Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XC.: ENTITLED SURAT AL BALAD (THE TERRITORY). Revealed at Makkah. - The Quran, vol. 4
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CHAPTER XC.: ENTITLED SURAT AL BALAD (THE TERRITORY). 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 BALAD (THE TERRITORY).
This chapter is quoted by Muir in his “Life of Mahomet,” vol. ii. p. 65, to show how earnestly Muhammad at first strove after the truth. According to this author, these revelations, along with those of seventeen more of these short Suras, are not to be regarded as having been proclaimed publicly at the time of composition, but as expressing rather the private thoughts of the inquirer after truth, entertained even years before he set up his claim to be a prophet of God. The eighteen chapters thus described are as follows—103, 100, 99, 91, 106, 1, 101, 95, 102, 104, 82, 92, 105, 89, 90, 93, 94, and 108.
The commentators fancy a definite individual to be addressed in this chapter, and, as usual, they suggest the ubiquitous character of Walíd Ibnal Mughaira. It is better to regard the exhortation here to be addressed to men in general.
Probable Date of the Revelations.
All authorities agree in placing this chapter among the earliest Makkan revelations. It is safe to assign it to the first year of the Call, when, even if written before, it was proclaimed as one of the “signs” to an unbelieving people.
IN THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD.
∥ (1) I swear by this territory, (2) (and thou, O Prophet, residest in this territory), (3) and by the begetter, and that which he hath begotten; (4) verily we have created man in misery. (5) Doth he think that none shall prevail over him? (6) He saith, I have wasted plenty of riches. (7) Doth he think that none seeth him? (8) Have we not made him two eyes, (9) and a tongue, and two lips; (10) and shown him the two highways of good and evil? (11) Yet he attempteth not the cliff. (12) What shall make thee to understand what the cliff is?(13)It is to free the captive; (14) or to feed, in the day of famine, (15) the orphan who is of kin, (16) or the poor man who lieth on the ground. (17) Whoso doth this, and is one of those who believe, and recommend perseverance unto each other, and recommend mercy unto each other; (18) these shall be the companions of the right hand. (19) But they who shall disbelieve our signs shall be the companions of the left hand: (20) above them shall be arched fire.
[(1) ]I swear. Or, I will not swear. See note on chap. lvi. 74.
[(2) ]“Or, Thou shalt be allowed to do what thou pleasest in this territory; the words, in this sense, importing a promise of that absolute power which Muhammad attained on the taking of Makkah.”
[(3) ]“Some understand these words generally; others of Adam or Abraham, and of their offspring, and of Muhammad in particular.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(4) ]Misery. “Or, ‘to trouble.’ The passage was revealed to comfort the Prophet under the persecutions of the Quraish.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(5) ]“Some expositors take a particular person to be here intended, who was one of Muhammad’s most inveterate adversaries, as al Walíd Ibn al Mughaira; others suppose Abul Ashadd Ibn Qalda to be the man, who was so very strong, that a large skin being spread under his feet, and ten men pulling at it, they could not make him fall, though they tore the skin to pieces.”—Sale, Zamaḳhshari, Baidháwi.
[(6) ]He saith. “In a vain and ostentatious manner, or in opposing of Muhammad. —Sale, Baidháwi.
[(13) ]To free the captive. This passage seems to tell forcibly against those Muslims who pursue the slave-trade. The disposition to free the slave is here said to be a sign of a man’s being a true believer. Muhammad himself practised the precept here enunciated. How sad that he should have so far modified this teaching, indefinite as it is, as to make Islám responsible for nearly all the slave-dealing practised at the present day! One might hope for a reform on this subject among Muslims, based on passages like this and the example of the Prophet already al uded to, but unfortunately these precepts belong to the earlier chapters of the Qurán, and must therefore be regarded as having been abrogated by the later utterances. The worst of it is that even in this passage slaveholding is not condemned as a sin inconsistent with love to our neighbour. It is right to hold the slave, but a great merit to bestow upon him freedom.
[(18, 19) ]See note on chap. l. 16, 17.