THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD.
∥ (1) H. M. By the perspicuous book of the Qurán;(2) verily we have sent down the same on a blessed night (for we had engaged so to do), (3)on the night wherein is distinctly sent down the decree of every determined thing, (4) as a command from us. Verily we have ever used to send apostles with revelations at proper intervals, (5) as a mercy from thy Lord; for it is he who heareth and knoweth: (6) the Lord of heaven and earth, and of whatever is between them; if ye are men of sure knowledge. (7) There is no God but he: he giveth life, and he causeth to die; he is your Lord, and the Lord of your forefathers. (8) Yet do they amuse themselves with doubt. (9) But observe them on the day whereon the heaven shall produce a visible smoke, (10) which shall cover mankind: this will be a tormenting plague. (11) They shall say, O Lord, take this plague from off us: verily we will become true believers. (12) How should an admonition be of avail to them in this condition; when a manifest apostle came unto them, (13) but they retired from him, saying, This man is instructed by others, or is a distracted person? (14) We will take the plague from off you, a little: but ye will certainly return to your infidelity.(15) On the day whereon we shall fiercely assault them with great power, verily we will take vengeance on them. (16) We made trial of the people of Pharaoh before them, and an honourable messenger came unto them, (17)saying, Send unto me the servants of God; verily I am a faithful messenger unto you: (18) and lift not yourselves up against God; for I come unto you with manifest power. (19) And I fly for protection unto my Lord, and your Lord, that ye stone me not. (20) If ye do not believe me, at least depart from me. (21) And when they accused him of imposture, he called upon his Lord,saying, These are a wicked people. (22) And God said unto him, March forth with my servants by night; for ye will be pursued: (23) and leave the sea divided, that the Egyptians may enter the same; for they are a host doomed to be drowned.
∥ (24) How many gardens, and fountains, (25) and fields of corn, and fair dwellings, (26) and advantages which they enjoyed, did they leave behind them! (27) Thus we dispossessed them thereof; and we gave the same for an inheritance unto another people. (28) Neither heaven nor earth wept for them; neither were they respited any longer.
∥ (29) And we delivered the children of Israel from a shameful affliction; (30) from Pharaoh; for he was haughty, and a transgressor: (31) and we chose them, knowingly, above all people; (32) and we showed them several signs, wherein was an evident trial. (33) Verily these Makkans say, (34) Assuredly our final end will be no other than our first natural death; neither shall we be raised again: (35) bring now our forefathers back to life, if ye speak truth. (36) Are they better, or the people of Tubbá, (37) and those who were before them? we destroyed them, because they wrought wickedness. (38) We have not created the heavens and the earth, and whatever is between them, by way of sport: (39) we have created them no otherwise than in truth; but the greater part of them do not understand. (40) Verily the day of separation shall be the appointed term of them all: (41) a day whereon the master and the servant shall be of no advantage to one another, neither shall they be helped; (42) excepting those on whom God shall have mercy; for he is the mighty, the merciful.
∥ (43) Verily, the fruit of the tree of az Zaqqúm (44)shall be the food of the impious; (45) as the dregs of oil shall it boil in the bellies of the damned,(46) like the boiling of the hottest water. (47)And it shall be said to the tormentors, Take him, and drag him into the midst of hell: (48) and pour on his head the torture of boiling water, (49)saying, Taste this; for thou art that mighty and honourable person. (50) Verily this is the punishment of which you doubted. (51) But the pious shall be lodged in a place of security, (52) among gardens and fountains: (53) they shall be clothed in fine silk, and in satin; and they shall sit facing one another. (54) Thus shall it be: and we will espouse them to fair damsels, having large black eyes. (55) In that place shall they call for all kinds of fruits, in full security: (56) they shall not taste death therein, after the first death; and God shall deliver from the pains of hell: (57) through the gracious bounty of thy Lord. This will be great felicity. (58) Moreover we have rendered the Qurán easy for thee, by revealing it in thine own tongue; to the end that they may be admonished; (59) wherefore do thou wait the event; for they wait to see some misfortune befall thee.
[(1) ]H. M. See Prelim. Disc., pp. 100-102.
[(2) ]A blessed night. “Generally supposed to be that between the twenty-third and twenty-fourth of Ramadhán. See Prelim. Disc., p. 108, and chap. xcvii. and the notes there.”—Sale.
[(3) ]“For annually on this night, as the Muhammadans are taught, all the events of the ensuing year, with respect to life and death and the other affairs of this world, are disposed and settled. Some, however, suppose that these words refer only to that particular night on which the Qurán, wherein are completely contained the Divine determinations in respect to religion and morality, was sent down; and, according to this exposition, the passage may be rendered, ‘The night whereon every determined or adjudged matter was sent down.’ ” — Sale, Baidháwi, and Jaláluddín.
[(9) ]Smoke. The commentators differ in their expositions of this passage. Some think it spoke of a smoke which seemed to fill the air during the famine which was inflicted on the Makkans in Muhammad’s time, and was so thick that, though they could hear, yet they could not see one another. But, according to a tradition of Ali, the smoke here meant is that which is to be one of the previous signs of the day of judgment, and will fill the whole space from east to west, and last for forty days. This smoke, they say, will intoxicate the infidels, and issue at their noses, ears, and posteriors, but will very little inconvenience the true believers.”—Sale, Jaláluddín.
[(13) ]This man is instructed by others, &c. See note on chap. xvi. 105.
[(14) ]The plague. “If we follow the former exposition, the words are to be understood of the ceasing of the famine upon the intercession of Muhammad, at the desire of the Quraish, and on their promise of believing on him, notwithstanding which, they fell back to their old incredulity; but if we follow the latter exposition, they are to be understood of God’s taking away the plague of the smoke, after the expiration of the forty days, at the prayer of the infidels, and on their promise of receiving the true faith, which being done, they will immediately return to their wonted obstinacy.”—Sale. See also chap. xxiii. 65, note.
[(15) ]“Some expound this of the slaughter at Badr, and others of the day of judgment.”—Sale.
[(17) ]Send unto me, &c., i.e., “Let the Israelites go with me to worship their God.”—Sale.
[(19) ]Stone me not. “Or that ye injure me not, either by word or deed.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(20) ]Depart from me. Without opposing me, or offering me any injury, which I have not deserved from you.”—Sale.
[(27) ]We gave the same, &c. See chap. xxvi. 57-59, and note on chap. vii. 137.
[(28) ]Wept. “That is, none pitied their destruction.”—Sale.
[(31) ]We chose them knowingly, i.e., “knowing that they were worthy of our choice; or notwithstanding we knew they would, in time to come, fall into idolatry, &c.”—Sale.
[(32) ]Signs. “As the dividing of the Red Sea; the cloud which shaded them; the raining on them of manna and quails, &c.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(36) ]The people of Tubbá, viz., “the Hamyárites, whose kings had the title of Tubbá (Prelim. Disc., p. 26). The commentators tell us that the Tubbá here meant was very potent, and built Samarcand, or, as others say, demolished it; and that he was a true believer, but his subjects were infidels.
[(39) ]In truth. See notes on chaps. xxi. 16, 17, and xxxviii. 26.
[(40) ]The day of separations, i.e., “the day of judgment, when the wicked shall be separated from the righteous, &c.”—Sale.
[(43) ]Az Zaqqúm. See chap. xxxvii. 60. “Jaláluddín supposes this passage to have been particularly levelled at Abu Jahl.”—Sale.
[(44-50) ]See note and references at chap. ii. 38.
[(51-57) ]See notes on chaps. iii. 15, and 196-198, and xxxvii. 39-48.
[(58) ]Thine own tongue. See note on chap. xli. 2, 3.