Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER L.: ENTITLED SURAT AL QÁF (Q.). Revealed at Makkah. - The Quran, vol. 4
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CHAPTER L.: ENTITLED SURAT AL QÁF (Q.). 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 QÁF (Q.).
The letter placed at the beginning of this chapter has been chosen as its title. The contents relate throughout to the doctrine of the resurrection and a future life. To the idolaters of Makkah the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead seemed impossible, and on this account they rejected Muhammad and his Qurán. Muhammad is called an impostor. In reply to his traducers, Muhammad appeals to the power of God as seen in his works of creation and providence. He tells them that other prophets were in like manner with himself charged with forgery, but their calumniators were miserably destroyed. They are accordingly warned of the coming judgment, for which they will be ill prepared. As usual, however, all this warning and instruction is represented as coming from the mouth of God.
Probable Date of the Revelations.
There can be no doubt about the Makkan origin of this chapter. One author, Umar bin Muhammad, however, maintains that ver. 37 was revealed in answer to the blasphemous talk of the Jews at Madína (see Sale’s notes), but this is certainly a mistake. The passage is connected in thought with ver. 14. As to the date of the chapter, Noëldeke places it immediately after chap. xliv.
IN THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD.
∥ (1) Q. By the glorious Qurán; (2) verily they wonder that a preacher from among themselves is come unto them; and the unbelievers say, This is a wonderful thing; (3) after we shall be dead and become dust, shall we return to life? This is a return remote from thought. (4) Now we know what the earth consumeth of them; and with us is a book which keepeth an account thereof.(5) But they charge falsehood on the truth, after it hath come unto them: wherefore they are plunged in a confused business. (6) Do they not look up to the heaven above them, and consider how we have raised it and adorned it; and that there are no flaws therein? (7) We have also spread forth the earth, and thrown thereon mountains firmly rooted: and we caused every beautiful kind of vegetables to spring up therein; (8) for a subject of meditation, and an admonition unto every man who turneth unto us. (9) And we send down rain as a blessing from heaven, whereby we cause gardens to spring forth, and the grain of harvest, (10) and tall palm-trees having branches laden with dates hanging one above another, (11) as a provision for mankind; and we thereby quicken a dead country: so shall be the coming forth of the dead from their graves.(12) The people of Noah, and those who dwelt at Al Rass, and Thamúd, (13) and Ád, and Pharaoh, accused the prophets of imposture before the Makkans; and also the brethren of Lot, and the inhabitants of the wood near Midian, and the people of Tubba: all these accused the apostles of imposture; wherefore the judgments which I threatened were justly inflicted on them. (14) Is our power exhausted by the first creation? Yea; they are in a perplexity, because of a new creation which is foretold them, namely, the raising of the dead.
∥ (15) We created man, and we know what his soul whispereth within him; and we are nearer unto him than his jugular vein. (16) When the two angels deputed to take account of a man’s behaviour take an account thereof, one sitting on the right hand and the other on the left, (17) he uttereth not a word but there is with him a watcher ready to note it. (18) And the agony of death shall come in truth: this, O man, is what thou soughtest to avoid. (19) And the trumpet shall sound: this will be the day which hath been threatened. (20) And every soul shall come; and therewith shall be a driver and a witness. (21) And the former shall say unto the unbeliever, Thou wast negligent heretofore of this day: but we have removed thy veil from off thee; and thy sight is become piercing this day. (22) And his companion shall say. This is what is ready with me to be attested. (23) And God shall say, Cast into hell every unbeliever, and perverse person, (24) and crery one who forbade good, and every transgressor, and doubter of the faith, (25) who set up another god with the trueGod; and cast him into a grievous torment. (26) His companion shall say, O Lord, I did not seduce him; but he was in a wide error. (27) God shall say, Wrangle not in my presence: since I threatened you beforehand with the torments which ye now see prepared for you. (28) The sentence is not changed with me: neither do I treat my servants unjustly.
∥ (29) On that day we will say unto hell, Art thou full? and it shall answer, Is there yet any addition? (30) And Paradise shall be brought near unto the pious; (31) and it shall be said unto them. This is what ye have been promised; unto every one who turned himself unto God, and kept his commandments; (32) who feared the Merciful in secret, and came unto him with a converted heart: (33) enter the same in peace: this is the day of eternity. (34) Therein shall they have whatever they shall desire: and there will be a superabundant addition of bliss with us. (35) How many generations have we destroyed before the Makkans, which were more mighty than they in strength? Pass, therefore, through the regions of the earth, and see whether there be any refuge from our vengeance. (36) Verily herein is an admonition unto him who hath a heart to understand, or giveth ear, and is present with an attentive mind.(37) We created the heavens and the earth, and whatever is between them, in six days, and no weariness affected us. (38) Wherefore patiently suffer what they say; and celebrate the praise of thy Lord before sunrise and before sunset, (39) and praise him in some part of the night: and perform the additional parts of worship. (40) And hearken unto the day whereon the crier shall call men to judgment from a near place: (41) the day whereon they shall hear the voice of the trumpet in truth: this will be the day of men’s coming forth from their graves: (42) we give life, and we cause to die; and unto us shall be the return of all creatures: (43) the day whereon the earth shall suddenly cleave in sunder over them. This will be an assembly easy for us to assemble.(44) We well know what the unbelievers say; and thou art not sent to compel them forcibly to the faith. (45) Wherefore warn, by the Qurán, him who feareth my threatening.
ENTITLED SURAT AL ZÁRIYÁT (THE DISPERSING).
As in nearly all the earlier chapters of the Qurán, this one begins with a number of oaths, wherewith God, swearing by various natural objects, attests the truth of his Prophet’s message. In this chapter the occasion of these vehement oaths was the rejection of the doctrine of a final judgment by the people of Makkah.
It is generally agreed that the latter portion of this chapter, consisting of vers. 24-60, was added on by the compilers of the Qurán, or during its recension under Othmán. The subject of discourse being similar, it was perhaps thought to belong to what precedes. While, however, it is true that the subject is the same, yet the circumstances under which it was enunciated were very different. In the first section the unbelievers simply reject the Prophet as an impostor and his message as incredible, but in this they threaten violent treatment (ver. 59), and the Prophet is in consequence told to withdraw from them (ver. 54).
Probable Date of the Revelations.
Noëldeke places this chapter near the end of his first period, i.e., about the fourth year of Muhammad’s mission.
This date will do very well for the first portion of the chapter, but vers. 24-60 must be assigned a much later date. Muir places it near the end of the fourth stage of Muhammad’s ministry, when the ban against the Háshamites had interfered with his public preaching.
The date of this portion would therefore be about b.h. 6.
IN THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD.
∥ (1) By the winds dispersing and scattering the dust;(2) and by the clouds bearing a load of rain;(3) by the ships running swiftly in the sea;(4) and by the angels who distribute things necessary for the support of all creatures; (5) verily that wherewith ye are threatened is certainly true; (6) and the last judgment will surely come. (7) By the heaven furnished with paths; (8) ye widely differ in what ye say. (9) He will be turned aside from the faith who shall be turned aside by the divine decree. (10) Cursed be the liars. (11) who wade in deep waters of ignorance, neglecting their salvation. (12) They ask, When will the day of judgment come? (13) On that day shall they be burned in hell-fire; (14) and it shall be said unto them, Taste your punishment; this is what ye demanded to be hastened. (15) But the pious shall dwell among gardens and fountains, (16) receiving that which their Lord shall give them; because they were righteous doers before this day.(17) They slept but a small part of the night; (18) and early in the morning they asked pardon of God; (19) and a due portion of their wealth was given unto him who asked, and unto him who was forbidden by shame to ask. (20) There are signs of the divine power and goodness in the earth, unto men of sound understanding; (21) and also in your own selves: will ye not therefore consider? (22) Your sustenance is in the heaven; and also that which ye are promised. (23) Wherefore by the Lord of heaven and earth I swear that this is certainly the truth; according to what ye yourselves speak.
∥ (24) Hath not the story of Abraham’s honoured guests come to thy knowledge? (25) When they went in unto him, and said, Peace: he answered, Peace; saying within himself, These are unknown people. (26) And he went privately unto his family, and brought a fatted calf. (27) And he set it before them, and when he saw they touched itnot, he said, Do ye not eat? (28) And he began to entertain a fear of them. They said, Fear not: and they declared unto him the promise of a wise youth. (29) And his wife drew near with exclamation, and she smote her face, and said, I am an old woman and barren. (30) The angels answered, Thus saith the Lord: verily he is the wise, the knowing.
∥ (31) And Abraham said unto them, What is your errand, therefore, O messengers of God? (32) They answered, Verily we are sent unto a wicked people, (33) that we may send down upon them stones of baked clay, (34) marked from thy Lord, for the destruction of transgressors. (35) And we brought forth the true believers who were in the city; (36) but we found not therein more than one family of Muslims. (37) And we overthrew the same, and left a sign therein unto those who dread the severe chastisement of God.(38) In Moses also was a sign, when we sent him unto Pharaoh with manifest power. (39) But he turned back with his princes, saying, This man is a sorcerer or a madman. (40) Wherefore we took him and his forces and cast them into the sea; and he was one worthy of reprehension. (41) And in the tribe of Ád also was a sign, when we sent against them a destroying wind; (42) it touched not aught whereon it came, but it rendered the same as a thing rotten, and reduced to dust.(43) In Thamúd likewise was a sign, when it was said unto them, Enjoy yourselves for a time. (44) But they insolently transgressed the command of their Lord: wherefore a terrible noise from heaven assailed them while they looked on; (45) and they were not able to stand on their feet, neither did they save themselves from destruction.(46) And the people of Noah did we destroy before these; for they were a people who enormously transgressed.
∥ (47) We have built the heaven with might; and we have given it a large extent; (48) and we have stretched forth the earth beneath; and how evenly have we spread the same!(49) And of everything have we created two kinds, that peradventure ye may consider. (50) Fly, therefore, unto God: verily I am a public warner unto you from him. (51) And set not up another god with the trueGod: verily I am a public warner unto you from him. (52) In like manner there came no apostle unto their predecessors, but they said, This man is a magician or a madman. (53) Have they bequeathed this behaviour successively the one to the other? Yea; they are a people who enormously transgress. (54) Wherefore withdraw from them; and thou shalt not be blameworthy in so doing. (55) Yet continue to admonish; for admonition profiteth the true believers. (56) I have not created genii and men for any other end than that they should serve me. (57) I require not any sustenance from them; neither will I that they feed me. (58) Verily God is he who provideth for all creatures; possessed of mighty power. (59) Unto those who shall injure our Apostle shall be given a portion like unto the portion of those who behaved like them in times past; and they shall not wish the same to be hastened. (60) Woe, therefore, to the unbelievers, because of their day with which they are threatened!
[(1) ]Q. “Some imagine that this letter is designed to express the mountain Qáf, which several Eastern writers fancy encompasses the whole world. Others say it stands for Qadr al amr, i.e., ‘The matter is decreed,’ viz., the chastisement of the infidels. See Prelim. Disc., pp. 100-102.”—Sale, Baidháwi, Jaláluddín.
[(5) ]They are plunged in a confused business. “Not knowing what certainly to affirm of the Qurán, calling it sometimes a piece of poetry, at other times a piece of sorcery, and at other times a piece of divination, &c.”—Sale.
[(7) ]Comp. chaps. xvi. 15, and xxxi. 9.
[(10) ]Dates. “The date-tree produces three or four large clusters, which rise from the summit of the tree, and hang round. They are formed of small branches, long and flexible, from which hang the dates. These clusters will sometimes weigh as much as 120 pounds. The date is at first of a deep green; as it ripens it turns red, and it becomes blackish when it is ripe. This fruit, which is of a sugary and agreeable taste, loses much by drying.”—Savary.
[(12) ]Who dwelt at Al Rass, &c. See on chaps. xxv. 40, xi. 26-100, and notes there.
[(16, 17) ]“The intent of the passage is to exalt the omniscience of God, who wants not the information of the guardian angels, though he has thought fit, in his wisdom, to give them that employment; for if they are so exact as to write down every word which falls from a man’s mouth, how can we hope to escape the observation of him who sees our inmost thoughts?
[(20) ]A driver and a witness, i.e., “two angels, one acting as a serjeant, to bring every person before the tribunal; and the other prepared as a witness, to testify either for or against him. Some say the former will be the guardian angel who took down his evil actions, and the other angel who took down his good actions.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(26) ]His companion, viz., “the devil which shall be chained to him.”—Sale. See also notes on chaps vii. 39, 180, and x. 19, &c.
[(29) ]Is there yet any addition? i.e., “are there yet any more condemned to this place, or is my space to be enlarged and rendered more capacious to receive them?
[(34) ]See Prelim. Disc., p. 154.
[(37) ]Six days. See note on chap. vii. 55.
[(38) ]What they say, what the idolaters say in denying the resurrection.
[(39) ]The additional parts of worship. “These are the two inclinations used after the evening prayer, which are not necessary or of precept, but voluntary and of supererogation, and may therefore be added or omitted indifferently.”—Sale.
[(40) ]A new place. “That is, from a place whence every creature may equally hear the call. This place, it is supposed, will be the mountain of the temple of Jerusalem, which some fancy to be nigher heaven than any other part of the earth; whence Israíl will sound the trumpet, and Gabriel will make the following proclamation: ‘O ye rotten bones, and torn flesh, and dispersed hairs, God commandeth you to be gathered together to judgment.’ ”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(44) ]Thou art not sent to compel, &c. This is the spirit of the Makkan preacher, but compare that of the prophet-general of Madína, chaps. ix. 29, 74, and xlvii. 4, 5.
[(1-4) ]The particles being in the feminine, Sale gives an alternate rendering as follows, “By the women who bring forth or scatter children, and by the women bearing a burden in their wombs (or the winds bearing the clouds); by the winds passing swiftly in the air (or the stars moving swiftly in their courses), and by the winds which distribute the rain, &c.”
[(7) ]Paths. “The paths or orbs of the stars, or the streaks which appear in the sky like paths, being thin and extended clouds.”—Sale.
[(8) ]Ye widely differ. “Concerning Muhammad or the Qurán, or the resurrection and the day of judgment, speaking variously and inconsistently of them.”—Sale.
[(17) ]A small part. “Spending the greater part in prayer and religious meditation.”—Sale.
[(22) ]“That is, your food cometh from above, whence proceedeth the change of seasons and rain; and your future reward is also there, that is to say, in Paradise, which is situate above the seven heavens.”—Sale.
[(23) ]According to what ye yourselves speak. “That is, without any doubt or reserved meaning, as ye affirm a truth unto one another.”—Sale.
[(24) ]See chaps. xi. 69, and xv. 51, and notes there.
[(28) ]Fear not. “Some add, that, to remove Abraham’s fear, Gabriel, who was one of these strangers, touched the calf with his wing, and it immediately rose up and walked to its dam; upon which Abraham knew them to be the messengers of God.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(33) ]See note on chap. xi. 81.
[(38-46) ]See notes on chaps. xii. 104-136, and xi. 26-60.
[(49) ]Two kinds. “As, for example, male and female, the heaven and the earth, the sun and the moon, light and darkness, plains and mountains, winter and summer, sweet and bitter, &c.”—Sale.
[(52) ]Comp. chap. xxii. 44, 45.
[(54) ]Withdraw from them. This instruction points to Muhammad’s flight to Madína.
[(56) ]Compare with chap. xi. 119.
[(57) ]That they feed me. Alluding to the food offerings presented to the idols.