Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XLVII.: ENTITLED SURAT MUHAMMAD. Revealed at Madína. - The Quran, vol. 4
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CHAPTER XLVII.: ENTITLED SURAT MUHAMMAD. Revealed at Madína. - 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 MUHAMMAD.
This chapter is also entitled War. because of the command enjoining the Muslims to fight in the cause of religion, which is certainly a more appropriate title than that of Muhammad.
Every student of Islám has observed the wondrous change which came over Muhammad and his religion at the time of the flight to Madína. Nothing could illustrate this change better than a comparison between this chapter and the one just preceding it. In chap. xlvi. we have Muhammad the warner of Makkah. There Islám is peaceable. Its Prophet is exhorted to bear the insults of the unbehevers with patience. In this chapter we have Muhammad the general of armies. Here Islám is warlike. Muslims are now required to lay aside the emblems of peace and to draw the sword. They are now enjoined to “strike off the heads” of their enemies. All must be prepared not only to spend their substance in the cause, but to fight to the death.
As yet but petty expeditions were sent forth from Madína harass the caravans of the Quraish. Yet even this required courage and self-denial. Some of the Muslims were timorous. The “hypocrites” of Madína, begrudging the cost of this warfare, and perhaps fearing the consequences of a war with Makkah, were busy dissuading the Muslims from carrying out the war policy of Muhammad. Both these parties are attacked in this chapter. Cowards and hypocrites are alike threatened with the horrors of hell; while rivers of pure water, rivers of milk, rivers of wine, rivers of clarified butter, and all kinds of fruits are set before the eyes of the faithful as the sure reward of those who fight valiantly the battles of the Lord.
Probable Date of the Revelations.
Some Muslim writers have regarded this chapter as Makkan, but the best authorities, Baidháwi, Zamaḳhshari, Jaláluddín as Syúti, &c., agree that it is Madínic. One writer, Umar bin Muhammad, Itqan 43, maintains that ver. 14 was revealed during the flight from Makkah, when Muhammad with tearful eyes looked back towards his birthplace.
Noeldeke fixes the date of this chapter at a period some time after the victory of Badr. The reason for this opinion is his interpretation of ver. 37, which, he thinks, alludes to the efforts of some of Muhammad’s people to conclude peace with the Quraish after the success of the Muslims at Badr. This date is, however, too late to account for the fear of the Muslims rebuked in this chapter. After the victory of Badr the fears of the faithful were all dispelled, so that at the battle of Ohod we find Muhammad himself obliged to assume an offensive rather than a defensive policy, owing to the impetuosity of his followers. It is better to follow Muir here, and to place the date of this chapter before the battle of Badr, say the latter part of a.h. 1. See Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. pp. 79-81.
IN THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD.
∥ (1) God will render of none effect the works of those who believe not, and who turn away men from the way of God;(2) but as to those who believe, and work righteousness, and believe the revelation which has been sent down unto Muhammad (for it is the truth from their Lord), he will expiate their evil deeds from them, and will dispose their heart aright.
∥ (3) This will he do, because those who believe not follow vanity, and because those who believe follow the truth from the Lord. Thus God propoundeth unto men their examples. (4) When ye encounter the unbelievers, strike off their heads, until ye have made a great slaughter among them; and bind them in bonds; (5) and either give them a free dismission afterwards, or exact a ransom; until the war shall have laid down its arms. This shall ye do. Verily if God pleased he could take vengeance on them without your assistance; but he commandeth you to fight his battles, that he may prove the one of you by the other. And as to those who fight in defence of God’s true religion, God will not suffer their works to perish; (6) he will guide them, and will dispose their heart aright; (7) and he will lead them into Paradise, of which he hath told them. (8) O true believers, if ye assist Godby fighting for his religion, he will assist you against your enemies; and will set your feet fast: (9) but as for the infidels, let them perish; and their works shall God render vain. (10) This shall befall them, because they have rejected with abhorrence that which God hath revealed: wherefore their works shall become of no avail. (11) Do they not travel through the earth, and see what hath been the end of those who were before them? God utterly destroyed them: and the like catastrophe awaiteth the unbelievers. (12) This shall come to pass, for that God is the patron of the true believers, and for that the infidels have no protector.
∥ (13) Verily God will introduce those who believe and do good works into gardens beneath which rivers flow: but the unbelievers indulge themselves in pleasures, and eat as beasts eat; and their abode shall be hell-fire. (14) How many cities were more mighty in strength than thy city which hath expelled thee; yet have we destroyed them, and there was none to help them? (15) Shall he therefore, who followeth the plain declaration of his Lordbe as he whose evil works have been dressed up for him by the devil, and who follow their own lusts? (16) The description of Paradise, which is promised unto the pious: therein are rivers of incorruptible water; and rivers of milk, the taste whereof changeth not; and rivers of wine, pleasant unto those who drink; (17) and rivers of clarified honey: and therein shall they have plenty of all kinds of fruits; and pardon from their Lord.Shall the man for whom these things are prepared be as he who must dwell for ever in hell-fire; and will have the boiling water given him to drink which shall burst their bowels? (18) Of the unbelievers there are some who give ear unto thee, until, when they go out from thee, they say, by way of derision unto those to whom knowledge hath been given, What hath he said now? These are they whose hearts God hath sealed up, and who follow their own lusts; (19) but as to those who are directed, God will grant them a more ample direction, and he will instruct them what to avoid. (20) Do the infidels wait for any other than the last hour, that it may come upon them suddenly? Some signs thereof are already come; and when it shall actually overtake them, how can they then receive admonition? (21) Know therefore that there is no god but God; and ask pardon for thy sin, and for the true believers, both men and women. God knoweth your busy employment in the world, and the place of your abode hereafter.
∥ (22) The true believers say, Hath not a Sura been revealed commanding war against the infidels? But when a Sura without any ambiguity is revealed, and war is mentioned therein, thou mayest see those in whose hearts is an infirmity look towards thee with the look of one whom death overshadoweth. But obedience would be more eligible for them, and to speak that which is convenient. (23) And when the command is firmly established, if they give credit unto God, it will be better for them. (24) Were ye ready, therefore, if ye had been put in authority, to commit outrages in the earth and to violate the ties of blood? (25) These are they whom God hath cursed and hath rendered deaf, and whose eyes he hath blinded. (26) Do they not therefore attentively meditate on the Qurán? Are there locks upon their hearts? (27) Verily they who turn their backs, after the true direction is made manifest unto them, Satan shall prepare their wickedness for them, and God shall bear with them for a time. (28) This shall befall them, because they say privately unto those who detest what God hath revealed, We will obey you in part of the matter. But God knoweth their secrets. (29) How therefore will it be with them when the angels shall cause them to die, and shall strike their faces and their backs? (30) This shall they suffer, because they follow that which provoketh God to wrath, and are averse to what is well-pleasing unto him: and he will render their works vain.
∥ (31) Do they in whose hearts is an infirmity imagine that God will not bring their malice to light? (32) If we pleased, we could surely show them unto thee, and thou shouldest know them by their marks; but thou shalt certainly know them by their perverse pronunciation of their words. God knoweth your actions; (33) and we will try you, until we know those among you who fight valiantly, and who persevere with constancy: and we will try the reports of your behaviour. (34) Verily those who believe not, and turn away men from the way of God, and make opposition against the Apostle, after the divine direction hath been manifested unto them, shall not hurt God at all; but he shall make their works to perish. (35) O true believers, obey God; and obey the apostle: and render not your works of no effect. (36) Verily those who believe not, and who turn away men from the way of God, and then die, being unbelievers, God will by no means forgive. (37) Faint not, therefore, neither invite your enemies to peace, while ye are the superior: for Godis with you, and will not defraud you of the merit of your works. (38) Verily this present life is only a play and a vain amusement; but if ye believe, and fear God, he will give you your rewards. He doth not require of you your whole substance; (39) if he should require the whole of you, and earnestly press you, ye would become niggardly, and it would raise your hatred against his Apostle.(40) Behold, ye are those who are invited to expend part of your substance for the support of God’s true religion; and there are some of you who are niggardly. But whoever shall be niggardly shall be niggardly towards his own soul; for God wanteth nothing, but ye are needy: and if ye turn back, he will substitute another people in your stead, who shall not be like unto you.
[(2) ]Will expiate. See note on chap. iii. 194.
[(4) ]Unbelievers, i.e., the Makkan and other enemies of Islám.
[(5) ]Those who fight, &c. “Some copies, instead of qátilu, read qútilu, according to which latter reading it should be rendered, ‘who are slain’ or ‘suffer martyrdom,’ &c.”—Sale.
[(13) ]See note on chap. iii. 15.
[(14) ]Which hath expelled thee. Muhammad here predicts the destruction of Makkah and its idolatrous inhabitants. There should be “none to help them.” The leniency which afterward led him to spare the city and its people was dictated by circumstances which made forbearance more politic than the fulfilment of his own prophecy. See Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. iv. pp. 120-122 note.
[(16) ]Rivers of wine. The word here translated wine is ḳhamr, which all Muslims admit to be the word used specially to indicate intoxicating drinks. See notes on chaps. ii. 218, iv. 42. and v. 92.
[(18) ]Those to whom knowledge hath been given, i.e., “the more learned of Muhammad’s companions, such as Ibn Masúd and Ibn Abbás.”—Sale, Jaláluddín.
[(19) ]He will instruct them, &c. “These words may also be translated, He will reward them for their piety.”—Sale.
[(20) ]Some signs, &c. “As the mission of Muhammad, the splitting of the moon, and the smoke mentioned in the 44th chapter.”—Sale.
[(21) ]Ask pardon for thy sin, &c. “Though Muhammad here and elsewhere acknowledges himself to be a sinner, yet several Muhammadan doctors pretend he was wholly free from sin, and suppose he is here commanded to ask forgiveness, not that he wanted it, but that he might set an example to his followers: wherefore he used to say of himself, if the tradition be true, ‘I ask pardon of God an hundred times a day.’ ”—Sale.
[(22) ]These words were uttered previous to the battle of Badr, when as yet there were many timorous ones among the faithful. See Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. p. 79.
[(23) ]This verse contains an implied threat against the timorous and hypocritical followers of Muhammad, referred to in ver. 22.
[(24) ]If ye had been put in authority. “Or, as the words may also be translated, ‘If ye had turned back.’ and apostatised from your faith.”—Sale.
[(28) ]Obey in part, i.e., “Obey in part of what ye desire of us, by staying at home and not going forth with Muhammad to war, and by private combination against him.”—Sale.
[(31) ]In whose hearts is an infirmity, “as hypocrisy, cowardice, or instability in their religion.”—Sale.
[(32) ]Perverse pronunciation of words. Either by playing upon the words of the Qurán to pervert its meaning (see chaps. ii. 57, 58, and vii. 163), or the uttering of vain excuses to escape from the duty of fighting for their religion; the meaning in this case being perverse speeches calculated to discourage others. See ver. 34.
[(40) ]He will substitute people . . . not like you, i.e., “In backwardness and aversion to the propagation of the faith. The people here designed to be put in the place of these lukewarm Muslims are generally supposed to be the Persians, there being a tradition that Muhammad, being asked what people they were, at a time when Salmán was sitting by him, clapped his hand on his thigh and said, ‘This man and his nation.’ Others, however, are of opinion the Ansárs or the angels are intended in this place.”—Sale, Baidháwi.