Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER LIII.: ENTITLED SURAT AL NAJM (THE STAR). Revealed at Makkah. - The Quran, vol. 4
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CHAPTER LIII.: ENTITLED SURAT AL NAJM (THE STAR). 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 NAJM (THE STAR).
This chapter receives its title from the object by which Muhammad is commanded to swear, mentioned in the first verse. Like chapters li. and lii., this one consists of an earlier and a later portion, or may be, as Noëldeke suggests, fragments of one or two lost Suras have been added to the original revelation of this one by the compilers.
The earlier portion of this chapter presents two items of special interest. The first is the declaration of the Qurán itself that Muhammad was merely a passive instrument of revelation (ver. 6), and that, therefore, the words of the Qurán are in no sense whatever the words of Muhammad himself. The second item of special interest is the description of the angelic vision vouchsafed to Muhammad, and which was to him the proof of his apostleship. See the subject discussed in note on ver. 11.
The latter portion of the chapter contains the passage which records, in its amended form, a revelation said to have been suggested by Satan at the time of the lapse of the Prophet. The question of the lapse will be found discussed in notes on chap. xxii. 53.
Probable Date of the Revelations.
Guided by the traditions relating to the lapse alluded to in vers. 19-23, the date of this portion of the chapter would be the months of Ramadhán and Shawwál of the fifth year of the Call. Vers. 26-33 are probably of a somewhat later origin, while vers. 58-62 seem to form a little Sura by themselves. This portion, with the first eighteen verses, were the earliest revelations of this chapter.
IN THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD.
∥ (1) By the star when it setteth, (2) your companion Muhammad erreth not, nor is he led astray, (3) neither doth he speak of his own will. (4) It is no other than a revelation, (5) which hath been revealed unto him.(6) One mighty in power, endued with understanding, taught it him: (7) and he appeared in the highest part of the horizon. (8) Afterwards he approached the Prophet, and near unto him,(9) until he was at the distance of two bows’ length from him, or yet nearer; (10) and he revealed unto his servant that which he revealed. (11) The heart of Muhammad did not falsely represent that which he saw. (12) Will ye therefore dispute with him concerning that which he saw? (13) He also saw him another time, (14) by the lote-tree beyond which there is no passing: (15) near it is the garden of eternal abode. (16) When the lote-tree covered that which it covered, (17) his eyesight turned not aside, neither did it wander: (18) and he really beheld some of the greatest signs of his Lord.(19) What think ye of Al Lát, and Al Uzza, (20) and Manáh, that other third goddess?(21) Have ye male children, and God female? (22) This, therefore, is an unjust partition. (23) They are no other than empty names, which ye and your fathers have named goddesses.God hath not revealed concerning them anything to authorise their worship. They follow no other than a vain opinion, and what their souls desire: yet hath the true direction come unto them from their Lord.(24) Shall man have whatever he wisheth for? (25) The life to come and the present life areGod’s.
∥ (26) And how many angels soever there be in the heavens, their intercession shall be of no avail, (27) until after God shall have granted permission unto whom he shall please and shall accept. (28) Verily they who believe not in the life to come give unto the angels a female appellation. (29) But they have no knowledge herein: they follow no other than a bare opinion; and a bare opinion attaineth not anything of truth. (30) Wherefore withdraw from him who turneth away from our admonition and seeketh only the present life. (31) This is their highest pitch of knowledge. Verily thy Lord well knoweth him who erreth from his way; and he well knoweth him who is rightly directed.
∥ (32) Unto Godbelongeth whatever is in heaven and earth, that he may reward those who do evil according to that which they shall have wrought, and may reward those who do well with the most excellent reward.(33)As to those who avoid great crimes and heinous sins, and are guilty only of lighter faults, verily thy Lordwill be extensive in mercy towards them. He well knew you when he produced you out of the earth, and when ye were embryos in your mothers’ wombs: wherefore justify not yourselves: he best knoweth the man who feareth him.
∥ (34) What thinkest thou of him who turneth aside from following the truth,(35) and giveth little, and covetously stoppeth his hand? (36)Is the knowledge of futurity with him, so that he seeth the same? (37) Hath he not been informed of that which is contained in the books of Moses, (38) and of Abraham, who faithfully performed his engagements? (39) To wit, that a burdened soul shall not bear the burden of another; (40) and that nothing shall be imputed to a man for righteousness except his own labour; (41) and that his labour shall surely be made manifest hereafter, (42) and that he shall be rewarded for the same with a most abundant reward; (43) and that unto thy Lordwill be the end of all things; (44) and that he causeth to laugh, and causeth to weep; (45) and that he putteth to death, and giveth life; (46) and that he createth the two sexes, the male and the female, (47) of seed when it is emitted; (48) and that unto him appertaineth another production, namely, the raising of the dead again to life hereafter; (49) and that he enricheth, and causeth to acquire possessions; (50) and that he is the Lord of the dog-star; (51) and that he destroyed the ancient tribe of Ád, (52) and Thamúd, and left not any of them alive; (53) and also the people of Noah before them; for they were most unjust and wicked: (54) and he overthrew the cities which were turned upside down; (55) and that which covered them, covered them. (56) Which, therefore, of thy Lord’s benefits, O man, wilt thou call in question? (57) This our Apostle is a preacher like the preachers who preceded him. (58) The approaching day of judgment draweth near: there is none who can reveal the exact time of the same, besides God. (59) Do ye, therefore, wonder at this new revelation, (60) and do ye laugh, and not weep, (61) spending your time in idle diversions? (62) but rather worship God, and serve him.
[(1) ]By the star. “Some suppose the stars in general, and others the Pleiades in particular, to be meant in this place.”—Sale.
[(6) ]One mighty in power. “The Angel Gabriel.”—Sale. “The commentators say that the terms Ruh-ul-Amín (Faithful Spirit) and Shadíd-ul-Quá (Mighty in Power) refer to no other angel or spirit.”—Sell’s Faith of Islám, p. 4.
[(7) ]And he appeared, &c. “In his natural form, in which God created him, and in the eastern part of the sky. It is said that this angel appeared in his proper shape to none of the prophets except Muhammad, and to him only twice: once when he received the first revelation of the Qurán, and a second time when he took his night journey to heaven; as it follows in the text.”—Sale.
[(8) ]He approached. “In a human shape.”—Sale.
[(9) ]Two bows’ length. “Or, as the word also signifies, two cubits length.”—Sale.
[(11) ]The heart . . . did not falsely represent, &c. That is, Muhammad was not the subject of any illusion, but saw it in reality. He was not mistaken as to what he saw.
[(13) ]Another time. Comp. chap. vi. 8, where there is an apparently contradictory statement.
[(14) ]The lote-tree, &c. “This tree, say the commentators, stands in the seventh heaven, on the right hand of the throne of God, and is the utmost bounds beyond which the angels themselves must not pass; or, as some rather imagine, beyond which no creature’s knowledge can extend.”—Sale.
[(16) ]That which is covered. “The words seem to signify that what was under this tree exceeded all description and number. Some suppose the whole host of angels worshipping beneath it are intended, and others, the birds which sit on its branches.”—Sale, Baidháwi, Jaláluddín.
[(18) ]He really beheld, &c. “Seeing the wonders both of the sensible and the intellectual world.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(19, 20) ]Al Lát, and Al Uzza, and Manáh “Those were three idols of the ancient Arabs, of which we have spoken in the Preliminary Discourse, pp. 38-41.
[(21) ]See chap. xvi. 59, notes.
[(24) ]“That is, shall he dictate to God, and name whom he pleases for his intercessors or for his prophet; or shall he choose a religion according to his own fancy, and prescribe the terms on which he may claim the reward of this life and the next?”—Sale, Baidháwi, Jaláluddín.
[(26) ]Their intercession. See chap. xxi. 28, 29.
[(33) ]Heinous sins . . . lighter faults. See note on chap. iv. 30.
[(35) ]Stoppeth his hand. “This passage, it is said, was revealed on account of Al Walíd Ibn al Mughaira, who, following the Prophet one day, was reviled by an idolater for leaving the religion of the Quraish and giving occasion of scandal; to which he answered, that what he did was out of apprehension of the Divine vengeance: whereupon the man offered, for a certain sum, to take the guilt of his apostasy on himself; and the bargain being made, Al Walíd returned to his idolatry, and paid the man part of what had been agreed on; but afterwards, on further consideration, he thought it too much, and kept back the remainder.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(36) ]Is the knowledge of futurity with him. “That is, is he assured that the person with whom he made the above-mentioned agreement will be allowed to suffer in his stead hereafter?”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(50) ]The dog-star. “Sirius, or the greater dog-star, was worshipped by some of the old Arabs. See Prelim. Disc., p. 38.”—Sale.
[(54) ]Cities . . . turned upside down. “Sodom and the other cities involved in her ruin.”—Sale. See chap. xi. 81, note.
[(57) ]Like the preachers who preceded him. See introduction to chaps. vii., xi., and xxi.