Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER CXIII.: ENTITLED SURAT AL FALAQ (THE DAYBREAK). Revealed at Makkah. - The Quran, vol. 4
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CHAPTER CXIII.: ENTITLED SURAT AL FALAQ (THE DAYBREAK). 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 FALAQ (THE DAYBREAK).
“The commentators relate,” says Sale, “that Lubaid, a Jew, with the assistance of his daughters, bewitched Muhammad by tying eleven knots on a cord which they hid in a well: whereupon Muhammad falling ill, God revealed this chapter and the following, and Gabriel acquainted him with the use he was to make of them, and of the place where the cord was hidden: according to whose directions the Prophet sent Ali to fetch the cord, and the same being brought, he repeated the two chapters over it, and at every verse (for they consist of eleven) a knot was loosed, till, on finishing the last words, he was entirely freed from the charm.”
This chapter with the next are called by Muslims the al Mauwidhatáni, or Preservative Chapters. They engrave them upon amulets, &c., as charms against evil influences.
Probable Date of the Revelations.
We cannot do better than give the following from Noëldeke:—
“To fix the date of these two Suras (cxiii. and cxiv.) is a most difficult task. This is due to the grotesqueness of the style adopted in such superstitious productions, which allow of no safe conclusion. Indeed, we cannot even be sure these chapters originated before the Hijra. For granting that Muhammad did utter such magic formula in his last years, it assuredly differed from the usual style of the Madína Suras. It is therefore possible that in the tradition, embellished with marvellous excrescences, there is a certain modicum of truth. Possible, however, it is also, as Wiel thinks, that Muhammad applied incantations already existing in order to free himself from the imaginary spell. To such incantations against Satanic influences allusion seems to be made in chaps. xli. 36 and xvi. 160, and in other places. Be this as it may, there can be no doubt that these two Suras have originated at the same time. How difficult the point of chronology is appears evident from the fact that not even Muir, who otherwise fixes the date of each Sura so definitely, ventures to give a decided opinion. He says, indeed, that the date of these Suras is unimportant, but in this he is certainly wrong. It would be of great importance to know certainly the period whereto we might assign these evidences of Muhammad’s superstition.”
The exact date of these chapters cannot therefore be determined. Since, however, such formula as this is alluded to in the Makkan chapters xvi. and xli., I cannot agree with Noëldeke in thinking we cannot decide whether these chapters belong to Makkah. I also think the peculiarity of the style a strong argument in favour of Weil’s suggestion that these formulæ were adopted by Muhammad from incantations already in popular use among the Arabs. The fear of being called a sorcerer would have forbidden Muhammad from adopting anything grotesque at a late date in his ministry.
IN THE NAME OF THE MOST MERCIFUL GOD.
∥ (1) Say, I fly for refuge unto the Lord of the daybreak, (2)that he may deliver me from the mischief of those things which he hath created; (3) and from the mischief of the night, when it cometh on; (4) and from the mischief of women blowing on knots; (5) and from the mischief of the envious, when he envieth.
[(1) ]Daybreak. “The original word properly signifies a cleaving, and denotes, says al Baidháwi, the production of all things in general from the darkness of privation to the light of existence, and especially of those things which proceed from others, as springs, rain, plants, children, &c.; and hence it is used more particularly to signify the breaking forth of the light from darkness, which is a most wonderful instance of the divine power.”—Sale.
[(2) ]From the mischiefs, i.e., “from the mischiefs proceeding either from the perverseness and evil choice of those beings which have a power to choose, or the natural effects of necessary agents, as fire, poison, &c., the world being good in the whole, though evils may follow from these two causes.”—Sale, Baidháwi.
[(3) ]From . . . the night. “Or, as the words may be rendered, ‘From the mischief of the moon when she is eclipsed.”—Sale.
[(4) ]Women blowing on knots. Rodwell has “weird women.” “That is, of witches, who used to tie knots in a cord and to blow on them, uttering at the same time certain magical words over them, in order to work on or debilitate the person they had a mind to injure. This was a common practice in former days, what they call in France Nouër l’eguillete; and the knots which the wizards in the northern parts tie, when they sell mariners a wind (if the stories told of them be true), are also relics of the same superstition.”—Sale. On the superstitious fears of Muhammad see Muir’s Life of Mahomet, vol. iii. pp. 61, 62, and iv. p. 80.